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Jul 17, 2010

Malaysia's Best

Auditors from FAMA ( Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority ) came to see if we are deserving of the government export quality mark, '1 Malaysia Best'.
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Hopefully we will get the certification.  If so, American readers of this blog may soon find our durians sold in the USA with this mark:
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We are planning to air-freight them to the US with the support of FAMA to be sold in a chain of raw-food and organic fruits store. These will be certified organic, tree-ripened, chilled fruits.   Will announce details when plans materialise.

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.

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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.

Jul 15, 2010

Fungal and Bacterial Preventive, Naturally.

This is what we use as a preventive, especially during rainy weather against bacterial and fungal attacks on our plants (leaves and stems, not roots);

Take 500 grams gelenggang ( cassia alata ) leaves and 400 grams lengkuas rhizomes ( alpinia galanga ) and pound them.

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Lengkuas
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Gelenggang
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Mix Well
Then squeeze out active ingredients in 30 liters of water
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After mixing and squeezing well in 30 liters of water, filter, then spray immediately without dilution.  Remember, use immediately.

We find the spray effective as a prevention against most fungal and bacterial infections on stems and leaves.  Spray regularly but lightly (sparingly) twice a week.  During bad weather or where there are early signs of disease, spray once a day sparingly (lightly) until disease is arrested. It is not effective if disease is well on its way.

Note however that no amount of spraying is going to help you if your soil is unhealthy, your plant is from weak seeds, and your plant is generally weak from lack of nutrients. 

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) :

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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:
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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

Uncertainty...

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.

Jun 07, 2010

Nature Farming - Kuini

Kuini and machang are indigenous to Malaysia.  It's strong aroma and taste have obviously left an inedible mark on the psyche of the local people as evident from these lovely 'pantuns' that are reproduced and translated at this blog, here.

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You don't find many kuini (mangifera odorata) in the market.  Part of the reason is that the tree is not very productive as far as commercial farmers are concerned.  For the same amount of fertiliser, pesticides and labour, the production is significantly less for the kuini tree as compared to other commercial hybrid mangoes.

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Kuini trees in a row

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Pak Din plucking the fruits

Another reason is that the weevils love kuini and losses can be high, unless one really go the 'overkill' path and spray pesticides copiously.

At DQ Farm we use nature to help us.  And nature works 24/7 without rest.

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Vicious red ants swarming entire trees from root to fruit, keeping the fruits free from weevils and other insects.

Red ants swarming a fallen fruit protecting it from insects:

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 buah macang buah kuini

masak sebiji dalam daun

mengapa begini hatiku ini

habis bulan berganti tahun

My translation:

the kuini the machang

fold one in leaves to ripen

this heart of mine, oh what's hidden

a year passes with each fading month

Visitors to the Farm - Lily Fu and Ramleans

Youthful 'senior', Lily Fu and her fellow 'Ramleans' came for a visit last week. 

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Here's Lily Fu's blog on the visit:  http://seniorsaloud.blogspot.com/
Here's the website on the Ramleans : http://ramlea.5u.com

They set the mood for the day right by being 15 mins early.  BTW the plastic bags you see in Lily's blog are made from biodegradable material and we provide them only for 'seniors'.  

We enjoyed seeing their reaction when sampling our fruits.  Non-clone, slow growing fruits and vegetables do taste better and are nutritionally superior!! 

May 28, 2010

Visitors to the Farm - May, 2010

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Senior State and Federal Officers from FAMA came to inspect the farm.
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Dato Kok, ex-Dpty Trade Minister, environmentalist and food lover came with Datin and two Filipina agri grads, for a 'look-see'.

May 24, 2010

Raising Free Range Chickens - Watch That Water!!!

People ask me what is the most important thing that they have to watch out for in successful free-range poultry raising in Malaysia and I always answer : water!

Watch out for water in the litter

Water in the reban

Water under the reban

Water in the padang

Watch out for leaking pipes, even in the fields as the birds will drink from the leaked water which will become contaminated from the dung.

Watch out for the temperature of the water - it must always be colder than the surrounding air.

Above all the farm must be dry.  With our humidity, a wet farm will raise humidity to 70% plus.  That will bring with it many diseases.

We shape the land by creating swales, retention ponds and contours to move rain water to areas away from the fields and coops.

But sometimes the volume is just too great and we have no choice but to cut the earth and make drains.  This is what happened to us over the weekend.  There was a sudden huge downpour and the chicken fields were flooded.  One particular field with marketable size chickens was flooded 3 feet and 407 chickens drowned.  That's a revenue loss of about RM8000.

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Mud everywhere blocking off culverts and drains.

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A drain buried in mud.

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A field covered with mud.

We had no alternative but to dig a huge earth drain to handle similar volume in future.

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The weather at the farm have changed in the past few years and coupled with land clearing nearby, the farm has become a focal point of run-offs from these cleared areas.

Though the work was tiring, the workers were cheerful.  they had fun catching the many wild eels in the farm for their lunch and dinner.

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After a hard morning's work, a quick lunch of fried chicken, prawns, fish, eels and vegetables.
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With organic watermelon to boot!
Note:
That wild eel was one of the most delicious meats I have ever eaten.  It was lean yet tender, melting in the mouth.  There was no fishy smell or taste.  Rather it had a rich umani taste.  Once we humans had meats like this everyday.  We have really lost Eden!