Category Archives: Homesteading

Projects Around the Property

Posted by Cassie

There is always something to do around here. With four acres of land, two small casitas and a couple of bird coops we are always busy maintaining and trying to move forward with new goals. We try to do as much as we can ourselves with occasional outside help. Here are a few of the projects we have been working on recently.

ChainsawBritton sawing what I think is a fallen Indian bay leaf tree

Chopping up downed trees
Hurricane Maria brought down a lot of trees everywhere and our property was no exception. One of the many things we did right when we built the jungle cabin was to bury the electric line even though it was 500 feet away from the main. Otherwise, we would have been struggling like the electric company to get the poles up and the trees off the lines. We still had (and have) a mess to contend with however. The problem is that there is nowhere to bring all this wood. So we have a huge pile of wood debris in the quebrada.

It does open up our jungle area to a little more light and we have plans to plant more heliconias and gingers here as we expand our flower business. Britton mainly runs the chainsaw because I am a little afraid of the kickback when I’ve used it. I lopper some of the smaller brush around until we have an area that we can replant. We have a whole section of property (about 3/4 acre) by the Magic Mango and Camino de Pobres that we haven’t even touched and is still impossible to cross without scrambling over huge fallen trees that jut every which way.

Flower Truck Load
Truck loaded with flowers to bring to the market

Flowers and plants
This is one of the more enjoyable tasks around the farm. We go out and find plants -either dig-ups or at nurseries- and then the next day or so we plant them. When we plant a tree it’s really a tough decision because we know that some of them can grow to be huge and we’d rather not transplant too much. With the other plants that grow from rhizomes like bananas, eleplant ears, heliconias and gingers we’re not so picky because they are easily transplanted.

Cassie and bambooThis bamboo is bigger than me and weighed more too!

MonsteraI love monsteras and they look great in the flower bouquets too

Some plants are very difficult to find and/or transplant like the giant bamboo we recently planted. This probably deserves a post of its own because it took 2 days of digging and a full day of moving and transplanting. I love how the plants and flowers transform the place. The jungle is beautiful on its own, but the broad-leafed plants bring a certain classic paradise look that I just love.

Cabin in the woods
Our cabin in the jungle

The jungle treetop cabin
While there is always something to do with a structure, I would say that the inside of the jungle cabin is now complete. We finished the kitchen and our final touch this past month was to have screen doors installed. Now it is so fresh and breezy that I almost always have to have a blanket on at night! We have more plans for the area around it such as finishing the lower area as well as adding some railing.

Trim for doors
Trimming the screen doors

Mango cabana
Cabana at the top of the property

The concrete cabana got hit worse by the hurricane than our jungle wooden cabin because it has the ocean view and therefore the winds are stronger. It lost all of its upper railing on the rooftop and the front of the house got blasted like a water pressure treatment for 24+ hours. So we have some projects for it especially as we are now renting it out to guests. We are planning on repainting the outside areas that got blasted as well as the interior.

We also just recently finished sealing the roof again. This is a product called Crossco that is basically a plastic paint that prevents water from slowly seeping through the concrete into the house. Britton also refortified the small bridge crossing since it doesn’t have the other cabana rails as support for it anymore/currently. And I have a couple of ideas for interior decor.

Powerwashing then resealing the roof of the cabana

Cabana Roof Sealing roof
Before and after sealing

Of course there is always more, but these have been the current projects around the property. It’s hard work but keeps us busy and I love seeing the ever-changing beauty of this magical place.

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (4)
  • Awesome (16)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (0)

After Irma

Posted by Cassie

All is good in the hood as they say.

Banana trees
Many banana and plantain plants folded over in the wind

We have weathered the storm and come out just about as good as you could hope. Not only was there not any damage to our immediate area, but even the water and electric came back on within 5 days for most people. There are a few people who are still without some utilities, but everything is slowly booting back up.

Group foto
Hanging with friends Priscilla and Ivette in La Parguera

On Monday, Labor Day, we went down to La Parguera to meet up and compartir with some friends. It was eerily vacated as people prepared for what was to come. For us, it was good to get away from the news and the worrying.

All day Tuesday we spent hauling our stuff from the wooden cabin to the concrete cabana. We definitely over-prepared, but when the news says that the largest storm ever is coming straight for you, even I, the don’t-worry-be-happy girl, started to be slightly concerned.

A branch on one of our avocado trees fell so we had to gather the aguacates. Did someone say guacamole?!

Come Wednesday, the power goes off around 12noon. It seemed to be a precautionary measure as there was still hardly any wind or impact of Irma. That was the last time we had contact with the outside world until Saturday when we went to Home Depot and were able to use their free wi-fi (as an aside it’s actually kind of nice to sit and use internet in there on their patio displays -hah).

The worst of the storm passed in the middle of the night Wednesday into Thursday. We could hear major wind gusts but not much else. There was very little rain and we commented that we’ve been through a lot worse in Greeley where our house would receive the full force of wind from the west. And in the town I grew up in near Wyoming, the joke is that a metal chain is a wind sock. So I was underwhelmed to say the least. Not trying to taunt you, though, Irma!

When you come from a windy area, you expect a bit more

The next morning we went to check out the damage. The worst of it was right at the bridge where a medium-sized tree uprooted, got tangled in another tree and landed on the bridge. It caused no structural damage. We just had to chainsaw it out of the way. I think we caused more damage breaking dishes and glass jars hauling our stuff over to the cabana and back than Irma did to our property, not to mention that Britton was pretty hung over. Yes, we definitely can cause more damage to ourselves than any storm.

It was hot and boring without internet or electricity to run the fans for 3 days. We did end up hooking up and using the 400 gallons of water, so we were thankful for that. We took the opportunity to spend a lot of time reorganizing our stuff that we moved over and cleaning the cabin. After a few days I tired of eating canned foods and junk food. We were happy on Saturday to go into Mayaguez for a few parts and a nice meal at Pollo Tropical. A lot of other people had the same idea too it seemed.

Tree down on bridge
Trees on the bridge to the cabin

Someone mentioned they would like to see pictures of the places we visited before the storm. I assume this means the gas stations, banks and grocery stores. There really isn’t much difference now from then. You wouldn’t even think a major hurricane nicked us because there is hardly even any plant debris on the sides of the road. Occasionally you can hear a generator still running, but overall almost everything is returning to normal. We even went out to Sunday Funday in Aguada and had a fresh coconut water/whiskey drink.

Coconut drink
Sunday in Aguada…everything looks pretty good!

I am not sure if this hurricane prepared us for something larger or made us less because we didn’t see much destruction. Either way, I am glad nothing much came of it for us. I was very sad to hear that St Maarten/Martin received a lot of damage because we were just there on our cruise! And I hope the other islands and Florida are able to recover swiftly.

Even the chickens, turkeys and Kitty are all fine!

Here’s a short video during and after Irma at our property.


What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (4)
  • Awesome (13)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (0)

Ron y Cloro: 8 Ways to Solve Your Problems in PR

Posted by Cassie

There is a joke people sometimes say here. What’s the solution to Puerto Rico’s problems? Ron y cloro. Rum and bleach. Rum, because well everything is just better with a little buzz and bleach because it will wipe everything clean again! So I thought I would write a little about how we use each of these to solve our daily problems in Puerto Rico.

Cassie drink (2)

1) Things just break down and get so much dirtier here than it ever did in Colorado. We have to keep a cover over our washing machine because the dust settles so heavily over the course of a week and then makes the clothes or sheets dirtier than they started! So you must use more bleach! ¡Más cloro!

Washing machine cover
Washing machine cover

2) I always wondered why so many people had a broom in their hand whenever we would drive around Puerto Rico. Now I know! I must sweep the house at least 2-3 times a day. And it still gets grimy. So…then I need to mop! Más cloro!

3) Not only are we near the sea, but it is constantly humid and so anything metal starts rusting and corroding very quickly. We have learned to buy most metal things out of aluminum or galvanized steel because it is much more rust resistant. But, even still, never trust anything that is held together with metal. Here’s a case in point when the deck to the cabana completely broke!

Broken deck
¡Ay, bendito! The screws rusted out on the ledger!

So you learn that you need multiple back-ups. Especially because on this island you NEVER know if you’ll be able to find the part you’re looking for. Even if you buy online don’t expect it to arrive anytime soon. Britton ordered a part for the Mustang from Ebay and it took nearly a month to arrive because they put it on a ship rather than airplane! ¡Caramba! No wonder things take so long to get fixed, if ever! Island time…means you often have to wait and be patient, so why not go have a drink. Más ron!

Deck repair
To repair it we added two more legs to the wall and cross-braced. Must be prepared for the inevitable future breakdown

4) Even clothes break down faster here! The elastic in our underwear breaks down and the clasps on swimsuits rust out! When I was in Colorado I had clothes for 10+ years! Not here! Plus you have to clean clothes with bleach which breaks down the fibers even faster! But at least we don’t need to wear as much since it’s always warm out! Más ron =menos ropa! :-)

Dirty windows
Even aluminum windows start breaking down after a while! And windows constantly need cleaned (Más cloro!)

5) Bugs! Of course there are bugs everywhere, but here there are a couple that most people who are not from the tropics are not as familiar with: termites and cockroaches. ANY wood you use here including for cabinets, furniture and of course structurally should be made with pressure treated wood! (Madera tratada). We bought some beautiful eucalyptus doors for the cabin, and it said they were insect resistant. What it should have said was that this wood was the most delicious food ever for a termite! Bleach will kill them, but you have to get to their main hive and so we had to take the whole door apart and put it back together again. Más ron!

Termites in the doorframe

As for the cockroaches, unless you live completely sealed in an air conditioned house surrounded only by concrete (and even then), you will have some. They especially love any kind of fresh produce or old food. They poop and are just plain gross with those long antennae and I do not want them around! So this means you must keep your kitchen super clean and no dishes in the sink and everything must be organized and reorganized on the regular. Easier said than done!

Look, a paradise beetle! haha

6) But they do not like bleach! So bleach floors and counters often to keep cockroaches somewhat away. Another trick we learned with cockroaches is to grab the spray bleach bottle and spray the heck out of then. It slows them down enough that you can then smack them with your chancla (flipflop). (Haha, yes, this is part of our life!) Más cloro!

Spray cloro
Not just for toilets anymore!

7) Bleach also takes away most of the mold that will grow on all sorts of things. Even our pillows, behind framed pictures, anything leather and plastic trashcans! It is just amazing how much life there is here!

8) Rum or rather its boring cousin rubbing alcohol (as well as H2O2 and Neosporin) is the preferred method for all the infections and scrapes we get here. A simple splinter can cause a pus-infested swollen finger in a matter of days because there is just so much stuff always growing here. My skin always breaks out from the various forms of life -whether plant, bacteria, fungi, whatever! Alcohol neutralizes the poison in carrasco, it also helps clear up the stinging red ant bites. We also eat copious amounts of garlic since it is a natural anti-bacterial/anti-viral/anti-fungal agent. It’s no wonder garlic is the main seasoning in Puerto Rican cuisine!!

Haole Rot
In Hawaii they call it Haole Rot because it affects white people more I assume -tinea versicolor

Todo tiene solución. Everything has a solution. And for these problems, and more: Ron y cloro! But don’t forget a nice course of Vitamin Sea with a rum piña colada and a good sense of humor to help these problems and others just melt away!

Beach Sat
Ahhh…Rincón balneario

What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (6)
  • Awesome (5)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (3)
  • Bummer (3)
  • Yikes (1)

Random Update: July 2017

Posted by Cassie

Once again it is time for the slices of life that don’t necessarily deserve a post of their own but have been fun and/or interesting.

We recently went to a beautiful celebration of life at a boutique resort in Añasco called Yukayeke. It was very touching.

Amazing sunset

Beach Memorial
Gathering of friends

Yukayeke pool Playing music at Yukayeke
And a pool party

Crab cage
It’s still crab (Juey) season here and a few people are out on the street offering them for sale

I love to stop and see the abandoned buildings and the fantastic graffiti art

Cassie mural


Even a flamingo!

We finally hung the closet pole and shelf!!

The cars on this island are almost as fun to watch as the people! So many questions…

One car
From this… a custom car that could never clear most of the potholes here

Two car
To this…a makeshift moving van?

Car balneario
To this…an abandoned and stripped out car. Why are there so many jugs of water?

Back at the farm, we’ve had quite the abundance of food and beauty!

Breadfruit – Pana in Spanish is also an expression here that means pal or friend

Peace Lily
Peace Lily is blooming

Our first limes from a tree we planted!

The cabin side of the property is filling in nicely with plants and the afternoon rains cause the quebrada to flow beneath the bridge

Ms Puerto Rico
The clothing selection in some stores is pretty fun -I had to try this one on: Ms Puerto Rico!

Broken Piraguas
Even the piragua cart breaks down sometimes!

Cassie and Britton
And the beach is always awaiting us


What do you think of this post?
  • WOW (0)
  • Awesome (14)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (0)
  • Bummer (0)
  • Yikes (1)