Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 5 years 5 months ago

Main Idea/thesis: What would it take to grow rice for a season


- tools: Sickle, shovel, thresher

A sickle is a tool that is used in the fields in XiZhou and probably around the world. A sickle is one of the many tools that is used to cut down rice. When using a sickle, you have to be able to use strength to cut down rice. You also have to cut upwards to cut of the rice cleanly. A shovel is used to dig up the dirt to put seeds inside. A shovel is useful because it is more efficient than hands. By effiecient I mean it is faster than hands. A thresher is two different types of things. One thresher is more old fashion and it is used to get the actual rice off the stem. What you have to do is slam the rice down at once and some of the rice comes off, when you have slammed the rice down you shake it so the remaining rice comes off. The more modern thresher is machine powered. All you have to do is place the rice on top of the thresher and little blades will take off the rice. 


Some methods that are used in farming might be planting the crop in a certain spot, mixed cultivation, using certain ways to dry out the rice when it is ccome from the thresher. When the farmer is planting the crop, he/she needs to know how the sun might effect the rice. If he/she puts it into a cloudy place where it might rain, the rice can get moldy and can not be sold. Some farmers here use mixed cultivtion. Mixed cultivation is when the farmer plants rice in one spot and plants corn right next to it. This is a good tactic because if the farmer knows that corn might not sell good this year, the rice will survive. This is becasue instead of the bugs being attracted to the rice, the bugs are atrracted to corn. When the rice has come off the thresher, the farmer know that he/she has to put the rice in the sun because it is the most efficient way to dry rice. You cant put rice in the dark and expect it to dry as quickly as it is in the sun.


When the farmer is starting to plant the crop, he/she must know where to plant the seed. You can not just simply plant the seeds where ever you want because that might be on somebody elses land. (The farmers need to plan out where their land will be and how big it's going to get.) This can be stopped from a young age of 14-15 years old. This is when the farmers start farming. If the elder of the farmers teaches the kid where to plant the crop and how to arrange the crop, the kid will not mess up in the future, thus making everybody happy. If the elder of the farmers does not teach the kid, things can fall apart.

Another important thing while planning is when to plant the rice. Th farmer can not just go up and plant rice when ever he/she wants. There are two main reasons why they can not do this. One of the reason why is becuase the other farmers might be planting another crop. If the farmers are planting garlic and one other farmer is planting rice, all of the crops can die. This is because rice needs more water and nutrients then garlic. if the rice takes all of the nutirence from the garlic, then all of the garlic will eventually die. Another reason is because of weather. At certain times of the year, rainy season begins. Rice and rain do not go well together. When the rice gets rained on too much, the rice can grow moldy and die. This means that maybe half of the rice that the farmer grew is dead and the farmer cant sell their crop.

Information from Locals:

So far I have only talked to Ms. Yang, and she gave me a lot of helpful information. Here is the following information that she gave me: The main crops that they grow here are rice, wheat, corn, broad beans, and garlic. After the season that is going on right now, they will plant garlic and broad beans. If there is a natural disater, they can do nothing about it. (in 2002, there was a lot of snow is march) The family is born into farming. If the child does not want to do farming, he has to apply for collage. Big Spring occurs from april to october. The farmers usaully start farming at the ages of 14-15 and they can stop working whenever they want. When they wuit farming, they have to do house work. As we were talking, I asked her a bunch of qquestions from Phase 1. She answered a lot of them, and did not for some of them. In Phase 1, we were supposed to wright  down the possible answers to our question. As I asked her some of my questions, some of her answers were the same as mine. All of her answers eaither were agrreing with mine or simalar to mine. They never dissagreed with my questions. As we were talking, she mentioned two seasons called Big Spring and Small Spring. Big Spring is where rice can be grown and the weather is great. Small season is not the best season where corn, wheat, garic, broad beans can be grown and the weather is not great. When she was talking, a bunch of questions popped into my head. Now I am thinking about doing something with Big Spring and Small Spring for my inquiry project. On Sept. 26 I got to see Ms. Yang again, but this time it was a small covorsation. I learned a little bit more information from her. I asked her if it would be OK to come back and help her. She said that would be very helpful and we walked away.

As I was doing my wellnes, XiaoTang came up to me and asked if I wanted to go on a walk with the goverment of Agriculture. I sad yes because he has to do with my topic. When I was on the walk he told me two facts and one of those facts was that the Chinese goverment only will pay  22-25% of the damage when A natural disater happens. Another fact that he gave me was that the chinese goverment does not really care about the ussage of pesticides. He said that the land owners are in charge of the amounts of pesticides that go in to the fields. This really surprised me because earlier on that week a person called Ms. Yang that was not from the goverment told me that the goverment is in charge of the pesticides use. I thought that this was really interesting because it really shows how different the non goverment people think and how the goverment people think. I did not know which on was right, so I decided I ould ask someone else's opinion, no of them was interested in answering the question. When i was on the walk, he also took us to his family's house. We learned more about corn and who they sell it to, and who they buy it from. That was the only thing that I learned there. Another good thing that I noticed there was that I might have found a new service learning partner. 

On sept. 23 I went to the actual fields and saw if I could interact with or help the locals. I went to the fields near the Linden Centre and saw a farmer using a syth to cut down rice. I fisrt went up to her and intoruced myself and told her what was the perpose for why I was here. We had a brief convorsation and then I started to ask her my new questions that I had just made 20min before. My first question that I asked her was if a natural disaster happens what will the farmers do? Her immedeate response was nothing will happen. The surprised me until I reilized that she was talking about earthquakes. Then I asked her what would happen if a flood came. Once again she said that there will never be a flood because the village is surronded by mountains. the second question that I asked her was if the land owner cannot find anyone to farm for his/her field, will he farm the field him self? This farmer did not like to talk much and so she said that they would do it by them selfs, but that rarely happens. My last question was which gender works more in the fields, the boys or the girls. She replied saying that the boys work more, but thsi surprised me because I thought I saw more women the men working in the fields. 

In that same day we foud another local farmer and once again I introduced myself and told her why i was here. When I walked up to her I saw that she was using a thresher to cut rice off the stocks. I asked her if I could try to help her. This convorsation ended really quickly because her immeadiate response was no. So I said thank you and walked away. 

On Sept. 26 I went to the fields with Mr. Tafel for 2 hours. There, we talked to many farmers about what they do and how they think about it. The first farmer that we went to was very halpful but we felt bad for him because he was in a hurry. He was in a hurry because the night before it rained hard. He did not want his rice to become moldy, so he had to act fast. While we were there we asked him some questions. One of those questions that we asked him was how much land is he allowed to farm. He said that he is only allowed to farm 1 Mu of land. Mu is a form of mesurment used in the fields. The follow up question that we asked him was if he owned the land or if the land owner owned the land. He said that he owned that land. We also asked him if he eats the rice himself, or sends it to be bought out in the market. His immedeate answer was half and half. This means that he sold half of the rice and kept half of the rice to eat. 

The second farmer that we went to was only a 100 meters away. This farmer and I had a very brief convorsation because Mr. T nor I could even understand her Bai dielect. So we did not get that far with the convorsation.

The third farmer that we went to was around the age of 75 years old. So we assumed that she would be helpful because she has been farming since the age of 15 years old. When we got up, we first introduced our selves, and then started to ease our selfs into the convorsation. We first asked her what she was doing, and why she was not out in the rice fields doing work there. When she said that she was picking hot peppers from the ground, I was surprised because I did not know that peppers grew here. As a follow up question I asked her why she had been picking hot peppers. Her answer was because she needed extra money. We felt really bad for her because she gave us 3 of her best hot peppers. Early in that day we saw that there was rice in cone like shapes. I became interested in the and began to start asking questions. One of y first questions that popped into my head was why do they put those rice bundles into a cone? We asked her why and she said that it was a quick way to dry up the rice. I have many questions and some of those are what do they do to the rice when the finish drying? Are there other ways that they can use the rice stocks in there daily lifes? Why do they give those cones a lot of space? If they want the rice stocks to dry, then why do they put them in water? At what time of the year do they put those rice cones in to the actual cones? If they know it will rain that year, why don't they leave them inside for drying? Is there any other ways that they can dry rice? This long list of questions will go on.

On Sept. 26 I went out into the field and talked to many farmers. One of which was called Mr. Zhong. Mr. Zhong lives near ran yi xiang and he farms everyday. Today he was sort out the difference between the rice and the leaves from the rice stock. At first, I watched the farmers do there job, and then they gave me a turn. What I got to do was put the rice into a holed basket and start to shake it. It is a lot lighter then I thought it would be because most of it was sticks and stuff like that. The only problem was that they were laughing at me because apperently I was doing a pretty bad job. Beside getting a hands on learning experence, I got to ask a lot of my new questions. The good side bout asking all of these questions, is now that they are answered, I have a bunch of new questions in my head. I plan to go out again and find Mr. Zhong and to try to help him more often. I also hope to learn more information from him. He seems to be a very relieble resource and could help my in the future during Microcampus.

 On Oct. 2 I went with Xiao Tang to actualy went out into the fields and helped out the farmers. I learned from previous experiences that you need to have a chaperone to help you introduce yourself so that the farmers can trust you. The first farmer that we went to was beating rice on a manuel thresher. At first he was kind of surprised that I would come up to him out of all the farmes in XiZhou. Then we told him why I was here and what was the purpose of why I was here. Later on we asked him if I could help and he said yes. The first task that I had to do was help him bring that rice from the fields all the way to his manuel thresher. Once this job was finished, I helped him beat the rice on to the manuel thresher. I learned that I have to shake the rice before I smack it down again so the rice does not fall out. Right after this happened we went to another farmer to help us. This time, we went to a farmer that would have a electric thresher. This farmer was hesitant for letting me use the thresher because ths thresher was much more powerful and could pull your hand in. I said that I was expearienced and then she let me. This was not much different from the other person so we left quicker seeing that it was not helpful. We biked down the road for 2 min and we saw a field with many farmers doing many different things. We went to the fields and talked to the farmers to see if we could help. They said yes. I started by using a sickle to cut down the rice and I learned that you have to cut upwards in order to get a clean cut. i also learned that you have to stand back when your cutting the rice because you can cut your self. The second person that I went to in the field was tying up the rice into a cone like shape to dry. At first it looked really complicated, and then I reilised that you only have to  twirl up the rice to make sure it is tight. The final person that I went to was working on the drying process. They were scooping up the dried rice and putting it into a bag to go to the factory to get the shells off the rice. I tried and I saw that this was not that helpful information so I said thank you and walked away. By the time we ended this, it was time to go. So on our way back, we thanked all of the farmers and said that we would come back the next day.

Information from 3-5's 

When I was talking to my 3-5's I got a little bit of background information about farming that could help me in the future days that will becoming. Here is the information:

1. The farmers do switch the crops according to the season 

2. The farmers only plant around 3 different crops a year

This is the only background information that I got that has not already been said back in phase 1 step 4.

Backround Information (from Phase 1, step 4):

(A) I have been looking at jillian's project. I learned that you should get a head start on your project so you don't rush at the end. That way it's not sloppy and messy!

    (B)    -       The Chinese Government is starting to cut down on pesticide use. They are substituting pesticides for mixed cultivation.

    -       In China, 25% of fruits and vegetables rot before being sold

    -        Only about 15% of the land in China is arable 

    -       China is the world's top consumer of meat and grains

    -       China feeds 22% of the worlds population with only 7% of the worlds arable land

    -       The Nothern Plain, Which oncludes Beijing, Is home to 65% of China's agriculture, but only 24% is water

    -       China has employed over 300 million workers 

As I have looked through the websites, I have found much information about my topic. finding information about my topic took me a long time because I had to make sure the sites were valid and if they were even telling the truth. There was that, but then there was how good the information was. For example, it needed to help my topic, so it could not be about houses in the city, it has to be based on farming. The first site that I went to gave me this information: "The chinese goverment is starting to cut down on pesticide use. They are substituting pesticide use with mixed cultivation." (1) This was the very first website I went to because I dug a little deeper and found the exact same information on other websites. The second website that I went to gave me this information: " In China, 25% of fruits and vegetables rot before being sold." (2) " Only about 15% of the land in China is arable." (2) "Only about 15% of the land in China is arable." (2) " China is the world's top consumer of meat and grains." (2) "China feeds 22% of the worlds population with only 7% of the worlds arable land." (2) "The Nothern Plain, Which oncludes Beijing, Is home to 65% of China's agriculture, but only 24% is water." (2) " China has employed over 300 million workers." (2) Both these websites gave me enough information that I needed to move on.

The sites for the above:

Answers from Phase 1:

 1. As I interviewed a local farmer I started to ask her questions. One of the questions that I asked her was: If a natural disater occurs, what will the farmers do? Since she spoke chinese I had to have a tranlator with me. When she told me that no natural disaters wil happen I was extremely surprised. Then I reilized that she was talking about earthquakes. I asked jefferery to tranlate what would happen if a flood happned. Her reponse was that there would never be any floods.  

2. The same lady that I interviewed told me a lot of information. One of the questions that i asked her was if the land owner could not get any workers to work for him/her, would he/she do the work by himslef? The answer was super short. Here is the answer: NO. 

3. As I was talking to Ms. Yang, I asked her this question: Who does China sell their crops too? I did not get a direct answer, but she said that the Chinese gocerment does not care about their pesticie use. That was her only answer. I figured out that if China's goverment does not care about their pesticides why would other countries want to buy their pesticides? So the real answer is simple... no. China can't sell thier pesticides to other countries because those other countries dont trust China.

4. One if the questions that I asked the lady in the field was: Do the girls or boys work more? Here answer was that the boys worked more. This really surprised me because I see more women in the fields than I seen men.

5. One question that I have is: If the farmers do not give the fields a break from all the crops, and the field is ruined, do they have to find another job? Once again I was at the Linden Centre and I was talking to Ms. Yang, and she said that the farmer will be sad and angry, he will also think very poorly of himself because he has been working in the fields since he was the age 0f 14-25 years old.

6.  When I went to the Linden Centre, I talked to a person name Ms. Yang. Earlier Fei had mentioned that Ms. Yang has had a side job of farming for many years. I asked lots of questions, and she answered most of them. One of the question that I asked her was, do they rotate the crops depnding on the season? She had to think about this for a while, and finnaly she said yes. She said in the big spring they plant rice and wheat, and in the small spring they plant garlic, corn, and broad beans.

7. At the Linden Centre, I talked to Ms. Yang. I had explained to her what the inquiry project was and why we were doing it. Once she understood what the inquiry project was, I started to ask her questions. One of the questions that I asked her was at what age do the farmers start working? She said they start around he age of 14-15. If they don't want to be a farmer then they have to apply for collage. While she was talking about the age of the farmers, i thought of another question: At what age do the farmers stop working? She said that they can stop working when ever they want. This really surprised me because in most places, you cant stop working until the ages of 60-65!

8. When I was at the Liden Centre, I asked Ms. Yang many questions, one of which was do the farmers get many breaks? She had to think for about a second about this and then she launched into her answer. She said this all depends on the big and small spring. In the big spring there are more things to grow, and in the small spring there are less things to grow. So obviuosly in the big spring, the farmers get less breaks a day because there is morw work to do.

9. I was at the Linden Centre and I was asking Ms. Yang questions. One of the question that I asked her was if half of the crops turn out to be dead, how will the land owner act. The first thing that came out of Ms. Yang's mouth was the land owner would be mad. I asked if she could ellaborate on that and she did. She said that the land owner would be very mad because he wont get his money, and he might fire that certain farmer.

10. Once again I was at the Linden Centre talking to Ms. Yang, and I had so many questions poping into my head. One of them was was if one of the farmers get sick, does a family member take over for him/her?  Ms. Yang siad that this all depends on the land owner. If it is a busy time, the land owner will have a string of people that will be next to start farming if one of the farmers get sick. If it is not a busy time, they will have there family memebers do it for them or the land owner will do it him/her self. 


I am in XiZhou now! The sun is shining and the air is clean. It is so peaceful and quiet here and everybody is so friendly. I can't wait to get out into the fields and work with the farmers. I also cant wait to get out into the village and start asking questions about my topic! The final thing that I am excited about is the service learning project. I will be really cool to learn about the past in XiZhou!