Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grow'd Up

Well folks, everything is growing up.

Our rice seedlings have put on their big girl breeches and are establishing their roots in the paddy. We had a community work day to transfer hundreds (maybe thousands?) of rice seedlings. This work can easily be done by machine (and is done by machine for most of our farmer neighbors) but we choose to hand transplant for a couple of reasons: 1) most of our participants do not use machines in their communities so it is appropriate for us to do and learn farming in a way that is applicable for them, 2) we want to practice our motto, That We May Live Together, by not fueling the need for non-renewable energy and thus degrading the environment and communities, 3) we want the entire ARI community to feel connected and invested in our life source, our rice, and 4) many hands make light work!!

transplanting in the non-tillage field, a different experience

If you didn't explicitly know already, I'm sure you could have deduced if necessary the fact that all rice comes from rice. Each spring we take rice grains from the previous fall's harvest to grow seedlings. The rice grows and grows throughout the summer (and farm volunteers like Doug spend many hours in the paddy weeding...) and in the early fall we have another community work day to harvest all the rice. Remember our rice harvest last September? Since October we have been consuming our 2012 harvest of rice. In reality, most of the current ARI community members will not reap the harvest of their labors. This is exactly what sustainability is all about--investing in the present to serve the future, while being encouraged from the investment of those in the past. 

light work is still hard work...

Piglet update: Two weeks ago I shared about the newest members of the ARI livestock community. There were actually 18 piglets born, but 1 was still-born. And since then, 5 more have died. We believe some did not make it back in their sleeping pen and therefore were cold and some were trampled/smashed by the mother or other piglets during feeding (I mentioned an average litter is 10-12 piglets, this means mother has 10-12 teats--squabbling over teats). But this is life, right? A female tick can lay up to 3000 eggs, and biology tells us that only one will survive long enough to reproduce. Let's not cry over biology.

So now there are 6 male and 6 female piglets. But unfortunately for the males (fortunately for consumers), they have been stripped of their reproductive rights (and lefts). Yes, we castrate the male pigs because the testosterone causes the pork to have a really strong smell offensive to consumers. Anyway, mission accomplished, all parties involved (patients, doctors, observers) have recovered.

Also, the piglets are no longer the newest members of the ARI livestock community. We now have ducklings! In a week or two, they will go to the paddy field for "integrated farming." The ducks will swim between the rice removing and eating weeds. They are flightless ducks so they will stay in the paddy. Once they are bigger and the rice has grown more, they will be moved to the duck house on campus. We will keep them throughout the end of the summer and they should begin laying eggs sometime in the winter. Then we will butcher late in the spring and start the process all over again! We did try to incubate eggs this year but we were not successful.

But that all happened in the past, in my days of being a mere 22 years old. I am now at the ripe age of 23. Let me tell you how this came about: About 23 years and 9 months ago..

And then on the morn of my 23rd birthday, Doug said, "Happy Birthday!" And proceeded to facilitate a day full of fun. Of course there was birthday cake and friends (Katie Young came in town to help us celebrate!). Please refer to photos for details.

Guess who shaved her head!?

On Saturday, kitchen members enjoyed lunch at Takamura-san's house. She is a commuting volunteer who helps us with lunch twice a week. She prepared very delicious okonomiyaki and yaki-soba--Oishi!

To conclude the birthday weekend, we went with Jonathan and Satomi to pick strawberries. We are excited to make a strawberry cobbler tomorrow!

This week will be a very long/short week. We are now in the final stages of preparation and anticipation for Kimberly's arrival. Next time you hear from us, we will be Knight party of 3!

Happy June,

Doug and Jenny

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