Oak Glen Farm

Time do those final jobs on the first in-game day and we’re going to get a small tractor, a trailer and to buy our chickens. There are a number of good small tractors – some old and some modern. I could have gone for the smaller Claas but I was thinking about one of the old Ford 40 series to add to the authenticity – most farms have a mix of old and new vehicles. Buying an older vehicle will save some money. Here’s some of the Ford options at the dealer……In the end I didn’t go with the Ford because I felt that the Fendt 500 Favorit offered greater flexibility for not much more money……I bought a front loader, pallet forks and a bucket attachment along with a small trailer. Here we are arriving back at the farm…

It’s late afternoon and there’s time to fill in with a job for someone else to earn some money on the side. There was a job to harvest a crop on another farm but it’s probably a bit late in the day to take that on as our harvester will need some maintenance on its header blades before we go again – repairs to equipment are important in the game and become necessary much sooner than in real life. I hope that the job will still be there in the morning. In the interim, there’s a delivery taking a small load from the Sawmill up to Hill Top Stores. That’s a job our newly acquired Fendt and trailer can do 🙂 So off to the Sawmill we go with our pallet forks attached……This gives me a chance to show you Coberley Church which is on our route……and the village itself as we drop off the delivery at Hill Top…

Back at the farm it was time to buy the Chickens. This is done by going to a marked area by the outhouse next to the Chicken Run. I bought 30 brown and 20 black Hens plus 2 Roosters – I expect the neighbours will be complaining about the crowing if they’ve only recently moved to the country! Here’s one of the Roosters clucking up the ladies……The chickens in the game have some very realistic movement including the frantic scratching of the ground. Last job of the day is to feed them……Then it was time for dinner and bed ready for an early start.

Next morning and sadly the harvesting job has gone 😦 So it’s time for some routine jobs about our own farm. First task is to take the harvester to the shop for maintenance… Then I check out the price offers for Barley and find that it has topped out at £715 per 1000l so I take two trailer loads to Willowbrook Stores which earns us close to £33k. Then some breakfast before cleaning out the Chickens feeding area……That box in the foreground is their first batch of eggs – the Roosters have obviously been busy 😉 In fact, by lunchtime we’d got two additional Chickens in the flock! Such are the wonders of the in-game timescale for growing crops and livestock.

Last job for this post – remember that straw in our harvested field? We’re going to collect and sell it. For that we need a Loading Wagon – these have rotating hooks that lift straw, hay or grass from a field and and feed it into the hopper which has a moving floor to assist with unloading. If we had several fields and were growing mainly Wheat and Barley I would buy one but with only a single field it’s better to lease. Again, it’s necessary to balance the size of our field against the size of the roads and the delivery points for the straw – some loading wagons are huge! I opted for the Bergmann Repex which has a 34000l capacity. Although the Fendt could just about handle this, it’s really a job for the Claas Arion. Here we are coming back from the shop past the roadside cafe……clearing the field of straw will take us 7 trips and involve removing close on 220000l of the stuff. The good news is that Straw is a valuable commodity and, even better from my point of view, the Stables just down the hill from my field needs it and offers the best price 🙂 Here we are driving along the lines of straw……and then delivering it to the stables……Man the Pitchforks lads and lasses 😉 Back in the history of the game, collecting the straw from your field doubled the value of your harvest. It has been ‘nerfed’ somewhat, however this work will still net £16k or just over a third of the value of the Barley we harvested (remember I’ve kept back some of that harvest for feeding my Chickens). With the cost of the lease deducted it’s £12k in the bank – so I celebrated by buying a washer to clean off the equipment when I dropped the loading wagon back to the shop 🙂

The everyday story of country folk – or at least farming equipment – will continue in another post 🙂

Birdshot

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post in this series and today marks a change in the content. I decided that this periodical which has been based around The Hunter – Call of the Wild should also be about Fishing; More specifically, The Fisherman – Fishing Planet. I covered the free-to-play Fishing Planet game some time back and reported that it was very addictive. I then took a break as I tried out other games to report on. The Hunter – COTW was one of those. At this point, some history will be of use – The Hunter was originally a free-to-play title. Then, after raising enough money to proceed, the developers released the purchase up front version which I have been covering in the Birdshot series. Fishing Planet has now gone down that same route with ‘The Fisherman’.

Just like The Hunter, the changes made to The Fisherman – Fishing Planet are relatively minor. However, the effect is major in terms of playability for most people. One of the key improvements is in the changes to the cost of travelling to each fishing venue and the purchasing of licenses to fish. It was one of the key gripes about the free-to-play version that travelling to locations other than your home pond was very expensive and so were the licenses to fish. If you wanted a permanent license then you needed to buy one using the baitcoin currency which did cost actual money. From personal experience this constrained my ability to go fishing elsewhere a lot. Like other players I found that I needed to go ‘money’ hunting to get the cash needed to go to other venues and once I was there it was very important to make sure that I covered my costs by catching valuable fish. The effect was that no one could go to a higher level venue and try to catch smaller fish that might be less common but had little monetary value because of that need to cover expenses.

The developers have clearly listened to the complaints. In The Fisherman – Fishing Planet (which is a pay up front game), the travel fees are half what they were in the free-to-play game and full permanent licenses are bought with the in-game cash rather than baitcoins. The result is that, apart from having to achieve the required proficiency level to open a venue, you can now choose freely without real-world financial concerns which ones you buy those licenses for. And when you go to a venue, there is no longer that pressure to catch the ‘cash’ fish. I don’t think I’ve explained that as well as I would like but hopefully you’ve got the gist.

The other key change was a much more detailed set of tutorials than in the free-to-play version (although those are now being added to that game too which is a good thing). This makes the game much more accessible to non-anglers and those who may have limited fishing experience like me, to get a fuller understanding of the equipment and how best to use it.

So, the upshot is that I can now afford to choose specific venues that I couldn’t afford in the free-to-play game like The Tiber River where there is this intriguing remnant of a dam……which, drifting a float tackle past the end with a minnow as bait tends to result in a bite by one of the species of Trout to be found here. From a different viewpoint you can see……a monastery that sits on the hillside above the dam and perhaps explains its presence. Did the monks construct the dam in medieval times to make a pool in which they could catch fish for the abbot’s table? Certainly, the still waters beside the dam provide some very nice Carp if you have the patience to wait for a bite…..There are Crucian and Common……to be caught here. In other parts of the river where the flow is swifter you can get some very large Trout like this Marbled that I caught……that was a battle as I use quite light equipment and lines – I haven’t reached a level yet that allows me to buy the most powerful equipment. But, in many ways, I love using this lighter gear as you can have some real tussles with the fish and sometimes they get away – isn’t that how a sport should be? 🙂 Here’s a couple of my favourite rods and set-ups……The one above is a feeder style rod with a quiver tip to indicate when there’s a bite – I tend to use it in this weighted configuration to hunt for bottom feeding fish when the current is slow. A large fish that I hooked below the dam (probably a big Common Carp) stripped all the line off the reel on this one resulting in the leader line breaking. So I had to try my larger sinker rod with the 10lb line and that brought in the trophy Common Carp pictured above……Below is my lightweight spinning rod – dragging the lure through the water attracts predators to take a bite……I’ve caught some great fish with this rod and reel but I lost two large Trout while fishing on the Tiber because they were able to out-manouever me and slip the hook so I pulled out the Jester – which is my joker in the pack……the heavier set-up with 8lb line brought in that trophy Marble Trout although it was still a long fight.

I think the developers have made a great pay-up-front version of Fishing Planet and I’d recommend this game for anyone seeking a different challenge to shooting zombie hoards or driving fast. There is one other aspect of this game that I should also mention – it is so peaceful and relaxing when fishing for small fry. I’ve needed that sort of relaxation this week and the game has helped me de-stress 🙂

Disconnected Conversations

There’s something strange about the way that sitting in the artificially subdued quiet of a hospital ward lends itself to hearing so many snatches of conversation from around you. People choose some very strange things to whisper about – perhaps without realising that others can hear clearly in the clinical reflectivity of the lino and unadorned walls. It can be frightening to learn that a person’s voting decisions are driven by a version of history that bears no relation to any reality, either one conjured up by the victors of the last war or one carefully researched afterwards. Such is the nature of democracy in a world of half-truths and carefully concocted stories. Now you’re probably wondering – what am I doing in a hospital ward? This is a story that is not manufactured although, even as one of it’s participants, I still suspect that I don’t have all of the facts!

Friday was a day of pre-Christmas meet-ups with old work colleagues. Normally I would attend both the Lords Telephone Exchange event in Holborn and the Rasor Team gathering in Spitalfields. With my current health issues I decided that I would be best sticking to just one of these gatherings and I opted to go to the Rasor meet. We were due to meet up at 17:00 so I left home at 15:45. My journey to the Pride of Spitalfields public house was uneventful and a pleasant evening with old friends got underway.

On Friday afternoon after leaving work my Wife, Epi, was doing some ‘Retail Therapy’. At around 14:30 (the actual time is a little unclear) while crossing Tottenham Court Road, she was knocked down by a moped. A big ‘thank you’ at this point to some passersby who stopped to render assistance and called the Ambulance and Police. London Ambulance took her to University College Hospital where she was treated by the A&E staff – once again, my thanks to these dedicated professionals.

At this point, things become a little fuzzy. Epi called our Son, Alasdair, to tell him where she was – he was still in College at the time, so that was before 17:00. She then called her brother to tell him too. But, for some reason, she didn’t call me!!! So there I am enjoying an evening out, totally unaware that my Wife is lying in a hospital bed. Finally, around 21:00, Epi sent me a text message asking me to bring in some clean items in the morning. Because of the noise in the restaurant / pub I didn’t hear that text pop into my inbox. I said goodnight to the guys and headed down the underground to go home at around 22:00. I finally pulled out my phone at East Finchley circa 22:50 to call Epi and let her know I’m almost home. That’s the point at which I finally became aware of the drama that had been unfolding over in Fitzrovia. The good thing is that Epi’s Brother was able to get to the hospital and spend the evening with her – thanks mate!

Communication restored I was able to confirm with Epi what she needed and arrange to bring things in on the Saturday morning. Even so, one of her text messages was so ‘slurred’, for want of a better word, that I spent a very restless night worrying – nothing I could do at that point as visiting time was long since over. So I went down to the hospital on Saturday morning with the change of clothes and spent the whole day with her as we waited for final assessment and discharge. We finally got home around 19:45 in a minicab.

Epi is lucky not to have had a bleed on the brain after banging her head against the kerb – she has an excellent roadrash just below her eye and a deep cut from her glasses frame just above it. Equally fortunately, nothing was broken but she has extensive bruising to her hip and chest. It’ll be a while before she can walk properly – currently she needs assistance from me, and has to use a stick. The stairs are a problem but will become less so over the coming week.

It’s amazing that in our modern world we can still find ourselves out of communication with our loved ones for all sorts of reasons. Epi thought I had already left home when I hadn’t, and thinks that was why she didn’t call me. I wonder if she subconsciously didn’t want to disturb my day out. I guess we’ll never know the answer to that one!