Friday, June 26, 2015

Moving Dirt........

About a month ago we completed the purchase of some land around the resort from a local rice farmer.  We kind of hesitated because of a number of issues, but especially because there is a drought underway in the land of smiles.  Rice farmers were told not to start their second rice crop this year as the government would not help them if they were not able to bring their harvest to market.  The farmer, who was already in hock to the bank, decided to sell the land cheap...so it was to our advantage that it was available and we had the cash to buy it.

Now with the low water levels and the availability of cheap farm labor and equipment, we are starting our efforts to make the land more usable.   First, we've decided not to pursue the use of the land as only a rice growing farm.  That model has failed and the bankrupt farmer is proof that its not economically feasible if the weather doesn't cooperate.  Second, we plan to address the main weakness of the land, which is the lack of water on a year around basis.  Finally, we want to use the strategic location of the land relative to our resort to get additional income (i.e. renting out space near the front of the land for vendors, etc.)

To that extent, we started sending out feelers to our farmer friends and yesterday, one of our distant relatives came in to discuss the project.  He did work for us previously when we constructed the resort and he has access to all the necessary equipment.  In short, we talked, walked the land, and discussed the project on the diagram I created with Google maps, and we agreed on a price.  For a bit over $5K USD, we will have a new access road built, a new 5 meter wide khlong dug out, and two fish ponds/irrigation ponds dug out (almost 4 rai of water).  Once built we will be able to store almost an entire year worth of water in our ponds and use the pond to raise fish during that period. We will use the pond and khlong water for crops and to irrigate the resort.   We will flush and drain the pond each year  prior to flood season and wait for it to fill up during rainy season.  Water is also available from a stream which is adjacent to the land and we are going to tap into that for the khlong year around.

Current configuration during high water.  During rest of year, land is dry

New configuration.  During dry season, water stored in ponds and khlong,
New access road  (in brown) for vehicles to harvest fish and tend farm.

With the new changes, we can also offer our guests the opportunity to go fishing in our very own stocked ponds.  Plans are to either stock with Talapia in one pond and the other with game fish (i.e large mouth bass), or have them both as harvest only fish ponds.  Still deciding on which is best.

Well, up here its really easy to get things started.  The guy wants to start TODAY.  We just shook hands last evening, and I sent him a deposit to seal the deal last night.  Our deal is balance due on job completion and if no satisfaction = no payment.   Supposed to take between 10-20 days and is weather dependent.  Around $250-$500 a day for all equipment and labor.  In California, the rental rate is around $150-$200 per HOUR for each piece of equipment alone, without labor.   Wow, what a deal and no wonder the California farmers are asking so much for their produce.

Most pictures as things get rolling.






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