"Finished planning out the breeding season?" a masculine voice asked in warm amusement as Lei'lira finished changing her daughter's diaper.
Lei'lira jumped a bit. Even now, she didn't like it when men came up behind her. But she recognized her friend's voice instantly, and knew that he would never hurt her, so her nerves settled quickly enough.
"Sorry." Ryu'lian apologized quickly.
His younger sister, Liu'yerin, was standing beside him, and she swatted his arm in warning. Lei'lira smiled. Her childhood friends had been living with her ever since she had seen them being sold as slaves at auction in Rynmere while heading towards the ship that would take her and her family to Rharne. She had freed them immediately, of course, and given them the chance to come with her if they wished. They had, and they had been living with her, and helping out on her farm ever since. Ryu'lian's skills lay more with growing crops than with raising animals, so he did just that; growing a good part of the food that her family and her horses needed. But he was quick to jump in any time she needed a hand with the horses. Liu'yerin's skills, on the other hand, lay more in the home than the farm itself, so she was usually the one who watched over the younger children while the others worked. Tiran, Taerin, Kaien, and her youngest twins Ryl'ari and Mei'rune adored her. Lei'lira was certain that they saw her as a second mother. Teirue loved her too, but at three seasons short of five arcs old, the little girl was convinced that she was big enough to help her on the farm with the other kids, so she didn't like being kept back with the babies. Liu'yerin adored them as well.
"It's okay. And yes, I have." Lei'lira told her friend as she finished changing Mei'rune.
She handed her daughter to Liu'yerin while she began changing Ryl'ari as well.
"Teia said that lunch would be ready in a few bits. Why don't you show us your breeding records while we eat. That will give you the chance to spend some time with the kids before we go out to breed the horses? She mentioned that Evan wanted to show you something."
"He probably wants to tell you how well he did in our last Sulnysian lesson." Liu'yerin offered.
"He's doing very well."
Evan had been for sale at the same auction her childhood friends had been in, and Lei'lira had bought him too. He was only eight arcs old, and slavery was a cruel fate for anyone, especially a child. She couldn't have lived with herself if she hadn't bought him and freed him as well. Especially when he and Kei'iru were best friends. They considered themselves to be "twins" since they shared the same birth trial, but Teia was convinced that they each had a crush on the other, and wouldn't want to be "twins" much longer. The two of them had met at the orphanage in Venora where they had been living along with Kei'iru's older sister Lil'ari, and her best friend, Atreyas. She had adopted Lil'ari, Kei'iru, and Atreyas, but Evan had had someone who was interested in adopting him already, so he hadn't been available at the time.
"He'll probably want to teach me what he learned, then." Lei'lira said with a smile.
Evan had a fascination with languages, and he was very smart, so he tended to pick them up quickly. Lei'lira, on the other hand struggled with them. She was mildly interested in learning what her adopted son tried to teach her, but it was more for his sake than out of any interest of her own.
Lei'lira finished changing Ryl'ari's diaper. She was about to suggest that they all go see if lunch was ready yet when Sai'ryl, another of her adopted daughters came in to tell them that it was. Sai'ryl had been living in Luna's Dream in Scalvoris along with her two older sisters Ei'ryn and Ei'ryl, and their younger sister, Tae'ryn. She'd meet them while she had been working there for a couple of seasons after being stranded in Scalvoris for two seasons while on her way back to Rynmere to sell her farm. They had gotten on very well, and Lei'lira had been happy to adopt them, as well.
"So what the plan?" Eri asked as they sat down to eat.
Lei'lira saw Teia and the older kids look up with interest at the question. It was clear that they wanted to know as well.
"We'll need to exercise the horses first. That will give them a good work out, and help them to relax, which will make it easier to work with them. Especially the stallions. If we try to breed them before exercising them, they tend to be feisty and uncooperative.
Lil'ari and Atreyas nodded in agreement. They remembered that much from the last time they tried to help Lei'lira breed the horses.
"Grooming them should help, too." Eri offered.
"It will put them in a good mood, and that will make them easier to work with, too."
It was Lei'lira's turn to nod. She grinned at Eri, happy that she had been interested enough the last time they bred the horses to pay attention to the process.
"I want to help with exercising and grooming the horses, but after that, maybe Sai'ryl and I can help Teirue gather the eggs?" Kei'iru suggested.
"I'm a good egg 'lector!" Teirue cried happily.
"Me too!" Tae'ryn insisted.
Lei'lira nodded, and gave her adopted daughter a relieved smile. Teirue, Tae'ryn, Kei'iru, and Sai'ryl were all too young to help with the actual breeding part. But the eggs did need to be collected, and if Kei'iru and Sai'ryl "helped" Teirue with the chore, it would give all three of them something useful to do, and allow them to feel like big kids instead of getting sent back inside with Liu'yerin and the babies.
"Yes, you too, Tae'ryn." she agreed.
"You are a very good egg collector. Maybe you and Teirue can have a contest to see who can get the most eggs?"
"Yay!" Teirue cried happily, making the adults chuckle in amusement.
"Just remember to be careful with the eggs. You don't want to break them.
"No break." Teirue agreed.
"I can help Liu'yerin with the younger kids." Evan offered.
"I could read to them, or better yet, maybe I could teach Tiran and Taerin a few words in Sulnysian!"
"That would be a big help, Evan. Thank you."
While Evan might be just barely big enough to help with breeding the horses, that was something of a stretch, and his lack of knowledge about how to handle them would have made it difficult had he wanted to help.
"It sounds like everything is settled, then." Ei'ryl and Ei'ryn said in unison.
They looked at each other, and laughed. Lei'lira smiled at them. It was good to see that the two older girls were starting to feel more comfortable with the other kids. The rest of the meal was spent in a companionable silence as everyone concentrated on their food. When it was finished, the kids brought all of the dishes into the kitchen and washed up before meeting Lei'lira, Teia, and Ryu'lian outside.
Yestertrial, Lei'lira let the kids pick the horses they wanted to exercise in order from oldest to youngest. So totrial, she would let the youngest pick first. By switching the order each trial, she ensured that all of the kids got a chance to be the first to pick once in a while. It was the only way to be fair to everyone. For the most part, she went with age, or alphabetical order. But whenever one of the kids had a birth trial, or something else to celebrate, she made sure that they could pick first.
"Who do you want to ride, Teirue?" she asked.
Teirue grinned at being able to pick first. She was big enough to be able to sit on a horse by herself now, but she was too young to be able to control a horse by herself. Eri was happy to lead her around, but that meant that there was one less person to help exercise the horses. Fortunately, Teirue was happy to ride just one horse. It helped that Tae'ryn was willing to stop after one horse, too. The two of them were close in age, and had quickly become very close. When asked, Tae'ryn had told her that she loved to ride, but that she loved to play with Teirue even more. Lei'lira loved seeing how well her kids got along with each other.
Tae'ryn was the next to chose a horse, followed by Kei'iru, and Sai'ryl. Then Lil'ari, Atreyas, and finally Ei'ryn and Ei'ryl. Since Eri would be leading Teirue around, she wouldn't pick a horse this round. Finally, it was the adults' turn. Lei'lira picked Raiu, while the others each chose a horse. They would take turns choosing one of the Scalvwing mares so that they could each have a chance to fly while the others watched the children.
When they finished exercising the first set of horses, they gave them a good grooming to help put them in a good mood, then let them into one of the pastures to graze while they exercised the others. It took several breaks to exercise and groom all of the horses, but it was work that the family loved to do. And it was something that they could do together; as a family.
After all of the horses had been exercised, Kei'iru went to get Teirue and Tae'ryn so they could go collect the eggs. Ei'ryn and Ei'ryl didn't know enough about horses yet to be of much help with breeding them, so they went off to begin mucking out the stables. Atreyas joined them. Lil'ari and Sai'ryl went to feed the sheep and cows before they planned to join the others in the stables.
That left Eri, and the adults. They started by splitting up the mares into separate pastures based on which stallion Lei'lira wanted to breed them to. Then Lei'lira moved from pasture to pasture, giving each of the mares a dose of saikuru. While she was doing this, the others were separating the stallions, placing each one in his own pasture where the mares could be brought to him.
Once everything was set up, Lei'lira went inside to check on the younger kids. She needed to wait a little while to make sure the saikuru root had taken effect, and checking up on the kids was a great way to do it. Evan was busy giving Tiran and Taerin a language lesson, while Liu'yerin was reading the others a story. She listened to the story for a bit or two before heading back outside.
Lei'lira started with the pasture where Raiu, Star, and three other mares were waiting to be bred to her Neeraja stallion. She started with Raiu. Since her stallions had taken an interest in her Scalvwing mares, she had high hopes that it would be possible to cross breed them, and she was happy to learn that her guess had been correct. Raiu was just as interested in the Neeraja stallion as he was in her. He mounted her in the same way he would mount any mare, and she left them to it. Once he lost interest in her, Lei'lira led the mare back to her stall. She gave Raiu a nice warm mash, and an apple as a treat. Then she went back to work. There were plenty more mares that needed to be bred.
She moved from pasture to pasture, alternating which stallion she bred so that they would have a short rest in between breedings. Teia helped her to keep the stallions calm while Eri and Ryu'lian fed and groomed the mares after they had been bred. With the four of them working at the task, it was possible for them to get the job done within the trial rather than having to split the mares up and breed them on different trials. When they were done, Teia and Ryu'lian asked Lei'lira what her hopes were for this season's breeding. Eri didn't really know enough yet to have opinions of her own on the matter, but she listened very closely as Lei'lira told the others about her dream of creating her own breed of horses.
Lei'lira is using one of her animal husbandry capstone abilities to breed her horses.
Breeding Mastery (Horses): Lei'lira's love of animals, horses in particular has evolved into a very deep understanding of them. As a result, her breeding efforts have a higher chance of producing the desired results than the efforts of a less skilled breeder would. This ability come with three tiers of skill, and each tier offers its own advantages as well as requires a certain number of knowledges about the animal it is being used on.
Lower Tier: allows a 40-50% chance of getting offspring without major flaws and aren't prone to illness, but there would be no added benefit if breeding for desired traits. This works with all animals she has at least 15 knowledges for. This level affects the health of the resulting offspring mostly, resulting in healthy offspring who are less prone to illness, and the health problems that may be common in their species/breed. But it can also be used for some things such as excessive aggression in some animals; her expertise in animal husbandry is such that she would realize that if both parents were very aggressive, the offspring would be as well, and so she wouldn't breed them together.
Middle Tier: allows a 50% chance of getting a desired trait in the offspring to some degree, and a 10%-20% chance of getting exactly what she wanted. But she would have a 80% chance of getting offspring without major flaws or that were prone to illness. This works only with other equines (donkeys, zebras Scalwing Steeds, etc.), and requires 25 knowledges specifically for each animal I want to apply it to.
Top Tier: will produce offspring that are without major flaws and aren't prone to illness 100% of the time. Allows a 100% chance of getting a single desired trait (ex. speed) in the offspring to some degree, and a 75% chance of getting exactly what she wanted. This tier will allow her to breed for multiple traits (maybe up to 3-5?) with a somewhat lower success rate; 60% chance of getting all of the desired traits in the offspring to some degree, and a 40% chance of getting exactly what she wanted. These abilities are possible if both parents have the traits that she wishes to breed into the offspring. But she can also breed for qualities present in only one parent, ex. using a desert breed and a common horse to breed some of the qualities of the desert breed into offspring more suited to her climate with a 80% success rate. Top quality offspring (ex. race horse quality) will be fairly common. Females can occasionally produce more offspring than usual without undue risk; ex. twin foals. (15%-25% chance) This works only for horses, and requires 30 knowledges.
Approval Link: here
She has 16 knowledges for Scalvwing Steeds currently, and 33 for horses. So the top tier will be used for her horses, and the first tier will be used for the Scalvwing Steed mares. Since Saikuru
was used to ensure that each of the thirty seven mares would conceive on the first breeding attempt, I am hoping to gain thirty seven foals, with a 15%-25% chance that some of the thirty one horse mares will produce twins without harm to them.