Chapter 17 – Harvest
As the Chinese New Year approached, the villagers became lively. The people who had been working outside were returning home to celebrate the new year. There were a lot of people handling wine in the village. Everyday, one would be able to hear the sound of firecrackers. This was the atmosphere of the Chinese New Year.
Anyways, my Mama and Papa had already called and said that they wouldn’t be returning home for the new year this time. My Papa said that working overtime during the new year’s time has tripled the wages, while the round trip fare for the whole family runs up to several thousand, if it were considered like this, then it actually wasn’t worth it. In fact, I had already become accustomed. There was no year when there wasn’t a variety of reasons and excuses used as pretexts. Perhaps I had begun to look forward to what kind of a trick they would use this year.
Grandpa was very angry: “Don’t come back, just don’t come back. We will celebrate on our own!”
Grandpa brought me out from the village branch secretary’s home while smoking incessantly along the way. Only after reaching our destination, he threw away the cigarette: “Yang Yang, it is not easy for your father and mother to make money outside. Making a round trip requires buying tickets for at least three people, with the round trip costing more than about two thousand yuan. Also, it isn’t possible for them to stay at home for a lot of days. It is really not worthwhile. Tomorrow, I will bring you along to the streets, to buy some clothes, and we’ll again buy some food. We will have a very lively and fun new year.
“Grandpa, We’ll take these chickens, ducks and geese and sell them. When the next year’s spring arrives, we’ll buy some more chickens, ducks to raise. This batch of chickens has laid down several eggs which can be hatched. We could also eat one or two during the new year’s time.” I knew that last year, Grandpa had used up all his money, and his financial situation was a bit tight. He most definitely doesn’t have the means to do this new year’s shopping.
Grandpa nodded: “My YangYang is very competent. The chickens, ducks and geese all look very good, every single one of them will most likely be profitable. Those three patterned pigs, will you be still feeding them?”
Those three pigs were all sows, I was already preparing to have them give birth to babies, so when that time comes, we won’t have to go buy pigs.
“They can all be used for breeding. These pigs are in good health. In the future, their offsprings will also be very good.” I said.
“En, also good. Then continue feeding. However, these three pigs have grown so big, their appetite is growing every day, it won’t keep being as easy as just pulling out hogweeds.” Grandpa somewhat anxiously said.
“Our family has so much land, if all of it is planted with rice crops, then we wouldn’t be able to eat all of it even if we tried. On the rear facing slope, the water released is insufficient for two rows of rice paddies. We might as well use it for planting corn and also varieties of sweet potato. As a result, not much hogweed would be used in feeding the pigs. Furthermore, we can also plant lots of radishes, which can also be used for feeding the pigs. If it still won’t do, then I will let them out and have them forage for food by themselves.” I had already thought these things through.
Grandpa caressed the back of my head: “Our family’s Yang Yang is really sensible.”
Moreover, altogether there were twenty three chickens, twenty three ducks and eleven geese. The chickens and ducks all weighed three-four jin each, while the geese weighed six-seven jin each. If it comes to selling them all completely, then it would need several days of hard work.
[Robin: Just a friendly reminder, 1 jin=0.5 kg (500 grams) or 1.1 pounds, if you’re not used to kilograms :)]
Taking close to twenty chickens, on Grandpa’s shoulder pole, would mean that he would be bent under the pressure, unable to move. However, I had a way, as I had done many times before, a good frame was fitted onto Old Yellow’s back, and the chickens were put into the frame. After that, we walked towards the town while pulling along Old Yellow.
In this day and age, seeing things carried on ox-back to be sold was a very rare thing.
“Old Mister, how did you train your ox so nicely that it is able to carry loads on its back?” Along the way, some people inquired like that.
“My grandchild frequently trains it, and it slowly became accustomed to it. My family’s ox is also very brave and not afraid of people, so it is unlikely to go crazy.” Grandpa said very proudly.
During the New Year’s time, a bus comes to the village to pick up people. However, people might not like taking so many goods. Grandpa and I couldn’t spend the money needed to go by taxi. Going to the town by foot was a journey involving many hours of walking. So we could only walk to the town somewhat ardently.
Old Yellow’s performance was very good, so at the halfway point, I rewarded him with a strand of primordial qi. Old Yellow immediately began running forward with a joyous expression.
The chickens raised by us were surprisingly big hearted, as even through the incessant shaking, they were surprisingly calm and peaceful. Occasionally, they would peek outside and look in surprise. The chickens, ducks and geese raised in our house were different from those kept by other villagers, they were very intelligent. However, I couldn’t keep holding onto to them without selling them. The expenses for Grandpa and myself during the New Year and for the next half year depends on them.
At last, we arrived in the town, although the streets were very crowded, seeing me pull an ox through, other people immediately gave way. Other people’s cars honked incessantly. Although there were some who gave way, there were some who differed. My Old Yellow glared at them, as if it could trample down all those who blocked the way at any second. Do they dare to not give way? There was a saying about what happens when a car bumps into chinaware, but was there a saying about what happens when an ox bumps into chinaware?
By the time Grandpa and I arrived at the Trading market, it was already late, and we couldn’t get a good location. So we could only stand in a comparatively remote location. Grandpa made me guard the animals, while he went around to find out about the market price. After a while, he came running back and cheerfully told me, “Today, the market price is quite good. Free range chickens like ours, are going for eight yuan per jin.”
“Then we will sell for ten yuan.” I said.
“Eh?” Grandpa was gobsmacked.
“You haven’t seen that compared to chickens owned by others, our chickens look much more attractive. Compared to other people’s chickens, the sales would would definitely be more. Moreover, our family’s chicken were never fed chicken feed, and have all been raised by feeding worms. They would definitely be much tastier compared to other people’s chickens raised on chicken feed.” I had noticed that if the chickens in the village and our chickens, were to be put together and compared, the difference would practically be enormous. Eldest Grandpa had also brought his chickens to be sold in the town a couple of days ago, and they were also bought at a rate of nine yuan per jin. Our chickens being sold at ten yuan per jin would still be quite cheap. Merely, the townspeople wouldn’t be able to see that clearly.
“Uncle, how much are you selling your chickens for?” Sure enough, our chickens caught the eyes of someone very soon. The primary reason was also that Old Yellow was quite eye-catching.
“Ten Yuan a Jin.” I said preemptively. I was afraid that Grandpa wouldn’t dare quote such a high price.
“Little friend, don’t talk rubbish. In the market, other people are selling at eight yuan a jin, and some can even be purchased at a bit cheaper rate of seven yuan a jin.” That man thought that I was child, and continued criticizing.
“The chickens from our house are different from other people. Other people’s chickens are fed with animal feed, but our house’s chickens have never been fed animal feed for the entire duration that they were raised. You have a look at the feathers and the colour of the eyes of our house’s chickens. Don’t they look much better than those of other chickens? The feathers on their bodies are not only whole, they are also very glossy and shiny. Most importantly, you just look at these chickens’ eyes, don’t they look much more full of spirit than chickens of other people?” I asked.
“Hey, you kid are not so simple, eh. Do you really want to sell this chicken at ten yuan a jin?” That person still somewhat doubtfully looked at my Grandpa.
Originally, Grandpa didn’t have any confidence, but after listening to what I said, he also clenched his teeth: “Ten yuan a jin, not a fen less.”
[TLNote: Friendly reminder that Fen is to Yuan what Penny is to Dollars]
“For a great new year’s celebration, if one wants to buy, then must buy only the best. You look at this rooster, aren’t its feathers so brightly coloured? It is making ‘ao ao zhi’ sounds upon being grabbed, if one wants to use it as offering, then it would naturally be better. Last year, I had grabbed twenty chickens from here, the seller even added three to the lot. None of them are young, also from birth they have never fallen ill, have never been fed medicine. Usually they would be fed hogweeds mixed with rice bran, but primarily they would depend on themselves to go out and catch insects to eat. The flavour of this chicken compared to that raised by other families is definitely multi-fold. Ten yuan a Jin, you buy only chicken, at most the extra expenditure comes out to only a few yuan, but it absolutely worth it.” I got more and more engrossed with the activity.
“Uncle, how old is your grandson, eh. He’s too fierce, in the future he will absolutely be businessman material.” That man readily bought two chickens and handed over the money, and before leaving spoke several sentences praising me.
Grandpa was very happy upon hearing others praising me. His face was full of smiles. He had not thought that I would really be able to sell their chickens at ten yuan a jin.
Doing business was easier than writing on paper. With that old uncle taking the lead, the others felt that our house’s chickens were really different. The good things would not necessarily be the ones that are sold the cheapest, but they would obtain the most approval of others! When everyone thinks that your thing is good, then even if it is a bit expensive, it would still be acceptable.
In the blink of an eye, more than ten chickens had been sold. Sales exceeded six hundred. Almost enough capital for Grandpa to buy chicks, ducklings, goslings and piglets on the way back. Grandpa, who was very happy, went to the butchers market, and bought several jin of meat, in preparation to make a few pieces of cured meat. Moreover, he also bought some new year merchandise. Anyways, since the ducks and geese still remained to be sold, some things could be bought again later.
In the next two days, more than ten geese and twenty ducks had been sold. The sales were over a thousand yuan. Grandpa and me were very, very happy. Grandpa took me along to town to buy new clothes for me. Originally, Grandpa didn’t want to buy clothes for himself, however under my insistence, Grandpa also bought a suit of clothes and also a pair of leather shoes from the shoe store. Altogether, the expenditure amounted to a total slightly less than 500 yuan.
Originally, Grandpa was prepared to wait until the beginning of spring of the new year, to buy chicks and ducklings for raising. However, I noticed that chicks, ducklings and even piglets were selling on the market quite cheaply, so we bought them on the way back. This time we had bought thirty chicks and thirty ducklings. Also bought five little piglets. I deliberately chose a male pig, while the remaining were female pigs.
As a result, after buying these chickens and ducks, there was not much money left. However, Grandpa and I didn’t worry. We had all kinds of self-grown things to eat at home, also there were not many places of expenditure. Grandpa gave me 50 yuan, and allowed me to buy whatever I wanted. I was naturally reluctant to spend it, so pressed it between a book and then hid the book under my pillow.
On the day before the new year’s eve, Grandpa and I emptied the pond with the help of some villagers.
Thirteenth Uncle had come ten days before new year’s, and on this day he had especially come over to help.
“Second Uncle, there are so many fish in this pond. Such big fish, what do you feed them?” Thirteenth Uncle said laughing.
“This you must ask Yang Yang, he cut grass for these fish every day. I haven’t fed them anything. Maybe because this fish pond had been abandoned a long time ago, its water became fertile.” Grandpa said laughing.
Eldest Grandpa, upon hearing this, couldn’t stop laughing: “This is the first time I have heard of such a hypothesis. In my several decades worth of life, I have never heard of someone who relies on water fertility to raise fish. However, YangYang is indeed a lucky star. Your house’s chickens, ducks, and geese, are all raised so well, I also heard that they were sold for several thousands of yuan. It is possible that the fish in this fish pond will also sell for a lot of money.