So this is life on telly.
Since the series started, a few people have been asking questions when I meet them. More than a few. So I thought I’d try to answer a couple for those who live further afield.
Do you still live in Tasmania?
Yes. I still live in Tasmania and I still live on the farm. The television series was incidental to my move, rather than me moving to be on telly. I bought the house, have a massive mortgage, and I’m really just an ordinary bloke giving it a go. There are lots of other people doing this, many who have been doing it for years and are far better at it. For some reason, though, I was filmed. It doesn’t make me the first or the best, just one of a group of likeminded people that I’m proud to be getting to know.
Does the farm take tours or visits?
I’m afraid the farm is a private residence and isn’t set up for visitors. It’s a real home, near a vibrant community, in a stunning part of the world. I may consider welcoming the occasional organised group at some point, but for now, it’s my haven away from the rest of the world.
Do you really think of yourself as a farmer?
No. The title of the show is tongue in cheek. Compared to the brilliant farmers this country boasts, I’ll never be more than a dabbler. That said, I do want to try to make this piece of land more productive and earn at least part of my living from it. For this, I need to learn from real farmers, real smallholders and all those who have done this before and done it more successfully. Some of these are showcased on the series.
Have you ever seen The River Cottage?
No. Seriously, no. I should’ve. I should’ve read and watched everything I could’ve about making a transition like this. I did remarkably little research, and just gave things a go. Does the show resemble River Cottage? I couldn’t say, but hopefully this winter I’ll have time to catch up on some viewing. I hear it’s terrific.
Did you really do all those things on the show?
The telly show was based on adventures and ideas that Ross, Nick and I pursued (and continue to pursue) in Tassie. Sometimes, just rarely, things had to be managed so a television crew could film them. But most were filmed on the hop, and yes, we did have a bloody fantastic time doing it all.
How long did it take to film?
The show started filming in October 2008 and finished filming in October 2009. We shot a lot of stuff in that twelve months. Most of the footage isn’t shown, of course, mainly because it was boring shots of me looking goofy and there’s enough of that in the show already. Snippets of footage are used to give the show pace. Some things that we filmed that I wish had made the series are; chatting with a local chef who has also moved from the city to a small farm, Steve Cumper from the Red Velvet Lounge. Winning third place in the 'men’s only’ chocolate cake at the Bream Creek Show. The Cygnet Folk Festival. The Taste of the Huon food festival. Making delicious chocolate truffles with Simon Harris from The Tasmanian Chocolate Studio in Launceston.
Should I move to Tasmania?
Umm, maybe. Maybe not. Don’t come expecting 24-hour shopping. Don’t come wanting chain stores and big malls and city conveniences. And don’t come if you hate the cold. Winter really is winter. But there’s a lot to Tassie to love, and the cultural life is just as vibrant as the food scene.
Is your mum really that lovely?
You obviously never had to live with her. But just in case she reads this, she’s warm, funny, intelligent and a very fine cook. At least that’s what she tells me to say.
Did you really have no clue?
Yes, and no. For instance, I seriously did have the cow sideways in the barn the first day I milked her and she did kick the bucket just as you saw on film. I did forget to take a bit of warm water to wash her down so the milk was full of bits. I did only get a litre. But, and this is the thing, I now milk her daily, she stands motionless most of the time, and I get over 4 litres at a time. What I’ve learned isn’t just about milking a cow, it’s that a cow doesn’t like a sound bloke and a camera bloke lurking around when she’s come in to be milked.
Me looking like a goose makes good telly, but successful fencing/milking/setting up a market stall apparently makes pretty dull viewing so you do see just a little more of my struggles than my successes.
Is there going to be a second series?
I don’t know yet. If it’s fun and the ideas work and SBS wants to air it, well maybe. There’s been an amazingly warm response to this series, so you never know.
So this is life on telly.