These days you can feel Long Xiufen’s delight just from the evident smile on her face.
Long Xiufen is a Miao woman in HeiNigou village, and along with the other Miao women, Long Xiufen has to toil all day in the fields for food and clothing for her family of four. As a result of cultural limitations, she has to stay in the village and live off of the land.
Earlier this year, her son found a girlfriend and recently got engaged. The wedding will be held before the Chinese New Year—it all makes her very happy. But when the son is married, their original house will not be suitable for the new expanded family. So Long Xiufen started to build a new house.
In the countryside, building a house is not as expensive as cities, and many farmers design and build their own houses. Sometimes, they need the aid of a few friends. However, it nonetheless costs a lot to build a new house, so Long Xiufen saved for many years, completed the house frame-work, and decorated it simply.
For Long Xiufen, the tobacco is the main source of in-come. She has five Mu (1Mu=0.067Ha) of fields and uses all from March to August to plant the crop. Planting the to-bacco is very difficult—after seeding, the tobacco needs transplanting twice, the first transplantation being to nutri-tion bags. When the tobacco is four or five inches, it can betransplanted on a rainy day. After transplanting, the tobacco needs mulching film, irrigation, and weeding regularly. Long Xiufen told us that July and August is the most tired while harvesting the tobacco. In those months, Long Xiufen usually has to start picking to-bacco in the field before dawn, picking one or two pieces from each tobacco tree at a time. Due to the tobacco’s juice, it can be a rather sticky picking pro-cess; she says her whole hand is black after picking, and it is difficult to wash out. At around 3:00pm, Long Xiufen finishes picking and she takes the tobacco back in time for lunch in her home. After lunch, Long Xiufen starts the tobacco-weaving process and until one or two in the morning. She told us that she once did not finish until 3:00am. The to-bacco may not always be able to be used the next day, which hurts her, so she never goes until finishing the to-bacco-weaving.
The tobacco can sell at 4000 to 5000 RMB per Mu (1Mu=0.067Ha) if good harvest . And due to several big rains this year in Yunnan, the tobacco leaf lost a lot and the income dropped to 2000 RMB per Mu (1Mu=0.067Ha). But Long Xiufen told us that due to her use of crop rotation for the flue-cured tobacco and corn with wheat each year to prevent diseases and insect pests , her loss is smaller than that of the other house in the village.
Moreover, she is very thankful for the platform of the farmer’s market, which she has been attending every month for more than three years. She can increase her income by five to six hundred each time from selling ecological products in the farmer’s market. Through the farmer’s market, she has understood the value of ecological farming and developed trust with many urban consumers. At the same time, she has increased her own personal confi-dence in her farming.
Her eldest son, an adult, currently works in the county traffic police office. Her daughter, 16 years old, dropped out of school to go home, and helped her mother on housework. The two children reduce the burden a lot, Long Xiufen and her husband mainly do farm work, and sometimes her husband go out to work .They has created savings over the years. Long Xiufen heard that the government offers subsidies after building—this news gave Long Xiufen greater expecta-tions for the future. She plans to build a few more live-stock circles in the future. Her son and daughter-in-law, she said, will also raise more cattle in the future to im-prove their lives.