Buying a working farm has been a big learning curve for us. When people ask me what’s the most important lesson I’ve learned at Spring Creek, I usually say “learning to expect the unexpected”. It seems that urban dwellers get so used to leading a predictable (if not monotonous) existence. Awake at 6 o’clock; on the 7 o’clock train or bus; back home again on the 6pm and home for dinner by 7pm. Payday is every second Wednesday; the rubbish bin gets put out for collection every Thursday night. Groceries and dinner can be picked up from the supermarket around the corner almost any time.
Opportunity abounds and there’s no real concept of scarcity for the majority of the population.
But life isn’t like that in the country and you soon learn how important it is to expect – and plan for – the unexpected. A trip to the supermarket is a 2-hour exercise so you learn to stock the pantry. You learn to stock up on feed for the animals when it’s abundant, or else you’ll pay 3-times as much if you wait til you really need it. There is no rubbish collection and forget about public transport – you’re on your own out here and you never know what’s going to happen next.
I was reminded of this shortly after we arrived at Spring Creek. In the early days I had continued with my “day job”, working long hours in the city during the week and traveling to and from the farm for the weekends. Compared to the previous owners who lived permanently at the farm, this was a change in routine for the local ecology – one that did not go unnoticed. I’d often arrive at the farm on a Friday night to see a wombat scurrying out from the house yard, having spent the week digging IN to the yard to snack on my new seedlings and garden plants and retreating just in the nick of time before the hounds were let loose. And on one Friday night, after a particularly grueling 3-and-a-half hour commute, I arrived busting for the loo.
Unloading the beagles and corralling them into the houseyard, I made a mad dash to the bathroom. I couldn’t unbutton my trousers fast enough and was about to sit down on the toilet when I detected a movement in the bowl. Propelled off my feet by a rush of adrenaline, I peeked into the bowl to see the hind legs of a big, green frog disappear round the s-bend. The frog, noticing the toilet wasn’t being flushed any more, had settled into the toilet bowl during the week. I mean, how often in the city would you check the toilet bowl for frogs?
So I’ve learned to expect the unexpected at the farm, and it’s translated to my work away from the farm as well. It’s improved my performance in all of my endeavours and is something I can highly recommend… just remember you’ll have to take it as it comes!