Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our first water garden

Our tubs, buckets and pails of Lotus plants are getting to be like cry babies, always looking for attention. Not that they make shrieking noises when they need something, they just look sad and limp when they need more water.

Since their roots are confined to small and shallow containers, their water requirements need to be checked often especially during hot and sunny days. This situation was brought to my attention months ago and we had to come up with a quick solution if our Lotuses are to survive in the garden.

Ideally I would have opted for a ground level pond complete with water features and landscaping for a more  natural look. Eventually this is what I'll shoot for, but for now the well-being of the Lotus plants must be addressed as soon as possible.

Thus, we decided to build a bigger container in the form of an above ground pond. This is cheaper, easier to build and easier to maintain than an elaborate, natural-looking pond. So, Dad and his crew went to work and built the pond adjacent to the "mother" garden.

The Lotuses are now happily residing in the pond. Since there are room for more aquatic plants, a Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) and another yet unidentified plant were added. There are also Duckweeds (Lemna minor) which hitchhiked with Lotuses and began to float only after the Lotus containers were submerged in the pond.

We have Umbrella Papyrus (Cyperus involucratus) growing in a place where they don't get any attention so I asked Mom to put some in the pond too, but that's after they've been quarantined to make sure they don't harbor snail eggs. Currently they're in isolation at the back porch. It will be a disaster if aquatic snails get into the pond as I mentioned in my older post "What lies beneath..."

To solve the potential problem of the pond becoming a breeding ground for blood-sucking, virus-carrying mosquitoes, we added some fishes as well. There are a few Tilapias, young Kois and Comets contently living in the pond.

To keep the color of the pond from turning completely green due to algal bloom and the water healthy for the fishes, fresh water is added daily delivered by a hose connected to a spring-fed source.

A pond can be classified as a fishpond, koi pond, wildlife pond or a water garden. So, is this structure a fishpond or a water garden? Definitely a water garden. Although fishes can be added in a water garden they are not the main attraction of the pond but rather the various species of aquatic plants. The plants take the center stage while the fishes are just extras.

Someday, if the forces from above are willing, there will be more ponds and water gardens in different parts of the farm.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I am the Good Shepherd...

The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.
Psalm 23 : 1 - 3
The New American Bible

(continuation of A 7-foot tall statue of me?)

Years ago my parents floated an idea of building a small private chapel in the future and I nodded in agreement since unbeknownst to them I have that plan in mind too. I am not a very spiritual/religious person (a big time sinner here) but, I do believe that blessings come from "Above" and I think it is proper to give thanks for even the tiniest blessing. And this, I thought, is my way of giving thanks, by building a small chapel sometime in the (distant) future.

That "distant" future is getting closer and closer. But the planned chapel evolved into something else. The walls disappeared and the ceiling --- well, the sky's the limit --- literally. The planned chapel will now be an open-air meditation garden dedicated to the Good Shepherd, surrounded by plants and most probably a band of grazing sheep too.

A sample picture of where the statue will be installed to help visualize how it will look.

The picture above is just an approximation of how and where the Good Shepherd image will be located. Once it's installed the surrounding area will be landscaped and recycled tree trunks will serve as stools to sit on. In the future (the Lord willing) it will be completed with a recirculating stream with mini waterfalls. Somehow the sound of flowing water has a calming effect.

A lump of clay meticulously transformed into a rough image of the Good Shepherd. The artist's face is blurred for privacy.

As I've mentioned in my "A 7-foot tall statue of me?" post, with the help of a friend, I've found a sculptor to design a 7-foot tall image of the Good Shepherd. Above are pictures of the current state of the clay model which will be used as a basis in the making of the actual statue. It is a custom-made piece based on a composite of two different images.

At first I was very much concerned that the details of the clay image are not as sharp as those on the pictures I provided. I was assured that all the fine details and my specifications will be incorporated into the actual image once it is produced.

A closer look of the clay image still lacking fine details.

As explained by the artist: "The clay art only represents the concept of the final sculpture that's why it's rough. This is the comprehensive stage, a clay and reduced in size so it is generally rough. Definitely all the details will be on the bigger piece including all your inputs. Reduced clay studies are rough representations of the final piece. What it shows here is the general look of the image especially the resulting pose based on the combined posing of the two picture references you provided."


to be continued... (click here for the continuation)
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Big bird

A real bird.

An imaginary bird (image from Wikipedia).
I knew Big Bird (right) since I was a small boy. Initially, I didn't know that his feathers were yellow, thanks to our first TV, a black and white Motorola (yes, Motorola used to make TVs).

And I have Sesame Street to thank for since that's where I learned my A,B,Cs and 1,2,3s. It's also the reason why I pronounce the letter Z as 'zee' and not 'zey' like 'hey' which was the way they taught in school back then, and I think they still do today. Sesame Street was a part of my life perhaps until college. And then one day I "grew up" and became a part of the working class.

Then there's another big bird that I thought would not do well in our country because of the year-round high humidity and a long wet season. That's what I thought until my father proposed that we try raising ostriches. This idea came about when he saw a booming ostrich farm in a neighboring province which led to his lofty idea of being the first in our province to have an ostrich farm. Since I could sense that he was dead serious, I reluctantly consented.

The remaining trio, the male is in the middle.

My father suggested that we start with seven chicks. But when I learned that one young chick costs almost US$200.00 I wanted to back out. That does not include the cost of feeds and supplements. Not to disappoint my father I just closed my eyes and prayed that these chicks better not go to ostrich heaven or else I'm gonna be a very, very unhappy man. It was a gamble.

How I wish this female was sitting on some eggs.

As the chicks grew and the years go by, the seven ostriches became six, then five, then four, then three --- their current number today. The six became five because, as it turned out, there was only one male in the flock. Like any other birds it is hard to determine ostrich sex while they are still young. The ostrich farm agreed to exchange one of their male ostriches for two of our females. Hmmm... sounds like an unfair deal.

As expected in animal husbandry, there will be mortality. The other ostriches succumbed to various ailments. Thank goodness there's still one male alive. But I'm beginning to think he's either sterile, gay or impotent. Eventually, one of the females managed to lay two eggs. We thought we'll be hearing the sound of chirping baby ostriches soon but both eggs were unfertilized. Since then they've never produced a single egg.

Near the shed which serves as their shelter at night and during bad weathers.

Even though my father's dream of an ostrich farm did not materialize I'm thinking of keeping at least 2 or 3 ostriches so that the presence of these big birds will not be missed. Sometimes visitors would come just to look at them and marvel at the sight of these oversized but graceful birds.

BTW, if you did not see the post on how to show/hide contents of a blog please click here.
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Vanishing contents --- tutorial

My blogger friend Autumn Belle was also curious as to how I displayed and hid the tutorial in my Two in one post.

Here's how it's done and I assure you it's very easy. Click here to show or hide the code.

I hope this tutorial was able to help you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Going bananas ... also

I was in the middle of composing this entry when I read Angel's Going bananas post. Since I've already titled mine "Going bananas", I just added "... also."

Angel's bananas are different from mine. Her's are edible, mine are not (no double entendre intended). Anyway...

It all started when I asked Mom to look for a particular ornamental bananas. As always, mistakes were made and a different type of banana was bought. We've identified it later as the Blood banana (Musa acuminata 'Zebrina'). On the next trip to the garden store, another type ornamental banana was bought, the name of which I still do not know until now. As for the one I am looking for, well it's still out there waiting to be found.

Some of the Blood bananas in the upper garden. The one on the right have plenty of suckers, baby plants ready for transplant.

After these ornamental bananas have been transplanted to the upper garden they've adjusted and  practically felt at home, growing and multiplying faster than their edible counterparts. Since they have plenty of room to grow, might as well let them grow in number for now.

The still unidentified ornamental banana in bloom and with pups and fruits.

From a couple of mother plants there are now several clumps of Blood bananas found in different parts of the upper garden. As for the other "unnamed" ornamental banana, it's just doing what bananas are suppose to do, silently multiplying. In no time it too will be scattered in the garden just like its "blood" relative.


Thanks to Angel and Autumn Belle for identifying the other "unnamed" ornamental banana. It is called Musa velutina. Its common names include "Pink Fruting Banana", "Purple Banana" and "Pink Velvet Banana" among others.
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