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!

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knitting sheep







It felt like I hadn’t really been crafting much lately but then I realised that I’ve made three beanies in the last month or so. One pure wool chunky knit for Charlie to double up with his pure baby alpaca beanie on the super chilly days. Both of these beanies were made with the ace “Farmer Boy Beanie” pattern from the lovely Kate at Foxs Lane. Thanks Kate, this is my go to beanie pattern now! Plus I’ve made two Baable Beanies. And I’ve cast on a third! Such fun to knit something like this and watch the image appear as each row grows. It is a pretty easy pattern to follow, even for the pattern challenged like myself, I managed to make it without one single #%$@&*!!%!! moment. I think I originally spotted the beanie on pinterest but have tracked back to find the creator of the pattern here. Thanks for designing such a cute pattern Donna!

The beanie with the darker richer colours is all pure wool, and the lighter shade beanie has a mix of pure wool and pure baby alpaca yarns, including some of my special baby alpaca I brought back from Peru. I didn’t have the same ply yarn the pattern requires, so I knitted the lighter shade one first, with 8 ply not 10 ply but used the needles recommended for the 10 ply. This produced a nicely fitting beanie, but not surprisingly it was a little too loose in the tension. The darker shaded beanie was knitted with 8 ply and finer needles, 3.75 for the rib and 4 for the body, and it turned out perfect! Lovely tension and a great fit. The whole gauge and swatch thing isn’t my favourite part of knitting, kinda does my head in to be honest. In fact I think that contributes greatly as to why I feel a bit antagonistic towards patterns. So I just do what I usually do – fluff and bluff my way through till I land where I’m happy. Not the most efficient path at times but that’s the way I roll.

I love that the Baa-ble beanie has Suffolk Sheep in it, with those being the sheep that roam around our home. It feels like I’m knitting exactly what I’m meant to be knitting. I guess I’ll have to find an Angus Cow pattern next. And just as I typed that two ducks flew by the back door, so ducks too!

May you never drop a stitch in a tricky spot x

life on the farm… august 2016























Oh my busy bees! Life’s so chock-o-block I really wonder how I would’ve got everything done had I still been working. Since finishing work I’ve spent way more time at the computer than I anticipated I would … there’s always the next stage of our dream that I need to research… lawnmowers, fruit trees, seeds, excavation, mulch, fences, tow bars, trailers etc etc etc … and there is something to learn about all of them. Go on ask me about ride on lawn mowers, I never thought I’d know so much about those things, that’s for sure! We still haven’t taken the leap and committed to purchasing one yet either, which is kinda driving me nuts, the lawns are so long we need to make a call soon before we’re living in a jungle.

The winter brought fog so thick one morning that our view completely disappeared. I watched the fog roll over the hill and down the valley, then back up the hill towards us until all I could see was our back gate about 10 metres from the back door. It was a complete white out and was incredibly eerie… and beautiful… and cold. Thank goodness for the tonnes of firewood we’ve had delivered. Even though it was delivered in the driveway as it was too boggy to drop direct into the shed this time. I am proud to say I moved over a tonne of firewood by myself one day! Talk about farmer material! (Let’s not talk about how I could hardly move the next day shall we?)

Lucy the lamb is quite the gutsy little girl. She’s not really integrated that well with the others, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. No fence holds her in, she’s under, over and through the barbed wire in a blink, and was caught jumping up onto the trailer to reach the tender leaves from the low branches of a tree. Whereas Buttons and Bouncer still stay close to their mums and don’t look like they’re game to try and get through fences let alone jump up on trailers. The cows are so very curious and looking positively radiant at the moment, I don’t know if it’s all the fresh green lush grass or the season or the organic farming, or a combination of all of the above, but the late afternoon sun highlighted just how shiny and glossy and healthy they are one particular day.

Of course with this lovely organically farmed land, and all our waste going back into the land, our choice in cleaners and detergents have never been more important. Have you heard of Soapnuts? My lovely friend introduced them to me the other day (thanks Jill!) and I’ve already done a couple of loads of washing with them. They are a natural nut/seed/berry thing that grows on a tree and you just pop a couple into a little laundry bag (or odd sock!), and no other detergents are needed. My washing came out clean and didn’t have any artificial soapy smell. The bonus is they appear to be very economical to use as well. You can find out more about them here if you’re interested.

I hope to be back again soon with a recipe, some craft and an orchard / veggie patch update.

Wishing you busy bee blessings and great washing days!

icelandic elopement
















Exactly one year ago today, in a land far away, steeped in beauty and rugged majesty, my gorgeous daughter married the love of her life, a handsome young man that we are blessed to have in our family. Wildflowers were gathered for the bouquet, and in a field of even more wildflowers, vows were exchanged. Letters were read, laughs were giggled, joy exploded and love ruled. Levi captured sweet moments and managed to convey the scale of the incredible Icelandic landscape, whilst the adorable newly weds walked through mossy fields and rocky canyons and right into their beautiful new future together.

Ain’t love grand…

May you dream big and find true happiness x

ps. You can see some more stunning photographs at Hello May and here on Levi’s website.

my sabbatical


























So don’t hate me or anything, but I’ve just begun a 6 (ish) month long sabbatical. Well, long service leave actually… but then truth be told I’m also officially unemployed after being made redundant due to a recent company merge. So long service leave, redundancy or sabbatical, call it what you will, but I choose sabbatical as it feels like a happy word and brings with it thoughts of retreat, holiday and time out… and that is kinda sorta what I plan to do with this time. Redundant on the other hand, not such a nice word, but in reality it was my choice. A new job or the opportunity to take my long-awaited hard-earned long service leave. It really wasn’t too difficult to decide, in fact I felt a bit like it was fate and the decision was already written in the stars… or sheep or cows or something. I did have plans to leave my job in another year or two anyway, and find something closer to home, rather than continue indefinitely with the 3 hour (at best) daily commute. I’m going to stretch out my long service leave and see if I can make it last double the time, hence the approximate 6 month time frame. Hello budgeting, meal planning and ultra conservative living!

To be totally honest I’m beside myself with a mixture of excitement, exhaustion, joy and overwhelm. It’s been a huge year of change for me, I’ve left my home of 19 years and moved far away (well around 100 odd k’s away) from my friends and family. Now after 14 years at the same job, I’m on a sabbatical and at home full time. It’s a lot to digest. But I’m so happy and have that awesome and rare feeling, that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be in life right now. I’m keen to tackle the ridiculously big list of things that needs starting in order to convert our paddocks into a productive farm. I want to invest some time in Charlie’s Stockman Leathercraft shop. I’m ready to spend some serious time crafting and possibly reopen my poorly neglected and too-long-on-vacation shop. I’m going to dust off my sewing machine and get stitching again. I’m busting to spend some reading time with our wonderful collection of books, full of teachings on practical self-sufficiency and practiculture. I plan to write a little more here, it’s something I enjoy enormously but find it hard to justify the time. In fact, I’m looking to make peace with time, it’s felt like my arch enemy for so long now, but I’m hoping these 6 months will unfold at a gentle pace and we can become friends again.

In other news, the two baby lambs are even more adorable than ever. They hang out together and play in the paddocks, running and bouncing and looking like they smile even for the camera. I’ve renamed Big Ears to Bouncer, didn’t want to give her a complex about her ears, and the new littlest lamb is Buttons, you know cute as a button and all. There’s also been another lamb born, sadly her mother didn’t make it so she has been hand reared by our neighbours (the real owners of all these sheep, although you’d think reading this that they’re mine!) with much love and care. To the extent she wore a nappy and slept inside during her early days. I know – just the image of that in my head makes me smile. They have named her Lucy and she is so very sweet and friendly, and actually let me get really close for a photo and pat.

The wrist warmers started out as this pattern, but I got really confused (it’s not hard!) around the thumb bit so I veered off pattern and made up the bit from the thumb up. They are not as nice as the original pattern, but still I’m pleased with the outcome. And in pure baby alpaca yarn they are so light and soft and warm and in time for the chills of winter. (my missing pairs still haven’t turned up)

So tell me, if you have a moment, what’s your best budget-friendly, gluten free, dairy free, recipes… ha, don’t ask for much do I?

May time be on your side x