When all our staff (the Aunts and Uncles) were talking about how there was work that needed to be done at the new property before we could plant corn and our other summer crops, I suggested that we bring the kids and everyone agreed that this would be a fun way to spend the morning.
During satsung we told the kids that the next day we’d all wake up early to go see the new land and do some farming. Everyone was so excited. While I was doing the rounds before bedtime, I made the mistake of telling the kids that whoever was the first to wake up should wake everyone else and ring the bell. Sure enough, the next morning Santosh, Sundar and a few others went running around into everyone’s room at 4:56 in the morning while it was still dark out and rang the bell to wake the entire compound.
We definitely got the early start we were hoping for. Just a few of the aunties stayed back with the little ones to prepare lunch and the rest of us packed up some tools and water bottles and headed over. When the kids got to the new site they oooohed and ahhhhhed and ran immediately for the trees like little monkeys. Before I even reached the property I could see them all up high in the branches filling their pockets with lemons and unripened mangos and foraging through the jungle scouting out their new territory. The aunties and uncles and some of the older children snapped right into work mode. Most of our staff were all born and raised as subsistence farmers and working with the earth is second nature to them. But when they said there was work to do I had no idea that the work load for the day involved fire and machetes.
Since our previous owners had grown wheat paddies and there was just dry straw remaining we had to go through and cut what we could and burn each paddy down with fire. Daju explained that when you burn the old straw it releases carbon which fertilizes the soil and gets it prepped for the next crop. I looked at the little fires burning with the kids in close proximity and our team cruising through with sickles and machetes. I stood next to Nurse Emily suddenly relieved to have her on deck. She was clearly just as on edge as I was and went into a little bit of a panic. I was thrilled to have Nurse Emily on deck standing right next to me. “Do you think this is safe?” I asked. “This can’t be safe.” Emily shrugged her shoulders and kept careful watch on the kids while we contemplated the fact that we were a world away from any kind of fire department and I hadn’t brought a first aid kit. Tope was fast to remind us that the kids have all farmed for most of their lives and they knew what was up. Sure enough I looked over at Sanju and Hansuraj busy bundling the straw into piles and setting them on fire while Karma, Goma and the older girls kept cleared out rocks and stones and anything else that stood in the way. After a few minutes of watching the fire and listening to the snap crackles and pops of the wheat, Emily and I relaxed a little, jumped in with the others and got to work. In just an hour every single one of our paddies had burnt to the ground and nothing but singed soil and a little smoke remained.
We were left with lots of time chatting with neighbors, checking out the temple, and exploring the creak behind our property. We also hiked up a little mountain trail near our land that led us to a monarch butterfly nesting area and some old temple ruins.
We got back home for lunch and naps before the heat of the day set in. We look forward to getting back there for day 2 again soon! Here are some pictures from our day.
I took soooo many pictures! I'll post more soon.