Year One, Spring: The Berry Family

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In the tiny settlement of Ayre, in a woodsy cottage, live three elderly foragers who have taken in five orphans during the plagues and wars of recent years.  The local representative of the crown, Alban Stirwuard, is determined to refill the royal coffers as quickly as possible, but the population of Ayre was decimated.  They have survived a harsh winter and look to spring and summer to prepare for the next year, hoping that life will be better by harvest time.

Zelda, the eldest sister, has always been a hard worker.  She rises early to forage for elderberries, gooseberries and mushrooms.

Then she sets out the fresh produce and prepares for the villagers to come by and bargain for a bushel.

And bargain they do.  Lately, it seems, selling even one bushel takes more energy than it’s worth.

Eva Forrester tries to win Zelda over with charm,

Then with a bit of sass

And finally, a demand.

At long last, with a parting shot, Eva trades the agreed-upon amount of firewood for a bushel of berries.

Zelda turns her attention to Rob, a young man who is training at the barracks.

He is much more tractable than her neighbor, Eva, and thankfully, she makes a good trade.

Hadley Gothard has stomped around the market tables all day, in a rage.

Deirdre, Zelda’s younger sister, notices that she is angry, and tries to help.  She knows that Hadley’s father died recently and has compassion for her.

But Hadley does not agree to trade any goat milk or butter for a bushel of berries or mushrooms, and Deirdre eventually asks her to leave.

As the sun sets, the tired sisters prepare for tomorrow’s business.

There is no water for evening cooking or ablutions, so the family makes a late trip to the village well.

While drawing water, Deirdre greets Cadby, another of the few men-at-arms left in Ayre.

It’s a cool, clear early spring evening and the light from the moon shines down on the chatting villagers.  It is a moment of lightheartedness, much needed.

Lady Joslyn, the Squire’s aunt, asks Zelda how they fare with the orphans they have taken in.

Zelda says that they are well.  Secretly, she wonders how they will feed so many mouths. Today they only made three trades, and actually lost half the value of a bushel overall.  Fortunately, the sisters are skilled at finding food in the forest, but she knows that winter will be hard.  Lady Joslyn, who manages the Almshouse, would help, but Zelda and her sisters have always been proudly independent of the gentry’s charity.

Lady Joslyn offers to pay their younger sister, Hilda, to use her knowledge of herbs and healing at the Almshouse.  Zelda agrees and will tell Hilda to meet Lady Rosalind at the well in the morning to begin.

Esmerelda and Cassie play, and seem not to have a care.

After fetching water, the family walks home and most everyone snuggles into bed.

Esmerelda, however, still feels adamant that she can not share a bed with any of her new family.

Mari awakes early and, without being asked, goes outside to clean up the shed area.

Zelda sees her there when she begins to forage.

After everyone else gets up, Esmerelda, who slept on the shed floor, finds a comfortable spot inside for a morning nap.

And Mari bathes herself.  She learned to bath with her clothes at the soldier’s camp where she was able to pass as a boy.

Deirdre picks some berries, but she eats almost as many as she picks.

Hilda and Deirdre both need work if the family is going to raise enough money to pay their rents this season, so they go back to the well together.

While they chat with Daralis Gothard, Oakes, and the Sister, Alfred and Cassie play.

Lady Rosalind comes meet with Hilda, and is greatly offended by someone’s body odor.

Deirdre is able to procure work as a kitchen scullion in the barracks.

The men-at-arms, just back from war, are anxious for some of the comforts of home, and hope that paying Deirdre to clean and cook will be worthwhile.  Oakes knew Alfred’s father, and is glad to help see to it that the lad eats and has a roof over his head.

When the sisters return to the cottage, Zelda has convinced Cassie, the youngest orphan, to collect some berries for her.

Until she tires of it, and goes to find her bear doll.

The late morning brings welcome visitors to play with the children:  Haylan and Bentley Wise, who live just beyond the woods’ edge.

Today Cadby would like some berries, and Anais Honeycutt is giving the goods a critique.

Anais drives an even harder bargain than did Eva.

She does not like to part with money or goods.

Zelda attempts to offer her a better price, and then turns her attention to other customers.  She has no patience for spending the better part of the day to trade one bushel of berries, again.

But even though she haggled so hard, for some reason, Eva is back.  She must have liked the berries more than she let on.

But today she is interested in the mushrooms.

This was Day 2, and unfortunately, when I restarted the game to play Days 3 – 5, I didn’t realize FRAPS wasn’t open, and none of the screenshots from the rest of the season were actually created!!

On Day 3, Deirdre threw a party (she had wanted to since Day One), and it was a lot of fun for everyone.  James Fitz and Daralis Gothard were there and danced together for  quite a while, separately from the other guests.  They ended up holding hands and looking googly eyed at each other.  Daralis is newly widowed, so maybe it will work out for them to marry.

On Day 3, with only $129 to their names and $500 rent due in two days, I got fed up with selling three baskets of berries a day, and had Zelda sell berries to buy mode.  They ended the day with $693.  Then, on Day 4, with two sisters working in level one careers (culinary and midwifery, Hilda is a healer), the family ended with $1996 thanks to a $1000 prize chance card and $150 bonus that Deirdre got.  They ended the season with $1940, somehow losing $56 on Day 5.  So with Taxes, Rents, and Fees, they paid $1635.00 to the Steward and have $305.00 left, $300 more than they started with.

Since this is a challenge I am not going to try to re-create some of the great pictures of the kids that I got in the last three days. 😦  Here’s a picture of Mari practicing her sparring but there was a much better one later, plus lots of pictures of the kids playing together and drinking small beer, which the family practically lived off of considering no one has any cooking skill yet.  (I realized later, the reason that small beer was the only option is that I failed to give them a kitchen counter). The family also spent a lot of time on Day 4 and Day 5 fixing the bathtub.

Published by Shannon SimsFan

Author of Simdale Valley Post

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  1. I somehow missed that this was a challenge hood! Which challenge rules are you playing with?

    The hood is so full of life already. The kids are adorable and I can tell they’re going to be so much fun to read about and for you to play and write about. One thing I noticed is how dark the night and early morning is outside – just like it would be in medieval times. It really makes the whole thing more immersive.


  2. Hi Carla, yes, this is the Medieval Charter Challenge by Vllygrl. The newest version of the rules are found at MTS, at You start with four peasant families, two yeoman families, and a squire (gentry) family that are all randomly rolled. You play each family for one season in rotation, tallying their income and sending tax, tithe, fees, and rents to the steward (who is a pnpc). There’s a spreadsheet on the Ayre tab that shows the current income of each family I’ve played and the treasury balance.

    As you reach treasury balance amounts you can add features to the village and more families. At $8000 balance in the treasury I can add a weekly market with a merchant family to run it. At that point, each family no longer has to sell their produce or craft at their own lot and can sell it to the merchant instead. Also, you aren’t supposed to buy anything after initial set up, from the catalog, rather families are supposed to either grow or trade for their food and needed items. (Later in the challenge they can buy an item a year from the catalog). You “win” the challenge when you reach the point in the challenge where you “crown” a monarch and move them into the castle. At that point, the player has a pretty deeply played out medieval style neighborhood with various trades and an economy.

    Your comment, and checking for the link, made me realize I have the 2012 version of the challenge downloaded. I need to download the new version and see where it is different.

    I already broke a few rules – you are supposed to wait to have a village green and hedge tavern until you have $5000 in the treasury, but I put the community well, which you are allowed at the beginning, on a little larger lot with a swing so it is sort of a very simple village green. I tried having a 1×1 well and it just looked awful. Also, I wanted to go ahead and build the tavern and get it going, just so sims would have a place to go for a bit of fun and socialization.

    I was worried about the lack of light for the blog pictures – it seems so long from the time the sun goes down till it is light again, and pictures are so dark you can’t really see them well. But it’s true it is much more immersive that way. I actually feel relieved when day breaks while playing! I am using Gunmod’s Radiance Lighting plus Almighty Hat’s World Lit By Fire mods and they are really beautiful.

    The sims of Ayre have been really fun to make and play so far! Randomly rolling, and creating them over a two month period, I think, helped me have time to process who each one is and who they are in their household and community. The combinations of personality and aspiration that I probably wouldn’t have used, the religious affiliation, and the fact that there are very limited ways to fulfill aspirations makes each sim much more idiosyncratic than my usual neighborhoods. Due to the religious affiliation, many of the sims are more prone to disagree with others while chatting (isn’t that a commentary on the real world?!). Peasants and yeoman aren’t allowed books, it is difficult to find appropriate romances to fulfill wants, no one can just buy stuff to fulfill wants, and they are also very limited in which careers they can join. So knowledge, family, and fortune sims especially meet with a lot of frustration fulfilling wants.

    Thanks for commenting (& reading!) Carla!


  3. I like how you’re bartering for goods, and the struggle to sell berries. The new careers are interesting. The kids are all cute, and the background is wonderful, so rich! I’m enjoying the early stages of your hood, and I’m excited when you reach the next stage of the challenge too.


    1. Glad you’re enjoying Ayre, Maisie, and thanks for commenting. It’s kind of fun having every household run their own small businesses but I guess it will be much better to have the market, perhaps at the end of the spring round or soon after.


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