Banished photo essay: 25 years of farming and surviving harsh winters

Ian Birnbaum at

The town of Dolothia was established when five families were unceremoniously banished from a nearby nation. The exact circumstances of this banishment were never explained to me, and I didn’t press the issue.

After The PCG Herald heard about the town’s struggle to survive in the wilderness, I was dispatched as a field reporter to document its early years. What I found was a harsh reality where 10-year-olds work fields in driving rain and snow, a bad harvest kills families, and a single misstep leaves the town frozen during winter. In the end I was embedded in Dolothia for 25 years, chronicling its struggles and triumphs in photos and timelapse gifographs. This is the life of a Banished town.

In this high overhead view, the town expands in fits and starts over the course of 25 years, slowly expanding beyond its humble beginnings. Click here to view at 720p.

Dolothia's five founding families set to building permanent shelter. Whether they like it or not, this place is now home.

Town leaders had hoped to plant crops before the first winter, but an early snow ends those plans. The town’s only crop field sits vacant.

The first year of the town saw rapid expansion, food shortages, and an early, brutal winter.

After a long winter, Galantice, a 22-year-old farmer, gets an early start on planting the town’s first wheat crop.

The first snowfall of winter finds 8-year-old Jadence playing while her mother carries the day’s catch to storage.

Everyone’s sick of wheat, and some of the children are getting scurvy. The town builds a new trading post to attract merchants traveling downriver and, hopefully, purchase new seeds, exotic food, and livestock.

Set away from the town, the forester’s hut is a lonely place to work. It supplies logs crucial for firewood and construction.

A huge surplus of plums, and a serious lack of fun things to do at the end of the day, spurs the establishment of the town’s first public house. Plum ale isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time, but it gets you drunk. That’s what matters.