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Farming

photo by DKJ

The village is located on both sides of a very broad river wadi. At most times of the year the river is a small stream, and it never fills the wadi. But in the rainy season it can change course dramatically within its dikes.

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Farming in the fertile river bed is too profitable to be ignored, but it carries the risk of a crop being washed away, so it is best for rapid-growth crops that can be planted and harvested quickly, preferably in the "dry" season. Irrigation is easy because of the high water table, which allows water to be scooped from shallow "wells" only a couple of feet deep.

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Sugar is one of the staple crops of this part of Taiwan. Two kinds are grown, one to be marketed for refining, the other to be enjoyed by chewing the cane to extract the sweet juice inside.

As with other crops, at harvest time all family members help, and friends and relations sometimes join in labor exchanges or as hired hands. Because of the insects that dwell in the dense vegetation of the sugar fields, the harvst work is buggy as well as hot and backgreaking. For children, however, it is a time when unlimited sugar cane is available to be chewed.