Mandy Veron was ready to go home to Scotland after two years in Australia with her young family.
It was 2011, and they had been renting in Swan Hill (beautiful, but too hot) when her husband, Argentinian Silverio “Silver” Veron, asked her to give South Australia a try.
“I had one day to buy a house and find a school,” Ms Veron said.
She ended up inspecting a 2.5 hectares farmer’s block in Hatherleigh in the state’s south-east — but when Ms Veron got there, she thought it could have been Scotland.
Not to mention the highland cattle down the road and the fact that locals used to call the area Argyll, the same county in Scotland Ms Veron is from.
“And then when we moved in, it rained non-stop for three weeks,” Ms Veron said.
She was home.
In the decade since, the Verons have wholeheartedly adopted farm life, opened a business in a small town and discovered miniature pigs are not always as they seem.
It is a life they would have never expected, but would never change.
Living on a farm for the first time
“I mean, she never thought she would have a lamb [as a pet],” Mr Veron said.
Maybe three dogs, but not a lamb, five goats, three alpacas, chickens, and a miniature pig (their middle child Zach’s idea).
“We got her because they told us it would be a miniature pig,” Mr Veron said.
“We’ve had to learn everything, from fixing electric fences [with] just the kids and I, to catching goats that are escaping.
“It’s been great for the kids, and we’ve all had to work as a team.”
Ms Veron loves what farm life has given her family. A freedom that she missed growing up in the city in Scotland.
“The whole pace of South Australia is just the best,” Ms Veron said.
“Even in Scotland, you wouldn’t let your children go out of your sight.”
But life is still busy.
Thirteen-year-old Josh, their youngest, goes to school 61 kilometres away in Penola. Zach, 15, is 40 minutes in the opposite direction.
Their eldest Elisha, 18, is homeschooled — something Ms Veron says she could have never seriously considered back in Scotland.
Away from the “peer pressure”, they started homeschooling their daughter in Australia.
And between the three, there is hardly a dull moment.
“I don’t actually get to spend a huge amount of time at home, just running from pillar to post, I feel like I’m always going in this triangle,” Ms Veron said.
Land of opportunities
One of Ms Veron’s big commitments is helping to run the café her husband opened three years ago.
At the time Mr Veron was still working in a small, but very successful French restaurant in Footscray, driving to-and-from Melbourne on a regular basis.
“It came down to either we moved towards Melbourne or open [something] in Penola and stay here,” Ms Veron said.
Having always worked in hospitality, Mr Veron was confident of opening his own place in Penola, a township 40-minutes’ drive away from their farmhouse.
The eatery’s name, Cafe Lito, and the interiors are his family’s doing, while the choice of South American and Latin American music is his own.
And now that Elisha has finished school, Ms Veron is considering her own dream venture — a clothing line.
“Somebody’s contacted me with fabrics, and [I’ve found] a seamstress, ” she said.
Mr Veron said it all happened very quickly.
“Three weeks ago, she never thought she would open a shop, and she’s opening a shop next week,” Mr Veron said.
Moving your family overseas
Moving your whole life is not a new concept to the Verons.
The two met in the Canary Islands where Mr Veron moved from Argentina to be closer to family in his 20s. Ms Veron had travelled there in 1999 for a holiday and had no intention — or inkling — of finding love.
“I’d just finished my Master’s [in Theology], and I was exhausted,” Ms Veron said.
It was not until later trips to Lanzarote to help with the local church that the Argentinian came on her radar.
Things progressed and they married in Scotland in 2002.
They lived there until 2009 when they followed Ms Veron’s family to Australia.
“I didn’t know that when we came, we would be staying,” she said.
Her advice is to not sit on opportunities for too long.
“I have friends still in Scotland who … wanted to come to Australia before I did, and they’re still in Scotland,” Ms Veron said.
Now she and her husband can confidently say they are “home”.