We started out the same as everyone else- getting qualifications, and jobs…a partner…getting married- because that is what you did then…..having a family and making a home.
Graham trained as a motor mechanic doing an apprenticeship, and I studied nursing in the days when nurses trained on the job in a hospital. An accident made it impossible for Graham to continue as a mechanic, so he went back to what he knew-the land and farming. Living out of town, I chose to stay at home and help on the farm and raise our children. We bought a farm and worked all the hours under the sun. We didn’t earn enough, so we worked harder- we leased a second farm and reared extra animals- we milked two herds and I worked off farm to supplement our income. We discovered split calving and increased our income but multiplied our work load.
We reinvested back into the farm; that was our retirement fund-and we tried to beat the averages by starting to think outside the square. We felt that doing the same as the average farmer would give you average results- doing them the best would give better results- but just better than average. To get really outstanding results; you needed to do outstanding things- different things. So we tried different things.
We tried different forms of animals health and manged to get healthier animals more cheaply than the ‘average’ farmer. We also got a name for being ‘odd’ or different- or even ‘witch-doctors! And we became more ready to get outside the norm for getting results that we wanted.
We tried milking at different times to other people and discovered a better system- healthier cows and cheaper processes, but definitely too odd for the ‘run of the mill’ farmer….but we also discovered the importance of ‘life style’.
We began running the farm around our wants instead of us fitting around the ‘needs’ of the farm.
Then we had our biggest A-HA moment of the time. The teachers were on strike and we read that they were not satisfied with $50.000 per year. We were stunned. Here we were, with over $1,000,000 invested (after 20 years hard work); and both of us working 365 days a year, most days at least 10 hours; and together we were lucky to break even, let alone make $50,000. Some years we had to enlarge the mortgage to balance the books. From that moment on, our hearts were no longer in farming, and we were searching for a new way to make a living.