I’m now on the 7th day of my very own self-imposed 30-day blog post challenge which also propelled me to restart doing other things I love and one of them is actually living at the farm.
This is going to be a long blog post, hence the two parts. So prepare some popcorn and enjoy the first one… ^_^
What I’m going to blog about with you today is my life here at the farm to give you all a glimpse of what farming is like here in the Philippines, at least in these parts of Northern Mindanao. I used to vacation at my grandfather’s farm in Bukidnon when I was younger but of course, it’s not the same. My grandfather is a typical haciendero with all his drivers and helpers; has 2 nice farm houses complete with all the amenities of modern living and he doesn’t farm… he just orders around people to do the job and collects money from all his harvests while here, at Mahal’s farm, it’s really back to basics – no running water, no proper toilet, no proper housing and we also do the planting ourselves. There goes my expectation of being a typical haciendera down the drain. Hahaha! Work and sacrifices first before enjoying our harvests.
To give you a little background about who I am, just take a little peek at my old blog, SexyNomad, and you’ll see that my life before Mahal was for the most part all about partying, being an unofficial groupie to Brownman Revival, skimpy-or-almost-naked-outfits, night outs with friends, drinking til morning, shopping, beach hopping, travels… typically the life of people in their 20’s up to mid 30’s, at least during my time (A.K.A. sex, dance and rock n’ roll, baby! Lol!)
Then five years ago, I got “divorced”, lived like a hermit for a little while (a.k.a. depression mode) and continued with my travels. Then Mahal, being my best friend, proposed, and here we are now.
For more details, you can read my stories here:
Okay, I’ll give you some time to head to those blog posts first before I continue.
Did you read them?
THE START OF OUR FARM LIFE
So now you know that we set up the mushroom farm back in September 2017. Then almost every weekend we lived here at the farm to monitor the construction of the growing house, the bagging shed, the packaging area, the sterilization and incubation areas, etc.
Eventually, everything was set up and the mushroom farm began its operation. Then we were harvesting fresh mushrooms every day which we sold to the local market and some local residents.
In between the mushroom farm operation, we held parties coz October-November-December is a typical party period here in the Philippines due to the holidays (Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s). And yes, because I love throwing parties too! Hehehe.
A BREAK FROM THE FARM
Come December, I took an extra full-time job to help augment our income so we can afford to hire more people for our farm. Because of this, I also stopped coming to the farm so I can focus on work. The farm has very weak internet signal and if before I can do part-time online work here, when I took the full-time online job, I can’t do that anymore because I need a steady signal to make outbound sales calls.
Come January, we took our annual vacation in Oslob, Southern Cebu which lasted for 2 weeks.
Then the problem with our people started. When we came back, we had to take care of the replacement of our previous caretakers who left which I mentioned earlier this week on my other blog post.
Then it was time to clear out the mushroom house. Because of what happened with the previous caretakers, Mahal had to teach our new people again. So back to zero with the mushroom farm operation. The old fruiting bags still kept giving us fresh mushroom harvest until April. But those months, February to April, we did several scheduled summer beach trips too (Palawan, Initao, Bukidnon, Bantayan, Cebu City, other places in Misamis Oriental) so we just had all the surplus mushroom harvest dried to extend its shelf life until we can figure out what to do with them.
When we came back from our trips, Mahal would stay at the farm 4-5 days during the week while I and Tuz are left in our tiny pad down the mountains so I can focus on work. I also resigned from that full-time job I took in December because of the stress it caused me, which increased my blood pressure that I felt like I was going to die! Aside from not being able to sleep at all, I’m also really not meant to do sales calls. I’m an introvert! Talking to people and having a boss that hovers over me all the time stressed me out!
MUSHROOM PROCESSING AND ORGANIC VEGETABLE FARMING
So I just focused on raising Tuz, doing several part-time online work and helping out Mahal in our agribiz venture. That’s when we started working on our Mushroom Chili Paste. At the same time, our people are also still in the process of learning everything from mixing, to bagging and incubating the new batches of mushroom fruiting bags.
Mahal also took a vegetable farming course sponsored by the Agricultural Training Institute under the Dept. of Agrarian Reform. It was a 13-week course and he just graduated last week.
He’s also incorporating everything he learned from his personal studies of Korean Organic Farming called JADAM. His thought process was, he has 8 hectares of land here in the mountains, most of which are just lying around, if not growing coffee trees. What else can he do with the rest of the lands? We can’t keep putting up mushroom growing houses because it’s very expensive. We already spent more than P300K with just one set of mushroom farm structures (thanks to my Alabang House Tenants for the big deposit) and that does not include yet the salaries we give to our people plus daily needs. So far, the farm hasn’t returned our investments yet. So he thought of doing organic vegetable farming as well aside from organic mushroom farming. That way, while waiting for the mushrooms to grow, we can do something else.