Mansfield Courier

At the heart of Soggy Bottom Farm


SOGGY Bottom Farm doesn’t sound particular­ly charming, but don’t let the name fool you.

Located on the MansfieldW­hitfield Road, it’s a rustic family home surrounded by wide natural land, heirloom apples, and leaves changing with the seasons.

At the heart of the property, is Niall Reidy.

Built in 1987, Niall and his late wife, Georgie, bought the land in 1982.

Niall had dreamed of building a medieval barn… until realising what an expensive endeavour that would be.

Instead, they settled on the cosy English-style cottage there today.

Growing up in the Irish countrysid­e, in what was known as the ‘landed gentry’four to five miles outside of Dublin, Niall was surrounded by beautiful Georgian style houses.

He would admire the high ceilings and wide open space, dreaming of having a home like that of his own one day as his mother dispatched him and his sisters to his neighbours for bags of fresh produce.

The houses may have been large, on sprawling blocks of land 200-300 acres, but the owners were not particular­ly savvy.

“They certainly weren’t businessme­n,” chuckles Niall.

He recalls paying the fee of a mere few pennies no matter what the size of the container he carried over.

Plastic bag or suitcase, the price remained constant.

His block may not be that size and he doesn’t sell apples, but the influence of that childhood dream can still be seen at Soggy Bottom Farm.

Surrounded by an heirloom apple orchard, Niall spent countless afternoons tending to his trees, eating the freshest fruit and even brewing his own cider.

Despite the seemingly peaceful location of just 15 minutes’ drive from Mansfield, it’s safe to assume this hand-crafted home was anything but quiet.

After a number of unsuccessf­ul IVF attempts, Niall and Georgie decided they would grow their family through fostering children, providing a welcoming home for those most in need.

Niall and his wife would get calls in the middle of the night from the Department of Human Services, needing a safe and comforting place for three to four children at a time, right away.

Niall was ready with an open home and an open heart.

Up to 12 children would fill the five bedrooms at one time, while cattle, pigs and horses roamed on the farm outside.

It wasn’t necessaril­y an easy lifestyle; a certain sadness surroundin­g fostering that doesn’t really leave. Niall’s wife particular­ly felt this. “When kids don’t experience warmth, trust, for the first seven years of their life or so, they wind up warped for the rest of their life,” Niall said.

The children could look upon gentleness and exploit it, distrustin­g of the genuine kindness behind the actions.

But Niall and Georgie persevered, providing love, hugs and freshly baked Anzac bikkies for 15 years.

“(We gave) the foster kids the best chance we could,” Niall said.

However, “turning 200 tomorrow”, and sadly without his beautiful wife who passed away 18 months ago, Niall is now looking to sell.

Unable to maintain the large property all by himself, he hopes the next owners have the same appreciati­on for organic farming and the beauty of nature as he does, preserving the oak trees and earthy charm Soggy Bottom Farm provides.

 ??  ?? TOUCH OF ENGLAND: Niall Reidy’s English-style cottage set in the Australian countrysid­e. THE MAN: Niall Reidy (right) is well known for his community spirit and witty charm.
TOUCH OF ENGLAND: Niall Reidy’s English-style cottage set in the Australian countrysid­e. THE MAN: Niall Reidy (right) is well known for his community spirit and witty charm.
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