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jandtaa

Down On The "farm" Today

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Hi Folks 

Just spent the morning getting in some more green manures. I'm concentrating on the area that will eventually become raised beds ( approx 500 square metres). After a couple of fairly heavy storms there's a bit of moisture in the soil (this is the topsoil I had delivered) and it appears to be fairly free draining already. Indeed in some areas its as good as the soil in some of my veg beds back in the UK !! Just been breaking up the inevitable crust and seeing as someone has walked off with my hoe had to resort to using the rake, which is doing the job apart from in a couple of areas where there are some clay deposits.

Luckily I've had a little helper with me, a young lad of 7 or 8 was out in the paddy with his hoe looking for land crabs with his scruffy little dog . After some initial shyness he hopped over the fence to come and see what I was doing . It didn't take much encouragement to get him digging and he worked away in silence for about 5 minutes before giving me a huge grin and bursting into song ! He had a great little voice and it was good to have a bit of company. I practised my basic Thai and discovered his name was Don. I didn't figure it would last long and that he viewed it as a bit of a game but 2 hours later he was still digging away happy as larry !! We took a break and I shared my water bottle with my new found mate as he told me the Thai names for the numerous birds that have taken to sitting on the fence posts around the plot and were foraging for insects in the freshly turned soil and then it was back to the job in hand.

I decided it wuold be good to get Don sowing some seeds (I always enjoyed it as a kid when dad gave me responsibilities like this) and although he was hesitant at first, he soon got the hang of it and was merrily broadcasting away. Lunch beckoned and I asked Don if he was hungry and wanted to eat some noodles at the local shop ? No he replied but soon changed his mind when I offered to buy him some "kanom" as payment for his hard work ! So off to my nieces shop and after thirstily guzzling a bottle of orange juice and clasping a bag of crisps Don thanked me profusely and skipped merrily off to tell his mates about  his mornings exploits with the "farang".

Looks like I might have my first apprentice as a lad of this age showing such application to what is probably the most boring job of all ( we turned over about 150 square meters and Don must have done at least 25% of it ) is sure to be fascinated when we get into the growing and harvesting bit (I know I was ).Hopefully I will meet Don again someday on the plot and hopefully he brings some mates and they unlike many kids in the UK will have the opportunity to learn that potatoes don't grow on trees :o   !! What a great morning !!

Cheers J     

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Good on you J. Sounds like you're living the dream. Always nice to read such a positive post. Good luck with Don. You may be the catalyst to a wonderful future career for him :o .

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That's a nice story, sounds like Don already has an appreciation of nature, maybe you are about to become a mentor. Will be great if he becomes a regular little helper.

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Hi folks

Turned up at the plot this morning and Don was there waiting for me :o !!

Turns out his name is actually Ton and he lives in the nearest shack to my plot. He is actually related to the wife, second cousin's son I think.

We worked over another area and sowed up some more green manure but it's been a bit of a scorcher today and neither of us was as keen as yesterday !! I'd had a couple of beers too many last night and had a bit of a hangover !! So we knocked that on the head and Ton helped me lime the pond. We then set to planting up a jackfruit . The ground was like concrete and full of stones and it must of taken us an hour to dig the hole !!

Unlike yesterday, today Ton was up for a bowl of noodles, the poor little lad was starving and had second helpings. Turns out they are one of the poorest families in the village .

Then I got Ton to fetch and carry water up from the pond and we filled the hole and allowed it to soak in and then filled it with a mix of well matured manure, soil and composted coconut husks . A load more water, a cardboard mulch mat some rice straw and some more compost finished it off and then we banged in a stake. The missus had come out to join us so she was able to translate the reasons for what we were doing and take some photos. Ton asked me if he would be able to eat some of the fruit and I promised him the first one which resulted in a huge hug, he really is a great little kid !

Got too hot to carry on so we called it a day although I'll go back this evening. Ton asked if he can come to play again tomorrow and I explained it was work. No he insisted it was too much fun to be work !!  

 I've uploaded some photos here Jandtaas photos

That's all folks J

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I hope that this story runs and runs, it's a pleasure to read

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Yes, nice story JT,

My day yesterday, [sat] finally got the mrs away from the salon cos i wanted her to talk about things on the farm, where to start new compost heaps for yet another banana plantation, we were on her Wave, once inside the gate she got angry, whats wrong? "i told mr Poo to frim all the dead and drooping banana leaves yesterday, look, that plant has long bract, why he no cut!!" i said you programmed him to cut the leaves not the purple bracts, he done as you said, so off she went checking all the plants, i still think the poor bugger will get an earfull tomorrow,,

I went off to pick some cherry tomatoes, 7bht kilo local market, Last night mrs made some tomato jam and will make mango chutney ect in the week,

On the way to the papaya plantation, we had to stop under the tamarind trees and pick up windfall, about 4 kilo, the shell is soft but the pulp is still good, specially steamed for 20 mins,

then the kanoon tree, must be 30 good fruits, best at this stage looks about 16kilo, but not ready yet, finally got to the ground for bananas and decided where to put the heaps, this will be chicken crap and banana waste, [there was a 100 big bags CC delivered last week for 1900bht, ] from a battery farm, at the top of the hillside, mrs spotted some full grown green bananas, so these were cut down to take home, oh yes, i forgot the 4 big [going yellow] papayas we picked, walking back down the farm, mrs wanted some green mango, so 10 or so were knocked out of the tree,

So weve got 3kilo tomato

4 kilo tamarind

banana with 7 hands

Mango 10?

4 large papaya

various leaves from a creeper mrs cooks with fish

On a honda wave,,

Just as we were leaving, BiL turns up in pick-up with 5 big bags of cow crap,and 3 big bags of coconut husks, all free, so another bonus,

On the way home, there were a lot of people at the cake ladies house [this lady walks the streets of Namsom selling lovely puff pastry pasties] mrs stopped and asked whats wrong? she was crying, her husband dead that morning, 47 yo, i asked mrs, Lo Cal? tap water? no she said, too many years spray poison, no mask, liver stop work, its a shame these nice thai people dont understand much about personal protection or poisons,

A sad end to an otherwise nice day, Cheers, Lickey..

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Hi Lickey great stuff

While I'm just starting out you're reaping the rewards of your hard work !!Glad you're overloading the Wave in true Thai style !!

This morning "Ton" couldn't wait for me to get started and came to the house looking for me !! Talk about keen !!

we've now planted up some banana and papaya, a pineapple I've had growing in a tub, a salee and a couple of som-o that I've grown from seed as well as lemon grass  and some galangal. The missus has a long list of planting material that I'm after and is going to keep her eye out at the local nurseries and up in the city where she will be working whilst I'm in the UK. Her sister who is also keen on growing is gonna keep an eye out on the plot and plant some bits and bobs (she's propagating some cha-om at the moment ) in return for the use of a bit of the land to grow some veg .

And young "Ton" is gonna be my waterer until the rainy season arrives !!

So although its only a small start  it is progress and hopefully left in safe hands !!

I start my journey back to the UK tomorrow so will catch up with you all in about a weeks time

Cheers for now guys J 

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On reading posters record of their day on the farm I had a little nostalgic trip back to a typical day on the farm about 55 years ago (your allowed a bit of melancholia when you get to 70 :o ).

A typical day in a far southern winter was to out of bed at 4am to listen to 1 hour of hillbilly music on shortwave while we had brekky of country baked bread ,toasted over the coals and smothered in lamb dripping ( guaranteed to stick to your ribs ) .

Then at 5am ,the Bristol freighter used to fly over our valley on the way to Hobart, this signalled it was time to go around our 500 rabbit traps,collect our bunnies and spring traps that were still set (stopped the sheep getting caught during the day ), at dusk they were reset.

Back to our very non- palatial abode ( 3 room vertical plank , outside dunny ) with up to 400 bunnies slung over our Clydesdale to skin and dress them ,peg out the skins and pack carcases in newspaper lined banana boxes for the morning milk truck to take to the butcher in the city.

Then it would be ,hitch up bonnie the Clydesdale to a sled or cart and off to dig a tonne of spuds and slash-hook a patch of bracken fern ready for ploughing for our next planting.

Mum would turn up about noon with lamb sandwiches and a beer bottle of cold tea for lunch ,then work all day until time to reset our trap line .

Ah ,those were the days, no electricity or running water , the only thing remotely mechanical was our model A Ford ute ,hand crank start .

Like the song says "Those were the days my friend" :D

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You had a tractor? 'And a toilet? You silver spooners. :D:o Our "tractor" could be a spiteful b@stard. "Stay away from his arse-end lad".

Nan, Grandad and 2 sons ran a small 30 acre farm in Co Cavan, Eire. Spent every summer there, from age six.

First day there, Nan gave me a huge pail to fetch water from the pump down the lane. By the time I dragged the thing back it was half empty. Grandad, a fearsome man, commented on it. "Ahh, would you ever shut up. Half a bucket and it's still more than you ever brought up from the well", fires back Nan. I crept deeper into her skirts. Peeped out at Grandad. He looked up from his breakfast.....and gave me a little wink.

I cried every year when it was time to go home.

Regards.

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Reminds me when me and brother used to help granma on her large garden, saturday afternoons, we didnt have a tele so dad would come with us, he would watch football and we would cut grass, edging,weeding veg ect, our reward, small tin of ambrosia creamed rice and a haircut, we both looked like ww1 german fighter pilots when she finished,

And today on the farm, carted 10 sacks chicken crap up 1 side & down the other side to make a new compost heap, on a hand trolley, 3/4 at a time, in the mix went 20 chopped banana culms & tamarind waste, leaves ect, then gave it all a good soaking turned and soaked again, then off to the other side of the farm and started carting compost onto the old banana plants, done about 20 plants, meanwhile i had some pigeon peas soaking, and in 1 hour they were soft already, so drained them and broadcast about 1 rai, some winged bean seeds were added also, 5/30 and dusk is coming with the storm clouds, just in case it didnt rain, quickly watered the cherry tomatoes and went home,

JT, it was a well established fruit farm before i came here 3 years ago, it was just that mrs family had lost interest in it because of careers whatever, it was a bit of a jungle and the bore water had run out, so rather than sitting in the salon all day watching pretty girls in different states of dress i took an interest in the farm, cost 50k to get round the water problem ect, my new interest in organics has re-newed my vigour for growing stuff, im sure i will get a kick out of seeing things grow healthy and strong in good ground,

Thanks all, Lickey,,

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You had a tractor? 'And a toilet? You silver spooners. :D:D Our "tractor" could be a spiteful b@stard. "Stay away from his arse-end lad".

Nan, Grandad and 2 sons ran a small 30 acre farm in Co Cavan, Eire. Spent every summer there, from age six.

First day there, Nan gave me a huge pail to fetch water from the pump down the lane. By the time I dragged the thing back it was half empty. Grandad, a fearsome man, commented on it. "Ahh, would you ever shut up. Half a bucket and it's still more than you ever brought up from the well", fires back Nan. I crept deeper into her skirts. Peeped out at Grandad. He looked up from his breakfast.....and gave me a little wink.

I cried every year when it was time to go home.

Regards.

Yep tt ,and what a toilet it was, 5 foot x3 foot galvanised iron with a 15 inch wide plank with a hole cut in it , built on a sledge ,what is known in Oz as a long drop .

You just dig a 3 foot deep hole ,drag the iron monster into position and your away, when the hole is full enough to start giving splashback its time to dig another hole ,drag the toilet to its new position ,a few shovel fulls of dirt to cover (hoping to remember where it is for future reference,yuk ).

Always placed at least 50 yards from the house to minimise the pong and the flies in the house, guaranteed to get the heart going if you need to go number 2 in bare feet during a white frost. With practice a 7 second 50 yard dash is possible.

Of course every long drop toilet comes with a stolen phone book nailed to back of the door, "no," not to read . :o

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What we call in Suffolk UK, the "Golden Bucket" or "Thunderbox", had one till the mid sixties, dad would put the contents on the muck heap and turn in, and that Izal toilet paper, pre cling film i think, When we finally got tap water and eletrity and sewerage, dad saw this as a great opurtunity for a ses pit, where the sewerage could ferment and go straight on the garden, so the 3mtr cube was dug and lined, any overflow went into the ditch alongside the garden, Us boys got the job of ladling it into buckets, cant remember it smelling much though, perhaps cos it was fermented or the detergants in it??

So there you go, Humanure aint that new!!

Today, turned 2 new heaps getting ready for the mulch, picked 2 ks of cherry toms, [6bht kilo market same with white and green makua,kilo cucumber,10bht] we only sell if we get overloaded, or give some to good customers at mrs Salon, Thank god for front door sales of Tamarind and banana, since we started this mid Jan, 31k + to date, ideal if you are on a busy street, bit of beer money ect for me,

Cheers, Lickey..

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"Bump"....(un-ashamedly) :o

Hey J. Why can't we rate these topics. This one's worth a few stars.

Regards.

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Jandtaa, your experiences with Ton remind me of a young helper I had in India; and my first real experience with farming. At 23 I volunteered with a project in rural Tamilnadu, south of Madras, in 1970-71. Because of my previous landscape tractor experience I was put in charge of operating and maintaining two British made Allis Chalmers ED-40, 35 hp diesel agricultural tractors. I was also assigned to train local village young men in tractor operation.

Murugan was a 15 year old boy from the village adjacent to the bungalow where I stayed and shop I worked out of. The tractors were the first he had seen, as the farming in that area was all worked with bullocks and buffalos. He just started showing up everyday and helping in small ways whenever the occasion arose. He was from a poor family that was from the “untouchable” caste, so his education had been cut short. But he was a smart kid and had learned rudimentary English in the little schooling that he had received.

Murugan became my constant companion and Tamil/English translator. He wasn’t really old enough to be accepted into the training program, but he became invaluable to me as a helper. He rode along on the tractor and he was on top of the world, with the biggest smile you can imagine. He helped me hook up implements and trailers, change wheel-weights, set sight poles for plowing patterns, and choose and teach the selected trainees. After awhile I started to let him drive sometimes, to plow or till, so I could take a break in the shade of a banyan tree. He got pretty good and learned all the basics, including some wrenching back at the shop.

I was learning too. My father was a landscape horticulturist and state parks designer, not a farmer. Growing up in the suburbs, aside from our backyard small orchard, vegetable garden and chicken pen, I had little experience in agriculture at the time. So on every trip to the city of Madras for parts, I would search the English language book stores for anything I could get my hands on about soils, tractors, farming and automotive mechanics. And back at our project sites I would rely on Murugan to help me talk to the village farmers, to learn about the local crops and farming methods.

I only spent two years there in south India, but when I returned to visit 20 years later, I found Murugan on a brand new Massey Furguson with his son by his side. He had become a foreman and tractor operator for a large landholder. His incredible smile was bigger than ever. He had defied caste limitations with his intelligence, curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and life. don

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