Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrey have moved into a ramshackle farmhouse from the 1890s, busy recreating Royalburn Station in central Otago, where their new TV series, Nadia’s Ranch, is airing.
We’ve seen the glamorous Nadia Lim, all dressed in MasterChef New Zealand’s clothes, and now we’re seeing her really live — in jumpsuits, jeans and bush shirts on the farm.
But she’s in place, with husband Carlos Bagri, a fifth-generation kiwi farmer, two sons, Bodhi, 4 and River, 2, and another baby is on the way (it was announced yesterday).
It’s a mess, keep in mind. During our photo session, orphaned lambs burst into the kitchen, jumping on the furniture and delighting the guests.
* Presenter and MasterChef Award Winner Nadia Lim Pregnant
* Nadia’s Farm: Celebrity Kiwi Chef Shows a Different Side in Three’s New Reality Series
*Life and death on Nadia’s farm
* Nadia Lim and her husband are back “down to earth” in the South Island countryside
And as we see on the couple’s new TV show, the boys are also in their element, doing their own thing: “Boddy and River were rat-catching that day, and Buddy was able to catch his first rat with a stick,” Lim says.
“I happened to have the camera to film him holding him by the tail, while the dog is jumping around.”
The dead mouse is placed in the compost bin, which somewhat sets the tone for this chain. There’s no point in expecting a nice rustic look at farm life, because farming isn’t, even when sustainable and ethical, like this.
It’s fair to say that life on a 485-hectare working farm, the largest in the Wakatipu Basin, can be primitive. Lim and Bagrey offer an unfiltered view of what’s going on on a large-scale commercial property – lambs are orphaned, animals are being culled (and eaten), and the pair have built their own slaughterhouse and charcuterie.
“It can be a little difficult for some people,” admits Lim.
“And it should be so,” says Bagheri, who thinks it’s important not to shy away from showing things off. “This is real – food production, life and death, dealing with pests.”
Culling the rabbits was a huge undertaking when they first moved in three years ago – Bagrey was going out and dropping a couple of rabbits on the back door threshold for dinner.
“The kids will say, ‘Oh, does that mean it’s rabbit nuggets for dinner, Mom?'” says Lim. “.
But kids grow up familiar with the realities of life on the farm and the very obvious seasons. They measure family birthdays by what happens with the seasons – “If snow arrives, it must be June 1st and it’s Father’s Day.”
“To see those seasons change so dramatically, it reminds you that nothing lasts. Nothing,” Lim says. “Everything dies. Like sunflowers – it’s the valley of golden light, and change only happens in a matter of days. They become the sinking valley of death with their heads hanging down. It is literally the valley of death.”
But this is a warm and loving family, with a typical New Zealand farmhouse that wraps around them in all seasons. And despite what you’ve seen on Nadia’s Comfort Kitchen TV series during lockdown, Lim-Bagrie Farm is pretty old.
The couple estimate that it was built in the 1890s, and when they bought the property, the house was painted red – all walls and even the ceiling painted. The house was not in good condition.
“There were rats’ nests on the floor and windows missing,” Bagri says. “It was so bad, Nadia hadn’t seen it even before I bought it.”
“I think he was a little afraid to show it to me,” admits Lim. “He might have thought I might have cut the whole thing down, but I wouldn’t have done it.”
“Like sleeping in a country hut”
They embarked on a massive renovation, but initially Bagrey spent half his weeks on the property preparing the farm’s infrastructure, while Lim and the children remained in Auckland. “I was taking a sleeping bag home, and it was like sleeping in a country cottage,” he says.
In time, the rest of the family arrived, and the house was completely re-lined with new insulation, new joinery, new bathrooms, and of course a new kitchen for the chef who was instrumental in creating My Food Bag, and she has published several cookbooks. Heating is provided by a boiler, but there is also a wood-burning stove, which is necessary due to frequent power outages in bad weather.
None of the materials removed from the house were wasted – all of the old iron was struck and flattened and used at the couple’s Royalburn Farm Store in Arrowtown. The original kitchen door is now the farm shop door.
They kept everything stored in a shed, including the rafters, old bathrooms, and washbasins. Old farm machinery parts add character around the farm and home.
“This is one of the oldest farms in New Zealand, and we want to celebrate the original pioneering spirit – it’s great to be bringing that back again,” says Bagrey. “We can still see reliefs on the walls of the ancient stone wool shed that was in place over 100 years ago.”
Nadia Lim / Supplied
There was nothing to stop the orphaned lambs who set out to explore Nadia’s kitchen.
“I don’t need a big house”
Meanwhile, the couple have turned the old house into a home, though Lim says, unsurprisingly, that she didn’t have time to do much with home decor. “I would have the luxury of personalizing it. One day I’ll wrap it up. But I don’t need a big house—there is just more to clean and care for. I can live happily in a little stone cottage.”
She didn’t bring many treasures with her: “I’m not a person,” she says. “I don’t have jewellery. But I have kept a beautiful cast-iron pot I bought when I got my first job at age 21. It cooks beautifully – better than a slow cooker – and I will pass it on to my grandchildren for the day.”
She also kept her grandmother’s salt-and-pepper shakers, which look like pompon. “These owls, Oscar and Wilbur, have been featured in many stills and cookbooks. I could have kept more stuff, but I felt like just taking one special thing was enough.”
To help maintain the controlling aspect of farm life outside, there is a shoe room, where the family can take off their soiled shoes and jackets before entering. But Bagrey admits he made a major mistake in the renovation: “I stupidly put on a light-colored rug (in the living room) and deeply regret it. It had dogs, lambs, children, and wine everywhere. It’s as good as it goes – we just keep rolling the rug.”
And it’s not just the lambs that make their way inside once in a while. Tomato seedlings should be started indoors, because even the greenhouse is very cold. “But I’m not allowed to put it on the dining room floor anymore,” Lim says. “It looked like a marijuana home.”
But that’s not part of their farm’s diversity, which now extends to sunflower oil, honey (two tons a year), market garden produce, lamb (they have 4,000 ewes), charcuterie, wool, pasture eggs, and 700 tons of grain and seed. Oh, and of course a summertime newborn.
Nadia Farm will be shown on three Wednesdays, at 8:40pm starting October 5, 2022
#Dies #Nadia #Lim #Featured #Unrefined #Raw #Farms #Chain