Chapter 408 - Gold-filled Summer Harvest

The imperial army arrived the day after the Wokou pirates retreated. The leader was Commander Fang, who went on the ocean voyage with Royal Prince Yang. He was appointed the title of Zhenhai General and led ten thousand elite soldiers to guard the coastal area of Jinwei Prefectural City.

Not only that, but there was also a guarding station set up every ten kilometers along the coastal area, which was guarded by one hundred soldiers. At each location, they were required to build a watchtower, and two people were on watch for every shift. A guarding station was set up near Dongshan Village, and the watchtower was built on the cliff that Xiaocao and the others often gathered seafood at. 

When the group of soldiers passed by Dongshan Village, the villagers only dared to watch afar for fear that they would get into trouble. Since the guarding station was so close to the village, the village head was afraid that the soldiers would use their authority to force the villagers to give them things from to time! If Xiaocao could read his mind, she would definitely tell him, ‘Village Head Grandpa, you’re thinking too much. With the great Buddha Royal Prince Yang in our village, they wouldn’t dare to ‘pluck a tiger’s whiskers’ even if someone lent them some more courage! 

The guarding station was located on the ruins of a neighboring village. The herbs and other substances to prevent pestilence had already been sprinkled throughout the village. The soldiers fixed the few remaining houses in the village and used them as basecamp. Every day, they went back and forth between the cliff and the basecamp, and worked hard to build the watchtower. The watchtower wasn’t only a lookout, but when there was a situation out in the sea, they would light up a beacon to convey the message.    

When Yu Xiaocao occasionally dived in the sea, she would look at the cliff from afar. The construction of the watchtower progressed rapidly and looked different every day. She didn’t know if she was overthinking, but she always felt that there was someone watching her on the cliff. Could it be that the soldiers of the guarding station were monitoring her because they thought that she was a spy? After that, Xiaocao didn’t dare to dive near the cliff to gather seafood. She was afraid that the soldiers monitoring the sea would find out about her secret. After she dove into the water, she would tell the little dolphin to take her into the deep sea, and she would only emerge from the water at that time. 

This year, the amount of seafood that the Zhou Family had to pay tribute to the imperial court had increased, so Xiaocao had to make time to go to the sea a few more times. She had a rich harvest every time, and at times, she would also bring back a big lobster and some deep-sea fishes for her family to enjoy. 

After moving into the Zhao Residence, they lived even closer to the mountain manor, which made it much more convenient for Zhu Junyang to bum off meals from them. Every summer, he was able to eat good food and endless delicious seafood such as ‘sea urchin lobster roll’, ‘grilled salmon’, ‘tuna and lettuce rice ball’, ‘fried yellow croaker’, and ‘grilled cod in oyster sauce’… These dishes, which he had never seen before, made him sigh when eating them, ‘How am I supposed to live in the future without that lass Xiaocao?’ Thus, for the sake of being able to eat good food in the future, Royal Prince Yang clung onto Yu Xiaocao even more tightly.   

The foundation of the house in Dongshan Village had just been completed, and the winter wheat in the farmstead had matured. Yu Hai handed the task of supervising to his third brother-in-law, while he went to the front line of harvesting with his oldest son, youngest daughter, and the royal prince’s entourage. 

Of course, as the owners, they didn’t need to personally harvest the wheat. The supervisor of the tenant farmers stood behind them with a bright smile as he reported the growth of the wheat. This year, the wheat in the fields had grown very well. Not only were the ears of the wheat bigger than the neighboring plantation, they were also very full. According to his years of experience, the output of wheat probably exceeded five hundred catties per mu! 

It shall be noted that, unlike in her previous lifetime, this wasn’t a time period when it was easy to produce over a thousand catties of crops. The yield of wheat generally ranged between two hundred to three hundred catties. An output of more than three hundred catties was considered a high yield. As for five hundred catties, that was something that had never happened before! Yu Hai, as the owner, expressed his satisfaction and openly praised the supervisor.

Before the harvest, Yu Xiaocao had requested the tenant farmers cut and put aside the wheat stalks with longer ears and fuller kernels. When planting wheat next year, they could plant these kernels in a separate plot of land and see if the yield could reach a new high. The output of five hundred catties per mu hadn’t reached Xiaocao’s ideal results. It would be even better if the yield per mu could reach up to a thousand catties or more, like in her previous life. In this way, the people of the Great Ming Dynasty wouldn’t have to worry about not having ample food and clothing. 

Seeing this, Zhu Junyang also told the steward to instruct the long-term workers to look for wheat stalks with longer ears and fuller kernels in his eight hundred mu of farmland and put them together with Xiaocao’s collection. After threshing, it actually exceeded one hundred catties, which meant that they could open up fifty to sixty mu of land as experimental fields. 

It was always sunny recently. After she asked the little divine stone and found out that it wouldn’t rain for half a month, the summer harvest began vigorously. For the tenant farmers of the farmstead, each household had a portion of land that they were responsible for, and they worked especially hard when reaping the wheat.   

In less than five days, more than one hundred mu of wheat had been harvested, threshed, dried, and transported to the granary. With a rough estimation, they yielded six hundred catties of wheat per mu in the superior farmlands and five hundred catties per mu in average farmlands. Even in the inferior farmlands, they were able to harvest more than three hundred catties per mu. The entire plantation was overjoyed! 

In this way, not counting the rent that they gave to the owners, on average, they still had more than two hundred catties of grain per mu. Those with more labor force in the family were divided forty to fifty mu of land to work on, so wouldn’t that mean that they could receive nearly ten thousand catties of wheat? This was only for one season, so if they added the corn harvested in autumn… Oh my god! They wouldn’t be able to finish everything even if they ate wheat flour and white rice daily!

But, of course, they definitely couldn’t consume this high-yielding wheat. Xiaocao planned on leaving the wheat as seeds for next year. She wanted to see if the kernels improved by mystic-stone water could be even more high-yielding next year. As a result, after all the seeds had been threshed, the Yu Family bought all of the wheat kernels from the tenant farmers at market price.   

The news about the high yield of wheat at the Yu Family’s farmstead swiftly spread in the vicinity. The first to contact Yu Hai was the Zhou Family’s steward, who was in charge of the ritual fields. The Zhou Family and Yu Family were business partners, so he was considered an old acquaintance of the family. After they exchanged greetings, the steward directly revealed the intention of his visit, “Master Yu, our patriarch heard that your family had a good harvest of wheat, so he wanted to ask where you guys got the wheat kernels.” 

Yu Hai had wanted to say that they were just normal wheat kernels, but he was stopped by his youngest daughter. Xiaocao smiled as she pushed the responsibility onto Royal Prince Yang, “Our plantation’s wheat kernels were awarded to us by Royal Prince Yang. At that time, the kernels appeared to be the same as ordinary wheat kernels. We didn’t expect it to be so high yielding.” 

Royal Prince Yang had once gone to the western hemisphere and brought back many seeds of high-yield crops. This was something that nearly the entire Great Ming Empire knew about, let alone Tanggu Town. The steward from the Zhou Family pondered for a moment, and then asked, “Then…can Master Yu give some kernels to the Zhou Family? We’re willing to pay a lot of money!” 

Yu Hai looked at his daughter, and when he saw her nod at him, he asked, “May I know how many kernels the Zhou Family wants?” 

The steward pondered for a moment, and then said, “The Zhou Family has five hundred mu of ritual fields. The first branch has three hundred mu of fertile farmland under their name, while the second branch…”

“Steward Liu, it’s also our first time planting and harvesting wheat, so we don’t have a lot of seeds on hand. We can only provide you seeds for the five hundred mu of ritual fields.” One mu of land would require between fifteen to twenty catties of seeds. The Zhou Family would need almost ten thousand catties of seeds for just their ritual fields. The Yu Family’s farmstead collected a total of seventy thousand catties of seeds. If they let Steward Liu continue on, they would have to share one-third of their seeds with the Zhou Family alone. After making a rough calculation within her heart, Yu Hai interrupted Steward Liu’s words. 

When Steward Liu heard that they could only give them seeds for the five hundred mu of ritual fields, he was worried that he had only accomplished half of the task that the patriarch assigned him. He wanted to try to get some more, but Yu Hai firmly stated that they would only provide ten thousand catties of seeds, and nothing else! 

Yu Xiaocao just stood at the side with a smile. If the first branch of the Zhou Family had treated Third Young Master Zhou better, then she might have put in a good word for the Zhou Family and given them a little more wheat kernels. However, the Zhou Family’s first branch was a group of weirdos, who often bullied Third Young Master Zhou and his mother. The eldest master of the Zhou Family would occasionally use his identity as the birth father and attempt to control the second branch. It was great that their plantation didn’t have a good harvest of grains. It was none of her business! As for the farmlands under the name of the Zhou Family’s second branch, would her father not give Third Young Master Zhou face if he asked? 

They had finished negotiating the price of the fine seeds. Since fine seeds could produce double the amount of normal wheat kernels, the price would be at least several folds higher. For example, normal wheat kernels cost ten copper coins per catty and twenty catties of seeds could be planted in one mu of farmland. Thus, it would be a total of two hundred copper coins. Three hundred catties of wheat could be harvested in one mu of fertile farmland. The market price of wheat was five copper coins per catty, so one mu of farmland could reap 1500 copper coins, which was seven or eight times more than the investment. 

Their family could produce six hundred catties per mu with ordinary wheat kernels. If they changed it to fine seeds next year, the output would definitely be higher. If calculated based on a yield of six hundred catties per mu and an income of three taels per mu, then she could earn fifty copper coins with one catty of seeds. Shouldn’t be too much, right? 

Steward Liu calculated in his heart, and then said with a smile on his face, “Master Yu, isn’t it somewhat expensive? Look, your family’s seeds only yielded double that of ordinary seeds, but the price is five times higher. Aren’t you asking for too much?” 

Yu Hai felt that this daughter had set the price for too high, but he just smiled and didn’t say anything. Then he turned his gaze to his youngest daughter. 

Yu Xiaocao looked at him with a gaze that said ‘don’t worry’, and then she said to Steward Liu with a smile on her face, “Steward Liu, let me make the calculations for you and you can consider whether this is a good deal. The yield from ordinary wheat kernels can only earn one tael per mu, but our family’s fine seeds can earn three taels per mu. For ordinary wheat, you will need to plant twenty catties per mu. For our fine seeds, you just need to plant fifteen catties. That is to say, if you invested 750 copper coins, you can earn three taels per catty. The net income will be 2250 copper coins. For five hundred mu of ritual fields, you can earn 1125 taels… If you just used ordinary seeds, you guys can at most earn a little more than 600 taels. It’s nearly doubled the money ah!” 

Steward Liu took the abacus from the worker behind him and did the calculations. Sure enough, they could earn nearly twice as much on the same fields. Only a fool wouldn’t accept this deal!

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Translator: Myst