Ma Mullins returns to the guest house after her meeting with Hajene Talagra. She's walking with a ~~ relieved ~~ bounce to her step. She's also walking with a pair of socks that she knitted herself, with a pattern of pink hearts around the tops.
Ma lets herself into the suite she is sharing with Jed, which is particularly well insulated. She has no idea why it's so well insulated, but she does appreciate the temperature control.
Ma: Jed, are you here?
Jed is resting after the tour. What a treat to just take a break and lie down whenever you feel like it. He's dozing off.
Jed: Yeah, Ma, I'm in the bedroom.
Jed sits up and swings his legs over the side of the bed, not to be caught napping.
Ma goes into the bedroom.
Ma: Napping, were you?
Jed: Just resting my eyes.
Jed knows Ma knows what that means. He smiles.
Jed: This vacation business has a lot to be said for it. Too bad we can't afford to do it more often.
Ma: Well, they'll keep us busy enough tomorrow.
Jed: Everything go okay with that channel?
Ma: They'll let me see the ceremony.
Jed: Good. I knew you could do it. It's like Bart says. Them channels are all worrywarts.
Ma: I don't see how they could be, if they spend half as much time sitting with their eyes closed imagining things as they ask other people to do.
Jed is a little puzzled by this description, since he's never had a channel work with him using visualization techniques.
Jed: Well, it's not like we have to live with them the way Bart will, and he likes it anyway.
Ma: I guess that Seruffin fellow was sensible enough, anyway.
Jed: Yep. He picked out Bart as a winner right from the start.
Jed is very pleased to have one obvious winner in his family, in a village of mostly losers.
Ma: Well, as soon as he got his tentacles on Bart, anyway.
Jed: Did us all a lot of good, that man.
Ma: At least we still have the farm, and the roof doesn't leak.
Ma's feelings about Seruffin are definitely more ~~ mixed ~~ than her husband's.
Jed: And we're not in debt. And we know both sons are Gens. And we've got Bart set up in a good trade. One he likes, too.
Ma: I just wish he could practice it closer to home. What if he changes his mind about it down the line?
Jed: He'll either stick with it anyway, or do something else. With the money he'll be making, he'll have some choices. And who knows? Maybe he'll get sent to Hannard's Ford, or somewhere else we can visit him.
Ma: That's true. He would be a logical choice to work on our side of the border.
Jed: Yep. He says not for a few years, but we can always come and visit him here in Simeland again.
Ma: Let's see how Vrian does with the farm before we start planning more vacations.
Jed: Vrian's all right. Gegg will help him if he needs it. The boy's really growing fast now he's a Gen.
Jed thinks about how to say this.
Jed: Uh, Ma?
Ma: Yes, Jed?
Jed: Now you've donated once, and met all these other Simes, do you think you'll want to do it again? Donate, I mean.
Ma: If it becomes necessary, I will, but not otherwise.
Jed pats her shoulder.
Jed: Okay, Ma.
Jed is disappointed but won't let it show.
Ma: I know you say you don't feel anything, but what I felt was... not good.
Jed: I promised I wouldn't pressure you, and I won't. We're doing okay now. It's not necessary.
Jed had been hoping that Ma could start donating, so they could save up to buy some more land eventually.
Ma: It's just that I can't ignore what the channel's doing, the way you can.
Jed: It's okay, Ma. You don't have to do it. I mean that.
Jed pats Ma's hand.
Ma finds that ~~ reassuring ~~.
Ma: I know you want to buy back the land that used to be in your family, Jed.
Jed: I'd just like to have a better farm to leave to Vrian. One that can support a family. What we've got now never could.
Ma: Not without your job at the pulp mill -- or at least one or two selyn donors in the family. On the other hand, do you see Vrian marrying a girl who can't accept that he donates? I don't. Not in Gumgeeville, anyway. It's not as if it's a secret, after all.
Jed: He'll likely marry a donor. Two incomes right there, aside from the farm. But I think he'll be happier if the donations aren't essential to survival.
Ma: If you, or he, can add some better land, and some more livestock, the farm should be viable again.
Jed: We've got the two row cultivator. I'll see whether I spot anything else when I do the road work for the taxes this spring.
Ma: If you can put in more corn, you could probably swap work with Gegg for the use of his mechanical sheller.
Jed: Don't have any more land that's good for corn. Hate to plant it on a slope, and don't have much land that isn't. Not enough manure for it, anyway.
Jed scratches his head.
Jed: Vrian seems to like pigs. We could keep a sow, use Gegg's boar. The fodder beets did well, and Vrian's pumpkins. Could raise a few more hogs to sell.
Ma: Pork is tasty, but perhaps we should expand the goat herd as well? Goats can forage where even pigs can't.
Jed: I suppose we could keep a few of this year's nanny kids. I saw at the market at Hannard's Ford last spring, a guy was selling turkey poults. I wonder if it's worthwhile trying turkeys?
Ma: Why? There's plenty in the hills, and Vrian loves to go hunting.
Jed: Might be a market for big fat ones, young ones that you don't have to boil for hours. But you're right. Not too many people in the village are going to want to buy turkeys if they can shoot their own.
Ma: If you're raising poultry, chickens are a better bet. Much handier size, for the bird and the eggs.
Jed: Think we should raise more of them? Maybe get some good stock instead of those wiry little bastards that fly up into the rafters when you try to catch them?
Ma: Would good stock be lively enough to avoid the foxes and other predators? In any case, before we spend money on more livestock, we ought to see what's selling at the Ford market.
Ma: We should ask Vrian, too. He's old enough now to start thinking about what the farm will be like when he takes it over.
Jed: Yep. He did good raising them pumpkins -- they were his idea. He might have some other good ideas too.
Ma: And even if he doesn't, he'll work harder on a plan he helped to make.
Jed: You got it, Ma.