Mimosa forages among the invasive Brazilian Pepper trees that are now over 20 feet high.
The delicacy with which the horses can pick out what
they want is amazing.
We are so grateful that there have been no hurricanes and plenty of rain.
The rain, however, brought an overload of work for us. Ample rain has urged a pre winter burst of growth, damp ground has creatures on the move and perhaps a chillier winter than normal is on the way. The result is that for the last two weeks of September, with more to come, weve battled rats, roaches (some as big as mice), mice, swarming bees, invasive Brazilian peppers and Lantana sage, Cerasee and strangling Passion flower vines gone mad. There has been extra travel and expense trying to keep equipment repaired and running after vermin damage.
In keeping with the priorities of a conservation area, use of pesticides is simply not permissible. We had to give up on humane traps too and simply snap trap the rats. The dogs have done their share, but the cats are not permitted in the tool shed (fuels, oils, fumes, sharp tools) and the rats took advantage of this. We found scraps torn at one end of the 20 foot container dragged all the way to the other end for a nest. There were several nests. Both generators had extensive wiring destroyed, the VHF radio battery chargers wires were destroyed. The smell of rat was almost overwhelming.
Our workmen Jean and Avener and I spent a morning pulling everything out of the tool locker, cleaning the locker and its contents, throwing away damaged things like brushes and heaps of things used for nests. We swept out mounds of, well, rat leavings. Diatomaceous earth was liberally sprinkled to combat the roaches and the rat traps were set with good effect.
I rewired the VHF battery chargers and repaired an extension cord, the two generators were delivered to a local repair person. One of the weed whackers managed to go down at this same time, its already back in service as are the two generators.
Interspersed with all these activities was an ongoing battle with an incredibly persistent swarm of bees. They had had a nest about 1/8 of a mile away in the container we moved onto the Preserve in the spring. With winter coming they are looking for a new home. They found the container and it took three days of smoky smudge fires to keep them from moving in. As I was busy lifting storage boxes, bath tub and other items off the floor of the kitchen container (to put 4 x 4s underneath so we can hose clean everything) I had to stop every few minutes to chase more bees. Starting a small smudge helped but it didnt do much for the air in the locker I was working in.
Its sad that we are not equipped to set up hives to encourage the bees. I heard bees invaded a home in Treasure Cay and honey was pouring down a wall.
All of this was background to clearing incredible vines, some with stems a half inch thick, that are threatening juvenile pine trees in an open area that had once been illegally cleared for a farm. The Brazilian peppers trees are 20 feet tall and impenetrably thick on the farm. They are invading not only the same small area where the vines are worst, they are spreading along the entire farm border of the Preserve, along with Lantana sage. It took over a week to clear the jungle that had overtaken the dogs large pen. Im hoeing once a week, yet in two days after a thorough clean up some of the vine sprouts are an inch high.
Hunting season started Sept 28 so soon there will be hunters, guns and dogs to contend with.
Meanwhile, the weather has been spectacular: brilliant sun, wonderful clouds, gentle breezes and everything just as green as it can be. Nights are cooling off a bit, the horses are plump with all the good forage. We hope hurricane season continues benign.
This winter is going to be an important one, perhaps the most important one so far in the struggle to bring the Abaco Wild Horses back from the edge of extinction. We await our vet and an important meeting with our home ministry, the Ministry of the Environment, is scheduled.
We extend heartfelt thanks to all of you who continue to support us and ask that you invite friends to join you in your efforts. Its hard to ask for more when some of you are doing so much, but it has been a very rough year economically, the men are way behind in getting paid. We have nearly 200 fans on the Arkwild Facebook page. If each of those fans pledged $120 per Year, ($10 per month) we would be able to cover the mens monthly wages.