What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Virtual Farming

on January 10, 2013

Since getting into Facebook 4 years ago I found myself completely caught up in the black hole known as “virtual farming” , specifically FarmVille. I’m not exaggerating, I loved it. Building a wee farm, growing and harvesting crops, harvesting farm animals, expanding the farm, breeding virtual piglets and lambs of all hues, and of course, plenty of virtual hens who laid daily without fail. And never needed cleaned out.


In March 2010 85 million Americans were playing FarmVille, out of 400 million total Facebook users. On the surface, it seems a harmless, even beneficial, game, encouraging social networking, budgeting and planning. While these farming games appear harmless, a nostalgic virtual trip to a rural idyll unspoilt by pesticides, natural disasters and welly-sucking muck (rather than shoot’em up nuke the enemy computer games so loved by the Gillyboys), FarmVille rendered me almost completely unproductive in the real world while there were crops to be harvested and cows needing milked. Sometimes on an hourly basis. FarmVille worked best when I could fit it into bite-sized slots in my busy life. I’d pop in, harvest my crops, think about my timetable, plant some more, go through my water, feed my animals, then craft and sell whatever I could. It felt satisfying and strategic, maximizing my time and resources to get the best possible yield. I had a pretty, growing, thriving successful farming business.
It got even worse with the arrival of the ipad. However, during Lent last year I left my virtual fields fallow and hung up my digital farming overalls, and the rest is history. I left my smiling farming avatar with her pigtails, freckles and gingham overalls standing alone surveying the decline of my agricultural empire.
Now I have my real live hens to tend to, fitting their care into my busy day, I have no freckles, no pigtails and not a shred of gingham, but there is a permanent trail of Irish muck from garden to kitchen and the satisfaction of collecting real tasty eggs when the hens deign to lay them, depending on their feed, the prevailing weather conditions and numerous other unknowns!

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