Keeping Boars at Bay. December 23 2014
Oh so delicate - the rice panicles.
The paddy fields are now lush green and heavy with promise. The slender stalks have put forth delicate looking panicles. Every day the colours change – from lush green to a pale green and then a golden tinge begins to show in places. Each day the panicles look a little fuller – the grains are growing safe in the tough husk which protects it.
Changing Colours - now only the grass on the embankment is green
But then this protection is just not enough to protect these fields from the wild boar. O yes, the wild boars from the adjoining forest are making nocturnal sojourns into all the surrounding fields and making a merry meal of the tender grains. And along with it a whole lot of destruction! Surely they could eat their fill standing on the embankment and chomping only on the grains, could someone teach them some table manners please? But no, they stamp around, roll around when their back feels ticklish, and in general ruin a sizable area of the field.
The boar has been here.
The villagers have all taken to sleeping in their fields at night, each field has a neat elevated machan in the middle. Sometimes groups of youngsters pitch in and I guess they party out in the open, you can hear music and then some fire-crackers and loud hoots. And they successfully drive the boars away from their fields, right into ours as our fields are directly in the path back to the forest.
A machan built in one of the fields
So now the only solution is for us to sleep in our fields! And that is exactly what we did. Our farm-hand Manjunath cleared a small area of the thorny shrubs and weeds which have grown so abundantly in the rains, and we pitched our tent in a little circle of Arecanut palms. A thick blanket on the floor a couple of pillows and blankets as it gets quite chill during the night, and we were ready. We decided to take Johnny with us as he is not fussy about where he sleeps unlike Phoenix and Misty who would insist on snuggling into the tent. And Zuki is like the breeze, you just can’t confine her, she would spend the night wandering around and cry if she is tied. So Johnny it was.
Johnny can make himself comfortable just about anywhere.
We had dinner and armed with a plate and a ladle and torches, made our way thru the farm to the tent – our paddy field is beyond our areca plantation. Walking in the thick canopy of the palms, you suddenly realise how thick the undergrowth is, and not wanting to risk putting our foot on any unsuspecting snakes, we clanged the plate and ladle all the way. We tied Johnny to the nearest Areca palm and got into the tent. It is fully sealed, so we had no worries about mosquitoes, bugs or even snakes. And it is supposed to be an all weather tent. But I guess all-weather does not include Malnad rains! The brilliant moonlight soon got obscured by a thick cloud cover and soon there was a good drizzle..... gentle to begin with and then heavier by the minute. And it continued the whole night long. we started getting a gentle misty spray of rain into the tent as well. This was rather unexpected and we had no umbrellas even if we wanted to walk back home. So we slumbered through it, lulled by the musical sounds of the night. Johnny did not seem to mind the rain at all and slept curled up. A couple of times we awoke to his low, deep warning growl and sure enough we could hear the heavy footsteps – we clanged the plate loud and long and the boar moved on. It was indeed a good thing that we brought Johnny along.
At daybreak, the rain ceased and we walked out to check whether the fields were safe. Yes they were, and we would have to continue this right until we could harvest the rice.
The moon glistens,
a silver sheen,
the breeze ripples,
rustles and sings,
an arecanut falls,
with a resounding plop,
And the tent is drenched,
drop by drop!