Sunday, August 02, 2015

Mini-dam terraces

* Note: The original title of this  post is "Terraces, Part 13". Three entries and set of photos here.

March 13, 2015.

Two weekends ago, I visited the farm. The big "wall" that we built several years ago, the stones are shrinking, as the soil below them becomes compacted. Time to adjust them. We removed one layer of stones each on the first and second rows, and put them on the third row.

Below, before we  worked on it. Notice the 3rd row, the sinking is visible...

After. The 3rd row became higher and more prominent.

Top view, before and after. Behind the big stones in each row are many smaller stones to stabilize them. Plus soil and organic matter as additional but weaker back up materials. Where did we get the soil and additional smaller stones...

From here. The trapped organic matter that has decomposed and became very soft soil. We removed about six inches deep on average here. This area becomes a temporary pool of trapped water and organic matter during heavy rains. Meaning, it can reduce a huge volume of water and hence, reduce flash flood, and reduce or prevent erosion of precious top soil in this part of the farm. 

July 14, 2015

The 3-layer terraces, March 2015 (top photo) and July 2015 (below). We started building the 4th layer last month.

August 02, 2015

I visited the farm last Saturday. Previous weeks, we added the 4th layer as the stones continue to shrink, though at low rates now.

Side view, and left side of the structure, below.

And here is the adjusted structure, moving to 5 layers from the previous 2-3 layers. Nong Endring is standing at the top putting new grasses and leaves. See his height compared with the height of the structure. It's simply getting higher, sturdier.

The mini-pool at the back of the structure, the impounded water. Above photo,  taken 3 weeks earlier.


See also:
Terraces, Part 9, July 07, 2014 
Terraces, Part 10, August 30, 2014
Terraces, Part 11, October 22, 2014
Terraces, Part 12, November 28, 2014

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Huge, old mango tree for sale

We are selling this huge mango tree in the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. It should be at least 100 years old. It has been producing less and less fruits (if the fruits survive the annual pest, "kurikong manga"), some branches are dying or dead, they just break and fall down. Before other diseases will cause more internal rot inside this huge tree, we are selling it to furniture-makers.

How big in terms of diameter at breast height (dbh), I don't know, I did not bring a measurement device, but it would require about three men to hug the tree. Below, our farm caretakers, Nong Endring Paragas and his son, Danny.

There are many huge branches at the top, but some of them are already dead/rotting and some are dying, can no longer sustain even few leaves.

About 11 or 12 years ago, we also cut a huge, old and decaying mango tree in the farm. This is our dinning table in the house made from that mango tree. About 2 inches thick.

The wooden desk made from some big branches of that tree.

If there are buyers interested for that lone mango tree, please email me at Thanks.

See also:

Rice planting season

I visited the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan last Sunday, July 12. Here is the rice field in front of my treehouse, being tilled by our long time caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas. To save money, he and some rice farmers just spread the rice seeds randomly.

Advantage is that they save on the cost of labor planting. Disadvantages are (a) this requires more seeds, (b) grasses and weeds can grow simultaneously with the young rice plants, and (c) more difficult to remove weeds later that compete for soil nutrients and sunlight for the crops.

Below, this is outside the farm. Another rice field in front of the house of Nong Endring's son, Danny, who also helps in the farm. The women in the photo (with umbrellas) are uprooting the young rice, bundle them, to be transported to nearby rice fields for planting with equal spaces in between them.

Another side, just beside Danny's house. The south west monsoon (aka "Habagat") has resulted in nine days and nights of almost continuous rains in western Pangasinan-Zambales and nearby provinces.

The daily rains have actually continued until about middle of this week. This road has become a mini-canal for more than a week

Another set of rice fields, near our farm. Lots of water.

A mama carabao and her few months old kid. A few farmers still use farm animals to till the soil. This is non-costly of course but work is slow. One hand tractor can do work of perhaps 5 carabaos.

Above are among the sights that I enjoy whenever I visit the farm.

See also: 
Creek, canal and  irrigation, September 05, 2011
Rice Farms, July 11, 2012 
Around My Treehouse, May 02, 2013 
Maya Bird as Rice Pest, May 05, 2014

Fields of gold, harvested, March 02, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trees in the Farm, Part 4

An update from a blog post I made last August 21, 2013. Photos below I took last Sunday, June 21, 2015. Here, on the left side of my treehouse. Avocado, mango, mahogany, other trees.

Mostly mahogany trees, and mostly growing  and  regenerating on their own. 

They need clearing, removal of other trees that are too close to each other, usually within one foot apart. Ideal for good growth is about two meters or around seven feet apart.

I originally posted these last August 21, 2013:

We started planting mahogany, acacia auri, eucalyptus and other trees in the farm in 1992. Only about 300 seedlings or less. Then we started producing our own seedlings in 1993 or 94 and planted more in the mid 90s.  By early to mid-200s, we stopped planting as the trees we planted earlier were already producing their own seeds and seedlings. This tall acacia auri is different because it has a straight trunk. It has no choice as it was surrounded by other big trees, mahogany and various native species. Plus tall bamboos, just beside a creek.
Mahongany trees near my treehouse.

Many of these young trees simply grew and regenerated on their own.

Mahogany trees near an irrigation canal.

View of the trees near the creek from a hill within the farm.

One of about five surviving agoho or pine trees, on a rocky area beside the creek.

It is refreshing to see the trees that we planted one or two decades ago are now mature.

See also: 
Trees in the Farm, part 2, September 06, 2012
Trees in the Farm, Part 3, February 11, 2013

Natural Regeneration of Trees, February 21, 2013
Around My Treehouse, May 02, 2013 
Tree Planting vs. Tree Growing, June 08, 2014 
Wasteful DENR Reforestations, October 22, 2014 
Denuded Uplands, Western Pangasinan, February 17, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Terraces Below the Treehouse

The stone terraces below my treehouse has been relatively stable, no big erosion happened. But is also a bit neglected, some unstable terraces were not repaired, lots of grasses and small vines. This photo taken last May 09, 2015.

After being cleaned, near-collapsing terraces were repaired. The uprooted grasses and vines were used as filling materials along with soil behind those stones.

Updates, taken last May 20, 2015. View from the 1st floor of my treehouse.

I don't know how to adjust my cameraphone against glaring noontime sights like this. Not clearly visible, but the repaired stone terraces are now  high, 2 layers or rows.

When I go back there, more rows will be constructed.

See also:
Terraces, Part 10, August 30, 2014
Terraces, Part 11, October 22, 2014
Terraces at Mahogany Area, March 10, 2015
Terraces, Part 13, March 13, 2015

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Charcoal Economics, Part 2

Updating this blog post from the original version last November 28, 2014. Revenues from charcoal help in paying the salary of our caretakers Nong Endring Paragas and his son, Danny. The DENR and locals do not complain of "illegal cutting" as the fallen trees, big branches are from our planted trees, not from the public forest land.

Below, some of the trunks ready for charcoal making. They are big, right, but crooked, not good for lumber production.

New wood prepared. Standing is Mama Pitong, assisted by his son. Photos taken May 9, 2015. Wood, then  covered by rice straw, then  covered by soil, supported by coconut leaves so that the soil does not erode.

I didn't know that camote (sweet potato) thrives in a previous charcoal pit, like this one.

Pruning and cutting trees that are too close to each other is necessary, otherwise no or very few trees can hope to become big and appropriate for lumber production someday. We have too many of these small, medium-size trees; generally they just grew on their  own. Using them for charcoal making is the wise thing to do.

See also:
Denuded mountains, March 31, 2009 
New Upland Dwellers and the DENR, August 21, 2013
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012 

Charcoal Economics, February 23, 2014
On Grass Fire, April 17, 2014

Terraces Beside Narra Trees

Old and existing terraces are further stabilized and raised with new layers of organic matter, soil and stones added on them. On one side of the farm, here are a series of photos as of August 2014, mid-March 2015, and May 9, 2015, respectively.

Another angle. Photos as of August 2014mid-March 2015, and May 9, 2015, respectively.

Cleaning up litter falls that will simply be washed out by flash flood. Before and after.

Behind the big stones are these organic matter and soil. Photos as of April 04 and May 9, 2015. .

The new top soil were organic matter and eroded topsoil that were trapped by this structure. Imagine the amount of top soil  that has been preserved, and flash flood that has been temporarily impounded, for a few hours. How thick or how high is the new soil that has been trapped at the base? Here  is one measurement, about 6-8 inches high, or about 3/4 of the shovel base, at around 1.5 meters distance from the big stones.

How it looked before the new topsoil was formed -- hard soil with lots of small stones on the surface.

A small group of blocking stones, as of April 04 and May 9, 2015, respectively.

The big stones were transferred in building the 2nd layer of terraces. Front view of big stones, as of April 04 and May 9, 2015, respectively.

See also:
Terraces, Part 10, August 30, 2014
Terraces, Part 11, October 22, 2014
Terraces at Mahogany Area, March 10, 2015
Terraces, Part 13, March 13, 2015