Day 181: Growing Batano

Meeko inherited his father’s farm. Twenty-four generations of batano growers supplying three of the nine Elam seats with their magic weed.

Batano weeds originated from a field of jute, into which the elders of the sixth order wove the substance of Urluthe’s Vine of Power, giving it a protective magic passed down from weed to seed to weed. Now that the Vine had been revived into the world, demand for their product boomed.

In order to keep up, Meeko instructed that the rows be planted closer together, two rows where there was one before.

Meeko’s farmhand, Hellem, questioned the move, advising him against the change.

“The roots of traditional method grows deep in our craft,” said Hellem. “And departure from our practices may have unexpected results.”

“We must progress for the times,” said Meeko.

They planted the seeds as he ordered, and sprouts appeared the next day. Long radial leaves gave way to a stalk from which the fiber would be taken, and within a month the stalks were half again higher than the year before.

“See what has happened,” said Meeko. “By trying our new method we have increased our yield by half.”

“Indeed, we have,” said Hellem.

Harvest day came, and they brought out the bronze scythes tempered by the Vine’s power. In spite of their superior strength and sharpness, the jute was tough, and the reaping went very slow, so Meeko had to hire on twice the hands to harvest them.

“It’s a lesson well learned,” said Meeko. “I am lucky to only lose a little in the operation.”

“Perhaps our ancestors learned this lesson,” said Hellem.

“Perhaps,” said Meeko. “But they knew so much less that we do, and one lesson learned hard should not impede the advance of our craft.”

When they’d turned the land over and prepared it for the next crop, Meeko told Hellem to plant the seeds of each row closer to each other so that each row would yield more.

“Do you think it wise, Meeko. Perhaps our ancestors learned from that method, too.”

“We have learned so much in our day,” said Meeko. “Let’s not allow fear to stop us.”

The farmhands planted the rows as Meeko ordered. The seeds sprouted and grew, but well before they reached full height, they toppled, exposing shallow and insufficient roots.

“It’s a lesson well learned,” said Meeko. “It is fortunate that harvesting will be easy to make up the loss in the yield.”

“Indeed,” said Hellem.

The next planting, Meeko was excited to try another innovation. “If we plant the rows close and the seeds tighter in each row, perhaps the closer rows will give stronger roots and higher stalks to counter the shorter roots and lower stalks of the tighter seeds.”

“Meeko,” said Hellem. “Should we push luck to the edge of the cliff? Our ancestors’ knowledge has served us well for centuries.”

“Yet, they do not know the world as we do,” said Meeko. “Demands have changed, and they knew so little.”

They planted as Meeko ordered. After sprouting, the batano strangled each other out, barely getting off the ground. Meeko desperately tended to them with irrigation and dung, but they soon turned brittle and died.

‘How can this be?” asked Meeko. “We bring all our fresh wisdom to bear against the ignorance of the past, and it brings us disaster.”

Hellem bowed. “Perhaps, my friend, what is forgotten is as important as what is given.”

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