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Yesterday’s early stops focussed on trying to find the Chicken Farm Stop at km 27 on the Mex  40 Saltillo to Monterey road. Unfortunately, this is now the location of a huge motorway intersection. Although there are plenty of chicken farms around the intersection, the one that was here in 1973 is likely to have been destroyed by the development, together with many thousands of plants, if today’s exploration of the surrounding hills provides an indication.

We made five stops between 8:45 and 15:49, all in a relatively small area around this intersection, with temperatures approaching 30 C, but with a stiff breeze cooling us down and threatening at times to take our hats off. The sixth and unnumbered stop was at the local Walmart where John and I sat down in the air conditioned cafeteria, drinking a ice cold Sprite while Eunice went shopping – incl. three pairs of sunglasses to replace the pair broken the previous day.

S1828 was a disused quarry reached after we turned off at km 25 on Mex 40. We climbed the hill and I took an amazing 165 images of what seemed initially a none too promising location. As we climbed the limestone hill, we photographed: the White Prickly Poppy (Argemone grandiflora), Thelocactus rinconensis (s.n. T. phymatothelos), Evening Primrose (Oenothera sp.), Echinocereus stramineus (?), Mammillaria pottsii, Echinocereus pectinatus, Echeveria cuspidata, Epithelanta micromeris, Mammillaria woodsii [PS No. occurs much farther south], including a dichotomously splitting plant.  

As we pulled away, I spotted an Opuntia in flower, bright yellow. All the Opuntias are heavy with buds after a wet winter (relatively) but they are late opening their buds (cold spring, although with temperatures around 30 C around midday, that too is relative. S1829, here at the bottom of the hill that was S1828, turned out to be more than just a quick picture. 30  minutes later we left having taken pictures of Mammillaria heyderi ssp meiacantha, Coryphantha sp., Echinocactus horizonthalonius, Echinocereus pectinatus, Mammillaria heyderi ssp meiacantha, Mammillaria pottsii, Opuntia sp.

We tried to find another location suggested by John, based on his notes (or were they from the Glass & Foster Logbook?), but this time found the track blocked by a locked gate. We parked near the gate (S1830), disappointed at not being able to reach our goal, but 75 minutes later left happy after finding an impressive selection of plants: Agave lechuguilla, Corynopuntia sp., Coryphantha sp1, C. sulcata, Cylindropuntia spinosior, C. tunicata, Echinocereus stramineus, Epithelantha micromeris, Euphorbia antisyphalitica, Hechtia sp., Lophophora williamsii, Mammillaria heyderi ssp meiacantha, Neolloydia conoidia, Opuntia sp., Sedum sp, Thelocactus bicolor ssp bolaensis and Tradescantia sp. Quite a catch!

We returned to yesterday’s S1818, now S1831, for a more detailed look around. An impressive list of plants found now included another one of the ‘painted Agave’: A. fernandi-regis. Also found: A. stricta, Ariocarpus retusus, Echeveria cuspidata, Echinocereus pectinatus, E. stramineus, Escobaria sp. Hechtia sp., Lophophora williamsii, Mammillaria formosa ssp chionocephala, M. heyderi ssp meiacantha, M. pottsii, Neolloydia conoidia, Opuntia rufida, Thelocactus bicolor ssp bolaensis, Thelocactus rinconensis, T. setispinus (?) I must check how to distinguish this last taxon from Ferocactus hamatacanthus, especially when there are no flowers and fruits to examine.

With a bit of time to spare John and I decided to take a look around a near by the flat area at yet another Chicken Farm (S1832) and found Ferocactus hamatacanthus, Agave lechuguilla, Agave scabra, Coryphantha sp, Cylindropuntia sp., Mammillaria heyderi ssp meiacantha, Thelocactus rinconensis, Echinocereus stramineus, Fouquieria splendens, Cylindropuntia leptocaulis, Lophophora williamsii, with evidence of digging, most likely for the peyote. Peyote omelettes anyone?

A great selection of plants here – I think that I’ll be back at some future date.

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