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Alien Agriculture:

 1 kassyopeia, Thu, 4th Oct '12 8:21:26 AM from terrae nullius

In connection with the harvest festivals, I probably ought to figure out what sort of things my Altlings are actually harvesting. I came across an article on the Biblical Seven Species of Israel, which looks like it should make for an excellent blueprint in that respect. First draft of my "Six Species":

  • "Flourcane" is a plant with a thick and very starchy stem. It's grown, reaped, dried, and the ground into something very like flour, from which is made something very like bread.
  • Something like blueberries, from which is made fruit juice, from which is made something like wine.
  • A green leafy plant which contains natural stimulants, from which are made salads and teas.
  • Some kind of nut (a small one, not a coconut), from which is pressed something like cream, from which is made something like cheese.*
  • Something like olives, from which is made something, which is concentrated into something like olive oil (all of the others are three-stage items, so this one should be too).
  • Something, from which is extracted some kind of syrup, from which is made something like mead.

I'm looking for suggestions on any of the many missing details, obviously. The stranger, the better, since the general pattern of my worldbuilding is that seriously alien ingredients give rise to only mildly alien products (cliched, I know). So, have at it!

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
A green leafy plant which contains natural stimulants, from which are made salads and teas.
I have no idea what the name of the species is, but I've seen a type of tree that you can break off the end of a branch (with the attached young leaves) and use it to flavor soup. The always seemed interestingly exotic.

They don't use the milk of the domesticated mammoths at all. I haven't really decided why not, and it doesn't really matter. This is the stand-in.
You just made me google whether or not elephants can be milked, and watch a video of it being done. :P

Still, you could say that mammoths can't be milked. I don't know how true this is, but in Nation it's said that pigs can't be milked by hand, only by mouth. Needless to say, this is only done by humans in extreme circumstances.

Another possible explanation is that mammoths regularly feed on something that makes their milk taste awful.

Is this a tree nut or a peanut equivalent?

Something like olives, from which is made something, which is concentrated into something like olive oil (all of the others are three-stage items, so this one should be too).
How about olive->oil->margarine?

Something, from which is extracted some kind of syrup, from which is made something like mead.
Something like maple? Or, if you want to be more exotic, the nectar of some flower, like the honey suckle.

Some other exotic plant ideas:
-carnivorous plants.

-parasitic vines that only grow on certain trees, so you have to cultivate those trees.

-truffle-likes (although that would be more the domain of gatherers)

-useful sap

-root crops

-plants with symbiotic relations with animals, like the ant tree. Actually, your honey equivalent be honey from a plant that naturally attracts bee colonization.

-Detritivoric mushrooms or other fungus. Chinese 'wood ears' are an example of an edible non-mushroom fungus.

Do these six crops make up a companion planting system?

edited 4th Oct '12 10:20:10 AM by Topazan

 3 kassyopeia, Thu, 4th Oct '12 11:55:53 AM from terrae nullius

Green leafy plant: Laurel can be a tree. Was that what you meant, perhaps?

Nuts: Heh, neither of those was among the ideas I'd considered for why they don't drink milk. I was thinking that, either, they simply couldn't digest milk post-infancy, which is plausible enough, or that the mammoth mothers need all the milk they have to raise their own mammoth calves on - which probably isn't all that plausible, considering that these are supposed to have been bred to be as useful a domestic animal as possible for a long time.

I know that there is "almond butter", i.e. a butter-like substance made from almond oil. That's the closest thing to this cream->cheese scheme I have in mind that I know of, in the real world. Hence, that's what I'd base this on, if nothing better comes to mind/is suggested. Apparently, almonds are a variety of prune, and prunes are in turn a variety of roses (rosids), botanically speaking. Was that what you were asking? tongue

Olive: I was thinking that their fatty spread would be "butter", i.e. part of the cream->cheese lineage. But your is an interesting suggestion, yes.

Syrup: Love the honeysuckle idea. It's going to be a pain to harvest, but that's okay; it just means that sweets and mead aren't part of ordinary meals but something for special occasions.

-carnivorous plants.

-parasitic vines that only grow on certain trees, so you have to cultivate those trees.

-truffle-likes (although that would be more the domain of gatherers)

Well, none of those would be part of the "Six Species", I reckon, since they're all bound to be quite rare even in an alien ecosystem, if it's anything like Earth's - which it is, by and large. Those would be the exotic foods and seasonings and medicinals and such.

-useful sap

I considered that, but I already have at least three plot-relevant, non-food applications of tree juices: The myrrh which the myrrhatels and monoceraffes consume, the thing that is used to make the antler-dye for the coins, and the resin which turns adobe into adobete. So, I'd rather not add a fourth, if it can be avoided, I think.

-root crops

Good point. There should really be some kind of bulb or tuber in that list, shouldn't there. What I have now is a stem, a berry, a leaf, a seed, another berry, and a flower. In other words, swap one of the berries. I can't really see making wine from a root, so it'd have to be the olive-replacement. Terrestrial roots are all starchy rather than fatty, as far as I know, but I do not know of any obvious reason which would prevent me from changing that on my world. "Oiltato", maybe? smile

-plants with symbiotic relations with animals, like the ant tree. Actually, your honey equivalent be honey from a plant that naturally attracts bee colonization.

Honey is out, because the bee-analog already has a different, more important function. That's why there's a syrup on the list instead. But I like the idea a lot; I'm sure we can come up with a way to involve an ant- or wasp-like critter in the honeysuckle cultivation.

Do these six crops make up a companion planting system?

Yeah, I thought about that at some point. And then forgot again, so thanks for the reminder!

I think I want the flourcane, the primary staple, to grow monoculturally. That's how I've been imagining it from the beginning, anyway. I'd quite like to use something different for some of the others, though. Let's see... most of them would ordinarily be shrubs or trees, at the moment, which don't really lend themselves to this.

However, the "green leafy plant" could also be a fern; that would be nicely unusual. And then either the berry-plant or the honeysuckle-plant could be a climber which uses that one's stems for support. And an oiltato could be planted underneath each of those, because of some sort of rootsy metabolical symbiosis. Does that sound plausible to you?

Which would leave almond-trees and either berry-shrubs or honeysuckle-blossomed proper trees to grow in the orchards. Not half bad, at this point! smile

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
Re: Laurel Yeah, that could be the one I was thinking of.

What are the three stages of the green vegetable? Vegetable-> salad-> tea?

Re: Milk. Lactose intolerance as an explanation makes sense. Certainly, high levels of it exist in some human populations.

The reason I suggested something in the mammoth's diet is my Dad related some not-so-fond memories of visiting some distant relatives in the country when he was young. The milk they served tasted awful, because according to them the cow had been eating weeds.

Re: Nuts I was just asking about peanuts because, as you later addressed, you were missing a root crop.

Really, the only thing close to a plant-based cheese equivalent I know of is tofu. And that does have a three stage process. Soy beans -> soy milk -> tofu.

Re: rare plant behaviors They may be rare in the wild, but if they're useful and easy to cultivate, it wouldn't be long before they were not-so-rare.

Re: companion planting

I'm not much of an expert on horticulture, so I can't really say whether or not it's plausible. I've never heard of a climber growing on a fern, but I guess there are some pretty big ferns. Would it get enough sunlight, though?

If you want to tie it together even more, you could make all three of those part of a three-field crop rotation, although it would have to be pretty long term if trees are part of it.

 5 kassyopeia, Fri, 5th Oct '12 1:30:47 AM from terrae nullius

Fern: Plant->tea->tea, I thought, where the first one means the dried leaves and the second means the infused beverage itself. Salad would simply be another use of the produce, like eating the berries or drinking the fruit juice instead of making wine.

The reason I suggested something in the mammoth's diet is my Dad related some not-so-fond memories of visiting some distant relatives in the country when he was young. The milk they served tasted awful, because according to them the cow had been eating weeds.

Interesting, I hadn't heard about that effect in milk before. One of the pigments I read up on in relation to coin-dying is believed to have been made from the urine of cattle fed nothing but mango leaves, apparently, though this has recently been questioned as possibly apocryphal.

The problem with such an explanation are two-fold, in my case: On the one hand, the ellefants mainly quite simply eat the grass-analog. The herds are too vast for anything else. Still, I suppose there could be a minor component of their diet that nevertheless leaves a dominant taste. On the other hand, in the long run this ought to affect the taste of the meat as well, shouldn't it? Like, the meat of corn-fed animals is noticably yellow, and the meat of bears which eat exclusively vegetarian is supposed to taste much better than that of bears whose own diet has a significant meat content, and so on. Since the mammoths that would be milked are the same as those one of which is slaughtered every sunrise and sunset, that just wouldn't do at all.

Nuts: Soy hadn't even occurred to me. And I have to admit that I don't really know anything about the plant, except what the sprouts look like. More reading to do, I guess. smile

Would it get enough sunlight, though?

Oh, that should't be a problem. Ferns always lean to one side, because the stem isn't quite stiff enough to keep them totally upright, no? The outside of that curve is bound to get a lot of sunlight, so that's where the climber's leaves would grow.

If you want to tie it together even more, you could make all three of those part of a three-field crop rotation, although it would have to be pretty long term if trees are part of it.

Another good reminder, thanks.

My plants grow extremely fast during the latter half of Thaw (corresponds to April) and Thrive (corresponds to May and June), when they get simultaneously more sunlight and more water than they know what to do with. Several hands' breadths per day wouldn't be unusual, even for trees. They have to, really, because of their usual generational cycle is capped by the wildfires that recur once per luster (every 18 Earth-months), at least for those that don't have fire-resistant bark. In that context, a crop-rotation involving trees doesn't sound all that far-fetched, now that you mentioned it.

So, were you thinking that there'd only be one type of field, ultimately? Like, during the first lustre, they plant flourcane every year; during the second lustre, they plant the three companion species every year; during the third lustre, they plant the one or two types of tree once and harvest from them every year, and that would be the cycle? Or something more limited?

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
Yeah, you're probably right that anything that affected the taste of the milk would affect the taste of the meat over the long term.

I'll take your word for it about ferns.

That's basically what I was picturing, except that each farmer would divide his fields into three parts, and plant each of them every year. One lustre: field1 would be flourcane, field2 3crops, field3 orchard. Next lustre: field1 orchard, field2 flourcane, field3 3crops, and so one.

Alternatively, there could be two types of fields. Field1 alternatives between flourcane and 3crops every year, field2 is the orchard. Next lustre, they switch.

Either way, they grow all six crops every year.

 7 kassyopeia, Sat, 6th Oct '12 2:47:11 AM from terrae nullius

I picture the steadings as concentrical circles: In the middle, there's a plaza with the pyramine (conical pyramid, with a height of "one crown", which means 36 ells or about 10 metres) and the inglewood tree (with its myrrhatel cete beneath). Around that are on the order of 36 roundhouses housing on the order of 216 villagers (plus or minus a whole lot, I've just taken to using round numbers in base-6 for everything). Around that are the fields. Around that are the mammoth pastures.

To keep the mammoths from munching on the people-food before it can be harvested, it'd probably be necessary to build a fence between the fields and the pastures. Because of that, my current favourite is that the nut trees are planted in a ring on the outside, and that they double up as fenceposts, with something like reeds woven in between. Thus, those would be excluded from the rotation - which should be fine anyway, I've never heard of any impoverished-soil issues in orchards.

Which leaves the other five, none of which has to be a tree, which means that an annual rather than lustral rotation should be feasible. smile

ETA: Oh, also, everything changes during and in the year immediately after the celestial event that causes the Rut. I'll explain that in more detail below, but the upshot is that that year consists of a long super-summer followed by a short winter that doesn't really deserve the name, and thus allows for at least three rather than the usual one growing cycles. Got to take that into account.

edited 6th Oct '12 2:54:38 AM by kassyopeia

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 8 kassyopeia, Sat, 6th Oct '12 9:54:37 AM from terrae nullius

Notes, mostly to self:
- Ancient Greek harvest calendar, for reference.
- Field rotation might have a fallow phase.
- Don't forget about idea of burying (female) corpses as fertilizer - obviously not anywhere that's ploughted, though.

edited 6th Oct '12 9:55:06 AM by kassyopeia

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 9 kassyopeia, Sat, 6th Oct '12 3:39:35 PM from terrae nullius

Ah, I just remembered that I'm naming some of my units of weight after agricultural products. Namely, the three units below the "brickweight", which is one sixth of a "fantweight", which in turn is by (my) definition exactly 10 kg. The ~300 gramme unit was tentatively called "pomeweight", being about the weight of an apple, the ~50 gramme unit was tentatively called "drupeweight", being about the weight of a plum, and the ~8 gramme unit was tentatively called "berryweight", being about the weight of one of the larger berries. Obviously, Below that, it continues with apothecary-style terms, "dramweight" (~1.5 grammes), "caratweight" (~1/4 gramme), "kernelweight" (~1/25 gramme), and that's the bottom end of the scale.

Obviously, it'd be best if the agricultural units were based on three of the prominent "Six Species", rather than on arbitrary fruits like plums and apples. And that does work out rather well with what we already have, as it happens: Cane, fern, and honeysuckle are useless as weights, but berry, nut, and tuber are completely fine, and can easily be sized to work with the established scale. Thus, we now have sizes for those.

Second draft:

  • "Flourcane", as before.
  • "Wineberries" are like large blueberries, weighing around a berryweight (8 grammes). The different varieties span the colour range from mid-blue to purple to black. Fruit->juice->wine.
  • "Vigileaf" is a type of fern which contains relatively high concentrations of stimulants. Fresh leaf->teaf leaf->tea, but is also eaten raw (like salad) or cooked (like spinach).
  • "Olmonds" are like large acorns or chestnutsm, weighing around an olmondweight (50 grammes). They grow on olm trees. Nut->oil->oleo ("butter").
  • "Milkwort" are white tubers, weighting around a wortweight (300 grammes). They are surprisingly high in fat and protein, and the liquid that can be pressed from a mash is uncannily like milk, except that it has a rather sourer taste. By various processes, "sour milk" can be turned into "sour cream" and eventually cheese.
  • "Sugarwick" is a type of vine whose golden blossoms produce relatively copious amounts of nectar, which can be concentrated into "wicker syrup" from which can be brewed "wicker mead". The stems are excellent for basket-weaving, aka "wicker-work".

Swapped out the milk and oil plant, because they were very recalcitrant when I tried to name them the original way, and just the opposite this way. Usually best to just go with it, in those cases, I've learned.

I wonder if I can make one of the companion species the ant (or whatever) symbiote. In would be awesome in that the ants would automatically protect the whole planting from greedy rodents and other insects. But it would also mean that the whole field is teeming with ants, which seems a bit over the top, no?

edited 6th Oct '12 3:45:00 PM by kassyopeia

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 10 kassyopeia, Sun, 7th Oct '12 10:03:02 AM from terrae nullius

Semi-final version:

  • "Flourcane", as before.
  • "Yneberry", rhymes with "dine" and grows on ynebriar shrubs, which are planted around the outside of the field, serving as a thorny hedge which keeps out ellefants and other would-be intruders. Yneberries can be eaten or juiced. Or, when sun-dried, they become "drynes" which are tart and slightly alcoholic. "Wyne" is made from these drynes, not from the ordinary juice.
  • "Vigileaf", as before.
  • "Olmonds", as before, except that the olms now grow around the inside of the field, providing welcome shade to the roundhouses.
  • "Milkwort", as before.
  • "Bindsweet", new name but otherwise as before.

The briars live in symbiosis with ynets (ryhmes with "dine-ts"), which are pretty much ants. Thus, the hedge that protects the village is in turn protected by aggressive insects. Details to be worked out.

Burials are sited just outside the village, and a new olm is planted on each grave, which is why the trees are on the inside of the fields. After one lustre, the bones are exhumed without uprooting the tree (somehow).

I think that's most of it. The only thing that hasn't quite fallen into place so far is how to arrange the remaining four species elegantly into companion and/or rotation schemes... more soon. smile

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 11 kassyopeia, Mon, 8th Oct '12 5:22:04 AM from terrae nullius

Okay, I think I figured out the missing piece now. The fields go through four stages - "cane" (flourcane), "species" (the leaf, the wort, and the bind planted companionably just as originally suggested), "garden" (meaning everything that's not one of the Six Species and that's annual, like flowers and vegetables and perhaps reeds and so on), and "fallow" (meaning some sort of nitrogen-fixing inedible weed).

If the first year with its super-summer permits three growing seasons, then I can fit two whole rotations through those four stages into one six-year lustre.

The circular acreage of the steading would simply be divided into four quarter-circles along lines oriented diagonally to the cardinal directions. Those can then be named based on those directions, in the vein of "the northern quadrant", and since those cardinal directions are in turn named based on the physical elements, there'd be the "ice farthing" ("iceward" means north), the "water farthing" (east), the "air farthing" (south), and the "rock farthing" (west). Note that I'm using "farthing" rather than quarter or quadrant not to imitate Tolkien but because agricultural nomenclature in Altling should derive from Germanic rather than Latinate roots, so this is simply the most appropriate available term, that I can think of.

Choosing a four-part division has the additional advantage of making the circle-section rectangular, which is helpful for things like ploughing. Also, the circular fields make the concept of a "crop rotation" a very literal one, since from a bird's eye perspective and fast-forwarded, the whole thing would indeed appear to be rotating like a wheel around the hub of the steading, as each stage moves from one farthing to the next from year to year - sunwise, of course. cool

I think that concludes this thread, unless someone spots one major oversight or another!

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 12 Noaqiyeum, Mon, 8th Oct '12 2:33:52 PM from across the gulf of space Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
the it-thingy
Aw, I missed it. <_<

The only contribution I can really think to make is that the yneberry and some of the related names are unintuitive to me - I want to pronounce them 'eye-ne-berry', 'eye-ne-briar', and 'eye-nets'. Is there a particular origin for that spelling?
DRYH
OEOE
NSUA
TTRD
 13 kassyopeia, Mon, 8th Oct '12 2:38:31 PM from terrae nullius

Details, details, details. List now re-ordered by harvest schedule. Summer comprises the seasons of Thrive, Yield, and Harrow; winter the seasons of Hoar, Yule, and Thaw, in that order.

Leaf (early Thrive - early Yield)
  • Many species live epiphytically (non-parasitically) on trees etc, using their roots only for clinging. That bodes well for coexistence with the tuber, I should think.
  • Harvested by plucking the leaflets from the bottom of the stem, thus providing more light to the companions while leaving the tip region intact for further growth.
  • Reproduction via bractlets which "are yellow, but turn red on the eve of Midsummer Day", which is when the tip region has to be cut to extract the seeds for re-planting, thus killing the plant.

Bind (early Yield)
  • The blossoms grow in Thrive, the Nectar collects inside those at the rate of about a drop per day. The main harvest consists in then lopping off the heads of the blossoms and collecting the nectar as it drips out. Fruits grow from the bottom parts, and the secondary harvest is late Yield collects those for re-planting.
  • Raw yield ~0.01 litres / m^2 / day, ~0.1 litres / m^2 / year
    • Sugar content averages 50%, lowest at start and end of flowering season and highest in the middle.

Wort (early Yield - early Harrow)
  • Is a woody shrub.
  • "Milkwort is harvested by hand by raising the lower part of the stem and pulling the roots out of the ground, then removing them from the base of the plant. The upper parts of the stems with the leaves are plucked off before harvest. It is propagated by cuttings of the stem."
  • Raw yield ~1 kg / m^2, milk yield double that (add 1 part water per 1 part tuber).
    • To make milk, "the tubers are cut up and put in a pot to boil, then mashed and stirred to a soft consistency".
      • 36 litres milk yield 6 litres cream yield 1 litre butter or cheese.

Cane (late Yield)
  • "In hand harvesting, the field is first set on fire. The fire burns dry leaves, and kills any lurking venomous snakes, without harming the stalks and roots. Harvesters then cut the cane just above ground-level using cane knives or machetes. A skilled harvester can cut 500 kilograms of cane per hour."
  • Raw yield ~10 kg / m^2, flour yield ~1 kg / m^2.
  • Reproduction via seeds ("blooms in summer and seeds in fall") or cuttings.

Olmond (early Hoar)
  • First flowers right after last frost, ripe nuts right before first frost (8 months apart!)
  • Raw yield ~100 kg / tree, ~1 kg / m^2, oil yield ~10 litres / tree, ~0.1 kg / m^2.
  • Reproduction via cuttings.

Berry (early Thaw)
  • qv

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 14 Noaqiyeum, Mon, 8th Oct '12 2:48:36 PM from across the gulf of space Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
the it-thingy
qv?
DRYH
OEOE
NSUA
TTRD
 15 kassyopeia, Mon, 8th Oct '12 2:54:54 PM from terrae nullius

[up][up][up] Yes, the time for brainstorming has come and gone, I'm afraid. If you can be bothered to go through the details (or maybe you already did), criticisms would be just as welcome, though. Oh, and I could definitely use your take on the spinoff thread, which should be even more up your alley! smile

The reasoning behind "yne" is my usual brand of whimsical etymology, naturally:

- "wyne, from Middle Altling 'vyne', from Old Altling 'aevyne', from '[a drink] aev [=of] yne'"
- "ynebriate, 'to intoxicate', from Middle Altling 'ynebreret', from 'ynebrere' [ynebriar] + '-et' [verbal suffix], referring to the effect of drinking wyne"

Also, the ynebriar hedge may or may not be called "The Lyne". So, the pronunciation was chosen principally so that "wyne" and "lyne" sound like "wine" and "line". One could make the opposing case on the basis of making "ynebriate" sound like "inebriate", but I figured I could claim that the "e" would have been voiced originally and become silent at some point in the interim. If "ynebriate" is a lesser-used term than the others, which stands to reason since "drunk" exists as a simpler and shorter synonym, it may just have retained the older pronunciation as happens sometimes.

Long story short, the pronunciation is good the way it is. If there is a problem, as you suggest, it needs to be addressed by changing the spelling to match better. smile

[up] qv = quod vide = "see there", or, in the context of hypertext, more like "follow the link"

edited 8th Oct '12 3:07:47 PM by kassyopeia

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 16 Noaqiyeum, Mon, 8th Oct '12 4:06:05 PM from across the gulf of space Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
the it-thingy
I think if you just drop the -e whenever it's followed by another letter it'd be fine. (Ynberries, ynbriar, ynts.) That might be read as een- or in-, though.

I was wondering about the etymology to see how different the spellings could be; ein- or eyn- would be much more intuitive, for instance, but they might not fit with the rest of the language.
DRYH
OEOE
NSUA
TTRD
 17 kassyopeia, Tue, 9th Oct '12 9:29:05 AM from terrae nullius

Generalizing the above yield figures and putting them in in-universe units:

Weights of bulk foodstuffs are measured in "worts", the typical weight of a milkwort, ~300 grammes to us, subjectively ~1.5 kg to an Altling. Areas are measured in "square ells", since an ell happens to be the typical furrow spacing in plantings, ~ a square foot to us, subjectively a square anatomical ell (elbow to fingertip) to an Altling. Thus, the unit of yield is the wort per square ell, abbreviated as wpse below. I'm going to round down to the next order of magnitude in each case, to account for the fact that the earlier figures were at least in part based on present-day high-tech agricultural methodology.

  • Leaf and cane, for which the entire plant is harvested, whether whole as in the first case or gradually as in the second, give yields on the order of 1 wpse.
  • Wort and olmond, for which only certain highly nutritious plant structures are harvested, give yields on the order of 1/6 wpse - which makes a lot of sense, if each companion planting results in one wort (weighing one wort, of course), and if those plantings are somewhat wider spaced than the typical ell due to their higher complexity.
  • Bind, for which only a part (a secretion) of a certain plant structure (the flower) is harvested, gives yields on the order of 1/36 wpse.
  • Berry is a bit more complicated, because of the involvement of the ynets. The raw yield would fall into the middle range, i.e. 1/6 wpse. As I managed to find out after some tedious research, firstly, a high-density natural ant population constitutes a biomass of a few grammes per square metre of territory, which corresponds to 1/6^4 wpse. Artificially boosted populations can exceed that, though, so let's call it 1/6^3 wpse. Secondly, ants have a food intake on the order of their body mass per Earth-month (which, surprisingly, is not very different from that of humans). Thus, they eat less than 1/36 wpse in the course of a year, leaving the bulk for the Altlings. In other words, the scheme is basically viable, and the raw yield should again be 1/6 wpse.

Each of the farthings measures the better part of a square "furlong", which is the length unit four orders of magnitude up from an ell. Accounting for pre-industrial inefficiencies a second time, call that 6^7 square ells. Multiplying the areal yields by that factor gives the total specific food supplies per steading and year. Dividing that in turn by the number of inhabitants, 6^3, and the number of days in a year, 36, then yields the total specific food supply per capita and day. Which combines to a factor of 36 to multiply each of the above figures by:

  • Leaf: 36w raw -> 36w vegetable -> 1w tea leaves
  • Bind: 1w raw -> 1w syrup -> 1w mead
  • Wort: 6w raw -> 6w milk -> 1w cream -> 1/6w cheese
  • Cane: 36w raw -> 6w flour -> 6w bread
  • Olmond: 6w raw -> 1w oil -> 1w "butter"
  • Berry: 6w raw -> TBD

Together with another perhaps 1w of edible produce from the garden farthing, and perhaps 1/6w of mammoth meat from the daily slaughter, that needs to fill their dietary needs, with enough of each left over to supply the towns. Which, I'm glad to see, it does, and then some.

The figure for the amount of leaf that's produced is clearly excessive, even. But that's probably a good thing, because it means that they can use the bulk of it for hay, to get the mammoths through the winter when their usual wild-growing staple, clover, isn't available. Hah!

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 18 kassyopeia, Tue, 9th Oct '12 10:24:36 AM from terrae nullius

[up][up] Right, now spelling: I'd say the most appropriate analogies for "yneberry" and "ynet", respectively, are words like "wineglass" and "winery". In the first case, it's a compound word, so each half retains its ordinary pronunciation. I can write it as "yne-berry" or "yne berry", though, if that helps. In the second case, it's a proper new word, and the previously silent vowel is now voiced to make it "roll off the tongue" more easily - "wine-(schwa)-ry".

The problem is that there is, as far as I can determine, only one English word which does have the sequence of sounds I want for the word "ynet", and that's "pint". I fed it into one of those rhyming dictionary sites and, indeed, it doesn't seem to have any rhymes. Consequently, I'd suggest that English simply doesn't have a sequence of letters that would readily be understood to spell out "ynet", because there are no precedents for it. "Pint" doesn't count as one because its pronunciation is an aberration, "-int-" being pronounced with an "ee" rather than an "eye" everywhere else.

Simply dropping the "e" doesn't work because the existing word "in" pretty much nails down the pronunciation of "inberry" and "ynberry". And using a diphthong doesn't really work either: "Ain", "ayn", "ein", and "eyn" would all be pronounced to rhyme with "day" rather than "by", all else being equal. "Ui" or "uy" might work, but "wuyn" is hardly recognizable as "wine" any longer.

The only variant which, IMO, might work better than what I have is to interpose a "g" to mark the consonantal "y" sound which, for many English-speakers, is more or less indistinguishable from the vocalic "y" sound - that is, "ygnt" or "ignt". "Wign" isn't quite as good as "wyne", but falls within the acceptable range. What's your take on that one?

An alternative, rather more radical, idea which occurred to me in the interim is to call it an "oozeberry", with yields "booze" for the drink. One would just have to come up with something good to tie the pseudo-ants into that one.

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 19 Noaqiyeum, Tue, 9th Oct '12 1:51:54 PM from across the gulf of space Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
the it-thingy
[up] The hyphen is kind of inelegant, but yne-berry works in that regard. In ynets, perhaps you could allow the e to slip to the end (yntes)?

As far as the alternate spellings, though - I agree that 'ain' and 'ayn' are not useful, but I read 'ein' rhyming with 'thine' rather than 'skein', though plausibly because German. :P (The intended pronunciation of 'ynets' rhymes pretty much exactly with 'einz'.) However, English does have some precedents as well ('either', in some dialects, comes to mind)... Moreover, the pronunciation also holds for wein and drein (whereas weyn and dreyn would indeed suggest wane and drain).

I understand the idea behind ygn- and ign-, but I don't think I've ever seen a silent g preceded by a vowel in common English (ignorant, agnostic, prognosis... wait, all of those derive from the same root <_< )... unless it's followed by an h (sight, wight, plight...). Does yghnberry/ighnberry work?

...though thinking about examples of ei- in English makes me think of the I-before-E rule. (How weird. :P) What about ie-, as in fiery? Ienberry, ienbriar, ients, drien, wien... okay, the last one throws me off (because Austria uses the German pronunciation), but it seems like it could be plausible in general.

As I managed to find out after some tedious research, firstly, a high-density natural ant population constitutes a biomass of a few grammes per square metre of territory, which corresponds to 1/6^4 wpse. Artificially boosted populations can exceed that, though, so let's call it 1/6^3 wpse. Secondly, ants have a food intake on the order of their body mass per Earth-month (which, surprisingly, is not very different from that of humans). Thus, they eat less than 1/36 wpse in the course of a year, leaving the bulk for the Altlings. In other words, the scheme is basically viable, and the raw yield should again be 1/6 wpse.

(...)

Together with another perhaps 1w of edible produce from the garden farthing, and perhaps 1/6w of mammoth meat from the daily slaughter, that needs to fill their dietary needs, with enough of each left over to supply the towns. Which, I'm glad to see, it does, and then some.
Awesome! :D

PS: Have you named your units of volume yet? Do liquids in fact come in pynets? :P
DRYH
OEOE
NSUA
TTRD
 20 kassyopeia, Tue, 9th Oct '12 3:00:08 PM from terrae nullius

In ynets, perhaps you could allow the e to slip to the end (yntes)?

Yeah, that's... a perfect solution, I'm tempted to say. grin

I do agree that "ein" isn't bad, such as it is, but I really don't want to use that one because there really is a "(Vierblttrige) Einbeere" in German - and it's perfectly named, as I think you'll agree once you see a picture. Too distracting.

The precedent for "ign" would be "sign", of course! But the fact that you didn't see that straight away already means that it doesn't really work either.

As far as I'm concerned, it's either "yne" with your "ynte" variation or something altogether different like "ooze". The alternate spellings all improve the "ant" term, but do so to the detriment of the "berry" term, IMO, which isn't a reasonable trade-off by any measure.

PS: Have you named your units of volume yet? Do liquids in fact come in pynets? :P

No, I was just going to have them use the weight terms to cover those. Three ladders of units (time, length, mass) with about a dozen rungs each are enough of a burden to place on impose on the reader, I figured, even if I did do my level best to make as many of them as self-explanatory as possible (like "ell").

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 21 kassyopeia, Wed, 10th Oct '12 4:51:22 AM from terrae nullius

Okay, how about this: Oozeberries are called that because they drop, splits open, and ooze juice when ripe. They grow on thorny prickly oozebriars.

These are tended by a species of ant known as antarooze, from ant'a'ooze (cf. catamount), the "r" having apparently been inserted at some point for the benefit of pronunciation. Formally, the plural is antsarooze; practically, both words are usually shortened to rooze and used indiscriminately. A colony of rooze, and the nest it lives in, is called a roozet (or perhaps "roozte", to incorporate your excellent suggestion from earlier).

An alcoholic beverage called booze is produced from larderooze, the repletes of these ants. In small quantities, booze is soozing, in large quantities, it makes you woozy.

The bird which disperses the seeds, and is the only animal not attacked by the rooze, is either the gooze (plural goozes, not geeze) or the cuckooze. The very largest species of deer may be so thick-skinned that it can eat the briars in the wild - berries, thorns prickles, rooze and all - earning it the name mooze.

Too over-the-top?

ETA: Ah, I've just learned that brambles don't have thorns but prickles, whatever the distinction may be.

edited 10th Oct '12 6:19:23 AM by kassyopeia

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 22 kassyopeia, Wed, 10th Oct '12 6:15:09 AM from terrae nullius

Agricultural calendar, continuing on from and refining post #13, which was really the original point of this thread:

  • Thrive: Everything thrives, as the name suggests. Vigileaf shoots up; nectar collects in the bindsweet blossoms; the milkwort shrub has developed its leaves and is busily sequestering the excess products of photosynthesis into its tuber; the flourcane is rapidly growing and doing the same in its stem; the olms at some point shed their white blossoms and begin the slow process of growing the olmonds; briars grow pale-blue flowers.
    • Daily:
      • Harvest vigileaf leaflets of various kinds. The ones from near the top are tender and used as vegetable. The ones from the middle have the highest concentration of the stimulant and are dried for tea. The ones from near the bottom are used as mammoth hay. Thinning out the fern is moreover necessary in order for its companions to get enough sunlight.
      • Irrigate the fields using meltwater stored in Thaw. There's little rain in this season, at least in the first half.
    • Once: Nothing.
  • Early Yield: Leaf grows yellow bractlets instead of new leaflets (so, stop harvesting); bind stops making nectar and starts growing black berries; wort as before but slower; cane ditto and develops the kind of amorphous inflorescence typical for grasses; olms slowly grow olmonds; briars start growing berries and ants start reaping the ripe ones.
    • Daily:
      • Gradually harvest the first of the wort by uprooting the entire plant, using the tuber and keeping a cutting for next year. This usually uproots the two companions as well, killing them before they have a chance to reproduce, so choose only plantings which don't look promising at this stage.
    • Once:
      • On an early day, harvest the binds by plucking out the bottom petals of the flower, thus "unstoppering" it and catching the outflow of nectar.
      • At sunset on the eve of Midsummer, the leaf bractlets turn red. Harvest the best ones during serein (between sunset and full dark), because a nocturnal species of moth which disperses fern seeds in the wild will surely have eaten the remainder by morning.
  • Late Yield: Leaf is only dead stems now; bind as before; wort ditto; cane-leaves start to wither; olms as before; briars ditto.
    • Daily:
      • Harvest the bulk of the wort, cutting the bind's stems for wicker-work and picking the best of its berries for re-planting at the same time.
    • Once: Nothing.
  • Early Harrow: Leaf, bind, wort are gone; cane now releases its seeds on the wind, most of which gets caught on and in the briars in vast drifts; olms as before; briars stop growing berries and their leaves start to wither.
    • Daily:
      • Reap the canes. All able-bodied villagers help with this, the principal harvest of the year, to get it done.
    • Once:
      • On an early day, the Chief Peasant picks and collect the best of the cane seed for re-planting before the wind can take it. When this doesn't work out, due to a big storm or a misestimation, cuttings can be used to re-plant instead, but this yields lower quality plants and is seen as a really bad omen - and is probably enough to force that head peasant into early retirement.
  • Late Harrow: Leaf, bind, wort, cane are gone; olms as before; briars are done.
    • Daily:
      • Each day, one of the farthings is tilled by the peasants and their mammochs and seeded by helpers such as older children or other villagers who have time to spare, using the leaf-bractlets, bind-berries, wort-cuttings, and cane-seeds collected earlier. The weed grown in the fallow farthing is ploughed under, re-nitrogenating the soil.
    • Once: Nothing.
  • Early Hoar: Olms drop their leaves, olmonds are finally ripe.
    • Daily:
      • Olmond harvest.
    • Once:
      • On a late day, first frost officially ends the growing season.
  • Late Hoar, Yule, Early Thaw: Winter.
  • Late Thaw: Spring. Once the ground and air temperatures have risen sufficiently, leaf, bind, wort, and cane begin to sprout; olmonds grow blossoms and fresh leaves; briars grow fresh leaves as well.
    • Daily:
      • Putting agricultural implements and everything else related to this in order.
    • Once:
      • On an early day, larder ants are dug up and used as the raw material in the winemaking process.

I do think I've really covered everything now... tongue

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 23 kassyopeia, Tue, 16th Oct '12 5:21:00 PM from terrae nullius

[up][up] I've pretty much decided to go with "oozeberries" now. Pretty much as above, except that the derivation of the ant-related terms starts from the other end:

The rootstalks of an oozebriar plant are collectively called the "roozte" (metathesis of "roots") and so, by natural extension, is the antnest built among them. The ants themselves, then, are "roozter ants", sometimes shortened to "roozters". Hah.

Squeezing fresh berries makes jooze, inside the larder roozters jooze slowly ferments and turns into booze. Oh, and an obvious thought that hadn't occurred to me earlier is that since the roozters themselves also live off nothing but booze by the time the Altlings harvest them, that fact might also contribute to their being less aggressive then than they usually are, in addition to the torpor induced by the cold temperatures.

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
 24 kassyopeia, Wed, 14th Nov '12 1:10:42 PM from terrae nullius

Minor update:

  • The bindsweet nectar shall be known as "trickle", for obvious reasons. The concentrated syrup form is, hence, "treacle". And the alcoholic form is simply "tranc", referencing both "drink" as a euphemism for alcohol, and the possible effect of alcohol as a tranquilizer, via the abbreviation used in e.g. "tranq gun".

  • The elemental cardinal directions are really closer to Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest, I realized in the meantime. And it makes more sense for the lanes quartering the fields to be oriented along those, which means I have to find new names for the farthings. Two possibilities: Using alchemical arithmetic, I can now easily figure out what lies between any two elements. This would yield a "Snow farthing" in the East, a "Rain farthing" in the South, an "Earth farthing" in the West, and an "Aember farthing" in the North, which would be just fine. However, it might make even more sense to instead use the progress of the suns across the sky, yielding as expected a "Dawn farthing" in the East and a "Dusk farthing" in the West, and to keep things as simple as possible, perhaps a "Day farthing" in the South and a "Night farthing" in the North. If the lanes need names, those would of course be "Icelane", "Waterlane", "Airlane", "Rocklane", and the sun-based farthings might make a nicer contrast to that. TBD.

  • I completely forgot earlier that Altlings need to grow quite a bit of flax in addition to the Six Species, since (mammoth) wool and linen are supposed to be the two widely used fabrics - to the extent that two of the days of the week are named "Woollenday" and "Linenday". So, forget about the fallow farthing, it's a flax farthing instead. I'm positing that they don't need a fallow weed, because the soil is being rejuvenated by the Lustral fires instead.

Update ends.

edited 14th Nov '12 1:26:12 PM by kassyopeia

Soon the Cold One took flight, yielded Goddess and field to the victor: The Lord of the Light.
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