Eighty-eight

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They say that rice is a crop of eighty-eight steps. At least at some time in history it was – and some day I will go into detail about every step that we have taken it upon ourselves to experience. Off-hand, I can think of about twenty-five, but I am not sure what exactly counts as an official step, and what is just preparation for a step.

One task we did for the first time this year was passing our rice through the tomi to separate all the little sticks and empty rice husks. Usually this gets done by the “harvester” machine which we opted not to use this year.

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In the photos you see the rice spread out to dry as the moisture content of our rice was still a bit high which, unless one has a refrigerated rice locker would most likely lead to moldy rice if kept in storage through the damp winter. To remedy this we accepted an offer by our neighbor to lug all the rice up the mountain to a pice of land she has that is wide enough to spread out our blue sheets so we can get it all dried in one day. Whats more, the area recieved almost an hour more direct sunlight than our “yard” which is in a valley of mountains and very tall sheds.

The best part though, was that it was secluded enough that there were no neighborly eyes watching us “waste” time. I passed the rice through an initial sieve to get all the pieces that were still attached to small partial stalks, and Tomoe give it a whirl through the tomi which is a hand-powered fan that blows all the light sand, debris, and empty husks away, leaving only the rice kernels.

We only finished half the harvest, so will be heading back up there on the next sunny day for another couple hours.

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  1. Kelly says:

    I’m sure this is a stupid question, but why can’t you lay your blue tarps out on the same farm land that it grew? I mean, it’s been harvested and there’s nothing there anymore, right? I was just wondering this as we were driving down the road the other evening after dark and had to slam on our breaks to avoid running through the blue tarps and rice that people had so carefully laid out on the road to dry.

    • kevin says:

      Not a stupid question Kelly. I tried it but the ground is too bumpy and the sheet wont lay flat. In order to dry the rice we want to get it as thin of a layeras possible. In the photo it is not neatly spread out because Mona and I have just walked through it messing it up.

      I think next time you are driving after dark and see the blue tarps with rice drying you should leave a note to the farmers letting them know that its not a good idea to dry it after dark as the moisture quickly condenses and it gets damp.

  2. BILLY says:

    Kevin, The higher res pictures are nice. The down side is I notice a big difference in the speed with which I download the pages.

  3. Muzuhashi says:

    Hello there

    This is just a comment to say that I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now and am a big fan (not that you’ve got a TV, but I’ve also recently started watching ひとり農業 – http://tbs-blog.com/hitori-nogyo – which is doing something similar for a mainstream Japanese audience).

    I have to admit that I’m far too lazy to try self-sufficiency for myself, but you are an example to everyone, I think, of how we need to think about our lifestyles and how they affect the environment.

    Loving the higher res photos and the upgrade, and I look forward to reading more in the future.

    Yours
    Muzuhashi



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