The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

In the Year of the Tiger

In the Year of the Tiger

Mom found this beautiful book being discarded from her local library.  I can't imagine why they'd get rid of such a fascinating text --- maybe because In the Year of the Tiger didn't fit into the children's section since it's really a photojournalistic study for adults?  I know I probably wouldn't have gotten much out if it in fourth grade.

Winnowing rice

There's no real plot, just amazing images from a Chinese village in the 1980s with explanations of what's going on.  This page says: "Another old man, determined to be of uses, salvages every last grain from his son's new rice cutting as he sieves the dregs through a fine-mesh straw basket."

Herding ducks

After this great shot of ducks being herded home, the author explains that chickens are very common in China but their meat is considered a delicacy despite the animals' ubiquity.  Most of the chickens are layers primarily kept for their eggs.

Making peanut oil

The section on making peanut oil in a hollowed out log, and then selling the cakes of leftover peanut fiber for animal feed, was rivetting.

Pedal-powered threshing machine

Here's a pedal-powered threshing machine.  One person can stand there and pump the pedal while feeding in the grain.  The same family had a separate machine for winnowing the rice from the chaff that was very simple --- just a place where you feed the chaffy grain into a chamber and a fan pushes the chaff into one chute while the rice falls down another chute.

Overall, the book is like Farmers of Forty Centuries, but more recent and with a lot more photos.  I read In the Year of the Tiger slowly over the course of a couple of weeks and ended up feeling like I'd enjoyed a Chinese farm-tour.  If you ever stumble across a copy, I highly recommend giving it a read. 

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Since you commented on my mom's artwork at our house the other day, I though you'd enjoy seeing this painting she did a while back that is very similar to the third image in your post!
Comment by mitsy Tue Jan 8 09:51:34 2013
Mitsy --- That was one of my favorites when I visited her website! I clearly must have a future herding ducks. :-) And I continue to love your mother's art!
Comment by anna Tue Jan 8 10:31:10 2013

While previous recommendations here have sent me to the local library, this is the first time I immediately searched, found, and bought a used book online after reading one of your posts.

I'm going to call it a purchase for work, since I'm working on a project to identify technology for smallholder farmers globally and help them to access it. China is definitely a source of technology we are looking towards - both today's cutting edge innovations, as well as various stages of the more recent agricultural past.

Comment by Charity Tue Jan 8 10:58:33 2013
Still awesome blogging, I see. Your continuity over time is such a ... relief. Last time I was here you were studying Radical Homemakers. Looking forward to re-acquainting...
Comment by J Tue Jan 8 11:13:44 2013
That book looks amazing. And it honestly looks like something my 4th grader would love. I just ordered a copy off Amazon for us. Thanks!
Comment by Anonymous Mon Jan 21 12:43:13 2013

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