Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walking Back To Life

During the whole morning, I had been getting calls and photos from Doc Rey as he was in the farm. Thanks to cellphone cameras, it helped me visualize what he was describing to me. It was hard to really appreciate small photos. Then tonight as I was fixing my desk, I saw this small USB cord marked Nokia. Yes you may not techie. Hmmmm...this might be a way I can view my small pics sent to me.

Figured out how to remove that cover in my phone's USB and plugged the other end to my notebook. did download the pics...and now I can enjoy it in IMAX :)

Now I can tell you the story that kept me excited from breakfast to dinner (as dinner was a different time with friends)!

We developed a new farm by resting it. Left it untouched for some time. The first time we touched it was when a fence and gate was put up. Water pump installed. Earth was moved to make a dam all around and a feeder road was made.

When the rains came, we paused and held our breathes again. Let it drink naturally....

Today, because Doc Rey had some time to make a quick trip to the farm, we inaugurate it with planting some 150 or so fruit trees of different varieties. Ones that we enjoy to eat...Durian, Mangosteen, Atis, Langka, Lanzones, Rambutan, Pummelo, Chico, Duhat, Mango, Kamachile, Rimas, Macopa, Tamarind, Key Lime, Dayap etc.

As they were planting, Doc Rey saw a nest. He said it was called Tikling in Ilokano. He walked the property and excitedly texted that he saw seven (7) nests and an 8th with newly hatched ones :) Over dinner tonight with natural farming practitioners, we were talking about rested lands. Be patient and it will recuperate and bring more back to you in gratitude.

Tomorrow, they might be close to planting all my trees. I can send a new batch for planting and we can get the fingerlings that are to be released in our dam that goes around the property.

Slowly developing...just like our Sunshines...slowly developing gives it character, and it gets the peak.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Time For Getting On The Ground

Yesterday, it was confirmed that Cong. Procy Alcala will be the new Secretary of Department of Agriculture.

Early this morning, Tere texts that she and Dante are on the way to Manila to do initial support work for Secretary Alcala. Rare time that we can all get together, she calls to ask if time permits, will Zac Sarian and I have time for coffee after work?

The strong rain late afternoon didn't deter us from meeting up. Over dimsum and pots of tea, we shared laughter and just assuring ourselves who the real people are.

Its been sometime now since we all met. As usual, started with Zac and my itchy soles....wanting to get out of Metro and visit farms. For Doc Rey and I it is learning. For Zac, more often than not, in search for stories to tell. We went to Quezon and met the Earthkeepers (search tags Earthkeepers). In one trip to Davao, Tere led us to meet Dante and Tibaw...she said "they are True Blue Farmers".

Rest is history and it started a real respect of one another....not just because of the experience in natural farming...but more of natural people.

I didn't want to miss this...over long conversation, taking photos. I was able to capture the core group of Secretary Alcala.

Dante and Tere were the major movers and researchers for the Likasaka book on natural farming.

They credit the push and spreading of their work, to a lot of support from Zac Sarian of Bulletin.

I am thankful for the opportunity of being with them on a relaxing note. We were not work, we were their break from it was for us all to get grounded. Tomorrow, it is time to get the feet on the ground to do the work.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Easy Way Out

Make it accessible and simple. It will benefit your caretaker and your Sunshines :) Your caretaker will not miss doing it if it is simple to do. The Sunshines will want to step out earlier and more often when they don't have to go through a maze to find that door.

It is very important that they have easy access to the range outside. That is where they go hunting for their food. That is where they get their exercise and develop their lean bodies.

Pick a design that will work for you. Depending on the materials used for your housing, there may be easier ways to do it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Water is one.

In our visit to Platinum Island Farm, we came from the top and as we were descending the road that leads us to the farm, I spotted this blue drum and told my company that we are near as I see a semblance of a water tank. You know how we have those blue drums as water reserve containers?

I forgot all about that sighting and when we were being toured around the farm and saw THIS! OMG...this was the small blue drum from the top!

You need water for, feeding. You have to make sure you have a source of water all the time.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Do you see these plants a lot in organic or natural farming plots?

They are called Marigolds, used for pest control and management.

Take time to research and understand how Marigolds can help you. Learn how it works best given your areas, farm plants and situations.

AANI Harvest Festival

AANI Harvest Festival: Farm in the park! July 16-18 at AANI Herbal Garden, Quezon Memorial Circle.

Fiesta ambiance with farm animals, zoo, barbecues, fruits, veggies, wine tasting, free seminars, music, gardening and cooking demos. Merrymaking, Agri and Aqua Kapihan etc.

This will celebrate AANI's anniversary.

There will be a seminar on Raising Sunshine Chicken:

Saturday, July 17, 8am, by Doc Rey :)

Free entrance. See you there!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Platinum Visit

During the 3rd Pinoy Organic Festival, what caught me to Russelle Buenviaje's booth was her sign of "Sweet Tuba". I love this drink and bought all that was left in her cooler, after I tasted the 1st bottle I got. A lot of veggie sellers that day, and she stood out because of her Tuba.

You really need to have something to catch attention and stand out tall :) It was during the chatting that I learned Platinum Island Farm is one of the few OCCP certified farms. It was about those days that Zac Sarian and I were talking about taking a trip somewhere to relax and work at the same time. Obviously, those are almost always farm visits, and we do nationwide ahahhaha, travelling as it was also part of our resting. So I asked Russelle if we may visit her? It was set for the 18th of June.

As you turn the bend to get to their gate, you have to cross a river. It was such a lovely sight. I just watched last week "Prince of Persia" and I got the feeling of a draw bridge being lowered so we can enter.

We were treated first to pitchers of Sweet Tuba and Mushroom Burgers. Except the bread, everything came from the farm. The burger was very good! It had that Italian-Indian taste in the blend of herbs and seasonings. What looked like Thousand Island Dressing was actually Squash Sauce with mayonnaise (that was store bought too).
The vegetables came from the more than 3500sqm greenhouse.

We were so full that the chitchat and interview by Zac Sarian took place in the cool terrace. By the time they were done and ready to go around the farm it was too hot for me to walk and go around. Russelle took the car to tour us around the vermi, green houses, coconut trees.

We got back to a ready lunch prepared by sister Niel. Except for the grilled meat, everything was produced in the farm.

Russelle is a very charming farmer. No frills, no airs, no unsolicited answers nor information to prop her farm.

Why was it named Platinum Island Farm? It is better than Gold and it is bounded by a river.

On the way out, I saw this and remembered to take home my Sweet Tuba.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shoe Away

Posted before about my colorful and soft rubber boots (farm and rain) and my everyday Crocs...but after I tried this FiveFingers, so comfortable and literally feels like walking barefeet :)

Just like being bare, you tread through rough terrain. You feel the ground. More than just communing with nature and feeling exercise your body naturally.

Have you tried walking through sand and pebbles? It gives you that tingling sensation. Here, you won't get that tickle, but you do a compulsory point and flex with your toes. You get a better grasp.

Try FiveFingers. Read more here. I think this will me my last search for comfy footwear. You can get them at a stand alone booth at Rockwell. The sizing is tricky, you can't ask someone to buy it for you. Don't rely too on the measuring instrument. Take time to fit and flex those toes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Will You?

Who do you think will wear these on their feet? I will, for an obvious reason :)

99.99% of the time, I am in Crocs. Even my wedges are Crocs. I swear by the comfort and have them in several styles. When I find one style I want, I get it in several colors. The rest of the .01% of the time, I am in rubber boots in very playful designs, for farm visits. Even colorful, they are most comfortable as they have arch supports.

Today, I went by a branch at Bonifacio High Street to look for some new styles as it can get boring when I look at my feet. The moment I entered, I saw the Sun shining. It was part of the limited edition for the World Cup and the Sun design was for Argentina.

No second thoughts for me. Asked for my size immediately.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


This week was spent in a basic meat processing course.

I may not be really into this processing but I wanted the basic knowledge so I can discuss our products with consumers and when dreaming of new products in my mind, I can sort of know from step 1 if it is workable or not.

Glad I took this class. From sanitation and hygiene, observance of safety (one of us had his toe fractured), preparation, packing, costing....the more you learn, you are snapped out and awaken to the fact that you don't know enough.

Why did I join? So I can understand my mind's creativity in developing my sausages :)

We have now signed up for the Advance Class. Thank you to BAI's APDC. There are good men in uniforms and lab gowns :)

PS: No stools. no seats in laboratories and processing areas. After these, I appreciate the food processors!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hi-Precision Diagnostics

This may seem out of place....posting about a medical diagnostic clinic. Not at all.

Safe food, safe preparation and safe handling is a full circle of system. In my taking a course on meat processing at APDC, a requirement was a clearance of good health to handle food. You can't enter the lab if you didn't have it.

I needed an XRay with asap results. My neighbor recommended Hi-Precision Diagnostics. Got there at almost 6pm. No line, very helpful staff. The best thing was the result was downloadable the next morning. If I got to the clinic before 4pm, when there are Radiologists to interpret, the results would have been available to me thru the internet soon after that.

Just what I needed. I was able to attend today's classroom activity. Downloaded the results during the lunch break. The lab activities were open for me to attend by 1pm :)

Clean and accessible clinics. Results you don't have to go back for. I will surely refer Hi-Precision Diagnostics to others.

Safe in all aspects and topics.

Urban Food

Another topic on the nipple drinker....hahahhaha.....but then it is really practical and thinking out of the box may not be enough. So many usage and ways to use it.

We are spending a lot more time in our urban setting and wanted to have some free ranging Sunshines in our midst. Doc Rey started with seven chicks in May and targeted to harvest it in August. Having fun brooding and planning for urban set up. This is when you get assured that when given common sense care....they survive even when left for several days during brooding. Don't ape that. Only a vet's gut feel and experience can pulloff brooding in absentia!

Before we knew it, they were big already and ready to range :) We get so excited as we get to see them only on weekends in Manila.

We thought that if the farm used nipple drinkers...then why not in the city? Very logical when no caretaker. In smaller setting, you need a smaller water receptacle too. Doc Rey was figuring out how to insert the PVC pipe at the back. I said why not remove the faucet and insert thru that hole.....two heads are better than one!

The water container was set on a hollowblock. It was the right height for now. As they grow, you adjust the height of the pedestal.

Yes, Doc Rey also has an auto feeder for them now. My fruits and vegetables are shared with the Seven Sunshines!

My neighbor saw it and thought about raising some and encouraging the community. I really hope so....Yes, people can take care of their own for food. Start with how many chickens you can consume in a month.

Be There And Observe

Doc Rey is spending a couple of days in the farm. The rains have started to come and he wants to see the flow of work and the water.

The roofs of the housings aren't leaking, but the monitor seems too high and the opening is taking in rain. He made some adjustments. The caretaker just said the houses were leaking.

Some portions near the ranging areas were collecting water. Move ranges? Nope. Landfill. Some shovels of gravel on the area and no more paddles.

Make things easier to haul things....use a hand tractor with a cart, to ferry supplies among ranges.

Rain was so strong today. Doc Rey had a 4X4 with him and was very confident. By dinner time, he calls that he got stuck! Laughs and said that he didn't think the mud will be a problem. There was no need for any pull. He stepped out and placed a rock under his tire.

That's it. Be present and observe. Only way you can solve problems. Remote control is OK only when you know the movements and can picture the scene. Being told of a problem when you are clueless to history and guessing won't work for the long haul.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Auto Feeders

When you are growing, sometimes it is not best to add manpower. I believe in a few good men :) Rather than add labor, decrease work load.

Such was the case in the farm. Recently we need to develop a new area for ranging, at the same time the load of grow out Sunshines in the farm increased to almost triple because of demand. As per previous posts, you have read by now what steps we took in making life easier for the farm helpers.

Why auto feeders? Initially, it was to make feeding easy. You just fill up the auto feeders and that will take care of the adlibitum needs of the chicks. More often, they still want to play outside in their range. Note that most are outside?

What additional benefits?

1) The chicks were not stepping nor scratching on their feeds. No wastage. The auto feeders are hanging and the chicks can't reach the feeds to play and waste.

2) See the beddings of the housing? Clean, because no feeds gone astray.

PS: For the nipple drinkers' advantages:

1) No cleaning for waterers. Boy, that takes a lot of time and effort!

2) So convenient to just open the faucet. Our water is from our own deep wells.

3) No wet floors too, as no waterers are upturned.

Add to that the ease in rearing free range colored broilers! Am not saying that all you have to do is sit to watch the Sunshine Chicks. You have to give it a lot of TLC for it to be robust and ready to face the open range in 21days.

Get Ready

The rains have started to come. Although it is still so hot and humid, there is rain to water our plants, to give us food on our tables.

Planting materials have been prepared. Seedlings to be bought have been chosen. New farm area is being visualized as being forest like already.

Yes, we are planting soon. Are you ready yourselves? Do so, if you plant now, in less than 5yrs, you will have fruits that are the sweetest and freshest fruits. Surely they are the ones that you favor as you are the one who chose what and where to plant. As for veggies, in no time at all, you can proclaim that you are growing your own food!

5yrs ago, we developed an area. Now we are reaping the fruits of that labor.

The 3rd Pinoy Organic Festival

The venue and set up for this show was simple and basic. Tents, ordinary tables, under the trees, in the parking lot. No frills, no default it went with what basic and organic really meant. The attendees were mostly farmers, which is the point of this event. It was a good convergence for farmers like us.

Senator Miguel Zubiri was there. He is the principal author of the Philippine Organic Agriculture Law. At the end, it will really be the organic and natural farming practitioners, herbal advocates and the consumers who will be guided by moral ethics and common sense. Oh well, that is my opinion.

Doc Rey conducted a seminar on the last day. Very well attended and the interest was held.

I went around Sunday morning and found a sweet tuba seller! My favorite drink ever! Asked her to reserve the last bottles for me and asked her if we can go visit her farm. She is one of the few OCCP Certified Organic farms. Timing, because she also wanted to carry Sunshine Chicken in her store to go with her veggies. That should be another post, after we visit the farm.

I asked Mr. Sarian, editor for Agriculture of Manila Bulletin if he wanted to join the trip. That is how agri friends spend time visits :) We get to enjoy good company and the best fresh produce.

It is those farm tours that allow us to know, where to get what. We really see how the farms are operated and how the produce are grown. Oh no, we are not a certifying body nor an organic organization. We are just enjoying time together with friends.

Mr. Zac Sarian during opening day.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Pro Active

We always think of ways to make it easier for the farmhelp to cope with the ever increasing workloads. Goes with either growth or you get more work when you are lax and you always go back to fix things :(

I want to think that we are always busy because we are growing.

Our ranges have the nipple drinkers as water system for the Sunshine rangers. I don't know why we haven't done it for our brooding area and houses too??? We were meeting on how to make things lighter for labor and talks about motorized curtains so you just flick a switch, auto feeders even in houses, additional water pumps installed, solar panels for lights...and of course why not nipple drinkers in all houses!

A drum is attached to a faucet outside the housing. You just have to open the faucet to let water into the drum. If you need to add some concoctions to your drinking water, it is easily done in this drum. Water is dispensed when the chicks peck on the nipples. As a bonus, they have a perch.

Habits are hard to break and there are still waterers placed inside the housing. The farmhelp will stop doing that once he is convinced that he isn't being eased out of his job.

Eventually we will go into mechanized feeding system for the Sunshines. Not really to get rid of is so for them to do other things that machines can't plant vegetables and trees :)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Let's Play

The cages are opened up early in the morning for the chicks to catch the coolness of the previous night, with the dew drops everywhere, before the heat of the day dries them up.

We try to catch that time too, as it is a joy to see the different ranges liven up with the chicks like preschool children during recess time. There is one range that was quiet... shouldn't be as it was a large area and had a lot of trees where they can play around and scout for insects.

Closer look...and see they were all playing and burying themselves in the mounds of ricehull! Looks like their beddings are scheduled to be turned and changed. They decided to smell the sheets first :) They have the same color and you don't see them from afar.

That is not just playground for them...there is food almost everywhere. One functions best in their natural habitats and ways.

Incidentally, we are based in Santiago City, Isabela.