Magi Craft Meister 614
18 King Klein’s Treatment Arc
19-01 Autumn Harvest in Hourai Island
Since Hourai Island was located in the subtropics, there wasn’t too much of a difference in temperature across the four seasons, even if the autumn were to be in full swing.
However, on October 21st, when Jin heard the news and went to see for himself, the sight that unfolded before his eyes felt like a perfect depiction of autumn.
The sea of golden rice ears.
The rice they had planted in June was ready for harvest.
Unlike early maturing varieties that have been improved through selective breeding, this variety had been grown without any haste.
Topaz and the others of the Five-colored golem Maids were harvesting the rice.
One of them was reaping the rice with a sickle made of Adamantite. Another one was tying the reaped rice up in bundles. And another one was hanging these bundles on a drying rack.
The work on the entire hectare-wide rice field was completed in less than half a day. At some point during this work, Jin returned to the Shouro Empire.
“After drying in the sun for several days, the next step is threshing.”
Laojun, who was the general manager of the rice-harvesting work, double-checked the information about rice farming he had received from Jin with him. The drying process was important since it was said that drying not only increased the content of amino acids and sugars in rice, it also enhanced its flavor.
Though they could have technically done that with magic, Jin didn’t want to cut any corners.
The rice was threshed after being left to dry for about a week.
“It’s time to use those Senbakoki, isn’t it?”
Based on the prototype that Jin made, Laojun had built 10 senbakoki.
The senbakoki is a traditional Japanese agricultural tool that looks like a giant comb, which was to be held horizontally as the ears of rice pass through its many teeth. The unhulled rice would fall through its teeth, leaving the rest of the plant fiber behind.
Each of the 10 senbakoki made by Laojun had different spacing between their comb teeth. The reason for this was to determine the most efficient spacing by comparison.
This work was also completed in half a day.
About 3 tons of unhulled rice was obtained in this way.
Since this rice hadn’t been selectively bred, Jin believed that this yield was probably fairly reasonable.
“Next up is hulling…”
This is the process of removing the husk from the rice and turning it into brown rice.
Back when he was living in the orphanage, Jin and the other children used to put the unhulled rice in a mortar and mashed it with a soft ball.
This wouldn’t work well unless the unhulled rice was sufficiently dried, but the rice from this harvest was dry enough.
Therefore, using 10 large mortars, Topaz and others used rubber balls to remove the chaff.
10% of the harvested rice was set aside as seeds for replanting, and the rest was turned into brown rice.
Then, the final step was to polish the rice.
This could be done in one of two ways. One would have the brown rice in a barrel-shaped container and stir it vigorously, as Reiko used to do in the Shoro Empire, and the other one would have it put back into a mortar to pound it again.
The method that was chosen on this occasion was to stir it in a barrel. By doing this in a refrigerated barrel, the rice would be polished perfectly while preventing unwanted changes in quality due to frictional heat.
About 10 kilograms of the brown rice was made into white rice in this manner, and the rest was stored as brown rice. The rice bran resulting from this procedure would be used as a bed for pickled vegetables
“I can’t wait until My Lord has a chance to try this rice.”
That chance would come earlier than expected
On November 3rd, Jin, who had just put an end to the situation with the giant Golem in the Shouro Empire, heard about this first rice crop of the year and literally flew to Hourai Island with Elsa and Hanna.
“So the rice has finally been harvested, Laojun?”
“Yes, My Lord. We have polished about 10 kilograms of rice this time around.”
“Okay. Then I think I’ll have some right away.”
“Oh, I’m looking forward to this.”
Freshly cooked rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables, and dried fish.
A display of Japanese cuisine, which Jin had been yearning for, had finally appeared before him.
“The taste may be slightly different, but still…”
Such was the line said by the leader of the Peridots, who had been in charge of cooking.
Since they were still unable to make katsuoboshi, which is a side-dish consisting of small pieces of sliced bonito, as well as being still in the middle of training to make the perfect miso, they chose to buy the miso along with a dried sardine soup stock. Since the rice bran pickled vegetables weren’t ready yet, they used salted pickled vegetables instead, and the dried fish wasn’t horse mackerel, but another kind of fish that was very similar to it.
And yet, despite these differences, the dish prepared by the leader of the Peridots fully satisfied Jin.
“Brother Jin, this rice is delicious.”
“This is so yummy, Big Brother!”
Both Elsa and Hanna were surprised at the taste of the newly harvested rice.
What they had been eating so far was the rice that had been harvested last autumn. In other words, it was in a state similar to that of old rice, and since it was not well preserved, its quality had declined considerably.
“I’m glad you two are enjoying it so much.”
As a Japanese food lover, seeing people enjoy this kind of food and hearing them say how delicious it is made Jin very happy.
Meanwhile, Reiko was receiving information about the amount of water needed to prepare this rice, as well as various recipes, from the leader of the Peridots.
“With this, even I should be able to make a meal that Father will enjoy.”
“Ah, that was very satisfying.”
Having eaten to his heart’s content, Jin rubbed his stomach and moved to his after-meal tea. Elsa and Hanna followed suit.
“My Lord, am I safe to assume that we ought to increase the number of rice fields for next years’ harvest?”
“Ah, of course. Have we secured seed rice?”
“More than enough.”
“We planted 1 hectare this time around, right?”
“Correct. This was in relation to the amount of seed rice that we had available at the time. But starting from the next harvest, we should have enough to produce a yield 100 times bigger than that.”
“In that case, we will be able to export rice.”
“Of course. However, there is no point in acquiring more foreign money.”
There was no need for saving money. Jin was able to make almost anything they could need.
“Yeah. However, it seems that this year’s harvest has been very rough in each country. We may need to help them out.”
“We have quite a lot of wheat in stock, but…”
“Oh, there’s no problem with preservation. So we can keep stockpiling.”
By using an Ether Stocker, it was possible to keep a semi-permanent storage of stockpiled food, so Jin ordered that production continued at its current pace.
“We finished harvesting autumn buckwheat the other day. What should we do with the planted area now?”
“Buckwheat, huh? Let’s make 10 times more fields for that as well.”
“Understood. I will arrange it right away.”
Hourai Island was doing very well in terms of agriculture.
“Also, with the climate here, we should be able to cultivate rice repeatedly all year round, right?”
“Yes, I think we should. However, I thought we could do a bit of an improvement. How about we plant some lotus, and then plow them in to make the fields more fertile?”
There was plenty of fertile land, so there was no need to overdo it.
“In addition, I would like to explore and find the most effective cultivation method.”
This was only logical, since Jin’s knowledge was not perfect.
“I see. I think that’s a good plan. Go ahead then.”
“Thank you for your permission.”
The “lotus” Laojun suggested was a flower resembling Astragalus, which was found during a certain travel by horse-drawn carriage to the Egelia Kingdom.
“We collected the seeds of that plant from there and cultivated them here.”
Laojun once again showed how well-prepared he was.
Thus, full-scale rice cultivation began on Hourai Island.
It’s a pity that this could not be done in Kaina Village as well, since its many periods of cold climate would make it very difficult for rice to be cultivated all year round.
＊ ＊ ＊
“It’s going to be very bad for us at this rate…”
Due to the long rainy season, mold began to grow on stored wheat in several parts of the Klein Kingdom. It was very clear that, at this rate, food would become scarce in the not too distant future.
Chancellor Powell was working day and night to secure food for the king, who was still in bed.
The information that there was a new desiccant that would help combat mold on stored food came in through the daily international communication network being held via Mana Phone.
“A desiccant, huh…?”
Everyone knew from experience that the main cause of mold is moisture.
However, the only known way to get rid of moisture so far was by burning it with fire or exposing it to sunlight. The latter was particularly difficult to accomplish reliably in the Klein Kingdom, since the weather was constantly cloudy due to the long rainy season.
The Chancellor immediately decided to purchase desiccant, thinking that it would help prevent further damage to their food stockpiles.
“But how should I pay for the desiccant?”
The problem was the purchase cost.
The Klein Kingdom was an agricultural country, and since its agricultural products were in danger, there wasn’t much else they could offer as payment.
“Since this is an emergency situation, we will give you a three-year grace period to settle the payment.”
After hearing such a warm-hearted reply, the Chancellor stroked his chest in relief.
In the end, a price of 1 million torr in gold coins was settled for a total of 10 tons of desiccant.
The plan was to first confirm how effective that desiccant was, and then decide whether or not to import more of it based on that.
“I hope it makes it here in time…”
Transportation by horse-drawn carriage would take nearly a month, regardless of how much effort was put into delivering it as fast as possible. How far would the damage to the stored food spread? Chancellor Powell’s headaches were far from over.