No pain, no grain

We certainly lived up to the “Agricultural” side of our name this week. It was wheat harvest time which means all of our staff, older boys and even some of our older girls were out in the hot sun to bring in our precious grain. A portion of our harvest is sold while the rest becomes bread, roti and porridge that we consume every single day of the year.

Jessica getting ready to get a shot of the combine harvester.

Jessica’s shot turned out a little ‘grainy’.

Unloading the wheat from the combine into our trailer.

A large amount of our harvest is done by way of a combine harvester. The machine can cut and process the fields much faster than manual labor; the downside to this speed is a loss in yield (as a percentage of the crop is dropped on the field floor) and the loss of one of the special by-products of the harvest: boosa.

‘Boosa’ is the Hindi word for cut straw. We use it for a lot of things but mostly it is mixed with green grass to provide our cows with healthy, home made food. It is an essential part of our farm and each year we store away huge rooms filled with the stuff.

Mountains of boosa.

Boosa like this is one of the crucial elements of our farm.

To bring a great wheat harvest as well as a good amount of boosa we must turn from the easier option of the combine harvester, to the labor intensive thrasher. But the journey to the thrasher is paved with lots of hard work…and it all starts with the careful creation of jhunas.

Shane preparing to make some jhunas.

Silvester making his share of jhunas.

The girls getting involved for the first time this year.

Job and the boys makings dozens of jhunas.

Eugene working on his own pile of jhunas.

Corinna putting her jhunas to work.

Have you figured it out yet? Do you know what a jhuna is? Just think of it as a piece of string; a piece of string, made entirely out of wheat. These strings are then used to tie bundles of cut wheat together. Where once we would cut the wheat fully by hand, last year we purchased a “wheat cutter” that takes a lot of the manual labor out of the work.

Our wheat cutter.

Amir carrying a ‘phula’ or bundle of wheat.

The jhunas can be seen neatly tying together these two phulas.

Once the bundles have been tied they are stacked in their hundreds on top of trailers and carted off over to the back of the dairy where the final stage of thrashing is completed. It is hard work, compounded by extreme heat, dust and the raging mechanical clanking of the thrasher as it chews through bundles of wheat.

The phulas being run through the thrasher to separate the wheat and the boosa.

Thrashing is hard work.

Raju, inspecting the wheat as it comes out of the back of the thrasher.

Once the thrashing is complete some of the wheat is sent straight off to market, while the rest is stored safely in giant piles on our drying floor. Its journey is not over, as next week we bring out our giant fan and the winnowing stage begins!

Anish just can’t ‘wheat’ until harvest is over!


About the Author:

Clifton is the grandson of Maxton D. Strong the founder of The GSAM. In 2004 at 19 years old he moved out from Australia to India with his parents to continue on his grandfathers work. Today he is working as the Deputy Director of the orphanage and the Chairman of the Maxton Strong School. He is married to Priscilla, a former child of the mission and together they have 3 sons.

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