Friday, August 22, 2008

BoDen - new breed of goat keepers

LET'S take a break from the Olympics. I want to share the story of Zainal, a goat breeder extraordinaire. Ably assisted by his wife, Fatimah, the couple is enjoying life and found a new excitement that's very satisfying in many ways.

Zainal was the CEO of a big service company operating in Kuala Lumpur. Big may be an understatement, actually. Mega would be more appropriate. Fatimah was with the Government, using her training in landscaping to get her a senior position until she chose to retire a few years ago.

Together, the couple is landscaping a new life, one that offers them a good night sleep every night, leaving the stress of city living behind. They have the best of both worlds - juggling between an urban lifestyle and a rural one. I met them at the MAHA exhibition a few days ago.

I've known the couple for quite some time. Zainal have this interest in locating plants that are not easily available anymore. Once he's got them, he would plant them in his small orchard, properly tagged and cared. This went on for several years until he a retired few years ago.

Nestled in the rolling greens of Serting, Kuala Pilah, Zainal and Fatimah have found their paradise. Tending to the Boer goats from Australia, the couple have become experts with deep and first-hand knowledge of goat breeding. They are the new kids on the block, pun intended!

This is no ordinary goat farm. The whole area is beautifully landscaped, with new trees being planted to provide shade and serve as a herbal remedy when the goats are ill. A big pond has been added and fish are bred there for consumption.

Grilled over a slow fire, and eaten with home-grown ulam (salads) on a wakaf built near a big mango tree just beside the pond, the fish is just simply divine! Aided by the cool and fresh breeze, one must be excused for indulging in second or third helpings.

Zainal and Fatimah spend between three and four days at the farm. He has a family kampong house not far from the farm. The farm itself have houses for his small band of workers. Soon, there will also be dormitories for visitors (but that's a different story altogether).

Sitting in the wakaf, and then again during the MAHA show, I kept asking Zainal how did he make the adjustment from the CEO of a mega company to that of a gentleman farmer. Wasn't it difficult to adjust? Wouldn't he misses the urban trappings as he retreats beyond the hills of Kuala Pilah? What's the formula, I asked.

"It's quite simple actually," Zainal explained. "First thing to do is to list your priorities, and ask some basic questions. You may also want to list your needs now that you have retired. I narrowed my needs. I did all that and have now found a new meaning to life, one that is extremely satisfying," he said, enjoying his cigarette after the meal.

As a top corporate person, Zainal has 'been there, done that, seen that." Flown first class? Done that. Seen the world? Done. Stayed in well-known hotels and dine at fabulous restaurants? Also done. Rub shoulders with the rich, famous and powerful? That too.

Having done all that, Zainal wanted a change. He wanted a new challenge, one that is more personal and one which he is the Owner, Board member, CEO, farm hand - a four in one kind of job. Hence, the BoDen goat farm.

BoDen is actually a combination of two words - Boer (the goat specie) and Den (the Negri Sembilan way of saying aku, or saya, or I). So, when seen as one word - BoDen - it simply means my Boer goats!

The farm is one of agriculture's real success story. Zainal didn't plunge into breeding goats without first of all doing extensive research. He went o Australia to take a close look at goat farming. He even had a couple of Aussies to be his advisers. (The irony is that Zainal has now been asked by the Aussies to advise them on some matters pertaining to goat breeding in the tropics!)

Fatimah is tasked with documenting the farm's progress, including maintaining and updating its data base. Each kid born in the farm has a birth certificate, and this is very useful in determining the stock of the parents and everything else.

Do you miss the KL life, I asked. Not really, they said. Wednesday is Zainal's golf day. From Thursday or Friday till the weekend, they are at the farm, enjoying the fresh air, warm breeze, green hills and fresh ulams. Monday and Tuesday are spent in KL for other purposes such as networking, meeting business associates and the usual errands.

Life can't be better for Zainal and Fatimah. They've worked hard, stayed focus and invested wisely in new ventures (and adventures too). Its been a new learning curve in some ways, I'm sure. Zainal prefers the route less travelled, and I'm sure he's made the right turn for himself and his family.

Syabas and all the best my friends! You give me ideas too...



Hi, Datuk! Berita ini menarik perhatian saya kerana perkataan Serting tu. Dan kalau Tuan Zainal kita nak perkenalkan homestay bersama kambing-kambingnya, saya memang berminat sekali. You see, my son is studying kat MRSM Serting and dua tiga minggu sekali, kami sekeluarga akan ke sana. Melihat-lihat keadaannya di sana. Tapi, setakat ni, saya baru berjumpa satu homestay - Homestay Warisan. Yang lain-lainnya, signboard aje. ikut jalan, kemudian hilang terus, signboard pun dah tak ada. Dah puas dah tanya-tanya orang. Setakat ni, belumlah lagi desperate enough. But, kalau Tuan Zainal katakan ada hostel untuk pelawat, kami berminat sungguh nak jenguk. Terima kasih di atas information ini. Saya tak dapat hadiri MAHA kali ni, tahun depan tak akan miss. Salam

tarings said...

A real agricultural success story indeed. Me hat off to En Zainal.

Being an ex-CEO of a maha company and having rubbed shoulders with the rich & famous definitely helped his cause some. I too would like a little farm nestled in the rolling greens of, preferably Endau. Been saving up for years but still came up short. In fact these troubling times had been chipping away at that savings and some.

So can an ordinary wage earner, without a property under his or her name, get a shot at being an owner of an agricultural success story too? Realistically speaking?

Anonymous said...

Che Mat,

Hope you don't mind too much, my not addressing you as "Datuk" - you were one of the people who had told me more than a decade ago not to put too much value on this:-)

Anyway, what a refreshing blog!

I'm a bit sick of all the political stuff - every former/current journalist seems to think that only political matters are worth blogging about.

And then there are the wanna-be ... those who previously were limited to reading the newspapers, and sending in their opinions to the "Letters to the Editor" page - they now discover that they can be political journalists/writers too! All it takes is registering at Blogspot/Blogger or Wordpress.

I have nothing against Rocky though - his blog is very good; and he's a bit of a pioneer although he's not the very first. And the rest most likely were inspired by his success and jumped on board too. But I can't say I'm too impressed with many of them.

Actually I have nothing against people writing about politics. But what I dislike is the obsession of both the blog owners and the readers. It's as if politics is the most important thing in our life.

By the way, Che Mat, I think you might remember me, although it's been more than 13 years since we've met and that I'm not anyone significant.

Anonymous said...

bayangkan kalu kita cari tanah kampung yang dah ada pokok durian, rambutan dan manggis, bina rumah kayu..tapi tak terus menetap sana...rasanya Rusdi Mustapha ada retreat macam ni..barangkali orang yang ada something to look forward to, yakni selalu balik ke retreat, aktif sana sini, sukan, tengok EPL punya highlights, main futsal, selalu baca Quran dan buku tersohor, rasanya hidup depa bahagia..saya tidak begitu..muka lesu, rambut kusut..bateri fon selalu out..terima kasih, Tok Mat pasai tulis artikel ini..

Anonymous said...

Suatu artikel yang sangat menarik dimana kegigihan seseorang bercampur dengan 'love for nature'.
My deep respect for Tuan Zainal dan isteri!

Sebaliknya Ahmad Talib tidak nampak hutan belantara yang sedang digondolkan tidak jauh dari tempat Tuan Zainal. Dari jauh nampak bukit yang sebelum ini diselimuti olih hutan menghijau telah 80% habis dimusnahkan Segala flora dan fauna habis pupus oleh kerakusan maanusia yang tamak. From Bahau town you can see the utter destruction of the hill.

For a change, Ahmad Talib should do an investigating report on this shameful destruction of the only wooded hill in Serting. Who authorise this and for what purpose?

Kalau Pendita Zaaba berada di Terataknya di Bukit Kerdas sekarang, ia tentu akan menangis melihat bukit dan hutan yang sedang dimusnahkan tidak jauh dari Terataknya.


Anonymous said...

Hi Datuk,

Is your freind conducting courses in goat breeding? I am really interested to know more.

Best regards.

Ahmad A Talib said...

Sdra Badhisham,

Salam! How are you? Haven't seen your byline for quite a while. Whathappened?

Anyway, Zainal and wife plan to put a goat training institute and trainees can put up there. At the moment, and as far i know, I dont think they have room for visitors. But there's a homestay operator not far from there and maybe that's the place where you should be hading to. Do write from time to time. TQ

Ahmad A Talib said...

Sdra tarings,

You can get a better perspective by visiting Zainal and talking to him directly. Zainal didnt get to do what he wanted to do without help and determination. TQ

Ahmad A Talib said...

Sdra avalion,

I'll keep a lookout when I next visit Zainal. TQ for the tip though.


Salam. Dah lama tak berbyline kerana saya sudah meletak jawatan sebagai News Editor Malay Mail. So, I am no longer a Malay Mail so to speak. Tapi, selepas ni, 1hb Ramadhan, saya akan menyertai NSTOnline pula. Datuk, sihat? Saya doakan Datuk sekeluarga di dalam keadaan Walafiat sentiasa. Aaaahhh! Another homestay? Good...if you can tell me the name, am planning to stay overnight there during Puasa. Thank You Datuk and keep in touch!

Anonymous said...

"Zainal was the CEO of a big service company operating in Kuala Lumpur. Big may be an understatement, actually. Mega would be more appropriate. Fatimah was with the Government, using her training in landscaping to get her a senior position until she chose to retire a few years ago"

must be cronies - now days people say. these are bumiputra malays, how else can be succesful?

malays will be 2nd class citizens for a while i guess. had it your way for a while. some for the last say 50 years, so maybe next 50years to listen to all these crude remarks.

malaysian universities are lagging becoz to many malays, due to the quota. reduce malays and they will be higher ranked.

be like our neighbour. more progressive and meritocracy. nevermind that malays make significantly less than others and are discriminated and marginalised. ask the people on the road. but they make more money than malays in malaysia. so its OK. they are happy, just cannot hear azan. soon they wont know what the national anthem means. but its OK they are happy.

just in transit

Ahmad A Talib said...

Just in transir,

On the contrary, Zainal and Fatimah are not cronies of anyone or any political figures. I've known them even before they plunge into their present venture. They borrowed money, they use their savings, they have friends who gave whatever help necessary. They are not cronies. Just because they are Malays, and are doing well on their own steam, doesn't make them anyone's cronies. I suppose thats the curse of being a successful Malay like Zainal and Fatimah - they do well and are immediately, and unfairly branded, as cronies. Some people are incapable of differentiating the difference, and they need help actually. I suggest you pay them a visit rather than jumping to a conclusion that may have been clouded by your blurred vision. I have close friends who are no different from you, but they managed to remedy their ailment by making first-hand observation. Good Luck Just in Transit!

Anonymous said...

Dear Just in Transit,

I also know the couple. They are nobody's cronieslah! You don't even know them and you call them cronies. I know Zainal well, having worked with him for many years. Do you know the kind of charity work they do? Thats from their own hard-earned money. They give to families in need of financial support for their children to finish school!

Just in Transit, don't be a typical fellow who pretend to know a lot when in actual fact you are nothing but an empty drum. Are you in transit to wealth acquisition through dubious means? Sounds like you, looks like you, MUST be you!


Anonymous said...

Hillarious article on Mom & Dad! Thank you for the entry. It is very entertaining for all of us! Thank you to you and Lim for clearing the air on what Just in transit commented too! Happy Ramadhan to you and your family!