Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stone terraces after 6 years

Building stone terraces is among my favorite activities in the farm. We started building good stone terraces in 2004 when we also built my new treehouse then.

Here’s one side of the terraces near the creekside, picture taken from the 2nd floor of my treehouse. This was in April 2004. Notice the small and thin mahogany trees then.

And here’s the same view 6 years after, taken in April 2010…

Last month, we trimmed those young and tall mahogany trees beside my treehouse. It’s getting dark because of the thick leaves outside.

Another view of the terraces from below, near the creek. Picture taken in April 2004.

The mahogany trees were young and thin then. Six years after, the trees have grown bigger and taller, it’s darker now under the canopy.

On another side of my treehouse, there is another cluster of stone terraces beside our dinning hall. Picture below taken in March 2004, when the structure was under construction.

And here’s the view 5 years after, picture taken in March 2009…

And another picture taken a year after, April 2010…

Some of the trees near my treehouse have grown big and tall, they have become dangerous should they be brought down by trong typhoons. Those trees were either trimmed at the top, some are scheduled to be cut within the year, get the wood for lumber, and remove the danger to my treehouse.

Above is another view of the dininghall with stone terraces and a foot bridge. Picture taken last May 2010.

Two guys are taking care of our farm with care and loyalty. In the middle is Ninong Endring Paragas, my wedding godfather. Beside him is his son, Danny, who also became my wedding godson. Without the help of these two guys, all those stone terraces would not have been built and preserved, and all those trees that we planted several years ago would have been cut and stolen by lots of wood poachers. These small-scale illegal loggers just live in the same barrio.

My daughter's bunny

Several weekends ago, my daughter, Elle Marie, asked to have her own pets. We went to a pet shop – the birds are pricey and they can be noisy and Elle doesn’t like noisy animals. Another option is a puppy but it should be messy to keep a puppy inside the house, the hair, some poops and barking could be inconvenient for her too. We ended up with a… bunny!

Elle was so happy with her bunny that day. She stayed late that night, she wanted the bunny to sleep beside and we haggled for an hour that she can’t do it, that the bunny should go back to its cage. A bunny does not make any noise, it only wants to eat and eat vegetables and grass. We bought a pair actually, but the other one died after a few days. Here’s the remaining one, it has superb appetite.

One day, we brought it to an open area and let it run around.

There was a cat that was strolling in the park that day and wanted to attack the bunny. I had to scare the cat away. Later we brought up the bunny on the elevated play area.

Among the bunny’s favorite food is kangkong. Here eating its fresh leaves of kangkong in its cage.

Since it’s time consuming to be buying fresh kangkong from the public market every 2 days or so, I started planting the kangkong stem in pots. Some stems have grown new leaves, others wilted.

Now I have a little kangkongan! 

Dam vs. soil erosion

Soil erosion is a natural phenomenon, like rain and drought, like day and night, like winter and summer. But if one wishes to minimize if not control such soil loss mainly due to heavy rains and flooding, one has to build dam checks and obstruction, man-made or natural, in order to trap a big portion of the eroded soil brought down by flash floods.

And this is one of the small dams we built in our farm made of stones, no cement.

It is about 4 feet high already starting from the base. The base used to be the “ground level”. We built it more than a year ago only, and during the last rainy season, it has trapped eroded soil and organic matter from higher elevation about 2 feet high.

Here’s another view of the stone dam. There is a small coconut tree that has grown near its base. This tree should help stabilize the base.

Here’s the back view of the dam, below. A layer of smaller stones stabilize the front layer of big stones. The force of the oncoming flood will hit the back layer first and the excess water will overflow on top.

This back layer is the one that will trap the eroded soil and organic matter brought down by the flood. Thus, after sometime, the back layer of stones will disappear and will be covered by new soil. Notice the leaves that we deposited at the back as initial deposit of organic matter.

And here’s the top view, below. There are now 3 layers or stone terraces in this dam. The 2nd and 3rd layers from the right are actually sitting on the trapped soil by the 1st layer (rightmost) of stones that we built last year.

The width of this 3rd and last layer of stones is about 1 ½ foot. When new soil has reached the level of this last layer, then a 4th and new layer of stones will be built on this new soil. And so on until this dam gets higher and higher, trapping several cubic meters of eroded soil from higher elevation every year.

This is the gully that we hope will be slowly covered by new soil every year.

What’s the point of doing these things? Well, three points. One, minimize and control soil erosion. Two, improve the water retention capacity of this part of the farm, creating a new water table someday. And third, build bigger and higher stone terraces, without cement, and have a beautiful layers of big stones rising up every year. Should be a beautiful spot for picture taking someday. :-)

Above are the guys who helped me build the 3rd layer of stones just last weekend. Our caretaker in the farm is Nong Endring Paragas, right most. He is also one of my wedding godfathers. Assisting him is his son, Danny Paragas, leftmost, who also got me as one of his wedding godfathers, and the world is turning round and round. :-) In the middle are two teen-agers who work for 1 day with us, Hardji and Marlon, and both are nephews of Danny.