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Growing out-of-season vegetables.
Xu Zhao knew that it didn’t matter if it was called a “greenhouse” or a “greentent,” in this world, this era, this village, it was something that was extremely rarely seen. Therefore, he explained in to Da Zhuang’s father in easy and simple to understand terms. In fact, greenhouses have already been seen in the capital, and the market was good. The people’s living standards will get better and better in the future, and out-of-season vegetables will become more and more widespread.
Xu Zhao’s words were reasonable and well-organized. The gauze didn’t obstruct the adoration on Da Zhuang’s father’s face. “Xu Zhao, how do you know all this?” Da Zhuang’s father asked.
“Brother Li, don’t you know which school I went to for secondary school?” Xu Zhao asked back.
“I really don’t know. Which school did you go to? I heard it was a very good one.”
“Provincial Agricultural School,” Xu Zhao answered.
“Provincial Agricultural School! Learning agriculture is good. Our country is an agricultural country.” This “agricultural country,” Da Zhuang’s father heard this term from the radio.
Xu Zhao nodded and said, “Yes. I learned about agriculture in school.”
Knowledge is knowledge, and experience is experience. Da Zhuang’s father was still a bit worried and asked, “But you’ve never grown vegetables before. Will it work?”
“How will you know if you don’t try?”
Da Zhuang’s father thought about it. He still had some doubts in his heart and said, “That’s true, but you have to try it on one mu of land first. If you fail—”
“Brother Li, are you scared of failure?” Xu Zhao looked at Da Zhuang’s father and asked.
Da Zhuang’s father immediately proudly said, “Scared? Your Brother Li has never known the word scared!”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Then it’s fine. Then come try with me. In fact, Brother Li, you don’t have to be scared. If we succeed, I’ll pay you your wages. Even if we fail, I won’t deduct your salary.”
Upon hearing Xu Zhao’s words, Da Zhuang’s father was a bit embarrassed. He thought he was too much of a wuss. A man couldn’t be this terrified of things. If they wanted to do something, they should go do it and perhaps they could succeed. If they don’t try it, they’ll never succeed. Da Zhuang’s father’s thinking quickly changed and he said, “What are you saying! Isn’t it just one mu of land? If it’s wasted, then it’s wasted. Don’t worry. With Brother Li here, I won’t let you or Sanwa starve.”
“Thank you, Brother Li,” Xu Zhao sincerely said.
“You’re welcome. Then when will we start?”
“There’s no rush.”
“No rush?” Da Zhuang’s father asked in shock.
“Yes, no rush. I need to prepare the greenhouse matter first. I have something else that’s even more urgent right now.”
“What is it?” Da Zhuang’s father asked.
“Building a house,” Xu Zhao replied.
“What kind of house are you going to build? And where?”
“A tiled house next to your house.”
“You’re going to build a tiled house?”
And so, Xu Zhao said his ideas and told his budget to Da Zhuang’s father. He expressed that he wanted to build a three room tiled house with a kitchen and a courtyard. The budget was 1,200 Yuan, and said that they could start finding people to level out the uncultivated land and build the foundation tomorrow. After discussing everything with Da Zhuang’s father, Xu Zhao let out a breath of relief. Da Zhuang’s father also stopped worrying. After Xu Zhao left, Da Zhuang’s father happily said to Da Zhuang’s mother, “I’ll work for Xu Zhao in the future. I won’t leave for work.”
Da Zhuang’s mother asked, “What are you going to do for Xu Zhao?”
“Grow vegetables in the winter and sell them,” Da Zhuang’s father said.
Da Zhuang’s mother only heard a bit of what Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s father had discussed, but didn’t understand everything. So she could only ask, “Will it work?”
“Why wouldn’t it?” Da Zhuang’s father firmly said. “Xu Zhao is an intellect. He studied agriculture. It’ll definitely work.”
Da Zhuang’s mother smiled as she pretended to be disgusted, “Oh. You say it’ll work now. Weren’t you doubting Xu Zhao earlier?”
“When was I doubting? I was discussing it. What do you know?”
“I don’t understand, only you do. But do you understand as much as Xu Zhao?”
The husband and wife brought up Xu Zhao in each sentence as they verbally attacked each other.
Meanwhile, Xu Zhao had already carried Xu Fan home and confessed to Mother and Father Xu about the matter of planting greenhouse vegetables. Mother and Father Xu’s first reaction was naturally rejection, but the two elders knew that Xu Zhao wasn’t a reckless person. They had clearly seen Xu Zhao’s abilities the past few days. Moreover, the two elders hadn’t helped him in any way. Therefore, now that Xu Zhao spoke up about wanting a mu of land to plant greenhouse vegetables, the two elders considered it a tiny bit before agreeing.
Xu Zhao asked in surprise, “Mom, Dad, do you really agree?” In this era, everyone saw land as most important. There was once a pair of brothers in the village who beat each other up very badly for the sake of a piece of land. Xu Zhao thought that Mother and Father Xu would be unwilling to give up a mu of land.
Unexpectedly, Mother Xu said, “Of course we’re willing.”
Xu Zhao couldn’t help but ask, “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll fail to plant them?”
“If you fail, then fail. I made you suffer in the past, so I’ll support anything you want to do in the future,” Mother Xu said.
Xu Zhao’s heart was instantly soothed. Having family support was really a beautiful thing. At this time, Xu Fan also added, “I also support Daddy.”
Xu Zhao bowed his head and asked, “Do you know what support means?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re saying it even though you don’t know.”
Xu Fan hugged Xu Zhao’s leg and giggled.
Xu Zhao looked at Mother Xu again and said, “Mom, then when you plant wheat, leave a mu of and empty. Leave a mu of land near Da Zhuang’s house empty.”
“Okay,” Mother Xu simply agreed.
“Then you should head to sleep early.”
“You should sleep too.”
However, Xu Zhao didn’t sleep early. Once he returned to the thatched hut, he lit the kerosene lamp. He placed Xu Fan in bed and told him to play with his toy car and marble by himself, telling Xu Fan that he was busy and couldn’t be disturbed. Then, he sat beside the kerosene lamp and started writing and drawing. At this time, he suddenly felt moved about how his ancestors went all over the place in order to earn living expenses. And in addition to his studies, he had learned numerous life skills that he was actually able to use in this era.
For example, how to settle accounts, understanding crops, and etc. However, he won’t sort the details of the vegetable greenhouse for now, but planned the tiled house instead. After the area was estimated, Xu Zhao started to draw the layout of the house as well as marking the things that needed more attention. He slowly developed everything, and once everything was almost drawn, he put down the pen and turned his head toward the bed. On the bed, Xu Fan was already asleep, hugging his toy car.
Xu Zhao walked forward. He took the toy car, marble, and slingshot that were on the bed and placed it on the table. He wiped Xu Fan’s plump tiny hands and face before getting in bed and hugging Xu Fan to sleep.
The next morning, Xu Zhao woke up from the outside noise. He put on his clothes and went out to take a look. He found a tractor stopped at the intersection. Five to six men sat on the tractor, and over ten people were surrounding them, looking as if they were reluctant to part.
“Mom, what’s happening?” Xu Zhao asked, puzzled.
“They’re going to work somewhere else. I heard they can make 200 Yuan in half a year. Xu Zuocheng is going as well,” Mother Xu said.
“Yes. He was very smug about it. He deliberately said in front of your dad and me that he could probably earn 20-30 Yuan a month. He was definitely looking down at us.”
“Let him be smug.”
“Exactly. It’s good if he leaves. One is locked up at the police station for three months and the other is leaving for work. We can finally have some peace and quiet.”
Xu Zhao couldn’t help but look at the tractor, seeing Xu Zuocheng. Xu Zuocheng only knew that Xu Zhao was selling mooncakes for money, but didn’t know how much he earned. Thinking that Xu Zhao only made 5 Yuan after selling popsicles for a month, then he could probably only earn 20-30 Yuan selling mooncakes. What was 20-30 Yuan? He’s heading to the city today and he’d also earn 20-30 Yuan a month. Once he returns, he’d bring back at least 100 Yuan. 100 Yuan! Xu Zuocheng felt happy just thinking about it. Looking at Xu Zhao, his gaze turned contemptuous.
Xu Zhao ignored him and watched the tractor leave South Bay Village. Afterward, he took Xu Fan to Da Zhuang’s house. Besides Da Zhuang’s father, there were other workers who knew how to build houses at Da Zhuang’s house. Xu Zhao took out his drawing and discussed the area, tiles, bricks, and other issues with them.
The discussion lasted a whole morning. Once they finished, everyone else besides Da Zhuang’s father used shovels and ox carts to lay down the foundation.
In the afternoon, tiles and bricks from the kilt factory arrived one by one on ox carts. Meanwhile at Da Zhuang’s house, the fine sand, sieve, sand plasters, brick and tile knives, saws, and other tools were all taken out, which immediately attracted the attention of the villagers. Numerous people started discussing:
“What are they doing? Who are they building a house for?”
“They’re building a house for Xu Zhao. His thatched hut leaks in the rain and it’s impossible to live in.”
“Xu Zhao has money.”
“He shouldn’t have any money. He made money selling mooncakes before, but I heard Da Zhuang’s father say that he had an outstanding account. It’s mainly because he has fiction with his two older brothers who live in the tiled houses. Their friction is very high so it’s good that he’s moving. It’s very good that he’s moving.”
“It is good that he’s moving. I also heard he’s building the house on credit. It definitely has to be on credit. Building a house isn’t a small matter.”
In fact, Xu Zhao didn’t put it on credit. Da Zhuang’s father didn’t want others to know that Xu Zhao made a huge bunch of money all at once. It attracted other people’s envy. That was why he deliberately said that Xu Zhao gladly accepted and handed the matter of building the house to Da Zhuang’s father. Meanwhile, Mother and Father Xu, and Xu Zhao started thinking about the matter of planting vegetables. However, before planting vegetables, he needed to call Cui Qingfeng first to tell Cui Qingfeng that he wouldn’t be able to head to Fan’s Little Shop over the next few days, so the shop will be left to him.
But before he could call, Uncle Zhang had run over to tell Xu Zhao that someone from the county town had called for him. Xu Zhao thought it was Cui Qingfeng and hurried over, but who knew that it would be Cui Dingchen.
Xu Zhao called in surprise, “Youngest uncle?”
Cui Dingchen’s deep voice rang from the other end, “Mn, it’s me.”
“What’s the matter?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Um,” Cui Dingchen hesitated before speaking again, “You haven’t returned my checkered handkerchief yet, right?”
Xu Zhao recalled this matter and said, “Ah, I’m sorry, Youngest uncle. I forgot.”
“Mn. When will you return it?”
Xu Zhao secretly calculated the matters he currently had on hand and said, “Tomorrow.”
“Are you busy?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“Sort of,” Xu Zhao said with embarrassment.
“Busy with what?”
“I’m building a house, and have some other things going on as well.”
“Oh.” Cui Dingchen paused for a moment then said, “When will you come tomorrow?”
“In the morning.”
“Alright. In the morning then.”
“Mn. My apologies, youngest uncle.”
“It’s fine. It’s settled then.”
After hanging up the phone, Xu Zhao was stunned. Cui Dingchen called just to ask about the checkered handkerchief? T-t-this was very similar to Xu Fan. Every time Da Zhuang borrowed Xu Fan’s marbles to play with, not even half a day later, Xu Fan would definitely run to Da Zhuang’s house to get back the marbles, worried that Da Zhuang would be greedy for his marbles. This… But thinking about it, resources were lacking in this era. Everything was precious. Moreover, the handkerchief was of good quality, therefore, Xu Zhao went home and put away the handkerchief.
The next morning, the weather suddenly turned cold. Summer clothes couldn’t be worn anymore. After dressing Xu Fan in a long sleeved shirt and pants, Xu Zhao changed into his own new shirt, new pants, as well as new shoes. After washing his face and hair, he cleaned up.
Turning his head, he saw Xu Fan standing in front of the mud wall. There was a mirror stuck on the mud wall, and reflected in the mirror, Xu Fan used his chubby hands to clutch his fleshy face and said, “Wow, I look so good.”
Xu Zhao: “…”
Xu Fan: “Wow, I look so good in my new clothes.”
Xu Zhao: “…”
After looking in the mirror, he deliberately ran in front of Mother and Father Xu, telling them that he was wearing new clothes that his daddy had bought for him. Not waiting for Mother and Father Xu to praise him, he boasted about how good he looked. Who knew where this confidence came from?
Xu Zhao pushed the brand new bicycle and called, “Xu Fan.”
Xu Fan responded from inside the thatched hut, “Yes!”
“I’m heading to the county town.”
“I’ll go too.”
Xu Fan quickly ran from the thatched hut and habitually ran beside Xu Zhao. He turned his back on Xu Zhao then lifted his small arms to have Xu Zhao lift him up and put him on the front handlebars. Once he sat down, he said, “Daddy, you look good.”
“I know,” Xu Zhao said.
“I also look good.”
Xu Fan was quiet, and after a while, he called again, “Daddy.”
“Mn,” Xu Zhao answered.
Xu Fan asked, “Are we going to sell popsicles?”
“No, it’s too cold. Popsicles can’t be eaten anymore,” Xu Zhao said.
“Can’t eat popsicles anymore.”
“That’s right. We won’t sell popsicles anymore. We’ll sell vegetables.”
“We won’t sell popsicles, we’ll sell vegetables!” Xu Fan learned from Xu Zhao.
Along the way, Xu Fan learned a lot of words from Xu Zhao. Not long later, they arrived at the county town. Since it was still early, Fan’s Little Shop wasn’t open yet. Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan directly to the Cui residence. When they arrived at the Cui residence, he saw Cui Dingchen sorting out clothes in the courtyard.
Cui Dingchen was a bit startled when he saw Xu Zhao.
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