Friday, June 26, 2009

A Hard Day's Work

Yesterday I spent the day harvesting some ripe oil palm fruits at my eco-farm. Most fruit bunches are still small because the trees are barely two the half years old. At the picture ( inset) the cross section of the fruit shows a thick yellowish pulp, a thin shell containing a white fleshy core . Presently the average diameter of the fruit is 2.5-3.0 cm. which is considered still small. High quality oils are derived from the fruit pulp and the kernel of the seed.

Notice how close to the ground the fruiting heads are. The variety of oil palm planted here are of the Elaeis guineensis, GH 500 series. In Malaysia the oil palm parents here originated from Africa. Thus sometimes the oil palm Elaies guineensis is called African Oil Palm. Oil palm trees thrives in Bintulu due due its tropical climate,ideal soil type and hilly topography. Once established oil palm trees are hardy and will bear fruit for the next 20 - 25 years. I would say my pension lies in the trees.
Yesterday's harvest totalled 120 kilos. The present market price for fresh fruit bunches is RM 350 per tonne. By the trend of things, next month I would be able to harvest about 200 kilos. Such is oil palm farming, you need to have patience to accumulate enough quantities to sell the to the millers.

A Tree Much Wanting in Bintulu

It surprises me why this lovely tree is not planted all over Bintulu. I saw this stand at Medan Raya shopping area today. The Coral Tree ( Erythrina) has brilliant scarlet flowers that stay long on the tree. As such it is a useful tree to grow in areas where you want to see colours everyday. Having not seen one for a while now especially one that is flowering, I took a lot of close up shots of its flowers. A few are shown here. Notice the bean-like pods that contain ripe seeds below.

If you are to visit most hotels and resorts this tree is usually seen in their landscaping design. I guess most landscapers love its red bunchy flowers that envelop the tree. Further I think choice is determined by its growth characteristics. It is slow growing and suitable for places near water bodies where you can watch the dark green leaves and flowers touch the water surface and reflecting its brilliant colours. We need more such trees in Bintulu.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bintulu Fishes

Soon I'll be missing all the fresh fishes of Bintulu. That's because I'll be on my way to Kuching this coming Monday. Bintulu is a haven for fresh seafood. There's hardly any good fish market in Kuching City that is even 50% of what Bintulu is. Anyway this afternoon I dropped by at the fish market along the Sebiew River which is greatly patronised by fish lovers here.

What have we got here? I bought a reasonable sized tuna fish for RM 10. Back at the farm I barbecued it with a dressing of salt and crushed black pepper. It's all about the little things we enjoy in Bintulu......fresh fishes of all types and sizes for diverse menus and likings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grasshopper in Emperor's Clothes

I had an excellent half-morning workout at the farm just now. Top on the agenda was to thin the Lengkuas shrub for propagation purpose. Indeed from two big shrubs I managed to plant another 5 very well established clumps. Lengkuas ( Alpinia galanga) are useful plant to grow for its rhizomes. In traditional medicine the rhizomes are considered a aphrodisiac. However I take it as an appetiser and the young shoots can be taken as salad. And goes without saying, you need to eat it with the famed Bintulu belacan!. There are also grown commercially for the rhizomes that are processed into capsules to counter sea sickness.
Then while I was thinning a section of the vegetation island of the Heliconia Valley I came across a unique phenomena. My eyes were caught by a slight movement among the leaves of the Cempedak ( Artocarpus integer). A grasshopper in camouflage. Yes this is the first time I came across at the farm a grasshopper that has its wings resembling the Cempedak leaves. Thus I had a field day photographing this unique natural phenomena. Below is the grasshopper posing for today's show.

Well, what you see is what you get. No tricks. It's a grasshopper in the Emperor's clothes. Note the rhizomes of the Lengkuas ( inset).

Sunset at the Farm

Though the closest beach is about 25 km away from the farm, we do have the chance to enjoy the beautiful sunset from the farm looking west. Over the distant hills and about 25 km straight on is the Tg.Batu Beach where the best sunset can be watched in Bintulu. Well today I'm blessed with a Bintulu sunset as I finished the day at the farm.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sweet tasting , sweet tasting...

This morning my taste buds turned wild. I harvested two ripe fruits of the Terap ( Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco). They came from a tree I planted about three years ago and thus there were not many fruits on the tree just yet. Among the Melanaus of Bintulu the fruit is also called 'Ong Lumok'. And the joke is if you're somewhat bald -headed don't feel offended if someone call you 'Ong Lumok' . The thick soft skin has soft hair-like spikes that are nice to caress. The white fleshy part of the fruit is very sweet . The ripe fruit is very soft and it needs a slight turn of the palm to open it up.

The 3 year old Terap tree I planted at my farm.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mango Tree

This is the only Mango Tree standing at the Bintulu Town centre. I grew up with this tree because it was planted not far from the government quarters where our family stayed in the 1960's. Where the tree is located was about the farthest end of the government quarters area at that material time. All older buildings built in and around 1960's are gone. Thus the Mango Tree is the only reminder of the old Bintulu . It is my fervent hope that this will tree will be preserved for posterity.
On the left is a picture I took of the tree when its was flowering heavily in April this year. The picture below shows the tree bearing tiny fruits. Unfortunately just weeks ago I notice that someone had cut a main branch of the tree to collect the fruits and as a result damaged much of its beautiful form.
The Mango tree bearing young and tiny fruits , before the main branch being cut.

Close Up of the tiny fruits.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shrubby Dillenia ( Dillenia suffruticosa)

Feeling slightly better today, I decided to have a walk around the farm. The rashes that developed over my body slowly disappeared and my body temperature has subsided and returned to normal. According to the good doctor I was suffering from a viral infection which is self-eliminating. Feeling upbeat, I took shots of the Shrubby Dillenia or what we call here as 'Simpoh Air' ( Dillenia suffruticosa) that grows abundantly at my farm. The 'Simpoh Air' is indeed a suitable tree to plant along streams and near houses.
The red fruits are attractive to birds and are enclosed in several segments.

The large yellow flowers look brilliant in the sun. The thick broad and oval-shaped leaves are used to wrap food or to ferment rice like in the local delicacy called 'Tapai'. The young leaves are eaten raw as salad.

Ong Balem

When I arrived at my farm last week, I noticed the huge  'Balem' tree ( Mangifera pajang) bearing tiny fruits at the very tips of the branches. This is the first time I see the tree producing fruits.  This tree could have been here for about 50 years now judging from its height and size.  It's indeed very difficult to see them in the wild these days because forests keep on disappearing. In the picture (inset) is a close up of the Balem fruit with its thick skin peeled.  To eat it you need to slice the flesh into small pieces.
I am looking forward to see the tiny fruits grow big and will blog about it as and when necessary.

The Balem tree is about 25 meters high.  Note the tiny fruits at the tip of branches.

This is how big the fruits will grow when ripe.  Among the Ibans the Balem fruit is called 'Bambangan'

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Day by the Beach

It has been a while since I have not update any pictures here.  The reason is that I was very busy in Kuching for the last month.  However I'm back and wish to make up for lost time.  Since I arrived Bintulu on the 7th of June I fell ill and just felt better today.  There again, my computer got into problems because of a faulty power pin which needed replacement parts from outside Bintulu.  That problem got solved by late afternoon.  Before I picked up the notebook, I went to see Pantai Temasya  or the Tanjung Batu Beach, just 10 minutes drive from Bintulu Town centre.  I thought by spending an afternoon by the beach would help me further recuperate from my illness which was caused by a fall when I climbed the slopes to gather some fruits last Friday at the farm. Well all's well that ends well.  Below are pictures that I took at Pantai Temasya ( Temasya Beach, Tg. Batu)
View of Pantai Temasya shoreline from the northern point of  the beach.

Tall Carpentaria Palms ( Carpentaria acuminata) line up this footpath at the lush greenery environment within the beach landscaped areas.

This is where all cars that enter the beach area make their turns.  The park  at the Temasya Beach is richly planted with trees.  Here tall casuarina trees ( Casuarina equisitifolia) dwarf the coconut palms below.