14. To the world of farming! (2)
It is commonly said that autumn is the season to read.
Not too hot, and not too cold.
Is it because it’s good to read outdoors in the cool autumn wind?
But autumn is also known as the season of gluttony.
Is it called that because there are many festivals in autumn that even commoners can attend?
Or does it signify gluttony as the reward for our hard work in the summer heat?
I can answer that.
Because of one simple reason.
The reason why autumn is the season to read.
The reason why autumn is the season of gluttony.
“Autumn is harvest season!”
At my words, Ellis who had been harvesting potatoes with dextrous flicks of her wrists suddenly jumped up and shouted with me.
Although she was copying the metal bat, it’s fine this time because she’s cute!
“Yes, that’s how it is. Everything that happens in autumn is because it is related to this harvest.”
“Harvest time, best time!”
Ellis made a noise of exertion as she stretched out her spine, and went back to her potatoes.
Even though she’s a child, Ellis is already a veteran farmer!
The moment she tapped the potatoes with her hoe, they seemingly crawled out of the garden and into her hands on their own.
“And of you want to do something, you need to fill your belly first. In the spring you need to sow the seeds, and the summer you have to wage war on the weeds. So there is no time to read books or to eat!”
“I hate weeds……”
Ellis pouted as she channeled her resentment for weeds into her hoe.
The speed which potatoes came out got faster.
Weeds are powerful.
To a beginner farmer, it looks like ordinary grass, but weeds stick their heads out from absolutely everywhere.
Day, after day, after day, after day.
Every time their heads were taken and uprooted whole, but the next day they would show themselves in a different area.
There is no end to the war against weeds.
They appear anywhere, and exist anywhere.
The only time the war ever ends is during winter where nothing happens.
And that’s not even a permanent end either.
It’s simply a ceasefire until next year!
“Wait, that’s not the point.”
“Dad, your hands are slow. It’s fine to talk, but keep working!”
I was being scolded by my daughter who had at some point dug up more potatoes than I had.
“You can only ever get things done on a full stomach.”
“Mm, being full is good.”
“Reading is only possible with food. They say books are food for the mind, but they do not fill the belly.”
“Books are boring. Farming is more fun!”
Oho, how adorable as a farmer’s daughter.
“But in order for it to be called the season of gluttony, there needs to be things to eat. If you’re hungry, you are not being a glutton, but simply looking for something to eat.”
“And so autumn is the season of harvest! Is what you’re saying, Dad?”
“Yes I am!”
My little girl lifted her head up.
In her eyes were traces of disdain.
“Then get to work.”
My daughter pointed once at the potatoes she dug up, then once at the potatoes I had dug up.
There was almost twice as many in her pile compared to mine.
“You said that last time as well?”
“I’ll do my best!”
She sighed like a farmer, acting unlike her age.
“Dad was the one who said that we needed to harvest at least half in order for there to be no problems with our plans.”
The speed of the hoe in my hand intensified.
“We need to finished the potatoes within the week, and harvest the corn and wheat as well.”
“Ye, yes we do!”
“I worked hard even while I was talking with Dad so why did Dad not do any work while you talked?”
“I’ll do my best!”
This is not me being scolded by my daughter.
This is simply one farmer criticizing another.
Digging up potatoes even while saying so, her talents as a farmer that already surpassed me almost made me fear for the future.
“Let’s get on with it!”
The sound of hoes hitting the ground echoed throughout the field with no more talking.
Yes, this is the harvest season.
But soon the winter, the season of cold will be upon us.
Winter is cold. I don’t wanna go out.
In order to not go out one must prepare firewood and food in advance.
Autumn is the harvest season, but there are so many things that need to be prepared it wouldn’t be strange to call it the season of preparation.
“To think I’d have to prepare for winter here, too.”
I thought I’d never have to prepare for winter after I was discharged from the military.
“It’s hard for us if we don’t prepare for winter. It was hard for us last year too because we didn’t have enough firewood.”
“It’s not like we didn’t have enough firewood……”
“No! We didn’t have enough! We didn’t have enough firewood just because we had roast potatoes and roast sweet potatoes(1) a few times! So this year we need to prepare enough firewood for the roast potatoes and sweet potatoes we’re going to be cooking during winter, too!”
My little sweeties was increasing my workload for a strong desire for food. Just where had she picked up these bad habits?
-Winter firewood? The mountains’re overflowing with th’ stuff, wazzit matter if we take some!
-That’s my big sis!
Of course there’d only be one.
There were no traces of anyone tracking us anyway, and the metal bat was extremely unhelpful in childcare to the point where I considered sealing it in the shed.
“Alright. Then in order to do that, we need to harvest all the potatoes by the end of today.”
When two experienced farmers put their minds to the harvest, it didn’t take long for the wooden box to fill up with potatoes.
“There we go, that’s today’s quota done!”
My little girl going ‘owiewie’ as she clutched her back and leaned backwards looked very dependable.
“Then the promise?”
“Alright, today… is chicken!”
“Sniffle…… I’m glad to be alive.”
Ellis likes fried chicken very, very much, to the point where I wondered if she had any Korean blood in her.(2)
I wanted to cook up a chicken a day for her, but for the sake of her future, it was still too early for Ellis because she was in her growth period.
“Alright, now should we go put our potatoes away in the shed and go out to the village to buy chickens?”
“Mm! Big sis’ll be happy we’re done early, too!”
Tch, I could have spent some quality time alone with my daughter for the first time in a while.
It seemed that my sweet daughter wanted to bring that damn metal bat along with us as well.
“I suppose we should.”
“Mm! Big sis can’t farm so she’s looking after the house every day! Being alone is boring!”
“Ellis is a good girl.”
“Mm, Ellis is a good girl!”
I unconsciously pat Ellis’s head with my dirt-smeared hand.
Normal girls would have gotten angry that their hair was dirtied, but as a brilliant farmer already, Ellis was at MAX affinity with the earth and simply giggled happily.
After checking again that Ellis had her bum firmly on the card carrying our potatoes, I started pulling the cart in the direction of home.
Three years since we had settled in a sleepy rural village, and it was a very satisfying life.
#2 Their story: A certain daughter’s story.
“Oh my! Ellis! Have you come shopping with your Dad?”
“Yes! Big sis is with us today, too!”
The auntie selling skewers in the market smiled as she saw us coming.
“Oh my, Aru’s here too?”
“Mmhm, Aru’s hea!”
Big sis doesn’t get the chance to get out very often.
Dad’s kind but very strict towards big sis and he doesn’t like it when she goes out.
He’s stopping big sis from leaving the house while saying strange things like the world’s peace would be endangered just by her going out.
“That’s good, that’s good. Auntie’s feeling good seeing all of mister Mellen’s little girls gathered together for the first time in a while. Now, here, a present.”
“Thank you very much!”
“Fank you very much!”
When auntie held out two kebabs, big sis very quickly said thank you and took them.
Dad doesn’t like receiving charity from other people.
But kebabs are meat.
I know that Dad cooks meat for us more often than other families but there’s still never enough meat.
“How much is it?”
“Now, mister Mellen. I just gave them the reject parts that aren’t worth selling. Think of it as a little service for all the times you buy from me.”
“Dearie, mister Mellen’s so stubborn.”
While Dad was chatting with auntie with his wallet open, the kebabs had all disappeared into our tummies.
Dad could scold us for this later but the allure of meat is just too strong!
“She said itza fweebie. We got something we hafta get so let’s hurry!”
Big sis tugged on Dad’s pants.
Dad scowled slightly but sighed, said to auntie that he’d buy lots of kebabs from her in the future and started walking through the market to buy chickens.
“Ellis. Don’t copy your big sister just because she’s doing something.”
Dad wordlessly stroked my head at my apology.
Dad’s hand is big and hard but it feels really good.
“We’re here, the chicken store!”
“Oh my, it’s Aru? It’s been a while?”
While I was indulging myself in the feeling of Dad’s touch we reached the store of the auntie that sold chickens.
“Oh my, mister Mellen. You’re here again? You do buy a lot of chickens from me. You must be good at chicken dishes.”
“It’s more that I like them rather than being good at them, Mrs Rechell.”
“Dad’s chicken is the strongest!”
“Mm, invincible chicken!”
“I don’t know what it is, but it must be really good.”
I nodded strongly to the chicken auntie’s words.
Fried chicken is the strongest. It’s invincible.
It’s the strongest food that nothing else in the world can beat.
It’s unimaginable crispiness can’t even remotely be compared to ordinary roast chicken.
And then, the moment I reach the chicken meat hidden underneath the fried coating, I’m hit with an unimaginably powerful feeling.
Even more than when I’m harvesting the crops I worked so hard to grow!
And then when Dad’s special homemade sauce is added on top, I can no longer escape the magic food that is fried chicken.
Dad’s chicken is perfect.
It’s perfect as it is.
But when Dad’s sauce is added to that perfect food, it turns it to something completely different.
The fried chicken is already perfect as it is.
But it’s still perfect when the sauce does a 180° twist on its taste.
Meaning, a number of perfect dishes the same as the number of sauces can be created.
Dad’s fried chicken is a food that I will never get bored of, that will always stay delicious even if I eat it every day!
Hooray for fried chicken!
“It, it must be really delicious.”
Big sis whispered into my ear as chicken auntie said so.
The drool that had gathered in my mouth had started dripping out without me even noticing.
Thankfully it seemed that Dad hadn’t noticed because he was busy picking out what chickens to buy.
“What, it’s nothing.”
Dad’s kind but he’s very very strict when he’s scolding me.
I know why he’s scolding me but not being scolded is still the best.
Angry dad is scary!
“This, this and this one should be good. Ah, this one, too.”
“Four in total.”
“Because chickens should always be!””One chicken per person!”
Big sis and I shouted naturally to auntie’s words.
Chicken should always be one chicken per person!
Fried, roasted, boiled, everyone should have one chicken per person.
Then fights won’t break out.
Everyone wants drumsticks, but no one wants the neck.
But if you cook only one chicken, then someone gets the legs, and others get the neck or breast.
Of course chicken breast is tasty, too.
It’s easy to eat because there’s no bones, either.
But there’s a massive world of difference between it and the legs or wings.
That’s why fights break out.
Chicken is that important of a food!
But if it’s one chicken per person, every problem can be solved.
Everyone can peacefully enjoy their chicken.
“So that’s why four!”
“So that one chicken per person can still happen even if the grandpa next door steals one!”
The grandpa that lives next door comes to our house quite often.
And every time he does he steals away some of Dad’s cooking, which is precious to us.
Even if I know that Dad’s cooking is so good it can’t be helped, that doesn’t stop us looking poorly at the always-kind grandpa.
Ruining the one chicken per person is something we can’t forgive even grandpa next door for.
“Aha, so does old man Steon also eat with you?”
“Grandpa comes over like a ghost whenever Dad makes fried chicken for us.”
“That’s nice, if even Steon comes over for it then I’ll also have to give it a try some time.”
The chicken screamed as it was killed by the smiling auntie.
There was no such thing as mercy in auntie’s hands which cut off the chicken’s head in a single strike.
Her skills as she beheaded the chicken and plucked out its feathers was something I couldn’t ever hope to replicate myself.
If I dreamed of being a pro farmer, then auntie was already a pro chicken butcher… no, even beyond the realm of a simple professional!
“Mister Mellen’s children are as amazing as ever. Most children feel sorry for the chicken when they see it die……”
“The children know the taste of chicken far too well for that.”
“Hohoho. Although that does make them very good customers for me selling chickens.”
Dad seemed mildly embarrased, but Dad was the one who made me this way.
So everything is Dad’s fault!
Dad was the angelic devil who introduced big sis and I to the magic of chicken!
“Here we are, four chickens, plucked and gutted.”
“Here you are.”
Dad handed over the money to auntie.
Auntie took the money and waved at us as we left.
And now, that chicken was now ours.
Our dinner, fried chicken!
“Tonight’s dinner is fried chicken!”
“Chicken, our lord and saviour fried chicken!”
Big sis and I both let out shouts of joy at Dad’s words.
As our reward for working hard today, we obtained chicken for tonight’s dinner!
Right now… I’m extremely happy!