Do I make a full-time TV show or do I become a full-time farmer?
“THE challenge last year [season two] was to turn it from an experiment into seeing if it could be a sustainable paying venture. In season three is it paying yet? Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a full-time income, but we are definitely much closer.
It’s one of those things … when does it stop becoming a TV show and when does it start becoming a full-time farm and what do I do? Do I make a full-time TV show or do I become a full-time farmer? Because it’s very difficult to both.
We shot for the bulk of last year and had a little time off over Christmas – then it was back into shooting and finishing the [ River Cottage Australia] cook book.
Then I finally got time to take stock for first time in 18 months. Oh [grins] ... and welcome a baby [baby Otto was born to West and partner Alicia Cordia in late April].
I think it happened [Alicia fell pregnant] in the UK actually – if we do the maths – clearly it was something they put in the food, but we also stayed in a beautiful place off the Isle of Skye with beautiful clear Scottish Loch water, so maybe it was that ... or maybe it was just that we were in the middle of nowhere and in a beautiful cabin and we were so happy to be there with each other.
It was quite surreal watching Alicia’s belly grow. When it comes kicking and screaming into the world the real love really starts.
We’ve been together six years. The wedding plans are on the back-burner. We don’t want to rush it, we don’t want it to be a stress, neither of us are going anywhere – in terms of without each other – so there’s no race to get down the aisle.
You won’t see the pregnancy in the series. It’s something that goes back to TV happening in a bubble. So much of what happens here is real, but through an editorial lens. Because Leesh and the baby are two totally rock-solid, real things I don’t want them to be interpreted through an editorial lens. We want to keep a bit of us to ourselves.
Some bad s**t has happened on the farm this season, but not on the same scale it did in season two [when crops were lost].
The big success has been getting more consistent supply out of the vegetable garden, being able to sell some vegetable boxes to the people in Tilba – being able to put four or five different things into those boxes on a regular basis.
First season it’s like ‘one zucchini – yeah’. The second season it’s like ‘oh s**t, a tonne of zucchinis’, now it’s – ‘enough zucchinis’ – we’ve refined the process.”
RIVER COTTAGE AUSTRALIA TUESDAY, 8.30PM, LIFESTYLE CHANNEL With Debbie Schipp
Farm life: Paul with one of his chooks and, inset, with Alicia and baby Otto.