» Archive for April, 2008

Cerro Chivo

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 by Marie

Yesterday we woke up at 5am and headed out on a hike to Cerro Chivo, one of the highest spots on this side of the lake.

We met our friend in La Zarzamora, who wanted to help us find a cave that is somewhere near Cerro Chivo where a bearded serpent lives (or so they say…).

We drove up the mountain until the road got too bad for the van, and then started out on foot. It was about a four mile hike to the top of the mountain, through beautiful green forest. The climate at this higher elevation (10,650 feet) was just different enough to allow it to be much greener than the Bosque throughout the rainy season. Tall oaks and pines mostly, with a few tempanos (sp?). We need to head back when the tempanos have seeds so we can try growing that near-native here.

Some maps of where we hiked:

Map of hike

map of hike

We also discovered this cool plant (fideo, or noodle):

noodle plant

We need to head back in a month or so to get seeds for that plant. Is good to use as a decoration! And it looks really cool crawling up the plants.

Unfortunately, we never found the opening to the cool cave that’s supposed to be up there. But we were thrilled to find such amazing views of the lake and surrounding towns. It was a bit hazy, so the photos aren’t as spectacular as they could be on a clear day, but we got some good shots. Lots of Mexican grass to tromp through on the way up to the summit, and probably the best view we’ve found yet on this side of the lake:

grass and view

summit view

Nopales Project

Sunday, April 13th, 2008 by Marie

Nopales, or prickly pear, grow natively here in Michoacán. They are incredibly easy to plant: stir up a bit of dirt, plop nopal paddle down on the ground, and walk away.

We had three truckloads of nopal paddles delivered - about 2,000 plants in total. We will use them as natural barriers along the edges of the property and some of our important trails, as well as ornamentally along hillsides in sunny areas of the forest. There are three types we have planted: small nopal, large nopal, and jocanoles.

Nopales growing in the Bosque

Nopales have two edible sections: the tuna, which is a fruit, and the pad (nopal), which is treated as a vegetable. Nopales are very healthy (good sources of calcium, iron, fiber, among other things) and easy to prepare. Right now we buy nopales from the ladies down at the market - soon, we will have our own!

Rattlesnake Injury

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 by The Bosque

Sad news last night. We came home to find Contreras with a head the size of a basketball. She likely encountered a rattlesnake.

Contreras with a GIANT head

We went back to town today to pick up some meds for her. It surprised me that they recommended a diuretic, but because rattlesnake venom is bad for kidneys, supposedly it will help a bit. They also gave us penicillin and anti-inflammatories. She will either live or die in the next few days… unclear what the outcome will be. But right now she is calm and totally out of it, so that is good I suppose. If she lives she has learned not to pounce on rattlesnakes.

The swelling around her mouth...

Update on April 29, 2008: So far, so good! Contreras is nearly back to normal, with a couple small cuts leftover from where the snake hit. Her head has reduced to normal size, and she is back to being a spazzy crazy dog again! Yay!

Clay and Pottery in Tzintsuntsan

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 by The Bosque

This afternoon we drove across the lake to Tzintsuntsan, hoping to meet with a well known potter there, buy some clay, and have her access a dirt sample from the land here at the Bosque.

We asked around and quickly found Ophelia, who welcomed us into her studio where 3 or 4 generations were busy working with clay and handpainting bowls and plates.

Ophelia sold us a large bag of clay, but also recommended buying the clay in dirt form from a man down the road. He will sell us two costales (large bags - about the size of a large bag of dog food) for 70 pesos.

The dirt we brought was passed around for the whole family to test, and the quick consensus was that we need to mix with a dirt of higher plasticity. We will test samples from different areas of the land. Ophelia mixed up some clay using a combination of our dirt and what she uses - we will try making coil pots and masks and see how it fires.

Thinking possibly building a kiln… unsure. We will pit fire some pots first to see how well it works. There are some decent plans online for brick kilns, which might be a good option if we start working with clay during events and retreats.


Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 by The Bosque

This afternoon two avid birdwatchers came to visit and explore the potential for birdwatching here at the Bosque. They were very impressive! One women was able to identify every bird she saw - and she saw a *lot* of birds. She even saw a bird to add to her “life list” - the list she keeps of the birds she has seen.

It is great news for this forest! We will begin using a bird bath and other methods to attract an even larger variety of birds, and we will make a webpage for birdwatching here at the Bosque. It is possible that we may be able to organize some birdwatching retreats for visitors who have this interest - the woman who visited would make an excellent guide to work with! The entire lake area is great for birding, and we have found that the Bosque has an incredible variety, from elegant trogons to orioles to acorn woodpeckers.

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