It was a busy few days in Lormoruchbae. Harvesting maize, sorghum, green gram, and sunflower. I've yet to find a specific job for women in Karamoja that I wouldn't describe as back-breaking labor. Even sunflowers. Though beautiful to look at, they are a lot of work for very little gain. After months of planting and weeding comes the hard work of keeping the birds from stealing all of your produce. We hike out to the field and try to find the flowers that are ready. There seems to be a very limited number of days between mature and too late. Mary told me it is because this year was so dry, the flowers are drying too fast. We cut down the stalk, most of which are over six feet tall, remove the heads and carry them back. Then they have to be laid out in the sun to dry. Then threshed, some of which you can do by hitting the heads with a stick but some of the seeds need to be removed by hand. Most of the seeds are just consumed at this stage. But who is satisfied after a meal of sunflower seeds with the shell still on?! So, then it has to be pounded to make paste and rinsed to remove as much of the hull as possible then that watery, oily, gritty paste is used as oil in foods. Yummy!
|Putting them out in the sun to dry|
|Making a paste (hulls still on)|
We also harvested green gram. Which left my hands bloody the plants are so spiky. They explained this was also because it was so dry this year. Green gram is a little like lentils and a really good protein source in their diet. But also very hard to harvest. This plant has an interesting method of seed dispersal. Though not nearly as interesting if you are trying to contain the seeds. The little seed pods are a bit twisted and as they dry they become practically spring loaded. So when you attempt to pluck them off the plant if you don't have your hand wrapped around them the tiny beans go flying off the plant and there is no getting them back.
|Also harvesting pumpkins and gourds.|