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Rick Carlson, Canadian Lawyer WWW
Elderly Fisherman Buffalo Keepers

 (LAST PHOTO)photographer Rick Carlson.

Buffalo Keepers

My wife often tells me stories about the buffalo keepers in Vietnam. They are symbolic of the burden of poverty borne by many people there. In Vietnam, many families, especially farmers, cannot afford to feed their children. In the past, a farmer who was better off would take in a young boy from a poor family. Better off usually meant the "wealthy" farmer owned one or more water buffalo. The typical job of these boys is to take care of the water buffalo by feeding them, watering them, washing them, making sure no one steals them and keeping them from trampling or eating the growing rice crop.

For a country that is not mechanized, the buffalo plays an extremely important role in farming. They perform work similar to that which was done by horses in the late 19th and early 20th century in the western world.

Preparation and ploughing of most fields is done by one or more buffalo fastened to a wooden yoke. A man stands on a single bladed scraper pulled by the buffalo to prepare the land. Then a single bladed plough is pulled in the same way before planting of the young rice shoots is done by hand. Harvesting of crops (mostly rice) is also done by hand with a sicle.

Over my many visits to Vietnam, I have never seen a tractor being used in a field. The only tractors I have seen are what look like old modified small lawn & garden tractors with their back end removed and hitched to a trailer. You will also sometimes see simple threshing machines ... essentially a very small thresher about 2 metres long with a steering wheel and small exposed engine at the front, chugging down country roads. They are typically hired by local farmers needing the services of a fellow with this machine at harvest time. If you come across one going down a country road, they sound like an old Model T.

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hide photo detail info location: Nha Trang | camera: Minolta 700si 35mm | lens: Unspecified @ 200mm | aperture: f/8 | support: Monopod

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