Moving from acreage back to the suburb

Discussion in 'Chin Wag' started by Ash, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    This has been a difficult decision, spurred on by the constant work that needed to be done to keep the acreage that we moved into just over a year ago functional and sustainable. We are moving back into town. We are only 15 mins out of town as it is, but the sheer size of the plot that needs mowing, the inability to adequately care for the fruit trees in the difficult black soil and the subsequent lack of time to spend with the family when I wasn't working has taken its toll on me. And we didn't even get the chance to put chickens and livestock on the place, which would have added more onto my plate to manage. I did my level best to make it work out, but all my efforts were creating too much of a self insufficient culture.

    The acreage is for sale, with a signed contract in place for later on in the year, and the suburban home is in our sights come mid-Feb. My self-sufficiency hopes will still be pursued there, but clearly there will be less space for my initial desires of an orchard. I will be limited to just a few fruit trees, and a small vege patch that we will find easier to access and manage. Most importantly, I will have an important part of my life back, the family. I will be able to spend more time in the home considerably less concerned about how much work that needs to be done outside.

    To you all who do this acreage life well, I tip my hat off to you. But as for me and my family, we would find self-sufficiency more doable and enjoyable in a smaller place. So that's where we're headed. And after our move, I will also have more time to be online to share and bounce ideas around on SSC...

    Preston panorama3.JPG
     
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  2. letsgo

    letsgo Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Sorry it hasn't worked out for you Ash on the larger property. A larger place certainly is more work, just the mowing and ongoing care of the place and that's without trying to grow veggies and look after the place.

    You can grow a fair bit in a small plot. One yard revolution on YouTube is one example. https://www.youtube.com/oneyardrevolution

    You can always grow fruit trees in pots which I am doing for other reasons. My daughter in law is on a smaller house block and she is getting a good collection of fruit trees in pots.

    It's just a change in the size you have to look after but I'm sure you will still be able to do a lot on the smaller size.
     
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  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Sounds like a well thought out and well-reasoned decision to move off your acreage and back into the suburbs Ash.

    There's no point in running a lifestyle acreage if it's actually ruining your lifestyle!

    You're a young guy with a high-level busy career and I can totally understand your desire to leave the land and free up the time otherwise spent managing a large property.

    As a physician, you know how important it is that we all understand our limitations so that whatever venture we decide on doesn't end up negatively impacting us to the point it becomes disastrous. So, when people feel like something is not "adding up" the savvy, like you, self-evaluate and make the necessary changes.

    Lifestyle is a very important factor in the happiness of humans, but it doesn't necessarily mean living in the country on a big acreage or overlooking the sea in a million dollar apartment because there are too many factors to generalise what lifestyle means to every individual or family in order to make them happy (at that point of time in their life).

    Sometimes a compromise can give the best of both worlds... You can do a LOT on a normal sized suburban property with respect to self-sufficiency. Many people and families around the world grow most of their food in a small urban backyard. I often think if we (my wife and I) were to downsize in the future how much fun I would have converting a small suburban block into a food garden paradise!

    It's great that you now have this experience of trying acreage not just for yourself but to also share with others. Perhaps at another point in your life, you might have the urge to give acreage living another go and this experience now will help you choose the next property down the track.

    Meanwhile, I hope you still are encouraged/motivated to continue your self-sufficient journey because there's nothing more satisfying, tasty, or healthy as growing your own organic produce wherever you live. Be sure to still share your self-sufficient journey here with us on SSC.

    All the best mate! :)
     
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  4. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks to you both for the sobering advice and support. I don't think it's easy to come to the conclusion as to whether this sized block is too big or too labour intensive until one actually lives on it for a while. So we gave it a go, and whilst it is certainly doable, it would require someone (even better as a couple or the whole family) who have a keen interest in the work outdoors. As my wife is so focused on making the household run, she finds herself overwhelmed by the tasks outside and ends up leaving them to me, and I'm not home enough as it is to sustain the yard, orchard and paddocks. The kids screw their faces when I ask them to water the fruit trees so there isn't much joy all around. Indeed, it didn't take long for me to cotton onto the notion that doing self-sufficiency here is contrived.

    The suburban block will still have the space for a veggie patch and some fruit trees. I think I can fit a couple of stone fruit trees in the front as ornamentals and espalier or just plant a number of pome trees out the back, probably 8 or so, along with a dwarf citrus here and there. It already has a couple of citrus trees nicely matured in it, so I'm yet to work out what fruit they produce. I'll be sure to post on here how they go.

    The lesson learnt is to try, but be wary of forcing the self-sufficiency beyond our means. We all have 24 hours in the day, and we can find ourselves overcommitting to the 'cause' so Mark's advice is so pertinent: You don't have to be self-sufficient in everything (as they like to show on House Hunters: Off The Grid), but you can be self-sufficient in something. I've realised that I can do self-sufficiency better if I focus on the parts I enjoy and can do within the time constraints, like fruit trees and vegetables, and leave the more involved self-sufficiency things to the experts (animal husbandry and poultry). Ideally, I'm looking to form a network of similar minded self-sufficient people in town and the surrounds who also do it in other areas, and we can barter/trade produce for mutual benefit. We'll see how it all goes. Thanks again guys.
     
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  5. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Sad as it seems Ash, I congratulate you on being sufficiently wise to make a sound decision for yourself & your family with respect to your sanity & time constraints.
    As you move through life you may well be granted another opportunity to live the rural life & you will already have experience & knowledge to get started with.
    I, like the others here, look forward to seeing your new garden do well.
    I'm sure you will become an expert in no time! :noproblem:
     
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  6. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    ay Ash.... The idea of having the self sufficient farm sounds great doesn't it, but you need the time for it. I guess you have to be living on it full time to keep up the maintenance for every little thing?

    For me on a suburban block, I seem to have a full time job just maintaining things so when you made this post it suggests to me that I may not have enough time either while still having a full time job with long hours, so it re-assures me that I can be quite happy pottering along with my small suburban block.

    It should be all about being happy :cheers:
     
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  7. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Stevo definitely said it right It is all about being happy. I wish you happiness on your new block. Size really don't matter. I have to admit that my sister on her suburban block really is more self sufficient than I am on 10 acres. She grows an amazing amout of veggies in a garden bed about 4 m by 4 m and has plenty of fruit trees espaliered. I my opinion you can't go past citrus trees as great ornamental trees.
     
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  8. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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  9. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks for all your opinions. We have to work out for ourselves how much we're willing to put into all the work that would need to be done with each self-sufficient activity. Being more than full time in a job to support the family, there isn't the time to do a lot of them, even the basics for me, and it ends up being a chore than a joy to have to do them in the little spare time I have. I would agree that I would probably be more productive on the quarter acre than I would on our current acreage. Thanks all again.
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Make sure you keep us updated on your move back to suburbia from acreage and particularly how you feel about self-sufficiency ie whether you become more motivated and happier food gardening on a smaller plot - I find it very interesting!

    You will certainly have more time to garden when you don't need to spend hours mowing lawns and maintaining a big acreage.
     
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  11. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    That's ok, we're experts at telling people what they should be doing :hysterical:
     
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  12. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Yeah, you know it's like spending other people's money. It's always enjoyable and gives you quite the buzz. Looking forward to the move in a fortnight's time.
     
  13. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member

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    Oh Ash, that's such a bummer. Perhaps it was just a bit too premature, given the hours you need to put in at work now. It's just a "blip" on the road though, and eventually you'll get there (maybe when the kids have left home!!). Doctoring is a demanding job and I'm still dreaming about getting into full time home gardening...but it really is a bit of a pipe dream for us too at the moment. Not much fun though if it becomes just more work to do on top of a busy work load already. I imagine the move will be a relief, but don't give up on the dream!
     
  14. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    That's the thing Oskar, you try it out with such great intentions and well thought out plans, and the passion starts to die when you're tired from a busy week at work and the fruits of your labour amount to nothing because you couldn't spend the time each day to tend to the crops and trees...

    So as much as it was all an anticlimax, and ended up being too much too soon, I still don't regret it and am happy to cut my losses. All in all, even after doing the research and soberly thinking it through, you really don't know what you can do on the land until you try, but good advice says that you should take reasonably small steps. I might have done better if I picked a 1 acre block instead, but then again I'd have still been just as busy at work...

    Live and learn.
     
  15. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member

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    I've just been out pulling MORE caterpillars off the corn and canteloupes, and lamenting how on earth commercial growers get any crop at all without chemicals!! Mon-Fri I just can't spend much time in the garden, so it's not uncommon that by the weekend, (and I work alternate Saturday mornings) the insects/critters have destroyed large portions of the produce I've been waiting patiently to ripen. Unfortunately I'm going to have to net most things...but that increases the work to fertilise as I'll have to do it by hand. And our wonderful neighbour has just invested in a honey bee hive, so they've been busy fertilising everything for me over the last 2-3 days.
    Yup, I definitely feel your pain!
     
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