four years

lamb

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I’ve finally made time to write what’s been happening over the last year and a bit, and I guess you could say that 2019 was mostly the year of plantings. We planted out the Autumn Grove, Bee Hive Corner and a scattering of pretty trees along the boundary of our property, plus a stunning feature tree in the back yard.

The Autumn Grove is down the bottom of one of our paddocks, it’s the lowest point on our property and probably the size of an average house block of land. Eventually, from our house we will be able to see a riot of autumn colour tree tops, in oh you know, a decade or two. Some of my favourite trees went in, Sugar Maple, Golden Maple, Coral Barked Maple, Tulip Tree, Scarlet Oak, Black Tupelo, Claret Ash, Golden Amber, Himalayan Birch, a Macadamia tree, and half a dozen Red Maples. Just above the grove, in the sheep paddock but sectioned off for protection, a Forrest Pansy, Chinese Pistachio and Golden Ash. In another paddock on the other boundary side, a Persian Ironwood, and in the backyard our feature tree, a Golden Elm. We purchased this one quite advanced so we hope to enjoy its shade and magnificence in just a few years.

Growing, enjoying and selling flowers has always been part of the plan but this year the need to be surrounded by flowers was overwhelming.  I began a planting of Roses, around  20 odd, mostly David Austins, many long time favourites, a couple of must have roses I had in my last garden, and a few other heavenly scented, delicately coloured beauties.  Inhaling the incredible perfume of a David Austin Rose has no match on those modern varieties for me. I know the new varieties are better cut flowers, last longer, have longer stems etc, but for me half the beauty of a rose is the scent. I’ve had a nice time experimenting with the petals and made my first rosewater recently. I keep it in the fridge in a spray bottle and I can’t tell you how refreshing and addictive it is to spritz my face after getting all hot and sweaty in the garden. A pure delight! A white waratah and a couple of Grevilleas also went in along with some native flowering shrubs I can’t recall the name of right now. I’m new to natives as have always leaned on classic cottage styles but I am enjoying getting to know some natives that are better suited to our wild extremes of weather. Selections are based firstly on beauty, but flowering for bees and cut flower viability are carefully considered also.  And anything in the ‘can take gale force relentless winds’ group are immediately promoted to the top of the list.

Our one large sheep paddock has been split into four, and Charlie built another shed for the sheep. We designed the split of paddocks so each shed can be accessed by two paddocks, therefore ensuring our sheep have shelter no matter which paddock they are in. And boy do they love those sheds, in the wind, rain or beating hot sun, they seek shelter in them regularly. Just recently we completed our own little ‘cattle race’ although it’s likely not well suited to cattle, possibly not strong enough. Instead it’s suited to our needs, for sheep and hopefully one day, a couple of alpacas. We harvested two of our own lambs for the freezer last spring. It’s quite an intense process raising our own meat, confronting and questioning, reassuring yet heartbreaking. We’re doing our very best to ensure these animals live their very best life here even it means that life is shorter for some of them. We had only one lamb born last year and we just returned a loaned ram from down the road. He’s been here making friends with our girls in the hopes we’ll have more lambs born this year. After the heartache and tough times we endured the previously in regards to the sheep, this last year was smoother. Apart from the odd escapes resulting in severely pruned trees and roses, it’s mostly been a lot easier being shepherds this year. Either that or I’m just getting used to it?

The orchard has provided us with some fruit this year, albeit modest harvests, though I suspect this will change next year as the trees mature that little bit more, after all they were only 3.5 years old this summer. The older fruit trees around the house gifted us many baskets of fruit. Not as many nectarines as last year but still plenty, along with blood plums, apricots and cherries. Jam making was in full force over summer and the jam cupboard is once again bursting at the seams. Just how I like it! And alongside the jam cupboard, and above it, and beside it, is our garlic harvest. This was a bumper garlic year even though I didn’t plant as much as I had hoped. There’s hundreds and hundreds of bulbs and I couldn’t be happier! The patch has struggled mostly due to the weather still, the tree belt around it is growing but it’s a way off before it can protect the beds from the winds. Despite this we’re still having great success growing herbs, and things like garlic, rhubarb and strawberries don’t seem to mind it either. This year our tomato plants are super healthy and coping ok although we’ve not really had enough warm weather to ripen the big ones yet so hopefully autumn will shine her warmth on us for a little longer. A few other bits and pieces like zucchinis, cucumbers, silverbeet and swiss chard have been good this year.  One self sown pumpkin has been an absolute star growing in the compost bed, completely neglected, and it’s produced 17 decent sized pumpkins! I planted around a dozen pumpkin plants, Queensland Blue, Butternut and Kent, and so far will probably only harvest 3 pumpkins from the lot! Mother Nature really does know best and next year I think I’ll take heed and plant my pumpkins directly into the compost bed.

Over in the orchard, we have a section of land that will one day be home to beehives, but first we have to build them some shelter. So we planted a couple of blue gums along the boundary, 3 crabapples, a Bay tree and half a dozen red maples. I hope to add a couple of Avocados soon, all of which should provide enough year round shade, sunlight and food, for us and the bees. Of course the bees will have the orchard and veggie/flower patch and we were quite selective in the trees we planted around the patch as a windbreak, ensuring many of them will also provide food for them. And then there’s my plan to wildflower everything. For the beauty and the bees! Well not quite everything, as that would get a little too snakey for my liking, but the Autumn Grove, and the tree belts that surround our property. One day, in many years, this little hill will become a biodiverse haven full of flowers and trees and fruit and veggies. And apart from my two beautiful children, I feel like that’s the next best legacy I can leave behind me, hopefully after I’ve enjoyed it for many years of course!

Speaking of my very best work, an update on the kids. If you know me you would already know about the new business Kiandra & Ross launched. If you don’t know about this, and you like coffee, then it really is your lucky day! Check out Hills Coffee Co and order a bag stat. The beans are carefully selected and roasted to perfection and it’ll be very hard, near impossible, to drink any other coffee after you’ve tried it. Not only is the product amazing, there has been a great deal of care to ensure the coffee is ethical, meaning farmers get a fair price, and it’s grown with care for the land, plus the packaging your coffee will arrive in is either biodegradable or compostable. And you’ll be supporting a small business.  What’s not to love? Last year Brian returned from his big trek after almost two and half years on the road. He covered so much of Asia during this time but a significant amount of time was spent travelling India on an old Enfield motorbike. He jammed so many dreams into this adventure and unsurprisingly came back with a head full of new ones and the determination to achieve them. Another trip is on the horizon, and this one is going to be longer than the last with a motorbike that’s more suited to the travel, so he’s busy working and saving to make that happen. I believe it’s going to start in Africa, and at last conversation will pretty much go around the world, give or take a few countries!

Finally I can’t complete a yearly update without mentioning craft. I completed my huge Confetti Blankie around mid year and am still thrilled with the final product. It’s beautiful and warm and cosy and we sleep under every night. After I finished it I kinda lost my craft mojo though. I think I burnt out on such a big project. I’ve dabbled in a few things since, sashiko, sewing, crocheted bookmarks, and have spent a bit of time working on perfume blends and skin care serums too. I’ve just not got consistently back into it where I’m crafting something every night again. I’m sure it will return, in fact I feel it will soon and I can sense that creative urge stirring, I’m just not sure what form it will take.

Well that better do for now. There are a few other things I was going to mention but I might actually pop back and do another blog post on them. Or not. We’ll see.

 

I do hope life is treating you kindly, that you are treating you kindly, and that your loved ones are safe and healthy x

three years

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It’s three years since our move to harvest moon hill yet it feels like a lifetime ago when we lived in the ‘burbs. So much has happened over the past year, yet not a lot has changed. We are still struggling to grow veggies on our very exposed hill. Our crappy cheap ugly wind protection blew away in a storm, and yes I get how ironic that it is. It was probably a blessing as it really was an eyesore… We bit the bullet and planted a tree windbreak around the patch so now wait patiently (or not) for this to grow and provide some reprieve from the relentless wind. In the meantime we’ve found our herbs are going gangbusters, seemingly not bothered by the often unforgiving weather. As has the rhubarb, and we did grow an epic crop of garlic though not without issues. A rust spot developed on many of the garlic leaves and we had a lot of rain when we were due to pick, so some were harvested a little before time. We figured small bulbs were better than rotten ones and the rust only damaged the scapes not the bulbs. Despite this we’ve enough garlic for the year, plus plenty to share and plant for another crop this year. We had our best strawberry season and feel the work we did nourishing the garden bed prior to planting them paid off big time. Lots of luscious juicy flavoursome strawberries made it into our mouths, the freezer, batches of jam and some for friends and family too.

The orchard is growing well despite the tough love and pear slug / cherry slug that spread thanks to the wind. We recently invested in some Biodynamic Peppers and hope this will help combat the slug and its spread. Plenty of apples on the little trees and a few nectarines and apricots, but mostly the trees are still getting themselves established with minimal intervention from us, partly as our philosophy is that nature does things well without interference and partly due to not having time to do otherwise! Our fully grown fruit trees (planted by the previous owners) provided us with a generous crop of apricots, kilos of nectarines, masses of the shiniest cherries you ever did see, with apples and pears still ripening and getting very close to picking.

There has been a couple of snake incidents, one traumatic, one more unnerving than anything else. Well, let’s face it, snake encounters are never fun, but a surprise one on the 2 day old freshly mowed grass, not far from the house, and where mum and I were walking, was quite the trauma! In my head I had built myself a security blanket of short grass, because we all know snakes don’t like short grass, they’re too vulnerable out in the open right? Wrong! Busted that myth! This not so little slitherer decided short grass was the perfect place for a spot of sunbaking. Not sure on the species of this one, but the next encounter, only 2 months later and when I had finally got my confidence back walking around outside, was a Tiger snake. Clearly identifiable with his stripes, I was able to take photos of this one as it hung around for so long. I spotted this one from the safety of my morning mountain pose, gazing out the window feeling totally blessed at the amazing view I get to enjoy whilst doing a little yoga session in the lounge room. It was only meters from the house and had decided to take up residence in the old pool that had been emptied out. Needless to say an excavator operator has been employed to remove said pool and fill in the large hole. Ol’ tiger boy will have to find a new home, and it had better be a long way from home. The most difficult part in adjusting to living in the country has been the snakes, and I’ve yet to ‘adjust’ to this aspect.

The sheep have provided us with much joy and pain. We had 4 little lambs born last year but one of the births was an emergency cesarean in the paddock by moonlight. Lucy and her lambs recovered well and are fine and dandy, but I’ll never forgot having a black wet sloppy lifeless lamb placed beside me with the vet directing me to ‘clear its airways’, whilst I also held Lucy’s legs, as in case you didn’t know (and you’d be forgiven for not), sheep are only given a local anesthetic for a cesarean so they must be held lying down to prevent them standing up whilst their side is cut open. Oh my, it was quite the experience and we were fortunate it ended mostly with a good outcome, sadly one lamb was lost so it was twins instead of triplets. Then more recently we lost old Lenny boy, and then the young boy Ziggy. We nearly lost another, Layla as she was viciously attacked by Ziggy. It seems something just went horribly wrong with him and he had to be put down. I won’t go into details as I still find it difficult to talk about, write about, and think about. Things just went from bad to worse within a week or so, and ended in one hell of a traumatic day resulting in Ziggy’s death and Layla’s near miss. It seems sheep farming is way harder than we expected, way more expensive than we anticipated, and so much more stressful and traumatic than I feel I can cope with. As much as it has been an absolute delight to see the flock grow and get to know them, having them has also taken much of our time and resources away from our main goal of growing. It’s been a tough realisation, and a sad one to admit. I’ve shed so many tears over the sheep this past year and I really don’t want to shed anymore, so we are preparing ourselves to say farewell to the flock in the hopes of re homing them as a little starter flock. We’re starting to think about how we are going to use the land and many ideas are brewing. I dare say finances will ensure they brew for quite some time yet, so maybe next year I’ll share what we hope to do with this soon to be available acre and bit of beautiful land.

I have crafted a little, I think I’m coming up to a year working on my confetti blanket. It’s been a comfort project I can pick up at any time and add to, without thinking too much or having to concentrate on the pattern. I always love to have a project like this in the craft basket, like an old friend you can pick up with any time for a cuppa and chat. I’ve spun and made myself some 2ply and 3ply yarn, some of which was knitted in beanies. I knitted and crocheted a few scarves, started knitting some socks – my second pair ever. I got up to the heel and that’s where they’ve stayed for oh you know six months or so. I’ve loved making face serum, perfumes, and creams with my essential oils, there’s something satisfying about standing over a collection of essential oils and intuitively selecting a variety for whatever potions I’m making. Very recently I had a teeny dabble in watercolour painting, the process is meditative and relaxing and draws me into a calm place, I’m keen to learn and dabble more.

My son has continued to travel and is about to leave India for Mozambique. An internship to obtain his diving masters will see him based there for a few months before coming home! Brian is planning for more travels and wants to come back to save up for these next adventures. He covered some ground in 2018, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, then a big stint in India and Nepal on an old Enfield motorbike. My daughter and son in law managed quite a few overseas trips last year also, Japan, the Maldives, and France. Kiandra and I even went to Japan together! What a wonderful way to see this beautiful country, through my daughters eyes who has been obsessed with all things Japan for as long as I can remember. We went to Kyoto and Tokyo and enjoyed some of the most amazing experiences together. We arrived just as Autumn was settling in and filled our trip with many moments to treasure. The beautiful deer at Nara, the markets, Kimono photoshoot, Hello Sandwich tour, the ikebana class, the peaceful and incredibly beautiful parks and gardens, shrines and temples, the public transport (yes it’s that good!), the shopping, and most importantly the people. There is such a lot of them, especially in Tokyo and we found them to be so kind and gentle and polite. It was a surprise adventure for the year and one I’ll hold close to my heart.

Work life changed for Charlie and I too and we now find ourselves working locally for lovely people we both respect and admire. How lucky is that! The tricky bit is finding enough time to do all the things around the farm whilst juggling the work hours. And I know most farmers would laugh hysterically at my ‘farm’ description, we’re only on 2.5 acres and let’s face it, we’ll have no animals soon, but it feels like a farm to me. I wished and dreamed of living in the country on a little farm and now we’re here, doing just that everyday. The good, the slithering, and all the inbetweens, and I really don’t want to live anywhere else.

Wishing you joyful laughs, more peace than trauma, and surprise adventures that make your heart sing. x

two years




















I couldn’t let our two year mark at harvest moon hill pass by without recognition here. And I’ve been meaning to pop in, for oh you know, six months or so! I know the posts are few and far between these days but here we are again… a new year… a new season… and change in the wild windy air…

As I type this I am watching our sheep mow the grass in our back yard with the three musketeers darting about around them. Despite the foxes and wedge tail eagles these three guinea fowl have thrived all by themselves with no human intervention of care or feed – if you don’t count all the nectarines and plums they ate from our trees! These moments of bliss are hard to describe, yet even harder is to articulate just how much I feel they impact on my wellbeing. Vast open spaces and prolonged periods of silence bring such deep calm and peace, I can only imagine how much more keyed up I would be not living here! I absolutely love it and feel so incredibly lucky we found this place.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all peace love and mung beans baby, there’s plenty of hard work and head scratching. Just like the three musketeers receive the odd bunting from Ziggy or a stalking from an eagle, there are unwanted nudges, death, sickness and loss on the farm too. We sadly and mysteriously lost our first little lamb born last year, Eileen. Burying her was heartbreaking yet also, in many ways, an inevitable part of farming, I understand that. We also had a sick sheep and had to intervene with medication, but first there was the matter of catching her for the vet. A missed footing and consequent stumble produced two broken ribs for Charlie and a greater appreciation for just how big these girls are. A week later and I am proud to say we managed to round up the whole flock (all six of them – real sheep farmers don’t laugh!) by ourselves and secure them in next doors cattle race where I injected them with their vitamin B12 & selenium shot. Another feather in our farming cap that definitely left us more traumatised than the sheep!

We’ve had more loss than bounty in the veggie garden but have slowly worked toward rectifying that, and now have a rather ugly but cost efficient immediate windbreak to protect the beds from the relentless elements of being high up on an exposed hill. We have to watch out for snakes and the seasonal battle of uninvited critter visitors in the roof. There are days of relentless mooing when our neighbours move their cattle or separate them into different paddocks and the flies in summer are horrendous – thick and sticky! But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Well, maybe the flies. And roof critters. And ok maybe the snakes too. I love quintessential country things like driving down our road and stopping to chat to the neighbour passing by in his car, windows down and waving off flies and saying ‘why yes, I’d love some of your excess apples and tomatoes thank you’ . The crystal clear nights when the milky way illuminates the sky and the stars glisten and the moon lights up the fields… The family of magpies who visit most mornings with their wake up songs… The odd wave to someone you know in town and no longer feeling like the stranger… but mostly I guess it’s the peace and watching the hills turn golden, then pink, then disappear into the night sky with only the sounds of the sheep munching nearby, the cows mooing, the birds all settling into bed for the night… it’s profoundly healing and as magic as it sounds.

We’ve enjoyed many apricots, plums and nectarines this summer from the trees the previous owners planted. Jam making days are a favourite and we have apricot jam, peach & apricot jam, nectarine jam, and blood plum jam bursting out of the pantry. The nectarines were so prolific we froze kilos of them (great for smoothies and homemade ice creams) and discovered that the sheep, particularly Lenny and Ziggy love nectarines! Our 18 month old orchard is growing well and we’ve managed to keep all 50 odd trees alive through two summers on very lean water rations, both to encourage deep roots and also because we didn’t want to run out of water. We didn’t, and although we are very low on water now, I’m hoping some decent rain is not far away. I know, even sounding like a farmer!

In other non farmy news my daughter and son in law moved into a beautiful new home in the Dandenong Ranges, and their cute dogs Sai & Kenzo recently provided the modelling for the new Stockman Leathercraft dog lead and collar set. My son made a trip back home at Christmas after travelling through Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. He’s just been through Cambodia on a motorbike and is now riding through Vietnam, soon to start making his way towards India. We’ve been working on Stockman Leathercraft over the summer. We ventured into local markets which were lots of fun and I have just finished setting up a new website. Craft has always been a form of sanity for both of us and we’ve enjoyed focusing heavily on this aspect of our lives over the last few months. I’m even adding plaiting to my list of crafty dabbles after becoming the new apprentice to help keep up with orders. I received a spinning wheel last year and learnt to spin… kind of…. I think it takes many years before you can say you can spin properly, but I can turn fibre into yarn now, even if it is a little wonky and uneven.

Break in transmission. I heard something bashing outside and looked up to see two rogue cows! They broke down the fence and ran through our paddock, then broke through another section of fence to get out! Luckily our sheep were in the backyard enclosure so I just had to race out there and close the gate to the paddock – or I’d have a crazy rogue cow or two at the back door and by the looks of the way they just pushed down the fences I’m thinking that could get ugly!

Ok back again… it’s a couple of days later but I’m determined to publish. There’s been a few times I’ve sat down and starting writing to you but then if I don’t finish in one go, time passes, I feel it becomes outdated, then I start thinking about my writing, what I’m writing, why I’m writing, and I can’t find a good enough reason to share it. I start second guessing all the words and the stories and think you probably don’t need my ramblings in your life. But you know what, who am I to say what you need or want in your life? Besides I love the process of writing my thoughts down, and I do love to look back and see when we planted the orchard, when I made that sheep beanie, when the lambs were born… etc… I use this blog as a reference for dates as they seem to mush together the older I get! So here goes on another long waffle session from me, and if you made it this far then you are a legend!

May you add some surprising feathers to your cap and be as full of sunshine as our jam cupboard x

PS – Did you wish upon a super blue blood moon too?

a flock of sheep





















We finally felt ready to take on our own flock of sheep. Three girls was the plan, but when our neighbours offered a Ram for sale we couldn’t say no. They were sending the rest of their young boys off to the butchers and there was a girl who would go too, and not wanting to have an even number of sheep, we purchased the girl. We went from 3 to 5 sheep within the first week. As the weeks went by we made some jokes about the girls being fat, there was of course an abundance of long green grass in our paddock, which had been unattended to for some months, but one Sunday whilst taking Lenny the ram some broccoli flowers, we heard a little ‘baaaa’ coming from the grass. Low and behold a cute little newly born black lamb was right in front of us, we could hardly believe our own eyes! We suspiciously eyed the other ‘fat’ girls and begun to research the ‘signs’ to look for. Within a day or so we were pretty convinced Lucy would soon give birth. Sure enough, the following Saturday she had the biggest baby lamb – poor girl! She’s always been smaller than the other sheep, being hand reared and not receiving her mother’s milk seem to have stunted her growth somewhat, but that didn’t stop her having the biggest baby boy – almost twice the size of the other little lamb born the previous week, to a mother much larger than Lucy.

So within a month or so of becoming sheep owners, we became sheep breeders, about a year before we had planned. We’ve been flat out getting a little fox proof enclosure ready so we can lock up the mums and bubs at night keeping them safe from harm. Easier said than done! Have you ever tried to get sheep to do what you want but they don’t? It’s not that easy – I have a new appreciation for sheep dogs! We are learning a lot about keeping sheep and recently had lessons from the vet on how to trim their hooves and give injections either into the muscle or just under the skin, along with a rather indignant lesson for Lenny on how to get a ram on his back. No easy feat for an estimated 80kg of sheep!

Now I know I’ve told you about Lucy before, who was already named, and we were thrilled to be able buy her as she’s such a friendly girl. We decided to name the other girls after songs too so we have Lola (the other new mum), Layla, and Luka, and the ram is Lenny. Now Lenny was named after a hidden track at the end of a Lemonheads cd, the track has never been released as a single nor is it a complete song, but the little snippet of a gem is a fave of ours and now immortalised in our ram. We are only going to name the sheep we are keeping, the ones that will end up in the freezer eventually will not be named so I don’t get too attached to them. And I’m not entirely sure that theory is going to work, we may very well end up with a paddock full of pet sheep! But our grand plan here is to raise our own meat and to ensure the animals live a beautiful natural stress free life where they are cared for in the best possible way and are never exposed to toxic fields full of sprays. So we are going to try with all our might to do this, it won’t be easy I know, there may tears I know, but we can try.

We already decided we didn’t want to take away Lucy’s first baby. Lucy has had a lot of human contact and she is proving to be a very caring attentive mother. As she lost her mother at birth we thought it would be kinder to allow her to keep her baby. Turns out she had a boy so we are keen to allow him to grow into his full ram potential and take over the reign from Lenny as we allow him to age, he’s no young buck. He’s obviously still going well, two new lambs and all, but his years of productivity are probably limited so we now have a succession plan. Lucy’s boy has strong genetics, he’s a huge baby, and will hopefully inherit Lucy’s gentle temperament along with an automatic trust of people as he watches his mum walk up to us for pats and treats – unlike the other sheep who all run a mile in the other direction, except for Lenny the ram who has turned out to be a smoochy gentle giant that likes chin scratches. Lola’s baby is a girl so we will keep her too and add her to the breeding stock. It’s early days and we’re still to learn how much feed our paddock will yield over the dry summer months, we do not wish to subsidise their food too much as we’d like them to eat from our biodynamic paddock rather than buy feed in, so the total number of sheep we keep has to be in balance with what we can provide naturally. I think we’re probably close to the limit now but I’m pretty happy we are keeping our first two additions to the flock.

So, for now we now have a flock of 7 Suffolk sheep and I have two new names to pick out! In case you haven’t realised I love naming things, including all our neighbours sheep! One of which I’m going to reuse as it’s one I love and this is important for a ram who will be with us for many years. Lucy’s baby is Ziggy. We’re sticking with the music theme obviously! Lola’s girl will be Eileen. And yes we may or may not sing their names.

Our lives have been totally taken over by sheep in the last month or so, learning about sheep, caring for sheep, watching the sheep and building a sheep shed but in other non sheepish news the farm is going well… the fruit trees are all starting to burst with blossom and leaves after their big winter sleep, there’s baby apricots and almonds developing already and we have our first few fingerlimes ripening up. The veggie garden is sprouting new life despite the fact I planted a heap of new seeds prior to a week of the most solid heavy rain dumping all winter! I was sure I’d lost them all but it appears there are a few survivors in the mix. We fell way behind in our plan to plant to heap of seeds late winter ready for a spring planting, life has a way of getting busy and August was nuts this year! Craft is slowly coming back into our lives in a daily manner as we try to do a little making each night. Charlie always seems to have an order on the go and I’ve just made a couple more scarves, I love having a cupboard of homemade goodies at the ready for presents and gifts.

Farm life sure is luscious this time of year in Gippsland, the hills are a deep rich green and the grass long. The cattle surrounding us are healthy and shiny and the vet commented on the excellent condition of our sheep. There’s plenty of food for them and I’m pretty sure you can see a little contented smile in their relaxed faces sometimes.

Wishing you contented smiles and relaxed days.

life on the farm july 2017



































Oh gosh where do I start? It’s been so long since I’ve popped in here I don’t know where to start. I did actually write a post a couple of months back, but then the laptop died and by the time it was repaired the post seemed so out of date I thought I’d just write another. Ha! Best of intentions and another few months pass by. I guess I’ll just start and see what happens hey? I’ll try to keep the words brief and let the photos do the talking.

I’ll start where I left off, way back in March… my boy came up to stay for a bit before he left for his big adventure which was wonderful. After island hoping through Indonesia he then headed to the Philippines which is where he is now. He’s seen Komodo dragons, dived one the best diving spots in the world, bought and managed to ride a (temperamental) scooter from one end of Java to the other, and trekked through some hot and humid and steep and magnificently beautiful jungles and beaches and mountains. He’s absolutely living his dream and I couldn’t be more thrilled for him or more proud of him.

There’s been two brilliant stand out gigs, Patti Smith and Evan Dando. Probably two of my favourite artists ever, what a lucky year huh? They say it’s akin to a spiritual experience watching Patti perform and I’d have to agree. Her feisty words of wisdom and peace and love are heartfelt and full of passion. She has experienced such sorrow and loss and has a beautiful way at looking at life and death as a result. She’s generous with her knowledge and still has such youthful energy at seventy. Her faith in humanity to turn things around is contagious and I did come away with a t-shirt bearing the lyrics of one of my favourite Patti songs; people have the power to redeem the work of fools. Evan was in fine form and played for 3 hours, happy and chatty and sharing some of his new music as well as lots of faves plus a heap of gems I’ve not heard him play before – and that’s saying something considering I’ve probably seen him more than a dozen times. There’s something about being in the presence of music being created that fills my soul with such joy, the gigs are fewer and further in between these days but I think that just makes us savour them even more.

I was lucky enough to spend a day at the lovely Tamsin’s Table with the even lovelier Tamsin to learn how to preserve food. What a treat of day it was, delicious food and a wealth of knowledge gained from someone experienced in preserving her own food. A total delight and such an inspirational day, it’s nice to know that you can actually be self sufficient in fruit and veggies and meat if you are prepared to put the work, love and time into the dream.

Our little veggie patch is far from creating a self sufficient lifestyle yet, and although we are far from eating solely from the patch we have been eating from it consistently. Even if it’s just the onion used in dinner, or the carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis etc… All of which I didn’t purchase from the shops for a decent period of time. It’s a grand plan and takes a huge amount of time and dedication but we are slowly, very slowly, working our way towards that.

We’ve been very busy in the garden of late trying to get on top of things, a grand aim I know but we can at least shoot for the stars right? There’s been a lot of weeding of mulching, making compost slurries and worm farm slurries, the orchard has been pruned and painted with biodynamic tree paste, compost bays are being added to, lawns are being mowed, and did I mention there’s been a lot weeding of mulching? Although we’re not eating that much from the garden at the moment, we’re resting and nourishing the beds so they’ll be ready for a big spring planting which I’m excited to get started on. I’m really hoping to eat a lot of veggies out of the garden this spring, summer and autumn. We’ve experience the full cycle of seasons here now and are finally finding some sort of balance between work and farm life. And I do use the word ‘balance’ loosely!

I’ve jumped on the Doterra essential oils bandwagon over the last few months too and have loved bringing oils back into my life in a big way. I’ve always loved oils and have been a regular user of them for decades, but something feels different with these oils, they are so strong and pure, I’ve found them extremely powerful. I diffuse oils everyday, I wear some everyday, I use them in my homemade deodorant and even my own homemade facecream, and I drink them! (Just a drop or two in my sparkling water – Wild Orange Oil, seriously delicious.) Making up little roller bottle blends is one of my fave things to do, what’s not love about creating a beautiful scent that also provides healing? I feel like they’ve particularly helped with being an anxious stresshead, if you’re an anxious stresshead too then I highly recommended getting addicted to essential oils, they very gentle and have no negative side effects, except for the budget! Diffusing right now is Clary Sage, Marjoram, Balance and Citrus Blend. It’s delightfully calming and grounding, a little sweet, earthy, fresh, herbaceous and citrusy. A new fave for a quiet Sunday I think.

On that scented note I’m going to love and leave you, my diffuser needs topping up and I have to start dinner. I haven’t even mentioned the glorious foggy mornings, Dean & Gene Weeners the calves, the magic late afternoon winter light, the stunning sunrises and the firey sunsets of Autumn and Winter, but hopefully the photos say enough. I did seriously consider not continuing this blog, I often wonder why I do it. I’ll leave you with a quote from Patti that rings true for me as I write and prepare to share my words with you, not really understanding why I choose I do so apart from it feeling good to get the words out of my head and share them with you.

“Freedom is… the right to write the wrong words” Patti Smith.

Sending peace and freedom x

all chill, no guilt… sort of…
















Can you believe it’s been a year since our little tree change? A year of ‘life on the farm’ with all the big and little changes that come when you move to the country. Although my ‘to do’ list overwhelms me I feel the need to write you… I really want to share some moments as I know time fades the details and my memories.

The fog blankets that roll up and down these mountains are some of the thickest fogs I’ve seen in my life… at times you can watch it roll in, gently yet persistently moving across the land, hugging the ground tight and gobbling up trees and hills until the landscape completely disappears into the white… I’ve seen midnight look so bright outside when the moon is full and the fog is thick… the moonlight bounces through the fog illuminating the dense white blanket … it’s eerily beautifully… and treacherous to drive in.

As I sit right now we are due for rain and thunderstorm… so far the rain has been minimal, a few heavy spits that last for a brief minute or two… but the thunder is rolling up the valley below which creates an echo, making the thunder so loud and deep you feel it in your bones. It’s a sound so big and the energy it brings is electrifying… all the sheep are taking cover under the trees, they seem to know the weather is about to turn… they hunker down together in groups and as soon as it passes they will come out and do their ‘furious munch’ as I call it, where they eat frantically like they’ve been starved for days… as they do every evening before dark falls.

Summer has bleached the green out of the mountains and left a golden shine during the day… at sunset or sunrise the mountains come into their own… it seems the light golden hue of the grass reflects the colours in a sunrise or sunset beautifully… I can look out and see dusky pink mountain tops against a dusky pink sky, or peachy hill tops against a peachy sunrise… It’s exquisite and I hope to capture the delicateness in a photo one day.

I have a basket of quince, a basket of juicy sweet pears, some delicious quince jelly, quince paste and zucchini butter from our lovely neighbours and I can’t help but feel so lucky we landed in such a friendly country road… Our veggie garden has produced more juicy sweet rockmelon that I can eat and share, so I’ve taken to freezing it chopped up and will use it for smoothies. I probably should be picking my cucumbers right now and learning how to pickle them… I’ve bookmarked so many different types of pickle recipes but none that feel just right – call me Goldilocks. We’re not quite sick of zucchinis just yet, but thanks to my neighbour I can step away from the zoodles and fritters and have a go at making zucchini butter. I’d never heard of it until I was gifted a jar. And onions, we’ve had heaps, can’t remember the last time I bought some actually. But the potatoes, well they’ve been the biggest disappointment so far, not just for the measly harvest they produced, but the effort vs harvest ratio… we don’t know what happened to them, but there were hardly any to dig up and when we did there were plenty of rotten ones unearthed too. The beans were ok, plenty of delicious ones to start with but they turned woody and tough quite quickly… pretty sure we either left some too long or didn’t water them enough… or both. The tomatoes are starting to ripen and we’re getting a reasonable amount but not as much as I had expected for the amount of plants we put in. There is much to learn – that I know… and I suspect the very exposed nature of our veggie garden is playing her part too… the fierce winds we get up here on our hill are the strongest winds I’ve experienced… I think this is stunting the plants a little and hindering their efforts to excel… I have added ‘develop some sort of screening’ to our ever growing overwhelming threatening to swallow us whole ‘to do’ list.

Of course the ‘to do’ list is taking a little longer to get through too as I’m now working. Locally. Part time. Another piece of the puzzle that fits exactly how we dreamed it would. Ridiculously lucky I know. And feeling so happy and grateful that’s it all worked out, pretty much just how we wanted it to (short of wining tattslotto!). It’s just going to take a bit of time to balance what needs to be done around the farm and making sure we squeeze in some chill out time to rest our weary bones as the ‘to do’ list seems to go a bit like the one step forward, two steps backwards thing. I’m ticking off the chill out time today though, writing to you… and next I’m going to make another batch of ‘Grandma’s Butterscotch’ (so good!), then I’m going to nibble on that whilst I have a go at some knitting or crochet … I’ve decided the rest of today will be all chill and no guilt… I may not succeed in either of those but I’m sure going to have a good go at it.

Wishing you guilt free chill out time with your favourite candy x