The momentum, the mood & the energy in the farm feels really nice. It’s really a pleasure to stay on the farm & put in some labour. Loads of enthusiasm among my co-workers & we are really lucky that people from the village agreed to come & help us with the cutting of rice, in making the bundles, carry the bundles to the threshing area, to thresh, winnow & pack all the paddy into bags. Rice growing is not for nuclear families like us, because from start (month of May) to finish (November-December), which is a bloody seven testing months (in the process one goes grey & old in the rate of knots), we are forever dependent on a gang of people to help us. In my hometown in Kerala, farmers have stopped farming….. all grains & vegetables are coming from neighbouring states. Kuttanad for eg. which is considered the rice bowl of Kerala used to be the only place in India where farmers used to take three crops of rice in a year, now farmers are selling off their farmland. Anyway that is a really complex & a very different story…….
On the last day of the threshing, there was hardly any wind, so we put out our pedestal fan & got it all the winnowing done. Btw do notice our emu in the snap, she has become very friendly with all of us & is always hanging around wherever we are. In the morning when i carry some fresh corn to give to the hens, she is there almost asking me… what about me huh ?? She actually nibbles at my hair & demands her share. When there is some doggie food left overs which i carry for the hens she comes galloping & eats straight from the doggie bowls. I better watch out for my fingers…ouch !!
Now lets give her a nice name…. any suggestions ??
After all the frustrations of the last 3 years, now when one has harvested 20 bags, each weighing 50 kgs i guess one can say….yeah, it’s been a reasonably good year !! We will keep the paddy in the bags itself for about a month, because if we take it immediately for milling the rice tends to break more, ‘though the local rice mill is the most busiest place in town.
The very next day we started full-on preparations for our rabi (winter) crop. There is still a lot of moisture left in the soil, so tilling was easier. Apart from Wheat we plan to grow a few more things alongside for the first time. I can’t help but get a little more adventurous… it runs in my blood. Oil, pulses & grains together in one field is a good combo to return to the soil whatever nutrients we had exhausted while taking the rice crop. Additionally a bag of chemical fertilizer will also go in.
Its been an interesting experience when friends engage me in this dialogue (i.e: about me using chemical fertilizers). Most farmer friends do understand my predicament, whereas friends who do not farm themselves but support/believe in non-chemical farming & are consumers of so-called “organic food” have been appalled, some of them even getting a bit personal for comfort, however i’ve been more or less very, very calm about it. There is a person in Pune who keeps a list of organic farmers in & around Pune, so recently when i met him i told him to take me off his list…..
Since there is much more to this story, it’s better i write about this after a few years.
Snapping back to our serious business of growing food ….. due to the dryness in the air in winter, Rabi crops needs a hell of a lot of water & this is going to be the first time our open-well be tested. We have no idea how much it will be able to recharge & in how much time. I would loathe a situation by end of April if we had to look into a dry well. Everyone has been telling me to go in for a 5 HP pump. I am not doing it for now. I’ve seen how it works & the massive amount of water it pumps out. It makes sense to invest in a 5HP pump only if we’ve drip & sprinklers in place, then we can avoid any wastage. However to get all that done is a huge ask which will cost us around INR 3 lakhs & that’s no joke.
Just like how we managed to find some keys to unlock the problems in our Kharif crops, in the same way we need to learn, unlearn & master how we take our Rabi crops. After that we can take a call about whether we need to go in for a 5 HP or not. Till then we will settle with what we have i.e: a 1.5 HP pump. Irrigation is going to be a challenge, but as i said earlier the momentum is good & we will surely manage to pull through the next 3 months. How we will do it….i don’t know…. but we will !!
Full moon nights like these are great to sit outside after dinner, ‘though its getting chill, we’ve lots of wood to get a little fire going….. & sit twitching, shifting, turning, rubbing the eyes off the smoke, listen to the pendulum-like calls of the Night jar, the occasional barking deer…. & fall asleep for a while.
peace, love & some “out of the box” ideas