Most of the stable work was clean up.
They shoveled up the cow dung and loaded it into a wagon, piled in one corner. It wasn’t just waste to be thrown out, but it would become the fertilizer that they would later spread on the field.
After cleaning out all the stalls and putting down a thick layer of sawdust, they found the smell was no longer a problem.
They filled the feed buckets with fermented forage, which the foreman said he had developed himself. When the water buckets were refilled with fresh water, the cows seemed to moo happily.
“Whew! I worked like crazy.”
Minho went out of the stable and stretched his back. His forehead was beaded with drops of sweat. His body was exhausted but it felt worthwhile to have finished the job.
“We’ll cut the tape, and pick up after a ten-minute break.”
A break time with no cameraman following, just as the production staff had said. Minho spoke to Sora as she emerged from the stable.
“Is there somewhere we can wash up?”
“There’s a good spot over this way.”
Minho followed Sora to the stream at the bottom of the mountain. He dunked his hands in the water and splashed it on his face. The stream water flowed from the mountains so it was cool even though it was early summer.
“Gyah! That feels good.”
Fish were cleaving through the waters of the deeper pool. The cool water on his face was tantalizing. At moments like this you just jump right in.
“Excuse me for a bit.”
Minho dunked his body in the water.
“You’re splashing everywhere!”
Sora, who was carefully washing her face next to him, stood up abruptly. Minho laughed as he floated in the stream.
“Sorry, sorry. It’s cool–you should come in too.”
“I don’t want to.”
“You don’t want to because you might reveal your bare face?”
“No, it’s not that!”
It felt like the clear stream water was soothing his body. He floated motionlessly, recalling the stable work. He had been busy trying to adjust while fighting the smell, but Girl Seven was different.
“Everyone was working hard. They kept chatting in the stable, even when it was so difficult. I didn’t expect them to name the cows and make a comedy skit.”
“That way they’ll appear more on the broadcast.”
Sora sat down with just her feet in the water.
“Even with that, the scene will barely air for five minutes.”
Minho stood after completely washing away his sweat in the stream. He somehow felt like he should improve himself.
“Sora unnie! The foreman said to come!”
The foreman was waiting as he sat on a flat platform after cutting a watermelon. Minho was the first to get there and after giving a sign of gratitude, he bit into the watermelon dripping with sweet juice. The slice disappeared in an instant as the coolness and flavor washed over him.
“Wow, it’s really delicious.”
“Have a lot. You made a lighter workload for everyone else. Thank you.”
The foreman smiled contentedly as he watched Minho devouring the watermelon.
As the other members of Girl Seven gathered and sat around on the platform, a small watermelon party started.
The youngest, Hayeon Gu, pointed to Minho who was sitting next to Sora.
“Do you know this oppa well? I saw just the two of you going to the stream.”
Sora tapped Hayeon’s forehead.
“That kind of talk will damage my popularity. He’s just an oppa in the same company.”
Someone had said dating was forbidden to idols. Minho didn’t think much of it and concentrated on eating the watermelon since he wasn’t especially interested.
“This is the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted. Maybe it’s because we worked to our hearts’ content.”
“I guess so.”
Sora was sneaking glances at Minho but locked eyes with Hayeon. So Sora let out a dry cough and turned her head. Just then she saw one of the writers coming and stood up.
“Writer Lee, what should we do now?” she asked. “There’s still time left until dinner.”
“Not enough to do anything long, so Producer Na said everyone can move to the house.”
“Oh, what about the field?”
“Don’t speak of it!”
Writer Lee shook her head.
“They were getting rid of shards of rock for three hours. Dojin almost grabbed Producer Na’s collar, saying he tricked them.”
Minho chuckled, imagining the scene. He probably grumbled but still did all the work diligently. That was Dojin’s charm that livened up the show.
“Now, we’ll resume filming!”
The cameramen got back into position. Even with filming starting, Minho couldn’t stop eating the watermelon so he got up from his seat once he finished the last piece.
“The house is the place where you light the fire in the fireplace right?”
Sora nodded to Minho’s question.
“Foreman, we’re leaving!”
“Oh oh, sure. You guys worked hard.”
The foreman, who was sprawling on the platform fanning himself, turned his head when Hayeon shouted.
Minho thought of the foreman’s tractor when it was time to return.
“Foreman, can I drive the tractor back?”
“Sure. Bring back the other tools you borrowed while you’re at it.”
The foreman agreed without hesitation.
Minho walked over to the tractor parked in the empty lot.
“You know how to drive it?”
Hayeon followed along and watched curiously. She was just eighteen and still in high school. The tractor was older than she was. She probably hadn’t even known that this kind of machine existed.
“What are you doing? We have to go back to the house.”
Sora walked over as well. And as Sunhwa and Seungji followed behind her, even the cameramen came to observe Minho. It seemed like they were expecting Minho to show them something, since they had seen a surprising side of him on the way to the stable.
On the other hand, Minho was wrapped in the joy of finally getting to use the cherished machine. To get the engine running, he opened up the throttle on the right side of the steering wheel and hooked the decompression lever on the engine. Then he began cranking with all his might.
Power passed through the cylinder with the sound of the engine starting.
Clank clank clank~!
While the other four stood with amazement in their faces as they watched Minho easily turn the tractor’s engine on, a scene flashed through Minho’s head.
The foreman lifted his head and looked at Minho.
“Can you lend us the plow that connects to this?”
“It’s in the storage shed, so just return it after using it.”
Minho ran to the storage right away and took out a sturdy-looking plow and loaded it onto the tractor.
Sora looked at Minho. “What are you going to do with that?” she asked.
“I’ll go to the field and come back.”
“I want to go too!”
Hayeon quickly hopped onto the back of the tractor. Sora fell into contemplation as Sunhwa and Seungji hopped on as well. Minho saw her thoughtful expression and gave her a thumbs-up as he grinned.
“You should get some more broadcast time.”
When he said that Sora got on as well. Minho sat in the driver’s seat and skillfully drove the tractor forward.
At the vegetable field.
The battle field was filled with fallen soldiers. Their faces, staring blankly into the distance, all looked as though they had aged five years in a few hours.
“…let’s take a three-minute break.”
When Dojin said this, Jinsuk stuck the shovel into the ground and sat down. It seemed like they really would die at this rate.
‘I can’t go on.’
He let out a deep sigh as he stared at the field that was still only half tilled. The inflamed muscles and spent stamina. They were all useless.
The scorching sunlight was stinging and the three members of Girl Seven who kept asking for help while they pretended to work were scary as well. As a man, he couldn’t keep from helping them when they stumbled, crying, “Oh, oh!” They kept saying thank you hundreds and thousands of times but never thought to leave his side.
Hyorim was the real imposter amongst them. She angelically smiled and spoke softly but she was in fact pushing all the hard work onto him.
‘This is hell. Hell.’
Jinsuk wasn’t the only one thinking this. Everyone was suffering to various degrees.
At that moment, they heard the clanking of the approaching tractor.
Dojin got a drink of water. He spoke to Producer Na.
“The stable team came back? Tsk tsk. They must’ve suffered as well.”
“It won’t be as bad as here.”
“…Weren’t you thirsty?”
At Producer Na’s goading, Dojin squirted him with the water he was holding.
Hayeon, sitting in the back of the tractor, raised her hands up high.
“Huh? That’s not the foreman!”
People sitting exhausted on the ground abruptly stood up. At a second look it was clear the driver was not the foreman, but Minho.
‘Wait, why is he driving?’
The same question was on everyone’s faces.
Minho brought the tractor to the field and turned the engine off. Dojin stood up as well, surprised.
“You know how to drive the tractor too, Minho? You’re a total ace.”
“There’s still a present left. The foreman lent us this because we worked so well.”
When Hyorim and the other exhausted girls saw Minho take out the plow and put it on the ground, their expressions changed. Dojin asked while he looked at the plow.
“Can we till the field in one go if we attach this?
“Of course. We can also easily create the field furrows. Enough to simply spread the fertilizer and seeds.”
“You’re a lifesaver!”
Dojin happily patted Minho’s back. Meanwhile, Producer Na quietly came behind them and spoke.
“Wait a minute. You have to use only the given tools. We can’t keep the dinner promise this way.”
“No! You should’ve been clear!” Dojin said, grabbing at his chance.
“You sold our kids as a cost to borrow the tools. Now what are you saying? And this belongs to the foreman as well. How can you change the rules? I can’t work anymore you’re going to be like this. End the filming!”
The field team and stable team cheered for Dojin after his clear refutation and ultimatum. Producer Na discussed with the writers and finally gave in.
“Rules are rules. You can try it. But you think it’ll be easy to till the field with a tractor?”
When Producer Na said this, Dojin looked at Minho. They would have to do it by hand if Minho said it was hard. They would spend a boring and difficult time under the scorching sun.
Minho lifted his two fingers.
“It’ll take twenty minutes to do a field this size.”
He wasn’t just saying this. Minho skillfully took the trailer off the tractor and attached the plow, ready to show them right away.
“What’s with him?”
Producer Na was in denial. The writers were also shaking their heads in disbelief. But their expressions slowly clouded over and Dojin let out a glorious laugh as if he had gained everything in the world..
Clank clank clank~!
As the tractor passed through the field creating diagonal lines, the bare, weed-filled lot was gradually transforming into a vegetable field.
“Oh, oh! So quick!”
“It took me thirty minutes to till there, but in an instant–!”
“Oppa, drive it!”
“Producer Na, let’s get rid of Hyunwoo and put this guy in his place. It’ll be really convenient!”
As Dojin said this Producer Na made an X mark with his arms saying definitely not. There was no fun in them finishing the mission this quickly. There was no show without Dojin’s grumbling.
Twenty minutes later.
Five diagonal lines formed as if they were made with a ruler. They were artistically diagonal field furrows.
Minho pulled the tractor to one side and spoke.
“Is this good enough?”
As Dojin lifted his thumbs Girl Seven cheered as well.
“You guys decided what to plant, right?”
“Do you think we’ve even thought about it?”
Minho spoke after taking a look at the shape of the field.
“Corn is easy to maintain. Easy to plant too.”
“He says corn!”
The girls chanted unanimously in response to Dojin’s shouting. Minho’s remarkable act didn’t end with the tractor. If the team was just a disorderly crowd before, now they had a proper control tower to distribute the roles and move the work along.
Jinsuk had to just watch Minho without having his hard work pay off.
The writers in one corner murmured.
“What a mishap.”
“Yeah. We saved the scene, but the broadcasting…”
Producer Na whispered to the production staff with his head down.
“It seems like they’ll finish before sun down, right?”
“They’ll probably have some time left over.”
Producer Na sighed deeply and spoke.
“Go into town and make arrangements for the meat.”
Dojin, hearing this, raised his voice.
“Producer Na. Grade A++ got it? Not just any grade A. I’ll eat until my stomach bursts.”
“Matsutake mushrooms too!” Sora immediately added.
Producer Na raised his hands in surrender.
“Save us. We don’t have much production money.”
“Then you shouldn’t make promises.”
“Dojin Hyung. Please.”
The dimple in Dojin’s face grew more prominent as Producer Na quickly gave in.
“We’ll go with the chuck eye steak. How about an earlier wrap time tonight?”
“What about our broadcast?”
“You shouldn’t have brought me here in the first place if you wanted someone to care about that and film with you. What are you going to do? I have nothing to lose.”
Producer Na put his head down. This wasn’t the only day they were filming. He steeled himself and opened his mouth.
“I’ll let you guys sleep early.”
Girl Seven’s country house.
The greasy meat was being cooked on top of the cauldron lid and the fermented bean stew was boiling in the fireplace in the kitchen. The freshly picked cucumber was seasoned sweetly and the refreshing white kimchi was dished out of the buried pot. Now the table was filled with so much food that its legs were almost bending.
Dojin, who was taking command of the dinner menu, smiled contentedly inside the house filled with festivity. As the preparation of the food finished, people gathered in threes and fives and sat on the platform in the yard.
“Enjoy the meal. There’s still one more day left. It’s always best to eat.”
Girl Seven shouted unanimously and began eating. Jinsuk who was making the fire to cook the meat sat down and hastily brought the spoon to his mouth.
Dojin waved his hands as soon as Minho came back from returning the tractor.
“Our ace! Come here, come! I grilled the steak deliciously.”
Dojin affectionately looked after Minho. Producer Na stared at them absentmindedly.
“Dojin hyung. It seems like you like Minho more than Girl Seven.”
“Being here made me realize I don’t need any of them. This trustworthy dongsaeng is the best.”
Jinsuk, who was eating at the corner of the table, flinched when Dojin said this. Jinsuk hadn’t expected to lose his sense of identity at the start of the show and be left to stare enviously at Minho sitting at the center.
Dojin looked at Producer Na with a most felicitous expression.
“Our Producer Na, do you want to eat some too? This fermented bean stew is really delicious. The fermented beans are from the grandma in the house in front.”
“Can I have some?”
“Of course. You can do some field work after eating this.”