Chapter 16 – Youth’s Agriculture Journal (2)

A staffer stood in front of the main camera with a movie slate.

“One, two…”

[July 2nd. 12:02. Take 1-1]

The slate with the editing information closed with a clack. Dojin, standing in the field with the seven girl group members, turned around as soon as the red light came on to signal filming.

“Producer Na, we’re already starting? We just arrived. Let us breathe for a bit.”

The head producer Yeonggwang Na, sitting between the cameras, smiled as he spoke.

“There’s a lot to do today. If you want you can take it slow.”

“Slow?”

“Oh I forgot to add. You can slowly do every~thing and then go home. I heard you don’t have anything scheduled this week, right?”

Dojin frowned.

“What do we have to do today?”

“Before that, let’s introduce the people who came in to replace Mr. Hyunwoo.”

“What introduction. They’re just going to work and leave. Come on out quickly, then. Producer Na will introduce you guys with the subtitles.”

Minho and Jinsuk met Dojin’s eyes and walked right out. The girl idols who were waiting next to Dojin cheered for them, even though they were just additional workers.

Dojin calmed the girls down as he spoke.

“There won’t be any dinner if you girls start thinking about dating instead of working, just because there are a couple of good-looking guys around.”

“Yessir!”

The girl group shouted in a unanimous voice. The show, featuring the grumbly-but-dependable Dojin and the seven idol girls living the natural farming village life, boasted high viewer ratings even though it was on late at night. 

“What do we have to do today?” Dojin asked Producer Na.

“Do you see the field behind you?”

“No, I don’t”

“Today, the plan is to cultivate that field as your own. You guys just need to decide what to plant there.”

Producer Na signaled with his hands and the floor directors who were in charge of miscellaneous items came out and put in front of them bowls filled with seeds. Then shovels, pickaxes, hoes, and even grass eliminator were lined up after them.

“Those are corn, red beans, broccoli, kidney beans, lettuce, spinach and carrots. Plant whatever your heart desires.”

It would be great if all they had to do was plant. But the condition of the field was not so good. Dojin grabbed his own hair as he turned to see the field filled with weeds.

“You picked this kind of field on purpose didn’t you?”

“It’s fun that way. It doesn’t matter what tools you use but you have to finish planting before the evening. We’ll provide whatever dinner menu you want if you succeed.”

“Can we ask for grade A beef with matsutake mushrooms?” Sora asked Producer Na.

“Of course. Just succeed.”

“Sora, think about it. Do you think they would give us a mission we could really do?”

Producer Na spoke as Dojin shook his head. “It is sufficiently possible. The elderly here finish a field this size by themselves.”

Girl Seven cheered with enthusiasm and Dojin stared doubtfully at Producer Na. He let out a dubious laugh. When he was thinking there was definitely something else, Producer Na continued to speak.

“We borrowed the tools to cultivate this field from the village foreman. That grass eliminator is the foreman’s cherished item so it wasn’t easy to borrow it.”

It was an item that can be crucial for getting rid of overgrown weeds. When he heard Producer Na, Minho took a close look at the grass eliminator but he didn’t detect any light coming from it.

Producer Na paused for a bit then spoke.

Since this is a bit redundant I would say it like this: “When the foreman gave it to us he said we could borrow it for free if we send five people to help in the livestock stable. It’s a cattle shed, just so you know.”

The mood changed noticeably. Minho glanced at Sora. Her face was fixed in a smile but it didn’t look genuine.

“Hey we decided we would never go there again!” Dojin burst out angrily.

“Why do you create more work? Just give him some money for the tools.”

“And where would we get that money? Like I told you before, you can only use the money you earn from the farm village. And you haven’t harvested anything yet so you’re in a deficit.”

“Hmph.”

Dojin shook his head.

Minho nudged Sora who stood next to him.

“What’s wrong with everyone? You guys don’t like the stable that much?”

She replied in one sentence.

“The smell is the worst.”

“Like the bathroom?”

“The smell is…deeper. It stabs you.”

“The smell stabs?”

Minho didn’t have a sense of stable work, never having done it. But Girl Seven all seemed so reluctant that he was able to get a vague idea.. It would definitely be preferable to stay.

“Urg, there will be more work here if half of us go there.”

Just as Dojin was complaining–

Clank clank clank~!

Something was approaching the filming site from far off, with a clamorous engine sound. Dojin’s eyes grew wide as he confirmed that the sound was from a tractor.

“Did you call the foreman?”

“He has to take the workers. He even brought the escorting ride.”

Dojin lifted his fist to the splendor of the amazing escort ride.

“If you weren’t my dongsaeng I would’ve–”

Producer Na smiled slyly and feigned a posture of running away.

The tractor followed the road and stopped in front of the field. An elderly man in his 60s got off and Dojin quickly went over to his side.

“Welcome, sir.”

“Yes, Dojin. Long time no see.”

“Foreman! Welcome!”

“Welcome!”

Girl Seven went over one after another and greeted him.

‘Huh?’

Minho rubbed his eyes as he looked over the tractor the foreman rode. There was a faint glow from the tractor itself. From afar, it had been hard to spot in the bright sunlight, but now that he looked up close the glow appeared clearly.

‘The tractor is his cherished object?’

What in the world, such a huge thing as that can be a cherished object!

The foreman looked over at Producer Na and asked, “Director Na, who do I need to bring over?”

“Take the workers that seem pleasing to you, Foreman.”

“Hmmm”

The foreman looked over and Girl Seven couldn’t meet his gaze easily. Minho raised his hand high after a short contemplation.

“I really want to go, Sir!”

It wasn’t a display of courage to say ‘yes’ while the others said ‘no’. What moved Minho was his curiosity. When would he ever get another chance to use a cherished object like a tractor?

He was really curious.

‘Transforming might be too far-fetched, right?’

Sora, standing amongst Girl Seven, looked at Minho with an expression that said – ‘Are you crazy?’ It probably would be difficult for girls to understand his fantasy of a transforming robot.

Also Minho might be able to wipe away his worries about the stable work once he got on the tractor.

Clank clank clank~!

Minho sat in the trailer that was connected to the tractor and looked over at the foreman’s hand movements. The foreman was driving along the ridge between rice paddies, brimming with easygoing good cheer and even humming a tune.

Minho, who was still filled with curiosity, heard a deep sigh next to him.

“Why do you buy yourself suffering?”

He turned his head, nodding to the melody of the foreman’s mirth.

“Suffering?”

Sora was part of the four other people chosen by the foreman. Minho nonchalantly answered Sora who was staring at him like she couldn’t understand him.

“Stable work isn’t that hard.”

At Minho’s carefree laugh, Sora stared again and murmured, ‘He’s like me on my first broadcast.’

“It’s hard!”

“That depends on how you adapt.”

Minho had a different thought. As he sat in the tractor that had the foreman’s energy, his head was filled with the types of work he would do at the stable.

“Clean some cow dung. Lay down some sawdust. It’s one hundred times easier working in the shade of the stable than digging the ground in the scorching sun. How cute are the cows’ eyes when they blankly blink at you?”

“Cu-cute?”

The foreman, hearing Minho’s words, turned his head.

“The young man knows what he’s talking about. Don’t think lightly of the vegetable field or you’ll be in trouble.”

“Right? When I saw the field, I figured it wouldn’t be easy because there were a lot of jagged stones so they would probably need to dig a bit.”

“Producer Na purposely looked for that kind of field. But have you done some field work? How did you know that?”

Should he say it was a farmer’s heart? He clearly felt it because he was riding the foreman’s tractor. The foreman showed a benevolent smile that reflected his years of experience and Minho answered him through tacit understanding.

“Either way, they need to raise a furrow if they want to plant red beans in the field.”

“It’s because it’s weak against rain, right?”

“Eh? Right.”

The foreman stared at Minho in surprise. The other members of Girl Seven, including Sora, only blinked once or twice at the ongoing conversation.

It was the first time that they had realized that the foreman was a person who could speak of such technical things. The lenient fellow who laughed ‘ho ho’ and the person here today seemed quite different.

“Well, you can just jump right into farm work.”

“Haha. Really? Anyway, this tractor is in really great shape for its model year.”

“Of course. It isn’t just old. My joys and sorrows are ingrained into it.”

“So it must be a friend and family that ages with you.”

“Ho ho ho.” 

Minho chatted with the foreman for a while. Amidst the conversation, Minho found out that the tractor was a very old machine, almost antique.

Long ago there weren’t any techniques to manufacture agricultural machinery so they were all imported. This was German made, a four cycle single cylinder, ten horse power tractor–the sweat and the very essence of Yulchiri’s foreman, who never took the easy route when it came to farming. Minho asked carefully, filled with the desire to drive it once.

“Elder foreman. Can I try to drive this after finishing with the work?”

“Do you know how to maneuver a tractor? Give it a try if you know how.”

‘Only this tractor I do.’

Sora, who was staring at Minho laughing joyfully, found the other members all had the same expression on their faces. Then she was certain that ‘That oppa is a weird one.’

“Unnie, isn’t this turning the variety show into a documentary at this point?”

“I don’t know either.”

The cameraman caught the image of the girl idols quizzically shaking their heads in bewilderment.

“Ugh, the smell!”

Minho frowned in front of the fifty-cow stable as he covered his nose. As soon as he got off the foreman’s tractor, the mind of a farmer washed away and the mind of an urban young man took its place.

‘I will die if I go in there. I will die!’

The urban young man’s mind continuously signaled urgent warnings.

“What are you doing? I thought you said this was nothing?”

“I can see what you mean about the deep smell!”

If a bathroom smell was like wasabi, the stable smell was like hot red peppers.

“Someone told me it depends on how you adapt.”

“Uk!”

Sora stuck out her tongue as if she were teasing him and walked into the stable. She was wearing baggy pants and rubber boots with her hair wrapped with a towel instead of the fancy attire she had worn for the opening.

She seemed to have gotten used to the smell quickly since she had done this before. The cameraman stuck close by her and began filming.

“Are you okay?”

Girl Seven members that had come with them followed behind. Minho lowered his hand from his nose and nodded.

“Of course. I’m fine.”

“We’ll go in first.”

Sunhwa Kim, who was known for always following Sora around, entered the stable. Behind her was Seungji Yoon who was known to be stingy, and Hayeon Goo the whiny youngest.

They were the girls who had overreacted, saying how hard it was and so on before they arrived. But in front of the stable they were in very high spirits. Right. Minho breathed in deeply and decided to adapt quickly.

‘I can’t lose face as a man.’

It wasn’t that he was worried about broadcast air time; Minho couldn’t stand to look like more of a wimp than the girls. He was going to fall either way–it would be more embarrassing to fall after flailing this way and that than to fall with a bang.

He walked into the hometown fragrance that made the back of his head throb.

‘Uuk!’

He almost threw up in the middle.

———–

Object: Foreman’s German-made tractor.

Effect: Enables one to access the memories and skills of the experienced farmer, and operate the tractor expertly.

Dongsaeng: younger brother/ younger sister



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