Although the black dog looked huge, its juvenile nature could still be seen. This was not a fully grown dog; its primary function on the farm was probably not to herd the animals but rather to stand guard.
The black dog was quickly led away from the garage by a worker. Fang Zhao scanned the rest of the garage. Other than their flying transport, there were five flying cars and one other large transport.
"There is a tour group here," Zuo Yu told Fang Zhao. "Approximately twenty-odd."
When the weather did not look good, tour groups were the first to look for a place to land. Certain places in Muzhou had weather that was extremely unpredictable. The weather forecast would issue a more detailed announcement one hour before any changes. Other than Fang Zhao and Zuo Yu, the others had found this place as soon as they'd heard the announcement. After all, this was the only place in the vicinity that seemed big enough for flying vehicles to land.
After arranging the accommodations, the farm employee told Fang Zhao, "Today is the competition day. The owner as well as owners of smaller neighboring farms are viewing the competition here. There is a tour group from Jizhou as well who have gone ahead to the viewing hall. A relative of the owner is taking part in today's competition, so the owner is in a good mood and has invited everyone to watch. The competition is going to start at any moment. Do you guys want to go? Refreshments in the viewing hall are all free."
Besides being famous for agriculture and tourism, Muzhou was famous for one other thing: Muzhou's sheep herding culture.
Muzhou's sheep herding competition had existed since the founding of the continent. In the beginning, it was Great General Su Mu who had organized it to add some entertainment and bring the people closer. He had believed that, in life, work and entertainment went hand in hand. However, back then, the competitions had been on a much smaller scale. Today, the sheep herding competition already had 500 years of experience and had a proper system and rules. The feelings that Muzhou citizens had toward this sheep herding competition was something the people from other continents were incapable of understanding. This was an entertainment activity that had followed generation after generation of Muzhou citizens.
If one spoke to a Muzhou citizen about a celebrity, even if it was an international superstar, a Muzhou citizen might not necessarily find him familiar. At most, he would remember the name or the face and maybe have an impression of roles the superstar might have played, but if one were to speak about a famous Muzhou shepherd dog, they would be able to recite the color of the shepherd dog's fur, its height, age, affiliation, competition years, awards, etc. They could even trace its lineage back three generations and spend an entire hour just talking about it. As for which farms the shepherd dogs belonged to, this was everyone's favorite leisure topic.
Therefore, it was not that Muzhou had no entertainment industry, just that their entertainment industry was different from that of other continents. Shepherd dogs having a higher standing than tourists was not without reason.
Fang Zhao was a hot topic back in Yanzhou but was not necessarily that well-known in other continents, let alone Muzhou. Until now, Zuo Yu had only seen a few lines regarding Fang Zhao in an electronic medical journal. There were no mentions in other magazines and news. However, this was beneficial, in a sense. Zuo Yu's job would be much easier, as he would only have to double up as an assistant and driver.
When Fang Zhao had been looking up information on Muzhou, he'd come across an introduction to Muzhou's sheep herding culture and a few videos of the competition. He had not yet had the chance to experience a live broadcast of the competition.
Fang Zhao and Zuo Yu unpacked lightly in the guest room before following the farm employee to the viewing hall.
There were still 40 minutes left until the start of the competition. When Fang Zhao and Zuo Yu reached the viewing hall, it was already packed and very lively.
The 400-square-meter viewing hall was like a small theater. The best positions for viewing were occupied by the farm owner and his neighboring farm owners. The invited tourists were all situated at the sides and allowed free seating.
When the two of them reached the hall, only the table right at the side of the hall and a few seats in the corner were empty.
According to the arrangement of chairs, one table could seat around four to six people. However, since the members of the tour group were all not that familiar with each other, some tables only had two or three members.
Fang Zhao did not mind where he sat as long as he could see the large screen.
"Here." The employee had brought them in through a side door. Fang Zhao then sat down at a table to the side.
After Zuo Yu entered, he shot a glance at the people situated near the main and side doors of the viewing hall. The corners of his mouth curled slightly before he straightened them out. When entering, there was a security check, and weapons were not allowed inside. However, when Fang Zhao and Zuo Yu had entered, the guys standing guard did not hear any warnings from the scanning apparatus.
Fang Zhao noted that in the middle of the viewing hall, it was very obvious who the owner's family were. Their seats were the best and biggest. Their area took up about 10 square meters, and two dogs guarded the area they were in.
When the flying transport was landing, they could check the farm as well as the owner's information.
This farm was the Shanmu Farm, The owner was Wu Yi, an 80-plus-year-old man. In the New Era, 80-odd was considered middle-aged. Wu Yi looked robust. He was a tall and burly man with a fierce face, who spoke in a low and muffled voice. When Fang Zhao and Zuo Yu entered, he shot a glance at them and paid them no more attention after, choosing to discuss with the other farm owners his predictions for today's competition.
Nowadays, people did not take part in the sheep herding competition. Instead, teams of shepherd dogs from individual farms would take part. The teams had minimum of six and maximum of ten dogs. Every competition would have 100 sheep released on a field. When the shepherd dogs were released, the timer would start and only cease when all 100 sheep were inside a fenced area. The team that took the least time would be that day's winner. The seven teams here would be placed according to their times.
Every competition day, there would be guessing activities with attractive prizes to be won.
Fang Zhao took a look at the prizes for today's activity.
Guessing the first place correctly, one would be able to win a cash prize with a twofold bonus.
Guessing first and second place, one would be able to get a fivefold bonus.
Guessing first, second, and third would grant a 12 times bonus.
Guessing the first four places would grant a 35 times bonus.
Guessing the first five places would grant a 100 times bonus.
Getting all standings correct would grant a 200 times bonus.
Every competition day, the number of participants varied, as did the prizes of the interactive activities.
According to the Muzhou's Shepherding Competition rules, one entry was five dollars. Purchasing one entry and getting the day's standings all correct would let one win a thousand dollars.
For Muzhou tourists, five dollars was an insignificant amount. Many people would try their luck and take part, Of course, those that could guess correctly were few and far between.
In the tour group, there were quite a number that were visiting Muzhou for the first time. They did not understand the farms at all and were even more puzzled by the participants taking part in today's competition. Reading an expert's online analysis? It just made them more confused.
Thus, many people strained their ears to listen to the conversations between the farm owners in the center of the viewing hall. After all, these farm owners were speaking loudly, so there was nothing wrong with openly listening. In a while, they would follow suit and submit their entries.
The large screen was showing the situation at the competition grounds. Currently, they were having precompetition interviews with some of the participating farms.
The farm Fang Zhao was resting at was near the eastern border. The competition was on the other end of Muzhou's eastern district, close to Muzhou's central district. The weather there was bright and sunny, unlike the dark clouds that were gathering here.
"The weather at the competition is not bad. Who knows, Big Sis Carla might take home first place easily," one of the smaller farm owners said to Wu Yi.
Team No. 3 in today's competition was Wu Yi's cousin's farm's team. His cousin's farm was called Carla Farm and had a carrot as its symbol. Therefore, people who were familiar with it liked to call it Carrot Farm.
"I have high hopes for them too." Wu Yi's face was full of smiles. He was in a cheerful mood. He then submitted his entry for the activity, with his cousin's farm as his pick for first place.
"Ho! One million?! Thats a lot of faith, man!" Another small farm owner spoke in an exaggerated tone after glancing at Wu Yi's entry wager.
"Then I shall buy some too, for Big Sis Carla, 500,000. To show my support for her."
"Me too. However, I only have a small farm, not as lavish as you guys, 100,000 to show my support."
As Wu Yi and his fellow farm owners happily chatted, the tourists sitting to the sides had complex looks on their faces. They had heard that the people of Muzhou were nouveau riche, but they had no idea of the wealth a normal-looking little farm had. Today, they could consider themselves as having experienced it. This group of people did not have to go to work, did not have to slog their lives away. Just by watching their own lands, they could play around freely.
Envious? Jealous! Almost dying from jealousy!
"Hey, you guys from overseas, are you interested in playing a little? When you are in Muzhou, how can you not take part in these activities? Who knows, you might even win yourself some money," one farm owner told the people in the tour group.
The tour leader only smiled and replied, "I also bought one entry. A small gamble only."
However, many members of the tour group were interested now and chatted with some of the farm owners there. The farm owners shared with them a bit of their own experiences and explained to the tour members the rules of the competition and things to take note of, such as how to know which was the team's lead dog, how to see them finding the lead sheep, their running positions, coordination, and other things.
"Boss, do we follow?" Zuo Yu asked Fang Zhao. Zuo Yu did not have much money to play with, just enough for a small gamble or two. There was no way he could match up with the rich landowners who dumped in thousands in the blink of an eye. However, Fang Zhao was different. How much Fang Zhao would earn from the four movements, Zuo Yu was very clear on that.
"Mhm," Fang Zhao replied with a groan but did not say anything, instead continuing to browse through information and videos online on the participating shepherd dog teams taking part in today's competition.
As Wu Yi was chatting, he swept a glance across the room and realized that all the tourists were gathered together and discussing. Only the two latecomers to the side were still sitting down seriously watching past videos of teams' performances in past competitions. One of them was even writing stuff down on a notebook.
"Tsk, acting like they know alot," Wu Yi muttered. He had seen many foreigners who came to Muzhou and took part in these activities. They went through all sorts of analysis and calculations, but at the end, they achieved not a damn thing.
Muzhou's shepherd dogs were not something that foreigners could easily understand. Even when a few experts on dog species and behavior came here, out of ten competitions, if they could guess five correctly, that was already not too bad. There were also foreign livestock owners who thought that they knew a lot coming to take part, but in the end, they left in silence.
Therefore, Wu Yi's advice to foreigners was to place less trust in online analysis and instead follow their gut feeling. Who knows they might even win. All the analysis online was just a smoke screen meant to make people muddled. There were no professionals who could pass on their experience in Muzhou, nor was there anybody who could have consistent winnings!
The submission for entries ended ten minutes before the competition started. Fang Zhao submitted his entry two minutes before the deadline.
Beside Fang Zhao, Zuo Yu stretched his neck over and copied Fang Zhao's entries. He did not know what he was doing, so he just blindly followed the artist. Originally, he had only wanted to purchase one entry, but after some consideration, he added another two zeros behind it and submitted 100 entries. One entry cost five dollars, so his total wager was 500 dollars. After all, he had already started work. The wages that Fang Zhao paid were not less than 500 dollars; losing it all did not really matter. He just took at as it as a contribution to Muzhou since he had come all the way over. Great General Su Mu was the person he admired most, after all.