Making Fertile Soil – a story for the Summer Giraffe Call Round Two

Written to [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘ prompt here to my Summer Giraffe Call Round 2.

Planet names from –

“Pereira! What in hell are you doing?” Captain Klerkx came around the corner of the tower, glaring at her 2-I-C. “This isn’t a farming planet, this is a military base.”

Sage Pereira straightened up. “And because it’s a long-term military position, Captain, I have two days of leave a week and an extra three days of leave a month. I’m not on the duty roster today.”

“Don’t you rules-and-regulations me, Commander. What are you doing?

“Well, look.” Sage stretched and stood. “The soil here isn’t good for much, but I did a pH test — I’ve got the supplies, bought from the commissary on the trip over, so not using site supplies — and it’s within range for terran plants. And we have that little pen of livestock—”

“And how did that get past regulations?”

“Well, you see, Captain,” Sage let herself smile a bit. Captain Klerkx had the years in the service and the experience, but none of it was on military posts like this one, in the ass end of nowhere. “Doing post work comes with bonuses, you know. And they also come with weight bonuses when we move, because we’re expected to settle like we’re going to be here a long time. And when Sgt. Bermúdez was on leave between stationings, he found a place on Azrail that had these pig-mutations that are really space-happy and eat waste food. Real pork tastes a lot better than the fake stuff, you know. Then Lt. Dragić got the idea in her head, and the things she found on Gerodin aren’t quite goats, but they work like goats and humans can eat them — and they do the whole wool-and-milk thing pretty well. And they make shit, of course.”

“Excuse me?”

“They shit. They have waste products. So, back when we were setting up the base on Caracalla, we figured out that when we penned them in one area for a while, and them moved them on and turned the soil over — well, it’s not rocket science, it’s ancient agriculture. Anyway, hydroponics are good and all, but after the power went out for a week on Caracalla, let me tell you, you’re glad for something that requires sun and rain and work-hours and nothing else.”

“You’re using modified pig shit —”

“And proto-goat shit, Captain,” Pereira inserted helpfully.

“…to grow…?”

“Beans and potatoes, carrots and squash. I hope. And a couple rows of grain for now, more later.”

“And what happens when you’re transferred?” Military bases had a set-up time with full complements of staff, but eventually they were cycled down to skeleton staff when the automations were all established.

“Well, Captain, this is my third garden.” Pereira knew she looked good for her age, but she was probably a decade older than the Captain. “I hear my last two are much appreciated by the long-term staff. On Caracalla, they even imported their own pig-likes.”

The Captain blinked a few times. Assuming the discussion must be over, Sage went back to turning over the fresh, wet organic matter into the dry Claudian soil.

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0 thoughts on “Making Fertile Soil – a story for the Summer Giraffe Call Round Two

  1. Also, the commander having a useful off-duty project on that base in the ass end of nowhere probably keeps her sane. And now I wonder what the captain’s project is, and whether it’s doing any good at keeping her sane. (Projects can include heavy drinking on off hours — it’s even a popular one — but it’s not anywhere near as useful.)

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