ar…veHi, my name is Tom, and I’d like to welcome you to the mountains of Telemark and my life here on Nord Hovland farm.
The birthplace of skiing is a short drive away, and the 3-meter ski jump that I’m trying to master before my 6-year-old son does is just across the road.
Marie and I recently bought the best farm in Hjartdal*, which is the nicest village in Norway*, which is the greatest country in the world (ok, so the weather back in Sydney is a little better).
This means we are now the proud owners of the best farm in the world*!
*At least we think so
The truth is, Marie dragged me kicking and screaming out to the countryside from my urban existence in Sydney. I remember so clearly having to tell my boss that Marie had won the battle and that we were making the move back to Norway… to live in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve always been a bit of a greenie, but it’s come and gone in stages. Caring about the planet isn’t easy in the 21st century, after all.
I had developed a great interest in permaculture, Allan Savory’s work with holistic management, sustainability more generally, and I enjoy toying with the idea of how to save humanity from itself.
But after growing up in the city I had a very academic & ideologic viewpoint of sustainability (I’ve read all the books and watched countless YouTube videos). I even completed my permaculture accreditation ‘for fun’, which was fun.
It wasn’t until I started living on the land that I was able to put things into context. I started gardening, hunting, gathering, and enjoying nature.
Interestingly, a lot of the more ideological ideas I learned online fell flat on their face, and I came to understand that nature isn’t all that interested in my fancy new ideas. I also learned what I now consider to be the most important part of online education – you must only apply what works in your context, or to put it another way, the chances are the old lady up the road doing things the way they should be done is probably… right.
For too long I rolled my eyes at traditional knowledge thinking I knew it all.
Over the years, I have dropped a lot of my ideology for what works, whilst keeping true to my values. And of course, with all of the ‘amazing new things’ I keep discovering online, the local farmers have known about them for years. It continuously amazes me how little I know.
We own 600 acres, most of which is forest, and incredibly beautiful.
Despite moving to the other side of the world, I somehow managed to keep my job in Sydney working in the solar power industry, which means I work online. I have been working online full-time since around 2013.
Not commuting has given me an extra 3 hours a day, which I typically use to develop my homestead (soon to be a farm), to explore the fantastic wilderness around me, and to spend as much time as I can with my young family. For me, the biggest advantage of working online is being able to live in the countryside.
You may not want to hike all afternoon and camp by a lake high up in the mountains, eating freshly caught trout cooked on a wood fire with lots of butter, but for me… that’s what I call digital marketing heaven. 🙂
I believe a lot more people need to take this path, we desperately need more young farmers, and I think the best candidates are probably bashing their head against a wall somewhere in an office block.
Working online can give you the freedom to become the person you want to be. Gone are the days of a stressful commute and a windowless office, plus having a steady job can give you the cash flow to start up & maintain a farm or homestead.
Despite the best efforts of the mainstream media, I have developed a very positive and hopeful mindset, directly because of the extra time and freedom I have out here in the countryside. I have been inspired by the positivity of permaculture. The solutions are so clearly laid out in front of us, we just need to spread the word and lead by example.
So many of us seem trapped in the rat race and see no way out. Because I have lived through many tough years in jobs I have hated, paying off credit cards and subjecting myself to insanely high rental prices, I know how people can feel when they come looking for a new path; a way out. I lived with stress and horrible health habits, all of which I blamed on my youth.
I am passionate about sharing my experience with permaculture, homesteading, and sustainability. I know how good life can be when you find solutions to not only the world’s problems, but your own, and I really want to share that with you.
Please feel free to introduce yourself below, I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for reading this, and I wish you all the very best of luck on the road ahead.