This topic is one of the most interesting ones that I love. We have our own fields and we sow in June and harvest (rice) in September.
We all know, that farmer works in the fields almost whole day and takes care of all the chores. So what role do the ladies play in the field? Besides cooking & farming, ladies are very hard working too and fun loving, they bring the joy and happiness in the barren fields. Laughter completely alters the atmosphere and mood of the folks. It is also said that Laughter (and jokes) is the best medicine that make us happier and more productive.
Last year, somewhere in June, our replanting process took place, and I had taken 2 full days off from office work. Day started at 6 am, doing all background preparations, it became 7 and then we set out to our fields on feet, which is a mile away from my house. It was raining when started the transplantation. My sister and some relatives also joined us – the more the merrier!
In olden days, all family members and relatives used to get together and do this. But lately, as everyone is changing to ‘modern’ ways, this profession has lost its sheen.
Nowadays, we call upon a group (pangad) of tribal ladies who do all the work and we just assist them. Ladies play the major part in cultivation process, while men just help in softening the mud. This is a beautiful gathering, ladies cover themselves with colourful plastic sheets (to protect from rains).
During these days if you pass by the road which passes through fields, you hear a unique buzzing sound, some laughter and variety of colours pleasing your eyes, giving a picturesque look in the backdrop of muddy field in brown & red. As you go closer to the group, you realize the actual sound is due to gossiping and giggling. It looks like a meet of worldwide news reporters, where all the news you get under one roof. New topics come up one after the other. Sometimes, in order to involve men, they start making fun of them or tease them. This brings more laughter in the open fields, transforming the dull atmosphere into a very lively one!
If there are any elderly ladies, they come up with their folk songs, which takes us back to olden days. This is why I personally love to participate in field works and weather is also so cool and pleasing that you don’t feel tired, rather get rejuvenated!
This is the specialty of working in fields, as it doesn’t need any kind of job interview nor any experience, just the wisdom and knowledge is passed from one generation to the other.
I was actively engaged into this work and listening to all stories, suddenly I realised something was moving through the waters (we were uprooting the saplings), I thought may be a frog, but as I went on uprooting I realised something more serious was there, so I asked my father to check and it was a friendly water snake, who I can never consider as my friend. I started screaming and may be that scared him away too (though they can’t hear). This is the scary part of working in fields, that you are so close to nature, that nature comes to your feet and then you are left with two options – either run away or make it go away.
It is very common to find water snakes, tortoise, frog, snails, cat fish and other types of fishes in fields, as they are meant to be in water. Water snake we mostly find in thick bushes, as they come to eat rats & frogs. So, this gathering takes place thrice in a paddy season, second one, at the time of weeding (few people are required for this) and then finally at the time of harvesting i.e. in mid September when crop is fully golden brown and grain is matured. Sky becomes fully blue with sun doing its job, it dries the grain completely.
Earlier for harvesting, cutter (Koitul, a C shaped blade) was used to harvest and then the grain was separated from the husk, by beating it on the big rock. This used to take a day to finish. But now electrical machines are used and it has made manual work simpler getting the job done within an hour. Its a great joy to see the crop ready and being collected in bags for storage at homes and to be sold in the market. Toiling of months finally pays the dividend and the farmer has a great sense of achievement! The grain is then dried and stored it in koddo (a cylindrical bamboo structure).
Also the husk is collected and stored for cattle as feed! There is a special way of doing so, wherein it does not get affected by rains even, except for the outer layer, even though its kept outdoors!