Sunday, December 28, 2008


New Year's Resolutions "stuff out"! After watching this video, and watching it every time I falter...I shall definately keep all my "stuff" together, stop buying "stuff" ( it started with Christmas...I try my best to give people what they want, but hoping they want organic produce,natural items, but due to the economic crunch, I merely said prayers to God for everyone I care about, family, friends, our employes, this nation, the U.S.A.).... I am trying to make a very important decision too...and hopefully I can accomplish it this coming year! I personally believe in the power of ONE....if I can be the consumer that needs to stop shopping, and quit eating packaged goods, or buying a new I-pod, or watching useless television programs with tons of commercials that only feeds me with the greed of the eyes for things I really should not have in the first place...and then it would be ONE PERSON WHO WON'T BE BUYING MORE STUFF!! This is one of the most important videos that will help remind me in the New Year that we all have ENUFF STUFF.....
I think there is nothing as magnificent as a tree! I am not going
to post an old poem I learned in grade school about Trees, written by
Joyce Kilmer. However, I do think she said it right.

Trees are magnificent. Planting a tree is like giving birth to a child. Once
samplings, now three juvenile narra trees are threatening to tear up the driveway, and may even be working its roots into our downstairs floor. Uncle Johnny, my husband's loveable gay uncle who loved plants set them down and now I have made the decision not to cut the narra tree down. Something may have to be done to relocate the house...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Save Birds, Eat Chicken Damnit!

Tikling birds, or Barred Rail are now seen coming into my garden at night.I can't imagine why catching wild birds and eating them is necessary to be a gourmet. Two birds were caught in my garden and eaten by our carpenter who found them easy prey since a lot of birds frolick around my ponds and fountains where I leave clean water for them to bath and drink. My garden attracts all kinds of birds that are thriving in what I call an "oasis" in this city of overcrowded apartment houses and condominium. Birds come over due to the big trees, often full of fruit , and because I avoid using pesticides and other artificial chemicals. Yet, my garden is full of birds that help themselves eating worms, and insects they find on the ground. I don't believe what I am being told that these are not endangered and eating them is a gourmet's treat, where one can savor a meal of wild birds as a local "delicacy". chicken, just kill them quickly less they feel pain, but catching wild birds that wander into my garden is like eating a visitor that arrives in a country as a tourist.

My people tell me to try and taste just a bite of local birds stewed in garlic , vinegar and coconut oil,and I think I will have a vegetable salad with cheese and salmon instead. Sorry, I am corny....but now I don't know if the birds will be back, I certainly am going out today to buy fish again and fix up my fountains.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Tis a season of Joy....and the absence of birdsong in my garden..

As the old carol beckons us to partake in a "season of joy" I wondered how many people out there in the world are truly happy at Christmas. Everyone is receiving constant buzzing from cell phones going off, and of course the exchange of text messages will be returned with the similar normal response of "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" and then hopefully continue the greeting with a "Happy New Year." However, I know some people do not believe this year brought them a lot of joy....and I guess I just had to write about one particular incident that made me very angry.

I strolled in my garden in the city, and missed the sound of the shrill cry of the family of kingfishers that has managed to make their nests in my mango tree above my tiny little fishpond. There is a small fountain that circulates water but due to the oil crisis, we saved on electricity and kept changing the water to provide a clean pond for tiny little red guppies, and a few brilliantly colored carp. Well, Felix, the gardener informed me that all the fish are gone!

The first thing that came to mind was it must have been due to the closure of the pump to save energy and money. Maybe the temperature of the water fluctuated too much, or the lack of circulation may have caused the fish to get sick and die. No, that wasn't the case, for Felix explained that he observed two kingfishers helping themselves to the tiny trapped fishes, and that Norbing, an office worker decided to "catch" the birds and give them over to one of our carpenters as a "gift."

Oh wow, I inquired to the fate of the two birds. At first I was told that the carpenter quickly had a meal of "adobong kingfishers" and I was totally shocked and revolted how casual and fast the idea of eating such beautiful birds would come to the mind of these very well fed, and well paid employees. Yet they backtracked when I was openly horrified, and then Norbing came to me and apologized with a smirk on his face and told me that TaTa's cat actually ate the birds. I was surprised that the cat got to the birds that according to Norbing, after he caught them, he gave them to Tata to "care" for them. He made a makeshift cage and the two birds broke loose and before they could take flight, the cat caught them.

Brilliant story. I wanted to pour out my anger,and gave Norbing a long lecture on indigenous birds, and how we all should realize these birds are already struggling for survival by raising their family in the city environment. He merely laughed and said he would stop catching wild birds for fun.

My gardens are full of old narra, longan, and three large mango trees.The presence of kingfishers in the last summer alone gave me hope that my small pond and fountains of fresh water were suitable for them to nest. I observed several nests in the trees of Malaysian fantails and kingfishers, even an occasional liberated parakeet that had alighted in the large tree, that my garden would be a safe haven for these birds. The kingfisher's return to the city creek happened only in the last rainy season after we had cleared a large tract of land, eliminating their arch enemy, the pythons and tree climbing vipers that decimated most of the nesting birds in the area. These kingfishers main occupation as I had been watching them were hunting for little frogs, small worms, insects and little fish they may have chanced upon spawing in polluted city creeks. I didn't mind if these kingfishers helped themselves to those guppies because I am sure their little brood of chicks were thriving in the mango trees. Now, I can only imagine, their brood are probably now starving from the death of both parents, will become extinct if people keep killing the wild birds!

How can those birds be replaced? I can't find the nest and I have to hope that one day another kingfisher family will move in again. However, my Christmas Eve morning was a silent one.....even the Malaysian fantail birds are quiet.

There has been terrible absence of song in my garden... I guess the guppies and carp who cannot speak now were avenged, in this "bird-eat-guppie-eat-bird" world of mine?

I realize too that the poor Filipino city dwellers have also been robbed of birdsong. The attitude that Norbing and Tata had was that these birds are just usurpers in this town, and catching them is an activity for their amusement. I have witnessed street children with slingshots combing the trees and trying to show off to their friends their abilities to hit and kill sparrows. On occassion, there have been large predatory birds like hawks and owls that kept mice and rat population down, but the absence of a truly environmental policy in government, and an emphasis in nature conservation in educational institutions has produced a new generation of city children with more appreciation for a "PSP" or "game boy" toys, than wild birds. This city with all its tall buildings, and shopping malls, has no parks with beautiful clear and clean ponds where children can appreciate strolling and playing in some sort of "central park."

Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays? but I will try to be "merry" for the sake of my grandchildren, but giving them less plastic toys, and more books on nature will help them appreciate birds too and let them join me to continue to provide clean water for them to drink. We welcome birds flying by to stop over and visit us, and the only gift they can give is their beautiful songs. Well, my new year's resolution is to fix the pond and give the birds another chance to trust me once more.

Monday, December 22, 2008

May I wish Everyone A "Merry Christmas" !!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ducks can communicate, I just needed to pay more attention!

I got a call from a nervous farm hand who told me that he had seen a head of a large python lurking from our Lotus Pond at the farm. I left immediately, and my driver, Liberto was peeding down the highway to get to the farm before the snake would be caught. I wasn't necessary alone on a Sunday morning, heading for the upland country of Tagaytay. This was happening during the year, where prices of oil hit $100 a barrel. This crisis caused a downward trend in the economics of the country. There are less people on the road joyriding! Only the more serious commuters take to the highway at 8:00Am Philippine time.

I reached my small organic farm located in a glen beside the Biluso River. The rainy season has just ended, and the lots around mine have grown wild and bamboo thickets have reached my wall. Below this bamboo thicket is my Lotus pond where I keep my ducks and geese in a safe enclave with enough water for them to play and wander about.

This morning, the ducks were looking very happy frolicking back in the water they dreaded to enter a few weeks before.

I now know the "duck language" is expressed in their behavior. They form tight groups, and their heads all turn at once, their body language is pronounced in a fear that I thought was because I was coming into their space. They huddle together, all taking steps in formation as if they were one large duck coming towards me and away from the pond. I noticed it, but didn't think much of how ducks communicate, but now I understand they had been telling me and everyone that there was a snake growing larger and larger in their area.

I once found that the most cruel predator in the Philippines, is the large, water- monitor lizard. These giants have the habit of ripping the belly of their pray. They will leave their pray lying on the ground, their middle sections torn open. The monitors eat the softer parts, internal organs, then leave the rest of their carcass to rot, thus softening the harder tissue for a meal another day. Believing in the natural way of life, I discouraged my farm hands from killing and eating monitors when they caught them. Against good advise, I often ordered to release them back in the river and hope they will not return to my duck and geese pond.

Well, now I am a seasoned farmer, and know that monitors and pythons are not endangered and they must be taught never to come near our farm. I have changed after seeing my lovely geese, ducks and chickens lying silently on the ground, their abdominal cavities empty and ravaged by a savage reptile. I am now for duck rights and geese preservation, which means any reptile or wild animal coming to my farm for free food is going to end up as appetizers for my farm hands.

The 12 foot python managed to drag himself to the storm drain. He swallowed an entire chicken whole. He tried to escape but the large lump in his belly would not pass through the storm drain after he ate his meal. The snake was not able to drag his big belly out of the pond and into the safety of the bushes where he could hide.

This time, the python was discovered on an early morning after swallong whole, a single pullet that prefered to stay out at night.

The ducks were silently sitting far away from the vicinity of the ponds and avoiding the large storm drain at the side of the chicken barn. Their posture signaled to me that they were communicating something sinisetr was lurking in the chicken house. The ducks silence was meant to focus attention on the pond. My farm hands said, they saw the python, lying still, and stiff posing for the bright light shining directly into its eyes. What a dreadful threat waited for these ducks in the pond!

My ducks were telling me somthing. They, along with the chickens are being raised for their eggs, not meat. Now that I recognize that ducks can communicate, I know what the message "SNAKE" is and I did understand why the ducks refused to enter the small pond area and swim. They knew, and they were telling me that for years that damn python was growing and eating their ducklings and our chickens too stupid to realize the predator was harmless when fed, and even content to wait until its hunger pangs drove them to kill again.

I know pythons may be fascinating to some who are into reptiles, but this one is long gone and hopefully there are fewer of its friends who would come by my farm. Crows, chickens, ducks, geese feed on tiny serpents they find in the ground or in the water, but a large python this size could kill a dog and grow to its full length of 15 feet and weigh as much as 400 lbs. Risky to have such a threat around when we have the children of the farm hands, not to mention our dogs, cats, ducks, chickens and geese to protect.