Yu Xiaocao acted without delay and called over Widow Li and her son and the family of the matron, whose husband broke his leg when the Yu Family just bought the plantation. After the husband’s leg recovered, he had a slight limp, but it didn’t affect his ability to work. The two families were very grateful to the owners for they took care of them, and thus they were more loyal than the other tenant farmers.
In particular, Widow Li and her son, who were divided three mu of land last autumn, had tended the fields meticulously. When it was time for harvest, they even got first place in the village. With an average yield of six hundred eighty catties per mu, they were awarded with one tael per mu by the masters. In addition, there were also over one thousand catties of fine wheat kernels. They had earned an income of thirteen taels within half a year.
Allegedly, the masters would also buy the kernels of corn, which would be harvested in the latter half of the year, back at market price. In this way, they could make at least twenty-something taels in a year. This was something that Widow Li and her son had never dared to imagine. After working for a few more years, her son would have enough money to get married!
When Widow Li and her son and Liu Dazhuang’s family (Author’s notes: The tenant farmer who walked with a limp.) were called over by the masters, all the tenant farmers in the plantation discussed animatedly, “They are the two families with the least labor force and they aren’t responsible for a lot of fields. Do you think that the masters are planning on kicking them out and hiring new people?”
“That can’t be, right? The master and young miss are so kind-hearted. When distributing farmland last year, they even counted women and older children, who are capable of working. Didn’t Widow Li and her son get awarded by the masters?”
A tenant farmer, who was jealous of her family being rewarded, curled up her lips and said, “Their family of two only need to take care of three mu of farmlands. Had it been me, I would have done better than them! Widow Li and her son received a dozen or so taels, so even if they got kicked out, they wouldn’t be penniless.”
“In fact, although Liu Dazhuang is crippled, it doesn’t hinder him from doing farm work. His son is also sixteen, and thus can also be considered an adult worker. His wife is also a capable worker. So they probably wouldn’t have their land taken away and kicked out, right?”
There were sixteen families in the farmstead now, and none of them wanted to leave the Yu Family’s plantation. There was no need to mention the kindness of the masters. During the locust plague, they not only refused to accept rent, but they also subsidized them by hiring them as long-term workers. While the tenant farmers in the nearby villages and other plantations became emaciated and sold their children and women, they were able to live a good life without worrying about food and clothes.
This year’s summer harvest was even more gratifying. The family with the lowest harvest also got a dozen or so taels as income. The supervisor’s family, who had the most land, earned eighty taels when they sold the seeds they reaped! In this way, their family could earn one hundred taels in a year!
It was eight lifetimes of blessing for them to be able to follow the Yu Family ah. They would soon be able to live a good life! In a few years, they would have earned enough money to buy some property nearby. They would no longer be tenant farmers without a house and farmlands! This was all thanks to the owners. They had gotten high-yield seeds for them to plant, so even after they paid the rent, they still had a lot leftover.
The tenant farmers at the plantation were mostly people left behind by the previous owners. At that time, they just had barely enough to eat. After paying rent, there were at most a hundred or so catties of grain per mu leftover. Each catty could only be sold for four to five copper coins, so they could only earn five to six hundred copper coins per mu. The tenant farmers reaped wheat, but they were reluctant to eat wheat flour. Instead, they exchanged them for coarse grain in order to somewhat fill their stomachs.
It was different from the present. Now, each family could earn a dozen or so taels. They wouldn’t be able to use up the money even if they ate wheat flour throughout the year! With money, they no longer had to worry about not being able to fill their stomachs. Moreover, they could also occasionally buy some meat back to satisfy the kids’ craving. They didn’t have to dig around for money to celebrate the New Year, and they could buy some clothes for their families every year…
When the tenant farmers saw Widow Li and Liu Dazhuang getting called over by the owners, they felt sorry for them. Everyone understood that the masters naturally had the rights to choose to hire people who could work. It was just that these two families were short-handed and weren’t of much help to the masters…
Widow Li and her son felt very uneasy right now. Had it been the previous owners, they would have long been driven out when her husband died. The current master and young miss were kindhearted. Not only did they keep them, but they also considered them as second-class laborers when dividing land to them. Although three mu of fields wasn’t a lot, she and her son wouldn’t starve to death if they carefully tended the fields.
Widow Li was shocked by their income after the summer harvest. She felt very uneasy within her heart. Could it be possible that she was dreaming? Would she wake up and realize everything was fake?
When she heard that her family and Crippled Liu’s family of three were called over privately by the masters, her heart instantly sank. Could it be that the masters thought that their families were burdens and wanted to drive them out? When she looked at Cripple Liu’s family of three, she saw that they also looked very alarmed and anxious.
Yu Xiaocao saw the anxious expressions on the faces of both families. She quickly reassured them, “Don’t worry. I called you guys over because I have a new job for you!”
Widow Li and Liu Dazhuang’s families all looked at each other. In the end, Widow Li timidly asked, “Young Miss, you… aren’t you doing to drive us out?”
“Drive out? Why would I? Your two families are doing a good job taking care of the lands distributed to you. Your families are within the top three in terms of harvest. Wouldn’t it be a loss to our farmstead if we kicked such capable people out?” Yu Xiaocao was slightly stunned, but she quickly showed a reassuring smile and calmed the hearts of the two families.
When the two families heard this, the big rock on their hearts immediately fell to the ground. Liu Dazhuang finally had a smile on his dull-looking face. He rubbed his hands and asked, “Young Miss, we’ll do whatever you want us to do! We are very relieved to be able to work for Master and Young Miss!”
Yu Xiaocao looked at him with a calming gaze and said, “Have you guys heard about Dongshan Village’s early-maturing vegetables?”
Liu Dazhuang was a man, so he would work odd jobs in his spare time. He quickly nodded and said, “Yes, I’ve heard about it! I heard that the Zhenxiu Restaurant in town uses vegetables from Dongshan Village. At the beginning of spring, one plate of sautéed vegetables cost one tael ah! The wealthy and influential families in town also scrambled and competed to buy Dongshan Village’s vegetables. The town’s Patriarch Yao is very famous in town because all his vegetables were supplied by Dongshan Village… Unfortunately, the range of vegetable cultivation in Dongshan Village was too small to provide vegetables for everyone in town…”
Yu Xiaocao looked at him approvingly. Seeing the shocked expression on Widow Li and her son’s faces, she said, “You guys should know that we’re from Dongshan Village…”
Liu Dazhuang widened his eyes and couldn’t help shouting, “Young Miss, could it be that those vegetables came from the master’s family?”
“That’s right! The early-maturing vegetables came from my family. Had we not made money from selling vegetables and watermelon, how would we, normal farmers, be able to own a plantation in our lifetime?” Yu Xiaocao wasn’t afraid of letting them know more about her family. If she wanted them to work for them wholeheartedly, she must give them confidence that they could live a good life!
“Watermelon? The best-selling watermelon in Dongshan Village is also from your family?” Not only Liu Dazhuang, but even Widow Li, who rarely went to town, couldn’t help but exclaim. The masters’ family was too capable. In just a few years, they had transformed from ordinary farmers to owners of a plantation. It was no wonder that everything that the masters planted were in great demand. Even their wheat output was higher than others. The two families were even more determined to live a good life by following the masters!
“Young Miss, just let us know what you want us to do!” Liu Dazhuang declared his resolution first.
“Yes, that’s right!” Widow Li also hurriedly replied for fear that the young miss would dislike her slow response and not give them the new job.
Yu Xiaocao nodded with a smile and said, “As you guys know, Dongshan Village has just experienced a disaster and most of the vegetables have been destroyed. If we want to start over again, I’m afraid that it will take up to next spring. There’s a lot of land in our farmstead, and there are a lot of places suitable for growing vegetables. So…”
Liu Dazhuang immediately understood and asked, “Young Miss, do you mean…you want our two families to help manage the vegetable fields?”
She didn’t expect that the dull-looking Liu Dazhuang was quite clever! Yu Xiaocao liked to work with smart people because it wasn’t as tiring. She looked at him with approval and said, “That’s right! I believe that your two families are experienced in growing vegetables, so it shouldn’t be difficult for you guys to tend the vegetable fields, right?”
“Not hard, not hard!” Widow Li quickly replied. She had heard that the Yu Family had a shortage of vegetables, so there was definitely a market for it. Which family in the farmstead didn’t grow some vegetables in the front and back of their house? As long as they carefully took care of the vegetables, would it even be possible to not grow them well?
Yu Xiaocao smiled and said, “Rest assured! We won’t grow too much in the first year; each family will start with ten mu. Don’t worry, my family’s vegetable seeds have been improved, so they don’t need to be fertilized. They also aren’t afraid of pests and diseases. As long as you work diligently, they just need to be watered and weeded every day! Don’t worry about the water. I’ll ask my father to hire someone to dig two wells next to the fields, which are specially used for the vegetable fields…”
‘No need for fertilization and pest control? Can the vegetables grow well?’ The two families were full of doubts, and their expressions naturally revealed their feelings. Yu Xiaocao didn’t explain either. They would know after the vegetables were grown!
The next day, Yu Hai asked a well-digging craftsman to dig a well next to the selected vegetables fields. Since they were in a hurry to plant vegetables, Yu Hai gathered the tenant farmers in the farmstead and had them plow the twenty mu of land first. Widow Li’s family and Liu Dazhuang’s family were given eight mu and twelve mu respectively. They stayed in the fields for the entire day. They loosened the larger clumps of soil with hoes and carefully weeded the fields.
Although the young miss said that they didn’t need to fertilize the fields, the two families still took out most of the manure that they had saved up for over half a year. After drying and crushing them into powder, they scattered them over the fields. The young miss had said that 10% of the field’s income belonged to them.
Liu Dazhuang had asked around and found out that they could earn at least a dozen or so taels a month per mu of vegetable field. Didn’t that mean that they could earn at least one tael per mu each month? Twelve mu of land would be twelve taels, so with the exception of four or five months that would be too cold to grow vegetables, their families could earn an annual income of eighty to ninety taels! Moreover, this was calculated based on the least amount they could possibly receive. The price of vegetables would be several times more expensive at the beginning of spring, which meant that their income would also increase several folds!
Widow Li felt even more motivated to work after hearing his analysis! If they took care of the vegetable fields meticulously, then they would have a higher output and earn more money. It would be worth it even if it was somewhat tiring!Previous Chapter Next Chapter