Stopping to smell the roses-near the site of the old rice mill
On a recent visit to
, I was dismayed to see so many animals-horses and cows-roaming around in the village. While heading to the north of the village one day it was nearly impossible to drive through my favorite alley. There was a herd of cows coming at me with no intention of turning around. In fact, I had to reverse in this narrow alley because they would not let me through; the animals couldn’t control their behavior once they were outside of their pens. Crooked Tree Village
Livestock production in
Initially, they were allowed to roam the village aimlessly, feasting off food such as cashews, mangoes, oak seeds, palmetto seeds, plums, berries, fish, and the occasional treat of venturing into farmers’ plantations and devouring crops. They even go as far as wandering aimlessly into the cemetery eating down the flowers from a freshly dug grave. This situation was not sustainable and some farmers resorted to the shooting of the pigs whenever they were fortunate to meet them in their farms. The owners of the pigs realized that the situation could not continue and some pig farmers choose to get out of the pig rearing business as it was not profitable to raise them enclosed. Today only about four farmers in the village rear pigs.
Eating cashew fruit
Cattle on the other hand, have been allowed to roam freely, and they continue to be a contentious issue. This problem has been a very heated topic over the past five years between owners and villagers. However, most of the cattle farmers have improved their private pastures so that their cattle graze for the entire year without molesting the villagers.
It is still a tradition among some of the farmers who have their cattle enclosed to graze their cattle in the savannah in the dry season, but even this is now coming under attack by the Belize Audubon Society.
Savannah at the Crooked Tree Lagoon
How long cattle and horses will be allowed to roam the village is anyone's guess. The cattle keep the village from being overgrown with grass, but litter the village with feces and also destroys some people's crops. On the other hand, the villagers must be prepared to start doing additional cleaning of the village should and when the cattle and horses stop roaming. If not, the village will be overgrown and harbor undesirable pests like snakes, rats etc.
Do you think livestock should be restricted in the village? Would love to hear from some of the folks living in Crooked Tree.
All photos by Winfield Tillett
By Linda and Johnny Gillett