• Graded • Hay ho, away we go

Job thread (cutting hay in Ashan 716)

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Jachiel
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Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 2:45 pm
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Hay ho, away we go

95 Ashan 716

In the half light before true dawn, Jachiel surveyed the long grass that grew across a swathe of the farmland, and hefted his sickle. It was time to make hay, while the grass was still rich enough to make good cold cycle feed. He sighed as he bent to make the first cut. A scythe was more usual, faster and easier, but a scythe really needed two good arms, and a sickle only one. The thin tuft fell across his feet and he had to shake it off his boots as he stepped sideways along the edge of the row he was cutting. He cut low, with short neat swings, enhanced with a chopping wrist action that sliced through the grass and continued to cut without looking back at the thin line of fallen grass.

At the end of the row, he stopped to sharpen his sickle, and stretched. His back ached, and so did his arm. He wasn't used to this anymore and his stamina for fieldwork wasn't what it had once been. Everything was slightly off with one arm hanging nearly deadweight from his shoulder. He needed a different balance point, and that meant clumsiness and soreness from muscles as yet unaccustomed to that pattern of use. Still, it wasn't as if anyone was around to see his discomfort, or to take over. He tested the edge with his thumb and nodded in satisfaction. That would do for now, though cutting grass would dull the edge fast, and he'd have to stop every line or so to sharpen it enough to cut the grass easily, rather than hacking it down with effort. He turned, rolled his shoulders one by one to ease his muscles, shook out his arm, and then bent to his task again. Each chop had to be controlled, for a wild swing would be as likely to hack into his own legs as to slice through the long grass, and that, Jachiel knew, on top of his burned out arm, would be a certain end to his dreams of farming. He pulled his mind away from daydreams of bleeding to death on the ground and forced himself to focus instead on the dew that sprayed from the grass onto his arm and knees, and on the rising scent of newly cut grass that surrounded him.
word count: 397
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Jachiel
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Hay ho, away we go

On the fourth row, with two more to go, Jachiel realised he wasn't alone after all. The cat waited half-crouched beside the last row, eyes a-gleam with eagerness as it studied the ever-dwindling patch of long grass. It wasn't likely that the cat would deem to soil her paws by helping if he was ever hurt, but it was oddly reassuring to have her company. He considered her for a long moment, his head a little on one side, but she ignored him. Eventually, he sighed and started cutting the grass again. There was a squeak, and a rustle in the grass - and the cat pounced as a mouse bolted out of the diminishing cover. A second squeak was abruptly cut off. So that was why the cat had been so eager - she wanted fresh mouse for breakfast. Jachiel shook his head and kept going. He'd get his own meal when the cutting was done - it was easier to cut the hay in the cool of the trial when it was stiff and full of dew than when it had dried out a bit and fallen over limply. He had the end of the cutting in view and forged towards it with every swing of the sickle. It still took him more than a break before the last tuft of grass fell at his feet and he could straighten with a bared-teeth grin and clean off his sickle's blade. He stowed it in the shed on his way past and turned in through the doorway to find food.

After a bowl of barley porridge, he felt better. He pushed away from the table and headed out again, collecting the rake as he went back to the hay field. The sun was warm on his shoulders as he began to rake the hay into wide fluffed up windrows, and he found if he bound a loop of rope over his right hand, he could slip the handle of the rake securely through it and keep his bad arm moving as well. The more he used it, the healers had told him, the more it might have a chance to recover at least some movement and strength, though so far all he could do was bend it a little and then straighten it again. Without strength enough to grip anything, he'd had little enough options other than let it hang at his side, but he was willing to try this new method and see if it made any improvements. The cat, having also eaten, stretched herself out in a patch of sunlight and dozed as he worked, though one eye opened every few minutes or so and regarded him sleepily to see if he was about to scare up any more hunting prey.

"Not yet," he told her dryly, arching his back against tight muscles that were letting him know in no uncertain terms that they disapproved of his lop-sided work techniques. "But I'll bet that the stacked hay will bring them, and then I hope that you'll pay more attention to your farm tasks than you do to mine!" He would really rather not have his hard-earned hay eaten by mice and rats and rabbits before the ox even got a look in. He needed this cold cycle feed to survive, as much as the merchants of Etzos might prefer that he be forced to buy from them in order to keep the work ox alive and thriving. And besides, there was something satisfying about being able to feed yourself and your dependents - animals and people alike - on the fruits of your own labour.
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Jachiel
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Hay ho, away we go

He left the cut grass to dry in the sun for several breaks while he did his usual morning duties of feeding and watering the ox, going through the crop fields scanning for weeds and other problems, and generally checking over his small farm. There were dandelions sprouting among the turnips again and he bent to pull the young plants up. Since they were so young, he kept them for salad leaves rather than just toss them into the compost heap. Satisfied with what he found, he returned to the hay and took up the rake again. He started on the outside, hooked the rake over a pile of drying grass and pulled it towards him until the pile turned over and the grass that had been buried at the bottom of the pile now lay face up in the sun. Then he moved on down the windrow to the next pile and did the same, and the next, finding a rhythm in the work somewhere between meditation and the simple soothing of a rocking beat. At the end of one row, he started on the next, and quickly fell into the same rhythm. At home, growing up, that rhythm had held and been held in songs and drumming workbeats that entwined with birdsong. He didn't hear anyone singing on the wind here, but he was alone and working alone. He didn't start any songs either, but sooner than he realised, the hay was turned. He eyed the sky above, estimating how long he had before he needed to start getting it in away from the night dew. Plenty of time yet to let it dry, he reckoned, and not enough clouds to threaten him with rain.

He boiled two eggs for his midday meal, and ate them with roasted grains, fresh greens, and fruit, then spent a break or so keeping the inside of the cottage in as good a condition as the fields outside. There was always, he'd learned, something more to be done. He finally returned to the hay field in mid-afternoon, collected the rake, and trotted down to the ends of the lines furthest from the shed. He set the rake against the end of the first line, got a good grip on it, and ran forward, pushing the entire line into one big pile, then trotted back and repeated the process on the other lines. He needed it piled high, with as little top surface to get wet as possible. He looked at the piles, then at the shed, sighed, and fetched the wheelbarrow. He hauled it over to the piles, dumped as much hay into the barrow as he could, then tried to push the barrow towards the shed - and nearly overturned the barrow and dumped the hay out again. He wrestled it upright and tried again. It rolled and tilted erratically under his one-handed guidance, clearly missing the even pressure from having a hand on each handle. Even the rope trick didn't help much, and there were so many trips to make with it. He gritted his teeth, swallowed down the lump of grief in his throat, and settled in for a longer, harder moving task than he'd reckoned on having.
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Maltruism
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Hay ho, away we go

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Come and get your Loot!

(There's plenty more where that came from)


JACHIEL:
Skills:

  • Agriculture +2
  • Animal Husbandry +1
  • Endurance +1
  • Meditation +1
  • Strength +1
  • Tactics +2

Knowledges:

  • Basic
    • Always Clean Your Tools When You're Done
    • Dandelions for Salad
    • Finding a Way to Get Use From a Maimed Arm
    • It's Worth the Time to Sharpen Blades After Every Row
    • Working New Sets of Muscles
    • A Working Rhythm to Pass the Time
  • Specific
    • Handicapped: Converting 2-Handed Tools to 1-Handed Use
    • Handicapped: Some Tools Just Don't Work 1-Handed
    • Hay Harvest: Easier to Cut in the Morning
    • Hay Harvest: Late Rebirth Cycle Schedule

Loot:

No real Loot to speak of


Injuries:

No new injuries


Comments:

Already sent you the PM regarding your wages. Now they are official :D
PM me with any comments or concerns :)
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