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Slash-and-burn

In the previous blog post I mentioned a plan of trying a small version of slash and burn agriculture. Like a 10m * 20 m area. I was hoping to burn a patch at the end of June. Oh well. We had an extremely dry summer with very little of rain. That made everything so dry that the risk of wildfires was high, so it was not a good idea to try slash and burn.

Finally, around mid-August we had rainy weather. That started a boletus boom, and all the other mushrooms followed, so there has been plenty of harvest this autumn! And the rainy weather made me feel that the time is right for my slash and burn plan. I decided the timing on short notice, based on the weather forecast - a dry period was about to end, there was no wind, and the rain would start the following morning. That was the day, the optimal weather I had been waiting for. On such a short notice I couldn't arrange with any of my friends to join the experiment, so I decided to scale down my experiment, to keep the fire small enough so that I could contain it alone. On a 2 m * 5 m area I stacked a heap of dry wood - fir and pine branches, young alders, small fir logs and such stuff, mostly leftover or by-products of my earlier projects.

I started the fire. All the dry branches burn quickly with a big flame. That was good, spreading the fire all around the 2m * 5m area. After the smaller wood was burnt the remaining bigger pieces kept on burning with a small but steady flame. I tended the fire, occasionally pushing logs next to each other, or moving them around hoping to have an even layer of ash. Fire burns all the weeds, and there is no need to till the soil. And the ash is a good fertilizer, also making the soil less acidic. And most of the crops like it when the soil is not acidic but pH is closer to neutral. I watched the fire past midnight, until there were no more flames, just small heaps of glowing red embers. And the weather forecast said that it will be raining after some hours. I estimated that at this point there was not a real risk of accidentally starting a wildfire, and went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning there was steady rain.

After burning the patch I sowed rye seeds, hoping that they will have time to grow roots strong enough to survive the winter. There were some showers of heavy rain, which seemed to move the sowed seeds so that they weren't that evenly spread all around the area, but got concentrated around pieces of char. Well, but luckily my life doesn't depend of the success of rye harvest! Anyhow, most of seeds have sprouted. We have already had a few nights with temperature briefly falling below freezing, but luckily enough it hasn't been too cold to kill the rye. The daytime temperatures are around +10 °C - typical September weather in Finland. In such temperatures the rye grows, just very slowly. Well, but the idea is that rye roots will survive the winter and re-grow the following spring, so if everything goes well there will be harvest in the next summer.

When I was starting to write this blog entry I took a brief look at my previous post. And searched if I already have a post titled "slash-and-burn". The search results said that I've used those words in a post titled "Random pre-Indiegogo thoughts". Oh, indeed! When starting the Ancient Savo project I really had an idea of launching a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo. I set up the project at Indiegogo, wrote some promotional material, planned perks and such. But, going through all of it made me realize that my personal indie development philosophy doesn't suit very well the Indiegogo way. I increasingly felt the importance of promotional material, and not just a wall of text but pictures - a lot of people want to see how the game would look like. Maybe it is just a quick glance at a picture which makes the initial evaluation: is this something I want to take a closer look at? And in my development approach the graphics is often the last thing to get attention. Game mechanics first, the user experience then is just a final decoration on top of the inner working of the game world. So, with that approach I won't have good promotional pictures until the project is almost finished. So I felt that it is better to scale down my ideas, and to launch just a small informal crowdfunding campaign targeted at UnReal World players. That worked well - the donations gave me that little bit of extra money to help me spend more time with indie development and reducing the hours allocated for my main work. And, most of all - positive feedback and people showing interest gave the morale boost, helping me to stay focused with the project.

Now, I see some kind of pattern here. First there is a plan. And then there are other circumstances which you need to take into account. So what do you do, if it appears that the circumstances aren't that favourable for your original plan? Sometimes it might be worth the effort to do all the extra work to make the original plan to come true. Or, if you are depressed or suffer other problems with maintaining your focus, it might be easy to just give up and bury your plans. Or, you can adjust your plans. In the best scenario you find a way to adjust the plans so that the circumstances are actually favourable for your new plan. And this is what I've felt this summer - be it my indie development, or slash and burn experiments, or car problems or money problems. Things will work out - if not according to the original plan, then according to an adjusted plan. And that in many cases there is this intuitive feeling of some sort of "the essence" of the plan - you can stay focused on the essence, even when the circumstances and the details of the plan shift and change. Although it isn't always easy to define what exactly that essence is - at least for me these things aren't that verbal, but something like an inner feeling.

The initial flame
The initial flame
The actual burn
The actual burn
The fire went on past moonrise
The fire went on past moonrise
Rye sprouts
Rye sprouts
tags: 
diary
homesteading
programming
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I hope the rye takes off next year!

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