The animals are getting restless. There is something coming from the west.
I am writing this down because I am afraid, and want documentation lest one day I vanish into thin air. I sense there is a strong force stirring up and I do not know where it comes from, or worse yet, where it is headed. Am I to blame? All I wanted was a pretty farm, an efficient one that was also aesthetically pleasing, but I worry these days that I am being punished. Was I abusing my power?
Let me back up a bit. A few days ago, I went out to the fields and saw that one of my two elephants had somehow turned around and was now facing west, instead of south. “Must be Zynga’s fault,” I thought. Zynga is the lanky young man that does the nitty-gritty things around the farm. I give him the layout of things that I want to do and he does it. I told Zynga to position the elephant back to its original place, facing south, which he did. The next day, to my shock, both elephants and all of my horses had turned around. They were now all facing west.
I studied their faces, to see if there was something different, but they had the same nonchalant, disinterested look in their eyes. It was like they were zombies or mechanical toys. Something had happened, and the fact that they did not seem to care was more disturbing than the actual change!
But I am getting ahead of myself. Perhaps this started even further back. Yes, yes! It all began the day Zynga told me that the animals could move. I don’t know how he figured it out; I had not noticed it before. But then, he was growing up so fast– he was no longer the small, disoriented boy that had to be reminded to feed the cows. “So how do the animals move?” I asked Zynga. “If you tell them they can move, they’ll move,” he said. So I cleared out a large section of my field and created an open area where the animals could roam freely. At first, it was fun to see the animals move around on their own but it soon became annoying. They would go under trees making it difficult to harvest their produce; sometimes I had to relocate entire trees because I couldn’t see the animal underneath the leaves. They would also flock around in groups, especially the sheep. I would wake up and look out the window to see the sheep milling together in a huge white cotton ball at the edges of my fields.
I am somewhat of a design freak. Now that the animals were moving, I could no longer use them in my designs. For a long time, the animals had been a dual pleasure for me because they were not only a source of revenue, but also color pixels in which I could paint pictures in my farm/canvas. You may think me strange, but I am not the only one who does this. My friend Y, for example, has his black sheep in a great big circle, and my friend N used her crops to create a big S to support our local football team. If everyone does it, it is not strange, right? I even think Zynga played a part in nurturing my whimsies for using my farmland as a painting canvas. At first, there were only yellow hay bales, but he kept on finding new hay bales of different colors– green, white, gray, even pink. I was a bit skeptical of his intentions because with each hay bale, the price seemed to be going up and up, but then again, he is the only one who actually goes into town to scope out the wares, so I have no choice but to believe him when he gives me quotes for the products.
But I digress. I have wandered from my argument and will go back to the animals. Yes, the animals. So when I saw that the animals were milling around too much for my taste, I put them back into fenced pens, but gave them a little room to make up for the freedom– except for the horses, which I put into stalls. You’d understand my shock, therefore, when the day after I lined up the horses in the stall, one of the horses had somehow turned around and was facing the opposite direction!! It was baffling because I had arranged the stalls in such a manner, using hay bales and fences, so that the horses wouldn’t be moving, and yet they were, even when I told them to stay put.
Clearly, the animals are not listening to me. It’s not just me; my friend J also reported similar happenings at her farm. Are the animals finally letting out their pent-up frustrations? I am somewhat sympathetic; I try to give my animals more room, but I know people who keep their animals in very high population-density situations and no doubt that must have had some influence on their stress level.What would they do next? Would they ruin the crops– or even worse– take over the farmhouse?
When I told Zynga about my worries, he merely shrugged and suggested that if I did not like my animals moving, I had the option of buying topiaries instead. I swear, the more I think of it, this young man is becoming more devious about depleting my wallet! I’m sure at some point he’ll “find” some silk flowers for those who don’t like the work of planting and harvesting! More and more I worry about how he will take command of this economy. Perhaps we farmers should get together and devise some sort of open market where the price of produce is set according to supply and demand. With Zynga as our sole provider, how are we to know that we will be safe under his monopoly? How do I know what he is feeding the animals? They seem to be under his mind control.
Although I feel that Zynga is leading some silent revolution with the animals, I don’t know if I want to move. As always, larger questions are pushed aside as I get occupied with the everyday labor of planting, harvesting, fertilizing, and harvesting. There is always fruit to be picked, flowers to be cut. Thank goodness the shrubbery doesn’t grow (such a strange phenomena– must be genetically altered) or work would be doubled. It also is a pain that I can’t help my friends harvest their crops when they don’t have the time to do so. Nothing saddens me more than a withered crop.
I don’t want to leave my farm, but maybe it’s time to move on. Maybe I should get together a bunch of friends who are willing to relocate to a place where we have more control, and are allowed to have slaughter houses and smoking houses. I want to till plots that are not shaped as squares– is it so hard to ask for a tool that creates triangular plots? I also want to have a storage space for seasonal items so I don’t have to throw away my Halloween decorations, and some more clothes for myself. But all of these things depend on Zynga. I am the farmowner, yet there is very little control that I have.
[Editors’ post-publishing note: Not long after this essay was published, Zynga implemented features enabling farmers to display harvested flowers and introduced storage functions in barns and sheds. Coincidence?]