Not long after we had the farm we decided to close it’s doors for two weeks. We wanted the time to blitz some jobs and make a dent in some renovation projects. We also needed to move around a lot of unused machinery and huge crates.
Luckily our in-laws were over for a few months from the UK and my father-in-law, Brian, ran his own building company before he retired so was a dab hand with machinery and knowing the ins and outs of construction.
This is when my eyes really opened to the amount of work required running a farm. I knew it would be physical hard graft but I remember sitting at our makeshift table on plastic chairs in the living room at the farm house and laughing at Adam and Brian’s black faces and muddy hands as they sat for dinner, piling their plates high with pasta as it was easy to cook and would fill their hard working bellies.
They spent three/four days solid clearing out the old chicken coop area and re-leveling the ground. This needed to be cleaned up and as fresh as daisies for our proposed seating area. All in nearly 40 degree heat!
We hired welders to make a stable, yet removable seating area on our tractor trailer for tours.
My mother in law cleaned the farmhouse, jumping up on sofa’s avoiding the mice as they scattered under her feet. They have since vacated the property don’t worry!
I packed up half of our current house and unloaded it at the farmhouse so that we had our belongings there and could feel settled whenever we were at the farm.
Friends jet washed the packing shed walls, Adam and Brian assembled beds, I re-arranged and cleaned the whole café a number of times over. There was so much we needed to sort and organise. My feet were sore at the end of each day.
I constantly lost the kids in the orchard and was worried about where they were. We decided we needed to set them boundaries and fence off the stream so we could feel more at ease. We also gave them walkie-talkies but these often fell out of their pockets when they were climbing or running.
We included the kids as much as we could in the workload. They cleaned, they swept, they dug holes and they made videos documenting the whole thing. However, sometimes they made more mess trying to help, so we often suggested they pick fruit, go to the front of the café and check the sky for Eagles or take a walk through the orchard lanes to look for kangaroos.
I think their favourite thing about the farm at that time was sitting in the café drinking milkshakes. It was pretty cool thinking we had our own café. Another part of the business we had to dive into head first! We had never run a café before. Adam put himself on a Barista course and got his Health and Safety certificates approved so he could work alongside our current café staff. I don’t think much phases this man. I on the other hand was happy to organise and then take a back seat.
I put everything into categories and then stored it all in huge Tupperware boxes to keep things clean, workable and easy to find.
We had a goal – A two-week blitz and then a big party for our son, Thomas and our father-in-law, Brian, who share the same birthday. It was to be their 68th and 8th Birthdays. We had invited Thomas’s whole class and their families and thought it was the perfect opportunity to test run the Orchard before we officially opened the gates to the public.
It was busy! But the kids had a blast. This was sooo exciting! After the party the relief was incredible. We had managed to clear up so much at the farm and do so many jobs but still had an endless list to tackle. We realised that this list would always be constant and that we had to prioritize things and be realistic.
I also felt we needed animals. Small animals, big animals, the whole bloody lot! We needed a little farm for families to enjoy. The land called out for it. Maybe, just maybe, we could even get a horse…
Braving the weather, around 20 riders set off on an early Sunday morning, to help raise funds for Autism early intervention. The 50 km route took the riders and supporters