Saturday, June 14, 2008

China Day 15: Fun with Farmers

On leaving the school, we walked through the village to the house of a local farmer and his wife. The houses are mostly brick,
and we could see a pretty courtyard through this door:
While not rich by any standards the village seems to be prospering: many of the homes have piles of brick out front and repairs, restoration and new construction are going on everywhere.

The farmer and his wife greeted us with a seranade:
she sang for us
and he played (and hid behind) the arhu (two-stringed Chinese fiddle). Then we chatted with them for awhile. We learned that the farmer - I never caught his name - grows kiwi on one mu of land (about 1/6 of an acre) 3 kilometers from his house. He's definitely a small farmer! There are six in his family: himself and his wife, their daughter and son-in-law, and two granddaughters - here is the elder:
(It's OK for farmers to have a second child as long as there's five years between children, and the first child was a girl. The new baby is only a month old; we didn't see her.)

Then our host gave us a clue to the local prosperity - the government is trying to help farmers: they repealed all taxes on them and gave their kids free tuition for the 9 years of compulsory schooling all children are supposed to get. This is roughly equivalent to our K-8. He says that the farmers' biggest problem is that the farmland keeps getting surrounded and cut off by cities and towns due to their rapid, amoeba-like growth. Chinese even has a word for this farm-surrounded-by-city thing, though I couldn't tell you what!

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