I am pretty sure my dream came from the dream my parents had for themselves – to live a simple life, to grow my own food, to be connected to the land and provide experiences for my family, without costing the earth.
There could be lots of different ways that one could live a dream like that. I guess my ideal comes from where my Mum & Dad were before they had to give it all up. We had a 2 acre hobby farm with oranges, mandarins, apples, plums, apricots and pears. Asparagus grew between the citrus trees, we had a pecan tree near the chook pen, lambs in the side paddock, Petunia the pig, a goat named Cash, Sam the sheep, a turkey named Tom, and numerous other domestic pets – cats, dogs, guinea pigs and budgies (all with their own special names but too many to mention here!). We had a small irrigation channel out the back that was used to water the farm and for swimming in. There was a little side channel that fed into our neighbour’s farm, which we would pretend was a creek. We would play in the mud and pretend that we were orphans who had to fend for ourselves in the forest of fruit trees. We would search for tadpoles and collect eggs from the chooks (what we call chickens in Australia). We would climb our neighbour’s Mulberry tree and not come down until our lips and fingers were stained bright purple.
We lived on the farm for nearly 10 years until my parents had to sell it. By that stage I was in year 12 at school and all I wanted was to live closer to my friends in town. I didn’t really appreciate living on the farm at that time. It had just become a lot of work for my Dad, and too far away from the activities of our daily lives. But I miss that farm now. My appreciation of the upbringing I had has become stronger and stronger over the years.
I suppose when you become a parent yourself, you often think about the experiences you had as a child. I think back on my childhood and I remember happiness, creativity, love, friendship, togetherness, music, laughter and learning. Of course there are times that I remember that are not all fun and laughter. I do remember the household chores, the death of pets, the family feuds, the not so great stuff, but the majority of memories that echo in my mind from that time are of happiness and love.
Of course, I want my own children to have an upbringing like that! And one of the elements of that upbringing that I want to bring to my children is the DREAM! But I could be waiting forever for the right property, the right home, the right time. So I have decided to start now, where I am at with what I have.
My current situation is this: I have one child – a gorgeous little boy (the Munchkin) who will be 2 years old in April. Together with my husband (GH), we live on a small suburban block that backs onto a nature reserve. The view out my kitchen window is a little snapshot of the Australian bush. We have two dogs who love to dig so I decided to set up the vegetable garden away from them out the front. We have several large bushes in our front garden, which provide a bit of privacy and protection from the street, so the garden is sort of tucked away. I am not terribly good at growing vegetables. I love to cook but I tend to never be able to follow recipes and go off on experimental tangents. I don’t know how to sew more than a straight line (I used to make some killer “scrunchies” when I was a kid!). I love to create; I love colour and natural materials. I really enjoy craft – card making, painting, candle making, beading. I love the idea of permaculture, I want to only ever buy organic food, and I try to support small, local businesses where I can.
It is from this starting point that I begin this journey for myself and my family. This journey is not just about growing our own food, but also being less reliant on buying “stuff” and beginning to make our own, repair instead of throw away, upcycle, create and break out of the “cookie cutter” mould that we sometimes allow ourselves to get cut by. Would you like to join me?
PS. My parents are still living their dream on a much smaller scale. They inspire me! They live on half a block in the middle of town (it’s very small!) but they have 3 chooks who provide them with a steady supply of eggs, they have a rich compost system, they grow asparagus, lettuce, artichokes, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, rocket, spinach, parsley, basil, lemongrass, chillis, and potatoes – the list goes on! Mum makes her own soft furnishings, she has restored old cupboards and side tables, she makes her own ice-cream, and Dad preserves lemons and olives. I’m sure I’ll be knocking on their door a lot during this journey for some valuable advice.
Step one on the journey? Making our own sauce – Italian style!