Saturday, September 26, 2009
I'm trying to keep the crows from ruining my crops, he explains.
The crows? We live at the top of a six story building, yet I haven't seen crows. Could you please clean up your room, I ask? And hang up the towels.
I have to harvest my peppers now or they'll rot and I'll lose the $25,000 I've invested in seed. With fervor, he completes a series of repetitive mouse movements to "harvest" his crops and gain points to buy other farm items. He's saving for a farmhouse.
Welcome to Farmville, the computer program that lets anyone, urban or suburban, run a farm into the ground or be the creator of a beautifully planned plantation complete with livestock, plants, decorative farm elements (lakes, hedges, horse jumps, etc.) and animals you can gift to friends. Sam shows me his friends' farms -- Regan's, Madeline's and Tim's -- all grander scale operations that require a lot of tendin'. Woah, Sam chuckles, Tim really needs to harvest his wheat! Sam's farm is modest in comparison. Surrounding the 8 or 9 tillable acres are some trees and a dozen or so farm animals. Some were gifts from friends. He's splurged on a small pond with a bench nearby. Fruit trees shade the area. It's a peaceful place to sit, he says wistfully.
Now he's deciding which crops to plant next. Crops yield different quantities of food and different profits at market. Sam calculates the possibilities. He likes the returns on squash and raspberries, but different crops demand different harvesting times requiring the farmer to plan his schedule accordingly. Sam doesn't want to wake up in the middle of the night for raspberries, so he chooses squash. That'll allow him a full night's sleep.
Genius, I'm thinking. It won't be long before you get that farmhouse, I tell him proudly. I pick up the towel and hang it myself.
Actually, if you let me use your credit card, he says hopefully, I can buy the $50,000 farmhouse for $20 dollars. Then I won't have to live in the $1,000 farmhouse. He sees my face and turns back to the screen. Okay, okay. I'll get the little farmhouse. And maybe Madeline will send me another sheep.