Less than a week after Edgar left, Ralph and Ed showed up at the commune.
"Anyone know where Luna is?" asked Ralph.
They had come to the produce stand and Cat, who was working there, waved toward the back of the farm. "She's with Viv and Chuck, checking out the fields and planning where they're gonna plant stuff."
There was still quite a bit of snow on the fields, but the three communards were slogging through it, drawing lines in it with sticks and pointing to various areas.
"Hey there," Ralph called to Luna. "It's your favorite ex and his favorite current."
"Hey Ralph and Ed," Luna called back. "What'cha up to?"
"I want to see that my investment's okay," said Ed as they got closer. He turned toward Chuck, who was wearing a sapphire blue skirt and an army jacket, with a periwinkle and jasmine silk scarf draped over it. "Love the look, guy, but no pearls with that?"
"I save the pearls for evening wear," Chuck said.
"Seriously," said Ralph, "With all the horror stories I've been hearing about what's been happening up here, I expected things to look a lot worse."
"That's not dramatic enough for you?" Viv asked pointing at the charred ruins of what had been their main house.
"I don't think you'll have trouble rebuilding it," said Ralph. "Your Kissstarter seems to be going very well. It's only into the third week and you're already almost at your goal. I think you're going to go well beyond your fifty thousand. I wouldn't be surprised if you pass seventy-five before the campaign is over."
Luna looked at him. "And just how much of that is contributions from the two of you?"
"Oh, we've put in quite a bit," Ed said. "But there really is a lot of folks contributing to the campaign. People are very scared that Hillary Reagon is going to succeed at taking over the maple syrup industry and they see this farm as a major battleground."
"Not to mention all the folks that are just angry at Monsterinsano," Ralph added. "All these attacks on you have stirred up a nest of yellow-jackets. Or maybe flannel jackets. There's some pretty irritated farmers around here, and a lot of them see contributing to the campaign as doing something against a corporate take over."
"Well," said Luna. "All this money is great but we still gotta get builders and contractors and stuff. Dan and Sal are good at making stuff like the EcoGreenHouse but I think making a major building is a bit beyond them. Besides, things have gotten pretty busy around here. None of us has time to build a new farmhouse right now."
"That's why we're here," Ralph said.
"You're not builders," said Viv.
"No," Ed said. "But we know a few."
The kitchens of the two remaining houses were in constant use now, one for making all the pastries and baked goods that they were selling, and the other was being used for the commune's meals. Later that day, Luna and Dan and Sal and Marge and Cat sat in the cooking kitchen with Ed and Ralph, sipping hot beverages and talking.
Dan said, "Luna said that you said that you knew a few contractors that might put up a new house for us, now that we have some money from the Kissstarter."
"It's true," Ed said.
"Would you like to recommend one?" Dan asked.
"Sure," said Ralph. "How about Ted Roell, also known as The Troll?"
"The Troll?" said Marge. "You're kidding."
"No," said Ed. "Seriously. He has a company called Trollwork. I agree with Ralph. I'd recommend him."
"Does he do alternative construction?" Luna asked.
"Alternative construction is all he does," Ralph said. "He builds Soilships and Underearth Houses, puts up all sorts of structures with Brown Roofs, and most of his buildings meet Pacifist Home Standards."
"Yeah," said Ed. "He uses methods like Adobo, Crammed Dirt, Lumberplanking, Corn on the Cob, and Hay Buck construction. The Trollwork folks got a Titanium Plus level certification from the SEED folks when he racked up 832 points on their last building."
"Wow," said Luna. "I've never heard of anyone getting more than 90 points."
"That's because they made the entire building out of humanure," Ralph said.
"I think we should stick to Adobo and Crammed Dirt," Sal said.
"I know these folks," Ed said. "They will work closely with you and put up the kind of building you want."
"And speaking of working closely," Ralph said. "We'd like to stay here a while and help you with stuff, if you'd like."
"Well, there's not a lot of room here right now," Luna said, "but if you don't mind getting cozy, we just lost two folks and I think we can squeeze you in."
"I wouldn't mind getting cozy with that cute guy with the beard and the dress," Ed said.
"You mean Chuck," Cat said. "Warning. He snores."
"Peter did say that we shouldn't let anyone new into the commune," Marge pointed out.
"Ralph and Ed aren't new," Luna said. "Ralph and Ed are part of the reason we have the commune."
"Don't worry," Dan said. "Peter knows Ed and Ralph." He turned to them. "We'll have to have you meet George and Fred, the lawyers working with Peter."
"When can we have these troll folks come and look at the building?" Sal asked.
"I'll give them a call," Ralph said. "I think things are still pretty quiet on the building front right now. I wouldn't be surprised if they could be here next week."
A moment later, Grace came in and signaled to Marge.
"Sorry, folks," Marge said. "We've got to get dinner started. I'm kicking you all out."
"That's okay," Ed said. "Ralph and I gotta unpack. We plan to be here for a while. As I said, I'm gonna protect my investment."