My weekend farm is a meaningful and personal endeavor, which I wish to extend and share to others.
Over the past few months, it became difficult to define progress.
The ability to build structures to protect and cultivate the area meant progress, but I am not able to accomplish these at the moment. Running after these milestones proved to be very difficult and frustrating.
My past two visits at my weekend farm proved to be invigorating. Instead of focusing on achieving milestones, I dropped everything and did the things which I enjoyed doing!
I imagine that once I’ve made my weekend farm more comfortable, I will spend time planting, painting and relaxing.
I realize that I just need to put myself in the flow of things by being creative. Although it may seem like a futile attempt at the moment, I will just continue to visit, plant, and paint. Hopefully as I do these, I get to open myself to opportunities that will allow me to achieve my milestones!
At the moment relaxing in my weekend farm may still be a remote possibility, but this doesn’t stop me from being in the flow things and enjoying how it exists now.
I lost my bamboo hut and my car early this year.
But I got a new car and I have been able to visit my weekend farm again.
I was convinced to immediately fence the property. With the fence built, I now have clearer boundaries, defined by some wooden stakes and barbed wire. It doesn’t look impenetrable but I think it is enough to set barriers.
Upon checking the progress of my crude barbed-wire perimeter fence, I noticed that 95% of the rare native orchids which I planted were gone! Someone took almost all of them. Perhaps they all flowered some time during the period of my non-visit and passers-by found them irresistible so they took all of these home. I realized that these orchids are just embellishments to my weekend farm and this has convinced me to plant small trees and shrubs for the meantime as I develop and secure the area.
When I checked the finished barbed-wire fence, I also thought of adding a fourth layer of barbed wire to fortify it further. Also a bamboo fence will completely close the area.
The period of my non-visit allowed me to rethink on how I can progress for my weekend farm.
For one, a few friends advised that I should get a caretaker and be more integrated in the community. I acknowledge that my absence in the area is definitely a problem; I am only able to visit during a few weekends every month. My limited resources could not allow me to finance hiring a caretaker. But I realize that my main resource for now is my land; which is not productive at the moment. I have met Mang Nestor before, a friendly farmer neighbor, and he has expressed that he wanted to help me. At that time, I didn’t take his musings so seriously yet because he was not able to express what he wants to do and I did not know what I can offer to him in return. He was just nice and very gracious, and he helped me get coconuts or fruit whenever he saw me. However, the other day, I met Mang Joel on my drive out from my weekend farm. As I introduced myself, Mang Joel already knew who I was, He was sorry about what happened to my bamboo hut and my car accident. (News quickly spread among the locals, even the Jesus statue is now believed to be miraculous because I came out from the wreckage of the accident without a single bruise!) He immediately expressed his desire to use my land to plant crops like corn. I realize that while I am not able to use my land, I can allow my farmer neighbors to plant in my land. In exchange, I will ask them to look after my land and perhaps, over time, we can gain friendship over the help we extend to each other.
After my brief ocular of the barbed-wire fence. I visited the local Police station. I got acquainted to them due to my car accident. It was the first time that a major incident occurred for me outside the city! I saw their value in providing safety for my peaceful existence and harmonious integration in the locality. Similarly they saw my value thru my good intentions and thru my affiliations which I can extend to them and to the local community.
A few things lost, a few things being recovered and a few more things being formed!
Things ahead are looking very hopeful!
A bit hesitant to share this story, but I realize that sharing has helped me accept challenges and move forward.
My tiny house made of bamboo was burned to the ground Monday last week. It could have been an accident or the victim of a delinquent dare. It costed me my Christmas savings; but more than that, I found this unsettling as it made me rethink the safety in the area I have chosen.
This made me realize that perhaps I have been too lax in securing my place. Perhaps I should have spent my resources on a more proper fence to secure the area. I thought that, while I spend time gathering resources to build a safer fence and a safer tiny house, I needed to share my message of forgiveness to whoever or whatever caused the burning of my bamboo house.
I’m not a diligent catholic, but I am reminded of a place I visited at the start of the year. My friend Kiko, who is an architect, tagged me along for a project he had at a Hermitage in Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon Province. He was working on building a Jesus statue of the “Divine Mercy.” The monks who lived in the place and the family who owns the land welcomed us during their ground breaking ceremony with their stories. The family shared that their land has been disputed for over thirty years; at that time a family member was killed on their land. I gather that it took them thirty years to forgive and progress with whatever they intend to do for their land. This story inspired me to bring a Jesus statue, an image of the Divine Mercy, a great gesture of forgiveness for my weekend farm. I wanted to share a symbol of forgiveness to move forward and progress harmoniously.
It was a Sunday, almost a week since my tiny house burned down. I have only seen pictures of my plot, and I was preparing to go to my weekend farm to see my burned bamboo house. I brought a 3-foot statue of the Divine Mercy with me. I stopped by a church to have my statue blessed by a priest. Then I drove towards my weekend farm.
It was around 1:30 in the afternoon and I was driving along the same highway in the same vain as I would for any visit. There was a slow moving car in-front of me so I decided to over-take. Checking that the road was clear, I overtook and returned to my lane as I ran past the slower car. While I was still on fast speed, a big truck suddenly backed-up from my front-right-view. (apparently there was a back-road made of dirt, hidden from the viewpoint of the highway) I was not able to react fast enough to avoid it fully since it all seemed to happen so fast. The most I could do at that time was to steer to the left to avoid a head-on collision. I remembered seeing the dash board cave in and the whole right portion of my car crumple. My car stopped and I was covered in powdery white dust from the glass. I was unharmed, no shrapnel, no debris penetrated me. I had no bruises; not even a single wound. I was just covered in glass dust.
Shocking that this happened. I am tempted to leave whatever I have started and just move on.
It may take time but I still have faith in pursuing my dreams.
I don’t have a car and a house for now. I may not be able to share stories any time soon. But I am very grateful of what I have today and I am very optimistic that I am about to realize greater things ahead of me.
It is tough to continue with your dreams especially when odds seem to not favor you. But at this point, I am compelled to be more creative and to think more strategically on how I want to progress. There is a lot to consider but one thing is certain; there is still the dream that I want to pursue.
Over the past few months, I have seen my coffee trees in bloom. Its flowers are very sweet smelling; like jasmine.
This time, I noticed three trees laden with ripe coffee beans!
Lucky I brought with me a small tub. I used this to contain the beans that I picked.
My method of harvesting was not delicate, I simply held to a bunch then brushed down along the branch to scrape the beans away. At times, a few branches were dismembered from the tree especially when the branch was packed with ripe fruit. It would have been more convenient if I had a tarp or some giant cloth placed under the tree so that the fruit which would fall off my hands can be collected; nonetheless, I was still able to get a substantial amount of beans.
The tub of coffee beans smelled of grass and earth; the smell of my weekend farm! It smelled like the sap of wild growth whenever I slashed them to clear an area or whenever I stepped on them! It smelled like the fresh earth whenever I dig a hole to plant a new tree!
I was so excited to start a coffee project but I just have a vague idea of what to do. I brought the beans back to the city to dry them out under then sun.
When the beans are completely dry, these need to be peeled or de-husked to get the coffee kernel. After which, the coffee kernels will be roasted; perhaps in a pan over a stove since I do not have roasting equipment. After roasting, these will be placed inside a food processor for grinding. After grinding the beans, I plan to place them in small pouches to give away to a few friends.
I hope this works. I’m really looking forward to sharing this!
I’ve been using an orchid as litmus.
It may not be the best method; and definitely not the most scientific, but this is just for leisure! I’ve planted a lot of Phalaenopsis schilleriana orchids and these continue to give me an indication of the climate in my weekend farm.
Firstly, these plants need to receive enough moisture to survive. For now, I can only visit the farm during my free weekends which means that I’m incapable of watering my plants regularly. Also, I can’t afford a caretaker to live at my plot; hence I’m at the mercy of nature for now. So far, the orchids I have planted have grown roots and a lot of them are actually blooming! Apart from those, I planted fruit trees like cacao and mangosteen and these are growing without watering.
More than that, these orchids gave me an indication of what other crops I can plant. Phalaenopsis schilleriana plants will only bloom in cooler weather. This means that I can try to grow cooler weather crops (at least relative to my location here in the tropics) like more exotic/non-local fruits and vegetables.
These plants have been in my plot for months, and a few plants have just been in flower recently. Apparently, it has caught the attention of a few people who may have chanced upon my area. During my last visit I found that two plants which were in flower have been plucked from the branches. I wasn’t surprised that this happened; but now I realize that my area is too open and some people might think it’s alright to pluck a few plants for them to take.
And so this plant is telling me to do something about it.
It’s interesting that someone has found plants growing on my weekend farm attractive!
I just continue to hope they’ll admire it and not take plants from my weekend farm. Still, I should work on that nice looking bamboo fence already :))
It was my birthday!
I spent the afternoon at my weekend farm with a few friends, Kiko and Teban. A few months ago it was their first time to visit my weekend farm. At that time, our shelter was very crude; a ground sheet and a shade cloth tied to the bushes. I told them I wanted to spend my birthday here. I imagined my friends sprawled across my weekend farm enjoying barbecue and beer next to a large inflatable pool! That didn’t happen, I brought take-out barbecue and beer. We stayed inside the kubo (bamboo house).
When I started this, I just wanted my weekend farm to exist. I did not know how to progress. But slowly as I committed more time and energy I’ve discovered and realized possibilities and opportunities along the way.
It has been a year of sharing this personal endeavor to friends and to people I meet. I have found it delightful to share my experiences and discoveries! I share that, for as long as one follows their heart, the universe will conspire to make things possible. I do not see this as a “passion project,” I see this as a personal pursuit! Progress and growth entails more than just passion, it requires commitment especially at times when resources become limited.
I spent the afternoon inside my kubo for my birthday. Before sunset, I planted two cacao trees. For the first time, I watched the sky change colors as the sun set on my weekend farm, and I have never been more excited to continue coming back.
I was really worried about Typhon Ruby /”Hagupit” making landfall that weekend… but I continued to believe and hope that the weather won’t bring harm.
It was fair weather when I visited that morning and it was so great to see the area looking cleaner!
The first thing I did was to walk to the hill, towards the back portion and inside the hut to admire how the place has changed.
I also found a few surprises along the way!
I’ve made this journey early this year, and with the year coming to a close, it feels like so much have happened and changed.
It feels great to be able to share something that continues to grow and improve and very grateful for people who have witnessed and taken part in my weekend farm.
I was very excited to witness a house, literally, moved!
I know that this activity will not require any sophisticated equipment. It will rely on pure manpower (…and a truck).
For centuries, Filipinos have moved houses made of wood or bamboo through a method (or perhaps more of an experience) which is called “bayanihan“. Bayanihan happens when a person asks the help from a group of people (or even a whole community) to literally carry their house made of bamboo or wood and transfer it to a new location.
Last Sunday, I got to experience this!
I arrived at the site of purchase where the tiny bamboo house was already placed on top of a truck.
A normal drive from the site to my weekend farm only takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Since the truck had to move slowly, travel time was about 35 minutes.
We arrived at the entrance to the access road to my weekend farm with a few road blocks. The electric wires by the entrance had very low clearance. I was very lucky that a few neighbors were present at that time! They told me that the truck can enter by just pushing the electric wires since those were not yet live.
They were also very gracious to let us trim some of the overhanging branches so we can pass thru.
We finally made it along a turn, thru an open-clearing, without any injury or damage to property.
The short drive took us from the access road and across the rows coffee trees.
The truck stopped at the end of the access road adjacent to the plot.
The bamboo house will be installed at the highest point of the plot. This was around 30 meters far from where the truck stopped. The area is overgrown, so I requested help in clearing the area.
A few came with machete and slashed coffee, banana, pineapple, vines and grass to prepare the area.
After clearing, the bamboo house was brought down from the truck.
It was a very rough start with very slow progress. The underside of the house got snagged by branches or got stuck on mud many times. I tried to join, thinking that I can help out. However more than strength, they had a rhythm. I placed my excitement aside and allowed them to carry-out this undertaking based on their plan.
What seemed to be a dire undertaking actually became a very fun activity. Everyone who pitched in joked about how hard this was, yet everyone was so jovial! It was a very motivating activity… all they wanted after this was a bottle of rum.
When the house reached its final destination on top of the hill, the cement footings were placed to prolong the house’s life against termites and deterioration from contact with soil.
And there it was! The house was finally sitting at the highest point of my weekend farm.
The term “bayanihan” has its root-word from “bayani” which translates to hero. Although I had to pay for my hut, and maybe pay a little extra for the installation, it was just exhilirating to see something like this still exist.
I finally got a bahay kubo!
A bahay kubo is a Filipino house made of bamboo. It has a thatched roof made of palm leaves.
When I started this endeavor, I initially thought of building something from scratch. However, after some brainstorm on design and after scoping the materials and labor; I realized that I did not have much time to devote for a do-it-yourself project. Also, a DIY project will still require a shelter of some sort; hence, I was convinced to buy a ready-made house for my temporary shelter.
The house I got was 6×12 feet. It has a small indoor dining area and a small bedroom.
I saw it along the side of the road while driving home from a weekend at the beach yesterday.
I have seen ready-made bamboo houses sell for 50,000 pesos (1,100 USD) on the Internet. This one sold for 36,000 pesos (800 USD) including installation. I thought that this is a fair price so I got it!
The seller told me that it takes them a week to complete a bamboo house. They still need to install windows and varnish the whole structure before it is ready to be installed.
I’m very excited to return to plot next weekend for the installation!