I am lucky. Luckier than most. Yet here I am wondering if a $4 coffee on a three hour flight layover can be justified in my world. This feeling isn’t far off what most people in their early 20’s feel. Money, it’s usage and the reasons why it is are thoughts we get to deal with. $4 for a coffee? $300 a week for a house? $2 for one kilo of carrots? Why can I buy so many carrots with one coffee? What is money? What does it all mean? Where is it linked? The reality of this is the same for us all. I feel like an idiot for thinking I am in a different box- yet that is exactly how I feel.
Married at 20 (too young? Too happy?) and starting our life together fixing up an old two bedroom cottage and putting all we have into farming. We are taking a road less travelled, and it is fraught with dangers. We aren’t the sole proprietors in this, which is our biggest blessing. Wil and Megan are old hats; 21+ years in the business means we are gifted with guidance. And *curse word* we need it.
The past 12 months have been the beginning of us growing once more; we have started rebuilding the Bottle Tree Hill empire. Expanding to over 50 head of cattle, 27 head of sheep, approximately 50 chickens, and of course, free-range Saddleback pigs. In saying this we will put the big “but” in, which is the same big “but” that saw the shut-down of operations some years ago. Drought. We’ve have 350mm of rain so far this year, when the average is closer to 700. As such, livestock numbers can and, probably will, change drastically over the coming months, as we wait to see what the sky shall bring. Gardens are watered on creek water (which they can be a bit stroppy about) and will be changeable also. Rain is the only guaranteer of anything growing, and the only thing that we can not guarantee. It is not a comfort to see the farm in this circumstance. Though permaculture, and the techniques we implement have put us in a better position than most, and in the best position possible to recover. It is with pride that Kenelm and I both hold dear the ideas that first saw Logboy transform into what it is today. Environmentalism, a fierce curiosity, and the ability and desire to look outside of the norm to find new ways to do old things have been instilled on all three of Will and Megan’s children. I am blessed to be a part of this growing family, and this is apparent more than ever in the face of these hardships.
Taking control of the day-to-day running whilst collaborating on the overhead goals (Megan doesn’t want to be in school forever!) is terrifying, but it has meant we’ve been forced into figuring it out on our own. Pump broke? Best have a go at fixing that; we can’t wait. We’ve built and deconstructed more fences than seems reasonable, expanded numbers of animals, started gardens, mourned them, and given as much as we could to getting ahead. I don’t know if we are, and I wonder if we’ll ever know. Which causes, on occasion, a momentary doubt that we are capable of doing this, and I am too afraid to say it aloud.
Though, even when our friends seem unable to comprehend what we are doing (“but what is your JOB?”) and those we could relate to 25 years in our senior and 25 years passed listening to this particular struggle (“well, yes..??”), and we are alone. Completely so. I find peace and happiness.
Our verandah doesn’t have a floor yet. Our cattle are waiting for last years summer rain. I can’t get carrots to grow. The pump blew another capacitor. But we can do it. The sheep are fat, and having more lambs. Beetroot is becoming a specialty. The satisfying CLICK* of a pull string light illuminating the room that so many people and so many places came together to make, shows us we can do it. We are not alone, and even though we might feel it, we never were. So, we would like to welcome you, and ourselves, back.
* thanks Wil!