Monday, September 05, 2011

Creek, canal and irrigation

Our farm has a nearby creek. It becomes a big and wild river though during heavy rains and flash flood. It would look look like this on a regular rainy season but no heavy rains. Nice, tender water.

Photos taken last July 21, 2011. A few days or weeks of no heavy rain, the water can be rather thin.

Taken August 30, 2011. There was rain that day, but not strong. The water was a bit muddy.

We have a canal, we dug it around 2005 or 2006. Diverted a small volume of water from the creek, impounded it, connected to 4 pvc hoses. The excess water simply go back to the creek.

The 4 hoses are attached to a strong wire, across the creek, to the rice field on the other side. Photos taken July 21, 2011.

Upper photos, the mouth of the canal, from the upper side of the creek. Lower photos the water from the hoses, and the young rice plant.

This canal is one of our best investments in the farm. Zero cost for fuel to pump up the water from the creek or river to irrigate the rice field, on fallow during the dry months of March to May, or limited vegetable plots.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My swimming pool in the farm, 2005

Sometime in 2005, I created -- with the help of our farm caretakers of course -- an artifical swimming pool in a creek in the farm, not far from my treehouse. A free flowing water in the creek, we put up a thick layer of stones and sand at the end to impound the water. Really nice to swim on it.

Top view of the pool, the rice field on the left. It was a very labor-intensive project with full knowledge that it was just temporary because when the rainy season would come, the flash flood will simply wipe out all the fruits of our labor. But it was worth doing it.

I brought several friends from Manila, some from abroad, to my pool. They liked it. Cool, free flowing water, some native fishes swimming on it too. I think the deepest part was about 5 feet. The pool attracted me to go to the farm from Manila almost every weekend then.

The tail or area where the water drains back to the regular flow of the creek. Several layers of stones and gravel made the water then drinkable. Nice natural filters.

Three of our workers then, two were regular, including my uncle from Negros Occidental who tried working there for a few months just to see northern Luzon :-), one was occasional or per day worker.

With one of our dogs then, Michael, a retriever.

My girlfriend then, now my wife, Ella, and my dog, Michael, he was given to my by my sister because Michael did not like being tied up in a chain. At the farm, Michael then has all the freedom to run around anywhere, no chain or rope.

Been there done that somehow, I don't intend to create another pool in the creek though. Having it once and fully enjoyed it was enough.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stone terraces, Part 4

This is the stone terrace that we built since around February-March 2010. It has blocked and impounded several cubic meters of organic matter like dried leaves and branches, eroded topsoil brought down by the flash flood, and so on. The Before and After pictures after the thick dried mahogany leaves were cleared on the terrace.

Here’s a comparison of the pictures, June 2010 and April 2011. This structure has survived the past flash floods during the last rainy season. Meaning the structure is stable and well-constructed enough. And the thick organic matter behind the stones have acted as supporting materials to impound everything that was brought down by the flash flood.

Another comparison of the terrace, top view. There was a huge deposit of dried leaves last month and this month under the mahogany trees. We just have to gather and transfer those that are far from this impounding area.

And here's the gully that we hope to be covered with various organic matter and rich soil in a few years. I would say that this is a rather ambitious project. The depth of the gully from its two high sides is probably around 8 to 10 meters. This area will three important functions: (a) reduce flash flood during heavy rains, (b) impound organic matter and rich top soil, and (c) beautification as the stones will become a huge wall someday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vegetable plots

The main products in our farm are mangos. Then forest trees, and a small rice output. I will write more about them in future “Farming notes” series.

Recently, our caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas, partnered with one of his neighbors in the barangay proper, Anoling, to plant more vegetables during the dry season. They planted sitao (stringbeans). It was a good decision. Sitao would grow up to 4 months, nearly 3 months of which a farmer can harvest twice a week on average on the same plant. So they have regular supply of free vegetables in their house while earning some money by selling the surplus products.

They also planted talong (eggplant). From the pictures I took last weekend, it seems that their talong are growing well. Photo above, that’s me . Photo below also shows some kalabasa (quash) and ampalaya crawling on an elevated structure.

These are organic vegetables. The scope of production though is small scale. Their excess harvest are sold only in the barrio or in the town center.

Nong Endring also has several banana plants. The main enemy of banana though, are the bats and sometimes rats. They attack the bananas even before the fruits would mature. Grassfire and forest fire from somewhere in the uplands would also damage bananas and other crops.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stone terraces, Part 3

Working in the farm in Pangasinan, north of Manila, is one of my favorite hobbies. We have many trees there. Forest species include mahogany, molave, acacia auri, acacia mangium, narra, eucalyptus deglupta, benguet pine or agoho, karael, etc. Most of the trees we planted nearly 2 decades ago, the others just grew as part of natural vegetation in the area.

I go there every 3 or 4 weeks. Building stone terraces on hilly areas where the soil is prone to erosion and landslide during heavy rains is among my favorite activites. There are many stones in the creek nearby, our caretaker or some locals hired on extra, 1-day work, would gather those stones.

We built this terrace sometime in April or May 2010. But I started taking photos only last June 20. This area used to be a gully, rainwater easily passes through this natural canal. Until I decided to simply block this natural water path -- to trap the eroded topsoil and various organic matter from upstream.

This is the view at the back of the terraces. Various organic materials like dried leaves and branches, newly-cut branches. Small stones are placed at the back of the bigger stones to stabilize the former.

Top view. These were also taken last June 20, 2010. A row of stones per layer, the smaller stones at the back stabilize the bigger stones in the front.

A month after, here's a newer view. The "stairs" of stones on the right side have been there for at least 4 years now. Seemed that we built a really strong terrace that can withstand even a strong flash flood.

Another back view as of July 25, 2010. Fresh deposit of fallen leaves and branches are just dumped at the back. My goal is to fill up and flatten the gully with lots of eroded topsoil from upstream and the hilly slopes brought down by the rains and flash flood.

And here's how small water run off is trapped at the back of the strong terraces. Should the flash flood be strong, water should be able to penetrate in lots of pores as the stone terraces are not cemented.

By end-2010 up to today, this is how high the terraces has become, it should be at least 5 feet tall, with 4 layers of big stones in the front. See how our caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas, will soon be dwarfed by the height of these terraces in the next few months.

Another top view of the terraces. Four layers now. And more organic matter are deposited at the back each week.

Resting after carrying and moving those big and small stones. I hope to see this area a huge and high wall of big stones in the future, when it was just a gully and natural water path just several months ago!