The holidays are here, a time for presents, family gatherings, off-key carols, and giant, dense, disgusting fruitcakes no one asked for nor wanted. To get into the festive season, I've decided to make my own fruitcake—not in a cooking game or bakery management sim, but in Farming Simulator 22 (opens in new tab). And I'm going to bake that cake entirely from scratch.
Producing cakes in Farming Simulator 22 (technically they're strawberry cakes, not fruitcakes, but strawberries are fruit, so close enough) requires eggs, milk, butter, flour, sugar, and strawberries. It also means owning a bakery to store and combine all those ingredients, owning a dairy to turn milk into butter, a grain mill to turn wheat into flour, a sugar mill to turn beets into sugar, and greenhouses to grow the strawberries. And of course there's all the labor and equipment to grow the wheat and beets and feed the cows and chickens. It's a lot to tackle, especially for someone pretty new to Farming Simulator 22, but starting the game with $1.5 million in cash feels like it'll be plenty. For a cake. Right?
And when I say I'm making this cake from scratch, I mean it. I'm even buying a plot of land with no existing fields on it. I'm gonna make my own damn fields. The land I wind up choosing is nestled between a baseball stadium, a highway exit, and a bunch of trees, and it costs $470,000. Throw in a tractor and a pickup truck, and I've just spent a third of my starting money and all I've got is a parking lot and some small patches of grass next to a highway. Time to farm!
I start by building a chicken coop for six grand and then buy 10 chickens (and one rooster) which conveniently teleport into the pen. I buy some chicken feed and a gigantic trailer, fill it, and drag it behind my tractor over to Off-Ramp Ranch. It's weird to be driving a tractor on the freeway, but no one seems to mind. I dump the food next to the pen (dumping stuff from a trailer in Farming Simulator 22 always feels good) and my chickens are set. They don't even need water! Maybe this is going to be easy, after all.
It's not going to be easy. I envision clearing all the trees off my land, because what's a farm without some negative environmental impact? This plan turns out to be an immediate disaster. It involves leasing a tree-cutter, which I drive all the way to my farm before discovering it's "incompatible" with the trees on my land. So, I return it and buy a chainsaw, but even though I cut through a tree, it doesn't actually tip over. I ram it with my pickup truck (license plate ILOVECAKE). It still doesn't tip over.
There's another cool-looking tree-killing machine, so I lease it and hire an AI helper to drive it to my farm. The AI fails, getting repeatedly stuck after ramming into a roadside billboard. I start driving it myself, but the machine is incredibly slow, so I rent a tractor and flatbed trailer and then laboriously pull the machine to my property.
It works, sorta, chewing up trees and logs, but it takes forever. My bankroll has already slipped to under a million, and all I have are 10 chickens and a single tree that I've knocked over but haven't finished turning into mulch. And the clock is ticking. The in-game date is August. I have until December, and each in-game day is actually an in-game month. I can't spend the entire month trying to murder trees.
I give up on the trees and start creating my first field, roughly 6 inches from the edge of the interstate. This is where I will make my wheat.
I lease a plow and discover I am not great at plowing in straight lines. I'm not great at plowing in crooked lines, either. I can get AI workers to handle field work, but it's not a field yet, so I have to do this part myself. It's slow and messy, and I keep having to go back to plow over the tufts of grass I missed. But after a long, hard day of plowing... I am slightly less than halfway done.
I'm gonna leave the wheat for a little bit.
With my field half-created, I decide to get some cow products in the works. I should have done this first, because while I was being defeated by trees, they could have been generating milk, which I need both for straight-up milk and to make butter. I build a cow pen, and while I can pay extra to have the cows teleported to it, I really want to bring them here myself to keep the "doing it from scratch" vibe going. Time to lease still more expensive equipment, like a massive cow trailer and an honest-to-god truck to tow it with, then drive to the animal dealer. I spend an embarrassing amount of time trying to properly back up to the pickup point, and load my five cows into a trailer that's probably big enough to hold 50.
With the cows delivered to their pen, I notice the chickens have already produced some eggs! Hot damn! I've only just started my farm, and I've already got my first ingredient! There are so few eggs I can lift the pallet without having to rent a forklift, so I chuck them in my pickup truck, drive to the bakery, buy the bakery for $50,000, and cram the eggs into it. The bakery will store all my ingredients until I've got enough for cakes, then it'll start baking them.
I'm pretty pleased with myself to have actually produced something on my farm, but it dawns on me that I've only got a single ingredient, I only have half a plowed field, I haven't even fed or watered my cows yet, and I haven't actually planted anything. I've spent $700,000 already and I have... some eggs.
And it turns out, cow food is more complicated than chicken food. You need to buy a bunch of different ingredients, like hay, grass, and silage, and then dump it all in a giant mixing machine and feed them what comes out. This all takes me about a hundred years, as I wind up buying yet another tractor and getting a bale-grabbing attachment hooked to the front so I can dump the different bales into the mixer I leased.
My mixture doesn't turn out to be all that well-balanced, but it appears to be edible as I drive it to the farm and dump it in front of the cow pen. Unlike chickens, cows also need water, so I rent a big water tank, drag it to a lake with my tractor, fill it, and then hire an AI worker to drive it to the farm. I'm already stunned by how many different pieces of equipment I've had to lease. Meanwhile, with my field fully plowed, I've leased a seeder to actually plant my first wheat crop, which I still haven't done yet. This is worrying me, because it's already September and my bank account is down to $500,000. I've spent a million dollars! A million. And still I only have some eggs.
But dang it, this is all still really satisfying. As I plant my wheat, the game map registers my field as an actual wheat field. My lame, misshapen field next to the highway is recognized by the game as a legitimate crop. I am, as technically as it gets, a farmer.
There is no end to the things I need to spend money on for a flippin' cake. I build a greenhouse, fill it with water from my tank, and demand that it grow strawberries. It promptly does, and soon there's a full pallet sitting outside. Greenhouses aren't as complex as cows, it seems. I spend a while with a leased forklift trying to get a pallet of strawberries into yet another leased trailer (I now have roughly 700 different pieces of equipment) before giving up and driving my tractor—still with the seeder attached to it—over to the bakery with strawberries clutched in the bale-grabber thing. Farmer Chris is beginning to come apart at the seams.
I eventually realize I can have the greenhouse automatically distribute strawberries to the bakery instead of doing it myself, though I do get enjoyment out of schlepping stuff across the map. And on the plus side, my bakery now has eggs and strawberries, and it's only... holy shit, it's already October. I have two months to create wheat and turn it into flour, to grow beets and turn them into sugar (which means creating and planting another entire field), and to make my cows produce enough milk for both milk and butter.
I think I might be screwed. Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 (opens in new tab).