Threshing in China

Rice on way to market

Plate 2. Rice on way to market, Taiwan.

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426 Margaret Street, Akron 8, Ohio

Mr. Clarence Reed sends us this very interesting article on Threshing Rice in China. Mr. Reed is a Well Drilling company man who travels all over the earth in the interest of the Drilling Industry. He is also intensely interested in our wonderful Hobby and at every opportunity takes pictures and gives us a description. I thank him and I know you thank him. Elmer

GREETINGS KIND FOLKS and best wishes for the new year, now starting on its one way-journey. I wish to ask you to share with me a bit of pleasure I get from pictures. They are free and welcome as a handshake and do as you like with them. People who are quite educated in photography sometimes tell me my pictures are fuzzy or not too clear. I admit that those qualities disturb me more than anything else, but there isn't much I can do about it. To begin with, I'm a farmer and well-driller, not a photographer. I travel by air and can carry only a small camera. It's a good camera but enlarging to an 8x10 shows up my mistakes in no uncertain manner. To friends who note this fuzzy condition, I'm sometimes tempted to remind them of a saying my Dad had 50 years ago. 'You don't look a gift horse in the mouth.'

The pictures show three different methods of threshing being used in December of 1958. The grain is rice and the location is Taiwan or Formosa. The Chinese on Taiwan, raise the best crops and largest yields of grain observed in any of the south east Asia rice growing areas. It's a family affair, growing the crops, and harvesting by hand and caribou power. The caribou or water buffalo is a real beast of burden. The law protects him from being made into T-bones until he is 20 years old and then you better have pretty good choppers if you expect to eat him. I stick with fish, you may get a bone in your throat, but that won't choke you to death as quick as a hunk of caribou meat. But excuse me, getting off the track, we will now do some threshing.

Plate No. 1 shows a threshing floor after the grain has been tramped out by caribou and the straw picked up. The grain is sifted through the basket in the foreground. If the wind will be kind enough to blow as it often does, much chaff and dust will go with the wind. The grain is swept into rows where a sack or basket scooped along the ground, with the aid of a couple of shovels can quickly be filled and made ready for market. There isn't much to it, quite simple and easy, and anyway the women do the greater part. Must say the women appear quite well trained. They don't talk much, go barefoot, work all the time and look after their men in No. 1 fashion. After all, China has not been a nation for 5000 years and not developed any good ideas. But to continue with the harvest.

Plate No. 2 shows rice on the way to market. This outfit became stalled in a small stream on our road. We all got out and gave him a push. Those caribou can really pull and don't think they can't.

Plate 6. This outfit is not very complicated. It is a tub with a high curtain around three sides. The tub has slats across the top over which the rice is threshed as the family is doing in the picture. They grab a rope and pull the tub (threshing machine) along to the grain. A family does not work over a large farm, only 1, 2, 3 acres. The number of children and wives determine the acreage, however, certain families may hire some neighbor boys and girls. There were two nice looking girls in the above family but they were camera shy and always remained behind the threshing machine.

Plate 7. The machine shown in this threshing operation is quite complicated and highly mechanized. I doubt if it will ever be popular in the field because the women don't seem to get along very well with the outfit. But they may learn it yet. It's a good deal like the old Singer sewing machine we had at home. The cylinder turns quite rapidly, but does not seem to require a lot of leg work to keep it going. The thresherman holds to the butt end of the bundle of grain, the whole time treading wildly and turning the bundle of straw so that the grain will be knocked into the box. When the grain is all out, the bundle of straw is tossed aside and a new one is given the works. A helper comes along to remove certain small broken straws that go into the box. The grain is dipped out now and then. A rope hangs handy with which to pull the machine about the field. A container of water hangs on the side, in order that the crown sheet does not go dry.

So it goes, a way of life we don't see every day. The job gets done, young folks don't have much time to wear out Pop's car and perhaps they enjoy a measure of happiness which would surprise you. I must say that 99 per cent appeared happy and looked well fed. The multitudes of small school children, clean as a pin, sharp as a tack, and bubbling over with good health and energy did not indicate such a bad way of life.