The hut we built ... and other muddy matters
It's been wet and muddy and honest-to-goodness we're over trudging through it to get to our gardens and taking on and off our wet-weather gear to work outside.
The wet and mud affects all of our daily work on the farm and most tasks take longer than usual. All crops grow slow and take an age until harvest. Less customers brave the farmer's market and our stockists sell less. All in all, our work is a little less rewarding in the winter.
The gravel road we live on becomes quieter - with drivers avoiding its potholes and muddy puddles. When we drive to our local town we feel a muddy-vehicle kinship to the other muddy-vehicle owners we drive past and park next to.
If the wind is strong, we prepare in case the power goes out. Fuel for the hydroponics generator, buckets of water, candles, playing cards and firewood. It's too far to pop up the road for takeaways so we make a slow cooker of something that can be re-heated on our wood fire for dinner if the worst happens. The wind whistles around our old house, which is a bit draughty but solid against the stormy weather - the settlers who built it chose a good spot.
On very wet days we check for road closures in case our route to school or our delivery to stockists is blocked by slips or flooding. One stormy afternoon all three routes to and from town were blocked with slips and flooded roads. We couldn't pick up our son after school so he stayed the night at a friend's house. That night the friend's dad couldn't get home from work and he ended up staying with us. We joked that we had traded family members. The roading guys worked hard overnight to clear the roads and the next day our households returned to normal.
It was during one of these wet and muddy months that our oldest son Sam, who is in his final year studying film production, asked if he could use one of our paddocks to shoot some scenes for a short film he was making. It was a story he had written about a Viking and he was excited to begin filming.
Here was something to distract us from a difficult time in the garden and luckily it had stopped raining for a couple of days to dry the farm (slightly) for filming.
Time was short before filming started and Sam asked if we could help with set building. We - reluctantly at first - chipped in constructing a hut. Our boys had built many huts in our bush over the years, but we hadn't done work like this since childhood and it was fun. Sam said the hut needed to be big so it took a while to finish. The hut was visible from the road and passer-by's were slowing to get a look and neighbours were stopping to ask what the hut was for.
The film crew arrived and we watched them filming in and around the hut, crowding the doorway with their cameras, booms and screens. Suddenly we understood why the hut was big - there was lots of gear, lots of crew and the tall actor playing the Viking needed to fit inside.
It was entertaining to have young creative minds around for a few days talking about stabbing scenes, golden hour shooting and, most excitedly ... a planned camera drop. Our kitchen was the birth place of many massive trays of stir-fry rice, our side-by-side bike was roaring up and down the road and driveway at all hours ferrying people and gear back and forth. The local cop even stopped at 3am at the close of a night shoot to check what was going on!
The filming wrapped up, the crew went back to the city and now the farm is quiet once again. It's still wet and muddy but it's getting lighter earlier and going dark later, which is an encouraging sign that winter will end soon. The farm had been used for something new and the filming took our minds away from mud for a while. We can't wait to see the film finished.
Sam and his friend Jordy are the creative directors of Red Ape Media, and the short film they shot here on the farm is called 'The Walker'. Take a look on Instagram @thewalker.production to see more on the filming of The Walker, and follow future projects at @redape.media.