Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Saturday, June 23, 2012

the summer of these contents!

dec 29th 2011 cyclone thane – 21cm rain in less than 12 hours
june 22nd 2012 – 173 days and counting of no rain since above

this summer has been different for obvious reasons...

- its been hot hot and hotter. we must have had about 30-35 days over 40 deg C between april - june and its still going strong

- we have been indoors - sweating and cooling it off.

- we sowed some summer veggies in march but very few survived the hostile weather. the ones that did survive did not produce much. we see nearby organic farm produce some veggies (okra, cluster bean, bitter gourd etc) in the summer but they seem to have pumped their soil and plants with a high quantity of water and fertility. it will take us a few years to get the soil to a level when we can grow summer veggies with our level of watering.

- last couple of years we had had about 100 mm of rain by this time (apr-jun). this year we are yet to receive even 5mm.

- our standard summer crop, ragi also failed - repeated attempts at raising a nursery never took off as ants took away most of the seeds we broadcasted and rabbits nibbled clean the ones that sprouted. they too were desperate for food in this weather and so we let it be. with no summer showers, we gave up the attempt and decided to take it up again in the next season.

- we lost 4 of the 5 sapota saplings and a few coconuts we had transplanted last year inspite of regular watering . we also lost a few forest trees we got from the forestway. :-( very painful indeed.

- our laptop hard disk got fried in the heat and it took a couple of months to get it replaced.

the brighter side (pun unintended) to all of these has been..

- we scaled up on tubers. 40 yams, 30 tapiocas and 5 vethalavalli kizhangus all growing well.

- our solar cooker has been working overtime giving us more leisure time. In addition to rice, dhal, sundal, sun dried tomatoes we have perfected making kheers and ragi mudde in it. fill it, shut it, forget it (well not entirely, just little tilts of the mirror ever so often)!

- one of our mango trees produced some 20 odd fruits. we let the fruits ripen and fall from the tree and they were delicious. its been exciting to walk around the tree every morning looking for 'today's special' :-)

- we have had tons so sweet papaya this summer.

- with all this free time and nothing much to do on the field we have been reading and re-reading anything in print. Some of the treasures have been
    regenerating the soil by claude bourguignon (a must read classic for all farmers)
    the ecology of commerce by paul hawken
    an agricultural testament by sir albert howard
    collected works of dharampal on panchayat raj, education, science and technology
    rediscovering india by dharampal
    an omnivore's dilemma by michael pollan

- surprisingly, we have been able to take this onslaught of heat and resultant inactivity in our stride.

- with no laptop, we have had blissful two months of no access to current events, popular media, breaking news etc. now that we are connected, we spend far less time on the net. this has been a pleasant and unexpected development.