One year on

When I talked of a windmill and explained how it drew steadily and modestly but continually, at a rate with enough time to recharge the well, they listened carefully and understood. “But will that be enough water?”. The answer is ‘no’ if you want to cultivate 15 acres of paddy or sugar cane, and ‘yes’, if you raised trees and some crops along with them. I spent many hours listening to their memories. In which direction does the rainwater run? How the wind blows? What are the local crops? What do they eat? What do they earn? I’d strongly recommend you listen to a lot of poor folk, in addition to land owners. Not to follow all that they say, but to place your ideas next to their knowledge and reflect how they fit.

The three young men who acted as brokers for the land deal were commissioned to negotiate an access from the east, where I could lay an all weather road. We worked on several possibilities and none led to success. Sadly, the simplest solution, which called for an exchange of small parcels of land with a neighbour in a way that benefited us both, was unacceptable to his. The boys worked hard and clocked several miles and charged me for many lunched and litres of petrol. But I was determined amidst several disappointments. Finally, five months after the main land had been bought, I had a deal.[…more] For a sinfully large sum, I bought a 15′ wide strip stretching over 600 metres of ups, downs, thickets and rocks on which to lay a road.

I could not start work immediately as the whole village was planted with peanuts, the one definite crop they all grow as they find it profitable. It’s a 90 day crop and so I had to wait until early April before the work of laying a road could begin. The plan was to lay the road first and then use it to bring in fencing posts, have the borewell rig come over, let the windmill parts arrive and so on. But no, there was no road – not for three months. This was a very vexing period. I brought a borewell driller over and asked him if he could come by the rocky western route. He declined saying we call him when a proper road was ready.

Spending creative time with disappointments can lead to solutions. A second driller came over and suggested a solution: if we hired a backhoe for a couple of hours he’d form a working path from the west, over which his rig could travel. A needless cost maybe but it saved three months; even my car, with some difficulty, could use it to arrive on the site. The path is still usable, after 7 months, though the next rains may wash it off. So the next piece of advise: don’t take ‘no’ for an answer without trying hard.

One thought on “One year on

  1. I have been regularly reading the articles in your site for the past 2 years and I am amazed at the passion and spirit with which you lead your life.I salute you for the grit and determination you continue to show in comverting a desolate piece of land into a showcase for sustainable living.The most important thing is that you are documenting your work in a medium like the internet which will be a reference for generations to come.All the best for your continued success and good health.

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