March 10, 2017
Visitors from Wisconsin came by the farm yesterday with their cousin, my friend Barbara. It is always a pleasure to show people around and explain the production and processing of our various products. They arrived in the morning in time to observe the manual pollination of the vanilla orchids that were in bloom. To the left is a picture of me pollinating a blossom and a picture of the pollen on the end of a stick as I place it under the flap. The larger yellow spot is the sac that held the pollen before I removed it with the stick. Each blossom opens only one morning. If they are not pollinated that morning, the blossom closes up and drops off the next day.
March 4, 2017
We have a new product: VANILLA SUGAR !! I use vanilla sugar so often when I'm cooking. Besides desserts, it goes in salad dressings, on top of grilled salmon, sprinkled on green beans. You know how many recipes call for S&P (salt & pepper)? My recipes often use S&P&V. You can see the vanilla sugar on the vanilla bean page.
The last vanilla beans of this season's crop have ripened, been picked, processed and are drying here in my workroom. The fragrance is heavenly. In the vanilla shade house, blossoms have been blooming since January. Every morning, Nani, Lihi and I spend time searching out the blooms that are open and ready to pollinate. Nani and Lihi, our golden retrievers, are there for companionship.
Macadamia nuts are once again available. Phil spent a lot of time working on the macnut cracker and was able to fix it without taking it to a machine shop. Great to have a husband who takes on a challenge and doesn't give up.
February 9, 2017
I realized as I was preparing an order for shipping yesterday that USPS has increased their shipping rates AGAIN! One of the problems of doing business in Paradise is the high cost of shipping. Sorry but that cost has to pass on to our customers. Any time I have an order that can ship by FedEx at a lower cost, I will use FedEx. These are orders that are greater than 5 pounds of coffee, or any order that is too large to fit in a large flat rate box.
January 25, 2017
Once again we were without internet service for most of yesterday and today until 2:00. So frustrating. When the internet isn't available, I think of all those things I should be doing that require the internet. Instead I head outside and sort macadamia nuts that are on the drying tables.
Speaking of macnuts, processing problems have developed. First, the nut cracker started jamming after about 10 to 15 minutes of cracking. To get the jammed nut free requires holding a screwdriver against the nut which is not visible and then hitting the end of the screwdriver with a hammer. The Australian manufacturer of the cracker is no longer in business but I found a very similar cracker made in New Zealand. Thank you Google. Through Email discussions with these very helpful people (Crackadamia) we decided we need to take the cracker to a machine shop and have the striker blade sharpened. There were orders that needed to be filled, so we postponed the work. Then on Saturday the motor quit. And that is why no one can order macnuts for a while.
January 24, 2017
A new year. Time to reflect on how we managed the farm and if we need to make any changes.
Throughout the Hawaii coffee industry there is a growing problem of a lack of available workers for picking the coffee. This caused problems for us in that we weren't able to pick all the coffee before it started to go to over-ripe which is totally unusable. A larger problem has become obvious as we try to catch up on the macadamia nut harvest. The nuts were allowed to stay on the ground until the coffee harvest was complete. As I sort the nuts now, I see the increase in damage from mold and the tropical nut borer. We have always depended on our regular workers with backup when the crop is too much for three people. This past season we weren't able to get enough backup.
Another area that needs attention is our cacao "plantation". The 40 trees have yet to bloom - I think they feel neglected. Phil and I take care of the cacao trees and the vanilla vines. there should be time now to work toward improving these two crops.
Two years ago we planted two tiny Surinam cherry trees. Also known as pitanga, this fruit tree produces cute red faceted fruit that tastes great, but not real cherries. Both trees are now about 5' tall and in full bloom. See the picture to the left.
December 9, 2016
Christmas is coming and the orders are piling in. Unfortunately the gift items in lau hala boxes are unavailable. Still looking for a lau hala box supplier with a reasonable price. Gift items are now placed in a plain box and wrapped Fukoshiki style in Hawaiian print fabric. A photo of one is shown to the right. The price of gift items remains the same.
November 10, 2016
Kona is in the middle of the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival. There are numerous activities over 9 days and people from all over the world come to visit. The nearby village of Holualoa hosts a Coffee & Art Festival day on the first Saturday. The many art galleries in the village are open and eager to show their works of art and the Holualoa Elementary School sets up an art exhibit. Kona Coffee Farmers Association co-hosts the event by organizing 34 coffee farmers who set up booths along the main (only) street for displaying and offering tastes of their coffee and other items from their farms. Huahua Farm had a booth as they do every year but I neglected to take any pictures.
The visitors get to vote on the many coffees and we also have three local chefs who taste each farmer's coffee. Only the top 5 are awarded Chef's Choice, but a little bird told me that our coffee was just 0.2 points behind #5.
The big coffee cupping competition is held in Kailua-Kona and professional coffee tasters are brought in to judge the coffee from 60 farms. We entered that one too and were one of the finalists but didn't make the top three. I'm delighted. Phil and I believed that our coffee this year is better and this proved it.
November 1, 2016
So much going on. The coffee crop came on so strong and we didn't have enough pickers to keep up. Lots of over-ripe to sort out of the good beans. Then when we did get enough pickers for a weekend, the weather would be very humid to rainy the next few weeks and there weren't enough drying tables. Consequently this year we are selling more coffee as cherry (just picked) to Greenwell Farms, a large coffee processor, than we ever have before. Greenwell Farms samples coffee cherry that they receive to determine the rate of coffee berry borer infestation and pays accordingly. Fortunately our coffee cherry has been rated favorably and we are getting Greenwell's highest rate. All that work is paying off.
I depend on my computer for everything - the accounting for Huahua Farm, our personal funds, two non-profits, and for preparing the newsletter for a third non-profit. Consequently when my computer was hacked in October, I was devastated - certain that I had lost everything since I had been negligent in keeping data backed up. Our friendly computer fixit shop (808computers) worked on the computer for a few days and all is well. Almost all - can't get my speakers to speak.
We received a nice note from one of our steady customers that I want to share. In his last order he wrote: "Ran out (of coffee) early and tried Starbucks from Costco, ugh. Kona from Huahua, still the best!!" See their smiling faces in the photo to the left. Great Kona coffee makes people happy.
August 31, 2016, 3:30 PM
The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm and veered off to the south of the island. Now we wait for Hurricane Lester...
August 31, 2016
Hurricane Madeline is supposed to hit today. Rain is already pounding the east side of the island but here in Kona at 11:30 AM, we have blue skies, lots of sunshine, a flat ocean, and a gentle breeze. Several hundred pounds of coffee are out on the drying tables and we are hoping that most if it will be dry enough to bring in before the wind and rain hit. In the past, high winds have toppled some of the macadamia trees but the coffee trees seem to be well protected by the mac trees and are not damaged. Oh dear, here comes the wind - not so gentle now. Will report later.
July 31, 2016
Oh my, it is hot here today. Even though our latest tropical storm, Darby, has long since passed us by, it forgot to take the humidity with it.
The coffee is still in the green stage. We did pick coffee from 5 trees that are a little ahead of the rest and the beans seem small but the best news - the CBB infestation is way down! Being sure that every bean was picked last year and actually picking up beans that had fallen to the ground made a big difference. No place for the CBB to hide between seasons.
After several years of using gold foil bags for our coffee with red bags at Christmas and then switching to only red bags for many years, we are switching once again to a lovely green matte bag. See the photo to the left. There are still a lot of red 8 oz bags and the 5 lb coffee bags have always been gold. But I'm delighted with this color and I believe the matte rather than the foil bags will look better after traveling across the ocean jammed into a USPS Flat Rate Envelope, Let me know what you think: email@example.com. Yes - that thin blue line behind the bag is the ocean. It was another voggy day here in Kona. Now that the current lava flow has made it to the ocean, we seem to be getting more vog than usual and that is like a light haze everywhere.
June 11, 2016
After getting only 2.2" of rain during the first four months of the year, May was wonderfully wet with a total of 4.8". Coffee trees that were beginning to show stress perked up and now green coffee beans are
packing the branches of the trees. Every week I think that next week we
will start picking coffee. But that would be unusual - the coffee
rarely turns red before July.
In the meantime, mangoes are turning that lovely orangey red color and bananas are getting that plump look that means cut the banana bunch down now before every banana turns yellow and drops to the ground. Some of these banana bunches have 100 bananas so we give a lot away, make a lot of banana bread, smoothies, banana jam, and dried bananas; and then we freeze some for the months when there aren't any. I have decided to put several varieties of homemade jelly, the dried bananas (I sprinkle them with cinnamon before drying) and vanilla sugar on the website for sale. It may be few weeks before I get that done. Sorting macadamia nuts is keeping me fully occupied now. Maybe I'll make vanilla extract and include that for sale too.
May 6, 2016
What happened to April?? We are already in May and busy spraying the coffee trees to control the coffee berry borers. We must also find time to do some maintenance on the coffee processing equipment before we wake up one day and find the coffee ripe and ready. Macadamia nuts continue to drop - they are a year round crop with a bit of a slow down in July and August. Vanilla blossoms every day in the early morning.
Finally our three jaboticaba trees are producing. See the picture to the left. Native to Brazil, this tree produces its fruit directly on the trunk and branches. We have been out of jaboticaba jelly for over a year. I picked a 5 gallon bucket of the fruit the other day and have already gone through the process of cleaning, mashing, parboiling, and straining the fruit to produce the juice - enough to make forty 8 ounce jars of deep purple delicious jelly. Although the jelly isn't shown on the website, it is for sale (along with lilikoi jelly and banana/lilikoi jam) - just send me an email if you are interested: firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 18, 2016
Family reunions can be fun and interesting or disastrous and hurtful. Having just returned from a hastily planned reunion, we can report that the Hachmuth reunions always turn out fun and interesting. What started out as a planned trip for me to visit with my sister for a week grew to 12 people and 2 dogs getting together in Oklahoma. Lots of food, board games, hikes, and chatter. A relaxing time for Phil and me.
When we returned we were greeted by our two dogs and two cats which were happily spoiled in our absence. Some rain during the past week brought out the brightly colored azaleas (see photo below) and the fragrance of the abundant dendrobium orchids drifted into the house. (photo to left)
Now it is back to work pollinating vanilla orchids, sorting macadamia nuts and a bit more pruning of the coffee trees.
March 6, 2016
This is Sunday so Phil and the dogs have gone to the ocean for a swim. The younger golden retriever, Lihi, loves to chase racquet balls on the land and tennis balls in the ocean; so while Phil is swimming along with Nani, he throws the ball as far as he can and Lihi retrieves it. This continues throughout their swim and is a good workout for all. I no longer swim with them because the dogs think they need to rescue ,me and I get all scratched up.
Avocados have been plentiful here on the farm this year. The previous owners grew avocados commercially and now there are many varieties that ripen at various times of the year. Nani is the best at finding the latest fruiting tree and usually eats an avocado every day. Tangerines and oranges are through for the year - we will miss them. So nice to have fresh fruit through the "winter".
Today the first four vanilla orchids bloomed. I took the picture to the left before I pollinated it. Unfortunately, the pollination process leaves a mutilated flower. You can see the buds for future vanilla orchids next to the bloom.
February 23, 2016
Kiku, Nani and I were walking in the macadamia orchard to gather passion fruit for jelly and I happened to look up in a macadamia tree. There were many dangling clusters of blossoms. Looking around at other mac trees gave me a good feeling that we will have another bumper crop next year. Kiku and Nani weren't interested - they were busy barking at some cattle on the next property.
Back at the house and looking down at the ocean from our makai deck we can see huge waves crashing on the shoreline. Even though we are at 1000' elevation and 3 miles away as the crow flies, we can hear the surf pounding at night when we have these winter swells. In a few days it will be a great time to walk along the shore looking for seashells that have washed up in the waves.
February 7, 2016
A little excitement late yesterday afternoon. Two of our work crew were picking up raisins (old dried up coffee cherry) that had dropped to the ground during picking, and Juan saw a large pig taking a nap in the coffee field. When the pig saw Juan and Juan saw the pig they ran in opposite directions. Later when Phil got home from Kona Cold Lobsters, he took the dogs for a walk to try to find the pig. Lihi picked up the trail and led them to the farthest corner of our property where the pig had tried to escape by climbing over the rock wall and found itself up against the fence. Both dogs stood, looked over the rock wall and barked incessantly while the pig rammed the fence until it broke through - big pig. It ran off into the pasture and Phil repaired the fence. A good ending - pig gone, no one hurt.
And then it rained in the night - 0.4"! The first rain since December 24th.
February 6, 2016
Today I gathered and processed lilikoi (passion fruit) and vanilla beans. Soon I'll post a picture of our mega lilikoi vine with the yellow egg-shaped fruit hanging down. The fruit is washed, cut in half, and then the pulp and seeds are scooped out into a colander to drain for the night. I freeze the juice in batches to make jelly later - so good.
Vanilla beans are blanched to stop all vegetative growth and then bundled up and wrapped in towels to "sweat" for the night. Tomorrow they will spread in the sun to start the curing process. In about 4 months they will be very fragrant and ready to use. This is the third batch of the season with the first two drying in the workroom - wonderful aroma. Each batch contains about 100 beans that are large enough to sell and another 40 small beans that I keep for my own use.
With all the rain we got last year the coffee ripened quickly and the season was over by the end of November. Approximately 14,300 pounds of coffee cherry were picked from our trees for the season. Another 5,300 pounds were picked from the small coffee farm on the adjoining property that we manage. Some days so much coffee cherry was picked that we would process the first 600 pounds and sell the rest to one of the large coffee processors.
Now that the pigs are "fenced out" our macadamia nut production was up to 11,500 pounds in shell compared to 2300 pounds in 2014 - amazing! We keep the largest nuts and sell the rest to Hawaiian Host for their famous chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Those pigs must feel like they are on a diet.
February 3, 2016
My how time flies. I see from my last message, we were still getting rain. That stopped shortly thereafter and for the past 4 months we have only had 5" of rain. So very dry now. The coffee trees were starting to drop their leaves so we started night time overhead irrigation - never as good as rain but we hope to save the trees.
I plan to write more this week but for now I'm showing all of you a picture of our Sealing Wax Palm - it has put out its first blooms. Wonder what the seeds will look like. Yes - that is a papaya tree in the background and if you look closely there are some blooming bird of paradise plants near the bottom of the photo. Beautiful Hawaii
September 25, 2015
No rain today - maybe we'll get a break before the anticipated rain from the next tropical storm approaching from the southeast. Over the past 38 days, we have measured over 40" of rain. This is the leeward side of the island - the "dry" side. Since we moved to the farm 17 years ago, the average annual rainfall has been 42" so this past month has been extraordinary. Flowering trees like the shower tree in the photo at the left are expressing their appreciation for all the moisture.
It has been difficult to dry the coffee parchment - no, make that impossible to dry the coffee parchment here at the farm so after we let it drain on the drying tables overnight, Phil collects it and takes it down to his business out on Keahole Point and spreads it on tarps to dry. Keahole Point is the farthest west point on the island and does not get the rain. At least not nearly as much. For those of you who have flown into Kailua Kona, you pass over Keahole Point as you land.
Since we fenced the property to keep the pigs out, our macadamia crop has significantly increased. The ground is covered with them as I mentioned before. It will be a busy time for the next month getting the macadamia nuts and coffee harvested. The vanilla beans are still not ripe so I just check on them every morning and wish them well.
August 30, 2015
Rain AGAIN today. But yesterday was a beautiful bright sunny day. Nani, Lihi and I walked down to the far corner of the property to check on our 40 young cacao trees - Yes, we are adding another crop. In a few years we should be producing our own chocolate covered macadamia nuts! The pictures I took of the cacao orchard are not very good so I'm showing our prize display cacao tree that is planted near the vanilla shadehouse. It is about a year old and so healthy. Hoping to have cacao pods next year.
On the walk down and back up I noticed that one of the two mango trees is continuing to produce fruit - must return with a bucket. And there are macadamia nuts all over the ground ready to harvest. Macadamia nuts are not ripe until they fall from the trees and they should be picked up as soon as possible to prevent insect infestation. Always a problem when the coffee and the macs need picking at the same time. Fortunately there is a little leeway on the macs.
August 28, 2015
My how time flies when the coffee gets ripe. Since our crew started picking coffee in late July, they have brought in almost 6000 pounds of coffee cherry. This is about 40% more than we had picked over the same time last year which is a good thing - except that the drought is over and it is difficult to get that much coffee dried. Consequently we have sold some of the coffee as cherry rather than keeping it to be processed and roasted.
The typhoons have been forming one after the other and trekking their way across the Pacific to breeze by and dump rain on us. For the first 6 months of this year we measured 15.5" of rain and so far in August we have had 15"! With more to come. Along with the rain, these storms have been producing lots of lightning and thunder. Normally we don't have lightning for a year at a time. Our dear dogs, Lihi and Nani, are afraid of all the noise. Nani hides under my desk and Lihi hides in the shower. The cats show no concern.
July 30, 2015
Bright red coffee cherry can be seen throughout the coffee orchard. The first batch was picked over the weekend and looks great. We were delighted to see that the CBB (coffee berry borer) infestation is under 10%. After processing there should be only about 2% left. According to the Hawaii Coffee Association, the flavor of the coffee is not affected by infestation less than 10%; however, we don't sell any coffee with more than 2% CBB infestation.
One of our customers asked if the beans in the 2% still had beetles in them. And they do not. It has been determined that if the parchment coffee is dried to less than 11% moisture, the bean becomes too hard for the CBB to eat and they give it up. So although you may see a few beans that look like they have been chewed on, the beetles that were there ended up in the bottom of the 60 pound bag of parchment and were thrown out before the parchment coffee was milled.
July 12, 2015
The mangoes are through for the year. I did make two batches of mango jam and we have enjoyed mango on cereal and in various recipes for over a month. Now we wait for the pineapples to ripen.
The past month has been spent cleaning up brush piles and running all the pruned coffee and macadamia branches through the shredder to make huge piles of mulch. Included in this mulch are the skins of the coffee cherry and the parchment skin from the dried coffee, the husks and shells from macadamia nuts, and all the kitchen compost. Making lilikoi, mango, and jaboticaba jellies and dried banana slices produces lots of kitchen compost. This weekend, mulch that is already cured is being spread bucket by bucket around the coffee trees. Hot sweaty work because a downgraded tropical storm is still sitting north of the islands.
Earlier today I added eight more pictures of orchids we have growing near the house. I wish I had a week off so that I could replant the many orchids that are in pots and have become too big for the pots. It is a time consuming task but when the replanted orchids bloom again, it is worth it.
One bit of bad news - pig news. Somehow at least one wild pig got on the property. We can hear it eating macadamia nuts in the night and see where it has rooted around the avocado trees. The fence we installed doesn't totally surround the property. Our ten acres are adjacent to three small gated subdivisions on the mauka (ocean direction) side. One of the subdivisions decided to fence their entire subdivision to keep pigs off the lovely green yards, so we jointly fenced across that property and hoped that the other two were pig free. Looks like we were wrong - we will be back to fence building soon. And of course finding the pig and getting it off the property.
June 30, 2105
Today I pollinated the last vanilla orchid for the season. Now I wait for them to ripen - they turn slightly yellow at the blossom end and snap off readily when ripe. After picking all those that are ripe within a week, the beans are "killed" in hot water, then "sweated" overnight by wrapping the batch in towels. At this point they need a daily hour of sunshine for about a week. Now they smell like vanilla and are brought in to continue drying on racks in the workroom. For the next 3 to 4 months, I get to work in a room redolent with vanilla fragrance. Some of the larger vanilla beans from this crop are in the picture to the left - a little yellowing but not enough yet.
June 16, 2015
I'm happy to report we have not seen any more pigs or pig damage on the property - what a relief. Walking through the orchards is more comfortable - guess I was a little afraid of the monsters.
the slight increase in rain after such a long drought has triggered more blooming on the coffee trees. That means we will be picking coffee next March instead of wrapping it up in early January.
Today I added more photos to the PHOTO page, including the one to the left of wild turkeys outside the workroom window. They were being very quiet and the dogs never knew they were there. Nani and Lihi love to chase turkeys and watch them fly away.
June 6, 2015
We are finally getting a bit of rain - much needed rain. Just one thing to share with you today - check out the photo on the left. This is the smallest of our three lychee trees and it is full of luscious juicy lychee. The other two are not nearly as productive.
Oh, and our two mango trees are dropping mangoes like crazy. I plan to spend the day up to my elbows in mango preparing mango jam. Lime juice from the Key limes will be incorporated because these mangoes are already ripe and need a bit of added tartness.
June 2, 2015
Over the weekend, while our workers were here to remove suckers (new excess growth) on the coffee trees and to clean up some brush piles, two wild pigs were eliminated. On Saturday two young pigs, about 30 pounds each, ran out of a brush pile and the workers chased it. The pigs were not running toward the open gate but instead ran into the fence. One worker hit a pig over the head and killed it but the other pig got away - not through the gate. Then on Sunday, the same thing happened and that pig was also killed. I haven't seen any fresh pig damage since then so I'm hoping our problems are over.
The workers also found two places in the fence line that pigs had made it through. One where the pigs dug under the fence and ignored the barbed wire and the other at a corner which wasn't sufficiently secure. They made repairs to those two breachs and now we plan to make regular fence walks to check for new entries. Those pigs just love our macadamia nuts and avocados and the pasture next door doesn't have any.
Speaking of avocados, weighed one that fell from a tree just down the driveway - just over 3 pounds! and very tasty.
May 27, 2015
Yesterday I processed the last batch of vanilla beans from the crop that began blooming way back in January 2014. The total count for that season is over 400 but a large percentage are too short to be classified as Grade A. So we will again offer Grade B beans - all of them between 5" and 6" in length. Although some articles about grading vanilla beans indicate that Grade B beans are drier, our beans weren't listening - the Grade B beans are just as plump and oily as the Grade A beans. So we will again be offering Grade B beans and the price will be $8.00 for two beans. Shipping will be the actual shipping cost.
No news yet on the pig roundup. We have decided to wait till we have a few more people here to help. Our older golden retriever, Nani, has let us know that some of them are hiding during the day in a brush pile that was made when the wind blew down a macadamia tree and the downed tree was cut and stacked with all the leaves on it. Just clearing the several brush piles on our property may solve the pig problem.
May 20, 2015 Around the farm, Clare attends to the daily duty of checking the vanilla vines and pollinating any of the vanilla orchids that are in bloom. There are only a few buds left to bloom in this season so this doesn't take long, leaving time to do general cleanup of the vines, some pruning and relocating on the trellises.
The coffee beans are green and plentiful. Sometime this week or next we will be back in the coffee orchards pruning away the sucker growth so the trees can put their energy into producing coffee.
Macadamia blossoms are everywhere. The trees produce nuts throughout the year but until July, there aren't enough on the ground for the wild pigs to share with us.
Pigs! We have been plagued with a growing number of wild pigs since we bought the property in 1998. Although there is a freestanding rock wall surrounding the 10 acres, pigs just climb right over, knocking the rocks down. We have spent many hours repairing the wall. This year we gave up and began installing a fence, completing the necessary areas last week. Sunday, Phil hung the 10' wide gate across the driveway and we were hoping to be pig-free. Monday Clare took the dogs for a walk past the vanilla shadehouse and found that during the night pigs had rooted up all the soil in a large area of macadamia trees. So either we have pigs staying on the property or they have found a way past the fence. Discouraging but just another challenge. The wild pigs sleep through the day and feed at night, so our gate is a night gate only. Will let you all know about our pig roundup.