Archive for farmer

Healthy Natural Beverage

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby remembered starting work at the farm, but only vaguely. It was possibly a year ago. He used to live in the city; he had a brother there who was married, and parents who were old.

He also had somebody here… a sister, who had a daughter – that’s right! – Naomi, who he enjoyed spending time with. When was the last time he had seen her? He couldn’t recall. He should see her more often, and swore he would do that, but it was hard to find time; he was busy working “Farmtime Fulltime”, as the boss called it. He often snoozed in the forest at lunchtime, but other than that, he rarely left the farm.

He should know his fellow workers better, but he barely knew their names. Beyond “good morning,”, “good afternoon”, and “good night,” they exchanged few words. They worked alone in the fields, and then went to trailers to watch TV. It was a lonely life, but somehow pleasing. It must be, as Bobby had no desire to do anything else.

Beers in town? He had some in the fridge.

A restaurant meal? Why suffer the noise and expense?

Meeting girls? There were plenty on the internet, who were much less trouble than wining and dining a real girl just to get her into bed. Who could be bothered to expend energy on sex anyway? He wasn’t married and wanting kids. What was the point? Pleasure was readily available, if he could be bothered.

Bobby had come to the farm on the WWW programme, a Willing Waterer and Weeder. Though his official working day was twelve hours, he watered and weeded only for 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours at night. That was all he could manage. It was hot thirsty work.

The farmer encouraged them all to keep well hydrated, and there were vintage signs in many places saying Drink Tea. He’d told them that tea was better than water, as it was a healthy natural beverage with vital trace minerals. In the same way that we should eat food containing nutrients, not just empty calories, we should also consume nutritionally enhanced drinks. Their minerals ensured optimal physical functioning.

He didn’t tell them that the tea was Silva Sanguinarus, which had been given to soldiers in European wars. It was an anticonvulsant and sedative, and an anaphrodisiac.

The tea kept them working steadily but reduced their desire to do anything else. It was the perfect dietary supplement for the endless watering and weeding required for industrial organic production. After all, they were only one step away from machines. Right now people were more economical to use but that could change soon. The farmer would then switch from tea to oil.

Satellite Mushrooms

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby was surprised that tomatoes preferred listening to commercial stations rather than official state radio. Commercial stations were full of inane chatter and annoying jingles, rather than well-programmed classical music, but plants seemed to prefer them, probably for the same reason that humans did. They was more fun.

He tried a few different stations in the hothouse, and also began broadcasting in the fields. The results were consistent – always Munchies over Mozart, Burgers over Beethoven, and Wiggles over Wagner. It was sad but true. Crops preferred crap.

A forest of mushrooms grew beneath the satellite dish in the garden corner. Was this dish for television or internet access? There were no cables leading off from it; they must be buried. He called another worker over and said, “Hey dude, what’s this?”

“Duh! It’s a satellite dish. What do you think it is?”

“I know it’s a satellite dish. I mean, why is it here?”

“Who knows, my friend. I don’t get paid enough to answer technical questions. No one has asked me to do anything to it, so I don’t care.”

He pointed to the pink fungi growing beneath. “Maybe it’s there to protect the little mushrooms from the sun. They don’t like too much sunshine, you know. Why did you plant them there?”

People make strange jokes, thought Bobby. “I didn’t plant them there.”

“You did too! You planted them there! I saw you!”

Bobby could ignore him or play along. “Why did I do that? Please remind me.”

“Because you’re a fun guy. Get it? And there wasn’t mushroom under the dish, so you squeezed them in. Now when you pine for savoury flavour, you just pick one!”

Bobby said that’s enough.

“I’m not talking shitake, pal. Why should I button it?”

Bobby wasn’t paying attention, as he’d noticed something strange. Each mushroom looked like an upside down satellite dish. It was an exact replica in pink. Maybe he was reading too much into things, after all that was their natural shape – bell ends.

But there was something stranger. Each one looked the same but also seemed different. Each had a distinctive character, almost a personality. They seemed alive, more than a vegetable should be.  One mushroom was fat, one was thin, one was shiny, another, tough-skinned; one, wet; one, almost dead.

He hadn’t been smoking the good herb last night, so why was he seeing strange things?

The fat one seemed lazy; the thin one, active; the shiny one was happy; the tough one, angry; the quiet one, sad; the almost dead one, well dying, and in a way relieved.

The other worker said, “Look pal, no need to be so glum. I’ve got a trick I can show you.” He fiddled with the dish connections. “I studied electronic engineering,” – he looked up – “things didn’t work out, but I did learn a thing or two.” He hooked the satellite dish to his smartphone. “I can’t get a decent signal in this valley, but let’s see what we can get here.”

His smartphone had crystal clear reception. They flicked through food, health, beauty, action, romance, and crime channels. They forgot about the mushrooms, and any effects these channels may have on them. Lazy, active, happy, angry, sad and dying. They were now affected themselves.

Bright Jackets

Posted in Alternative Energy, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by javedbabar

Katie stood in the middle of the field. It was a beautiful field, with oat grass swaying around her in the breeze, and rippling and swirling further out. It felt as if she was the centre of this motion. Two helicopters hovered above like slim dark dragonflies. Police cars stretched along the side of the field bordering the road, with people and cows scattered along the other three sides. The bright green forests clothing the lower slopes of the Valley set off the orange jackets of the hundred men closing in around her.

Katie felt groggy. Her mind was confused and senses dazed. What had happened to her? Why was she here? The police cars, people, and cows weren’t getting any closer; they remained behind the wooden rail fence running around the field. The helicopters were wavering but mostly holding still. The men in orange jackets drew closer, pacing slowly forward, approaching her individually and together, tightening their bind. This wasn’t their first time, thought Katie. Their speed and spacing was so steady that she felt like giving them marks. If there were a prize for synchronized stalking they would be sure to win it.

Katie’s stomach cramped, and she felt like curling up and falling down. However her survival instinct made this impossible. How could she make herself more vulnerable than she already was? She had to stay up, facing the situation, whatever it was. These words seemed familiar, why?

The men in orange jackets were a hundred metres away. If only she could use a tape measure to check their distance. Maybe they would agree that anyone five metres over or under the norm was not performing up to standard and should be removed, and as they got closer these tolerances should be reduced, so by the time they were within ten metres, those remaining must be within fifty centimetres of their radial norm. If they were careless, many, maybe even all, would be eliminated before they reached her. But theoretically when it was down to the last orange jacketed man, he was the norm. What would she do then? She could always run.

Katie realized that these thoughts weren’t helpful. She was in the middle of a field of swaying oat grass with a hundred men in orange jackets closing in around her. Focus, Katie, she said to herself, focus.

She remembered being awarded a medal, not so long ago. During a ceremony in Lucerne Village a golden disc was pinned to her chest by the mayor, the provincial flag was raised, and everybody clapped and cheered. That was where those words had come from. The mayor said that she had, “stayed up, facing the situation, whatever it was.” Yes, she had, but what was the situation?

She remembered a long tunnel. She was stuck inside it. But she had entered of her own accord. Was it a cave, a subway, a conduit? Yes, it was a big pipe of some kind. All of a sudden she needed to go to the washroom. She needed to pee. Was there something in that? Need to pee? To pee? Pee – to pee? That’s it. It was P2P. The multi-resource pipeline being constructed from Canadia through America to Mexica. Lucerne was slated to be the province’s first multi-resource hub.

Katie felt the helicopters draw closer as the orange circle constricted. They were blowing her hair about. How annoying, she thought – how would she look on TV?

Why did she remember the P2P? Had she tried to save this tunnel? Yes she had. Not out of loyalty to The Authority, simply the desire to be a good citizen. Somebody was trying to destroy it and she had stopped them. But the blame had been pinned on her. It was a case of mistaken identity – or was it? Did a hundred men chase misidentified women – you know, usually? She’d been framed for sure.

Katie was a government agent with an enviable record. She had served with honour abroad and was now stationed at home. But her local investigations had found the tail of something sinister. She remembered explaining to people that she was trying to save the pipeline, not destroy it, but she had become the prime suspect. She had seen something that day. Something they had tried to make her forget. What was it?

The memory returned. She had seen plans for a pump house to power this stretch of pipeline.

It was only then she realized that she had a gun in her hand. How did that get there? It must have been there the whole time. She raised the gun without thinking, felt a sting, and then nothing.

The shot by a helicopter sniper was made to look as if it came from a farmhouse in the next field. The old farmer there was refusing to leave his fifth-generation Old Family home, whose site was needed for the pump house. If he’d shot Katie that proved he was dangerous and needed to be taken out. So he in turn was shot by the sniper in the second helicopter.

A hundred men in bright jackets met in the centre, around a corpse.

Apple Express

Posted in Alternative Energy, Infinite City, Lucerne Village, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by javedbabar

“Bloody apples!” shouted Farmer John. “Falling everywhere! There must be an orchard in the sky.” He was standing in the middle of a field. Where had they come from? He stamped his right foot and held the top of his head with both hands, as blood seeped from a gash beneath his fingers. They really were bloody apples.

Apples had been falling for almost a month now. They were infrequent to begin with, and quite unripe; small, green sour balls. They had become a daily occurrence of late, now bigger and riper, almost ready to eat.

There was a daily hot wind coming up the Valley, ten degrees warmer than the air in Lucerne. It was a strange, localized occurrence. No one minded the temperature, but its power was a problem: it had blown away old barn roofs, caused tall trees to topple, and excessive wear on Lucerne’s wind turbines. It blew hot up the Valley at noon, and returned cold from the glaciers at dusk – and it seemed to be carrying apples.

Farmer John said in the pub one day, “That fruity wind, it should be called the Apple Express, like the one from Hawaii is called the Pineapple Express.” Other people had thought the same, but he was the first person to say it. He was acknowledged to have coined the term. “It’s causing problems. Those apples are landing square on my spuds; almost like they’re aiming for them. Potato plants are bearing apples – or that’s what it looks like when I walk down the rows.”

“How will you harvest them?” said Farmer Tom. “Apples will be mixed in with your spuds.”

“They will be,” said Farmer John. “They will be. What can we do?” No one wanted to think of the extra labour needed to remove the apples. They considered letting them all rot there, fertilizing the ground. But there was no way to avoid some slipping in with spuds. The apples’ moisture would rot the spuds. They’d have to pick the apples out, before or after harvesting – either way it was a massive task.

Walking along the rows one day, Farmer John picked up an apple and examined it closely. It had been transformed by its warm, windy journey. The apple’s skin was gleaming as if it had spent an hour in a bowling ball polisher, and its cheeks were as rosy as a ruddy farmer’s. He took a big bite. “By God!” he exclaimed, syrup pouring out of the corners of his mouth and over his chin. “That’s the juiciest apple I’ve ever eaten.” He felt a warm tingling in his belly like the fire of a light rum shot. “And it’s full of cider!” He ate many more apples, and went to the pub merry already.

Lucerne Valley farmers were happy, they had an extra crop. Gorgeous apples fell on their fields daily. Farmer John called them Mt. Alba Apples, as they seemed somehow linked to Lucerne’s mountain guardian. Holding an apple high in his hand, it seemed a new sun above the mountain, shining blessings down. They sold really well at grocery stores and farmers markets, and were popular with local kids not yet nineteen.

Beyond the City, the 4,800 acre Glaser Valley Farm’s (GVF) owners were not impressed. The Apple Express had become fierce of late, tearing along the Glaser Valley, over mountain passes and across lakes, through to the Lucerne Valley – carrying their best apples. These delicate apples – grown for export to Japan – had very weak stems. Just before they fell, many were picked up by the Apple Express and carried off to Lucerne. GVF was losing a quarter of its crop this way. They initiated legal proceedings against Lucerne Valley farmers, claiming financial compensation for lost revenues, and punitive damages for theft. It was a very short hearing though.

“This case is unprecedented,” said the judge. “And frankly inexplicable. So we will need to discuss it from first principles. I will consult my most learned friends and establish a philosophical framework, based on agricultural ethics and tort law. Please explain the essence of your case in simple terms. Our sponsors require this for our television audience.”

GVF’s attorney said, “My clients are hard working toilers of the earth. They have a decade of agricultural achievement behind them…”

“Objection!” shouted the Lucerne Valley farmer’s attorney. “Seven years is not a decade.” The judge agreed and changed the record to say “many years”.

GVF’s attorney continued, “They invest much time, effort, and money in growing the best apples for export across the world, to improve our nation’s trading balance. The fruits of their labours are being stolen by others. We demand fair-minded justice.”

The Lucerne Valley farmers’ attorney had a bright idea. He suggested that Farmer John make their statement. “My family’s been growing potatoes for a hundred years,” he said, “and it’s…”

“Objection!” shouted GVF’s attorney. “He’s making that up.”

Farmer John provided the names of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, all farmers in the Lucerne Valley. The judge overruled the objection. Farmer John continued. “And now we’ve got fields full of apples. We never asked for them to drop out of the sky. But we know the earth’s cycles. We believe that our brother farmer’s jumbo jet-fuls of exports are directly related to their problem. Climate change is controversial, but here we see it in action. And we are wondering whether to include the two deaths in our community caused by falling apples within the scope of this case, or to file a separate one.”

Glaser Valley Farmers withdrew their case. Despite their 25% annual attrition, they continued to make big profits selling the remainder to Japan. Farmer John continued to have his annual crop of apples for twelve years, but less fell each year. By the time the Apple Express stopped blowing, apple seeds were well established in Lucerne. Mt. Alba Apples became an invaluable companion crop to spuds.