Chapter 264 Bumper Harvest
Border Town’s finally welcomed its first day of harvest.
Braving the hot sun, the serfs cut the straw stalks with their sickles and tied the batches of wheat into bundles so that they could move them to the other side of the river at a later time.
Roland knew that freeing the wheat grain from the wheat kernel was a very cumbersome process, and the mechanical farm tools and harvesters also aren’t invented yet, so for now they will still have to use their hands to separate, clean, dry, and screen the wheat.
After the stalks of grain had been moved back to the camp, the serfs spread them out on the ground to dry in the sun and gathered several kinds of tools – which more exactly was anything that they could lay their hands on: wooden sticks, stones, or rakes. They used these tools to repeatedly strike the wheat stalks and ears, trying to free the caryopsis from their hull, a process which often lasted for three to four days.
In Roland’s memory, the rural areas would often use cows and donkeys to pull a stone roller which pressed the grains out of their shell. Not only did it save a lot of labor, but it also removed the husks more evenly than when striking it.
Roland had no other choice but to accept Border Town’s backward standard of agriculture.
After the striking, the serfs again used anything they could to turn over the wheat, even using wooden sticks if they didn’t have any forks. Those who had nothing else even used their hands to directly grab the wheat stalks and throw them into the sky, the same as when turning stir-fry over in a pot. After going through the first striking, most of the outer shells of the grains should already be broken, this process should allow the fruits to separate from the ear of wheat.
In fact, after threshing the remaining wheat straw still had plenty of uses. After being crushed, it could be returned to the fields or could be used as bedding for livestock, it could also be made into fodder or used for papermaking. However, Roland didn’t have enough time to promote a green industry at the moment. All he could do was look on as the serfs brought those wheat straws to the river-side and burned them. In the days that followed, Border Town’s sky was covered with a dusky smoke which was comparable to the time of the former cement powder pollution.
During this time, Redwater Bridge’s two spindly type islands had also been finished, with the construction of the concrete walls having also gone according to plan. For the base of the bridge pier they had used the same prefabricated method as for the main bridge – first placing the steel and concrete into trenches to form the columns of reinforced steel, then reduce the weight and lift the walls in place. Finally it was Lotus’ turn, she was in charge of sinking the walls into the earth until only a section of the steel plate was still exposed, to which they would later connect the bridge to.
While handling these two projects, Roland spent this whole week traveling between the Redwater Bridge and the fields; which ended up giving him quite the tan.
By the time the straw was cleared away with forks, only layers of grain and their husk was still left in the grain-yard.
The serfs then swept it all together, and piled it into small hills. They then stepped on top of those hills, and used their shovels to throw the grains and husks into the air. Because the husks were so much lighter than the fruit, they were blown away further by the wind. As a result, the grain was still left at the foot of the hills, while the empty shells and debris laid at a distant location – by using this kind of method the serfs were slowly able to gather all of the grains.
Of course, wanting to completely clean up the husks was impossible. Furthermore, this process mixed the grain with the mud and gravel. Thus Roland decided that by next year’s harvest, he would need to have prepared a sufficient batch of farm tools in advance – inventing a harvester wouldn’t be possible, but the sheller machine should still be easily to realize. He merely had to exchange the stone roller with a millstone, furthermore he could also install a sieve beneath it and use an air blower to separate the grain from the chaff.
When the plump wheat grains were evenly spread over the whole valley, it looked like as if the entire northern shore of the Redwater River was covered by a golden layer. Looking at these golden fruits, Roland’s heart was filled with a sense of accomplishment. No matter whether the harvest would be enough to fill the bellies of ten thousand people, at least for Border Town, this counted as a memorable day.
From today on, Border Town’s food supply would gradually change from being totally dependent on imports to achieving self-sufficiency.
After drying for three days, the wheat was all stuffed into bags and weighted.
“Your Highness, this was a great harvest!” In the afternoon, Barov excitedly rushed into the office, “According to the preliminary statistics from City Hall, each field’s allocated output was at least fourfold more than normal, the highest output even reached six times as much. So this year’s harvest will be enough to fill all your subject’s belly.”
“Is that so?” Roland couldn’t help but laugh, “It seems that the new barn in the castle district will no longer be so empty.”
“Do you know what this means?” The expression on the City Hall’s Premier Minister seemed to be even more excited than Roland’s, “Border Town only needs to increase their numbers of farmers by 2000, and we will be able to satisfy the food consumption of 50’000 to 60’000 people! This is simply inconceivable, Border Town can definitely expand to become Graycastle’s largest city, no…” He paused, “The most magnificent city in the whole mainland!”
The main reason why the city’s population of this era didn’t increase was because that the food production capability was just too small. For example, big cities like King’s City that had more than 20’000 people needed more than a dozen surrounding villages to provided them with enough food. Each village would once more needed almost one thousand or two thousand people, if even just half of them were engaged in farming, it could be estimated that nearly twenty thousand people were needed to support another twenty thousand. In other words, a farmer’s food production, in addition to feeding their family and themselves was up to one other city resident’s.
This was the so-called invisible restriction of production capability. Roland feared it would be difficult for Barov to imagine, that after the mechanization of farming, just one person’s output was enough to support tens of thousands of people. And that Border Town, in the absence of developing and spreading of agricultural technology, was still able to acquire this kind of bumper harvest, was mainly accredit to Leaves’ magically transformed “Golden Ones”.
To employ as few farmers as possible for feeding as many people as possible. Liberating the human resources from simply cultivating land to move onto the industrial production was the strategy that Roland had decided on from the beginning. Now after the Ministry of Agriculture had obtained the best planting process, coupled with the iron farming tools and machines to help with the farming coming next year, the per capita production was bound to become higher and higher.
In the evening, Roland once again held a bonfire speech at the shore of the Redwater River – it seems to be a return to the time from four months ago, it was evening, there was a roaring fire in the background, the crowd formed a dense mass, and the last rays of twilight fell over everyone’s face. The only difference to that day was the expression on each person’s face, compared to the beginning of when they had arrived and were feeling both terrified and uneasy, their faces on this day were all brimming with joy at the bumper harvest and couldn’t conceal the expectation in their eyes.
Roland stretched out his hand and moved it downwards, the scene around him quieting down immediately. Everyone was holding his breath, waiting for the Prince to fulfill his promise.
“I know what you want to hear,” he did not follow his usual practice of first announcing his name, and instead came straight to the matter, “– I can tell you without a doubt, that the previously announced rules of promotion are still valid and will hold!”
Just this sentence was enough to detonate the atmosphere of the scene, not one person there could restrain themselves from shouting out loud, many people fell on their knees and praised the Prince’s kindness. “Long live the Lord!” “Long live His Royal Highness!”
“After the end of the grain weighing, the promotion list will be announced,” the moment the shouts had subsided a little, Roland continued, “The City Hall will be responsible for your promotion to a freed person. At that time you can choose to either continue farming or come find a new job in Border Town.”
“Also, starting from next year, if your harvest next year is the same as those promoted this year, even if the output is not on the forefront, you will still be freed. In other words, as long as you work hard, you will be able to rid yourself of your status as serfs – as I said, ‘labor creates wealth, labor changes destiny’.” He paused for a moment, looked around and then continued, “I hope that in the coming days, there will be no longer any serfs in Border Town, and everyone will be my real subject.”
The moment Roland’s voice faded, the people’s cheers unceasingly resonated throughout the sky above the Redwater River.