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 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… 👍

There’s been a bit of a hiatus on the farming front – Some other activities, including the annual Truck Simulator Christmas event and my efforts to get out and about more impacted on my gaming time. When we last visited FS22, I was running 2 farms on the in-game maps. Let me start by talking about the other one – Erlengrat. I have decided not to continue with that particular farm. The main reason is that I find the roads on that map too unrealistic. I mentioned the ‘drive-thru’ fences when I wrote about the map back in December – without that you’d struggle to get anything done on a lot of the fields. The other issue I had was the cows and the lack of proper winter protection for them on the farm. I said that I had a solution to that issue and it’s only right that I tell what that solution was. I planned to sell the cows and put the money into buying a small field or upgraded equipment. Later, when I had cash in hand I would then buy a proper cowshed and get back into the animal husbandry. That was the plan – but it’s irrelevant now. Ok – back to Haut-Beyleron…

If you recall, when I last posted about the farm, I’d bought a field and built my farmhouse. I also had a tractor and a plough. Returning to the game last week, I was back to ploughing neighbours fields to earn more cash. Ploughing takes time and time means you can think and plan ahead. While working on field 14…

…I was thinking – this could be a good second field for my farm. It’s just the other side of the railway, it has space for a small shed to keep equipment and it’s not too expensive at €205k. That isn’t going to happen soon though – making money is hard and I’ll need to do a lot more work for the neighbours.

As an aside from talking about where my farm is going, I want to mention one of the visual improvements in the game. In FS19, things got dirty and there was some visible paint damage, but not much. In FS22, the paint really does show wear and tear. Take a look at the red and green plough in the picture above, then compare it after completing a second job on another field…

…By the time I was halfway through a third job on a far larger field, the Share’s were shiny bare metal…

…and the front of the Mouldboard’s were devoid of paint too. This is so much better than before. If you want to repaint your farm equipment, you can – but it’ll cost an arm and a leg, so I’m just sticking to repairs for now!

Ploughing makes ok money and is reliable work throughout the year. But for quick bucks, fertilizing is a good option. With enough money in the bank I decided to buy a Bredal spreader…

…This will delay buying a harvester for my crop but allows me to take fertilizing and liming jobs. These can be done much faster than ploughing and pay well although you have to factor in the cost of buying the materials to fulfil the contract. I worked through all the available fertilizer contracts…

…in the game equivalent of 6 days (6am-2:30pm) – the spreader almost paying for itself in that time and leaving me with enough fertilizer to do a couple more contracts when they show up! It also means I’m ready to lime my own field after I’ve harvested the Soya Beans. Here’s how they look in late September…

…still some time to go before they’ll be ready to harvest!

Time to take a break back at the farmhouse…

…Which I’ll have to come up with a name for so I can dispense with the clumsy title for these posts😂