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Az had always nurtured a passion for living a life more sustainable — rearing
animals, riding horses, growing his own produce for table — all within easy
reach of the mountains, lakes and coast. A decade after leaving Melbourne and
fulfilling his rural dream in North Foster, Az continues to enjoy a rewarding mix
of solid toil, enriching community and outdoor play.

Az had always nurtured a passion for living a life more sustainable — rearing animals, riding horses, growing his own produce for table — all within easy reach of the mountains, lakes and coast. A decade after leaving Melbourne and fulfilling his rural dream in North Foster, Az continues to enjoy a rewarding mix of solid toil, enriching community and outdoor play.

What brought you to the country?
At this stage of life, I’d outgrown the city and what
Melbourne had to offer. Both my wife and I wanted land
with our own chooks, horses and animals; to grow
veggies and raise our own food.


What did you discover from moving here?
We did our research, but there’s more to the area than
we first thought. The access to mountain walks and bike
rides, the surf, horse riding and camping. The proximity
of where we are gives us free rein to explore places like
Gippsland Lakes, Dargo, the Prom. It’s really enriched our
lives and I’d say, exceeded our expectations.


What do you love most about being on the farm?
I’d say the air, the quietness, the view from the balcony
when you wake up, to hear and smell our animals and
see the dog running around. There’s also the community
factor as well. Our neighbours are like-minded and
community-spirited, and good for support and help. If
there’s an oversupply of produce, we share or do a bit of
a swap. We’ve landed in a really good spot here, the area
and people are fantastic.

Your veggie garden seems pretty important to you.
I think it’s important for us to have control over how
good these veggies are. When you grow your own, you
can choose what goes into the soil, which reflects in the
aftertaste. Especially today with all the insecticides, it
feels like a luxury and is very satisfying.


When having animals, is sustainability on the land
also important?

Considering waste, composting and recycling is all part of
it. Having the animals contribute cuts our costs on manure
and fertiliser to feed the soil. So, it’s a double bonus — as a
hygiene thing, keeping the paddocks clean for the horses
to walk through, as well as for nutrition through growing
our food.


Is tinkering something you love doing, or just part of
maintenance?

I enjoy being able to tinker and maintain things to keep
the property looking good. To just be home working on
your own place — having five or more jobs on the go — is
rewarding in itself. I’m enjoying doing it now for others
too, as well as paid work. It’s also good physical exercise —
what we call free gym membership.

Are horses one of your favourite reasons for being here?
I’ve been around horses a long time, but we’ve only
recently had our own. I strapped them when I was younger,
and even hoped to be a jockey before I grew. The love of a
horse is something you’re just born with, it’s like a ‘horse
gene’ that my wife and I both carry. We’ve ridden the high
country, done long treks with large groups, and ‘educated’
a dozen horses. They’re a joy to have on the property.


What are your next plans?
We have a couple more building projects. The plan is to
extend the verandah for shelter and build a comfortable
outdoor entertainment area to bring together family and
friends. But putting our produce and protein to work is the
next big thing we want to do.

What brought you to the country?
At this stage of life, I’d outgrown the city and what Melbourne had to offer. Both my wife and I wanted land with our own chooks, horses and animals; to grow veggies and raise our own food.


What did you discover from moving here?

We did our research, but there’s more to the area than we first thought. The access to mountain walks and bike rides, the surf, horse riding and camping. The proximity of where we are gives us free rein to explore places like Gippsland Lakes, Dargo, the Prom. It’s really enriched our lives and I’d say, exceeded our expectations.


What do you love most about being on the farm?

I’d say the air, the quietness, the view from the balcony when you wake up, to hear and smell our animals and see the dog running around. There’s also the community factor as well. Our neighbours are like-minded and community-spirited, and good for support and help. If there’s an oversupply of produce, we share or do a bit of a swap. We’ve landed in a really good spot here, the area and people are fantastic.

Your veggie garden seems pretty important to you.
I think it’s important for us to have control over how good these veggies are. When you grow your own, you can choose what goes into the soil, which reflects in the aftertaste. Especially today with all the insecticides, it feels like a luxury and is very satisfying.

When having animals, is sustainability on the land also important?
Considering waste, composting and recycling is all part of it. Having the animals contribute cuts our costs on manure and fertiliser to feed the soil. So, it’s a double bonus — as a hygiene thing, keeping the paddocks clean for the horses to walk through, as well as for nutrition through growing our food.

Is tinkering something you love doing, or just part of maintenance?
I enjoy being able to tinker and maintain things to keep the property looking good. To just be home working on your own place — having five or more jobs on the go — is rewarding in itself. I’m enjoying doing it now for others too, as well as paid work. It’s also good physical exercise — what we call free gym membership.


Our thanks to Az for kindly sharing his country dream and love of the land with us.
On farm duty, in the bush or out riding, Az’s active lifestyle and passion for the
outdoors makes his Rossi boots both a clever and comfortable choice.

SHOP ENDURA BOOT

Our thanks to Az for kindly sharing his country dream and love of the land with us. On farm duty, in the bush or out riding, Az’s active lifestyle and passion for the outdoors makes his Rossi boots both a clever and comfortable choice.

SHOP ENDURA BOOT

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February 9, 2024

Leader of the Pack

Leader of the Pack

Ryan Ackers was inspired to work with animals from the start, but it took a strong connection with man’s best friend to make the switch from the world of business to the fields of Winchelsea, where he is responsible for overseeing the rearing and shepherding of sheep and cattle as a livestock manager. Also an experienced bull handler and passionate dog trainer, today Ryan is happiest doing what he feels he was meant to do all along.

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