Sunday, February 1, 2009

Installations and More Installations

Last week we went on a whirlwind tour of interested farmers and interesting farms; this week we’ve been installing irrigation on the selected fields. We’ve now got our drip tape in 8 locations; I wish I could say we’ve gotten installation down to a fine art, but it’s not so: our before-and-after pictures tell that story.

Here’s Subramani’s field in Geddali just before we started installation, at 9:00 in the morning

…and the same field successfully installed, an hour and a half later, with water flowing from the tank to the plants. Pretty neat.

Then there’s Saronan’s field: We started work on a beautiful misty morning…

Two and a half hours later, Anand was prematurely proclaiming victory.

Because the village’s electricity was out and we couldn’t run the pump, we didn’t realize until the next day that the second half the field wasn’t getting enough pressure for even water distribution. But we came up with a plan, changed pipes around, fitted a new filter, and finally got everything put together, just as dusk fell.

For the record, next to a rice paddy is the last place you want to be when dusk falls. I started getting nervous when I heard a buzzing like a beehive coming from the fields… then for a moment the light was just right and I could see the clouds of mosquitoes rising around us. We were glad to be finished fitting parts together; all that was left was to turn on the water and see if it worked. Guess what? No electricity. So we came back the next day.

Finally, water! The new system worked; the water flowed evenly, and the next morning, Saronan and his brother planted the whole field with tomato seedlings.

Lessons I’ve learned this week:

1. Never listen to that little voice in your head that says “Oh, I’m sure we won’t be needing the (fill in the blank) today. No point in bringing that along.” If you find yourself thinking that, put two of whatever it is in the toolbox.

2. Don’t try to explain water efficiency while gluing joints.

3. If you keep forgetting about #2, keep in mind that sometimes you can break the joints apart and reglue them so that the L-bends are actually facing the right direction.

4. Never pass up a second opportunity to dress up cows and take pictures. Happy Pongal to all the villages that are celebrating this week!

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