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Discussion Starter · #2,962 · (Edited)
RETRACING AN OLD HORSE RIDE ON OUR BICYCLES

Some weeks ago, I posted some photos from when went on a walk that took us on the start of a trail I'd done with my horse in 2009, as part of a trailriding group outing. I was keen to retrace our steps, but not on foot - long flat walking is terribly boring to us*, and since I don't have a horse trailer and we like bicycle riding, today we did the entire 20km Hay River to Denmark return trip on what the German language calls "wire donkeys"!

*...but if it's not flat, we'll walk it - like the 25km Bibbulmun hike we did week before last!

The Munda Biddi trail is a share trail for bicycles, horses and walkers that stretches along the coast from Albany to past Walpole.

The trail map for today's section:

Us at the Hay River car park:


If you wonder how I do this with a roadbike, I've got touring tyres and they are fine on gravel and firm off-road tracks. Not on soft sand or mud though! This trail is pretty firm and I only had to get off a handful of times to cross sand or mud.

Most of the trail is through gorgeous tall forest adjacent to an inlet:






The dog came with us, had a very happy outing, and went swimming periodically.

I bet you can all envisage yourselves doing this on horseback. It would be fabulous, and indeed the one time I did it it was (except that the trail group were all plodders and spent 95% of the time walking and this is such a nice trail for trotting and cantering...). But, better to do this by bicycle than not at all - and I can ride my horse on the trails around our local area instead. Also - I'm rather needing the exercise myself - we already walk a lot, but cycling is great exercise and will make me a fitter horse rider and general all-round person.

The Munda Biddi follows a series of old "rail trails" where historically there had once been a railway line. Here's an explanatory sign - it's a bit dirty but you can still read it...

Continuing along Wilson Inlet...


Coming into Denmark:

Where we parked our bicycles for a walk into town.

This is the footbridge over the Denmark River near the Wilson Inlet:


In 2009 we crossed this with our horses, and then hitched them to various rails in the picnic area, where a nice person had taken all of our lunch packs and thermoses in a car so we didn't have to carry them on the horses...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,963 ·
This is the Denmark River, along both banks of which you can walk into town. This gave the dog a bathing and walking break, and we were intent on having some goodies at the bakery before retracing our route. So here we were on the eastern bank, and when we came back later it was along the western bank you can see.

On the return bike ride we stopped at a few more places, like this bird hide:



These are Paperbark Trees - you can literally peel off some bark and write on it, as I used to when I first came to Australia as a child...it was fun to write little letters to my friends in Europe on this stuff...

The waterside was very peaceful.


...and soon we were back at the car park and it was time to go home. ...You can't do this bit with horses...

It really wouldn't work! This one's made of plastic but apparently caused a stir when some people couldn't tell it from a real one, nor did they apparently remember their high school physics...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,964 · (Edited)
STEVE KILBEY & CO CONCERT

Steve Kilbey is the bass player and vocalist of an Australian band called The Church, which started in the early 1980s and is still going in their 60s. They're to Australia what The Velvet Underground is to the US - a hugely influential cult alternative band, whom you all are most likely to know through this song:


But if you enjoy that, you might also like this one, which came earlier and was the song that made me notice this band as a teenager:


I can never help but sing the harmonies, and I defy you not to!

On Friday night, we went to a gig featuring Steve Kilbey and friends which I reviewed for the music forum I'm on. Here's a "reprint":

Super happy because we gave ourselves a kick up our backsides and got ourselves to that concert I was deliberating about yesterday (because it was $66 a ticket and we'd only heard about it the day before and my to-do list is miles long). I'd been under the impression Steve Kilbey was going to do acoustic versions of two of their early albums, with string backing - since he wasn't coming with the current incarnation of The Church, who by the way have made 25 (!!!) studio albums (I can see I've got a few holes to fill in their back catalogue... 😮). On reflection we thought that was worth going to.

And this is what we actually got: Full electric concert with a cellist and a violinist (both electric) standing in for synth! In a 600-seater, which due to the pandemic and to perhaps a lack of interest in alternative music amongst the older people in Albany was less than half full. That didn't dampen anyone's spirits, however - fabulous, enthusiastically received concert in an intimate venue with amazing acoustics.

I didn't have The Church's 1981 and 1983 albums because that was just a little before I got interested in music; the first one I've got by them is 1985's Heyday, which is excellent. But, as it turns out, so were these predecessors - this concert was a real treat... Here's a sample song off The Church's debut Of Skins and Heart:


This was all lushly presented live - the two string players really added something to the overall soundscape - and soundscape is what The Church did so incredibly well through the 1980s, and what sat so beautifully against the plasticky, trashy pop backdrop that was a large fraction of the 1980s mainstream. I've got journals from the mid-80s in which I decided to host my own music awards, and in them, The Church got Best Australian Band both times I held those - to my mind, they had so much more depth than INXS or the Hoodoo Gurus or even Hunters & Collectors (not to mention Pseudo Echo and their ilk), and were multi-dimensional in ways that few other Australian bands were (and Nick Cave hadn't grown up properly yet).

Hearing two early Church albums I'd not been familiar with (save a couple of songs off them) showed me all over again exactly why I took to this music back in the day. I sat enthralled in mesmeric, often gorgeous, sometimes experimental soundscapes, and let Steve Kilbey's richly resonant voice wash over me. The lyrics have always been above-average as well, which really helps to get people into my good books. The band played two full albums plus encore, but I could easily have listened to twice that this evening!

Steve Kilbey also amused the crowd with stories in-between songs; most of which centered around his memory of all the bad reviews they got by various critics. "This (Electric Lash) was called 'the stupidest song ever' by such and such a critic... - and this song was lauded as a better effort by us; he said that we should leave 'haunting' up to people who are actually good at it." (Heartfelt boos and hisses from the audience at these poisonous comments, one of which had been from the NME.)

He mentioned that gated drum reverb had been an issue on the next album they presented, Seance - and they do it without live. Here's a nice sample off that album (which some critic had apparently called an "unnecessary stoner jam"):


With the added strings the intro to this piece was extraordinary, quivery, electric...this is why I listen to music...

A few things were given different arrangements - Memories In Future Tense, he said he preferred 3/4 not 4/4 and as a sort of 1930s Hungarian barn piece, and so they went on to play it like that, and it was excellent. The alternative arrangement also didn't have what he called the signature 1981 guitar sound, which he demonstrated on his bass. One song off their debut album he refused to play altogether, and said to it make up to us he'd play two B-sides instead. Much comedy was extracted from his explanations about vinyl, Side 1 versus Side 2 ("...but of course that means nothing anymore, nowadays it's all random!"), etc - and at one point he said to a guitar player, "In the 80s blah blah..." and got, "But I wasn't alive in the 80s." 😄

Somewhere in the middle of the concert, an audience member exclaimed, "Now I can die happy, Steve!" - and Kilbey joked, "What? I'm as deaf as a post - and also as blind as a bat!" - turning to the wings of the stage, bowing at 90 degrees to us, and telling us we were such a fabulous audience. 😂 He mispronounced "Albany" as quite a few Eastern States blow-ins will, and got some giggles which immediately informed him of the mistake - it isn't said like "Albury" - and he then went on to make favourable comparisons between our lovely seaside town and that landlocked place in Victoria ("and what sort of a name is Wodonga anyway?"). It's great fun when you're at a gig where there can be these kinds of conversational exchanges with the crowd. 😀

Interesting things happen when a singer plays bass instead of guitar - listening closely, I could hear that it affects the singing - since he's playing rhythm, and pretty complex forms at that, rather than accompaniment, and it seems like he has to fit his singing in between his playing because of this. It makes for interesting stops and starts and timings in the singing.

The encore presented three commercially successful songs by The Church which, bless their hearts, were still alternative songs - The Church never made pop: Metropolis, I'm Almost With You and, of course, Under The Milky Way.

To make it perfect, I'd have loved another encore with Pharaoh, Happy Hunting Ground and Tantalized in it - but they clearly can't rehearse the whole back catalogue for concerts, especially with alternative musicians standing in for original band members. These did a great job, by the way - the guitarists not quite as sharp as the original playing, but of a high enough standard to sound fabulous.

I actually took some photos which I'll share tomorrow, but I'm too tired for that now! 😴

The photos...

Shaun & Adrian Hoffmann (guitars), Steve Kilbey (vocals, bass), Shaun Corlson (drums), Rachael Aquilina (violin), Anna Sarcich (cello); guest drummer "Lockie" behind string section, did one song outright on his own kit, and got an extra cheer and his name called out as they made their way off the stage post-encore - and he paused, smiled and gave a little bow.


We had the good fortune to be sitting right by the string section - both of us find strings extra-fascinating. Brett says that the first time he saw an electric cello at a gig, he thought it looked like a instrument from the future which had been beamed back in time...

Just from a low-range phone! And really just so we could remember it better...
 

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The concert sounds great. I have only been to two in my life, and I enjoyed them, but I don’t think I’m as much into that scene as I should be.

I am however super excited about your biking! It was beautiful, and I really like riding bikes. Little girl has a bike fitting for that name, and big girl’s is barely any better. One is for children and the other for someone around the 5’0” height. I am debating purchasing bikes for them this year. It would be an expensive addition to my budget, but boy would we have some fun!

They would like a bit more variety in our lives. I’ve taken them running, and they are good for a shorter distance, but they don’t love it. I think they would really enjoy riding bikes.
 

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It's beautiful countryside. I'd like to start bike riding, but I'm not sure when to fit it in between jogging and riding! My legs are usually worn out by the evening. And normally STILL worn out in the morning....age is not kind! My former pastor is 69. You couldn't pay him to jog or ride a horse, but he really likes his morning bike rides!

PS: It always seems odd to see a post from Australia say "Coming into Denmark..."
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,967 ·
The concert sounds great. I have only been to two in my life, and I enjoyed them, but I don’t think I’m as much into that scene as I should be.
It's the first gig we've been to since late 2019 - not so much the pandemic here as we generally don't have community transmission and so sports and concerts have been back on the menu for nearly a year and are now back to about 3/4 capacity. We don't make enough of an effort though, and often we don't even know what's on...

I am however super excited about your biking! It was beautiful, and I really like riding bikes. Little girl has a bike fitting for that name, and big girl’s is barely any better. One is for children and the other for someone around the 5’0” height. I am debating purchasing bikes for them this year. It would be an expensive addition to my budget, but boy would we have some fun!

They would like a bit more variety in our lives. I’ve taken them running, and they are good for a shorter distance, but they don’t love it. I think they would really enjoy riding bikes.
My suggestion would be to buy secondhand. We are looking for a second mountain bike for guests and for places my road bike won't go. Couldn't find much on Gumtree (our Craigslist) and the new bikes are pretty expensive - then I went to our local auction house where we got lots of stuff for the house and they had a nice road bike in, same brand as mine, no mountain bike this week but they said to keep checking each week and soon I will have one. Past bids between $20 and $200 for nice good-condition bikes that sell for $500 - $2000 new. You can put a slip in and don't have to attend the auction and that's how we always did it.

People upgrade compulsively and there's so much fantastic secondhand stuff. We've never even bought a TV because people are always throwing their old ones at us...and you can pick them up off the kerbside recycling in town too...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,968 ·
It's beautiful countryside. I'd like to start bike riding, but I'm not sure when to fit it in between jogging and riding! My legs are usually worn out by the evening. And normally STILL worn out in the morning....age is not kind! My former pastor is 69. You couldn't pay him to jog or ride a horse, but he really likes his morning bike rides!

PS: It always seems odd to see a post from Australia say "Coming into Denmark..."
Hahaha! 😀 Yes, and I'm always aware of this when writing about it, which makes it extra fun.

Well, my leg joint configurations and lack of coordination don't make jogging or distance running for me, as previously mentioned. So cycling it was, as an alternative to our beloved wilderness hiking, and even on the flats that's useful for getting your heart rate up.

Cycling is kinder to your joints than running. But, I'm gonna have to adjust my seat because even with padded bike shorts and a gel seat my contact areas got sore - and so did Brett's bum. It's our first big ride this year and maybe we have to build up some callus! 🙀 o_O

Steve Kilbey is 66 now and still sounds fantastic - having not smoked (but having done far sillier stuff...)
 

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The biking looks great. My husband would like that track. I will get him to look it up. He currently has a broken leg/knee (tibial plateau) and used to be a daily bike commuter and go on long bike rides on the weekend, so he is pretty bored and trying to keep entertained by looking at future biking possibilities. He is a gravel biker, which is another type of bike you could look out for at your sales as they are made for more off road than a road bike but not as heavy as a mountain bike and easier to use for sealed sections.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,970 ·
The biking looks great. My husband would like that track. I will get him to look it up. He currently has a broken leg/knee (tibial plateau) and used to be a daily bike commuter and go on long bike rides on the weekend, so he is pretty bored and trying to keep entertained by looking at future biking possibilities. He is a gravel biker, which is another type of bike you could look out for at your sales as they are made for more off road than a road bike but not as heavy as a mountain bike and easier to use for sealed sections.
Thank you, @MeditativeRider! :) I doubt anything is as heavy as my husband's mountain bike... it's a 15-year-old steel-framed job and these days they're aluminium, like my nearly as old road bike, which I can lift up with one arm and get on the car roof easily myself. His mountain bike is a two-person lift and would brain you if it fell on you. But yes, it doesn't have to be a mountain bike and thanks for offering the distinction, I'd never heard of a gravel bike...

Sorry to hear your husband has a broken leg - and I guess because of where it's broken he can't use an iWalk (pirate leg type crutch where your lower leg straps into a platform, which you can use with lower leg injuries and which much reduces the rehabilitation you have to do post-injury as you still keep using the leg from the knee up)? How long has he got to go before he can weight-bear again?

We were looking for new adventures ourselves because in the 10 years we've had this farm we've not travelled interstate or "away" on holidays - best has been weekends off, but we usually do day trips - but as you can see, at least we live in a fantastic area for this. We were going to go to our beloved Tassie again last year but then the pandemic happened, etc, and farm sitting is complicated when you've got a "teamwork" type dog who's been with you uninterrupted since 2013 and a couple of ornery horses who want to eat you when you rug or groom them (doesn't bother me, but would bother anyone not super-experienced).

When we lived in Albany we cycled at least three times a week along the myriad of interesting and scenic tracks, but now that we're out in the hinterland, we've got the one same, same road to take us anywhere and we're so heartily sick of it we'd not ridden anywhere all year (except for my solo fitness loops on the mountain bike around the hills of our own farm firebreaks), so I really wanted to find some way to make us cycle again - and the only way I could think to do it was to transport the bicycles out to the various rail trails that also suit our dog (no traffic, soft enough footing, regular water). There's the Munda Biddi and there's various other old railway tracks around, several hundred kilometres of these in our region. It's a good feeling to have those on the menu now and to be getting into them; also we're hiking further afield from this year and have got three more Bibbulmun track maps for west of Denmark, having exhausted our local Albany-Denmark map many times over. It's so good to find fresh tracks and to explore, so we totally get your husband with that. Say hi from us and best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Whereabouts are you geographically?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,971 · (Edited)
DILEMMA - WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Here's a hypothetical. Let's say you're a couple and the one staying at home doing farm and farmstay is pining to use her professional skills, which is a bit difficult given the location and the fact that at least one person has to be on-site most of the time. And let's say the other person, who works four days a week off-farm, is unhappy with things like workplace bullying and constant attention splitting of administrative work by having to answer phones constantly at the same time (in days of old, when people were valued, phones and immersive work used to be kept separate, but neoliberalism worships "productivity" and extracts every last second from people at workplaces these days, and the toll is pretty evident in mental health terms, with depression and anxiety on the up and up for this and other reasons). Plus, he is an introvert in a people-in-your-face role, which deeply depletes introverts in the long run and after seven years of this he's gotten to the point of locking himself up in the office when he gets home if there's farmstay guests, because he just can't face more people.

And let's say one of the magazines that the at-home person used to write for is up for sale because the editor wants to move on after 19 years, and is now shutting down because it hasn't found a purchaser even though it's an Australian independent publishing icon that's been around and celebrated for 40 years.

Between the two of you, there's no doubt you could run it - it's been run by one person for many years and she does it on 30 hours/week, having gotten good at it. The work-away-from-home person used to work in graphic design and IT, from home for many years, at a desk and no interruptions - he'd be all over the graphic design and layout. The stay-at-home person has been a writer for yonks, has been a top contributor to this magazine, and has the necessary literary, grammar, spelling and scientific background for the role, with a double science degree, editing experience, and specific experience in the subject the magazine is dedicated to.

Things like subscription management and advertising would be pains in the behind (you can't even say donkey anymore!), and you already know that the business management and admin side of that definitely are, since you already run a small business. That's a definite down side, but it's sort of like cleaning the toilet - you all have to do it.

The problem is, the proceeds from the magazine's operation are declining and last year made only around 3/4 of what the working-away-from-home person is making. If that were steady and guaranteed then it just might work out OK, because taking the car off the 300km/week commute would save well upwards of $5,000 a year, and the ability to distribute the income amongst the two of you would drop the amount of tax that's being paid so you'd be about even on that front, for now.

The declining popularity of print press is the worry - independent magazines are dying everywhere. On the one hand, you'd like to be able to save a flagship independent publication, and you know you've got the skills and passion to do it, and that this is the one forum for the particular topic in print in Australia. And the outgoing editor is nominating a number of ways the revenue could be increased that she just didn't have the energy for towards the tail end of running the publication - after so many years doing it.

The biggest issue - since the others could be resolved, by e.g. the outside worker dropping to half his hours instead of completely quitting - is that the business costs the same as a year's income from the current away-from-home salary, and that if the magazine folds altogether because of trends in the print market etc then this is money down the drain. Also, although you could find half of it without huge duress because of your savings (but they are your savings...), you're both down-shifters living off very little and with little to spare in current operations. The other half is a problem, and you don't want to take out a loan because that is just too much financial risk, and burden. You're not in debt just now (besides a reasonably low-key mortgage) and you don't want to be.

Crowdfunding is a possibility for fundraising the difference - "Help us save this independent publication." How much that would raise is anyone's guess, but probably some, since the incipient loss of the magazine is already being lamented across the community. One could try...

Those are some of the down sides. The up sides are, no more commuting, back to a style of work the current away-from-home person is far more comfortable with, being your own boss, no more workplace sniping, and significantly utilising the professional skills of both persons that have been under-utilised since your downshift/move to the farm - all while saving a publication worth saving.

What would you do?
 

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Hi :) We are in NZ (South Island) but my husband (pre-Covid) travelled to Australia at least a few times a year for work. He also has an upcoming sabbatical (at least 3 months) when the university approves overseas travel again (still banned for work and not recommended for private; but I don't get how they think they can control the private travel). Australia is on the list for sabbatical, and he always likes to plan bike trips with his work travel (did one in Sardinia and had another planned in Ireland for just after Covid hit and the travel was cancelled).

Gravel bikes are a recent thing. Apparently they are very good for that type of riding. I would not know at all as I have never ridden one (the only bike I ride is our electric cargo bike). My husband is very obsessed with gravel bikes, gravel biking, and watching bike touring videos.

Currently he is on crutches with a knee brace. Has had 6 weeks so far and another 6 to go before weight bearing. It was not even a dramatic accident. He literally just slipped over on some dry, short grass when he had on shoes with a non-grippy sole. I have not heard of the iwalk. It has not been suggested, but our hospital is pretty busy and he has only had two short appointments with orthopedics. It looks very interesting. I think maybe a no because it says the injury has to be below the knee and you have to be able to bend your injured leg 90 deg at the knee (which he currently cannot do). Thank you for bringing it to our attention anyway.

When he is better and travel is all ok'd, I would love for us to go to Australia for a lengthy break. However, we also have dog "issues" at our end. A super clingy (to me) Australian Koolie. She even gets jealous and barks at me if I hug my kids. Currently she is only 7 months old. The super clingy started after my husband broke his leg and I have had to do all the care, training, and walking. I am not quite sure what we would do with her if we went away.

Could you find someone to house sit that would be ok with the dog and horses?
 

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I just read your post about the magazine opportunity. Definitely worth investigating. I would research the heck out of it. Try to talk to some people other than the person selling as to the likelihood of the other pathways to increase revenue being successful.

I work from home and am self-employed (science copyeditor) and have been ever since I finished my PhD in 2008. I really love it. My income is a lot less than what it would be if I worked a traditional job for my education/degree, but the lifestyle more than makes up for the drop in income.
 

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I think that if both of you are excited and ready to take on the opportunity and the changes, that you will make it work. You are both determined and intelligent, and you have a ton of experience to fall back on.

Crowd funding is a great idea. I think creating a virtual publication of the magazine and building upon that could also bring in an income source to replenish what has been lost. You are both very good in that area as well.

If you are needing a change of pace, and both of you are feeling that way, there really is nothing holding you back from making a change. If this is what is appealing to you, then I probably would chase it. It is hard to get both people on board, but if husband and I wanted to make a change and committed to making it work I would believe fully that we could as a team.
 

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My longest friend is a rancher. We've been friends for over 40 years. We often laugh about our different approaches to risk.

Not physical risk. I spent my adult life strapping into ejection seats, so that sort of risk if fine by me. But financially...I hate risk. I'm the sort who would never start a business.

He's been in debt almost his entire life. He just finished paying off a loan on the ranch, the second time in 35 years he has been debt-free. (The first time lasted a year.) One of his sons also finished paying off a loan, making that son debt free for the first time as an adult.

I'm the sort who would NEVER start his own business. He's the sort who could never work for someone else for any length of time. And of course, he's the sort who has been happy living with around the clock work, never going an a vacation and often having every free cent tied up in land, livestock and equipment.

I will say publishing seems an uncommonly risky investment. Magazines of any type seem to struggle. Print as a medium seems to be in serious decline. My youngest met an older guy, retired military, whose wife goes to the church my youngest is going to. (She describes him as a "liberal, Yankee atheist". I asked her why she used 3 equivalent terms... ;) ) But he was shocked when he found out she had read books like "The Great Escape" (very different from the Hollywood movie). He loves doing Revolutionary War re-enactments. And he also believes print is a dying media.

I've started packing up boxes of books that don't make the cut for display in the living room. I can't bear to sell them or throw them away. My youngest, happily, told me I was NOT, REPEAT NOT! to throw them away! She promised that when I die, she'll gladly take them all. But...she enjoys Frank Sinatra's music too, so she lives (as I have) a bit out of time - certainly out of synch with the modern world.

I do believe it is better to live on a reduced income doing something you believe in and love than living a risk-free life. I was lucky enough to spend most of my adult life doing something I really loved. It would be torment to go to work daily, year after year after year, at 'just a job'. I realize many need to do that. But I'd much rather do what I loved at half the pay.
 

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DILEMMA - WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Here's a hypothetical. Let's say you're a couple and the one staying at home doing farm and farmstay is pining to use her professional skills, which is a bit difficult given the location and the fact that at least one person has to be on-site most of the time. And let's say the other person, who works four days a week off-farm, is unhappy with things like workplace bullying and constant attention splitting of administrative work by having to answer phones constantly at the same time (in days of old, when people were valued, phones and immersive work used to be kept separate, but neoliberalism worships "productivity" and extracts every last second from people at workplaces these days, and the toll is pretty evident in mental health terms, with depression and anxiety on the up and up for this and other reasons). Plus, he is an introvert in a people-in-your-face role, which deeply depletes introverts in the long run and after seven years of this he's gotten to the point of locking himself up in the office when he gets home if there's farmstay guests, because he just can't face more people.

And let's say one of the magazines that the at-home person used to write for is up for sale because the editor wants to move on after 19 years, and is now shutting down because it hasn't found a purchaser even though it's an Australian independent publishing icon that's been around and celebrated for 40 years.

Between the two of you, there's no doubt you could run it - it's been run by one person for many years and she does it on 30 hours/week, having gotten good at it. The work-away-from-home person used to work in graphic design and IT, from home for many years, at a desk and no interruptions - he'd be all over the graphic design and layout. The stay-at-home person has been a writer for yonks, has been a top contributor to this magazine, and has the necessary literary, grammar, spelling and scientific background for the role, with a double science degree, editing experience, and specific experience in the subject the magazine is dedicated to.

Things like subscription management and advertising would be pains in the behind (you can't even say donkey anymore!), and you already know that the business management and admin side of that definitely are, since you already run a small business. That's a definite down side, but it's sort of like cleaning the toilet - you all have to do it.

The problem is, the proceeds from the magazine's operation are declining and last year made only around 3/4 of what the working-away-from-home person is making. If that were steady and guaranteed then it just might work out OK, because taking the car off the 300km/week commute would save well upwards of $5,000 a year, and the ability to distribute the income amongst the two of you would drop the amount of tax that's being paid so you'd be about even on that front, for now.

The declining popularity of print press is the worry - independent magazines are dying everywhere. On the one hand, you'd like to be able to save a flagship independent publication, and you know you've got the skills and passion to do it, and that this is the one forum for the particular topic in print in Australia. And the outgoing editor is nominating a number of ways the revenue could be increased that she just didn't have the energy for towards the tail end of running the publication - after so many years doing it.

The biggest issue - since the others could be resolved, by e.g. the outside worker dropping to half his hours instead of completely quitting - is that the business costs the same as a year's income from the current away-from-home salary, and that if the magazine folds altogether because of trends in the print market etc then this is money down the drain. Also, although you could find half of it without huge duress because of your savings (but they are your savings...), you're both down-shifters living off very little and with little to spare in current operations. The other half is a problem, and you don't want to take out a loan because that is just too much financial risk, and burden. You're not in debt just now (besides a reasonably low-key mortgage) and you don't want to be.

Crowdfunding is a possibility for fundraising the difference - "Help us save this independent publication." How much that would raise is anyone's guess, but probably some, since the incipient loss of the magazine is already being lamented across the community. One could try...

Those are some of the down sides. The up sides are, no more commuting, back to a style of work the current away-from-home person is far more comfortable with, being your own boss, no more workplace sniping, and significantly utilising the professional skills of both persons that have been under-utilised since your downshift/move to the farm - all while saving a publication worth saving.

What would you do?
I would not take on a magazine unless it had a strong online subscription base. And many advertisers to pay the bills.
 

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Thank you everyone for your thoughts, both for and against this possibility - and both sides of that are really important. Anyone else who wants to chime in, you've not missed the boat! 🙃

I just read your post about the magazine opportunity. Definitely worth investigating. I would research the heck out of it. Try to talk to some people other than the person selling as to the likelihood of the other pathways to increase revenue being successful.
We don't know anyone else in the industry or with an accurate crystal ball; and also this is a complex situation to predict - some of it depends on how much energy we end up having (and while we have some, we're not bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young people with endless enthusiasm and optimism who've not been burnt out yet!). Some of it depends on demand...

How would you research it, given those parameters?


I work from home and am self-employed (science copyeditor) and have been ever since I finished my PhD in 2008. I really love it. My income is a lot less than what it would be if I worked a traditional job for my education/degree, but the lifestyle more than makes up for the drop in income.
Whereas we can't do any more drop in income - we're downshifters already, down from two professional salaries to the equivalent of one average salary between us - and that itself has been OK, except that my husband is quite unhappy with the nature of the work he is doing at the moment - it doesn't fit his personality and is endlessly draining to him, and it's really hitting him hard this year.

We can't reverse it either, and have me going out and him at home, because he's not a farm / animal handling / vegetable growing type and I am competent with those things. Also, the reason I stopped teaching over 10 years ago is because I have laryngeal damage that's incompatible with continuing to teach - and my science career is too far back, local opportunities nearly non-existent, plus Australian opportunities overall for science graduates have become grimmer and grimmer in the past 30 years, with a lot of programmes like the ones I worked in shut down. There's a huge braindrain overseas as a result, and less young people taking up STEM subjects in consequence.

Re the financial squeeze if we both did this at-home project - freeing up the one car and having another person at home means that I've got some opportunities for bits of off-farm employment myself, in case of cash flow problems. Of course, that always comes down to how much energy and time we have, and often there's not enough to do everything we want to anyway... priorities, obviously...


I think that if both of you are excited and ready to take on the opportunity and the changes, that you will make it work. You are both determined and intelligent, and you have a ton of experience to fall back on.
That kind of thinking does seem to work in our experience; we've never taken on a project we've not been able to make work - which of course doesn't mean it couldn't happen - and part of it is that we have been pretty careful and researched things well. The owner build is the biggest example so far. It really tested us, and we could never do it again, we'd die - but it was really worth it, and we're glad we did it. And that could have ended in financial disaster as well.


Crowd funding is a great idea. I think creating a virtual publication of the magazine and building upon that could also bring in an income source to replenish what has been lost. You are both very good in that area as well.
The magazine already has a lot of electronic subscriptions, but that area could be pushed potentially. Currently it uses FB as a website and we don't do FB for ethical and privacy reasons, and because we think FB websites aren't very appealing anyway. There's a lot of scope for doing a decent website linking to various resources and perhaps having some small-fee sections to it and kind of internationalising it. Brett did web design professionally for many years, as well as layout etc.


If you are needing a change of pace, and both of you are feeling that way, there really is nothing holding you back from making a change. If this is what is appealing to you, then I probably would chase it. It is hard to get both people on board, but if husband and I wanted to make a change and committed to making it work I would believe fully that we could as a team.
Yeah, I'm with your thinking there.

Our curveball - and there's always a curveball - and this is one I'd like to hear from others about as well, is this: Both of us have been feeling the lack of use of our professional skills (and in his case, work that's really unsuited to his happiness), over the past couple of years especially, in mental health terms. In some ways having complex PTSD seems to protect me from getting "proper" depression - anything like that lasts a maximum of 48 hours for me before my survival autopilots kick back in and I get constructive again - and also, I've worked through a lot of stuff mentally/emotionally because of the PTSD - and I'm pretty good at counting my blessings, which are many. But my husband, I'm not so sure. He's had depression before, earlier in life, and I strongly suspect he has it now - and he's completely averse to the idea of talking to anyone about stuff like this, doctors, counsellors, anyone really (while I avidly DIY as well as periodically consult professionals on my own psychological "stuff"). He's never examined his family of origin patterns, patterns of thinking, what makes him tick psychologically, etc. Like a lot of males he doesn't talk to his friends about stuff like this (and like a lot of females, I do), and he's lost contact with quite a few of the friends he had when he lived in Perth, and doesn't seem particularly interested in making more friends, especially since we've been together, and that's been 14 years now.

I've often joked with him about not putting all his eggs in one basket, and one of the reasons I was initially happy that he was in a people job is because it got him out there with other human beings by default. Out here, it would have been too easy for him to become a full-time hermit and to seriously believe all the company and perspective he needed were his wife and the donkeys, and I personally think this is dangerous - and also an unfair burden on me. People need a support network, and he doesn't have one - because a wife and five donkeys is not a support network by my definition. It's just a start. What do you all think? I seem to have married someone with the disposition to be a loner. On the other hand, before he was married, he went out a lot more than he does now and he did make an effort to socialise with others in his time off.

What is it with some - many? - men and their reluctance to talk about their "stuff" with other human beings besides their life partner? I'd like to hear both from the men here, and from the women who love them.

Anyway, perhaps four days a week with people in his face all day are too much of a good thing and are actually making him withdraw in other ways... when he worked from home before we were on the farm, he did things like make book groups and writing groups, and he doesn't now, and his view of humanity right now is really really black, the blackest I've ever known it, and I've not seen his smile reach his eyes for months.

And by implication: Doing the magazine might be good for that, or it could spectacularly backfire as well, with its new sets of anxieties and financial uncertainty. I, by the way, am not a doom-and-gloom thinker and if we failed I don't think it would be the end of the world, there's other ways we could make things work again. But my husband at the moment seems to think failure is like the Apocalypse and there's no going back. He's incredibly stressed by little things just now and while he needs to make a change, he's also not in the best position to make one. Catch-22...


I'm the sort who would NEVER start his own business. He's the sort who could never work for someone else for any length of time. And of course, he's the sort who has been happy living with around the clock work, never going an a vacation and often having every free cent tied up in land, livestock and equipment.
I appreciate these portraits! Thank you.


I will say publishing seems an uncommonly risky investment. Magazines of any type seem to struggle. Print as a medium seems to be in serious decline.
Sadly, yes - but there are still a few of us left who love the smell and the idea and the physicality of a book or magazine. Alas, we might be a dying breed. But, this magazine is split across printed and electronic versions. Personally I prefer the printed version - it's not an ephemeral magazine, it's lasting-value stuff, like a good book... but others prefer to inhale the whole world via devices...


(She describes him as a "liberal, Yankee atheist". I asked her why she used 3 equivalent terms... ;))
Bwahahaha, you're so naughty! 😜

And I can never understand why some religious people can't seem to see that Jesus (as a character, and even if you don't believe he was more than that) was very much a progressive in his time, and upset shiitake out of the religious establishment because of it - how dare he question the religious elite? How dare he talk to mere females in public, and about consequential matters? How dare he criticise the establishment, and question "authority"? How dare he laud a Samaritan? How dare he suggest poor people are to be helped and loved (not pitied, not told they deserved what they got, they didn't try enough, God is punishing them etc)? It's all such a long way from assumed cultural and institutional superiority and the so-called prosperity gospel... and it's one of my favourite narratives ever. It beats the heck even out of Hamlet! 😛


I do believe it is better to live on a reduced income doing something you believe in and love than living a risk-free life. I was lucky enough to spend most of my adult life doing something I really loved. It would be torment to go to work daily, year after year after year, at 'just a job'. I realize many need to do that. But I'd much rather do what I loved at half the pay.
Completely agree, and that's why we downshifted. But even downshifting needs to be re-invented periodically...


I would not take on a magazine unless it had a strong online subscription base. And many advertisers to pay the bills.
Very good points! It has a good number of online subscribers, as well as an online back catalogue as long as your arm of electronic copies which still continue to be requested. It's a professional library, very much, and the only one of its type in Australia.

Advertising makes up a significant proportion of income for the magazine, and by her own admission, the editor hated pestering potential advertisers - and Brett doesn't mind doing this; he even had a go at it once as a favour! He has the capacity - fortunate or unfortunate - to abstract away the human beings he is approaching, and see the whole thing as a sort of percentage game - instead of feeling embarrassed or like a pain for asking. (But he hates telemarketing and says that's completely different.)
 

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For research, I would try find anyone locally, either that you can meet in person or via an online meeting, that does business mentoring and knows more of the situation in Australia. Like here we have a chamber of commerce that does business mentoring for a small fee (a couple of hundred dollars) and I think you can also some get free business mentoring through our local council.

Another possibility is can you contact an established publishing society/body in Australia and ask to be put in touch with a mentor who you could discuss things with? I am on the copyediting side so do not know much about publishing and the only place I can think of that is Australia based is IpEd, which in the Institute of Professional Editors (Institute of Professional Editors Limited | To advance the profession of editing | Home). I am not sure if they would have anyone of use to you in your research.

Otherwise, maybe after you have researched it, it will not be the right opportunity for you but it will be the catalyst to find something else. Or maybe you will decide your current situation is actually ok and have a renewed motivation for it.

In terms of your husband and depression and loneliness, I don't really know what to say except I totally understand. I probably have undiagnosed ASD Level 1 (and my husband agrees with this). ASD in females is thought of as the brain being similar to a male brain than a female brain. I am probably very similar to your husband in that I am an introvert but enjoy human interaction. Group stuff or too much overwhelms me and I get a social migraine and need time on my own. I tend to feel lonely no matter how many friends I have or people around me because there are very few people that I actually feel comfortable with and relaxed enough to be myself. And not being myself is both tiring and sometimes depressing. I also have a social/human interaction limit, so if I reach it with my kids, I sometimes don't have enough energy to socialize with my husband after work. If I have enough energy to socialize with him, I very rarely have enough energy to socialize beyond our family. Before I had kids + husband, I did socialize more with friends because I had the energy to do that. I don't ever discuss my feelings with anyone bar my husband really.

I am not really one to get depressed as I tend to be more like you and revert to working my way out of it in some way. My husband has had depression in the past. He did not want to talk about it to anyone, but what seemed to help was just going on with life and doing all our regular stuff. Not giving stuff up because he did not feel into it. We still went biking, hiking, etc, and eventually it passed. My younger brother had lots of existential depression as a young adult and tried talking to a professional and it made him worse because he found the whole process frustrating (they could not give him answers etc.). So I don't think talking to someone is always needed or a help.

I hope you both get through this to something brighter.
 

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Thoughts I had reading through:
1. Have you seen the balance sheet already? How bad are recent declines?
2. Do you know someone else who would want in on the business as an investor? Maybe not feasible depending on their expectations for what they’d need to take out for their own compensation
3. Is there a differenrt way Brett can shift out of his job, eg starting his own graphic design/web design consulting firm?
4. Debt scares us too. We actually had almost the same conversation about a local business that recently came up for sale. Lovely husband is really interested and there are some really attractive features-but the price tag is just too scary

@bsms said:
She describes him as a "liberal, Yankee atheist". I asked her why she used 3 equivalent terms... ;)
Hey, I resemble that remark;)
 

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Another possibility is can you contact an established publishing society/body in Australia and ask to be put in touch with a mentor who you could discuss things with? I am on the copyediting side so do not know much about publishing and the only place I can think of that is Australia based is IpEd, which in the Institute of Professional Editors (Institute of Professional Editors Limited | To advance the profession of editing | Home). I am not sure if they would have anyone of use to you in your research.
Thanks for the link and ideas! :)


In terms of your husband and depression and loneliness, I don't really know what to say except I totally understand. I probably have undiagnosed ASD Level 1 (and my husband agrees with this). ASD in females is thought of as the brain being similar to a male brain than a female brain. I am probably very similar to your husband in that I am an introvert but enjoy human interaction. Group stuff or too much overwhelms me and I get a social migraine and need time on my own. I tend to feel lonely no matter how many friends I have or people around me because there are very few people that I actually feel comfortable with and relaxed enough to be myself. And not being myself is both tiring and sometimes depressing. I also have a social/human interaction limit, so if I reach it with my kids, I sometimes don't have enough energy to socialize with my husband after work. If I have enough energy to socialize with him, I very rarely have enough energy to socialize beyond our family. Before I had kids + husband, I did socialize more with friends because I had the energy to do that. I don't ever discuss my feelings with anyone bar my husband really.

I am not really one to get depressed as I tend to be more like you and revert to working my way out of it in some way. My husband has had depression in the past. He did not want to talk about it to anyone, but what seemed to help was just going on with life and doing all our regular stuff. Not giving stuff up because he did not feel into it. We still went biking, hiking, etc, and eventually it passed. My younger brother had lots of existential depression as a young adult and tried talking to a professional and it made him worse because he found the whole process frustrating (they could not give him answers etc.). So I don't think talking to someone is always needed or a help.

I hope you both get through this to something brighter.
And thank you especially for this; that's very helpful! ♥

I don't know where I sit on introvert/extrovert: I do part-time in each. Interacting with others energises me - unless they are really unpleasant interactions. I didn't like desk jobs even if the subject matter was interesting, and loved having people in my face all day long, working with groups, catalysing positive interactions and learning, etc. I always had far more energy when I worked with people during the day. But then when I got home, I didn't want to see anyone for the greater duration of my spare time! I just needed peace and quiet, lots of exercise, and of course, I had about 2-3 hours of after-hours work each day when I worked in education, so I couldn't do much more socially than go to choir group once a week and to maybe tee up with a buddy for weekend hiking, but mostly I hiked on my own (especially small afternoon hikes I did after work - the South Coast is that kind of area, hikes everywhere, ditto Sydney Harbour) so I could recharge properly.

The funny thing is that I never found my husband clashing with my need to recharge. I can generally recharge as well with him around the house or on a hike as I can solo. And he finds the same with me.

It's so interesting to read about how your brain does human interaction, and very helpful. Neither my husband or I are neurotypical - we're outliers, and I think I sit towards, but not actually in, Aspergers - and I think he's a little further over on that scale than I am. I personally get and enjoy engaging with psychological workbooks etc, but that stuff gives him a headache. A question like, "What are some of the negative characteristics in your opposite-sex parent that are also present in your opposite-sex partner?" just leaves him completely blank, whereas my head starts getting really busy thinking about something like this. If he's asked to produce a list of five adjectives to describe the positive aspects of someone's personality, he's apt to come up with the skills that person has, rather than things like, "Kind, eclectic, good-crazy, thoughtful, warm." If I then say, "Well, is that person kind, for example?" he goes into long deliberations over whether you can possibly ever know if someone is really kind or not. So I say, "Are their actions kind?" and he scratches his head. And yet this kind of thing, other people in my circle answer so easily.

I used to think sometimes that he was being deliberately obtuse or not wanting to engage, but if this is a case of not being able to engage easily because his brain has trouble processing that stuff, it's a different angle altogether, and would explain why he always froze up when we went to counselling for couples or family issues early in our marriage, and got upset that a counsellor was wearing unmatching socks etc (which I at the time thought was fault-finding and being anti for the sake of it), and why he insists all counsellors are quacks even though one of our friends is one, and why he's never been able to get anything positive from it. Of course, mindset would do the same - it's a self-fulfilling prophecy when you think negatively about people or processes, and that can also be by choice, or because you don't want to confront your own stuff.

It's really frustrating for me that he appears to have social blindnesses like this, and also that he tends to get incredibly and sometimes really irrationally frustrated with tasks that don't come easily to him (he's got dyscalculia, which affects his ability to do maths, estimate volume, left/right, reading analogue watches etc - and at the same time he's really excellent at lots of other things), but if he's actually Aspie then that would be so much easier to understand... though I'm never going to get a definitive assessment on that because he's never going to let anyone assess him!


Thoughts I had reading through:
1. Have you seen the balance sheet already? How bad are recent declines?
About 30% over the last 5 years or so, if I remember correctly.


2. Do you know someone else who would want in on the business as an investor? Maybe not feasible depending on their expectations for what they’d need to take out for their own compensation
No, I don't think this would be feasible for us - it would add another layer of complexity to an already complex beast, and we'd rather find a way to pay up-front than take on someone else.


3. Is there a different way Brett can shift out of his job, eg starting his own graphic design/web design consulting firm?
He did that for a while in his 20s and hated it because it ate into all his spare time. He found that working for an employer gave him nice boundaries between work and home life, especially when he at first worked in offices. Later on, when everyone had to work from home because they shut the office down, he was still OK with that mostly, because he didn't have to get involved in the business side of things, it was just turn up, do XYZ, get paid.

Brett says it would do his head in to run his own firm and he'd rather turn up to an office to do something he hates, and then be free from it at home.

On the other hand, we're already running a business together, with me doing the businessy things while he works off-site for pay, and we both agreed that was fair. And we've had to draw boundaries between work and recreation, which we're getting better at (we both tend to stress when there's unfinished work, but we're learning to have set days off come hell or high water, mostly). So in terms of taking on a magazine, I think it would get him back to doing work he enjoys as a desk job, and it's nicely routine and, unlike web development etc, doesn't actually have a huge volume of ongoing changes which both of us are too burnt-out from previous professional experience to want to deal with - and that's a reason we down-shifted, and grow much of our own food etc. Doing magazine layout is doing magazine layout - writing is writing, editing is editing; and the e-side of that isn't daunting to him. The business stuff is what it is - doesn't excite anyone, is just something you have to do - like I do with my farmstay, or the primary production accounts etc. Since I'd have to deal with the businessy stuff he's allergic to, I could swap him for some farm jobs if we worked together on something like this.

His main concerns about the idea are its financial viability, and whether it would blur the boundaries of work-home too much (though we're already dealing with that with the existing business).

4. Debt scares us too. We actually had almost the same conversation about a local business that recently came up for sale. Lovely husband is really interested and there are some really attractive features-but the price tag is just too scary.
Yeah, that's the boat we are in, pretty much, though crowdfunding may be able to help out there for the magazine.

Thanks again for everyone's input and thoughts! And that mental health/brain stuff is really useful to talk about, extra thanks! 😎
 
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