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  • Writer's picturelindaleaming

I measure time

We live on the side of a hill in northern Thimphu across from the formidable Tashichhodzong, the fortress, government, and religious center of Thimphu. I can see it out the window as I'm writing now. But what's distracting me these days is the 80 or so acres beside the massive structure where farmers are sowing the rice paddy. I didn't grow up watching rice grow. It's extremely labor intensive, shockingly so, but rice feeds almost half the world. At least this half where we live. Just now the fields are flooded and if its sunny you can see the blue sky reflected in the water. The terraced paddy is surrounded by berm to contain the water. It's takes lots of water. Luckily we have (so far) in Bhutan.

Seeds are planted in rows on terraces with berms so sections can be flooded. The rice needs to stay wet with about two inches of water so that shoots can grow. When the shoots are a few inches tall they are pulled and then replanted so they are spread out and can grow. This is what's happening in the photo.

There's no way to spread the shoots mechanically. It all has to be done by hand,

So the rice will grow for about three or four months and the paddy will turn bright green, and then golden in the fall. When it's golden it's ready to cut. This is also done by hand. The paddy is drained and then the stalks are cut and arranged in stacks for two or three weeks so the rice will dry. Then it's time to thresh the rice to get the individual grains our of the hulls. Again, this is all manual. In another couple of weeks the shoots will be sticking up so that it will be green. Stay tuned.


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