Slight Change of Heart and a New Opportunity

It’s been a mad couple of weeks. I have been very busy with work and other activities and the property search has changed forms somewhat.

I am going to be honest. My interest in Victoria has waned. Regular commenter here, Sam, asked me in an email a few weeks ago whether there’s a chance I would feel lonely living so far away from everything and everybody in West Wimmera. I was quite defensive initially but my mood changed. It’s a huge thing I am taking on. It’s a huge change of life. And as much as West Wimmera is only a 4 hour coach trip from Adelaide it’s a 4 hour coach trip from Adelaide! Financially and time-wise not something I can do on a whim.

Short story, I went and viewed a block a lot closer to Adelaide last weekend. Much different than what I have been looking for but good nonetheless. It is smaller, 1/2 acre, and based in a tiny village but it provides for my needs. Public transport is regular and cheap. The village has a pub and a post office. Services are 20km to the east and west. And the price is right.

What’s more, the First Home Owner Grant I am entitled to will almost offset the cost of buying the land and building a small straw bale house on it. This combined with the fact that it’s an easy weekend or day trip out to the block means that I can ease into this lifestyle a lot better. I can be experimental. And, if I change my mine, or want to buy somewhere else, I am much more likely to profit from the investment.

That’s where I am at.

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8 thoughts on “Slight Change of Heart and a New Opportunity

  1. Being debt free is not to be sneezed at. We are still paying off our block and it holds us back.
    A half acre plot does not sound like much land, but we only use about five acres of our block in total (including sheep). You will have neighbors though, and they may not approve of your projects (and can’t ignore them).
    Wow, that was a quick run through the pro’s and con’s in my mind.

  2. I live on five acres, and what I couldn’t do with 1/2 an acre instead? It has to do with economy of scale: a one person operation can do a lot more on 1/2 an acre, than a two person operation can do on five acres. Think smart design, specific and multiple functions.

    At 60 my mum lives on 1/2 an acre and it’s too big for her now, but I know that 1/2 acre is not a small enterprise at all – you will be working most of your spare time on it. If you manage to master your land so that you start looking for more space, consider borrowing land from someone else nearby. Raise several animals for meat and offer them an agreed amount in return for use of the land. Many an older farmer would love this kind of arrangement, if it means they don’t have to do the work themselves.

    Just because it’s smaller than large acreage, doesn’t mean there are less options available to you. Setting yourself up so that as you start to age, you can still manage it without moving, is what “small” and close to transport, has to offer. Good luck with your journey. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Chris.

      Really what I will be working with is a lot smaller. At present, 80% of the block is covered in native vegetation. I expect to reduce that down to maybe 60-70% (the property comprises two 1/4 acre blocks, so I want to leave one as Zone 5). That will leave me a space for a dwelling, outbuildings, gardens and orchards, of around 800-1000sq/m.

      • Zone 5 is a wonderful concept isn’t it. Zones zero through to four are all about providing for yourself (for humans) while zone five has a primary function of providing for all the other life forms on your territory, I love it.

      • It is, Jude. And I haven’t realised how wonderful and important it is until now.

        The neighbouring blocks have all been cleared within an inch of their life. Sending the critters to the limited scrub behind. I’m going to try to get away with as little clearance as possible. Due to the position of the block in town there isn’t much of a perceived bushfire risk. Also, our clearance requirements here aren’t as strict as in Victoria post-Black Saturday.

        My aim is to keep my block (shouldn’t get ahead of myself yet – we haven’t settled) connected to the wildlife corridor. And to revegetate my Zone 5 to increase its carrying capacity.

        The Native Vegetation Council requires that clearance activity is met with a contribution to them of $500. I would much prefer to spend that money on revegetating my own block rather than having it diluted by bureaucracy.

  3. More can be gain by connecting the wildlife to your land, as you’re contemplating. Native animals bring fertility every day, when there’s limited time to work on moving fertility around the block yourself. They’re a good working partnership to keep.

    Mammal, reptile and avian dung has built fertility on our five acres, when we simply didn’t have the time to do anything but mow the lawn ourselves. No doubt, if you plant your fruit trees on the edge of the native vegetation, you’ll find a higher yield with less effort invested on your part too. Of course you’ll lose some fruit to animals, but if you plant a lot of native fruits in your wildlife corridor, you’ll find they’ll be devoured first – native animals prefer native fruits over European varieties.

    I had something excavate a native plant I put in the ground recently. They dug up my strawberries nearby (at a different time) too. Whenever I’m tempted to think they’re destroying my work, I keep reminding myself that it takes a lot more effort and expense to build fences (plus maintain them) than just planting more things for animals to destroy. They’ll tire themselves out eventually, and they’ll leave their fertility in exchange. It’s a life cycle thing.

    I also know, native animals are an incredible alarm system for humans. I never worry about an approaching storm, unless all the birds and insects go quiet. They tell me when to batten down the hatches, so to speak. They’ve only done this once in our time here, and that was before the 2011 floods.

    Normally the birds love to come out once a storm front has passed, and this time they didn’t. It rained on and off that particular day, and the bird life still wasn’t coming out. It was the very next day the super storm cell hit Queensland and knocked out the power and highway for 6 days. I always check for birds before and after a storm now. They’re such a great early warning system.

    Anything which includes other species, certainly increases the yield.

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