The weather had turned cold. The air was humid but soon faded after the sun rose.
Shao Xuan brought his small pouch of grains down the hill in search of people to talk to at the designated farm plots.
He had talked to the old lady experienced in farming and today he was going to bring his grains to the old lady for her opinion.
Shao Xuan knew how to farm but there were many plants that he did not recognise in this world because they never appeared on the other side. He had spent the past few years working hard to memorise the herbs and plants of this world only to find himself a beginner once again after arriving on this side. Although he knew a few, the main crops and their characteristics differed from the ones on the other side. All he could do was talk to the experienced farmers.
The farmlands extended from the middle to the foot of the hill. These plots of land were divided, every square shared by several families. However, the tribe did not control who got what, it was up to them to decide.
Shao Xuan arrived at the plot near the foot of the hill. There was an old lady with a full head of grey hair called Qi Qi. Her mother was from the Taihe tribe, who specialised in planting crops. They had a vast knowledge of farming so Qi Qi was also good at it herself. Many people often came to her if they had questions.
“You’re here.” Qi Qi hurriedly stood up when Shao Xuan came. Many people treated the leaders with respect, although it was a casual setting.
Qi Qi obviously thought it was more appropriate for her to stand up and bow but Shao Xuan stopped her once she stood up.
He did not say much other than showing her the pouch and poured a few grains out. “Could you take a look at these?”
Qi Qi looked at the dark golden grains. She had not seen anything like them before.
After studying them, she shook her head. “This is my first time seeing a grain like that. You said it’s called Thousand Grain Gold?”
“Yep, this is it.”
Shao Xuan told her where he found this. After some thought, she suggested he find somewhere similar to the spot he discovered the plant to be safe. No one knew what kind of environment it liked. Some plants like sun, some liked the shade, some like humidity, some liked arid lands. They could not be generalised.
“But you can also plant a little in every spot. Then you can observe where it grows best. Then we will plant it there…” However, she remembered Shao Xuan told her they were precious and rare so she stopped.
They were rare, how could she waste them on experiments? However, she was curious too. She wanted to experiment, seeing as she hadn’t seen these before. She had been into agriculture all her life, these grains were very interesting to her. On the other hand, after observation and taking a whiff of its smell, she decided it was very, very attractive.
However, Shao Xuan was an Elder and these were rare grains. It was not appropriate to ask for them.
Noticing her gaze, Shao Xuan counted a hundred grains from his one thousand and gave them to Qi Qi. “If you have the time, could you please help me plant them?”
Qi Qi was an experienced farmer. With her help, it would save Shao Xuan a lot of effort. It would be much better than him experimenting on his own too.
When she heard him, she answered hurriedly, “Yes, yes! Don’t worry, I’ll do my best!”
As she spoke, she took out a cloth pouch and put the one hundred grains inside. She decided to talk to her farmer friends and make a plan. If it succeeded, Shao Xuan would definitely reward her. However, to her, the most important thing was the sense of accomplishment to be able to experiment on such rare plants.
After giving her the grains, Shao Xuan looked at the people busy working on the fields. They used many types of tools for raking the soil, watering the crops, harvesting etc. Many techniques were learned from the slave masters of the great six. They were useful for loosening the soil, planting, farming, processing etc. Most of these tools were a combination of wood and stone. They heard the slave masters were using metal tools but that was too expensive. Stone and bone were not bad replacements at all.
After a while, Shao Xuan got some materials to improve their farming tools, even making them plows for them to develop the land easier.
Due to limitations in materials, the plow was simpler than planned. It was made with wood and stone and after several rounds of modifications, the plow was made lighter and could twist its head. It was flexible and had many uses. The efficiency of farming would increase with its help.
After this, Shao Xuan demonstrated how to use it to the farmers.
Perhaps the slave masters already had something like that but this was a first for the people here. Other than curiosity, joy also brought them here as they huddled around him.
“Elder, what is this?”
“You use this to plant crops?” Everyone was curious.
Plows were used on farms and usually connected to farmed animals like cattle. However, there were no tamed animals suitable for farming here so it had to be pulled by humans.
At least the Flaming Horn people were as strong as bulls so it was easy for them to use.
“Just like that, it will break the soil into smaller pieces. This plow will make farming easier since you are all starting to plant seedlings.”
After a demonstration, he let them try.
Many people wanted to try but in the end, Qi Qi’s granddaughter, Ji Ling, got to it first.
Ji Ling was about fifteen or sixteen. She was very young but her totemic power was already awakened. She had just returned from a hunt a few days ago and since it wasn’t her turn for patrol duty, she came to help Qi Qi during her spare time. Now that Shao Xuan was here with his plow, she had huddled over to watch. With everyone working together, she pulled the plow like how Shao Xuan did with another middle-aged woman helping from the back.
She must have hit a rock because she stopped in a moment. Without even a knife, she dug into the ground to fish out a rock as big as a winter melon. Without even a look, she flung it far away.
Shao Xuan watched as the rock as big as a melon flew in an arc over the river and into the forest ahead, scaring a few birds. He turned to see her sharing her experience with a few eager friends.
Shao Xuan was speechless.
The girls here were strong.
The people who worked on the farm weren’t just people without awakened totemic power- some of the laborious work was done by the totemic warriors too. They did not have to hunt or patrol every day so people like Ji Ling came to help out.
There were two kinds of people in the village-- the weaker individuals without totemic power and the totemic warriors with awakened totemic power.
Many people helped out during this season to plant seedlings. Other than the fields within the tribe, there were also crops planted on the other side of the river within the forest. They used a more primitive method of open burning and then planting on the burned piece of land.
As they spread the seeds, the person in front would dig holes with a tool while the people behind would put the seeds inside. They did not have to fuss over the crops too, merely observing it every now and then or chase away the birds. Their main food source was from hunting and the second source was the tribe’s inner farms. The crops planted in the forest were just something to kill time. Any harvest was a bonus. After they harvested, they would move to another plot of land.
Shao Xuan did not spend his time in the fields or outside the tribe. He built a fence around a seventy-meter-squared piece of land and started to plant one hundred grains.
The Thousand Grain Gold was found on a hill. Shao Xuan was now living on one, near the peak too. Although the altitude wasn’t high, Shao Xuan did not want to leave it on the peak of another hill. He did not have the time to watch for birds.
The weather and soil quality here was different but he did not think too much into it. It was just an experiment. He wasn’t too invested in it anyway. It would be great if it grew but if it didn’t, he could just eat the remaining grains. He hoped they were edible.
After a while, the seeds started to germinate. More than half of the grains had germinated. This was very satisfactory to him.
However, when Qi Qi called him over, he realised the grains they planted had already grown two or three leaves. More than 90 percent of their grains had germinated, a far better statistic than his own.
They were the experts after all.
Shao Xuan was delighted to see the seedlings. It didn’t matter who planted them, as long as they lived.
Qi Qi and the rest were even more excited. Every day, they would go check on the seedlings. They had found many different spots from the top to the bottom of the hill, planting ten seedlings per spot. Out of the ten places, the seedlings at the foot of the hill were in the best condition.