Every Family Needs A Farmer

Mango Madness 2013/2014

DSC_0008 (1) IMG_2886 DSC_0003 IMG_2844 IMG_2868Just after lunch last Sunday saw Matt wrapping and wheeling the final pallet of mangoes off the shed floor and into the cold room which signalled the end of our first ever Blue Sky ProduceMango season – wahoooooo!!  This also brought our second quarter of farm life to a close (you can read about our first quarter here).  It is so hard to believe we have been living in Far North Queensland for over six months now!  Only another twenty odd years to go and we might be able to consider ourselves locals!!

These last few months really have been mango madness!!  We have to admit that this quarter saw some of the ‘gloss’ and novelty of our change to farm life wear off!  It has been hard work and a huge learning curve!  The days were very long (Matt turning the lights on in the shed at 5am and often not turning them off before 9pm!), it became stinking hot, it was stressful trying to logistically manage a new packing shed, something we had never done before – remembering to order boxes, stickers, plastic, chemicals, parts – the list is huge!  Matt also had to manage a team of twenty – thirty workers of which at least 17 were living here onsite, so it was like running a campground too – making sure toilet paper supplies were up to date, bonds were collected, rents were collected, cooking/washing facilities were all working, check-ins were happening – you get the picture.

Matt was tired and stressed, I was hot, fat, definitely pregnant, tired and grumpy, all of which was not helped by the fact that everybody else in the world was in Christmas holiday mode, ready to relax and get festive, oh, and we did of course have all the kids home too on school holidays and the incident of Jack’s broken arm on Christmas eve!!  I think we also got a big dose of back to reality (work, school, bills, responsibility!) and the post-trip comedown/blues at this point too, everything finally sinking in that our adventure so long in the making was all over in three short months.  But, we survived, we’re still here, with only a few minor meltdowns and snapping at each other and we didn’t jump back in the camper and take off for the road again (we got pretty close a few times though)!!!!

The side of our fridge became Matt' scheduling station as he worked out each night what workers were needed where.

The side of our fridge became Matt’ scheduling station as he worked out each night what workers were needed where.

It wasn’t all bad.  The start of the season was actually quite exciting!  It’s what I’d imagine a shearing season might be like, perhaps what it might be like here in a few years time – where you look forward to your worker’s arriving for the year and hearing what they have been up to, perhaps seeing some familiar faces back again from the previous season?  Our crew all started moving on site in mid-November, the day after our worker’s dorms were actually finished!

Camp Kitchen - Worker's Dorm

Camp Kitchen – Worker’s Dorm

Packing shed sparkling clean and waiting for the season to commence!

Packing shed sparkling clean and waiting for the season to commence!

Seeing the first few loads of mangos arriving on the trucks, watching them be unloaded with the forklift, hearing the packing shed turn on for the first time (the noise of the shed in action is a low hum – took me straight back to my childhood spent in the dairy!) and seeing the shed in full fledged work mode was quite a site to behold!

Matt welcoming the first crew to the Blue Sky Produce shed

Matt welcoming the first crew to the Blue Sky Produce shed

De-sapping crew - these guys were actually pretty good singers too!

De-sapping crew – these guys were actually pretty good singers too!

De-sapping is one of the hardest and most important jobs in the shed!

De-sapping is one of the hardest and most important jobs in the shed!

The grading girls - another important and tough job!

The grading girls – another important and tough job!

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All systems go!

The packing and sorting bench

The packing and sorting bench

Captain is not a fan of mango season - it means he's not allowed in the shed and there are no days spent running after the four wheeler through the orchard

Captain is not a fan of mango season – it means he’s not allowed in the shed and there are no days spent running after the four wheeler through the orchard

There were some other perks of the mango season ……………………………………………

Mangos for breakfast!

Mangos for breakfast!

Mangos for lunch and dinner and in between too!

Mangos for lunch and dinner and in between too!

We could put the kids to work - very cheap labour!

We could put the kids to work – very cheap labour!

And there were some beautiful Blue Sky sunsets

And there were some beautiful Blue Sky sunsets

We did also squeeze in a bit of time for a couple of things like ……………………………………

A lightening strike which started a fire behind our avocado orchard!

A lightening strike which started a fire behind our avocado orchard!

A swanky new sign installed out the front!

A swanky new sign installed out the front!

A laugh at the manager learning to drive the forklift!

A laugh at the manager learning to drive the forklift!

And even a Christmas BBQ and a trip for Matt to follow our fruit to the markets in Brisbane.

And we got a huge kick out of having photos of our fruit emailed to us from all over the place.  You might remember Malte who worked here before the season started, well he sent this great photo in when he spotted our mangos on his travels in New South Wales!!

Malte - an ex-worker with the Blue Sky mangos he spotted in NSW

Malte – an ex-worker with the Blue Sky mangos he spotted in NSW

All in all, it was a pretty good first season.  We learnt a lot, didn’t blow anything up or kill each other, were still welcome at the Family Christmas table, and we are hopeful that the growers who packed with us this year will be back again next year, hopefully bringing some other farms!!  So a big congratulations and thank you to all of the Blue Sky workers this year – we did it – wahoooooooo!!

 

Categories: Blue Sky Produce, Every Family Needs A Farmer | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Take Five Photo Safari

Tonight’s post is the overdue (eek!) assignment for Week 3 of my Blog With Pip course.  It seems nothing has changed since my uni days, I’m still an over thinking, procrastinator who always does the last minute/all-nighter cramming sessions or consistently has to grovel for extensions on assignments!  Anywho, I do always get there in the end, albeit late – story of my life!

So, our task was to take at least five photos over the weekend and write a post about them. Hmmmm, well our weekend was made up of working in the packing shed, netball, working in the packing shed, a playdate for Jack, working in the packing shed, the hockey sign on, working in the packing shed, Sunday lunch at Grandma’s (the highlight!) for the kids and I but not Matt, because, yep, you guessed it, he was working in the packing shed.

As you can see, there was not a lot of material in there for exciting photo opportunities.  So, my dear blog readers, you are going to be taken on a photo safari of ……………………………… wait for it ………………………………. it’s an adventure …………………………. Saturday Mango Packing – Blue Sky Produce shed style!  Wahooooooo – don’t get too excited now!

Seriously though, come and check it out.  Although not as adventurous as my classmate Julie’s weekend at Phillip Island or as giggle-worthy as this post by ‘Gloves Off” , you might find it a little interesting and learn something all the same!  Here we go!

Morning commences at 6.30am with 30 pallets of Keitts mangoes ready and waiting for packing!

Morning commences at 6.30am with 30 pallets of Keitts mangoes ready and waiting for packing!

Murphy's Law - of course all four trucks that are due to arrive at Blue Sky, manage to all turn up on the driveway at the same time, right on shed start up time!

Murphy’s Law – of course all four trucks that are due to arrive on Saturday at Blue Sky, manage to all turn up on the driveway at the same time, right on shed start up time!

Desapping work crew of five boys gets started dipping, snapping mango stems off and loading mangoes on to desapper.

De-sapping work crew of five boys gets started dipping, snapping mango stems off and loading mangoes on to the de-sapper.

Mangoes having a wash with citrus soap which breaks down the sap.

Mangoes having a wash with citrus soap which breaks down the sap.

View of mangoes from the top of the desapper

Bath Time!  View of mangoes from the top of the de-sapper

Mangoes getting a polish with the brushes.

Mangoes getting a polish with the brushes.

The Blue Sky Produce shed hard at work!

The Blue Sky Produce shed hard at work!

Mangoes getting weighed and sorted by size on the grading line.

Mangoes getting weighed and sorted by size on the grading line.

The quiet that is a break for lunch.

The quiet that is a break for lunch.

Blue Sky Produce Mangoes ready for market!

6pm Knock Off time – hooray!  Blue Sky Produce Mangoes ready for market!

Ooopsy, a little over the five photo limit, but I am always too wordy!  So what did you think?  Ready to come and be mango farmers/packing shed workers yet?

Categories: Blue Sky Produce, Every Family Needs A Farmer | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

The International Year of Family Farming

I’m a bit behind the eight ball this year, only finalising my New Year’s Resolutions in mid February and this week finally embracing the fact that 2014 is well and truly here!!  Which means, in case you didn’t already know, welcome to the ‘International Year of Family Farming’ (IYFF) as designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  ALRIGHT!  2014 sounds like our kind of year!!

I grew up on a family dairy farm, Matt’s family own a few family farms, and our little ‘Fealy Family’ now works and relies on a family owned farm to sustain us, so you get the picture that ‘Family Farming’ is a big part of our lives.  We believe Family Farm’s should be celebrated and we’d like to do our small bit to raise awareness about the importance of supporting family farming.

So, a few statistics for you first (c’mon – I am an accountant!!).  According to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF),  “99 percent of Australian farms are family owned and operated. Australia’s 157,000 farmers not only produce 93 percent of Australia’s daily domestic food supply – the clean, healthy, fresh food that Australian families enjoy – they also contribute $38 billion in export income to the economy and manage some 59 percent of Australia’s land”.  That’s a pretty substantial contribution to Australian society I say!!

The United Nation’s says the “2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming, not just in Australia, but by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.”  If you’d like to know more you can go to this website or watch the video below which has been produced by the United Nations.

I’m not sure how best to celebrate and support the 2014 International Year of Family Farming just yet, more to come on this topic – stay tuned! In the meantime, here are a few ways you might like to get involved;

1. The IYFF-2014 photo competition is calling for photos that represent the motto: Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth.  You can enter here.

2. Check out these great 2014 Food Resolutions – maybe you can make your own list?

3. Buy Australian Grown

I’d love to hear how others are celebrating 2014, International Year of Family Farming!  Don’t be shy, let us know!!!

Categories: Every Family Needs A Farmer | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Fealy Family Farmer’s First Quarter

598504_10151905301918171_601835493_nI have so many blog posts I want to write at the moment that I really don’t know which one to start with!!  Now that we have all three kids at school (holy moly – how did that happen!?!?!)

Fealy kids first day of school 2014.  Lexi in Prep, Toby Grade 1, Jack Grade 3

Fealy kids first day of school 2014. Lexi in Prep, Toby Grade 1, Jack Grade 3, with ‘Patches’ the farm dog – the newest member of the family

and I have a full school term until Fealy Bub No 4 arrives – I am really hoping to dedicate some time to blogging (and I guess I really should get our nursery and some things ready for Bub No 4!).  I’m even thinking about signing up for an online blogging course – I need to make a decision on that today, but decided to do an actual blog post first before I spent any money on a course!!

So, I’m starting with a bit of a summary of what life has been like as farmers for the last few months.  It is soooooo hard to believe that we have been here at Blue Sky Produce for five months now.  We are currently three quarters of the way through our first mango season, the Kensington Pride and R2E2 varieties have all been picked and packed and we are now just waiting for the Keitts and Brooks mangoes to ripen (who knew there were so many varieties of mangoes!). We are not far off from commencing our first avocado season and we have 17 workers living on site.  These last few months have been the most enormous learning curve ever for us all, but especially Matt!  He has gone from googling You Tube videos on ‘how to drive a tractor’ on the way here from our trip, to driving tractors, forklifts, operating mulching, spraying and fertilising machines, fixing all sorts of things from pumps to chainsaws and learning about all kinds of orchard insects, diseases and soils!!!

View from the tractor!

View from the tractor!

Fixing the foot valve on the pump in the dam - kids were on snake watch as legend has it a massive water python lives in the dam!

Matt fixing the foot valve on the pump in the dam – kids were on snake watch as legend has it a massive water python lives in the dam – kayak still comes in handy!

Getting to know the place!

Getting to know the place!

Plenty of beautiful sunsets!

Plenty of beautiful sunsets!

And sunrises!

And sunrises!

The first quarter on the farm was spent trying to do half a year’s worth of ‘off season’ orchard work in three months!  With the help of our full time farm hand Charlie (and his dog Captain!), 4 German Backpackers – Sarah, Malte, Sebastian and Julian, we pruned avocado trees, mulched avocado trees, commenced a spraying and fertigation program for the whole orchard, as well as a whole lot of slashing, weed and pest control work!

Mulching

Mulching – very dusty work!

Bale buster with Zetor tractor behind with spear on it to lift hay bale onto bale buster

Bale buster with Zetor tractor behind with spear on it to lift hay bale onto bale buster

Loading hay

Loading hay

Rolling hay bales out

Rolling hay bales out

Malte hard at work pulling the string off the bales

Malte hard at work pulling the string off the bales

Julian spreading hay

Julian spreading hay

Sarah clearing room around the trees for irrigation to come out

Sarah clearing room around the trees for irrigation to come out

Sarah & Malte after a hard day of mulching - not the most fun job!

Sarah & Malte after a hard day of mulching – not the most fun job!

The kids have taken to farm life like ducks to water!

The ducklings have grown!

The ducklings have grown!

They love going out on the four wheeler with Matt before school to turn the irrigation on, or after school on the tractor if Matt is not too busy.  It is amazing how much they have learnt about orchard farming already just from the bits and pieces Matt has told them or they overhear us talking about!  All three are pro’s at fixing sprinklers and spotting the different varieties of trees around the orchard.

Jack out late one afternoon helping Matt - one of my favourite photos!

Jack out late one afternoon helping Matt – one of my favourite photos!

 

Toby out on a morning water run - there are always hot air balloons out in the mornings!

Toby out on a morning water run – there are always hot air balloons out in the mornings!

This girl probably loves it the most!

This girl probably loves it the most!

Jerry racing the four wheeler - he loves the farm life!

Jerry racing the four wheeler – he loves the farm life!

Hard not to love it some days!

Hard not to love it some days!

It hasn’t just been all hard work.  We did have a few afternoons of quiet family walks around the farm and even squeezed in a lunch with all the workers for the Melbourne Cup in November – we were most disgusted that the electrician who was here working that day cleaned out our inaugural Blue Sky Melbourne Cup sweep!

Afternoon walk around the orchard with the dogs.

Afternoon walk around the orchard with the dogs.

Melbourne Cup Lunch

Melbourne Cup Lunch

German Backpapers tasting the first ever Blue Sky Produce passion fruit wine!

German Backpapers tasting the first ever Blue Sky Produce passion fruit wine!

Matt even found time to build us a chook pen - love getting our fresh eggs!

Matt even found time to build us a chook pen – love getting our fresh eggs!

Oh and nearly forgot!  We also planted 210 new lime trees during this time and did some pretty rigorous disease control on the avocado trees!  Matt is particularly proud of how straight our lime tree lines are – a little obsessive compulsive for a farmer I say!

Getting the ground ready for the new lime trees.

Getting the ground ready for the new lime trees.

Matt surveying their handiwork

Matt surveying their handiwork

Injecting the avocado trees to kill disease

Injecting the avocado trees to kill disease

Farmer boy after a hard day!

Farmer boy after a hard day!

So that was our first 3-ish months of farm life.  Not too bad at all.  I have been enjoying just being a stay at home mum, making breakfasts, lunches and dinners, baking and doing a bit of office work.  Matt does take me out with him from time to time to learn a little about the pump and how all the taps in the orchard work, but with a big pregnant belly growing I am not terribly useful for much more than that at present!  The next post on farm life will be all about Mango Madness 2013/2014 with lots of details of what our first mango season was like – it has been full on that is for sure!!IMG_3015

Categories: About Us, Blue Sky Produce, Every Family Needs A Farmer | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Buy A Bale of Hay

DSC_0702I am sure most of you are aware of the plight facing many of our farmers with two thirds of Queensland now drought declared.  We drove through many of the places currently experiencing drought on our trip and we thought things were really bad then, that was months ago.

Some of the drought country we saw around WInton, QLD in June.

Some of the drought country we saw around WInton, QLD in June.

Just some of the drought affected country we saw on our trip

Boulia, Qld – drought affected country we saw on our trip. 

Those of you who have been following our blog for a while now know that we are passionate about rural Australia and the need to support our Australian Farmers (you can read some of our other posts on this topic here and here).  Now that we are part of the farming community ourselves, we understand even better the challenges which are presently facing all Australian Farmers in relation to the profitability and future viability of our agricultural industry.  So, today I am sharing a letter ‘from the Bush’ which I think explains really well why this drought is so bad and what is happening in the Australian agricultural arena at present.  I know not all of you will read the letter but at least please check out the ‘Buy A Bale’ website or their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/BuyaBaleofHay which is doing great things to help drought affected farmers. You can buy a bale of hay for just $20 or donate a small amount to be used towards buying a few litres of diesel, groceries and other necessities for our struggling farmers.

Australian Farmers need our support, please spread the word!

“A Letter from the Bush

This drought is different.

It’s not different because virtually all of inland Queensland missed the 2013 wet season; that has happened in the past on numerous occasions. In a bad year, conversations tend to drift to other bad years and for the first time ever I have heard 1926 mentioned. Usually a comparison can be drawn with ’82 or ‘69 but this time they are going back 87 years to find a season that makes them feel lucky to be around now. Nevertheless, seasons have been missed before, that is not why this one is different.

It’s not different because of other factors such as fire or overstocking that have exacerbated the effects of the drought in some areas. The risks associated with a lack of grass are well understood in the industry because everyone has had to deal with it on some level in the past. Producers who went into this season with no grass were extremely aware of the importance of rain to their immediate prospects and that rain failed to materialise. The suffering, among both people and animals that resulted, does not make this drought different to those of the past.

This drought is not different because of the lack of options available to distressed stock. In a widespread drought, grass and water quickly become scarce. Tens of thousands of head of stock needed to be moved onto decent pasture but very little existed and as a result producers were forced to market cattle in preference to letting them die in the paddock. Markets thrive on distress and the cattle market this year has provided the perfect example. Distressed vendors are not unique to this year, however and markets have collapsed in the past. This drought is different but not for any of the reasons above.

This drought is different because people don’t see a way back. Droughts come and go and the seasons will come back but even with a succession of good years, people will not recover from the beating that they have taken in the last twelve months. There is no ‘fat’ left in the agricultural system to plan for bad years, nor to recover from them.

The process of rebuilding a breeding herd involves retaining heifers for several years and waiting for them to mature. During that time, revenue is severely impacted through reduced sales while costs increase with the growing herd numbers. It will be extremely difficult for producers to invest in rebuilding herd numbers from a low base whilst servicing all of the fixed costs associated with their business. They face very difficult and distorted markets both domestically and internationally and a high cost structure.

Profitability was eroded, many years ago and the industry has limped along on the back of cash reserves, cost cutting and equity ever since. That process is very nearly at an end. The capacity to endure further losses does not exist. The profitability crisis in agriculture can be linked to virtually every one of the issues that regional Australia is currently facing from skill shortages, to the malaise of small towns, to the perilous state of agricultural infrastructure and to the fact that these businesses are no longer in a position to properly manage in the natural environment that they are built on.

The markets for Australian agricultural product are damaged. Internationally Australian produce competes with protected industries in all of our developed world competitors. They are protected because they are not in a position to compete with the low costs of production in the developing world. Australian businesses are not able to compete either but they are expected to and they have to because the domestic market cannot absorb the entirety of our agricultural product.

Domestically, the market is dominated by a limited number of buyers and the resulting lack of competition has transferred wealth from the agricultural community to retailers and consumers.

The marketing of agricultural product has not been helped, at least in some industries, by a lack of sophistication among vendors. Prices offered have been accepted without regard to normal business practices. There has been no demand to maintain profit margins. There has been no demand to maintain excess cash flows to fund infrastructure or development. It is difficult to determine the cost of production in agriculture and many vendors have no idea what price they need to achieve to recover their costs.

Whatever the reasons for the profitability crisis, it has crippled the industry and robbed the cash reserves required for issues like drought and investment.

This drought is different because it isn’t really about the drought. The drought is just one more straw on the back of a very rickety camel.

Ben Callcott
Glenmore Station
Einasleigh 4871

Australia, we need to share this, tweet, reblog, share on Facebook and forward to all we can. Thank You”

Categories: About Us, Every Family Needs A Farmer | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

We’re Back! An Update ……….

Just another sunset here in Far North Queensland!

Just another sunset here in Far North Queensland!

Yes – the Fealy Family is still alive!!  Aaaargh – where to start???  We have so much to tell you!  Firstly a big apology for anyone who has been missing our posts (surely someone has!), eeeeek – it has been 7 weeks since our last blog entry!!!  I’m feeling excited to be back and trying to get our blog rolling again!  I really, really want to finish off the entries about our trip as there are still two weeks of travelling to tell you about!

So first, the big news  (and one of the reasons we’ve fallen behind with the blog) is that I haven’t been feeling too great …………….  You see, we are expecting Fealy Bub Number 4 in April next year!!!

Fealy Bub No 4

Fealy Bub No 4

Eeeek – yes – we are a little nuts but we are all very excited to be having one more little member added to our family!  We are now 15 weeks along and I am starting to have more energy back at night and not feeling so sick so time to get the blog up to date!  And if anyone dares to make a comment about ‘so that’s what happens with no TV on a trip around Australia’ – there will be trouble!

Ok – where to start?  Well, the kids are all pretty much settled at their new school/kindy.  It is a big school and things are a bit different up here so it is a big change but the kids are happy so far!  Lexi loves kindy and has already made a great little friend called Moana.  Next week they will begin catching the bus for the first time!  We live not too far out of town – only about 10km’s but a school bus service goes right past our driveway and the kids are keen to give the bus a go.

Kids in their school uniforms on Day 1 at their new schools at the end of August.

Kids in their school uniforms on Day 1 at their new schools at the end of August.

After only a week at the new school, the kids all went down with a very nasty bout of gastro!  It seems our three months travelling on the road kept us pretty much out of the ‘germ’ cycle so the poor kids went down hard!  It was an awful week and lets just say that not having a washing machine in the house with three very sick kids, plus ‘afternoon’ sickness, does go down in my book as one of the worst parenting experiences ever!

Lexi alseep in Matt's office in the packing shed while I ran the boys to school.

Lexi alseep in Matt’s office in the packing shed while I ran the boys to school.

But we all survived and the kids went back for the last week of school before the school holidays.  They even made it to the school fancy dress ball – just!

Fancy Dress Ball time!

Fancy Dress Ball time!

I will do a seperate post on what we got up to in the school holidays but in brief we had a great time with a few days up at Ben Avon Station and then having the Townsville cousins come to visit our new place!  We also had the Brissie cousins come to visit just last week too!

We picked the Townsville cousies up from halfway at Mission Beach and had a great day there with the Tronson cousies too!

We picked the Townsville cousies up from halfway at Mission Beach and had a great day there with the Tronson cousies too!

Ute tour of the orchard

Ute tour of the orchard

Other than that we have done lots of unpacking, sorting and purchasing a new lounge, washing machine and dining table – all items we sold thinking we wouldn’t be needing them for at least 12months!  We were lucky that our shipping container sold in just a couple of days so that funded our new furniture purchases!  We have enjoyed spending lots of time having our families close!

My mum & dad braved the gastro germs to come over for afternoon tea for my birthday!

My mum & dad braved the gastro germs to come over for afternoon tea for my birthday!

Matt's mum hard at work on the weekend helping us get our garden back under control!

Matt’s mum hard at work on the weekend helping us get our garden back under control!

On the farm front it has all been happening!!  Matt has had a HUGE learning curve but is really enjoying the new role so far!  He is very proud of the fact that he can now drive numerous tractors, sprayers, forklifts etc and can not only use a chainsaw but can fix one too!  His office worker hands have been taking a bit of a flogging ………

Matt's whopper splinter from unloading hay - ouch!

Matt’s whopper splinter from unloading hay – ouch!

We have now had two loads of passionfruit and limes be shipped off to Melbourne – so much hard work goes in to the picking, sorting and packing and it is such a nice feeling to see those boxes head off in the refridgerated trucks bound for the markets!  Matt will do a more detailed blog post on Farm Life soon, but just a few photos for now.

Our first run of passionfruit through the polishing machine

Our first run of passionfruit through the polishing machine

Then the limes turn

Then the limes turn

Packing the fruit up in the packing shed

Packing the fruit up in the packing shed

Loading our first pallet on to the truck - wahoooo!

Loading our first pallet on to the truck – wahoooo!

It hasn’t all gone smoothly.  We have had breakdowns, a smashed tractor door (don’t talk to Matt about it), a pallet of fruit returned for re-packing and lots of long hours of research and phone calls but we are all learning fast.  Speaking of learning, look who has learnt how to ride the four-wheeler all by himself???

This makes us happy to see our biggest boy riding the four wheeler!

This makes us happy to see our biggest boy riding the four wheeler!

And that is pretty much what we have been up to.  At the moment we have four german backpackers staying here on the farm helping out with all of the farm work such as mulching, pruning and helping to plant the new lime trees which are going in.  Hopefully by December we will be picking Mangos – yum!!  I’ll finish with just a few other photos of farm life over the last few weeks. Life is pretty good!  Hope you are all well!  Stay tuned for the first of our Gibb River Road posts to come!

Running the water lines - a job that has to be done a few times a day to check the sprinklers are working on all the trees

Running the water lines – a job that has to be done a few times a day to check the sprinklers are working on all the trees

Feeding the orchard birds - in togs - cause that's how we roll in Far North QLD!

Feeding the orchard birds – in togs – cause that’s how we roll in Far North QLD!

Afternoon Walk

Afternoon Walk

Matt built a chook pen for us!

Matt built a chook pen for us!

Laying boxes pinched from Grammy & Grunda's place

Laying boxes pinched from Grammy & Grunda’s place

And remember these fluffy ducklings?

And remember these fluffy ducklings?

Look how much they've grown!

Look how much they’ve grown!

Categories: About Us, Every Family Needs A Farmer | 3 Comments

‘As One Door Closes, Another Opens’

DSC_0430It is so hard to believe it is all over.  This time last week we were camped at Mt Surprise having our last night on the road and tonight we are spending our first night in our new ‘farm house’.  Our trip honestly feels like it happened a million years ago now which is sad, but we are very excited about starting this new adventure in the Fealy Family saga!

Our last week on the road was filled with so many mixed emotions.   We were sad not to be seeing so many of the places we had wanted to get to.  We were disappointed not to keep going as we really felt like we were only just starting to find our rhythm – the kids were just starting to know what was expected of them and become a little more independent.  But we were excited about seeing our families again, and finally getting to check out the house we would be living in and seeing the farm we would be working on.  We feel a little bit strange when we pass caravans and campers in town and wave without realising we don’t have the camper on anymore – we are no longer part of the camping and caravaning crowd heading off to the next camp spot or tourist attraction.

We arrived in Ravenshoe, where my parents live, last Thursday at about lunch time, unhitched the camper and reluctantly spent the afternoon washing off our ‘proof of an adventure’ dust.  Peter Prado was transformed back in to a town car once again, no longer a ‘roadtripping warrior’.

Washing the proof of our adventure away

Washing the proof of our adventure away

The next day Matt flew to the Gold Coast for the weekend to be the MC at his cousin’s wedding (congratulations Ant & Tran!!) which was a real culture shock after so long away from the city life!  The kids and I relaxed and were spoilt rotten by my Mum (Grammy) with meals and baking and washing done for us!   Jack got to show off all of our fossicking treasures from the trip and spend a day in the shed with Grunda learning how to ‘facet’ a gem.

Fun at Grammy & Grunda's (sorry about the laundry trolley Grammy!)

Fun at Grammy & Grunda’s (sorry about the laundry trolley Grammy!)

Jack in the shed with Grunda learning how to facet a gem

Jack in the shed with Grunda learning how to facet a gem

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And now we are here, in Mareeba, unpacking our container much sooner than we expected to be.  So far we have only managed to unpack about a third of the container and to date we have only really been happy to see about 2 items each (Jess – the coffee table and big frying pan!  Matt – his speakers and work boots so he doesn’t have to wear his sneakers around the farm anymore and look like a real city slicker fish out of water!)  Even though we only had 3 short months on the road, we definitely have realised how little we really need.  I absolutely could have just tossed out most of what we unpacked today!!!  Finding our pre-trip whiteboard ‘To Do List’ was a little bit of a spin out ……………………………………………DSC_0547So – looking at this photo of our container unpacking reminds me that I really better get back to trying to locate the kids lunch boxes and school shoes in preparation for their first day in their new school tomorrow.  They are all excited but I am a little nervous for them!!  Enough procrastinating via blogging for one night.  I still have the last 2 weeks of our trip to blog about, they were really awesome so hopefully I will have some of those coming through soon.  I’ve really enjoyed the blogging, thank you to everyone for commenting and following along – it was heaps of fun reading what you had to say on our trip and we got some great advice along the way too!  I’d like to keep blogging, but not sure what form that will take yet – stay tuned!

I’ll leave you with just a couple of shots Matt took today here on the farm.  We had nine little ducklings hatch this morning which was a lovely sight for us ‘newies’ to see mama duck wandering around with her little ducklings following.  We know that this life is not going to be all ‘fluffy ducklings’ but for now we are enjoying these little moments and the kids are in heaven!

Brand new ducklings - yes - Tobes may have a little work to do on his handling skills yet!

Brand new ducklings – yes – Tobes may have a little work to do on his handling skills yet – don’t worry the duckling was fine!

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Meet 'Mr Turkey'

Meet ‘Mr Turkey’

First taste of passion fruit - straight off the vine

First taste of passion fruit – straight off the vine

Feeling happy and lucky to be calling this home.

Feeling happy and lucky to be calling this home.

Categories: About Us, Every Family Needs A Farmer | 4 Comments

Some Really Big News!

DSC_0477Well, as you may have noticed – we have been a bit quiet on the Every Family Needs A Farmer campaign front which you may remember from our ‘Light Bulb Moment’ post.  We did get some stickers on the car (big thanks to Tracey) and we did sign up for the Outback Links program (great tip Aunty Nerida and Uncle Garth) and thanks to my Mum – Peter Prado has been sporting this cow since Winton (great conversation starter at campsites – we have had lots of people come over to us and say ‘we saw your car at such and such a place’ as the cow and the green kayak on top of the cow are easily remembered’).

DSC_0090However, other than that we hadn’t had a chance to do much stopping in at farms along the way (largely because we haven’t really come across any yet!) or had a lot of time to think too much more about our broader objectives of trying to promote rural Australia and Australian Farmers as we travelled.

Our big news is that we have decided this week to take a leap, put our hearts where are mouths are, and become farmers ourselves.  

We have made the huge (and very difficult!) decision that in four weeks time we will be cutting our trip short and heading ‘back home’ to Mareeba in Far North Queensland where we will be taking up the amazing opportunity that has presented itself to begin learning the ropes of how to be Mango, Avocado, Lime and Passionfruit farmers.  Holy Moly!!!

Our new home - 153 acres of Mangos, Avocados, Limes and Passionfruit

Our new home – 153 acres of Mangos, Avocados, Limes and Passionfruit

We are incredibly excited (and nervous!!) about this next chapter in our lives, for us it is a dream come true to have an offer like this come up.  However, we must admit to being incredibly gutted to be cutting our trip of a lifetime short.  A trip that has been two years in the making.  There were tears at first, but now we are just savouring every minute of the last four weeks we have left on the road and allowing the excitement to build about returning home to our extended families in Far North Queensland and letting our next ten year plan take shape!

It is bittersweet to end our trip of a lifetime early, to take up the opportunity of a lifetime, but this trip was always about ‘the journey and not the destination‘, so we are viewing this as the next waypoint on the Fealy Family Adventure.

So tomorrow we take a detour from our original route plans and cross the border into Western Australia to find ourselves a spot on the beach overlooking the Indian Ocean, to enjoy what might possibly be the last four weeks annual leave we ever get!!

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Categories: About Us, Every Family Needs A Farmer | 18 Comments

Light Bulb Moment

Ben Avon Station, Far North QLD

Ben Avon Station, Far North QLD

We are too excited to sleep tonight!  Today presented us with an epiphany!  You will remember that we wrote on our ‘Why are We Doing This’ post that part of wanting to do our trip was to have some time out to rethink our life and try to find a way to make a difference in this world, to give back, to do something useful.  Well, we think we may have come upon an idea to kick start that!.

My Mum sent us this email today;

On 02/05/2013, at 2:34 PM, Mum wrote:

been thinking ’bout your trip and what it means – and trying to extend the parameters so the kids ( no, all of you really ) get the most out of it
… so maybe you adopt a cause, sport a few stickers, talk a bit – it should not be a task, or a job – haven’t really crystallised my thoughts, but I’m putting it out there to let you think about it too

your blog is an awesome tool …

a couple that I found     HelpQldFarmers.com.au

                                      Every Family Needs A Farmer

as I said, haven’t thought it through

xxxx Mum

And my response;

On 02/05/2013, at 2:36 PM, Jessica Fealy wrote:

mum – that is sooooooo awesome!  Matt and I talked about this – similar thing – a couple of months ago and couldn’t think of anything to lock on to/that we were passionate enough about – really love it – great idea – hmmmm – I am going to think some more too ………….

And so that is where we are at (big thank you Mum)!  Matt and I are both from farming backgrounds in Far North Queensland – I grew up on a dairy farm and Matt’s family own a cattle station and potato, corn and peanut farm up there.  The future of Australian Farmers is something very close to our hearts, something we are very passionate about.

The Dairy Farm where I grew up.

The Dairy Farm where I grew up.

We love the idea of being able to educate our kids (and ourselves) as we travel around Australia, about the broader community we are all a part of, and the responsibility that we all have to ensure the country we live in is an amazing place.  We are excited about the thought of promoting Australian Farmers and Rural Australia and maybe helping more people understand why they are such an important part of our country. We want to try to make a difference, no matter how small it may be.

Can we do this? How do we do this?  And how do we balance this with our other objectives for the trip, to slow down, take some time out, no pressures – we don’t want to fill it all up with another purpose???  Can we just start small and see how it goes?

I know lots of our friends and family have already been thinking along these lines and have made changes to the food they buy and consume, so what do you all think?  All ideas and feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

Jack

Jack

Categories: About Us, Every Family Needs A Farmer | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

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