It’s 7.48am and there’s traffic banked up for as far as the eye can see, I’m in a shiny, blue hatchback on my way to work, inane breakfast radio is blaring at me, bike riders weave through the cars and it occurs to me, “what am I doing this for, I’m not happy with this anymore”. Time to start doing what I want to do, time to let go of this baton I’ve been running with for years, finally…time to get out of the race.
It was a typical 8 to five, Monday to Friday. Get in, work, go out for a drink, go home, sleep, get up and do it all over affair. I didn’t realise at the time that for the past 6 months I’d been going out into the country every weekend, places like Castlemaine, Daylesford, Hepburn, Trentham and even Kinglake and St Andrews. It was a desire to break away, a wanting of space and peace that got me out there all the time. I wanted to grow fruit, grow vegetables, raise livestock and get back to the earth. My love of clubs, pubs, new suits and ego was waning at an alarming rate and my search for farmers markets and regional produce was waxing. Unavoidably Monday morning came around again and the search for a country property to buy and make my own had begun. There’s no need for me to go into the rigmarole involved with trying to find and buy a house, I’m sure 99% of us know the frustration, disappointment and endless parades of homes that look great on screen but are crap upon viewing first hand. I was lucky, I found a place in spa country (north west Victoria) that grabbed me straight away. Next weekend I’d organised for a friend to come to Daylesford with me for the day and on the way we’d casually drop in to check the little place out.
Next weekend came and we were on our way, I’d grown a bit cold about the house viewing idea and was going to forget it until my friend reminded me ‘wasn’t there a house you wanted to look at?’. Not wanting to look like a tool I agreed that we were going to look at it on the way up. We drove, I looked, I loved and 90 days later it was mine. The dream had begun…sort of.
It isn’t difficult for me to say that I had no idea what I was up for, I didn’t. If you’re not up for more than a few hard yards and even more hard graft then don’t move and stay where you are. It all happened, termites, rabbits, dodgy builders, mice, flies and living, sleeping, eating and cooking in one room for a few months. Three years later I wouldn’t change a thing, what an enormous learning curve. I’ve got fantastic vegetable gardens, heaps of fruit trees, sheep (currently with lambs) and a house I wouldn’t sell for quids. Writing a book on the perils of home buying and renovation would be easy enough but that’s not what I’m trying to do. The produce garden for me is a small piece of your self, creating, sharing and learning from others which is something I think a lot of us have forgotten about. You don’t have to have acres in the country to grow fruit or vegetables, in fact a certain policeman I know lives in a regular suburban block and has a fantastic and very productive vegetable garden. If you put in the time and believe you can, then you can. Homegrown produce is an absolute joy for me. Planting seeds, watching them grow, feeding them, watering them and then ultimately reaping the rewards and transferring them into a wonderful dish that can be shared with family and friends. The bug has certainly bitten me and as far as cooking goes, it’s been there since I was a child.