Bigger than Ben Hur

10 Sept 2011

Hello friends,

Since we last wrote there have been some huge leaps forward in our little adventure and some big changes are going to be happening in the next couple of months. So allow us to bring you up to speed…. after a quick backtrack…

When this adventure began, we really had no idea where it was taking us! And so we have been gradually feeling into, discerning and uncovering how our desire to farm organically fits into the ordinary middle class life of two women with next to know farming experience. Metaphorically speaking, our passion for nature and organic farming is the seed which had well and truly germinated by the time we started this blog. It grew underground for awhile but then popped its head above the soil on our first day of volunteering at the farm. Since then we have been applying fertiliser vigorously in equal parts – TAFE coursework, volunteer work at Summit Organics, and farming video marathons/voracious reading episodes.

With the application of all this organic fertiliser, our vision has been growing stronger and clearer every week. Any seedling will soon outgrow its first home in the seedling tray and in order to keep growing it must put down some solid roots in the soil. This is where we found ourselves just a few short weeks ago and for us this meant it was time to take the next step, find the courage, and speak openly and directly about our evolving vision with Rod and Tania (who own the farm).

So, a few weeks ago, when Rachel was still sick (she’s doing really well now by the way), Michelle decided to pluck up the courage and ask our favourite farmers about whether they would be interested in getting together and having a chat about future possibilities on the farm. The opportunity came while Michelle was doing some planting with Tania.

I felt really nervous about asking, but as is often the case, I felt compelled to do so by this growing feeling of urgency in my gut, saying – The Time is Now! Thank God Tania’s response was really positive. She said that she and Rod would be really excited to sit down and chat with us, and smiling, she added “Well it’s obvious to us that you girls haven’t just come here to learn to weed!” I took that statement and that smile as confirmation that we all feel something bigger wants to happen between us, and that Rachel and I may just have a future with these two farmers and their beautiful farm. We planned to meet on the first Saturday in September.

You can imagine that it was a very exciting and anxious few weeks while we waited for the planned weekend to come around, but finally last Saturday, the big day had arrived. To cut a long story short and cut to the chase – the outcome was astoundingly brilliant! So brilliant in fact that we will be moving to the farm sometime in November this year – that’s less than 12 weeks from today!!! What blew us both away when we shared with Rod and Tania our vision, is that they didn’t even pause to consider or ask if they could take time to consult each other – they just both said “Yes this is possible” and “Yes we’d be really excited to have you!”

Oh yeah, guess we should backtrack a little and explain the vision to you, our readers… Excuse us for not sharing it sooner, but like a new shoot, its been in its formative stages and a bit tender and fragile…so we didn’t want to blog about it until it all felt a bit more solid and steady…

This is how Rachel expressed it to Rod & Tan that day (she was eloquent and amazing as she always is when it comes to expressing her heart’s intentions):

  • since the first day we drove out to the farm we have felt an incredible sense of connection to the place;
  • we felt immediately at home with Rod and Tania and everyone on the farm;
  • we have a growing sense and vision that we have come to this place to share in and grow a big project that (from what we can discern so far) involves growing organic food, living sustainably, providing opportunities to others to learn and heal through connecting to the land, and building a community of people with shared values and goals;
  • we have almost no experience in farming and since we are not big burly young blokes, we can’t see ourselves doing hard physical work for the next 20 years;
  • but that we do see a future for ourselves on the farm with them and with a community of others working together to grow the above vision (as it unfolds);
  • we have all kinds of ideas about how we could participate and what skills we bring;
  • so whilst we have many limitations, we also have strengths, and we believe our strengths perfectly complement their strengths/limitations
  • we believe we can find meaningful ways to contribute that will help to free up time or bring in more resources so that this vision can grow to the next level
  • on a practical front, our lease in Byron Bay runs out in the first week of December and we would like to come out and live on the farm and start working 5 days a week
  • we have very little money up front to get started, and nothing to live in at this point, but we do have some land which we hope to sell down the track, and this could potentially bring in some money, probably enough to build us a small eco-friendly house and start a new crop or two;
  • we would need only a very small income to survive so perhaps our labour can act as a partial payment towards a small allotment on the farm where we could one day build a home;
  • we are not interested in ownership or making lots of money, we just want to be a part of this place and know that we have a future here.

Phew! That was big. Made slightly easier by the fact that R&T had shared some of their vision earlier that day, and there was a real sense that we were on their wavelength. But you know, you hope you’re on the same page, you feel you are, but you gotta say it out loud to know for sure! It’s a lot like dating – there’s a flirt, a signal, a connection, but do they feel the same and is it relationship material???

So this last week has been crazy busy; trying to plan how to finalise our lives here in Byron Bay in just 2 months or so; working out where we are going to live once we get to the farm and starting to think and prepare some new possible ventures that could bring us a small income so we can get established at the farm… Michelle will be letting go psychology for good and so she has a few loose ends to tie up and a lot of people to break the news to! (Thankfully everyone has taken it really well this week). There’s been so much excitement and nervousness…and just so much to think about and organise that it’s been hard to stay grounded in our bodies. Just gotta remember to breathe…

On Wednesday this week, Rod showed us a potential site for us to plonk a caravan or cabin or something small in which to rest our weary farming bodies! That was fantastically inspiring, so now we are just trying to find something to move onto that spot (if anyone knows a good builder!!!?? or if you happen to have a spare cabin that you no longer need…)

Reckon we will sign off at this point. Its been a bigger than Ben Hur week and we don’t know too much else right now except we have just taken the next step and its feels exhilarating…Oh sure, there’ll be a bundle of hurdles and challenges ahead – but we have enormous faith that we are exactly where we are meant to be!

Stay tuned!!

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4 thoughts on “Bigger than Ben Hur

  1. congratulations!!! felt the twinges of “wish it was me” as Rachel explained all this to us at her ‘ex-‘ art class this morning…one day we’ll be brave enough to shoot up above the soil and find some solid roots again, too….thank you for sharing your inspiring journey and best wishes, w + a + p xxxx

    • hi wen, it felt really special to share this with you all, my beloved “ex-art” class today, given you’ve all been there as it’s unfolded. thanks for being stoked for us, i know you really get it 😉 look forward to seeing you next thursday and breakfast with you and your lovely man soon there after. looking forward to bringing your artistic skills up onto the farm’s beautiful paddock very soon too. love, rach xx

  2. Wow, big changes! Congratulations on the news – I think I’d be freaking out round about now, undergoing massive changes, having so much to do in such a short time and I’m sure that, no matter how excited you feel, you too may will have a sense of fear but good luck for the challenges ahead!

    By the way… if you’re living in a small cabin, how will you blog?! 😀

    • There are definitely moments when fear grabs hold of us – usually not both of us at the same time which I am thankful for…. But the mind sure does struggle to make sense of the choices we are making right now. It searches for security. And there’s nothing wrong with security – except that life also involves risk – we don’t get security all the time. And as you say Charles, you certainly can’t make a change like this and not have some fear come up!! So when the fear comes we try to just name it, talk a bit about it…the fear usually comes in the form of questions like: ‘What if it all goes wrong somehow?’ ‘What if we fail as farmers?’ ‘What if we have a falling out with Rod & Tania?’ ‘What if we can’t pay for our basic needs?’ ‘What if the roof of the caravan is blown off in a storm?’ So many questions that cannot be answered now, may never need to be answered, but the mind likes to consider the worst case scenario…It helps to name them, somehow that blows the fear out to just say these questions aloud to ourselves or each other…..we don’t want to ignore our fears and if there are fears we can put to rest by doing something now, then we will do so… otherwise, we note it and let it go….and within minutes we have usually reconnected with how supported we both feel on this adventure…and let me tell you, that really helps!

      On a practical front, there sure is a lot to do, but we are mostly trusting that we will have just enough time to complete what we need to do. It feels really important to not overload ourselves and to keep taking care of our selves through this process. As Rachel likes to say “as it is in the process, so it shall be in the outcome’. So if its frantic and stressful now, then when we get to the farm, it will continue to be frantic and stressful. But if we can keep some balance now, enjoy this process, relax, take time off and have fun, then we honestly believe that this will transfer through to our new situation. I think we have always been women who have been very driven – its easy for us to be busy, productive and focused. But what’s important to us now is to balance this out with fun, rest, self care….to trust there is time enough to enjoy this journey as it unfolds…rather than to think the enjoyment is in the future somewhere. Letting go into each moment, feeling into and knowing what is called for right now…sometimes it will be action, sometimes it will be rest or play…

      As for maintaining our blog when we move to the farm…? No idea yet! Might be some time spent in internet cafes. There is an internet connection out there in the farm office. But we just discovered today that satellite internet connections are stupidly expensive and we may not be able to budget for it…so the luxury of internet from the caravan is looking highly unlikely…

      Thanks for your words of support and wishes of good luck. They mean a lot. It seems such a simple thing, but when you are making a big change its soothing to have people saying ‘Go for it’ – and we are blessed to have many, many people cheering us on!!

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