Sunday, August 23, 2009

Country Cousins

Last Friday, my brother called, requesting mine and Toño's help on Saturday. In other words we were supposed to get our hands dirty and to get up far earlier than on a school day at a time I did not even know existed. Even Toño, usually exuberantly joyful by nature, only managed to create a wry smile for the picture.

We were called to pick gherkins. This is done with the help of a self-propelled "machine".

The gherkings are planted in long rows, about two meters apart. On each side of the plants wide nets are laid on the ground, on which the gherkin plants twine. The machine lifts both nets on the side of the gherkin row together. On the machine three pickers are places on each side to harvest the gherkins.

This is Константин also an Udmurt like Татьяна, who will stay on the farm for the next 14 months. He was the last on our side and was assigned to the lowest level - that is, he could lie while working.

If I got everything correctly, our motley crew was assembled from Russia, Ukraine, Moldavia, Poland, Romania, Mexico and Switzerland. Thus the lingua franca was Russian.

Right before lunch, one of the two machines broke down and we were reassigned to reaping tobacco. It was the second harvest, which is also the second tedious to pick. Usually one can take three ripe leaves, starting from the bottom. The first time, one is crawling along the ground. The second time kneeling or heavily bent-forward is the way to go.

Toño was assigned the easy outside row, while my sister and I were in the dense inside. Talking about my sister... she is currently working on her shunting locomotive driver license.

At the end, the piles had to be carried to the cart without destroying too many leafs.

We had been asked, if we would also help out today but I just mumbled some weak excuses (church, laundry) and buggered off home to our urban residence to recover.

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