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Vansutha Farm Update Friday:

More work being done for very little return by our standards.

Guan and Yuan preparing cassia leaves to be boiled and then sold at the Friday street markets.

I have written about this shrub before. It grows along the edge of the farm, planted by Gaun and watered and fertilised by Yuan and Lud. The focus to cut off new shoots to boil and sell, is as much about stopping people passing by from getting benefit from the farm's work, than a cash return. Yuan is too polite to tell people not to pick, so gets in first instead. Gaun on the other hand.........

The leaves are boiled twice to reduce the bitterness.

The ice man delivers right into the cooler box.

Having backed his vehicle down the driveway. A 40 baht return for this service. Another example of the work that is done for small returns.

One of my favourite photographic fruit. Someone had called into the farm this morning to pick up an order of garlic, and asked if she could buy the jackfruit. The return to Yuan - 80 baht.

Almost the very last of the tomatoes, which have given and given this year.

The long bean trellis very nearly finished.

Gaun has been working early morning to trim the driveway yet again. The flowers are finishing up, but it still makes for a delightful entry.

Masses of chillies, but they haven't yet started to turn colour.

Later that morning, Yuan and Lud turned up at our home to harvest ant nests for the eggs.

These are weaver ants, and they make their nests very often in mango trees, but others varieties as well. Wherever they can stick the leaves together to form a nest. As you can see, they weren't happy about losing their home.

The bamboo pole opens up the nest and the eggs, and a lot of ants fall into that basket.

As with much of the more specialised work on the farm, this job falls mostly to Yuan, with backseat encouragement from Lud.

A bit of a dual effort here, but not for long.

The eggs and ants.

Yuan physically removing ants with her hands. The white is tapioca powder, which helps separate eggs from ants. According to Gaun, the powder helps the ants 'sleep, not bite too much'.

Ants being moved off the tray.

The end result. These are sold on small plates in the markets and are expensive by Isaan standards. Used in soups and other dishes. I have tried the eggs, and they are firm like caviar and slightly sweet.

The result of all this work? 950 baht income at the markets. Now you or I might be a bit disappointed, but Yuan was totally happy. It is money she wouldn't have otherwise, and putting in the effort to achieve that is not an issue. Gaun even bought 100 baht's worth, which I thought was a very nice gesture. When Yuan and Lud were finished, they specifically came looking for me to thank me very much for letting them get the eggs. Quality people.

Thank you for reading. Lots more Farming in Isaan stories HERE. Tony


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