First a picture of a rice embryo as per request:
Not a great picture but those little wispy things at the bottom? It's basically unpolished (brown) rice still in its outer husk.
So as of lunchtime yesterday we had 200 trays of rice grains in dirt. The others kept working through the afternoon and they ended up with three hundred and something.
This morning we arrived bright and early and the first thing I noticed was noone was working at the house- they were all at the rice paddy.
The very, very wet and boggy, muddy and knee deep in water rice paddy.
Oh and I was wearing boots of course but ankle length ones. Aggghhhh!
Oh well, barefeet it was.
Did I mention that we started at 8:30am? On a morning where there was fresh snow on the mountains? I was almost crying for the first 10 minutes but then my feet got numbed and by about 10am the sun had crept over the mountains and we were no longer in mountain shade but quite warm sunshine- so warm we ended up a little pink with sunburn by the end of the day!
So, being that it was muddy and all- clay type mud that took your boots and put up a good fight on not giving them back again, and that I'm not the most co-ordinated person on any surface- there are not a lot of pictures but here's what we did:
1. The seed raising beds had already been made. That meant digging 130cm wide beds about 15cm higher than the surrounding area the length of the field.
2. Spread out an agricultural mesh net the length of each row. This was measured to be 100cm across and folded over about 20cm.
3. With a person either side of the row holding one side of a plank we wriggled and jiggled and slapped and stamped to get the water from below to rise up through the net so the surface was wet.
4. In relay teams hauled trays of rice embryos from the truck to the rows before placing them three across- but without touching and within the 100cm of the agricultural mat- giving us a few millimetres of leeway and that's all)
5. Using two boards stamp down the seed trays so their bottoms get wet- but evenly so they are not on an angle. The boards can't get wet or they will pick up the crumbly seed growing dirt and the rice seeds with it. The tops can't get wet or the stomper will slide and slip off. So each team was made up of a stamper and a board shifter. The stamper wasn't allowed down so the shifter lifted a board and moved it in front of the stamper who then moved forward and repeat:
I did two shifts on this. The first time I was a stamper with Meg, Amy, another 7 year old and a 3 year old. All on that rather narrow board you can see there- it was quite the circus act!
The second time I was the shifter which is a great upper body work out as you have to lift the board on and off the rice in a swift vertical movement as if it drags it might scrape the seed raising dirt off.
6. Then we had to protect our new babies. First came a layer of newspaper. These had previously been glued end to end into long, very long, rolls. One newspaper width covered half a seed tray so one person worked either side rolling at the same speed and watching for overlap issues while rolling out perforated orange plastic with the other hand- and remember we are trudging through knee deep mud? Oh and we can't splash the seed trays or the mud will cause a shadow and the rice won't sprout. No pressure, huh?
7. Right on our tails doing this double-action, mud-trudge, rolling was the karate chop agricultural mat tamping team- so called because they had to push in the mat with the side if their hand.
8. Then we had to put the fabulously named 'Love Mat' white thermal sheet on top. More rolling and tamping.
9. And we get this:
10. Finally we used pegs and nylon thread and tied it all down in a zig-zag fashion criss-crossing the rows at 3m intervals.
Phew.......... what a day!
And that isn't even the start of it- the rice is still about 8km from home!
The girls had a blast as finally they got the muddy fun part of being rice farmers:
Packing up the mudballs they made for the ride home.