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Question Game: The Dairy Cooperative

North of the city wall and away from the tracks is the Dairy Cooperative. Early risers have seen them selling milk from the ornate metal jugs mounted on the back of their dog carts. One of the families that lives there has 13 children, you know two of them, Jeremy and Anthony, as Brothers Jerome Monk and Anton Riddler.

What is the surname of that family, and who else lives there too? What else do you know about the Dairy Cooperative?

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  1. Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse October 6, 2012

    An interesting fact about the Dairy Cooperative is that nobody quite knows exactly when the farming families in that expansive greenbelt first came together forming their long enduring union of about thirty families. What is clear is that archaeological evidence suggests that the fertile fields making up the region currently known as Dairy have been inhabited for thousands of years – predating the now fallen empire by centuries. Out on the barrows where the sheep and the cattle graze without fence or pen, many stone-age structures, partially hidden by overgrown thickets of gorse, still remind those of a the time of enlightenment; a near mythological era when the austere mystics of the region held out against the might and pressures of the formidable organization of the early Church. The forces supporting the church eventually took hold but only by subsuming local practices, rebranding them to conform more closely with established church doctrine. While it is generally assumed all the families of the area adopted the will of the church as their own will, it would be more accurate to say they adapted the will of the church; never truly abandoning their old beliefs.

    • Brother Lapis Brother Lapis October 6, 2012

      This is along the same lines as the Malkuth episodes from Loki Eliot’s stories. I like it!

  2. Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg October 8, 2012

    The Babbitts are a well-regarded family in the Dairy Cooperative with prolific herds of cows, stockyards filled with weaner pigs and rich fields of sweet alfalfa. One of the original families in the cooperative, they have an odd relationship with another founding family: the Butterfields.  A generation before, as the story goes, Noah Babbitt and Silas Butterfield were best friends who married the twin Crenshaw sisters of Bump (Lisbeth and Elizah). All was going well for many years, each man building his livestock wealth, extending his property holdings and fathering children just as fast as those Crenshaw girls could mother them.

    At some point though, Lisbeth, who was Noah Babbitt’s wife, broke down weeping and revealed that she had been having an affair with Silas Butterfield, and that some of Noah’s children were likely Butterfields. Naturally Noah showed up at Silas’ door with a loaded shotgun and a tearful wife, demanding to know if her story was true. Silas looked dazed. He gently pushed the barrel of the shotgun away from his person and called to his wife, Elizah, who was also in red-eyed from crying.  It seems that Elizah had just confessed to the same crime, only that her beau was Noah himself. Naturally this puzzled the men so they sat their women down, sent all the children out of the house, and waited for the real story.

    This is when Lisbeth and Elizah revealed that they had actually been trading places with one another since the beginning, and that by this time, their lines of Butterfields and Babbitts were inextricably entwined. No one could say which child belonged to which father, and only the women could say which belonged to each of them. The men were enraged and demanded that the women stay where they were.  Noah and Silas walked down to the creek and took a growler of moonshine out of the hollow tree, as was their tradition when they needed to escape the demands of being patriarchs. After a good many shots, Noah finally spoke.

    “Well, Silas, a fine return we got on these girls.”

    “Ayup,” said Silas.

    “Whattaya figure we gonna do?” Noah asked. “Can’t let it go on like this now.”

    “Nope,” said Silas.

    Night fell, and it wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning that the men finally returned to Silas’s house. Finding both of the women there playing pinochle at the kitchen table, they announced their plan.  Lisbeth was to keep her hair cut short, and Eliza was to let hers grow long. In the morning, they were to line up the children and attempt to pick them apart by resemblance, and those who couldn’t be identified would be evenly split between the fathers, who would take turns picking. The last-picked sons would inherit the greatest share of their (perhaps new) father’s wealth to make up for being the last-picked.

    The last picked son of Silas Butterfield had previously been known as Samuel Babbitt.

    The last-picked son of Noah Babbitt had already been known as Jamison Babbitt, a boy of whom Noah had never been particularly fond. Still, Jamison Babbitt proved himself a capable farmer in spite of the fact that as he grew older he resembled neither father.

    Unfortunately for all, Jamison fell in love with Emmaleen Butterfield, who had been born after the Great Picking. Her mother swore on a stack of hammers that she hadn’t been Jamison’s mother, but Noah and Silas still didn’t trust their Crenshaw women so the two young ones were forbidden to marry.  Late one August, however, the two of them disappeared for a week and then came home driving a brand new ass-cart. They had filled the bed of the cart with bottles of fine liquor from New Babbage, where they had just been married by one of the Brothers in the big cathedral. They gave their fathers all of the liquor, plied their mothers with flowers and kisses, and waited for the blessings of their families.

    Stunned, the fathers stared at their children, not knowing what to do.

    Finally, Noah shrugged and said, “what were done be done.”

    “Ayup,” said Silas.

    The two men carved an adjoining parcel of land out of their vast holdings and gave it to the newlyweds as a gift. It was on this homestead that Jamison Babbitt and Emmaleen Butterfield grew their own herds and raised their own children. Never forgetting the honor done them by the big church in New Babbage, they sent two of their own boys to be raised by the clerics and be the first of their people to be educated in the city.

    • Brother Riddler Brother Riddler October 8, 2012

      Anthony Babbitt! It has been so long I barely remembered my owm name

  3. Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer October 8, 2012

    *sips warm milk and listens to the family stories happily*

  4. Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger October 8, 2012

    There has been a longstanding rumor about the seemingly flexible morals of the young ladies from the Dairy Cooperative, and the persistent rumors about visitors and runaways. As with all tall tales, there is a grain of truth to the stories. Because of the relative isolation of the community, the town elders realized at some point that the families who farmed and raised livestock in the valley were so intermarried that either the church would need to revise their rules on cousins, or something more creative would need to be done. Being knowledgeable in the ways of animal husbandry, the elders knew what was needed to keep the viability of their human flock…the introduction of foreign breeding stock. The plan they came up with was ingenious in its simplicity. The families of the Cooperative would accept into their midst any single female that happened to come their way seeking refuge, with the provision that in order to stay they pick one of the single menfolk to act as their ‘native guide’. They also agreed that they would look the other way if some stranger came to call and decided to sample the charms of one of their daughters. The decision to effectively accept those ‘gift children’ into the family without applying any stigma of bastardy made the standard deviation in the genetic pool a touch wider as time passed. There were a few notable exceptions over time, such as the red-headed anvil salesman from Falun who found that once every family in the western end of the valley had a ginger child someone would catch on.
    Granted, strange men who sought to live there would have a decidedly more difficult time in finding a place in the Cooperative, as most ‘men of the families’ would have a part of their father’s or fathers in law’s land for their own once they had reached an age where they were ready to get married and start their own family. This arrangement worked well openly for a number of years, until such time that the available males outstripped the female population, enough so that the single men of the valley went out into the neighboring towns to ‘pick up girls’. Much to the chagrin of the nearby communities, the boys of the Cooperative did not intend to return any of the young women they picked up. An additional rumor that was never confirmed was that several organizations who were tasked with assisting the lost, transient, and runaways were sending girls of a certain age ‘out to the country’ for a little ‘fresh air and clean living’.

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