Here we are at the end of a long day’s work……Cultivating another farmer’s field to make a bit of money on the side. I now have a fuller understanding of how the Seasons mod works, at least in terms of basic arable farming. If you use the default settings of nine days per season, each in-game day (real world time) equates to around 10 farming days. You can do a lot in that time! Let me take you through some of what I have doing in my first farming day on the Six Ashes map.

I set out to completely prepare my field for sowing, including the first stage of fertilizing. I think now that that I could have spread the work out rather than doing it all in one game day – fertilizing could have waited until the next week – ie next irl game day or even the one after! The upshot is that I am ready to sow but soil temperatures are too low for reliable germination of the seeds. I also bought more fertilizer than I needed (I filled up the spreader!) – so I’ve got around 5000l sitting around. That’s not a disaster – I’m just waiting for a fertilizing job on a neighbouring farm. But in the first week of March all the jobs are plowing or cultivating……With an occasional transport job thrown in. Doing plowing for other farmers allows me to try out some of the larger equipment like this Lemken Titan 18……It is a pig to line up for each cut because the tow bar is on a swivel and I think that the time lost positioning it outweighs any gain from a slightly wider cut. That all the jobs reflect the time of year is a good thing – it brings realism. I’m expecting jobs to sow or plant as the weather turns warmer and, when autumn comes, harvesting jobs. In between I’m sure there will be weeding and fertilizing to be done. In fact, I’ve already got my first patches of weeds……They popped up while I was doing my lime spreading! A look at the map shows them dotted around in every crop field…

I have mentioned soil temperatures being too low – Seasons brings much more realistic weather and crop growth. If you glance back to the shot of the weeds in my limed field you can see a number of icons at the top of the screen. The second from the left shows the air temperature and, below that, the ground temperature. I can open up the seasons menu of sowing and harvesting periods, and check what temperatures are needed for each crop to germinate……and I can get a weather forecast that lets me know what the weather over the next few days is likely to be……looks like it’s going to get colder and we may have rain on Wednesday! I may be able to sow on Thursday but Sunday is currently looking better 🙂 In Seasons time those days equate to early-April and early-May. I’d probably prefer to get my crop in the ground in April if possible. Like the real world, the weather forecast may not be totally accurate – it might be possible to sow on Friday despite rain being forecast (which would be mid-April). Then, once the crop is in the ground I’ll be checking how well it can handle what the weather is throwing at it. There’s a chart for that too……I’ll let you read that one for yourselves!

As you can see, Seasons brings a lot more to the game than bare trees 😉 There’s a lot more thought and planning required – all of which may come to nought if there’s a bad drought over summer or if it rains and prevents harvesting the crop before it withers. Much more realistic 🙂 There’s more I could tell you about but this post is already long so it will wait for another day. To close I’ll share a shot with you of how our previous farm, Oak Glen, would have looked in early spring…

I set the scene with a story and I was going to continue the tale. I prepared lots of screenshots to illustrate it too. Then I made the decision to install a mod called Seasons…

I should have done this a while back but I was busy playing through my Oak Glen Farm series and enjoying myself. I should really have done it before starting on a new map. But I didn’t and hindsight is a wonderful thing! I tried Seasons out in a different save slot and the effect of seeing the farm in the early spring was mesmerising – to see the land laid bare at the end of winter’s chill. I think that sold me on the idea. But Seasons also drags the game into a much more realistic state, taking control of the growth cycle and much more to bring an experience for the player that is much closer to the trials of real world farming. At least that’s what it says on the tin 🙂 I shall be finding out on Boundary Farm.

When you start a new map save with Seasons enabled you are presented with the bare landscape of early March. There are no crops in any of the fields with the exception of a few that have withered – everything else has been harvested. It’s a time to start preparing your fields for sowing. If you read my original description of the start point on the Six Ashes map and GBModding’s challenge you’ll know that there was equipment to be sold and a crop to harvest. With Seasons installed the equipment is still there but your crop is now a field of stubble. That changes the priorities – Starting out this time I won’t be needing a harvester immediately and there we hit the ‘Continuity error’ for my story as initially told in my last post. With money tight, I’m not about to spend on an item I don’t yet need when my priority will be getting the equipment I need to sow the next crop. So you can forget about the TX32 harvester – it didn’t happen 😉

Lets take a look at the farmyard and buildings with Seasons installed……you can still see the junk and the old equipment in these shots and get a clear impression of the state of the yard at the start of the game. It’s fair to say it’s a mess!

As in my story post, I got the junk cleared and sold all the equipment with the exception of the Strautmann trailer and the Kuhn Subsoiler – the latter now having an immediate use! As before I bought the New Holland T6.155. Instead of buying a harvester and, as a direct result of the short period of gameplay experience I now have on this map, I prioritised clearing the area of the farmyard – removing the bushes and cutting back some of the trees. For that task I needed a Chainsaw and a Flail Mower. Here’s the Ino 270 Elite attached to the tractor ready to remove those bushes……and here we are at work – the yard is looking clearer already!..…Then it was time to hack at the trees with the Chainsaw before deploying a stump-grinder – the Biobeltz UM300……to remove any last vestiges of wood. I bought both items rather than hiring as I will probably need to do some more clearing in future.

Unlike Spinney Field in Oak Glen Farm, this wasn’t a mass hack down of the trees – just removal of the low growth that was getting in the way of moving equipment around the yard. I loaded the wood into the Strautmann……and took it to the Sawmill……Where I was pleasantly surprised by a £2700 payout – that’s covered the cost of the stump-grinder! That trailer is filthy – so on the way back I bought a washer to keep the equipment clean.

Where does that leave my story? I think it will have to be untold (unless little bits creep in here and there). The Six Ashes map has only been out for 12 days. This is my first time playing FS19 with Seasons installed. Who knows what little bugs / problems I may experience? I think there may be too many variables to allow me to tell a convincing tale. So I’ll be more in the play-through mode as I continue on Boundary Farm – Sorry to those readers who like a story. Now I’d better get on with preparing my field 🙂

I still can’t believe the situation. I read the solicitors letter twice when it arrived last week and then I read it again. My Grandfather has left me his farm! My Father has long been disappointed in me – I didn’t go into a financial institution like he wanted. Instead, I’ve worked for the electricity company fixing faults in the network and hauling cables. Then I took a redundancy offer and spent the last couple of years house-flipping with a mate. I’ve always enjoyed getting my hands dirty! Now I’m standing here in an overgrown yard at half-Seven in the morning with my brother, Jon, looking at a pile of junk…Barn contents on Boundary Farm

…Jon is another of Father’s disappointments – he runs a successful car mechanic’s business just outside Bridgenorth. He’s here to help me get the old farm machinery working so I can assess it and decide what to keep and what to sell. He’s brought a battery booster kit and a load of tools with him. Now we’re waiting for the Junkman to turn up – I’ve hired him to remove the rubbish which he says he will do for £100.

He showed up around five-to-eight with a his son and a labourer. Initially he glumly surveyed the mix of general rubbish and the carcasses of long-dead farming machines. “There’s more than I thought you said?” – angling to get more money for the clearance. “There’s a lot of scrap metal there,” I pointed out “So you should make good on your time.” He shook his head again and fished out a phone to call in a couple more labourers who were waiting with the truck in the lane outside. Once started, it took the seven of us couple of hours to shift out most of the junk. The old muck-spreader still rolled, albeit with a particularly shrill squeak from one of the bearings. Most of the other stuff could easily be carried by two people. There were some metal beams in the side lean-to. The Junkman’s face broke into a smile – “Now those are really good!” he said. In the end we were left with just the tractor carcass behind the working Fendt tractor. Jon hooked up the battery booster to the Fendt and punched the button. It turned over immediately and settled into a reassuring rumble. We used it to drag the wreck out of the barn and then, with a set of rollers that the junkman had brought, slowly pulled it round to the road. It took a lot of manoeuvring to drag it onto his trailer but once it was tied down we had finally finished and said our farewells as he went on his way.

Jon and I looked around the barn and the yard and made a list of the equipment left on site……”You could keep the Fendt.” he said. “I don’t know, it needs a lot of work. I think I want to start with a new tractor.” The Bizon harvester was a horror story hidden away at the back of the barn. “He can’t have still been using that can he?” “I don’t think so.” Jon looked at the engine, “Might start…” he said, after checking the oil levels, and went off to get the battery booster again. We cranked the engine four.. five.. six times and each time it showed not sign of firing then on the seventh it coughed once. We tried again and it burst into unsteady life filling the barn with a cloud of black fumes. We both stepped back outside for air and waited for the fog to clear. After a few minutes Jon went back, climbed to the driving seat and slowly reversed the Bizon out into the light – I swear it blinked at the sunshine!

In the end I decided that only the Strautmann trailer and the Kuhn subsoiler were worth keeping. The Capello corn-header for the harvester gave a ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ moment but in the end I decided that should go too. Leaving the Bizon’s engine running, Jon took his leave of me and headed off to Bridgenorth. I climbed onto the Bizon and set off for a meeting with the local New Holland dealer…Driving the Bizon to the dealer past Boundary Farm’s only field

My meeting with the dealer – Graeme – was an interesting one. I’m not sure whether he wanted to laugh or cry when he saw the Bizon. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those – probably belongs in a museum – you sure you don’t want to donate it to the Severn Valley Railway or something?” On the basis that I was doing a trade-in for a new tractor and a small harvester he decided to make me a reasonable offer. I left him to take the harvester away to his storage area while I walked back to the farm and collected the Fendt with the Einboch seeder. Graeme was much happier with the Fendt – “You sure you want to sell? – Nice tractors these – But not as good as ours of course!” he hurriedly finished. I told him of the Capello and he offered to send a couple of his team round to collect it later in the day. Then we settled down to discuss my needs and what I could get with my limited finances.

The tractor was quite easy – “I’d suggest the T6.155 – power should be plenty and it’s a nicely balanced compact machine with take-off’s front and rear.” The harvester was harder and a secondhand TX32 was the only one that I could truly afford. I expressed my concern about the size of my field for the harvester. “Well, we can’t do anything about the hopper capacity.” he said, “But I think I can help you with the header. Normally these come with a 4m width but I happen to have a 6.1m cutter and trailer that will fit. You’ll be taking a bigger bite each row but, of course, you’ll have to empty into a trailer more often. You do have a trailer?” I assured him that I did have a trailer – “But I will probably need to get a larger one quite soon.” I added. We shook hands on our deal and I took the Harvester home, then walked back to collect the tractor and header…New Holland T6.155 with harvester header and Graeme’s New Holland dealership in the background

…As I rolled down the road I pondered on the future – would I settle into farming or fold under the strain? Only time would tell.