Virtual Farming

September 23, 2009 07:00 PM
 

Greg Vincent
, Top Producer Editor
 
A friend of mine has found a new way to profit. Her dog is listed as a farm owner so she can farm more ground.
 
No, this is not a new loophole for the farm program. It's farming in the Internet age, and boy is it easy.
 
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Farmville is a world where pigs don't die, opportunities for expansion actually increase as more neighbors close in around you, and you make money simply by stopping at your neighbors' farms to help them rake leaves or pull weeds.

More than a million people around the world are farming on the social networking Web site Facebook. It's a game that challenges you to accumulate coins and cash by growing a variety of tree crops, animals and field crops.

If a lost animal shows up on your farm, just post it and let somebody claim it as their own. (The game doesn't allow you to keep it for yourself.) If your neighbor finds one, you can keep it and profit from it endlessly. There's no way you can lose money in this business.

It's also provided a personal lesson I need to start early on transition planning. My kids love to help. My eight year old daughter wants to plant and harvest everything she can, but I was beside myself when I realized she didn't do everything exactly the same way I do. Oh the horror.

My five year old likes to see what gifts we get and she has given me an identity crisis. The person representing me on my virtual farm…well, it's a girl. One day I'm a blonde with blue eyes, the next I have brown eyes and a purple Mohawk.
 

You can click a button to make your livestock stay put…fences are not required. The best way to populate your herd? Let your neighbors gift one to you. Your chances for farm growth increase as you accumulate more neighbors. Need more ground? Just buy it and your land magically expands. Don't worry about your neighbors, they just make room for you, but they don't give up any ground. It just moves outward.

Like today's farm-life, the return on dairy cows is not great. You can milk once daily and each milking returns only six coins.

There's even sheep. The black-face, white sheep, which I always thought were traditionally meat breeds actually have a better return than for their wool than do the dairy cows. Every three days you can harvest the wool from sheep for 28 coins. So for the less labor than dairying (harvesting every three days as opposed to one) you have about a 17% better return for wool…from a meat sheep.

But the best return by far is from horses. Apparently the developers have not gotten word of the horse slaughter ban, yet. The product from horses? The hair. Every four days you received 84 coins for hair from one horse.

If you have the intestinal fortitude to click on as many as 400 individual plots for a plantation (that's what I am, a plantation owner) you can do it all by hand. However, if you want to invest 30,000 coins in a tractor, you can get mechanized. And you have the choice of a red tractor or pink. The only option for a "harvester” is blue. The "seeder” only comes in yellow. All the equipment works on any crop, be it corn, coffee, soybeans or grapes.
 
Maybe it paints an unrealistic picture of farming with zero risk, but at least it's making people think about where their food originates. And at the very least, it's a great way to pass the time before bed.
 

 
You can e-mail Greg Vincent at gvincent@farmjournal.com.
 

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