A hundred million cocoons.
The solution the southern Chinese silkworm farmers have invented is ingenious. Whereas other people simply put in branches or rolls of paper, these farmers have developed special purpose-made supports. They are held vertically and lowered so they are close enough for the silkworms to reach.
Then, since cell in the support is the perfect size for a silkworm's cocoon, the silkworms generally start spinning exactly where intended.
What is left behind on the floor is silkworm litter - a mess of half-eaten mulberry leaves, silkworms that for some reason either didn't start to spin a cocoon (or gave up once they did) and silkworm chaff.
This is useful. It can be used to fertilise soils or can be fed to fish.
After a couple of days the cocoons are ready and have to be removed, and Wang led me to another house in the village
Inside a group of villagers were quietly and intently working. Removing silkworm cocoons is an oddly satisfying task, I found (although maybe after the first few thousand I suppose it may lose some of its appeal). It is the sort of pleasant and useful sort of thing you can do while chatting to friends
or maybe when there's something good on the television
or sometimes when you prefer to be alone - entertained, perhaps, with memories.