To Be a Duke: A Spy Series Short Story
Alec’s look of concern had not cleared by the time Richard turned back and took the missive from him. Scanning the letter, Richard frowned.
“Another infestation in the turnip crop,” Richard mumbled as he read through his steward’s letter. “He is not certain where the infestation started or what may have caused it.” Richard looked up. “The tenants need the turnip crop for wintering the livestock. If it fails again this year, there will not be enough in reserves to get the animals through the winter.”
I’ve used this excerpt before to show some of the research that goes into writing the Spy Series, but I’m going to touch on a different aspect of this excerpt: infestation. Once upon a time, I was a history major undergrad. (Shocking, I know!) And in this history major undergrad education, I had to do extensive research on the agricultural revolution in Britain. (For anyone who is interested, here is Wikipedia’s version of this time period.) During this revolution, farmers began rotating crops. This was a huge development. In the past, fields had remained fallow when crops were planted and grown on other parcels. But during this revolution, farmers began growing “fodder crops,” like turnips. Fodder crops are just what they sound like: food used to feed livestock. So in this excerpt, the turnip crop is suffering from infestation. British farmers have faced infestations from locusts to boll weevils. The important thing, though, is that should this crop fail again, the farmers will not have food for livestock. That is why it’s imperative for Alec to get to their country estate and assist his land steward.
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I’m sharing this book in particular because when I studied about the agrarian revolution in Britain, I was studying at Glasgow University. In essence, I studied the revolution from the Scot’s side of things. Great read!