Select A Region
When you launch SimFarm, you are presented with the Select A Region screen, which has a clickable map of the USA and four buttons:
- Use This Region: Use the region highlighted in green on the map.
- Design Your Own: Launches the Design Your Terrain window to create a custom region.
- Load A Saved Game: Reformats your computer. Just kidding, it loads a saved game.
- Quit: Completely exits SimFarm
You'll notice a few regions of the map contain yellow squares. If you use one of these, you will begin a game with an operation farm. Be careful! Some of these farms start with problems with fences, roads, irrigation, or equipment. Pause the game immediately and thoroughly review your farm to make sure everything is in working order before time starts to pass.
Pay attention to Rainfall, Temperature, and Wind Speed, as you'll need to use this information when laying out your farm and selecting crops.
If you've selected a generic region, or designed your own, you'll begin your game with a 9-acre fenced-in farm (24 units x 24 units). The land that the fence is built on is part of your property. Your homestead is automatically placed in the upper-left corner. You start with $40,000 on April 1st of the current year.
Your first order of business is to start doing some farming. Beginners should focus on one type of farming at first. You can choose crops or livestock. You'll probably want to pause the game before you start making changes, and turn the speed back on once you've gotten all the initial pieces of the farm in place.
Crops are helpful for beginners, because each field is very clear about what it needs, and harvesting happens automatically. However, they require a larger initial investment of time and money, and crop selection needs to be tailored to the temperature and rainfall of your selected region, as well as the current season (you start the game in mid-spring).
Tip: To save some money, before you start planting crops, you should disable AutoLease in the Options menu. Otherwise your farm will rent machinery to complete a job when you don't own the required idle machinery. This sounds good, but the game rents machinery far too aggressively, which can waste a lot of money.
Place your fields first (using the PLANT tool), since they take the most space. Each field needs a clear 8x8 area (no rocks/trees). Each field should also have a road placed along it's left edge, room for ditches along two of its other edges, and enough space between fields for additional roads for you tractors to navigate.
Next you should build two Large Sheds, and buy at least one of each type of machinery, except the crop duster from the BUY window. The machines can be placed directly into the sheds. Surround the sheds with roads that connect to your fields' roads.
If your region has high wind speeds, you may also want to place trees along one edge of the field to act as a windbreak.
If your region has low rainfall, you may want to pre-emptively build some water sources to connect to your fields.
Tip: Refer to the Crops guide for special notes on the few crops that don't need all of the machinery. If you have more than two fields, consider buying an extra tractor and sprayer.
At this point, you can turn the speed back on. Your tractor(s) should plow and plant each field. You should expect to immediately see some additional icons on each field These mostly indicate the need for sprays or changes in irrigation. Consult the crop problems table for details.
A livestock farm can be set up quickly and easily. However, it requires more careful monitoring, and may take some time before you start making a profit. Livestock don't care about the type of environment, they just require food and water. The different types of livestock vary in terms of price (buying and selling), lifespan, frequency of breeding, and hay consumption. You won't need any machines for tending livestock.
To start with livestock, you need a livestock pen. Your pen will need to have room for a few bales of hay, a few water troughs, and possibly a barn (reportedly reduces food/water consumption). Also leave a little extra room for your animals to wander. The pen should be enclosed on all sides by fences, ditches, or water (river/lake).
You should make sure there is a water tower connected to a water source near (beside?) each water trough to prevent them from going dry.
Hay bales gradually disappear as your livestock eat. You will have to replace them regularly for as long as you own livestock.
Keep an eye on your fences. If the animals break a section of fence, pause your game and repair it (bulldoze+replace) immediately. If any animals escape the pen, there's nothing you can do to get them back in besides building a new pen around them. Escaped animals can (and generally should) be sold, but you'll have to guess which animals in the Sell window are the escapees.
Tip: Animals cannot break or cross ditches (unless you've placed a road/bridge on one, obviously), so many players prefer ditches as the primary pen boundary.
Somewhere on your map is a small town. Each year, the town will expand by one plot. You will have an opportunity to vote on what the plot will become. Interaction with the town is not required, so see the Town guide for additional details if desired.
Expanding your farm
Once you've gotten the hang of managing your crops or livestock, and have started to turn a nice profit, consider expanding. You can use extra space on your existing lots to try something new (or more of the same). However, if space is tight, it might be time to buy more land.
If you launch the map window, and turn on the Property filter, you can select plots of land to buy or sell. Owned plots are solid pink. If you select an owned plot, it turns solid brown. Town plots are blue (dark brown if selected) and cannot be bought or sold. The rest of the plots should be textured, and will turn pink under the texture if selected.
The price of the selected plot is displayed in the lower left of the window. Generally plots with better water sources or closer to town may have a higher value.
When you buy a new plot, the inner edges will be bordered with fence except for edges beside existing fence. If you are farming crops, you'll probably need to buy at least two plots to get enough space for an additional field, since each plot is exactly the size of a field (with no room for roads, ditches, or windbreaks).
From here, you're free to make your farm into whatever you envision it to be. Experiment with different approaches, or check out the guides for crops and SimFarm/Livestock to accelerate your earnings.