The above question is one I’ve been asked quite a lot of times over the last four years by everyone to dentists, shop assistants and old friends and my reply is always the same: you fall in love. Head over heels in love with someone who happens to be a farmer from a farm in the middle of rural Western Australia.
In my case though I didn’t actually know Brett Crabtree was a farmer as he back then pretended to be a city slicker, 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 (read huge) 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 journalist 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 and that luckily for me turned out to not be representative of his of duty sense of fashion. All I cared about was to keep talking to him as he was hands down one of the loveliest people I had ever met, much better than the very attractive interior designer I was seeing at the time.
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 but am much more suited for the country life rather than the fast paced life in the city is just a happy coincidence. And one I am very grateful for.
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. Perhaps with some obvious exception such as living in Moscow with a KGB spy (that would be rather hectic I can imagine) but even then 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 that the canola fields were tres 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 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 no.
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 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 there but I could probably get in somehow I thought. I didn’t really know how far down they were though, and I 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 dive, 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. Because I am a smart one.
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 though I didn’t have much choice but to open it if I wanted to survive to see lunchtime (I will remind you that it was still a very cold day). 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. Safe to say I did scream a little and tears might have been rolling down my cheeks. Tough as I am I’m not really that tough at all… and I’m pretty good at feeling sorry for myself.
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 ha)? 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.
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) the 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. And that I eventually would learn that it does go out quite often.
Fat chance I will ever come back to this icy hole 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 as this man of mine might be.
But after a few more trips to the farms (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 giant belly about to pop out our first baby. And I’m so happy I followed my heart. A career would have been great but the farm is part of it now and for me, 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 hell of a lot from it. So go for it I say!