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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: Arriving in the Northern Rivers | Moving in | Changing land-use | Dairying | Farm work | Markets | Off-farm income | Expansion | Succession | Organic farming | Bush Regeneration

Expansion

Planting those berries under the Macadamias, eventually the macadamias became dominant and the berries were in the way, that of actually harvesting the macadamias. But I’d spent all that time developing the market for the berries that I didn’t want to stop. At the time the kids were still sort of starting to go into uni or approaching uni time and when … comes you have to pay for them they’re not eligible for allowances so instead of coming up at the time … two of them at uni at the same time, so was racking up the dollars. So had to go somewhere, found a suitable block and used the money that we’d made from the farm since building that house. So by 1998 had a bit of money in the bank and used that fund to buy a block that was suitable to move the dairy production to. And ah…then did that. And then in 2003 they were totally droughted there and I think there was an influence of a heat wave as well at a critical time at the end of the season and my normal technique of cutting them back they just didn’t come back for the next season. So I don’t know… they cooked in the ground is all I can guess. They’d been through dry times before particularly on the other farm and this farm was less exposed to that so there was no ground water so I put a bore in and there was no water in the well.

As it were, so there was no irrigation and in fact, during the season they coped quite well but between seasons they just didn’t come back. I wasn’t … I didn’t know when the drought was going to end and it didn’t. It was another four years before it did but ah… I didn’t like the idea of having a bare paddock there so I planted citrus there which we’re currently will be harvesting again in a month. And I used the money from that time…I’d paid off that farm from the production and also had enough…just enough for a deposit on another farm…

At the time I’d been working, well I’d been working a lot in the coffee industry over the years and the problem of having all the hand labour in the berries and then the berries coming out and things …or something else and there was a small coffee farm happened to be for sale at the time and this escalation of house prices was in a boom, about to be in a boom I should say. You could see it like another round coming, historically, and this place was sort of looked like it was about to be snapped up so …”oh what the heck” and moved into that with the idea of a greater level of mechanisation and a different marketing where you’ve got a stored product. The raw material you can store forever. The roasted bean you’ve got a lot of window in that and a lot of opportunities for different marketing styles through internet or …just take some of the immediacy out of the product so I thought it would be a good thing and also to move into that to start to back off some of the intensity of the farm operation. And you know with the long term plan of developing a farm that wasn’t totally based on …was sort of 100% personal input to actually…there wasn’t that skill level requirement in anyone you employed and also for yourself there sort of was a better time frame. I’d done my time milking at 5.30 to 7.30 – 8.30 to 10.30 at night and then the berries and packing past midnight. You know you’re fine while you’re doing it I don’t regret it or cursed it or anything like that it’s just what you do but you don’t necessarily have to do that forever. So it was a way to do that.

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