Mexican Independence Day

September is an especially patriotic month for México.
salute
It begins with the commemoration of the Niños Heroes (Boy Heroes) on September 13th. Our little school had “la mañanita Mexicana” on  the 13th (which is also the anniversary of the Congress of Chilpancingo or Anahuac when México declared itself independent from Spain in 1813) and in addition to the typical traditions, honored those cadets that died defending the flag at Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle from invading U.S. forces in during the Mexican–American War in 1847.

In the call and response manner commonly found in the Catholic Church, each teenager’s name was read and the attendees responded with “Murió por la patria”. (He died for our country.)
The Niños Héroes were:
Juan de la Barrera (age 19)
Juan Escutia (age 15–19)
Francisco Márquez (age 13)
Agustín Melgar (age 15–19)
Fernando Montes de Oca (age 15–19)
Vicente Suárez (age 14)
Each town does things a little differently. In Moroleón, in the afternoon on September 14, there is a caminata (mini-parade) of local horsemen from Moroleón to El Ojo del Agua Enmedio (where we go to get our water supply). This year, my husband participated with Beauty.

The tail end of the caminata from Moroleon to Ojo de Agua EnMedio

My husband all ready for the caminata.

My husband all ready for the caminata.

 

El Grito de Dolores (The Shout from Dolores–a small pueblito where Hidalgo made his call to arms speech) on September 15th, marks official beginning of the Independence day celebration at around 11 p.m. The church bells are rung and the presidente (mayor) of Moroleón recites El Grito (the shout) with attendees responding with “Viva” to indicate their support. independance day
¡Mexicanos! (Mexicans)
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron la patria y libertad!
(Long live the heroes that gave us our liberty)
¡Viva Hidalgo!
(Long live Hidalgo)
¡Viva Morelos!
(Long live Morelos)
¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez!
(Long live Josefa)
¡Viva Allende!
(Long live Allende)
¡Viva Galena y los Bravos!
(Long live Galena and the Braves)
¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!
(Long live Aldama and Matamoros)
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional!
(Long live national independence)
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!
(Long live Mexico)

The church bells are rung again and the pyrotechnic show begins.

The program of events for Moroleon 2013.

The program of events for Moroleon 2013.

In Moroleón, there is a civic parade in the morning on September 16. The members of the presidencia (City Hall) lead the march with la reina de Moroleón (sort of like the homecoming queen) and her escort of charros (horsemen) finishing it off. The horses, in my opinion the best part, are at the very end so that marchers don’t have to swerve around poop piles. Most of the civil organizations of the town are represented, from the Down Syndrome club to those of the tercer edad (elderly). Students from the secondarias (high school) and tele-universities and their drum and bugle members also march. It makes for a long and tedious procession.

There is a second parade on either the 27th or 28th of the month to mark the day of the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire which happened September 28, 1821, 10 years after the historic “grito.” I’ve mentioned before, things here in México take much longer than anticipated, including the fight for independence. This parade is open to the primaria (elementary) schools in addition to those that participated in the first parade, therefore an even longer and more tedious procession. Last year my son was chosen to be part of the escolta (honor guard) for his school. As Los Niños Heroes (see above) died defending the flag, in their honor the members of each school’s escolta (honor guard) are the best and brightest with the highest promedio (grade average). Needless to say, I was one proud mama cheering him on!

Each school has an esculta (honor guard) in the parade.

Each school has an esculta (honor guard) in the parade.

The kinders (kindergartens) also have a parade, but it is much shorter. It involves no more than 3 times around the plaza but even that is tiring for little legs.
Dressed as heroes of the fight for Indepedence, the kindergartens also have a parade.
The best part of the parades is the dousing with confetti. Parade marchers that are not honored with the confetti hasta los chonies (all the way to the underwear) experience are those without attentive family or friends in attendance. Bags can be bought for the low, low price of 5 pesos for 2 little bags. I imagine clean up is a drag for the street sweepers though. confetti

If you missed the patriotic events this month, don’t fret. You’ll get another chance in November with the commemoration of the Mexican Revolution!

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Building a dream–constructing a life

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.

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The first of the home building supplies arrive!

The first of the home building supplies arrive!

Once we established ownership of our two little lots in La Yacata (See Buying a Piece of Heaven –part 1) we decided to start building our castle in the desert.

My husband is a builder by trade, but not an architect, so our house and adjacent animal area have undergone several remodels in the 8 years we have lived here. Our home isn’t finished, not by a long shot. However, we determined that we wouldn’t get into debt during construction, so only do what we can afford when we can afford it.

Our home has been built with love rather than skill!

Our home has been built with love rather than skill!

We began with a kitchen, bathroom, 2 bedrooms, garage and back porch. We enclosed the back porch about a year later and added the laundry room upstairs. We are currently in the process of adding a bathroom and studio apartment, complete with fireplace, on the second floor. The idea is for our home to function as a multi-generational home when the grand kids arrive. As our son is 12, we think we’ll have time to finish it before then.

Our finished kitchen

Our finished kitchen

Our bathroom door!

Our bathroom door!

Our partially tiled floor

Our partially tiled floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our toasty fireplace

The ajibe

The ajibe

Our second floor laundry area, complete with hand pump connected to the ajibe (dry well).

Our second floor laundry area, complete with hand pump connected to the ajibe (dry well).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had to make allowances for the fact that we have no running water, electricity or sewer system in our neck of the desert and no idea when those things might be installed. (See The beginning of the revolution). Therefore, we designed our home with plenty of natural light, a centrally located fireplace, an ajibe (water storage area) and means to recycle our gray water.

Working on the second floor!

Working on the second floor!

We used brick made in a little town nearby and stone from our own backyard for our lovely fireplace. Wood is dear here, so we weren’t able to put doors on the rooms until recently, and we still don’t have a bedroom door, but at least now the bathroom has one. We have also been able to tile the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms and hope this year to finish at least the downstairs. As a special treat for me this year, my husband and son made me a bookcase. I can now boast of having the first library in La Yacata!

My library

My library

As our animals are an integral part of our life here, as much attention as we have given our home has gone into their sheltering. Miss Piggy had her own bungalow, Mr. & Mrs. Muscovy and family had their own swimming pool, the chickens have their own swing, the goats their own corral and the horses their own stalls. Kitty is queen of the backyard and Chokis the puppy is king of the barn. Right now, only poor Fiona the donkey is left without a proper space to call her own, a situation which we are trying hard to rectify.

The chicken "swing"

The chicken “swing”

Goat area

Goat area

Duck pond

Duck pond

Horse area

Horse area

The bungalow

The bungalow

 Our backyard also has undergone some changes. When our son was smaller, he had a clubhouse/swingset. When he was quite done with it, we removed it and planted more fruit trees as part of our quest for self-sufficiency. As a growing pre-teen, he enjoys the “free food” as much as he did the swing!

swingset

Club house

One of our ever producing fruit trees

One of our ever producing fruit trees

Building our own home has not been easy, but it has its own rewards.  We built this house as a family, we constructed our new lives in Mexico as a family and we continue to remodel both our house and our lifestyle as we try to get it right.  And if we never get it finished, well, it’s the journey not the destination after all.

builder

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family’s home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama’s most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I’m Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn’t have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia’s nursing nest and changing room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry’s recent “home tour,” That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she’s thankful for around her home. Don’t plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family’s newly renovated home and how it’s set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen‘s life is now host to her family’s homeschool adventures and a room they couldn’t imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she’s created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.

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Filed under Animal Husbandry, Carnival posts, Construction, Water issues

Picking Tunas

Tunas are not hard to find after the rainy season.

Tunas are not hard to find after the rainy season.

 La Yacata provides for us in many ways you might not expect. Not only do the cactus that grow here give us nopal and pitayas (See Picking Pitayas) but after the rainy season, there are the tunas. Tunas come in red and green and are what might be called prickly pears. As with all things the desert provides, they take some effort to harvest, but are well worth it.

Climbing on the top of the truck might get you close enough to harvest tunas--or it might not.

Climbing on the top of the truck might get you close enough to harvest tunas–or it might not.

The first step in picking tunas is to find a cactus loaded with them. Once a likely target has been sighted, then the trick is to determine the best way to get at them. Tunas grow at the very tip top of the cactus and obviously you can’t just scurry up its branches like you would an apple tree. The cactus wouldn’t hold your weight and would give you espinas (thorns) in both your shoes and any other part of your body that might be exposed. You also don’t want to try and shake the cactus like you would a small nut tree or risk a rain of thorns.

Attaching a long stick to a machete may help you harvest.

Attaching a long stick to a machete may help you harvest.


Sometimes, parking below and clambering up on the top of the truck cabin will boost you enough to reach. Other times, if you are fortunate, the cactus will have grown next to some sort of tree you can climb. When all else fails, a long stick with a machete on top might do the trick.

Cutting a small section of the penca (leaf) will allow you to get at the tunas.

Cutting a small section of the penca (leaf) will allow you to get at the tunas.

With the machete, extended or normal, cut a section of the penca (cactus leaf) that has a good number of tunas. Don’t worry about damaging the plant. Wherever a penca (cactus leaf) falls, another cactus grows.

Brush the thorns off the tunas before cutting them open.

Brush the thorns off the tunas before cutting them open.


With improvised wooden pinchers made from whatever branches may be lying about, twist off the tuna. When you have a pile of them, use a group of leafy branches to knock off most of the espinas (thorns). Once brushed clean, slice the tuna lengthwise with your machete. Using your thumb, pop out the fruit and discard the outside. This process is best done out in the open. The tiny espinas (thorns) that protect the fruit are sharp and painful and get everywhere.

Slice open and pop out the fruit.

Slice open and pop out the fruit.


When you have a bunch of this juicy, seedy sweet fruit, add límon y sal (lime and salt) and enjoy.

Enjoy tunas with a little lime and salt!

Enjoy tunas with a little lime and salt!


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Joey el potrillo

Beauty and Joey

Beauty and Joey

The last few weeks, my husband has been calculating and recalculating Beauty’s due date and examining her girth for clues as to the gender of the expected foal. He calculated that since Shadow was born August 28 last year and he echó el caballo (brought the horse for stud service) 3 times the week after, the last day being September 9, to take advantage of the “foal heat”, the new potrillo (foal) should be born July 7 since horse gestation is 11 months. And he also took the odds that since the last 2 foals were girls, certainly this time it should be a boy.

However, this weekend, Beauty seemed quite ready to give birth, dates or no dates. We decided to place a friendly family wager on the birth date. I picked Tuesday. My husband picked Sunday the 6th, since he had done his calculations, by golly. And my son went with the middle ground by choosing Friday.

Much to my husband’s astonishment, had Beauty waited just 3 hours more, I would have won the bet. Just as we were finishing up dinner on Monday, Chokis started barking and barking. We thought he and Chivo Pestoso (Stinky Goat) were having yet another manly contest. Chivo hits the door and Chokis barks him down, which angers Chivo and he hits the door again, which…well you get the idea. But then we heard Beauty chuff and we were out the door running.

My husband went out the front door and my son and I out the back. I coaxed Chokis into the back yard and closed the door to keep him from more agitated barking and upsetting Beauty during delivery. My husband was yelling for the flashlight, which I had in my hand. I arrived seconds later to perform my vital role of lamppost.

My son’s job was to distract an agitated Shadow in the next stall. He threw some paca (alfalfa bale) in her dish with a mix of corn pieces and tied her next to her trough. She didn’t even lift her head from her meal until the corn ran out.

My husband had planned to modify Beauty’s stall for delivery but thought he had a few more days. Beauty is a big horse and although her stall is a good size, a laboring horse needs room to lie down and get up as she needs. By the time we arrived, she had already lain down to deliver and there was no moving her into the open.

The foal’s head and forefeet had already presented, but as Beauty took up so much space, the baby was squashed against the wall and unable to get the placenta off its nose. My husband dove in and tore the sac off its face, trying to convince Beauty to move just a little bit so the baby could come free.

His pleas must have worked because suddenly Beauty stood up and as my husband had ahold of the front legs, out popped this incredibly long legged foal. He shouted for a knife to cut the cord, but it had already detached when the foal fell out.

My husband immediately slid the baby out from under Beauty’s hooves and checked the gender. ALL RIGHTY! It was a boy. He checked again just to make sure and did a little happy dance.

Joey at 12 hours old

Joey at 12 hours old

This was the first birth we were present at with Beauty (See Beauty’s Babies) and it wasn’t anything compared to goat births. The placenta was so thick it seemed like a white plastic bag, and there was so much of it. My son said he felt a little woozy, although there was very little blood. But he manfully sucked it up and wouldn’t leave the area for any little stomach flutters. I reassured my son saying that his dad was woozy at his birth too, so it was ok.

We were concerned that the foal seemed weak. We stayed with mother and baby while she cleaned and bonded with her new son and watched his first attempts to stand. Again, the cramped quarters were a problem. The foal’s legs were so long (so much longer than Spirit or Shadow’s had been) that he didn’t seem to have the room or coordination to untangle them in order to get up. We waited about 40 minutes, but he wasn’t able to stand.

We thought perhaps we should give him some more time and went inside to finish dinner. My husband went out again and stayed with the pair until after midnight, making sure the foal did get up to nurse before he came back in.

We were all out at the crack of dawn to get a good look at our new addition and debate a name. Two of his hooves were white, one was black and one was half and half like painted fingernails much like Shadow has. Spirit had 3 white “socks” instead. He had a star on his head about the size of mark Spirit has and bigger than Shadow’s mark. My husband was puzzled at these coloring anomalies because the father had none of these marks. I suspect these are genetic markings from Beauty since all 3 babies had them. The foal’s fur was a dark brown, but the edges of his tail and around his mouth he was almost yellow. We think that eventually his fur will be more yellow than brown, since the father was a mustard color. None of these physical characteristics helped us decide on a name though.

Curious about the world around him.

Curious about the world around him.


So we tried looking for signs of his character. Spirit was incorrigible from the get go and we had no trouble naming her. The foal still seemed weak and wobbly in the morning. He wasn’t much into whinnying either. He stayed very close to Beauty, although he was curious about his surroundings, especially when we brought the pair out of the corral to pasture. He liked being outdoors so much that he refused to come back in, much to Beauty’s consternation. We finally decided that his name would be Joey, from the movie War Horse. We kept an eye on both Beauty and Joey. Beauty seemed exhausted and would lay down and get up like she couldn’t get comfortable. Joey was definitely eating, but still seemed so thin. My husband was positive that the thinness was because he was more than a week early according to his calculations. I countered that with the size of him, especially his incredibly long legs, there just wasn’t room in the womb for him to wait another week, dates or no dates.

Curious fellows

Curious fellows

In the late afternoon, we took them out again, along with Shadow and the goats. Chivo Pestoso was very curious as to the nature of Joey, but decided he wasn’t a threat and went to eat. Shadow wanted to be right next to her mother just like Joey, but Beauty wasn’t having any of that. She chased Shadow away and we had to finally tie Shadow so that none of the horses would be accidentally hurt.

Shadow, Beauty and Joey

Shadow, Beauty and Joey

The scene reminded me of the day Spirit, who doesn’t live with us, but does live near us, escaped from her enclosure and came for a visit. Beauty recognized Spirit as she didn’t kick up a fuss when Spirit came right to the gate. The mother and daughter touched noses. Then Beauty turned her head to look at Shadow, then back at Spirit. She turned completely around and kicked the gate, basically telling Spirit to move on, which she did.


posing with Joey

Joey being a boy will eventually be an issue for us. We are already cramped for space. Shadow has her own stall and Beauty is sharing with Joey for now, but poor Fiona the donkey doesn’t have a place to call her own and is more often than not tied under the mesquite tree for the night. With 2 female horses and 1 female donkey all capable of going into heat, Joey will have to have a stall apart. It would have been just the thing had we been able to purchase that lot next door to adequately house our larger animals. (See Buying a piece of Heaven) Sigh! Well, we just will see what happens down the road.

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Las Cuevas en Cerano (The Caves in Cerano)

After we failed at our attempt for buckets of capulines (See Picking Capulines) we decided it was too beautiful a day to waste and continued down the other side of the mountain in Myrtle.

the other side of the mountain

“Let us try to recognize the precious nature of each day.” His Holiness The Dalai Lama

We stopped at a little town for some water and snacks and took it slow, as a good Sunday drive should be.

tienda

My husband mentioned that when he was a boy, he took of Chava Herrera’s herd of goats near our current location and left them to overnight in some caves. There was nothing to be done but go and see the caves.

trail down

We parked Myrtle in the shade off the side of the road and headed down the path to the base of the mountain. This road was a little more difficult than the capulí trek, at least for me in sandals. There were hundreds of little picky rocks and larger potential ankle breaking rocks and mesquite thorns. Therefore, I took my time. My husband and son, with their work boots we call mata viboras (snake killing boots) had no such problem and soon outdistanced me. My son called back that I should hurry up. I responded with “slow and steady wins the race.” My son said that he and dad were steady and I was just slow.

caves

caves

A little graffiti at the base of the caves.

A little graffiti at the base of the caves. It says “Cristo Rey ” Christ Jesus and “Adoremos la Santa Cruz” We adore or worship the Holy Cross.

Before too long, we came upon the caves. More than 20 years have passed since my husband used these caves to shelter the goats in his care and according to him quite a bit of the caves have collapsed, so there weren’t as impressive as in his mind’s eye. My son and I, however, were impressed enough.

 caves 2another cave

We headed back up the trail and took Myrtle down to Cerano. We stopped to get gas, just in case (See Driving Hazards–Gas and Illumination) and were passed by 2 policia estatal (state police) vehicles. Three more vehicles joined the caravan in La Calera. We jokingly said we needed to get to La Yacata before they set up their “checkpoint” but lost them at the crossroads between Yuriria and El Moral. We stopped at the store for some goodies but didn’t see any sign of the police.

Here they are, parked at the entrance of La Yacata!

Here they are, parked at the entrance of La Yacata!

 

However, turning into La Yacata, we nearly ran head on into 3 of the same state police vehicles parked and picnicking. Guess they wanted lunch before starting the fishing. (See Driving Hazards–Mordidas).  Ni modo (whatever), we were done for the day and wouldn’t be venturing across their net to risk getting caught for something or other any more that afternoon.

 

 

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Filed under El Alma de México, Native fauna and flora

Goat Genetics

Tweedledee and Harry. No horns, no campinatas, white, big ears.

One of the most interesting features for us in raising goats is learning about genetics without hours in the classroom studying the theory. As goat gestation is 5 months, we have at least one, probably 2, chances to see the results of genetic matings each year.

We aren’t looking for thoroughbreds or rare breeds, but we are interested in healthy, productive goats, maybe with a few extra colors or characteristics thrown in to give each goat distinction.

The majority of the goats in our area are white with long ears. While there is nothing wrong with white, it is a little boring. We have been hard pressed to find a little natural variation with which to infuse our stock.

Vaca the goat, pinta, horned but no campanitas

A few months ago we came across a little black and white pinta (black and white) that we paid a little more for and subsequently named Vaca (Cow). Much to our surprise, she was pregnant, however we weren’t sure if the father was Chivo Pestoso (Stinky Goat) our macho or the macho from the herd she had been with, that seriously resembled Mr. Snuffleufagus, huge, shaggy and brown. We tried counting the months, but without knowing the exact time she became pregnant, we couldn’t say for sure.

Large, hairy, pinto, no campanitas, no horns, big ears.

Nothing to be done but wait. So we did. And out popped Firolais one shiny morning. He didn’t look like Chivo Pestoso. He didn’t look like Mr. Snuffleufagus. He didn’t even look like Vaca. He looked exactly like our puppy Hershey! Talk about genetic anomalies! We determined that he had to be Mr. Snuffleugagus’ son based on his ears. His ears were not like Vaca’s or Chivo Pestoso’s ears. He also has longer than average hair and seems to be developing into quite a big guy, while his mother is rather on the small side.

One male goat is enough manliness for our small herd. Males have a strong odor emanating from the base of their horns, that they add fresh pee cologne to when a lady goat is in heat through the interesting feat of urinating on their own faces. So believe me, one macho is quite enough. We had been using a rent-a-stud service, but the arranging, transporting and servicing fees made it more practical to keep one of our own machos as the herd stud muffin. Last year, Queenie gave us twin boys from which to choose.

Stinky Chivo, little ears, horns, campanitas, not white and a twin son from a mother who was herself a twin and a father who was one of 4!

Stinky Chivo, little ears, horns, campanitas, not white and a twin son from a mother who was herself a twin and a father who was one of 4!

My husband kept Chivo Pestoso instead of his twin brother, based on the size of his ears. Chivo Pestoso has itty bitty ears, even smaller than his mother’s ears. The twin had ears that were the same size as Queenie’s. All our adult female goats are currently expecting and the now teen-age Chivo Pestoso is the father. It will be interesting to see if little ears is a dominant or recessive trait. Personally, I think it is an unattractive characteristic. Furthermore, it has become evident that Chivo Pestoso has some hearing issues. All the goats come running when we shake corn in a tin can. All but Chivo Pestoso that is. He continues munching away, oblivious to the stampede for corn and often gets left behind. Finding himself alone, he panics and begins his high pitched bleating. But, as he doesn’t hear so well he can’t hear the rest of the goats when they answer and he wanders about lost until we go and fetch him in.

Little ears and campanitas!

Little ears and campanitas!

Chivo Pestoso, Queenie, Tinkerbell and Caramela have campanitas, small balls of hanging skin on the neck resembling “bells” hence the name, which is another trait my husband prefers. This particular trait is cosmetic, nothing more. It doesn’t appear to be tied to twinning, fertility or milk production, which are traits I am more interested in.

Caramela, big ears, campanitas, not white and horns

Caramela, big ears, campanitas, not white and horns

Horns, however, are not just for looks. In goat reproduction, it’s important that the macho has horns. A macho without horns has a 50 percent chance of his daughters being sterile. So any male kid without horns is sold. Males that grow horns are watched to see if they are a potential replacement for Chivo Pestoso. My husband can usually tell if the kid will have horns or not shortly after birth, but it takes me a few days to determine whether the hair swirls will remain swirls or grow horns. As not all of our nanny goats have horns, it is important that the male does to avoid that chance of infertility.

Frank and Jesse, little ears, campanitas, pintos, twins sons of Duchess, a twin, and Stinky Chivo, a twin, and looks like both will have horns

Frank and Jesse, little ears, campanitas, pintos, twin sons of Duchess, a twin, and Stinky Chivo, a twin, and looks like both will have horns

Twinning is another genetic factor we consider when buying, keeping or selling our goats. Queenie has produced two sets of twins in 2 years and was herself a twin. She’s a keeper. Tweedledee has produced twins 2 out of 3 births, we don’t know if she was a twin or not. Duchess was a twin, but her last 2 births were single offspring. However, yesterday, she presented us with twin boy kids (pinto with little ears and horns). Vaca had a single birth, but as her offspring is not related to any of our goats, the jury is still out on whether he will stay or go. We try to avoid too much inbreeding. Tinkerbell, Cookie (otherwise known as Shortie), Diabla and Caramela are new purchases and have yet to have babies. Venada (Deer), the daughter of Queene, is the current favorite, being a lovely brown color, having horns and campanitas and being a twin. She just turned 7 months old, so not ready for baby making yet, but we can’t wait to see what she produces.

Caramela, Diabla and Cookie

Caramela, Diabla and Cookie

Milk production is another big factor when culling the herd. Tweedledee, though not always a twin producer, always has more than enough milk for our evening hot chocolate. Queenie, being small and the mother of twins, doesn’t produce much extra milk, but has sufficient for her offspring. Duchess and Vaca have barely enough milk for their offspring and are on the watch list. To be fair, Vaca’s baby is enormous and Duchess is an excellent mother, so no action has been taken as of yet, but when the time comes, they are near the top of the list.

My husband, as the main milker, has a preference in udders. Some teats are long and hang low. This type of udder is harder to milk, seems subject to more infections and often gets tangled or cut when out foraging. Other teats are shorter and found under a rounder udder and the goat booby preference around here. My husband insists that this trait is determined through the male. I can’t say whether I completely believe that or not. His theory, and one I’ve heard from several other locals, is the hang and shape of the testicles has a bearing on the type of udder any daughter born will have.

Long ear, twin, campanitas, not white and unique personality

Venada–Long ears, twin, campanitas, not white and unique personality

Personality also plays a role in whether a goat is kept or not. It may be more of nature vs. nurture though rather than true genetics. For instance, Queenie lets us know the minute food supplies are dwindling, even if she is still has a bite in her mouth. Her daughter Venada is just as assiduous in keeping us informed. Tweedledee, although a good breeder and milk producer, doesn’t have the “spark” that Queenie and her offspring have. Her twin boys, although both having keepable (i.e. good color, campanitas and horns) characteristics, were not considered as potential macho replacements because they too lacked the “intelligence” we were looking for. The verdict is still out on Duchess’ little boys. A week or so watching them play a rousing game of bump heads or king of the rock will tell.

 

 

 

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Picking Capulines

capulin

The rainy season hadn’t begun yet, but my husband insisted that the capulines were ready. He said he saw some sellers by the Bodega, their buckets brim full and was impatient for some of his own.

So on Sunday, we went in search of the elusive capulín, otherwise known as the bitter-berry or chokecherry or capolcuahuitl in Nahuatl. According to my little guidebook Antiguo Recetario Medicinal Azteca, the capulín is useful for treatment of dysentery, spasms, nervousness and pain caused by abscesses and tumors with the application of a leaf poultice.

Excess should be avoided and care should be taken in the ingestion of the capulín leaf because it seems that wilted leaves become toxic due to the release of cyanide in the wilting process. Ingesting 10-20 lbs of foliage can be fatal. The tablespoon every 2 hours of a tea made from 4 fresh leaves per liter for nervousness should be safe enough.

up the hill

We had gone once before with my husband’s mother. The trip was longish and our then 4 year old son fell asleep, so I stayed in the car with him. Boy, was I glad that I did! Not 20 minutes after they left, there was such a hail storm that it dented the roof of the truck. Eventually, my husband and his mother, and the passle of local kids that had come along to show them the way, came back into sight, drenched to the skin. My mother-in-law had her bucket on her head and was hollering Bloody Murder. There were no capulines to enjoy on that trip.

red feathery wildflower

This time, we drove Myrtle up past la basurera (dump) through La Barranca and Santa Gertrudis to Los Amoles, at the very peak of the mountain. We had to leave Myrtle behind when the trail got too rough and hoofed it the rest of the way.  The path was well-traveled, no espinas (mesquite thorns) like there is in La Yacata, and as we were already so far up, it wasn’t as difficult an uphill trek as I thought it might be.

neat rockcool rock

The earth in the area was a deep rust color and the wildflowers were spectacular. My son, who has recently developed a keen interest in rocks, was in seventh heaven with all the new samples he slid into Dad’s backpack.

 

 

 

 

conversationWe encountered an older man on his horse coming down the mountain and my husband stopped to chat. It turns out that he knew this man from when he was a boy in Cerano. They talked about trading donkeys and horses, although I don’t think anything will come of it. My husband is pretty pleased with Fiona, our current burra (donkey) and Beauty is due to foal any day now. As my son and I had a shady place to wait, we didn’t mind the rest period.

a little bit sour

That one was a little bit tart!

a few berries

Just a few capulines!

We did finally come across some capulín tress, however most of the berries were still green. We managed to get a handful to enjoy though. They taste like mini-cherries and were well worth the hike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sceneryview

The way back was just as pleasant a hike as the way up. At the risk of repeating myself, how amazing it is to live where the earth’s abundance is so readily found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing