Friday, November 28, 2014

Cemented Barangay Road, Near the Farm

Good news here. The barangay road going to the solid waste dumpsite/MRF (materials recovery facility) of Bugallon town in Pangasinan is slowly being cemented. This is the same road going to the farm, with a short diversion. I took these photos last Sunday, November 23, 2014. This portion is going up.

A lazy road on Sunday, free roaming chicken eating anything on the pavement. Cemented barangay roads are also used by farmers to dry their palay/rice harvest.

A small basketball court on the new road.

This part coming from Atty. Guiang's old resort area, going to a creek...

This footbridge for people and motorcycles with no sidecar will soon be removed, to be replaced by a bridge that can accommodate even huge, 10-wheeler trucks.

Another view of the creek and the footbridge. Construction  of the new bridge is said to start by January next year.  For now and in previous years, vehicles and tricycles cross this creek. When there is heavy rain  and flash flood, no vehicle can pass this creek.

Soon, even cars can enter the farm.

Charcoal Economics, Part 2

Revenues from charcoal help in paying the salary of our caretaker 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 forest, 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.

Another view.

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, Part 12

I visited the farm last Sunday, November 23, 2014. We expanded the terrace here, on one side of the ricefield. Below, before and after.

Another view, before and after.

We cleared many grasses, vines and small mahogany trees that are too close to each other and hence, have no chance of growing big. Organic matter as filling materials. Through time, natural  soil erosion from higher ground will  fill up and flatten, even exceed, this area. Then there will be a need to raise the terrace's height, or build a second, higher row of terrace.

Another view. Lower photo, from left: Marlon (extra worker for that day only), Nong Endring Paragas, and his son Danny.

An old and mild rice terraces built by Nong Endring two or three decades ago. Above photo facing the treehouse, lower photo taken from the 2nd floor of the treehouse.

The irrigation canal that brings water  to  the  ricefield.

Thanks for viewing.

See also:
Stone Terraces, Part 7, March 30, 2014
Stone Terraces, Part 8, June 03, 2014
Terraces, Part 9, July 07, 2014 
Terraces, Part 10, August 30, 2014
Terraces, Part 11, October 22, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wasteful DENR Reforestations

When I was still working at the House of Representatives (HOR) from 1991 to 1999, I would attend many Committee hearings and among those that I followed in the early 90s was the implementation of various large-scale government (DENR, LGUs, etc.) reforestation of denuded uplands in the country funded by the ADB, OECF (Japan government), World Bank and other foreign aid bodies. The impression I got then was that there was huge money involved, there were lots of  reforestation projects with little or even zero monitoring if the seedlings indeed became trees, or the planting was only for photo-ops, submit reports and get the money.

Year in and year out, decades upon decades, the cycle is repeated. Most or majority of DENR-implemented reforestation projects are wasteful. One example is the annual reforestation of degraded uplands adjacent to our farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. Every year, no exception, there are tree planting there, for many years and decades since the 80s or even the 70s. And every year, the scene is the same -- degraded upland with more cogon and other tall grasses than trees. Most of the trees that survive are naturally-growing species and not planted.

Below are the "left-over" seedlings that may no longer be planted in the uplands. The DENR and its contracted cooperative or planters deposited these seedlings in our farm, to be transported and planted in the uplands. I took these photos last Friday, October 18, 2014. It is no longer advisable to do tree planting at this time of the year because the rainy season will end soon. The contracted workers who should carry these potted seedlings up to the hills and mountain simply pulled the black plastic along with the soil in it. They only carried the uprooted seedlings, so they will be lighter to carry. This practice immediately injures the roots of the seedlings and would endanger their survival in the harsh environment in the uplands.

The uprooted seedlings were either planted, or they may have been thrown away, no one knows except the contracted and paid workers. These were mostly acacia auri and kakawate or madre de cacao.

There are several hundreds, possibly a few thousands, of unplanted seedlings there. They will never be planted and even if these will be planted in the uplands, their chance of survival will be very low. The best months to plant would be in June-July as there are plenty of rains, allowing the seedlings to establish stronger roots and body. Assuming of course that the crawling and choking vines and tall grasses around them are cleared regularly.

I do not know how much money was spent by the DENR, or by some foreign aid agencies that give grants or lend money to the PH government to be implemented by the DENR and LGUs, for this project alone.

Really inefficient and wasteful way to spend taxpayers' money.

See also:
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012 
Natural Regeneration of Trees, February 21, 2013
New Upland Dwellers and the DENR, August 21, 2013

Selective Logging in the Farm. February 03, 2014
DENR Nursery in the Farm, April 17, 2014
Tree Planting vs. Tree Growing, June 08, 2014

Terraces, Part 11

I went back to the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan, last Friday, October 18. As usual, I do what I like doing most -- raising or extending an existing terrace, or build a new one. Last week, we raised the height of this terrace, this is in front of the rice field, not far from my treehouse. Before and after; Danny shown here. We raised it by almost one foot higher.

Nong Endring shown here. It's nice to see cleared terraces. The unwanted small mahogany trees (they grow too close to each other), grasses and vines were cut and piled as filling materials behind these big stones. Smaller stones support the bigger ones of course, behind them.

Now the medium and big mahogany trees can have more space, more sunlight after the unwanted trees have been removed. The area is also cleared of mosquitoes. These pests like dark places where sunlight can hardly penetrate.

In many parts of the farm, the trees just emerge and grow naturally, not planted by us humans. Trees are like grasses, they will resurface and regrow on their own, even in heavily denuded mountains. There is a need to regularly clear and cut those that are growing too close to one another. Lower photo, an acacia auri that was knocked down by the past typhoon about three weeks ago.

See also:
Stone Terraces, Part 7, March 30, 2014
Stone Terraces, Part 8, June 03, 2014
Terraces, Part 9, July 07, 30, 2014 2014 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Terraces, Part 10

I went back to the farm last weekend, August 26-27. As usual, I pursued my hobby -- building new terraces, or expanding existing ones. New and dried leaves, branches behind these stones, they later decompose and become natural fertilizers to the trees.

It's an agro-forest farm and we realize lately that we can earn more from tree farming than mango or banana farming. The "kurikong manga" or cecid fly has wiped out mango harvests the past 3 years. This year, no mango spraying again, hence no mango harvest and income for four years straight now, as the pests are still around.

Selling lumber + uling/charcoal from the pruned branches gives us monthly revenues that pay for the monthly salary of our two caretakers there, plus some extra. This part used to have high or dense number of young trees, sunlight can hardly penetrate. As a result, they hardly grow big' plus there are many mosquitoes. Our caretakers removed many of the small trees, now sunlight can penetrate somehow.

The small and medium-size trees easily grow bigger and taller once the big and mature trees beside them are harvested. They have more sunlight, more soil minerals. It is now a perennial forest with selective logging as sustainable revenue source.

Here is an example of before-after the stones terraced, upper and lower photos respectively. Some exposed roots will soon be covered by rich topsoil.

The terraces are soil + water conservation measures combined. I notice that if the terrace is high and strong, it controls or even stops flash flooding. Instead of the rainwater coming down fast, it is stopped temporarily and impounded by the organic matter and soft soil at the back of those stones. As the rains stop, impounded water slowly goes out of the stones, creating a temporary water spring.

Trees there are mostly mahogany. We started planting trees there in 1992, about 300 seedlings lang, then more were planted in succeeding years. About a decade ago, we stopped planting, too many naturally-growing seedlings already. They're like grasses, we started uprooting many of them.

This part of the farm is near a creek where there are many stones. I pay for extra labor who manually carries those big stones. The smaller stones that stabilize the big stones at the back are collected around the area where the terraces are built.

See also:
Stone Terraces, Part 6, February 23, 2014
Stone Terraces, Part 7, March 30, 2014
Stone Terraces, Part 8, June 03, 2014
Terraces, Part 9, July 07, 2014

Monday, July 07, 2014

Stone Terraces, Part 9

I went to the farm last Sunday. Here's the erosion control structure that we built early last month.

Last two weeks, some strong flash flood came and washed away, destroyed it. Nonetheless, nearly one foot of mud and eroded soil was trapped and controlled by the structure at the back.

I repaired it as Danny and Nong Endring were doing something else. The new structure. This time, more stones were put in the middle of a two-feet thick structure. It was cloudy when I took this photo.

This stone barrier was able to withstand the last flash flood. Lots of stones on the base, also deposited organic matter at the back.

The "long wall", left side.

Also three layers so far. Controlling topsoil erosion.

Even a deluge, Ondoy type of flooding will not be able to destroy this structure. Lots of big stones beneath, plus organic matter which have become soil already. Water from the flash flood will only pass at the top. The three layers slow down the flow and force of rampaging water. A big portion of the flash flood is actually trapped at the back, slowly sinks in after the rains have stopped.

This depression will soon become flat. The trees in this area grow faster. They have lots of organic fertilizers there.

Among the original stone terraces near the treehouse. Built in 2005 and still existing until now.

Stone stairs.

Our modest contribution at reducing soil erosion and flash flood.

See also:
Stone terraces, Part 5, May 02, 2013
Stone Terraces, Part 6, February 23, 2014
Stone Terraces, Part 7, March 30, 2014
Stone Terraces, Part 8, June 03, 2014

Our Dog Gives Her Milk to Kittens

We see photos of dogs and cat playing or sleeping together, not fighting as often stereotyped. Well, one of our dogs in the caretaker's house whose puppies we separated from her to be the new guard dogs in the farm, would allow kittens to get milk from her.

Her name is "Jenny white" or Elle Marie would call her as "Requel" when the dog was still young. J.white has another sibling, also a female dog, black, we called her "Jenny black", who was guarding the farm. Jenny black died of a particular disease several months ago.

Danny, our part time caretaker, got two kittens, newly separated from their mother and are still sucking milk. Jenny white would give them her milk.

The two puppies stayed in our house in Makati for about two months. Their mother, Jenny, was a hunter dog in the farm.  When she was alive, she would hunt and catch different birds, monitor lizards ("bayawak"), wild turtles in the creek, small snakes.

The two puppies were getting noisy in our house, I brought them to the farm. Danny got the white, Nong Endring got the black.

When the puppies were just about 5-6 weeks old, I brought them from the farm to our house in Makati. Elle  Marie was very happy with her new puppies. Photos taken May 02, 2013. 

Until now, Elle would ask me to give her new puppies. I am hesitant because we did not have any house helper for the past nine months. There's a new helper but may not stay long too.

I explain to Elle that the puppies might get dirty and the house will also get dirty, if there is no one to clean them regularly.

Anyway, Jenny white is a kind and gentle pet to share her milk even to cats.