Translator(s):Kenar Editor(s): Boomer, Momielxai TLC(s): Flowingcloud
Year 1565 Late March
After the visit to Nobunaga’s castle…
Watching that spectacle unfold before her, Shizuko could only let a dry laugh out. Oda Nobunaga was more quick-tempered than she thought. Suddenly having such an impression of him, Nobunaga overwhelmed her with vigor as strong as a muddy river.
I sent the man next to me a fleeting glance. It was a man around 50 who rode a horse, but his face showed no harsh aging. His name was Mori Sanzaemon Yoshinari, Nobunaga’s number one most trusted military officer. It was said that no matter what obstacles Nobunaga faced, as long Mori was by his side, he would always feel reassured. In fact, the first vassal who received a castle from Nobunaga was Mori Sanzaemon Yoshinari.
Though, he looks like a humble old man……but, if I say it out loud, I will be killed
When I looked back to the front, I saw around 30 people prostrating themselves. This was one of many farming villages you could find anywhere in this era. However, there were reasons for coming to this village.
“This year’s tribute of land tax is less than half of the designated target. What on earth is the meaning of this?” [Mori]
Said a soldier while looking down at the old man, who looked every bit like a stereotypical old chief.
It was as he said, this village’s annual tribute offering was really bad. It couldn’t offer half of the designated target, furthermore, it was projected to become even worse for the following year. Since the situation has reached the level that it couldn’t be overlooked, Nobunaga planned to destroy this village. But, that was the reason Shizuko was there.
Make this village offer an annual tribute. Otherwise, ship large quantities of crops from this village……was the order?
When Nobunaga invited Shizuko to his castle to serve him, naturally, the military officers under his wing opposed that idea. Of course, Nobunaga seemed to understand their concerns too, he was broadly grinning and seemed to be holding in his laughter.
‘I’m not interested in such old traditions. I’ll use the things I can use…but I’ll throw away useless things without second thought. Shizuko possesses Nanban’s knowledge regarding agriculture. Demonstrate your talent to me’ [Nobunaga]
That alone silenced all of the opposing opinions. At Nobunaga’s attempt to trust Shizuko, his military officers offered objection. At Nobunaga’s assurances, that she would not serve as a military officer, made them feel relieved.
In the first place, a woman can’t act as a military officer……how should I say it, I’ve never held a sword!
I feel like my big sister would gleefully jump to the battlefield with a sword in hand. Unfortunately, I wasn’t such a person. I was what people usually would refer to as a very ordinary commoner,, a girl with agricultural knowledge and experience in implementing said knowledge to some extent.
“Originally, it was supposed to be capital punishment, but my lord is very benevolent” [Mori]
So, the soldiers gazed toward Shizuko. Shizuko stepped forward -while knowing what that action means- and stood next to the soldier.
”You there, cultivate crops according to Ayanakouji Shizuko’s instructions” [Mori]
Surprised voices came from farmers. It was obvious, the one who was just introduced was a very young girl. It was impossible not to be surprised about it.
Well, even I would be the same~
“Any objections? If that is the case, then, I will have that person’s head instead” [Mori]
The soldiers suddenly pulled their swords out of their sheaths when I thought of such a thing. Deep-down, Shizuko was terrified because she had no control over her life or death, but if she made a strange face here she would become suspicious. So, she had to feign a calm expression.
“N, no! It is not strange at all!” [Villager]
”Very Good!. Then, let’s get started immediately.” [Mori]
Eh~! So suddenly~!?
There were a lot of things that she wanted to retort to, but to Shizuko who had no real choice in the first place, she had to do as the soldiers ordered.
*Cough* “Ehem. Please show me the field first. And then, the village itself. Lastly, please go around village’s surroundings.” [Shizuko]
There was no other choice. Since she hadn’t found the way to go back yet, She had no choice but to be under Nobunaga’s protection. Shizuko – who had understood her own situation and had adapted to her environment- took a step forward.
Shizuko inspected the fields, the hovels, and the village’s surroundings. From that, Shizuko found out various things.
Even though the soil is not really bad, there is one problem…….because the land in this place is sloped towards the river, it seems nutrients for the soil will flow towards the river during rainfall.
To begin with, there was a reasonably sized river in the middle of the village. It separated the village into two sides. The west bank was where the villager’s houses were placed and the east bank was a place to cultivate crops. But, the village side was flat, and the farmland was at a slope. Actually, there were traces where water flowed to the fields directly, so they created gutters towards the river. Because of that, no matter how much they plowed the land, the necessary fertile soil would become thin.
Luckily, the land’s inclination is not that steep, we can avoid it by creating ridges. But since the necessary fertile soil is pretty much useless, we need to make compost first.
The schedule for planting the crops was around one week from today. Until then, it was necessary to make compost, but there was a problem regarding the needed material.
There are only two cows in this village. I wonder whether the villagers are willing to put their livestock under joint property. However, two animals aren’t enough.
Compost is usually made when manure produced by livestock such as cows, pigs, chickens, etc. are mixed together with additional materials such as rice straw and rice bran. Since human waste could be mixed together, Shizuko thought that compost made of domestic animal feces could be made without fail.
It would be better to prepare a big bucket there. There is no problem if we place it near the cows…...
“How is it, Shizuko-dono?” [Mori]
Shizuko let out a strange voice as someone called to her from behind while she was thinking. When she turned around while blushing, there was Mori Yoshinari who was on horseback.
“Wa, wa wa…! First of all, it is necessary to perform maintenance, to obtain rich soil. If we are not keeping the soil in good condition, it will only repeat the same failures up till now” [Shizuko]
Shizuko babbled while in dogeza mode in a hurry. A gentle smile was showed, but as expected of a military officer from Sengoku era. Shizuko -who lived in the modern era- felt an incredible pressure from Mori Yoshinari.
“My lord placed a high expectation on Shizuko-dono. Please zealously answer that expectation” [Mori]
“Y, yes!” [Shizuko]
While nodding at Shizuko’s answer, Mori Yoshinari shouted at the surrounding soldiers.
“Return to the castle!” [Mori]
“Yes, sir!” [Soldiers]
The soldiers, together with Mori Yoshinari, went out of the village with that shout. However, it was not all of them. A few of them remained.
Ah, perhaps they will be monitoring me. They won’t trust me all of a sudden…….right~
While thinking like it was someone else problem, Shizuko began to organize her plans from now on.
Since the villagers were gathered, she decided to do a simple self-introduction. What she understood was, the number of men were 20, and the number of women were 10. Among the men, there was a skilled blacksmith, and three craftsman who could do carpentry. Because the village chief was in his early forties, the pure manpower was actually around 15 people.
Soil maintenance, collecting wood, and compost making, these tasks should be given to each group of five people. And the craftsmen will be making hand tools. In this era, agricultural tools are in a set, but this village’s tools are lacking in number
Looking at them, everyone was thin due to malnutrition. Even the village chief who was said to be forty years old looked a lot older than he really was…
This year, the main crop will be sweet potatoes. It is highly nutritious, especially when used during famine……that means……
“Ah, umm, village mayor? What are we going to do……” [Villager]
“Ah, I’m sorry. Then, first make groups of five people, excluding wood-workers and the blacksmith” [Shizuko]
Everyone was keenly aware that they were sharing the same fate- they did not make an unpleasant face when they were ordered by Shizuko, who was a woman. If they make a mistake, they will be dead, in a sense that is the ultimate threat. While reflecting on the situation, Shizuko decided on her future plan.
When she saw the three groups that were created in five minutes, Shizuko issued her next order.
“Let’s use easy to understand names. From left will be the First group, Second group, and Third group. The craftsmen’s group will be called Fourth group. Please remember your own’s group name firmly” [Shizuko]
“Yes, we understand!” [Villagers]
Boys, men, and young men that could be seen in the first line responded well to the order.
“First of all, the First group will perform soil maintenance. Well, the only thing you will be doing is digging up the field’s soil. However, we will dig a bit deeper than usual. And for the Second group, you will gather wood. Because the Fourth group is created for the sake of creating the tools needed, they will be working together as a group. The Third group will be in charge of creating the compost. Speaking of that, please prepare a big bucket. And if you can, I want three buckets, but I don’t mind if there is only one” [Shizuko]
“Y, yes…” [Villagers]
“Yes~ let’s begin the preparation… Let’s start now!” [Shizuko]
“Y, yes!!” [Villagers]
First, Second, Third, and Fourth group proceeded to take care of their individual orders.
“Umm, what are we going to do……” [Village Women]
While the men started doing their jobs, this time, the women timidly asked a question.
“Please prepare a wooden bucket. Then, please add soil to it. You can take the soil from anywhere. After that, prepare water to” [Shizuko]
”Y, yes” [Village Women]
The women also went to follow their orders. Shizuko thought that even if they were not able to understand most of the instructions, it would be fine for now.
Right now, I can’t think of more [important things] other than that……well, I also have to pick potato seedlings~
Thirty minutes later, the villagers who got the needed things gathered at the same place as before. Tree seedlings for planting, a jar filled water, three wooden buckets for making compost, a set of farming tools, and lumbering tools. Although it was a bit rugged, Shizuko thought that it was still useable.
“Right. First of all, let’s start to do the work assigned to the women. But, what we are going to do is simple. First, open a hole in the ground and plant this……” [Shizuko]
As she spoke, Shizuko buried sprouted potato seedlings in the ground. The villagers found such a sight rare, while they listened to what Shizuko said.
“Then, sprinkle it with water. Because it is for the seedlings, sprinkle it once a day is enough. After that, plant these in the place with enough sunlight. With this, the women’s works are done. For the rest of it, please do it as usual” [Shizuko]
“Is it only this….?” [Women Villagers]
“Yes. Then, I leave it to you. Next is, First group’s soil maintenance group. Let’s go to the fields. For the rest of the groups, please stand by” [Shizuko]
Just like that, Shizuko went to the fields.