Buuchan-jiji(Grandfather) & Buuchan-jiji(Grandmother)

First, let me provide a brief introduction. “Buuchan-baba (Grandmother)” and “Buuchan-jiji(Grandfather)” are an active farming couple originally from the northern part of Saitama Prefecture. They communicate in Joushuu-ben, the local dialect of the region.

Their main agricultural products include broccoli, green onions, cabbage, corn, and more.

Born as the eldest son into a family that has been running a farm for generations, although it’s unclear exactly how many generations back. Possessing the typical traits of an eldest son in an old-fashioned Japanese farmhouse, he was undoubtedly the central figure in the family, both for better and for worse, thanks to his temperament that didn’t shy away from even iron-fisted discipline when the children were young. Lately, it seems he has softened a bit, but he maintains a dominant position in the household, especially with Grandma. Skilled in tinkering with machines, he enjoys craftsmanship and household electronics.

Buuchan-baab (Grandmother)
Originally from a neighboring municipality about a 20-minute drive from Grandpa’s house, she has been married into the farming family for approximately 50 years. A somewhat air-headed grandma, she has maintained a plump figure for many years, skillfully brushing off even her grandchildren’s impolite remarks with a laugh. By the way, her nickname “Buuchan-baba” has no correlation with her physique. Although I haven’t seen her angry often, it seems she harbors some dissatisfaction with the world and her husband.

From Grandma to Field Grandma

The two of them embarked on pig farming in earnest from Grandpa’s generation, overcoming various hardships to raise three sons and one daughter. The eldest son and daughter are what one might call responsible adults. The two middle children, however, have somewhat carefree and optimistic personalities.

Although it’s pig farming, it’s a small-scale operation that the husband and wife can manage on their own. The children have become independent, and surrounded by grandchildren, they continue pig farming even beyond the age typically associated with retirement for office workers. Gradually and naturally, they became known as Buuchan-jiji (Grandpa of Boo-chan) and Buuchan-baab (Grandma of Boo-chan).

It was the spring of 2019. While utilizing my son, who was visiting home, as a semi-forced labor force, Grandma approached me with a somewhat serious expression, saying, “Second son… you know, I’m thinking of quitting pig farming.”

Afterwards, there seemed to be a continued and detailed explanation, but my response was on the lines of “Hmm, that’s fine, isn’t it?” I thought that it wasn’t realistic for elderly individuals over 70 to continue dealing with them (the pigs). Far from being docile, they, too, have had several injuries, including muscle tears and bruises, as far as I can remember.

Moreover, in recent years, it seems to be a significant burden for Grandpa, who suffers from lower back pain, and Grandma is often seen taking care of them alone.

The rural area where Grandpa and Grandma live, with its culture, dialect, and people’s temperaments almost entirely representing Gunma, is hot in summer and cold in winter. Ideally, it would be appropriate for them to retire around this time, I think…

However, the person in question loudly declares, “I’ll keep going for another 10 years!” With Grandpa weakening, Grandma’s spirit seemed to be on the rise.

The last shipment of Boo-chan went out in the summer of that year. With the pigsty now empty, I felt a bit of nostalgia, but it quickly vanished as farming equipment for vegetable cultivation lined up (I think some organization is needed).

For over 40 years, led by Grandpa, Grandma, who had a life centered around pig farming, had been growing vegetables as a self-proclaimed “home garden.” Now, it seems Grandma’s field holds the key to the survival of the farm.