» Archive for June, 2010

Grafting success!

Sunday, June 27th, 2010 by Marie

Three years ago we started grafting quince and pear trees onto a native fruit tree. Read how we graft in this past entry.

Today, we have over 1,400 grafted trees throughout the Bosque. Walking around the other day we spotted one tree that is doing particularly well, with several small quince fruits starting to show up.

These grafted trees are a very clear example of successful permaculture and food forestry.  The pear and quince trees have strong, native roots of the manzanillo tree, and require no water, fertilizer, or care.  As we mention quite often, we would love to keep irrigation to a minimum at the Bosque.  Planting fruit and nut trees that can survive here through the dry season is a total win.  And a volunteer here right now recently spoke very highly of quince jam he made and preserved in a farm in Europe…  we may be trying that soon!

The fruits showing up remind us of our need to make a solar dehydrator and think of other ways to preserve and use the fruits.  Pear cider?  Quince jam?  Ideas?


Forest Fire

Friday, June 18th, 2010 by Marie

On Monday a few Bosque volunteers noticed a large fire on the north side of the land as they were returning from town.  They alerted Brian and ran to get shovels, and volunteers, visitors, and friends all joined to help us put out the fire.  Within a couple of hours the fire was controlled, and in about 3 hours rains rolled in and we stopped the constant monitoring.  Yesterday volunteers spent the morning putting out all remaining smoldering areas.

During the dry season the fire risk is incredibly high.  One of the reasons we’re so uptight about our no-smoking rule is that a single cigarette butt could actually burn the entire Bosque down.  We are unsure how this fire started, but we are very fortunate that we caught it when we did.  We’re also fortunate that the rains are here; a few weeks ago this fire would have been much more dangerous.

The last forest fire at the Bosque was in 2007.  Brian wrote about the experience on his own blog, and we’ve reposted it here.  In 2008 and 2009 we didn’t have any fires, though we did notice several small fires nearby.

One of the reasons we’re at high risk for forest fires is that, unlike our neighbors, we don’t have a manicured forest.  People tend to pick up all the dead wood and brush and burn it.  We don’t do this because we are trying to heal the soil and increase the level of mushrooms, animal, and plant life.  However, we have also created a huge network of trails and are beginning to widen them.  Trails serve as fire breaks, making it difficult for the fire to spread quickly.  The trails around where the fire was helped slow its spread significantly.

The trees will all live, and very few important plants were in the area of the fire.  We are sad to have lost one snag - a dead tree that housed several birds.  The burned, ash covered land will be excellent for planting.  When we began burning plagued tree branches to fight the pine beetle plague, Chilino started to plant lettuce, radishes, beans, and herbs in the ashy soil.  Because of this and a few freak rainstorms during the dry winter months, we enjoyed organic salads throughout the dry season.  We will plant vegetables in the ashy soil soon, and anticipate high yields from this part of the land.

Thanks to all who helped us fight the fire!

Volunteer Spotlight: Niklas

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 by Marie

niklasportraitNiklas volunteered at the Bosque for two and a half months.

He saw all sides of the Bosque Village.  He was here through a large social event with 50 people, through slow times with just 2 volunteers, and through normal times with our average crowd of around 10 people.  Niklas is easy going, so friendly, and so intelligent!

Niklas worked on a variety of projects, including preparing for the rainy season by digging gardens, fixing the sauna, working on the chicken coop, repairing a large cistern, building benches and other construction work, and building a cob hut.  He also set up a few meditation spots and helped us discover some particularly magical places in the forest.  In his free time he spent many hours reading about permaculture and food forestry, and came up with some great suggestions that we immediately implemented - the most important project is a new small pool to collect water during the rainy season.

A Buddhist, Niklas often led meditation for other visitors and volunteers.  He meditated daily in various spots in the forest, and included people who were interested.  Brian and Niklas worked together on future plans for a spiritual center at the Bosque.  His experience with Zen Buddhism and his dedication to his own practice helped us understand what we need to do to make a great spiritual center here.

Niklas is also a talented graphic designer.  He created a logo for the new spiritual center, a banner for the center’s website, and he also spent many hours working on the Bosque Village map.  We now have a vector based map to work with and we couldn’t be happier with his help!

Our volunteer manager, Chilino, was also so happy to work with Niklas.  Chilino often has trouble communicating with our volunteers, as the majority (Niklas included) don’t speak much Spanish.  But for some, the language barrier slips away.  Niklas and Chilino grew close over the 2 months he was here, and Chilino was appreciative to have such a great helper.  Niklas is so respectful, smart, and thoughtful that any barriers of language, class, or ethnicity were completely irrelevant.

Dogs and cats and people and all living things, Niklas is a kind hearted person and takes care of the beings around him.  We had a recent fly infestation (it happens every year as the rains come), and the expression rings true for Niklas: he won’t even hurt a fly.  The dogs will miss his presence and his daily dose of love.  And as for the people, another volunteer mentioned to me that she was amazed at how much she missed him.  Having known him for just three weeks, Niklas made such an impression on her and on the other people around him.

For anyone who gets a chance to know this guy, know him deeply and enjoy.  He’s a story teller, a hard worker, a talented artist, and a great musician.  This man can’t have enemies; he’s just so darn like-able!  We miss you Niklas, and we hope to see you soon.

Working on the map:


Reading outside the Casita:

With a kitty!:


And playing guitar:

Recipe: Marie’s Mulled Wine and Cinnamon Tea

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 by Marie

We have an annual tradition to provide mulled wine and hot tea at sunset during Semana Santa - “Holy/Easter week” - for our guests and volunteers.  During this time of year the nights are chilly and mulled wine and cinnamon tea are nice warm beverages to comfort all as we enjoy the sunset at Cute Hill.

Cute Hill at the Bosque Village

Mulled Wine ala Marie

Please don’t use a nice red wine for this recipe.  Mulled wine is a perfect excuse to use crappy dry reds - you’ll mask the flavor beautifully by adding the right spices and sweetners.  It is a Scandinavian tradition around Christmas time to make mulled wine.


  • 1.5 liters dry red wine
  • 6 inch cinnamon stick, or 2 T ground cinnamon.
  • 2 or 3 cloves
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • juice of 1 orange
  • honey, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), or sugar - to taste
  • water, to taste
  • optional: vanilla (liquid or pods) and a pinch of ground nutmeg


  1. Combine all ingredients, minus water, into a large pot.  Heat gently until hot.  Don’t boil.
  2. Keep on low heat, stirring frequently, and avoiding bringing it to a simmer, for 20 minutes.
  3. Taste and add more sweetener if necessary, and a bit of water if it is too strong.
  4. Serve warm.


Cinnamon tea

It is always important to provide alternatives to alcoholic beverages!  This tea is lovely, please enjoy no matter the time of year.


  • 2 liters water
  • 10 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 small handful hibiscus flowers
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • honey - to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a simmer, turn off heat, and steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Strain and serve, accompanied with more honey or sugar for people to add as wanted.

This year at Cute Hill:

The Dogs and Niklas

Sunday, June 6th, 2010 by Marie

Niklas has been here nearly two months now, and we love how much he loves the dogs.

And the cats.

And all living creatures.

A great guy who makes life better for animals and people around him.

(photo by Ang)

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