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We bought a farm



I often wonder how to tell people stuff about your life and dreams. How much of your life you should share. And most importantly, when to share.  Do you tell people from the start of your dream, and take them on a journey through the trials and struggles, and then, when you reach your goal you can all celebrate in the triumph.

Or do you get stuck in behind the scenes, keep the challenges to yourself until the big reveal..." Ta - Da here's this thing we did! Twas nothing!"

That's how I feel about telling people we bought farm. It's not actually a farm yet truth be told, but a 35 acre parcel of land, with paddocks, a woodland and a river bank. It has magnificent views of the glorious Huon Valley to the east and of the wild snowy mountains to the west.

There's some ramshackle fences, a few flogged paddocks and a pile of stones, and best of all there's a forest that runs along the banks of the Huon River, filled with tall eucalyptus, devils dens and wombat burrows. Plus then theres a sandy riverbank, where you can swim and kayak and fish. It's dreamy and it's ours, and we fancy calling ourselves farmers one day.

For many years, we had a dream to buy an old farmhouse on lots of land, do it up, start a family business and create a place where people could come and learn, connect and unwind. But despite our earnest looking, for years, nothing seemed right, or we couldn't afford it, or someone else bought it before we did.

Then as things often happen, this parcel of land appeared, the land was perfect, the zoning and facilities or lack there of, not so perfect. It wasn't what were looking for, the lawyers said don't buy it, the conveyancer told us we were mad, but we bought it anyway.  A whopping big parcel of land in the Huon Valley without any infrastructure, tricky zoning,  but hey, it has a river bank and forest!

That's what's been keeping us busy these last 18 months, planning a farm.  We've been in lots of meetings; meetings with council, with architects, grazing consultants, weed management consultants, town planners, bushfire risk planners, markets gardeners, landscapers and Resource Management bureaucrats.

We've also done workshops on fencing, farm planning, weed management, wildlife monitoring, stock grazing and irrigation.  We've dived head first into learning about regenerative farming through soil health and pasture regeneration. Studied cattle grazing, sheep grazing, cell grazing, egg production, and pig rearing.  We've applied for funding for weed management, tree replanting and scholarships for farm mentoring. We've crunched numbers, created dozens of spreadsheets with different scenarios, explored many business models. It's been a huge learning curve, and an expensive one.

And I can't help feel frustrated at how slow the process is. How expensive the process is, even through we haven't built a fence, bought a chicken or even begun to build a foundation. It's still a long journey ahead despite how much work we've done so far.

But what we have done is dreamed.

We've sat in the paddocks and listened to the wind rustle through the long grass and imagined where our house would sit, we've mapped out where the new fencing be installed, hammered in stakes where the orchard will go, the vegetable garden will be sowed, the wind break native trees, grasses and shrubs will be planted. We've swum in the river, kayaked along the rapids, picnicked on the river banks.   We've camped in the paddocks, cooked dinner on the fire, looked up at the big sky, taken big breaths and dreamed.

A few weeks ago we submitted a huge whopping proposal to council, putting all our knowledge that we'd learnt during the past 18 months, into a business plan that we hope ticks every box, so that we can get the go ahead to proceed with our dream.  To create a farm, a Good And Proper Farm.

I feel now is the time to tell you, and if you like, you can come along for the journey. The exhilarating, funny, frustrating, scary and expensive journey of starting a farm.

I mean, how hard can it be?

28 comments:

  1. All the very best to you and your family with this new venture Michelle!!

    I dream of having my own farm in Tassie once I've done Primary teaching. I'm beginning this week so after this year there are three more years to go!
    (I had to finish my first degree in English and History first!). I look forward to following along with you guys on this journey even if I'm sweltering up in the Qld heat :D

    Also got that reference at the end (my family adore Gourmet Farmer).

    ~Evie

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    1. Thank you Evie! I'm all for big dreams and I hope you follow yours one day. And yes well spotted on the Gourmet Farmer quote, but really it did seem totally appropriate! Mx

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    2. Aww thank you so much!! I hope it comes into fruition!

      I agree, it was the perfect quote!

      ~Ev

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  2. This makes me want to cry with happiness for you!!! I cannot wait to watch your new life unfold. And as always, I dream of the day I visit Tassie but now I can add visiting your farm to the dream list! X

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    1. Thanks Reannon! Yes you must come and stay at our farm one day! Mxx

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  3. Ohhh Michelle congrats!! amazing idea and project...I want to see all this dream come true, strength and tenacity !! kisses from Argentina <3

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    1. Thank you Vicky for your kind words, it's very exciting! Mx

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  4. Hey neighbour. :)

    We just bought and moved onto our Huon farm last month. Still in the honeymoon phase but it's amazing.

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    1. Welcome to the neighbourhood Gordon!

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  5. This is wonderful news!!!! Im so excited for you and your family and the incredible journey ahead. Big love your way.XXX We should never stop dreaming!

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    1. Ah Thank you so much Fliss, fellow dreamer! Mxxx

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  6. Such a big thing and thank you for sharing. I love that part of any new project, the possibilities. Keep hold of that through the hard stuff. You will look back in 10, 20, goodness knows how many years and marvel at it.

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    1. Thank you Kate! It's a huge project but we're loving it grow from a seed of an idea to reality!

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  7. So marvellous! I can't wait ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  8. Congrats! I'm not from the region but what about your property that makes the zoning tricky? Is it in a residential area? Or is it near a national park? I would have though that area would be prime Australian farming land!

    Also what will happen to your old house?

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    1. It's protected agricultural land - so you can't build on it unless it's critical to support an agricultural enterprise. And if all goes to plan we'll sell our house and build a house on the farm.

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  9. I've been reading your blog for years and really enjoyed the Table in the Orchard. My home is in Finland and one day I'd love to live even more remote than now. Presence of nature is really everything one needs. I can't wait to read more of your journey. Maybe it'll become a book too?

    Hanna

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    1. I was also kind of thinking this, write like a 5 year story arch from when they purchased it to moving on it and maybe first couple of years growing stuff. Has potential if you go through the interesting details of actually getting the farm accredited etc.

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    2. Thank you Hanna! And yes, maybe if there's enough drama and jeopardy along the way, with a not perfect but contented ending it might make a good book! I'll be documenting as we go just in case!

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  10. So excited for you can't wait to follow along.

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    1. Thanks so much Kathy! Excited to share the journey!

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  11. This is so exciting! an end of an era I guess too... I don't know how many times I've read your book now and always think of your stove and vegetable garden. Is your aga coming with you? I know the vegetable garden can't but you get to plan a new one right? Have you started taking clippings of your apple trees? such an exciting time! And Congrats!!

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  12. Melissa Hooper4 March 2018 at 08:33

    Will enjoy following along with you, all the best for your new family adventure, must be time for a catch up dinner soon. x

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  13. I swear I heard Matthew say that last line!
    Congratulations and best of luck... Looking forward to seeing what's coming next!

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  14. That's exciting news, Michelle! I've been struggling with that "when to tell" question too... All the best with the new venture, and the council approvals!

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  15. Congratulations Michelle, how exciting. We also have dreams to move from Vic to Tassie and have a little bit of land to grow food and have some animals. When it feels out of reach I read a few pages from your book and feel invigorated again. Look forward to hearing more inspiring tales with this new adventure.
    Lauren

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