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write a post a couple of months back, but then the laptop died and by the time it was repaired the post seemed so out of date I thought I’d just write another.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

life on the farm january 2017


























Well hello there! It’s a new year full of hope and plans and dreams as we ricochet into our first year anniversary on the farm. Summer has been pretty full and Christmas and New Year’s feels like an age ago already. Really to be honest, I’m quite relieved that we only have 1 month and 1 week of summer left. I’m still a little nervous that we’ll run out of water, either for us or for the garden. So far so good as we’ve had a decent amount of rain but I’m still wary and am pretty conservative with my use of it. The water isn’t the only reason I’m ok about summer nearing autumn. Flies. Hundreds of trillions of billions of very friendly sticky flies. I know that comes with living in the country surrounded by cattle farms, and I’m not complaining, I’m just saying ‘bloody flies’ about 68 times a day and feeling like I’m going to battle every time I walk out the door. Long sleeves, buttoned up high collar, sunhat with mozzie netting, not for the mozzies but for the flies, and ready to wave arms furiously. Everyone requires a thorough pat down before coming in the house for fear they’ll bring in freeloaders riding on their back. It’s been quite a shock to get used to the sheer volume and friendliness of them I’ll admit. I did just purchase some ‘fantastic stuff’ according to the farmer down the road, who was recommended it by the pea grower down the road. It’s a natural product with rosemary and cedarwood oils and is pretty pongy so the flies approach you then supposedly just stop once they hit your awesome new waft and move along to their next unsuspecting victim. I’ll believe it when I see it. Here’s hoping. I was feeling optimistic and bought the big jar. Will keep you posted.

Apart from fighting the fly army there’s been lots of other stuff happening too. Sadly my 6 month sabbatical has come to an end and I’m actively job hunting everyday. I can’t believe how fast that went, yet at the same time it seems like ages ago I was doing that daily 3-4 hour commute to work. We’ve got stacks done to the farm during that time including planting the orchard and establishing our veggie garden. There’s still a couple of garden beds we’ve yet to plant into, but boy have we managed to eat some produce out of it already. It’s really incredible how much food you can produce from a patch of land in 6 months. Apart from seedling gifts from family and friends, everything was planted from seed so it seemed to take forever to get started, but now we are surely reaping what we sowed. The first cucumber yesterday, I have a baby rockmelon and hopefully more to come. Plenty of carrots and some Parsnips. Spring onions, onions and golden shallots. Peas, snow peas and now the beans have started. Lots of different lettuce, spinach, and silver beet. Radishes, radishes and more radishes. Some raspberries, blueberries (about 9 actually!) and stacks of the tastiest strawberries you’ve ever eaten. Thanks Dot! Sweet and ripe through to the centre with a perfume that is positively heady.

Of course we’re so lucky that our lovely previous owners had the foresight to plant a lot of fruit trees and we’ve enjoyed the juiciest cherries and what I would call a delicious glut of apricots. I even had a go at preserving them in my brand new out of the box fowlers vacola preserving kit. Alas it wasn’t to be, by the time 24 hours ticked over I knew the jars hadn’t sealed so it was into the pot to stew them into a thick apricot sauce. All 12 size 20 jars of neatly packed halves, each half placed one by one to make for the prettiest jars. It’s ok, I’m over it now. Most of the sauce went in the freezer but I did pop some into a smoothie (yum) and even more into a mix of blended rockmelon, lemon juice and sugar syrup, of which the ice cream maker converted into the most refreshing sorbet. I’ve made a couple of batches of jam, one apricot & vanilla bean and one apricot & plum, with the plums also from our tree and a few from our neighbour down the road. I’ve found myself in the kitchen a lot more since not working and am really enjoying that time. Picking and washing the produce from the garden takes time and can provide surprises… I found a frog in the sink water whilst washing lettuces once– don’t think it gets much more organic than that.

There’s been a little craft here and there, a beanie for my Dads 70th birthday and I’m still knitting my hoodie – it’s slow going. I’ve had a go at making my own liquid soap using this recipe but changing the essential oils and the oil base. I could only get my hands on macadamia nut oil not vitamin e at the time and for the essential oils I used Lemongrass & Tea Tree for hand soap and Rose Geranium & Patchouli for the body wash. And I’ve made my own spray deodorant using this recipe but again changing the oils – I used Lavender, Myrrh & Spearmint for me, and for Charlie Cloves, Patchouli & Peppermint. No nasties and this recipe contains some good stuff that our bodies need – Magnesium oil. I’ve found it very effective but a little stingy if used after I’ve shaved my underarms! Overall I’m pretty thrilled with both these products and next on my list is laundry detergent. Mostly I just want to reduce the amount the unknown-to-me-chemicals that are about in our everyday lives.

A good portion of my time is spent in the garden, tending and watering and planting and ripping out and mounding and netting and harvesting. How lucky am I right?! I’ve had a couple of bouts of feeling unwell and after a few days of not being in the garden I get that yearning feeling to get back out there. Unless it’s stinking hot. Or it’s a bad fly day. Or the wind is that wild it takes all your strength just to walk from the house to the patch. Then I choose indoor chores like making deodorant or jam. With air con. Thank goodness for air con.

I’ve been enjoying listening to some new podcasts, mostly gardening, homesteading, permaculture types as I like picking up new tips and tricks and feel so inspired listening to how other people manage their land and look after animals and grow produce. Our neighbours flock of sheep are now out in the big 100 acre paddocks so we don’t see them much anymore. Although a couple of times when I’ve been in the patch and Lucy happens to be in the paddock next door, I’ll call her name and she’ll come running over for a pat and maybe some fresh silver beet leaves. We’re not really any closer to getting our own livestock but I think we’ve figured out what we’ll get when we do. Sheep. We need to set up some sort of water trough for the sheep before we do and we still need to work out how many. Then when we can fund a nice little safe chicken house, there will be chooks. That’s probably the main goals for the farm this year, sheep and chooks. Aside from increasing production in the veggie garden and the million little things that need doing.

So that’s me all caught up, now I’d love to hear from you. Can you tell me what’s happening in your life and where you are from so I can get to know you lovely dear reader?

May the cool breeze blow gently your way on a hot day and the flies nowhere to be seen.

Ps. Marathon post, if you read this far you’re a gem x

life on the farm december 2016
















So the best of intentions to write more often here doesn’t mean it happens. The last few months have been a whirl of sowing, planting, weeding, mowing, mulching, digging, baking, hand feeding Lucy, job hunting, Chrissy shopping, visits to Melbourne, and possibly way too many hours gazing out at our lovely hills and valley. As the grass on the hills grows long it takes on the appearance of a green ocean when the wind brushes over the top of it, pushing and swishing it in all different directions, flowing like grassy waves up the mountain. It’s totally mesmerizing and can draw you in before you know it.

Since I wrote you last three new lambs were born. The first arrived not solid black like they usually do, this one had all these zig zag patterns over his coat, so we named him Ziggy. Within a day the next lamb arrived, and this one just stuck to Ziggy from day one. They are best buds so we named him Iggy. Then when the Moto GP was being raced not far from us, the last lamb of the season was born. He’s a real little racer so we named him Duke. Well Ziggy, Iggy and Duke are the new little gang in town and love to race laps of the paddock with Lucy and the Twins but mostly just hang out together, often play fighting over the newly named Lamb Rock. There’s really nothing funnier that watching a lamb bounce, spin 360 degrees and land slightly awkwardly.

As you probably know, the warmer weather brings with the snakes and I had myself a terrifying incident involving a large black one and the ride on mower and a lot of swearing. Both of us were frightened out of our minds and retreated back away after discovering each other, needless to say it’s created a rather anxious vibe when mowing that particular corner and any other spot along the fence where the grass next door is long. Our lawns are mown within an inch of their lives, short short short is how I like it and the snakes don’t, so I mow for many hours each week and Charlie brushcuts for many more. We did get the last of the first stage of works completed which was impeccably timed as it involved removing all the huge overgrown snakey flax plants from around the house. Like I said, timing couldn’t have been better, had the snake incident happened before we had the flax removed I think I would have been too scared to walk in and out the front door!

We have finally started eating out of our veggie garden, fresh organic lettuce rocket and spinach salad anyone? The next lot of radishes are nearly ready and soon we’ll have parsnips, carrots and beetroots too. We’ve had a few snowpeas and sugarsnap peas but hopefully a lot more to come. Coriander is coming along nicely, the birds have loved the strawberries (!) and the spud fest will be here before we know it. Onions are booming and the cucumber and zucchini seeds have just sprouted. A few precious tomato seedlings are in and I’ve got a heap more to plant when they get a little bigger. In the heart of the veggie patch I planted a mixture of flower seeds that are designed to bring in the beneficial insects and we are experimenting with composting our grass clippings from the veggie patch and can’t wait to see if it’s going to work. It’s all very exciting and so rewarding now that we are picking our homegrown goodies for dinner.

I’ve found it tricky trying to squeeze in craft time, I guess spring is a busy time in any garden and that compounded with the work we are doing still getting ourselves set up, along with the general upkeep of the orchard & veggie garden and the mowing has kept my days very full without even looking at my craft projects. But I am progressing very occasionally with knitting a jumper, which will probably be a bit ugly as I wanted to use up a particular type of yarn I had, and the colours together, well let’s just say I wouldn’t normally put them all together, but I needed all them to make the jumper so it will mostly likely be a farm / gardening jumper. I crocheted some sweet little garlands and I have also started to make my first ever patchwork quilt. I used up all my favourite precious bits of fabric, some of which I’ve saved for years, but really what’s the point of having them if you don’t use them? So I chopped into them and I just love the colour palette that evolved. I remember reading this wonderful post and absolutely loved the way Alicia created this quilt, no prior planning or pedantic placement of fabrics/colours, just cut, barely or not measured, and sewed randomly together. Reading the story of how this quilt was put together totally gave me the confidence to give it a go myself, I thought all quilting had to be so precise and that’s not really my style. Anyway, after a big day sewing all the strips back in October, I’m yet to get back to it! Everything in my craft room is exactly as I left it – sewing machine all set up, swatches of fabric laying everywhere, strips hanging from the wardrobe (making access to it a little challenging), and bits of cotton all over the place! I am hoping to get back to it very soon, probably when the grass growing starts to slow with the summer heat and lack of rain, less mowing more sewing maybe?

Given my track record of late, I’m not sure if I’ll be back here before Christmas so I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukah, or have a great end of the year, whatever it is that you celebrate at this time. I hope this year has given you more joy than sadness, more laughs than tears, and that wisdom and kindness keep you company throughout the coming year. Thank you for popping in here, taking the time to comment, and following along this little blog, I’m really honoured that anybody reads this at all, so thank you.

Sending Peace Love & Harmony to you x

gluten free cinnamon biscuits









Oh my, I just had to share my latest little kitchen experiment with you, they are too delicious not to. It all started when my dad developed this yummy gluten free biscuit that my mum and I can both eat. (mum and I have many similar food intolerances/allergies). Anyway after eating Dad’s scrummy bikkies that taste just like a classic Nice biscuit I was reminded how having a cuppa and biscuit is just about the best thing ever, one of life’s sweet little simple pleasures. It got me thinking, if I can’t make the time to do some experimental biscuit baking whilst I’m on my lovely precious sabbatical, then when can I? So I got to it and these are the results… they are easy and only need basic ingredients that are most likely staples in a gluten free kitchen anyway.


Ingredients

1 Egg
120g Butter
1/2 cup Rice Flour
1/2 cup Potato Flour
1/2 cup Almond Meal
1/2 cup Hazelnut Meal
1/2 cup Caster Sugar
1tsp Baking Powder
2tsp Cinnamon
Slurp of Maple Syrup

Method
Cream the butter and sugar til fluffy, add the egg and maple syrup and mix well.
Sift potato flour and rice flour then mix all dry ingredients together.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture then stir and mix until combined.
Spoon dollops onto a lined tray and dust with extra sugar and cinnamon.
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 160c degrees (fan forced oven).
Allow to cool, if you can, then demolish at least half the batch just to make sure they are ok.

I think they taste a little like those yummy cinnamony bikkies Speculaas, but I’ve also tweaked the recipe with molasses instead of maple syrup, lots of ginger and a dash of nutmeg and cloves and this version reminds me of Gingernut biscuits. Yum yum, so many biscuits, so little time! I’m off to put the kettle on for another cuppa and biscuit session.

May life’s simple little pleasures fill your heart with joy and your bikkie tin with your favourites.

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!