Posts Tagged ‘farming’

plans and concerns

March 11, 2011

I recently started reading “Cognitive Surplus“, a book about how people can create collaboratively online.  The thesis of the book is that for years, TV demanded that we only absorb media.  Modern media -delivered by the internet – is more of a give-and-take* proposition. We can do more that receive information; we can create it, too.

Since starting the book, which I enjoy, I haven’t created anything online although my time online hasn’t decreased much.

I’ve been distracted by concern over my wife who is in the Korean Coast Guard and has been at sea for more than a week now.  We’ve spoken to her, so I know she is fine, but her job is more dangerous than I had imagined.  To my knowledge, she is not in the West Sea but I have no information either way.**

I see that rice season may have started already.  It seems early.  I am surprised; last year we started the first planting in May and the second planting in June.  The planting I was involved in was in southern South Gyeongsang province so I would expect it to be ahead of the more northern Gyeonggi province.


* a student majoring in 국제물ㄹ류 – or maybe 국제관계 described his major as “give and take”.  After discussion, we agreed that maybe “import/export” or “International Relations” was a more august sounding title.

**I’d started a rambling, stream-of-consciousness type of post and left it in the draft folder.

Again with the farming pictures

November 29, 2010

The end of November is a pretty desolate one at a farm.

Is cabbage a flower? By the end of the weekend, I had begun to love these guys.

By the time I had finished loading these bags of cabbage my fondness was as an all-time low.  I need to brag now; every single bag on that trailer I lifted and placed.  Every one.

Perhaps we pencil pushers live sad lives if this is all I have to brag about.

My son ‘helped’ drive the tractor.

Dang vandals cutting the heads off the radish!

Actually, my in-laws did that just prior to picking.  Apparently they want the radish to dry out a little.

flailing away at the farm

November 17, 2010

I’d read about flails in history class and a character or two of mine in Dungeons and Dragons used them.  I’d even described some rookie swimmers as flailing about in the pool.

Last weekend, I finally got to try one for myself.

On the farm

November 9, 2010

I spent the weekend of Nov 6-7 at the in-law’s farm.  The work was fine, although I was a little stiff and very tired on Monday, but the house was a little dusty and my allergies made me eager to get home.

Click to bigify the photos below.

Here, my brother-in-law is driving a gyeong-oon-gi with my wife and son and a load of bean plants in the trailer.

My son and I love to see the little animals.

My brother-in-law looks very nonchalant picking persimmon.

More little critters.

The end of the lizard’s tail is a different colour: I wonder if it lost the original tip at some time.

Are Chinese cabbage still selling on par with gold?

Falling from the rib-breaking tree and hitting every branch

November 3, 2010

It is no laughing matter that my father-in-law fell from a tree and broke some ribs but there must be some way to work that cliche in.

On Monday, my f-i-l was collecting persimmon, when he fell. Now, he was hurt and seriously enough to need to stay in the hospital for a few days, but don’t think he fell from a tall pine or maple or the like.  Horticulturists could better explain, but as I understand it, you clip the main growth bud of a young tree and major branches grow instead.  This way you can have many more fruit-bearing branches and all close to the ground.

So, he fell and probably hit a branch on the way.  He went home, and probably went to bed early.  The next morning, he was in great pain so he decided to visit a hospital.  There he was diagnosed with broken ribs, admitted to a room and had his lower chest wrapped.  I suspect he was given pain-killers.

We visited in the evening and he was sitting up and smiling at his grandchildren. When my son pointed to something behind him, he twisted slowly, but without gasping or showing pain, and told my son the thing was a baduk board.

He will spend a few days at the hospital.  We will visit him on Friday evening on our way to the farm. On Saturday and Sunday we will work on the persimmon crop and do whatever else we can.  I will be very careful while climbing the trees but then I always am. My fear is not of falling though.  I am over ninety kilos and the branches seem thin and long; my weight is strongly amplified by leverage when I step away from the trunk and I would hate to break a major limb – botanic or human.

One strange thing about the hospital was that behind the nurses desk was a white board with the patients names, their ages and maladies.  Any visitor could read that my f-i-l had broken his 8th rib and had a hemo– (? this word was illegible).  That’s not so bad or private, but others might have been.

That didn’t take long

November 3, 2010

I prepared ahead – albeit insufficiently – for November and Nanowrimo.  I’ve had an idea for a novel for some time now and have wanted to try writing it.  I have written short fiction and essays short and long for this blog, a few magazines and my students.  I was ready, I felt, to extend myself…

No point in being wordy now.  It will take an extreme effort of will to continue at this point.

Oh, Nanowrimo, for those unwilling to follow the link, is short for national Novel Writing Month.  The organization is international now, so the name is both cumbersome and incorrect.  Anyway, the goal for Nanowrimo is to type 50,000 words during the month of November.  Quantity is important and quality is not.  This makes sense to me as the first step is a sort of brainstorming, with the expectation of massive revisions coming afterward.

By the end of November first, I was a little behind in my word count, but not disastrously so.  In the late afternoon of November second, I received word that my father-in-law had fallen from a tree -a cultivated persimmon tree, so it was particularly tall – and we spent that evening driving to the hospital and visiting with him.  Still, I could catch up.  However, we made plans while at the hospital to work at the farm all weekend to help the family catch up on their work.

I’ve enjoyed even this half-assed attempt at Nanowrimo and see real value in it.  I hope that I can get it together and continue working on my novel even if I don’t reach 50,000 words.

If you think the idea of thousands of amateurs trying to write novels in November is crazy, you aren’t alone. Laura Miller, at Salon, feels the same way and salutes the reader.

Consider turning away from the self-aggrandizing frenzy of NaNoWriMo and embracing the quieter triumph of Kalen Landow and Melissa Klug’s “10/10/10” challenge: These two women read 10 book in 10 categories between Jan. 1 and Oct. 10, focusing on genres outside their habitual favorites. In her victory-lap blog post, Klug writes of discovering new favorite authors she might otherwise never have encountered, and of her sadness on being reminded that “most Americans don’t read ANY books in a given year, or just one or two.” Instead of locking herself up in a room to crank out 50,000 words of crap, she learned new things and “expanded my reading world.” So let me be the first to say it: Melissa and Kalen, you are the heroes.

Cabbage and frogs

October 3, 2010

I’m back early from a trip to the farm.  Yesterday, I helped weed a cabbage patch.  It was a great job, because I was given a sharp hoe and could stand most of the time.  I just reached under the cabbage and scraped the soil around the side, scything several weeds down.  There were some bugs in the weeds and a few leaves looked well-gnawed, but the cabbage had defenders as well:

There was another problem facing the cabbage.  I think it is called ‘clubroot‘:

The symptoms first noticed will be a decline of the plant including yellowing of leaves, and a tendency to wilt during hot days. Examination of the roots will reveal swollen, club-shaped roots instead of the normal fine network of roots.

The photos at the linked site above don’t really resemble what I saw.  At the farm, the roots were more spongy than they appear at the website.  Here are a few roots we broke off the plants:

This problem may be the answer to Robert Neff’s question, “Where’s the kimchi?

UPDATED SEVERAL DAYS LATER (OCT 6):  Man, I had no idea we were picking gold!  Damn that clubroot – it may have cost us millions!  Millions!

Recent new reports on cabbage prices:

Korea Herald

Korea Times

Dong-a Ilbo

English Chosun

Joongang Ilbo

rural rooftop solar energy collectors

September 23, 2010

My understanding is that the warmth of the building extends the growing season somewhat for these squashes.

a weekend farming – second rice planting

June 13, 2010

In fact, I missed the second planting because my university had a ‘make-up classes’ day on Saturday.  I would like to comment further on the Saturday classes but fear I might be too specific and too negative for a public blog.

Anyway, on sunday morning, I planted beens with my brother- and father-in-law.  Here, the father-in-law is preparing the tools.

Years ago, while in high school, I was told that some Europeans farmed the grassy divider between the lanes of their highways.  This was mentioned as part of a discussion on intensive farming techniques and the environment.  Here inKorea, we were planting beans around the margins of the rice paddies.  We fit two rows on the dikes between the paddies.

–As a quick aside, I find Korean farm land to be divided up in a very different way than back home.  I feel it is because of the scarcity of the land but also because of the length of time Korean land has been cultivated – hundreds or even thousands of years as compared to Canada’s tens or maybe up to a few hundred years.  If a farmer needs cash quickly, he can sell a small plot.  If he has some money, he could buy one.  The plots, while close together, need not be contiguous, leading to a patchwork appearance.

Alright, even though I didn’t participate in the second planting of rice, I did take some pictures of the same.

Rice requires two plantings.  In the first, the seeds are packed tightly together and after a month you have a product that looks like sod.  This sod is removed from the trays and loaded onto this machine.  As the sod slides down the ramp, small chunks are removed and set into the mud. When one rectangle of sod is used up, or soon before, a new rectangle can be added above it so the process doesn’t stop.

The corners of the rice paddy are filled in by hand.

Boating on Buddha’s Birthday

May 22, 2010

This year, we didn’t visit temples or eat the free temple lunch.  I don’t know much about the western and lunar calendars or if Buddha’s Birthday is determined by a yet a third calendar, but at least this time, my wife’s eldest uncle’s birthday was on the same day and, having moved to Busan, we were now close enough to visit him on his birthday.  Unlike the Buddha,he is actually able to appreciate our visit.

It could have been a boring time at the farm for the kids, but my brother-in-law told us an activity he used to do with his brother: Boating down the irrigation ditch.

Carrying the boat to the ditch – I wish I could convince my son to stop making this pose for photos.  Still, it’s probably better than my strained, unnatural smile in photos.

Time to climb in.

My nephew was the first crewman.

Soon, both boys were ready, sorta.  The boat wobbled a lot and the trip was very short.  I had to rush to take these pictures.

My brother-in-law aground.  I was similarly unable to cruise down the ‘canal’.

The boys didn’t like actually drifting and wobbling so the boating part was a bust.  Still, the preparation and setup were a bit of an adventure for them.