Saturday, October 31, 2015

Typhoon Koppu ("Lando") destruction in the farm

Typhoon Koppu, known locally as "Lando" that hit northern Luzon two weeks ago, severely affected the provinces of Aurora, Cagayan, the Ilocos and Cordillera provinces. But it also caused damages in nearby provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, and Central Luzon provinces.

In our farm in Bugallon, western side of Pangasinan, our caretaker said there were 2D/2N of non-stop rains plus very strong winds. The creek in the farm turned into rampaging river for 2 days too, eroding both sides of  the creek and cascaded huge volume of sand, rocks and stones downstream. Below, the way going to my treehouse, left side of the creek.

Right side of the creek. At least one tall mahogany tree was knocked down.

Huge volume of sand was deposited by the flash flood in this side. To the right of the sweet potato or "camote" was a rice plot.

The water used to flow in an inverted L shape. Previous floods and the last one deposited more soil and rocks there, the water now goes relatively straight.

This part has become deeper. Vehicles could cross this part of the creek before, now it is no longer possible.

Luckily, not a single tree around my treehouse fell. But they were battered by the strong  winds.

 This gmelina tree's roots were eroded by the flood, it fell down.

Luckily, only one sheet of the roof of my treehouse was blown away by the wind.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The creek and the rice field

The creek in the farm is among its most important asset. Its winding path can irrigate many areas of the farm for water-dependent crops like rice. Photos below taken last September 26, 2015, my last visit there. In this photo, my treehouse is about 30 meters away, left side of this spot.

Nong Endring Paragas, our caretaker, cleared this area of the creek so he can plant some camote (sweet potato), a crawling plant which is good in controlling grasses and cogons.

The rice field on the left and the creek on the right.

The newly-established camote, few weeks old.

The creek irrigates this rice field which Nong Endring has been tilling for more than three decades now. He plants and harvests twice a year. Harvest though is not big as there are many natural enemies there -- maya birds, rats, snails, etc. This field has no neighboring rice fields, so those pests' attention is not diverted elsewhere, only this area.

But Nong Endring keeps planting rice, partly to keep it clean and beautiful; otherwise, grasses and cogons will easily invade this area, and it will look ugly. My treehouse in the background, surrounded by mostly mahogany trees in the back and on its two sides, and the rice field in the front.

The ricefield viewed from the 2nd floor of my treehouse. I am greatly relaxed when I'm in the farm, even if I stretch my arms and muscles working on anything there. And especially after taking lunch at the treehouse, just resting my sleepy and tired body for half hour or less.

View on the right side of my treehouse.

Nong Endring expanding the rice field as the creek is shifting its path. That area where Nong Endring is standing on used to be the creek. After several years of flash flood, the water deposited eroded rocks, stones and soil here while it has shifted path on the right side.

Nature has its own work on natural landscaping and re-landscaping.

See also:
My swimming pool in the farm, 2005, June 10, 2011

Creek, canal and irrigation, September 05, 2011
Relaxing in the creek, January 05, 2013

Trees in the farm, Part 5

Photos below as of September 26, 2015, my last visit to the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. This is the main road going there. Passable by tricycles, non-4WD but higher clearance vehicles.

Peeping at the pathway going to the treehouse, between small mahogany trees and coconut trees.

My treehouse, surrounded by mostly mahogany trees on the left, back and right. Then the rice field of Nong Endring, our caretaker. On the left side are some acacia auri young trees.

Going a bit up, not passable to any vehicle because the creek has widened and deepened, after years of heavy flash flood every year. Trek by foot or bicycle.

Y foot path. To the left is going to the mango farm, to the right is going to the irrigation canal, more mahogany trees, and the upland.

The farm is being sold by the owners. Prospective buyers ask how many trees are there, wow. Difficult to answer, should be a few tens of thousands, big and small. Some parts have become new natural forest, the new trees just sprout like grasses.

Some parts of the farm are not conducive to any crops, not even trees could grow big. These are the rocky parts with some mineral deposits, mostly silica.

The irrigation canal. The trees here have grown rather more evenly.

Once the trees have established themselves, grasses and  cogons can no longer survive. No sunlight for them, no substantial soil nutrients for them as these have been gobbled by the elaborate roots of mahogany trees.

With zero mango harvest the past four years, revenues from selling lumber from some big trees have helped us pay for the monthly salary + SSS contributions of our two caretakers, Nong Endring  and his son Danny.

See also: 
Trees in the Farm, Part 3, February 11, 2013

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

Trees in the farm, Part 4, June 23, 2015

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