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Farming in Creation

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  • Ludek
    replied
    How much of the Blessed Isle land is rice friendly? 30% ? My ques is it's lower than that .. I don't live in country growing rice but as I know it need a lot of water during it's growth .. and I think It likes warmth so climate may be factor there - northern parts of Isle may sport less rice growing seasons (other corps may be more optimal for farming) .. but for cultural(or logistical) reasons rice may be planted anyway.
    Then you have storage of grain in peasants household at least for time to time with may subject to flooding (we are speaking about rice so by definition there is lot of water nearby) in bad year or series of years/seasons. Next is some form of storage that keeps grain taken from farmers but this requites grain to be moved by water or wagons pulled by animals and at this stage it's subject to spoilage because of negligence (those who oversee it don't care for it as much as peasants for their own food since for those guys there is always more rice in peasant's house ) or corruption (overseers may steal and sell part of it). Still manager will want to have at least some of the grain in storage alt leas on the paper since ti's emergence reserve and it's subject to spoilage , waste and corruption all the time. When those storages are empty and if you have bad times .. you get famine, plague or uprising sometimes all in once regardless how blessed this region is on the average.
    Then you have move port of that grain to those how consume but not grow it: all people in the cities, craftsmen in villages,local imperial bureaucracy, spoiled dynasts and their scion's in all of their manors with all of their entourage.
    Then you have to feed soldiers (house legions and imperial ones) and local militias and animals they employ .. for example you can feed horse with grass but you need feed it with grain in order to get decent work output form it armies with exception of being garrisoned during peacetime don't have let them spend most of the day grazing on fresh grass so grain is must.
    You also must feed all people and animals involved in transporting .. not only grain but also all other goods .. the longer this transport chain is more grain is spend on it, only defacto easing this is transporting by ship over water in bulk .. but you still need to maintain ships, sailors , build ships (and feed people and animals involved in that) so it's not free but still most cost effective.
    All of this is example of complexity that that is build upon that grain produced by peasant's. Lot's grain produced in 3 or for 5 growing seasons will be used or wasted on bigger cities bigger and better army able to operate deep inland (without being totally depended on local food), bigger imperial administration, building/repairing infrastructure , immaculates (they need to eat and nice temples are must too) and various vanity projects like in RL was for example pyramid building (and almost literally in this sky is the limit there).
    It's don't matter how much food you produce population will grow till there is abundance of food or there is war(or uprising) with due to destroyed crops causes famine, witch usually invites disease.
    And in all of this peasants are last in queue for their mouthfull of rice. Peasants are easier to dealing with than rebellious battle hardened soldiers, or hostile administration (without them you govern nothing) or onyone else becaouse of their percieved value or ability to cause trouble. So you will have famines among peasants, uprisings regardless how productive land is only question is how big is share of peasants is nation's populatio and how big army is how long and glorious are imperial campaigns and how many mountain slopes are carved with image of Scarlet Empress (or Paisap) since those projects are pure waste of food form peasants point of view (it just add to their burden without giving back anything)
    Last edited by Ludek; 04-09-2015, 07:23 AM.

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  • Synapse
    replied
    I presume we are all aware Creation has 2 to 5 more people, at least, than Earth ever had at its equivalent ages.

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  • sodina
    replied
    I think that while there is no difficulty in food production, there is a sizeable difficulty in moving that supply to the demand. Transportation was also needed to facilitate the economic boom.
    That plus the horrible political relations and different coinages, means that any farmer would find it difficult to sell their goods in the next city. Because you have to trek 2,000 miles on the oregon trail, where not dying of dysentry means you get to argue with the local constable that they only pay in seashells and only if the moon is the right shade of blue.

    So, any area will mostly be relying on local produce, which puts a cap on the profitable size of your harvest. If the city eats 5000 bags of rice, your extra 2000 may as well be dirt on the road.

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  • Erinys
    replied
    With the fertility described in the 2d corebook, the Blessed Isle would be much more densely populated, and no longer an agrarian society. Or it should be exporting so much that all of Creation would get a population increase and a drop in agrarian lifestyles.

    The rest of Creation presumably doesn't have nearly as good fertility, but if they have even 3 times as much crop fertility as is possible with nonmagical pre-industrial technology, or import even a fraction of what the Realm grows, I have a hard time understanding why Creation is still so under-populated.

    I think it's best to ignore the hard numbers about the Blessed Isle, and just say that they have very plentiful food and drugs, and get to export them too.

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  • Onigato
    replied
    Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

    That means sequentially, yes?

    Like, once one crop is harvested and the stubble cleared away, they can replant immediately?

    Does it only count as growing and harvesting a second or third crop if it's planted on the same land in short order?

    Is there any concept of planting groups in different patches of land at different periods, so that their harvest time is scattered, and you only have as much as you're able to harvest at a time? By which I mean, if you have 6 acres of land, but only have the labour to harvest 3 acres in short enough order to keep it from spoiling, that you plant 3 acres, wait a few months, and then plant the other 3 acres, and harvest them as they come up?

    When I try reading stuff about this, I come across references to "winter wheat"; would harvesting that count as a second crop in the year? Would that be planted on the same land as the summer wheat, or is the point of it to have a crop growing ready for the winter or spring or whatever?

    You know, a thing I've always been confused about farming... let's say you can nominally only plant one crop in the year, and it's going by that whole "plant in spring, harvest in autumn" deal... so what you harvest has to be a quantity sufficient to last the whole year, yes? So it's actually possible to store cereals that will keep until the next harvest?

    How well are people eating under circumstances like this? Like, do they have to kind of ration it? Is that why famine was such a common pre-modern concern, or did that have more to do with bad harvests?

    I think as I said earlier, I always assumed that three to five crops harvested a year ensured that there was an abundant and heavy food supply the whole year round, but every time I try to look for information that will give me a straight answer about how long food lasts, in terms of both spoilage and consumption, I come up short.

    As a farm-boy raised, I can safely say that while some fast growing, hardier plants can be planted twice and sometimes even three times in a year, rice certainly wasn't one of those. It *can* be done *now* with hardier strains that survive the frosts better, and utilizing greenhouses to improve on the "sprout it to give it a head start" that has always been traditionally used on rice anyways, but in the time period and with the technology of the era most suitable for comparison, one harvest of rice, followed by using the now dry-ish fields for another grain like barley or yes, winter wheat (As written on the package, a member of the wheat family that can handle frost better than most, typically planted in late July/early August after the old fields are mown, and usually harvested in late October, early November, depending on where you are. Not the best nutritionally, or best flavor for traditional winter wheat, it'll keep you fed), then letting the field lay fallow until around mid-February equivilent, plowing and dredging the field for flooding, then actually doing the flooding in the first week or so of March, getting the family (village's) oxen to... fertilize... the fields until about mid-March, then planting the sprouts you started inside about the time you plowed the fields for prep. Rinse, no pun intended, repeat year after year. While the rice is actually growing, harvest bamboo, tend animals, raise a personal garden, etc.

    As for storage, most grains keep remarkably well, until the instant you allow one of three things to happen. Get them moist, and they sprout or rot. Crack the hull, and the germ rots or sours. Cook them, in any way shape or form, even dry cooking, and you'd best eat them quick or they go bad. Otherwise, kept in a cool, dry place, most grains can easily last for years or even decades. The ancient Egyptians buried most of their dead, not just rich ones either, with grain as part of their grave goods. These grains can still be unburied, pulled out of their jars, and safely be eaten today.

    The diet of a subsistance farmer, as these peasants would be classified, would be one primarily made up of hard grains, boiled or steamed, though milled or ground was popular in the West, with protein primarily coming from beans and legumes, suplimented with fish and in the West, hunted meats. Spices would help, and varied recipes break the monotony, but the basic ingredients don't change much, no matter where or when you're talking about. Most of the time, a farmer takes about 2 or 3% of the harvest and set it aside for seed for the next year, and how much of their crop is theirs is based on the tax rate in their region. It quite often got up to 40 to 60%, and occasionally 80% of the crop, but given the productivity of most grains, this meant the farmer could easily feed themselves and their family for the year without too much worry, and have something (small) to sell for profit.

    Famine is often defined as a 30% reduction in production rates over a national level for at least three consecutive years, and the average farmer is really only affected because of the lack of a change of tax rates, which are usually based on land, not production. Townsmen are affected far more because the farmers need to keep a larger percentage of the successful crop for themselves, raising prices until the townsmen can no longer afford to buy food, and start starving. The farmers typically *don't* starve, unless the government is oppressive.


    And to be honest Wise Old Guru, you're right. It doesn't matter how ridiculous it is how much food is produced. That's not the interesting part. It's all about how the normal supply lines are disrupted, and the stories that come from that.

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  • Wise Old Guru
    replied
    I care less about ridiculously abundant food production and storage, and more about the story-creating ideas you can get out interrupting all that food:

    1. Plagues of pests such as rats, weevils, locusts, etc can wipe out your food stores or decimate your crops and force you to rely on those stores.
    2. During the Time of Tumult, armies marching on their stomachs are going to march through your land and devour your stores and possible burn or salt your fields, and warfare will interrupt agricultural production: famine may not have happened in centuries, but it's going to start happening now.
    3. Supernatural entities can muck with your production: your multiple-harvests-per-year can be royally screwed up if your local field or harvest god is corrupt and decides to give you a year or two of hardship in the hopes of blackmailing your king to build him a bigger temple, or if a pack of Dogs of the Unbroken Earth get exiled from their forest through divine politics and take up residence in your fields, or if the local Elemental Court gets summoned one by one by an Exalted Sorcerer and their dispute with her interrupts their management of your local ley lines, or if a demon gets loose and Omen Weather rains blood on your crops.
    4. Cash Crops are great for the guy who owns the land...and if you're living on a fuedal lord's lands and farming at his command, you don't necessarily get to decide between food and funding for his navy/new castle/epic romance/occult research. He wants you to start farming opium and selling it to the Guild or House Cynis, and that's what you farm, starvation in the neighboring kingdom with less fertile farmland you've traditionally sold it to be damned. Hell, starvation in the neighboring kingdom might be exactly what your ruler wants, to weaken his neighbors.
    5. Frequent blood sacrifices to the field gods might inadvertently create a Shadowland! Suddenly farming gets dangerous, and the fecundity of your fields plummets!
    6. The cities of the South have plenty of food, but they're low on water, without which they'll still die. Stop the drought!
    7. Doesn't matter how good your food production is if an unnaturally long winter sweeps down from the North to blanket the East for two whole years: there will be famines and riots and doomsayers prophesying the end of the world. Even if you've got decent stockpiles, expect people with swords to show up to take them from you in case this unceasing winter doesn't let up.
    8. Ever heard of the Panama Disease? It's a fungal plague that almost wiped out the Gros Michel Banana in the fifties (and is still prevalent, preventing growers from getting sizeable orchards going) and led to everyone switching over to our currently popular Cavendish banana. It's only a matter of time until the fungus mutates to affect these too, and banana merchants are already diversifying their crops just in case. It's an easy story to get inspired by: in Creation, a plant-only plague could easily wipe out a major food crop (rice, corn, yams, bamboo) or a vital herd animal (mad cow disease in Harborhead) and wreak ungodly havoc on the local economy and spiritual landscape. It's a decent idea for an Abyssal or Genesis Lord plot...which I sorta want to run in Chaya now, just for the hell of it.

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  • Ren9077
    replied
    Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
    You also have to account for food that people intentionally don't eat. One handful of rice in every bushel is thrown into a fire, folks burn baskets of bread for their ancestors, that portion of the field you intentionally don't harvest because of the field god - hell, Ahlat demands the sacrifice of one hundred head of cattle. Looks like a fair bit of Creation's food supply ends up a charred, inedible mess.
    When looking at the factors influencing production on the Blessed Isle, a friend and I decided that there would have to be more of this than actual food consumption for sustenance going on, and you'd still be dealing with overabundance and the related economic issues. Onigato's post was solid - you would have to be looking for ways to waste food, or the food storage buildings would crowd out people very quickly.

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  • TheCountAlucard
    replied
    You also have to account for food that people intentionally don't eat. One handful of rice in every bushel is thrown into a fire, folks burn baskets of bread for their ancestors, that portion of the field you intentionally don't harvest because of the field god - hell, Ahlat demands the sacrifice of one hundred head of cattle. Looks like a fair bit of Creation's food supply ends up a charred, inedible mess.
    Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 04-08-2015, 08:17 PM.

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  • Lundgren
    replied
    Cold is a way to preserve food, so places that can only grow food during the summer have one good thing going for them during winter.

    Salt is a good way to preserve food, but one don't have to go as far as with Swedish fermented herrings, surströmming (there are youtube clips of people trying to eat it...).

    If I recall correctly, both blueberries and lingonberries work as natural preservers.

    So there is quite a few tricks people have figured out to preserve food (I'm curious how hold the "dried rice" we have today is, after all, if kept dry it really can be stored for a long time).

    Hot climates which gives the oportunities of more harvests tend to increase how fast food gets spoiled.

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  • DrLoveMonkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

    That means sequentially, yes?

    Like, once one crop is harvested and the stubble cleared away, they can replant immediately?

    Does it only count as growing and harvesting a second or third crop if it's planted on the same land in short order?

    Is there any concept of planting groups in different patches of land at different periods, so that their harvest time is scattered, and you only have as much as you're able to harvest at a time? By which I mean, if you have 6 acres of land, but only have the labour to harvest 3 acres in short enough order to keep it from spoiling, that you plant 3 acres, wait a few months, and then plant the other 3 acres, and harvest them as they come up?

    When I try reading stuff about this, I come across references to "winter wheat"; would harvesting that count as a second crop in the year? Would that be planted on the same land as the summer wheat, or is the point of it to have a crop growing ready for the winter or spring or whatever?

    You know, a thing I've always been confused about farming... let's say you can nominally only plant one crop in the year, and it's going by that whole "plant in spring, harvest in autumn" deal... so what you harvest has to be a quantity sufficient to last the whole year, yes? So it's actually possible to store cereals that will keep until the next harvest?

    How well are people eating under circumstances like this? Like, do they have to kind of ration it? Is that why famine was such a common pre-modern concern, or did that have more to do with bad harvests?

    I think as I said earlier, I always assumed that three to five crops harvested a year ensured that there was an abundant and heavy food supply the whole year round, but every time I try to look for information that will give me a straight answer about how long food lasts, in terms of both spoilage and consumption, I come up short.
    A large part of it actually depends on preservation methods and what people have available. For example glass jarred preserves can last years, a properly tended yam barn can keep yams edible for months at least, dried and salted meats ect. In the north of Canada killing a deer and just keeping it under your front deck in the frost keeps it good enough to eat the whole winter.

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  • Isator Levi
    replied
    Originally posted by Lundgren View Post
    You can sow and reap multiple times on the same patch. So basically, you need less land and the stored rice has less of a risk to spoil or be eaten by pests until the next batch.
    That means sequentially, yes?

    Like, once one crop is harvested and the stubble cleared away, they can replant immediately?

    Does it only count as growing and harvesting a second or third crop if it's planted on the same land in short order?

    Is there any concept of planting groups in different patches of land at different periods, so that their harvest time is scattered, and you only have as much as you're able to harvest at a time? By which I mean, if you have 6 acres of land, but only have the labour to harvest 3 acres in short enough order to keep it from spoiling, that you plant 3 acres, wait a few months, and then plant the other 3 acres, and harvest them as they come up?

    When I try reading stuff about this, I come across references to "winter wheat"; would harvesting that count as a second crop in the year? Would that be planted on the same land as the summer wheat, or is the point of it to have a crop growing ready for the winter or spring or whatever?

    You know, a thing I've always been confused about farming... let's say you can nominally only plant one crop in the year, and it's going by that whole "plant in spring, harvest in autumn" deal... so what you harvest has to be a quantity sufficient to last the whole year, yes? So it's actually possible to store cereals that will keep until the next harvest?

    How well are people eating under circumstances like this? Like, do they have to kind of ration it? Is that why famine was such a common pre-modern concern, or did that have more to do with bad harvests?

    I think as I said earlier, I always assumed that three to five crops harvested a year ensured that there was an abundant and heavy food supply the whole year round, but every time I try to look for information that will give me a straight answer about how long food lasts, in terms of both spoilage and consumption, I come up short.

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  • Lundgren
    replied
    Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
    What does harvesting multiple crops of rice in a year mean?
    You can sow and reap multiple times on the same patch. So basically, you need less land and the stored rice has less of a risk to spoil or be eaten by pests until the next batch.

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  • webkilla
    replied
    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

    The cloak of Cynis Araka fluttered in the wind atop one of the Cynis towers in the imperial city. He glanced over at the sorcerer and his demon servant, who were sitting amidst a spiderweb of runes amd lines.

    "How much longer?" He said, nervously plucking at the string of his power bow and fingering the blunted arrows he kept.

    "Soon, not to worry." The demon replied "soon not a puff of smoke will enter or leave this city."

    Then a cry came from the stairwell "My lord!" A breathless soldier came stumbling onto the platform "My lord, I think an exalt from house Ragara is leading a group of black helms up here, we couldn't stop them.""

    A voice bellowed from the stairs "Lazy whoremongers!"

    "Stuck up loan shark!" Araka shot back, firing twin ball-headed arrows at the foreheads of two advancing guards, causing the, to drunkenly slump against one another.

    "It is done.." The sorcerer's eyes flashed.

    Quick as a breeze through the trees Araka darted over to a massive mounted horn and blew hard into it. The deep ringing tone echoed through the city, signalling dozens, maybe hundreds, of massive braziers to ignite. Their smoked poured into the air, but hung low, filling the city. The Cynis dynast slumped to the floor and breathed deeply.

    "The senate is going to have one hell of a day." He glanced over at his aid/retainer/bodyguard and pounded his fist as they both began to laugh.

    This pleases Burning Feather

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  • Isator Levi
    replied
    I've just considered that my reading of that line in the book was based on a supposition that I've never exactly followed up on, so while we've got people who might know better here:

    What does harvesting multiple crops of rice in a year mean?

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  • Isator Levi
    replied
    Originally posted by Quaint View Post
    The thing is, if one worker in the field can feed 30 people in the real world
    I know what you mean here is invoking statistics as they play out in real life, but it's still funny to read this as drawing a distinction between agrarian areas and the "real world".

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