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To market, to market…

I think I might have mentioned already that the ‘harvest’ this year will be minimal to non-existent. We have a few olives in brine ready to pack and sell but otherwise the farm produced little in the way of the hazelnuts and olives that should provide our living.This throws us out onto our own resources so we sat down, thought a bit, and decided I could make lots of pickles, jams, chutneys and the like to sell at local markets until we had a decent harvest of the other produce.

Since then I’ve been working slowly towards creating a variety of products, tho necessarily in small batches. They have to be small because we don’t have that much fruit from the orchard to process! We had quite a few Nashi pears, Damsons, Conference Pears and a lot of plums but not really in commercial quantities. Still, we have *some* things to sell.

Another challenge has been the labelling. Apart from having exactly *no* experience or expertise in producing the pickles etc *(so have to play it by ear), I also have no knowledge of *labelling* either which is making the entire process both time consuming and *very* frustrating! Ok it’s a learning curve I have to climb… and a steep one at that, but in all honesty I can say it wasn’t high on my ‘bucket list’ of “things I want to do before I die”. Even now I’m prevaricating. I managed to make some form of label for most of the jars, at least for the front so people know what they’re buying, but I’m yet to compete the backs. It’s a legal requirement to have nutritional labelling on the jars etc so I have little choice but do it, nevertheless it *is* a struggle.  😀

Lorst ma dawg!!

Had a massive thunderstorm the other day whilst we were in the local town. Got home to find one of the dogs, Wolfie, had disappeared. We got his as a ‘rescue dog’ from the local pound and he’s been a great companion for the year or so he’s been with us. Unfortunately like many other dogs, he’s scared of thunderstorms and whilst he manages when we’re there… when we *aren’t* and he’s locked outside, he bolts

.

He’s done it before but came back an hour or two after things had quietened down. This time however he was gone overnight. Got to admit I was seriously worried about him and got quite depressed at the thought of him out there in the wilds, soaked through, bitten by snakes, spiders or paralysis ticks and us unable to help. Living where are is wonderful but there are drawbacks. Our own plot is nearly 65 acres of bush and there is even more surrounding us! Anyone, or anything, that ventures too far in could well get lost!!

My daughters both suggested laying his blanket out on the fence so he could follow his own smell home. We both thought this was silly as if he couldn’t find the scent of our Alpacas, geese and chickens etc why would his own scent be any more use?? Anyway, as a last resort we did hang the blanket out. Two hours later, and after over thirty hours of worry, he padded into the sitting room and sat down. So *was* it the blanket?? Or was it all coincidental?? You decide.  😀

What outcome on the income?

The obvious problem with leaving a well paid job and moving away from the sort of company liable to employ you in a similar role is that you end up in a situation where you have no income. So in those circumstances what do you do?

If you said ‘panic’ I’m right there with you. Well I sort of was but again obviously, that couldn’t last and we had to start trying to make sense of our situation.

To begin with we had bought a nut farm so our first step was to check the potential harvest. Wonderful. We’d arrived in a drought period and there were no nuts. To add to our delight we discovered out olive trees cropped biennially… and we were in the wrong year. More joy.

Something needed to be done and the answer was simple… no, not to panic again but to make something. With that as our inspiration we set out to creat things ‘farmy’ that we could sell at local markets until the nuts and olives fruited etc.. Over tha opast few weeks we’ve set to making pickles, jams and chutney’s, bottling them and preparing ourselves to set our stall up (literally) in local markets.

I should point out here than we have as much experience in creating, bottling and selling pickles, jams and chutneys as we do farming, in other words none. More on that in the next post and probably the next twenty-five or so!!

And so we’re back…. from outer space… etc

Yes after months of absolute and pointless inactivity we’ve finally returned to plague the world with our rambling. By ‘we’ of course I mean ‘I’ but we I mean I thought it was a bit presumptuous to claim all the credit for my idleness, but there ya go. So, where have we been? Quite simple really… we’ve been moving… we’ve been settling in… we’ve been trying to work out how the hell we’re going to generate some sort of income and what on earth possessed us to buy a place so far from anywhere that it’s actually *called* the back end of nowhere!

You may think I jest but if so you’d be wrong! The little farm we bought (see last post) is called Erehwon Orchards and as I’m sure you’ve worked out already from the clues, Erehwon is Nowhere backwards… i.e. the back of nowhere. Obviously it *is* ‘somewhere and that somewhere is about an hours drive up corrugated dirt roads from the one time bustling fishing port of Eden. Where is Eden you ask? Grab a map and head down to the very southern tip on NSW and Eden will probably be the last town you’ll see. It’s a quiet little place these days. There are still a few fishing boats working off the wharf but there’s little else happening. At one time there was a huge fleet, a cannery, and even a thriving logging business in the hills surrounding the place. Now however it’s almost all gone and the Eden community is struggling to find its place in the modern world.

One thing that’s happened to liven the old place up is an influx of ‘sea changers’, people who are fed up to the back teeth with the rat race and house prices of the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne and have headed out to where the sun shines yellow, the seas are still blue and you can see an abundance of wildlife on your doorstep. This is pretty much what we did and this is where we are. We gathered together our possessions, our animal friends and ourselves and headed off to the place I mentioned earlier, 65 acres of bush with a few acres of olives and hazel nut trees. There’s lots of scope for improvement and lots of opportunities for small producers to make a living, perhaps not a highly paid living but certainly enough to keep body and soul together and what more does anyone really need??

And time moved on…

So we sold the old house and moved. Currently we’re in a ‘rental’ but we’ve put an offer in for a 65 acres organic nut farm in the south of NSW. We’ll move once contracts are signed sealed and delivered. We figure about 8 weeks and then… life starts anew (we hope).

The Curse.

There is something strange about this house. Well, I *think* it’s the house, it could, of course, be me that’s the problem but that’s a *way* bigger issue than I want to cope with right now and the implications are more horrendous than I want to consider.

So, moving on, why do I think the house is cursed? Just to begin, perhaps I should tell you that the previous two owners of the property (immediately before us) both had serious issues that forced them to sell. The first of the two we know about, was a building company  called “Gentry Homes” … ho went bankrupt and had to close down. The place was then bought by a couple called ‘Batty’. Well, that might have been a clue but, nevertheless, they opened a couple of fishing/sports supply shops and… yes… went bankrupt. To try to get finance the husband relocated to Indonesia, but when there he got involved with another woman and, they split up. With no money the property began to get *very* run down and eventually they were forced into what was, for them, a fire sale.

We turned up with a bucket of money from the sale of our ‘old’ house in Rouse Hill, bought it (for what I still considered a hundred thousand dollars over the natural price) and set about renovating the entire place. Assuming this was a forever house we started at the far end of the circle intending to work out way around to the main house. Which we did.

We had the usual run of things going wrong, as you do when you renovate, but we also lost some stock… for example two lovely Alpacas, two beautiful geese, and about 30 really lovely chickens that were so friendly. Actually, they were just the sorts of things that could happen to anyone in the country, but they were a ‘taster’, the *really* bad stuff came later. To begin with, my daughter’s behaviour suddenly began to slide downhill. She’d always been ‘difficult’ but her behaviour deteriorated so severely that we were forced to seek help from a number of professionals but… to no avail.

The sequence of events was pretty sad in itself. The stress, compounded by 60 years of bad eating and little exercise compounded to send me to the hospital to get 4 stents. After they were inserted I was told to take anti-coagulants, (i.e. blood thinners) and they caused an existing oesophageal ulcer to ‘burst’ sending me back to the hospital. Whilst I was there, my daughter took her own life. We had no idea she was so badly disturbed, nor have we ever found out what pushed her over the edge. I blame myself, but I suppose that’s what all parents do when faced with something personally horrific and inexplicable. Even finding her was a fluke because I shouldn’t have been ‘mobile’… yet something drew me to where she’d killed herself and I found her.

That was the worst of all the things that have happened but there have been other things. For example, we needed to get the pool area tiled as we were renovating it so asked the son of a friend of ours (both of whom are tilers.) to do the job. As it turned out he was not only short of work, but needed somewhere to live so we let him use the old house on the property for no rent on the understanding he’d work to renovate it and we’d pay the going rate for his actual work on the pool. Well to cut a long story short he *also* began to slide downhill to the extent that one day he simply downed tools, walked off the job and never came back… leaving all his tools behind!

Shortly afterwards my wife lost her job. No job means no income. No income means no mortgage payments… and trouble.

Well, she managed to get a consulting role three days a week at Cochlear which was enough to keep body and soul together as long as we took things a little easier. So it was with some dismay that we learned that she had a tumour on her pituitary gland. She’s due to be operated on next week (more on that soon as well) but while she’s off work… no sick pay so more stress.

This last setback has finally ‘pushed us over the edge’  and so, much as we love living here, we just have to move and give it all away. From one perspective I’ll be really sad to leave the place, but from another I want to move before something even *worse* happens for example that *we* end up bankrupt like those two previous owners!!. 🙁

If we get our asking price we might walk away with some dignity and enough cash to set ourselves up somewhere far away, South Australia maybe. Otherwise… who knows.

The ‘big move’.

We’ve come up with a plan… a cunning plan at that! We have to move. Deb’s employment is gone and this house is clearly cursed (more on that later). This means we *really* need to move to regain some sort of financial and emotional stability. The past few years have been appalling and it’s time to simply call it quits and pull up roots. We’ve located a place outside Adelaide that looks to be suitable. Three bedroomed house on 20 acres!!. If the place sells for our asking price, we might have enough to pay for our new house outright. This leads us on to the real plan.

So we should have a house paid for. If Deb can’t find a job in Adelaide we’ll manage on unemployment or part-time work and live quietly. If she *does* find work then this is where the clever part of the plan comes it to play. We save… and save… and save… for three years. Towards the end of the three years, we buy two strong containers, put them on blocks somewhere sensible and fill them with our furniture. Oops… let’s backtrack as little. Before we pack up the furniture we buy a caravan and a decent car to tow it. We test out our ability to live long term in the van and… hopefully… all will work out well. We can practice driving around the property to learn how to reverse, tow, park etc so we’re ready for the open road!

It’s *then* we pack up the furniture and other gear into the containers so that we can set off on our adventure!

The general idea is that we rent out the house and that income, along with the income from the Brissie house, would be enough to keep us mobile… approx $1000 or so monthly (maybe up to $2000). We do this for as long as we feel fit and active enough to do it and then when we decide we’ve had enough, we get off the road and settle down in either of the two houses. In between times we have capital growth so we’re not losing out… much. Effectively someone else will be paying us to go on an extended holiday!

As I said, the timeline for this move is three years so by the time the wife is 55, and I’ll be 72… we’ll be set to go. I’m not fit for much now so I’ll not be up for physical work anyway by then but who knows, I might just manage to lose some weight and get fit. 🙂

There is much planning to do between now and then, and it all hangs on Deb getting a job with a decent salary, but we are being positive. At the very *least* we’ll leave the trauma of living here behind us and move on with our lives. It’ll be sad to leave Karmah and Leuca behind, but I’m sure they’ll understand one way or another.

Damn…

Well, I couldn’t find the netbook and I have no idea where it is either! I’ll just have to use one of the other old notebooks I bought for the kids and they ‘outgrew’. The problem with them is that the batteries on all of them are pretty much shot to pieces and it costs as much to replace the batteries as a new machine… crazy isn’t it.

Anyway, I have to empty the office ready for the big move so I may yet find the damn thing. 🙂

Gone a bit quiet.

Still a bit worried about Deb who sees the neurosurgeon this arvo at 3:30. She’s got no more symptoms as far as she’s aware anyway but there is still ‘growth’ so… well who knows.

As for the other things I want to talk about or write about, not really sure. The initial urge has diminished a little but it’s still something that needs to be done. Part of the problem is that I need to write when I need to write, but the desktop is too big and the laptop has a dreadful battery life. The answer which came to me as I typed… is to use the Netbook I bought last year but hardly use!

I think it’s time to go searching around the office to dig it out sand tuck it in my bag!! 🙂

In the meantime I have to go shopping for Week two of the ‘Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation’ (12WBT) but I really need to both weight myself *and* do the exercises. My leg is a lot better so I need to focus.

Housing… starter.

Here we go again. So where do we start… maybe a list of the places I lived all these years could be a start. Also, they’d no doubt remind me of more and more stories!! So, as you’ll see. I’ve moved about a bit in my 68 years…… for example…

In Caerffili I’ve lived in… Bartlett Street, Dan-y-Coed, St Martin’s Road, White Street, Princes Rise, Newport, London, Barry, Princes Rise, Lansbury Park, Princes Avenue.

From Caerffil to Pencoed… Deri Avenue.

From Pencoed to Sarn… Crescent Road )I think… will check!).

From Sarn to Pontycymmer… Upper Adare Street

From Pontycymmer to London… Lutheran Flat (will have to ask), Whitecross Street

From London to Croydon… not sure of that address.

From Croydon to Caerffili… Princes Rise.

From Caerffili to Wallendbeen… (that was a biggie)…

From Wallendbeen to… South Wentworthville…

From South Wentworthville to Penrith…

From Penrith to Kellyville… York Road

From Kellyville to Rouse Hill… McGilvray Place

From Rouse Hill to Kenthurst… Lang Road

From Kenthurst to… undetermined right now. 🙂

Seems, unless I’ve forgotten a few moves, I’ve lived in at least 24 places… not counting the places I’ve lived in temporarily such as a couple of months in Goodge Street, a few months in Butlin’s Barry and a year in staff quarters in a hotel in Newport!!!

I think maybe the stories will take a long time so perhaps it would be wise to write them up one at a time. 🙂