…We showered together in Jean’s workshop washroom accompanied by the smell of industrial soap. Then, after saying our goodbyes, I climbed into the tractor to drive back to the farm. It was already very late but I decided to take the long route home. I drove slowly but my mind was racing. What was I going to tell Mark? Was I going to tell Mark anything at all? It wasn’t the first fling in our relationship – we’d both had the occasional indiscretion in the early days but not recently and not since deciding to move to France. It was worse than that, I realised as the full consequences dawned on me – This time it had been with someone that we both knew and with a person that I had dealings with every week.

I arrived back at the farm and parked the tractor in the yard. I was glad to see the house lights were off – Mark must have gone to bed. I headed straight to the shower – an effort to wash away the guilt maybe? When I came out I found Mark in the kitchen in his dressing gown. “That tractor’s loud – It woke me up!” He reached into the fridge and brought out a salad that he had prepared for me. “It’s an older machine.” I said, “But it should be able to handle the heavier jobs better than the Massey.” “Well, you’ll be using it in the morning – Water at the greenhouses is getting low.” said Mark. “I’m going back to bed.” he added.

I sat down and ate the salad, then I grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat there thinking. There was no way I could stop using Armand Moteurs for our farming needs – If I did it would immediately have the local’s wondering what had gone on. That was a no-no. I was going to have to be resolute and resist any further approaches. Put the mistake behind me and hope nothing comes to light over the next few weeks, A final thought occurred to me – perhaps Jean was a straight guy who’d just taken the opportunity to try out gay sex as an experiment? We would see. But, for now I was resolved to be very well behaved in his presence. The trouble was the devil on my shoulder kept saying “It was good wasn’t it? We should do it again…”

Two days later Jean rang the farm while I was out in the fields – Mark answered the call and told me when I came home. I waited for the anger. But Mark said “He’s found us a second-hand building we can keep some of our equipment in.” I’d forgotten that we’d put out several feelers to try and find something. I rang back and agreed with Jean that I’d come and look in the morning.

“It’s half a shed from a factory.” he said, “All the frame, two walls and a roof. I think it’ll take most of your grass machinery.” There were no nods or winks, it was normal Jean and not a hint of what had transpired. I went with the flow and set about measuring it up to see if it would fulfil our needs. It looked good so I asked “How much?” “It cost me €4500, factor in transporting and a profit… Let’s say €6500?” The price seemed good so I agreed on the basis that I could get Jacques to prepare the land and erect it for us. We shook hands and I wandered back out to the runabout. It was surreal – like I’d dreamed that evening of sex…

Jacques turned up on the following Thursday with two labourers who he introduced as Alphonse and Pedro – “Come over from Spain to work.” he said. “Where’s your Son?” I asked. “He’s gone to University – thinks he’s too good for building and carpentry.” said Jacques, although I could tell by the gleam in his eye that he was secretly proud. We discussed the levelling of the land and the erecting of the shed. I knew from the previous warning that it wouldn’t be cheap and I wasn’t surprised when Jacques said €7000 with the proviso that it might be slightly more if they had any problems. I agreed the price. In the end it came out at €7500 but we had a place to store the equipment and Mark was happy because he definitely thinks along the old ‘place for everything’ line…

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In the meantime autumn went ahead, the leaves turned brown and we helped out with as much harvesting as we could. In late October the Cotton harvest kicked in and it was like a gold rush for us helpers! The money we made went to buying a sprayer with the latest detection technology to deal with the weeds in our field…

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…I was sceptical at first but it really did only spray when over a real weed – we used so little herbicide, it was like I’d walked around the field and sprayed them by hand!

November brought more harvest jobs and the bank balance started to look healthy as I trundled around fields in the special machines used to harvest Cotton…

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..If the work held up through the winter, we might actually be able to think of getting our own Harvester and a bigger trailer. Possibly even another field! But some of my thoughts were still elsewhere… Somewhere back on a hot day in mid-September…

When I say ‘In the next post’ it doesn’t usually mean that literally. But on this occasion I need to continue the story because we are about to reach a key point in the farm’s development. But first, lets talk about March.

The first week of March and, with some early weeds growing on other farms, spraying jobs have started to appear. I hired equipment and took on one of these jobs in a large field using a Berthoud sprayer…

…It’s a nice bit of kit! But a bit beyond my budget and needs currently although, with this job type reappearing, I should probably purchase a smaller one for my farm. When I completed that work, it was back to my own field.

I wanted to sow Oats in my field in the first week of march and looking at the in-game weather forecast, that was the best week for sowing anyway. With as much of the preparation work done as seemed reasonable, I loaded up my Amazone seeder and set to work…

…You may be wondering what that green bar and orange wheel on the left are. That’s a ridge marker and many items of farm machinery are fitted with them. It provides a guide for where to position the tractor for the next row. In the case of this Amazone seeder, you have to line up the centre of the tractor with the mark in the soil. On others you may need to line up the wheel nearest to the previous row. They are a handy guide to doing the sowing job efficiently but are less reliable on uneven fields and with bulky pieces of machinery. For example…

…This potato sower I used on a hire job has only left intermittent marks to guide me.

I took a fertilizing job after sowing my crop before bringing the spreader back home and applying the first coat of fertilizer to my own field. Then I bought my own sprayer, because it is only a matter of time before I will have weeds of my own to contend with!

There are a number of options in the game including back-pack and towed types. There are also some mods. I opted for one of the mods – the Kverneland iXter B18…

…a back-pack type. It holds 1800ltrs of kill-juice and you can opt for 3 different maximum widths – 18m, 24m and 28m. I chose the 24m version and opted not to buy an additional tank. Above, I’m spraying another farmers weeds.

I now have just about all the machinery that I need to run my farm. But the cost has meant that I still only have the one small field. I did 2 potato sowing jobs in mid-March and then hit the ground running at the end of March with a glut of fertilizing jobs…

…The spreader putting in a good stint. That pushed my money in the bank up to €60K – a long way from the amount I will need to buy that next field and get a shed for my equipment. I think by now I have shown just how much of a grind playing on the Start From Scratch setting is on this map. I could continue in much the same vein as I have so far, detailing job after job through the rest of this farming year and into the next before I get to buying that next field, etc. – but it will be highly repetitive and I think that is not ideal for a blog post. How can we change that?

There are a number of options. Firstly, I could go into the game menu and change the Economic Difficulty setting…

…The fact that you can do that suggests that Giants recognise that players may need to alleviate the grind while still wishing to start from scratch with very little money. I’m not going to do this (at least not yet!). Another way is through a mod called ‘Government Subsidy’…

…Quite a reasonable option given that the European Union does have farm subsidies. I might try that in future – possibly on another farm if I’m running a series of story posts😉 Yet another option would be to buy some generators – Solar and Wind are available to add to your farm. They give hourly returns too but they cost money – which is what I haven’t got. Again, something for a future farm! There is a final option that will give a one-off cash boost. It’s finding the collectables on the map😎

Collectables are an in-game bonus of sorts that used to be in Farming Simulator 17 but were not implemented in 19. They have returned to FS22. They take the form of toys on the US map and game cartridges on Haut-Beyleron. Each one you collect will give you €50K. So, after a morning’s fertilizing, I decided to spend my lunchtime seeking out some of these to boost my finances.

It’s amazing what you find as you wander around the map looking for the collectables – there are a number of Easter Eggs like this shopping cart full of stale Baguettes…

…I found another baguette elsewhere half buried in concrete🤣 Anyway, here’s one of those games cartridges…

I collected 6 which has given me a €300K boost. There are 14 more out there but I don’t need that money just now, so I’ve got what I came for and it’s time to get back to farming👍

That afternoon I bought field 14 across the tracks from my farmhouse…

…If you look closely at the mini-map in the bottom left you can see both my fields with blue numbers. I spent the rest of the afternoon removing the stones before heading home across the railway line…

I will begin April by building my vehicle shed on the land behind field 14 and hopefully I can build a workshop in my current yard too. Then it will be time to sow a crop in my new field. To be continued in a few irl day’s time😉

You’re probably thinking ‘Hang on! I thought we were working Boundary Farm?’ We are but much of what I’m doing there is repetitive work mainly for other farmers so I thought I’ll give you an update a little later in the week. Instead I thought a post about starting on West Newton Farm……in Ayrshire might bring some variety.

If you recall back to my post where I gave my reasons for selecting the Six Ashes map for a play through, I explained that the provision of lots of equipment at the main farm on the West Newton map hints heavily that the player should be opting to work there. It is a dairy farm and that means buying cows, which I’m not entirely ready for! However, I think perhaps I can slowly learn on the job 😉 The farm comes with 3 grass fields… and will leave you with £104k in the bank when you buy it. However you won’t need to buy a lot of equipment to start with as most of the things you need are there. For example, there’s a header for a harvester hiding in the workshop……There’s grass mowing and baling equipment along with a Valtra A series tractor in the big barn……along with a Joskin Betimax animal trailer and some seeds, fertilizer and herbicide……there’s also a selection of lifter tools like pallet forks, etc, out back.

In the small barn there’s a New Holland TX32 to go with the header in the workshop, along with seeding equipment and a crop sprayer……There’s a water tanker standing outside……opposite the cowshed in which you find a New Holland T6.175 and a Kuhn Knight RA 142 auger wagon for mixing and delivering cattle feed……I’ll need to read up about how to use that! Finally, parked outside the farmhouse is a pick-up…

There are some surprising omissions. There’s no Tedder for drying Grass to make Hay. There’s no weight for the tractors to prevent them being tipped by heavy loads or equipment. With seeding equipment you’d expect a plough and a means of cultivating but neither are present. And finally, there’s no trailer for either moving things around or taking grain from a harvest to a sell-point. So there are some things you will probably need to buy as you progress. In fact I went off straight away to get a weight from the dealer in the Valtra. Gonna need that if I’m going to move the herbicide and such around!

The other odd thing is the positioning of some of the equipment/vehicles. When I got back I had decided that my first prioity was to repair the main tractor and the harvester, then relocate things in a manner that was more sensible to my way of thinking. Here’s the main barn……and here’s the small barn……The tractors can rest up in either barn but there’s also room in the workshop, so the Valtra is currently in there…

IRL it’s been a busy day – sandwiched between doing the game-play this morning and writing this post this evening, I did the 200 mile round drive to drop my Son off at University. Now I’m tired 😉 I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look at West Newton Farm. I intend to continue posting from both farms although priority will be given to Boundary Farm. I also need to post some more Trucking Digest and possibly some other games, so the frequency of the farming posts will decrease a bit once more.