KEAUHOU MAUKA — Two barking dogs raced at my truck as I pulled into the drive at Jenine and Abram Boido’s farmhouse. Once I was out of the vehicle Mascarita, and Bonito began wagging their tails and licking my hands. Not dangerous watchdogs but definitely useful farm dogs, I later learned.
Jenine and Abram came to the Big Island in 2004 from Kauai and bought a fee simple 3.5-acre coffee farm near the top of Old Poi Factory Road in Keauhou Mauka. The farmhouse was built from a cedar multifaceted home kit in 1986. It sports a unique design and has held up well with just a bit of weathering over the years.
The couple met on Kauai in 1971 at Brenneke’s Beach in Poipu where Abram had been body surfing since he was a kid. The meeting became a romance and they married in 1985. They soon started a family of chickens and goats on a half-acre lot in Omao on Kauai.
Jenine grew up in Los Angeles but moved to Oahu with her family and spent her senior year of high school at Kalani High in Honolulu. She was then accepted at the Community College on Kauai and later transferred to UH West Oahu and attended their Kauai satellite classes on Friday nights and Saturdays. She continued to live and work on Kauai after graduation.
As an experienced boat builder, Abram was offered a job on the Big Island in 2004. The two decided to move here and proceeded to ship their expanded family of two goats, four cats, one dog and eight chickens. The Boido’s chicken population nearly doubled during the trip over as the sitting hen’s eggs hatched and she arrived with six baby chicks in tow.
Today, the livestock count includes two dogs, four cats, three goats and 20 hens. Jenine does most of the animal care and farm work while Abram runs his shop, Mobile Marine Repair Services at Honokohau Harbor. Though she occasionally hires help, Jenine manages 2 acres of coffee, takes care of her goats and chickens and does bookkeeping for a few regular clients.
Details of the job
She maintains her coffee trees by fertilizing and pruning as well as occasionally treating for the invasive coffee borer beetle and controlling the weeds. Though she usually gets help picking and pulping the coffee, she does do occasional small batches of pulping herself. She and Abram then spread the beans on their huge covered coffee deck to dry. This year she’s processed 8,000 pounds of cherry, which is down from her peak years of 15,000 or more.
Once the beans have dried to 12 percent moisture, she roasts them on site in her fluid air-bed roaster which can only handle 10 pounds at a time. She bags and sells both an “old Kona style” medium roast as well as a medium dark, which is roasted to just shy of a shiny darker roast. She sells most of her finished Keauhou Kona Coffee at the Saturday Keauhou Farmer’s Market.
Though managing her coffee crop is a big part of her work on the farm, she really enjoys working with her chickens and goats.
“Sometimes I think my relationships with my animals are easier than those I have with people. They are actually some of my best friends,” Jenine said.
The chickens do a lot of their own foraging, but she does feed them her special mix of egg layer crumble mixed with some of the whey that’s produced when she makes goat cheese. Like many other local flocks, her hens are molting now and only providing five or six eggs a day. When she has enough she shares or sells a few dozen.
Jenine’s goats require a bit more attention, especially when they are lactating. Of the three goats, Squirrelly was a bit standoffish the day I visited. Nui was a bit friendlier but Kaia was in a feisty mood. She came at us several times but backed off when Jenine threatened her with a water spray bottle.
“Kaia definitely has a queen-of-the-farm’ attitude but it is Nui that I consider the miracle goat, Jenine said. “She produces more milk than any other goat I’ve had.”
With years of experience processing goat milk, Jenine has developed several favorite products. Her soft chevre and goat brie top her list. She also makes a hard cheese, which takes all day to prepare. All her cheeses need to dry and ripen, which can take from eight hours to three weeks. Whey is a by-product of all these processes. It is a healthy drink and full of protein. Jenine and Abram drink it, use it in chicken feed and share it with a friend whose pet pigs love it.
“I do need to thank my friend Bill Cullum for encouraging me and teaching me lots of ways to care for my goats and improve my cheeses,” Jenine said.
She also recommends several websites that have helped her hone her goat husbandry and cheese making skills. The New England Cheesemaking Company at www.cheesemaking.com has lots information and supplies. The Fias Farms website at www.fiascofarm.com is a good source for goat care. Sister Noella Marcellino, known as the Cheese Nun, was another inspiration for Jenine. Lots of information on her is available online at Wikipedia and other sources. A PBS DVD of her cheese making journey is also available.
Rewards of hard work
Though Jenine loves working with her animals, it’s the benefits of farm life she savors.
“It’s the lifestyle that appeals to me most,” she said. “We eat well, cook good food and maintain good health.”
She also enjoys working for herself on her own schedule in a warm climate on a property with a gorgeous view of the ocean all day and one of the setting sun in the evening.
Though farming in Hawaii has many challenges, she has figured out ways to deal with most of them.
“When a tree fell on the milking shed and the goat pasture fence was destroyed, I just had to work with the issues those problems presented,” Jenine lamented. “It wasn’t easy.”
She found a way to save the milking stand and despite the circuitous route to the shed, the goats tripped nimbly over the rocks to join us as Jenine showed it to me. Goats without a pasture meant that her veggie garden and upper acre of coffee got nibbled to nubs. Luckily, her smart dogs rose to the occasion and by barking and herding have managed to keep the goats out of the lower coffee acres until the pasture fence can be fixed.
Several bananas, some taro, orange and lemon trees and a beautiful crown flower shrub have been thankfully spared. The orange and lemon trees are loaded with fruit this time of year but that doesn’t stop the hens from adding weight to the branches by roosting in the orange tree at night.
The crown flower is in full bloom now and surrounded by monarch butterflies in flight. They are getting ready to lay their eggs that will hatch into caterpillars. The caterpillars will feed on the crown flower leaves then wrap themselves in a lovely green chrysalis from which the next generation of monarchs will emerge.
It is the ongoing life cycle of the monarchs that add a lovely gem to rural living in South Kona. Little gems like this appear often on Jenine’s farm and are what keep her loving the lifestyle and continuing to farm, despite the challenges she and many other farmers face.
Diana Duff is a plant adviser, educator and consultant living in a dryland forest north of Kailua-Kona.
Monday: Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Monthly Meeting from 6-9 p.m. at West Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers office 81-6393 Mamalahoa Highway in Kealakekua. White wooden building on makai side across from the Department of Transportation yard. Speakers from the Ulu cooperative will precede a holiday party featuring treats prepared with ulu. Members and guests are encouraged to bring fruit and holiday treats for sharing. Non-members are welcome to attend. Park in front or on the north side. For more information contact Brian Lievens President West Hawaii Chapter at 895-8753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday: “Work Day at Amy Greenwell Garden” from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet at the Garden Visitor Center across from the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook. Volunteers will be able to help with garden maintenance and are invited to bring a brown bag lunch. Water and snacks provided. Call Peter at 323-3318 for more information.
Next two Mondays: “Maona Community Garden Imu Fundraisers”
Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Imu and Dec. 31 New Year’s Eve Imu. $20 — advance reservation required. To register or get more information email email@example.com or call Chantal at 937-9800
Saturday, Jan. 5: “Worm Composting” from 10-11 a.m. at the Kailua-Kona Public Library at 75-138 Hualalai Road with Leona Kassel and Chris Pascual. Free presentation as part of the Community Seed Library monthly series. Learn to turn kitchen waste into a nutritious soil additive. For more information call the library at 327-4327.
Farmer Direct Markets
Wednesday: “Hooulu Farmers Market” 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sheraton Kona Resort &Spa at Keauhou Bay
Saturday: “Keauhou Farmers Market” 8 a.m. to noon at Keauhou Shopping Center
“Kamuela Farmer’s Market” from 7 a.m. to noon at Pukalani Stables
“Waimea Town Market” from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the Parker School in central Waimea
“Waimea Homestead Farmers Market” from 7 a.m. to noon at the Waimea Middle and Elementary School Playground
Sunday: “Pure Kona Green Market” 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Amy Greenwell Garden in Captain Cook
“Hamakua Harvest” 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Highway 19 and Mamane Street in Honokaa
Plant Advice Lines
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m. to noon at UH-CES in Kainaliu – 322-4893
Mondays and Fridays: 9 a.m. to noon at UH CES at Komohana in Hilo 981-5199