Saturday, October 31, 2009

Good fences make good neighbors

As simple as the farm fence may seem, it is useful in so many ways.

The animals are now secure. Before the fence, they would graze anywhere they see vegetation growing. And if they go way too far, sometimes they get lost and could not find their way back. Good thing not one has 'mysteriously' vanished yet although a few have returned with visible signs of abuse. The new fence also saves time and effort since it has become easier to gather them at sundown.

The neighbors' crops are now safe. Used to be the animals would sometimes go to the neighbors' fields, gobbling up and damaging their crops. If no one is on guard to ward them off, they could really inflict a heavy toll on the plants. Now our animals are no longer a threat to them.

Those who used to cross the farm as a shortcut to where they want to go will find that they need to walk further and farther since now they have to go around the entire length of the property. Our adjacent neighbors are also happy with the new fence since the number of trespassers on their properties have also gone down.

The fishpond is part of the neighbor's property so the fence had to go around it.

The delineation between properties is now clearly visible and unmistakable. Before only barb wires mounted on wooden posts, a couple or so feet high, define the boundaries. One problem with this is that boundaries can easily be changed simply by moving the posts. Also, people and animals can effortlessly cross by going over, under or between the wires.

Construction of the front fence is still in progress. Still, security has significantly improved in the farm. People are now using the gate when they visit.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Big bucks!

"Big bucks! Big Bucks!"

I remember that phrase shouted like a mantra by all contestants of the gameshow "Press Your Luck" (and years later its reincarnation called "Whammy!") as if the game board will hear them and bring them big money.

In my August 20 blog entry "The buck stops here", I mentioned about an Anglo-Nubian buck that the farm received from the government. Since I didn't have an image of our buck back then, I borrowed one from Wikipedia. Finally, my brother e-mailed me several pictures of our new he-goat.

What a handsome creature indeed, with a dignified posture and a lean body. But they forgot to mention that it's bigger than the local goats that we currently have.

Now that's a big buck indeed.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Under the weather

Here I am today, shivering under the blanket, with fever, cough, runny nose and achy joints. But before you say it's the flu named after my favorite meat, no I don't have H1N1 (hopefully not). Just in case though, before I cause a pandemic (if not panic) in the office, I decided to stay home today.

But its what I received in the e-mail that made my day brighter. Finally, the latest pictures of the farm, long overdue, are here. And what I saw brought the sun out of the dark clouds hovering over me. Sick as I am today, I'm suffering with a smile.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Construction update #4 --- the wall fence

Just another quick update. Construction of the wall fence in front of the farm has begun.

Come early November, four more will be hired to speed up the completion this project. Once completed, the wall will shield from view the lower portion of the farm from anyone walking or driving by on the street. Also this will prevent the animals from roaming outside the perimeter of the farm and keep outside animals from coming in.

Next on the plate of things to do is to build permanent enclosures for the animals. When this is done, they will no longer be allowed to roam freely outside their pens. Only then can we begin with the initial greening of the garden, knowing that our vegetarian friends are safely corralled and won't be able to munch on the plants.

For now we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of typhoon Lupit ("Ramil"). For the past couple of days it has been raining intermittently as the typhoon slowly inches closer toward northern Luzon. All we can do is hope and pray that this typhoon won't leave a path of devastation as it crosses land in the coming days.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dull as ditchwater

Used to be, excess water from our neighbor's fishpond would drain into our fish ponds. On any normal day this is not a problem since the water flows like a small stream... until a heavy downpour comes. As water rushes through, the strong current erodes the banks of the fishponds causing significant damages.

To solve this perennial problem, they dug a ditch to permanently divert this flowing water away from the fishponds. This ditch traverses the entire width of the farm in almost a straight line, safely directing the water into another neighbor's pond. But due to the sloping terrain, some portions would drop at a steep angle a foot or more high, causing water to cascade down like little waterfalls. The unintended but delightful result is this soothing and calming sound of water falling and running, which is impossible not to hear when you're strolling nearby.

The ditch, which runs almost forever, however is somewhat of an eyesore. We could bury it like an underground drainage, but then we'd lose the view and sound of running water. There is no danger to health anyway since technically it's clean, coming from a pond full of fishes.

While walking alongside this long and narrow excavation, an idea dawned on me. What if (in the future), we widen the ditch, make it deeper and let the water accumulate to a certain depth. Then throw in plenty of aquatic plants and landscape the surrounding areas with bog plants, other water-loving plants, ferns, moss, pebbles, rocks, etc. Voila! We have a water garden!

Just thinking about the potential of this plain ditch makes me salivate like a child gazing at all the sweet treats in a candy store.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Watering Holes

In certain areas of the farm are some holes in the ground which naturally collect water, or little depressions that remain soggy even during the middle of the hot summer days.

Those depressions serve as stopping stations for the carabaos (water buffalo) where they lie and roll around the wet, muddy surface perhaps to cool down or just to rid themselves of pesky insects.

The holes on the other hand are quite deep enough and are used for human purposes. Surprisingly the water looks clean which makes you want to scoop it up to refresh yourself with it. I am no microbiologist so I cannot say what microscopic organisms are lurking there, so I dared not drink from them. Its enough that they aroused my curiosity.

They use some of these holes as sources of water for the plants. They have purposely widened some holes so they could collect more water. The farm is not connected to a central city or town water system so these free sources of life-giving liquid are simply a blessing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Video Feature

In an ever-growing demand for "green living", some Indonesians have gone way too far to feed that need. They have negated the positive effects of living green, and aggravated the problems brought about by human greed.

Today's featured video comes from Time Video.

Indonesia's Green Gamble

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dodge the bullet

What a weekend. I may have been physically safe from the typhoon but emotionally I was not. I was constantly monitoring the turn of events back home knowing that my loved ones were in danger of being hit by the raging storm.

But the weather disturbance veered northward just before it hit land, sparing our province from its most destructive force. Talking to mom last night, I learned that there was no damage in the farm, only a few fallen branches and plants. In fact, electricity was quickly restored and the sun was already out and shining bright.

I thank the Lord for sparing us from damage, but not a cause to celebrate knowing that many others bore the brunt of the storm's rage.

Friday, October 2, 2009

When it rains, it pours... again

The farm may have been left unharmed by storm Ketsana ("Ondoy"), but this time it may not dodge the whip of typhoon Parma ("Pepeng").

Parma is expected to touch down on the east side of northern Luzon. Based on the latest forecast our region lies in direct path of this strong typhoon. It may not pack as much water as Ketsana did but the wind it brings is a punch far stronger. And this wind is what we're most afraid of.

Yesterday the typhoon was still far away but it has eerily announced its presence. The rustling of the leaves and the creaking sound of the branches as they vigorously sway, the dark and heavy cloud staring down are but tell-tale signs of rougher days ahead.

The farm sits at a higher edge of a valley so severe rain will not cause any immediate danger. The lower plains however, may flood and water will inundate the farmlands, drowning whatever crop is in season. The wind may topple trees and plants, it may blow away roofs of houses and animal shelters, bring down power lines and other utility structures.

Bruised and aching, the farm will weather the brunt of the storm. However those who will be severely affected are the cause of concern. With the government resources stretched too thin, expedient help is not to be expected. Even the local government's track record in emergency aid is disconsolate. We can only hope for a lower number of casualties.

The local people are in for a one, two punch (strong typhoon and government inefficiency). Pray for us all.