It was soon the Yu Family’s turn, and Yu Hai let his older sister and brother-in-law go ahead of him. When the people from the yamen was filling the grain for Yu Caifeng, a sharp voice suddenly sounded, “Can a married daughter also take the food for the disaster relief?”
Magistrate Zhao, who happened to walk by for inspection, heard this and said with a frown, “If she married someone in this village and their household registration belongs to Dongshan Village, then of course, she can receive food from the disaster relief.”
The Yu Family looked towards the voice and found that it was Li Guihua, who was gluttonous and lazy and liked to cause trouble for others. With a hand on her waist, she pointed at Yu Caifeng, who was getting grain, and spluttered, “Yu Caifeng married out of the village, all the way to the northeast. Everyone in the village knows about this matter. She fled to Dongshan Village in spring. Can she be counted as a part of Dongshan Village?”
Li Guihua was harming others without benefitting herself. It wasn’t like she would be able to get an extra catty of grain if Yu Caifeng couldn’t get any of the food. Even if Yu Caifeng got the grain, it still wouldn’t affect how much grain she would receive. What did food mean during a year of famine? They were all precious living lives ah! Li Guihua stopping others from getting food was no different from killing others for money ah! What grudge and enmity did she have with Yu Caifeng for her to be so vicious?
The villagers of Dongshan Village all looked at Li Guihua with complicated gazes. This woman was a poisonous snake that might suddenly jump out and bite people. When they returned home, they must tell their wives to stay far away from people like her.
The village head, who was busily helping to distribute the grain, pulled a long face and scolded her, “Li Guihua, just go and get your food. Why are you talking so much?”
Shaking the fat on her body, Madam Li smiled at the county magistrate and said, “Aren’t I helping my lord, the magistrate, pick out the people who are trying to take advantage of the situation? The food distributed by the imperial court can’t be taken by these random people! Village Chief, you can’t shield the Yu Family just because you’re close with them ah!”
Madam Li’s heart was full of resentment towards Yu Hai’s family. Liu Hu was an outsider with a different surname, yet he took him in, supported his family with food, and let them live in a brick and tiled-roof house. He also helped them build a house, while telling others that it was built with the money that Liu Hu earned himself. In the past half a year, besides selling watermelons outside of the village, when did Liu Hu ever go out to make money?
Yu Hai would rather help an outsider than do small favors for Yu Dashan. Allegedly, Yu Hai’s family ate meat and fine grain every day. She, on the other hand, could only eat the little coarse grain and flatbread given by her mother-in-law. Her maternal brothers were also becoming annoyed with her going home to take things. Her older sister-in-law, in particular, always made harsh remarks. She was bringing back less and less food each time, which wasn’t enough for her to eat at all. The feeling of hunger was so unbearable, and she even dropped down a size!
After Old Yu divorced Madam Zhang, Madam Li repeatedly clamored about dividing the family. However, Madam Zhang threatened that they would have to leave empty-handed. With Madam Zhang, they could at least eat something every day. If they really left the house with nothing, then they would need to do everything themselves. Madam Zhang still had several hundred taels in her hands, so she couldn’t just readily give it all to that good-for-nothing Yu Bo. There was also another advantage of not splitting from the family. If Yu Bo passed the examination to be an official, her family could also benefit.
But, every time she saw Old Yu, who had a ruddy and healthy complexion from being nourished, Madam Li couldn’t sit still anymore. Exactly how much money did Yu Hai’s family have? They were able to restore a nearly dying person’s body to become even more hearty than before he had gotten ill. She didn’t get any of these benefits at all. There was no way that she would be satisfied without causing some trouble for them. With such a rare chance, Madam Li immediately jumped out.
County Magistrate Zhao looked doubtfully at the village head and raised his voice, asking, “Village Chief, what is going on?”
The village head was so angry that his face had turned into the color of pig liver, vividly purple. He couldn’t argue with this woman, so he could only glare angrily at Madam Li and explained to County Magistrate Zhao, “My Lord, don’t listen to her nonsense. Although Yu Caifeng’s family escaped to Dongshan Village, they have already transferred their household registration to Dongshan Village and settled down in the village. I personally took them to the yamen to complete the formalities. If you don’t believe me, I can have Yu Caifeng bring the household registration over for you to see.”
After hearing the explanation, County Magistrate Zhao’s expression somewhat softened. He nodded and said, “Mhm! Bring the household registration over and show it to the villagers on the spot, so that no one will talk behind their backs!”
Liu Junping stepped forward and said, “My Lord, Village Chief, I’m quick on my feet. I’ll go get it!”
Yu Caifeng gave the key to the cabinet in the room to her eldest son and reminded him again. Liu Junping glared angrily at Madam Li with a ruthless gaze, and then ran towards the old residence with the fastest speed.
Yu Caifeng was afraid of delaying the progress of the food distribution, so she stepped aside and let the villagers behind her go first. The matron smiled at her and said, “Caifeng, we’re all from the same village, so everyone knows each other very well. We all believe in you!”
Someone in the line whispered, “This Madam Li has such a vicious heart ah! The food belongs to the government and has nothing to do with her, but she jumped out to report her own older sister-in-law! How did she offend her?”
Another person smirked and said, “Husband’s older sister? That Yu Dashan was brought here by Madam Zhang when she got remarried. He has no blood relationship with Caifeng. Besides, Old Yu has already gotten a peaceful separation with Madam Zhang. Yu Dashan has nothing to do with Dahai and Caifeng now!”
“Madam Li and Madam Zhang are truly one family; they both have such cruel hearts. Old Yu is fortunate to have a real son like Dahai, otherwise he would have been dead a long time ago!”
“With Madam Zhang’s stingy attitude, she might not even prepare a coffin for him. She will probably just roll him up in a straw mat, dig a pit, and throw him in! Ay! This Madam Zhang isn’t even afraid of getting retribution!”
While the villagers discussed in low voices, Liu Junping had retrieved his family’s household registration certificate. Dongshan Village was clearly written on the neatly folded household registration. Although there were a lot of refugees in Tanggu Town at that time, the people at the yamen took into consideration that Yu Hai’s family was adoptive relatives of the imperial envoy and highly valued by Royal Prince Yang, and swiftly completed the process. They didn’t even take the ‘thank you’ money that Yu Hai offered.
Facts spoke louder than words, and thus certain people with malicious intentions finally stopped. Under scornful looks of the public, Madam Li timidly avoided everyone’s gazes. After she got the food, she quickly ran away as if she was being chased by a wolf.
Besides this small incident, the food distribution went very smoothly. With six adults and six children, the Yu Family received a total of one hundred fifty catties of grain, which would be enough for them to eat for a month. However, the food that they received was mostly coarse grain. If they added around one ounce every time Xiaocao made steamed buns or pancakes, it would take a long time for them to finish it.
With their large accumulation of grain at home, the Yu Family felt a sense of security in this disaster year. The vegetables harvested from the garden in the yard had all been dried. At present, the only flaw was that they couldn’t eat fresh vegetables. Yu Xiaocao thought about it. Since mystic-stone water could kill locusts, was there anything she could do with it?
That’s right! In her past life, didn’t they terminate bugs with pesticides? Could they use herbs to develop a slightly toxic and volatile solution as a cover for her mystic-stone water?
One day, Yu Xiaocao rode her little red horse to Tongren Medicine Hall to find Doctor Sun and told him about her idea. He was very interested in it, so the two of them worked together and really developed a liquid that had the effect of insect repellent! But, without mystic-stone water, the solution was a lot less effective!
Because the solution was made of herbal medicine, the price was relatively high and not everyone could afford it. Hence, it was unlikely for it to be popularized. Yu Xiaocao’s real purpose of making this solution was for it to act as a cover for the mystic-stone water.
After creating the pesticide, Yu Xiaocao bought a lot of medicinal herbs from Tongren Medicine Hall and started busily working when she got home. When the Yu Family heard that the pesticide was costly but effective for killing the locusts, they immediately became full of energy again.
They had long plowed the land in the courtyard. In the front and back yards of the East Courtyard, they had sowed seeds of green vegetables with short-term growth periods. In the West Courtyard, they planted autumn vegetables like cabbage and radish.
Yu Xiaocao went to the blacksmith in town and made some watering cans. The watering cans were filled with pesticide mixed with mystic-stone water, which needed to be used to irrigate the crops every day.
Although the little divine stone’s mystic-stone water was good for animals and crops, it needed to be used with moderation. For example, the two little wolves that her family raised could bear one percent concentration of mystic-stone water. If the concentration was higher, it would be harmful to their bodies. If they consumed pure mystic-stone water, they would die due to the overload of spiritual power. The concentration that locusts could bear was even lower, which meant that they only needed to use a few drops of mystic-stone water every day to kill the locusts!
Crops had a higher tolerance for mystic-stone water. A higher concentration of mystic-stone water could accelerate the growth of crops. It also left a slight amount of spiritual power in the crops, which was beneficial to the human body. This was also one of the reasons why the Yu Family never had to worry about the sales of their vegetables despite being more expensive than others.
The planted vegetables seeds soon sprouted tender buds, and the locusts naturally wouldn’t give up on such delicious food. However, the scent that the pesticides emitted caused most of the locusts to make a detour. Occasionally, a few locusts would fall down and die because they couldn’t bear that spiritual energy in the mystic-stone water. Every day, the children of the Yu Family could pick up many dead locusts from the ground.
Yu Xiaocao thought that it was a pity to throw away the locusts, so she bought more than thirty recently hatched chicks from Auntie Zhou. Zhou Shanhu was very curious about it and asked, “Xiaocao, people don’t have enough to eat in times of famine. Where are you going to get food to feed the chicks? For my family, we can sell the grown chickens for money. As for those half-grown chicks, my parents are worried about what to do with them…”
Yu Xiaocao smiled and said, “Our family has a lot of kids. Every day, we can go up the mountains to catch a lot of bugs back. In addition, we also have the corn leaves and sweet potato leaves that we collected. It should be enough to raise the chickens. If we don’t have food in the winter, we can slaughter them to eat.”
As a result, Liu Junping led the children of the Yu Family to go around and catch locusts. After catching the locusts, they froze them in the icehouse. Every day, the Yu Family would make several barrels of ice to replenish the ice that melted in the cellar. Besides ice, the fifty or sixty square meters cellar was filled with baskets of locusts. They could probably raise thirty more chickens, let alone the mere thirty chickens.
They sundried the locusts that died in the cellar, ground them into powder, and mixed them in the chaffs. The chicks were very fond of eating it, and they grew even faster than when they were only fed grain.Previous Chapter Next Chapter