Monday, June 29, 2015

The world's cutest weed cutter

Let me introduce you to the cutest weed cutter in the world:

Natchan (front) and her friend Kaakun (back) 

Her name is Natchan. Natchan and her friend Kaakun come to our power plant almost every day to help out with an otherwise daunting task of weeding (that is, weeding a thousand square meters of land). I would love to use a friendlier expression like "lawn mowing" instead of "weeding," but what really grows at our power plant are weeds, not a lawn, and the activity we engage in is the War on Weeds. War is sometimes brutal, but however strong the enemy might be, the one thing we want to avoid is chemical weapons (=herbicides). So we fight with traditional armaments: a sickle and a scythe (for me) and a weed cutter (for Nobuo). But with two goats joining our ranks, it's an easy victory.

Talking so much about weeds might seem like too much fuss about nothing, but if you ever experienced Japanese summer in the countryside, you know that if you don't interfere, weeds soon grow over your head (literally). So much as I admire the vitality and ingenious survival skills of Japanese weeds, I have to fight them back. And I am grateful for our goat-friends' help.

Here's Natchan at work:



Natchan is not only the cutest but also the most enthusiastic weeder I've ever met. She never complains of working too hard or having eaten too much of  the weed. For comparison - Nobuo starts whining after 5 minutes of weed cutting and takes a break after 10 minutes (sometimes never to resume again.) Who would you take as a team member on a weeding mission?

Here's Nobuo exchanging weeding tips with Natchan:


Nobuo (right) chatting with Natchan (left).

Natchan and Kaakun are our neighbor's goats. Our power plant  is located in a rural part of Tsukuba, with many fields around. There's a lot of grass and weeds everywhere, most noticeably on the sides of the rice fields,  so it seems that our neighbor wouldn't have to bother to come to our place to graze her goats. The main reason why she comes here and not elsewhere is the chemical weapons - we don't use them, but most farmers around do. That makes our power plant a safe place for goats (and frogs and sparrows....) to graze.

It's a truly win-win situation.  Goats are happy to have fresh grass for lunch and we're happy to be exempt from the weed cutting task. I hope this collaboration will continue for very long time.