When they lost a sow and welcomed a new litter of piglets on the same day, the Crokers knew they had been inducted as farmers.
“It was the ultimate farming day because we had to put her down and we had our first litter on the same day. Giveth and taketh away all, in the same process,” Daniel Croker said.
“It was a good introduction to this is what farming is.”
Daniel and Kim Croker moved to Lebrina from Brisbane in March 2017 and established Fork It Farm.
The couple farm heritage-breed Berkshire pigs, along with chickens, ducks, geese, quail and some dairy cows.
A move away from careers and life in the city was prompted by a weekend away with friends in the Bunya Mountains.
“On the way home we said we’d have to have a chat. We’d been talking about moving and possibly buying a country property and setting up a cafe or a B&B for a number of years,” Dr Croker said.
“After that trip – being in the country and the fresh air – we said we needed to move and do something different. We had quite good jobs, but it was time to try something different.”
They left their careers – as a biomedical research scientist and agricultural science educator for RSPCA Queensland – and decided to become farmers.
Dr Croker was working on dementia research, but had never seen himself as an “academic academic”, instead dreaming of being outside the lab and lecture theatre.
“Students were starting to get me down. I never had time to do my own work. It wasn’t what I wanted to do in the end,” he said.
“I loved what I did, but it was time for a new challenge.”
So they put their renovated cottage in Brisbane’s suburbs on the market, making enough to buy 25 hectares at Lebrina, “with money to spare to do a bit of work”.
Dr Croker works full time at Fork It Farm, and Mrs Croker supplements their income by working for the City of Launceston council driving a garbage truck.
“We always say we should have done it sooner,” he said.
The farm name is a great conversation starter: “I was sitting at work one day and thought, we’re saying ‘fork it’ to our jobs and our lives and we’re just packing up and leaving”.
Now the couple have 55 Berkshire pigs and just launched their community-supported agriculture package, the Whole Hog Program.
Whole Hog subscribers buy shares in the business and receive a box of pork cuts and smallgoods each month in return, along with information about the products because “people want that connection with where their food comes from and how it’s produced”.