Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Organic Farm

After spending three weeks at SaeLao we made a last minute decision to follow David and Meira to the Organic Farm. The main focus of the farm is its mulberry trees, they use them for tea, juice, wine, and as a general food item, even using the leaves for tempura. They are delicious, we tried all of the products made from them, and we are still drinking some of the tea. They also have quite a few goats which they use to make fantastic goat cheese and milk. We really wanted to learn more about the goats so we were excited to see how they took care of them and made the cheese. The Organic Farm has been around for a lot longer than SaeLao, founded in 1996. In this time they have grown substantially, they have a full time local staff who farm an amazing variety of plants, trees and vegetables, they keep goats, two kinds of chickens, pigs and guinea pigs. They have two restaurants, one in the city and one on the farm, both of which serve the products grown on the farm. They staff an English school in the community center nearby that they helped build and have started a goat sharing program. They have built four rammed earth brick houses, all of which look like a cozy place to live. It's worth mentioning that staying at the Organic Farm is more of a farmstay than volunteering, the staff handle all daily duties, and the volunteers are just there to help. This was a big change from being at SaeLao, where we were really needed to make the project work and grow. Many people arrived at the Organic Farm to volunteer and were faced with so little to do that they moved on to SaeLao. Our experiences with the two farms definitely taught us that projects like this take quite a bit of time to get going, and that for things to be properly run there needs to be a permanent local staff and not just transient short term volunteers. We had planned on staying for only a few days, but the other volunteers staying with us at the farm made it hard to leave, so we ended up spending a week, which was till the very end of our Visa.

  Here's some pictures to explain the rest...

This little girl was the cutest of the bunch. Look at her!

Every day they let all the goats out to pasture and eat, at night they chased them back into their pens. This was fun, you had to pull them by the horns. The male of the bunch (brown) was fairly aggressive, trying to ram you and such. He required some strength to move, and guts to grab his horns.

Volunteering started at 6am and involved cleaning goat pens, feeding goats, replacing old hay, milking goats, and making goat cheese. We learned that goat cheese is incredibly simple to make and only takes three days from milk to table. 

This is the goat house, it was really well designed and thought out. They are on stilts for two reasons, first to allow air to flow underneath keeping it cooler, and secondly so when the goats peed/pooed it fell down onto the compost piles below, it also made sweeping droppings between the cracks easier than picking them up. Genius!

This was neat, they planted citronella and lemon grass along the edge to ward of pests. It also smelled really nice. Planting citronella by your doorways helps keep mosquitoes out too...

The guinea pigs, we were assured, are only for sale as pets, and to help with composting.

The chickens had free run of the farm, they were pretty hilarious.

Big pig.

Pig slop being cooked, smelled better than it looks.

A couple days before we left the Momma pig had babies, these little guys are the cutest things.

Soft and furry, fast asleep.

Everyday at four AM, "I'm a roooooster! it's so great being me!!!"

Big Vegetable garden Ginger helped plant.

Infant mulberry trees.

Ginger cutting her pants in our room.

This is one of the mud huts they've built, the second story porch was beautiful. They were all two story with a sleeping loft upstairs, kitchen bathroom and living space downstairs.

This was one my favorite buildings, the root cellar. They have a pipe running underground from the nearby Mekong  river all the way inside the cellar, bringing cold air through it.

The solar chimney came into the middle of the ceiling to draw the warm air out, creating circulation of cool fresh air. It was built to house vegetables for a few months after their harvest so they would have a higher value at the market.

In our next post we'll tell you about our experience tubing, the complete opposite of our time on both farms even though it was only a feet away. 


  1. I love the pictures of the goats <3 I wish I culd have been there too!! I want to keep goats <3 I'm glad you are having so much fun and I also didn't know that citronella kept mosquitos away. I wonder if I can find some here in Ranong to just carry around with me?

  2. What amazing photos! It looks like you guys are having an amazing time, and learning a lot too! Keep the posts coming, I love it :)

  3. Pam! I'm already missing those crazy goats. There are many in India, but they're just not the same. Plant citronella! It will grow easily in your current climate. And we miss you xoxo

    Andrea! Luc adores that you like his photos and we are having a fantastic time! We'll post soon, and it makes me so happy that you like them :) Miss you.