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September 22, 2009

Favorite Rapper

The Rap on Permaculture from Word Worms.

My favorite rapper is at it again. Be sure to check out his cartoon mixes.

September 21, 2009

Dear Heather,

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Although I do not blame you, I wish now, in hind sight, that you had stayed a little longer to keep me from stupidly picking up the kama. After you left I almost cut off my finger - just like I joked about earlier in the day.

I cut clear through my fingernail and maybe even hit bone.

It really hurts.

BUT... I amost finished that field! :D

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September 19, 2009

Soba in Bloom


September 17, 2009

Progress Report

Just some more photos from this morning. It has been a long time since I really took the camera out, so I am bit rusty. I seem to have lost my photo-mojo. I think it is just having too many things that I "think" I should be doing, and therefore feel bad just spending a morning walking around with the camera, and even worse spending an evening editing the photos.

But, thankfully I was forced to get up before sunrise this morning (the stars were amazing, and are again tonight) and, while obviously not my best photos, it felt good to be behind the lense again.

The photo above is a view of the the area where we have our rice paddies next to the Chikuma River. If you move your mouse over the photo, you will see where I have highlighted the paddies we are tending to this year, and you can see a larger photo here. On the one hand, it is a great location because it is very sandy soil, which makes for great rice, but that sandy soil is because every few years typhoon season brings floods that wipe out all but the highest fields.

Anyone growing rice in that area near the river recieves a government subsidy (not very much). And despite the risk, most people plant koshi-hikari rice, which takes longer to mature, increasing the risk of late leason flooding, but demands a higher price at market.

This year we are growing Akita Komachi rice, which is ready for harvest earlier, and why ours is the only one with rice drying on the rack. While it still tastes great, it does not have the brand-name value, and is not as profitable, but since we are growing it for mostly personal use, it doesn't matter. Plus, these are our only paddies, and if they get wiped out we have no backup fields, as the other farmers do.

While it is not shown in the photos above, we got a lot more work done today. I harvested and bundled and tied. And Tomoe did what she loves most - start fires.

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Poop Rolled Out Like Marbles

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For some reason our village has been a ghost-town for the past two days - just when I get a call from the Zennihon Nougyou Shinbun (All-Japan Farming Newspaper) telling me that my deadline was yesterday for my monthly photo about "life in Sakae Mura". I ran out last night and this morning looking for something interesting, but only saw a few people who were not doing much that I would consider "news-worthy". Maybe I have just gotten used to life here too much, and the things that would have fascinated me last year are too "normal" now.

Along the way I got a few photos of the only other chickens in the area that belong an old man in the next hamlet. It made me feel loved and needed when I went into their cage and they all ran away - unlike our chickens that run toward anyone that comes in. The neighborhood children especially love stopping by and petting and feeding ours by hand. (of course, maybe the only reason ours seem friendly is that they are always starved and desperate.)

But alas, I couldn't think of anything interesting for a caption, other than just "Chickens". Luckily the second graders at the local school have recently started taking care of a goat named Mari. I stopped by and got this mediocre shot of the goat and the children's goat diary, were whoever is in charge each day checks off the chores they have done, such as feeding her, changing her bedding, etc. At the end is a little space or the kids to record their observations. On this day the observation was that "Mari's poop rolled out like marbles" (that is my translation of korokoro unchi ga deta).

And that was the caption to the photo I submitted to the newspaper.

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September 14, 2009

That Time of Year

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Well, its that time of year again. Yesterday I started harvesting the rice, and I didn't get very far. I could have gotten a lot more done if the weather report hadn't called for rain that never came. Due to the likelihood of not actually being able to harvest, a fellow international couple living in the countryside of Nagano didn't come up for the day to help out. But have no fear Mrs. Shinshu Life, judging from how lazy I have been today, despite beautiful clear skies, there will be plenty of rice left to be harvested next weekend!

In the photo you can only see part of the fields that need to be harvested. Yesterday I, with the help of a neighbor, finished one-half of one of our seven fields, and since the neighbor is not available to help today, and also since I am wasting time writing this instead of working while it is daylight, I can only expect to complete another quarter of that field today. At this rate, I will have to worry more about snow than rain!

OK. Seriously, I gotta get going.

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