Archive for the ‘farming’ Category

Summer plans

July 1, 2015

This summer I appear to have a lot of free time.  I hope to work an ESL camp in August and have a few other commitments but essentially I have time to work on my own projects.  Most of these projects deal with writing.

Writing Plans and Goals:

  • 13 blogposts for 6,500 words.  Why 13?  I can’t recall why I chose this number.  Somewhat more than two a week, I guess.
  • 3 short stories: Working titles are 1) Ants, 2) Vampire on a boat and 3) Hyperbaric Chamber.  I’m figuring 2,000 words each
  • Push forward one or all three of the books I have started and let sit.  30,000 words is the goal and I don’t mind jumping from book to book as seems fit. Working titles are 1) Return of the Haloed Hunter, 2) the Distancing Engine and 3) Creationism’s worst arguments
  • 2 letters per week to friends.  Around ten letters and 2,000 words.
  • Perform research and planning for future “Crowded Sky” story. As much as 5,000 words.

To keep the writing interesting, I have made further goals.

  • I want to write over the course of a full day.  That is, at least once in the month write from 12:00 to 1:00 AM, once from 1:00 to 2:00AM …
  • I want to write in a variety of locations.  The local mountaintop has a good table. There are some nice libraries to write in.  I’ll talk about coffee shops in a moment.  Eulsookdo Eco Centre might be a nice place to work in for an afternoon.
  • Soundtrack: I may use Ommwriter which has its own soundtrack but otherwise it will be autoplayed classical music starting with some Janecek and letting Youtube suggest from there. Away from Internet connections, Doug and the Slugs and other 80’s music would work; the tunes are so familiar that they can be white noise or a fun background as needed.

Snacks: I bought snacks for my Nanowrimo writing and I will definitely eat in front of the computer but I need to show restraint here.  My weight is slowly dropping and I want to keep it going in that direction.  Controlling my weight is my greatest concern this summer.


  • 18 runs with an average of 7.0 km.  I hope to attempt a solo half-marathon this summer late one evening and have been working out the course and where to place energy drinks along the way.  I am currently at 96 runs over the past six months so only the weather could prevent reaching this goal.
  • Run faster than a subway train.  The local subway stations Seo-dae-shin and Dong-dae-shin are about 500 meters apart and the train takes 2:35 seconds from doors open at Seo- to doors closed at Dong-.  Further, this route is slightly downhill.  I can easily run this fast on a level surface but Seo-dae-shin is deep underground. I have no qualms or conscience problems about using the escalators but even with that assistance, there is a big climb at the start of the run.
  • Swim 2km at a time. Korean pools are crowded with conversationalists and it is hard to get an unbroken swim in.  I am likely to need to stop a the end of a lane a few times.  Today, I did 1250m, with breaks and could have gone farther.
  • Find 3 snorkeling places in and near Busan
  • For at least 6 days, eat three meals, plus one snack plus one sweet drink.  I snack a lot and plan to spend a lot of time in front of a computer so this will be a challenge.

Education:  I am enrolled in 3 MOOCS.

  • The Bilingual Brain
  • Modern Korean History
  • Archaeology of Portus


  • Teach my son to swim.
  • Go on a weekend trip with the family. I would prefer a swimming site but that is negotiable.
  • Read two books with my son.  I don’t want this to be a purely teaching experience but one we both enjoy.  Tintin is a good contender here.
  • Work on the farm.


tough day at the farm

March 23, 2014

Today’s work was on the orchard hill.  Or maybe it is a very low, stoneless mesa.  In the midst of hectares of flat rice, cabbage, potato and such fields, my father-in-law’s orchard is on a flat hill maybe three metres above the fields.

The main crop on the hill is persimmon fruit.I asked my brother-in-law about the strange bottoms of the tree and he suggested it was because of the way the tree grew from cuttings.    That was only his guess but it seems possible.  More on growing trees from cuttings.manure work (5) I have always loved the tree frogs at the farm.  After a year away, it was good to see a few again.  This guy could sit on the final joint of my thumb.  Please excuse the blurriness.  I really like my new phone but I seem to have trouble holding it still enough.manure work (4) Korea’s wonderful little tractor, the kyeongungi.  I can drive one when it is attached to a cart, but would leave a terrible plow line.manure work (3) manure work (2) I have a really annoying cold right now.  Despite the great weather, I was pretty miserable at the farm.  I think this pic captures my whininess during the day.  Oh, behind me are little piles of manure under each tree that I carted by wheelbarrow.  I guess I should be grateful my sense of smell was sub-par today.manure work (1)As is so often the case, I usually more proud of my farm work and adventures after a few days.  Perhaps in a week or so, when the smell is gone from my SUV, I will look back on the work as character building rather than horrible.


hadan to Kadeukdo bike ride

October 13, 2012

Indeed the ride was “to” but not actually “around” Kadeuk Island.  It’s been a while since I last rode and I was concerned about aches and pains if I went much further.  Still, the trip there along the ‘Gull’s Way’ was enjoyable on its own merits.

Near Myeongji Ocean City, I looked out and I swear that this must be some form of children’s castle made impregnable due to its location.

I’ve seen close-up what agriculture looks like in Korea and I have to admit that it is so intensive that it doesn’t look very attractive (this is probably true outside of Korea as well).  Aquaculture is at least as horrific to the eye.

The Gulls-Way to Kadeukdo is well-marked, but keep an eye open for the signs as you go through the final industrial areas before crossing to the island.  I missed a turn and went a little out of my way before turning back.

On Kadeukdo, I saw an old lifeboat.  Thirty-something years ago, my scout troop tried to refurbish one like this into a sailboat.  I guess it remains rusting away in the Scouter’s backyard.

There is a tiny island next to Kadeukdo and the Gull’s-way goes through it as well.  I followed most of that route, until steep hiking trails stopped me.

There is a school on the island but the students are unusual.  Click to enlargify to see the horses that make this field their own.

I climbed these stairs, and hiked further, to see if it was worth-while to carry the bike over.  Instead, I chose to make this the turn-around point.

From those stairs, I took a picture of this front yard that would seem so natural for Canada, but totally out of place here.

Possible in the above picture was this collection of jars.  I think they might be crab or octopus homes, that can be pulled up for harvest.  Considering how little I know about aquaculture, the above sentence might make me (more of) a laughingstock.

Looking across the bay to another island, I saw more fishing vessels.

I’m not sure yet if I heart Kadeuk, but I do like it and plan to return.

Rice production plateauing and more from Marginal Revolution

September 29, 2012

I follow Korean rice farming with more than casual interest.  Because my in-laws are farmers and I have helped plant and harvest rice through a few seasons now, I have a natural concern for things that affect rice production here.  In the past, the Korean government placed tariffs on foreign rice, allowing Korean farmers to sell theirs at around eight-times international market value.

For more on my discussion of rice farming in Korea, look here.

Fro more on the future of rice production and farming, check out Marginal Revolution’s post on the subject of approaching maximal production.  It sounds very Malthusian.

If you have questions for the authors of Marginal Revolution, they are coming to Korea.

Tyler and I will both be in South Korea in early October for the Asian launch ofMarginal Revolution University. Tyler will be speaking at the World Knowledge Forum(Oct. 9-11). The WKF is known as the Asian Davos. In addition to Tyler, the speakers include Paul Krugman, Daron Acemoglu, Malcolm Gladwell, Cass Sunstein, Dani Rodrik, a number of other well known economists and social scientists and a host of political and business leaders.

I am worried about my motivation these days.  I look at the offerings from MRU and think about taking a course, but have not yet clicked on the link to begin doing so.

Aaron Mckenzie, what do you think about MRU?  Ah, not much is going on at that website, nor at Idiot’s Collective. Pity, he is the only blogging economist I know in Korea.

Mosquito control for the region

May 31, 2012

The Korea Times has an article describing efforts to reduce mosquito numbers.  The main effort shown in photos is the use of pesticide fogging machines.

Newcomers to Korea are often horrified seeing children playing in the fog.  It looks fun and adults don’t seem to mind.  I don’t know what compounds are used but I can’t imagine that it is healthy.  R. Elgin at the Marmot’s Hole is particularly bothered by it: 1,2, ah, just follow the results of this search.  I’ve written about my distaste for it, too: 1, 2.

Still, mosquitos are a problem to be dealt with.  One big factor is emptying stagnant basins of water.  Farm fields are places where basins and rain-catchers are common and these need to be emptied or screened over to reduce locations for mosquito larvae to mature.

First planting for rice in 2012

May 10, 2012

I have discussed farming, and rice farming in particular, on this blog many times but am posting this as an actual log or journal entry.  In Gangwondo, I kept track of the first snowfall through my seven years in residence there and the record became more interesting as more data points were added.

On May 9th of 2010, I was involved in the first planting of rice. This year, it was may 5th, although there was more to do after we left.

A lot of rice farming is done with machines but there are many steps to the process so we were busy enough.  First, the rice seeds are soaked in some mystery liquid – I presume it was connected with fertilizer or pesticide.  Then the seeds are placed in trays and left to sprout until the trays look like they are full of grass sod.  This is the first planting.  Then, after a month or so, the sod trays are loaded into a machine that plants them in flooded fields and they are left until harvest – with a few visits for spraying pesticide and such.  Around October, the rice is harvested.

Here are my first-planting photos for this year.




8 years ago, I wrote about farming at my earlier blog and I wanted to access that material here so this is the link.

The dinosaur museum in Goseong (and more)

December 7, 2011

Hi there!  Long time, no read.

I attempted the Nanowrimo project last month (the goal is to write 50,000 words- a novel – in one month) and didn’t get very far.  Still, that was the number one thing I was to do, so if I wasnt doing it, I couldn’t do things lower on the list either.

Anyway, I’m back.

December third was our wedding anniversary so like any middle-aged couple with a child, we did child-friendly stuff.  Heck, we all loved the dinosaur museum!

I sure didn’t love the trip to the museum.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve been suffering from headaches occurring roughly every other day.  First, I went to a dentist but he found no problems.  Then I went to a hospital and I learned my cold has progressed to sinusitis and the infection in a sinus cavity has been causing my headaches.

On the drive to the museum, my head began to pound.  In addition to the anti-viral pills, my doctor had also given me Tylenol to help until the infection subsided.  I’m not the smartest man in Korea, but I knew better than to take pain-killers then drive in heavy traffic on unfamiliar roads. So, I suffered.

The tiny bit of blue paint scuffed onto the bumper of my car came from a low-speed accident.  Of course, this is the back bumper: I am in the clear, responsibility-wise.  In a tunnel, in heavy traffic, a car stopped.  The next two struck.  I stopped in time.  The truck behind me didn’t.  Not the smartest man, but in the top 40% of drivers (five cars and drivers, two blameless)!

I probably scared the very concerned driver who struck us.  I stumbled out of the car holding my head and looking at him from my left eye.  Anyway, it was a low-speed impact and we took some pictures and told the guy not to worry.

Then we got to the museum.  The little guy was out of control and could hardly breathe he was so excited.  We climbed some stairs and he looked left at some dinosaurs and right at some dinosaurs and was briefly rooted as he didn’t know which way to go.  Finally he went left.

After checking out the T. rex, we headed toward the museum proper.  The location is fantastic on it’s own, as you can see below.

The museum itself is good for all ages and includes a 3-d video for children.  My camera takes terrible photos indoors, so let me skip to what I found to be the best part.

I repeated the number “one hundred million years” to my son, but he didn’t seem so thrilled.  For me, though, these prints, the actual prints of actual dinosaurs from so long ago were more interesting than the models inside.

There is a ‘cafeteria’ onsite, but it didn’t have much to offer.  Bring your own food!  The little guy was energetic and uncomplaining through the whole visit although he didn’t eat much.

As we headed to the car, we found this roller-slide.


I would say this wasn’t the highpoint of the visit – nothing can beat dinosaurs – but it was a highpoint.

The little guy went up the escalator and down the slide many times.


Around four, the place was getting cold and we were ready to head home.  If I had been feeling better and the weather warmer (it was as good as one could expect for December) we could have stayed much longer.  I want to go back and hike along the shore more.

We spent the night at the in-laws farm and did some farm work on Sunday.  I also found this spider skeleton.  A photo of a skeleton is appropriate in a post about a museum, right?

I knew spiders have an ‘exo-skeleton’ but wasn’t aware of the internal frame that is clear in the photo.  Cool.

Late October at the Farm

October 27, 2011

Six photos from a recent weekend at the farm.

First up are some persimmons.  I think they are on a broken branch so they have ripened faster than the other in the grove.  The next two show family digging caterpillars and worms out of the cabbage.  Man, from I saw in those cabbage, wash them before you eat!  The fourth pic is of a frog that must have been slacking as they were letting the caterpillars in. Tsk, Tsk.

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Fifth, I eat eggplant but don’t really care for it.  I think the dark branches, leaves and flowers have a gothic sort of Hallowe’en feel to them.

Sixth, and last, is a kind of sweet potato.  I have never seen any this darkly colored before.  I thought it was a beet!

Headlice isn’t so bad.

October 9, 2011

 My students often tell me they eat ‘lice’.

You can see a stroller in the background.  I think the reason Korean grandmothers love becoming grandmothers is that they will soon get a handy cart to carry their stuff.

This was the end of a mere 2 hours of  rice harvesting.  I lifted and carted -in a bigger cart- perhaps two tons of rice.  My brother- and father -in-law don’t seem so tired.  I guess driving the combine isn’t so tough as carrying the rice.


Honestly, they did work hard, and longer than I.  Here, my father-in-law scythes the rice in a corner of the paddy. The combine can’t get into the corners so well, so they are done by hand.



My brother-in-law is driving the combine – a ‘Super Combine’ according to the side panel.  Each bag is filled to around 40-50kilos of white rice with the brown seed coat still on it.


Wikipedia has images and info on other combines which make this one look a little less ‘super’:


My brother-in-law had gone off to play volleyball, so my father-in-law brought in a tractor to carry the last 12 bags.  If you click to embiggen, you can see my son is getting a ride in the tractor’s scoop.



That was a lot of rain!

July 12, 2011

I spent Saturday, a day of hellacious rain, at a hospital in Kimhae visiting with my Father-in-law.  He is home now; I’m not sure how serious his health problems were and don’t intend to discuss them here.

Anyway, in the evening, we drove through much deep water to Chinyoung, spent the night with in-laws and went to the farm house on Sunday morning.

At the house, we found this guy, and three others loose.How much rain do you need to have your home infested with eels?  I never did learn the actual reason for the eels, but we thought perhaps the mother-in-law bought them to make Chueotang (eel soup) with and some escaped.

Everything was wet, but not quite as muddy as I had expected.  Off we went to collect hot peppers from the patches.  This little guy was one of perhaps a hundred I saw during the long day.

I also found this mushroom cap.  I don’t think it belonged in the garden.

It was a long day, around ten or more hours, and we picked many pecks of (non-pickled) peppers.

Today, in Busan, I visited Deokcheon and found Samnak Park was now Samnak Lake.  I think these pictures are from upstream of Samnak Park but are also parks.