Demeneted December

Dear All,
Evaporation (!!) 20 to 26 December 3,2-43,3,2-1,-25,-31,-5 (when there is no positive number it indicates the pan was overflowing and not evaporation could be measured). It looks as though it is going to stay wet for a while, so hopefully it will get all our dams full and the water table replenished.

Being at the end of the road, I am probably the least informed about Strang and Lisa’s child who is suspected of having Cystic fibrosis. I know they plan to go to America for further tests and treatment…. which isn’t going to be cheap. I know I am not the only one thinking along these lines, but please try to leave a few thousand dollars in your piggy bank (i.e where you can access it at short notice). If Strang and Lisa do need a lump of cash to get the treatment started I think we, as a community, should break open those piggy banks. I will be contacting Lisa’s Lusaka community to warn them as well.

Talking of Community I don’t know is anyone else has heard of Wendell Berry? Kitty put me on to him and he grew up in a tobacco growing community in Kentucky. This first book that I am now reading is a series of 8 long essays, one of which is in defence of tobacco. (It should be on TAZ’s database of arguments to use in defence of tobacco, together with a speech given to the WHO a few year’s ago by the MD of Imperial Tobacco (I think) and the Malawi Minister of Health (who was on the World Medical Ethics Committee) – all good stuff.) There will be more of Wendell Berry in the future.

Now that Demented December is almost over I hope Ant will organize a study group at a farmer who knows how to cure tobacco to the L1OF grade that the merchants are so keen on. I am reminded of some advice that I was given year’s ago (when I used to have time enough for photography); he said, stick to one film, and know what it can do under different circumstances – there are so many variables, that you don’t want to add another by constantly experimenting with different films. I am feeling the same way about tobacco varieties, with DDV9 on half my early pivot and 326 on the other half, I am CONFUSED! At least my reapers aren’t because I have two teams, one reaping the 326 into the tunnel and one reaping the DDV9 into a chongololo. Soon, as the 326 starts to ripen in earnest, we will have a 3rd team reaping it into another chongololo. But one is a 7 barn chongololo and the other is a 9 barn, so every time I walk from one curing system I have to switch my thinking….and I haven’t got it right – yet. Again, Demented December doesn’t help, with a break for Christmas and another for New Year, it is difficult to get these continuous curing systems to ‘cruise’ in a steady state that suits the tobacco best.

Obviously we need to try new varieties, just as we need to re-invent the wheel (otherwise we would still be growing Hickory or Golden Orinoco and driving on Fred Flinstone round rocks) but it is definitely a case of find something that works for you and stick with it.



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