Category Archives: chickens

A Summer Update: Chicks, Jams, Corazón and More

Posted by Cassie

It’s summertime and that means things are slow and hot. There are often afternoon rains and everything is super green and beautiful. Lots of fruits are ripe and the flowers are in their showiest state. We also have a few new additions to the farm.

Mail arrival of some new chicks

The chickens and turkeys are doing a pretty good job at reproducing, but we wanted to add in some new genetics to the mix. We shared the order with some friends who are new to chickens and it’s been fun to watch them enjoy chickens for the first time. They are just so super cute when they are recently hatched. Pretty amazing that a little more than 21 days before, they were just eggs! What life energy!

Baby chicks
Three of 12 new additions!

We love to eat eggs around here and there is also quite a demand for local, pasture raised chicken eggs. So we thought we would put more of a focus on that side of the homestead.

The rain this time of year can also mean power or water outages. One afternoon the water, electricity and internet went out for about 3 hours. So we decided to go out and have a beer and watch the sunset. Reminds you not to worry so much. Worrying about infrastructure and thinking you could surely do it better than it currently is handled is a classic sign you are still stuck in the old Type A mindset filled with watches, schedules and to-do lists. When you are here things go much smoother if you just go with the island flow. Do what you can, let your voice be heard but don’t worry; they’re working on it. It’s just a little harder on a very mountainous island with limited resources, high heat and a more even work/rest balance.

Aguada sunset
Enjoying a gorgeous sunset at the balneario in Aguada

When these services go out, it’s a reminder that it’s all man-made. They certainly make life more comfortable. It’s pretty darn hot without even a fan blowing on you. But having them go out reminds you that you should probably have a backup water and electric plan and it definitely helps you appreciate them more than when they are just a given.

We have also been having some really great summer jam sessions with the band. It’s so laid back and chill and we’ve been making some really cool grooves. We jam with new people sometimes that just pop in. Our jam space at Mark’s is very unique. We even made a song called Jam Space, and as you can see in this picture below, Mark’s wife, Robin, made an awesome record for the wall of the song. ~~When the lights go down, you can hear the sounds, of eerie moves and funky grooves. It’s a rather magic place, that we call our jam space.~~

Jam Space crew
Such a cool jam space and crew of people

The finca is doing well. Summer is the most fruitful season of all. More and more fruits are coming on board. We recently harvested our first corazón fruit (annona reticulata). Very interesting! Semi-sweet with a grainy pear like custard consistency. I’ve read that it is related to guanabana or soursop which makes sense because it looks similar inside. At first it is so weird we didn’t want to eat it, but once we started we just couldn’t stop. Such a Willy Wonka world of fruit here! We’ve found that like children your first inclination is to not like something, but the more exposures you have to a certain food the more you begin to like it and then eventually love it. I would say corazón will soon be a favorite of ours the more we have it.

Corazon fruitIMG_3098
Corazón does sort of look like a heart - whole and half eaten

When we are out working on the farm we have to watch out to not step on iguanas! They are so fearless of humans, sometimes we see them AFTER we have stepped on their tails and they run off! I know they have become invasive pests of the island, but it still gets me every time that we basically have fricken dinosaurs just roaming free everywhere! Not to mention an easy source of clean meat if it came down to it!

Iguanas are still out en force! Our finca is an uncaged zoo of them really!

It was also recently the primary election season here in Puerto Rico. Mostly it was related to senate and mayoral races, though people can vote in the primaries for the US. Too bad we can’t actually vote in the generals though! There were major caravanas (groups of cars with lights and speakers) and you wouldn’t want to accidently get stuck behind one of them or your plans for the day will include a caravan party for a few hours! A different sort of summer jam!

Elections mean posters, murals and speaker trucks of the candidate

Though Zika messaging is getting out, it doesn’t seem to really have changed anyone’s behavior that I have noticed. I thought this billboard in Mayaguez was kind of funny and misleading. Do you want Sex without Zika? Such a funny question in and of itself. Yes, the Zika virus can spread through sex, but no, they don’t put mosquito repellent in condoms!  

Do you want sex without Zika? A lot of funny assumptions in this question

We are currently working on the water hook-ups for the cabin. Britton dug a trench and placed water line from the turkey coop all the way to the cabin. He is now working on the copper interior water lines.

Turkey and waterline
Water line connects at the turkey coop and travels 300 feet to the cabin

It’s summertime and the living is easy. It’s a nice pace. Not many people on the road. Most everyone who is here is here because they want to be. Full-timers. There are some tourists, but they are mainly from other parts of the island and so there is less confusion and hiccups. There are events like the caminata of some guy to raise money for a children’s hospital and the Rincón Triathlon and of course the hot sauce contest coming up. And the flamboyans are majestically fantastic. Summer in Puerto Rico is a special time.

Flamboyant moon
Flamboyan tree and the moon


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Country Bartenders

Posted by Cassie

Mountains of Puerto Rico cropped
Driving through the mountains with gorgeous views lined in coffee plants

We went up to celebrate our friend Papo’s birthday in Maricao. He had a similar party in December for Christmas but instead of lechón, the main meal this time was sancocho de conejo – a very delicious rabbit stew.

Country Cockfighting
Backyard pelea de gallo

We learned from the last party that we needed to have something to do otherwise we would end up milling around aimlessly since we don’t bet on the roosters or dice. Papo set up a domino table for us, but we ended up finding the perfect station for us: bartenders in the little cantina.

I tended to the customers and served up the drinks of Coors Light, Medalla Light, Busch, and Heineken and made change while Britton juiced the fresh oranges for the Finlandia and OJ tragos. The pineapple pitorro and sancocho were free.

Britton juicing oranges
Britton on the exprimidor

We are definitely still the exotic guests of Papo and I overhead quite a few comments about the “Americanos” from Rincón. I also got a lot of questions, attempts at English, “oye rubia” and even a request for the change to be in besos instead of pesos. So of course I had to ask… how much is a kiss worth and they told me…maybe $3? I thought that was pretty funny. When it got really busy even Britton worked the bar passing out drinks using his broken Spanish. His Spanish has really improved since we arrived! He can have a passing conversation fairly easily!

Pap and Cassie Cantina (2)
¡La rubia a la orden!

One thing I noticed as the bartender was that no one paid any tips (besides the requests to buy a kiss). Not even when the total was $4.50 and they handed me a $5. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong but Papo said that it’s just not the custom to tip. He said that these people are too poor to tip (but managed lots and lots of beer and gambling!). I wonder if tipping is just not very common in other service industries like restaurants. We continue to tip when we go out, but it made me question what the cultural standards for tipping are in general here in Puerto Rico (and partially why there is an assumption that all gringos are rich -sort of a hey they just give their money away feeling?).

It’s such a different world especially way deep in the mountains like this but we are starting to get more accustomed and comfortable. In addition to the sancocho we also loved the homemade pasteles and Britton told me he thinks pasteles are one of his favorite foods now! We really enjoyed our short foray into Puerto Rican country bartending and our time at the party. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new about my new homeland.

Rooster smaller
Rooster ready and waiting with his plastic spurs and partially plucked body (not sure why they pluck them like this)

Topos smaller
Playing Topos (dice) under a huge pana tree

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Around the Finca in Photos: March/April 2016

Posted by Cassie

It’s springtime in Puerto Rico and that means lots of life and new activity around our farm. Here’s a few fun recent photos of the homestead.

Leghorn and chicks
Two clutches of new chicks!

Wall construction
Building a wall and enclosing the lower area of the cabin with turkey inspectors

Torch Ginger
Our first red torch ginger!

Mulberries and miracle fruit
Mulberries and miracle fruit are fruiting like crazy (and tamarind too)!

Esperanza bug strange sights
Katydid AKA esperanza bug. So cool. I found hope at our finca. (Esperanza means “hope” in Spanish)

New heliconia flowers too!

Cabin is really shaping up

Iguana Neck strange sight
This iguana’s neck display is pretty crazy!

Ginger and sky
Shell ginger

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Birds of a Feather

Posted by Cassie

Not too much to update. Life has been good. We are still playing music with the band and progressing on the cabin. We’ve also been hanging out and having a good time. We are fortunate to spend time with such a varied group of people we call our friends.

Core Five Continentals
Hanging out with the band in the Jam Space after a jam 

Baby turkey
This little turkey hatched from a nest over by the cabin and was the sole survivor. Since she has no one else to cuddle with, she snuggles up with me.

Electrical work
Running the electrical wire at the cabin with our friend Papo

Bird world
The birds making themselves at home at la finca

Surfer Spot
Enjoying a late night drink and food at Surfer Spot with friends

Live Music art walk
Lots of fun and friends at the Art Walk in Rincón every Thursday evening

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