Chapter 326 - Farming Season

Now, they just had to wait for the results to be published. In mid-March, the list of qualified candidates for the prefectural examination was announced. The names of the three kids were all listed in the front. Yu Xiaocao looked through the list and saw that her younger uncle’s, Yu Bo, name was also listed on there. 

“Brother Qian Wen, you also came to check the results! My second sister squeezed inside, so just ask her to help you check it!” Hearing Little Shitou’s voice from behind, Xiaocao looked over the list again and saw Qian Wen’s results. His name wasn’t too far behind her younger brother’s name. 

She worked hard to get out of the crowd and found her younger brother. With a smile, she patted him on the shoulder and said, “Well done, you’re within the top twenty!! As long as you work hard, our family will have a little county scholar-official soon.” 

With a gentle smile, Qian Wen said, “Congratulations, Little Shitou!”

Yu Xiaocao said with a smile, “Qian Wen, I saw your name, too. So, congratulations to you, too!! When you guys go to the prefectural city for the examination, please help us take care of our Little Shitou.” 

As if he had already expected this result, Qian Wen didn’t show an overjoyed expression. He nodded and said, “With the relationship between our families, I would do so even if you didn’t ask me.” 

After chatting with Qian Wen for a while, Yu Xiaocao brought her younger brother back to Dongshan Village. There was less than a month before the prefectural examination. After the results for the exam was announced, Rongxuan Academy only gave the students two days off. It was already mid-March, and she needed to go home to cultivate the early-maturing vegetables. It would be too late if she delayed it any longer. She planned on using these next two days to sow all the vegetables fields, and then let her father and the rest of the family handle tending the fields afterwards. 

When they got back to Dongshan Village, they saw a lot of horses parked in front of their house. Upon entering, they confirmed that it was indeed Royal Prince Yang.   

Zhu Junyang drank the fragrant tea, which was top-quality biluochun that he brought over himself. Even if it was the same tea leaves, tea made from the Yu Family’s water would taste more fragrant than other places. It was the same for the Yu Family’s food. Even the rice had a much better mouthfeel. Could it be that the water in the Yu Family’s well was different than that of other places? 

His elegance when tasting tea with his eyes lowered, his graceful disposition, and his indifferent and beautiful face… This simple courtyard seemed to have also become more vivid. Yu Xiaocao was amazed once again! 

Hearing the movement, Zhu Junyang lifted his eyes and looked over. Seeing the glow within Xiaocao’s eyes, his heart suddenly felt more relaxed and comfortable. With a faint smile, he softly asked, “How was Little Shitou’s results for the exam? Is he on the list for qualified examinees?” 

Little Shitou interjected, “I passed! I’m qualified to participate in the prefectural examination!!” 

A bright smile appeared on the faces of Yu Hai and Madam Liu, who were originally worried. Yu Caifeng and her husband also quickly congratulated them. Yu Hai humbly replied, “This is just the first stage. We don’t know how the next two stages will turn out. Don’t be so happy yet. Little Shitou, you can’t be too proud ah. You need to continue to work hard.” 

Little Shitou nodded hard. Madam Liu couldn’t help but smile, and said, “You guys must be hungry. Mother will cook something yummy for you guys!!” 

Yu Xiaocao wanted to go help, but Madam Liu said to her, “Yan’er can help me. You should go work on the vegetable seeds. Since you weren’t home, we just plowed and fertilized the fields. Now we just need to plant the seeds.” 

Yu Hai also said, “We should also pre-soak the watermelon seeds. I originally wanted to do it myself, but your mother was afraid that I would mess it up and delay the harvest. These past few days, we have been continuously receiving orders from the prefectural city, hoping that we can grow more watermelons.” 

Yu Xiaocao thought about it and said, “Then let’s plant watermelons in our over ten mu of farmland in the village. We can grow the corn in the plantation located on the outskirts of Tanggu Town. By the way, Father, not a single grain was reaped in the plantation last autumn. The tenant farmers must be having a hard time, right?” 

Yu Hai nodded and said, “Yes, it hasn’t been easy. It’s not only our plantation, but it was also the same for others. It was just slightly better at our Dongshan Village. The only thing that I could do was to waive their rents.” 

The majority of the common people had no extra grain at home. They all relied on their autumn harvest to get through the cold winter and the period before the new crops were ready. Although the imperial court had distributed food for disaster relief and there was average-priced grain for sale in town, there were still many people who couldn’t afford grain. As a result, there was an increase in people selling their houses, land, and children at the beginning of spring. 

Yu Xiaocao thought about it and said, “After Younger Brother takes the prefectural examination, let’s also plant the corn. The plantation has over a hundred mu of land, so we’ll need a lot of people to plow, fertilize, sow, and manage the fields. The tenant farmers definitely don’t have enough food to last them until the corn is ready to be reaped. Why don’t we hire the tenant farms as long-term workers? Those who work more will be paid more, and those who do a good job will get a bonus. What do you think?”

“That’s a good idea. Let’s work out the rules first. In a couple of days, I’ll go to the plantation with your oldest paternal uncle and ask for their opinion.” Yu Hai felt that this was a very good idea.

Zhu Junyang interjected, “This prince has also bought some land around Tanggu, so I need to hire some people to manage them. I’ll entrust this matter to you, too!” 

Yu Xiaocao curiously asked, “Young Royal Prince, why do you suddenly want to buy farmland in Tanggu Town? Are you also planting corn?” 

“It’s the emperor’s orders! Last year, the locusts destroyed all the corn in the plantation at the capital. However, the output estimated by the Minister of Revenue was far less than that of your family’s. The emperor and Ministry of Revenue wants to experiment in both the capital and Tanggu Town to see which land is more suitable to grow corn.” Zhu Junyang took the imperial order and planned a long-term stay in Tanggu Town. The experimental fields in the capital were handed over to the group of old fellows in the Ministry of Revenue to take care of. 

Yu Xiaocao lifted her eyebrows and thought, ‘Without this maiden’s mystic-stone water, no matter how hard they work, the experimental fields in the capital still won’t be as good as the fields in Tanggu Town.’ Was this considered helping the young royal prince again? 

But she still honestly replied, “Corn is very easy to grow since it has good adaptability to different types of soil. Last year, we planted them in sandy soil, and there was still quite a high yield.” 

Zhu Junyang nodded. He slightly looked around and said, “The emperor said that your family is experienced in growing corn, so we’ll need your family’s help with the experimental fields in both locations. Of course, we won’t let you guys work for nothing. If this task is done well, then you will definitely be rewarded!” 

“What kind of reward? Gold, silver, and precious gems? Silk and satin? Fertile farmland and beautiful houses?” Yu Xiaocao’s eyes were shining brightly, and with her fist holding up her chin, she appeared like a kitten that caught a little fish. She looked quite cute. 

Zhu Junyang couldn’t help but ruffle her hair with his hands. He answered, “You can get all of them! Even if they’re not within the emperor’s rewards, this prince will compensate you. Can you rest assured now?” 

Yu Xiaocao shook off his hands, glared at him, and said, “Men and women should not casually touch each other. I’m already eleven years old, so I’m not a child anymore. Please pay attention to your actions!” 

Yu Hai’s eyebrows were almost twisted together, and his eyeballs were about to pop out. If the other party wasn’t Royal Prince Yang, he would have already snapped his hands in two! What was up with this Royal Prince Yang? He wouldn’t be interested in his family’s Cao’er, right? No way, he must keep an eye on her. His daughter was only eleven years old, so he couldn’t let her be taken away by this big wolf. So what if he was the royal prince? Even the royal prince shouldn’t casually touch other people’s daughters!! 

Zhu Junyang didn’t know that her father had started to guard against him. He looked at Yu Xiaocao from top to bottom, and said, “Eleven years old? I can’t tell ah! You need to eat more in the future, so that you can grow taller and not end up becoming a little shorty!” 

Yu Xiaocao was very distressed about her short stature. She had been consuming mystic-stone water for more than two years, and Doctor Sun said that she had already recovered from the illness that she carried since she was a fetus. She had been eating very well for more than a year, but despite eating so much, she still couldn’t gain much weight. Moreover, she hadn’t grown much taller either. Xiaolian was almost half a head taller than her! Could it be due to the lack of natural endowment? 

Seeing Yu Xiaocao looking dejected like a defeated kitten, Zhu Junyang felt bad and said, “Don’t worry too much. Some people grow up earlier, while others grow later. The youngest grandson of the mayor of the capital was only a little taller than you when he was fifteen, but after not seeing him for over a year, he was almost the same height as me. You’re only eleven years old, so you still have six to seven years to grow.” 

Yu Xiaocao glared at him and thought, ‘Who’s the one to stab other people in the heart first? You want to give me a red date after slapping me? This maiden will remember this. From now on, I’m going to make dishes that you don’t like to eat!!’ 

She turned around angrily and went into the storage room to get the mystic-stone water used to breed vegetables. She called it breeding, but it was actually a very simple process. She just needed to soak the seeds in the mystic-stone water, and the seeds would be ready to be planted in a couple of days. The reserved watermelon seeds needed to be soaked until a small bud sprouted, which would increase their likelihood of survival when planted. Thus, they needed to be soaked for a few more days. That was just right, since they could plant the watermelons when they were done planting the vegetable seeds. 

This year’s vegetables had been delayed for nearly half a month. In order to not delay the farming season, Madam Liu asked for the help of her close friends, paying them thirty copper coins per day. There was a total of four to five mu of vegetable fields, so with seven to eight people, they could finish the work in a day. 

After sowing the vegetables seeds, it was about time for Yu Xiaocao to go back to town to be a cook for her younger brother. In order to not affect the growth of the vegetables, Yu Xiaocao decided to just throw the multi-colored stone into the well in the backyard and asked the little divine stone to release its spiritual power into the water. After that, she solemnly instructed her father that he must use their family’s well water to irrigate the land and watermelons with the reason that she discovered that there was something special about the water in their family’s well. 

After being reminded by his daughter, Yu Hai also noticed that rice tasted better when cooked with their family’s well water. It remained to be seen whether it was good for the vegetables and watermelons seedlings. There was one thing that was very good about Yu Hai, which was the fact that he firmly believed and followed his daughter’s words. 

Of course, he also performed a small experiment. He selected a small portion of vegetable field to irrigate with the pond water behind the house instead of the well water. He soon noticed the difference. The vegetable field watered with well water did indeed grow faster and better than the portion that was irrigated with pond water. 

How did his daughter notice this? Did the immortal tell her in her dream? Or did the immortal cast magic in the well water? Yu Hai buried this question deep within his heart and never told anyone. As for the matter of the well water in their backyard being different from that of other places, he held a small meeting with the family and told them not to mention this matter to others, lest it attract unnecessary trouble.

With her father and oldest uncle at home, Yu Xiaocao didn’t have any worries and concentrated on being a chef in town. After the result of the exam was published, the fathers of Sun Runze and Liu Jinye came over again. They each gave her fifty taels as food expense and asked her to please take care of their children. With the same mindset of ‘whether it was one sheep or three sheep, she still needed to herd them’, she didn’t decline their requests. 

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Myst's Thoughts

hahaha alarm bells are ringing in Yu Hai's head

Translator: Myst