Exactly 3 weeks ago today we secured funding for Stage 1 of our Farm Project to go ahead. Stage 1 is all of the Orchard and Berry plantings along with the Vineyard and a smaller Farm-Gate building at the bottom of the site near the road. I think elsewhere in the world it would be referred to as a Farm Shop but it will essentially encompass the Chocolatier, the retail/fresh produce outlet as well as a gorgeous Cafe.
It has been the cause of much celebration to finally see our little dream turn into a reality. It has also been 3 weeks of enormous activity and pressure as we are racing against the clock to get everything prepared and in the ground before Spring, less than 2 weeks away!
We immediately welcomed Jamie to the team, a Farmer who has worked in the area for a long time and has been an absolute legend and has embraced the concept of a family business with open arms. He arrives at 7am into our chaotic kitchen and we try and have a coffee and a morning chat about work as Flynn climbs up his legs for a cuddle whilst we deal with the everyday interruptions of spilt milk at the breakfast table, school lunches and the search for missing socks, books and whatever the new puppy has found to chew up that morning.
Things are moving so fast that I'm running the risk of not having any "before' shots, so this is just a little update of what's been going on.
Old fences have been removed, new fences put in and all the of dreaded Box Thorn has been removed from the top of the paddocks.
We have a new road at the top of the Project site (below) which will provide a safe turning circle for the tractor as it reaches the top of each row as well as being a nice flat viewing platform for visitors picking their own fruit from the Orchard to look out over the Coal River Valley. The road will have another pass over with the bulldozer and smoothed off at the edges and grass planted over the top.
All of the trees and berries have been ordered and delivered. There are over 2000 trees with numerous varieties of each type of fruit, 15 000 Strawberries, 10,000 other Berry canes, 10,000 grape vines and a large flower bed. We have a portable fridge on the driveway to house the plants and we cleared out the shed for the ones that didn't fit.
Aside from the grapes which will be planted in Summer, all of the above will need to be planted over the next couple of weeks. That's a lot of plants! It is going to be a busy couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, there is no time for luxuriating under the stars in the outside bath but it is still being put to good use bathing the roots of the trees in a special solution before planting.
The paddocks have been worked over, fertilised and deep ripped.
The first 300 Apricot trees were planted on the weekend. The cherries will go in tomorrow.
Looking north, the Strawberry bed is ready to be planted out on the left and the other berries on the right.
Looking south, the bed to the left will be more Strawberries and the one on the right that I'm most excited about is the Flower bed.
These upper grassy slopes will be where the Vineyard will go and tomorrow it will all be ploughed over and sown with Oats until ready to be planted out in Summer.
And because I am a glutton for punishment and fell head over heels for his little Whippet puppy eyes, here is our new addition to the circus, "Rocket".
As an aside, apologies for falling off the blog without notice. I didn't anticipate it. The start of this Project has brought about two rather conflicting revelations. The first is that there doesn't seem to be much time available in the evenings to dedicate to blogging anymore - the older children are now staying up a bit later and Daniel and I are needing the evenings to chat about work things now too. An obvious solution seemed to be what I hear other people doing and that is to squeeze some time out of the mornings before the children wake up. However, the second revelation I've had, as highlighted by the arrival of Jamie at the crack of dawn, is that I'm not at my conversational best in the mornings or at least in the first hour before the 2 coffees have worked their magic. This will no doubt translate to my blog writing so please bear with me as I embark on this new phase of life I'm going to call "Mel gets cheerful in the mornings". I wrote this Post this morning and it was hard and did feel very strange. I'm hoping it won't take too long to find my morning groove.