TI am Antonia and I live on our organic dairy farm in the north of Tasmania with my family. We produce organic dairy goods and sell them at the local farmers markets. I love the markets and meeting our customers personally every week.
I come from Bavaria, a beautiful state in Germany near the Alps. I grew up in Munich, but never felt like a city girl. I remember how I always flourished when my family went to visit our farmer friends in Boebing, a small village south of Munich. As soon as we arrived I would go into the cow shed to be with the cows, the bull, swallows and cats. It felt good, stroking a cow's head, watching as she chewed, and breathing in the warm smell of manure and hay. Even the flies I liked - they meant wonderful days on the farm. To this day I don't mind them, they make a summer day complete. As a girl I had a plan for my own farm, complete with cow shed, family house and everything I would need to live with animals and plants and be surrounded by nature.
I would often ride a friend's bike and visit the nearby lake and that's where Joe and I met as teenagers. When we were 18, we decided to emigrate to another country, but the idea was put in the back of our minds.
We built up our farm and had our first four children in Bavaria. I found out how it can sometimes be challenging and at the same time the most wonderful experience to have children. I had and still have so much joy with my family.
I was pregnant with our first baby and spraying herbicide (as I had learned during my agricultural studies to get on top of the weeds early), when suddenly I had this strong feeling, that this wasn't good. We quit the artificial way of farming and went organic. A recent German study established that about three quarters of all insects have disappeared there, mainly due to industrialised farming practices.
Our adventurous spirits made us want to explore and eventually we ended up on this most beautiful island, Tasmania.
The first few years here were busy for us, converting the new farm to organic, building a cheesery, planting many fruit trees and natives and buying dairy cows, often old ones, from Tasmanian farmers.
I love old cows, with their wise eyes, never in a rush. We keep our old cows on the farm when they are not producing anymore. All the calves are in the same paddock with their mums, much like a natural herd. Milking cows can be a peaceful experience to learn about patience and regularity. I always enjoy the sweet smell of fresh milk and when it's turned into cheese, seeing the soft, glossy curds form...
One summer night, many years ago, we had so many mozzies in the house that we decided to sleep outside. There was a light breeze and no mozzies. Since that night Joe and I always sleep outside on the veranda. Sometimes the possums wake us in the middle of the night by climbing around noisily, but falling asleep under the stars is worth it.
Our two younger children were born in Tasmania at home and our youngest outside under the peach tree. Everything is so fresh outside - the air, the sounds and the views. Every day the sky is new. After our first two sons had spent a year in public school, we decided to home school so our children could spend more time at home on the farm and employed a teacher for a few hours a week. Children can learn so much by living in the community, family, farm.
I'm always grateful that we have this freedom here - home births, home schooling, religious freedom. I'm not connected with any religion. As a yoga teacher I want to remind people that yoga is not a religion, it's a science. For me yoga means fitness and health, of course, but there is so much more to it - feeling complete as l am.
I think I am more of an introvert and as a young woman, I found it difficult to speak my mind. Somehow, I always held myself back. I wanted to change and become more open and confident. Through a friend I was introduced to a special type of yoga which involves a relaxation practice called yoga nidra. Initially I went to yoga classes just for the fitness, but soon discovered that I felt more whole, more me. I decided to study and completed a diploma in yoga teaching. It was a very thorough course which deepened my understanding of yoga and enabled me to enjoy sharing the goodness with my students.
I gave yoga classes as a volunteer at the local aged care centre for seven years. It was humbling and beautiful to see the ladies' faces relaxing, while they practiced gentle movement with breathing accompanied by soft music. Some staff members joined in as well and one of them continued to train in breathing and movement.
I'm grateful that I can live healthily and enjoy lots of raw food, good water and fresh air. My greatest joys are living with Joe, our children, their partners and our grandchildren in this beautiful, nourishing place.
Don't take in everyone's story about pregnancy, giving birth, raising children, growing old...Instead, find out for yourself what adventure this life brings for you with every new experience.
Photos by Ninna Millikin
This project was assisted by Bellendena Small Grants