I am not exactly familiar with the agrarian life. I grew up in a port town, studied at a university in the city, and then spent most of my working life aboard ship. Aside from a couple of family holidays in Cornwall where we stayed in a cottage on a farm, my experience of agriculture is limited to eating the produce and later, buying and selling some limited sub-sets thereof. I know even less about farm animals, save knowing which ones we can eat, which ones provide milk, wool, leather and such like. OK, I know my way around a horse, since Father had quite a few for pulling his carts, but that is hardly agricultural knowledge. And yet, circumstance would have it that I have the responsibility of trying to provide for a small village with only a miniscule knowledge of such things.
At least we have Aoibheann, who, wherever she might be on the crazy scale on any given day, at least knows something of agriculture, albeit agriculture as it was practised in her century. I am hopeful that she can apply that knowledge here, and she will at least have the advantage of not having dragons around to eat the livestock. Though, perhaps, I should qualify that with a conditional of some sort. We did have a dragon visit the old village once, so anything is possible.
I came across the ladies in the village green. Aoibheann, who appeared to be taking some sort of grudge out on the post supporting one of the braziers, Gwyn and Lucis, the latter looking somewhat less incinerated than she had last time I met her. Gwyn and Lucis both were trying to get Aoibheann to stop hurting herself and to come to the tavern so they could look at her hands. Aoibheann, on the other hand (ha ha), was trying to convince them, all visible evidence to the contrary, that she was fine and the pain helped her think. We did try enquiring why she was angry, but all she could say was that a spell had been cast on her so she couldn’t talk about it and neither could she go and find somebody to lift the spell. After some debate, we managed to persuade her to come over to the tavern and sit down. My contribution was to suggest we talk about growing goats and cabbages, which was sufficiently impractical, from Aoibheann’s point of view, to distract her from her problems and therefore reduced the need to go punching posts.
We spoke for a while about various means of providing for the village. Lucis admitted to being somewhat of a skilled hunter, and also skilled in making bows. We asked if she could help educate the village in the former, and so far as the latter was concerned, said we would have to negotiate with Aerodine concerning the use of yew trees, but if that could be arranged, she could possibly make some bows for the villagers and teach them how to use them.
Picking fruit from trees and shrubs on the island had already been discussed, as part of the general foraging. Lucis was happy to help with that, though she did grumble about the various demi-fae that were to found in various parts of the woods. We discussed what animals were likely to be useful for the village. Goats were a possibility, if we could obtain some from somewhere, as they would provide meat and milk, as well as being ideally suited for life on the hilltop. Chickens were a definite possibility – I must talk to Valene about getting some fertilised eggs from somewhere – as were rabbits, for fur and meat. We talked about growing various crops, which was a tougher subject, given the time of year and the limited space available. Oats were a possibility, as were potatoes and cabbages. Assuming, of course, we could prevent the goats from eating them. A minor detail, I would hope, but Aoibheann would know better about that. I asked Gwyn if there was any chance that spells could be cast to provide light and heat so that we could better grow food during the winter months. She said she would ask Siansa.
Aoibheann came up with the craziest idea, but given the nature of things around these parts, not necessarily as crazy as it sounded. Given the variable nature of time in faerie, she wondered if it was possible to plant seedlings in pots, move them into areas of the mist where time flowed differently, and then move them back when they were fully grown, while only a short time had passed inside the village. Personally, I had my doubts, having passed in and out of the mists in various places without, so far as I could tell, experiencing any abnormal passage of time. However, given that is one of the more enduring myths about faerie, it certainly had possibilities. Aoibheann seemed quite taken with the idea and wandered off back in the direction of the mansion, muttering something about needing to write this down. She did also ask how far I had gotten with arranging a meeting with the queen, but I reminded her that I was waiting on the ok from Maric.
Meanwhile, Gwyn was explaining to Lucis about the reasons we needed to negotiate with the trees rather than just cutting them down, and telling her what they had done to the old castle that had once stood on this hill. She also explained a little more about the supply difficulties for the village. Once Aoibheann had departed, she clearly had things other than agriculture on her mind, though, perhaps not so far removed, if you borrow Hamlet’s remark about ‘country matters’. What she did suggest was that we had been neglecting our various art projects. On that, I had no argument, so we bade Lucis a good evening and returned to the studio to continue our artistic endeavours.
- Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
- A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe?
- (Or, in slightly easier terms)
- Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.
- A kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?