2006/06/07

Shine On Harvest Moon

My mother is from Kansas and grew up on a wheat farm (I can sense the Wizard of Oz jokes coming already). In June or July the people with machines called combines (which now days weigh 25 tons, have enclosed air conditioned control cabs, GPS navigation, and cut a 12 meter wide swath through a field) make their rounds of the smaller farms that don't have their own combine and harvest the wheat.

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A wheat farmer "outstanding in his field". (har har) Big combines make quick work of the harvest.

When someone mentions a grain harvest in Japan, most people natually think of rice. So, when a few acres of land just around the corner from us started growing what I eventually recognized as wheat I was quite surprised. Japan does grow wheat of course, but only a tenth as much as the State of Kansas and at over ten times the price.

In the USA, one thinks of "amber waves of grain" stretching from horizon to horizon as in the song "America the Beautiful". Here, in that part of Kashima City the locals call Naka, things are quite a bit scaled down. The wheat field of Naka is only a few acres in size. Otherwise things are done pretty much the same way, just on a smaller scale. The other day while on one of Momo's walks I noticed that a combine was harvesting the wheat. Like the wheat field, the combine was a diminutive one. It had been brought in on a flatbed truck. I have no idea how much grain they got from this little field, but it was interesting to watch it being harvested.
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The "mini" harvester working on the small patch of wheat here in Naka.


Speaking of big farms vs small farms, I am reminded of the story of the Texas rancher who visited Maui and saw some cattle up in the small farm community of Kula on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala (house of the sun).

A paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) was riding his horse along the fence and the Texan pulled up in his rental car and asked, "is this your cattle ranch?".

Moke (mow-keh) answered, "Aloha, cousin. Yeah, dis my ranch".

Texan: I happen ta own a little ol' cattle ranch down in Texas. If you don't mind me askin', how big is your ranch?

Moke: See dat Jacaranda tree owah dere - wid the blue flowers? From dere up to da barn, den way ovah to dat yella house and back down to da road. Dats my ranch.

The Texan smiled and said, "Why son, on my ranch back in Texas I can get up at dawn, drive my car all day long until the sun goes down and still not reach the other side of the ranch."

Moke laughed and replied, "Yeah? I had one car li' dat."

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K playing "paniolo" on the slopes of Haleakala.

18 comments:

The Moody Minstrel said...

A couple of years ago, as part of my school's Grade 9 "work study" project, I took a group of kids out to a farm complex. The farmers there showed us the 21st century version of the plow. (Actually, "field grader" is probably the appropriate term.) It was highly computerized and featured both GPS navigation and an advanced, laser-guided leveling system.

Even so, it was a tiny, little thing. It never ceases to amaze me how adept the Japanese are at putting great things in small, simple-looking packages.

jairam said...

I was always at awe with Japan, it's culture and the people. I read the book "Memoirs of A Geisha" and watched the movie which made me want to visit Japan even more. Too bad I don't have a visa :(

Pandabonium said...

MM - yep, pretty amazing. When I first got here I was impressed with how high tech household appliances such as the microwave ovens and the laundry washing machines are in Japan.

Jairam - Filipina "beach babe" ;^) - thanks for dropping by! I like the look of your blog. Looks like a lot of other people do too. If you don't mind, I'll add a link to it. I have many friends from the Philippines in Hawaii, but I've not yet had the chance to visit your beautiful country.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Jairam's blog is BLUE!!!!!!!

PinkPanther said...

It reminds me that I’ve joined a few farmland experience tours in Canton Province in China long time ago. I could know how’s the primitive work in the field, e.g. farm cattle to till land by pulling a harrow, Harvester were harvesting wheat with sickles...etc.

I’ve never seen those things in my life, because I grew up in a city. It’s worth!

Pandabonium said...

Pink Panther - wow, that must have been interesting to see. Makes one appriciate the food at the market much more, doesn't it?

Robin said...

no wonder the wheat are so much more expensive.. just look at the combines, such small load.. same time, same effort.

Somehow, typical Japanese.. they make things smaller and charge you more.

Pandabonium said...

In fairness, Robin, most of Kansas is farmable land, whereas Japan is mountainous and overpopulated, so there is not so much land available for food production. They are forced to farm in small plots.

agus said...

Hey panda, I so love the picture of K on the slopes. The hills are adorned with golden and green grass, the stones accentuating the landscape and the handsome horse sporting my favourite color, earth brown, clearly having a great hairday. And K's smile makes it perfect.

Pandabonium said...

Thank you so much for the nice complements, Agus.

Happysurfer said...

Did K meet a Texan? hehe...

We don't have wheat farms here in Malaysia. We have rice paddies though they're on lowlands.

Pandabonium, you do have a lot of interesting activities and sights around where you're living. I suppose we just need to look around and take notice.

@ロウ 。LOW@ said...

Oh give me "paniolo"! Ranch, Kula or Texas :p But sometime we insult ourselves first (even without knowing it) before being insulted. Clever reply, that one!

And yeah, you can't find pinkpanther in the wild. Hehe...

FH2O said...

Must be an awesome sight to see the wheat fields of Kansas.

And that's an awesome shot of K!

Pandabonium said...

Happy - No Texans around that day. Rice is the major crop in Japan too. Lots of it growing on the land below us around the lake. In the last 50 years Japan has become increasingly dependent on imported food and now only grows about 40% of their needs.

Low - I've always liked that joke. How did the panther become pink I wonder.

FH2 - one of the keys to a good photo, as you know, is a good subject. ;^)
I was only in Kansas once, when I was about 2, so don't remember it. Must be quite a sight.

PinkPanther said...

Low & PandaB,

Why teasing this rare PINKPANTHER? Sob..sob...sob..:=(

Pandabonium said...

Oh, Pinkpanther...dry your eyes. We're just having fun with you because you are so very special to us.

@ロウ 。LOW@ said...

Got it right, em, Panda. Well seems like I'm the only no-so-special one, hehe...

Chen said...

This is indeed the first time I see the wheat field.
Have see paddy field plentiful times especially in the northen region in Malaysia :)