Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Cash Crop

Does the silkworm run out of silk or does he simply run out of room? Or does another drive take over and he begins to feel a strange exhaustion as all within him begins to change? He becomes still. Beneath the cocoon his outer skin begins to harden and darken. Hormones from his brain send messages around his simple system of blood and gut: cells migrate, grow, shrink, change - a new order for a grand opening.

There is little time. If the silkworm farmer doesn't act quickly the moth will emerge and his crop will be ruined.

The cocoons go into sacks for the large concrete depot near the mulberry fields. There they are tipped into baskets,

of which there are many

spread into trays, and then stifled in the heat. There will be no moth (sometimes it doesn't pay to think).

The cocoons are safe now. They can be tipped out -

thousands, maybe millions of them - then weighed

and shoved into sacks again... ready for the mill.


Blogger Kay McKenzie Cooke. said...

Clare, I'm afraid kindness has nothing to do with it - I just know where to go to read something interesting, fascinating, informative, worthwhile and skillfully written! :) What an amazing number of silkworms!!!

Thu Mar 04, 04:38:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thank you, Kay - I still think you're kind :-)

Thu Mar 04, 08:06:00 am  
Blogger SomeBeans said...

Interesting seeing the whole process, following from your last post: when can we see first product from the Chester silk mills? ;-)

I assume you've voluntarily muted yourself on twitter...

Thu Mar 04, 01:46:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Heh, heh - hello SomeBeans! Sadly I managed to only produce about 100 cocoons, I think - so only enough for a very small, fine handkerchief. They're in a bag at the bottom of my airing cupboard waiting for me to have the inclination to do a little reeling. I'm working up to it slowly.

Yes, I deleted my twitter account because I was spending too much time on it. Instead I am spending all my tweet time staring into mid-air. So that worked;)

Thu Mar 04, 02:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Debra Hamel said...

WHAT? You deleted your Twitter account? Again with this? WHY? You know, you could just remain quiet for a while. And now someone's gone in and grabbed @duddy. This is not good!

Fri Mar 05, 06:52:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I know, I know, I'm sorry Debra. I wish I could resist without these severe measures but I can't/ Somehow I can't write and tweet. My mind is fractured.

Fri Mar 05, 10:35:00 pm  
Blogger Debra Hamel said...

Next time you should have someone go into your account and change your password so you can't access it rather than deleting the whole account.

Fri Mar 05, 11:52:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Good idea!

Sat Mar 06, 09:01:00 am  

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