The Ladakhi planting season just finished a week or so ago. I find the process quite fascinating and much more civilized than the mechanized farming that prevails back home. Planting is an event that almost the whole family takes part in, and probably a few neighbors, as well.
The man who guides the plow (pulled by yaks or dzos, which are a cross between cows and yaks) chants while he works. It seems to be a traditional planting song interspersed with commands to the animals.
Various family members walk behind scattering seeds and then smoothing the ground. The children often help by clearing brush and debris ahead of the plow. Sometimes there is a musician who comes out with his drum, singing traditional planting songs. What is it about music that helps so much? I don’t know, but somehow it always makes the work go faster and easier.
About once an hour, everyone stops for tea (or lunch). The animals are fed, then they all sit down right on the field to have their tea and biscuits, and take a little rest.
A few days later, they come back out with hoes to make rows and irrigation trenches. They were fortunate this year, because as soon as they finished planting, we got a few days of gentle rain, which was perfect for getting the seeds started.