Monday, April 30, 2018

Rescue of a kingfisher baby bird

 Open well is completely dry now, and birds nest on the wall where there are holes. I can see some snake skins also in the well. Couple of days I saw a kingfisher baby bird in the open well. It has completely developed feathers and was crying once in a while and its sibling was heard from a hole, but could not see it. I checked 4-5 times, in between work and never saw their parents feeding them. It looks like this one was trying to fly from the nest and fell into the well. I thought their parents will take care of them, but didn't see them when I was watching. I had one ripe papaya and cut it into 2 halves and threw it to the well, thought if it is hungry, it will feed on that, but it looks like it was not yet trained, so didn't see him feeding on papaya.

After 2 days when I visited, that was already dead !!! Felt sad about that, and now I could see the other sibling was in the well too. When I visited after an hour, it could not be seen, but later found that it is going back to its nest and tries to fly and ends up in the well. Wanted to rescue it, since other one had died, thought, this may also have the same fate. I had a nice rope and initially thought, putting a basket and try to catch it with that. But that was not easy task.

During lunch time, thought of putting some glyrecedia sticks on the rope with some branches, so it can slowly come out of the well. Tied two long sticks and then tied it to the rope and lowered it down, and later added one more so that it can easily come out. I kept visiting him in every 30 minutes and could see him sitting near the stick. After some time, I could see him sitting on the stick and felt quite happy that he is using it. By the time, I was about to leave, he finally made it to the top of the well. I could see his parents also making some sound, after some time he had vanished to the woods and I was a happy man.

Deep inside blue spot can be on the bucket and two papaya halves 

He liked my glyrecedia ladder, sitting next to it 

Finally he is seen on the wall of the well, he can be barely seen between the plants, didn't want to go very near and take photo, since he may be embarassed and fall into the well again, he is first time seeing the world !!!!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Aruvakkari - A traditional rice variety

While looking for the right variety for no-till farming, a friend called Gireesh from Pallassana, Palakka suggested Aruvakkari rice. This is a traditional variety and comes under Palakkadan Matta category. Medium duration around 120 days, and grows tall - close to 5 feet or so.

As per the NBPGR database, there is a variety called 'Aruvakkali' , is it same as Aruvakkari? Not sure, please see the link

Also there is a variety called 'Erumakkari' in Kerala Agriculture University paper 

Whether both these are same, again not sure. The variety 'Erumakkari' was referred by an old farmer lady when I met her some time back, according to her it used to give good yield.

Anyway, I will be trying this one in 2018 monsoon season.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Rice farming - 2018 Monsoon


This year activities started little bit early, starting with green manuring using Sunhemp. Broadcasted about 10Kgs of sunhemp seeds in two fields. The field was little bit wet, asked Palani to water the field also. Sunhemp was bought from Coimbatore Superseeds (Mettupalayam road, Near Central theatre) at 85 rupees per KG. Cowpea which was broadcasted earlier, started yielding, was greatly encouraged by that result.


Sunhemp is catching up slowly, soon they will come above the grass, wherever water didn't reach, it didn't germinate so it is not very uniform


With good rain, sunhemp has been growing well.

08-July-2018Tilling was delayed, since there was some electricity problem and hence sufficient water was not there in the field, even though rain was good. Ploughing was done on June 15th and next day soaked seeds were put for germination. Transplanting was completed on 6th July.


Applied some cowdung and did a weeding, 3 womens worked for 3 days, because of heavy rain, there is always standing water in the field.


Because of heavy rain, weeds were less, still employed 4 ladies for a day just to pull out the few weeds and also to puddle so that some aeration comes and plants grow much better.


Flowering started around 10 days back, its extremely hot, so watering it on alternate days.


Rice plants started turning yellow


Palani broadcasting 'matta champavu' seeds for the next crop.Some moisture is there, expected to rain by night, but didn't happen so not sure, if the seeds will germinate with the remaining moisture.

In some places,it is not very thick,may have to decrease the distance between plants.


Finally harvesting completed, 7 ladies harvested main field and 2 ladies harvested the small field. After threshing still some grains are left and straw has been piled, will thresh it once again after 3-4 days. This time, seeds for next crop is harvested separately so that there is no mix of other varieties. Totally it is around 40 para (local measurment) , around 400Kgs.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Growing vegetable crops as weeds

In my backyard, amaranthus (cheera) grows well, and I can see many new plants coming around with rain without doing anything. It happens with lady's finger and brinjal also, even though to lesser extend. Mostly they come with rain, when land is reasonably wet. This makes me think, why not try to do the same thing i the farm, introduce vegetable crops and leave some without harvesting and may be manually spread the seeds around, and if see if some of it can come up on their own. May be more such instances are there, we may get a reasonable amount of crops. Since vegetable crops are given lot of attention, they will have less competing power with weeds, but over a period of time, they should adapt. Fukuoka san used to do this on to a large extend, once we give more focus on this, things should work.


Amaranthus growing here and there from fallen seeds, it is an easy crop to grow also.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Effect of watering in no-till grain

I have been trying no-till grain for some time now and not successful to get a yield. I used to water this particular field when there was water shortage. Now I starts to think that watering upsets the natural cycle. For example, after November, there won't be any rain in Kerala climate usually and crops/weeds starts receding. By March, April all the weeds would have dried normally and with the first rain, if we sow the seeds of the crop, then there is not much weed competition. But if we water and grow some crops, there will be moisture in the field and weeds, otherwise some crop should be growing at the field all the time.

Please see the picture of an area where I had grown sunhemp at the start of the rain and the field after the end of summer. All the grass/sunhemp had completed the cycle, the field was weed free. This was done in 2013.

At this point I think, may be a when rain has started, if it was not sufficient, may be some watering might be OK, but completely upsetting the natural cycle may not be good, if we are doing no-till natural farming.

In this type of field, we have to start rice, at the first rain itself, otherwise weeds will establish. When it rained, if it was not sufficient to make rice germination, may be some watering may be OK, these are all my thinking, it may be prove right or wrong.

Taro with minimum effort

I like any farming activity with minimum effort which can give reasonable output. Normally small taros are planted by making raised bed, using cowdung and mulch. I have enough taro seeds this time, but making raised bed is too tiresome, so thought of making a small pit and applying cowdung and leaves. I did around 20 planting pits near my farm house, sunlight may be a problem here, may have to cut some glyricedia to provide more sunlight. I just put some sunhemp seeds in this pits and sprinkled some soil above that. With the start of June, I will plant the taro.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Details of people trying out Happy Hill Rice

I have been keeping Happy Hill Rice seeds for some time now and sends samples to many people who requests it. Some people offers to send me some other seeds and I request them to send some clover seeds and I have been trying clover seeds over here.

Later I thought of keeping a database of people who has been trying out happy hill rice so that it will be easy for others also to get some seeds, may be locally instead of me sending it every time. Now a days, while sending seeds, I take permission from them to publish their name and email address in my blog. Soon the list of people will be published.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Adieu to a farmer friend - Dr Rajesh Babu

Many people gets connected to me over the blog and some later becomes close friends. One of such person is Dr. Rajesh Babu who read about an article and later helped me to identify the english name of the bird 'Poothamkeeri' as Jungle Babbler.

Later he came to meet me and I had just gave my house address and he came without asking any direction. Then he came to my farm one day and unlike many people he offered to help me on that day and together we planted many glyrecedia sticks. He told me about planting sticks around full moon day which will give better results. Being an Ayurvedic doctor he was quite knowledgeable about different plants and trees.

After some time, he became a regular visitor to the farm and each time he helped me to plant some thing or other. Later rented a house near to my house.

He was very passionate about farming and had keen observation power. He collected lot of seeds or plants from where ever he went and kept a nursery by himself and donated it to many people, some time planted it by himself. Like this he had planted a yellow bamboo, sitaphal, some herbs etc at home and a special bamboo, moringa etc at farm also. I had the habit of cutting the grass once the rain is over, in one rainy season when rain was less, he asked me to stop the cutting and it provided useful since summer was very heavy.

We also went for many farm visits and it was nice to discuss many things with him, like farming, sustainability, spirituality. He also recommended some special oils for backpain like 'Murivenna' and turmeric and honey for my son's allergy. His style of treatment was using very simple things and some time using food control.

He left us on 29-March-2018 on the day of holy thursday, suddenly collapsed and died. He had some personal issues, not sure if that affected him so much and caused this or could be just his fate.

Anyway lost a good farming friend....Rajesh - you will live in our hearts, and the trees you planted will be here for long.

Nursery he had kept at his rented house