"WHEN are we going back to Melbourne, dad?"
Flag-winning Hawk Ben McEvoy was making the 15km trip from one of his properties near Stawell to the other with his three-year-old son, Angus, the source of the question above.
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McEvoy grew up on a farm five hours away at Dederang, 50km south of Wodonga, before embarking on his decade-plus-long AFL career with St Kilda and now Hawthorn.
This query had taken him by surprise.
"I said, 'I don't know, mate – do you want to go back to Melbourne?' and he says, 'No, I love it at the farm. This is my favourite place to be'," McEvoy told AFL.com.au.
"It's really great; the simple pleasures they get. It rained yesterday, so they're running around, jumping in puddles, getting muddy. They love all that.
"I couldn't imagine, long term, raising my kids anywhere else, as much as we're mostly in the city at the moment."
McEvoy, his wife Nicki and their children – Angus, 3, Moira, 1, and Clancy, 11 weeks – left Melbourne behind for their farm just two days after the Hawks' round one win over Brisbane.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan announced at half-time of that game that the season would go on hold at the completion of round one, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
McEvoy usually swaps the city for the country as soon as the Hawks' campaign ends to, in his own words, try to "catch up on the 10 months I haven't been there".
His sister, Kate, and brother-in-law (and best mate), Paul, live next door and help fill in the gaps, along with a worker they both employ, to enable McEvoy's farming escape to work while he's kicking a Sherrin.
What is an escape now is the family's long-term future post-football.
The 30-year-old ruckman-turned-defender's farm comprises 2100 acres across two locations.
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McEvoy and co. are busily preparing to plant this season's crop, and they also have about 500 sheep at the moment.
"With everything that's going on; there's no telling I'll ever leave again," he said.
"Hopefully I will but that's a little bit the view I'm taking, because obviously we don't know what's coming.
"I'm fortunate. I feel for other guys who don't have anything to do – but at the same time, it's a really good example of why you should have something.
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"I've been really strong on it for a long time. My pay's been cut in half but at least I've got something to do with my time and a capacity to keep earning some income at the minute."
McEvoy is contracted until the end of the 2021 season, and every move he makes is essentially with his family's future in mind.
Take his persistence with the online business degree he completed in 2019 – after a 10-year journey – despite conceding it won't be overly helpful once he turns his hand to farming full-time.
McEvoy pointed to two benefits of finishing.
The first is simple: the achievement of sticking at something for a decade, especially given so few AFL footballers are able to earn a degree as they put everything into their football pursuits.
"I'm hoping I can use it as a bargaining chip on my kids, if they want to drop out of school or uni or whatever they're doing one day," he said with a laugh.
"Maybe I can point to the bit of paper I have on the wall and say, 'If your dad can stick at it, then you can, too'."
McEvoy's successful AFL career is already 207 games deep, he's established a reputation as one of the game's top ruckmen and he played in the Hawks' 2014 and 2015 premierships.
"What I said all along was I'd like to make it to 30 (years old) and then anything after that's a bonus," he said.
"I'm already 30 now and I've got until the end of next year, but with the farm and everything – I'm basically prepared for it to stop at any time, because you just don't know.
"I imagine it will be one-year contracts from this point on, so you just have to be ready.
"As long as I'm still enjoying it and feel like I can keep up and am doing a good enough job to be required by the footy club, we'll keep rolling."