Saturday, 18 July 2009

Rice Planting - 4th Year

This year is the fourth time we have grown rice. Each year is different and we repeatedly encounter new, exciting and sometimes overwhelming challenges.

In the first year in the previous property called “Kise”, we were threatened by overgrowing reeds which covered the entire paddy. This particular field was fully equipped with a water irrigation system which had been left unused for a several years. Following the approach taken by nearby farmers, with whom we share the same canal, we kept the land dry during the winter. It seemed at that time that our attempts to cultivate previously untouched soil, by cutting the hardy cattails and weeds that were taller than our height, were endless. Strangely enough, you do not recall the struggling efforts once you have reached the next season. There is always a new challenge.

The second year was relatively easy. The weeds that grew in the first winter were controllable. New types of soft weed began to spread in the paddy and hardy weeds were disappearing. The crucial elements in growing rice are to maintain the water level in accordance with the weather and the pace of rice’s growth. This particular job was managed by the property manager every day, so we had healthy harvests in autumn.

We moved to the new land after two years due to the shortage of space. The new area is called “Tamatori”, and in its background Mt Tsukuba stands out clear against the blue sky. The new land was utterly unique, a marshy place with no irrigation. Neighboring farmers were surprised to hear about our attempt to grow rice in a wetland. When it rains, water permeates the soil and floods to create a shallow reservoir. There are no means to control the water so we have to be well acquainted with daily weather and the annual natural conditions. Before WWII, people apparently used this area as a rice paddy but that was more than five decades ago. As you can imagine, the land was completely covered by hardy grasses.

When we finally planted the seedlings in the new paddy, the water was just enough to cover the soil so it was the ideal condition for rice planting. Yet, with the heavier rain in winter and spring in the following year, our second rice planting attempt in the new land meant more struggle with a higher water level. Some seedlings were too short and the green leaves sunk under the water completely. Now the recent rainy season (Tsuyu) has finished unexpectedly earlier, our concerns about water shortage in the summer begin.

Going through the three rice cycles and heading towards the fourth, my body and mind are becoming more attuned to nature and surroundings. Each year is different. My future endeavour is endless.









Gary said...

sorry.. i fluffed my comment and dropped it in the wrong section.. its in the first one about rice paddies from 2007!

kodou said...

Welcome back.
I enjoyed this post and look forward to reading more.

I think planting rice in a wetland makes perfect sense.

Sacchan said...

Dear Gary,

No worries! Thanks for dropping by.

I am sorry to say but the goat you gave me is not as cute as my real one. Did you know you can take a goat for a walk on a leash? She keeps bumping into my legs as she used to do to her mother.

My dream of taking a pig for walk at a busy Shibuya intersection has not yet been fulfilled but I may be able to do that with my goat....

Sacchan said...

Dear kodou-san,

Thanks so much for your warm message. I didn't have enough energy left after hectic workload so the postings lapsed for a while. However, I continued Shizen-nou during that time. I hope to correspond with you through this blog in the future.