Farm early is probably a term, but for Esther Prim it was just everyday early. She was a fifth generation farmer, her family had been working their quadrant of land since the 50s. Only one crop could grow on their land and lucky for her family it was quite lucrative.
She had taken over the farm when her father passed. His passing was sudden in nature, but not that unexpected. He never took care of his health and maintained an obsession with these relics called cigarettes. Esther had stolen one from a pack when she was younger and nearly died after trying it. He was in the middle of his daily chores when he just keeled over in the field. The doctor said he went peaceful and with his passing it also locked Esther into a lifetime contract on taking care of the farm. She was only 22 went it happened and cursed her luck. Most of the other families working the land around her allowed their offspring to go out and explore, but she never got the chance.
It was like one morning she had a her whole life in front of her and by the afternoon she was in her late 30's cursing the a malfunctioning nozzle in the irrigation system. But that was her life now. Up at 4am to check the fences and make sure the crops survived the night. Then it was feeding time, followed by three timed watering cycles, and then she spent reminder of the day fixing anything else that might have been broken. Which even thought the crops where lucrative, the contract that bonded her family to the land ate up most of the money. So there was hardly ever extra money for shiny new equipment.
Esther had dabbled in dating before, but it was clear he was only angling for a merger. A way to combine their quadrants. Others in her chosen lifestyle usually found their mate or partner when they were young and able to travel, but she had missed her opportunity. She was alone. Well mostly alone.
Normally she had employed two farm hands during the growing season and three or four during the harvest. Another expense, but her parents didn't procreate like they should have to provide additional workers. Then she had the offseason, even thought it was only about 3 weeks. It was always the oasis of serenity she looked forward too. The last offseason she tried to write a book, but she ended up staring at a blank page for about a week straight and gave up. The time before that, she attempted to book a vacation for herself, but nothing was affordable.
No the offseason was her favorite time because she could sit on her porch and gaze into the night sky and see everything. A brilliant kaleidoscope of colors dance across the sky, subtlety punctuated with moments of immense blackness which slowly individual stars start to appear and twinkle. Then Jupiter would erupt again, spewing heat and gas into space and the kaleidoscope would spin again.
Farming on Ganymede or Jup-M-34 as it was now referred too as was not for everyone. However with its giant underground ocean and ice shell it made for perfect growing conditions for clone shells. Clone shells were faceless humanoid bodies that could be harvest and the sculpted to sell or use in the inner ring planets.
While many of the moons of Jupiter lawless, Ganymede had been colonized around 2132 and was relatively stable. It was purchased by a large corporation who sold quadrants of land to families to work and harvest their assigned products. That's how Esther ended up here and she would probably die here. It was troubling to her assigned product manager that she had no line of succession. That meant her families contract would go up for auction, and they were surprisingly was no shortage of takers. Earth must be even worse than she had though, if people were willing to trade it in for this existence.
She had debated selling, but she was still scared of the unknown, even though that was all she wanted.
As the company's harvesting ship dusted off, it carried the last of a particular strong batch of shells. Esther was already looking forward to the upcoming peace and quiet. It had been over a year she'd spent growing this crop. In fact she had waited about 2 months longer than usually to harvest because some of the shells hadn't fully developed. Because of a lack of radiation from the Sun, her whole crop had been full sized with translucent skin. Those would never sell. So she waited, she knew she had time and as fair as she knew there were no side effects to letting them grow longer than average.
No she made the right call and while the other croppers sold off for half the value. She held on and was rewarded with a bumper crop, lots of variety and all oversized.
After a day or two of pretty much nothing but sleep she ventured out her barn to check on a sensor alarm that had awoken her from a slumber. One of the farm hands must not have secured something correctly and the recent tremors in the ice probably caused it fall. Upon entering she didn't see anything immediately. When a horrifically pathetic sound started to imminent from a dark corner. Confused she made her way towards the strange gurgling sound. Lurching out of the shadow was a naked clone shell. She screamed and backed away. It was scratching at its face where a mouth should have been. It lumbered or stumble forward like a new born calf, trying to use its legs for the first time before falling over again.
Esther thought in horror, this is not suppose to happen. They don't have souls or thoughts, I grow shells. I grow shells. She kept repeating in her head as she looked on at the faceless person now moaning in agony as they curled up into a futile position.
I just grow shells. She thought as she reached for something heavy.