|Ten years ago, Ritoma nomads found the idea of planting vegetables preposterous. We never mentioned it and concentrated on weaving, not vegetables. A few years back, we began to notice that the poles and wire that was meant to separate the summer, fall and Spring grazing areas and keep the animals off the bumpy strip of tarmac that people called a road were disappearing slowly but surely. We also noticed that in their winter villages, many nomad families suddenly had ample supplies of concrete poles and wire and that inside the enclosed spaces were…lettuces.
These lettuces began to appear in our kitchen, gifts of this person or that one, followed by potatoes and bok choi. We concluded that nomads had finally caught the green thumb, incited by the vegetables available in town, then by the clever Hui merchants who began to park their vegetable truck outside the workshop. “why buy vegetables when we can plant them ourselves?” became the motto.
Norlha decided to plant vegetables also. We were not ready to nick concrete poles off the road, and besides, they were too unsightly. Sheep were the main problem, they wander freely inside the guesthouse area and would certainly help themselves.
Dechen decided on a fence, one that she had seen in the nearby farmer’s villages, and we asked a woman who knew how to make them to come and make a demonstration. We now have vegetables for six months of the year, and even though the workshop food is still hopelessly oily, there are plenty of vegetables floating around in the noodle soup.