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…

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!!!

Grind… Grind is our thought for the day… Grind is a Timesink… Almost all computer games have it. In many, especially games from Triple A publishers, it is deliberately introduced into the game. Usually the grind is there to give the player a sense of achievement when they finally get a rare resource or special weapon, having worked long hours to get it. More recently it has become central to a controversial form of monetisation in games produced by certain publishers – made excessively hard to encourage players to purchase ‘time saving’ items from the publisher’s store. There are other forms of monetisation like loot boxes that have now come under the eye of governments around the world as they often constitute gambling where many of the players are below the legal age to gamble. Again, Grind is used as a way to push the player into trying to be lucky with loot boxes and purchasing them multiple times in the hope of getting the desired reward.

Does Grind exist in Simulation games? Of course it does but that’s just part of simulating something that happens in the real world of whatever the game is simulating – it isn’t something artificial that the developers have introduced. Is it used to ‘monetise’ the game? Not normally. An example of monetisation that I would recognise as such is the availability of special fishing kit dlc’s in The Fisherman – Fishing Planet. These are often purchased by new players to get a kick-start in the game as they offer higher level equipment than is available when you first start, along with some in-game cash. But they’re aren’t forced upon you by the Grind of trying to level-up which happens very quickly anyway and they do offer some cosmetic items that are otherwise not available in the game – so you choose whether you want to be seen in a gold and white spandex jacket by other players 😉 Definitely not my style! In The Hunter – Call of the Wild you can purchase weapons pack DLC’s. They will give you access to some more interesting and more powerful weapons than the initial ones in the game but they won’t make you any more successful as a hunter as that is entirely related to your ability to find the animals and shoot accurately. So neither of these really offer a way to reduce any Grind you may experience in those games.

The Truck and Farming Sim games have Grind – it’s part of being a Farmer or a Long Distance Truck driver in real life. Do the games offer ways to avoid the Grind? Yes, but you don’t buy them – they’re part of the base game. In the Truck Simulators I can opt for only short jobs – there’s a job length slider in the settings menu and the game will then offer more short distance jobs if I wish or mainly long distance if I prefer that. In farming sim, you can hire a helper to do your task for you such as seeding or harvesting while you either watch them or get on with another task around the farm. There is a caveat to that, and one which prompted this preamble, you can’t use a helper when you’re creating a new field because the game engine can’t know where the boundaries of your new field are going to be. So you have to plough it yourself and Do The Grind!

Which brings us neatly to field 14 that I mowed in the last post. I’m creating a new crop field on the west side of the track through the field and because the plough only cuts a swathe 2.5m wide at a speed of 7mph that is going to take some time. Starting at the bottom (south end) of the new planting area with the first few rows done……It’s going to be a long morning. Forty minutes later and we’re a third of the way up the slope……I’m running on real time, so that’s forty real world minutes of rinse and repeat, row-upon-row. Just over half-way and we enjoy a Spitfire flypast……Finally after an hour and forty-five minutes, the job is done……Now that’s Grind!

Could I have avoided the Grind? Well, I could have bought a pre-existing crop field from another farmer – then I could have got a helper to plough the field for me. But the cost of buying such a field was too high for my budget and my intended way of growing my farm so that was out of the question. Another option was to ‘cheat’!! There are fast ploughing mods out there which make your plough cut a much wider swathe than it’s supposed to and allow your tractor to do the work at 30mph instead of 7mph – Can you really see me going down that road in a simulation?? So I accept the grind because it’s part and parcel of being a Farmer.

I said that I wanted to get this second crop field ‘on-line’ as quickly as possible because the Euro Truck Sim Community Event is probably starting today so yesterday I pressed on in the real world afternoon, Liming and Cultivating in preparation for Sowing. The good news is that the field’s previous owner had fertilized the Grass – so when I ploughed the grass in it, in-turn, fertilized the field so I don’t have to do that step 🙂 Final task then was to Sow the field……and I’m planting Soy Beans which is a good cash crop. And here we are, folding up the seeder after completing the task……Just got to wash down the implements and take some of them for maintainence – the plough in particular is looking a bit worse for wear…

I will continue to post about Oak Glen Farm but it’ll be less frequently. My next task will probably be harvesting my crop of Oats in the other field, then it’ll be time to cut a crop field into the other side of field 14 – possibly for Wheat or Barley which would open the door for Chickens. Have a great day everyone! 🙂