An entire series of games written for Nintendo systems of varying flavours. See Wikipedia for overview, and Natsume Inc website for current games. It was mentioned in reviews of 3rd World Farmer, so I thought I'd have a look.
I only played Harvest Moon (none of the other flavours), running it on a PC emulator. Basic premise is to restart your grandfather's ranch by planting crops and getting animals etc. Also some inter-personal features, allowing you to talk to other villagers and progress relationships, but I didn't really get to that bit!
I found it really frustrating, but I think that was as much a UI thing as anything else. I had no idea what was going on, where to start, how to use tools or anything. Slowly grappled with various things, and eventually managed to plant a field of turnips. Never managed to harvest them though!
Rather than having laid out fields, it really focussed on preparing a field bed by clearing the land of weeds, rocks and tree stumps. Then I had to hoe to turn it into a field, buy seed in the town, plant the seed at the right time of year (although only the correct seed was available in the florist's shop at the right time), then keep it watered until it had sprouted. Really explores the mechanics of getting a crop up and running I guess.
Quite rudimentary isometric graphics, but actually quite absorbing. Other interesting possibilities included the annual festivals, which could just be a social event apparently or could win prizes. Could we consider adding some of these as a cheering up thing?