Zheng is a silk farmer who, perhaps in the way of silk farmers, has a room on the ground floor of his house for silk cocoon making.
On the rough concrete floor of this dim room, Zheng has used red bricks to make a path for him to walk into the room to check the process. On the floor and around these bricks, is a thick layer of mulberry leaves, and above those is a carpet of white silk worms diligently eating away at the leaves.
Part of the process involves using powdered limestone, shíhuī, as a disinfectant, so Zheng sprinkles this powder on the mulberry leaves and silkworms to ensure this part of the silk making process is untainted by anything.
In two weeks to a month, Zheng said, the next stage will begin, and that is likely to be the cocooning of the silk worms. Once that is done, Zheng will sell a bag of silk on the cocoon, cánbâo, for about 20 RMB or $3.33 per pound.
In silk making, nothing is wasted. The worms can be cut out of the cocoons and cooked into a great tasting dish.