I thought that I would write a monthly update on what is happening on the family farm situated a few minutes drive on the outskirts of our village Chomphutong, in the small Isaan town of Si Bun Ruang.

This post is partly for my benefit to record the change in seasons and the resulting variation in crops and activities on the farm. I haven’t been living in this part of Thailand for a full year yet so this ongoing post will let me know what is coming up after one farming cycle so I can talk like an expert to any visitors heading our way 🙂


We have had over six months of almost totally dry weather here in Isaan. The last decent rains we had were back in November apart from a couple of thunderstorm dumps more recently.

June/July is supposed to bring the start of the wet season, providing we don’t have a drought like we did in 2014.  We have been having hot sunny days building to storm clouds in the early afternoon, which usually produced nothing in the way of rain.

The last week has been different in that it has turned grey and cooler, although still in the low 30’s, and I presume that these clouds will eventually turn into widespread rain at some stage. I will report back next month.

Those grey skies promise rain but not much happening so far.

Those grey skies promise rain but not much happening so far.

With rain on its way the local farmers have returned to the paddy fields to work on their rice crop for 2015. The easiest method of planting rice is just to throw rice into the earth and hope the rain comes along to get it growing. The disadvantage of this is that the crop is very patchy, especially if the birds have been feasting, and if the resulting shoots are growing too closely together they are smaller and produce less rice. If the shoots are planted too far apart the crop is also obviously reduced and the weeds have more opportunities to flourish.

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The alternative is much more work.

The alternative is to heavily distribute the rice late May into a few paddies to create these vivid green beds of young shoots, which often form the picture postcard views of Thailand you see so often. Water is an essential component and the family’s large capacity bore is a vital element to the process at this stage per-rains.

The shoots are then harvested and replanted with equal spacing in separate paddies.

The shoots are then harvested and replanted by hand in separate paddies.

Just for interest if you are looking for work over here, Yuan pays 2 THB each or A$0.08 for each of those bundle made. Planting and harvesting rice will earn you 300 THB a day or A$12.00 – lunch included! You can see why the local Thais are amazed at the way we farang spend money. My last trip to Tesco Lotus supermarket for a stock-up ended up costing over 4,000 THB, an unthinkable expenditure based on village wages.

The multipurpose tractor in use to get the planting paddies ready.

Lud using the multipurpose tractor to get the paddies ready for planting.

The rice being planted today. Yuan, Lud and several paid workers.

The rice being planted today. Yuan, Lud and several paid workers.

Lud.

Lud wanting his blog photo moment.

Many hands makes for good progress. None of this was planted yesterday.

Many hands makes for good progress. None of this was planted yesterday.

You can see some of the sugar crop (only planted this year replacing rice) in the background stretching to those trees in the far distance being the farm boundary.

Ready to start.

Another paddy ready to start.

Evenly spaced to maximise the final crop. The water keeps the weeds at bay.

Evenly spaced to maximise the final crop. The water keeps the weeds at bay.

Inspecting the crop with the weather in mind.

Gaun inspecting the crop with the weather in mind. I guess she’s not intending to work today.

No activity in Isaan is complete without food and yesterday I captured the free lunch being prepared for the workers. It is included as part of the deal.

A super hot pappaya salad in the making. No lunch is complete without one.

A super hot pappaya salad in the making. No lunch is complete without one.

Larb moo - or a spicy minced pork dish.

Larb moo – or a spicy minced pork dish.

I don't know what they add to these noodles to give it that colour but it makes them a little bit sweet.

I don’t know what they add to these noodles to give it that colour but it makes them a little bit sweet.

The family farm is split in two for the purposes of working it. Gaun’s younger sister and husband, Yuan and Lud,  work one side while Paed, sister number 4 and her husband Tham look after the other half. Each farm has three cropping areas which are currently growing rice, sugar and mixed vegetables.

The rice is only for family consumption with any excess sold at the end of the year and is made up of normal and sticky rice. The sugar is a cash crop that will be harvested late this year or early 2016. Last year the proceeds of the crop went to the guy who used his machinery to prepare and plant the sugar canes in a sort of work for sugar once only deal. You get three crops from one planting so this year the family will get paid for their crop after the expenses of harvesting. Gaun owns some of this crop so it will be interesting to see her return on investment.

The vegetables are grown for family use plus for sale in the local markets. Some are wholesaled in a small way to other sellers who split the bunches into smaller offerings and make their money that way. If there is excess to these needs then Yuan and Paed will run a stall in the market until the day’s crop is sold.

There is a good range of vegetables being grown at this time.

Yuan's side of the farm.

Yuan’s side of the farm.

In the photo above are spring onions, lettuce, two types of coriander and long beans. On the other half:

Peanuts and corn in the background.

Peanuts in the front and corn in the background.

Paed's long beans are further along than Yuan's, which have just been planted.

Paed’s long beans are further along than Yuan’s, which have just been planted.

More peanuts. Some of the family sugar at the back extending to the trees in the far distance.

More corn. Some more of the family sugar at the back extending to the trees in the far distance.

Looking across Paed's farm towards Yuan's part.

Looking across Paed’s farm towards Yuan’s part. The “farmhouse” where Paed and Tham spend most nights.

This is part of Gaun's personal land, although it is being worked by the two sisters.

This is part of Gaun’s personal land, although it is being worked by the two sisters.

I will add entries to this post on a monthly basis or whenever there is something farm related to share with you so please keep checking this entry if farming is your thing. I will attach the topic to the main menu at the top of the blog for convenience.

Thanks for reading.