Fresh Fields

November in Osada and…well Winter too! Not a lot happens…

I worked on almost the last ploughing jobs in November and I took our stored grains to market…

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…By the time I had done that I had โ‚ฌ27k in the bank. It was time to get on with some work on my own land. I took the decision to turn the area beyond the fence into a grass meadow, so I bought a scythe and a belt tedder that can double as a windrower. Then I mowed what little grass was in amongst the weeds – we got three bales of hay after I’d dried it…

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…but that’s a start. Then I ploughed it…

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…Notice anything odd? – Yes, the plough isn’t removing some of the plants growing in the field๐Ÿ˜… [A quick note here about game mechanics – I had to turn on field creation to plough here as it isn’t a field and sometimes, the way a map is built results in odd behaviours]. I wasn’t too concerned as it was going to be a grass meadow and the other plants growing there wouldn’t affect the potential harvest. I then cultivated the plot and limed it…

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…I also prepared fields 1 and 3 for crops. Despite all the work entailed, I was still having weeks when there was nothing I could do on my fields and no contract work for other farmers.

This is a time to plan ahead. I know I will be sowing Grass in this area in the first week of February. That’s the earliest I can do that according to the planting schedule below…

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…But I’m also looking to planting Oilseed Radish in field 3 – that’s a catch crop that I can plough in to fertilize the field ready for the proper crop. Looking at the planting and harvesting dates for the crops that my seeder can handle…

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…I’m looking at Soy Beans in March for field 1 and Canola in August for field 3. The Barley in field 2 should be ready to harvest in June, so I could also plant that field with Canola, but It may be better to let it lie fallow until the following spring. So, it’s all going to kick off in February!

All this ploughing and all the waiting for things to happen in game gives plenty of time for thoughts. Using small equipment on small fields gives a view into the past from a western farming point of view. This is going to be a bit of an odd chat and some of this is probably mixed up because I’m working from what I recall rather than doing some deep research before chatting. One impression that I got from tv programmes and also schooling is that the tractor arrived and that was the end of small scale farming – all the fields were suddenly merged so that the new wonder of the technological age could fulfil its destiny and make farming super efficient. If playing this game has done something, it’s to make it clear that this is an over-simplification and a very serious compression of time.

The Industrial Revolution impacted farming in several ways but the two most obvious were mechanisation and the migration of workers from the farm to the factory. The workers were already moving before their jobs were even vaguely threatened by mechanisation. The factories gave guaranteed work and sometimes housing too – small wonder that there was a move from working the land where seasons, weather and the whims of the landowner dictated whether you would have work and therefore pay on any given week.

Mechanisation on the farm was initially by steam power – traction engines using long belt drives to operate harvesting machines for example. Much of the other work remained the job of the horse – something that was still the norm in the 1930’s – image below from Shammer, Norfolk in 1935…

Tractors in Europe didn’t really take off until the mid-1930’s but they weren’t powerful – 20-30HP was strong back then. A tractor with 20HP doesn’t equal 20 Horses – I remember doing a science experiment at school in which, by measuring my weight and how fast I could run up a set of stairs of a given height, we determined that I produced just over a 1 horsepower. Clearly a real horse produces more actual force than I can!

So after the war, with even fewer farm workers available, the tractor had to step up and do the work of many people. Its only real advantage at that time was that it didn’t get tired and one person could plough a field without all the additional work required to operate a team of horses. The work was slow – something that this game has taught me. The tractors inherited a landscape that had changed little since the enclosure acts of the 18th century and the small holdings of the English Yeoman that preceded those – a network of small fields. But with only 20HP, that was probably the limit of what they could manage. It was the arrival of high horsepower tractors from the early 1970’s that actually set the merging of fields and the removal of hedgerows in motion – allowing higher productivity but at the cost of lost diversity.

I know that’s very simplified but I hope it has given some food for thought and maybe shown some of the educational side of Farming Simulator as well ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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