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Meli's Journey to the Farm
Jessy, Age 12, Langley, BC

Although Meli couldn’t see through the thick rice paper that covered the window, she could definitely tell that it was morning already. Meli excitedly woke up and opened the door.

A cold gust mixed with droplets of rain splattered her bewildered face, and the loud squawks of animals pierced through her ears into her eardrums, and stayed there for a while.

It wasn’t going to be a good day at all.

The ground was mushy with soft soil and mud, and the weather was freezing cold. It was raining and there was the ferocious wind. Meli was greatly disappointed. Today was her first day to go work at the farm with her dad, and the weather was obviously not supporting the farmer.

She quickly closed the door and rushed into her parent’s room. She crouched down beside her sleeping dad’s head.

“Dad, when are you going to work?” she asked.

Meli’s dad woke up from his deep sleep and smiled as he opened his eyes slowly.

“We’re not going to the farm until you are done all your daily chores!” he laughed. Meli groaned. She thought she would get out of her chores today.

She walked outside to the chickens. Meli’s family had hundreds of chickens on their property. The young and healthy ones laid three eggs a day, and some laid two. Some chickens were too weak or old to lay any eggs. If any chickens reached that point, Meli had to catch the chicken and bring it to her mother to cook. Meli always wished some chickens didn’t lay any eggs. She loved to eat chicken meat, but she didn’t get them so often.

Meli fed all the chickens some stale wheat as she shivered in the dazzling cold. Then she walked along the aisles along the lined chickens to inspect and collect their eggs. As she walked straight forward, she collected the eggs into a big handcart, which she dragged behind herself. Most of the chickens had three, fresh eggs, still warm and sticky.

“Hey! You’ve got no egg!” Meli shouted with glee.

The chicken clucked and tried to hop away in fright, but Meli’s experienced hands snatched the old chicken by its neck.

“Sorry old buddy, but you are on our breakfast menu today!”

Meli locked up the chicken into a separate cage, and kept it there while she dumped all the eggs in the refrigerating room. Then she walked back to the cage to get the chicken. She whistled into the kitchen, where her mother was starting the fire to prepare for breakfast. Meli was happy even though her clothes were all wet from the rain and she was coughing from the cold.

“You’ve got yourself a chicken there today!” her mom exclaimed.

Meli handed the chicken over to her mother and went into the washroom to clean herself up. Her dad was brushing and neatening his hair with an oily brush, to make his hair gleam.

“It’s a tough day to work out in the farm today, Dad,” Meli complained as she washed her hands with warm water. Her dad smiled silently. That meant Meli didn’t have to worry about anything.

When Meli and her dad went into the dining room with their work clothes on, a pot of steaming chicken meat was laid on the table.

“Yes, I haven’t eaten chicken in a while!” Her dad said. Mom looked at Meli and smiled.

“Meli, feast and charge yourself up before you go to work. It’s going to be a harsh today out here in the rain, especially if it’s your first day working,” her mom said. Meli nodded and hurriedly gulped down a chicken leg and spat out the hard bone.

She ate another.

And another.

And another.

Meli’s family ate continuously until the pot was only full with chicken bones.

“That was good,” Meli beamed as she wiped her mouth with a napkin. Her dad stood up and got ready to leave.

“Meli, go get your poncho and your rain boots. It’s pretty wet and mucky out their today,” he said. Meli quickly skittered into her room to get her new, yellow poncho and her green rain boots. She’d only worn them once or twice, and she was glad she was able to wear them again, especially for helping her dad out at the farm. Meli’s mom waved as Meli and her dad marched off to the farm.

“We’re going to plant rice today,” her dad explained as they walked in the pouring rain. Meli clutched her poncho into place tighter.

“Since we can’t afford a machine to do it, we have to do it by hand. How you do it is, you are going to pin the plant into the wet soil, just deep enough to keep it poking out of the water, but deep enough to keep it in place despite the rain. Understand?” her dad explained.

Meli nodded, and she skipped to show her excitement.

When they finally reached their farm, Meli was quite surprised by the size of the humongous farm. It was much bigger then she had thought it would be.

“Dad,” she said, “it’s going to take a while to plant rice on this big land……”

Dad grinned. He knew Meli would be shocked to see how much she had to do.

“Yes, it’s a lot of work, so let’s get going!” he shouted.

The father and the daughter got straight to work. Meli was novice and unsure in the beginning, but soon she was planting rice repeatedly like an expert. Meli and her dad finally finished in four hours of hard work.

“You’ve done an excellent job, my little helper,” her dad said.

Meli was very proud of herself. She thought she might be the hardest working kid in China. Never did she know that there was lots more to do. Meli and her dad walked home, very tired and dirty  from the work. When they got home, their mother was waiting for them with two cups of hot, fresh lemon tea. Meli and her dad gladly took a cup each and chugged the tea down, not even saying THANK YOU to mother. Meli took a long, long nap in fatigue, as her dad talked to her mom about Meli’s first journey to the farm.

“How scared she looked when she saw the great size of the farm!” he laughed as he wiped his muddy face with a towel.

Her mom laughed along, handing her husband aloe lotion to soften his rough hands.

“Oh, don’t worry, honey,” she said, “Meli will become an expert soon, after she helps you out every day.”

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