farm update

a small family does natural farming down a Philippine village by the sea

Back at the keyboard

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Hello there. It’s been a long time since I last posted and I’m sorry for that. I already forgot why but I’m sure the reasons had been a lot, from PC ( I used to have a very slow notebook) to which to write on and even the rural Internet signals hehe. While finding my way back in, I chanced upon a few drafts, and here’s one I wrote before. Maybe I’m gonna line this under “Out of the Farm” files. How time flies. I did Vietnam way back in 2012, that’s almost five years ago.
Vietnam In One Week

When I first learned that one of my friends will be working in Hanoi, Vietnam, I and another friend soon made plans to visit her there. I was particularly interested to see the Halong Bay after  Isaw it online being on the World Heritage Site.
I was not disappointed, Halong Bay lived up to its amazing natural beauty. The bay was tranquil and the rugged numerous islands provided the best ambiance for a relaxing overnight cruise. Coming from the Philippines I very much liked the cool weather around the bay. I had enjoyed the time with other tourists trekking inside the Sung Sot Cave.
We spent a night there but it seems time had been so short! The Old Quarter of Hanoi City was another highlight of my short visit to Vietnam. We arrived in the wee hours of
a Sunday, it seems that we were the only plane that landed on that ungodly hour, which is just after midnight, so we fall prey to exorbitant high taxi rates. We were supposed to be fetched by the hotel but they were nowhere to be found. It was cold, and I jumped right into bed upon arriving at Hanoi Style Hotel. The room was very pleasant
and the buffet breakfasts were pretty good.
After exchanging our US dollars at the hotel, we went out armed with a city map. We walked around the Old Quarter and had lunch on a place I soon forgot. I am pretty sure we ate something with a Bo name on it. Or maybe a Bho. There was a strong smelling herb that I did not particularly like so I made it a point not to order that kind of food again. After lunch, it’s time to see Uncle Ho. I did not know that the inside was only open for viewing in the morning. I would have loved to come inside. We had one past president back in the Philippines who was similarly frozen in a mausoleum like him. My expat friend told me that Uncle Ho was very much revered as a leader. It was only later that I read online that the lines going in were pretty long so maybe it was for the better that we did not spent time falling in line. We only had a full day in Hanoi so we want to make the most of it. The day was overcast, which made it perfect for walking around. I have a long list of requests for TNF (the north face) bags so we hunted that down. I saw a lot of poorly made imitations and I just hope the ones I bought lasted for 5 years, like the one I bought in Cambodia.
I’ve read that Adidas had a factory nearby so I also grabbed a few Adidas items. The lake park in the middle of the city was quite lovely by dusk, and we nearly got lost looking for the St Joseph Cathedral. We had fun walking around. One of us had seen the church before and one of us was sure the church must have moved location, overnight! It was not where it was supposed to be, basing on the map at hand.
We eventually found it just in time for a Sunday mass. We do not understand the language so we did not linger long. Our dinner was different than lunch. This time we enjoyed the food, we cooked it right there on our table. We lingered over a bottle of beer for some time that we nearly missed the weekend night market! They were closing as we came over.

Our second day was the planned trip to Halong Bay and when we returned back at the hotel, we once again resumed shopping on the street. Once again we sampled eating on the street, like everyone else. We particularly liked one shop that specializes on North Face jackets. I told him he was speaking like a Vietnamese already, that easy friendly tone. He said no, he is as Parisian as he can be. I hardly had time to really get to know any Vietnamese except for the Halong Bay tourist guide. I and my friends had not seen each other for quite some time and we spent all the time catching up with each other.

After 3 days it was time to fly to Saigon. We have 2 days to get to know that city. At first, I would have liked to take the train but we don’t have much time to kill. Saigon looks busier with its wide streets. After checking in our hotel right there at District 1, we went out in search of the Lunch Lady down 23 Hoang Sa Street. Another friend of mine told me to try her soups for lunch. Like the food in Hanoi, it was another first for me, the soup was heavily herbed and curried with a very big chicken leg. It made for a hearty lunch alone. Again it was street side eating, except her place was located under a shady umbrella tree and on a quiet corner. We lingered for a while because we liked what we are seeing, the coming and going of others looking for lunch and obviously enjoying what they are eating.

After that, we had another round of shopping at Saigon Square.  We had a good dinner at the nearby night market outside Ben Tham, which was just a short walk away from our hotel. Like Hanoi, we did a walking tour of Saigon, with a trusty city map, and we hardly got lost. The names of the streets were pretty foreign but wee managed to get back every time we ventured out. I miss the cool weather of Hanoi while we were strolling around Saigon. And there was another thing I was missing, which I finally saw at the airport as we were returning back home. A good old hamburger!

So there, I left Vietnam with my tummy full of hamburger.


Written by Veni

July 3, 2017 at 10:49 am

Posted in away from the farm

Tagged with , ,

Hero the happy holstein

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A chubby one looking great, such big strong legs!”, Quipped Christian the dairy federation’s technician. Well, after downing 4 liters of milk, and that’s just for his morning fill, he sure looks like a winner.
Ben named him Hero because he was born  last National Heroes’ Day. We finally had our future herd sire, with 75% holstein breed in his blood.

Written by Veni

October 29, 2015 at 3:57 am

Posted in animals

The long road to the milking stand

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It’s been a week now that we’ve been squeezing milk out of our newly calved dairy cow. It’s been a long road, more than three years to be exact, since we had the cow dispersal. 

First off, what we had was what you might call “foreclosed” couple of cows and one 3-month old female calf. They were originally shipped from New Zealand way back in 2005. The farmer-beneficiary wasn’t milking them and just generally wasn’t taking good care of them hence, they got transferred to our farm. 

We spent a lot of miss in breeding them, after an even more time in rehabilitating their health. Astig, one of the cow, finally gave birth to a female offspring in Dec 2013, while the one with calf in tow, whom we named Gurangan, just calved last Aug 2015. It was a male born on National Heroes’ Day so we are naming our future herd breeder, Hero. 

Astig barely had just enough milk to sustain her offspring, and we were not able to milk her for human consumption. But this time, three years after, Gurangan’s health completely reconditioned, we are ready to spend a long time in the milking stand, every morning and afternoon. 

But then after such a long time of dry period, we had mastitis, a common occurence in dairy animals, to deal with. After a shot of antibiotics, we squeeze milk to feed the baby cow Hero and give the rest to our guard dogs. The withdrawal period will be a week after each shot. 

Once we have the milk clean and fit for you to drink, we will deliver them to the processing plant in Pili, Cam Sur. 

Written by Veni

September 8, 2015 at 5:43 am

Posted in home cooking

Announcement: we’re having a new farm family member

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Written by Veni

August 6, 2015 at 10:33 pm

Posted in home cooking

How to make fermented fruit juice (FFJ)

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It’s been weeks since my grapes had started flowering, and so i need a concoction that will provide potassium and additional nutrient to support this change-over period. 

Potassium will serve to sweeten the young fruits. As the famous researcher Shibada Genshi remarked, the enzymes found in fruits are as sweet as honey. 

Since the bignay (Antidesma bunius) is in bloom like crazy these days, i am going to use this for  FFJ.  

Here’s what you will need-

1. Plastic pail

2. Manila paper

3. 3kg Molasses

4. 3kg ripe bignay fruits

5. Something heavy to crush the fruits. Here i used a small glass container. 

How to do it-

1. Crush the fruits using the bottom of the glass container.

The crushing is just to break apart the fruits so the molasses can do its work during fermentation. 

2. Put the crushed fruits inside the plastic pail and mix with the same amount of molasses. 

  3. With the container at least 3/4 full, to allow for fermentation to occur; cover with manila paper and tie tightly with a string. 
4. Store in a cool and shaded place for 7 days. 5. This will yield at least 6 liters of FFJ. 

How to use-

1. Mix 10ml of the FFJ to a liter of water. Or to a backpack sprayer, fill with water until almost full and add 150ml concoction (you can use a small sardine can for measuring). 

2. Spray on the leaves and around the soil of frui-bearing trees either very early in the morning or in the late afternoon. This is to allow for the live microorganism to get under the soil while the sun is not yet up as they will be killed by the heat. 

3. Apply once a week from change-over or flowering until one week before harvest. 

Written by Veni

July 28, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Natural Inputs

Tagged with

Propagating Organic Lowland Strawberries

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Towards the end of the month, we devote our time for strawberries.
First we will bag runners, let them root while still attached to mother plants for at least 3-4 weeks.


Right after bagging they are treated with fse (fermented seaweeds extract), the cord secured with a “strawberry cord” formed into a “^”.


This summer’s both very hot and littered with sudden rain every other day or so. The result is very good with the mother plants sprouting runners like crazy.


After a month runners are cut loose from mother plants. See them runners with their own runners. How prolific!


They are then grouped together according to stage of maturity and kept out of direct sun for at least a week to recover and harden.

Written by Veni

April 30, 2015 at 5:53 am

Posted in farm update

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It’s a duck’s life

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Lately i am having a lot of baby ducks. Finally we have a secured area for them. That means the dogs could not get into their eggs, and presto, more eggs get to see the light as baby ducks.

The only thing left to pester them are rats. While they have a brooding pen, i can still see rats trying to get in. The solution will be to brood their mother duck with them!

And then,  when they grow bigger, they will join the rest of the duck herd. There’s a pool for them, also a good place to munch on azolla. It’s a duck’s world.


Written by Veni

February 24, 2015 at 3:26 am

Posted in home cooking

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