Are We Hillbillies or What?

Posted by Cassie

We are nearing the very end of the house demolition project. However, now that the house is basically just pieces of wood on the ground, everything else about our life is totally disordered. That’s what happens when you live “on-site,” I suppose.

Working in Paradise

Thursday was the craziest with activity and lots of hammer drilling from about 7am to 7pm, so Friday we needed a break (and I think the workers did too)!

But it wasn’t a true break, because I still needed to get laundry done amidst all the chaos that was left behind. I was getting a bit snippy with Britton about my “less than ideal” ability to wash and hang laundry and he stopped me in my tracks and said, “Wait, I need to get a photo of this.” Yep, it is pretty hilarious. And a good reminder to not take things too seriously. Everything will get sorted out….eventually! And if we turn into hillbillies in the process, so be it!

Crazy laundry and turkeys
Crazy acres is the life for me! :-)

The cool thing about living amidst all the construction progress is that you get to know everyone pretty well. Well enough that when the guys heard that I had never had “pitorro” (which they pronounced pitojo), the next day they brought a bottle of it for us and a bottle for them and we all took shots (a very small one for me) from the same metal cup and said “salud!” Pitorro is like Puerto Rican moonshine and everyone has a different recipe for it. This one tasted pretty good and sweet and was made with tamarind and parcha juice, but it did pack a punch. An only in Puerto Rico experience for sure.

PitorroYou can’t be a true hillbilly until you’re drinking the local moonshine, right? :-)

House is Nearly Gone and New Electric Project

Posted by Cassie

Life has been pretty hectic around here lately. We are used to a pretty mellow and peaceful pace, but lately we have had crews of people in and around the property from sun up until sometimes past dark. While Britton and I are not doing very much of the labor ourselves (a major difference as well!), it is still pretty chaotic and stressful to have everything around you totally disrupted and noisy. Still,  things must get messy before they get pretty; it is how progress gets made after all. And we are very thankful for all the help we have had in moving towards these goals.

Missing house
Not much left!

The house is nearly gone. They are down to just the very last few beams and posts and a little clean up work. We plan to keep the lower shed room as a storage space and laundry room for the time being, but otherwise, everything will be gone super soon. It is so weird how much it is already transforming this space.

Ugly old electric line

The next thing we had to consider was the electrical line that runs from the wood house to our cabana. If we were to leave it, it would just be a pole sticking up connected to the street pole that traversed from the house through a tube under ground to the cabana. In order to take down the rest of the house, we need to remove it as well and have an electrical pedestal installed that connects directly to the cabana. We talked with an electrician who happens to be the father of one of the workers and he said he would be able to fix it. So in addition to our house demolition team hammering and tossing boards, we also had the electrical team digging trenches and sawing into our little concrete cabana. Talk about chaos!

Drilling into the house
Dust flying as the house was being sawed to the breaker box

The pedestal will be installed near the gate and will be very close to the road electrical line thereby removing the line that shoots downward where the house once stood.

work site and Pedestal from the road

After the house is down, the wood is stacked and protected from the rain, the shed is finished and the electrical system is rigged up, I think Britton and I are ready for a bit of a Christmas break! Whew!

House is Halfway Down

Posted by Cassie

Bedroom removed from house
Popping off the top really opened up the view!

The wooden house demolition project is moving along pretty well. We had a few set backs but nothing too major and things are looking good.

Poop tube
Oops…when dropping some of the pieces overboard it accidentally broke the tube that connects the cabana to the septic. So we went a day without flushing the toilet until we could get it fixed

We have moved past the halfway point. The whole roof is down as well as the upstairs bedroom. Most of the walls have been removed. As we are seeing the insides of this old house we recognize that we would have probably needed to tear things all the way down to the subfloor in any case. The wall cavities were filled with remnants of just about every critter of the jungle and much of their waste.

Taking down a large wall…watch as all the bat guano starts flying!

It is weird to take down this house that we have been looking at (but not really using) for over a year straight through. I think we took our time in making the decision and met many people and learned the ropes for a long time before commencing such a big project. And really, with all the ideas we have for the property this is just the beginning…

Fan palm in place of house crop 2
The large traveler palm from the driveway is now visible from down below (with turkeys of course)

Turkey Gratitude

Posted by Cassie

Raising turkeys is a little different from raising chickens. We raise the chickens principally for their eggs, but turkeys are mainly for meat and the pleasure of being around such fun animals. The joy we receive from these creatures surprised even us and so when it came time (Thanksgiving) to slaughter one, we wavered a bit. We had raised these birds from chicks (or poults) protecting them from all the various harms that could come to them, they have grown to trust us and love being around us. However, as meat eaters who routinely eat turkey meat, we knew that it was important to us to do this if only to truly understand the connection between animal and meal.

Britton and turkey
Britton and the “chosen one”

First we chose the bird. We picked one of the males as they are slightly bigger and they also have begun fighting amongst themselves. Of the twelve birds we raised into adulthood, they were evenly split 6/6 male and female. So it was necessary to also bring down the numbers of males before mating season begins and the hens start laying eggs. We are planning to facilitate broodiness and hatching the next generation.

Turkey supplies

We had gathered all the necessary equipment including knives, a long hose, bags to collect the feathers and a cooler full of ice to quickly cool it once it had been gutted.

There are many ways in which to do “the deed”. We chose to hang the bird upside down and slit the neck. The turkey became very calm upside down. We said a blessing and thank you for his life and his time on earth spent with us. We appreciated him for giving his life in order for him to further our life. Life feeds on life and this is no more clear than in the moment of death. It took a few deep breaths before Britton was able to kill him, but it went very quickly.

Cassie Plucking Britton Turkey plucking wings

When the head was removed we both commenced the long process of de-feathering. We didn’t need a pot of hot water; nearly all the turkey feathers came out without much trouble.

Dissection of turkey guts Anthony and turkey

Our friend Anthony came over and helped to gut the bird. Overall it was fairly straightforward. We cut an incision between the legs and pulled most of the organs out that way. It was interesting seeing what makes up an animal and how many of those same parts make up us as well.

Tommy and Britton turkey

Finally, we dropped off the bird with our chef friend Tommy. We had planned on sharing it with everyone at a Thanksgiving dinner where he is the chef (Rincon Beer Company) but there was a change in plans.

Tommy cooked the bird using some culinary techniques that I had never heard of before (like valentine) and stuffed it with a flavorful risotto. A few days after Thanksgiving, Britton and I shared a moment giving thanks in quiet reflection and gratitude for our lives and all that make them. We are thankful for all the moments that have led up to this one. We are thankful for so much. And right at the moment of our first delicious bite we felt the completeness of what it meant to be truly thankful for our food and all the steps and people involved in bringing fullness to our lives and bellies.

Turkey dinner