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Apr 11, 2010

Useful Plants At The Farm - Red Ginger

Red Ginger (zingiber officinale var rubrum) has a sharper taste and is more aromatic than normal ginger.  Though cultivated, it can also be found growing wild in the jungles.

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If you are a lover of the taste and aroma of ginger in cooking, then the red ginger is something you must try.

Here's red ginger in apple cider vinegar.  The red color seeps into the vinegar and is preserved by the acid.  Fresh red ginger exposed to light will fade within hours.

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The red ginger has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and is especially effective for those with chronic inflammatory problems such as arthritis, carpal tunnel, etc.  Drinking just a finger on alternate days will do wonders for your aches and pains. Here's a study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20136450

At the farm it is part of a very important tonic which we feed to the chickens when they are doing poorly.  The ginger also has strong anti-bacterial activity.

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The red ginger is very effective in bringing down high blood pressure.  Take two thumbs, blend with some sugar and then heat it up to just below boiling point for a minute or two.  Sieve, and then sip slowly like a tea. Relax, after an hour measure your BP.  You will be surprised! 

Note that to 'cure' HBP, a holistic approach must be taken.  We are not advocating red ginger as a 'cure' for HBP. It should be part of a total approach and you should consult your health-care provider before embarking on any alternative medical treatment. 

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%. 

Mar 20, 2010

Grassfed Cabrito

We are budgetting about RM30,000 to complete this plan to produce about one ton of 100% grassfed, certified organic cabrito per year.  Targetted wholesale price for one kg of cabrito meat will be RM80.00 but will be selling on a per carcass basis.  We may consider butchering at a later date and if we do that, the average pricing will be higher.  The meat will be certified and will have lab tests to prove high omega 3 content with a guaranteed ratio of 4:1 or better for the crucial omega 6 : omega 3 ratio.
Click on the pic for a larger image.
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Cost of the goat house comes to RM5.00 per sq ft.  The rest of the budget goes to fencing. The layout is not ideal of course but reflects the lay of the land and the fact that we are not 'touching' the land by way of leveling etc.  We work within the contraints of the landform which adds to the cost a little.
The rotation every 3 days is to avoid the need to constantly deworm in our humid climate and also to allow the land to recover faster as the land is planted with mature fruit trees.  The food for the goats will come mainly from the napia that we are growing seperately and then harvesting them to feed to the goats.
Of course it is not as easy as what have been outlined here.  Cultural practices will have to be implemented to ensure goat health, reasonable weight-gain and low mortality.
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Progress as at April 16.  Another two weeks, the goats will be in their new home.
(Click for larger view).

Mar 19, 2010

Thank You Encik Mukthar

Thank you Encik Mukthar for the kind invitation to your son's wedding.

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I am so sorry I can't make it but I am so glad for you that you and your family have found happiness and peace.

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May God protect your family now and always.

And God's Blessings for the newly weds.

11:43 Posted in Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: malay weddings

Feb 26, 2010

Caviar of the East - Building the Population

Building up the critical  mass naturally takes time.  We decided to speed things up a little by incubating eggs and acclimatising them to the micro-climate at our farm from hatchlings.

secondbatchWeb1.JPGEggs dated and where there are pin holes and fissures due to mishandling, nail polish is applied.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hatching out in a mere 16 days,  not 20 + days as recorded in most books. Almost failed as knowing the incubation period is critical to a successful hatch.  However daily observation and experience permitted us to have a successful hatch inspite of misinformation from books and various blogs (one blog recommended an incubation temperature of 40 celcius.  That will most likely 'cook' the embryo).

 

  

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In the brooder at 35 celcius.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hand feeding starts 8 hours after hatching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Update:

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Feathering after 14 days

 

 

 

 

 

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Feathering after 21 days

Jan 29, 2010

Captain (Rtd) Zaman aka Eudrillus and Mardi Officers came visiting

Captain (Rtd) Zaman aka Eudrillus made a surprise visit with some officers from Mardi.

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Captain Zaman with the crew-cut seeping coconut water and Zul and others from Mardi.

 

 

 

 

 

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Captain Zaman asked about the keyhole raised beds.  Well, here they are and they keep on expanding....

 

 

 

 

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And what is organic fruit farming without weaver ants or kerangga.  Here, they are used to get  rid of termites infesting a tree.

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And our latest project, designing a proper home for stingless bees of which now, we have discovered, we have four species in the farm.

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Temporary home.  The bees made this sail-like canvas to protect themselves from ants.

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This is the design we are working on now as a permanent home for the bees; design from Utrecht University, Tobago.

 

  

Jan 10, 2010

Useful Plants At The Farm- Curcuma Mangga

Curcuma mangga is also known as white turmeric.  It tastes like a mango, hence the name 'mangga'. 

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The rhizome with skin and without.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Researchers have found anti-tumour activities from extracts of the rhizomes.  On a personal basis, we have found it to have strong anti-inflammatory effect and we have incorporated it into our diet on a regular basis, either as a ulam or salad, or as a drink.

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The plant can reach about 5 feet high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Close up of the leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the farm, we gather the soil around the roots and rhizome and make a foliar spray to combat fungal  infections on plants.

 

Take one part soil, one part molasses, and 4 parts water and aerate vigorously for 10  hours. 

 

 

Use twice a week on plants with signs of fungal attacks.

 

Jan 04, 2010

Stingless Bees

We failed with the Italian bees.  They seem to invite mites and worse, they all fall prey to various birds, especially the swifts.

We are now keeping local honey bees.  However, they are more aggressive and the stings are very painful. 

Now, we have found stingless bees in the farm in many places and are now trying to domesticate them.  There are at least three species that we have seen so far, producing a very rich aromatic honey.

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These are the size of gnats and produce a dark colored very sweet honey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Below are red colored stingless bees which are the size of flies.  They produce copious amounts of propolis.

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The bees quickly seal up the entrance of the box with propolis.

 

 

 

 

 

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The transferred bees are quickly acclimatising themselves to their new homes; coconut shells.

 

 

 

 

 

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These bees are ideal for urban homes.  They are stingless and produce better quality honey than the commercial honey that we have become used to.

 

 

 

 

Click on the pics for close-ups

Dec 10, 2009

Raised Beds - It is Cost Effective!

Raised beds incorporating design to maximise planting areas and reducing energy input was developed by the Permaculture movement.  At DQ, we have added a small innovation, i.e. to make it expandable.

The expandable raised beds are now producing their third harvest:

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This is bayam pasir again.  We rotated the bed used.

 

 

 

 

 

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And this is sawi bunga, a brassica chinensis var. It will be ready for harvesting cum thinning in a few days time when the flowers emerge.

 

 

 

 

There has been no purchased input and minimal on-farm produced inputs.  When we replanted, we just top up with some compost, seed the beds and add mulch.  We of course rotated beds.  Once a week we spray some herbal extracts and our Teh Qi (compost tea) spray.  That's about it. No weeding at all was necessary.

If you click on the pictures for a close-up, you can see minimal insect damage.  And the plants are sweet and aromatic.

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The office staff and their children came to help themselves to the vegetables and herbs, and to have a picnic at the farm.

 

 

 

 

The next bed that we will expand to, will be used to plant a herb, most probably basil as companion plant.  In this way, we will reduce even further insect problems. 

Here are some pictures of raised beds elsewhere in the farm:

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Lush gotu kola or pegaga raised bed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Healthy pumpkin plants under the mid-day sun on raised beds.

 

 

 

 

 

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Watermelon plants on raised beds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 07, 2009

The Internationalisation of Food

The recipes for many of our local vegetables, leaves and herbs can be 'updated' to suit modern taste-buds.  This will reduce our dependence on imported fresh food or to pay high prices for transplanting those vegetables and herbs here to grow them.

 

 

Due to globalised marketing our perception of what is good and delicious food have changed, and become more 'internationalised'; leading to the possible demise of many local 'heritage' edible plants.

 

 

In the sixties and even as late as the seventies, a 'delicious' chicken was aromatic and 'sweet' just from the meat alone (of course you may have to boil the bird for an hour or so!). 

 

 

Nowadays,  a 'delicious' chicken means one that is tender and juicy, and the taste is from the marinate and spices used.  Modern marketing have changed our perception and defination of a delicious chicken to accept the bland bird that comes out of factory farms. A bird that has excessive fats (from feeding the birds high grains diet and vegetable oils) is now spun to mean 'tender', and a bird that has both high fats and water content, is now 'juicy', never mind that it is tasteless and a nutritional disaster. 

 

 

We go into a supermarket and march out with hydrophonically grown vegetables and herbs like arugulas, radicchio, etc. without realising that we have the greatest diversity of edible plants just outside our doors.  They present to our senses a wide variety of aromas and tastes, far more than the western vegetables and herbs can ever deliver. And they cost a fraction of the costs of the foreign stuff.

 

 

Just go to the pasar tani (farmer's market) and look at the number of 'ulams' (plants that can be eaten raw) to choose from.

 

 

And upgrade them to modern taste-buds.

 

 

Here's an example from our farm:

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Pluck a few young leaves from a lemon tree.

 

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Take some petals from a kantan flower.

 

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And a generous helping of pegaga (gotu kola) with the stalks ( crunchy ).

 

 

 

 

I like to cut them up to slices.  Then add some balsamic vinegar, generous amount of extra virgin olive oil, some himalayan rock salt (less sodium) and pepper.  And if you are a bit adventurous, add one passion fruit and some 'dijonaise' (dijon mustard and mayo, half/half) - that's real gourmet stuff we have here, courtesy of yours truly. 

 

There will be an explosion of flavours and fragrances that will rival any on offer in a 5-star hotel.

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