Helping with the Harvest

I spent this past weekend helping a village family with their rice harvest. I got to see the entire process during the time that I was there. They were also kind enough to let us stay with them for two nights and follow their daily routine. What an eye-opening experience to have been able to learn from them!

The first is the actual harvesting. For the first time in my life, I got to use a sickle. There is a technique to cutting those stalks without accidentally hurting yourself or getting blisters. I think I did okay, but I never really got the hang of it. They say I need practice …

a lot harder than it looks ...

In the few hours we were able to help, we only did a portion and not sure how much help we were … but they called us in to rest because they wanted to make sure we had enough water and to get in before the noonday sun. It was quite a scenic place to work, surrounded by mountains and everything.

harvest is indeed plentiful

The stacks of harvest are then put together in a bundle to be readied for this machine that separates the rice from its stalk. It is quite a tedious process as they have to be churned stack by stack. Sometimes, they pound them manually to the ground first before using the machine. This process takes hours!

separating rice from stalk

Afterwards, they sift through the rice. One person fans out the chaff and the other person shakes the rice by using a sifting basket. We stayed at this couple’s house and they let me watch them work, even allowing me to take a video. They are not used to visitors and were shy at first, but they appreciated our interest in their work.

sifting the rice

After the sifting, the rice is then carried to a place where they can be dried. This one is right in front of their house. There seem to be a bed of rice drying there every other day. We tried to help put them into sacks when it was dry enough.

drying and sacking

I have never seen this machine before, not even in books. It was located inside one of their barns, covered up in plastic, as it is one of their most valuable possessions. They said that they used to travel miles with their sacks of rice and pay money to get their rice “de-shelled” (is that word?). Now that they have their own, they can have rice whenever they want and even sell them! One thing I learned about rice farmers is that they always eat new rice they just harvested and sell the old ones that they have stored in their big bins. Might as well.

separating rice from shell

Rice, rice, beautiful rice!

digital macro'd

Before we left, they asked us to bring a bag of rice for the journey back to town. Not only were they hospitable throughout our time there, they were generous. Since we were taking the motorcycle and then the bus, we couldn’t carry much. I was very happy with my bag of fresh rice!


For more of my village adventure, you can visit

11 Responses to “Helping with the Harvest”

  1. kim says:

    it’s a real picture of the phrase “fruits of your labor”

  2. Jonathan says:

    i see ur having more fun than you did in Shanghai!

  3. kco says:

    what a great experience! Glad you got to do that. I’m sure it was a humbling experience to see how much labor goes into what we take so forgranted here. Again, wish I was there!

  4. misshao says:

    i love it! i was thinking of the harvest.. and the chaff .. so applicable!
    🙂 thanks for documenting the whole process. i love it!

  5. mbcohao says:

    yeah, it made me think of the same thing … ! great minds … hehe

  6. mbcohao says:

    humbling indeed! maybe someday we’ll be laboring in the same field … someday!!

  7. mbcohao says:

    more fun in a different way, for sure!! 🙂

  8. mbcohao says:

    the fruits were definitely sweeter after all that labor — haha!

  9. MAY says:

    Very rich life experience.

  10. Julie says:

    I am Julie, your life is so rich colorful, envy, haha

  11. mbcohao says:

    thanks for writing, may and julie! so good to hear from you both! miss you!! 🙂

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