NYC Gamer              

Frozen Carbonite Farmer

June 19, 2009

"The 17th Century: Not an easy time for farming"

The wooden hut wasn't much, but the bearskin rug on the floor really tied the room together. It was a snug fit for Titus and Andrea, recently married and both orphaned by the Plague, which had ravaged their idyllic central European countryside for centuries. The hut was surrounded by a plot of bare land, but they were an industrious couple and set out at once to develop the land, plowing the fields, sowing crops, and building fences to raise livestock.

It was the Spring of 1670 and Titus set out at once to learn the profession of clay mixing. He traveled to a nearby town where he learned the delicate art of mixing clay from an accomplished Clay Mixer. Titus would return home to share the secret of this profession with his wife so that the entire family could reap the rewards of abundant clay. In the meantime, Andrea was beginning to feel the tingling sensation of impending hunger and fearing the repercussions of starvation, she set out at once to plow the fields so that she could eventually sow grain and one day possibly even bake a loaf of bread or two.

1670 was a quick year with the Summer, Fall, and Winter seasons speeding by. Titus and Andrea lay in bed at night all year long dreaming of one day building a Cooking Hearth. Never ones to dream idly, Titus put his professional clay mixing skills to use and spent months gathering as much clay as possible at the nearby clay pit. While Titus was off in the mud, Andrea decided to volunteer as a day laborer in order to gain some food for their family, and due to the bounty of the Summer, she received a bushel of grain as well. When the leaves began to turn brown and fall, and the summer air became chilly, Titus decided to use his newfound clay to build that Cooking Hearth so that he might be able to cook mutton by year's end. Meanwhile, Andrea decided to wade in the pond to gather reeds. She hoped to use those reeds to build a roof for additional rooms that her and Titus might eventually add to their tiny hut. If she was ever going to convince Titus to have children, she was going to need to expand their home first and foremost. As the happy couple's first year of marital bliss was wrapping up, they discovered a private forest with a nice stash of wood that would come in handy for years to come, and they also gathered the sheep roaming in the nearby hills, leading all but one to slaughter so that they wouldn't go hungry during the long cold winter. They decided to spare one and keep it in their home as a pet, for the time being.

In the Spring of 1671, Titus and Andrea discovered a nearby quarry where they might one day gather stone, but they got queer feelings whenever they wandered near the quarry, as if aliens might just be lurking nearby, waiting to snatch the first unsuspecting fool to mine that quarry. For the time being, the couple had better things to do with their time as they entered their second year of marriage. Titus decided to dig his ax out of the closet and dust it off so he could visit the forest and chop down enough trees to build two additional rooms onto the wooden hut. Andrea decided to continue plowing the fields so that she could eventually sow as much grain as possible, and maybe even vegetables one day. Once the hot summer days rolled around, it was finally time to expand their tiny wooden hut, and the bounty of the Summer meant that their neighbors were willing to pitch in and help them erect a pair of beautiful new stables at the same time. And wouldn't you know it, as soon as those new rooms were built, Andrea found herself pregnant. While pregnant she couldn't do any work in the fields, but did visit a market stall where she managed to exchange a bushel of grain for a basket of vegetables. Through the miracle of three-month conception, young Bradford was born and ready to work in the Autumn of 1671. Unsurprisingly, Andrea found herself pregnant yet again, and bided her time by building a nice pair of Stone Tongs out of some spare wood lying around to help her family gather stone more efficiently from the extraterrestrial-infested quarry. Bradford got right to work sowing the family's grain and vegetables so that they might be able to benefit from the upcoming harvest. Titus left young Bradford and the pregnant Andrea in order to enjoy an Autumn of fishing, where he caught nearly enough fish to feed the entire family. The year ended with the birth of Mildred, whose crib was setup in the room that the family had previously set aside exclusively for playing rousing games of Bohnanza together in the evenings after a hard day's work in the fields.

At the tender age of one year old, Bradford's parents encouraged him to study a profession, and so he decided to spend the beginning of 1672 learning to become a Conservator. He thought this profession would come in handy when his family decided to renovate their wooden hut. Bradford didn't want to ever live in a clay hovel, and dreamed of one day calling a magnificent stone house his home. Knowing that Bradford was studying the art of conservation, Andrea decided to finally brave the haunted quarry in the Spring of 1672 because of the bounty of stone in the Spring and the usefulness of her Stone Tongs that she had built while pregnant with young yet hard-working Mildred. While she was out gathering stone from the quarry, visitors were back on the farm leaving their mark. When Andrea returned home, she discovered crop circles in the family's backyard, which would get in the way of the family's plans but would help fill up their plot of land and prevent it from being too bare and empty. Titus decided that the third time's the charm and wanted one more child to make the trifecta. Thus he spent the Summer of 1672 adding a fifth room to the family's wooden hut, and of course a third stable to the family's fields. Making use of Bradford's conservation skills and Andrea's hard work in the quarry, Mildred decided to prove her worth to the family by simultaneously renovating their entire house and building a pottery workshop, where the family could make pottery out of clay that could be bartered for food during the harvest. When Bradford returned from learning a profession, he had tired of eating mutton and bread, so ventured out to round up the wild boar roaming the countryside and stored them in the family's stables where they waited to be put to use by the family's cooking hearth. Wanting that cooking hearth to be as efficient and useful as possible, Andrea returned from the quarry and set out to build a beautiful yet functional Gypsy Crock out of the family's extra clay.

The fate of the entire budding family would change suddenly in the Winter of 1672 when Andrea, mother of three newborns, decided to brave a second visit to the haunted quarry. Having escaped the first visit with merely a couple crop circles to show for it, she was emboldened and grew perhaps a bit too daring. The extraterrestrial visitors mistook Andrea for Han Solo and froze her in carbonite. The family was devastated. Andrea, who had worked so hard to gather food, plow the fields, and grow her families home, was gone, shipped off to the ruthless Jabba the Hutt to serve his bidding. Never one to mourn in vain, Titus spent the remainder of the Winter building a Well in his departed wife's honor, so that he could feed the children she'd left behind. Learning from his mother's mistake, Bradford visited a more distant, but safer, quarry to gather stone for building a Joinery and a Basketmaker's Workshop so the family could build furniture out of wood and baskets out of reeds, both of which they could exchange for food during the harvest.

1673 saw the conclusion of the family's efforts on their small farm in central Europe. In an effort to fill up their plot of land as much as possible, the family not only plowed and sowed additional fields, but also constructed numerous fences enclosing four small pastures. Cattle was gathered and housed in these new pastures. Finally, the family gathered extra reeds to make baskets and extra wood to make furniture at their joinery. Mildred had meant to become the Chief's Daughter at the end, but due to her forgetfulness, the occupation was never achieved and the family suffered the consequences.

After three and half a years of toil, the single father and his three children had much to show for their back-breaking labor. The town's Board of Examiners awarded the family 73 prestige during its evaluation of the local farms. The breakdown of this prestige was as follows: 3 from the fields, 4 from the pastures, 2 from the grain supply, 4 from the leftover vegetables, 1 for the pet sheep, 2 for the extra wild boar, 2 for the cattle in the pastures, 0 for unused space on the farm, 3 for the stately fenced stables, 10 for the solid stone rooms of the house, 15 for the family members, 15 for the family's cards, and 12 bonus points. The family celebrated the conclusion of its efforts in the Summer of 1673 and decided to wipe out their farm so they could start from scratch the next time and see how well they could fair from the beginning. Before obliterating their three and a half years of work, the family took a commemorative photograph of their collective efforts, which can be seen here.