Things that will make Myles squeal with glee!

Catching fish in our fish pond with a net just for fun
Catching frogs!
Watching a baby duckling hatch
Driving with daddy in the cab of a bulldozer
Riding on a carabaou
Riding on a tricycle
Starting the stove with daddy
Picking vegetables with mum and dad

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How to deal with nagging doubts…

Obviously there are moments, fleeting moments, where I think perhaps we are crazy.
Then I saw this picture today:

I’m going to build an house with my two hands, put a roof over my loved ones. And that house will be our home.
You may question the structural viability of the shack in question. As do I question my sanity. But I think we’re gonna be fine.
We are planning things as much as we can. From experience, plans in the Philippines tend to be as useless as battle plans in the middle of a skirmish. We have a fairly good idea of why we are going and what we will do when we get there. We have numerous plan B’s. Actually we almost have a whole alphabet!

Alternative plans if the farm ain’t much fun.

  • Volunteer for a year or two in the Visayas (middle islands of P’pines)
  • Live closer to civilization next to Roxy’s brother and his kids (all Myles’ age)
  • Decide to come home sooner and burn cash on a tour of Asia
  • Ditto, but on a bicycle tour around P’pines
  • Come home with our tail between our legs and happy to be home sweet home?
Some of these things I’d like to do in addition to living on the farm, but our main goal is to live off the land and treat Myles to all the wonders of a childhood in the jungle.

okra



Here is my gorgeous okra, this is one of my favorite veggies and this is the first one we have eaten out of our garden. I made a ginger chicken soup and put in this okra as well as some of our beans and bok choy. Okra is hard to find at the best of times, but finding organic okra is next to impossible, it can also be quite expensive, hence the decision to grow our own.

The Filo Party

We all went to a Filipino party tonight, I was looking forward to it because Myles is now old enough to enjoy playing with other kids so in essence this was to be his first real Filipino party.

As a child I went to many many many Filo parties and I have extremely fond memories of them, stuck-in-the-mud, pirates, cushion forts and tag were just a few of the children coordinated games that were enjoyed.
At this party though, there was no play.
There were many many kids, and there was a fair amount of running room, and there were some great nooks and crannies to explore, but not once did I have to side step a speeding group of children, or help up a kid who had taken a fall, or get used as a shield in a pirate battle, or cover my ears to the sounds of hysterical laughter and yelling.
It didn’t take very long to realize what had changed.
Every child at that party between the ages of two and ten held an iphone, their little fingers expertly brushing across the screens.
I want a better life for my son.

Projects for the new world

Duck-Rice-Tilapia-Azolla-Duckweed farming.

Once we get the handle on farming a lowland paddy for a few seasons, I’m pretty keen to start experimenting with ducks rice and fish. Apparently introducing ducks to the paddies is mutually beneficial if you do it at the right time and age, the ducks eat all the weeds for food! You can introduce Tilapia to the waters and the duck poo feeds algae which are eaten by the fish. In theory it is a fairly closed system which has way more output for the land use. Plus the idea of 120 baby ducklings is just to cute to believe!

Solar power

Turns out my mother has not even heard of solar power being used in the proviences. Everybody runs 2 stroke generators. I wanna set up a 12V DC system to run lights, pumps and incubators. Our little net book will need charging along with our cameras. Blogging will happen on the farm, but we’ll need a trip to the town to post it all. There is no running water or electricity. I think we will make do with two clay pots for a low tech fridge.

Food!

Preserving food is going to be a learning experience. So is building a stove. Salting meats will be interesting too. Chicken + axe = dinner!

Gardening

This is one of the biggest reasons we are moving there for a while. You simply cannot find a house in the inner suburbs for rent that will let you have a pet, let alone chickens and a full yard of vegies. I’m dreaming of a Garden of Eden paradise with edible morsels galore. The reality will probably have a lot more bugs and mozzies that what I envision. I want Myles to learn how long it takes to grow foods and to realize that endless rows of immaculate produce at Coles and Woolies is very far removed from the reality of nature.

Animals

Pigs, goats, caribou, chickens, ducks, quail, geese, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats (for the rats) and fish and maybe even a horse. Our plan is to get one of everything, sell or eat what is too much trouble and get more of the ones we like. Myles will be beside himself. He was glowing with fascination over a ladybug this morning. If we can imprint some ducklings on him, he will have a little troop of quacking and crapping waddlers following him everywhere!

Things I will miss from Brisbane.

  •  Australian accents (and Scottish ones)
  •  Being able to research anything on the internet. Although I am looking forward to asking people how to do things again. When’s the last time you had a friend over to help you fix something?
  •  Books and bookstores
  •  Family and friends
  •  Conversations in English
  •  I think the food will be less of a shock this time, but I will miss some things.

So it turns out we are buying a farm after all!

The timeline of our trip so far:

· Lets get the hell out of this oversized country town.

· 5k savings plus whatever we get for selling our car will be enough.

· There is land with no house near where we were married (Philippines), lets go there.

· We’ll go for one year.

· Screw it, lets plan not to come back for now.

· Hey, Roxy’s mum wants to buy a farm. Lets be rice farmers!

· We could get ducks!

At this point Bernadette (my mother in law) travelled to the Philippines to check out 12.5ha of farmland and lowland (floodable) rice paddies. She called us a week later and reported that unfortunately the land was no good and cited a bunch of reasons. We were somewhat disappointed. I really like the idea of being a farmer. Whether I like being a farmer remains to be seen. I must buy some flannel shirts when I get there; I’ve always liked flannel shirts. And I’ll get me one of those pointy hats that you see in clichéd Vietnam War movies.

So we were upset that we weren’t going to get a farm, but it turns out that Bernadette was telling Roxy all the bad things about the place loudly over the phone in front of the land seller. Sly move. Now the negotiating price is significantly lower. This tactic has me impressed with her craftiness and somewhat terrified because she is my mother in law and she has a somewhat unpredictable nature. Awesome when she’s on your side of course, but god save your soul if you cross her.

I’m impatiently waiting for photos of the farm which I will post up here as soon as we get em.

But apparently there is a tiny cubby house made of bamboo. No electricity, no running water. There is a strong river nearby that comes off the mountain and is drinkable. This would be awesome. Will have to investigate clay water filters though.

Stay tuned for an ambitious post about all the things that I plan to do when we are there. Should be a laugh to look at in 2 years time and see how much actually got done!

Reasons we are leaving Brisbane

I thought some bullet points would make it easier to convey why we are skipping town:

  • I was informed that I would need to schedule a play date if Myles wanted to play in the yard of the neighbour directly opposite our house. This conversation was taking place over the fence as we held our respective children. What was wrong with right now? I don’t have a smart phone to keep track of ridiculous things like this.
  • My will to live is being slowly rapidly eroded at work. I think its a combination of air-conditioning and lack of sunlight. I just cannot handle an office. The only thing I look forward to is stationary. And coffee. My life is Dilbert.
  • We are spending too much time in the car.
  • Brisbane is beginning to feel like Singapore. They ban jaywalking. Then someone erects a glass sliding door complete with fencing to thwart jaywalking. Whats next? Mandatory pedestrian helmets? Jogging permits? Breathing lessons?
  • Chances are Myles will go to school when he is five. He is now two point five. We have only two point five more years before we have to be “sensible”.
  • I want a huge garden with lots of animals. Ducks, pigs and fish. Brisbane is rather draconian when it comes to tenants and pets. Gardening is what I enjoy most at the moment, so I want to do more of it. What could go wrong?

I think that’s the most of it. I’ll write a list on what I’m going to miss about Brisbane another time.
Julz

Book Drive

One of Roxy’s lovely ideas was to start a library when we get to Calapan.
The plan is to has a depot of kids books that we rotate through the schools.
It really upset me last time I was there when I realized my in laws had zero reading material. A house with no books anywhere just felt alien. I’m looking forward to reading stories to Myles in Tagalog…