Minecraft Enderman Ranch 09: My first-ever automated crop fields.
Part 9 of my new Minecraft storytelling campaign, in which I embrace the use of electricity-carrying 'redstone' in order to automate mass farming
#minecraft #videogame #storytelling #roleplaying #adventurer #v1.17 #tycoon #industrialage #farm #automated #redstone #dispensers #factory #smelter #furnace #potatoes #composter #bonemeal #magic #xpfarming
Greetings again from my Minecraft roleplaying campaign! This is update #9 of the campaign, so see my blog's main index page for past chapters, if you need to catch up. As I logged in this weekend and awoke at my Zen ranch, overlooking my now completed fenced-in pasture for my farm animals (horse stables coming soon), I thought, “You know, I think today's the day I finally build out the first half of my ten automated farm fields.” This is a major goal of this campaign, after all; since this might be my very last one, before switching over in 2022 to a gaming laptop and the more sophisticated game Cities: Skylines, I'm determined to learn and get good for the first time at using redstone for building circuits and machines, among other reasons to automate a series of mass farming fields, the produce then shuttled off to an underground processing center and factory, where depending on the field it is either gathered up for eventual trading, or thrown first into a furnace and then into a composter, and only then gathered up as bonemeal fertilizer.
The whole thing depends on a series of tics within the Minecraft programming software, sometimes an accident and sometimes deliberately put there by the various Mojang developers that have worked on the game over the years. For example, a block of dirt has to be aerated by a hoe, and then soaked by a nearby water block, in order for it to accept a seed and grow it into a mature plant for harvesting; and the maximum distance for a dirt block to still get soaked by the water is four blocks away, so the maximum width you can have a farming field is eight blocks, as long as you have a block of water on either edge. Build this out for five fields in my case, then add a total of six troughs of water, and that's 46 blocks, almost exactly filling out the 50 blocks I put aside for this particular quadrant of my industrial ranch.
Next, build another field just like it, but one block up in vertical height. Spoiler alert: What we'll eventually be doing here is running buckets of water over these fields, which in the Minecraft universe automatically knocks any produce it comes across out of the ground, so that you don't have to go around manually harvesting it all yourself. If you build the fields as gentle hills, then the water will flow down the entire thing, taking all the produce with it, until hitting those perpendicular water flows down there by the glass blocks, which will do a final gathering up of all the produce and funnel them down the water flow to a hopper, gathering them all in for the processing plant underground below.
For my field, I'm stopping at three levels, because this is all the room I have; but there's nothing that says you couldn't go crazy and build this all the way up 64 levels high to the clouds. Theoretically, just the initial buckets of water at the very top is all you'd need; they should flow smoothly all 64 levels back down to sea level again.
And since the goal is to get all the produce to smoothly flow down the hill and into the gathering pool by the glass splash wall, we don't want any of it to accidentally fall into the water troughs that are aerating the farmland; so you need to build blocking material along the tops of them.
And now for the part that makes them automated, which are dispensers holding water buckets, all of them connected to a redstone circuit with a simple on/off button on one end, complete with signal boosters every nine blocks so that the full electrical charge makes it all the way to the end. One of the really interesting tics in Minecraft is that when you open a dispenser that has a bucket of water, it flows the water away from it using the usual laws of physics for water that exist within Minecraft; but if you click the dispenser again, it will actually gather the water back up, resulting in a full bucket inside again and a complete end to the water flow across the crops. So once you've sown all five fields with potatoes, for example (requiring 176 per field, or 880 altogether here, also expressed as 14 “stacks”), and they've all grown to maturity, when you click the redstone circuit button, it dumps all the water out of the 40 dispensers you've set up, washing the approximate 5,000 potatoes you've grown down to the collector pools next to the glass walls, to be gathered underground for later processing. And when they've all flown down, you click the button again, and the entire system sets back to zero, ready for the next round of sowing and growing.
But it's underground where the true magic happens, which is the automated conversion of this produce into other useful items, basically my invention of the industrialization of farming. And since I'm the first one in my Minecraft universe to invent this, I will hugely benefit from it, by establishing trade partnerships with a total of a dozen nearby villages in my region, and growing this stuff in mass quantities in order to trade quickly and often for first emeralds and then the powerful things emeralds can buy me, like enchanted weapons and armor. This will eventually be a much larger and much more sleekly designed space; but get it actually working first, they always say, and then the decorations can come later.
I'm a little too closed in down there in the factory itself to get a good photo of it, so I reproduced it out in a field for the benefit of this blog entry, which is what you're seeing above. The water inside the glass represents that collection pool you're seeing at ground level in the previous images; as you can see, the water is running at an angle, so that all the potatoes that drop in eventually flow down to those hoppers, which are funneling them into barrels. The barrels then have a hopper below them too, which are funneling the potatoes into a furnace; but that furnace also has a hopper attached to the side, connected to separate barrels, where you can store charcoal to feed into the furnace's fuel slot, which means you can just leave large quantities in each (27 stacks in each barrel, or 1,728 items) and let all the burning happen automatically while unattended. This is also one of the few ways to gain experience points (XP) in Minecraft without being an active monster hunter, which regular readers know I'm not; and XP is important, because you spend some of it every time you cast a magic spell, which is how you turn your weapons and tools into very powerful ones.
The furnace, then, can itself have a hopper on its bottom to funnel items out; so in this case, it's taking the baked potatoes I made in the furnace earlier and funneling them straight into a composter, which is a neat little device the dev team invented several updates back to address the complaint that it's so easy to grow things but there's nothing you can do with it all. With these, you can now feed in almost any kind of organic material, from grass seeds to entire pumpkin pies, and the device slowly but surely churns out bonemeal. And that's really cool, because bonemeal is also known as “magic fertilizer,” which makes most forms of plant life grow almost instantaneously into mature form when you use some on it. That essentially lets me grow mass quantities of something cheap and fast like potatoes, and use the resulting bonemeal to instantly grow mass quantities of much more exotic and slow-growing items, such as mushrooms, cocoa, kelp, etc. You can also use bonemeal on a block of dirt to grow grass and flowers all around it; or you can feed a piece to an existing flower to get an exact duplicate of that flower, so bonemeal is quite powerful stuff, and it was smart of Mojang to invent a device that lets you generate the material yourself.
So all in all, that's about 20 minutes in real time of hand-planting all the potato seeds; then the eventual processed result is roughly 10 stacks (640 pieces) of bonemeal, since things like baked potatoes generate a lot more composting material than something small and delicate like a grass seed. The roasting also brings my XP level all the way up from 23 to 30 every time I run the entire thing once; and 30's the number you're always shooting for in Minecraft, because that lets you cast the most powerful spells that exist. As you can see, that fills up half of the farm field quadrant of my ranch; so another five fields will be coming pretty soon afterwards, but in those cases to grow mass quantities of wheat, carrots, potatoes, beetroots and sweet berries, to trade with all the farmers at the dozen villages in my trading network. They'll give me things like emeralds in return, and they will also level up into a higher category of craftsman, and eventually as farming masters they will accept large quantities of emeralds back from me and create powerful dishes like golden carrots and melons, full cakes and pies, and enchanted stew. That will entirely fill up the southwestern quadrant of my ranch, and down below it will be the processing factories and my eventual smelting center and machine shop.
Here in the northwest corner, I'll be building a giant greenhouse and apiary, because I'm sick of my bees always wandering off and abandoning their hives, and depriving me of the honeycombs I use for stuff like beeswax candles and honey jars. That's down the road quite a ways, though; maybe Thanksgiving?
In the northeast quadrant, regular readers will of course remember the tree orchard I set up as the first finished section of the ranch. While the potato fields are busy being roasted and then turned into fertilizer, I go in the orchard with an enchanted axe and quickly chop down the several thousand pieces of wood this field yields; then I throw into an automated smelter itself, where it burns into a charcoal state I can use for smelting everything else, instead of burning up the coal I dig out of my mines, which I can trade with the villagers for valuable stuff. For every orchard I cut down, I yield enough charcoal to burn through one and a half harvestings of the potato fields, so I'm gaining quite fast every time I go through another round; and of course this gains me XP as well, so it's serving me double-duty just like the potato fields are.
And then I'm happy to say that I finally finished the filling out of the southeast quadrant of my ranch, which partially dips into a swamp biome which is permanently at a lower light level than the plains, making it a great location to do some mass farming of things like vines and mushrooms. I'm also going to be trying another redstone machine over here, basically an infrared sensor that can trigger an electrical charge if it's lit up. You set this next to the highest (or sometimes) lowest levels that certain vertical produce can grow to, like vines, sugar or bamboo; then once it grows to its full length, it triggers the infrared sensor, which sends off a charge that ignites a piston down at the opposite end of the vine or plant, which pushes the plant and automatically harvests everything it knocked over, which still leaving the base level so it can start its slow growth again. These should be eternal XP and bonemeal generating devices once I have them working right, so I'm excited to figure this complicated plan out later this fall.
And of course with yesterday being Saturday, I gave myself the usual Saturday night permission to get super-high, listen to some “dadchill” EDM on Spotify, and go do something fun and unstructured for several hours in Minecraft. In this case, I finally tracked down and started digging out my first fossilized dinosaur, over in the Death Crescent desert far to the northeast of my ranch (but for more, [see my Lewis & Clark-style exploring]() of the “known universe” of my Minecraft world). Supposedly there's a good five or six dinosaur remains over here next to this desert village, so I plan on slowly doing archeological digs on them all, then turning the entire area into an international nature reserve, including hiking trails between the digs and a visitor's center and small museum to tie it all together. But much more about this far down the road some. Again, maybe around Thanksgiving?
But for now, it's a farewell again from a, er, 30 percent completed Enderman Ranch and accompanying farmland ranch, which is slowly starting to take shape. Next time, a look at a fortuitous event, when an enchantment of a pickaxe accidentally yielded the rare Silk Touch, which let me go over to my Caribbean biome and finally harvest a bunch of coral, kelp and sea lanterns. Along the way I've also built out a bunch of mossy cobblestone, lanterns and candles; and I'll be tying the whole thing together in some major terraformings of my estate's survival pond, pasture lake, and Asian garden river, along with a meditation pagoda along the bamboo at the waterfront. See you again then!