Our search for a property in which we could spread our self-sufficiency wings (beautiful metaphor, yes?) ended towards the end of 2011. We’d spent most of 5 years looking for places, starting out wanting a smallish block with a focus on the house and ending up wanting a hectare or more with a focus on a self-sufficient lifestyle. We found what we were after in Templers, South Australia.
This place has a nice-sized house on it. It’s not an old place, but is quirky and has character. It’s set on three acres and has two large sheds. One shed is 6m x 9m (20ft x 30ft), and is used for storage of things like our tractor and tools. The other shed is twice as large and is fully lined with insulated refrigeration panelling. It’s set up with a wash room at the back, shelved storage down one side, a large storage room in the middle, and a large work area at the front. We could not have designed a better work/food storage area had we tried, and it was sitting there all plumbed and powered waiting for us.
The place is just over 20 years old, and according to our retired farmer neighbour, has never been used productively. In fact, it had a grand total of 4 fruit trees, 3 of which were mutilated to the point of being almost useless. We managed to save 3 of those trees. There was nothing else productive on the property. In fact, it apparently didn’t have a back garden until six-or-so years before we bought it, which was when the vendor paved some paths, put some seedlings in, and then moved out and put the place on the rental market.
Being a rental for 5 or 6 years meant the place was a little run-down. The renters didn’t trash the property, but you can’t really expect renters to maintain a property like this. Things like the fences and retaining walls were well built, but not always with the right materials (e.g. retaining walls built with non-treated wood that became a feast for white ants) and had not been maintained in a while.
The property has a back paddock of approximately 2 acres. The rest of it was pretty much covered in trees. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but the trees were poorly placed and often poorly chosen, and making room for things like veggie patches and orchards became a challenge. It does have 7 or 8 really large gum trees, which we adore. Gum trees really aren’t that practical, as they’re huge and have a nasty habit of dropping limbs. However, they are massively important to wild life and just beautiful.
Basically, we found the perfect place for what we wanted, but it had never been used productively and was going to need a huge amount of work to get it to where we needed it. This page is all about that work, and will cover the many, many farm projects we’ve undertaken and will continue to do, along with the work we put into getting the fruit, veggies, and crops right.