Just before the rice harvest (giao khao - cut rice), a bit of bad luck hit the Nong Bua Lamphu region. A day and night’s-long heavy downpour resulted in rice fields throughout the area being flooded and under water for as long as two days later.
Thip's brother Sawt; chedi in background.
Old Timers say that the area’s rice fields hadn’t flooded like this in thirty years. When I first saw it, I thought it was a disaster or a tragedy in the making, but most everyone took it in stride and no one seemed to be too upset about it. Kids, of course, loved it.
Everywhere there was a klong (water canal, routed former stream), the klong and a wide area on either side of them became flowing broad expanses of water that knocked down rice stalks and put rice grain under water. Even in areas where there was no movement of water laterally, the immense amount of rain and some wind associated with it, further knocked down rice stalks, laying them down into the paddies. This typically happens. Some years it is only a little. Some years -- like 2016 -- it was a lot.
The rice can survive being under water for a while, as long as it is not more than a couple of days and then has a chance to quickly dry out. Luckily, this is what happened to our crop and to most others. There was damage to the rice fields, but nothing we couldn’t quickly come back from.
Aside from the laying down of the rice stalks -- which makes it much harder on the back to lift and cut rather than just cut -- the worst resultant problem we had to deal with was our washed-out road leading into our larger farm. For a couple of days, while the harvest was beginning, we couldn’t drive all the way in to Bann Nah. Before I had to leave for Lao (Laos), Thip and I made sure it was smoothed out so that family could get in and out easily and when it was time to thresh the harvest, the thresher could do the same.