A Giant Solar Oven in our Future!

January 11th, 2011 by Marie

For years, we have been on the look-out for an old satellite dish, hoping to find one to create a solar oven. The dish can be covered in foil or reflective material, pointed at the sun, and its focal point will have lots of reflected heat waiting to cook pizza, bread, casseroles - even fry an egg! This article details how to make a solar oven from an old satellite dish. Below, Brian is demonstrating how even a small reflective disc is very powerful and can light sticks on fire if focused on the sun.

A few days ago Todd from Pátzcuaro contacted us - his friend, David, an avocado farmer in very rural Michoacán, was interested in unloading an old dish. Jumping on the opportunity, Brian drove to go meet David and Todd, load up the HUGE dish into a truck, and haul it back to the Bosque Village.

David was so kind to provide both a truck and driver to get the satellite dish from his ranch to the Bosque.

The dish measures 15 feet across (4.5 meters). We are considering turning it into two semi-giant solar ovens rather than connecting the halves into one mega-giant oven. Perhaps one will be used as a solar oven, and the other as a solar skillet.

Measuring the dish:

Half of the dish:

The new solar oven will be an addition to our current solar oven and lorena stoves.

Thanks so much to David for your generosity, and for Todd for connecting us with David!

Bosque Family Gathering

January 7th, 2011 by Marie

Every year we host a dinner to celebrate our friends from the local villages and to thank them for being a part of the Bosque Village. 2010 was a fantastic year for the Bosque, full of many positive changes, new residents, great guests, and interesting projects. Towards the end of December was an appropriate time to bring everyone together to celebrate the work that has been done, the people who have helped, and the partnerships that have been created over the past few years.

We started off the gathering with some beers, home-made liquors (flavored with quince and blackberry), and a delicious meal prepared by Jairo and Nere. We ate pollo con mole (chicken with mole), champiñones con mole (mushrooms with mole), rice, beans, fresh corn tortillas, and a beautiful green salad.

Jairo and Nere, finishing up the final touches on the salad

Next, the piñatas! Jairo, Javiero, Heather and Damon had crafted a beautiful piñata for the occasion. We were also given a piñata by some friends from Pátzcuaro. The piñatas were filled to the brim with sweets, and both the kids and adults had a great time trying to break them while Beto skilfully moved the piñatas around the terrace with a rope. The piñata dances in the air while kids and adults try to hit it with a pole. The adults are blindfolded to make it more difficult and more amusing for the people watching.

And finally, according to tradition, some games of volleyball, trampoline, and tether ball. We think there is a conspiracy going on, because the same team that won last year’s volleyball tournament immediately formed nearly the same exact team this year, and proceeded to win game after game after game. Only when they were extremely tired did one team finally take them down.

The winning team: Chilino, Adan, Gonzalo, Javiero, Beto

We give a heartfelt thanks to our friends for being a part of the Bosque family. Without the continued effort of many people - class teachers, language exchange helpers, workers, residents, and visitors - the Bosque wouldn’t be able to survive.

Thanks to everyone for joining us on this strange adventure!

Michoacán, the Soul of Mexico

December 19th, 2010 by Marie

Welcome to Jairo and Javiero

November 6th, 2010 by Marie

The Bosque is happy to welcome Jairo and Javiero, two amazing guys from Zacatecas that will be helping out at the Bosque and setting up their own programs.

Javiero
javiero3Javiero is the new director of Centro Jobutsu, a secular spiritual center that focuses on group and personal retreats for guests. Javiero also leads yoga a few times a week for Bosque guests.

He is multi-talented! Javiero has a degree in architecture and will help Brian draw up some building designs in Auto-CAD.

Javiero is an artist; within the first week he discovered that the Bosque has patches of clay that he has used to make pottery, firing the pottery in the fireplace at night. With the help of visitors, he created an amazing base for the Day of the Dead ofrenda, using sawdust that he and Jairo colored with natural vegetable dyes.

What’s more, Javiero is a natural leader. Javiero has been an active participant in previous Bosque events, always helping create a positive atmosphere. During the Day of the Dead event, he led yoga at six in the morning so guests could enjoy movement while watching the sunrise. He also led an amazing temazcal - a sweat lodge experience to purify the body. And he coordinated all activities so that guests could enjoy Day of the Dead in the nearby villages as well as events and activities through Centro Jobutsu.

Jairo
jairo3Jairo is an aspiring vegetarian cook and a beginning language teacher. Since he has arrived to the Bosque, he has done a lot of work in the kitchen, learning and cataloging existing recipes as well as contributing new recipe ideas. His passion for food comes from his parents, who taught him how to cook when he was a child and also taught him farm skills such as cheesemaking. He has been a vegetarian for two years and is interested in healthy, vegetarian food.

Jairo is also interested in languages - both learning English (he knows more than he admits!) and teaching Spanish. We will work with Jairo to create both a beginning and intermediate Spanish learning program at the Bosque.

Beyond his skills in teaching and cooking, Jairo is a programmer, with a degree in Computer Engineering. He was immediately helpful setting up the Centro Jobutsu website, and we are looking forward to his help with our databases. Jairo is also helping Brian get the Bosque map cleaned up and ready to print.

Welcome to the Bosque, guys!

jairo

javiero2

javiero4

jairo2

javiero

Turnips and Tusas

October 27th, 2010 by Marie

We are so kind. We share our turnips with tusas: the Naked-nosed pocket gopher.

Tusas are animals that most gardeners in Michoacán dread. They dig up gardens ruthlessly, leaving behind the signature mound of turned over soil. Some of our friends who have farms or gardens buy Jack Russell Terriers, dogs that are known for their hunting skills, hoping to kill off any tusas that are feeding in their gardens. Another friend of ours makes extra money by charging farmers 100 pesos (around 8 USD) per tusa that he kills. He waits patiently, quietly, lurking around areas where a tusa has obviously set up camp.

We haven’t taken drastic measures to control the tusa population this year. We do plant trees and bushes that have a bitter taste around some gardens, hoping to deter the tusas away from our vegetables. But mostly, we are just waiting.

Patiently waiting, for natural predators to realize that the Bosque has lots of yummy gophers running around. Coyotes, which we can hear singing nearly every evening, likely already take care of some of the gopher problem without us even knowing. And we over-plant; sharing some of our bounty with gophers and rabbits is something we expect when we plant a garden.

And, an upside, when tusas dig up dirt alongside a trail or in a garden, we sow seeds in the freshly tilled soil. Lots of former tusa holes now hold trees, flowers, and edible plants growing happily. And if we ever investigate hunting for food, the tuza might be a good target.

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