Last week we went to a collective farmstead – and unexpectedly ended up participating in 'Zazhinki', an ancient ritual devoted to the beginning of the harvest season. Traditional costumes, songs, and dances left a deep impression on us, the precision farming startup. This day will remain forever in our memory, as well as on our blog.
Last week harvest season began in Belarus. During the next three weeks, farmers have to collect all the crops. We went to the farm "Zhaterevo" near Minsk to observe the process. This is a state-owned farm; they grow grain, potatoes, canola, sugar beets, and also produce milk and meat. There are more than 1200 hectares allocated for crops.
The 'Zazhinki' ritual was performed by "Dolnitsa"–a folk ensemble from Gorki village. As one of the ladies explained to us, in previous centuries, 'dolnik' was a name for a person who lived from seasonal work at the farms. Something like an agriculture 'freelancer'. The folk ladies cut the first sheaf of harvest and handed it to Nikolai Viktorovich, acting chairman of the farm, and Inna Anatolyevna Atrushkevich, the main agronomist.
After greetings from both the farm managers and the combiners, the ladies performed a couple of dances and songs. The whole ritual took around a half of an hour; after that, a simple lunch was served – and the combiners took their machinery to the field. Along with 'Zazhinki', there is also the 'Dozhinki' custom in Belarus – it is a celebration of the end of the harvest. The sowing is also sometimes celebrated.
Let's get to the ground. Each combine harvester is assigned to a particular person. Each combine driver has a rate that he must comply with – one of our new acquaintances, for example, has it set up to 960 tons. After a certain threshold of collected crops is reached, a bonus is given to the combine driver, either in money or in grain. In Belarus, there is a national competition between farms for the amount of harvested crops with the winners praised during the 'Dozhinki' holiday. Until 2014, it was a national festival, but currently celebrations are taking place only in regional cities.
After a combine's bunker is filled with corn, a truck approaches it and takes the harvested crop away. Then it is transported to the grain dryer. In the Zhaterevo farmstead, there are two – one is pretty new, the other rather old, around 30 years of age. The grain is dried at a temperature of +400 °С, and after that, goes to a granary. And then in one form or another, it reaches our table.
We'll stop explaining the magic here. Just enjoy the photos.