When Pinky comes home from the fair, Rob shows her the blue ribbon she won.
He tells Papa that he's glad no one will ever butcher Pinky, since she's going to be a brood sow (an animal used for breeding). Silence. Uh oh. Rob knows that something is wrong.
Papa tells Rob that Pinky should have gone into heat weeks ago, and he thinks she might be unable to have piglets. In case you didn't catch it, this is terrible news.
Mama calls Rob from the house and tells him she needs him to go and get a squirrel, so he takes his rifle and goes outside.
It takes him a while, but Rob finds a squirrel and shoots it on the first try.
When he goes to pick it up, it's still alive, so he swings it against a tree to kill it. Um, yeah. We didn't do that as a kid either.
He takes the squirrel home, then guts it with his knife.
Removing the squirrel's belly, he opens it and takes out all the chewed-up nutmeats. Mama will roast them and sprinkle them on top of the chocolate cake she's making. Wow. Kind of puts you off your snack, doesn't it?
Rob takes the rest of the squirrel, cuts it up, and throws it to the chickens.
Papa and Rob start to discuss the apple harvest. Even though they smoked the apple trees, there were a lot of spanner worms and the apples didn't turn out well.
Turns out Rob placed the smoking mix a little wrong, so it didn't quite work right.
Papa says that you can tell how good a farmer is from looking at his farm.
Mr. Tanner, says Papa, is a better farmer than he is.
We're starting to feel really bad for Papa.
When Rob says that he wants to grow up to be just like Papa, Papa tells him no. Rob will have an education and will know how to do things better.
After dinner, Papa and Rob sit in the parlor and watch the fire.
Rob tells Papa that he needs a new coat, and he needs it to be a store coat, not one made by Mama.
Papa tells Rob that "[n]eed is a weak word…[h]as nothing to do with what people get" (12.80).
He tells Rob that he'll be a man someday soon, and then he can earn a coat of his own. Nothing's coming easy for this kid.
Papa tells Rob that he's got to become a man soon—as in, this winter.
This winter is going to be Papa's last. He hasn't seen the doctor, he says, but he knows. Rob doesn't want to believe this, but Papa insists that he'll be gone by spring.
Rob will need to be the man of the family, Papa says, and take care of his Mama and Aunt Carrie.
Papa goes upstairs and leaves Rob alone, watching the fire. And… that's the definition of downer.