On the Farm - December ’09
In early December the last of the rice crop was sent to the market. Here the flowering mustard can be seen at sunrise in the background.
Our main winter crop this year was mustard. Just as I was getting ready to photograph the fluorescent yellow flowers, these sarus cranes flew over.
Christmas was overshadowed by the collapse of the under-construction stay cable bridge on Christmas Eve with the loss of 48 lives. On the farm a wild cat was cornered up a tree and killed by the dogs when it tried to escape. This cat was spotted not long afterwards; perhaps it was looking for it’s mate.
On the Farm - November ’09
Rice harvesting month. The price is down by 12 percent on last year, which is unexpected and disappointing as costs are higher. Unseasonal heavy rain and cloud for nearly a week has led to the crop lying cut in the fields.
On the Farm - October ’09
A humid month with some unseasonal rain that rotted the potatoes, but the mustard germinated. Diwali, and Govardhan Puja - the ceremony at which we honour the cows as a source of wealth - fell in this month. Here are three in their plastic head dresses with horns painted with linseed oil and henna.
At Diwali, five puppies were born - wire-haired fox terriers crossed with German shepherd. We hope they will be strong enough to withstand parvo-virus which killed the last brood.
Barbecuing ‘soolas’ (wildboar kebabs) local style with minimum fuss.
The local donkey mela was held at full moon. These donkeys are decorated with pink to attract buyers.
On the Farm - September ’09
Vijay retired from RBS. Here he is shown being welcomed at the train station.
As common land becomes fenced in, the owners of buffalo send them out to graze illegaly at night. One man deliberately let his 7 buffalo into our farm to eat our young rice. We herded and impounded the buffalo and fined him. When he did it again a few nights later we fetched the police to show we meant business and asked for Rs.100 per buffalo. Here’s the photographic evidence.
On the Farm - August ’09
Little rain. Most of Rajasthan was declared drought stricken. Infestations of pale green caterpillars in the vegetables and on the banana tree shown here. The men wanted to spray endosulphan as commercial vegetable growers are doing. This is banned in many countries and I refused. We cut and burnt the banana tree. Bananas don't ripen here anyway. The soyabean was ploughed in as it didn’t warrant the high weeding costs. Labour is Rs.100 a day for agricultural work. It has doubled in two years but is still only £1.25.
On the Farm - July ’09
A few heavy showers but it didn’t rain again. Some soyabean was planted. The tube well was running day and night in between long power cuts to keep the rice fields flooded.
On the Farm - June ’09
The hoped for pre-monsoon showers were late in arriving, bringing temperatures down slightly. Land was prepared for the rice nursery and the rice seed soaked. Once it had sprouted it was planted in the nursery packed close together and then fenced.
On the Farm - May ’09
National energy was focussed on arranging elections to the Lok Sabha at over one million voting centres each with an electronic voting machine. Locally, the former Maharajah’s son won as a Congress candidate. He had joined the party one week before being selected as the candidate for the Congress Party. Rajasthan had swung back to Congress last December in the elections to the state legislature, and many people voted for a Congress national government to continue in the hope that financial help and co-operation would flow more easily.
45 degrees Celsius temperatures day after day. A time for hedge mending and repairing. The labourers’ houses were re-roofed using planks made from our own eucalyptus trees.
On the Farm - April ’09
A combine harvester came and harvested most of the wheat. The rest was cut by hand. The wheat was sold for less than the government minimum support price as the warehouses were full ahead of next month’s national elections and the government was not buying.
After the harvest the stubble was burnt in a surprisingly controlled way. Here the dogs have a ring-side view of the proceedings from near the gulmohar tree.
Rosie, our wire-haired fox terrier died on 12 April 2009 of a suspected virus infection, weakened by nine litters of puppies and a series of severe maggot infections in her ears. She had worked hard for twelve years rounding up stray cows and guarding the farm from the depredations of monkeys, peacocks, rats and squirrels. We are very sad to have lost her and she will be sorely missed.
On the Farm - March ’09
The third and final watering of the wheat was completed. Holi was celebrated in the traditional way. This is one gang of boys who trekked to my farm to sprinkle colour on my feet in return for a chocolate biscuit and a chance to raid wood-apples, lemons and wild berries. Slumdog clones everyone. The women and girls came in a large group and sang and danced but the school going girls don’t know the words. They received Indian sweets and biscuits. Male employees of the local farms came in groups for a tot of rum.
This is the last photo of the four healthy puppies. The alpha male, Obama (black and white and hope of the future) is front right. Within four days of Holi, all four, including Obama, had sickened and died. There is an epidemic of parvo virus in Kota and there is a 90% mortality rate even when treated. The more highly bred they are, the less immunity they have to the whole arsenal of Indian diseases. (This does not appear to be true of humans. Those who have been at British public schools often have a higher survival rate in India having built up natural immunity....)
On the Farm - February ’09
On February 2, four wire-haired fox-terrier puppies were born to Anjelica. As the days became hotter they were moved from the warmer south facing verandah to the cooler north facing one
Watering the wheat is the main task for February. We had no water from the canal this spring as our feeder channel was being upgraded. Without our two borings we would have been in trouble. This is the only part of Rajasthan with ample ground water.
Lovely weather: warm sunny clear days and cool nights.
We had a visit from the kabbadi-wallah. He cycles out from Kota and buys all my newspapers, magazines, metal, tin, heavy plastic, glass bottles, and now at last thin plastic bottles. These sell fro Re.1/kg (approx. 30 bottles). He also sells useful village requirements like hairclips, earrings, tea cups and bras. These kabbadi-wallahs have been recycling for ages.
On the Farm - January ’09
With everyone watering wheat from the canal or from tube-wells, there is a lot of moisture in the air and we have had several misty days when the sun hardly made an appearance making it cold enough to enjoy a log fire in the drawing room.