I had the opportunity to go to the Peace Corps office in Rabat a few weeks ago, and while I was there I picked up some Vetiver to try out in my town. Vetiver is a non-invasive grass species native to India which my program manager (and NRCS, as it happens) likes to use for erosion control, owing to their humongous roots (up to ~3m). I asked my host family if I could plant it in their fields, and they said yes (picture deleted).
Since I was already there, I spent the rest of the afternoon helping to harvest some alfalfa for the animals. While it may seem silly, I love my time in the fields – on top of being great mentally (and good exercise), it’s also good for my community image. How does one harvest alfalfa here, you may ask? With a sickle! It’s called a ‘tamughurt’ in my dialect of Tamazight, and it looks like this:
I would give you a picture of Moroccan women using it, as they have a slightly different stance from me, but if you’ve been here before you know by now that I don’t put up pictures of adults on my blog – so you’ll get a picture of me that my host sister Selma took yesterday, when I returned to harvest a pretty puny crop of alfalfa and weeds:
Selma and Ikram took turns carrying my bag, which I have to carry around now in order to have a 5 liter plastic jug with me with which to water the Vetiver – it needs to be watered frequently at first, and it turns out the ditches are nearly always dry in the part of the fields we planted it in! So every day or two I haul water a few kilometers out to the Vetiver. (picture deleted, sorry)
I had a very dull Tamughurt yesterday, which means I had to pull extra hard to cut anything. I have several blisters on my fingers, strengthening my resolve to buy one of my own soon. The hope there is that then I can go around helping random people with field work, an idea I never got around to implementing last year. I spent the night with my host family last night, and then on my way home today I saw someone I didn’t know handpicking weeds from a wheat field. After the initial greeting I was continuing on home, and then I saw a path leading down to her field about 20 feet in front of me. I decided to go and offer help and see if she would accept – which she did, although she said I was a little crazy for working in the fields for free. I’m slower picking through wheat for weeds than I am at clear cutting alfalfa, but I still managed to help out a bit in the half hour before she decided she had enough to bring back to her livestock. Success!
I’m going to leave you with a picture of a sheep I found the other day, contentedly munching grass while tied to an Alily bush: