This is the first Ross Family update / Next Ross family update
Soundtrack: What A Wonderful World, by Sam Cooke.
With all their worldly possessions stuffed into their car, Micah and Janie Ross drove the hairpin turns and then rounded sweeping vistas, descending from Three Lakes, where they had just honeymooned in a tent. They were watching for the small signpost that would read “Belle Falls Lane,” the address of their first home. Micah had inherited the farm from his father’s aunt and her husband. His great aunt and uncle had passed away without children, and since Micah’s parents had both died when he was in high school, the aunt and uncle had left the place to Micah. This fragile tendril reaching out to him from his family tree was a lifeline to him. He was full of hope that the farm at Belle Falls Lane would be a place for he and Janie to call their own and put down new roots.
“If we get to the bridge, we’ve gone too far,” Janie said, poring over the map again. “It should be just on the left after Route 76 becomes Falls Bridge road.”
As they passed a general store and descended a hill, Micah pointed. “There it is!”
“Yep,” Janie said, smiling to herself at his child-like joyfulness.
The sun was starting to set as they pulled into the gravel drive.
Micah used the key mailed to them by the executor and they let themselves in. Janie ran for the bathroom. Micah turned on lights, and noticing an old record player, put on an old Sam Cooke single, What a Wonderful World, and called to Janie. When she heard the song, her heart melted, and soon she was in his arms, dancing around the musty living room.
After rummaging in the cooler for the last of the milk, and eating some cereal, Micah brought in their sleeping bags and they gratefully settled their tired selves in to the old iron bed in the master bedroom.
Micah wasn’t going to say anything to Janie about babies at this moment, because she was right. They should wait until they saved some money and had a steady income before starting a family. Six thousand dollars, she had said they needed before she would consider it. But even though he didn’t say it, Janie also knew that Micah was probably dreaming about trying for a baby.
The next morning, Janie got on the phone and called the high school, asking if they needed a coach or PE teacher. She figured they would desperately need income before any crops could possibly be ready to sell, and without a degree, she figured her sports accomplishments were her best bet at getting a job.
Janie had lettered in both volleyball and soccer, and she had a go-getter attitude. Deep down, she kind of wanted to be a lawyer, but since she’d not known anything about getting into college, and no one had helped her figure it out, she kept that dream to herself. Maybe one day she could go to night school, and definitely, her kids would have the opportunity to go to college. She would make sure of that.
She got in touch with the principal at the school, and she said to come in tomorrow and talk about coaching the girls’ teams. All of them– a three quarters time job! Meanwhile, Janie helped Micah fertilize the greenhouse plots. They could always fix up the house once the crops were underway.
Micah had tackled the orchard first. Moles had run all through the roots and between the trees, and the trees were suffering from bug infestations.
Soon, Janie began working during the week, coaching, and going with the volleyball team to meets on Saturdays. She raised funds, and she substituted for extra cash.
Micah developed his own routine, working from early morning to mid-afternoon in the orchard and the greenhouse,
And then attacking needed repairs in the house after lunch, and sometimes, a nap. The plumbing was all ancient and prone to springing leaks just when he or Janie were exhausted and covered in dirt.
Soon, Micah thought it was a good time to make contact with potential buyers for the produce they soon hoped to harvest. He made some calls and was put in touch with a regional buyer for an organic grocery store.
Ms. Gretchen Jayapalan was the buyer’s name. She arranged to meet with Micah and see their operation, to make sure it met the standards their choosy customers required for their produce.
When Ms. Jayapalan saw the evidence of bugs in the orchard, and realized Micah had been treating them with insecticide, she informed him that they didn’t meet the requirements for a supplier at this time. She suggested ladybug colonies as an alternative to the insecticide.
“Or, you could try talking to the trees, as well. That helps their resistance to insects and disease.”
Micah forgot all tact. “Talk to the trees,” he sputtered.
When Janie smoothed it over with Ms. Jayapalan, Micah realized he had put his foot in his mouth.
“Ladybugs are expensive, but they are a great alternative,” the buyer explained to Janie.
Walking Ms. Jayapalan out to her vehicle, he let her know he appreciated the feedback, and would get back to her when they had corrected the issues.
The next day, he attacked the weeds with new relish. He couldn’t afford to buy ladybugs for the whole orchard, but he was determined to have the perfect garden.
Janie’s teams were doing well; her girls volleyball team placed at regionals for the first time in over a decade, and she had recruited several girls for the soccer team who had a great work ethic. She was sure that she would be able to raise more funding for girls’ sports, which meant a little more stipend for her as well.
Micah had been so obsessed with his pursuit of a perfect garden, that he hadn’t even thought about starting a family for weeks, and while it was nice not to be nagged about having a baby, Janie had noticed how serious he’d become. Janie found him collapsed on the bed at 7:30 pm one night, not even eating any supper.
“I think you need some fun,” she laughed. “All work, dull boy, you know…”
By the end of fall, Micah was much more content with the quality of his plants. The greenhouse tomatoes were fetching a decent price from the regular supermarkets, especially since it was not tomato season.
Although he still longed to get that “perfect garden” credential from the organic market chain, their first crop looked to earn a couple thousand dollars. Micah felt that he and Janie were going to make it at Belle Falls Lane.
- Janie’s preferred hobby is sports, and she rolled a want to get a job in the athletic career, so I let her start with it. Her lifetime goal is to be a lawyer. She got her first three promotions very quickly. She has a want to earn $6000, and then I am hoping she’ll roll a baby want. Family is her secondary aspiration.
- Micah had a persistent baby want from day one until after he failed to get a perfect review from the garden club. Then he didn’t get another baby want, which was surprising. I locked the perfect garden want and will try again soon.
I made the portraits for Janie & Micah’s home after playing their update, but I’m so excited about them, thought I’d post a picture here:
I also replaced those freaky badgers in the kitchen with another scenic view of the farm. 🙂