I joined this forum three and a half years ago, when we had signed the contract to buy an 11-acre established LSB about 35 minutes from ChCh city centre. At the time, we lived in South Brighton with our three young sons on an average-sized section which was way too small to absorb the energy of man-children.
I grew up in the countryside in the UK - Audley End village in north Essex - but not in a farming family. I spent those years of my childhood climbing trees, making forts, running through wheat fields, climbing hay stacks, and collecting bullet cartridges (there were heaps of red ones, but the black ones were the real prize). I wanted the same for our children, but in these days where you get berated as a BAD parent if your kids go beyond the front gate without a bodyguard and GPS-tracking system, living on a LSB seemed like the ideal alternative.
With the property, we also bought four yearling cattle for beef and a somewhat mouldy stack of hay (for free). Not knowing anything about looking after cattle, I found this forum, lurking for a few months (a bit scared because some of the threads get so fiesty!) until I wrote my first post - on a thread about whether carpets are better than bare floorboards.
We have been here over three years now. The property came with a pig paddock and pig facilities, so it was inevitable we'd buy in weaners and grow our own bacon. We also had a 'flock' of 6 romney cross sheep for a couple of years - a choice made by availability rather than suitability. After a few brushes with flystrike - one of them really nasty - we deflocked (plenty of lamb, hogget and mutton in our freezer!). After a stockless winter, we have bought a pet arapawa ewe (much easier to manage friendly sheep) with a ewe lamb at her foot and two other ewe lambs. We are enjoying having pet sheep much more than the big-flock cast-offs.
Despite my friend guffawing with laughter when I told her I was going to grow stuff, we invested in a 45-metre tunnelhouse, experimented with growing different things, and after three seasons of gradually increasing scale, I now have 2000-ish pepper seedlings (mostly chilli varieties, but also bulls horn and banana) desperate for transplanting in the next few weeks. We also have two veggie patches, a herb garden outside the bedroom door, and various fruit trees and bushes secreted around the property. Oh, and a licenced kitchen (our grannyless granny flat) where I process surplus chillies.
I work full-time as a writer - but from home, which is a huge advantage for LSB-living.
And the children? They climb trees and run through the paddocks... when we confiscate the PlayStation.
I write a 'small farm' blog on our website - it's supposed to be about chilli farming, but I get carried away!