A traditional looking red barn using Better Agriculture.

A traditional looking red barn using Better Agriculture.

As I sit here grooving to Dolly Parton’s “Mule Skinner Blues” (about which one YouTube commenter quite rightly says, “Whoever the backup band was, they might own the best 3 minutes and 15 seconds in recorded country music…”), I can’t help but grin as I prepare to pick this blog back up with some degree of regularity. Minecrafters of the world rejoice: “Mine, Build, Eat, Repeat” is back in action.

Some explanation of my absence is most certainly due those faithful dozens of you who have, over the last two years, continued to check back periodically to see if any new insight or humorous reflection was forthcoming from my keyboard. First of all, my sincere thanks. I really expected that I would return to this blog to see that daily views were down around zero. Not so, despite the fact that the last post dates from September 8, 2014! But what happened? Everything seemed to be going so well. Where did I go?

In short, I got a job. No congratulations are in order. It wasn’t that great of a job, really. It was retail, and I actually worked my way up to store manager within the first year. My coworkers and employees were cool. I liked most of the products and the industry, but … well, let’s put it this way: way too much work and abuse from up the line for what I was getting paid, especially when I have a freaking doctorate degree. Bottom line: I didn’t have time to play Minecraft, let alone blog about it, for nearly two years. But enough about that. This is not a “Life of VladTubaka” blog. This is a Minecraft blog!

So to get us back in the swing of things, let’s take a look at barn that I’ve built in a brand new 1.10.2 modded instance. I tried to go for the most part with all new mods (which wasn’t that difficult considering it was 1.10.2). I’m using EnderIO as my main tech mod. In the agriculture area, again I am using Pam’s Harvestcraft (amazing mod … really, amazing) and Forestry (oh, man, I love the bees), as well as a new mod called Better Agriculture. Better Agriculture is designed to work along with Pam’s Harvestcraft and Forestry, though as it currently stands you really don’t need either one to get the full Better Agriculture experience.

Briefly, Better Agriculture adds multiple new breeds of the main four friendly mobs (Cows, Sheep, Pigs, and Chickens), as well as some aesthetic blocks and bits and bobs. Among those aesthetic blocks are red and white barn siding and a green roofing block.

Now, it must be said that Better Agriculture is extremely early in its development, so while you can clearly see that there is a big vision for the mod, it’s also obvious that there’s a good bit that still needs to be implemented and fine-tuned. But with the mod as it is, here is the kind of thing you can do:

The idea of having breeds of the friendly mobs is awesome, since we have that in vanilla for the horses. As it is right now, the breeds are little more than re-skins of the existing vanilla mobs. What I think many of us hope for is that the breeds will have slightly different characteristics, maybe slightly different drops when slaughtered, or something. One interesting feature of the breeds is that they currently won’t breed with each other. You can have them right next to each other, feed them both, and the nothing happens. The mood just isn’t right for love, I guess. Or maybe these mobs are just racist. One hopes that perhaps the mod authors will implement a breeding and mutation mechanic akin to the bees, butterflies, and trees of Forestry. Without talking to the mod authors, I would bet that is what they have in mind.

Another odd facet of the chickens is that they all lay vanilla eggs, meaning that if you throw the eggs of a Rhode Island Red chicken, for example, all you can get is a standard vanilla white chicken. The only way you can reproduce the extended breeds is by feeding them seeds and voyeuristically watching them make live young (which is a very non-bird-like thing that Minecraft chickens do … it’s seriously breaking my immersion).

I see all sorts of potential for this mod. I hope the authors don’t abandon it. It’s been a little while since we’ve had any kind of an update. Checking out the Twitter feed of the mod owner, I can see that this is a busy person with lots of irons in the fire. I understand, but agriculture is one of the primary things I do in Minecraft, and animal breeding really needs the kind of added depth that this mod could provide.