There is life after farming for Henry and Annette Thompson as they are happily sitting down the south coast and establishing a unique venture.
Stepping away from the family farm at Taralga was not easy, but as Henry said "we wanted to give the young bloke a chance and the best way was to step aside."
"He knows we are always here to support him, but taking on this new business has given Annette and I the chance to not totally walk away from the farm but to hand it over in a good way," Henry said.
That new business is called Squid n' Round, and is based in a van where the Thompson's are based at Surf Beach, Batemans Bay
"Working through a succession plan, we didn't want to penalise the family or dip into our superannuation," Henry said.
"We were prepared for a change in our lives."
Henry said one of the joys of farming was that you think you are taking a step forward but all so often it is only a step sideways or even backwards.
"We had seen the potential of this unique business and setting up this van has given us the chance to do something for ourselves," Henry said.
He recalled a holiday taken to Western Australia four years ago when they stopped at a coastal resort in South Australia on the way home.
It was lunchtime and there was an oyster festival in the small town which had attracted a lot of visitors.
One site in particular attracted the attention of Henry and Annette.
"We saw a queue lined up for a takeaway meal of squid," Henry said.
"It took us about 20 minutes to get to the van and I said to the bloke in front of me - this had better be good.
"He said he had been here yesterday and yes it was good."
They enjoyed the lunch of fried squid and chips and thought that the bloke running the van was onto a great idea.
"We were very impressed by what he was doing, but you can't rush into things," Henry said.
"When we did decide to do something different, we went to see the bloke in South Australia and he was a big help in going through some of the details of his business."
Thinking it over further, Henry and Annette decided to establish their own van and purchased some squid and ingredients to see if it would work.
"We developed our own gluten free recipe after looking up different ideas on the internet and through trial and error we came up with one we thought was pretty good," Henry said.
"When we were working on the recipe and thought we had something good going it coincided with shearing so all the shed staff treated to a dose of squid for lunch and the comments were favourable and even better none took ill."
Thinking back over the process, Henry said it was a bit like that song of Ted Egan's where the cook scooped the innards out of a pumpkin and poured the metho in, then served it to the locals and if they survived till morning then he would serve it in his pub!
The response to their initiative has been amazing, and Henry said they are now booked for five nights a week over the Christmas period until the end of January.
"Everyone has a coffee van but we wanted to do something different," he said.
"Our main clientele are caravan parks where we have a captive audience as they are a long way from takeaway shops."
Supplying salt and pepper squid and chips, Henry said the limited menu was deliberate.
"Keep it simple stupid," he said.
"An important part of our menu is offering our customers 100pc gluten free salt and pepper squid and chips, cooking each in separate baskets to avoid cross contamination.
"This business is a different form of succession planning but if it means we have kept another family member on the land then Annette and I are very happy."
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