Friday, March 29, 2013

Harvesting Wheat

Wheat is ready for harvest but, sadly, field mice are the ones which harvested the crop first. I had been delighted to see the good crop but thorough inspection revealed the empty patches at the center of the field with numerous burrows surrounded by stiff stubbles. I was obviously disappointed to notice hard grown grains being looted by marauders.

After the rice season, there were two options, wheat or mustard to grow in my land. I preferred wheat for two reasons. Mustard had been marred by severe weather last season. Accordingly many farmers, especially ones who grew mustard, suffered heavy loss. Unlike wheat, mustard does not prefer much rain. The other reason is scarcity of wheat, one of the ingredients to make satu (food for school children supplied by Books for Nepal), last year. I thought of easy accessibility of wheat to make satu when I grow it in my land.

Almost all neighboring farmers grew mustard that had been already harvested. To their delight, weather turned out to be fine resulting excellent yield. There was not much rain as expected but wheat is also good this season, as we took good care.

Tractor ploughed the land couple of times before wheat seeds were sown. Birds (crow, starlings and drongos) fed on seeds which were not covered by earth. They continue to feed on seeds until the seedlings is about 4-5 inch long. A person was appointed for more than a week to chase the birds away. The field was well irrigated using the pump set, and pesticide and fertilizers were spread. Brief rain shower when the plant starts to bear grains was much helpful for the crop.

Along the mustard, wheat was also doing well until this unexpected enemy lurking around inside field. Two plots of rear end heavily destroyed by the mice. To intercept their further advancing, poison was mixed with tiny fish and spread these on their way and holes. This is not much effective because whole battalion of mice is on the raid. Because there is no wheat field around, all the mice assembled in my land for easy accessibility of food and shelter. The damage would have been minimal had there been same crop around.

I am not for sure but I think population of mice is ever increasing. This could be attributed to the fact that Tharu people now avoid consuming meat of field mouse. They used to eat mouse and some of old people still eat them, but new generation gradually give up this old practice. I remember how Tharu people dig the burrows in harvested field to extract both mice and stored grains (wheat or rice) from their citadels.

As the wheat is harvested by harvester, not much labor work is required. My only concern is weather. This time of the year is involved with occasional squally showers. I am praying for good weather during harvesting of wheat.  

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