Chapter 288 - Another Fortune is Made

When the Yu Family of four was about to leave, Liu Cunjin, who knew his daughter liked to eat porridge made with green wheat, gave all of the thirty-so catties of green wheat that they had finished rubbing to them. Yu Hai repeatedly declined the offer and the old man became angry, “Do you dislike my family’s gift as not being presentable? If you don’t take it, then take all of the grain back as well!”

Madam Liu was very familiar with her father’s crabby character. She hurriedly pulled at her husband’s sleeve and smiled, “This is the gift that Father is giving me. You don’t have the right to refuse. Father, you still remember that I like to eat green wheat porridge ah!”

“Of course I remember, why wouldn’t I remember?” Liu Cunjin’s expression relaxed quite a bit when he saw his daughter placing the green wheat in the horse cart.

Madam Yao chuckled from the side, “Dahai, don’t lower yourself to that old man’s level. He ah, loves his daughter very much. Our daughter Yun loves to eat porridge made with green wheat, so the house always has a pot going. Every time summer started, he would go pick some wheat from the fields without telling the family and secretly rub the grain out so he could make some porridge for his daughter to eat! After our daughter Yun got married, every year he would always mutter under his breath, ‘Looks like our daughter can’t eat green wheat porridge this year. How about we send a couple catties over for her?’”

Yu Hai also dearly loved his daughters. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have allowed Xiaocao to do all of her crazy ideas. He hollered in a voice full of emotion, “Father...we’ll take the green wheat. When we get back, I’ll especially simmer some green wheat porridge for Muyun to eat.”

Yu Xiaocao added in from the side, “Father, I also like to eat porridge made of green wheat. Don’t just think of Mother and forget this daughter of yours!”

Yu Hai chuckled shyly, “Then we’ll make an extra bowl. Cao’er can eat with your mother!” 

Little Shitou interjected somewhat unhappily, “There’s still me, there’s still me!”  Yu Hai lightly patted the back of his son’s head, “You little kid, what are you trying to do? Have we ever slighted you on food or drink? Don’t we also have white rice and wheat around? Your mother and second sister just have a few likes, yet you try to insert yourself in?”

Little Shitou deflated and looked for comfort from his grandmother, “Grandmother, Father is biased! Shitou is so pitiful as I have no one who loves and cares about me. I’m just like an abandoned little cabbage in the fields…”

Madam Yao laughed as she hugged him closely and comforted him, “Don’t cry, Shitou, Grandmother loves you! We have a lot of green wheat at home, so you guys can’t be harsh on your children. If you finish it, just ask your Second Older Brother to send some more over!”

Yu Hai leveled a glare at his son and then smiled, “Mother, don’t be fooled by this little guy. Ah he, he doesn’t actually love eating green wheat porridge. He’s just trying to worm himself in ah!” The phrase ‘worm himself in’ was a term he had learned from his daughter.

Liu Cunjin looked at the color of the sky and then spoke to Madam Liu, “It’s getting late and roads here are a bit rough. Don’t rush too quickly back home. If there’s nothing going on the next few days, your mother and I will come over to see you. Don’t flaunt any wealth and keep an eye on the grain at home. Don’t be too generous and don’t forget what your roots are!”

After he finished speaking, Madam Liu nodded her head in assent. Although her father’s words were a bit crude, every word he said was for her sake.

The horse cart quickly left Xishan Village. When she turned her head back to look, she could still see her white-haired parents waving towards her in fading light. Madam Liu felt a burst of sadness within her heart and vowed to visit her parents more often in the future so they wouldn’t have to worry so much about her.

When they got back to Dongshan Village, the sky was completely dark. Luckily, other than the stretch of road just outside of Xishan Village, the rest of the roads were wide and smooth. The horse was able to pull the cart at a steady pace in the dark.

When they got home, Old Yu told them that Zhenxiu Restaurant’s assistant steward, Qian Xiaoduo, had come by today under the orders of Third Young Master Zhou with a cart full of grain. When he saw the courtyard full of vegetables, he was so moved that he insisted on placing an order. However, after finding out that Yu Hai and his family members had gone to Xishan Village, he knew no one was around to make a decision so he stated he would come by tomorrow to discuss this.

“Dahai, Zhenxiu Restaurant treats us quite well. We should just give them some of the vegetables we’re planting here!” Old Yu thought that the Zhou Family, who were grand imperial merchants, had helped the Yu Family quite a bit. In fact, they didn’t even forget to bring some grain over during this year of disaster. To return the favor, they should give them some vegetables. 

Yu Hai didn’t directly reply and instead looked inquiringly at his youngest daughter. Yu Xiaocao thought a bit and then said, “Our vegetable garden in the courtyard has at least three to four mu, so we definitely can’t finish all of the vegetables in there. However, the pesticide we use every day to drive away the locusts is quite expensive. How about...we reserve two mu of vegetable fields for Zhenxiu Restaurant and only charge them the money used to make the pesticide?”

Yu Xiaolian, on the other hand, was not pleased with this idea, “So are you saying that the seeds and the labor used to grow these vegetables are not worth money ah? If we do as you say, we’d definitely be on the losing side! In my opinion, Zhenxiu Restaurant is a large business and they don’t care one iota about a little chump change, so we need to sell our vegetables at the current market price! Our family’s vegetables are the only ones available right now in town! If Zhenxiu Restaurant is able to offer green vegetable dishes, they absolutely wouldn’t sell them for cheap and it would attract a lot of customers to them. Where else would they find such a lucrative business opportunity?”

Yu Xiaocao grinned at her sister and said, “Xiaolian now has a head full of business. Everything you said was right! Okay! Tomorrow, you’re in charge of negotiating the terms with Brother Xiaoduo!”

Yu Xiaolian twisted around and grumbled, “No I won’t! Tomorrow morning, I need to go sell starch jelly ah, so how would I have the time to manage this? Aren’t you quite familiar with Qian Xiaoduo ah? You can discuss with him what his plans were in regard to our vegetables!”

The next day, Qian Xiaoduo came by in the early morning to Dongshan Village. The head steward also came along, which showed just how much importance they regarded this particular business. With the Zhou Family’s assets, it wasn’t impossible for them to bring vegetables from the south here. However, the amount of money it would take to buy and transport all of the vegetables was also not a small sum. That being said, could vegetables transported from afar be as tasty and fresh as vegetables just picked from the ground? All of the rich people in town had picky tongues and they could tell with one bite if something was fresh or not.

With Qian Xiaoduo leading, the head steward came into the Yu Family’s courtyard. The expansive courtyard was planted completely with fresh and tender green vegetable sprouts. There were a mixed variety of plants. Some had just come out of the ground in tiny sprouts while others had already grown about an inch above the ground. The leaves on the plants were a soothing green and seemed to be full of water. There wasn’t a single sign that any of these plants had been nibbled on by any insects.

Yu Xiaocao was currently in a field spraying pesticides. She waved in welcome at the head steward, “Head Steward Uncle, why did you personally come over? Please go sit in a room and I’ll pour some tea for you!” 

The head steward waved a hand and replied, “No need, you can continue with what you were doing!”  He walked down a thin walkway that was between the vegetable fields to Yu Xiaocao. He noticed the spray can full of pesticide that was a faint brown color and asked, “Is this the pesticide that can destroy locusts?” 

Yu Xiaocao nodded and said, “This pesticide not only can kill locusts but it can also drive them away! My family’s courtyard is quite big, yet there aren’t a lot of locusts flying over. The ones that do fly in don’t end up going around for long before they die. They don’t even have the chance to defile any of our vegetables here!”  

The head steward looked in the direction that Xiaocao was pointing. Sure enough, a locust had just landed on a vegetable sprout. Right after it landed, it only managed to walk a few steps before it fell down and stopped moving!

He couldn’t help but exclaim in surprise, “Not bad! If this pesticide could be spread to everyone, wouldn’t we be able to exterminate all of the locusts?”

Yu Xiaocao sighed, “This pesticide has a few ingredients that are a bit hard to find and some of the ingredients are quite expensive. Most commoners wouldn’t be able to afford it. A normal mu could produce enough food to make a hundred copper coins. However, the cost to make the pesticide is well above that income. Do you think anyone would do a business that would obviously lose money?”

The head steward looked at her with a smile on his face and stated, “Don’t worry, we won’t let you lose money. There’s no need to hint at me about the costs of growing your vegetables!”

Yu Xiaocao let out a couple of dry laughs and then continued, “Then I’ll just tell the truth to you. One mu of vegetables from start to finish requires three taels worth of pesticide. For vegetables such as these, one mu can produce around three thousand catties or so. What I’m trying to say is that one catty of vegetables now is going to cost around three to five copper coins more than the usual price...”

The head steward waved a hand and said, “Don’t worry, we absolutely won’t have you guys lose money! I’ll increase the price by an additional ten copper coins per catty, what do you think?”

Yu Xiaocao lifted the pot full of pesticide and a bright smile appeared on her face. She gave a thumbs up at the head steward and said, “Very generous! You are truly the head steward of Zhenxiu Restaurant! However, we don’t have a lot of vegetables for sale here. The most we can give you is two mu worth.”

Two mu worth meant six thousand catties of green vegetables. Zhenxiu Restaurant usually used that many vegetables in a dozen to twenty days. However, this season was different. Green vegetables, especially fresh green vegetables such as these, were much more valuable now. They could naturally sell them at the restaurant for a much higher price!

The head steward slapped his hand down, “Okay! I hope that after we harvest the first batch that you’ll be able to plant another round very quickly and continue to grow them until autumn! Furthermore, you guys absolutely cannot sell your vegetables to a second buyer.”

“Not a problem, that’s absolutely not a problem!” Yu Xiaocao was able to make a decision on her own. She nodded her head, “My family’s courtyard is only this large, so even if we wanted to sell to more people, we wouldn't be able to ah! Oh right, we also planted some autumn vegetables next to this. We can also reserve some for you as well!”

The head steward pointed a finger at her and laughed, “You ah, have a natural talent for business! Okay! Zhenxiu Restaurant will take all of the autumn vegetables that your family can’t finish. The price will also be increased by ten copper coins per catty.”

Before an hour had passed, their cooperative business had been set up. The price they agreed upon was the price they used for the early spring plus an additional ten copper coins per catty. This meant that lettuce was thirty copper coins a catty, romaine lettuce was thirty-five copper coins a catty, spinach was twenty-five copper coins a catty, Indian lettuce was twenty-eight copper coins a catty...Although this wasn’t the season for growing spinach, Yu Xiaocao had her cheat item, so what kind of vegetables couldn’t she raise?

Although the prices for these green vegetables didn’t seem very high, the price of pork was usually around thirty copper coins a catty. Selling a catty of green vegetables at the price for a catty of pork was an astoundingly expensive prospect for the average commoner! However, currently pork wasn’t hard to find yet fresh green vegetables were now very rare!

Recently, Zhenxiu Restaurant’s business had gone down a bit. One reason was that there were too many meat dishes, while the vegetables weren’t very fresh yet extremely expensive. Their taste was also average. Luckily, their signature dishes were still able to bring in customers. Otherwise, they would also have to be like the other restaurants in town and close for this season. 

After finishing the talks to seal the deal with the Yu Family, the head steward contently left Dongshan Village with Qian Xiaoduo, who had recently risen to an assistant steward. 

When Yu Xiaocao’s family heard about this business deal, they were all quite pleased! Using the lettuce as an example, one mu could produce at least three thousand catties of lettuce. If they sold each catty for thirty copper coins, then they could make around ninety to a hundred taels from the field. Other than their watermelon fields, where else would they be able to make this type of profit from their farm? 

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Myst's Thoughts

green wheat and glutinous rice porridge

Sanguine’s Thoughts: The Yu Family is going to be rolling in more money soon!

Translator: Sanguine