…Is a question that haunts my thoughts, so I’m guessing that some of my readers may be asking the same question about a number of regular post series that seem to have disappeared over the last couple of months. It could also be a question relating to the year that is just drawing to a close – 2020 – so lets start there.

About this time last year I was looking forward to the end of 2019 and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in that – it seemed to have been a bad year and I hoped for something better in 2020. January 2020 was not a bad month. I got out and about to pursue my trainspotting and was planning to use that as a means of increasing my exercise to help with my diabetes. In relation to that, I was due to go for a blood test in late February. Then the pandemic set in and we were locked down – I didn’t get to have that test. I also, being either a good citizen or a slave to government whim (you choose which) obeyed the request to stay away from public transport – that was the end of my spotting for the year. In the lull before the current storm and new tier 4 lockdown in London, I was invited to the doc’s for my Flu-jab and then sent to the blood clinic the following Monday to have that delayed blood test. My blood pressure is a lot better although it’s still a bit up and down so we’re experimenting with taking different pills at different times of the day to smooth things out.

All of the above gives some background. Add to that the need for my Wife to shield and therefore work from home. Then send my Son home early from University for Christmas and we suddenly have extra pressure on computing at home. It’s not a broadband issue – that has plenty of capacity. The issue is a space one. When Epi is on her work laptop, she has to have privacy – so Alasdair has to move from his desk while she works. He then needs somewhere to do his online studies, so I’ve made some space on my computing desk for him and provided a LAN connection. However, that impacts on my computing activities – I don’t want to distract him. You may also recall the Windows 10 2004 update and all the disruption that caused – I put the update on indefinite hold after sending another detailed response to Microsoft regards the issues I was experiencing. Then early-November my pc told me I had an update and needed to restart – not what I was expecting. Anyway, I did the restart and everything worked fine. Microsoft have pushed me onto version 1909 instead of 2004. Hopefully, by the time 1909 becomes obsolete, there will be a new update that doesn’t have the issues of 2004.

Let me work through the various series of posts…

Photo Challenges – Apart from doing some plane photography in my back garden, I haven’t picked up a camera in months which is why I’ve missed Brian’s last photo on the card Challenge and I’ve been very sporadic in taking part in Cee’s challenges. I hate recycling old images for these. I really must try to get out with the camera more often in 2021 whatever the lockdown situation.

Watcher of the Skies – Nothing to see here… Well not for most of October and November – lots of cloudy skies reduced my activity to virtually nil. However, December has been a bit better and the 17th was my best day ever for overflies including two light aircraft in close formation just to the north of me. Christmas Day also turned up a lot of sightings including a Kalitta 747. There’s a couple of regular overflies that I keep missing due to cloud – an Antonov AN-12 and an AN-26, both from Ukraine – I’ll get them one day! Again, I need to fire up the camera and take some pictures to share in a post.

Boundary Farm and Rosland Farm – The elephant in the room for these is Truck Simulator and the amount of time spent in those games recently. There has also been a major add on and a new free dlc that brings soil testing to the game. Combined with the Seasons mod that I was gaining an understanding of, this has left me wondering what I should do. I think that I will restart Boundary Farm as a new series in 2021 utilising the Seasons mod at the recommended settings. In the interim, for one of my younger followers, here’s a real-life Kubota Tractor…

Birdshot – I’ve been experimenting with Hunting differently in The Hunter – Call of the Wild. Differently in two ways – not rushing around doing the tasks as quickly as possible and utilising all the freebie weapons that I have access to courtesy of the dlc’s I own. I think that will also see a restart. I want to get back to doing my angling in Fishing Planet too. That won’t be a restart although I will need to remind myself what baits work best in the various locations šŸ™‚

Which brings us to Trucking Digest. When I called this the elephant in the room I wasn’t kidding. The last three months have seen update upon update to mainly American truck Simulator. We’ve had another new state in Colorado and an associated community event. Then, straight from that, we moved into the annual Christmas Event. I have been doing so much driving that I have had little time for much else. In many ways this has been the game that has kept me on an even keel for most of the lockdown, so I shouldn’t and won’t complain, but the effect it has had on my other games and also on my Trucking Digest series of posts is there to see. I’ll do a ‘close out the year’ Digest before 2021 starts to bring you up to date. Then, hopefully, normal service will resume in January for all my regular series including the photo challenges šŸ™‚

Still keeping the Shiny Side Up – whatever Covid throws at us – stay safe everyone šŸ™‚

A lot has happened here since my last post from Boundary Farm. The Barley seed in my field is still dormant with the soil temperature stubbornly staying at 4 degrees. It’s now the end of April and I’m hoping that the first week of May will bring a warming of the soil so the seeds can germinate. The trees are in full leaf and hide much of my farm yard from passing planes…

…My field (51) is on the left of the screen and you can see the farmhouse (marked on the minimap in the corner) top right of centre. In the foreground to the left of the trees is the main barn. And you can just see the trailer and cultivator peaking through the trees on the right.

You may notice that field 42 has a green number on the map – I’ve been spending my hard earned cash and in the last few days of April I bought that field. Boundary Farm now straddles the parish boundary! I quickly sowed Canola (Rape) just before the window for planting that crop ended. Once again – I just hope the soil warms enough for the seed to germinate. It’s an anxious time šŸ˜¦

Doing all that work for other farmers is making me lots of money. But it’s also hard on the equipment. The wear and tear is showing on my New Holland with paint missing from many of the mechanical parts…

I decided to buy another tractor to spread the load – something a little less powerful but suited to transport jobs and other light work such as crop spraying. Talking of which, I also wanted a crop sprayer because fertilizing and weed killing will be next on the daily work agenda! I bought the sprayer first as weeds had just started to appear in my field and I needed to nip that situation in the bud! You can see it on the right in the barn – I’ll show a closer shot later.

I went to the dealership with a detailed shopping requirement for the tractor. It should be able to fit wheel weights and a front loader. Narrow tyres should be an option and the horsepower should be 80HP plus. Preferably it should be cheap too šŸ˜‰ I did think about the New Holland T4 – jokingly referred to as Baby Blue – but it didn’t take wheel weights. The T5 does but was too expensive. I would have liked to buy the Massey-Ferguson 390T but again, no wheel weights. Their 3000 series met all the criteria and I could have opted for the 3070 option which has a 95hp engine but I’m trying to use a lot of different equipment on this map and we drove the 3090 version of that tractor a lot on Oak Glen Farm. The Valtra A series was considered but discarded because, although it does have wheel weights, they are insufficiently heavy to prevent the tractor tipping when trying to lift a 2000l pallet load of Herbicide (I found that out while testing on West Newton Farm)! The Valtra N was ruled out as too expensive while the G didn’t have the weights or narrow tyres. So, in the end I chose to buy a Lamborghini…

…That’s the Nitro which has a 100hp engine and it fits all my requirements very well for a total price of Ā£75k. Now I can pose on Bond Street with the other cruisers šŸ˜‰ It’s quite amusing to see it next to the New Holland T6 because it has much larger wheels and they look almost the same size as a result.

The new tractor was put straight to work with transport jobs…

…There’s three 2000l pallets there – it didn’t even wobble lifting those šŸ™‚ Then we did some fertilizing on contract for other farms – with the narrow tyres on for those jobs where a crop had been planted…

…The sprayer is the Caruelle Nicolas Stilla 460, which holds 4600l of either fertilizer or herbicide. It is available as a mod through the modhub. Again, I wanted to try a different piece of equipment, having opted for the Hardi Mega 2200 every time in the past. A towed sprayer allows for greater capacity which is handy given that some of these fields are quite large. The working width of this one is 28m – an average width among sprayers as they cover between 15m and 36m depending on the boom length. This is what it looks like when folded for transport…

…It’s a lovely, hazy morning looking down the valley šŸ™‚

More from Boundary Farm in a future post and we’ll be looking at another Farm map too šŸ™‚

As March slowly migrates into April and we move into mid-spring, the trees come into leaf on Boundary Farm…

I’ve been working hard on other farms to make money and finance the cost of the equipment I will need on my own farm going forwards. In late March, the first sowing jobs appeared despite the soil temperature remaining lower than ideal. Initially there were potato’s to sow. Despite the huge payouts for doing them, I left those jobs alone as they will take a lot of time to complete. Then the first Wheat sowing job appeared along with one for Oats. To take these jobs I bought a seeder – I’m going to need one myself soon so it seemed an opportune time. I went with the Horsch Pronto 6AS again as it served me well on Oak Glen Farm but this time I’ve bought the associated SW3500 tank to go with it as the size of most of the fields around justify the much larger capacity……and the SW3500 will also work with the Maestro 8RC so I can add one of those seeders later when I’m ready to get into Corn and Sunflowers.

I had been doing a lot of cultivating using the Kuhn subsoiler but its fixed 4m width was making any trip along Duken Lane past the pub very difficult as the road is only barely wider than 4m there. It was also a liability when running on the main road – always having to weave around lamp posts when there was a gap in the oncoming traffic so as to avoid a collision. I’m not going to sell the Subsoiler – it has its place on my farm – but I needed a more transport-friendly piece of equipment for cultivating jobs. Although I went for the Horsch seeder that I know, one thing I’m trying to do on this farm is use different equipment, so I looked at the various cultivators in-game and on the mod-hub. I chose the Vaderstad Carrier 500 Disc Harrow. It folds up nicely for transport between fields and has a working width of 5m. It is also within the power of my current tractor which comes in handy when some of the local fields resemble a ski-jump…

I’ve done more ploughing jobs and some transporting – there’s definitely plenty of variety in the jobs. I often pick a job, hitch up the required equipment and then wind up doing another job requiring the same equipment after the first is completed! And I’m still finding new areas of the map to visit! Back on my own farm in early April, I completed the tidy up by removing some more low growing shrubs and trees to create a bit of open parking space for the equipment. I promised that this time I wouldn’t be doing any wholesale tree clearance and I’ve stuck to that – well almost. While using the Biobeltz stump grinder to remove one set of saplings, a full sized tree just upped and disappeared on me! Not my fault – that’s a map/game issue! Anyway, the good news is that, unlike the real world, you can just stick in a replacement tree – I used one of AlienJim’s season’s ready placeable trees. Here’s the cleared area with the Vaderstad and the MetalTech trailer parked up……and the big Beech behind them is the replacement tree šŸ™‚ I’ve also cleared the shrubs in the area next to the silo, which gives another dumping ground for equipment that doesn’t need sheltering from the weather……and finally, while I have left the Birch beside the barn, I’ve cleared out the low growth next to the field which was restricting movement in front of the lean-to. Then, I planted two full-size trees, another Birch and a Maple……so there’s been a net gain of two grown trees.Ā  And, wood salvaged from the clearance has earned me Ā£3k šŸ™‚

Yesterday, which I estimate to be the 7th of April in-game, I decided to sow my own field with Barley……The soil temperature is still stubbornly sitting on 4 degrees but I’m hoping it will warm over the next couple of days before a spell of rain moves in. Even with the increased capacity of the SW3500, the Horsch still needed refilling to completely sow this field, so I think I will have to add a Partner 1600 tank too (like the one I was using on Oak Glen)! However, the SW3500 did allow me to fertilize at the same time, so that’s the second stage of fertilizing completed. Next up I’m going to have to get a sprayer to deal with the pesky weeds and add in the third stage of fertilizing after the crop starts to grow. So we’ll look at that next time šŸ™‚