Taking the term ‘Fall’ to mean literally the falling of the leaves from the trees after the long days of summer was a problem – In England our trees are still largely green as they take advantage of the often fine warm weather in the months of September and early October to store up food for the winter. We also don’t get as much glorious colour as residents of British Colombia do, for example. So, and perhaps prompted by a comment on one of my recent posts by Bob of Refrigerator Magnate fame, I thought I’d show some Autumn shots of a different nature.
In Zimbabwe the Autumn (Fall) is in the months of May to July. Summer rains continue throughout April as heavy storms providing healthy growing conditions for a variety of crops. Until recent problems within the country, Zimbabwe was often referred to as the Breadbasket of Africa because of its cereal production capacity. The summer rains cease abruptly at the beginning of May and the crops begin to rapidly ripen and dry. The photos below were taken on a working farm during late May and early June as the harvest was gathered in.
The farm is located in the Mupfure River valley between Chegutu and Selous. That year the crops grown were Maize, Sorghum, Sugarbeans, Cotton and Paprika. There was also a small market garden providing vegetables for the house and the farm workers with some also being sold to workers from other farms around the area.
Here, the male workers including the foreman deliver a freshly harvested load of Sugarbeans to the farm compound for shelling. Off-loading with forks and brushes in a scene reminiscent of 1930’s Norfolk. Only the modern unkempt tractor hints at a more recent time.
The female workers shell the Sugarbeans using the traditional methods of beating and sieving. There is quite a high level of waste apparent in the process but the farm chickens will soon find any lost beans and eat them, so almost the whole of the crop eventually finds its way into the human foodchain.
The Paprika crop is also harvested by hand – the ripe peppers are pulled from the bushes and returned to the farm compound where they are laid out on sheeting to dry. Here, my wife carries a basket in the traditional way back to the compound.
At the end of a hard day’s work in the fields the workers usually gather in the shade of the farm shop to share some Chibuku together. Chibuku is made from Sorghum and is a mildly alcholic beer, closer to a soup in its consistency.