The horrors of pumpkin farming and mass duck ownership

Happy Halloween! Okay, it's not Halloween, but I was planning on playing Professional Farmer: American Dream for Halloween because so many (2) of the Steam store screenshots depict pumpkins and I had no other ideas for Halloween-themed stories. Thing is, I got wrapped up in Assassin's Creed Origins right around Halloween, so I never got around to playing Professional Farmer until this morning. Since Twitter starts celebrating Halloween 31 days early, I figure it's okay if I celebrate it 17 days late. Boo, and so forth.

I start with a tutorial on how to farm. It seems to mostly be about driving a tractor over a plot of land dragging a piece of equipment behind me, then driving a tractor over the same plot of land dragging a different piece of equipment behind me. After a few lessons I begin a new game, determined to grow a lovely Halloween pumpkin patch.

I purchase a small field, plow it, grub it (grubbing is sort of like plowing), and coat it in slurry (liquefied animal poop). Then it comes time to plant my pumpkin seeds.

As the titular professional farmer, I've got a whole row of towering silos filled with various seeds. I pull up to the pumpkin seed silo and try to back my seeder under it, which turns out to be rather a large professional mistake. Not only am I approaching the silo from the wrong direction (I should be on the other side, it seems), but my seeder becomes wedged under the seed silo. I can't seem to get it free.

As I spend a few minutes trying to wiggle my tractor loose, I begin singing "Pumpkin-stuck" in my head to the tune of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck." I don't know why I did this, but I do know you will now do this too. Join me.

I was caught, in the middle of a silo of see-eeds
I looked round, and I knew there was no getting free
My mind raced, and I thought this'll take a while
And I knew, there was no help, no damn help file

Sound of stuck wheels,
Is doin' me harm
Pumpkins in my dreams,
But none on my farm

You've been (you've been)
Aaah yaaa aaah yaaa ahhh, etc.

I climb out of my tractor, still singing (I will continue to sing for the next four hours), and walk in dejection back to my farm house. All is not lost, however: I've got $200,000 and a regular truck I can drive into town. I will simply buy myself a new tractor and seeder.

Where am I going again? Oh, yes. "Town."

I spend just over $22,000 to buy 234 ducks

Chris, a very good farmer

Following the signs to a town named, apparently, "Town," I arrive at Farmer's Heaven (I didn't die, it's just the name of the store) where I purchase the new equipment. I also swing by the local cattle dealer, thinking maybe I'll buy myself some livestock. I see that in addition to cows and pigs, he is also selling ducks. Ducks are cute. To cheer myself up, I spend just over $22,000 to buy 234 ducks.

On my way back to the farm, eager to plant some pumpkins and see a huge crowd of ducks greeting me, I go a little Grand Theft Auto with my driving, and try to slip between a car and a guard rail on the wrong side of the road. I get, shall we say...

Pumpkinstuck! Ahhh yaaa ahhhh yaaa ahhh

Sigh! I'll buy a new truck later, I guess. I abandon my vehicle there and begin walking back, though checking the map I discover I can fast travel. Maybe I won't need a new truck after all.

Upon teleporting back home, I'm a little disappointed to discover that the game won't render all 234 of my new ducks. It generates only a handful of them at my pond. Still, they're nice to look at, and as you can see, my weird dog agrees.

I hook up the new seeder to the new tractor, drive to the proper side of the silo, fill it with pumpkin seeds (Ahhh yaaa aaaah yaaaa aaaah) and get back to farming. Once I've got my seeds planted, I wait, hoping to see the 'Growth' meter, which is at 0%, tick up to 1%. It doesn't. I sit there for a while, just waiting, but nothing happens. Finally, I fast-forward the calendar a single day. Now the Growth meter is at 1%. Okay, cool, this game is really going to simulate pumpkins growing.

I jump ahead 4 weeks. We're at 33%. I keep scooting the calendar forward, but as I get closer to 100% I start trimming my time-jumps down from weeks to days. For some reason I'm strangely tense, like if I don't land exactly on the right day where my pumpkins are 100% grown, if I accidentally wind up with 101%, the pumpkins will instantly rot or explode or something. At last, though, my pumpkins are ready to harvest.

No. No! No no no. There are approximately zero pumpkins going into my harvester thing, and several pumpkins are being completely crushed under the wheels. It's heartbreaking, after all the work I've done plowing and grubbing and slurry-slopping and shopping and duck-owning and fast-forwarding the calendar to see my beautiful, beloved pumpkins being smooshed instead of collected.

Maybe I have the wrong type of harvester? I drive off the plot and fast-travel back to Farmer's Heaven (in Town), where I find something called the Moty Rollmax Pumpkin Plough for sale for $25,000. I was planning on using that cash to buy a few hundred more ducks, but that'll have to wait. I buy the plough and teleport back home again.

The new pumpkin plough is sitting in my driveway, but I can't seem to hook it up to my tractor from the front so I maneuver behind it. That doesn't work, either, so I move to pull around in front again. That's when, once again—

Ahhhh yaaa ahhhh yaaaa ahhh
Ahhhh yaaa ahhhh yaaaa ahhh

Dammit. I climb out and walk angrily (still singing) over to my duck pond to soothe myself by gazing at a few of my 234 ducks, but naturally they're all dead because during the months of waiting for my pumpkins to grow, I never gave my ducks food or water.

I've got a field of pumpkins I can't harvest and the restless ghosts of several hundred angry ducks haunting my farm. Feels like Halloween to me.

Ahhhh yaaa. Ahhh yaaa. Ahhh.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.