Restarting my farm in France and as anticipated, field 17 doesn’t have Sunflowers in it this time. In fact, it’s bare earth, a blank canvas 😅 I have once again built the farmhouse, silo and yard using the construction tools of the game. However, the circumstances make changes to the original storyline essential. So, with apologies for a ‘semi-repeat’ post, let’s start the tale again…

My partner and I had planned on buying an old farmhouse in southwest France to operate it as a Gite. Two summers running we visited and looked at possible candidates for our project. We learnt one thing; estate agents are very free with half-truths. Every property was either too small or in such bad condition that we would need a lifetime just to make it habitable! Then, last year, we stumbled across a farmhouse in Haut-Beyleron. It looked like a possible candidate for a Gite when we looked at the agent’s brochure. But, when we visited, it was clearly too small. However, it came with a plot of land and a small field. We talked this through thoroughly – could we build a chalet on the field? Or perhaps, lease the field to a local farmer and extend the farmhouse – there was room to do that too. The more we looked, the better it seemed, and we decided to buy…

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The owner was an elderly farmer, Monsieur Seymour. He had decided to retire and move closer to his grandchildren near Tours. Much of his farmland and all the equipment had been auctioned off the previous Autumn. We met him with the estate agent and heard more of his story than we did about the sale! In some ways though, that sort of sold us into making our offer for the house, remaining buildings and sole field.

We got a very nice farmhouse – Monsieur Seymour had looked after it well although we would need to redecorate to make it viable as a gite. We also got a large grain silo!..

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…With the best will in the world, that isn’t going to be converted into rooms for guests! Then there was the field – freshly tilled and ready for us to build on if we could get planning permission…

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We moved in and set about redecorating inside. We approached the local Cònsol to get an understanding of the local planning requirements for new build on farmland and got a very non-committal answer. Meanwhile, every morning we sat on the porch and looked out across the empty field towards the monastery on the hill above the village. Sometimes we saw tractors and farm machinery working adjacent fields. I think we spent more time watching the farmers at work over coffee than we did redecorating! And over a few weeks the germ of an idea formed in our minds – we might actually be able to make our gite project into a working farm project!

The area has a Farmers Co-operative and we contacted them. They were very helpful and their chairman, Monsieur Gerard, offered to come out and discuss the possibility of restarting the farm with us on the ground. “We would love it if you were to restart this farm” he said, taking off his cap and scratching his nearly bald pate. “Too many of our small producers have been lost”. His chubby waist-coated figure would become a familiar sight over the next few weeks as he guided us through a lot of the basics required to restart the farm. One day he brought out some forms to us – “These will get you a municipal grant to help you when times are tough” he said.

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By the middle of July, the decisions had been made – we were going to be farmers. “You know it will be long hours?” asked Monsieur Gerard as he closed his briefcase. “Don’t forget”, he added, “There are lots of other farmers in our cooperative who will pay you for your time when you help out – that’s an important part of being a farmer here.”

And so we set out on our journey – the life of an arable farmer under the sun in the south of France…

The story will continue next week when we’ll buy our first tractor and start work👍

My first post for Nancy’s challenge in a very long while. Time to reconnect 😎👍

Cows on a farm…

Cattle on Ganwick Farm

…Most of them lying down, chewing the cud. That means they’re working at producing tomorrows milk ready for when the tanker turns up 😅

You can catch up with Nancy’s Photo a Week Challenge Here.

With the beginner mini-series of Trucking Digest posts completed, I have to decide where my gaming posts should venture next. Posting about the Visual Novel game Winds of Change is a no-no. It would quickly hit the issue of spoilers and I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who does decide to give the game a go. I can post about The Hunter – Call of the Wild. Although there are story missions in each of the reserves, it’s much more likely that I would be talking about the hunting on a particular map and sharing some nice screenshots. So that’s one possibility and such posts would see a return of the Birdshot series. Hold that thought and I’ll share a screen shot from a reserve I’m currently hunting on…

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…Another possibility is a return to FS22 – I started a story but changing out my gaming pc rather messed that up. I know at least one of my readers likes the farm tales, so I will restart that series although I may need to rewrite the first post to adjust it for a different crop as the chances are that there will be something other than Sunflowers in Field 17 when I buy it. I should be able to replicate the basic farm buildings and layout ok though 😎 Unfortunately, I’m unlikely to be as lucky as I was in that play through – you never got to see the second-hand harvester that Monsieur Armand had secured for me…

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There is a part of me that is itching to go back into space. Sadly, I think my Elite days are in the past – Introducing RNG mechanics into the performance of ships was a step beyond what I’m happy with, especially when you have to travel one of a few very select locations to roll those dice and hope that you might get a performance improvement. If it could be done on any station I might have been less disenchanted with the idea. But I still feel that Elite is very much a Space Trucking Simulation and simulations shouldn’t have random elements in the core mechanics of vehicles. Imagine if, in Truck Simulator, visiting the truck dealer in Berlin allowed me to tune my 460HP engine and get an increase in power that gave a random result somewhere between 500HP and 1000HP. That would be unrealistic. On the other hand, if I could buy a chip kit that boosted the power by a specific amount from any maintenance facility, then that would be realistic as such kits exist in the real world. I’ve used Euro Truck Simulator as an illustration and I hope you get the picture of why I have lost my mojo when it comes to Elite.

There are other space games on the market. Ignoring games involving the Star Wars and Star Trek universe, along with those that are really first person shooters like Destiny and Warframe, I’m really looking for something a little like Elite but perhaps with a little more company and fleet management style of play. There are a few of these around. Perhaps the most well known is EVE Online. It looks stunning and has a lot of possibilities in variety of play. There is one limiting factor – the cost. If you want to progress to the better ships then you have to pay a monthly subscription either through real cash or though a form of in-game currency that is equivalent to cash. Now you can buy a Training Boost Bundle and I understand that the long term players are not happy about it – EVE was always very ‘Pay to Win’ but that has really set the seal on it and, frankly, I want no part of it.

I’m currently looking very seriously at X4: Foundations. This game seems to sit somewhere between EVE and Elite in terms of gameplay It has the possibility for building and operating fleets – which is not a part of Elite gameplay. You can sit in and pilot your ship which is not something you actually do in EVE. One major difference between X4 and the other games is that it doesn’t have a Player v Player element. That doesn’t bother me too much. Both EVE and Elite have their share of gankers – players that hang out in groups where new players spawn and kill them for fun. I know that in Elite, some vigilante groups came into being to hunt down gankers and kill them in an effort to discourage the practise. There were other groups that would fly to the rescue of anyone out of fuel and stranded in the galaxy. PVP often brings out the worst in gamers but sometimes it can also bring out the best! In my time in Elite I always played in the PVP world. I was never killed by another player but I did get to make a couple of good friends along the way 😎

I do have one ‘Space’ game that I have already re-started, Hardspace: Shipbreaker, so I will probably post some screenshots from that one soon. But it’s a very claustrophobic space – imprisoned in a dockyard area, dismantling old ships. There are no grand vistas here 😓

So that’s where I’m at – hurrying through the Winds of Change story, driving my trucks, preparing to do some farming, cutting up some old vessels and looking seriously at another space game – Variety, as they say, is the spice of life 😂