The work for other farmers collapsed in December with all the harvesting done for the year and most fields either lying fallow or ready-sown with the next year’s crop. I knuckled down to looking after the production side of the farm. I was looking closely at the finances and although I was making a profit from the market garden work and from feeding energy back to the grid, I could see that there was little real income from the chickens. I decided to give them another summer to show a good profit – otherwise they would be going to the animal dealer and I’d be re-purposing that land. With Mark gone I had no need to salve his desire for ‘pets’.
I wanted to see more of Jean and had the perfect excuse with all the grass machinery in need of maintenance. Each visit to the workshop allowed time for getting to know each other better. In mid-December Jean suggested that we go for a meal in town. I agreed and we had a pleasant dinner in Les Quatre Saisons – The waiter kept giving us odd looks and I noted that we were the only single-sex table present that evening. Nothing was said though and we had a good time together. On another occasion we had lunch in the local bistro where we bumped into Claude Gerard as he was leaving. He smiled and greeted us but, again, no questions were asked. Even so, I guessed that there must be talk among the farming community, at least about Mark’s absence.
The question was finally asked when I met Jean Cuvier at the farmers market just before Christmas – “How’s Mark,” he asked, “I haven’t seen him recently.” I had to explain that Mark had gone back to London and that we were no longer a couple. Monsieur Cuvier was sympathetic and invited me to Christmas Day dinner with him and his Wife, which I gratefully accepted.
After Christmas, I hooked up with Jean Armand again and we went to lunch once more. I may not have tried out the bed in Jean’s office since that time in November, but I did find out how it came to be there. Not, as I had suspected, a pre-planned tool for an act of seduction. Jean’s landlord had put up the rent and Jean had decided it was too much. He’d moved out and had been sleeping in his office for just two days when I came along with my tractor problem. Jean admitted it had been too good a chance to miss. I asked him if he was still without lodgings. When he said yes, it seemed only natural to invite him to live at the farm – “Why don’t you move in with me? I have a spare room.” He seemed a little unsure, but I talked him around over a post lunch glass of wine.
Jean moved in on January 3rd. He dumped his gear in the spare room, but he slept with me that night. In the morning, after we had showered, we sat down over breakfast to lay down some ground rules. Our businesses and finances had to be kept completely separate – neither could subsidise the other. There would be no cheap rates for maintenance. Jean was concerned about what the local farmers would think of his coming out. “They weren’t worried about me in the past.” I said, “Why should that change now?” “I’m just worried that they may take their business elsewhere.” said Jean.
Our relationship settled into some sort of normality with our mutual long hours not causing any friction between us. We were often seen together, and there were a few nods and winks, but we were accepted as a couple quite quickly. Jean’s fears of lost business never materialised – once Monsieur Cuvier came to know of our liaison, he signalled his approval and that seemed to set the tone amongst the other farmers.
I continued working hard at getting the best out of the chickens and greenhouses. The bank balance was slowly growing but as I looked around, I still couldn’t see where I’d get the cash I needed to buy another field or the two items of equipment that I was missing, a large trailer and a harvester…
The tale has rather taken over from a standard gameplay series over the last few posts. Now we’ve found our way through the ‘love interest’ section, I think I can continue the story in a more traditional play through manner. But the next post will show the real in-game finances of Ferme du Vieux Chêne at the start of February of the second year and I’ll try to explain them! Thanks for your patience 🙂