farm update

a family does natural farming down a village by the sea

Archive for February 2011

Finding Quiapo

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With the buzz about azolla and how it could replace a great portion of livestock feeds, I set out to find mine. They say it can be found in the wild, on still bodies of waters. On one side of our farm was a shallow creek , where all the carabaos in the barrio take their respite from the midday sun. Its water runs down the sea. Not the place to go to. Inside the farm is an even smaller canal, where a large pool of rainwater from the adjoining plains gather, and empties in to the previously mentioned creek. Some times of the year it dries up. Not this one either.

As I was talking to the plumber-guy-with-four-kids how raising pigs can now be done without smell, how cost can be lowered by planting forages, and how I was looking for more kinds of alternative to feed mine, my farm-all-around-guy overheard us and announced that he thinks he just got the problem solved. Then he went to the idle land beside the farm, where there was a large hole with water, and fished a single water plant.


I then published it on my Facebook and singling out azolla, as by this time I am getting familiar with photos of azolla from my friend’s photos,  identified it as duckweed.  Well,  it’s not a water lily and I don’t know any other water plant anymore.  But the photos on the net doesn’t match. Then I saw one at Moje’s photo album on the recently concluded Horticulture display at Manila Seedling Bank in Quezon City. She then identified it as Quiapo,  Water Cabbage  or water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes).

water cabbage/water lettuce/quiapo

Next I read on how it can be of use. On some areas it is regarded as a highly-invasive weed. Alone or in a small group floating on a pond, it does look good forming a rosette of wedge-shaped leaves. I cannot find info on its nutritional content. I read from Sandy’s blog her new native piggies doesn’t like it.  I read from Jojie it is a good amendment to compost, as it is high on phosphorous.

On a pond with azolla or duckweed, it will overwhelm the little ones. Cultivate it alone, or fish to add to compost.

Written by Veni

February 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

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Goat Weak

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This is going to be a goat week. Monday I sold 10 heads. I earlier counted at least 13, but it turned out I have a weak goat. And a pregnant goat.  Now, preggies don’t get sold, they have every right to stay, period.

The weak goat turned out to be Triclo. She came to us way back in 2004, age unknown, and gave birth after a mere month. She hardly showed, she was on the slim side. This is her welcome photo on my multiply blog.  She was on the culling line since last year, but when the occasion demand for one preggies don’t tip the mark, okey?

But today while at work, my goatguy texted me Triclo seems weak, and so I gave the much-awaited nod. She’s going, any which way. Now that sounds like from a hardened goatraiser. See I don’t cry anymore whenever I lose one of them. When I got home I confirmed all along what I thought might be why she doesn’t really gain weight, there are liver flukes inside her eating away whatever her big appetite, her territorial meanness earned by long farm stay, gets her.

There were 3 workers, and everyone had a share of the chevon, then I had the rest sent to my mother’s house. They can have it all, but with the instructions that can the papaitan be saved for Ben? As for me, who could have the heart to eat something you’ve taken care for so long?

Not me, the hardened goatraiser me.

Written by Veni

February 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm

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At first I thought there was nothing inside the plastic with water. Then I saw some greens, very tiny singular leaf, no less than 10 in quantity. Is this it? I was expecting Azolla, and in the photos of my Facebook friend’s albums they are fern-like tiny water plants. I also browsed a lot at the Philippines for Natural Farming, Inc FB page. This one is not.
And that is how I got my first duckweed. They are the smallest flowering plant belonging to the botanical family Lemnaceae. Even if it grows 20 times faster than a corn and is able to double their mass in two days under the ideal environment, I would still count weeks before I can grow it out into a small basin.

Common Duckweed has 1 to 3 leaves measuring 1/16 to 1/8 inches in length. Giant Duckweed has 1 to 4 leaves measuring 1/16 to 1/4 inches in length. 1 to 6 roots may grow from each plant. This morning after its first 24 hours at home, I was able to see tiny roots emanating from a frond, as its single leaf is correctly called. My hopes went up. I have plans to add them to my arsenal of alternative feeds to my livestock.
I have a feeling I am going to stare at an old saucer dish laced with goat’s manure for the rest of the week…


Written by Veni

February 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

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Gone bananas

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At the mercy of dark clouds and wisps of raindrops, that never turned into decent rain, towards the end of the week I had more bananas planted.

Our kakawate, indigofera, moringana, talinum, napier and desmanthus are nearly wiped out and in dire need of respite.  The new rows of cassava and napier will need at least a month’s worth of rain. I had resorted to having jack-fruit leaves fermented with the pig’s grain but at feeding time they leave it behind. My caretaker suggested we give them fresh instead. He had also taken to sourcing banana trunks outside the farm. We have a lot of good neighbors around.

And to top it off, the village water system decided to relocate its water source, so our supply was cut off. We have two deep well inside the farm, the old one near the piggery had to be manually pumped for their water consumption, which is so little. See they don’t have to be washed, water is only for the drinker drum.

Though before we had gone bananas, molasses run out first. I was told milling season starts in mid-Feb, and only after then can I probably buy my supply. At least we were able to ferment a lot of papayas, and alamang who happened to be in season in Ragay Gulf.

Our fodder bananas we got from our neighbor’s farm, neighbor’s yard, were perhaps a couple of hundred in all. I’m not familiar with their planting distance, but we’re running out of planting space. And when the rain comes, planted a mere meter away from each other, we are going bananas.

Written by Veni

February 5, 2011 at 9:33 pm

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A farm update everyday for 2011!

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The name of my blog comes from my Facebook photo album, and as the name implies, I upload photos from our farm, for my facebook friends.

I started in 2010, and for that year I had posted a total of 65 pictures,  while the first month of 2011 I already posted 34 pictures. That means I am having lots to talk about. I do not want to bore my other friends with farm updates every now and then, hence I started this blog.

So you better read! Or shall I say, happy reading!

Written by Veni

February 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm

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Here comes the pigs

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I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. — Sir Winston Churchill, British politician (1874 – 1965)

In July 2010 we took in 4 pigs. Next comes these merry batch of 16 heads. Since then we were able to bid goodbye to three of the original four, having retained one as a breeder. They are a joy to watch, who dug like crazy and play with a coconut nut like pro soccer.

Like the goats, my son enjoys feeding them greens. They are raised naturally using a technology from Jeju Island, South Korea called natural farming. Andy Lim and Jojie Gamboa taught me concoctions that can be made right at the farm.

Grass-fed, chemical free, out in the market they are labelled organic meat.

Written by Veni

February 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

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I See Rain!

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In a country forecasted this year to be having a wet summer, and floods are happening everywhere, and low pressure areas appearing down south where they shouldn’t be, our farm is bone dry.
The last day’s worth of rain was ten days ago, and with the strong cold winds, the Siberian thawing snow tailing down here, one sunny day is enough to scorch.
So that dark clouds this morning, is a welcome sight, even though they seem to be running. And joy vanished like the cloud. It was no rain. It was a mist of rain and the wind will wipe it dry in a minute.

Written by Veni

February 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

Posted in farm update

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