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Becoming a Farmer

January 10, 2015

I used to spend all my time and energy looking for perfect waves. Although I still love surfing, my young family and our small farm are constantly changing my life balance… for the better.

Becoming a farmer, not that I can lay claim to this by any means, is a strange path. It is a combination of romanticism, realism and hard work. I have never been great at hard work, especially physical. Farming requires a lot of this. There are commitments and routines, all of which I have had a particular phobia to. Yet I am transitioning. Maybe age is mellowing me but I like it. Hard work contrasts the ‘soft work’ of my day job. There is always something to learn.

It is nice to be able to have a concept and then pursuit it. Between my wife and I, we come up with ideas, like a biodynamic flower farm, then try and make it happen. Then the concept broadens; horses for manure, then to ride. Now cows, miniature cows, miniature cows to breed, miniature cows to breed and milk… and make cheese. The ideas consume us and our finances, like those people building boats in the middle of dry land that may one day get to the ocean, so too do we follow our ideas.

However, what starts as romantic thoughts of the naïve, soon become enlightened with the harsh daylight of reality. Take our plans to have cattle. First the fences needed to be done, then we needed water, then we realized we had weeds that needed clearing, then an area to handle the cattle, then electric fencing to rotationally graze, then a tractor. What starts out simple soon becomes monstrous. Somehow we make it happen, as an older farmer friend told me, “what I don’t do today, I do tomorrow.” In all honesty the significant driving force to get things done is cash- not derived from farming.

I like how cool farming is. You can wear a cowboy hat and drive a ute. Use a chainsaw, drive a digger. Have hay in your car and talk cows and horses. You can use a mattock- a very manly tool that makes you feel like a convict breaking rocks. You can even wear your gumboots to the beach for a surf check, (they make great après ski boots also). There are cool magazines about farming – Modern Farmer mag is for hipsters that actually do something. Horse magazines are mind blowing, so much gear- a six-horse float with kitchen and bedroom included.

One sad consequence of the enlightenment process is that I can no longer look at an open field and see it as a beautiful whole. I see it in parts- the weeds, the condition of the fences, the irrigation system, the pasture type.

After 15 years in the same profession it is very refreshing to learn new skills and do new tasks. I will never be a real farmer, but the insights I get with our small farm help me enjoy other, less obvious pleasures in life than chasing perfect waves. I like to sweat. I like to train a horse. I get gooey seeing a baby calf no bigger than a Labrador, and just as friendly. Plants growing. Rain falling. Rain stopping and sun shining. Simple pleasures.

Note to reader- give me a perfect wave anytime over pulling weeds.

 

 

Photography by And the Trees.

Garden

Organic Farm Takes Bloom

May 31, 2014

After years of trial and error our little farm has found herself. We are now an organic petal farm growing flowers for the natural dyeing and Eco dyeing process. Experimental as it is we hope to be part of a cleaner, Earth friendly movement to use natural products to colour our clothes. Currently we are working on a range of ‘urban farm wear’ for those who play in dirt. We hope you can join us on our little journey.

Check out our Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/MargariteandRosaCo

Garden

Our Garden

December 1, 2013

Our vegetable garden is our friend. Four years ago we dug our first beds and planted our first seeds. The soil was clay and the predators fierce, but with sweat, patience and time it now nourishes us. It is not only about the food it provides, which is wonderful. It is more about what our garden teaches us.

Our garden connects us with the seasons. We wait for the first sweat pea flowers, the strawberries to ripen, the heavy drops of summer rain. The garden seems to heighten the elements by adding significance to them. No longer is rain an inconvenience but a blessing enjoyed on many levels after a long dry spell. The sun shines both on our plants, and us and both are rewarded.

The soil connects us. Gandhi once said something like when man stops digging the earth he forgets who he is. The soil is a tough mistress, requiring constant attention and gifts. However, if treated well she is very giving and really isn’t that hard to please; a little compost, a gentle turning and sprinkle of water.

Our garden is a great teacher. She taught me patience and the joy that comes with watching plants grow- a delayed gratitude that makes food taste better when you have nurtured it from seed. She has taught my children how to work at things and rewarded them with the same simple pleasures that reward me.

Our garden is a great chef. Through the seasons we are held to keep our meals true to what is available. Simplicity is perfection, fresh is perfect and requires little added. Food from elsewhere never has that same taste.

As a family we owe a lot to our garden. It connects us, provides for us, entertains and delights us. For this we are grateful.