Category Archives: Landscaping

An Agricultural Weekend -Ag Fair and Vivero Anones

Posted by Cassie

This was a busy weekend with a lot of activities to choose from. There was the Festival of Sweet Oranges in Las Marias, the Corona Surf Contest here in Rincon and an Ag Fair in Moca. We decided to not head down to the crowded Corona Surf event at Domes Beach that we have enjoyed in years past and instead went out to an Agricultural Fair in Moca. So many people descend on Rincon for the Corona event that it becomes crazy crowded, and we opted to mostly avoid it (though it is sort of unavoidable when 5000 more people are in a town of 15,000).

Corona Surf Sunset
We just drove past some of the Corona crowd and slooowly thru the traffic jams

The Agricultural Feria in Moca was actually held at the Labadie Mansion which I adore. I love the architecture and how it magically transports you to a villa in France.

Cassie LabadieMe and the mansion

The actual agricultural part of the fair was pretty small. Mostly it was like the majority of fairs and festivals in Puerto Rico. Lots of carnival food, carnival rides, people watching, and music.

Ag FairMoo watching over the festival

But there were some small aspects of agriculture to it. For example there were vendors giving out samples of chocolate milk and pony rides. There was a small tent of farmers and farm products and we found what we were looking for and that has overall proven to be difficult to find and acquire: some heliconia starts.

Horse Rides
Pony rides

Speaker carsIt’s not an event in Puerto Rico if you’re not blasting music from your car


Britton Pineapple tops
They were making fruit juices with fresh pineapples so we asked for the crowns to plant for free!

On the way out of town after the fair we also stopped at a small vivero and found a few more plants for our collection.

Plant store
Britton at the garden store

One of the reasons we decided not to go to the Festival de las Chinas in Las Marias was because we had made plans to meet with Sherry Ballester again at her Vivero Anones in Las Marias on Tuesday and didn’t want to drive up there twice in one week. She gave us a deal we couldn’t pass up: precious heliconia and ginger starts in exchange for some help around her farm. She and her husband Carlos are getting older and are having a hard time keeping up with the work at the farm, especially with the destruction from Hurricane Maria. There was still a lot of debris everywhere and she couldn’t even access whole sections of her farm. Well, we know all about cleaning up a property! We packed up the chainsaw, digging stick, loppers and machete along with rubber boots and pants and made our way up to the farm.

Britton and Sherry
Britton and Sherry with one of the tall heliconias

I helped a little moving some debris from the paths and bringing supplies and water to help, but Britton did the bulk of the work of chainsawing, clearing, digging and hauling while I wandered around looking at her gorgeous collection. Sherry knows all of the scientific names to these plants, but I can’t remember them all.

Heliconia (2)
Hanging pendant heliconia

Bright upright heliconia

Rabo de gato
This one is rabo de gato -cat tail

Palm tree
Huge palm tree making a comeback

Hummingbirds abound

Cassie jungleHanging out in nature

Dirty B
It’s dirty yet beautiful work!

Vivero Anones
Sherry took this picture of us after a long sweaty morning session

Britton was so dirty we actually had to go out and buy him a t-shirt before visiting with our friend Missy later that afternoon.

Water jugMoving the water tank with our new friend Ryan -look how dry the grass is!

We have been wanting to expand the flower gardens but have also been hoping for more rain because new transplants need a lot of water. It has been sooo dry lately that we have to give a little extra water and hand irrigation to the plants. The problem is that the water has been off and on (along with the power). We had some guests staying with us this past week and they helped us move the water cistern to the top of the cabana so that everyone  -plants and people can be wet down. We also installed another water spigot on the other side of the bridge to have easier access to water. There is always some sort of challenge around here, but we’re up to the task!

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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.

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Spring and Easter in Rincón

Posted by Cassie

In Puerto Rico because it is a tropical environment, many people think that there are not seasons. This is not exactly accurate. While it does stay between 75-85 degrees F year round there are still subtle changes. Because we work outside a lot and we live in a cabin in the middle of the jungle we notice these changes perhaps a bit more than some people. For one thing, many of the plants begin to flower in preparation for fruiting in the summer. One of my favorite flowering plants are the robles (Tabebuia rosea). For about one month these trees add a rose colored hue to everything including the ground! It is like living in a pink snow globe especially when you see them softly twirl to the ground.

Cassie with flowers
The trees and I are pink!

Carpet of robles
Roll out the pink carpet!

Turkeys enjoying the changing colors of spring

Rambutan flowers
The rambutan are already flowering! Let’s hope they form fruit!

GrosellasLike this grosella

Papaya markings
The papaya and bananas are constantly producing! I love the way this trunk looks like ancient carving

I think all plants are beautiful in a certain way, but not all of them are friendly! We have been working on clearing around the cabin and replanting with fruiting trees and ornamentals. In doing so we have to clear out some pretty mean and nasty stuff like the Puerto Rican poison ivy they call Carrasco that no matter how careful I am, I always somehow manage to get on me. About 2 days after this happens I swell up really bad and start itching uncontrollably. Then my skin erupts in a pus-y mess and then finally scabs over. It is not fun!

Carrasco berries
Spring for the Carrasco plant too! Here is its flower/berry

Another mean plant are the wild bromeliads. While beautiful they have the most vicious spikes on them. I have many pokes and stings from these bad boys. They are very difficult to eradicate from an area. We just threw them over the fence line. They would make a good living fence because no one would want to walk through these!

Bromeliad Spikes
Wild bromeliad and its thorny weaponry

Side yard
Side of the cabin that we cleared of bromeliads and other brush and have begun to replant

When we’re not enjoying spring in the jungle, we have been out with friends at various events including the Stand Up Paddleboard race, and Spring/Easter parties. The 2017 tourist season was a little slow, but that doesn’t mean the partying was. One thing about living in Rincón (and I think Puerto Rico in general) is that there is never a shortage of parties! It’s a good-time island. We have to consciously choose which events to go to and which not because we’ll never get anything done around the property otherwise!

Villa Cofresi
Villa Cofresí and her famous piratas during the SUP contest

Logan Britton Chris Karen C B Sage
Fun times with friends!

On Easter weekend we went to a friend’s farm in Aguada and set up a campground. We sang songs around the campfire and toasted marshmellows and relaxed. The fireflies came out and danced alongside us. It was truly magical!

Road to Toms jungle
Road through the woods to the campsite

Camp in jungleCampsite by day

And by night (thanks Daisy for this pic)

Easter we had a wonderful time with a variety of friends!

Van Ees
The Van Ees

Slip n slide (2) Easter chicken
So much fun! Slip-sliding away…even with chickens!

Cassie and Britton easter
¡Felices Pascuas!

Beach party
And another party at the beach!

So yes, there is a spring in Puerto Rico even if it isn’t quite as pronounced as up north. Everything is in bloom, the birds and insects start mating more, the rains begin to come more regularly, the temperature and humidity go up a little and the ocean warms up just a bit. In Rincón the northern tourists leave and the local Puerto Rican tourists start arriving. I hope we can continue playing music through this summer, but if not, come check us out at our next show this Saturday at Willie’s Bar and Grill in the marina!

Rincon Continentals poster
Rincón Continentals Live

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Update: Limber de Teta, Demolition Derby, Flower Power, Rincón Film Fest, Etc

Posted by Cassie

Rincon beach road
Rincón Back Road

Wow, it always surprises me when I think of what to write about for the blog. I think, I don’t really have any good topics. Then I look through my pictures and I see that we have actually been out doing quite a few things. Here are a few of them:

Rincón International Film Festival
We enjoyed a beautiful and elegant evening at Rincón Beach Resort for the final night of the Rincón International Film Festival also known as ”Best Of Fest.”  I like to watch all the short films that have been sifted through and chosen as the top picks. As for the resort, I have never been to this one and it was really nice. I have seen it advertised on Wheel of Fortune and it definitely has that sort of all-inclusive resort vibe. It even has a swim-up pool bar that is connected directly to the beach.

Rincon Film Fest
With friends at RIFF 

Cassie Rincon Beach Resort RIFF with Markus and Daisy
Fun at Rincón Beach Resort

Limber de Teta
I saw a sign for Limber de Teta and it made me laugh. What could boob limber possibly be? So we stopped and tried it out. It was a limber (like an icee) but sold in a little baggie the shape of a boob. Pretty clever!

Britton sucking teta
Sucking on a parcha/piña boob

Limber de teta Artesan Boobs
At the Limber de Teta stand just off the 115 going towards Aguada

Demolition Derby in Moca
A friend of ours invited us to a demolition derby in Moca that was a fundraiser for his friend’s adolescent daughter who has a very aggressive form of cancer. I see a lot of fundraisers around here for various causes, but this was one of the biggest. We hadn’t been to a demo derby since the Greeley Stampede many years ago. Here it was definitely not regulation size or even in a stadium. People just sort of hung out everywhere, but it somehow worked.

F Cancer Demo car
One of the demolition cars

Demolition crowd Demolition Derby from above
Quite a crowd in the middle of a cleared out field!

As we were watching the events unfold a the derby, a young girl walked by that caught my eye. What was in her hands? Snakes! I was intrigued and began asking her about them. She could tell that I wasn’t afraid of them and said, do you want to hold them? I tentatively said yes and she put the large python on my neck and the baby in my hands. You never know what you may find in the randomest of places!

Snake Cassie edit
Cassie the Snake Charmer. Starting to get a little tight around the neck!

Flower Power: Playing Music
We played our most recent show at Willie’s to the theme of Flower Power/Hippie Night and it was a lot of fun.

Willies Hippie Night
Playing out at Willie’s

Hippies Kenny Markus Cassie Hippie Night
Good times! Peace, Love and Happiness!

On the Property
We have been focusing on property landscaping a little more lately and cleanup. While we’re not completely done with the house, it is functional. So now we are making it and the surroundings pretty! The finca has grown a lot in the last 3 nearly 4 years and we are starting to see the literal fruits of our labors!

Japanese Nispero Flowers
Nispero Japones aka Loquat first flowers!

Cassie Jungle 2 two
Amongst the flowers of our gardens

Kola cola nut flowers
Kola Nut flowers!

I hear something BK
In the jungle of our yard…Hey! What’s that sound?!

We have been clearing out some pretty nasty spiky and poisonous plants lately! Check them out:

Huge Spider Huntsman
Huge harmless spider (on a 2×6 to give you scale)…a huntsman

Cross that bridge
We’ll cross that bridge when we get there

As I was clearing some bromeliads and underbrush from behind the cabin, I found this old liquor bottle. We have determined based on the markings that it is from between 1932-1964! That’s a long time to be sitting out in the middle of the jungle! This old treasure says: Federal Law Forbids Sale or Reuse of this Bottle. John Walker and Sons Ltd Kilmarnock Scotland 4/5 Quart.

Before it was Johnnie Walker, it was John Walker and Sons Ltd

The chickens and turkeys are all doing pretty good. We have to protect them a little more especially now that we are at the cabin and not as close to their coops. We collect quite a few eggs and enjoy their silly antics. Here’s some voodoo magic you can do with a chicken!

Out and about
And then of course there is the randomness of being out and about around the island. You just never know what you might see.

Whole lotta cans
Like a HUGE can of cans!

Muscovie duck
Beautiful duck, I think a Muscovy in a lagoon

Surfrider crewHanging out with Surfrider and a high school science club doing water quality testing 

Cool new mural on a derelict building

Cassie derelict house
And nature reclaiming this one

Not even for one second
This sign made me laugh…No! You can’t park here, not even for one second

One of our favorite little food stands, Sana, moved across the street by the Post Office

Socato fruit
And at the Pulguero in San Sebastian I spotted these huge fruits. They call them Socato

Chilling cassie
Hanging out at one of our favorite bars, Olajas in Aguada

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