Arc 2 – Ninth Year of Eiroku Era, Owari Province Agricultural Reform

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Early April 1566

 Fall had passed, winter had come, and then a year had passed by.
And by the season around early April, almost a year has passed since Shizuko came to this era.
There was no prospect for her to go back to her original era.
In the first place she didn’t understand as to why and how she got a time slip.
She carried several tools from modern era with her but there was never a moment when she used them.
They were convenient but there were no substitutes for them if they broke.

The smartphone could be used for acquiring information and a hand-held LED power bank with solar charger was for charging the smartphone.
She normally used it like that and the rest of the tools were used only after their substitutes were created.
Otherwise Shizuko alone would bear the burden and the villagers couldn’t do any work.
While recharging her smartphone with the hand-held power bank, Shizuko thought about the things up until now.

Shizuko had declared to Nobunaga that she would raise the harvest around autumn.
Nobunaga, who received her declaration, then said something outrageous.
That was, Nobunaga ordered her to send 25 bags of rice in exchange for sending her fifty farmers.
And for each shortage of bag of rice, Nobunaga declared that he would kill two people.

Shizuko strongly understood that she was in the Sengoku period and there was no hesitation in Nobunaga’s words.
She understood that her sense and morals from the modern era were like pebbles falling to the roadside.

At the beginning of winter, Nobunaga sent the promised fifty farmers to Shizuko’s village.
Moreover they were followed by their families and it became a quite large family.
However they weren’t brought from the same place but they were brought from places which has the similarly bad harvests like the Shizuko’s village before she came.
They were forcibly cast away from their homeland and they were considerably stressed from migrating to this place.
But she had no leeway to consider their circumstances.

Although they were surprised that the village chief was Shizuko, there was not a voice of objection coming from them.
Perhaps there were no objections because they understood that the only way for them was to show obedience.
In other words, there was no need to bring anything exceeding 25 bags of rice in accordance with Shizuko in order to survive.

It had been a year since they began the full scale work.
Nonetheless, it was only about developing the cultivated land and paddy fields at first.
They succeed in developing 2 hectares of cultivated land to be used for agricultural crops such as sugarcane and sweet potato for each hectare and another 8 hectares for paddy field in mid January.
It was fortunate that Shizuko and the villagers prepared them beforehand.

In late February, it was necessary to start preparing the rice nursery, however, properly scattering the seed rice wasn’t a common practice at that time.
That was why, because almost all of the villagers couldn’t understand the necessity of raising the seedlings, Shizuko spent few days to teach those people that as the result.
The farmers felt half-convinced as expected because they needed to prepare the soil for more than one month so it would be in optimal condition before they start planting the seedling box on it.

In late March, they carried out the seed selection with salt solution toward the seed rice.
Even in this regard, the newcomers raised a doubtful expression as expected.
To begin with the act of selecting high quality seed rice itself might be impossible to do in Sengoku period.
The work of removing light/low quality seed rice by making use of saltwater with 1.16 relative density was plain.
However because of the sunken seed rice had to be collected, the qualified seed rice would be put in a wooden bucket full of river water and place the bucket in the shade so that the water temperature wouldn’t raise as much as possible.
Although Shizuko explained that it was for the sake of germination and for the paddy sufficiently absorbing the water but the newcomers couldn’t understand it as expected.

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(They won’t even understand if I’m talking about adjustment of cumulative temperature, right~)

However her job didn’t end with this task alone.
She had another task as well.
First, she had to harvest mukuroji fruit and make soap powder from it before autumn end.
Of course, since there was no one other than Shizuko who urgently need those, it was a work that mostly done only by herself after harvesting the crops.

Then it became necessary to increase the number of chickens for creating the hen’s egg industry.
At first, they hatched fertilized eggs were produced from the chickens.
However there were problems that couldn’t be solved by Shizuko, namely, that the chick died of cold and they couldn’t grow big and has small bodies.
Furthermore they had to wait for about a month to sort out the male and the female and it was necessary to feed them with common fodders until that time come.
But there was a technology to distinct chick’s sex which was national certification and was useful in the field of poultry farming in modern era.
Shizuko understood that those qualifications were useful.
Of course since Shizuko wasn’t an expert on who had that kind of national certification, she increased the number of trial and error cycles while doing something such as letting them die and thinning a number of chicks.
All the chickens that died and thinned out were mixed with compost in a place close to the poultry farm.
In other words, she wouldn’t throw them away at all.

Fortunately she was able to fulfill the required number of chickens to seven males and twenty females in about half a year .
She would breed them and separate them into two groups based on fertilized eggs and unfertilized eggs production.
The first group was consisted of two females for one male and ten females for one male for the last group.

The chicken fodder was a mix of vegetable scrap and a fine powder from crushed fish bone and shells.
Shizuko heard that the rate which chicken spawning eggs would drop after two years no matter what kind of chicken.
That being the case, Shizuko thought that it would be easier to make it the same fodder for two years.
Of course, Shizuko would make soft fodder for the newborn chicks.

Regarding the vegetable cultivation technique, the villagers also thought that it was a strange method but they started to understand a little bit about it.
However she couldn’t deny that most of the process would be thought as mysterious by the villager.
The 2 hectares plowed land which the compost properly applied to it was divided into 50 meters sized squares.
They successfully divided the plowed land into eight parts and made a cycle of crop rotation consisting of spring vegetables and autumn vegetables for each plowed land.
Above all, they made a pair from of plowed lands and assigned serial numbers A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, C-1, C-2, D-1, and D-1 for each.
They made A-1 for planting corn, A-2 for planting garlic chive, B-1 for planting pumpkin, B-1 for planting eggplant, C-1 for planting tomato, C-2 for planting daikon, D-1 and D-2 for poultry farm in the spring.
Of course, it wasn’t purely using cultivation techniques from the Sengoku period but it was also using modern cultivation techniques from Shizuko’s knowledge.
They would harvest it in autumn and they would plant autumn vegetables; onion spring at A-1, lettuce at A-2, taro at B-1, Japanese mustard spinach at B-2, red carrot at C-1, turnip at C-2, D-1 and D-2 would be kept as a poultry farm as it was.
As we split the plot of land further and to rotate them every year, we arranged signboards to make them easier to understand.
By turning these signboards whenever spring came, they avoided misunderstanding the cycle by making it easy to understand what they are growing at that time.
The signboard was well-received by the villagers, too.
They said, “It’s easy to understand what we are growing now.”

The unexpected thing was, there were several people from the newcomers who had experience dealing with silkworm culture.
Shizuko promptly prepared the environment needed for silkworm culture.
And as one would expect, she couldn’t make it inside the village so she established the place for silkworm culture in a place a little bit away from the village.
Mulberry leaves were necessary for it and fortunately the trees were a little bit distant, however, they were growing wildly only in small quantity.
Therefore Shizuko replaced all the trees at the vicinity of silkworm culture ground with mulberry trees.
Even though it couldn’t be called the Mulberry Plantation as of now, its berries and even its wood could be used.
Fortunately, a mulberry’s growth is fast, so its fruit and leaves which were food for the silkworm could be recovered.
Its cultivation could be entrusted to the nature, to say, they could leave it as it is, and they only have to plant seedlings every year.

Shizuko thought of more unexpected things.
When she saw the remaining wood from building the houses, she thought about whether she use it to make a nest box for a honey harvest.
Although there were no Western Bees, Japanese Bees had been in Japan since time immemorial so the honey harvest could be done by using them.
Shizuko built the nest box by basing it off of her dug up memory of her grandfather’s friend.
The height of each box was about 120 mm, stacking four of them making it easier to collect the harvest and it also became a structure which the queen bee could found easily.
However, even though Shizuko knew of Beekeeper’s works from her books and field trips, she couldn’t understand the fine details about it.
To begin with, as there were no queen bees nearby, the possibility of bees making the established ground as its nest was as close to a miracle (up to god).
In other words, once she finished her parts that is to put the box in question at the designated ground, after that, she could only leave the rest to the heaven.
The established ground was a place with rape blossoms growing naturally in large quantities.
She set up five place in total, and then she only had to come to check if the Japanese bee is settling in the nest box.
Rather, it was the opposite of easy, there was a demerit, that was, the collection quantity of honey harvest was unstable.
Even though there was that matter, it wasn’t a particular problem whether Shizuko could get bees in large quantities or not because she was simply happy at her idea.
Because of her happiness about the matter, she completely forgot about the way people handle honey products in Sengoku Period.

The sugarcanes planted from summer last year were used as seedlings for planting and every sugarcane planted from spring was used as a seedling as well as to lay out the groundwork for further mass-producing the system.
Because the villagers didn’t understand what was being planted, as one would expect, they titled their heads.

(Sugar was considerably precious seasoning in this period.
That’s why, by producing sugar in large amount and presenting them to the lord, people from this village could avoid the draft.
And then, we will be given preferential treatment to be able to accomodate seasonings such as salt.)

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Shizuko and villagers did plant sweet potatoes’ seedlings in large amount from the beginning of this year too.
However, after the sweet potatoes, it became a topic where it felt wasteful to let the field rest.
Therefore, Shizuko decided to grow rape blossoms from autumn.
She thought that she could harvest rapeseed oil from it and use it as food for the Japanese Bees which were passing by in the winter so it was proverbially killing two birds with one stone.
Originally, it was used as a leaf vegetable.
It appeared as Aona from Kibi in Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and Kukutachi from Sano in Man’yoshu (8th century anthology of Japanese poetry).
It was cultivated with the intent of extracting its oil as vegetable oil starting from Edo period, and then, it was used mostly as raw material kerosene making it an oil closely related to daily lives.

And then, last but not least, the production of soya bean.
It was an all-purpose thing that could be used as miso, a raw material for soy sauce and oil, crude drugs and even as food.
However, cultivating soya bean was difficult, generally speaking.
It particularly needed nitrogenous fertilizer in large amounts, and on top of that it’s famous for not meshing with other crops.
Since there is no way to get nitrogenous fertilizer in Sengoku period, Shizuko have to make do with compost made of poultry manure.
It was a headache inducing topic since she also had to think about the countermeasure against pests.
Therefore, the cultivation method that Shizuko came up with was “Companion Planting.” It was the concept of horticulture in agronomy which was also called the mutual prosperity crops.
Mutual prosperity meant it gave a good influence, that was a mutual growth by cultivating said crops in an adjacent manner.
The situation between corn and soya bean was mutual such as corn’s pest dislike the smell of soya bean and soya bean’s pest would eat corn’s pest as its natural enemy.
It was a precisely excellent technique of pest countermeasure without the use of pesticide.
However, the said thing was done through empirical observation but few points was clarified scientifically even in the modern times.
Shizuko would implement this technique in the 100 acre area in which 50 acre was for soya bean and the remaining 50 acre was for corn.

Lastly, spicy onion was the type where you sowed it at autumn and harvested it at summer of the following year.
And then, everything was used, not to be used for mass-production but to get the seeds.
It was necessary to wait until next year to cultivate them to be used as food.
It was loved as a food from Ancient Egypt because it was effective for something like muscle strain and chronic fatigue or even a simple fatigue.
If you ate onions everyday, your stamina would simply never be completely exhausted.
As it also raised the rate of vitamin B1 absorption, soya beans had a good affinity with the chicken’s liver.

However, Shizuko’s role as a leader was only up to this point.
As for the decision to make the farmer to cultivate assorted grains as a staple food, she left the decision up to the villagers.
People won’t grow unless they are given the chance to discuss, listen, approved, and entrusted to do something.
Therefore, Shizuko wouldn’t control every little thing, from A to Z.
When she was trying to be the best spearhead (leader), she had quotas and taxes to fulfill and lists of things she need to do such as, rice cultivation, farmland improvements, land readjustments/town planning, irrigation channel improvement, important infrastructure improvement and agricultural improvement.

There were a lot of things to do and everyday was a desperate struggle for Shizuko, and yet, she felt that it was fulfilling days as it was.
However, that was the case if Nobunaga who occasionally appear didn’t give her completely unreasonable demands.
But as if disregarding her feeling, Nobunaga instructed Shizuko to finish such demands as it was.

 

 

“Hmm, I set up five but there are only three which is used as a nest.”

Said Shizuko while looking at the nest boxes.
It was splendidly empty and there was no trace of queen bee making a nest.

Among five nest boxes, they made a nest at four boxes at the beginning.
There was a queen bee in the middle of that process but it flew off somewhere might be because it wasn’t interested with the nest box.
Since japanese bees were sensitive, they would abandon the nest box even if there’s only a little bit environmental change.
If the queen bee notice the small change that human can’t perceive, it will throw away the nest.
Shizuko thought so.
Because she could only feel frustrated and worried about it.

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“It can’t be helped, huh.
Oops, the sun will set soon.
I should go home quickly.”

The sun already set when she looked up to the sky.
As the sun set quickly in the forest, it would be so dark that nothing can be seen if she doesn’t hurry.
After put the nest boxes back to the original place, Shizuko ran along the way to go back to the village.

“As long as Wittmann here with me, I can go back to the village even if it’s dark, but… He’s going out to look for his mate partner right now, though.”

Wittmann the wolf went out of the village looking for his wife because the mating season was near.
The truth was, it was doubtful whether she can go home or not, and yet, Shizuko had a smile on her face.

“Well, if can’t make it back….
It can’t be helped, right~”

As Wittmann is a wild animal to begin with, it can’t be helped if he goes somewhere as it is. When she thought that, she heard a small rustling voice from about the place before her.
She who reflexively thought that a small animal will come out lightly jumped out to avoid it.

“Huh!?”

However, what came out was neither a small animal nor a big animal, it was a thick wooden stick.
Shizuko who had already jumped out couldn’t change her posture.
She broke her balance because her ankle hit the tree stick mid-air.
After falling down with her shoulder first and was rolling in the ground several times, her back crashed into tree’s trunk.

“*Cough*”

Shizuko let out the air in her lung in one breath because of the impact and she lost her consciousness from the lack of oxygen.

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“Hehehe, it’s a girl”

“She will sell well because she is also a pretty woman.”

“Being by herself in this kind of place… she’s like asking to be attacked, heh”

However, before hearing such vulgar words, Shizuko forcibly woke up her consciousness(collect herself?).
While holding down her injured shoulder, she turned toward the voice.
There were five men looking similar to bandits.
They held spears, swords, and sickles for farming.

(Are they Ashigaru (foot soldier) running away from battlefield…?)

Her thinking was coming from the way they didn’t have any armor on them, and because of that, she thought that they were rolled-up-in-the-battlefield farmers.

“Oops, don’t you dare let out your scream.”

Before Shizuko said anything, a bandit who held the spear pointed his spear at her throat.
She would be stabbed as it was if she poorly made a noise and she understood that even if he only said that much.

“Hehe, since it’s been a long time, are we going to sell her after we fully enjoy her?”

After putting his sword back to the sheath, a bandit approached Shizuko while grinning.
And then, at the moment when that bandit who was smelly and had a crooked nose stretched out his hand as if he wanted to strip Shizuko naked….

Together with the sound of bushes being pushed away, that man’s figure vanished.

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