This has been a long term goal of K's and I ever since we moved to the country.
We have lackied on other people's paddies, been to seminars on rice growing and looked into renting a paddy on a number of occasions but this year it's full force ahead and we're in business!
The girls are thrilled- "Yeah!!! I want to stand in the mud and plant the baby rice! "I want to turn the water on and off!" Not that they completely get the process- "Are we going to plant white rice or brown rice?"
It has come about because I have a new neighbour- W and her husband K (this is going to be confusing with two Ks.....) arrived in November and already rented a paddy. Wow. Look what you can achieve when you don't procrastinate, huh?? They are even more hardcore organic farmers than we are and want to grow rice without any chemicals and.... wait for it.... ducks! Yup, ducks. The ducks will churn the mud up and eat the weeds- and provide something to go with the rice come Autumn. Thank you and sorry ducks....
So today we headed down to the paddy for the first day of work. Not planting baby rice while standing knee-deep in mud as the girls were hoping. Not even turning the water on and flooding the paddy as I had hoped. Nope. We have a loooooong way to go before we get there...
See, this paddy hasn't been used for forty years. Four-oh forty. The ditches that run around the outside of the paddy to channel the water are overgrown with weeds and decades of dirt. The pipes that take the run-off water from the paddy are jam-packed with dirt the whole way through. The entire field isn't even flat anymore so that is a big job.
A big job because this is a big field.
Everything you can see that's ploughed is the field. There's the new K in a mini backhoe at the far end levelling stuff out, that's my K walking down the left hand side, Amy kicking back in the dirt and Meg posing with the tractor and demanding to know why I wouldn't let her drive it... Really... It's about three tan apparently. A tan is a Japanese rice paddy unit of measurement that is apparently 991.74m2. I don't know... 991m2 x 3 seems rather big even for that field but maybe a couple more days out there working and I'll be agreeing with it!
At the very front left corner you can see the water inlet pipe. It doesn't look very impressive or time consuming but there was more than 30cm of absolutely rank mud-gone-off in a 1m deep just-too-small to get in and work properly pit. It took a looooong time to clear out and was not a nice job!
Next Sunday we're making a mud slurry to firm up the sides of the paddy. This will be fun and I think the girls are going to have a ball!