No Man's Land
The Barrels have also moved…
The last report from April said that we've moved 'lock & stock' and the 'barrels' were to be moved at a later date, since our house on the farm was still being built. This long delayed update is to announce that we've officially moved 'lock, stock & barrel' to the farm. Finally!
Meanwhile, a lot has happened. Our stay in the rented house in Sirsi town was working out alright, since it enabled us to keep an eye on the construction work and prod it along when things slowed down, as they invariably do around here. Work on the house got much slower during the months of September and October with the spate of festivals that are packed into the season. The workers often took time off and went home and then it was a cattleman's job to herd them back.
Early November found us heading back - I in a movers truck and Sushie and Ammu by bus. Back to the rented house in Sirsi town, while we got the final bits of work completed on the house. We were hoping to move in before the end of November. On the last few days, we'd go over to the farm every day, hoping things would be ready enough for us to stay, only to head back in the evening, having given up hopes for that day. Finally, on the 1st of December, we moved!!
Those first few days left us reeling with the amount of settling-in that we had to do. The toilet wasn't connected and so we had to make do with an open-air dry toilet, that consisted of just a pit with two stone slabs across, to sit on. We had designed a composting toilet for the house where the solid waste would get digested by small organisms and the liquid waste would be used to fertilise our coconut trees. Some more work was left to be done on it and so it was unusable.
To compound matters, all of us fell sick. The first week, I was sick and had to take days off from work. I thought I was getting better, but the second week, I fell sick again and so did Sushie and Ammu. Suddenly, we were filled with doubt and insecurity - what on earth have we done?? We had just chucked life in the city and moved into a remote village with very basic facilities. We did not have a gas connection for cooking and so even cooking a simple meal was an ordeal. We had to use an electric stove (when there was electricity) or the wood fired stove outside. All of us were sick and that made our world look really gloomy. Actually, it was the illness that made everything seem worse than it was. We even entertained thoughts of quitting, selling the place and packing up. Luckily, that defeatist feeling didn’t last for more than a few days! It was only by the end of the second week, that we recovered and were able to live some semblance of a 'normal life'. Ammu seems to be enjoying herself the most, here. She spends all day chasing the cat around (when she’s not being chased by the cat) or playing with the dog or watching the cattle graze. She’s really thriving here.
This is our third week on the farm and things definitely look cheery. The house feels really comfortable. We've had some additions to the family too. We adopted an abandoned kitten who we named Muthu (after MuthuLakshmi - Veerappan's wife) and also got a 4 month old puppy from a friend, that we named Veeru, after Veerappan. (For those that don't recognise these names, Veerappan was a notorious bandit who used to poach elephants and smuggle sandalwood in the forests in South Karnataka. He achieved the peak of notoriety when he kidnapped Rajkumar, the biggest Kannada film star ever. He finally met with a nasty end, like such fellows usually do.) Most of our pets are named after notorious characters; the others being Charlie the dog(Charles Sobhraj a.k.a bikini killer), Billy the Buffalo (Buffalo Bill), Dhanu the cow (belt bomber who killed Rajiv Gandhi), Harshad the Bull (Harshad Mehta, the 'Big Bull' from the Bombay stock market scam).
On the farm front, our paddy was harvested a few weeks ago. A small plot was planted with sugarcane many months ago, but it doesn't seem to be doing that well. We were hoping to make our own jaggery from it. The fruit trees are coming along nicely - Mango, Chicku, Litchi, Custard Apple, Cashew, Guava etc. Some are over a year old, planted during the monsoon last year, and many were planted during the monsoons this year. After the rice was harvested, we've planted some Soy, Linseed and some vegetables in the field. I had picked up two grape vines when passing through Bangkok in October on a work-trip, to plant on our farm. One of them already has a small bunch of grapes growing on it. The bananas, which are our largest orchard crop, are doing alright, though suffering from lack of attention these past few months. It is areca harvesting season now and we’re making our modest contribution to this carcinogenic industry. The areca orchard was something we inherited from the previous owner, when we bought the land. We’re looking for some alternative uses for this product. I’ve read in the newspaper that someone had developed a process for making wine out of it. Now that seems like a much better thing to do with it. Gotta find out more.
In addition to the regular monkey raids on our banana crop, we're struggling with wild boar attacks and stray cattle incursions into our field. I've been advised about installing an electric fence to keep them out.... lets see. Maybe what they need is a jolt to keep them out. The other highlight of this week was the wild porcupine that we saw one night. Our neighbour came by and said that he had seen a porcupine in the forest adjoining our land and that if we stood by our gate, he would drive it past for us to see. And true to his word, this wild thing with quills sticking out, shot past us, with eyes gleaming from the light I shone on him. That was a beautiful sight! It might be the same fellow that has been digging up my tapioca plants.