It’s a time of change. New theme for my blog and I think it may be the end of the road for Oak Glen Farm in its current format. All of the thinking about the next steps – which fields to buy, etc, had left me wondering if I should restart with a different strategy. The final straw came yesterday when I tried harvesting my Sugar Beet. I hooked up the Rooster to the Massey 7726 and set off…

The first problem I encountered is the capacity limit of the machine – even my small field fills the basket before I reach the end of a row. So there I am sat in the middle of the field needing to unload into a trailer. OK – I’m thinking – there’s going to be a lot of trailer runs for this harvest! Then I hit the big problem – taking a trailer into the crop destroys the plants as you go. Fortunately, I hadn’t been playing for 15 minutes when I made this discovery so by exiting the game without saving I was able to reset the clock back to before the harvest. Next I try manoeuvring the rootster down the side of the field – this too incurs crop damage whenever I depart from a straight track and also leaves some beet unharvested. I decided at this point that I’d show you the combined effects harvester and trailer on the crop, so I deliberately drove the trailer over to the harvester……having got there I thought I should at least show the Rootster unloading…

I have looked for trailers that can be given narrow crop-friendly wheels. I’ve tried using a small trailer that has narrow wheels – it still wrecks the crop 😦 There is a solution of course. I could turn off crop damage in the settings but that sort of goes against the grain for me. Instead I’m taking this away as another lesson learned in the game that will guide me in future field / crop choices. Sugar Beet are best planted in a field with a straight side that has room for a trailer to come alongside the harvester without driving across the crop. There was another option I could try in future, remove the tops first then run the harvester over the crop (with narrow tyres on the tractor) – that approach could reduce the risk of damage by the harvester. Then it would be easier to create a bridgehead in the crop for the trailer because the harvester only configuration would be more manoeuverable. And why haven’t I discovered this issue before? It hasn’t been a problem with my previous crops because they just don’t return 6000l in a single row, so there’s always been room to bring a trailer alongside!

So what will I do now? I really love the Oakfield Farm map and it has swayed my thinking about what type of map I prefer to play on. Whatever I choose to do next, it will be on another real-world based map. That rules out doing the Holzman’s Farm idea as that is on a fictional map. Oak Glen Farm is in Gloucestershire. I have three other maps in mind as alternative venues for a series located respectively in Hampshire, Shropshire and Ayrshire.

So these are my options going forward:-

1, Carry on regardless (with the crop damage off for this one harvest) – Oak Glen Farm continues.
2, Do a Start from Scratch on this map – adopting a different approach to the field creation method used in this series – Oak Glen Farm continues but differently.
3, Do a Start from Scratch on a different map, creating a totally new series – New Farm / new series name.

So I have a lot to think about! I’ll leave you with some shots from recent activity on Oak Glen Farm…

In most computer games there is an ‘End Game’ – a final scenario or a last boss to defeat. This is not true of simulation games. You just play until you either tire of the game or you reach a point where you are satisfied with what you achieved in the game. It’s a lot more complicated than that of course! I got to thinking, what do I think is my ‘End Game’ for Oak Glen Farm – at what point will I feel that I have reached my target for this Farming Simulator map? Currently I have Three fields under crops and two more dedicated to silage production……With the exception of Triangle Field up by the stables, my fields are to the west of the north-south road. Field 14, now known as Coberley Field and Field 13 – Manor Field, form a southern end to my territory whilst Ale House Field sits opposite my farm buildings with Spinney Field to the south. The glaring gap in my field ownership is 36, currently owned by Mason. I think that field defines my initial goal and my stretch target would be owning field 34 to the west of my farm buildings, also one of Mason’s although he never seems to have a crop in it! If I reach my target then current experience tells me that I will be too busy managing the fields that I own to expand the farm further. That, then is my end game for this map.

I’ve reached a point now where I will need to do a lot of rinse and repeat farming to get the £550k I need to purchase field 36. Ultimately, that field will need bigger machinery for ploughing and harvesting than I currently own although I did take on the corn harvest for Mason with my current harvester and my new Corn Header……This showed that it is possible to work that field with my current equipment, albeit somewhat slowly! I think ploughing that field would need a much bigger plough which in turn means a much more powerful tractor – something I might choose to hire at least to start with. A bigger trailer would also be desirable to reduce trips to the stores when harvesting and that raises the issue of where I’d park it – it’s a struggle manoeuvring the Anderson RBM 2000 around the farm yard as it is!

Anyway – with a lot of repetitive farming ahead, I’m going to reduce the regularity of the Oak Glen Farm posts again. I will post updates and screenshots from time to time. Last time I promised some Sunflowers – Here they are……And, yes, they do follow the sun! Now it’s time for an early morning harvest in Ale House Field……Then I’m going to plant Corn 🙂 See you all a few furrows down the road 🙂

Somehow I found myself with two crops approaching maturity at the same time – it seems that the maturation cycle is longer for Soy Beans than for Wheat. Although I could have guessed at that in the real world, I hadn’t realised that it happens in game. Additionally, both crops had areas of their field that were less mature. In game terms that means waiting for all parts of the field to be ripe which narrows the window for harvesting by a crop-growth cycle. In those circumstances, I decided that I couldn’t tie myself up in other farmers contracts for the time being. Instead I pushed on with my field 4 project – it’s time to surgically remove some trees.

As mentioned in the previous post, the idea is to expand the field and thus increase my grass production for silage / hay. I made a start on the north side of the field, leaving the shrubbed area near the gate but cutting in further along. The amount of space available for use behind the trees is immediately apparent……however, I did find a couple of old hedges in amongst the trees that hint at old field boundaries and I’ve decided to leave those in place. I’m also leaving the trees closest to the current field boundaries.

Removing trees in a proper forestry setting is something that you can get specialist machinery for and if I was farming on a Scandinavian map, for example, one aspect of my farming might include using such machines. But Gloucestershire is very much arable farming country so I’m using a chainsaw to chop down the trees and cut them into transportable pieces of timber. The Massey 3090 is hauling the wood away in the Metaltech trailer……From previous experience I know that the log-forks are useless to picking up downed trees, so I’m using a manure fork which works a lot better. The one piece of specialist equipment I have bought is a stump grinder. After taking away the first couple of trees, the field already looks a lot bigger when seen from the road……The project will continue over the next couple of days with the wood being sold to boost imcome temporarily.

As with the last harvest, my two crops became fully ready in the late evening – around 21:00 so we did a night harvest in both fields. My Soy beans went into one of our farm silos as the current price is not very good. 17000l of Wheat was kept in the Metaltech TB20 trailer overnight as I kept an eye on the prices. A residue of of around 1600l in the harvester went to the Chickens. The flock is growing – there are now 54 hens – and there is a steady flow of eggs. The Seven Springs Inn needed some of those and at over £4 a litre, I took a box of 150l there first thing the next morning to get a nice £612 for very little work 🙂

With the sun up I found prices for Wheat still volatile, but the main farm was again offering a very good price for silage – I guess their Cows need some more Total Mix Ration. So it was time to sell off the remaining 23 silage bales from my stock……that’s close on £34k earnt, which is why field 4 needs expanding! Mid-morning and with the offers for Wheat stable, I sold my crop at Hill Top Stores for close on £13k. I’ve also collected the Straw Swath from the wheat and sold that

Funds are improving and although my main next purchase is a more powerful tractor, I have splashed out on a workshop facility for my farm to stop the regular trips to the dealer for maintenance and to change between narrow and normal tyres. It’s a cheap open shed but it’ll do……A quick note on adding buildings to farms. The price of the building is quoted at the shop – In this case £7500. But there is a hidden cost that can really hurt you financially. When you place the building, any terraforming required to smooth the land where the building is going will be charged to you as construction costs and on bumpy terrain they can be eye-wateringly high. I had two possible locations for the placement of my workshop and this was the flatter of the two. Even so, the terraforming added nearly £1200 to the cost. If I was building a sheep facility in field 4, which is definitely not flat!, I might well find the cost of the work exceeding the cost of the facility itself and by quite a large margin. It would be nice if the game told you how much cost you are going to incur, but it doesn’t. So, be careful where you place your buildings!

I now have two fields to prepare for their next crops and a crop of Barley approaching maturity in 14 West. I also need to harvest some grass and make a new batch of silage bales. This game certainly likes to keep you busy!!!