Self-reserved land – the lifeblood of commune members

When it comes to the collective “pot-luck” era of the People’s Commune, the land set aside is a sensitive topic that cannot be avoided. It was a special piece of land that existed on the map of the Republic, and it was the lifeblood of every commune member during the “Three Years of Difficulty” and thereafter. It was the lifeblood of every commune member during the “three years of hardship” and thereafter. By relying on it, I don’t know how many peasants struggling on the famine line were fed and how many lives were saved.

Check the relevant information, in the 1950s, the farmers just joined the community (primary society, senior society) that time, the relevant policy clearly stipulates that the members of the community into the community to have 5% of the collective land for their own land. Later, in some places, the land was taken back by the collective, and in some places, the land was taken back again and again, and again and again.

In 1958, the “people’s commune” movement was implemented, followed by the so-called “Soviet forced debts” and the “natural disasters” that led to the three years of difficulties. In order to save the people from the fire, the Party Central Committee and the State Council formulated a series of adjustment policies, one of which was to devolve land to rural community members, allowing them to cultivate freely as a supplement to the collective economy to meet their urgent needs.

After my sister got married, my parents and I were the only three people in the family, and each of us was given three points of our own land. Our production team of more than 200 members, self-reserved land concentrated in a row, all in the south of the village is also the production team of a better piece of land, once out of the village entrance, convenient for members of the community to cultivate. The allocation of the land was done in the order of the lots drawn by the members of the community, leaving a path in the middle that could pass a small flat car.

The dry land of the Loess Plateau in southern Jin dynasty is rich in grain and cotton, and it depends on the sky for food, so as long as the wind and rain are favorable, there will be plenty of food. The crops are mostly cooked once a year, and wheat is sown in the fall, and the next summer after the harvest, the land is allowed to dormant to raise its strength, and then wheat is sown after the fall. Cotton fields are sown in the spring, harvested in the fall, and the land is dormant in the winter.

The members of the community were given their own land and were overjoyed, and they were eager to make full use of this land to solve the problem of food and clothing. Once the wheat is harvested in the summer, they can’t wait to replant early autumn crops such as cereals and mung beans, and then sow wheat in the autumn after harvesting, before the cold dew, almost to “squeeze the land dry and eat it all”, without giving a chance to breathe. In this way, the collective land is a year ripe, but the land can do a year two ripe, invariably “more than three or five buckets”.

The author believes that why the self-reserved land can receive such results.

First, the willingness to invest. As the saying goes, the crop of a flower, all depend on the manure when the family. Before sowing wheat, every household sends the best farm fertilizer to the ground and spreads it thickly. In the winter, the wheat field is also watered with one or two times that manure. In the spring, if possible, some chemical fertilizer is applied to the wheat monopoly. The collective wheat field, wheat before sowing, the field of manure scattered sparsely, even the ground is not evenly covered, the soil fertility is not enough, you can expect it to be high yield?

Second, careful management. The members of the community work every day in the collective land, after work passing by their own land, will pay attention to observe. The hoeing weeds immediately, the treatment of insects immediately, like caring for their own children. And the management of the collective crops, in addition to the production team a few cadres to worry about, most members of the community is not to worry about that “leisure”.

Thirdly, it is self-made. After the wheat harvest, members of the community according to their needs, according to the market, some sowing corn, some replanting mung beans, some replanting grain millet. One of my neighbors had planted raw land in his own land and sold herbs to the herb company after the harvest.

In those years, when you look at the fields, each production team has the best crops, must be the self-reserved land.

A little bit of the family’s own land, both worrying and tiring. The summer harvest wheat planting autumn, autumn harvest wheat planting, individual cadres in the city when workers, family members in rural areas, “a sink” family, these days will take family leave to return, sweating, finish the work to do the farm work on the land set aside. At that time, the production team regulations, self-reserved land cultivation, not allowed to use the collective livestock. The only way to sow wheat on the land was to rely on the most primitive form of farming – manually turning the ground with a shovel, shovel by shovel. Families with a lot of labor did not have to worry, but those without labor had to ask friends and relatives to help.

When I was a child, I often asked my two godbrothers (my nanny’s two sons) and my uncle’s brother in the village to turn the land, but they had to work in the production team during the day, so they only used the night to turn the land, and the three brothers, together with my father, needed two nights to turn the land. As I grew up, I also worked with them, turning the land for most of the night, and I was so tired that my back hurt.

Whenever the land was tilled and planted, my mother would steam buns and fritters to serve my brother who came to help. In those days, the production team’s own land, a crowd of people, vehicles speeding, shovels waving, dust flying, a “big war” of busy scene, and the collective field of work without effort “grinding” scene, a stark contrast.

My parents are recognized as diligent people in the village, my family’s own land of wheat, every year to grow green, brush, people praise, the yield of more than 300 pounds per mu, the highest reached 400 pounds. The collective wheat yield was only about 200 pounds per mu. At that time, the community’s annual rations of less than 200 pounds, of which 100 pounds of wheat, the remainder is sorghum, corn and other returned grain. A share of cultivation, a share of harvest. Self-reserved land to make up for the lack of food rations, to fill the stomach, really made a “sweatshop”.

In the early 1970s, some members of our village, who had a good head on their shoulders, tried to grow dry tobacco on their land, which gradually became popular. After the wheat was harvested in the summer, on a rainy day, tobacco seedlings with only two or three small leaves were planted in the wheat stubble field. The management of dry tobacco is extremely complicated, catching insects, hoeing, plucking buds, fertilizing, watering …… until it grows to a person’s height and is full of green and fat tobacco leaves. After the fall, near the frost, cut the tobacco leaves with a sickle, woven into a string hanging under the eaves, dry, the tobacco leaves turned golden yellow. After the dry tobacco is harvested, the land can still be sown in time for winter wheat, and the land that has been planted with dry tobacco is more fertile, allowing for a good yield of wheat.

The dry tobacco leaves are sold to farmers along the Yellow River in Wanrong County and Linyi County, dozens of miles away, in addition to their own smoke. Throughout the winter, on market days, before dawn, my father would carry a large parcel of tobacco leaves on his bicycle and go to the market to sell them. At night, when it was dark, my mother and I waited anxiously, and my father finally came back with a tired face.

Under the kerosene lamp, my father, who had been starving all day, sweetly ate a large bowl of noodles made by my mother, while my mother and I counted the harvest of my father’s hard work one by one – mostly 1 yuan bills, very few 5 yuan, a large pile of mao bills, and many 1 cent, 2 cents and 5 cents of dimes. Good times, a time to sell a 20 yuan. The father, who had a full meal, lit a pot of dry tobacco and smacked it longingly, watched his mother wrap the counted money in a handkerchief and said with a sigh, “This year’s expenses are expected!”

Usually, he would add, “Give the dime to the baby, so he can buy candy.” I gladly picked up the dime and put it in my savings box. In fact, my parents knew that I would not spend my change indiscriminately, and the dimes I had saved up were all used to buy school supplies and small books. I still get drunk thinking about the warm scenes of my family sitting around together.

Growing dry tobacco on my own land was very hard work, but I could earn more than 100 yuan a year selling tobacco leaves. With this money, you can go to the black market to buy food, you can pay for your children’s schooling, you can buy oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar, which is several times more cost-effective than replanting any miscellaneous food.

However, the good times did not last long. In the newspapers and on the radio, the waves of great criticism were higher than one another. “Big socialism, big capitalism!” “I’d rather have the grass of socialism than the seedlings of capitalism!” “Learn Dazhai in agriculture, cut the tail of capitalism!” The county committee and the commune implemented the Great Leader’s instruction of “food as an outline”, and the members planted tobacco on their own land, which was regarded as a typical “capitalist road”, and the “tail” had to be cut off. In the summer of that year, members of the community had just started growing tobacco on their own land. In the summer of that year, the community members had just planted their dry tobacco seedlings in the ground when rumors spread in the village that the commune cadres were going to visit the village to inspect and forcibly pull out the newly planted seedlings.

When my father heard the news, he hurried to his own land with anxiety, only to see that the head of his family’s land had already been filled with members of the community, arguing and cursing. Across a trench was another production team’s plot, where a brigade cadre accompanied several commune cadres and led a group of village school students, plucking tobacco seedlings like a wind swept cloud. People told each other that the cadres of the commune brigade would come to our side to continue pulling the seedlings after they had pulled all the seedlings from the self-reserved land across the street!

My father was scared, and he thought to himself: the same tobacco seedlings from the self-reserved land, the tobacco seedlings planted by the poor peasants had to be uprooted, how could I, a “historical counter-revolutionary”, escape? Instead of letting the commune cadres catch a “negative example”, suffering criticism and struggle, and spilling over to his family, it would be better to pluck them himself first. He was ruthless, squatting on the ground and bowing his waist, with both hands opening left and right, pulling the tobacco seedlings. A plant, a plant, and a plant …… this plant is like a small life, is the father paid from someone else’s nursery to buy, and the wind and rain to plant live, full of father’s infinite hope after the autumn. Now, a young life was cut off in his own hands, how cruel it is, the father’s heart is dripping blood!

In the past, when my father worked in the village hospital and village health clinic, he liked to smoke cigarettes because he had more money to earn wages. “At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, he was wrongly classified as a “historical counter-revolutionary” and was driven back to the production team as a farmer to undergo labor reform, so he could not afford to smoke cigarettes and smoked dry tobacco instead. The tobacco froth made by my father was mixed with rindane, which made it tasty and a great hit with the neighbors. Nowadays, dry tobacco leaves are not allowed to be planted, and it costs money to smoke dry tobacco leaves. More importantly. How could we live in the future if we cut off this way of growing tobacco leaves to sell for money?

My father stumbled home from his land, sat under the eaves, dug a pot of dry tobacco from a tobacco bag, struck a match, lit it, and smoked it, the smoke slowly exhaled from the corner of his mouth around his expressionless cheeks, and two tears rolled down. Suddenly, his old man put the pot on the steps and knocked hard, stroking the dry tobacco pouch that never leaves his body, stood up, hands clutching the pouch, in the knees a fierce fold, “click”, the pipe broke into two ……

Since then, my father quit smoking. This quit is more than twenty years, until his death in 1998.

The only thing that each member of the community has is three points of land, in the “pot rice” era, especially the “three years of hardship”, it is the lifeblood of farmers ah! I don’t know how many people, how many families, relying on this bit of land, from the death line struggle.

“During the Cultural Revolution, Liu Shaoqi was criticized for, among other things, his “three selfsets and one package”, i.e., “self-financing, free market, self-reserved land and package production to the household”, which was He was “the biggest capitalist in power in the Party”. At the top of the central government, the debate is about what line to stick to and what system to establish, about policies written on documents, and about implementation by governments at all levels. For hundreds of millions of peasants, it was a question of how to fill their bellies, a question of how to survive the hard times.

In 1978, the college entrance examination system was restored, and I was fortunate enough to go to college and leave the countryside from then on. The next year, the hometown implemented the land contract responsibility system, my parents contracted the production team more than 4 acres of arable land, they planted wheat, cotton, peanuts, and later planted apple trees in the responsibility field, really achieved the freedom to plant as they wish.

In their later years, their parents worked diligently on their new land, and the land generously rewarded them for their hard work. Not only did they not ask me, their son, for money to spend, but sometimes they were able to subsidize us a little.

“Before the Cultural Revolution, how to solve the peasants’ food problem, always troubled the central high level. For this reason, Mao Zedong had sent his secretary to investigate in the countryside, and Liu Shaoqi had sent his wife Wang Guangmei to conduct research in the countryside, raising a lot of people. In fact, a look at how the people’s commune members in their own land to do farm work, and how to do farm work in the collective field, it is not difficult to see the “fishy”.

To put it bluntly, the reform and opening up of the beginning of the implementation of the joint production contract responsibility system in rural areas, the peasants were given contracted land, is an enlarged self-reserved land, will be planted self-reserved land will be planted contracted land, the peasants really become the master of the land, mastered the right to operate independently, will master their own destiny, will be glowing with infinite wisdom and energy.

The term “self-reserved land”, which is full of the sorrows and tears of Chinese farmers and has accompanied them for decades, has finally come to a sad end on the stage of rural China.

Drafted in Lingkong Bookstore on November 18, 2016
Revised on November 19, 2016
Revised on March 11, 2018