On the Farm - December ’07
Once the wheat was sown in early December, time could be found to clear the monsoon growth of thornbushes, now dried out. Once cleared the weeds will not grow again till the next monsoon.
The mustard was given the first of two waterings and is now flowering (See December 2006).
The tree in the foreground is a slow growing teak. In the background is the dogs’ graveyard.
On the Farm - November ’07
After harvesting the soyabean, the gang of women cut and stacked the jowar. It was then moved gradually to near the cowshed by my full-time halis (or farmhands). This was cheaper than moving it by tractor and trolley. The land was ploughed and flood-irrigated, ready for sowing the wheat.
Divali was celebrated and the cows decorated and honoured.
On the Farm - October ’07
After drying out, the soyabean was cut by hand using sickles. It was left to dry in the fields and then piled into large stacks and threshed. Feeding the soyabean into the thresher used to be done by men, but since work is taken on by women on contract, they prefer to do it themselves. I give them thick gloves to protect their hands. The gloves often get sucked into the threshing machine.
Mustard was sown.
On the Farm - September ’07
September is a very lush, humid month. The cows grazed freely enjoying the grass that had grown around the house. The tree under which they are grazing in this photograph is known locally as kainth or wood apple tree. Chutney made from the soft flesh of the cricket ball sized fruit of the kainth tree, mixed with coriander and garlic is a local speciality.
On the Farm - August ’07
No significant rain for two weeks after planting meant that the soyabean weeding was delayed as the clay soil was too hard. By the time we could weed, the grass was 50 cms. tall and I was paying up to 35 people a day to pull it out in handfuls before the grass seeded.
Old men, women and their adolescent children came to earn Rs.50 (75 pence) per day for toiling for 6-7 hours with one hour off for lunch. Some took their pay in crisp 50-rupee notes every two days, but others saved their wages and took Rs.500 at the end of the 10-day weeding period. This sum seems insignificant, but with several family members pooling their pay, they felt it was worthwhile to come. Such casual labour suits the village women in particular, but the income is not keeping pace with the increase in the cost of living. A day’s work for 1 litre of cooking oil. A day’s labour to buy just over 1 litre of petrol.
On the Farm - July ’07
After two weeks of rain the farm was transformed into lush green park land. Then there was a respite of two weeks which was enough for the soil to dry out to the extent to allow the planting of the soyabean seed, which had already been purchased. Three-quarters of the farm was sown with either soyabean, or jowar - a millet like crop which was planted for cattle fodder but is also consumed widely.
The cows grazed freely over the other quarter of the farm.
On the Farm - June ’07
Every year in the summer the cow manure is loaded onto a tractor-trailer from this pit, using the metal dish as seen in the foreground, and scattered by hand on a chosen field. This work is done at night, as it is very hot during the day. The fertilising value of the manure is low as it has lain exposed to the sun rather than being composted.
There were no pre-monsoon showers until right at the end of the month. The land was ploughed and prepared for sowing but then it rained too much - another year with no soyabean summer crop loomed.
On the Farm - May ’07
The harvest is over, the temperature is 44°C by day and over 30° at night. The fridge-freezer can't cope and the milk goes off inside the fridge because of power cuts.
This is a picture of the 1.5kg baby and family one year on (see July 2006).
On the Farm - April ’07
This year April was unusually hot. There was no unseasonal rain and the wheat harvest went smoothly. The price of wheat has increased from Rs. 775 to Rs. 992 per 100 kgs. in one year. Rural wages have not gone up but the women harvesters are paid in grain and so their labour is inflation proof.
After a period of three months in which we had no milk, we now have these five calves.
On the Farm - March ’07
The main harvest this year was mustard. The yield was poor as it had been too hot when the seed was planted. Global warming in fact. It was sold at the Kota Grain Market (Dhan Mandi) seen here. The piles of black seed are mustard.
On the Farm - February ’07
This year at Holi (the Hindu festival of colour) the local women and children came as they did last year (see February 2006), but these two unlikely characters also appeared. They came out from Kota on a motorbike, changed and then went around the farms asking for alcohol and money in return for their “performance.”
On the Farm - January ’07
We finally built a simple brick incinerator for the household rubbish to replace a petrol drum being used for the purpose. This being India, it took 5 men to make it - 1 to do the work and 4 to supervise him (well actually the other four doing very specialised jobs but posing for the photograph here).