Sunday, April 8, 2007

Mama and Papa's place

In many ways, Mama and Papa's place is typical of farms all over the world with the goats, chickens and pigs. There are two dogs laying about though I'm not quite certain that both belong there.

One of the pigs is still small.....not quite ready for slaughter. The larger sow just had piglets maybe two or three weeks ago. The third pig is fairly large and is destined to be the main course of my upcoming birthday party.

Some of the chickens are free to wander about but there are a few that are set apart in a small chicken house. These, I understand, are for breeding the game cocks Papa will sell. He already has three or four game roosters that he hopes to sell for 2000 pesos each.

There are a few mango trees on the property. Right now the trees are covered in flowers; we've arrived too early for the fruit. The same goes for the bananas. The fruit is still too green to pick. The calamansi and the coconuts are a different story. I've already picked a few of the calamansi to put into my iced tea. I've watched Papa climb the tree to cut down a few coconuts but mostly, when he climbs the coconut tree it's to collect the bamboo containers of "tuba".

These bamboo containers collect the sap that drips from the coconut tree in much the same way that syrup is collected from maple trees in the States. He takes the tuba to a work area behind the house where it is strained and put into plastic jugs. From what I understand it takes only a few hours for the tuba to ferment and just a few days to produce vinegar. I haven't sampled much of this homemade wine but I've been told that it takes about a gallon to get a person drunk. Papa doesn't lack for customers so I'm sure very little has the chance to turn to vinegar.

It takes quite a bit of work to produce vegetables on the farm. He has a small patch of kamote tops. The plant is a variety of sweet potato but it's grown for the leaves and not the tuber the way we grow some varieties of turnips for the greens and not the turnip. Before we left the US Cathy and I bought an assortment of garden seeds for Papa to try. We brought three varieties of squash as well as okra, bell pepper, hot pepper, cantaloupe and watermelon.

I woke up early on the morning of Holy Thursday to see Papa preparing the plot for the yellow squash. I finished my coffee and went over to help. We had a hoe for removing the grass, a shovel and a third tool - the name of which I have no clue. This tool may have had another purpose unrelated to gardening for all I know. It's a metal pole; maybe 5 feet in length with an 1 1/2 inch diameter. The pole was somewhat flattened on one end. We used this tool for breaking the ground after the grass was removed. Then we'd use the shovel to make mounds into which we'd plant the seeds. Before breakfast we had done three rows of mounds....eight mounds per row. We planted three seeds per mound for a total of 74 squash plants if all the seeds germinate. That's sure to be more than enough squash for the family.

We still have about two more weeks before we leave for the U.S.. I'll know before we go how many plants came up but I would be here for the end result. I hope that the plot produces a lot of squash. It took a lot of work and I don't want to think our work was in vain.

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