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Old 04-12-2021, 09:34 PM
Enfield Enfield is offline
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Default Getting a Farm Going

My campaign is going to be focused on a group of survivors mostly civilians, trying to get an abandoned farm going. It is in Western Washington (Cascadia, as per the Pacific Northwest Sourcebook) The players love the idea of following the Proconsul but he is nowhere near where they are. They have neither a vehicle nor horses at the moment, so he is just a voice on the radio they hear making inspiring speeches.

I worked out a series of tasks for the characters to get the farm up and running, but are there any things I'm missing?

1. Figure out how to do farming. None of the civilians or PCs are farmers.

2. Plow, seed, irrigate, care for the crops. They can find a silo with wheat seed, and bins with potato, carrot, peas and beans.

3. Figure out how to get the well working.

4. Find fuel for the diesel generator

5. Find machinery for the farm

6. At present, the group have MREs but there are 11 people with the group and they will only last another 24 days. Food is also going to be a problem.

My intention is to make the first phase of the campaign about them gaining control of the farm. Then I may have other events happen after that, but I feel that in a way the mini adventures will almost write themselves as they will have to forage and scrounge the area.
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Old 04-12-2021, 11:55 PM
wolffhound79 wolffhound79 is offline
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That sounds interesting. I be interested to hear updates. Sounds like one of those reality survivor shows of a group of people trying to rebuild after a natural disaster.
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Old 04-13-2021, 01:44 AM
mpipes mpipes is offline
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They are also going to need to clear out the fields. After even just a full year of no agricultural activity, a lot of undergrowth will be there. Easiest way is slash and burn.

Plowing is going to be a bitch. If you have a horse plow, you still need a trained horse or mule, and the harness to attach the plow to the horse/mule.

You need a tractor, then to attach to the tractor you need a plow (minimum), a bush hog, a planter, a fertilizer spreader, and a sprayer (assuming there are any insecticides around). The sprayer can double as a water sprayer as well.

If trying to raise livestock, you need a hay bailer, a cutter, and a hay rake. Of course you can opt for round bails, but that is really not recommended for horses.
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Old 04-13-2021, 02:27 AM
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Legbreaker Legbreaker is offline
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I suspect they'd want to start small - a patch large enough to support just themselves plus a few extra bodies. Keeping things small to begin with should keep it manageable with only hand tools and whatever small, manpowered equipment they can scrounge up to begin with.
Definitely don't want to go with a monoculture, but grow numerous different types of crops just in case of disease, pests, etc attacking one (or more) of them.
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Old 04-13-2021, 03:58 AM
CraigD6er CraigD6er is offline
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Interesting. As they have neither horse nor vehicle to start with it is going to be a massive amount of work to manage a farm with 11 people. Farming isn't an instant process and they are going to have to become hunter/gatherers whilst the crops come in. Assuming someone over the radio can talk them through what to do, there is still a massive learning curve for people that haven't perhaps even grown vegetables themselves; it is also a lot of hard labour for people that may not be used to it. I have a couple of inherited books showing both hand tools and horse drawn farm implements. Firstly clearing the land of the vegetation that has sprung up after any period of neglect. Without horses, you're looking at breast ploughs if they want furrows, hand sowing or maybe a fiddle spreader to sow the seeds at some point, hoes to keep the weeds down and prevent them strangling your crop, sickles or scythes to harvest the grain (a trained farm hand with a scythe can possibly do an acre of wheat a day, which may yield 4-5000 loaves if the crop is very good and there is little to no wastage at any stage of the processing), flails or similar to process (threshing/winnowing) it. That may produce 6 or 7 bushels per day, for experienced farm hands with no interruptions, and your acre will produce 40-50 bushels. All of that assumes that someone knows what these tools are and can find heritage ones or make them and then learn how to use them, otherwise it's really backwards (and backbreaking) using make-do tools. Even in the early twentieth century when farm implements were far more common, labour was a massive drain on a community. One source I have suggested an average English farm could keep a large staff busy over the winter just processing the grain they'd harvested. That's without maintenance of fences and buildings, looking after any livestock, and in this setting guarding against marauders or wild animals etc.
Depending on the terrain and climate, there is drainage and watering to manage, pests to be kept down (insects, small mammals and birds). There's the threat of a bad harvest, blight, storm damage and more. One bad event and the years produce is lost. If all does go well, then next year you prepare the ground and repeat, ad nauseam.
Assuming all goes well, 5,000 loaves will provide for these 11 people for a year, but at less than subsistance level, especially given the work they are doing and the calories they are burning through. So they are going to need to diversify. Fruits, root crops etc to make up the balance, plus whatever they can hunt or fish.
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Old 04-13-2021, 04:53 AM
Enfield Enfield is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigD6er View Post
Interesting. As they have neither horse nor vehicle to start with it is going to be a massive amount of work to manage a farm with 11 people. Farming isn't an instant process and they are going to have to become hunter/gatherers whilst the crops come in. Assuming someone over the radio can talk them through what to do, there is still a massive learning curve for people that haven't perhaps even grown vegetables themselves; it is also a lot of hard labour for people that may not be used to it. I have a couple of inherited books showing both hand tools and horse drawn farm implements. Firstly clearing the land of the vegetation that has sprung up after any period of neglect. Without horses, you're looking at breast ploughs if they want furrows, hand sowing or maybe a fiddle spreader to sow the seeds at some point, hoes to keep the weeds down and prevent them strangling your crop, sickles or scythes to harvest the grain (a trained farm hand with a scythe can possibly do an acre of wheat a day, which may yield 4-5000 loaves if the crop is very good and there is little to no wastage at any stage of the processing), flails or similar to process (threshing/winnowing) it. That may produce 6 or 7 bushels per day, for experienced farm hands with no interruptions, and your acre will produce 40-50 bushels. All of that assumes that someone knows what these tools are and can find heritage ones or make them and then learn how to use them, otherwise it's really backwards (and backbreaking) using make-do tools. Even in the early twentieth century when farm implements were far more common, labour was a massive drain on a community. One source I have suggested an average English farm could keep a large staff busy over the winter just processing the grain they'd harvested. That's without maintenance of fences and buildings, looking after any livestock, and in this setting guarding against marauders or wild animals etc.
Depending on the terrain and climate, there is drainage and watering to manage, pests to be kept down (insects, small mammals and birds). There's the threat of a bad harvest, blight, storm damage and more. One bad event and the years produce is lost. If all does go well, then next year you prepare the ground and repeat, ad nauseam.
Assuming all goes well, 5,000 loaves will provide for these 11 people for a year, but at less than subsistance level, especially given the work they are doing and the calories they are burning through. So they are going to need to diversify. Fruits, root crops etc to make up the balance, plus whatever they can hunt or fish.
One thing I want to do is have their shortwave contact with the Proconsul's people give them advice. That will be one source of information. Your ticking off the points above is well taken. I have a hard time imagining the people in the group managing a farm without heavy equipment. I knew a young woman from Nepal who was an actual peasant, as an example and it was kind of shocking how good she was at manual labour. I don't think even modern farmhands in North American could manage what she did. (For example she could mow a lawn with a machete as efficiently as a weed whacker with the neatness and consistency of a professional landscaper)

One thing I was wondering about is how well the orchards that are in the Okanagan Valley would have fared. I don't know how well they will last if any of them are untended.
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Old 04-13-2021, 04:46 AM
Enfield Enfield is offline
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Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
I suspect they'd want to start small - a patch large enough to support just themselves plus a few extra bodies. Keeping things small to begin with should keep it manageable with only hand tools and whatever small, manpowered equipment they can scrounge up to begin with.
Definitely don't want to go with a monoculture, but grow numerous different types of crops just in case of disease, pests, etc attacking one (or more) of them.
Keeping things small may work for them. The idea of a variety of crops is a good idea too. I take it you are referring to a variety of cereals, like say corn, wheat, oats, etc?
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Old 04-13-2021, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Enfield View Post
I take it you are referring to a variety of cereals, like say corn, wheat, oats, etc?
Corn isn't very economical for the space required, and neither are most other grains.
They'd be best served growing higher yield per area crops such as potatoes, carrots, bean, tomato, pumpkin, etc. Basically what you might find in the average backyard garden.
Save the grains for later when they'd obtained a way to till larger areas.

Animals are another item that can wait to begin with, although if they do happen to come across some cows, sheep or whatever, there's no point not grabbing them, provided they've got a secure field to put them in (and winter shelter if it's an area that would require that). That said, a small herd of goats or pigs will do wonders when it comes to clearing away weeds, and pigs have the added bonus of digging up the earth for you too.
Chickens are likewise great to have scratching around, eating pests and fertilising as they go.

Once they obtain livestock they're going to have to think about predators too, both four and two legged. Dealing with them might involve locking the animals away in a barn at night, posting sentries, or hunting potential predators (or even all three and more options).

After harvesting, vermin could become a major problem. Mice LOVE food stores, especially grains.... https://youtu.be/rAdNJ1jczVI Note that's happening now at a time when baits, electronic repellents, etc are all readily available.
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Nothing happens in isolation - it's called "the butterfly effect"

Mors ante pudorem
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Old 04-13-2021, 04:44 AM
Enfield Enfield is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpipes View Post
They are also going to need to clear out the fields. After even just a full year of no agricultural activity, a lot of undergrowth will be there. Easiest way is slash and burn.

Plowing is going to be a bitch. If you have a horse plow, you still need a trained horse or mule, and the harness to attach the plow to the horse/mule.

You need a tractor, then to attach to the tractor you need a plow (minimum), a bush hog, a planter, a fertilizer spreader, and a sprayer (assuming there are any insecticides around). The sprayer can double as a water sprayer as well.

If trying to raise livestock, you need a hay bailer, a cutter, and a hay rake. Of course you can opt for round bails, but that is really not recommended for horses.

When I was researching Kettle Falls, there are several construction and farm equipment companies based out of it and Colville, so I will be using a scrounge table to see if they can get the right equipment.

I decided that there are two small communities within reach that will refuse to take in any new people but will trade with peaceful travelers. One community will be based on the Everytown from 2013, so they can also perform tasks for them in exchange for some of the surplus goods from there.
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