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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    GM.Casper's Avatar

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    Default Farming simulation, input needed

    I am looking for numbers about medieval (15 century or so) farming. Here are some starting calculations for this:

    Working adults need 2000 calories per day, dependants (children, old folk, etc) need 1500. For a family of 2 adults and 4 dependants that’s over 3 600 000 calories a year.

    If 200 kg of grain can be harvested from an acre of farmland, and the seed-to-harvest ration is 1:5 then 40kg is set aside for next year, 160kg can used for food. If a miller converts grain to flour at 80% efficiency, that gets 128 kg of flour. One kg flour is 3000 calories. That means a acre can support 0.1 families. Thus a family needs 10 acres minimum to survive.

    I’d like your thoughts on both these calculations and the numbers used (which can be adjusted as the setting requires). Once I get the basics down I plan to develop this more fully, perhaps a basis for a full blown economic simulation.

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    I'd adjust what dependents' need down to 1000 calories. This is mostly to keep the math simpler, but it also reflects that you're averaging a wide range (2 month olds versus 13 year olds).

    With that adjustment, I would still say 1 family needs 10 acres to survive, because they need to give part of their food away to the lord as taxes.

    This is a destitute family however; they would want more than 10 acres so they are producing surplus that they can trade (or store for famine years).
    Last edited by Another_Poet; 2011-01-26 at 11:52 AM.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    They most likely need more if you consider income from sales for non-consumables as well as the standard 10% taxation. Though I don't know how fruit cycles work into the entire calculation.
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    What about protein intake? like keeping chicken for eggs and ocationally meat? wouldnt that reduce the amount of calory needed? or maybe other small animals that could live off straw?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by LansXero View Post
    What about protein intake? like keeping chicken for eggs and ocationally meat? wouldnt that reduce the amount of calory needed? or maybe other small animals that could live off straw?
    Yeah, some livestock need supplemental grain and feed. So some of the stuff the pesants farm is used to feed the animals.

    If they have Horses or Ox that help with farming, then they need to worry about feeding them too.

    Smart farmers would use all available space for farming. You can put dirt on the roof and grow herbs and small vegetables up there. Plus, it helps insulate their home. The basement can be used to grow mushrooms since most poor people have dirt basements with perfect mushroom growing conditions.

    If planted in the right position, you can plant trees (apple and oranges) to give you more food than you would get if you were harvesting just wheat. Most farmers in Western Kansas(where I'm from) just plant a few apple or orange trees in their yard and around their house. They don't tend to eat the apples and oranges, but I'm sure pesants would.

    Don't forget to have them switch what they are farming from year to year so it keeps the ground fertile. Dead animals such as fish and small game can be planted with the grain to make the plants produce more than normal.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Farmers and other physical laborers need 4000 calories. Protein is pretty easy to get unless you're a bodybuilder. Meat/eggs is mainly necessary for B12 to prevent anemia (weakness from poor blood) after 5+ years and omega 3's for the brain and general health from cell membrane structure. A small amount prevents deficiency, as in ounces per week is plenty. A little oil or nuts provides omega 6 to work with omega 3, as in a handful a day is plenty. This can also be stored in the body for months/years. Fresh food prevents scurvy, and there you only get 2 months. About everything else may be had with variety, or at least enough to prevent serious problems.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2011-01-26 at 02:20 PM.
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Oh, what about something like corn and cabbages? corn grows tall and takes (iirc) nitrogen out of the ground, while cabbages need something to grab on, lots of shadow, and fix nitrogen back into the ground. So you get 2x the good and the sustainability from the same area of land.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Here's a thread in which a very intelligent GURPS player (Agramer) has tried doing something similar. You may find it helpful, although he approaches the problem slightly differently from you.

    As for your approach, I think the 2000 cal/day assumption is untenable for medieval peasantry. But on the other hand, this site seems to think it's too low, so what do I know about such things?

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by LansXero View Post
    Oh, what about something like corn and cabbages? corn grows tall and takes (iirc) nitrogen out of the ground, while cabbages need something to grab on, lots of shadow, and fix nitrogen back into the ground. So you get 2x the good and the sustainability from the same area of land.
    Right or nitrogen can come from other nitrogen fixing plants and manure. There's also crop rotation and general organic material for all the other misc. nutrients. I think tracking nitrogen and lumping all misc. nutrients together would work. If you keep growing the same thing misc. goes down b/c actually a couple components of misc. go down. If you don't add random plant material or weeds from fallow years then misc. goes down because all components of misc go down. The soil never actually runs out of either the plants just consume less and less as the soil gets low and then the plants won't grow as much. A 2nd common medieval method rather than adding more nutrients is to move to other land for a while, slash and burn, enjoy the fertile soil created from the ashes until you use that up and repeat.

    Water from rain is likely to be sufficient in many areas. Drier areas need irrigation. Wetter areas still benefit from irrigation because weather is inconsistent and the extra water gives about 30% more growth. And in D&D druids can also boost growth with a special version of the plant growth spell.

    Then there's disease spreading unless the farmer carefully culls the infected leaves. Or lack of crop rotation could cause leaf or soil diseases or bugs to persist and get worse.

    EDIT: Oh, uneven land unsuitable to farming often became grassland for cattle. In such areas meat may even be cheaper than bread, only because grain is so hard to grow and expensive. According to my history textbooks these were communal until the agricultural revolution.

    EDIT #2: According to the USDA nutrient database a kilogram of flour contains 3400 calories. Hmm, and enough protein for 2 adults. Ya protein really isn't an issue unless you have an elven hippy community living only on fruit or something.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2011-01-26 at 02:21 PM.
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    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Farms didn't get owned by a single family, you had whole villages working together to farm the land around the village. There was to much to do for one family to do it all. The normal pattern for most of germany and europe was for a king to own the land, then it was rented out by a landlord, and the rent was paid by families who rented the land on leases measureing in decades, with a cost in produce paid every year. The landlord taxed the farmer, the king taxed the landlord.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Fouredged Sword View Post
    Farms didn't get owned by a single family, you had whole villages working together to farm the land around the village. There was to much to do for one family to do it all. The normal pattern for most of germany and europe was for a king to own the land, then it was rented out by a landlord, and the rent was paid by families who rented the land on leases measureing in decades, with a cost in produce paid every year. The landlord taxed the farmer, the king taxed the landlord.
    Source?

    My understanding is that, depending upon who you were, families did have individual plots. Serfs may not have, but peasants and freemen, certainly. For peasants working on the Lord's property, this was often the basis of their "tax": lease payments (typically in produce, labor, or both) in return for the peasant's own leasehold.

    Even if they may not have "owned" the land ("in fee simple," like lawyers used to say), they certainly held possessory interests in particular plots. That's why the English language has terms like "leasehold" and "freehold."

    That's not to say that some aspects of farming were not a communal effort. That's a practice that continued well into the 19th century. At certain stages, it is more efficient to have everyone working on one field at a time, instead of each farmer or family working only on their own, so everyone goes to Jack's field and brings in the hay on Monday; on Tuesday, they all go to Randy's field, etc. Everyone helps, because everyone will, in turn, be helped.

    But they still owned their own produce.

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Simple question: why get so detailed?

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by randomhero00 View Post
    Simple question: why get so detailed?
    Agreed. Explain why we need this?
    Is it to find out how often you encounter farmers while traveling?
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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by randomhero00 View Post
    Simple question: why get so detailed?
    For some people, it floats there boat. IMO, it's part of avoiding absurdities by having an economy that has at least some first-level approximation credibility.

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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Stegyre View Post
    For some people, it floats there boat. IMO, it's part of avoiding absurdities by having an economy that has at least some first-level approximation credibility.
    I'll agree; varying levels of detail make people happy. I like to have really good detail in background, and then worry less about it in play; knowing about how much land an average family is going to want is part of that background.

    One thing to consider (it may have been mentioned) is the concept of a hide; the land that could be cultivated by a single plowman, and could support a single family. It varied, in England, from 60 to 180 acres, depending on the local conditions (with river bottomland being closer to the 60, and East Anglian fens being closer to 180). Fertility is going to play a big role, as is relatively available magic.
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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    . . . as is relatively available magic.
    +1, although it seems like the only real 3.5 option is the 3rd level Plant Growth, which has a very wide area (half-mile radius), but fairly limited impact (+33% growth). (Sure, +33% is something most farmers would kill for, but I compare this to GURPS spells, generally much less powerful that d20 spells, which allow one to essentially grow an entire harvest in one day.)

    Are there any other D&D "farming" spells?

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Stegyre View Post
    Are there any other D&D "farming" spells?
    Well, the Gleaner had a couple of minor ones created for it. WOTC stuff though, not really.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Stegyre View Post

    Are there any other D&D "farming" spells?
    All sorts of weather control spells or even a simple continual light would do wonders.

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Just remember that a lot of the ways a farmer survived on are outside of the fields, like fishing, foraging, hunting wild game.
    Last edited by Asheram; 2011-01-26 at 04:53 PM.
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Stegyre View Post
    +1, although it seems like the only real 3.5 option is the 3rd level Plant Growth, which has a very wide area (half-mile radius), but fairly limited impact (+33% growth). (Sure, +33% is something most farmers would kill for, but I compare this to GURPS spells, generally much less powerful that d20 spells, which allow one to essentially grow an entire harvest in one day.)

    Are there any other D&D "farming" spells?
    I'd have to go through the old Wizard and Priest spell compendiums to find any. However, Plant Growth itself is going to be major, and, using that as a baseline, there's a lot of options for a powerful druid.
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    wouldnt entangle work as well, at least with some types of plants? xD

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by LansXero View Post
    wouldnt entangle work as well, at least with some types of plants? xD
    No growth: "Grasses, weeds, bushes, and even trees wrap, twist, and entwine about creatures in the area or those that enter the area, holding them fast and causing them to become entangled."

    Even if it were otherwise: Duration 1 min/lvl -- Pretty much kills that.

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Stegyre View Post
    No growth: "Grasses, weeds, bushes, and even trees wrap, twist, and entwine about creatures in the area or those that enter the area, holding them fast and causing them to become entangled."

    Even if it were otherwise: Duration 1 min/lvl -- Pretty much kills that.
    I guess entangling cows with grass and having them graze on the entangling plants wasnt such a bright idea after all :(

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    No forms of advanced pesticides?

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    I'd just love to see a murder of construct crows whose job it is to exterminate any animal or insect who assault the crops.
    Last edited by Asheram; 2011-01-26 at 06:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragitsu View Post
    No forms of advanced pesticides?
    Pesticides didn't reach major importance until the advent of synthetic fertilizers. Magical fertilizers presumably wouldn't have that problem. Before synthetics bugs didn't bother the plants nearly as much, maybe b/c synthetics aren't alive (nor feed living non-plants) and many of the natural defenses live in the soil I dunno. There's still disease though it can be managed with rotation, pruning, etc. Hmmm "mass remove plant disease"?
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2011-01-26 at 06:39 PM.
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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by GM.Casper View Post
    I am looking for numbers about medieval (15 century or so) farming. Here are some starting calculations for this:
    15th century is really the start of the Early Modern period, definitely the Renaissance (time periods are a bit fuzzy) so the model is probably fairly conservative. The Roman guideline for subsistence farming (family of 6) was ~7.5 acres with no plow animals, ~12.5 acres for subsistence and feeding plow animals. So the 10 acre number is probably reasonable for a 9th/10th century subsistence farmer, but realistically 15 acres to account for duties to the local lord. Medieval farmers before the end of the late middle ages (technology advancements sped stuff up, so the 15th century really varies with region) were expected to be able to plow an acre a day, which fits in with the 15 acres. I imagine the window to ensure you have food for the next year isn't much bigger than a few weeks.

    There seems to be a disconnect between the initial model (which is somewhat following what a Saxon churl would be doing in the 8th century or whatever) and the time period you selected.

    It really all comes down to the type of plow as to how much land is actually usable by one family. (Father working fields, children almost exclusively spending their time gathering firewood, mother grinding barley into flour and making bread, tending children, etc.)

    Wasn't until near the end of the medieval period that crop rotation came in, too, and you needed much more land per farmer, but had higher yields...

    So if the local plow technology allows you to plow 15% more land, and specialists don't need oxen and other farm animals, 3 families can suddenly provide about enough of a surplus to provide for a specialist (smith or whatever) and his family. A 50% increase over a scratch plow and each family can support one extra non-farming family.

    Crop rotation, better mutations of the crop also make a difference, and are also kind of dependent on location.
    Last edited by kc0bbq; 2011-01-26 at 06:42 PM.

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    If your looking to model, here's a few thoughts.

    First off, Rot. If you are assuming 1-2 crop cycles per year then that is a really long time to store that flour. I'm no expert, but I'd guess a bunch was/could be lost to rot, spoilage, or pests. Perhaps have a spoilage percentage per month per kg.

    Second, I think your calories counts are estimated based on modern food guides. Again (totally a uneducated assumption) but I'm guessing the average dirt farmed would go a whole lot of days without the recomended amount. Perhaps find the minimum calories for survival and go with those.

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    Default Re: Farming simulation, input needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Benejeseret View Post
    Second, I think your calories counts are estimated based on modern food guides. Again (totally a uneducated assumption) but I'm guessing the average dirt farmed would go a whole lot of days without the recomended amount. Perhaps find the minimum calories for survival and go with those.
    Given that the average dirt farmer was doing farming, which can be pretty hard labor, 2000 calories is actually too low. A physical laborer burns more like 3k-4k a day.

    2000 is probably a reasonable average, to account for the malnourished but less active winter months, and the hearty but exhausting summer months.
    Last edited by Erom; 2011-01-26 at 08:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benejeseret View Post
    First off, Rot. If you are assuming 1-2 crop cycles per year then that is a really long time to store that flour. I'm no expert, but I'd guess a bunch was/could be lost to rot, spoilage, or pests. Perhaps have a spoilage percentage per month per kg.
    Flour only lasts 6 months but wheat & etc. can last for millenia in dry regions, as long as it is carefully sealed against insects. Using clay jars for example, stored in granaries. It takes moisture to rot. In less dry climates grain can't be stored as long, but such regions might import it from desert regions in times of famine. This is why tracking things like this is cool IMO; they add opportunities for plot hooks and give more meaning to the cliché caravan escorts.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2011-01-26 at 08:56 PM.
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