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May 16, 2012

More Visitors - Special Officer to Minister Of Health

chew yoon ee, liow tiong lai, minister of health, MOA Inc.,

Mr. Chew, P.A. to Minister of Health, came with members of MOA Inc, Bentong.  When we started farming years ago, never knew entertaining visitors is part of the business.

Hope he can convince the Minister to visit.  Would love to share some info on consumer health issues with him.

May 10, 2012

They Lose All Sense Of Fear - III

Yellow Vented Bulbul (pycnonotus goiavier) are wild birds.  But in our farm, they will nest anywhere.  Here's three hatchlings blown down from their nest on top of a 7 feet marcotted lemon tree. The nests of bulbuls are flimsy.

yellow vented bulbul, taming wild birds,

These birds are no longer transcient, but permanent residents of our farm. To turn your farm into a sanctuary, the rules are simple. Keep a few fruit trees for the birds.  Never ever use chemicals; you not only kill some of the more sensitive ones, but you deprive them of insects for food.  Never ever kill a single bird. That's it.  In no time, your farm becomes a bird-watchers heaven.

yellow vented bulbul, taming wild birds,

Farm manager, Razaly putting the hatchlings back.

yellow vented bulbul, taming wild birds,

And secure the nest with a prop

yellow vented bulbul,taming wild birds

Calling for mom after that harrowing experience

yellow vented bulbul,taming wild birds

Mom's back

yellow vented bulbul,taming wild birds

And All's Well Again At DQ Farm!

Apr 06, 2012

VRE - Public Health Threat?

Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE)  is often indicative of antibiotic abuse.  Farms that use sub-therapeutic antibiotic continuously may have animals that harbor VRE.

VRE have been found in many countries in poultry meat, pork, beef, milk and cultured fish.

VRE poses a potential public health threat.

In 2005, our country reported a case of Community-Acquired Infection (CAI) of VRE.  The report is here.

The point of infection is speculative in the report, but it does raise the red flag in so far as the possibility of CAI of VRE is concerned, in our country. This means that the possibility of infection have now moved out from the hospital environment to the community. 

In the light of the possibility of community acquired infection of VRE, responsible farmers must do self-monitoring and self-testing to prevent selling meats that are infected with VRE.

All our poultry are tested to be free from Salmonella Enteritidis and VRE before processing.  Here’s the test results on VRE in our recent samples sent to the lab :

vre,se,salmonella enteritis,vancomycin resistant enterococci,antibiotic abuse

Click on table for close-up

VRE infection is especially dangerous for those who are immune-compromised, e.g. cancer patients, those with heart problems, kidney problems, etc. 

vre,se,salmonella enteritis,vancomycin resistant enterococci,antibiotic abuse

Farm manager Razaly taking a swab. 

vre,se,salmonella enteritis,vancomycin resistant enterococci,antibiotic abuse

Preserving the samples in BP Water.

Testing samples from the farm is essential to ensure result integrity as samples from processed chickens may reflect cross contamination during handling.

Apr 02, 2012

Living (And Farming) With Nature

The farm is a bird sanctuary of sorts. This statement seems to be contradictory at first sight, but our farm  is full of birds of various kinds (about 50 different species at last count).  We can farm and yet we can live in harmony with wildlife.

If you want to have birds in your farm, you must not allow your workers to kill any bird, not even one.

Birds living in close proximity of each other will know if one dies, even of different species.  A farm like ours is like a huge giant aviary.  The birds are regulars, or have made their homes at the farm.  If you kill one, all the rest will know of the death.  After a few deaths, they will start to leave.

And why kill them?  Look at the ‘enhancement’ they contribute to the farm environment:

weaver birds, weaver bird nests, ploceus philippinus, burung tempua, baya weaver, co-existing with nature,

These are nests of weaver birds.  They have made them hanging from a neem tree we planted in a chicken padang (field).   At the background you can see one that’s green in color.  The birds have quickly picked up the grass that we have cut to weave a nest.  It will dry out gradually.  These nests are the most effective against the many snakes that have made the farm their home too.  It’s going to be tough for a regular snake to reach the entrance of the nest.

weaver birds,weaver bird nests,ploceus philippinus,burung tempua,baya weaver,co-existing with nature

Experts say, birds will bring disease to a chicken farm.  This has not been our experience (11 years now).  All you need is the will to live with nature, and put to practice modern scientific knowledge about dieases.  The costs involved is marginal.  The benefits to bio-diversity and the ecology, immeasurable.

Spread the word; it can be done.

Mar 20, 2012

Interesting Trees At The Farm - II

One of my favourite fruits is the Nam Nam, or katak puru (toad).

nam nam, katak puru, Cynometra cauliflora, rare fruits, heritage fruits,

It’s a short shrubby tree, and really quite pleasing to the eye. I can picture it potted in a large pot and acting as a centre piece in a home garden.

The fruits grow on the tree trunk itself; how's that for a conversation piece!

nam nam, katak puru, Cynometra cauliflora, rare fruits, heritage fruits,

All you need to do is stoop down and pluck off ripe ones.

nam nam, katak puru, Cynometra cauliflora, rare fruits, heritage fruits,

A cluster of fruits

nam nam, katak puru, Cynometra cauliflora, rare fruits, heritage fruits,

 A ripe fruit

nam nam,katak puru,cynometra cauliflora,rare fruits,heritage fruits

The inside of the fruit. 

I like to munch it raw with skin intact.  It is tart, sour, sweet, fragrant and crunchy when freshly plucked from the tree.  Wait a day, and it looses its crunchiness.  Kampung (village) folks say both the fruits, and the leaves made into a tea,  aids in relieving kidney stones, diabetes and high blood pressure.

nam nam,katak puru,cynometra cauliflora,rare fruits,heritage fruits

It is easily marcotted / air layered, and almost always survives planting. Nam Nam grown from seeds takes up to 6 years to fruit.  I believe marcotted ones should take about a couple of years.  We shall see.

Mar 07, 2012

Snakes In The Farm - I

Was picking some chilies when we came across this small beauty.

rat snakes, non vernomous snakes, Dendrelaphis pictus, painted bronzeback, aboreal snakes,

It is a Painted Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus, very common in the farm.

 Eats frogs, lizards, snails and slugs.  Can grow to 3 feet long.

Generally found up low lying trees and bushes, feeding on frogs and snails.

rat snakes, non vernomous snakes, Dendrelaphis pictus, painted bronzeback, aboreal snakes,

Not harmful to humans.

Every garden should have one or two to keep snails population down.

Mar 03, 2012

Why I Bother...

People ask why  I bother. It’s a 24/7 job and rewards, if any, are few and far in between.

Well, let the following information illustrate 'why I bother':

My fasting blood glucose is 4.7mmol/l or 84.7mg/dl.

Recently I bought two fish fillet burgers for a quick lunch.  I threw away the buns, just ate the ‘fish fillet’.

blood glucose level, diabetes, junk food, obesity in malaysia,

Image from this website


Half-an-hour later I tested my blood glucose; it went shooting up to 7.6mmol (137mg/dl).  Folks, there’s no fish in the world that will do that, and at half an hour at that!

 Just what are they really selling to our young kids?  For comparison, I ate half a roast chicken recently and my 30mins post meal reading was 5.8 (104.5).

blood glucose level, diabetes, junk food, obesity in malaysia,

Image from this website: http://www.iamthewitch.com/2010/11/30/chicken-or-pasta/

 So what’s going to happen to a kid eating one fish fillet with buns intact,  potatoe chips and a large cup  of coke?  And he does that once or twice a day, day-in and day-out.

Another day I had a cup of Nescafe-si-kosong.  That’s Nescafe with evaporated milk, no sugar.  It could well be teh (tea) tarik-si-kosong. 

 blood glucose level, diabetes, junk food, obesity in malaysia, teh tarik,

Image from:


After half an hour, my blood glucose was 8.4 (151).  That’s no milk you are pouring down your throat 4 to 5 times a day.  Can you imagine the havoc you are doing to your endocrine system with this yo-yo-ing through the day? (For my BG to go up that fast, there must be corn syrup or corn flour in that milk).  Check the label of the evaporated milk your friendly teh-tarik (tea vendor) man is using.  Make sure it is milk and not milk plus hydrogenated soya oil (trans fats) or palm oil plus corn flour, etc.  Choose the wrong brand and you are pouring down your throat trans fats and very high glycemic index carbo a few times a day. If the evaporated milk tastes a bit sweet you betcha it contains HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).

It goes without saying what that non-dairy creamer is going to do to your glucose level. And you thought it is a healthier alternative to dairy!

Many weight conscious folks share a common myth – healthy lunch is the neighbourhood yong tau foo (vegetables stuffed with fish paste) store. Well, depending on the store, some will send my glucose level up to 7.5 (135), a really good store will send it up to 6.7 (121) or so.  The ones I made at home puts it up to 5.8 (104.5).  So, guys that yong tau foo is not as healthy as you thought. 

blood glucose level, diabetes, junk food, obesity in malaysia,

Image from


Why all this emphasis on glucose level? Firstly, it is the easiest to measure and prove what’s wrong with our food nowadays.  Second, continuous high blood glucose level is the mother of all degenerative diseases; from premature aging to arteriosclerosis to diabetes. 

And folks, your blood sugar level has been high since morning – first, that roti canai (traditional bread made with refined flour, sugar, salt and oils) and teh tarik send it way up.  Then three hours later, your mid morning kuih muih (rice cakes and similar rice flour based deserts), your lunch of fried kwai teow (flat noodles made from rice flour), your tea break of pisang goreng (banana fritters), then dinner, rice and curry and all the normal stuff, and after dinner a large helping of the sweetest fruits you can find.   And God bless you, a bowl of instant noodle before you go to sleep. 

 A diet like this, we are not just talking about obesity, we are talking about a whole host of ‘body breaking down’ diseases that will come crashing when you hit your late forties or fifties, if not sooner.

So, our Ministry is trying to reduce the obesity problem by ensuring that only wholesome food is served in school canteens.  NOT excluded is filled evaporated milk, NOT excluded is various types of meat patties, fish cakes, with unknown percentages of flour added, etc. NOT excluded is food / drinks made with fructose, or high fructose corn syrup, etc.  I am afraid the Ministry is going to fail and the kids are headed for diabetes by the time they reach their forties.

blood glucose level, diabetes, junk food, obesity in malaysia,

The above image is from this website. 


No, I am not talking specifically about blood glucose or fast food or obesity.  I am talking about the need to take control of our food supply and reducing the power of food corporations over our lives.  I am talking about authorities placing more emphasis on what the food corporations and corporate farmers are doing, the 'unseens', not the obvious. 

The modern-day 'snake oil' salesman calls himself a food scientist, or a food technologist or a bio-technologist.

Mar 02, 2012

Sanctuary For Snakes

Our farm is a sanctuary for snakes.  And they do good work too, getting rid of rats and other rodents.  Our workers are from communities which traditionally kill any snake, big or small, poisonous or not.  We have to put up pictures of snakes they should not kill, and snakes they should keep a distance from:

snakes in farming, paradise tree snake, malayan krait, blue krait,

A sampling of the good guys found in the farm.

snakes in farming, paradise tree snake, malayan krait, blue krait,

Among the poisonous snakes in  the farm is the fifth most venomous snake in the world -  Malayan Krait - Blue Krait.  It is 15 times more venomous than a cobra.

The snakes are becoming quite used to humans, slithering slowly away when they see us, not at all afraid.

Workers have been trained to let the snakes know of their presence, and how to handle the snakes if they suddenly become aggressive.  They have also been trained to handle situations if an emergency occurs.

We hope this will explain why we are reluctant to take on Wwoofers, casual visitors, etc.  We have seen visitors just go into hysterics on seeing a snake suddenly appearing right next to them, inches away.

Today, I was reaching out to unlock a gate that I have done maybe a few thousand times.  Most days I just reach out without looking.  Luckily today, I did look when my hand was almost at the latch:

snakes in farming,paradise tree snake,malayan krait,blue krait

It is a beauty, isn't it.

snakes in farming,paradise tree snake,malayan krait,blue krait

It is a Paradise Flying Snake Chrysopelea paradisi. Mildly venomous. We have seen them gliding from tree to tree in the farm.  They like especially coconut trees and other palm trees, especially areca nut palm.  The colors of the snake blends well with the tree.

Feb 20, 2012

BFM Radio - Part 2

Here's the second part of the interview BFM Radio had with 3 farmers, including us:

Feb 17, 2012

BFM Radio

BFM, 89.9, interviewed us recently together with 2 other farmers.

Here's the download of the podcast (20 mins). To play, click the green button:

Here's their website for more interesting podcasts and even real time radio: