Jul 5, 2013

The Cattleman's Ready-Made Family

by Michelle Douglas

Do you long for fresh air and birdsong?
Do you relish fresh-picked produce?
Do you hunger for a gentler pace of life?
If you’re a community minded family, why not rent a farmhouse for a $1 a week in beautiful Bellaroo Creek?
We can promise you a fresh start and genuine country hospitality.

That’s the advertisement my heroine reads and answers in my July release The Cattleman’s Ready-Made Family. This is Book One in the Bellaroo Creek trilogy. Barbara Hannay’s Miracle in Bellaroo Creek will be released in August, and Soraya Lane’s Patchwork Family in the Outback in September. We had a ball writing this series. :-)

The series idea is based on the rent-a-farmhouse-for-a-dollar-a-week scheme. This scheme was started in an effort to attract new blood to rural communities and to in effect “save” them—mostly measured by boosting school enrolments to save the schools.

I think it’s a brilliant idea. It helps both the rural community as well as prospective families who might be struggling financially and need a new start. If you’re at all temped go check out this website here.

Ever since I watched my first episode of Sea Change this idea of a sea or tree change has intrigued me. Can you imagine just upping sticks and turning your life on its head completely like this? Why would someone do that? It could be an act of desperation—an attempt to run away from a dreadful situation. It could be a resolution to leave the frantic pace of the city behind and to smell the roses. It could be a genuine effort to improve the quality of one’s life Or maybe there’s just nowhere else to go.

I love dreaming rural dreams—of moving to the country and living in rustic splendour. I love the idea of relocating to a beach shack too. ;-) What about you? If you were going to turn your life on it’s head like this where would you go?


  1. Hi Michelle,

    I so enjoyed this book. You did such a great job of building the rural community feel. So nice!

    Don't most of us dream of an alternative life somewhere far from care? Every time I visit the mountains I wish the little cottage I'm staying in belonged to me so I could visit for half the year. On the other hand, I'd love a home with a view of the water. It's not far from where I live but there's something about a water view that's so stimulating and relaxing too. Would it be greedy to wish for both?

  2. Hi Michele - am so looking forward to reading this book. Hubby and I did our sea change six years ago and love our little coastal town. With only eight hundred residents and the most amazing beach and walkways, it's a little bit of paradise. It's also given me a chance to have horses again, which really was a dream come true. So, I'm all for sea/tree changes...great post :)

  3. So glad you enjoyed the book, Annie! I had so much fun writing it.

    You know, I think I've come up with a solution for your dilemma. You need to win Lotto and then you can buy a cottage in the mountains, but also a lovely house with water views and you can spend six months in each. Sounds kind of heavenly, huh? ;-)

  4. Helen, you embarked on a sea change!!! Oh, how exciting. Your little coastal town with its beaches sounds beautiful. I dream of owning a horse too. I doubt it will ever happen, but it's fun to dream. :-) You know, you might have to do a little photo-tour blog of your town. We'd love to live it vicariously through you.

  5. Hi Michelle,
    I was a city-born girl who dreamed of the country. My family called me a throw-back because 2 generations earlier my mother's family were from the land. At 22, I took off to the country and stayed there for almost 20 years.

    I married a country-born boy whose parents had done a sea-change when he was a kid but he'd drifted back to the country where I met him. A few years ago, we did the sea change.

    Until this post I hadn't thought about my life like this. I seem to have spent a third in the city, a third in the country and I hope I get another third on the coast! As to picking my favourite - it wouldn't be the city!

    Cath xox

  6. Wow, Catherine, it sounds as if both you and your DH were meant to live in the country. It sounds like a happy time for you. But now it definitely sounds as if you should be by the sea.

    When I was a teenager I dreamed of owning my own little farm, far away from the madding crowd, but a friend of mine thought me crazy. He hankered for the bright lights of the city. He made me appreciate what a city had to offer

    TBH, I think if you're living with the right people everything else will fall into place. :-)

  7. Michelle, I loved reading your first book in our Bellaroo Creek trilogy. As Annie said, you built a wonderful feeling of community, the kind of feeling that potential tree-changers dream about.
    I know... I've been there. :)
    The DH and I are currently living in a cottage in the Misty Mountains, raising poultry, growing fruit and veg, the whole package...

  8. Barb, I worked hard to get that community feel across and I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I can't wait to read Miracle in Bellaroo Creek. :-)

    Oh, and I have serious tree change envy whenever I pop out to your blog and see the gorgeous photos of your garden and you beautiful house and the views! It must be wonderful. :-)

  9. Hey Michelle - am putting your book on my list!
    I've been living a tree change now for the last twelve years. Our place is gorgeous and has lovely mountain views. It's anice quiet semi-rural area and has been an amazing palce to eraise kids. We've been very blessed.
    But you know what? I want to live in the city so bad I can taste it! And with the kids almost grown and gone its actually within reach - next five years I reckon!
    I want to be able to walk out of my "apartment" and pick any of 20 different nearby places to eat three nights a week or go to the movies whenever I want. I want to be in the heart of things. I want to have the wild pulse of humanity around me.
    I know....strange right!
    Of course my ultimate goal is to live by the ocean. Just dont know if that will ever be financially viable because if you're going to live by the ocean then I want to be ale to see and hear it every day! I dont want to be a ten minute drive - I want it to be right there!
    Le sigh...
    Anyway, my hubby for sure doesn't want to move. So...interesting times ahead.... :-)

  10. I just love the idea of renting a house for a dollar, Michelle. The excitement and challenge of moving to a completely different area and getting to know everyone in the community would make for a great story. Can't wait to read yours!

  11. Moving into the heart of a city? I don't think that's strange at all, Amy. I live in a really lovely suburb -- leafy, less than 10mins to the beach, a 12min walk to one of the biggest shopping centres in the city. I live in a great spot. But...I would love to step out my front door and be less than a five min walk to an array of cafe, bookshops, the library, restaurants and pubs. Every now and again, I go fantasy house-hunting right in the city. Oh and beach views? Yes, please! If only I had a spare 2 million. Keeping my fingers crossed for you and your interesting times ahead!

  12. The whole renting a house for a $1 thing is great, isn't it, Barb? There's something really seductive about wiping the slate clean and starting again, I think. I hope you enjoy the BC series. I can't wait to read Barb and Soraya's books. :-)

  13. Just popping past to say how excited I am about this series! Michelle's first book is at the top of my TBR pile :)


  14. Soraya! It's lovely to see a cat in the wild drop by. :-)

    I'm really excited about this series too. I hope the readers love it as much as you, Barb and I do. :-) You and Barbara were such a delight to work with. Looking forward to reading Patchwork Family in the Outback!

  15. Michelle

    I so loved this story and the idea of up and moving to the country to start a new life is great sometimes I wish this sort of thing had been around when my kids were young and we were struggling living in all that fresh air and the community to depend on would have been so good. I have Barbara's downloaded on the e reader ready to read very soon and then I will be getting Soraya's looking forward to them

    Have Fun

  16. Michelle, I love the sound of Bellaroo Creek and the $1-house-rent scheme! Your story sounds fabulous and I'm looking forward to a lovely read!

    I feel very lucky because we're living our tree-change now and, as I type this, there is a family of kangaroos nibbling on the grass near the back fence. Sadly the green-thumb gene bypassed me so I can't claim to be successfully growing our own fresh vegies!

    Anyway I'm off to snaffle a copy of your book and then I'll have a look at that website link you've put up!

  17. Helen, am tickled pink (love that expression!) that you enjoyed the story. I'll lay odds on the bet you'll enjoy Barbara's too. :-)

    You're right -- it really does sound like the ideal place to raise children. From what Amy says above that certainly seems to be the case. I dreamed of being raised on a farm with a horse of my very own. And it's still lovely to dream about now and then. ;-) Thanks for dropping by!

  18. Oh, Sharon, it sounds as if you're in your element! So glad you're loving your tree-change. :-) Are you going to work on that green thumb? You know, I think it might be a better idea to simply enjoy those country views with a beer in hand while pulling fresh country air into your lungs.