planting until harvest time.
And it is one of the hardest work in cultivating the rice.
As it is the necessary tool to raise efficiency, Shizuko spared no effort in making it include something that can raise its effectiveness.
Intertilling will be started in one week to ten days after rice planting and the first time of doing that is after the seedling is taking root.
After that, intertilling will be done twice every ten days.
Its number may be small but the work for each intertilling is really hard.

It was only a matter of weeding the fields left from that one day back in June.
The female wolf (named Vultee by Shizuko) brought by Wittmann gave birth to five pups.
It was the first time a new life was born in the village.

“So cute!”

Shizuko felt warm and fluffy and smiled from looking at the five pups whose eyes were open.
As one would expect, Shizuko could only take a distance after trying to pat the pups and got glared angrily by the nearby Vultee.
Vultee could only start moving after a week or two but until then she could only restlessly looking around and relax after looking at her pups.

“So cuuuteee”

Shizuko looked forward to the next week.
However, there was someone who didn’t share the same sentiment with her.
It was Wittmann.
It was natural that he didn’t think watching Shizuko’s affection goes toward his child would be interesting because Wittmann who stayed with Shizuko for nearly a year was used to getting her affection only for himself. He brought his body closer and snuggled to Shizuko.
However, it seems his wish for attention hasn’t yet come true.
Usually, Wittmann would howl like a beast, but for this time, he sounded like a puppy.

“Yeah yeah, you’re cute too, Wittmann~”

Shizuko said it as if to answer Wittman plea while excessively rubbed his head.
It was enough to make Wittman shakes his tail happily, but unfortunately, he was large.
When you swing a tail some tens of centimeter long, it was enough to transform it into a light weapon.

“Watch out! I understand that you’re happy, so please calm down~!”

As one thought, she needs to deal with knocked things in their surrounding.
And then, hearing Wittman who whimpered after being scolded by Shizuko, Vultee let out a howl that sounds like a laugh.

♦♦♦♦♦

June ended and changed to July.
The villagers who were bewildered at the rotary weeding tool at first, now have grown accustomed to it and could finish their work in a day.
When July arrived, the weeding works was almost over.
What was left to do were mostly countermeasures against harmful insects.
At any rate, the rice/paddy field had grown nicely, neatly in rows.
Every villager said that they had never seen so much rice paddy lined up like this before.
Certainly, it could be predicted that they would get a big harvest in the future.

Other than countermeasure for insects, there was also something that was needed to be done.
First was making grooves with two to three meters interval for drainage.
This would make it easy to manage the water before harvest; they couldn’t cut corners in this.

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It was said that the length of the rice tillers will be the highest 35 days after planting, so the soil will need to be drained, this period was called mid-season draining.
A gutter was used to drain the paddy at once.

The reason for mid-season draining is to remove overly large or ineffective tillers as well as to supply oxygen to the soil, which will, in turn, transform the remains of microbes/microorganisms into fertilizer.
Another purpose is the solidification of the soil to prevent the rice plants from falling over.
The resulting cracks in the soil create an aerobic environment that prevents fermentation and the formation of methane gas.
Furthermore, the stimulus from the cracking soil causes the roots of the rice plants to change from surface to underground type.
These are the results that can be expected.

(If we can decrease the nitrogen, we can prevent stink bugs and the like.)

When considering insects that are harmful to rice, stink bugs might be at the top of the list, but an outbreak of them is unlikely if no pesticides are used.
The reason for stink bug outbreaks is said to be caused by the nitrogen absorbed by the plant turning it into a feast for the bugs.
But in the warring states period where the likes of pesticides were unavailable, there is obviously only chemical free, organic agriculture around.
As a result, the natural enemy of the stink bug is also present in the rice fields.

(Surprisingly, doesn’t it seem as if there is no big need to worry about harmful insects?)

Even if insects harmful to the rice plants appear, their natural enemies who feed on them will follow suit.
Of course, removing weeds is the most effective measure against these harmful insects.
The weeds were thoroughly mowed down, not only inside the rice fields but also on the paths between them.
And the removed material is then used for creating mulch.
This way, a beautiful cycle is established inside the rice fields, using everything without exception.

When the work had been reduced to mostly just weeding, on a certain day in August, Nobunaga finally made his move.

♦♦♦♦♦

In August of the ninth year of the Eiroku era (1566 A.D.), Nobunaga crossed the Kisogawa river and invaded Mino.
When this information reached Shizuko’s ears, she couldn’t get the word “defeat” out of her head.

(If I remember correctly, he was hit by flood and lost, so he sent out Hideyoshi to construct a fort at Sunomata, an important location on the border between Mino and Owari.
This fort became the forward base for the all-out attack on Saitou Tatsuoki’s stronghold Inabayama Inokuchi.) [6]

But even though Shizuko remembered this little tidbit, as she already knew the outcome, there was no use in her worrying about it.
After coming to this conclusion, she lightly shook her head to chase these thoughts away.
Switching to more pleasant thoughts, she looked at the rice fields spreading in front of her and nodded in approval.

“Good, good.
The plants are growing well.
If it continues like this, the harvested amount will be according to the plan.”

To be honest, toiling 8 ha of land with only a few dozen people had worried her, but they somehow had made it and were close to being able to start harvesting.
But even when seeing this much rice, she still couldn’t stop worrying.

(It’s the Lord Nobunaga we are talking about, so I fear that next year he might demand something ridiculously difficult…)

Around this time next year, Oda Nobunaga will have brought Mino under his control.
With that, the combined production area of Owari and Mino will amount to 1 million Koku [7].
It was more a necessary outcome than a prediction that he would order Shizuko to increase the amount of produced rice.

(To be prepared for that too, I hope that human-powered planting machine I asked Kinzou-san to build will be finished soon.
After all, when that can be used, planting an area of 10 a will only take a measly 3 hours.)

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What she was not aware of, was that the mentioned Kinzo was racking his brain in an attempt to understand the blueprint (read: sketch on the level of a scribble) of the human-powered planting machine Shizuko had drawn.

The human-powered planting machine, the rotary rice field weeding machine, and the foot-operated threshing machine.
All of them were created to reduce the strain caused by the most arduous tasks of rice agriculture.
The presence of these tools or a lack thereof could change the needed time by an order of magnitude.
Furthermore, the women and elderly can operate them too, so the fieldwork can be done completely by the people who don’t need to go to war.
The difference in workload these machines cause is that big.
This would also allow farmers to split the work on rice fields and the other vegetable fields on a family basis.

“Well then, let’s try to get a wide stretch of land with an area of around 60 ha next year.”

The size of the fields for vegetables and sweet potatoes is fine as it is right now.
The harvested spring vegetables were a hit, not only with the farmers but also with Nobunaga whom they were presented/given as a tribute.

But on the battlefield, the thing that counted the most, after all, was still rice.
After Nobunaga got a hold of Mino, he went to war more often, so he will most probably order to increase production.
The abundance or lack of rice had a large impact on the food situation of the foot soldiers.

“The poultry farming is also going well… but I worry that Kaiser and the rest might attack the chicken”

Kaiser, the wolf cub born from Wittman and Vultee.
Since he is already two months old, he has become aware of his social standing and has been weaned off his mother’s milk.
It should be around time for him to leave the den that was Shizuko’s house.

A pecking order had already established itself between Wittman’s children, so Shizuko named them Kaiser, König, Adelheit, Ritter, and Lutz in turn.
They were literally the ranks of emperor, king, noble, knight, and warrior.
Since the parent’s name already was German, she simple mindedly named them with something German as well.

“Well, if it happens, it happens.
If they don’t hunt from time to time, they will get out of shape/lose their edge.”

Although they were close to being domesticated, there was obviously the possibility that the wolves would go hunting once they got a family.
She wouldn’t mind if the hunted wild dear, but it would be a problem if they started attacking the chicken of the poultry farm.

“No choice but to teach them from a young age.”

Imagining that in the future, despite her best efforts, a couple of chicken would still fall victim, made Shizuko release a heavy sigh.

Footnote:

↩ https://www.britannica.com/science/actinomycete↩ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_microorganism↩

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