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Jul 16, 2010

Emerald Doves came visiting

There was a flutter and a flash of iridescent green darting up from the ground towards some thick low branches.  I thought I saw a pair of pigeon.

I approached the branches slowly and they darted off again to a clump of kantan and then were gone.

I knew then that they were a pair of punai tanah or Emerald Dove (chalcophaps indica indica).  They were flighty, as are most first timers (birds I mean) to the farm.  Nonetheless it is great that this pair of young adults have come down from the rainforest to the farm.  Hopefully they will nest here.

Emerald doves in Malaysia are shy and flighty, possibly due to over hunting.  It is an honour that this pair feel secure enough to visit us.

Here's a photo I downloaded from Lip Kee's photostream at Flickr.

emerald pigeon.jpg

Readers, should you decide to use this picture, please accept the terms of use at Lip Kee's page at Flickr. It is the right thing to do (I have found my pics and writings in odd places without attribution and it is annoying to say the least).

The incident with the pigeons happened so fast, I did not have the chance to get my camera.  In any event without a good telephoto lens I would not be able to capture them.  Time to invest in a 400mm lens at least, I suppose.  That will set me back a few thousand ringgit.  Maybe next year.

Jun 28, 2010

Flowers of the ginger family at the farm

Wild gingers have lovely flowers seldom seen.

Some of the wild gingers planted at our farm are flowering (click on pics for enlarged image).

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Lovely flower of the temu kunci or fingerroot (boesenbergia rotunda)
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The lempoyang (zingziber zerumbet).  The flower is filled with water and have saved many a life in the jungles. Locals use the liquid inside as a shampoo for themselves and for their pets.
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The kunyit or turmeric flower (curcuma longa) has rather delicate coloring.
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The cekur or resurrection lily (kaempferia galangal var).  There are many varieties but the flowers are all almost the same.
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The delicate flower of the potent all-black kunyit hitam or black turmeric, scientific name unknown.  We have successfully treated chronic inflammation and immune system related problems such as lichen planus with this ginger.

Jun 15, 2010

Sanctuary for butterflies

The Raja Brooke's Birdwings (Trogonoptera Brookiana) are gone from the waterfall.  What a difference a week makes. The clearing works at the side of the falls and further up have destroyed their habitat. All the aristolochia foveolata, their host plant, have been slashed as the undergrowth was cleared.

This is a photo we took of them in September last year at the banks of the falls (the smaller one is a Common Jay) :

raja brooke w common jay Web.JPG
What can one say?
We shall try to recreate their habitat in the farm and hope somehow some survivors will find their way to the farm.  We had recreated the habitat for the Common Jay (Graphium Doson Evemonides), and still it took close to half a year before the first pair appeared:
common jay pair Web.JPG
Pair of Common Jay puddling at a footpath in the farm.
The farm is an oasis and refuge for birds and dragonflies already.  Now we shall do the same for butterflies.

Jun 10, 2010


The low clouds made me contemplative, sitting by that waterfall.  Reminiscing that long train ride to Brockenhurst on a damp autumn day.  And alone in a stark rented apartment a different life ago, overlooking Tower Bridge; anxiously waiting.... And having cheap ice cream for lunch and dinner.

Then there was a barely perceptible change in the air.  An urgency in the breeze; a quickening in the mood of the birds that surrounded me and the Raja Brookes all suddenly took off.

Then a roar, and a wall of water came towards me...

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This was how it was before the flash flood:
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This is what happens when we clear forests; water no longer have time to infiltrate, they 'runoff'.
Those autumn days were full of uncertainty.  Today, as I contemplate the flash flood before me, the heart is troubled by renewed uncertainty as development encroach the haven that's DQ Farm.

May 19, 2010

Proud Farmer II

Around the Klang Valley are literally hundreds of small farms producing vegetables and fruits for the insatiable appetite of city residents.

These farms are mainly unsupervised and are farmed mostly by immigrants, legal or otherwise.  Buyers will come and load up and take them to the wholesale markets.  At the wholesale markets, retailers will come to cart off their selections to sell them at pasar malam(s), stalls and other retail outlets.

Smaller buyers will come to the farms too, to buy and sell them to nearby restaurants where you have your weekend holiday meals (for the 'freshness' of the meats and vegetables).

We decided to visit one such farm situated right next to a stream feeding a river further down.  The farmer is very proud of his produce which looks appetizing, fresh, healthy with no insect or fungal damage.  It is sold at nearby restaurants and also taken to the main wholesale market in the Klang Valley.

The farm is situated in a picturesque location where senior government and corporate officials often come to take their break or to attend seminars and training courses.

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The vegetables like these long bean and angled bean are 'full', obviously crunchy and juicy, bright in color and with no insect damage.
lovely angled beans Web.JPG
Lunch at these seminars and training sessions will often feature these vegetables as ulam (salad).
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Dengan Bangganya....
Here's the farmer proudly explaining how he keeps insects at bay.
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These are the fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that he uses.

He explains that he sprays the vegetables with insecticides every 3 days right up to harvest.

He gave us some samples to take back.

The vegetables reek.


The farmer is illiterate.

One of the chemicals he uses is a paraquat.  Just two teaspoons of paraquat will kill a man.  Read here on paraquat.

The insecticide he uses every 3 days until harvest is an organophosphate (OP). Read here on OP and here.  OP has been implicated in some Parkinson's or Parkinson's like diseases. 

Paraquat and OP are controlled items and require permits to purchase.  Unlicensed farms are obtaining these chemicals through illegal means.

17:20 Posted in Blog | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tags: pesticide, herbicide, weedicide

May 17, 2010

Proud Farmer I

Look At What Our Compost Did!!!

We grew a watermelon variety that normally ripens at around 2 to 3 kg (easier to sell, we thought).

Look at what our compost have done to the fruits:

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Pak Din took care of the watermelons, and he is one proud farmer! He's going to be a watermelon millionaire when he goes  back to Indonesia when his contract with us is over.
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These guys kept the watermelon free from insect attacks.
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Close up of these red ants (click for larger image).  They are fearless and have a toxic bite.  An entire nest of kerangga (weaver ants) can be wiped out by them in less than an hour. Anybody know their scientific name?

Apr 28, 2010

Outsmarting a wild boar...

Wild boar is a perpetual problem at our farm.  They break through fencing and get at the chickens, they dig up all those lovely yams and sweet potatoes, they damage our vegetable plots digging up earthworms for desert.

All kinds of suggestions have been given to us; shoot them, poison them, trap them, etc.  We reject outright killing.  Trapping, etc never works; they're too wary.

Then they played with this beautiful pegaga patch and turned it into a mud-bath:

pegaga on raised beds Web.JPG







We were too distraught to remember to take a picture of the mud-bath.

We rehabilitated the patch twice but each time the pigs came in and turned it into mud again.

Then we sat and decided to think like a pig: it's dark, we can't look upwards to see the sky, we can only see directly in front, sideways and down.  Now what if we see something totally dark in front would we be foolhardy enough to plunge ahead or would we move sideways looking for a path? 

And we came up with this:

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pegaga boar ring Web.JPG








This was how the rehabilitated patch looked like after a week in the 'dark zone' (the red laterite mud has been topped with compost):

pegaga after rehab Web.JPG 







And this is signs of the pigs going in circles around the 'dark zone'. Note the mud!

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And this is the patch today after two weeks.  Warms the heart. The possibility are endless! And we don't have to take a life or lives to co-exist. Remember, a life is still a life.


Apr 23, 2010

Logging - Who Benefits? Part III

Today's Star:


One Citizen, One Tree:



Council to plant a tree for every child born in Perak



And lovely Sabah, home to Maliau, and what's left of the Orang Utan race:



Today Near The Farm:


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Politicians please take note of the absurdity of the situation.


Malaysians, please take note we are paying for all these tree planting. They are not for free. 


Someone is cutting down 50 to 100 year old trees, clearing huge tracts of CO2 absorbing forests, destroying huge water catchment areas and laughing all the way to the bank.  You know who these people are!  (If you don't, FIND OUT!)


And we end up paying to plant trees, to pay for water pipelines from distant places, to pay for higher water rates, to pay for storms and flash floods, to pay for cooling as our cities become hotter.  It is just not right.


This is what you can do for Earth Day:


Start by knowing who these tree cutters are! Here's a partial list.


And when they donate money for schools, reject their donation. 


When they contribute to local houses of worship, return their money. 


When they come with an entourage to open some park or building, or to plant a tree (yes, they have!) show your back to them. 


When they give a lecture as a public figure or an opinion leader if you like, please throw your slippers at them! :) 


Malaysians get your values right! These are not people to be emulated or honoured or respected.

10:51 Posted in Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: logging, timber

Apr 13, 2010

Organic Farming - Oasis For Birds

An organic farm is like an oasis to birds.  At our farm we have counted close to 50 species.  Foreign workers at our farm comment that there's no longer any necessity to keep them in cages as they are all around us and we don't even have to feed or water them! That's a valuable lesson they will take back with them after they finish their contract with us.

And the birds lost most of their fear for humans.  They will nest anywhere; next to the kitchen, on pillars, inside a comb of bananas, or like the photos here, on a dragon fruit plant in broad daylight in plain view of passer-bys and vehicles :

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Right next to a ripened dragon fruit.






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A couple of hatchlings in a meticulously weaved cup with tidy, even rim. 

The bird that made this cup is the Pied Fantail or Rhipidura Javanica Longicauda.



In our farm, they have grown used to being in close proximity to humans,  but remain wild as nobody in the farm is allowed to feed the birds.


hatchling Web.JPG

The Pied Fantail is distinguished from other Fantails by pale underparts with a contrasting blackish breast-band. 

When annoyed, it gives a chit, cheet sound to distract you from its nest. 

It lays a clutch of 2 eggs and is common throughout South East Asia.



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Mum's back.







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Close up (click on picture) of the Pied Fantail.  Note the breast-band, and the barely noticeable white eye-brow. 





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Here's why they are named Fantail (click on pic for close-up).


Mar 25, 2010

Caviar of the East - Pavlovian Imprinting

The chicks are now 30 days old and have opened their eyes.  Time for some imprinting to prevent them from joining some wild flock in a couple of weeks time when they start to fly.
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Part of our second batch of about 30 chicks. 
We have fine-tuned the brooding temperature, food and other variables for the hatchlings.  This second batch looks like heading for a 90% survival rate. The industry standard is 30 to 50%.