The comfortable days changed to the busy days, and Fu Zhiyu felt that they went by very quickly.
It was just that the comfortable days seemed to be the same every day. After living like this, it seemed that there was nothing left behind. But the busy days were full of memories, hectic and messy.
Since Fu Zhiyu decided to start with his plans in Jiangnan, he was busy every day. As soon as he opened his eyes, he felt that a lot of things were waiting for him to do. He always felt that there was too little time and he couldn’t do it unless he split himself in two.
Time passed like this, and it was another winter. It wasn’t until Yuan Wanyun personally cooked and brought him a bowl of longevity noodles that Fu Zhiyu suddenly realised that his birthday was here again.
Another four years had passed, and he was already twenty-six years old this year.
“Why does time pass so fast?” Fu Zhiyu lowered his head and took a bite of noodles, praised his mother’s craftsmanship and said with emotion, “It feels like last year’s birthday was just yesterday.”
His birthday this year was not as lively as in previous years. Many people were busy outside. Mingdao originally wanted to come, but suddenly it snowed heavily on the road and he couldn’t make it back. Although no one arrived, the birthday presents came early and the house was full of gifts.
In addition to gifts from relatives and friends, there were also gifts from others. The Deng family, the Qian family and the Lin family were also very active in giving gifts, but knowing that gold, silver and jewellery couldn’t attract Fu Zhiyu’s attention, each family put a lot of thought into its gift.
The clothes given by the Qian family were woven by the best weavers in the workshop. This was also the best fabric on the market, very comfortable to touch. The important thing was that the efficiency of weaving this kind of fabric had been more than doubled. The weaving machine had been transformed many times in the past four years, and it had also branched into many models for weaving different fabrics. There were more and more women working in textile factories and no one would think this was a shame.
Because the weaving factories were getting more and more popular, some small weaving workshops also started; it was something Fu Zhiyu mentioned to Qian Manguan a long time ago.
“You can’t be the only one to make all the money, I told you that when I gave you the drawings. Even if I let you be the only one now, would you dare?” Fu Zhiyu said, “You are still the biggest cloth merchant, that’s enough.”
Qian Manguan also knew the saying “a man who is never content is like a snake trying to swallow an elephant”, so he was also very supportive of some small weaving workshops.
Not only was it a matter of listening to Fu Zhiyu’s ideas, but more importantly, although his weaving factories were available in all the major cities in Jiangnan, they were only in the cities, and many of the weavers and embroiderers who lived in the villages would have to spend an hour to travel back and forth. Not every family could afford to use a horse-drawn carriage, and the weavers who lived farther away were spread all over the place, so even if he wanted to unify transportation, there was no way to do so; the cost of transportation was too great.
If some small workshops opened, the weavers and embroiderers could work in their own villages, saving time and also benefiting him.
Besides, no matter how many weaving factories he opened, he couldn’t accommodate all weavers and embroiderers in Jiangnan. Now there were more and more women who wanted to make money, very different from the time four years ago when it was impossible to recruit workers.
According to Fu Zhiyu’s idea, Qian Manguan was willing to sell his looms to the outside world. The price was very reasonable, and it also ensured that the fabrics woven by some small textile workshops were at the same level as those woven in his own factories. Then, he would collect them uniformly, much more conveniently than before.
What surprised Fu Zhiyu and Qian Manguan was that the wisdom of the people was unlimited. They only needed a little guidance, and they would soon be able to figure out further routes. Soon after the looms were sold, someone figured out a way to improve them. There was no big improvement in efficiency, but they were more convenient for the weavers to use, labour-saving and making the weavers’ arms less sore after a day of work.
What the Deng family gave him was a big thing. It was a huge statue of a bodhisattva carved from agarwood, more than two people tall. It was made in the Western Regions. Steward Zhou put it in the Buddha hall. It was said to bless the family. Fu Zhiyu didn’t believe this, but the bodhisattva was carved very well, with a look of compassion for all beings on its face. Anyone who looked at it would be affected, so he followed his mother to worship.
Agarwood was as heavy as iron, and if it had to be transported by a horse-drawn carriage, it would be quite difficult. But if you used a big ship to transport it by water, it would be much easier.
The ship in the drawing that Fu Zhiyu gave to the Deng family had not yet been built. The requirements were too high. Only two-thirds of it had been completed so far, but the past few years had been enough to make some improvements to the existing ships.
The ship in the drawings had not been completed, but last year, a low-profile version was built. It was officially launched in the spring of this year. So far, several shipments had been made. The main routes were to the ancient countries of the Western Regions and Jinzhou province above Jiangnan. At present, Southern Xinjiang had only cautiously opened a single dock, but the business had been done several times and there was an intention to open a few more docks there.
As for what the Lin family sent, it was the barley produced in the barbarian grasslands.
The taste of this grain was not as good as rice, but it was not easy to grow it on the grassland, and Fu Zhiyu loved it very much.
The barley was not a grain he discovered; it had been grown by the barbarians for a long time, and some cities in the north of Jilin also relied on it for food. But the yield was very low, and one plant produced just a little grain. If there was a disaster year, there was no food to eat.
Since Fu Zhiyu discovered the melons in his estate, he had tried to use his blood to improve the rice that had always been grown in Jiangnan in the same way. He dared to hand it over after repeated tests.
The output had roughly doubled, and the taste was better than before. Fu Zhiyu didn’t dare to change too much, and he had only given a few limited rations to the outside world in the past few years, mainly to solve the problem of food. If he changed too much, even a fool could see that something was wrong.
When Fu Zhiyu promoted these seeds to Lin Yan, he only said that they were coming from the imperial family and that he got them because he had a good relationship with the emperor, but this matter had to be kept secret from the outside world. If you disclosed it, it was a matter of losing your head.
Lin Yan usually talked very little, and he was even more silent about this matter. When others asked, he didn’t mention a word. When he was tired of being asked, he slowly said: “The bodhisattva gave it.”
Fu Zhiyu’s concern was not only Jiangnan. The staple foods he had changed included rice, wheat and barley. In fact, he also changed two kinds of potatoes and sweet potatoes, but these two things were rarely planted before, and few people knew what they were like. His estate originally planted the melons, and he also asked to share them.
The production of staple foods had increased, and more labourers could be freed from the fields to do other jobs. People were mobile, and when you did well in agriculture, you also had the basis to do other things.
Yuan Mingdao sent him a few new horses, delivered to the stables a long time ago, so that it was convenient for Fu Zhiyu to travel around Jiangnan. They were all rare Ferghana horses, and everyone liked them when seeing them. The gifts from the Yuan family were also abundant. The two elders and the two uncles, Yuan Xi and Yuan Lu, never mind gold, silver and jewellery, also sent some household things, such as the hat that Yuan Xi specially sewed for him.
When she delivered it, she said: “When my father and I were stationed at the border, the people over there wore hats like this, covering their ears and the back of their necks. It’s warm. You go out every day in winter, so don’t freeze.”
Yuan Xi had already given birth to twins a few years ago, a boy and a girl. They came with their mother to give Fu Zhiyu the gifts, dressed like dolls in the New Year painting.
“Uncle goes out!”
They echoed their mother’s words and giggled together.
In addition to the people Fu Zhiyu knew, there were more birthday gifts from people he didn’t know.
Some were handed over by the governors of various cities. There were also all kinds of things, including eggs laid by the hens at home, purses embroidered by young girls, and plaques with inscriptions that said: the most excellent official.
These were gifts from the people who probably didn’t have any fancy words to say in praise, so they wrote it in a bold and straightforward way.
Everyone could see the changes in Jiangnan, and they knew who had done it.
From the beginning of the medicine tent and porridge tent, things changed little by little. Now the medicine tent was still being set up, but the porridge tent was almost no longer used. Now in Jiangnan, people with hands and feet could always find a job. Not only had the taxes and rent been reduced a lot, but the food was also better than before.
In fact, Fu Zhiyu was not so busy anymore. Many things had already made great progress, and people would move on their own. Sometimes, there was no need for him to care about it anymore.
The governors of several cities in Jiangnan had been replaced in the past four years, except for the most important Luanzhou, where Fu Zhiyu served as the governor himself. Fu Zhiyu said that he wanted to conduct his own imperial examinations in Jiangnan, and he did so. Now it had been held for two years in a row. Zhang Lin, who was hiding in the village and teaching, hesitated for a year, and finally came out to participate.
Nowadays, he was the magistrate in the county where the village was located. He was very good at his job. Not only could the children of the village learn to write and learn a craft; now he could make a difference to the lives of many more people.
A lot of talents had been selected in the imperial examinations. Unlike before, most of them were young and thriving, eager to show off their skills. Many things could be left to them to do.
Fu Zhiyu wanted to roughly reach a proportion. In fact, he didn’t dare to do too much. As the saying goes, the times have their limitations.
Even if there was a change in technology, you couldn’t become fat in one bite. Many things had to be done step by step. This length of time was not one year or two years, or even five years or ten years. It took a decade or even a century to digest. The things he could do were actually limited. If you did too much, sometimes it wasn’t good.
Now, it was time to slow down and digest slowly.
Moreover, it was not enough for Jiangnan to change.
Fu Zhiyu had already received a letter from the capital a few days ago. After the start of spring, there would be new guests in Jiangnan.