The Plowman

Living a simple life of hard labor, our neighbor reminds me of the Plowman in the Canterbury Tales. He weaves his way through the fields, calling to his oxen, “Chele, Ya! Chele.” ( Chele is a nickname for white skin. “White, Go! White.”) The plowman was the most recognized symbol of the poor in the medieval world and was associated with great virtue. Nicaragua has many plowmen of great virtue. Lacking high-tech farm equipment such as tractors, these hard-working men travel from field to field with their oxen teams helping their friends and neighbors prepare for the planting season.

Ploughing family farms promptly at the beginning of the rainy season is critical to ensuring household food security and farm livelihoods.
IMG_2876Once the field is furrowed, a worker places sugar cane reeds in the furrows.
IMG_2878They haul the cane on their backs.
IMG_2869Then, sharp machetes chop the cane into small pieces and it is covered with dirt.
IMG_2868The plowman takes excellent care of his oxen. One tractor costs as much as 30 pairs of oxen that can do the work of three tractors. Animal traction is less expensive, more environment friendly, and more flexible than tractors.
IMG_2885The oxen take a rest. On average, a bovine needs 20-30 pounds of forage a day. These oxen are strong and healthy.
IMG_2874Dry season feeding is survival management for the cattle. It is estimated that cattle lose 50% of the weight gained during the rainy season.  Our neighbor understands the importance of growing cane for the dry season. The cane tops are cut and stored once they are mature and used to feed the cattle during the long, six months of the dry season.
IMG_2872It’s a busy morning in the field. The dogs roll and run through the field. The sharp machetes slice through the cane, and the virtuous plowman furrows the fertile earth for a blessed harvest during the dry season.


18 thoughts on “The Plowman

  1. Life is not easy for those farmers, but it seems to me there would be much more joy in your animal and your own hands, rather than a huge machine doing the work.

  2. For some reason all day yesterday my WordPress connection would not let me “like” this post. I am glad that it is working today because I “love” posts like this.

    One of the most joyful things about living here in Ecuador for me has been learning to live with and love the Ecuatorianos! Their commitment to work and family and simple proven methods is an inspiration to us everyday.

    Great post!

    • I know exactly what you mean. They inspire me daily with their hard work. Life is not easy for them, but they live it with gusto! Occasionally, I’ve had problems with WordPress doing weird things. It’s almost like a little bug is trapped in my internet. Hmmm…maybe that’s the case. 🙂

  3. Reading your post for inspiration, rain falling down in NJ right now…my favorite quote is: “I don’t hear them complaining”… I’m ready to go to work now! thank you DEbbie.

    • Haha! Sometimes, when I get down in the dumps and tired of the challenges of living here, I visit my neighbors. They have 3 little kids, no running water, dirt floors, and cook with wood everyday. They never complain…EVER! It makes me appreciate my life and be thankful for what I have.

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