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Poem: "Experts Talk Logistics" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Experts Talk Logistics"

This poem came from the January 2013 crowdfunding Creative Jam.  It was inspired by a prompt from DW user Chordatesrock.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the series An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space.  You can read more about fruits, herbs, vegetables, and chemicals for hydroponics online.


Experts Talk Logistics


The issue of food was not pressing yet;
as long as they rationed what they had,
it would last them a while longer.
Food took time to import or produce, though,
which meant if they wanted to have it by then,
they needed to start planning now.

The Lord of Pr0n looked at the rising requests
for food porn and quietly contacted Hootowl
in hopes of fobbing off the leadership on someone else.
"We need to talk about logistics," he said,
"and figure out how to replace our food supply."

"I'll set up a ciphernet discussion," Hootowl said,
"but don't think you're getting out of it.
Who do you think has been getting people
to pay attention to food with all the pretty pictures?"

So the Lord of Pr0n was stuck
sitting through the discussion of food,
which had little to do with his passion
and nothing whatsoever to do with his profession.

"What's the situation with smuggling?"
Hootowl asked.
"Touch and go," said the Lord of Pr0n.

"The guy I know mostly deals drugs,"
said Operetta.  "That's great for medical supplies,
but Short John isn't bringing much more
than protein bars in the way of food."

"Noted: need a supplier for mealpacks at least,"
said Hootowl, beginning a list.

"We should try for a balanced diet,"
Operetta said.  She designed tech
for military and medical uses, so perhaps
had some  idea of dietary requirements
or at least where to look them up in a database.
"We need different kinds of fruits and vegetables,
along with grains if we can get them.
I'm assuming animal protein is out of reach for now."

"There are rumors about a secret science base,"
Weavercreep replied.  "They might have mice
or guinea pigs or rabbits there."

"Rumors won't put any beans on the table,"
Hootowl said.  "Stay on topic,
and stick to resources we actually have."

"We don't actually have  anywhere to grow food,"
Weavercreep retorted.
"What do you plan to do about that, genius?"

"There's that big supply base, OCSB-126,"
Hootowl said.  "We should empty that anyway
and distribute the resources to people who need them.
That will leave a lot of empty space.
Surely we could retool it for food production."

"What could we grow there?" Estelle asked.
She liked  military food, but it wouldn't last forever.
"What do we even want to grow?"

"I miss strawberries," Operetta said.
"Roast beef for me," said Hootowl,
then dragged himself back on topic,
"and lettuce and tomatoes."

"I like cantaloupe," said the Lord of Pr0n,
finally joining the conversation,
"and we should think about some herbs.
People use herbs to flavor food, right?"

"I assume you're all talking about hydroponic gardening,"
said Sam, and everyone perked up because
they had seen  images of his glorious virtual gardens.
"Hydroponics could be set up very quickly
by cannibalizing current equipment and chemicals.
Constructing a system based on solid growth medium
would require more time and work,
and redirection of the sewage system,
but would also expand the options of what would grow."

"Start with the basics," Hootowl said.
"What kinds of things could we grow
beginning with a simple hydroponic system?"

"The best vegetables recommended for hydroponics
include leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and kale.
Upright vine or bush crops like tomatoes, peppers, and beans
take more space, but perform well if trained on wires. 
Most root crops do poorly in hydroponics
because the potential for rotting is higher --"
Sam went on like that for some time,
before Hootowl cut him off.

"All right, we're go for leafy greens,
tomatoes, peppers, and beans," Hootowl said.
"What else do people want?"

"What about fruits?" Operetta asked.
"I know some grow on trees
but others are supposed to be smaller.
I'd like strawberries, and oranges
would be full of vitamin C."

"Strawberries are excellent for hydroponics,"
Sam responded instantly.
They didn't call him 'the Gardener' for nothing.
"Blueberries and blackberries should work.
Fruit trees vary more.  They need extra support.
It's been done with bananas and avocados,
along with several types of citrus.
With apples and pears, the fruit can get woody.
Also fruit trees take several years to start bearing..."

"Keep it simple, Sam," Hootowl sent.
The Gardener, like everyone,
got carried away talking about his passion.
"Yes/No/Maybe on the fruits?"

"Strawberries = Yes.
Fruit trees = Maybe,"
Sam replied.

"Herbs," the Lord of Pr0n said again.
"Leafy herbs like mint or cilantro = Yes,"
said Sam.  "Root herbs like ginger = No."

"I really miss corn on the cob,"
Weavercreep said.

"Corn = No," Sam sent.
"It's a wind-pollinated space hog.
So are most other grains.  Import those."

"Make a list of what you need, Sam,"
said Hootowl.  "We'll get what we can for you."
"What?  Why me?  I didn't volunteer for anything!"
Sam protested.  "I just do garden sims,
and data collation for the army."

"It's you or the Lord of Pr0n,"
Hootowl said, "and I don't think
this is how he likes to get his hands dirty."

"All right," said Sam. "List begins:
* at least one acre per person --"

"What's an acre?" Hootowl interrupted.
"It's a traditional agricultural term for
4046.86 square meters," Sam said.

"You have whatever space we get from
emptying out the Orion supply base,"
Hootowl said to Sam, "and whatever goods
we can scrounge up or get from Short John."

Sam added to his list:
* more smugglers
* plant seeds
* nitrogen
* phosphorus
* potassium
* trace minerals
* lots of water
* lots of lights

"Sargasso Base has a planet with a moon,"
Operetta said.  "It's a Lagrange point establishment.
We could mine either of those for minerals."

"Comets for water,
asteroids for trace elements,"
Estelle suggested.
"I could rig up a trap for those,
then pulverize them down to useful bits."

So they agreed on the beginnings of a plan
for transforming the supply rooms
into food production sites.

Sam turned out to be a great deal more coherent
when filling out request forms than in live discussion,
all neatly annotated with crop requirements,
projected yields, and food value.
Estelle built a trap for comets and asteroids
as easily as a child playing cat's cradle.
The Lord of Pr0n organized a survey
of people's favorite fruits and vegetables
based on food porn vids, then sent the results
to Sam for crop planning.

Then the news blazed across the ciphernet:
the Orion army destroyed their own supply base
to keep it out of secessionist hands.

"Now where am I supposed to go?"
Sam wailed to Hootowl.
"I don't know," Hootowl said grimly.
"We'll have to think of something."

Much to their surprise,
that something came to them.
"I hear you've got a Gardener and no garden,"
sent Router, who was in charge
of the Carinan Supply Base Bounty 3D3N.
"I'm about to have the opposite problem,
once the jumpships finish distributing my stock."

Hootowl thought about that.
Router was neurotypical, but he'd stayed --
along with two others -- to protect
the supply base's quiet little specialist.
Maybe this could work out after all.

"Sounds like you've got your garden,"
Hootowl sent to Sam.

"But that's Carinan territory,"
Sam protested.  "I'm Orion."

"Orion just scuttled their own base
to keep us from making use of it,"
Hootowl reminded him.
"There's no Orion or Carinan anymore,
not here.  We're all Lacuna people now."

"I like it where I am,"
Sam grumbled.

"The way I see it, you've got two choices,"
Hootowl said to Sam. 
"You can leave your gardens in your head forever,
and we all starve if the smuggling isn't enough;
or you can turn that Carinan base into a garden
and get first call on resources alongside life support."

In the end, it was the garden itself
that decided the issue,
for Sam could no more refuse
to pursue his passion
than he could refuse
to fall down a gravity well.

He packed his bags and boarded a jumpship
for Supply Base Bounty 3D3N,
the future already filled with visions
of new shoots uncoiling like tiny green springs.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

18 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: chordatesrock Date: February 22nd, 2013 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I've already told you my thoughts on this, although, reading it over, I noticed something I missed the first time: strawberries are also a source of vitamin C. Operetta seems to have only a vague general idea of nutrition, then. Luckily, the information is probably available, and if they miss any major nutrients, people's cravings will tell them what they need.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 22nd, 2013 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>I've already told you my thoughts on this,<<

Other folks might enjoy hearing that too, if you don't mind repeating yourself.

>> although, reading it over, I noticed something I missed the first time: strawberries are also a source of vitamin C. Operetta seems to have only a vague general idea of nutrition, then.<<

My impression is that she has picked up some knowledge in passing, but hasn't studied health in depth. So she has these little bits and pieces of things.

>> Luckily, the information is probably available, and if they miss any major nutrients, people's cravings will tell them what they need. <<

That will help, yes.
From: chordatesrock Date: February 22nd, 2013 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Here are the thoughts you've already seen:

They'll also face rabbit starvation soon, when their stored fat runs out. Imported protein bars will have minimal fat, mostly carbohydrates and protein. Chickens would be a good choice for them, if they had a source of chicken feed (i.e., a mix of grain, leaves and bugs, or grain and soy if they can't get bugs). The chickens wouldn't need too much room, and their eggs would be calorie-dense with fat, protein and fat-soluble vitamins they're less likely to find in hydroponic vegetables.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 22nd, 2013 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

Yeah, this is an issue. Avocados would help -- they're high in fat and other nutrients -- but like any woody plant, it takes a while to reach production.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 22nd, 2013 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like this bit:

"It's you or the Lord of Pr0n,"
Hootowl said, "and I don't think
this is how he likes to get his hands dirty."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 22nd, 2013 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm happy to hear that.

*chuckle* Can you just imagine that poor guy trying to start a garden?
thnidu From: thnidu Date: February 26th, 2013 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I had the same reaction to that line.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 23rd, 2013 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Of course The Gardener is named Sam!<<

*wink* Of course.

>>Complete Proteins are an important consideration without animal supplies of protein. On a limited diet, total protein intake often needs to be higher to guarantee that someone's getting enough of all the vital amino acids. Not sure how that would interact with what's easy/feasible with hydroponics.<<

Not very well: beans they can do, but beans aren't very efficient in terms of how much food they produce vs. how much space they require. Rice grows well in water but like other grains it's a space hog. Something like lettuce, you can eat almost the whole plant.

Their food situation is still precarious, but the garden will still help a lot by introducing fresh foods. Those don't ship well. Fat and protein do, if they can get the right trading contacts.
From: technoshaman Date: February 24th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
:D LOLOLOL meta-joke! Your poem is full of *eggs*... which they're going to need to survive!

This series is really growing on me.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 24th, 2013 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> :D LOLOLOL meta-joke! Your poem is full of *eggs*... which they're going to need to survive! <<

Indeed it is! *cackle*

>> This series is really growing on me. <<

I'm glad to hear that. I hoped it would develop wider appeal, and it seems to be doing so.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: February 26th, 2013 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Ouch.
book_worm5 From: book_worm5 Date: February 8th, 2016 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm

It is? There must be a meaning of eggs I'm missing...
From: technoshaman Date: February 8th, 2016 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm

Easter eggs. Sam the Gardener. Chickens. I think there are a few more, but it's been three years..
From: julia kolb Date: August 30th, 2015 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Anomalous

SO COOL
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 30th, 2015 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Anomalous

Hee! I'm happy to hear that. The gardening project is so much fun.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: July 2nd, 2016 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been re-reading your poems from An Army of One Cycle today.
When I noticed this from the "Experts Talk Logistics" poem:

"Corn = No," Sam sent.
"It's a wind-pollinated space hog.
So are most other grains. Import those."

Perhaps not so much of a space hog as you might think.
There's an old variety of corn that's known as "Six Shooter" because it tends to bear 6 or more ears of corn to a stalk.
That makes for a much more productive veggie plant.

ALSO:
Being wind-pollinated, all the grower needs to do to insure the corn is properly pollinated is provide the corn plants with a fan at the right time.
The fruits mentioned in the poem all require insect pollination.
:^|

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 17th, 2017 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
>>for Sam could no more refuse
to pursue his passion
than he could refuse
to fall down a gravity well.<<

I know that feel Sam.

Is he planning to pollinate all those fruits and veggies by hand himself? o-0 Better add bees, Sam.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 17th, 2017 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> I know that feel Sam. <<

Yep.

>> Is he planning to pollinate all those fruits and veggies by hand himself? o-0 Better add bees, Sam. <<

Some don't actually need to be pollinated -- all the leafy greens, for instance, if you're willing to keep buying seed. Or you can only pollinate a few by hand to get lots of seed. Many perennial edibles can be cloned by cutting.

Fruiting plants may be pollinated by hand, or someone might invent a robot. Bees may have been discussed but that's a safety risk in space.
18 comments or Leave a comment