We visited the local farm machinery and supplies store. We had a shopping list compiled by Claude Gerard – “You’ll need a tractor – a small one to begin with, eighty to one hundred horsepower.” “You have weeds in your crop – buy a sprayer and you can earn some money back by helping with weeds on other farms.” It all seemed very simple written down in my notebook! But when we saw the array of equipment available, we were at a loss to know where to begin.

We mooched around the tractors, bemused by strange model names and numbers. “I thought cars were bad…” Our musing was broken by the appearance of a tall man in grubby overalls and boots who emerged from behind a very large tractor. “Bonjour” he said in the manner of a question rather than greeting. “Can I help?” “Umm, we’re just looking at the tractors…” was my lame response. He took the lead – “Ahh! Anglais – you are from du Vieux Chêne?”, “Yes”, “Claude said I should expect you.” He smiled rubbed his hands on his overalls then shook ours – “I’m Jean Armand, call me Jean.”

It turned out that Monsieur Gerard had briefed him on our needs. “You need a small tractor – I think I have a good choice for beginner farmers.” He led us over to a small modern red tractor. “Massey-Ferguson 5S.105. Very modern tractor, easy to drive, good visibility – ideal for a novice farmer!” “Should we buy new though?” I asked. Jean smiled, “This is going to be your only tractor for a while I think, so you should buy new to keep down the repair bills. It will be going everywhere with you – even the supermarché 😉” Pre-equipped for a front loader and fitted with narrow wheels ready for crop spraying, it cost us €86,500.

Now we needed a sprayer – “I suggest one of the back-pack types like the Hardi over there – easier to store on a small farm than the ones you tow.” We wandered over to the sprayers… “If I had a one second-hand, I’d suggest that to you, but I don’t and I believe you need one now. In the circumstances I suggest either the Hardi Mega or this Kverneland iXter B” We pondered the specifications and the prices. After much deliberation we decided on the iXter B and a spread of 24m – “That’s the size most of our small farmers tend to use here…”

“Now I have a difficult choice for you.” said Jean. “You can choose to fit spot-spraying technology to the iXter – It will detect weeds and only spray herbicide when a weed is below the nozzle.” “It can really do that?” I asked. “Yes, and it works well. You can save a lot of herbicide by using the system and that means less environmental impact.” “It saves you some money each time too!” “The downside is the cost – it will double the price of your sprayer.” “But if you want to get good sustainability scores for your farm, then you should consider it. – I can fit it now ready for you to collect tomorrow or you can buy it later.” We discussed this over a cup of coffee in the office before deciding that we could afford the upgrade. “The benefits will take a while to show but I think you have made the right choice.” said Jean.

The next morning as promised Jean had everything ready for us to collect…

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…We parted company, shaking hands with Monsieur Armand. “Good luck with du Vieux Chêne and come back when you need more equipment – I’ll try to see you alright 👍”

I decided to continue in story mode, and I’ve introduced you to a second main character. In this post we’ve met the main tractor for this version of Ferme du Vieux Chêne – a bit smaller than our first tractor last time. I’m going to be playing differently this time with a lot more emphasis on hiring equipment when helping out our neighbours. View it as a demonstration, when seen alongside my original Ferme du Vieux Chêne posts, of the variability of play options for the Farming Simulator gamer😎

I’ve mentioned Precision Farming here in the form of the spot-spraying tech that I can add to the iXter B sprayer. In the past, we were often amazed by technologies that appeared in Star Trek, only to appear in reality a few years later. Often it all looked a bit far-fetched – until it was suddenly there. I was a bit sceptical about this spot-spraying technology, but it is already here in the real world! Cameras placed above each nozzle reference a database of weeds and activate the nozzle every time a recognised species is detected. Because the nozzle is only on for a brief moment in time rather than continuously, there is a significant reduction in the use of herbicides on a field where this tech is used. In game you can see the spray being switched off and on as you drive over the crop! Look at the image below and you can see that some nozzles are not spraying…

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Currently, you can only fit it to this Kverneland sprayer or one of the John Deere towed sprayers. However, I expect that community modders will be adding it as an option on their machines soon. Remember that you don’t have to activate the Precision Farming mod – If you don’t, then the spot-spraying option will not be available, but your choices and overall farming will be simpler 😉

I’m playing catch-up with this post as my farm is moving forwards quite rapidly. I will probably need to do a follow-up over the weekend to bring you fully up to the present. I may even decide what my partner’s name and gender is by then 😂

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 – and that was a real issue because it had Sunflowers growing in it! My partner loves Sunflowers and heaven help me if I suggest we should destroy them with a building extension for the prospective gite.

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 surveyed the growing sunflowers and pondered what to do about the silo. We had some disagreements and I’d be lying if I said that it was a smooth period in our relationship. Somehow in that period of disagreement, we reached an understanding – we might actually be able to make this 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 waistcoated 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 that 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…

I have got Farming Simulator 22 working again and I might have been able to resurrect my existing save too. It took a lot of uninstalling, reinstalling and checking of files to resolve the issue. I even uninstalled/reinstalled the Steam Client because it was clear there was an issue with American Truck Simulator too. Sometimes it’s good to take the pain and reinstall Steam from scratch😀The cause of the issue appears to have been corruption on the game save folders or the link to them rather than the game itself. Forcing Steam to create them anew while leaving the originals in situ resolved my problem. Steam did recreate my original save but the links to all of the mods I had been using were broken. It would have taken a lot of re-linking and also a lot of remembering to resolve that final issue. Looking back, I think the initial run of Ferme du Vieux Chêne as a series achieved its purpose of learning how the new FS22 functions and also gave a foot in the door of Precision Farming, when that released. It was probably time to restart with the precision approach applied from the beginning. So here we are in Haut-Beyleron once more. I’ve kicked off with a story to set the scene. In the next post I’ll try to cover some of the mechanics of how the farm now looks and my future plans. Until next time… 👍

Mid-winter, January and the days are very short. I’ve been filling in with work on neighbouring farms which has given the opportunity to try out some larger vehicles for cultivating jobs. This John Deere 8RX giving the chance to try an all-tracked vehicle…

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And this Deutz-Fahr 8280 finished in a special edition black livery…

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I’ve also started work on my new field – using the cultivator to mow down the weeds and prepare the soil…

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…and subsequently applying Lime.

With only cultivation jobs on offer, I started to get itchy feet (or fingers in the case of a computer game). I added a new building to my farm and then I went to the farm shop to buy some essentials…

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…I think that gives the game away as to what my new addition is 🤣 Here’s the new Chicken Barn next morning…

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…which I have stocked with Chickens…

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I had always intended to start Egg production at some stage, and I guess now is as good a time as any 👍

Now for the disappointing news… While playing the game on Monday evening the pc decided to have a fit and crashed the game – I believe this was due to the ongoing issue with the memory leak in Windows that I have been living with. Today, I have been unable to start the game and I am currently trying a number of ideas to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, even if I do get the game working, the Ferme du Vieux Chêne game save will almost certainly be gone. Then I’ll have to make a decision whether to restart on the same game map or to use one of the other maps instead. Ultimately, I will be having to buy a new pc soon anyway, which will probably mean restarting all my saves in all my games.