farm update

a family does natural farming down a village by the sea

Archive for March 2011

Earthworm my tiller

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Yesterday our future neighbour (they live in the city right now) dropped by.  They have fenced in their one-hectare land adjoining us and have plans to revive the soil. Like ours before we acquired it ten years ago, theirs was an open field that were used mainly by the carabaos to graze upon, compact, and eat the nutrients away.

They have also started to turn the land. Plowing with a carabao,  then later on planting mongo crops, and after the mongo flowers, they will be tilled back to the land.  I was asked where I bought my ozito shredder, as they have plans to buy a rota-tiller tractor. They have plans to buy loads of organic fertilizer and I was informed that Durabloom fertilizers now cost php300 per bag of 50 kg.

Back at the farm I showed them around, including my own IMO5 or basal fertilizer, and too bad I can’t show them our land tiller.

They are earthworms silently doing their job under the soil. And did I say that they work for free?

Written by Veni

March 13, 2011 at 5:46 am

Posted in farm update

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Seaweeds – green fertilizer from the sea

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For a few days now I’ve been observing from the road the recent presence of greenery along the point where the Aguada Creek drains down the Ragay Gulf sea.

Daroanak Island and Ragay Gulf offering me nature's richness in the form of green seaweeds

I have not seen it that many before, probably a lomot or the type that clings to woods or bamboo poles submerged on the sea for a long time. That I remarked to my son and we made plans to look it up closer on our way home from work and school.

school of small fish swaying by the seaweeds

I then took out a small plastic and selected those submerged under the water, which later on turned out to be exactly 3 kilogram (kg). If I can use this as a material for fermented seaweed extract (FSE) then I am going to have a very good supply of nitrate, amino acid and other minerals for my farm. And its free. Otherwise you can get your protein requirements from fish meal, fish entrails or kuhol snails. Fish amino acid (FAA) or kuhol amino acid (KAA) are a vital component in making a complete organic basal fertilizer called IMO5.

Before we left my son asked me to take a photo of him with this favourite friend playing dead.  That is, after running with the little creature and digging it up as it crawls hiding into a sand hole.  When he finally caught it the poor fella had no choice but to play dead. He assured me it’s fine because he always returns them to the sand after they get reacquainted. All legs intact, hopefully.

little pal, big happiness

Written by Veni

March 10, 2011 at 5:48 am

Feed the pigs feed the pigs

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I had a text message from the feeds company, that they are going to deliver my commercially-prepared feeds and with him, a Thai swine especialist.  They are a new company and delivering from Legaspi City. That’s at least a 3-hr drive going to the farm so it was after dusk that they finally arrived.

I met them at the gate, and while my boys are bringing in the goods on their hapless backs ( they had the unfortunate misery of a wheel barrow breaking down), I invited them over to where the pigs are. But not before arming us with a couple of rechargeable flashlights, lest one of my FB friend’s saying that snakes does hold a grudge to people who happen to have brought death to any of their kins holds true. I personally haven’t killed any snake, but assuming the title of head farmer when the man is out,  I feel partly responsible for the decline in their tribe while my boys are clearing up the land.

I asked questions. How does my sow look? Is she doing well? Not so fat, just fine? A comparison of my existing feeding program then ensues with theirs. A comparison of my current formulations measures up, but still, after sniffing, remarked it is almost rancid, and showed me how their own pellets smells divine.  Not quite satisfied, they threw both kinds of feeds and assured me theirs will be gulped first.  Talk about a fine salesman.

I feed my pigs once a day. You bet I got shot by their looks. Pigs are like humans, you should feed them three times a day, if you can’t do it ad libitum. I explained that is what I learned on the training on natural raising, greens at 3pm, grains at 4pm.  Another deadly side look.  Thanks goodness it was dark in there I haven’t noticed any side smirks between the two – a good looking young technical salesman and his swine specialist with 25 years of pig farm visiting background.

I was asked about the cost of liveweight. Today it was up at php83, at the start of the year it was down by php70. Why is it that I got another horrible look? Too low, they chorused. Poor backyard pig farmer, they must have thought, shooting me another pitying look.  Then the good Thai consoled me of their premium feeds but warned that he cannot control the prevailing market economy.

This is the first time someone delivered my feeds, it was almost dinner time. Shall I invite them in, and as they say in the barrios around fiesta, “come in and eat the house”.  I walked them off the gate. My farmhelp joined us there and his wife, and I remarked we better see them off lest we run out of carabao English. But before that I extended another invitation that they return for a farm visit by daylight, so I could show the beach which is nearby.

By the end of the month we expect a gain in weight, so we could select more gilts. After all, mine is a 2-sow level farm.

Written by Veni

March 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Posted in pigs

Wallowing pool – to give or not to give

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I am having second thoughts if I should remove the pig’s wallowing pool in my future pen construction.

Watching them wallowing in water, cooling it down by the afternoon sun, living like a pig among brothers and sisters, their life could not get any better.  But other natural farmers ahead of me in the natural way of raising, argued that the bedding is already cool. The steady supply of drinking water cools them down. And on especially hot days they can enjoy a spray. A walloping pool, even if inoculated with indigenous microorganism (IMO) might cause ailments later on. That is their experience.

Oh, but I love seeing them enjoy a splash. But oh, I am beginning to see why some natural farmer will not give in to a pig’s wallowing pool.  The waste water from the pool had to drain somewhere. And if you don’t want to pollute your creek you had to do something about it. And it’s not something solid that you can make a biogas out of it. Their manure are decomposed by the presence of IMO in the beddings. The waste water are just like that, nothing solid in it, just wastewater.

And that is where I thought of putting my future azolla pond.

afternoon sun hits the pig's wallowing pool.

Written by Veni

March 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Posted in pigs

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How to make an Indigenous Microorganism (IMO2)

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bury your cooked rice under the bamboo groove, then cover with dried bamboo leaves

Find a good spot to capture your indigenous microorganism (IMO). When you say indigenous, it means is it found locally. Your bamboo groove, and forest floors away from human traffic are two perfect spot to get them.  Your IMO are your farm’s good guys, so you try to multiply them to fight the bad guys. Bad guys are the microorganisms that cause plant’s diseases, putrefaction of composts, foul smell of livestock’s wastes.

Here’s how I do it.

1. One-half kilo of rice will yield  1 kilo cooked rice. Make sure you cooked it hard, with less moisture.

2. Place in a bamboo stump then cover with Manila paper and seal with plastic to protect from rain.

3. Bury half-way under the bamboo groove  or shady forest floor for three (3) days on sunny days and five (5) days on rainy days. Make sure it is also covered with dead leaves. IMO especially thrives on dead bamboo leaves.

4. After 3 days, open your containers and you will notice white molds on top of the rice. Other colors like orange are a good sign that you caught the good ones. A large presence of black and green molds means you had to start the process all over again. This is your IMO1.

5. Weigh your finished rice with molds and add the same amount of molasses, mixed thoroughly. You are feeding your IMO so they will further multiply.

6. Cover with Manila paper, or any plain paper will do. Seal tighly and store on a cool, dark place for seven (7) days.

7. After 7 days decant the liquid from the mud-like sludge. This is your IMO2, looking like a witch brew. It is because your good guys are alive!

do not cover the IMO for a few days more after harvest, unless you want it to burst up your ceiling!

Written by Veni

March 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Natural Inputs

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Molasses the natural farm’s gasoline

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Rolling in the molasses drums

Mollases, that dark, sticky liquid product made by evaporating sugarcane juice and removing any crystallized sugar is the gasoline of natural farming. That much I had realized when late last year I run out of it. Or, the suppliers run out of stock.

When cultivating the all too important indigenous microorganism down to the growth promotant, protein alternative, oriental herbal nutrient and even the insect attractant, mollases is needed.  At the time of fermentation it is the food of the microorganisms, so they can multiply.

This time of the year is the best time to get your farm supply, being milling season, that way you get it at the best price. Ours was sourced at the Peñafrancia Sugar Mill (Pensumil) for 10 bucks per kilogram. A good buy since last year I got them at the agrivet stores downtown Naga City from php18-24/kg.

Written by Veni

March 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Posted in farm update

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