Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rice Harvesting

Rice has been the staple of Korea for centuries, much as wheat is in the States and millet is of northern Russia. This type of rice is wet-rice planting but the fields are flooded only during the planting season and then of course - whether wanted or not - filled to over-flowing during the rainy season, which was particularly long this year and ruined a large percentage of the cabbage crop (for kimchi); fortunately the rice stalks were not beaten down too badly. Many modern machines are used in harvesting. There are machines which cut the rice and separate it from the stalks (and I believe this particular machine does that). There are machines that rake and turn the rice in the field so that it can dry before other machines come and bale the straw.

Only within the last few short years have the large round baling machines been in Korea. Even the machines for small square bales are fairly recent; my guess is they were started to be introduced in the mid-1990s but not widely used then at all. I'm not certain how the small square bales are stored but the large round ones are wrapped in plastic and left along edges of fields. With livestock being nearly non-existent on farms now, how the rice straw is presently used though is beyond me.

I was happy to get a shot of such this beautifully manicured field while zipping along merrily on a rural bus with dirty windows. The sheaves are systematically laid in the fields awaiting the harvesters to come and stack them and pile them on a cart pulled by a machine that looks like a rotortiller and has been the companion machine for farmers and their work for a few decades. One can be seen in the field.

Here the rotortiller-like machine can be seen to be more of a powerful engine that pulls the cart. Farmers use this to take their produce to market, to get supplies in town and transport them back home, as transport to and from their fields, and even as the family conveyance or taxi to get them around in the general area. I used to see a huge number of people piled into and onto the cart being pulled behind, and the people seemed quite happy with the jolly transportation. Cars and trucks have pretty much replaced these farm machines as town transport but here we can see that the farmers still use them for to and from the field transport. As for the rice in view, typically rice is carefully dried and the best place for doing that is along edges of village streets, on sidewalks and in parking lots. In fact, the whole rural countryside has streets lined with drying rice!

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