Six years ago I started looking for a place in the country. The suburbs and suburbanites bugged the hell out of me (still do), and I wanted space. That desire morphed over time, with both the property type and overarching ethos evolving. I started looking at places with a quarter acre of land, but increased over time to wanting around a hectare several years on. This was partly due to the fact that we kept finding nice places with more and more land, but also because the reasons for moving were changing. My initial desire to move was relatively anti-social in nature, but ended up being an aim for a self-sufficient lifestyle. My 600-ish square metre suburban house block was at critical mass for veggie/herb patches and fruit trees, and without even trying we found that we were producing enough of certain things that we’d never have to buy them again. I wanted to expand that to include all of our food.
We found the perfect place, with 3 acres of land, towards the end of 2011, and we moved in between Christmas and New Year. Last week marked our first anniversary.
I’ve always been passionate about gardening and doing so in an enviromentally sound and sustainable way. However, this property search became more than just that. It grew into a desire to take responsibility, both for the food we consume and the husbandry of the land in which we grow it. That may sound a little grandiose (aka wanky), but it actually got bigger. My very firm plan is to build and leave an eduring legacy for my family. They will understand where their food comes from. They will not be dependent on anybody else to provide them that food, which also means they won’t ever be at the mercy of people who mishandle land or animals for profit.
This is more than providing my family with organically-grown produce. This is me teaching them to be self-dependent.
The place we found was a little run down and had never been used productively. We expected it to be a lot of work, and of course still completely under estimated just how much work was involved. In addition to that, we’ve been adapting to country life and trying to learn the myriad things we need to know to be self-sufficient. I may know how to grow a veggie patch or fruit tree, but nothing prepares you for the effort involved in doing it on this scale. You simply can’t understand it unless you’ve lived it.
As wanky as my initial grandiose ideals were, it’s probably even worse to call this a “journey”. It really does fit though, and I’m sticking with my choice of analogy. I’ve been documenting this journey in a way, via a sporadically updated journal on my computer, along with more frequent Facebook status/picture updates. My desire is less to share this with my Facebook friends, and more to record where we started and what we’ve done for my kids. Hence this blog. I am determined that my kids and their kids after them will understand how this all started.
I also wasn’t joking when I said that you can’t understand the level of effort required to do this unless you’ve lived it. That’s another reason for this blog. My real aim is to build a documented and enduring legacy for the Atherton family; however, I’m happy for others to read it and maybe spark some interest in the progress.
I’ll start by back-filling the last year using my journal and various Facebook entries. Then the aim is to update this at least monthly. Fingers crossed…
Looking forward to following your progress, Neil and family. Count me “inspired”! :o)
Love the blog idea!
Speaking to my country roots!
G’day mate enjoy reading your blog and all the trials and tribulations. We share similar passions, I’m just yet to have that little acreage. Soon enough hopefully. Cheers michael from warrnambool, vic
Ideal !!! Exactly what we’re trying to produce here at Mt Garnet. Am on the way to reasonable sufficiency. Have been raising pigs & meat chickens for the last 7 yrs. Only had bought pork & chicken a couple of times and the flavour DOES NOT compare at all to ours. Also have laying hens for the eggs, tractor abilities and just all round company. Vegie garden gets a bit hit and miss at times but am also getting there. Haven’t dug a garden bed for years. That’s the pigs job. Would love to just go back to farming full time but the almighty dollars are needed. Our kids know exactly where their food comes from and are quite handy in the kitchen and garden. Brick smokehouse is next on the plans. Had one made out of a 44 gallon drum but had to relocate it so was offered a brick one for nothing so gratefully dismantled it to rebuild it at home. One day we will get everything in their place. Keep up the blog. like you I try to keep notes/diary but not always the most committed of writers. Only on the computer now ’cause we are experiencing that dreary ‘Malanda Mist’ weather. Cheers Monica from Mt Garnet, FNQ.
I noticed that your rotary hoe is the same as mine but in substantially better condition. I wonder if you would min giving me the specs on the engine ie. serial number, HP, etc. Mine are gone and I am desperately in need of either replacing or reconditioning the engine. Hope you can help me. My wife and I have just recently purchased 1 hectare of land with an old cottage and are trying to do what you have been doing. Good luck.
Hey Chris. We’ll check it out as soon as we can. That might not be for a few days though. Sorry for the delay…