It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these. I took a break for around 6 weeks from the middle of January until the beginning of March. I’d love to be able to tell you why but I really don’t know. Sometimes I guess we just decide subconsciously to take a break. A lot happened before that break that I haven’t reported – there was the annual Christmas Event, for example, where the community once more showed their strength in depth to wrap up the target deliveries on New Years Eve. It was my non-company trucks in my other profiles that handled all of that.

Moving on to March and we all know that there were now unpalatable real events happening in the world. SCS Software – like many other companies – find themselves faced with a trading dilemma. They also have a personnel crisis as some of their employees are from Ukraine. Their boss felt he had a decision to make regards the unfolding events and the next map release which was almost complete. I think at this point I should pass you over to the SCS Software statement – please read it so you understand where we are currently.

So, we find ourselves in the unusual position where a company has had to take a decision that will alienate some of their customers. I have lost a personal Russian friend who at that point said that games should never be about politics and promptly disconnected from everyone as well as changing his pro-ETS2 / ATS recommendations on Steam to negatives. It’s a bad situation – I feel I have to side with SCS on the stance they have taken. Many other computer games actually rely on east-west politics and the associated subterfuge to create their scenarios – Call of Duty is a case in point – so, unfortunately, politics are very much a part of gaming and definitely sell a lot of games of which, ironically Euro Truck Simulator isn’t one.

I’m not here to talk about the tragic suffering happening in Ukraine and the plight of the refugees looking for safety elsewhere. We should do our best to help within the limits of our personal capabilities. This post should be about the game and it should not be subject to Putin’s whims and behaviours. So I’m going to talk very briefly about where SCS could and possibly should focus their attentions now that the DLC that would have added central Russia to the map is on hold. I’m sorry if that sounds callous but it is part of my way of dealing with things that are largely beyond my control.

Currently there is a big hole in the map between Italy and Romania – it really needs filling. We need the likes of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Greece added in to fill that void. So that is where I think the mappers who can no longer complete the previous project should be redeployed. I have several friends playing the game from that area who would welcome the chance to drive in their home countries. I actually didn’t understand why we skipped straight to central Russia in the first place anyway. An alternative idea…

…Now we have the Iberia map, why not expand into North Africa? That would be a big step but surely it’s an option? Unless we’re going to see a third title – African Truck Simulator – at some stage in the future? Morocco and Tunisia would add some new challenges and some different scenery.

We have a can of worms for the foreseeable future. In the interim, Lady Galadriel has taken on the lead role in my company profile. She advertises that she is #TruckingForPeace and she wears DAF Unity Edition paint job as a sign that we are all one…

Meanwhile, in my non-company profile, Carmen has the Ukrainian Flag to show our support…

I hope and pray for a peaceful resolution to the current conflict. Some famous politician once said ‘Truth is the first casualty of war’ but I think that another first casualty is our ability to see people as individuals – suddenly my ex-friend is just one of ‘The Russians’ – that can’t be right☹️

It’s deep into winter now on the farm as we move into the last week of December. The days have really drawn in with the Sun only getting above the horizon around 08:30 and setting around 16:30. We’re getting snow showers but it isn’t settling.

I had close on €80k in the bank by mid-December and that will allow me to prepare my own field for next spring. The first job was the ploughing so I hooked up the Agro-Masz…

The act of ploughing brings a lot of large stones to the surface. These can damage your equipment. I remember one morning on my Mother-In-Law’s farm in Zimbabwe, the tractor driver was ploughing one of the fields and a rock broke off one of the plough blades. Ma was very annoyed with him – he should have spotted the rock and stopped the tractor, then summoned help to manually remove it. He’d thought it would just be pushed aside and it would be alright but sometimes the blades get broken off and then the job has to stop until the plough is repaired.

After I had ploughed my field, I droved to the vehicle dealer and hired the cheapest stone-picker they had. Then I lifted the stones…

…I took them down to the stone crusher and got paid the princely sum of €74…

…by which time, it was getting dark. I had two last tasks for the evening. Returning the ‘picker to the dealer and then getting some lime into my spreader ready for the following morning. Then it was time for bed.

First job next morning was to lime the field…

On the map you can see my field (17) coloured to indicate that lime is required. So off I went in the half-light…

You don’t want to be behind the spreader when I’m doing that unless you have full protective gear on! With that job completed, I sought out a ploughing job for a neighbour to put some money back in the bank…

…The field was on the side of the valley and had a steep slope resulting in continuous corrections to the tractor steering to compensate for gravity and the natural pull of the plough. We had another flurry of snow as I worked on this job…

…Another sign that Winter’s chill is on the land. The €4.5K I earned from this job covered for the repair bills for the tractor and plough with around €1000 left over – it feels like I’m living hand to mouth at the moment. And there’s still some work on my field to be done. I’ve ploughed, de-stoned and limed it but that’s only part of the preparation. I will have to cultivate it and that may bring up more stones which I will then have to either pick up or roll into the ground. for now, I’m going to let the lime wash in until early January.

During the dark Winter nights though, I can start planning for next year. Looking at possible crop sowing times and thinking about my best options…

At the moment I’m thinking Oats in early March and then a quick harvest in July. Then a follow-on crop of Wheat or Barley to grow over the following Winter.

It’s a hard grind this farming lark🤨👍

…for everything. In my case, that’s doing a Selfie. Sure, I’ve photographed myself before, but always with a camera rather than a phone. I had to do a passport-style shot not so long ago and I did that with the Canon 5D…

…but today I thought I’d try out this selfie lark. Here I am indoors struggling to understand how a mobile phone camera works 🙄…

…and then here’s a shot at the football before the game…

…I guess there’s a reason why selfie-takers have those strange tickling sticks then🤨 ps- I had a haircut between shots🤣