Sep 01, 2012
Animal Feedstock - localise it
There is this mental block that we have to have corn for animal feed. So Malaysia try to grow corn for feed but it did not work out too well - not if you are competing with heavily subsidised imported corn. Further, corn and soya are termed 'commodities', ie it means people are allowed to speculate on its future price. For farmers that means your future is influenced by speculators. For small countries like Malaysia, that means our food security is in the hands of big spending speculators. Hey, that's not a comfortable position to be in, and really I often wonder why we allow ourselves to be dragged into such a precarious position.
So, recently due to droughts in USA, speculators have jumped in and the price of corn and soya has gone through the roof. Farmers are dying because suddenly more cash is needed, practically overnight, to feed the animals. Consumers are shouting because suddenly meats are more expensive.
One of the ways local small farms can get off the carousel is to grow feedstock that is indigenous to local climate and which require as little input as possible.
At our farm, we use cooking bananas. All imported feedstock corn is GMO. Our bananas are not.
All our chicken fields are planted with these bananas
They are tall trees, up to 25ft, with large shade areas. The fruits are higher in energy values than corn.
Because of their height and large shade area, we plant them to block off west-side sun, thus saving on artificial cooling costs.
They also play an ecological role by absorbing nutrients from waste water since they are water-resistant.
They produce more feedstock per acre of land than corn.
Each bunch is about 20 to 30kg
They store well, and can be readied for feedstock in a jiffy
Chickens love the bananas and make a mad rush for them when presented.
Bananas do not have the high omega 6 that corn has and thus produce a healthier meat for human consumption. Corn not only have high omega 6 but also is practically 100% GMO now.
Aug 04, 2012
Mimicking Nature - Can We?
The forest have many layers.
Permaculturists say 7 0r 8. I think more. Under the soil, many more layers to be discovered. I planted a small 50ft x 60 ft layer garden. A meranti tree is the canopy tree. Then eugenias and so on. In no time, a multitude of life forms made the garden their home. Lichens that I have never seen. Fungi, frogs, birds, insects, and unseen, millions maybe billions of microbial life that infuse the garden with energy or qi.
Can this multi-layered model of sustainability, successful for 150 million years, be applied to our modern food needs?
The modern farm - a barren blight on the earth. Can we grow food and yet support a multitude of life forms and working with these lifeforms reduce chemical and energy inputs? Perhaps we should start with reexamining what is meant by 'productivity'.
Life forms most of us have never seem have appeared in my little layered garden.
I have never seen this frog in a farm. Have you?
This is the start of a layered food model. Can we extend this to a commercial scale and yet remain efficient in terms of labour, harvesting, cycling, inputs? What new measures do we need to work out its productivity against that of conventional mono crops?
Jul 22, 2012
Forest In A Farm
Twenty years ago, we started to plant forest trees in a zone within the farm. Today, some of the trees are 100 feet tall, and of course, still growing. We plan now to develop this zone into an area of bio-diversity and hopefully, some of the animal life driven off by logging uphill, will instead make this zone their home. The forest uphill was home to siamang, wild cats, and many more.
Canopy trees in a farm!
Sustainable agriculture is long term, planning decades ahead, not months or weeks.
At one end of the zone is this beautiful location, perhaps a suitable site for a Sustainable Agricullture Institute.
Jun 28, 2012
Farewell to my friends....
Saw this lorry with freshly harvested logs parked near the farm. Shocked, I found out that they are harvesting the trees at the back of the farm next to the forest reserve.
This is the area they are logging. I have wandered there since 1991 and I know practically every tree there. Some are easily 150 years old.
Another view of the area being logged. Up till today I cannot understand the economics of logging and how it benefits the people. Through our Government which represents our desires and wishes, we will get a royalty payment, I think for each tree. How much are we getting? RM5000 per tree? RM10,000 per tree? It is a one-off thing. After that, what? Wait another 150 years for the forest to recover and grow trees like that?
The loggers moved fast. Within a week, they have marred the hillside. No notification given to neighbours, no consultation, no EIA reports.
Me, inside the jungle, with my friends, the trees. Farewell my friends. There's nothing I can do since 30 million Malaysians want you guys to be chopped down.
Jun 20, 2012
Useful Plants At The Farm - Lemba
Lemba or curculigo latifolia is native to Malaysia. We grow them at the farm to preserve them.
It has tiny, bright yellow flowers
They have fibers that can be used to make ropes and textiles.
A rope made from the fibre. Strong enough for farm use.
The Ibans use the fibre to make a textile called 'pua'
And most importantly, they have a taste-modifying protein which changes plain water and sour drinks to sweet. Japanese researchers have patented the protein.
Bunch of lemba fruits
The tiny taste-modifying fruits
Foreign researchers coming into Malaysia should be required to sign an agreement to share patent-rights and commercial benefits with the people of Malaysia as represented by the Government.
It is ridiculous and maddening to hear foreign researchers write that they have discovered that the plant can modify the taste of sour drinks to sweet when it is most likely the case that the local people told them about the plant and it is something the local people have known for generations.
We have numerous emails, some frenetic, wanting this herb and that herb etc. from researchers local and foreign. I am sorry, I won't even bother to answer your email unless at the outset you declare that all research findings, etc will be shared, and in the event of patents, commercial profits, etc., to be share with an institution of our choosing.
Jun 01, 2012
Eat More Plants...
I am wary about juicing vegetables, especially modern vegetables. They have been hybridized to grow too fast, and too ‘sweet’ and ‘juicy’. It is like broiler chickens – they are hybridized to grow fast and to develop large breasts.
Our tests have shown a change in the nutrients content of the broiler meat due to changes in dietary requirements to meet its fast growing nutritional needs. For example, saturated fats and omega 6 content sky-rockets, making it an ‘unbalanced’ meat, whether organic or not.
The same must apply to modern hybridized vegetables and fruits. They require more nitrogen for one. What happens to all these nitrogen in the plants, and what happens to us when we consume these day in and day out? And when they grow so fast, do they really have the time to absorb all the micro-nutrients in the soil that our body needs? Again, it does not matter whether the plants are organic or not. A fast growing plant is a fast growing plant and have the same nutrient requirements, whether organic or not.
For me, plants are essential for our health. So, for juicing, I juice PLANTS, not necessarily vegetables.
Here’s a plate of leaves and flowers that I use to juice:
(Click on pics to enlarge)
Leaves and flowers of plants which do not contain anti-nutritional factors like oxalates, which are slow growers, which have been tested in laboratories to have high antioxidants, etc.
Here’s to your health – juice of PLANTS (not vegetables).
May 19, 2012
Free Range? Pastured? Factory Raised?
Farming terms are being used by corporations to market their produce. For example, 'ayam kampung'. Ayam Kampung implies a chicken that's roaming around freely. But the modern day ayam kampung that you purchase is most probably raised in a factory and have never seen the sun or eaten a single blade of grass.
And how about 'Antibiotic Free'? That has been cleverly marketed to mean 'organic'. Thus a factory raised broiler which may be selling for RM7.50 to RM8.00 per bird is being sold for RM20.00 just by positioning it as antibiotic-free. It is super profit from consumer ignorance and clever marketing.
Here's a video talking about the lexicon of sustainability hijacked by companies:
Here's a video by PEMANDU / ETP with a segment on our farm:
We are the ONLY pastured poultry farm in Malaysia and we have been doing so since 2001!
Eggs - What's That Wiggly Thingy?
A store is no longer stocking our grassfed, free range eggs because a couple of their customers complaint about that 'wiggly thingy' found in our eggs, and that obvious round disc on the egg yolk.
Well, if we were the store owner, this is what we would say to the customer:
1. We try to give our hens as natural a life as possible. This includes plenty of space to roam, grass to eat, and surprise, surprise, a 'husband'. So, as is normal when wives and husbands get together, eggs get fertilised and babies are born. So that disc on the yolk is a fertilised germinal disc, or blastoderm. Unfertilised eggs will have just a speck. Fertilised eggs will have a disc. And we promise you, eating fertilised eggs will not make you more manly and sprout whiskers, nor will it make you pregnant, nor will it make your unborn baby develop 'chicken brainism', a brain disease of unknown origins.
2. And that wiggly thingy is the chalazae, made of the same material as the white of the egg and intended to hold the yolk in place. Chalazae is prominent in the freshest of eggs. It dissolves and disappears as the egg ages. So, dear customer, the eggs with absolutely no chalazae that you have been eating are clearly not fresh inspite of the words printed in bold on the label, Farm Fresh. 'Chicken Brainism' is a disease common amongst modern consumers and we have no idea where the disease comes from but we can assure you it does not come from eating fresh eggs from hens that are allowed to lead as natural a life as possible.
May 16, 2012
More Visitors - Special Officer to Minister Of Health
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 14, 2012
Poultry Diseases - Natural Cures I
Leucocytozoon sp (chicken malaria) infection is common amongst poultry in a tropical humid country like Malaysia. Todate, worldwide, treatment is by drugs, in particular sulphamonomethoxine sodium, an antibiotic.
Beginnings of cyanosis - possible spleen damage
Greenish faeces - rule out Newcastle Disease first.
Inflamed and damaged spleen
Mortality varies. If untreated, mortality can reach 30%.
At our farm, we use herbal medication which is grown within the farm:
Papaya leaves, hempedu bumi (andrographis paniculata) and patawali (tinospora crispa, tinospora rumphii), pounded to extract a juice
Ratio by volume is papaya leaf 70, hempedu bumi 20, patawali 10
10 liter herbal extract concentrate to be mixed with the drinking water for the day for 1000 chickens.
After 24 hours, the chickens will start to show some mild improvement.
After 48 hours, the faeces will begin to clear and the appetite will be about 70% back.
The juice can be withdrawn when the feed consumption returns to normal.
No drugs is necessary. This treatment is first published in this blog and is now OPEN SOURCE.
Leucocytozoon is spread by blood sucking insects. So, prevention is always possible and encouraged.
Surah 26: 7 – 8, Have they, then, never considered the earth how much of every noble kind (of life) We have caused to grow thereon? In this, behold, there is a message, even though most of them will not believe.