In February 2011, we packed up our belongings, said goodbye to Young and all our lovely friends, and made the move back to Barham to our new home. Daisy was 19 months old and I was due to have our second child, Chester, in the March. We returned home in the middle of harvest so it was straight in to it!
As Mum was (and still is) living on the farm we moved in to my Uncle George’s very beautiful house in town (featured in Country Style magazine) which was the old National Bank. We were so lucky to be able to move into such a beautiful home, but it has meant that we are not always there when things go wrong like when the frost fans need to fire up or when there’s a blow-out with a pump. It has made things a little more hectic for Tim, but it is pretty convenient living next door to the supermarket, so there’s pros and cons.
The first 12 to 18 months were full on. We had so much to learn and we had to learn it quickly.
In the November after we moved home Mum had to have a major operation (right in the middle of our first harvest), which meant that she was completely out of action for a good 6 months. We basically had to wing our first harvest and work it all out on the run. Our packing shed was this really small old machinery shed that just had a packing machine in it. It was very “rustic”.
Thank goodness we have inherited a wonderful team of staff at the farm. Wayne Basset is our head farm manager and he is worth his weight in gold. He, along with Margie and Toni, helped us to fumble through that first year. Our first harvest wasn’t a great one. The crop was really light and the prices were down so it was pretty tough going. Luckily Tim was able to do some locum work to help make ends meet. And thank goodness for overdrafts!
We really jumped in head first with everything when we first got back. I really wanted to do everything at once! We established a brand, set up a new shed, planted more trees and changed the management of the farm a lot. It all happened very fast. We were really lucky that a very good friend of mine, Lisa Martin, had just gone out on her own as a consultant and an expert in the field of avocados. We signed her up and she has visited every two weeks since we first took on the farm. I don’t know where we’d be without Lisa. She has so much knowledge and she helped us so much in that first year. I guess that’s where we’ve been really lucky in general actually: we’ve got a really great network of friends and family that we call on for help, a lot. We get so much great advice from the people around us and it really helped us in that first year particularly.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it also takes a village to run a farm!