Animal Parade

Dear Grandpa,

The farm is growing so fast! I thought I would be spending so much time just learning how to get a tomato to grow, but the place is so lively already. Not only are the crop fields thriving, but since the last time I wrote, we've gotten a lot of new members to the family.

Thanks to help from Bob (and I guess Gwen), I've learned a lot about animal husbandry so quickly that I decided to try my hand at it myself. I bought a chicken from Bob himself and have been taking care of her in the coop. It's easier than I thought it would be, but I still worry a lot about not taking proper care of her. I don't know what I would do if the poor girl got sick or hurt because of my own mistakes. I also started leaving food out for the stray dogs I see running around the valley, and one of them has really warmed up to me! I've named her Yuna, and she's already become my new best friend.

But the most surprising addition to the farm is Nevile. One of the horses at Bob's place started to grow pretty attached to me, and Bob entrusted me to look after him on our farm! With Nevile grazing in the pasture, Yuna playing in the yard with Nancy clucking along behind her, the atmosphere around the farm has gotten so lively in such a small amount of time. There's no way I'm going to let this place be taken away.

Love you,

Thaao


So our adventure on the farm continues, and the adventure of trying to figure out how to even write for a game like this continues as well.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Watering crops

The farm has certainly been growing. As we make little bits of money from part-timing, we keep increasing the amount of crops we take care of on the farm. Our stamina is pretty limited, though, so we really have to be careful about how much extra work we add in a day. Once the crops are planted, we only have to worry about watering each day, but the initial planting requires tilling the soil, sewing the seeds, and watering to get everything ready. And we have to do that work in addition to the work of watering the seeds that are already planted.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Crops in the rain

You would think that it might be a good idea to plant new crops on rainy days, since you don't have to do the job of watering on those days. The problem with that, though, is that if you sew seeds on a rainy day, they could drown in the water. There's a chance your seeds will just die overnight if you plant them on a rainy day. And having weird uneven fields is terrible, not to mention you waste money on the seeds.

This makes paying attention to the weather forecast and the calendar seasons important though. When the rainy season is coming up, it's important to start paying attention to the weather forecast and plan ahead so you can get a lot of crops planted on the sunny days you have left. Once the rainy season starts, most days will be rainy, so you won't be able to plant many new crops. But it's nice to have a lot planted beforehand, because the rain will keep them healthy for you, allowing you to profit from the growing vegetables without having to spend too much time and stamina working on them.

Save the Homeland screenshot: What a shiny coat you have

In addition to the crops growing more, our part-time work has been getting better, too. I mean, it's still the exact same as before, except for that now, instead of worrying the horses will bite us, we get to talk to them and say nice things to them. It's fun to see the friendship with the animals increasing bit by bit as we continue to work with them.

Save the Homeland screenshot:

And this is important, because after doing enough part-time work and getting close enough to a horse, Bob asks us to take care of one of the horses on our own farm! There's an interesting hidden mechanic behind befriending the horses during part-time work that allows you to choose which color of horse you get to keep, too. Whichever horse you interact with first during your part-time day will get a little bit bigger boost in affection than the other horses that day. Once you get one to a certain point, Bob will give you that horse. So if you always interact with a specific horse first each day, you can guarantee that you'll get that horse as your gift from Bob.

I usually use different colors every time, so this time I went with the dark brown horse, because I had used lighter ones the last two times I played. While I was letting people name the animals in comments on ThaaoNET and in the stream when I was playing this on Twitch, I at least wanted to name the horse myself. I always name my horse in Harvest Moon games after my current crush (which is almost always a fictional character lmao, and yes, it's because you ride the horse; don't judge me) so this guy got named Nevile. Sadly you only get six characters to name stuff in this game (which is at least an improvement from four characters in the SNES game) so we couldn't fully spell out "Neville." Which is also why our farm is named "Rainbo" lol.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Feeding horse in the barn

Taking care of the horse is actually quite easy. You simply have to put fodder in the bin inside the barn. Each animal has their own 'spot' and won't eat out of the other bins, so you have to make sure you put it in the right one. You can read their names by inspecting the bins, and if the animals are in the barn at the time, they'll stand at their own bin, so it's kind of hard to mess up.

You can also leave the horse out on sunny days and he will graze in the pasture on his own, so you don't have to use up any fodder, so all that fodder we stole from Bob can go a long way. But you have to make sure to put him back inside if it's going to rain the next day, because being left out in the rain will make him unhappy.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Buying chicken feed

But horses aren't the only new addition to the farm! With the money we've saved up from part-timing, we're able to afford a chicken now. Chickens don't eat the regular fodder that you can make by cutting grass, so you have to buy feed especially made for them. It's important to make sure you have enough money to buy both the chicken and feed when buying your first chicken, or you could be stuck with a new chicken and no choice but to starve it right from the start.

The chicken feed is very cheap. We get a little under 300G a day from part-timing, and the feed is only 10G per unit. It costs one unit to feed one chicken each day. The chickens themselves cost 500G, and other than feed, there's no additional cost to raising them.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Chicken egg

Chickens will lay an egg once a day as long as they are happy and in good health. Starving them or leaving them out in the rain can make them unhappy or even sick, and sick animals can eventually die. You'll have to buy medicine for them and hope you can get it to them before they die if this happens. Eggs can be sold for money or even placed in the incubator in the coop to hatch into new chickens. All eggs in the game seem to be simultaneously fertilized and unfertilized at the same time, and can just be used for whatever purpose is needed lol.

Chickens can also be left outside to fend for themselves like the horse. They'll eat whatever random bugs and stuff they find laying around in the yard, so as long as there are sunny days, you can get by without even having to feed the chickens. But because the only way to acquire feed is to buy it, that makes chickens cost a bit to maintain during the rainy seasons.

It's become "tradition" that I name my first chicken Nancy anymore in these games, so this was another animal that didn't get a viewer-request name.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Chasing stray dogs

But wait! There's more! There's another animal that we get early on. There are stray dogs that run around the valley, and you can actually adopt one as a pet! Normally, when you try to interact with the dogs, they will run away from you, and there's no real way to catch them. Even if you manage to catch up to them and mash the action buttons, nothing will happen.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Feeding the pup

Now and then, the strays will even wander onto your own farmland. If you leave food in the dog bowl in front of your house, the strays will eventually warm up to you. You still won't be able to interact with them for a while, but whenever you see one on your farm, you can try picking it up. If it just keeps running away from you, they're not close enough to you to be adopted yet. But if you're able to actually grab them, the dog trusts you enough, and you'll be able to name them.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Angry dog in the house

There are two different types of dogs you can get in the game. I decided I would just get whichever one happened to be there when I was able to pick one up on the farm for the first time, which ended up being this floppy-eared pup. The other one is grey and has pointy ears. The floppy-eared dog that looks more like a beagle is the more "traditional" Harvest Moon dog, with most games giving you one that looks like that without there being any choice in the matter.

The dog was named after reader and viewer Kittie's suggestion, so her name is Yuna. I actually adopted her on a day it was raining, so even though we took her inside immediately after naming her, she spent the entire day angry because she was wet, and would only growl (and vibrate) when we would try to pick her up. So our relationship got off to a bit of a bad start.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Recorder commands for the dog

Having a pet pup, though, allows us to use the actual functionality of the recorder! If you highlight the recorder on the tool selection menu and press the information button, it will give you a list of "command songs" in addition to the description that your dog can understand. There are more than just these two, but your dog can only understand certain commands once it has grown friendly enough with you and has gotten enough training listening to recorder commands, so we only have two commands to start with.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Playing the recorder to get the dog to lay

If you play the recorder near the dog and play the 'notes' in the order they appear in the command list, the dog may perform the action. The success rate is based on the dog's friendship level and its experience playing the recorder, so feeding it daily and keeping it inside while it rains and making sure to practice your recorder with it every day will allow it to get better at recognizing and obeying the commands.

Personally I think using the recorder melodies to train your dog is really cute and fun, especially since I play the recorder, and it would be awkward if they tried to implement some kind of voice commands or something.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Getting the fishing pole from Joe

We've mostly talked about the new animal mechanics we've experienced since the last entry, so let's talk about a couple of important cutscenes we saw. Similar to the scene where we got the recorder, we also get a fishing pole by meeting Joe by the lake when he's fishing. Joe is one of the carpenter guys who works for Woody, but he seems to really love fishing. He'll suggest we try it out and give us a pole to try.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Fishing in the rain

Fishing is very time-consuming, so it's better to do it when it rains. I won't go into it very much now, but just know that it takes a very long time waiting for a single bite and reeling and everything, and then in the beginning before you get "good" at it, you're likely to catch nothing but garbage like tin cans and wet boots.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Status screen

On the status screen, we're able to see our record for the biggest fish we've caught, as well as get little updates on all the animals we have on the farm. The dog and horse have their own section that fills up with hearts, and we can click on each heart to get a description of what that level of friendship means (such as being able to listen to commands or whatever). The other animals get little icons for each of that animal type you have, and you can click on the icon to get a brief description of that animal's condition, so this is an easy place to check to see if you have any sick animals or get an idea for how grown your animals are.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Cutscene with the horse

Once we raise Nevile's affection level to the first heart, we get a cutscene upon waking up. We start out brushing Nevile just outside the barn, and then our character and Nevile look into each other's eyes for a bit. And then we decide to try hopping up on top!

Save the Homeland screenshot: Riding the horse for the first time

Nevile is comfortable around us now to let us ride him, and we're able to trot along a little around the farm. While we're getting accustomed to riding Nevile, Bob and Gwen happen to stop by for a visit.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Bob is impressed with your riding

Bob is pretty happy that we've gained enough trust with Nevile to ride him, but...

Save the Homeland screenshot: Gwen is angry

Gwen seems pretty angry about the whole thing. She says that anyone is able to mount a horse, but what's important is being able to control them and make them run. She huffs off and Bob asks us to keep taking good care of Nevile.

Save the Homeland screenshot: Saving the game with a dog

And with that we're going to close out this entry. Our farm is definitely getting much more lively, and we are getting to know Bob and Gwen a bit more, too. And now we can even ride a horse! Now when we save the game, we'll get a little Yuna along with our save file, who will run in place while we're selecting the file in the future. Very cute!