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Happy Days in Isan

6 March 2019

A small story post this one full of photos and the little insights that go with them. 

Friends Visiting

Recent visitors from Australia kept us pleasantly occupied. Matt, Bernie and Nana are regulars who pop in whenever they are in the local area from fulltime jobs back ‘home’. Always a pleasure to see them especially when Matt brings wine! 

The farm is always a stopover to meet up with Yuan and Lud and inspect what’s happened since the last visit. Yuan continues working while we farang take a more relaxed approach to life. Lucky us.

Bernie testing out the farm swimming pool and giving it the thumbs up for refreshing coolness.

We were invited to Matt and Nana’s house blessing ceremony led by nine (lucky) monks.

Thank you Matt. 

The monks after the ceremony getting ready to tuck into the vast array of food provided. Nana and family had been up at 2:00 am cooking and preparing.

Happenings at the Farm

This is Tham, Gaun’s brother-in-law married to Bear, who runs the other half of the farm. Tham has picked up 20 bags of rice husk, which he is bringing to the farm to be used as mulch. Aren’t these multipurpose diesel engines wonderful.

Rice is stored with the husks on. A small village threshing machine separates rice from husk, which is then availabe to be bought back for between 5 and 10 baht a sack. Used extensively for newly planted seeds as well as by Gaun to keep weeds down in her gardens.

The mounds in the background are rice straw. This is also used as mulch on the farm.

These are a climber plant the name of which escapes me, that grow as a vine and it’s the flowers that are harvested for eating from memory. A new trellis has been built to support them once they get to that stage. You can see the rice straw being used here.

The long beans are making progress as is the supporting trellis.

In western countries these would be commercially bought supports, all straight and boring. Here these ones make a beautiful varied pattern. Almost artistic!

Each of the supports have been secured using homemade bamboo ties. 

Garlic being dried ready for replanting.

38 degrees today and Gaun spent the entire day digging up this flowerbed ready to replant it tomorrow. 

This bed was overtaken by weeds so Gaun has decided to completely restart. It sits at the entrance to the farm.

This is the other farm garden. It has expanded beyond the rice hut because Gaun can’t stop. The flowering plants Gaun saved from the bed she was digging up in the previous photo have been moved here.

Just to give you an idea of how far she has taken her expansion.

Mama taking in the view of the farm resort! How things have changed from when she established this place using buffalo and handsaws.

I moved Isan Grace, my boat, into the middle of the pond to be used as a swim platform. It was only when I got it there that I realised that it rides too high to be able to get onto it from the water 🙂 Plan B is underway.

That’s me in the far distance having a float.

A village addition

30,000 baht will get you these concrete buffelos.

This area right on the outskirts of the moo ban has been recently established using a 300,000 baht government grant. They have done a pretty good job too.

Complete with wooden buffalo bell. You can find these in most farm shops in either wood or metal and they make an unique small gift to take home. 

Floating salas (huts).

Two permanent stalls have been set up one selling food and the other cold drinks. I hope they get enough business to keep going so that this area becomes a village meeting place. The char si keow (iced green tea) is very nice is you are passing.

A typical Thai smile. Sorry about that girl on the left.

Lots of seating areas.

Someone has made a small fish holding enclosure. Maybe fresh fish for the food stall.

This area is next to a large community garden space with over 40 plots being used by villagers who don’t have access to land to grow crops. The water for this area is provided by a bore/well powered by solar.

A moat runs down one side to help distribute water. There’s running water too gravity fed from the tanks in the previous photo.

It’s a productive little area. You can see the new development in the background with the thatched roofs.

A quick wat visit

This is the small temple down the same road as the farm. I check in on it from time to time but they haven’t done a lot of new work since I was here last. This will be a covered walkway from the current small Buddha hall to the kitchens.

Almost exactly the same as last year. I wish they would remove the ugly advertising that was there as a makeshift sunshade for a festival they had late 2018.

This is the Buddha hall, the first structure to be built on this site. The gardens are coming along nicely with sime of the plants donated by Gaun.

There was only one monk on duty as the others were at a ceremony in Sakhon Nakhon on the other side of Udon Thani. This guy is one of my favourites and not just because he makes me a freshly brewed (with an espresso machine no less) coffee when I visit. Cold water and soft drink given too. 

A new centrally located pond is being dug and it’s all a bit of a mess until that’s sorted and landscaped.

No action today. Usually the soil is sold, which covers the cost of the equipment, but in this case the soil is being kept. I don’t know what’s happening with that. TBA.

A Few mixed photos to finish

Bear, Gaun’s older sister, loaded up and off to market.

Gaun’s tao (turtle) has made himself right at home next to the koi pond. We bought this at a wonderful place outside Udon Thani, that I reported on recently. You can almost feel him just about to move can’t you.

Now one of my all-time favourite photos. When we bought the tao Gaun also bought two concrete frogs. The one on the left is a real toad who spends his entire time snuggled up to his newly found but rather silent mate.  I hope he realises sometime that this is a relationship that just isn’t going anywhere 🙁

The sticky rice basket on the right is also a tissue holder. I haven’t seen one before so it was a good pickup from the Si Bun Ruang festival markets for 150 baht, the only one there. The timber box on the left has the same function but bought in markets at Chiang Mai.