Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 500
In fact, even though Zhu Junyang’s farmstead was not officially under Xiaocao’s name, it more or less belonged to Xiaocao now. He sold the mountain area behind the farmstead to Xiaocao at a low price. He also gave her the right to arrange the land in the farmstead as she pleased. She was also able to order the stewards and servants working in the farmstead as she wanted. Xiaocao was respected and treated like the master of the farmstead by the servants. Of course, she was treated with respect because of her capability and charming personality.
Although they planted many flowers in the mountain area behind the farmstead, they were still short on supply. Yu Xiaocao publicly purchased a variety of flowers and petals from various places. She even had suppliers from Jiangnan. Furthermore, Zhu Junyang had assigned one of his fleets to personally purchase flowers for Yu Xiaocao.
They already agreed that the thousands of mu of fertile land in the farmstead would be planted with vegetables and fruits in the winter. At the beginning of spring, the land in the farmstead will then all be used to plant flowers. In addition to that, he also had a couple of hundred mu located on the backend of the mountain area. That amount of land should be barely enough, right? If it wasn’t enough, Zhu Junyang was thinking about purchasing the neighboring farmsteads at a high price…
Yu Xiaocao had been busy with the beauty and health club during spring. Of course, she had not forgotten about her official responsibilities. She had also been taking care of the matters in the Imperial Plantation. At the beginning of spring, she planted fresh vegetables after the greenhouse pavilions were taken down.
The vegetable farmers in the suburbs of the capital also planted some vegetables at the beginning of spring. However, their vegetables couldn’t compare to the vegetables planted in the Imperial Plantation. Perhaps the Imperial Plantation was infected with the dragon spirit from the royal family, but the vegetables produced this year appeared fresher and lusher than the vegetables from the other vegetable farmers. The vegetables from the Imperial Plantation tasted even better than the previous years.
As a result, the vegetables sold by the shops under Zhu Junyang’s name were much more expensive than the vegetables sold by ordinary vegetable farmers. Even so, the cunning government officials, noble families, and wealthy merchants all fought to buy some vegetables and fruits from his shop.
The commoners in the capital were naturally reluctant to buy the same type of vegetables at a price that was several times higher just because it tasted better. Therefore, there was still a market for vegetables sold by suburban vegetable farmers. The vegetables produced by the Imperial Plantation were coined as the ‘noble vegetables’ because it supplied mostly the wealthy upper-class people. It didn’t compete in the market against the vegetables planted by ordinary vegetable farmers.
The weather gradually became warmer. People took off their warm clothes for lighter and more comfortable summer garments. The one thousand mu of winter wheat planted in the Imperial Plantation had grown into plump and massive ears of wheat. It looked like the Imperial Plantation was covered with a golden colored blanket. When they saw the vast golden wheat field, the old and experienced tenant farmers in the Imperial Plantation smiled until their wrinkles deepened at the corners of their eyes.
They had planted crops for the majority of their life, but this was the first time they had seen such large and plump wheat ears. This year was definitely going to have a bumper harvest and they would be able to live a better life this year due to the bountiful harvest! Although the wheat in the Imperial Plantation was owned by the imperial family, the tenant farmer’s income was still linked to the harvest of the fields each year. The output of the harvest usually got converted into other forms of food or silver as income for the tenant farmers.
Before Miss Yu came to the Imperial Plantation, the tenant farmers working in the Imperial Plantation were envied by others. The emperor was well known for his benevolence and love for his people, so he naturally wouldn’t treat the tenant farmers in the Imperial Plantation badly. Last fall, under Miss Yu’s leadership, the corn output in the Imperial Plantation broke a new record. Each of the tenant farmers’ incomes had doubled compared to the previous years. Looking at the fields of winter wheat for this spring, they knew that their income would definitely be better than the income they received from last fall. In other words, this year’s income was better than all the previous payments they had received in the previous two to three years!
As a result, the tenant farmers were full of energy when they were harvesting the winter wheat. Men, women, and children all looked like they were engaging in battle as they cut, tied, and picked the wheat…the children followed behind the adults while carrying a small basket to pick the wheat ears that fell to the ground. They knew that the plantation had to receive the wheat in the warehouse first before it would be considered as their own. Since this year’s winter wheat had grown so well, they couldn’t afford to have an accident when harvesting the crops. They wouldn’t be able to afford the consequences!
When the thousand mu of winter wheat had been cut, dried, and stored in the warehouse, the tenant farmers who had been busy harvesting all day and night could finally let out a sigh of relief. Steward Wang and Minister Liu of the Ministry of Revenue couldn’t wait to calculate the output of the winter wheat with the officials in charge of the farming tasks.
Minister Liu trembled with excitement. Seven hundred catties!! The average yield per mu actually reached seven hundred catties, which meant that they yielded a higher catty per mu than the crops produced at Tanggu Town. In this era where the average wheat yield per mu was only around two to three hundred catties, no one could even imagine that they could one day produce seven hundred catties per mu! This was simply a myth that they didn’t even dare to imagine!!
The statistics of the total yield from the Imperial Plantation was presented to the emperor. The yield per mu of the fields in Tanggu Town was also counted and it turned out that the yield per mu wasn’t much different from the Imperial Plantation this year. However, Xiaocao asked a few people to select a few exceptionally large wheat ears in the previous year for her, and then she planted those in a few acres of land. The winter wheat planted in the few acres of land produced wheat ears that were a third larger in size than normal wheat ears. The wheat ear managed to create a miracle by outputting nine hundred catties per mu!
Above the imperial court, the emperor held a giant wheat ear and excitedly said to the civil and military officials, “Do you see this? This is the wheat ear that yielded nine hundred catties per mu. If we use this as a seed, then the yield next year definitely won’t worsen! Imagine if all the wheat in the north can reach this output, then would our Great Ming Dynasty have people who go hungry every day? Would we still have people who are poverty-stricken? Will we still have people who won’t be able to make a living?? The people in the Great Ming Dynasty will be able to live in peace and contentment. The Great Ming Dynasty will no longer be unstable because of poverty. Feudal Princess Jinan is indeed one of my most capable officials. Now, my officials and ministers, do you still believe that I’m trying to cause chaos to the imperial court by appointing a young girl as an official? My officials and ministers, do you still believe that a woman cannot be a capable and efficient official?”
The imperial court fell silent. The ministers, who strongly opposed appointing Yu Xiaocao as an official, had their heads hanging down. Their faces burned as if they were slapped multiple times! The emperor always appointed people according to their abilities and merits. He had stubbornly appointed a young girl from a peasant family as an official even though half of the imperial court opposed this idea. He didn’t want to overlook a farming genius just because of her background or gender.
After the emperor ascended the throne, in order to save some expenses for the imperial treasury, he insisted on using the former imperial palace. Some of the more remote and desolate palaces were starting to fall apart, yet he refused to repair the buildings. In order to prevent the wasting of manpower and resources, he even canceled the drafting of young ladies to the imperial harem that usually occurred once every three years. The emperor’s harem, including the empress, consisted of no more than ten women! The emperor and the empress also had their expenses cut down by keeping their longevity celebrations simple. The celebration cost no more than one thousand taels of silver, which meant that it cost even less than the birthday celebration of a wealthy merchant.
The imperial family was naturally frugal because the funds in the imperial treasury were not abundant. In the past ten years since the emperor’s ascension to the throne, he had worked diligently for the people, encouraged people to open up land for farming, lowered taxes again and again, and he even gave the people who suffered from war and disasters an opportunity to live a good life. Even so, many people in various places still could not fill their stomachs because the grain output was too low! After an ordinary family worked for an entire year, the remaining money they had after they paid the rent for the farm was barely enough to make ends meet.
If the yield per mu was increased by three to four times, then the tenant farmers would still have surplus money after paying for rent and food. If the people were well off, then the nation would be stable. Wasn’t this what all rulers wished for? There were hundreds of officials in court, but the generals were the ones who built this country, and the ministers were the ones who ruled this country. Yet it was a young girl whom everyone looked down upon who ended up stabilizing this country!
Now, it was impossible for the ministers to reject the result. Official Yu used her extraordinary ability to win the recognition of the hundreds of civil and military officials in court! Her accomplishments were gradually revealed to the people!
Some of the high yielding winter wheat seeds were stored to be planted in the Imperial Plantation next year, and the remaining ones were sold to the poor people in the north at ordinary prices. In order to prevent certain landowners and officials from monopolizing the seeds, the court had dispatched an imperial envoy to preside over the sale of the seeds.
The Imperial Plantation and Yu Family’s farmstead in Tanggu Town only totaled around four to five thousand mu of land. The average yield per mu was around seven hundred catties, so they produced over three million catties of wheat seeds. It took fifteen catties of seeds to plant one mu of land. This meant that the seeds that they currently had could only supply the planting for around two hundred thousand mu of land. This was far from enough since the Great Ming Dynasty had over six hundred million mu of arable farmland!
The emperor asked the imperial hidden guards to secretly count the land in the outskirts of the capital and the nearby Zhou prefecture that belonged to the officials and wealthy merchants. The area of arable land unexpectedly exceeded one hundred thousand mu. If all these farmsteads could be used to breed the seeds, then they would be able to supply enough seeds for the nine million mu of land! If this happened, then they would be one step closer to their goal of growing high yielding wheat all over the north!
The emperor asked Chief Steward Su Ran to gather these people together and announce that the court had expropriated their land. Of course, their farmsteads would not be used in vain. The seeds will be distributed by the court, and the harvested grains can only be sold to the court. The court was willing to pay ten copper coins per catty to buy the wheat harvested from the land.
The highest price for wheat in the market was only five copper coins per catty. The owners of these farmsteads would earn a huge profit, so why wouldn’t they agree? The imperial court signed a ten-year agreement with the owners of the farmsteads. They agreed that the court was going to decide what they will plant and how they will plant it for the next ten years. When they harvested the crops, the court will send a commissioner to buy all the crops.
The crops planted by each farmstead were different. Some planted winter wheat while other farmsteads planted spring seedings, so the process was quite chaotic. Therefore, the agreement went into effect after this current autumn harvest ended. The beginning of the agreement started once winter wheat was planted in the ground.
After the winter wheat was harvested, both the Imperial Plantation and the farmstead at Tanggu Town wildly proclaimed that they were now planting corn and potatoes. The climate in the northeastern and northwestern regions was harsher, and the land was more barren, so crops like corn and potatoes were more suitable for planting than wheat. Last year, many villagers from the suburbs of the capital came to the capital and frantically bought some corn seeds before returning. They immediately started planting the seeds at the start of spring. According to their feedback, the corn was growing very well; however, the specific output of the crop would not be unknown until harvest season in the fall.
The two farmsteads already had some experience with planting corn. Before she started planting the seeds, Yu Xiaocao walked around the well water at the edge of the Imperial Plantation. She increased the concentration of the mystic-stone water that had already gradually weakened. She also put on an act and walked around the fields a few times with her hands clasped behind her back. Her task was now completed!
At this time, the peaches and plums at the back of the farmstead already began to mature. Because she had urgently required fruit trees at the time and couldn’t pick and choose, they now had a wide variety of peaches growing on the hill.. A few of the trees there were grafted with Dongshan Village’s honey peach branches, and the resulting peaches were large and sweet. As for the other varieties available, they had the sweet and crunchy big white peaches, sweet and sour juicy blood peaches that looked as red as blood, and the sour and sweet crispy yellow peaches. Regardless of the variety of peach, all of the peaches produced at the fruit orchard were large and numerous. There were so many peaches on the trees that the branches were slightly bent from the weight.
As soon as the peaches were ripe, they were all shipped to Royal Prince Yang’s premium fruit and vegetable shops. The peaches were packaged in exquisite gift boxes, and the prices set for each box were quite expensive. Fortunately, those who were willing to buy from the premium fruits and vegetable shops were not people who lacked money. The peaches that came from the mountain area located behind the Imperial Plantation, regardless of the variety, were all larger than the fist of an average adult male. There was no need to even explain the taste of the peaches compared to the regular ones.