Our settlement date of September 1st was fast approaching, and the excitement and anxiety levels were rising too! For me, it really looked as though my long held dream would be realised.
So much to do, and so many unanswered questions.
The financial and legal matters around the settlement proceeded without too much grief. Our pre settlement inspection revealed a few minor surprises within the house and outbuildings, but nothing that a couple of skip bins couldn’t handle. The three ‘wild’ horses that looked like they would be coming with the property were another matter. The previous owners had run horses on the property for the fifteen years that they’d been here, and it seemed these three would be staying on with us! Hmmm …. horses certainly didn’t feature in any of our plans.
Both of the wives in this adventure had created with their respective employers to work from an office in Wauchope, our nearest town, which would put them much closer to a fast broadband service and also ensure that the distractions that the farm may provide would not be just outside the back door. Of course, the other benefit was proximity to fresh expresso coffee, something that these two city chicks weren’t looking forward to giving up any time soon.
And then the day arrived – the removalists did their thing, we overfilled our trailer with what was left and headed up the highway.
Whilst all four of us were practical and had some ‘bush’ experience, there still was an element of culture shock involved in a relocation such as this. Therese and I had been living in a two bedroom ground floor unit in Coogee where the total green space consisted of a place for the Hills Hoist and two sun lounges. And the bus stopped at the front door. And the unit above had timber floors. I’m sure you get the picture.
Then here we were. With 22 acres around us. Sure, we could see the neighbours, or at least their houses, or part of their houses. We’d only know if they were home if the lights were on at night. It was so dark – no street lights or playing fields with light spill, just the moon and the stars, and some nights that’s all we needed.
It’s quiet out here in the country – so peaceful. The road that continues a further 16 kms up the valley is a couple of hundred metres from the house, so we do have some traffic noise – the milk truck at 7 each morning, the school bus at 7.30 and then again at 4pm. And the dozen or so travellers at 8 commuting into Port and then back again at 5.30. Then it’s just the postie and the rural centre delivering some feed and supplies. We can hear when our neighbours across the river are out each morning on their quadbike checking their Wagyu herd, and when the other neighbour runs his mulcher over the paddock over the hill. More often though, the silence is broken by birdsong, or in the evenings, frogs chorusing. The natural world is so much closer here.
Did we mention the water? A number of visitors are rather surprised to learn that we aren’t on town water. The surprise continues as we inform them that no we don’t have rain tanks, rather we pump straight out of the river, and no, we don’t filter it either. Just drink beautiful fresh crystal clear water. Now that we are creating food here as saleable items we’ve been required to install a filtration system, but we joke that if ever the business stops performing then we could simply bottle the water and sell it!
It is worth noting however, that we simply can’t just turn on the tap and be assured of a reliable supply. Someone from the house has to remember to run the pump and fill the tank each fortnight. And as it’s yet to be automated, also remember to turn it off too. We use the same supply to water our stock, so if the animals knock their trough over or bite the end off the line (thanks Miss Piggy), then an unscheduled trip down the riverbank to the pump is in order, usually as you’re about to step into the shower.
One of the other differences to city living that was quickly apparent was security. We’d all been inner city residents, used to locking all the doors and windows before you left the house, and you’d never think of leaving the car unlocked even if you had off street parking. Rather surprisingly, we didn’t have any keys to pick up from the estate agent or solicitor on our way through town – how bizarre. I was rather horrified and set about sourcing deadlocks and all the other paraphernalia associated with window and door locks. By chance, we mentioned the issue with a long time resident who quipped “If someone’s going to drive all that way to steal from you, you don’t want to upset them and make it any harder for them than need be. If they really want to do it they will”.
The range in temperature here each day is far greater too. We’re 45 kms from the ocean, so whilst we do receive much welcomed sea breezes most afternoons through summer, the tempering effect of the ocean at night is a little distant. And we don’t have all those hard surfaces radiating heat in the evenings, nor all that other latent heat that cities posses. For us we have the wonderful sustainable resource of timber as our main heat source through winter, and it warms us twice – firstly as we collect it, split it and stack it, and then again when we burn it.
Mostly though. the biggest difference that we’ve had to adjust to is time and the way it is viewed. It is rather difficult to describe, but let’s just say that the consistent rush of the city and the created importance that is placed on time is diminished somewhat with each kilometre that you travel away from the city. Sure we have time lines to follow and deadlines to meet, but they are attuned more to the timing that Mother Nature provides. After all she is the controlling sometime silent partner in this venture, (probably all ventures if we were truthful) and city folk tend to lose sight of this.
Anyway, here we are, we’ve gone up the country, and yes, the water really does taste like wine.
This is the fifth post in a series about our journey to Near River, how our ethical pasture raised traditional field grown small holding enterprise has come to look like it does, and what we’ve learnt along the way.
Here are the previous posts, and yes, I’m an 80s music tragic.