A Country Life

A Country Life

Our son Joel has followed in my father’s footsteps by choosing to live in a country setting with his wife and five (one biological) children. It’s a two acre block surrounded by gum trees outside the village of Vacy in the lower Hunter Valley. They’ve just moved into their custom built kit home after spending eight years renting in Paterson, a quaint village several miles further south.

This is an idyllic lifestyle for the children, as they have separate bedrooms and space to roam around outside, as well as creative intelligent parents to guide them in their play. And there’s a spacious Granny’s flat at one end for Gen’s mother to retire in when she decides.

Joel works as a chef in a government run preschool, while Gen bakes bread, cooks treats and prepares healthy lunches for the kids and drives them to school and to music lessons. She has also just graduated with a degree in Archaeology and intends furthering her studies next year. The eldest child has received a scholarship to study at Dungog High School next year, and he’ll catch the bus almost at their doorstep each morning.

How do they manage with so many children? They use loving discipline, and each child knows what is expected in terms of duties and behaviour. Outside it’s boots on because of snakes and spiders. The two older children, a girl ten and a boy eleven, are athletic and play touch football in a team called the Redbacks. Ariadne, who has just turned eight, is a more ‘girlie girl’ obsessed with playing the piano, and reading in quiet spots around the yards. She still joins in the rough-and-tumble at times and they all love riding bikes. The second younger boy–eight–likes building mechanical toys, and the youngest, seven, is very affectionate, but also delightfully mischievous. We look on all the children as our grandchildren and they call us Nanny and Poppy; after all, they’ve all been part of the family now for nearly five years.

They have started planning where they will plant fruit trees: mulberries, blackberries, blueberries and others, and Gen will grow vegetables. As they are all vegetarians, they could be partly self subsistent in the future, with hens for eggs and their own bread, fruit and vegetables on hand. Not sure about a cow yet. Jack is a Border Collie puppy, and they recently watched him round up some of the neighbours’ cows.



Poppy with Brandon


The Teepee

Fresh Water Tank

Ari in Covered Tepee



The Homestead

The Bush

Joel Making Tepees
Kangaroos Hopping and Standing

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