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ARI Harvesting and Farming Activities

October 17, 2013

Bob’s foodlife work until now has been in the Denmark pig pens, mostly mucking out the pig manure for compost enrichment. Not a favorite chore for participants or volunteers.

However, due to the earthquake damage, ARI has constructed new Korean pig pens that significantly reduce the effort to care for pigs.

So, recently we had pig moving day to move the sows to their new facility which has two foot deep organic floors. These floors are a mix of sawdust, cedar shavings, rice husks and other organic materials, and utilize the pig’s natural tendency to churn up everything near them. Their dung is simply mixed in, composted in place and removed when the floor needs to be refreshed.

Moving pigs is a BIG job since a 300kg sow does not easily change direction once she starts moving. The picture shows one of the smaller sows that we moved first who was very reluctant to be the first pig in the piggery.  We got the hang of it with pig sized boards that kept their view of the world focused in the direction desired and moved all five sows. Moving the later sows were less of a problem once the piggery was occupied.

Joyce is very carefully checking out mama pig while the two pigs seemed to be having a very animated conversation that could have been something like, “Hey, sister, how do you like our new digs?” Even on a very soft floor, a pig on the foot is very undesirable.

ARI corn is grown mostly for silage for the pigs. We had a community harvest day to cut the corn from one of the fields. Everyone was armed with a very sharp Japanese hand sickle and worked side by side in adjacent rows. It was a rather harrowing experience, not for the faint of heart.

However, everyone was careful in spite of flashing blades and the harvest went without accident.

Joyce is giving fast moving Abe-san wide berth.  Bob found that clearing corn for Kalpana-san was the fastest and safest way to proceed up the rows.  Then all the corn stalks had to be loaded into trucks and moved to the silage bins near the men’s dorm.

A second team of strong young men were feeding the silage cutter with corn silage flying into the concrete silage bins.

Robert and Joyce Ray serve as short-term volunteers at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan.

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