Rice planting adventures

It is now the rainy season in Northeast Thailand so work is on hold while the rain does its job and drenches the dry earth and fills the rice paddies ready for plowing and planting. In the beginning of the month storm clouds roiled and blew across the sky and thunder was never far off. There were plenty of black outs in the villages as the electrical storms put on  a powerful and awe inspiring show at night. The air was thick with humidity and clothes didn’t dry out properly, fungal infections came out to play on kids’ skin and the musty smell of dampness was and is everywhere. The sounds of the night have changed as frogs croak and bellow filling the evenings with noise. On Jomp’s Farm the fish ponds are now almost full and fish that have lain dormant in the dry earth are now alive and breeding. Around the rice paddies and along the only road through the fields, banana trees and mango trees have been planted. Their yield will be used to feed Sarnelli House and eventually if the crop is good to sell. Bamboo has also been planted which will used to eat, bamboo shoots are a common and nutritious part of the diet in northeastern Thailand and when they grow they will be sold for scaffolding in the building industry.  Bordering the rice paddies lemon grass and galangal has been planted. These will act as a natural antidote to mosquitoes, when the ducks and chickens do a bit of free range grazing and they will also be used in cooking.

In the last 2 weeks the rain seems to have dried up a bit, but on Jomp’s farm everyone has been working hard getting the paddies ready for planting. The tractor has been in use plowing the mud and the adult staff – the gardeners, handymen and Ms Peh and Ms Jit have been out every day overseeing the work and getting muddy and tired. This year with the use of the 2 mechanical rice planters the rice has been planted a whole lot quicker. However the kids still have to head out to the paddies to do their bit as well. Last Saturday was the first day the kids were let loose in the mud and the planting went well amidst smaller kids trying to walk in sticky mud up to their thighs. Water was pumped up from one of the fish ponds to irrigate the fields completely before planting and everyone got involved. It was fun and hot and dirty work but the final fields of Jomps’ farm are finished. There are 2 more areas of land to be planted but the wait is now on for 14 days for the rice seedlings to grow big enough to plant.

June 28 2012

Kate Introna