Lessons From The Farm Series: Cat vs. Rats


Way back in 2000 we had a lot of field rats in the payag. I thought maybe having a predator will keep them from occupying the payag which we built for us. That’s when operation “find a cat for the rats” began. I’m not much of a cat person so I didn’t have a cat.

I had to try and find a house cat from friends, but no one had any to give. Except a new acquaintance who wanted to get rid of a crazy cat that was as fierce as I get when I’m on a diet, yet really hungry and my “food” is delayed. On my cheat day.

Yup, this cat was FIERCE! It was so fierce it wasn’t used to people holding it and would scratch and claw at anyone who tried. All it wanted was to be left alone to eat whatever he wanted. Perfect, I thought, just the right cat for the rats. We called the cat the “Super Cat”. I love it when everything comes together.

But alas, I was wrong. So wrong. We were used to this cat NOT being around since it didn’t really like anyone else. At all. One week had passed and we couldn’t find the cat. We thought it ran away. I wished it ran away instead, to be honest.

Cause another week later, our noses began to tingle at the distinct smell of something decomposing. Hoping it was a rat that the cat got, we literally had to tear through pieces of the payag’s internal bamboo woven wall to find where the smell was coming from.

Boom! We found it! It was the Super Cat, stuck in a tight corner after quite possibly the final chase of rat tail he got. The rats outsmarted the cat. We gave the cat a proper burial as it served us well, even unto its own untimely demise.


Sometimes, the best intentions and laid out plans don’t always work out. But it’s always worth the effort because you come out of it learning something new. You learn what actually works. And what doesn’t. You don’t want to live in the sad, regret filled world called “What IF”.

While we were never able to get rid of ALL the field rats, we successfully adjusted to living in the payag, rats and all. How would you get rid of 20 hectares worth of rats anyway? Even with a dozen “Super Cats” the rats might end up outsmarting them all.

You gotta learn to adjust and choose your battles cause you can’t get rid of all the rats. Even with a “Super Cat”.

I Want More Tuyo, Kamatis and Itlog with Rice, Please

I have to admit, I have a new found appreciation and love for the simple things in life. You have to if you have nothing else. See, some of my clients’ delayed payments and postponed schedules have made quite a dent in my business’s cash flow. Almost 4 months worth of dents. So we’ve had to “tighten the belt”, both literally and figuratively, as we learn how to live with less than we have come to expect for the past several months. We are now stripped down to the bare essentials.

As an entrepreneur, nothing can be more daunting than the reality that the Electric and Water company don’t give a hoot about your cash flow “situation”. They will not hesitate to pull the plugs and put on the stops immediately. That’s part of the entrepreneurial challenge for startups like mine. And I love challenges, which explains why I’ve learned to not be “too high” or “too low” and keep a balanced demeanor when making decisions. This is not something you learn in a classroom folks. I have enough real life experience, not theories, to consider myself as having a Doctorate in Dealing With Challenging Situations.

You see many people speak of poverty from what they learn watching or being with other people before they play savior and swoop in to save the day. Few have actually lived through even “temporary poverty” where you are made to decide on choosing food for your family OR payment for the commute going to school for the kids. Pay the water bills or buy some milk.

And considering we’ve only “stripped down” in the last 2 months, so I know its nothing compared to those who may have lost hope and nothing to look forward to. I still feel blessed.

Do What Matters

It’s hard, from within the storm of every day life, to see things with real perspective, to know what’s important and what’s simply pressing on our consciousness right now, demanding attention.

We have people emailing us for information and requesting action, we have phone calls and visitors and a long to-do list and a million chores and errands to run and all of the slings and arrows of our daily reality … and yet, what is important?

Ask yourself this: if you suddenly found out you only had 6 months to live (for whatever reason), would the thing in front of you matter to you?

Would those 20 emails waiting for a response matter? Would the paperwork waiting to be processed matter? Would the work you’re doing matter? Would the meetings you’re supposed to have matter? Would a big car and nice house and high-paying job and cool computer and mobile device and nice shoes and clothes matter?

I’m not saying they wouldn’t matter … but it’s important to ask yourself if they would.

What would matter to you?

For many of us, it’s the loved ones in our lives. If we don’t have loved ones … maybe it’s time we started figuring out why, and addressing that. Maybe we haven’t made time for others, for getting out and meeting others and helping others and being compassionate and passionate about others. Maybe we have shut ourselves in somehow. Or maybe we do have loved ones in our lives, but we don’t seem to have the time we want to spend with them.

When was the last time you told your loved ones you loved them? Spent good quality time with them, being in the moment?

For many of us, doing work that matters … would matter. That might mean helping others, or making a vital contribution to society, or creating something brilliant and inspiring, or expressing ourselves somehow. It’s not the money that matters, but the impact of the work.

Are you doing work that matters?

For many of us, experiencing life would matter — really being in the moment, finding passion in our lives, seeing the world and traveling, or just seeing the world that’s around us right now, being with great people, doing amazing things, eating amazing food, playing.

These are just a few ideas … but what would matter to you?

I highly recommend that you spend at least a little time now, and regularly, thinking about this question … figuring out what really matters … and living a life that shows this.

How do you live a life that puts a great emphasis on what matters? Start by figuring out what matters, and what doesn’t. Then eliminate as much as you can of the stuff that doesn’t matter, or at least minimize it to the extent possible.

Make room for what does matter.

Make the time for what does matter … today. Put it on your schedule, and don’t miss that appointment. Make those tough decisions — because choosing to live a life that is filled with the important stuff means making choices, and they’re not always easy choices. But it matters.

Spend time with your significant other, show them how important they are. Take the time to cuddle with your child, to read with her, to play with her, to have good conversations with her, to take walks with her. Take time to be in nature, to appreciate the beauty of the world around us. Take time to savor the little pleasures in life.

Because while you might not have only 6 months to live, I’m here to break the news to you: you really do only have a short time to live. Whether that’s 6 months, 6 years or 60 … it’s but the blink of an eye.

The life you have left is a gift. Cherish it. Enjoy it now, to the fullest. Do what matters, now.

The Power of Being Present

written by Leo Babauta

‘Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.’ ~Thich Nhat Hahn

How can you bring calm and peace to the middle of a stress-ful, chaotic day?

The answer is simple, though not always so easy to put into practice: learn to be present.

No matter how out-of-control your day is, no matter how stressful your job or life becomes, the act of being present can become an oasis. It can change your life, and it’s incredibly simple.

When I asked people what things prevent them from having a peaceful day, some of the responses:

Social media and other digital distractions.
Email. Decisions.
My 5 rowdy children.
Dishes, Laundry, Kids.
Needless interruptions.
Lack of control.

The amazing thing: all of these problems can be solved by one technique. Being Present.

How Being Present Solves Problems

When you look at all of the problems above, you can see if you look closely that the problems are entirely in the mind. Sure, there are external forces at work: an uncontrollable job, the stress of kids and chores and interruptions and digital distractions. But it’s how our mind handles those external forces that is the problem.

If you are completely present, the external forces are no longer a problem, because there is only you and that external force, in this moment, and not a million other things you need to worry about.

If your kid interrupts you, you can stress out because you have other things to worry about and now your kid is adding to your worries or interrupting your calm. Or you can be present, and there is then only you and the child. You can appreciate that child for who she is, and be grateful you have this moment with her.

If your job demands that you focus on an urgent task, you can stress out because you have a million other things to do and not enough time to do them. Or you can be present, and focus completely on that task, and now there is only that one task and you. When you’re done, you can move on to the next task.

Social media and other digital distractions don’t interrupt us if we close them and learn to pour ourselves completely into the present task. And if we need to do email, Twitter, or read blogs, we can set aside everything else and just be present with that one digital task.

Being present becomes, then, a way to handle any problem, any distraction, any stressor. It allows everything else to fade away, leaving only you and whatever you’re dealing with right now.

How to Practice Being Present

The method for being present is fairly simple, but it’s the practice that matters most.

Most people don’t learn to be present because they don’t practice, not because it’s so hard to do.

When you practice something regularly, you become good at it. It becomes more a mode of being rather than a task on your to-do or someday list.

Practice, practice, and being present will become natural.

Here’s how to do it: whatever you’re doing, right now, learn to focus completely on doing that one thing. Pay attention: to every aspect of what you’re doing, to your body, to the sensations, to your thoughts.

  • You will notice your thoughts, if you’re paying attention, jump to other things. That’s OK — you are not trying to force all other thoughts from your mind. But by becoming aware of that jumping around in your thoughts, you have found the tool for gently bringing yourself back to your present task. Just notice the jumping thoughts, and lovingly come back.
  • Do this once, then do it again. Don’t worry about how many times you must do it. Just do it now.
  • It can become tiring at first, if you’re not used to it. Don’t worry about that. Let yourself rest if you grow tired. Come back and practice again in a little while. It’s not meant to be exhausting — instead you should notice how your worries melt away and you enjoy your present task much more.
  • Be joyful in whatever you’re doing, grateful that you’re able to do that task, and fully appreciate every little movement and tactile sensation of the task. You’ll learn that anything can be an amazing experience, anything can be a miracle.
  • Practice throughout your day, every day. Little “mindfulness bells” are useful to remind you to come back to the present. Thich Nhat Hanh once recommended that stoplights be your mindfulness bell as you drive. You can find mindfulness bells everywhere: your child’s voice, your co-workers appearing before you, a regular event on your computer, the noise of traffic.
  • Meditation is a fantastic way to practice, only because it removes much of the complexity of the world and allows you to just learn to be aware of your mind, and to bring yourself back to the present moment. It’s not complicated: meditation can be done anywhere, anytime. A meditation teacher is useful if you can find one.

Practice, repeatedly, in small easy beautiful steps. Each step is a wonder in itself, and each practice helps you to find that calm in the middle of the traffic of your life.

‘Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh

The Castillo’s Rules For Living a Meaningful Life

written by Sar Castillo as a Reminder for himself, his wife and their 3 young children (and anyone who will be part of the family in the future)

  1. Honor our Maker with prayer and time to reflect. Find the time to reflect on the goodness of the Lord and his role in our lives. Our relationship with him may be unseen, but it is the most important one of all.

  2. Honor the temple of the holy spirit… your body. Don’t smoke, drink or do any kind of drugs. Just don’t. You’ll thank me for it when you’re older. Trust me. Also, keep moving and get at least 8 hours of restful sleep daily.

  3. Do what you say you will do… No Excuses. Without his word, a man is nothing. This applies to things I tell others I will do as well as things I tell myself I’ll do.

  4. Don’t lie, don’t exaggerate, don’t withhold information, don’t mislead. Be forthright and truthful at all times… its more difficult to keep track of the many false stories that make up a lie.

  5. Always protect your family. We are strong if we stick together as one team, like we always have. Don’t let any harm come upon anyone in the family or be a source of harm to anyone in the family as well. Defend each other.

  6. Be a source of positive energy. Decide to be positive. Choose to be happy and live a life of abundance. While a negative thought or two may come to you once in a while, quickly pick yourself up and refocus on the good things to be grateful for.

  7. Be on time, always. Get there at least five minutes early every single time and wait. It’s a very very minor inconvenience in return for being much more reliable.

  8. Eat healthy, Strive for Balance. I do cheat days every week or two, either when traveling or when it’s the polite thing to do around other people. Fad diets are just that… Fads. While you could ultimately reach your goal, maintaining it is another story altogether with Fad diets.

  9. Do the right thing, even if it comes at personal cost. I have a very strong set of morals, which aren’t necessarily totally congruent with everyone else’s, but I defend them and keep them strong by living by them as closely as I can.

  10. Computers and Gadgets are off at midnight (Save for Weekends). The only real exception to this would be if by not doing so I would break rule #1 to other people. If I told myself I was going to do something but wouldn’t be able to by shutting off the computer, I consider that to be good punishment for not getting it done earlier.

  11. Listen to people, Connect with them. I used to be bad at this and I hate it when people don’t pay attention in conversation. So when I have a conversation with someone, I make sure I’m really listening and not just waiting for my turn to speak. Pretty basic stuff, but I’d say 50% of people don’t do it.

  12. Walk out of movies, stop reading books, leave parties. If I’m participating in some sort of entertainment or leisurely activity and I realize that it’s not going to be worth the additional time spent,leave. The real decision at hand is: how do I want to spend the next hour of my life.

  13. When buying things (gadgets included), buy the best you can reasonably afford or something temporary and disposable. If it doesn’t make financial sense to buy the best, I invest the smallest amount of money possible in a temporary fix. In other words, I would buy a disposable camera or a Php50,000 Olympus, but never a Php5,000 Digicam.

  14. Do things that excite you, follow your passion. Let your passion guide you and your desire drive you to do what you were born to do. If you don’t look forward to waking up in the morning to do what you need to do, how will you pursue this with all your heart? You need to love what you do in order to do great things and contribute to society in ways no matter how small.

  15. Always be learning something. I always have at least one learning project going on at all times. Right now it’s Android Kernel Development. Soon I’ll be as good as I want to be (develop for 2 other Android devices), and I will move on to either Chinese, French or improving my Guitar skills.

  16. Never have debt. I have suffered (and working hard to get out of it) for being neck-deep in debt. If you do need to borrow anything from anyone, don’t borrow from relatives. Trust me on this.

  17. Never, Ever Give Up. Always find the will to get back up and pursue your goals relentlessly. Everything seems impossible until you’ve done it… and prove its actually possible, given a little more time and extra effort.

  18. Invest in Experiences. If you have the most basic needs covered (House, Car, Food, Phones, Computing Devices for every Family Member) invest in vacations and outings… and capture these memories on Film. No need to buy 3 houses or 2 phones for each person or 5 cars for that matter.

  19. Use the power of 1%. Improve a little at a time. Develop habits that build up and add up into making you remarkable. Start now, don’t delay.

  20. Don’t discuss a problem IF: a. you don’t have a possible solution in your mind OR b. you have no control of whatsoever. If you can’t change it yourself, its beyond your control so its better to pursue those areas and challenges where you can truly make a difference.

–Adapted from and Inspired by Tynan’s Rules