life on the farm october 2016




















What a thrill it’s been to see Spring breeze into the orchard and our little trees burst into life with blossom and leaves. The veggie garden has seeds sprouting and freshly transplanted peas that I grew from seed. I’m not sure if it was the chamomile tea soak or just beginners luck, but the pea seeds had around 99% germination rate, dare say I’ll be soaking future pea seeds in a chillout bath too. The potatoes are booming and have been mounded three times and already need a fourth mound in their short 6 week life since planting. The orchard is planted, we just need to finish staking all the trees and mulch the second half. The veggie patch is fully enclosed but needs some finishing off in the fencing department and my hard-rubbish-collected-old-laundry-trough needs fitting. The trees that were already here with the house have started fruiting and we’ve had to net the almond and the apricot already as the birds discovered them.

Of course the grass grows fast during Spring, but boy I’ve never seen grass grow as fast as it does out here. We are mowing every week, and there’s a lot to mow! Partly to keep it under control and neat, but mostly because snakes don’t like short grass. Enough said right? I love being greeted by a dam and if I’m lucky a couple of ducks, when I pull into the driveway. I’m getting used to seeing huge expanses of land and big farms on the way to do my grocery shopping, along with the occasional escapee cow / calf on the road, closely followed by a slightly concerned / annoyed farmer on foot / bike trying to coerce said animal back into the paddock. I’ve watched twin baby lambs grow from day old timid little fellas, to confident if not cheeky, little boys who hang around Lucy and look at her like she’s the cats pajamas. The 5 lambs (Lucy, Buttons and Bouncer, and the Twins) all seem to get the wind up their tails by the late afternoon and can sometimes be seen running laps across the paddock in their little gang. There doesn’t appear to be any point or achievement to their race, they seem to just run for the fun of it. You can almost see their mums roll their eyes!

I often watch a big black Crow, a couple of Willie Wagtails, some Grey Shrikethrush birds, and Finches wander through the back lawn picking out worms and bugs for breakfast as I sit and have my morning coffee. And on a sunny morning the chirpy birds seem to harmonize with each other and create the most magical birdsong. Needless to say sabbatical life is absolute heaven! I am loving not feeling under pressure, or stressed, or held for ransom by time. Although, sometimes I can’t work out if I’m wasting it or just relaxing – tis a tricky balance thing I think. There’s still plenty of internal conversations on what exactly I should be doing with my time at any given moment, whether I’m being self indulgent and not productive enough, or working too hard in the garden and not taking enough time to chill and craft. I’ve noticed how easy it is to squander time when there are no deadlines looming. And there are times when I haven’t left the farm for three, four or five days – and not even realised! #homebodyheaven. I am finding my days so full, my to do list is always chockoblock with the next jobs that need to be done around the place. We are still getting ourselves established here so I’m hoping the list will reduce somewhat once we are at the everyday managing stage of our little farm. But in the meantime I’m feeling grateful and very lucky to enjoy this special time on the farm, building our dream.

May time be gentle with you x

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orchard and veggie patch














I can hardly believe it but after many years in the dreaming, I can now say we have an orchard and a great big veggie patch! It’s so exciting! As I type this there’s a new water tank being installed specifically for the veggies. The shed tank is also receiving some plumbing love with new tap connections running off it into the orchard. Although water is plentiful right now, I know summer will change that and we’ll be using it like we’re sprinkling gold dust.

In the orchard we’ve planted a yummy selection of trees, some are old heritage varieties and some newer varieties. If I’ve semi-planned it half way right, we should have fruit over an extended period of time although I still think there will be a glut at times when lots of varieties peak their harvest periods together. There are apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, figs, pears, nectarines, quinces, plums, a crabapple, an almond tree and a mulberry tree, plus we’ve planted a few lemons, limes and a blood orange. We planted just over 50 trees! Along one boundary of the veggie patch we’ve planted raspberries and in the patch we already have potatoes, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, beans and peonies planted! ( Now I know peonies aren’t veggies but we brought a heap of them with us from our old house and if we left them in their ‘temporary’ planter boxes any longer we might have lost them.) I also have a heap of peas, snow peas and sugarsnap peas all starting to sprout in my little make shift seedling nursery on the back deck. And today I’m hoping to add tomato seeds to the mix.

We garden biodynamically and have applied preparations to the property, it was quite the surreal moment as it was often talked about when dreaming out loud. Everything has been planted in accordance with the moon calendar and I’ve done a few extra things that I’ve read about in Biodynamic books but are possibly just good gardening tips. For instance I’ve heard about soaking pea seeds prior to planting them, as it helps soften the outer skin which can result in better germination rates. The only difference I did was soak my pea seeds in Chamomile tea, as chamomile is a significant herb used in Biodynamic gardening. Actually it was Chamomile and honey tea as that’s all I could find at the time!

Our property was certified Biodynamic when we purchased it and we can see how much this has benefited the land, the soil is incredibly healthy. Even the earthmoving guy that dug our tree holes and cut in our garden beds, couldn’t believe how many worms there were… and he digs soil for a living! It’s quite a heavy clay type soil but it’s chocoblock with worms and there’s a lovely layer of rich top soil that’s been chemical free for 8 years, whilst being fertilized naturally by the sheep and cattle that are lucky enough eat all the spray free pasture. The proof’s in the pudding as they say, and so far whatever we’ve planted is looking great… fingers crossed this continues! Although I did hear a funny saying from a neighbour the other day, ‘They say you could plant a toothpick a grow a forest around here!‘ … maybe the odds are in our favour anyway hey?

To say it’s been a very active time getting our orchard and veggie patch in, is putting it rather mildly. I’ve been keeping an eye on my step counter in my phone, and when you see the graph for this year it’s very easy to spot exactly when I finished work in the office. I love it! It’s wonderful to be doing something physically active during the day after years and years of sitting at a desk. My body is thanking me for it, albeit in a whiny ouchy voice at times! Meanwhile the voice in head keeps telling me to pinch myself. ‘You’re here on the farm of your dreams. And now you have an orchard, something you’ve dreamed of for years. And a massive veggie patch, with more room than you could possibly need. Better pinch again to make sure you’re not dreaming girl’…. *pinch*

Wishing you all the fruit and veg and sprouting seeds of your dreams x

PS. Here’s the before and after photos in case you want to see exactly what we did and just how paddocky this patch of earth was before we turned into an orchard and veggie patch!


Before – Looking East towards Veggie Patch

After – Looking East towards Veggie Patch

 

 


Before – Looking West towards house

After – Looking West towards house

 

 


Before – Looking North over Veggie Patch

After – Looking North over Veggie Patch

 

 


Before – Looking West over Orchard

After – Looking West over Orchard

 

 


Before – Looking South over Orchard

After – Looking South over Orchard

Phew that’s a lot of photos…you’re pretty awesome if you scrolled all the way down here – thanks!

life on the farm… may 2016















My perfect Sunday morning is sitting on the back deck in my pj’s, sunnies on and coffee in hand, watching cows, spotting roos, looking for foxes and talking to the birds. The best afternoon is weaving hills and watching cows whilst listening to the birds. A lovely evening is a big deep hot bath with the bathroom window open enough to hear the frogs in the top dam. A chorus of frogs can be really loud – and cheery! A favourite thing to do is take eleventy billion photos of the sunrise and sunset. Wandering the paddocks picking mushrooms for dinner feels almost like cheating as we didn’t do anything to receive this delicious bounty of goodness. Gardening on windy days is a bit like riding a motorbike without putting your long hair in a ponytail – I found out the hard way. Chopping firewood with an axe is harder than it looks, I’m still a bit scared of the axe despite chopping some kindling for the first time in my life and surviving it with all fingers and toes. The lushness of the green grass has to be seen to be believed. The grass in our paddocks is getting really long and we need to get some grass chomping animals roaming it soon before it becomes unmanageable. The wind has to be felt to be believed – all washing on the line must include peg reinforcement. We’ve discovered where a little family of roos live, and love watching them soak up the morning sun. We spotted a beautiful owl on our property for the first time today. Watching a calf run will make you smile every time. The weeks are long and the weekends fly by. It’s a battle to get everything done on the weekends, let alone schedule some down time. We leave for work in the dark and return in the dark, so live for the weekends when we can see our beautiful rolling green hills. But I sense big changes are ahead, so I’m sitting tight and rewriting my lists again and again, and thinking about garden designs. I’m a big list writer and if I happen to do something not on the list, I’ll write in on just so I can cross it off. Cheap thrills.

May your washing never be blown off the line and your list be full of ticks. x

field and flourish


















Back in November I got to enjoy my August birthday… a gift to attend the fabulous Field and Flourish workshop run by Tamsin from Tamsin’s Table and Mel from Cecilia Fox. I adore Mel’s flower arrangements and I’ve long been a fan of Tamsin’s Instagram feed, her images feel like they’ve been plucked from my dreams – rolling green hills, beautiful farmhouse, lots of fresh homegrown produce, and so many pretty flowers and table settings not to mention delicious food… just gorgeous. Funnily enough I didn’t seem to capture any food shots, I guess I was too busy eating it, all of which was homegrown and homemade, sprinkled with pretty flowers and love.

The day began with a wander through the Rose paddock…. yes paddock! Tamsin planted a whole paddock full of Roses, not just any Roses either but a carefully curated collection of Roses that not only travels through history as you travel down the hill, but blows your socks off with perfume and petals and colour. Then it was time to wander through the veggie garden, collecting all sorts of lovely foliage and veg that was purposely left to go to seed. Did you know Leek seed heads make for a stunning addition to an arrangement? They do! Most of us ventured beyond the veggie garden to collect some grass seed heads and other goodies and of course to check out the free range Turkeys and their babies. Who knew baby Turkeys were so cute?

We prepared our flowers and dethorned our roses under the cool shade of the magnificent old Ash Tree that graces the garden surrounding Tamsin’s farmhouse, listening to the lovely stories Mel shared about all sorts of things including becoming a florist in New Zealand. All the while Tamsin and her friendly team were busy preparing our lunch, the smells wafting out of the kitchen were amazing. Back inside and under the gentle guidance of Mel each student made a posy and a large arrangement, whilst delicious snacks were served and we sipped rose syrup spritzes. Freshly dug heirloom radishes, with a generous slathering of butter and a sprinkling of salt and deep-fried onion anyone? Oh my that was a taste sensation that had to be eaten to be believed. Divine!

Before we knew it first course was served and my taste buds were in heaven again. Tamsin kindly accommodated all my tricky food allergies and blew me away with a flavoursome 3 course lunch. Everything looked pretty as picture and almost too good to eat. Blue potatoes with pretty little blue flowers scattered throughout the fresh greens may give you an idea of the kind of pretty I’m talking about. But it couldn’t convey the deliciousness. Nor could my description of a quince syrup sorbet with sweet tangy poached Rhubarb (so fresh I saw it being carried from the veggie garden whilst we were eating first course!) and sprinkled with the tiniest but most divinely flavoured fresh rose geranium petals. I guess you’ll just have to trust me when I say the food was as pretty as it was delicious and fresh. We ate our fill and chatted around the beautiful big table, surrounded by gorgeous old windows with views to die for.

What a lovely day it was. Mel’s stories and helpful advice with the flowers and arranging, and Tamsin’s welcoming hosting and delicious food made for the most perfect combination. I learnt about arrangements having ‘ins and outs’ and giving each bloom room to breathe. I learned that the right variety of zucchini will make the most amazing noodles you’ve ever tasted and you can grow a huge amount of produce in a relatively humble plot… and of course so much more than I could eloquently share with you here… If this dreamy day sounds like your kind of cuppa tea, then you’ll be pleased to know Tamsin and Mel run this workshop every year, but they always sell out within days of being announced so you’ll need to be quick if you want to book into this gem of day.

Wishing you dreamy days flourished with delicious prettiness x

2016 the year of the farm





I guess you may have noticed it’s been rather quiet around these parts of late… life gets busy in the lead up to Christmas doesn’t it? For me it was busy not only with Christmas preparations, but also with dreams coming true. You see exactly 5 weeks before Christmas eve we found ‘the one’… that little house on a couple of acres we’ve been dreaming of for years. It was a bit of a surprise to be honest as we weren’t at the serious looking stage yet… still researching for the most part and only checking out properties that really caught our eye. And then, BANG! when you least expect it – you find it. ‘The one’ that ticks all your boxes and then some… boxes that weren’t even on your bonus box list. I think I was there 5 minutes before that overwhelming feeling of destiny swallowed me whole. I was gobsmacked at what we’d found and couldn’t believe our luck. It was perfect!

I still can’t quite believe it’s happened… it all moved so fast. Within two days of first seeing ‘the one’ – we bought it, and 16 days later our house was sold. During those 16 crazy days we jumped for joy, crammed a few years maintenance work into our home, said ‘OMG we bought a farm’ 50 times a day, listed our home and sold her. It was nuts! And wonderful! And exhausting! And easy! It made us feel so incredibly sure that we were on the right path. Which is lucky ‘cos it’s pretty darn scary leaving your home of nearly 20 years and moving to the country to start a whole new life. And then there are the trade offs too, as is only natural. I will no longer be 5 minutes drive from most of my family… this is by far the toughest trade off of them all as I’ve ALWAYS been 5 minutes from my family *sniff*. And I will be commuting a decent trip to and from work for a few years. We’ve got a number of things to do to the farm to achieve our semi self sufficient plan before I can think about not working. I know the 3 hours travel a day will be a struggle at times, but I’m sure it will be worth it… eventually.

As this first day of 2016 unfolds, our excitement for the future is palpable… We’ve plans to start packing things into boxes and sketching out garden designs for the farm, where the collection of existing fruit trees can be expanded, where the chookhouse might go, where the veggie gardens will go, which fields will be sectioned off for animals and which ones for growing, and how we can rotate some of those spaces. We have much to learn… but today I just can’t get my head out of the clouds, imagining us sitting on the verandah and watching the sun go down in the huge big expanse of sky, over the rolling green hills dotted with our neighbours cows and sheep. I know there’ll be back breaking hard working long days too, but for now I am dreaming of the beautiful sweet moments that await us in 2016… the year of the farm… the year of our farm… the year of our dream.

May 2016 be the year of your dreams… and filled with peace, love & harmony x

podcasts and craft wagons












The other week I felt like I was the last person on earth that hadn’t opened the Podcast app on their phone. So I decided I was going to investigate this whole podcast thing that I kept hearing about, and a few days later this great post appeared on one of my favourite blogs, Meet me at Mikes. Put it out to the universe and suddenly it comes to you hey? Well after a great head start thanks to Pip, I soon found a few more subjects that piqued my interest and I’ve been ‘podcasting’ ever since. On the drive to and from work, when there’s crap on tv and even when I get outvoted in the tv watching stakes, and there’s some sort of ruby/hunting/fishing show on. I pop my little earplugs in and I’m off in another world learning about amazing people, what makes for good design and why we like to swear. It’s brilliant! Have you tried it yet? What do you listen to?

The first week of spring has brought with it all sorts of beautiful and not freezing mornings, sparkly sunshine on jasmine and dewy raindrops on blossom. My maybush is flowering, the birds are extra happy and chirpy, and it’s a teeny bit lighter when I get home from work. We’ve picked and eaten lots of fresh greens from the garden this week and I’m looking forward to the veggies growing a bit faster than the slow mode of winter. Cakes were baked and eaten in celebration of all the Leo birthdays plus one early Virgo birthday in our family. I made a flourless zesty citrus cake with sweet potato, loosely based on this recipe, a decadent chocolate chip cookie cake loosely based on this recipe (thanks Reannon!).

In other news I’ve been struggling to fit in craft time of late – unheard of for me as I’m usually pretty good at prioritising this, I know my sanity suffers if I don’t. But for some reason it’s taken a back seat for the last few weeks while things got a little chaotic around here in the wardrobe/declutter/move furniture in every.single.room to a new spot mode. Finally we’re settling back into a regular state of slightly ordered chaos, only a bit of furniture rearranging to go, and most of the crazy chaos is gone (some of it just moved outside to the garage!). Anyways, as a result of the lack of craft, unsurprisingly my health has started to suffer and I’ve been feeling a bit average / stressy / overwhelmed… so I got to fixing that by casting on a beanie at the beginning of the week and casting off by the end of the week. It felt so satisfying and so good to be crafting again. I used some fave chunky baby alpaca which was a delight to knit up. The squishyness is impossible to describe or see in the photo but trust me, you’d want to curl up and sleep in this beanie if it was big enough. I talked my son into modelling it for photos again, ‘just pretend you’re a pixie in the flower garden’ I said… you can probably guess which photo is the one I said this in?

Don’t you think it’s funny how even when we know what’s good for us, we still fall off the wagon and forgot/stop to prioritise the things that bring us peace and make us feel good about ourselves and life in general. I’m back on the wagon again and even cleaned out my yarn basket and got myself a few new projects to play with. Bring on the craft and spring sunshine I say!

Wishing you a gentle cushioned landing if you fall off your wagon, and giving you a leg up to get back on again.