Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Terraces Beside Narra Trees, Part 2

Here are updated photos as of last weekend, April 24, 2016.
Earlier photos are posted in Terraces Beside Narra Trees, May 10, 2015.

Before and after we cleared the dried leaves; also repaired the misaligned stones.

And we added a new, 2nd layer of stones and small rocks on the main barrier. Remember that this used to be a small waterway, now totally blocked by a wide layer of stones to control soil erosion and minimize flash flooding. Some of flash flood water will be temporarily impounded by this structure, the excess water will simply overflow above the stones, or between these stones.

A thick layer of new and old leaves were deposited behind these stones. They won't go down the creek anymore, they will decompose there, to become new rich and organic top soil within weeks.

The cleared areas of dried leaves. Some small and young trees that are too close to each other were also removed.

Clearing thick dried leaves in a wide area also discourage some large creepers and crawlers like snakes from staying in the area as they have little cover.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Numbering the trees, part 2

April 9, 2016

Here are additional photos sent last week by Danny, in photo and the son of long time farm caretaker Nong Endring Paragas. This area is the gmelina part, far from my treehouse and are in the uplands already.

There is frequent stealing and unauthorized cutting of gmelina trees here, by charcoal makers and lumber sellers. Nong Endring is old enough to visit and watch this place regularly because of its distance plus the thick and tall cogons that get "cleaned" only if there is a big fire in the mountains. Danny helps but not everyday.

On the left, one of those gmelina trees that were cut by thieves, then grew to many new trunks. Danny numbered 5 of such trunks as they are at least 8 inches thick dbh. Middle and right, some of the big mahogany trees near the treehouse.

From the gmelina area, below is the burned area of the farm and further below it, not visible in the pictures, are the rich field, treehouse, and mahogany areas. Shows how far some of the gmelina area are and hence, difficult to monitor and guard, that's where many thieves come to cut and steal the trees.

April 16, 2016

More photos from Danny, courtesy of  my inaanak, Harjie Paragas. Thanks Harjie.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Grass fire, part 2

March 24, 2016

There was a big forest and grassfire that started in the public forest land last March 16 and ended the next day. The fire spread to other areas including near the upland dumpsite and materials recovery facility (MRF), various private farms. This is part of our farm, the fire did not cross the creek.

Ground view of the grass fire. Bad news because the fire affected many trees, although most of them will survive and regrow new leaves. Good news because the cogon, other grasses, vines there were very thick already that only a grassfire or huge grass cutters can remove them.

It used to be a rice field that Nong Endring cultivated for several years. Now that Nong Endring is old and he cannot till this wide area anymore, tall grasses have invaded the area.

This used to be the area of Fernando's house. He was not working for us, he just put a small house there and slept there at night, at day time he does many things outside the farm. I gave him a modest allowance for guarding the farm at night.

Thick layers of burned cogon and other grasses.

This used to be the cage for our chicken in the farm. Note the slightly elevated land via one layer of stone terrace.

Burned hose.

April 15, 2016

These are photos sent by Danny today. The affected trees in the upland in the grass and forest fire last month.


See also:
On Grass Fire, April 17, 2014
Denuded mountains, March 31, 2009
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Numbering the trees

We started numbering the various forest tree species in the farm, at least those that are about 5 inches or wider in diameter at breast height (dbh). Danny is in charge of this work. First he used white paint, but it was not visible enough, so he bought blue paint, now more visible.

Those that are at least 8 inches dbh and are harvestable are numbered 01 to 80+, as of last Saturday, March 19 when I visited the farm. Those that are 5-8 inches dbh are numbered 101 to 580+ as of last Saturday.

There are tens of thousands of trees in the farm, mostly mahogany in the lowland, followed by gmelina in the upland, then some eucalyptus, acacia auri and acacia mangium, narra. There are many local and endemic species like molave, karael, etc.

These are planted mahogany trees about 7-8 years ago perhaps. They are standing on rocky soil so they cannot grow fast and big but they are able to survive and thrive.

No big and mature tree that produce seeds yet, so there are no naturally growing trees yet and hence, the spacing is maintained. Once a big tree will produce seeds and scatter them, this area will look "chaotic" with thousands of new saplings growing every year in between those bigger trees.

The old canal that diverted part of the water in the creek into the other side, via a small dam and 3 hoses.

When trees of different ages grow, they look like this. This is between the well-spaced trees above, and the rice field near my treehouse.

Danny will be numbering the gmelina trees in the area that got burned two weeks ago. He will need an extra worker to assist him as Nong Endring is already old to walk and work long in far out areas of the farm,

See also:
Trees in the Farm, Part 3, February 11, 2013Trees in the farm, Part 4, June 23, 2015
Trees in the farm, Part 5, October 13, 2015

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Mini-dam terraces

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

(1) February 28, 2016

Last weekend I visited the farm. Little time as I have to go back to Makati same day, we only worked on this area. The 4th layer or row was repaired after the soil it was standing on has sunk.

How tall is this mini-dam, well compare its height with Danny, Nong Endring's son and helps his father in the farm, and Danny is about 5"10'.

(2) 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.

(3) July 14, 2015

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

(4) 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. 


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

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Creekside stone barriers

This area used to be the old road going up to other parts of the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. The series of huge flash floods, strong typhoons in recent years have altered the terrain of this road and the creek near it. Nong Endring hopes to convert this into an expanded rice field. All photos below taken last January 24, 2016.

We gathered dried leaves and branches and used them as filling materials. When the regular rice planting season starts this coming June, rice can be planted in this area.

A big and strong termite mound was demolished and flattened. The flattened soil can be used later as additional filling materials.

These are the stone barriers we erected. The creek on the left side, about 7-10 meters away, and the new or future rice field on the right. When flash floods come -- they occur several times a year -- the stones will help protect the new ricefield from strong current and deposits of different things.

Opposite view, creekside on the right, future ricefield on the left. This is not high or strong enough of course, this needs further reinforcement. Meaning more stones, but the initial barrier is already there.

The creek where we got the stones. There is also a need to deepen this by removing the bigger and medium size stones, so that water level will become lower during the rainy season.

When I go back there, we will add more stones to the barriers. Make them higher and stronger.

My treehouse is 12 years old

My treehouse is now 12 years old. Time flies.
It was well-built, hugging a big and live mahogany tree, so it has survived some  of the strongest typhoons that passed by the area.

I took this photo last January 24, 2016.

Succeeding photos were taken last December 2015.
The 2nd floor. During the rainy season, this trunk of mahogany tree produces lots of new branches and leaves, yes, in the middle of the house.

No bed, yes. No one sleeps there, our caretaker goes home in the afternoon after feeding our dogs who watch the area 24/7. When I was still unmarried, I would go and sleep here every 2-3 weeks.

This part of the roof needs repair every year, or every 2 years at least. Why, because the trunk goes taller and bigger.

Part of the stair handle, gobbled by a branch.

 Opposite side, same spot.

A brace of the roof, the base has been swallowed by the trunk.

A pillar of the 2nd floor, photo taken from the 1st floor. This pillar is about 3 x 8 inches and it is slowly swallowed by the trunk.

Nong Endring sitting near the toilet.

Braces for the 1st floor, photo taken from the base. Their base also swallowed by the trunk.

Two more braces.

View from the 2nd floor.

Thank you treehouse, for the gift of shelter and shade. I still feel relaxed and rejuvenated whenever I visit you. And thank you, Mr. Mahogany, for hosting my treehouse all these years.

See also:
My Treehouse, May 2012, July 17, 2012
My Treehouse, August 2013, August 21, 2013

Treehouse, Versions 2002 vs. 2014, April 23, 2014

My Treehouse is 11 Years Old, February 10, 2015