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