Bibliophile | You’ve Got to be Kidding: A Shedload Of Wine & A Farm Full of Goats

You’ve Got to be Kidding: A Shedload Of Wine & A Farm Full of Goats
by Todd Alexander

When Todd and his partner Jeff decided to give up their corporate jobs in Sydney in 2012 to buy 100 acres in the Hunter Valley, they ended up working harder than they had ever done in their lives. Their experiences inspired Todd to write the best-selling book Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga.

Seven years later, the two have managed to rescue several farm animals and create successful boutique accommodation on Block Eight which also produces fine wines and olive oil. Unfortunately they are barely covering expenses and every new scheme to generate income seems to come with new expenses they hadn’t bargained for.

While Todd admits that prior to taking on this adventure, the only power tool he had ever used was his sage green cake mixer, he knows that tasting your own wine and olive oil is more rewarding than his years in the corporate world. Their journey also entailed becoming vegan and Todd has included some great recipes at the back of the book … even though he didn’t end up being the Hunter Valley’s Maggie Beer.

Their combined resilience has meant that they are continually adjusting when successive hurdles are placed in their way, but 2020 was to bring a whole new tsunami of challenges. Todd remarks that, in comparison, what they had been through was “a stroll through an olive grove”.

Sick animals, failed crops, broken machinery, drought and the economic downturn that it brought prevent them making any dents in their mounting debts. Then their worst nightmare – a bushfire coming from all sides of the property as chunks of Australia burned. All of this is topped off by everything that COVID-19 had in store for small businesses relying on tourism.

Todd remarks that 2020 was probably the most challenging year most people have ever had, but he was frequently buoyed by the indifference their animals showed to the chaos. “When I was at my wit’s end, I’d lay my head against Helga’s head, or run my hand through Wilma’s long mane or close my eyes to the soft motor purrs of Leroy. These are the images that will last me the longest from a year that most of us would rather forget.”

Finding positivity and humour in the most dire of times is something this tree-change author is brilliant at doing, and the adventure continues.

Lezly Herbert

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