Chapter 1: Dairy Farmers? Really?

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"A whole year, marking time in the city." Kanute frowns as he remembers. He curls his lip at the thought. "Guess I was luckier than you. At least a Building Supervisor spends some part of his day outdoors. On the building site, mostly. Heaps of driving too... suppliers, meetings-and SO much time at Councils, trying to get approval for all kinds of jobs."

"Tell me about it," I say, and can't help wrinkling my nose in disgust.

"Stockings and high heels, and make-up every day. Hairdressers and new hairdos and spiffy clothes. It was hard to take,, being in an office all day again, after the freedom of the farm."

How reluctantly we had returned to city jobs. Our hearts stayed in the country-far from the acrid smells of traffic and hot bitumen and pollution straying around every crowded corner. The night sky we now looked at competed hopelessly with the arched glow of city lights. Whenever we couldn't physically escape to the country, we found solace at the beach, looking out to sea. The atmosphere there bore the strongest resemblance to the clarity and space of all we had left behind-with an added bonus of clean, salty air.

Twelve long months of increasingly desperate searching... it was sadly but surely becoming clear to us that buying any kind of productive farm, let alone the farm of our dreams, was financially impossible.

"How depressing was that?" I sigh. "Weekend after weekend, we'd set off with hopes so high that this would be the one... " I'm interrupted by an unexpected grin spreading across Kanute's face. A loud laugh rolls out as he says, "What about that farm in the Adelaide hills? The one tucked away at the end of that winding, leafy lane?"

I start laughing too. "The one we rejected, thank God. Our guardian angel sure had us firmly in her sights that day." Some years later we revisited that pretty, shady corner of the woods. The property now had a name on the rusting and precariously leaning gate, in lieu of the 'For Sale' sign-'Poverty Point'. Hmm...

Reluctantly, we accepted the inevitable, our thoughts turning to the possibility of share-farming-the dairy kind. Not only were we woefully ignorant of how this worked, we seriously doubted any farm proprietor would share his precious herd and property with two novices like us. We had no idea where to look for a solution. We only knew we desperately wanted to be farmers.

Countless times in our lives when we have been at our lowest ebb, a light has flickered at the end of our tunnel and brought us through the darkness. This time was no exception. Our old friend Sven was incredulous as we cornered him to pick his brains for information about dairy share-farming. He had expected city small-talk at the crowded Danish birthday party we were enjoying. With eyes stretched wide and eyebrows raised, he said, "Dairy Farmers? You two? Really?"

As we talked and fervently shared our dreams with Sven (a dairy farmer himself), he finally understood how desperate and dedicated we were to leaving city life to become farmers. Typically, as soon as he recovered from his surprise, he promised to 'scout around' and see if he could find any possibilities for us. True to his word, in a matter of days, Sven phoned to share some exciting news. In the strangest twist of fate, a dairy share-farming proposition had unexpectedly become available on a farm just 30 minutes away from his.

We had become better acquainted with Sven at one of Kanute's mother's many dinner parties, way before we were married. In those days we were the epitome of young, up-and-coming business executive types. Nothing indicated a future when we would be shifting a lot of... manure, and leaning heavily on this small wiry man with the ever-ready grin, for advice and support ("Just don't worry about it, Christine... it's all going to be fine."). So much sound knowledge gained over many farming years in Denmark-and here in Australia, share farming for some time before the many years of owning his own dairy. Sven's hard-earned experience in all aspects of dairy-farming, land management and animal husbandry taught us invaluable lessons even before day one on our own dairy farm.

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