Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Got milk?

The three new Boer kids suckling from Mama goat.

The kids of our very first Boer goat are doing well. The boisterous three are now showing more signs of independence from Mama goat, which makes her very uneasy whenever they wander away from her. Boer does are known for their excellent mothering instinct.

Aside from getting the wrong breed, the reason why I didn't warm up before to our Boer goat is because I thought it's another breed of dairy goat. And I'm not interested in goat milk production. Probably because I'm not a milk drinker? Actually, my goal is the meat. Anyway, I must be high on something that day because I thought Boers are for milk. Well, that's what I got from reading just a few articles in the internet.

Further readings proved that I got my facts wrong. Now that I know that Boers are bred primarily for their quality meat, my dislike for our Boer goat has totally vanished. Does that mean that I don't like the Nubian now? No. We got it almost for free so why hate a gift.

So now I have a new goal, that is to get the female Boer a mate of the same breed. Hmmm... sounds familiar?

'Got Milk?' is a popular advertisement in the US beginning in the 90's to entice more people to drink cow's milk.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A rose is a rose is a rose

A 'baby' Desert Rose already in bloom.
Rummaging through the different plants sold in a nearby garden store (the kind that is attached to a big lumber and hardware store), I spotted a small, less than a foot tall plant that I could vaguely recognize. But because it was beautifully presented and was in bloom, I slowly gravitated toward it.

As I got closer, I remembered what kind of plant it was although I didn't know yet its common name. Reading the accompanying tag that had the plant name and care instructions, it was a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum), and it said that it requires minimal watering or it will rot.

In the Philippines, it is commonly known as 'Dwarf Kalachuchi' - 'Kalachuchi' is the vernacular name for Plumeria. And there it rains a lot during the wet season but this plant is able to survive a heavy soaking.

Rows of little Desert Roses in our garden.

So I asked Mom to include this plant on their next trip to the garden store. The plant they bought was in bloom so the store owner told them to gather the seeds when the pods ripen and plant them immediately. That's how we ended up with a lot of baby Desert Roses in our nursery.

The mother plant that gave birth to our little Desert Roses.
The 'baby' Adeniums are thriving well that some of them started to flower at a young age and only a few inches tall.

Because of the current drought problem, these little beauties will continue to reside in the lower garden (which is our 'nursery') for the time being. When the climate is right, they too will be dispersed in the upper garden.

Indeed, a rose is a rose is a rose, unless its a Desert Rose.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Riveted to the ground

Most orchids are epiphytic or aerial by nature. They are either rooted on limbs of living trees, on other plants, on driftwoods, or on any decorative containers that are suspended above the ground so that their their roots are exposed to the air where they can freely gather nourishment from their environment.

A closer look at the flower of the Philippine Ground orchid

But there are orchids which are just as happy to dig their roots down to the ground for support and food. These are called terrestrial orchids. One of them is Spathoglottis plicata or Philippine Ground orchid (or Large Purple orchid). The name is misleading since it is also native to other countries. And it comes in different colors so the alternate name doesn't really fit either. My thought only.

When the plant is not in bloom, you might mistake it for a tender seedling of a young palm tree. This ground orchid is easy to grow but still, in some places, it is considered endangered while in others, invasive.

In our garden, however, it is not endangered. In fact it's happily growing and multiplying. And if it ever invades other parts of our garden then we'll be just as happy to take care of it. But if it decides to invade the area where the goats roam, then the goats will be as happy too to devour it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's payback time

This post is way, way overdue. Its been waiting for me to hit the 'Publish post' button for weeks. Finally I did...

Last February, a representative from the Department of Agriculture (DA) called to inform that someone will be coming over to the farm to collect two young female sheep. This is not a surprise since it was part of the deal the farm agreed to when they signed up for the government's livestock program.

True enough, a few days later, two vets from the Agriculture department came to get the two sheep. This serves as partial payment for their sheep-raising starter program. And this is also when the vets confirmed that the female goat we bought is not Anglo-Nubian but rather a Boer goat.

The foraging grounds (which takes up over half of the farm and the site of the 'future' garden) for the goats and sheep have been drastically cut in size. They still have a significant size of grounds to feed on, except that now the sheep and the goats no longer share the same space.

This redistricting is the result of the construction of the dirt road, which is the first stage in the planned gradual conversion of the animals' foraging area into a lush garden space.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The clock is ticking

The flowers of the Clock vine.
The Clock vine (Thunbergia mysorensis) is a climbing evergreen with clusters of yellow and reddish-brown flowers which form from a single stem (or raceme) and hangs low like a pendant or a chandelier.

Why it's called 'Clock ' vine, I do not know. It doesn't resemble a clock, a watch or any other mechanical means of telling time. But I believe this species has the most dramatic floral presentation in the genus 'Thunbergia'.

The flowers are dangling under the roof of a gazebo. I hope to achieve this effect with our Clock vine someday.
I first saw this vine on a visit to a zoo-cum-garden establishment a few hours away from the city of Manila a few years back. It was vigorously climbing up a gazebo. The intertwining stems were so thick that it almost looked like the whole vine is the roof of the structure. The clusters of flowers, along with aerial roots (of another vine?) hang down inside the gazebo. Very neat!

A picture our first Clock vine. Note the flowers on the lower left corner.
From then on it became a 'must have' for our garden. On one of her routine trips from the city to the farm, mother spotted a house with Clock vines on their pergola. She politely asked for cuttings and she was able to get a few stems.

Months after that we have our own Thunbergia mysorensis in our garden. It may not be as thick and robust as the one I saw but someday it will be. It's been trained to climb over a makeshift trellis and it's been growing well so much so that it started to bloom.

Monday, April 12, 2010

You never miss the water till the well runs dry

Deep into 'El Niño' and the dessicated land is crying out for moisture. But the clear blue sky is an indication that no rain will fall any time soon. The plants are showing signs of stress from the heat and lack of water. The grass fields where the sheep forage are turning brown.

The sheep are foraging for some green grass on a brown landscape.

In my 'Hot child in the city' post, I mentioned that our water sources are still OK, but that's no longer the case. The shallow wells and watering holes where water naturally wells up from under the ground are either dry or drying up. These are our only source of water for the plants in the upper part of the garden. In some holes where water is still flowing up from beneath the ground, the flow has slowed down to a trickle, and so the supply could not meet the huge demand.

Prolonged drought has forced us to use water from the river to water the plants in the upper garden.

Desperate situation requires desperate action. To save the plants from completely withering they decided to turn to the river for water. The river may be adjacent to the garden but the problem is it's quite a long way down a cliff to get there. Hauling several huge plastic barrels into a jeep they drive a few minutes down into the side of the river, fill the barrels with water and drive back up to the garden. This laborious task is done twice a day just so the thirsty plants in the garden could take a drink.

One of the plastic barrels under a tree. There are several barrels placed at different areas of the upper garden. They are constantly filled with water used for watering the plants.

The upper garden is still sparsely planted and there are few more plants in the nursery waiting to be transplanted. But the lack of rain, and now ground water, dictates that they remain in the nursery at least until the rainy season comes.

El Niño is a weather phenomenon that causes drought and extreme heat in some parts of the world and severe rain and flood in other places.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A living fossil

"If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers..."
(from the movie "Jurassic park")

In one of the first 'must buy' lists of plants I sent home, it includes a list of cycads that I wanted them to look for. One is the Sago palm which I was certain would not be difficult to find since it's a common plant species. There are a couple of them already established in the garden. I was unsure though if they'll be able to find the rest of the cycads in the list, but its worth trying anyway.

The mature Cardboard palm with cones in our humble garden.

One cycad in my wish list is the Cardboard palm (Zamia furfuracea). One of the 'living fossil' plants still around in this modern age, it makes a good accent or specimen plant. Its leaves can grow to several feet long which emerge from a central point. The individual leaves are thick and leathery, slightly fuzzy and feels a little like cardboard when touched, hence the name 'Cardboard palm'.

I was pleasantly surprised when Mom said that we already have this plant in our current garden. And, that it's already big and growing vigorously. I was inclined to believe her but just to be sure I asked for a picture anyway.

Two of the young Cardboard palm cycads (lower left and upper right) in the nursery.

Indeed, the picture I received is of a Cardboard palm and it's big, healthy and in bloom (in the form of cones). This is proof that this plant will thrive in our garden's climatic condition. So, I asked them to buy some more of this beautiful species of cycad. It is nice to know that this plant, a holdover from the dinosaur age, is thriving well in our current garden and hopefully will continue to do so in the future garden.

Cycads are commonly referred to as 'palms', but they are not true palms.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

"... for he has been raised just as he said..." (Matthew 28:6)

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Lotus position

(Pardon the quality and framing of the pictures, they were taken using a cellphone camera only, hence the poor result.)

So finally, here is the Pink Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) plant we purchased a month ago. If I recall correctly, this would be the most expensive plant we've ever bought so far. It came in one tub but was divided into two small basins so it could be loaded into the van and transported safely without spilling water all over.

Less than a month after it was bought, the Lotus plant in one of the basins sprouted a flower bud. Before the bud could open, Mom had to leave for a week and when she came back the bloom is gone and all that was left was a small saucer-shaped pod.

The other basin of Pink Lotus with a flower bud (upper left corner).

Beforehand, I told Mom to watch out for the seedpod if ever it flowers. Now she is waiting for the pod to mature and see if we can get viable seeds so we can grow our own Lotus from seed. I'm still waiting for the news if they were able to gather the seeds before they get carried away by nature's elements.

I've been reading articles on how to grow Lotus plant from seed so I could tell Mom how to do it, just in case she's able to gather them.

So where am I planning to put this plant? Right now they are still in the basins they came with. And they will stay there, or in bigger basins until a suitable place is found. I'm planning of transforming the unsightly ditch that runs across the farm and turn it into a beautiful water garden. And the Pink Lotus will be one of the featured plants in that garden.