Winter was approaching and Ned’s main duties consisted of looking after the animals. He got up before the sun rose and finished work after dusk every day. At night-time, he shivered under a blanket until Gundred built him a small fireplace. From then on, Ned was allowed a fire to keep himself warm at night. The farmer worked with Ned every day and the boy respected him. Through the freezing weather, Ned toiled day after day. Come the spring, he began working the land.
During the warm summer months, Ned assisted in cutting hay and harvesting crops. It was back-breaking work, but it kept him occupied. As Autumn closed in, Ned helped to store animal feed and harvest crops for food. He worked on the farm for almost a year and, although it was austere, he made the best of it. Ned was treated well enough and he had a cosy home with the pigs and chickens. He often looked out at the impassable swamp and wondered what was happening back in the Foijen. He missed his dog.
Ned made some mistakes when the farmer first showed him how to do certain tasks and Gundred rapped his knuckles with a stick. But, over time, Ned got on well with the farmer. At first it was a bit strained as it had only ever been Gundred and Krea on the farm. The boy showed he was a hard worker. And he was growing up.
Ned and the farmer did not talk much. Gundred was a quiet man, and Ned knew his place. He was a slave and the farmer was his master. Krea spent much of her day in the farmhouse, busy with her chores. But she did help outside every now and then, and talked to Ned. The farmer did not mind at first as the boy was making his life a lot easier. It would be good for his girl to get to know someone her own age. There was not much time for talking, but Krea brought refreshments and always gave Ned a smile.