Living on a farm in Thailand | A farang's typical day
Updated: Feb 11
Getting up every day at 5:45 am, grafting in high temperatures, then falling back into bed aching and exhausted.
It hardly sounds great, right? But what about if it was great, in fact, better than great?
I want to show you a typical day and what its like for a farang living on a farm in Thailand.
No frills, no rose tinted glasses, just an honest account - A snapshot of my rural life in Thailand.
I think its reasonably fair to say that my Thailand existence isn't most peoples idea of a preferred lifestyle. However, for an ever-increasing number of expats living in Thailand, it is becoming more popular these days.
Before permanently moving to Thailand, I had been living in Kamphaeng Phet for three months at a time. At the end of each three-month stay, I would drag myself back to the cold damp UK for a months work.
I was living out of a suitcase, working in England teaching Health & Safety for three years. It felt like an eternity, a never-ending hamster wheel that I couldn't jump off.
I was eating greasy fast food from roadside service stations on a daily basis. It inevitably took its toll on my health and it was six months before I was fighting-fit again.
If you have ever been in a long distance relationship, you'll know its incredibly hard being separated from the Mrs for months at a time. It wasn't too bad the first couple of trips, but three years down the line, I had nothing left in my tank and the grip of depression was taking hold.
Leaving a well-paid job and a guaranteed monthly paycheck was a real bum-twitch moment in my life, but trading in my safety boots for flip-flops had to be done at some stage. I dread to think what sort of state I would be in now if had stayed longer and continued to chase a wage.
At the tender age of 46, I could take no more. I finally took the plunge and moved permanently to the province of Kamphaeng Phet in Thailand. It felt like a huge step to make at the time, but as they say "he who dares Rodney!"
So has it been the best move I have ever made in my life so far?
Even though we are living on a shoe-string, I, of course, have a biased opinion.
Take a look at this day of mine on our farm. See how it compares to delivering PowerPoint presentations, eating McDonalds and KFC, sleeping in dodgy hotels and trying to maintain a long distance relationship.
Toon and Leigh Porpeang farm Thailand for a day.
Tuesday - 15/01/2019
Toon's alarm goes off (she has selected cockerels crowing as the alarm tone). It's still pitch black outside, so I attempt to grab an extra five minutes snooze. The problem is I can now hear the real cockerels cock-a-doodling outside (we have six of them so slim chance of a snooze.)
My extra loud man-alarm goes off, and I leap out of bed, full of vigor and anticipation of what lays ahead for the day (I drag my aching body off the mattress and go for a pee).
My awful worn out farm clothes are thrown on, and I'm out of the front door. I look like an aging unshaven tramp at best, but I don't care one jot.
Our dogs are jumping up at me in the dark and nearly send me crashing down the front door steps (we might train the next puppies we get.)
The dogs are shouted at but they ignore me as usual.
My super comfy Adda flip-flops are slipped on, outside light flicked on, now its time to start mixing the duck food. One full bucket of duck pellet, plus some cheap powdered feed, and shredded banana bits. All sorted in a jiffy.
I set off on the 100m trek to the fenced pond area where we keep a total of 31 Khaki Campbell ducks and three white geese. Its a bit different to driving to work down the A1 to London on a Tuesday morning.
The sun is just starting to poke its head out now, so it's not necessary to use the head torch on this occasion (cloudy mornings it's needed to dodge the snakes and scorpions.)
We always feed the ducks at the pond while they are still in the coop. We do this to stop the geese bullying the ducks and stealing the majority of the food.
Egg collection is carried out a bit later on. Doing this avoids the ducks laying any late eggs outside the coop. Any eggs the ducks lay outside often get stolen by the numerous crows in the area (I hate thieving crows with a passion.)
Our big male goose named Vince is making my ears bleed. He likes to tell everyone on the farm that he is the main man, every single morning. The two female geese don't come out to feed on this occasion (they usually do, but they are now sitting on their first batch of eggs.)
I'm back to the outside kitchen now and time to put a pan of water on the gas stove (the electric kettle uses a lot of power from the solar system so we only use it after we have had a few hours of sun.)
We don't have an inside kitchen in the farmhouse (been there, done that, never again. Thai cooking needs to be undertaken outside. Frying spicy food indoors is not good for the lungs.)
Toon is egg collecting and feeding her 98 ducks next to the house. I set off to feed the fish in the four stock ponds. I use to spend hours watching the fish feeding, but now its a quick throw of the pellets and then head back to turn off the pan of boiling water.
Time for our first coffee of the day. During my years working as an instructor I was easily necking 10 cups a day . . . Cutting down on my caffeine levels has been emotional.
A sit down, and Toon gives me the duck egg score for the morning. 79 so far, maybe another one or two later on (we call those Late Bums, although I don't think duck eggs come out of a ducks bum.)
Toon checks her Facebook and plays some Candy Crush (I don't know where she finds the time these days.)
I check and reply to:
Facebook Page - Toon & Leigh porpeang farm Thailand
Facebook Group - Rural life Thailand
BBC Sport - For the UK football stories and results
This is Anfield - For all the Liverpool FC gossip
Toon is off to feed about 100 caged quail and free-range chickens and collects any eggs along the way. I am back off out to the fenced pond to let the ducks out and collect their eggs. An impressive score of 23 today, almost a full-house from just 24 girls. I top up their water bowl in the duck coop before heading back. They won't touch throughout larger long term investments on the farm so we have to take good care of them.
One spray tank is complete, just enough for all 50 of the palms, so happy times. The trees were quite bad in places, but hopefully, they'll bounce back strong and healthy again soon. I stopped to take a quick pee around the base of a coconut tree. It helps with the nitrogen levels in the soil (Toon refuses to assist in this practice.) While relieving myself, I noticed that a few coconut trees were starting look a tad under the weather too. More spraying is required.
The 20-liter spray tank is refilled, and I'm back off out to sort the coconuts and a few other fruit trees. We always use an organic spray first for our bug control these days. If this doesn't have the desired effect, we then have to bring out the big guns. We are the only farm in the area not using harmful chemicals for everything grown, but sometimes we feel we have to.
I just finished spraying the trees when Toon returns with Kai Muk, her 18 month old niece. Muk loves the farm, especially helping auntie Toon to collect the chicken eggs.
Toon has picked up an order for two trays of duck eggs in the village for later, happy days. We usually sell three to five trays of eggs per day. Each tray holds 30 eggs and sells for 85 to 90 Thai Baht.
A late breakfast is served up. No more Premier Inn full-fat fry-ups for me.
This mornings menu is spicy chicken (on the bone) with sour bamboo, a few boiled duck eggs, and steamed rice . . . A breakfast fit for Olympic champions.
Toon takes Kai Muk back to her mums, along with the egg order.
I do some online stuff for our new website. In all honesty, I'm better with crayons and a coloring book than all this IT stuff. This website is something that will hopefully aid us in the future when we open our doors for farmstay visitors.
Toon returns home, and we take delivery of a new set of table and chairs (2,800 Thai baht including delivery.) We tip the delivery guys with a bottle of Lao Cow (Thai whiskey 60tb per bottle.)
Our bums try out the newly purchased table and chairs. We both agree it was baht well spent. Its finally time to bin the old and flimsy plastic death-trap chairs,
Toon gets her latest Candy Crush fix on her new comfy seat.
I begin a new blog for the website. It feels a little bit strange writing blogs at the beginning. Mainly because I can't read, write or spell, but I'm finding it enjoyable none the less.
Time to get the lunchtime feed ready for the ducks (our chickens get fed just twice a day.)
Our super-duper motorized shredder gets to work ripping through more banana plants (they aren't trees). We don't shred loads for the whole day in one go, because it turns into a horrible brown mush after a few hours. Our ducks are quite posh, and only like the fresh white and green banana shreddings.
The ducks are all sorted for their lunch. Its getting baking hot now.
With the temperature warming up quickly, it's a good time to move the last of our late hatching quail chicks outside. Nine more takes the total up to 75 (three deformed chicks have died so far).
The empty quail egg shells, unhatched eggs, and dead chicks are disposed of into the Walking Catfish (pla duk) pond. They disappear in a matter seconds. Getting used to seeing death up close is something anyone raising livestock has to contend with. It's never nice, but it gets easier over time. We waste nothing on the farm, absolutely nothing.
It's time to clean out the incubator in preparation for the next batch of quail eggs. We have just started collecting and keeping the eggs again instead of selling them. The incubator we use takes well over 200 quail eggs in one batch. To fit this many eggs in we have to take out the automatic egg-turner. When we do this, we have to revert to turning the eggs by hand 2-3 times a day. A simple roll with the palm of your hand and all done in about 5 seconds.
Time for a freshly picked organic papaya as a light snack. Not so long ago it was a KFC Variety Meal lunch for yours truly. Goodness knows how I didn't had a heart attack back then.
I am just about to start collecting a few buckets of poultry manure when we spot Mo, one of our young dogs. She is in the heart of the poultry enclosure! The chase is on, and she knows she's in big trouble. With incredible agility and speed belying our years, Toon and I finally manage to catch Mo.
Mo is on the chain and tethered to the dak-dak (Iron Buffalo.) Emotions are running high, but no poultry or eggs are harmed on this occasion. Its the second time Mo has managed to get into the poultry enclosure. It really is time we up-rated the fencing. Not just to stop Mo but any dog that might come past our farm at night. Just one dog could potentially cripple our livestock numbers in a matter of minutes. It will be a big expensive project but the sooner, the better.
I am living the dream, collecting poultry manure by the bucket load. Free fertilizer on our farm is a huge plus that we have to take full advantage of. It helps significantly in keeping the costs down. The quail manure goes on our vegetables because it's quite a fine texture and not as strong as chicken manure. The chicken and duck manure go onto the numerous banana plants and coconut trees.
The heat of the day is ebbing away so its time to start the watering. It's the dry season now so just about everything needs a drop or two of water. Our new, cheap as chips, irrigation set up is working a treat on the fruit trees nearest to the house. We have recently purchased an additional small scale solar system. We installed it ourselves with help from a friend. The idea is to increase the size of our irrigation set up to further reduce the time we spend watering by hand.
Toon takes some fresh herbs to her mum, and I realize that I stink of duck poo. Getting it under the nails is the worst bit . . . Oh no, getting the wet stuff between the toes is.
Its time to feed the fish again and this time I allow myself 10 minutes of fish watching. If I spend any longer than that, I feel the urge to get the rods out and wet a line.
Once again its time to shred more banana plants for the evening feed and enough for the next morning (we don't do the shredding at 06:00 am.) Thinking back, before we purchased the shredder we use to cut all the banana plants by hand each day! The shredder and engine cost us a total of 6,000 Thai Baht. It was money well spent in our book. Limited time is our biggest hurdle living on the farm.
The chickens, quail, and ducklings get fed first. The quail eggs get collected at the same time. Our quail generally lay from late afternoon onward (45 today, not too bad and there will be another 10 or so by morning.) Leaving a light on for them for the first few hours of darkness can increase egg production numbers.
All of the ducks and geese get their last feed of the day.
Oh my goodness they are noisy waiting for their evening meal.
Toon starts to work her magic in the kitchen. Tonight's special is pork mince with hot ginger . . . Aroy Mak. I'm a lucky man, who gets to eat different Thai dishes almost every day. When Toon lived with me back in the UK we hardly ever ate Western food for eight years. Toon does like some Western food like pizza, seafood spaghetti, and fish and chips, but I love Thai food so much, its all I ever want to eat.
Dinner is served. We always like to eat outside unless there's some bad weather or there is a must see on TV.
Full to bursting point (I can never stop myself from overeating.)
It's time to sit still and chillax for a while.
The dishes can wait until tomorrow, who sodding cares?
The cool-box gets refilled with ice and fresh water for the night.
Time to head inside and turn on the square-eyed monster.
Cold shower time (we don't have a hot shower connected to our solar system).
It's now officially couch-potato time.
Thai TV, let's be honest here, it is utter pants, so I crank up our 10 year old Compaq laptop. Toon is watching goodness knows what while playing Candy Crush (how can women do two things at once?) I am editing a video for Youtube that we recorded yesterday.
Youtube video uploaded and published. Toon is now up to level 297158854 on Candy Crush, and I still have no idea what the heck is on the TV.
I reply to the first few comments on the latest video. I find the comments are always a good source of laughter.
Time for one last check of the latest football news and then turn off the laptop.
It's still too early to go to bed, but I'm too tired to remain upright. Best option available is to lay my head on Toon's lap, snoring my head off and commence dribbling (she's a lucky lady.)
Toon never minds or complains about my loud snoring, in fact, she says she prefers to hear it, it lets her know that I am sleeping well (I'm one lucky guy!)
Toon continues to watch her TV programme and tap away on her Samsung tablet. I continue to snore my face off.
Alas, the riveting Thai TV programme has come to an end.
Time for brushing teeth and the last pee of the day.
A quick check the alarms are still set for 05:45 and 05:50 am.
Resume snoring and dribbling.
Toon is still taps away on her Candy Crush.
I shout at the dogs and tell them to stop barking at nothing. They continue barking at nothing.
Toon is now sleeping like a baby.
Snoring is resumed at full volume, and all is well in Kamphaeng Phet.
So there you have it.
A typical day of a farang living on a farm in Thailand.
Some days are way more arduous than this one, but there aren't any less strenuous.
I did think about waiting for a more hectic day to do this first diary blog, but I wanted to do a random snapshot — hopefully, its given you an authentic account of my simple life in rural Thailand.
Agriculture in Thailand
The agriculture sector in Thailand is hugely competitive, diversified, specialized & its exports are very successful internationally.
Rice is by far the country's most important crop, with almost 60% of Thailand's 13 million farmers growing it on approximately half of Thailand's cultivated lands.
Thailand is a major exporter of rice in the world. In 2014 Thailand exported 1.3% of GDP.
Agricultural accounts for an estimated 9-10.5% of Thai GDP.
40% of the Thai population work in agriculture jobs.
In 2013 Thai farmland was valued at US$2,945 per rai. Most Thai farmers own fewer than 50 rai of land.
Other Thai agricultural produce includes fish & fish products, tapioca, grain, rubber, & sugar. The export of industrially processed foods such as canned pineapples, tuna, & frozen shrimp is on the rise.
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