The farm in Hoskote part 3
So we started working on the two acres much later than the purchase date, as we did not have the money for it. Probably a good ten years later. But once the fencing was done, an urban feeling of security set in and then there was no stopping us. The gate creaks open, a huge and heavy convent gate, on which I got written -- Gulab Mala after the roses that grow in the area. However we do not call the farm Gulab Mala, instead, Hoski is what it’s referred to by us and the boys.
The mango trees as you can see in the picture flowered profusely and it broke my heart to remove the flowers so the trees did not weaken by fruiting too early. The chickoos too came with little fruit from Lalbagh when they were barely a foot tall. I removed those too so that they were able to gain strength and grow taller. BUT as Dad predicted, since they are grafts, they have not grown taller than 12 feet and get loaded with fruit and are really easy to pick when ready..
Infact for a few years we had to get Narsimappa to cut strong V’s of branches, to prop the branches of the trees which were touching the ground, heavy with fruit. It was so thrilling to go around with big paint buckets and pick the mangoes. We always remembered Dads warning, don’t let the dik of the mangoes go into your eyes or on your skin, as it is acidic and can burn. So we were taught by him to pick, rub the stalk in the soil and stopper the flow with dry mud. How sad it makes me feel every time we remove the fruit, that he is not here to see the farm now. My Mum too, she would have loved it.
We do the same with the chickoos. They get a milky sap which spurts out, which again we rub into the soil and only then place into the bucket. The chickoo sap is really sticky and can make a mess of one’s fingers. The mango sap is best avoided too, though it’s amazing to take out hundreds of beautiful, reddish- green with a tinge of yellow mango fruit. The last time we packed as many as possible and carried to the kids so they could enjoy the fruit.
Three years ago I bought a pair of star fruit ( Carambola) saplings from Lalbagh which have grown fairly well and fruit, but unfortunately we do not get any of those too, because of the children on the farm. One star berry too has grown well and bags of them are brought once a year, and if we are lucky we get bags of delicious Jamuns as well. Jackfruit we hardly see as they are heavy fruit to carry and bring to us, so only when we go to the farm we collect one or two if they are ready.
After almost ten years the Avocado have begun to fruit and Narsimappa thankfully does not like the ‘Butter fruit’ and brings us whatever few grow on the trees. The Ramphal trees give heaps of fruit which we share with all our friends. And recently he gave us a bag of scarlet chillies which he had grown and we did not know what to do with, ‘cause we don’t eat chillies. I gave it to a good friend who made it into a delicious paste, which they eat on their toast I was told!
I would have loved to build a villa there and live away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Most definitely I would think of that, once the case is closed and hopefully keep those rotters out for good.There are so many factories coming up and land being sold off by the villagers for huge sums upwards of a crore an acre. But for now, we go and enjoy the place, yes, it is a drain on our funds as we have to pay the care taker and for tankers of water during the dry months.
But otherwise, Narsimappa is obviously doing well. He has bought himself three cows.The trees get fresh manure now and don’t really need regular watering. He goes to work in the neighbouring farms picking roses. The bamboo that I planted at the back has grown into a natural fence along with the chapdi. And Narsimappa and his wife and family pour milk to the resident snake, that lives in the ant hill below the Litchie trees.
And yes the litchie does fruit once in three years and we luckily get bags of them to indulge in, as the boys do not like them!
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