Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ladakh photos VI : Harvesting

Some scenes from the harvest of Ladakhi staples: apricots, mustard (for oil), and barley.

Mangpo chuli - many apricots - drying on the roof.

The best apricots are eaten by people, the so-so ones are dried and saved for the animals to eat during winter. The pits are saved and hulled. Some of the kernels are very tasty. The others are processed for oil, to light the lamps in the prayer rooms, for cooking, and as a skin treatment in the harsh hot/cold/dry climate.

Mustard seed, used for cooking oil.

Me carrying bundles of mustard to the threshing area.

Dzos (mix of yak and cow) walk around and around on the mustard to separate the seed from the chaff and stalks. Then, when the wind is right, the Ladakhis use special pitchforks to throw the trodden material into the air and the wind does the separation.

The seeds, plus bits of dirt, chaff, and other detritus are swept up and put into bags. Everything is emptied into a special water channel that washes the dirt and other bits away from the seeds so they can be easily collected. The seeds are bagged and sent to Leh where a mechanical press is used to extract the oil.

Tiku harvesting barley...

Ama-le, always hard at work...

The barley is laid out to dry for a few days with the roots up and the grains shaded.

Now most families have or share diesel powered mechanical threshers for the barley, whereas before animals would be used for this process as with the mustard.

Ladakhis have a blast at harvest time, always singing and joking while they work.

Mike's Meme-le (grandfather) harvesting the barley.

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