I was Born the Unloved Twin
So, my father has too easily agreed on my little farm trip idea. Turns out he was already on the same thought process ahead of me when he was seeing the rate of how much bread the cafeteria and kitchens were churning out.
He also actually gets reports from Alfonso and each staff heads about such things.
I suppose my baking research has been a bit excessive lately, even if I am mixing up grains to make the base wheat flour stretch. 'Rustic' and 'artisanal' multigrain bread is the standard norm here, the locals are far more used to this than plain but expensive white bread. It's delicious!
If anything our research is going quite well, if not for the supply issue I would want to go ahead and start making takeaway style bread like those in Chinese or Japanese bakeries. I even have steamers ordered to be made!
Steamed bao buns, I'm coming for you!
In the end, father managed to excuse this as a work trip.
As summer is in full swing the harvest is already underway in some parts. It's not a bad idea to see how conditions are. It's not only preventative but we would be able to address any issues such as labor shortage or pests and vermin impacting the fresh stores.
In reality though, father may be running away from an angry mother. Also not a bad idea.
He's very much like a terribly tacky tourist around 'commoner' things and is enjoying the start of this field trip very much.
I had fallen asleep from the early hour and the lull of the horseback ride in the sling, no motion sickness thankfully. From what father estimates it may have been a 2 hour ride to the nearest local farm community. When we arrived and I was freed from the baby pack, father sort of...went wild. Not in the college student party kind of way, more like the nerd kind. For 'commoner' things.
This the sort of man fascinated by a simple butter churner, that's how bad he is.
"Fascinating! So that's how it's made."
"...It's a bucket and a stick father."
"The world is truly an ingenious place. To create butter out of nothing but a stick and a container. The creativity of something out from nothing is astounding. Who was the first person to discover butter? How hungry would they must have been to stumble upon this? "
Fair questions, I admit.
"Hmmm, kay but who was the first person to put butter on bread? Plain butter tastes almost like nothing but when you add in bread it's suddenly God level."
"Yes yes good point, when did the first person discover butter and its use in food. It takes a pioneer to first willingly consume an animal's solidified mammary milk and discover it was delicious. "
"Probably the same or related person who first drank an animal's mammary milk."
"Interesting, back to the source were they one and the same? How hungry does one have to be to first try drinking from an animal rather just outright slaughtering and eating it?"
When alone these are the sort of conversations my father can go odd on. How did a fashionable person like mother, with all her pick of suitors, choose this man to marry I'm not sure. What a nerd, well it's not like I can talk.
I also wonder about the first person to drink milk or make cheese and all sort of odd things. It's part of being human okay!
"Would the little missy there like to try churning?"
Asked a kind middle aged man demonstrating on how they were using up the milk the couple cows they had were producing. Before this they showed us how goat milk was turned into goat cheese, which was far easier than other cheeses. It's so easy that the village promised that it would be ready by lunchtime!
Trust that my initial reason for wanting to come out here was for wheat but this is all so interesting! Heck yeah I wanna hand churn the butter, I haven't done this since I was a kid on a field trip to those educational old-time reenactment homes.
"Wait, Rosalia, as your father I should try it out first to ensure it's safe."
Father, you just wanted to play around too, your eyes are sparkling. What a weird man. Admittedly it actually is oddly fun before it gets tiring.
I wonder how he'll react to a hand crank wheeled butter churner if he's this excited over this most basic model. Oooooh astounding, butter churners.
Jokes aside I actually like this side of him. It would be far more disgusting if he was a typical prideful rich person with his nose in the air at everything. This nerd of a father is actually sort of adorable. I think he would definitely enjoy watching how it's made sort of documentaries and YouTube videos if they existed here.
Since this was a rather last minute trip he's not accompanied by too many officials to slow things down or make things overly formal. The guardsmen have arrived with a more inconspicuous carriage and their steeds not very long ago. With fewer people and guards following him around he has much more free time playing tourist.
He brought me after all, how formal can it be?
It's not a bad thing that he's overly enjoying the mundane parts of these tours. We get to see more of the typical life of the people, it's great for demographics and market research on my part.
Life for the average person in a farming village is...how should I say...really really basic. At least their homes and tools are.
Sanitation consists of chamber pots, the literacy rate is low, and besides major roads paved by grampa's troops for transportation, the streets are but packed dirt.
Tools are definetely medieval, maybe even worse than that. Even household brooms are pretty bad, seriously a little tweak or changing of the materials would greatly improve efficiency.
This was not in my plans at all, I wanted to look into increasing crop outputs not improving household tools and public utilities. But my mind is spinning with the potential. Not because I'm a particularly smart builder or planner, things are just so abysmal in this rural place.
But I won't voice out such things carelessly.
These are people's homes and lives and it would be rude of me to point it all out. Perhaps we could set up some committee of planning under the Ventrella name? We take their yearly taxes and a portion of the goods, I'm sure we could set up something.
"Will we see the crops soon?"
I poke at father who is admiring further mundane tools with the village heads. Simply the active village elders, they look like hardworking honest sort of folk.
"Haha looks like the little lady wants to move on."
"Rosalia didn't you want to take a look at the wheat production. Come take a look here, marvelous, this is a 'thrasher'. Such a simple but ingenious little thing"
The wheat thrasher the father is referring too looks like a fence or a rake with a bunch of spines and spikes. Farmers and their aids would take full stalks of their crops and run them through the grills, collecting the grains on the floor. Realistically it works for rice or any similarly shaped gains or cereals as well.
"It's our village's treasure, I remember how drastically our lives improved when Lord Ronald first built it here. Back then it didn't has anything to collect on the bottom an we had to gather the heads ourselves. Ah what memories."
"Grampa designed this?'
"Indeed Rosalia, your grandfather made many of the amazing things you see here today. He came through with all these fangled ideas we thought were strange at the time. Even the stone path you stand on is thanks to him."
"Youngins these days have it so good. They don't know what it's like to work without iron tipped hoes and shears.."
As plain as this village looks to me, it's local. That means it's the first to get the advantages of being located near Gramp's training camp and thus the runoff advancement. It makes me shiver to think that further and further away, there are villages even simpler and in worse conditions.
The rest of the tour and inspection goes about as expected. It's still too early for the next field of wheat to be harvested while the rest of the stock has already been sold.
"I'm sure a few of the farmers and their families have some in stock for the right price if yee be needin them."
"That won't be necessary, thank you. But what about other crops? Are they growing well?"
Just as I expected, the cops fluctuate and they've been mostly growing the same things over and over on the same plot of land. The soil may be good but it's going to have difficulty keeping up to output standards. They also sell off all their crops without keeping a community store, which works just fine right now, but it might cause issues in the future.
Hmmm, what to do, or well, where to start?
"Why don't you rotate the crops then?"
"What was that little missy?"
I look towards father for support, knowing that my age isn't exactly very credible. Anyone who hears me will think it's just a child's ramblings but if Father the acting Lord stands behind me, even if he keeps silent, there will be some weight to my words.
A pat on my head gives me all the go-ahead I need to start shooting my mouth off.
"If the fields are yielding less and less then you can rest the soil but still keep growing food by crop rotation. Each kind of crop needs different nutrients, er food, and sucks it out of the soil. By changing the thing grown with a dissimulator crop in a cycle, the soil can replenish itself with missing the nutrie- food."
The village heads stare at me in shock, then ping pong back and forth between my father and I. His stance and posture is lazy, not even bothering to watch me though I know he's listening. That a good enough ok for me to continue.
"Many other lands use this system to prevent soil depletion, you can go between livestock feed and grains or switch them around the produce. Some crops work better after others. A three or four-field rotation system might work best here."
"Would you also happen to know what kind of crop to use then?" asks a tough-looking old woman in a headscarf.
"Yes, but it depends on what's already growing on the land. For example on the current empty wheat field, at this time of year, you should plant oats, peas, and radishes. Millet and hay also work and can be grown for feed or if you just want to let it rest over winter then plant clover. "
"Buckwheat works too, buckwheat works on any sort of dry arid land. I'd actually like to buy some if you have buckwheat."
It's technically not the best season for buckwheat but I like soba. If wheat isn't a feasible option now I should look into other grains. I really am homesick for rice and noodles, even if the type isn't right. I should switch things up and get rid of all the bread based nicknames.
A village elder trembles eyes still ping-ponging back and forth between us father and daughter pair.
"You should get started by fall if you want to weed and manure in time. You do use fertilizer right? There's a lot of livestock poop, it would be better if you compost it with unwanted plants and scraps."
Okay, I may have lost them at this point. Either that or I crossed the line again. I'm sorry I don't know where the line even is.
Father gives a lazy wave and smiles with a natural flourish as if this was all expected.
"Does my Rosalia need to explain things in further detail, perhaps in the town hall?"
Upon finally hearing his voice the small crowd of elderly bursts into relief and kind praises.
"My Lord why what a surprise! You really have done such beneficial research."
"The compost, what are the effects?"
"What a smart little girl you are, did your papa teach you all that?"
"No actually, she spends so much time outside with her grandfather, while I'm always cooped up or at court. At this point she knows more than I do about farming."
"You mean Lord Commander Ronald! Why of course."
"You're too modest Lord Frederick, truly the Lord commander has gained not only an excellent son but a smart and talented little granddaughter."
"The apple does not fall far from the tree, such good young blood and little seeds."
Ack I knew it, I really can't do this kind of thing on my own yet.
It's a little disappointing to have to use father and grampa as covers and share credit but as long as it works. The faster we improve food production and stores, the better we can avoid any upcoming 'minor' famine. Thank goodness father is on my side. He rolled with it so easily without question too, not bad, not bad at all.
It is a little concerning how his lack of concern is, be a little more afraid of your toddler's brain.
"Shall we discuss more of these crop rotation in the hall as you suggested. The scribe is still there and we can get this written down."
"Why yes, lead the way. Lunch should be about ready too I suppose, feeling hungry yet Chip my dear."
I'm not a pita chip but I nod anyway, father is more of a help than he is an annoyance. We got the local scribe and father to write down the basics of a four-field rotation system and how to make effectively make composts in bigs rather than leaving them in a heap outside before breaking for a meal.
Lunch was later and much longer than I'm used to but it makes sense since the locals tended to take their midday meal during the hottest time of the day. Like a siesta! That did make most economic sense, conserve strength!
Besides its summer right now, they can afford the daylight.
The meal was a spread board of all the local produce and dried smoked meats and cheeses along with some aromic buttered farmer's bread. Simple in concept and preparation but gorgeous with all the colors and variety of produce. The fresh goat cheese tasted great on nearly everything, especially when paired with a sweet pickled fruit preserve. I love cheese boards! Now all that's missing is the wine, sadly I'm too young right now to enjoy any of those pleasures.
To go along with the cheeseboard I even got father to help, *cough*doallthework*cough* in grilling up flat but deliciously layered roti bread to show to the village elders and anyone watching in the farming community. It was easy to set up and assemble a grill and the piping hot roti was sincerely and extremely well received, just like in the training camp.
When the weather cooled down a bit, we worked off the meal by surveying the actual crops and farmlands. Often times father asked plenty of insightful, though nerdy, questions, being fully involved in the process. For fun, we even harvested some fat radishes from the ground with our bare hands. With that and talking to the elders and builders, the day passed by far too quickly.
"It is getting late and I'm sure there's so much to go over. Should we perhaps stay the night?" suggested father.
He took a glance down at me as if asking for my opinion. An overnight trip! How exciting! For a moment my thoughts ran to Lilyanne but my twin has only been getting healthier lately and she's shown to be fine without me for a couple of days at most, one night should be no issue!
"Can we father?!"
"Of course, our space is humble but your lodgings will be prepared immediately"
"Such a project may require even more time, and there's still the neighboring farms too..."
"Yes! There's so much to discuss! "
I see, father wanted an overnight field trip to avoid office work. I was wondering why he was so well behaved. Well, I don't mind, it's very nice to see new things and get out the mansion once in a while.
"Little Miss, is there anything further you've learned from your honorable grandfather?"
"Please, it's okay if you just call me Rosalia. Grampa didn't teach me anything really but I do have a question."
"Of course, we shall do our best to answer."
"Then, where are the water-wheels?"
"The water wheel? Or some sources of power for the town? How do you grind the grains and such?"
"Why with the oxen and by our own hands of course."
Oh dear, I was wondering what was missing from the generally picturesque village. A river runs right through it and yet there's no mill or water wheel? I admit I did see the oxen lead grinding stone but I thought there would be something more. I suppose Liliyane and I are a magical battery now but rare magic isn't the answer to everything.
A day and a night really won't be enough for all the improvements we can feasibly plan to implement.
"There are builders in this village right?"
"Yes, of course, many sorts of folk. A few of the troops like to visit and stay on their outings too."
"Lovely, then do you think you would be able to build something like this?"
With nothing but a stick found on the ground I do my best to draw the river and the scale of an actual water wheel, explaining the details and workings as well as the possibilities.
The wheels themselves aren't difficult to construct but the mechanisms and structure you might want to attach are trickier. For a river of this size and flow, it could easily power two or 3 medium to large water wheels. There's a lot of wiggle room and potential, it could be used as miller during harvests and a power hammer, saw, or any other construction tool off.
"It might be best to invite someone from the camp to supervise, it would certainly go faster with some skilled hands." and magic if we have it.
"Such...such a thing! If it works it might no it could exceed our treasured thrasher."
"Oh yeah that...you could build a small wheel just to see. In fact, if the builders understand how wheels work they could make and upgrade the thrasher."
"But how does the thresher work with your water wheel? It does not move?"
"Yes, pardon us old folks, our minds are a bit slower on new things."
"What a well-learned child you have taught and raised Lord Frederick."
Back to the drawing board, or well floor. Father directs me to another clean section of dust and I get to redrawing with my stick.
"See on a smaller scale wheels can be used for many other things requiring force. If you take the bottom of the thresher and change the flat grate into a cylinder-like this, then attach that to the motor running with a hand crank or a power source like the water wheel. " I scribble to the best of by drawing abilities.
It's comprehensive enough, a bit of scenery a bit of the river route.
"Lord Frederick for you have simplified your plans to this point, all we we could understand!"
"No one touches the floor, get people to put barricades around it, the plans must not blow away."
Huh? We could draw actual blueprint you know? This is just my messy diagrams, no need to take them so seriously. But alas it is taken very seriously, I even see a few tears in the crowd.
I haven't noticed father looming over me this entire time, busy on drawing and selling the waterwheel with all its applications. He picks me up and twirls the stick I was using as if it was a magic wand.
"Rosa, my snappy little ball of dough, you certainly have some fascinating things in that head of yours."
"Like you said, father, I spend soooo much time out with grampa and on the training grounds. All sorts of ideas floating around."
"Mmmm then should credit go to where credit is due. To whom do we Ventrellas own these wonderful plans to? And how difficult would it be to buy them would you say, in your childishly blunt opinion."
"Oh it's hard to say, father, everything just comes in bits and pieces. Since I've figured out this much together, it would be fair to say it belongs to me."
"A sole Ventrella operation then, how convenient."
He grins a little like a fox, amber hair catching red in the sunlight, and I can't help but mirror that expression.
Patents don't exist in this world but outright idea theft could be met with trouble. I think I'm good on that aspect since I never claimed these were my inventions. They're just...things to help the people of our homeland. If it brings profit to work them under our household name, well that's just a nice bonus.
As expected of my father, quick to see the economic positional!
"Now let's head back and get some ink and paper, surely we can make something a bit better than dirt doodles. "
"Hey, I'm doing ok if everyone can understand me. You try drawing then!"
"Why I'll be happy to assist my little girl with her writings and drawings. Say now Rosalia, would a wheel format be miniaturized and work for say, a butter churner?"
Oh no. What have I done?
Author: Even without her help, Rosa's dad goes off to design a working crank butter churner all by himself. The idea resembles some of his gun barrels. She can't even be mad because, on a large scale, his design can mass-produce so many things, including her skincare.
What a long chapter! I'm sorry if anyone got bored. You can see my specific self-indulgent interests drag on- like cooking, skincare, and now vegetable farming. Keep an eye out for beekeeping coming up!
A reader asked/complained how 1 person can just randomly know all this and how unrealistic it is and like....whoops, I exist. Also, have you been on youtube/the internet? We as people know a lot of things we technically don't need.