Chapter 11 – Soil Plowing
The reclamation of the land was slow, but certain.
At times when Eiji didn’t have to forge anything, he would usually help with other works.
Because starting with a small scope is fine, finishing a whole course became his target.
Progressing little by little, a place which was all around big didn’t appear to have an end.
Even if it’s just a bit, if someone were to see a work being done, they would maintain the enthusiasm of continuing to work, having the progress visible in front of their eyes.
Eiji was now putting his spirit into mowing the grass. Holding quite a long scythe in his hands, he cut the grass from its bottom. As he continued to slouch, his legs and loins felt tense. While stroking his back, a certain farmer laughed next to him. His skin was sunburnt bluish black, and his nose was big. His white teeth could be seen radiating under his straw hat.
– Don’t force yourself Eiji-san.
– Thank you. Bernard-san you’re quite fast, ain’t you?
– I do this kind of work every day, so I’m used.
Bernard had many years of experience. His movements using the scythe were fluent and certain. It was completely different from Eiji who was left behind, swinging his scythe many times. Eiji focused and moved his hands. When you fail to mow the grass, it will entangle with scythe, and the heavy recoil will be felt in your hands. From the mowed grass a greenish smell started to arise.
The grass could be used for different purposes, such as: livestock food, roof thatching, and field compost. Especially the last one, where you can mix with bull and pig manure. Even though it may take half a year to ferment, the effects are tremendous.
The great quantities of grass are gathered on the push cart. After that, it’s put on a bullock cart and carried to the barn where it’s preserved.
Once the field is cleared of grass, various tree stems appear. It’s now time to use the shimada hoes. As Eiji held the hoe, it felt quite heavy in comparison with the bronze one. In addition to its being made from iron, it was also larger.
While making use of its weight, he resolutely excavated the soil, using the tip of hoe. The feeling of hard soil recoiled back to his hands. However, in comparison with the time when he had done this labor using a bronze hoe, this one could dig deeper, and was much more fun.
If you put too much force into the hoe, the tip may break when hitting stones inside of the soil. Nevertheless, not doing so won’t allow you to plow deep. Eiji kept plowing like there was no tomorrow. The rocks and stones started to roll inside the earth. As he continued his work, trying to avoid stones and rocks, his body started to sweat buckets.
Was it because he used much more strength than usual? He could feel his muscles becoming stiff. Thanks to the breeze, his body was soothed.
More than half a year had passed since Eiji arrived here, with now being September.
From the opposite side of the field, both Bernard and Giorgio act as stand-ins for a two head bull plow, in order to keep the good condition of soil. It was a plow which took lots of time for Eiji to make. In front there was a nata attached, so as to remove tree stems. Its long and big moldboard could turn over the soil. The front of the plow was attached with two wheels to allow easier maneuvering.
Despite that, it could only be used once the outer layer was removed, as it couldn’t remove the stones inside.
Both Bernard and Giorgio, while using a plow which was hard to operate for the first time, were surprised at its effectiveness.
Of course both of them have used plows; however, none of theirs had wheels, and all of them were simple, light types of plows.
– When I had heard that I was supposed to do a task involving deep digging, I thought it would be something troublesome, but with this, it seems we can do it, Giorgio.
– Yeah. Let’s do as much as we can.
Other farmers, once the rocks were removed from the soil, used an unbelievably big and squared needle-point holder, similar to a harrow, to narrow the lumps of earth.
Because doing it like that was light, they put the removed stones on top. Originally, Eiji wanted to let horses and bulls do the pulling work, but due to the low number of livestock, they had to limit it to using human force.
Once it finished, they put a sieve to the plowed soil. It was a basket type sieve made using bamboo knitted together with irregular eye holes. Nevertheless, it could effectively extract the small stones.
Because there were still small lumps of earth which were not pulverized, using the basket was handy as well. It is a hard labor, considering that they’re lots of different stones.
When the land became clear, one could use a hoe to make rows.
– Eiji-san, in which direction do I make the rows? Should it be south and north wise? Or perhaps east and west wise? I was thinking about sowing green peas, but I’m not sure which direction would be the best.
– Well, shall we go with the east and west one?
Using the tip of the hoe to make the soil prosper, after a whole one day, only two tenth of rows were done, with the help of nearly twenty people.
However, from the field which had nothing, it started to show progress.
As the sun began to set, Eiji thought deep inside that it was a great beginning.
From the stove, the scent of roasted meet could be sniffed. From time to time, the sound of cracking generated by the surface of wood reverberated. Eiji was sitting in front of the table, awaiting the dinner. Opposite to him, was Mike drinking ale.
– Sorry for making you wait.
– That’s fine, since not even I expected there to be a welcome party.
– Well, we are neighbors, ain’t we? So we ought to eat together more often. Hey, want some ale?
– Thank you.
And the utensil containing ale spread it inside Eiji’s exhausted body.
Because the amount alcohol didn’t seem to be high, Eiji, who wasn’t good with alcohol, could enjoy it.
Inside the kitchen, Tanya and Jane stood next to each other. While exchanging opinions, both of them were thinking of a way to prepare the fresh deer meat.
The deer meat, or venison, could be made into some known dishes, such as sashimi, stew, and steak.
The meat was smelly, had little fat, and was hard to chew.
Eiji learned from Mike that Jane was quite skillful in cooking. As he heard that, his stomach began to emit sounds of hunger.
Finally, the fragrant smell of the meat wafted through the air.
– I made you wait. Well, let’s eat.
– Eiji-san, it’s hot, so please be careful.
– Yeah, bon appétit.
– Ohhh, it looks delicious. Did you wrap this using bacon?
– Because the deer meat had little fat, I thought of using some onions to add more flavor, so as to make it more delicious.
Once Eiji chewed some of the cut meat, the fat from the crisply roasted and hot bacon spread in his mouth. The hard meat’s consistency, together with some lean deer meat and the sweet taste coming from the light brown colored onion, could be felt. On top of that, there was a mild taste of the fried juglans, and the refreshing kale.
– Isn’t it? I told you that my wife has great cooking skills.
– What are you saying? Tanya-chan, you should eat slowly. And you, my dear, eat before it gets cold.
– Jane-san is quite a tsun, Eiji.
– Truely, even in this lightly dark room you can see her face red.
– Eiji-san, plese stop drinking that ale!
Eating the meat, biting the pan, and drinking soup, everyone was happy, being able to savior this luxurious dish and becoming content from time to time.
Mike, who was helping with field work, also had to help with this banquet. As one could expect, it must have been hard on him to hunt a deer.
On top of that, he is in charge of instructing.
Despite Mike being someone who finds it hard to compromise, once accepted, he really gives his best.
Eiji thought he would like to praise him on that.
And not only him, but Jane who was in charge of cooking too, and also all the farmers who cooperated.
While feeling the effects of the alcohol, these were his real intentions.
Eiji could feel it was not only his head that was affected by their kindness, but his heart as well. Such was the nature of this banquet.
Translator and reference notes:
Tsun = Tsundere (Well, guess I don’t have to explain, but just in case https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsundere)