Published at 16th of November 2020 01:23:11 PM
Ever since that passionate kiss during her coming of age ceremony, Yu Xiaocao discovered that Zhu Junyang had become much more clingy compared to before .
The firearms camps portion of Xishan Barracks had already started . With the emperor, who loved and was fascinated by firearms, at the forefront at this project, they needed to make sure that progress on developing and manufacturing firearms and red coat cannons was going well . Those soldiers under Royal Prince Yang, who had been assigned to the firearms camp, each had a firearm assigned to them and every battalion was given a large cannon .
After he delegated the task of training these new firearms to Dong Dali, who had already become a skilled gunman, Zhu Junyang became much more idle . He took on the task of escorting his future little wife to and from her tasks at the Imperial Plantation . Occasionally he’d steal a kiss from her . Thus, the days passed idly and happily for him .
At this time, whether it was the capital’s seed breeding program or the Yu Family’s commercial farmstead, they were all operating smoothly . The capital’s seed breeding program had been split into four large farmsteads and each one had an overseer who was personally sent over by the emperor to keep an eye on things . They were already two years into the program and everyone working there knew the drill . Prior to the plowing seasons, Xiaocao would go to each farmstead to deliver her ‘specially prepared’ seeds . In addition, she also took the time to inspect the wells at each place .
Some of the stewards in the plantation discovered that the seeds that Official Yu sent over didn’t have much difference between the seeds that were produced there . Thus, they tried an experiment and grew a batch of seeds on a separate plot of land . When it was time to harvest, they discovered that the yield between the two types of seeds wasn’t very different from one another .
However, when these seeds were sold on the market, the officials in those areas got accused by the farmers who bought them . They claimed that those stores had sold counterfeit high-yielding seeds as they gave an output of around one hundred to two hundred catties per mu less than the other villages . For the commoners, their crop outputs were even more important than their lives . Wasn’t selling counterfeit seeds tantamount to killing them?
Since the outputs between the two types of seeds were so different, even though they were sold at the same shops, this made people question what might have happened . After a thorough investigation, they discovered that the seeds that had lower yields were all products that had not gone through Official Yu’s hands .
With such a report that had ‘the facts’, they found out that Official Yu always used a special type of ‘plant liquid’ that not only increased the yield of the seeds but also prevented pests from damaging them . Consequently, there were some shrewd people who wanted to force Yu Xiaocao to bring out the recipe in the open and the ‘lawsuit’ had even been sent up to the emperor .
The emperor was well aware of Xiaocao’s hidden hand, so he found a suitable excuse and helped Xiaocao smooth this all over . However, this wasn’t the true solution he was looking for . After all, the little divine stone would one day go back to its home dimension . Once that happened, wouldn’t all of the high-yielding crops they had now revert back to the way things were at the start of the dynasty?
In private, the emperor urged Xiaocao to experiment with methods to breed real high-yield seeds . In addition, he commanded the Ministry of Works to develop more high tech machinery for the use in farming, such as seed drillers, crop harvesters and threshing machines .
Yu Xiaocao consulted with the little divine stone about this problem . She found out from it that once it restored all of its powers, it would help her alter the genetic materials of the seeds before it left . That way, they would truly have wheat seeds capable of producing a thousand catties per mu . With that guarantee on hand, Yu Xiaocao no longer had to worry about this issue . After all, she wasn’t a true farming expert and wasn’t able to become like Yuan Longping  . She mostly relied on the little divine stone as her cheat item for this .
“Lass, the autumn corn has already been harvested and the winter wheat has been sowed . You promised me in the past that you would help this prince start a good horse breeding program . Isn’t it about time for you to make good on that promise?” After Zhu Junyang had organized everything at the firearms camps to his liking, he once again started to ponder about his desire to create a standing cavalry .
Cavalries had the advantage of being incredibly mobile and fast, so their attack power was quite high . In Zhu Junyang’s eyes, the Great Ming Dynasty needed to build their own cavalry, and the sooner the better . Troops on horseback could speedily chase after enemies, surround them, mount sneak attacks, and provide rescue missions . A charging cavalry could effectively deal with a battalion of crudely equipped foot troops . Furthermore, troops on horseback relied on the speed of their horses to travel . This meant that they could strike an enemy’s camp like lightning and effectively break apart their formation . The imposing looks of a cavalry could also strike at an enemy’s morale and make them cower back in fear . All in all, for foot troops, a well-trained cavalry was their worst nightmare .
At the northern borders of the Great Ming Empire there were fierce nomad tribes that were on horseback . On the wide prairies, their superiority over foot troops in battle could easily be seen . Time after time, the Great Ming Empire’s army had suffered losses against them . It was particularly bad once winter set in . For the sake of obtaining food and other goods, these enemy tribes adopted guerilla warfare tactics and would strike border villages like the wind . After plundering and killing all of the inhabitants there, they would then flee like ghosts . By the time the Great Ming’s army arrived, all that was leftover were the grisly corpses of the dead villagers and the burnt out shell of the village . The soldiers stationed at the borders naturally hated these tribal horse cavalry units to the heavens .
There were also other high-ranking military officers who had wanted to create fast cavalry units to fight against these attacks . However, where would they get their supply of good horses? The outside nomad tribes naturally wouldn’t sell or trade their best horses to the Great Ming Empire to be used against themselves . As for the horse breeders within the country, they didn’t have good bloodlines to work with so they naturally couldn't produce horses that could be of any threat to the nomads . If they attempted to forcefully create these cavalry units without a good supply of horses, then they would end up being ineffective units in the end .
Zhu Junyang had long been eyeing Yu Xiaocao’s beloved horse, Little Red . In fact, he had especially invited horse experts over to inspect Little Red from head to toe but ended up getting inconclusive findings . Many of the experts who had examined Little Red stated that the horse was of a typical hybrid breed that was found in the country and that breed was usually considered inferior . These horses were typically used to transport cargo or pull wagons . However, they had no idea how its master had raised it to transform an inferior breed into such a prime specimen . If it weren’t for Zhu Junyang’s high and mighty status as a royal prince, those horse experts would have chased after him incessantly, begging him to tell them his secrets in raising and feeding horses .
Zhu Junyang was even more certain that Xiaocao had a method on her hands to alter an inferior horse into a good horse . Naturally, if Xiaocao didn’t want to reveal this secret, he wouldn’t force her to . His backup plan would be to bring along some troops armed with firearms and sneak into enemy territory to steal their horses .
However, his little lass didn’t fail him this time either . He only proposed the issue and the little lass easily agreed to his request . However, Xiaocao told him that all of the credit of breeding good horses needed to go to him as well as the expert breeders he brought along . Zhu Junyang was quite happy to serve as a smokescreen for the little lass and deliberately chose two soldiers from the hidden guard ranks to become these expert horse breeders and trainers and announced it publicly .
On a bright and beautiful morning, Royal Prince Yang received an imperial decree and headed towards the northern border along with his two ‘horse experts’ to begin his breeding and training program .
For the past two years, the firearms camp’s soldiers had participated in missions to suppress and protect the borders from bandits, and they did extremely well . Furthermore, they hadn’t lost a single soldier but had managed to capture three enemy cities . It could be said that the soldiers within the firearm camps were extremely well disciplined and trained in tactics and battling . At court, even those military officials, who didn’t see quite eye to eye with Zhu Junyang, had to admire his abilities at training and drilling troops .
When Zhu Junyang went to court and impassionately described the advantages of building up a cavalry as well as starting a horse breeding program, the entire court was silent . After all, was making a successful horse breeding and training program that easy? Was having good horse trainers alone enough to reach their goals? Where would they be getting these good bloodlines? Many of the officials thought that Royal Prince Yang’s idea was a bit too far fetched and decided to wait and laugh at him when he failed .
However, the emperor thought that this idea was a good one because, two days prior, Xiaocao had entered the palace to speak to the empress . Afterwards, she had asked him to allow her to go with Zhu Junyang to the borders to start the horse breeding program . With Yu Xiaocao’s golden finger along, Zhu Junfan was looking forward to the results of this endeavor .
If the Great Ming Empire could have a cavalry equipped with fine horses and modern firearms, then no one around them would be able to beat their military superiority! Every man had a dream of accomplishing something big and grand in his life and every emperor hoped to have a flourishing country with a strong military . Zhu Junfan felt his heart fill with excitement at this prospect and immediately gave Xiaocao permission to go along . Furthermore, he also sent Chief Steward Su Ran to become the overseer there .
Consequently, when it was time to head out, there was an addition of a handsome man, dressed entirely in ethereal immortal white, to their group . With such a piece of eye candy by her side, Xiaocao was naturally in good spirits while Zhu Junyang sulked . Originally, this was supposed to be a sweet and sappy journey for the two of them . No man would be happy with such an eye-catching third wheel tagging along .
The emperor also sent a squadron of the firearms camps from Xishan Barracks along to act as guards for the horse breeding program . Although the nomad tribes near the borders had become a lot more quiet after getting defeated a few times, this horse raising ranch was right by the border . They needed to prevent the enemy foreigners from playing tricks and sabotaging this endeavor .
The two person journey Zhu Junyang had hoped for had now turned into a grand procession full of people . It didn’t bother him much that there were a bunch of small insects tagging along . However, he was quite upset that his lass regarded that stupid and extremely handsome eunuch with admiration and joy .
Perhaps he should find an excuse to fight a bout with that stupid eunuch? However, if he lost the spar, how would his little lass regard him then? Argh! He had to endure this instead! Since he didn’t have a guarantee that he would be able to win against Chief Steward Su, he could only bear with the other person’s presence for now .
“Sir Su, try some of my hazel grouse stew! We were quite lucky today to be able to shoot down a hazel grouse . Everyone says that hazel grouses have tasty and tender meat, so this stew should be quite delicious!” While they were camping outside, Yu Xiaocao had ladled up a bowl of stew for Su Ran and happily enjoyed having a meal with such a handsome person . It was truly something that delighted her!
"Cao’er, this prince also wants to drink some hazel grouse stew…” Royal Prince Yang, who had been coldly ignored at the side, now acted like a large dog begging for attention . He pitifully asked Xiaocao to give him some food too .
Yu Xiaocao, on the other hand, didn’t even glance at him as she replied, “There’s more in the pot, so go get some yourself! Sir Su, how’s the taste? My cooking skills are decent, right?”
The elegant smile on Su Ran’s handsome face warmed by a few degrees and he slowly nodded his head, “The meat from the hazel grouse is tender and flavorful, and it has been cooked perfectly . Everything in the soup complements each other to a superb degree, so it tastes splendid!”
Jealousy exploded within Zhu Junyang’s heart as he stared fixedly at Chief Steward's Su Ran’s incredibly good-looking face . He had to inwardly admit that this stupid eunuch was truly quite handsome, especially when he smiled warmly . That smile was enough to warm a person from head to toe . In fact, this was his little lass’s preferred type of man! At the same time, he shamelessly rejoiced that it was fortunate that Su Ran was a eunuch . Otherwise, there would be no guarantees that his little lass wouldn’t change her affections .
“Lass, you’re being a bit too biased here, right? This prince killed the hazel grouse, and I also plucked it and started the fire . . . he didn’t do anything but he gets to enjoy the fruits of your labor . This prince wants to drink some stew but I even have to get it myself! It’s not fair!!” A bit of hurt tinged Zhu Junyang’s phoenix eyes and he had a pathetic looking expression on his face .
Su Ran faintly glanced at Zhu Junyang to ‘appease’ the younger man but he was inwardly howling with laughter . Watching Royal Prince Yang drink sour vinegar every day was truly too amusing . In fact, it made him want to eat two extra bowls of rice every day!
 Yuan Longping - Chinese agronomist, known for developing the first hybrid rice varieties in the 1970s . For his contributions, Yuan is always called the "Father of Hybrid Rice" by the Chinese media .