Saturday, 17 October 2020

Counting Coconuts.


Our coconut harvest has been long overdue.  What with the lockdown and then the incessant rain,  the harvest got delayed way more than we expected.  The trees tiring of their burden of the older coconuts  often dropped quite a few  here and there which the ravenous boars would polish off – clean.  Yes the boars can skilfully dehusk a coconut, break it open and eat it clean. 

Finally this week one of the Coconut tree climbers  agreed to come over.   The weather  was just right.  A bit cloudy and a gentle breeze and yet dry.  It is a pleasure to work in the farm on such days  after  the wet weather when your feet go squelch and your clothes get all soggy. And counting coconuts is a very pleasant task indeed.

There are two ways in which we can sell off the harvested coconuts  - One is by weight – in which case, we have to dehusk them and then take it to the Sunday market. Here the dealer weighs them and pays as per the rate on that particular date – Yes the rate fluctuates daily – I used to think that only Gold prices do that.   The other way is to sell by count.  We do this if we run short of time or don’t get a person to do the de-husking.  This time we chose to sell it by count.

The easiest and best way to do this is to count as we collect them.  The coconuts fall to the ground from that astounding height and crash land into the grass below.  The bunch often breaks and they scatter and bounce  around a radius of almost  10 to 15 meters.  So we need to pick them up and collect them in lots of 20 or 25.  

My part-time help Lalita expertly separates the coconuts from the bunch using a sharp sickle.  

The coconuts need to be separated from the stalk with a sickle

We work together  picking  the bunches and bringing them together.  The single coconuts scatter really far and  rather than carrying one or two to the pile, it is easier to hurl it towards the pile.  I have never tried my hand at shotput,  but this is close enough.  Once the pile is sufficiently big, I pick them in twos and count them as I put them into the ‘Mankirkee’  which is the basket meant for carrying the coconuts -   25 if they are small or medium sized and just 20 if they are really large.  

Some of the coconuts are humongous and easily weigh over 2 kgs.  

Our farm hand Yogesh carries the loaded Mankirkee on his head to our Pick-up truck and empties the load into it.  I jot down the number that we had put into the basket.  He needs help to haul the basket onto his head and I realise much to my chagrin,  that I cannot manage to lift the weight  above my shoulder height. It takes two of us ( Lalita and me) on one side  and Yogesh on the other to haul the loaded Mankirkee onto his head.   He then walks with practised ease over the uneven terrain to the vehicle to empty the load. 

I barely worked for 2 hours and am already beginning to feel the drain on my energy.  Vivek had worked the whole morning until the mid day tea break and then had to attend to some urgent work and hence I had pitched in.  I took  a break before my back and headed  home.  Luckily Vivek had finished with his work and was ready to go back to  counting coconuts.  I had to catch up with the rest of the kitchen work and feed the 4 hungry dogs.  I made  a refreshing  herbal tea (Kashaya)  for all of us and then got on with the kitchen chores.

The coconut tree climber finished his work by 2 pm and headed back home. We still had another couple of hours left of collecting and counting the coconuts.

So if any of you find it difficult to get carried off into Sleepy dream land as soon as your head touches the pillow, then  try counting coconuts  instead of sheep.  It sure does work!

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