What a way to make a living…

Hello friends,

It feels like it has been a while between updates.

Right now, its 5.18am, and we are on the road to the farm. It’s raining heavily outside. The weather forecast predicts rain all week. We are praying for dry weather for next Wednesday – our big moving day! But rain, hail or shine, we will be moving in less than a week, and that’s both amazingly exciting and stunningly sobering! We still have a lot to do. Our attempt at getting rid of stuff doesn’t feel like its made any impact on our total volume of STUFF! Of course it has, but our concern is whether we can fit what we have left into the shipping container. Stay tuned folks as there may be a sudden Garage Sale, sell-off/give-away yet! Anyone need anything??

At the same time as we are trying to get everything packed up and cleaned up in Byron, we are also constantly thinking and re-thinking how we will do things at the farm. It’s not a simple move where we just throw stuff in boxes and empty it into another house at the other end. We have minimal space and we have no kitchen, no bathroom, no toilet – 3 pretty key rooms in all our lives. How we are going to manage these areas of our lives is an ever important topic of conversation between us, and we hope to share some of that journey with you as we explore and problem solve it!

For example, our kitchen here in Byron is quite large. Rachel has organised everything in our pantry into glass jars (recycled) and we have gathered together quite a good collection of food processing items and cookware. I have always loved cooking, but for Rachel eating and preparing food is a relatively new adventure. Thankfully she loves it as much as I do and we hope to pursue cooking and storing food to a whole new level when we become full-time farmers. The problem however, is that we have no kitchen at the farm. We plan to cook in the work shed as a temporary solution. It’s not glamourous because its not meant to be – its a work shed! There’s already a simple kitchenette in the shed, which we can use but we can’t just take it over because its a shared space used by everyone who works at the farm. Thankfully we have negotiated with Rod & Tan to transform a small corner of the shed for our cooking gear and food to live when we arrive. Since we arrive in less than a week, one of our jobs today will be to clear that space, which currently is a storage area for sprout trays and other items.

Another pressing issue is access to our site, especially to our caravan and shipping container. In order for the removalists to have easy, mud-free access on Wednesday, we need to get our gravel (or crusher dust) formed into at least 2 simple pathways. Today is really our only chance to get that organised…and I’m not looking forward to doing that after 8 hours of farming in the rain! But, eh, things could be a lot worse. “Rain easing in the afternoon…” That’s what we’d like to hear from the weather forecaster right now.

It’s 5.23am. The sky is just starting to get lighter. Looking around at the green rolling hills of the Tweed Valley always makes us sigh and smile deeply on the inside. Hard to believe this is soon going to be home. It’s such a magnificently beautiful part of the world.

What else can we update you on as we drive this morning? Well, we had an absolutely fabulous 2 days in the Hunter Valley. We met some lovely new friends. In fact, everyone down there was super lovely. But a special shout out to Diane, Joanne and all who work at Calais Estate Winery. We spent almost 2 hours chatting to the lovely ladies in the Cellar Door on our first day. And on their advice we booked lunch at The Verandah Restaurant upstairs and had the meal to end all meals. The flavours were sublime! The service was friendly and relaxed. Thanks to Matt and the team…

By Saturday afternoon we had done all the wine tasting we could do, and so Sunday we just chilled out in our new tent. It was fun and novel to just relax and have nothing to do. We started reading The Humanure Handbook, by Joseph Jenkins and we also launched into a new copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Cookbook which we discovered at one of the wineries. Very soon, we will have to have a good rant about the Humanure Handbook, because it is simply a fabulous read and a very important topic. Seriously, don’t say we didn’t warn you… dealing consciously with our waste is a big issue and we are going to cover it in upcoming posts!! We know we want to get away from the septic system – that system just doesn’t make any sense to us any longer, given the global drinking water concerns and general sustainability issues that are confronting humanity. As the author cleverly expresses in his book: there are two kind of people in the world; those who shit in their drinking water and those who don’t!

Returning to our Hunter Valley trip – the highlight of course was seeing DOLLY PARTON. We have both become big fans in recent years and she is such an icon and such a genuine and gorgeous person we decided we had to see her. This was all decided before we even had our first day at Summit Organics – so it was a bit freaky, as the date got closer, to realise how perfectly this trip was timed. Dolly was fantastic in concert….She can still put on a great show at 65! There was lots of singing along to all the favourites, especially ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Jolene’,  and we had a champagne hamper to enjoy while we took in her show. Seeing the Queen of Country Music sure felt like an apt way to celebrate our transition into farming and rural living. No more working 9 to 5 for us!! More like 6 to 3 🙂

Speaking of time and work – it’s 5.36am now, and we have just arrived in Murwillumbah. It’s still raining. 30 minutes and we will be at the farm. Today is sure going to be a test of our wet weather clothing options. This is a big issue for farmers, especially with the kind of intensely rainy, la-nina style weather patterns we have been having here over recent years. We are all hoping for a somewhat drier season (last year was a nightmare for Rod & Tan), but rain is always an issue when you are outdoors all week.

6.08am and we have arrived. Time to get to work, so might leave it here for now and then report back at the end of our day… here’s a couple of photos of our last couple of weeks…

Sunrise on our drive to Hunter...this shot taken near Casino

Rachel relaxing inside the Taj Mahal of tents!

Young grapes and sunrise in the Hunter Valley

Amazing food at The Verandah Restaurant

The stage at Hope Estate Winery, for Dolly Parton show

Rach cracks open the Champa's

Me, relaxed and happy to be finished with 9 to 5 shenanigans

A scenic (but long) drive back home

At home now, it’s 8.45pm and it is STILL raining! Goodness me! Anyway, the Gods held back the rain long enough for us to spread crusher dust liberally over our little home site in preparation for the removalists on Wednesday. Rod gave us the afternoon to tend to our little site, and Tania helped us sort out the space for our new kitchen pantry (thanks guys). What a successful afternoon. Michelle shovelled a lot of crusher dust, and Rachel collected and arranged rocks to create a border for our little pathway. The boys, Aidan, Steve and Anthony all came and did a wheel-barrow load for us, after they had finished for the day (oh, so sweet).

We did actually do some farming today – harvesting green beans all morning and then taking care of sprouts after morning tea. Oh yeah, as for our wet weather gear! We are both going to need to do some serious research into how to stay dry. Michelle was soaked through by 8am (lucky she had a change of clothes) and Rachel didn’t fair much better. Any suggestions from experienced farmers – please drop us a line…

Well, that’s all from us at Adventures in Growing. Thanks for joining us and sharing the journey…

Michelle & Rachel

(P.S Harry is with his Grand-parents for a few weeks)


6 thoughts on “What a way to make a living…

  1. Hello Lovelies
    To keep dry on wet days in the park we use fishermen’s coats, about $50. Downside: they don’t breathe, so if it’s hot you’ll end up getting wet anyway if you get my drift, but totally waterproof.
    Good luck with the move!
    Julie, Peter & the Westies

    • Hey Julie, Peter & all the Westies…
      Thanks for the tip! Seems like we have to accept being wet some of the time. Such is the life of a farmer i guess. Every confidence that our move will go smoothly. We are almost ready to go, go, gooooo!
      Talk soon dear ones,
      Hugs from the 3 of us!

  2. Bon Chance ….. Adventure is the word,and with you in spirit every step of the way…. working with the earth is very soul-satisfying… (as is good wet weather gear….wax jackets?)….

    Love from France
    S, S & J
    LOVE the pics!!!

    • thanks my love, good to feel you with us! you are right about working with the earth…it is hugely satisfying, and along with the absolute joy of surfing and the deep bliss of yoga, it rates up top as one of my favourite ways of being in the world…

      Looked up those wax jackets…hadn’t heard of them before, but look similar to our Driza Bone…unfortunately the budget doesn’t stretch enough for us to get one, but will keep searching for the ultimate wet weather gear…Perhaps the wetsuit will become multi-functional and we can go from paddock to ocean without breaking stride…

      Love & miss you all…big hugs
      M, R & H

  3. “the Taj Mahal of tents!” – haha, right on. Looks like a palace compared to the sort of things I used to stay in on camping trips with my parents – I miss camping a bit though. We used to go to a lovely place at the foot of the Black Mountains in Wales, near a ruined priory. Waking up to the mist, and sound of the sheep in the morning was an amazing experience. You could close your eyes and imagine it was 300 years earlier. No cars, music…. pure nature. Nice to read the updates, and I’m looking forward to seeing the return of Harry. Give the little guy a hug from me!

    • yes, it’s on the, er…large side of things, but if its any justification, we plan to use it for yoga at our new home, so we needed it to be standing height for sun salutes! i haven’t camped enough in my life. although i suspect my new life is about to make up for that…! Got a ‘Harry’ post coming up for you that I hope you will enjoy Charles…stay tuned over the next 48 hours 🙂

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