Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What to do in Puerto Rico-the Nutcracker is coming to town

You don't have to live in New York to see fine ballet; you don't have to be freezing to see The Nutcracker Suite; you don't even have to go to San Juan!!

The Ballet de San Juan is coming to the Teatro Oliver in Arecibo, Puerto Rico on Friday, December 5th for one day!
Presentacion de El Cascanueces del Ballet de San Juan dirigido por Orlando Carrera el 5 de diciembre.

  • 6:30 Welcome cocktails
  • 7:30 Ballet
  • 9:00 Noche de Bohemia (various artists invited)

For Information and Tickets ($35): 787-487-6416 * 787-675-5880

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches and we all take time to reflect and give thanks, I want to formally thank all the guests who have come to TJ Ranch.

Living on a farm in the boondocks has its limitations in that we don't get away much to "see the world"; but the most important aspect of the world, its people, have come to us. Over the last eight years we have met people from all over the world. In many instances the line between "guests" and "friends" have blurred and become one, which really isn't a problem except that we feel bad
ly when we have to charge... but back to the point at hand.

Ron and Evelyn, I must mention by name... our first guests who mailed us a deposit for their full stay and have been my technical gurus to follow til death do us part.

A diabetes' educator came on vacation and when I mentioned Tony's "borderline" condition she sent us a care package with meters, booklets, creams and ointments...the care packages keep coming and so does she. Thank you Wilma.

Maybe it was just luck that a nurse and a fireman were here when the gas stove blew up in Tony's face, but we thank them for the cold water response and the care packages that followed. We also lea
rned to search for wi-fi cruising the streets of Arecibo in their rental car.

The two veterinarians came separately that Christmas when our cat had infected stitches. Both vets opened our eyes to the variety of jobs veterinarians do, from traveling with the CDC to cancer
research in John's Hopkins' lab. Thank you vets.

Our sun-dial is set to Wisconsin, the home of our other guests/friends.

We were sent a beautiful CD/DVD from Germany of TJ Ranch and Arecibo. We hope to see Emilio and Susi in 2010 when they return to Puerto Rico.

We never heard of the Isle of Man nor Estonia (shame on us) before guests came from those faraway places. The Estonians took
us all over the world from their laptop....and the Israelis wanted to hook up the kids for a free trip to Israel based on their lineage.

Thanks go to Heather for leaving her copy of Breaking Dawn for Tina (and then for me) saving us a trip to Borders in San Juan.

We can never forget our birdwatchers from Cape Cod and DC who have opened our eyes (and ears)to our co-inhabitants of the farm.

Thanks to our native american trooper/governor security force from Connecticut and now we know that the Friday after Thanksgiving is Native American Heritage Day. She keeps us up to date on the "real world" and politics...and is another guest who has crossed over from guest to friend.

For all those I haven't mentioned, please don't feel ignored or forgotten. You've made TJ Ranch a very special place for us and we'll be thinking of you during this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving....and Buen Provecho!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Life on the Farm

It was getting too much. This picture just shows a small piece of the flock. Tony's morning ritual was getting out of hand; our little pond was too small; and you already know about my chicken problem.

What are animals on a farm for if not to eat? Today was the day....we used to kill ducks by using a wax to remove feathers and waxing your legs, but we don't have the wax and we don't have the time to do all that. Today we're doing it Puerto Rican style...removing the feathers and the skin (the best part). We'll be eating duck fricase in no time. Fricase is a typical stew for duck, rabbit, goat or chicken. Today's special is chicken soup...can't get much fresher than this...maybe this weekend we'll have some pate for appetizers. In all we have 13 ducks and 13 chickens in the freezer!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Garden News

Our coffee is all trimmed knee height. The first ones which we cut awhile ago already have new growth. In between some of the coffees we're planting papayas. Some are males which don't bear fruit (although their flowers are suppose to be a good expectorant as a tea), others are females so hopefully we'll have homegrown papayas for breakfast.

We're working on our garden. We still have our herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley) and we have cherry tomatoes, peppers and kohl-rabi (which I've never tasted) planted. We have beefsteak tomatoes, 3 kinds of lettuces, cucumber and zucchini, thyme and parsley all in the semillero (where you start seeds), but I'm running around like crazy putting up wire blockades because our chickens are messing them up. It's nice to have our chickens loose...and these are the kind that don't give eggs when they're caged, but what a pain! They dig in the dirt to get comfortable and knock over the I think they've eaten any of the seeds we plant directly in the ground. Well...we're overdue for fresh poultry...too many ducks and too many chickens. In the meantime, I'll keep a careful eye on my seedlings and look for the perfect garden spot. Wish me luck...I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I have good news and....

Well the good news is that we're inThe Lonely Planet guide book for Puerto Rico.... that makes 3 guide books that I know of...Lonely Planet, Moon, and Alternativa (a local guide book that we were in volume 1, but I don't know if it's come out again.) We also will add a Trip Advisor badge to our site, when I learn how. So the good news is that we're getting good reviews and we're "out there". If you know of any other guides (Fodors anyone?), let me know.

The bad news is that we haven't had inquiries nor bookings. Vacation plans are on hold during hard times and the economic incertainty lately make traveling a luxury many can't begin to think about. The people who have come down from the states lately said that their airfares were pretty good, so if you think that the upcoming winter may get you down or if you're picturing the warm water surf....make your reservations NOW!

In the meantime, we're keeping up with maintenece...the pool deck is freshly painted and we're getting our garden together so you can have fresh vegies.

Here's a picture of Tony cooking lunch for some local guests that stayed last month....fried rice, vegies and pinchos (kebobs)..Mmmmmmm Buen provecho!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Birdwatching in Puerto Rico

Bill Harvey, a bird watching guest of ours, wrote to ask how we were doing after the rains. I told him we were fine and that he should check out my blog but please excuse the bird pictures. Bill sent me some great pictures, so here they are....most are from TJ Ranch; 2 are from El Yunque. Come and bird watch at TJ Ranch.

Please excuse the layout...I can't seem to move the pictures like I want to....I hope you can click on the pictures so you can see them full size. They're really beautiful!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

As the sun was setting over the Atlantic and I'm anxiously waiting for Tina to get out of the water, I saw a beam of light slowly appear and disappear. Trying to count the seconds so I can take a picture of the beacon, I saw the Arecibo Lighthouse in a new way. It really is a navigator's tool that marks the rocky coast of Arecibo. The picture's not great, but the lighthouse is. Come and see for yourself.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Arecibo Beach, Puerto Rico-It's a bird, it's a ?

Don't be surprised if you're sitting on the beach at Caza y Pesca in Arecibo and some people come by looking for just the right spot, a flag on a pole or an x on a blanket....then everyone looks a short while you'll see parachuters in the sky...bright colored sheets with what looks like a toy hanging minute up in the sky and the next minute cruising over the water and the landing steadfast on the sand.

This time there were few of them...

and I never even saw the plane......

and then they gathered their chutes, wrapped things up and were gone!

From what I've heard, Arecibo Airport has jumps for novice and experienced jumpers. Tandems for beginners offering videos as well.

I'll find out more info for those bold exteme sport enthusiasts. Contact me at:

Arecibo Events-Octoberfest

Announcing Caribbean best Beer Fest - never before in Puerto Rico
exhibitions, fashion show, music, music, music....Saturday, October 4th...Arecibo Coliseo...7pm

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

TJ Ranch lights up...Puerto Rico by candlelight

Our electricity was browning out, our appliances going on and was time. The electric company finally cleaned up the trees touching the main power lines coming over the dam. Now our light seems to be doing OK; now we finally got our new generator.

Don't worry...the day will come once again when the light will go...usually in the middle of preparing food for our guests, but we'll be prepared. Even though it's loud like a truck, we'll turn on that big green box (which I'm anxious to paint with flowers) and our casitas will light up, the restaurant will have music and everyone can shower with hot, hot water! The convenience of electricity will prevail...and hopefully you'll even be able to hear the song of a coqui over it all.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fresh Food or Food is everywhere in Puerto Rico

We don't have a magnificent garden (yet), but we do have food to eat. As I look around, I see 3 fresh breadfruits (pana), a couple of avocados (aguacates), some oranges (chinas) and puerto rican pears (pluma rosas) falling from the trees. It's a little early for oranges, but you can see them slowly changing from green to orange. Although I try to "buy local" it seems that when the markets are selling avocados, I have my own. It's only in an off month(like December) when we want avocados and they are nowhere to be found...
Mangos are summer fruit, oranges are November through March...I wish I knew when everything pops up.
I remember a day when we were getting ready to eat a bacalao salad and Tony and I each said, "Wait a minute." We each headed out the door and in opposite directions and came back with an avocado. "Now we can eat!"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

More Surfing News

SEPTEMBER 27 - 28, 2008

APSPR's Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit Set To Crown Season Champs

The Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit returns to Playa Middles, Isabela,
Puerto Rico Sept. 27 - 28, 2008 to crown the champions for this year's
competitive season.

Surfing in Puerto Rico - Arecibo and the North Coastt!!

When talking about surfing in Puerto Rico, everyone thinks of Rincon....but Arecibo's the place to be. From the sandy bottom of Caza y Pesca for beginners to the treacherous Marginal in downtown Arecibo for the more daring, the open water Atlantic has waves for everybody. La Poza is perfect for a mixed group of swimmers and surfers with a protected area for bathers as well as a stretch of waves among the rocks for competent surfers. For those summer days when most areas are flat, Hallows is sure to have something, but know what you're doing because you may break your board or cut up your feet.

Isabela also has well known surf spots....Jobos being the most well known, but for me...I prefer my home town of Arecibo.

"El Doctor" has taught both my kids to surf and has given private lessons to many of our guests. Locals seem to have a watchful eye for bathers because the currents can be deceiving.

So come to TJ Ranch and have the best of both on the beach and relax in the mountains.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Eco-friendly in PR...before thinking 'green'

I guess we've had a piggy pot for the last 20 years. If it didn't go to our neighbor's, then it went to our own pigs. Having grown up with disposals, I was initially perplexed as to where to throw table scraps in my country kitchen in Puerto Rico. Although composting was possible for the "neat" stuff...potato peels and plant cuttings; we had so much of the other stuff... saucy greasy food stuff...and those things became a haven for ants. Just like I used to ask," Can eggshells go down the disposal?" now I'm asking, "Are you sure pigs can eat chicken bones?"

So if you come to TJ Ranch you'll find out why pigs are truly pigs ...and come with us down the road to drop off our piggy pot. By the way, bring your camera because there's a great view of Lago Dos Bocas.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

PR Birdwatchers paradise

At 5:30 all the puerto rican tortulas are flying around. Is this really the dark pigeon that some people eat? What's that little bird with the red legs? I wish some birdwatchers were here. They explain it all to me. "See that bird over there? He's going to the nest that the other one just left?" Birdwatchers know it all...they spot all the birds and know all the chismes (gossip).

The guaraguayos (hawks) are circling. I hope they're not eying the chicks crossing the road. The pitirris are swooping down at Puppy (our dog), but he doesn't seem to mind. Hey...the hummingbirds are making holes in the bananas! Are those finches in that plant?

Our birdwatching visitors have spotted alot of birds at TJ Ranch, but so far no one has been able to locate the screech owls. Can you?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

B&B Special

So what do you do when you have 2 of these lying around? We have banana muffins, banana bread, smoothies, and banana ice cream. I'm out of cream but tomorrow I may try a 2% banana 'cream' pie. Any ideas would be appreciated. We're at the end of our cucumbers (must get a rhythm to keep a continuous crop) and something seems to have eaten our summer squash, but our loofahs are doing great (summer must be the time)
and our herbs are fine. I'm thinking of trying hydroponic tomatoes. I haven't started researching this, but if anyone knows anything about it, let me know.
Yes...we have bananas!!!
In November we'll have fresh orange juice everyday and looking into orange recipes. Come for breakfast ....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

La Broca or Uh oh for the coffee this year

Yesterday ASDA (the department of agriculture) came to spray our coffee for "broca." Broca is an insect smaller than the head of a needle. It attacks the coffee bean from the tip and eats all the way inside. Broca is the main coffee disease throughout the world. Google it and it pops up in Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, etc. Last year Puerto Rico had it in the areas of San Sebastian and Yauco but we never had it in the Arecibo/Utuado area. We had expected to trim our coffee trees after last years' harvest, but waited too long. Once the trees flowered we decided to harvest this year and then cut. The trees looked healthy...full of green leaves but didn't seem to have many beans. Usually that's because they're too tall and bushy and the sun can't get in...maybe this year it was the 'broca'....although don't think the bugs come until there's fruit.

So..our trees have been sprayed with an organic mixture of pepper something and now we're making traps....the next line of defense against this pest. We've been told not to let any ripe grains fall to the ground because infestation can occur on the ground. Basically impossible to avoid that happening. We plan to harvest the little coffee that we have and then chop it way back. We'll dry the coffee to sell it. We've been told that there are few places buying ripe coffee this year and that the ones who are buying it are throwing the coffee in water and paying for the beans that sink. The floaters are damaged. For the already suffering agriculture industry in Puerto Rico this is truly a set back.

If you're driving through coffee country and see empty soda bottles hanging in the coffee plantations, you'll know they're trapping broca there. We'll have ours hanging soon although it's not til after the flowering when you really want to trap them. I guess they'll be a permanent part of our coffee landscape. I'll take a picture once we have them up.

Coffee season for us is usually from the end of Sept. to Nov. so come to TJ Ranch and try your hand at picking coffee.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 1- Welcome to TJ Ranch

Hi everyone....welcome to TJ Ranch's blog. We'll be talking about everything from the "broca" coffee epidemic, the north shore surf report, to Tony's famous recipes, old and new. Let me see if and how this thing works and I'll catch you later.