Friday, January 27, 2012

A shepherd rises

(conclusion of A shepherd's journey)

After taking a well-deserved rest from carrying the heavy statue of the Good Shepherd to its destined location, the task of erecting it came next. They had to act fast to take advantage of a break from days of continuous downpour.

Even though the sun was out that day, it was veiled behind thick and dark clouds. But that was good enough to finish the job. It appears like Mother Nature was bestowing her blessing on this project. Thus, the statue was erected without a single hitch.

I decided against the idea of painting the statue as had been previously suggested. I think it would look better in its natural color of concrete. I'm afraid it might look cartoonish if different colors are applied to it.

The open field in front of the 'Good Shepherd' is where the small flock of sheep usually graze.

The surrounding area needs a good landscaping to better highlight the image of the Good Shepherd.

The corn stalks will all be cut down as soon as the ears are harvested and there will be no more corny jokes in the future. In fact a gradual landscaping has begun with whatever plants are still available in the nursery. There are so many more landscaping addition I can think of (e.g.: falls/stream, fishpond, sitting areas, spot lights), but these will have to be implemented in small stages as budget permits.

With the statue of the Good Shepherd looking over much of the farm and garden, may it always remind those who sees it of the higher power that never fails to guide and shepherd His flock.

 Postscript: The first time I saw the finished statue I was very disappointed. I know I will never be satisfied with the craftsmanship. The most important instruction I gave was not followed, the face of the image does not resemble the picture that I provided. If I were to decide now, I would rather have this entire project redone, start from scratch and look for another artist. But there are other factors that must be considered especially the monetary part.

I could have injected my inputs had the artist given updates during the construction process. After all this was what we agreed to. I was completely surprised when the only update I received was a message saying the work is done.

Originally, I was planning on having our local parish priest come to bless the statue after it is installed but I'm postponing this until I personally inspect it and then decide whether it can stay or build a new one.

Once again I was hit hard with the realization that it is so difficult and frustrating to work on a project that is thousands of miles away and you can't be there to personally see the progress. If only I can be in two places at the same time. Beam me up, Scotty!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A royal treatment

The seven new Royal palms.
Whenever I go to the farm, two things never escape my notice: that I always sleep in my brother's bedroom and those four imposing palm trees across our house.

On my every visit I temporarily use my brother's vacant room. That's because I have no room of my own; it has long been converted into a storage room...sigh! Somehow I understand how the "Holy Family" felt when they were told "there's no room in the inn." Maybe next time I'll bunk with the goats, or better yet, with the sheep. Talk about royal treatment!

Now when it comes to royal, those four imposing palm trees across the house aptly fit the title. I was told they are called Cuban Royal palms, Florida Royal palms or simply Royal palms (Roystonea regia). Although it's now a very common landscaping plant, I never really cared until I saw them in our own place. They are impressive in size, height and stature, fitting to be called 'royals.'

The trunks of the original four Royal palms. Picture taken on my visit last February, 2011

Since we only have four Cuban Royals in the farm, I thought of getting some more and randomly plant them in the 'upper' garden. In the future as they grow tall, these should help this struggling garden look more like a true garden and not just an open field with scattered plants here and there.

With the money left from the botched purchase of bamboo seedlings and the purchase of two Labrador puppies they were able to buy seven Royal palms. The palms they bought aren't very tall yet. That's fine since the really tall ones with visible trunks I'm pretty sure would cost thousands and thousands of pesos, if not more.

Except for the second picture, the rest were taken on a very dreary day. It has been raining almost daily for the past three months. Taking advantage of those hours without rain they immediately planted the Royal palms in random locations.

Seven is still not enough. There should be more of them in the farm. But with no budget yet, the rest would have to wait... until I win big in the lotto.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A shepherd's journey

(continuation of I am the Good Shepherd...)

Last November, when Mom and Dad traveled to the capital city from the farm, their purpose was not only to buy bamboo seedlings but to fetch the finished statue of the Good Shepherd as well.

This endeavor requires that they have to take the van so they can bring the huge and heavy statue back to the farm. The journey takes more than 300 kilometers each way and because father was not in a good physical condition to drive the van we had to hire a driver. This is still way cheaper than having the statue delivered to the farm. Our concern was this van is very old and it might not take the weight of the load. Well, it did.

A truck delivers the Good Shepherd to our house in the suburb of Metro Manila.

After an overnight journey the statue arrived and unloaded at the farm.

Because of the unrelenting rain that poured down in our area last November and December, they could not install the statue at its designated place. Thus it remained in the front porch while they waited for at least a couple of days of no rain before its foundation could be constructed.

Waiting in the front porch while the foundation is being constructed.

Eventually mother nature quieted the skies and let the sun shine for a couple of days, more than enough to clear the site and construct the concrete base where the statue will stand. After the concrete base hardened it is time to move the statue but the sky wailed again for several days. Taking advantage of one day without rain, even though the sun hid behind thick and ominous clouds, father gathered up nine men from the neighborhood to carry the heavy statue from the house to the installation site.

Some adjustments were made to carry the load safely.

Slowly navigating the sloped road down to the pond area.

A short rest after crossing the pond bridge and before the start of the uphill climb.

Another short rest.

And the march continues...

...and continues... almost halfway there ...

... until they reached the site.

The journey from the house to the site was not easy. I was told the statue weighs around one metric tonne (~1,000 kilogram). Every several meters the men had to stop and take a breather. The constant rain from the previous days made the dirt road very soft, muddy and slippery.

Finally the Good Shepherd arrived at his intended location, the slope of the highest part of the farm. Thanks to the will and determination of the men who carried the heavy statue to the place where it will command a view of the rest of the farm and garden.

to be continued... (click here for the conclusion)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Every dog has its day

According to one online dictionary, "every dog has its day" is a proverb which means everyone gets a chance eventually. And that includes getting a chance to go to doggie heaven.

One of our two farm dogs died last October, 2011. One day our male dog's jaw suddenly swelled and the following day it died before it could be brought to the vet's office. He left behind a very lonely sister. Our dogs are not treated as house pets, they are never allowed to set foot inside the house once they grow up. They have the entire farm as their playground and the stars are their blanket at night. However they have the storehouse for shelter during inclement weathers.

Because our dogs serve as alarms with their incessant barking when someone enters the farm premises, the need to replace the deceased dog became a priority. Luckily there was more than enough left in the budget allotted for the purchase of bamboo seedlings since we did not get the number of seedlings we needed.

Meet our new Labrador dogs. They were 3 months old when they were bought last November. My eldest niece took the rights to name them and being a Korean movie, TV and music (K-pop or Korean pop) fan, she named them Leeteuk (black, male) and Sora (yellow, female). Because they're still puppies they sleep in the main house and are free to roam and play inside.

Four months old Leeteuk (left) and Sora (right)...

... temporarily resting inside their travel cage after a refreshing bath.

Yesterday Leeteuk and Sora received their third and last installment of vaccinations and their anti-rabies shot. In a few more months they'll be ready to help Tintin (the only adult dog left) guard the farm.

Congratulations Leeteuk and Sora! Welcome to our dysfunctional family!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year