The above question is one I’ve been asked quite a lot of times over the last five years since I moved to the farm on the south west coast of Wester Australia. My reply is always the same: you fall in love. Head over heels in love with someone who happens to be a farmer in the middle of nowhere. But you also fall very much in love with a part of the world you never thought you’d see but that is so beautiful and so friendly putting down your roots there feels completely natural.
I came from Sweden eight years ago now, twenty years old and a little nervous but excited to live in a country where the winters pretty much were as cold as our summers (or so I thought anyway!). I came to take my journalist degree in sunny Perth, which I did in 2013, but I had no intention of staying. I was going to live in Europe and I was going to be working in a fashion magazine after my graduation. That was the plan and one that seemed doable as I had been interning and working in that field for a few years before moving from a 30 minus degree winter.
Since there were “no way” I was going to stay and become and Aussie it probably helped Brett to win me over to the whole “living in Australia” that I didn’t actually know was a farmer when we first started going out. In my eyes he was a city slicker, playing in a band, surfing every day and working for the local government with climate change. Something that now, when he spends a fair amount of time of the year trying to keep weeds of our crops with various amounts of chemicals, is quite ironic. But when my now husband walked into the hipster shop for men I was working in while finishing my degree I couldn’t have cared less about what he did for a living. And that despite the hideously pointy shoes I had to look away from as he paid for the denim shirt with pink flowers I made him buy ( luckily for me they turned out to not be representative of his whole wardrobe). All I cared about was to keep talking to him as he was hands down one of the loveliest people I had ever met.
That Brett happened to be a closet farmer and I happened to be a girl who thought she was going to end up living in a rooftop apartment in Paris didn’t seem to matter. I think sometimes life hands you what you need and I truly much more suited for the country life than I am for the fast paced life.
I guess that when it comes to true love, the kind of love that makes you a better person, you want to be with that person regardless of where they are or what they do. I do think that true love can make you move anywhere. And I know that if I, for whatever reason, really didn’t want to live on the farm that would be fine too and we could take our family and move elsewhere. I think that type of reassurance is important in a relationship, and especially so for someone who’s sacrificed a lot to live somewhere her (or his for that matter) partner is based for work.
Luckily for Brett I loved coming to the farm and well before we decided to move back here, as my parents in laws moved off the farm, I thought going here was absolutely wonderful. And also that the canola fields were indeed very instagram-worthy. Apart from that time in the middle of winter when Brett had gone for a 4am morning surf and I was going to make myself a nice cup of hot tea to keep warm. That time I did not like the farm one single little bit because what at followed is a story I will never let myself live down. It started when I put the kettle on and the power in the whole house went flat. Me, being about twenty kilos skinnier than I am now (and that so before I got pregnant), absolutely panicked. It was freezing outside. How was I going to survive? Brett mightn’t be back for hours.
I should add that, in comparison to Sweden, the majority of the houses do not have insulation. Which means that the houses often feel colder on the inside than they do on the outside. Reversed air cons are an absolute necessity, as are woolly UGG boots. And without a hot cup of tea death my be imminent. On top of that I didn’t have the right phone operator for country life so I had 0 reception, and the house phone had obviously gone flat. Ideal? Not so much.
Anyway! While I was freezing my butt off I pondered a little on what to do and decided I could probably survive in the cold anyway. I’m a tough cookie. Well, at least I were for about half an hour. After that I decided that, no, I will have to do something (excluding star jumps) if I wanted to survive and not greet Brett as an ice cube lying dead in the hallway. I decided I would go down to his sister on the neighboring farm and see if I could seek warmth there. I knew they weren’t home but I could probably get in somehow I thought. I didn’t really know how far away their house were and I also didn’t know how to drive a car (it would take me another two years and almost a year on the farm without a license before I got one!) but I figured I could do it anyway. I put myself in the front seat of Brett’s electric blue car and off I went in five kilometers an hour. As I knew I wasn’t legally allowed to drive, and hadn’t realized the chance of a police car driving past on a early Sunday morning was slim to none, I decided to take the back laneway.
It all went dandy until I got to the second laneway, the one leading into Brett’s sisters house. It had a gate on it. A gate of the Aussie farm kind that can practically kill a innocent Swedish lass (or anyone not aware of its dangers) if she tries to open it. It’s held up purely by the force of the person who put it up, and when opening it you need to slowly let a massive metal pipe off and let the gate fall to the ground (or hold it if you’re a 7ft badass full of muscle). To me it did look a bit intimidating but I figured I didn’t have much choice but to open it if I wanted to survive til lunchtime. So open it I did and as to initiate me into the world of farm gate opening properly it swung back onto me with full force, hitting me straight in the rib. Ouch!
But at least the gate was open (!) and I could keep on driving. For about a hundred meters, before I was stopped by this giant mob of sheep standing in the middle of the road. Panic. What were they doing there? Who had let them out of their paddock (I will add that I didn’t even know that a paddock was called a paddock then…)? What was I going to do? With no doubt absolute horror written across my face (thank god only the sheep could see it) I drove back to the gate and tried to shut it. After half an hour (but really it was probably more like five minutes) I gave up and realized I was faced with two options. 1. To park the car in the entrance of the paddock and make sure the sheep wouldn’t get out on the road or 2. Continue on to Brett’s sisters house and watch TV under the air-condition’s warm winds. Embarrassed to say now I went for option number two, because warm food.
Well there I called Brett every five minutes to make sure he could go and sort my mess out and when he finally answered he found the whole thing hilarious and told me that a) his parents house has a beautiful gas stove which can be used to boil water when turned on with the help of a match and that b) there is a switch for when the power goes out which would have turned it back on immediately. And he also said that I eventually would learn that it does go out quite often.
Fat chance I will ever come back to this icy hole and learn how to turn the power on I thought. I didn’t move to Australia to freeze, I moved here to get tan lines while studying. And I have a career to build; I’ve only just started. I am so not meant to be on a farm I thought, as handsome and lovely as this man of mine might be.
But after a few more trips to the farm (trips involving learning how to do donuts in the farm ute and taking instgram pics in the luping fields) I started to change my mind. And here I am, five years later sitting in our cold office with a massive fluffy cat snoring at my feet and a little baby girl playing with his tail. And I have to say that while this is not the life I thought I would have I’m so happy I followed my heart. I couldn’t be happier living here and while a career in the city would have been great the farm is part me now of it now and for someone who thought being stick thin and having perfectly messy curls on a night out was incredibly important, I’m so much happier in my flannel shirts and Blundtstone boots. I think that if you do follow love life sometimes have the tendency to work out just as it was meant to.
Ps. An alternative and less soppy ending on this little story: sometimes following your heart doesn’t work out but I can assure you that at least you will learn a lot from it. So go for it I say!