We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it – Che

Its been a hot & humid month, but the plants & trees seems to have new-found energy. I guess winter is harsh on the plants, they just wait for the warmer months & then from March onwards the new leaves are coming all over & as the heat & humidity reaches a crescendo…. the farm & the neighbourhood goes greener than before !

But drinking water has been at a premium. There is a small hole in the dry rocky area of the river, which provides us with the H2O. Fill up a couple of drums, then wait again for a couple of hours for the water to fill up….. to get clear & naturally filtered water again.

Many families use this water hole during this month for their drinking water needs & everyone is keen that this watering hole is kept clean & not messed around with…… but as the month progressed the water levels also went down.

Which meant Vimal, a very efficient co-worker was up at 5 am to fill up the water for our daily needs. And with the searing heat each one of us must be consuming about 6 – 7 ltrs in a day.

But the plants do look bright & green & have a look at this Black pepper vine, which has suddenly found on its own all the moisture in the world to perk up…

Other than preparation of beds for turmeric planting, planting & mulching, the major activity has been on the rice fields i.e to prepare for the rice nursery. There is a method which rice growers in most parts of Maharashtra follow which is called “Raab” (there may be slight differences in the methods from area to area, but the idea is more or less the same). Cuttings from the tender parts of trees are spread out on the field & its burned. The thinking behind it been that the ash which remains will be rich in trace elements & the rice seedlings will get a kick-start, plus due to the burning there will be less weeding to be done.

Agreed.

But one wonders why needlessly prune down trees & burn ? Isn’t there any alternatives ? Why not use it first use it for fire-wood & then spread out the ashes etc.

The alternative is in the form of creating a raised seedling bed, mixed with nursery soil. The raised bed makes the weeding process easier & the nursery soil gives the seedlings a jump-start. This is a debate which has been going on for many a decade. So to find answers ourselves, we made three nursery beds without “raab” & just one seedling bed with “raab”

This is how the “raab” is laid

& its burned

So, finally the seedling beds is ready & its time to sow the seeds. Most rice growers wait for the first showers to sow their rice, but we sowed it nevertheless, hoping that the rains would come in a couple of days. Last year we grew only one variety namely “tambda saal”, but this year we’ve got ambitious & since we have four rice fields, we decided to grow four different varieties.

1. Tambda saal : An obvious (food security) choice; because by doing no work on the rice field it was a joy to see it grow last year, it’s a variety which has stood the test of time for generations, so we will be growing it always year after year.

2. Indrayani : The first choice was a variety which this area was famous for, its called called Ambemohar (fragrance of the mango flowers). Just could not get the seeds, so i settled for some thing which comes close to it & that’s Indrayani.

3. Kollam: An all time favourite with all of us, a very light & a non-sticky kind of rice

4. Basmati : No harm in dreaming of some biriyani or paella… isn’t it ?

Along with the sowing of rice in their respective nursery beds, we also sow Daincha (Sesbania sesban) & Sunnhemp, a green manure crop has long been known for its benefits of supplying fixed atmospheric nitrogen and for its overall beneficial effort in improving soil health. Hopefully in the coming 3 weeks both these Daincha & Sunnhemp will have sufficient growth so that just before the rice transplanting, both can be incorporated into the soil.

Collection of fire wood (before the rains) was another major activity, then some serious repairs for the house to protect it from the rain-lashing in the coming 4 months, plus a 1-year-old calf is going to join us, so a place for her had to be ready……..

Mangoes, Karvanda & jamun are all over the place, when ever one feels hungry just go under  any of these trees… pluck & eat, pluck & eat ! Awesome. Plus, there is so much Jackfruit growing around us & every one is gifting us a Jackfruit. (dip it in a fresh harvest of honey & eat) !! Its been a month of sumptuous breakfasts . Plus there was also freshly boiled peanuts from the farm to go with it…

Most people in the village also cook a meal & invite some neighbours in recognition of the testing months ahead. This year we also did the same.

When Shankar my friend in the village who was the master of ceremonies that night asked me to place a wish or a prayer … i said: i hope for the best for all farmers !

The build up for the rains have been taking place for the last two weeks, every evening the dark clouds were gathering, thunder claps & lightening, strong winds, serious announcements were made by nature, then one evening it all just came down….

it was so beautiful…..

it was time to stop all work, soak it in & to take a walk around…..

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