Chronicles of The Hardships of Komachi in The Sengoku Era Chapter 7-8
Translator: Kenar Editor: Arocks141 Proofreader: Isalee TLC: Lox
Year 1565, Middle of May
Shizuko thought that it would be fine even if one of the deer were captured alive. The deer would start to produce a smell peculiar to meat if one didn't process it quickly. The deer which got stuck at the texas gate was unharmed but the one that was trapped by the bear trap had hurt its leg. It was obvious which one should be processed first.
"We will be processing the one caught by the trap first. Can you do the processing that I tell you beforehand?"
"There is no problem, village chief."
The villagers nodded simultaneously at Shizuko's query. Shizuko loaded a stone to her staff sling.
"Well then, let's go."
With that signal, Shizuko stood up and jumped out from the hiding bush. The deer noticed Shizuko and company and tried to escape but it couldn't move anywhere.
"Let it hit, please…. ei!"
Shizuko's shot was aimed at the back of the struggling deer head. The stone drew a beautiful arc and hit the back of its head. The deer, which suffered a shock to its brain because of the damage, fell to the ground as it staggered. She looked at its condition for a bit to make sure that it wouldn't rise up again but the deer had completely fainted.
"Tie the deer from its hind legs! When you are done, undo the trap and restrain its forefeet."
Since the deer hadn't died yet, it wasn't known when it would get up. It would be very dangerous if the deer regained its consciousness and struggled around when being transported. However, the villagers who weren't used to doing this took some time to bind the deer's legs.
"Well then, let's bring it to the slaughterhouse."
Luckily, they were able to tie both their legs before the deer woke up. After that, they carried the deer to the hanging place built around the river to drain its blood. Now, there won't be any rampages since there will be low blood pressure as we drained its blood.
Since the river was near the farm, it didn't take long to reach it. The villagers set up the deer they carried in the hanging place.
"Well then, I will dismantle it so please wait here for a moment."
"Eh, can village chief really dismantle it?"
"Hmm, I watched my grandfather do it a long time ago, and I actually did it once or twice."
While saying so, Shizuko prepared the knives for dismantling purposes. It was a set of knives for dismantling wild games which were a gift for her 14th birthday from her grandfather. In modern Japan, there are various sized knives ranging from a small knife for dismantling joints, to long sized knives which violated the Sword and Firearms Law.
There was a time where Shizuko wanted to retort to giving a high schooler girl a set of knives for hunting wild games as a present but she came to like it. She received guidance about dismantling wild games such as deer and wild boar from her grandfather's friend who belonged to a hunting club. Although she was only a teenager, Shizuko was quite the expert at dismantling wild games.
With a knife for dismantling, Shizuko cut its neck. The blood pressure from the brain would decrease if the carotid artery was cut. The deer would lose its consciousness for a moment but its heart would still beat and the blood from capillary vessel could be drawn because of that. You could drain blood without putting unnecessary stress on the deer.
(… there would be people who would make irresponsible remarks like "killing the deer is pathetic" if it wasn't the Sengoku period)
In modern times, most people don't know how beef and pork are processed. That was why they could make irresponsible remarks such as "pitiful" and "cruel" when they looked at the scene of killing wild game. However, Shizuko who was educated by his grandfather thought that that remark was no less than hypocrisy.
(To be alive means that we have to take away another life. To eat things means that we have to eat another life. To stay alive too, it is necessary to kill, that is the principle of life. Thinking about something like "pitiful" and "cruel" is useless when looking at the slaughterhouse… that's what I think. Truly, I realized it only after having a hard time looking for something to eat, grandpa.)
Shizuko thought so as she looked at the blood dripping down from the chin. Process every part from the head to the bottom without waste, take everything and leave nothing behind. She thought that it would be kind of like holding a service for the deer.
"The blood draining will be finished soon. Let's start the process of removing the intestines. Bring two wooden buckets, please. Fill one of them with water from the river and leave the other one as is."
Shizuko asked the villagers to prepare two wooden buckets so that she could separate the liver from the other organs. If one asked for the reason, it was due to the vitamins which helped bolster blood. If processed correctly, you could eat it by grilling it with a sprinkle of salt. However, the other organs may have bacteria. Which is why they would be put in the other bucket and would be used as a material for composting.
"We just finished filling the wooden bucket with water!"
After she finished getting rid of the inedible organs, she put them in the empty wooden bucket. After taking out the liver from those organs, she cleaned the knife with the water from the wooden bucket.
"Put down the deer and wash it with water from the river. Submerge it in the water by holding it downward."
After asking the villagers to do the last blood draining process, Shizuko pelts off the skin on the liver and drew the blood further. In a sense, the liver was different from smoked meat as it had to be eaten quickly or it would rot.
(If we don't deal with the matter of food quickly… For the time being, I should wash my hands and skin the deer afterward.)
After submerging the first one in the river's water, the second one also went through the same process. Then, they were submerged in the water for two to three hours, and soon the blood draining and low-temperature treatment was carried out.
While waiting for that process to finish, Shizuko ate the liver after sprinkling it with salt and grilling it. In this era, two meals a day is the norm, Shizuko didn't have a habit of eating lunch but since there was no cold storage for food so she ate the liver. Hence, eating the liver was treated similarly to eating snacks. The villagers were perplexed at first but after knowing that it was delicious, they competed over it.
"Hang it upwards this time."
Shizuko thought that it was the time to take the deer out from the river.
While returning a lively reply to Shizuko's order, the villagers hung the deer from the head again. After washing her hand and the knife, Shizuko would start dismantling the skin and the meat next.
(I will start from the hind legs after I finish skinning the deer.)
Shizuko would dismantle the hind legs after skinning the deer up to their necks. Shizuko stabbed the knife at the spine that was connected to the hipbone and cut the tendon at the center of the joint. It seemed that it could be done easily but it required considerable skill in reality.
After cutting all of the legs, Shizuko cut the back loin. Then, she disassembled the deer; first taking out the backstrap, then the tenderloin from the trunk, the boned rib from around the rib cage, the meat around the neck, and every part of the meat around the trunk. She then dismantled the bone connecting the feet joints. Shizuko had a trouble removing the scapula with the shape of battledore which was only in the forelegs but she managed to remove it cleanly somehow. She cut the meat around the head and the tongue after she was done removing bones in the thigh meat.
(*Sigh*… it's a fine effort if I say so myself. Grandpa, are you always doing this kind of thing alone?)
Completely dismantling a deer was pretty taxing work. Shizuko honestly thought that she was already too tired to dismantle another one but she couldn't say it.
"I'm fine by myself after this. So please help with the farm work."
Shizuko ordered the villagers who helped her to hang up the deer to do farm work. They couldn't do any farm work for a day because they were preparing for dealing the deer since morning.
Shizuko motivated herself to dismantle the deer after seeing the villagers off. It took quite a while to finish the other one with the same method.
"It is over at last…"
She said so while stretching her body because of the tiredness.
However, it didn't end only with dismantling. Next, cutting the large chunks of meat from the dismantled deer to small sizes and applying salt to them was necessary. There were no refrigerators in this era, so if you leave the meat as it is, it will rot. In modern times food is supplied stably and people don't need to worry about it too much, but meat is an important source of protein in the Sengoku Period. Besides, in the year 676, due to meat consumption prohibition, it was forbidden to eat cattle, horse, dogs, Japanese monkeys, and chicken.
(If I'm not mistaken, they were able to eat chicken because they discovered that unfertilized eggs didn't hatch in the Edo period… wasn't that it?)
Before that, the chicken was considered a sacred bird which told time so they mainly treated it as a pet. So in Sengoku Period, the egg industry didn't exist in Japan.
(Throwing away an important source of protein even though they're desperate to eat…… Just how much of an 'M' were people in the old days?!)
Shizuko resumed her work for a bit before she sensed a presence behind her when she turned around casually, there was a beast.
That beast was a four-legged animal covered with long fur. To be more specific, it was carnivore who belonged to Canidae Canis family, or in short, a wolf.
(Wha, w-w-w-what should I do. Don't tell me, he was lured by the smell of the meat!?)
Behind Shizuko was a stacked mountain of deer meat. Without a doubt, it was lured by the smell coming from the deer's meat and appeared in the village. Anyhow, the gray wolf which noticed the smell from more than three kilometers to the degree that it was separated from its pack had a superb olfaction sense.
(All the villagers have already left by now… aren't I in danger!?)
With nothing on hand that could be used as a weapon, Shizuko realized that she was in a desperate situation. However, when Shizuko looked at the gray wolf carefully, she noticed that it was acting strangely.
(Huh? Somehow….it staggering quite a bit?)
Shizuko rubbed her eyes and looked at the wolf carefully again. The wolf was being subtle from a while ago however its body was clearly shaking a bit. Shizuko didn't realize it before because of her fear but the wolf was so thin it seemed like there was only bone and skin left. It was easy to understand that even to Shizuko's untrained eyes that the wolf's condition was extremely weak.
If only Shizuko could think about it carefully, she would notice something was strange from the beginning. Because wolves always hunted in packs, seeing one alone should be quite nonexistent. There was also no sign that a pack would come out.
(So that means it is a lone wolf. Then that will explain its greatly weakened state. Even when wolves hunt in a pack, the success rate is less than 10%. It can be said that the success rate is lowered if you hunt alone.)
Even walking was difficult for the wolf in the wolf's current weak condition. However, it could be said that the wolf was struggling to the death. It could still tear off your neck if you weren't really careful. Shizuko who was nervously thinking observed the wolf closely.
The situation was over briefly after both warily studied each other for a while. The wolf in front of Shizuko fell over like a doll whose strings were cut. It was so sudden that Shizuko didn't know what had happened at first.
"Uwa! Ar, are you alright!?"
Shizuko who noticed that the wolf was already at its limit hurriedly ran to the wolf. Shizuko embraced the wolf without hesitation but the wolf didn't resist her. No… The wolf didn't even have enough strength left to resist her.
"Too, too light!!? Just how many days has it been since the last time you ate!?"
Shizuko didn't really know its original weight but the wolf who woke up at her embrace weighed only ten kilograms.
"It will die because of its greatly weakened state at this rate."
Shizuko quickly returned to the place where the deer were dismantled after dropping the wolf to the ground. She grabbed an appropriate piece of meat and minced it minutely with the dismantling knife.
"It should have no strength left to chew the meat in its current state. So, let's mince the meat…"
Shizuko filled the bucket rolling around her with river water while finely chopping the deer meat.
"Here, you can eat meat if it is like this right."
Shizuko held out the meat to the wolf's mouth after returning with meat and water on her hand. The wolf who noticed the smell was a bit wary of Shizuko but the wolf soon started to eat it because it was very hungry. The wolf ate the meat by chewing it several times so it could be said that it still had strength left to chew even if it was weak.
"Please drink the water as well."
The wolf began to drink the water unwarily when Shizuko put the wooden bucket in front of the wolf. The wolf kept drinking for a while that made it seem like it was really famished
"Aah, really… It is really no less than hypocrisy."
Survival of the fittest was the rule in mother nature, so any animal that couldn't get food could only die. Even though Shizuko attacked just now, she came to help the fallen wolf in front of her without thinking. Shizuko, who was amazed by her own action, let out an amazed sigh.
"But… I just can't leave it be, right…"
After that, the villagers who came back from doing farm work and saw the wolf obviously screamed.
Translator : Kenar Editor : Monk Preston Proofreader : Isalee
Year 1565, Early June
The season changed from spring to the rainy season. The planting of sweet potatoes was finished by that time and cutting weeds became the priority.
The crops they were currently growing like sweet potato, pumpkin, and tomato had enough water from the rain, so there was no need for them to water the crops directly and they only had to remove the weeds. Because they had tilled and ridged up the soil before harvesting the crops thrice, there was no need to do it frequently. And because the sugarcane had undergone selective breeding, there was no need for pest control. Only the sweet corn needed a lot of water, but rain and river water were enough.
There was little farmwork to do these days. The main priority was making the water wheel  and creating measures for pest control. However, Shizuko got a new secret weapon besides traps for dealing with deer.
"Incredible… such a thing as taming a wolf… as expected of our Village Chief!"
"Haha, you are so great, Chief!"
"Awawawa. Yo, you're welcome."
Shizuko could only smile bitterly at the villagers' overwhelming respectful gazes towards her. Their gazes were directed next to Shizuko, at a proud-looking wolf.
The wolf, which was lured by the smell of the deer's meat, was supposed to leave after eating the meal Shizuko offered. However, the wolf didn't leave her side, contrary to her expectation.
Experts have a notion that wolves are dogs' ancestors. It could mean that the dog's behavior was inherited from the wolf. This wolf thought that Shizuko was the leader of the pack and the wolf itself wanted to be a member of the pack.
"Well, that's fine~"
Shizuko decided not to think about it deeply and assumed a carefree attitude since she had kept a dog before. More importantly, information obtained from her exploration revealed possibly thousands of deer coming from around the mountains.
It was easy to figure out how the deer increased so greatly. The sunshine reached the forest floor because the forest had been cleared halfway. Because of that, weeds under the trees grew more thickly, changing the area around the forest floor. There were also no carnivores such as wolves to be their natural enemies. It was a perfect environment for deer to grow in large numbers since there was a farm nearby and food was abundant. Furthermore, it was said that the deer population could double in size in the next four years. Even if the number of males declined, with polygamy, their proliferation wouldn't decline.
(The cause of the increase in the deer population is the extinction of their natural enemies like Japanese wolves and the depopulation of low upland areas even in modern Japan. There are other reasons as well such as an increase in abandoned cultivated lands and the decrease of fallen snow in winter due to global warming.)
Shizuko thought, however, that the cause of the increase of deer this time was a little different. In her era, deer increased exclusively in the low uplands. Now, the flat cultivated land was scarce, the condition regarding agricultural production was worse than in her era, and the crop yields from the area around the low uplands had been bad from the very beginning. On top of that, the rural area around the mountain region had a low-density population, so there were not many cultivated areas left unattended. There were also no natural enemies and people to exterminate them. It could be said that the mountain regions in the modern era were a perfect environment for deer to increase.
Nevertheless, the deer remained as troublesome pests even in the modern era and the Sengoku period. It wasn't a trivial effort to overturn the environment once the growing environment for the deer was ready. In all likelihood, the deer would eat the newly-planted, budding trees.
A moderate thinning was necessary considering the plants eaten by the deer. But there weren't enough people for that purpose. There were around twenty people who could do labor but only ten of them were adept at farm work because this was only a small village. There were five people for blacksmithing and wood processing and the remaining five were for making compost. In other words, this village couldn't spare more people to hunt for deer.
"Hmm, that means… the way to deal with the deer's increase for the time being is… none other than that, right~"
Shizuko tried thinking of many solutions while putting her hand on her chin but there was only one realistic plan in the end. That was a plan to prevent the increase… by focusing on… targeting the newborns and fawns, and the females over the males. This was her plan to thin out the deer.
"If it's like that, Wittmann needs to have a pack soon but… have you ever seen a female before?"
She crouched down before the wolf beside her that she'd named Wittmann. Shizuko became its godparent as a matter of course, but she thought to herself, "Why a German name?"
Shizuko asked such question while patting Wittmann's head. Of course there was no decent reply. Wittmann made a face that looked comfortable from the headpats.
"There are none, right~. I thought that you were a Japanese wolf, but you're a gray wolf… you can't find your wife, eh~"
I will explain Wittmann's appearance again. Ignoring his initially thin appearance, his body and head length is around 140 cm and his body weight is up to 50 kilograms. The proud, dignified wolf's figure is successfully regained. The Japanese wolf's size can't quite reach 140 cm because it is assumed that the Japanese wolf is close to one meter. In other words, there must be someone who brought gray wolves from another continent.
(There is no law restricting animal imports in the Sengoku period, right~. I guess they brought animals as they pleased.)
Someone from Europe or China brought gray wolves as an offering. Then, they were handed over to either a shogun, famous people, or a wealthy merchant of Sakai. However, some wolves escaped by looking for a chance and ran to the mountain unharmed. Shizuko thought that Wittmann was one such wolf.
"Perhaps the other wolves are still alive. And maybe they are deer hunting near here unexpectedly?"
The gray wolves lived in groups of seven to thirteen heads with a male and a female as the center of the group. A group like this could be called a pack. A rank was determined for all of the individuals in that strict, vertically-structured society. The highest-ranking male was called the Alpha male and similarly, the Alpha female for the female. The other female wolves didn't give birth to new pups if the alpha male and female were mated. There were rare exceptions but the basic wolves' ecology was like that.
"Well, as if that would happen."
She didn't find a better solution even after thinking a lot of difficult things. The conclusion Shizuko came up with was to leave the farm to the villagers and take Wittmann to the mountain.
Let's target the fawns - though Shizuko said that, they couldn't be met so easily. At any rate, the opponent was a wild game so they were very alert. The deer would run as soon as they noticed her smell even if she luckily came upon one from upwind. Shizuko didn't have the hunter's skill to shoot from downwind without being noticed by her prey. So, was there any reason for Shizuko to climb the mountain?
"So, maybe this area is the feeding ground?"
The reason was to find the deer's feeding ground. The mountain wasn't overgrown enough to all be feeding grounds for the deer. Places with abundant weeds beneath the trees to feed on were scattered around the mountain. If that was the case, the deer were very likely to come to those places at meal times.
"I can set up the rope this time. Wittmann, please stand still for a bit."
Shizuko unraveled the ropes wrapped around her belly as she crouched down near Wittmann. The rope hadn't been used to constrain or strangle a wolf nor it would be used to tie Wittmann. The knot could be easily untied and the rope could be separated into four coils eventually. She tied one end to a tree which was sturdy and thick enough and tied the other side to another nearby tree.
"Well, it is better than nothing. It is a rope soaked in the smell of their natural enemy."
Shizuko muttered this with a sense full of accomplishment after she finished tying the rope.
She set up the scent of the deer's natural enemies, or the wolf's, on the feeding ground. The deer feared the smell and would avoid the feeding ground. However, Shizuko thought it wouldn't have that much of an effect.
"They will definitely come to the feeding ground if they know that there are no wolves there."
The deer would come to the feeding ground if they figured out it was only the smell of a wolf, and none were actually there. It was a gimmick to buy some time and somewhat meaningless.
"Well then, I shall go back."
She couldn't help but worry about the things from before. Shizuko said it loudly as if to clear some unnecessary thoughts from her head.
The work outside nearly stopped due to the downpour during the rainy season. To put it simply, the villagers including Shizuko had a day off from having nothing to do. There were various tasks that could be done, but Shizuko boldly decided that it was fine to slack off. In a word, she wanted to laze around. However, Shizuko's lazy time abruptly ended in the afternoon.
"I'm sorry for the sudden visit."
The reason for this was because Mori Yoshinari came looking for Shizuko's house in the afternoon. Shizuko was drinking tea from the chameleon plant while eating some dried venison. Perhaps her appearance was rude if you thought about it, but Mori Yoshinari didn't particularly mind it.
"Ah, no… I have shown you something unsightly."
Shizuko, who blushed from embarrassment, coughed to gloss over the awkward situation.
"Anyway, what is your business today?"
"Umu. First of all, this is regarding the hot spring made by Shizuko-dono."
"Yes? Um… What about the hot spring?"
"The Lord is really pleased with it. There is a plan to greatly remodel the hot spring. Therefore, I would like to Shizuko-dono lead the project."
Shizuko almost spat out the chameleon tea from her mouth without thinking when she heard that. But she endured and swallowed it back somehow. Still, some of it was still in her throat and she almost choked.
"*cough cough*… What do you plan to do in the remodel?"
"The Lord is of course thinking about using it as a kind of prize. Although he said so, he won't say that it is a suggestion from Shizuko-dono. The point is I want you to particularly separate the hot spring used for the reward and the hot spring used for Shizuko-dono's everyday use."
"Yes… that is fine if that's the case. But the detailed remodeling will take time. And you'll have to split the hot spring into four parts."
"We wish Shizuko-dono take over the lead in that aspect too. Of course, my Lord said that there will be suitable reward for Shizuko-dono when you have completed building it"
Even if Mori Yoshinari said so, Shizuko only had one choice. However, it wouldn't be an easy task even if she took the request. There would have to be an increase in the amount of hot spring water anyhow.
The hot spring she had right now simply removed the impurities in the hot water through a simple filter at the water source. The filtered hot water would be carried to the bath through a wooden pipe. In order for the hot water to stay warm there would have to be some method to retain heat at the spot where the hot water poured out. Shizuko took account of that. Well, there wasn't a method to confirm if that would be possible.
"I understand. Consider it done."
"Is that so? Much appreciated."
Mori Yoshinari slightly lowered his head while saying so. As humble a person as ever, Shizuko thought.
"These are only sample materials, but I managed to collect the rest."
"Ah, is that so? I'm grateful for that."
"But what are you going to do with such things?"
"Well, for various reasons… I can't say it for now but we should see the results in at least three years."
"I understand. However, I want to ask you a question. Is that for the Lord's sake?"
Shizuko nodded at that question without hesitation. If it succeeded, besides just Nobunaga Oda, it was desired by all countrymen. Moreover, it was a thing which was thought not to be available in Japan.
(It is trivial information in the modern era but it's secret information in this era. I can't say it easily. Only 30 kilograms can be made from the requested material but… it should be enough.)
"I understand. If that is true then I will believe in Shizuko-dono."
"Thank you very much."
Shizuko lowered her head deeply at Mori Yoshinari's words.