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

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

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.

my smile inducers… may 2015

It’s smile time! I want to stop and think about the things that make me smile… smile… and maybe… hopefully… make you smile… and get you thinking about the things that bring a happy smile to your face… or heart… or both. #smilefest

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Another beanie finished and another kid obliged with photos. On a roll. Although the best photo from this lot turned out to be the one where I said ‘You can’t roll your eyes in the photo!’. You know how your kids (adult really – he’s nearly 24!) can get all eyeball rolling when you want to take 20 photos of them in your knitted goods, in the cold, outside? Geez, I can’t understand it! This beanie is a roll up or down cuff variety and is thick and cozy and warm with its beautiful New Zealand wool and a mix of a bamboo/alpaca/merino blend. Chunky and solid and quite ‘blokey’ I reckon.  
Bonus smile: He told me that ‘I turned out pretty good’ [as a parent], it came out in conversation quite innocently even though it sounds a bit weird, the kid telling the parent they turned out ok. We had a good laugh about it and I told him I think he turned out pretty good too… and I have this other beanie I need to photograph…

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This beautiful card brought a heartfelt smile to my face. The stunning image was created from a stamp that my clever daughter drew and then carved out. The movement in the petals, the design in the leaves… Oh how her creative talents blow me away!

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Pip Lincoln from Meet me at Mikes, and her latest book ‘Craft for the Soul’ is a smile inducer of the most sincerest kind. There’s so many great ideas in this book to bring some ‘nice times’ into your life, that you’d be hard pressed to feel anything but happy when reading it. Terrific practical ideas to encourage out the creative, spark ideas, and move in the direction you really want to go in. I found myself smirking and giggling quite a bit throughout this book, Pip’s sense of humour is pretty cute! I can see it’s going to be one of those books that I’ll come back to time and time again, and tap into its motivation and positive can do attitude. I don’t even think you need to be crafty to enjoy this book. If you’re on the hunt for a smile then I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy. You’ll be smiling before you know it and maybe even making a pom pom, or crocheting a blanket, or going for a walk everyday, or writing 3 pages every morning.

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We have an arch in the backyard and nearly everyday the same two doves come and sit on top of the arch and snuggle and cuddle and fluff up their feathers and look all cute. My little Dove Cottage has its own little resident love doves. Awww.

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Magical walks under pretty Autumn trees as the leaves gently rain down. Impossible to not smile.

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Walking on fallen crunchy Autumns leaves puts a spring in my step and makes me feel like a kid. If you always stay on the path, then veer off under the tree and take yourself on a crunchy walk and feel the corners of your mouth creep up towards your cheeks!

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The other day I was down and out with one of those dreaded winterish lurgies. My throat was the worst hit, so I took to my trusty old medicine that I purchased in Paris a couple of years ago. Because when I went to live the Paris dream holiday, my tonsils decided it was party time. I fixed them good and proper with a natural medicine bought from the ‘Herboristerie’ down the ‘rue’ (herbalist’s shop). This medicine has a distinct smell and taste (don’t all herbal remedies?) and every time I have it, I am immediately transported back to Paris, wandering the boulevards with my sister, chirping bonjour in a bad accent, and smiling at anybody who looked at me. So, being hit with a sore throat these days has a sweet memory filled smiley french side effect. Nice.

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Toast and Peach Jam made my with homegrown clingstone peaches. Exactly! This is probably just a delicious moment for most people, but for someone deprived of bready goodness for the best part of a decade, it is indescribable joy. I am making my special potato bread on a regular basis and enjoying a bready type breakfast e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.!.!.!.! It’s such a thrill! Tho’ I might cry when I run out of my Peach Jam.

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I finished this lovely lacey Cashmere blankie. It’s so light and has the softest drape and it made me so very happy to gift it to my mum for Mother’s Day.

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So that’s my little walk down smiley lane. How about you? What’s been making you smile? What’s made your heart happy lately? Has something put the spring in your step? Share a smiley moment in the comments if you’d like… I love to hear some… smiles are contagious you know…

Sending a happy smile your way, hope you catch it!

one + four = life (baking, knitting, gardening and belts)

The one + four = life series is a ‘lovely weekly visual treat’ created by the lovely Pip from Meet me at Mikes.

herby muffins
Baking
These are my ugly but delicious Herby Bready Muffiny Thingys. Quite the mouthful I know but very tasty ones at that. Adapted from my Allergy Friendly Toasty Fruit Bread recipe they are fast becoming a fave regular breakfast for me. Only a minute in the microwave and a generous lashing of butter and I have myself a filling healthy tasty warm breakfast. That’s a winter winner in my books.

beanie love
Knitting
I started another beanie as soon as I finished the Baby it’s cold outside Beanie. I’ve since finished this one and am considering which yarn to use for the next one. I’m a bit addicted to beanie knitting I think. They’re fast and satisfying, what’s not to love?

veggie patch
Gardening
I’m so thrilled with my celery babies… having only recently learned about the whole grow-a-new-veg-from-the-old-veg thing. Do you do that? Do you know about it? Chopping the bottom off your celery and planting it? “They” say to put it in water for a week or so first, to get the roots started, but the lazy option of planting said celery bottom direct into the soil works too. Yay for shortcuts and cheap veg I say.

belts belts belts
Belts
Thing number 196 about being married to a leather man: You will stumble across long strands of leather, stretching from one room to another, tied to chairs, doors, cupboards etc, tempting a midnight trip should you forget they are there.
Some of these belts are in Charlie’s Shop already but most of them are still to be photographed and listed. It’s on the list. But recently we spent a bit of time creating a new item for the shop where you can design your own plaited belt. You simply pick your plait type, leather colour and buckle type, and Charlie plaits it up. It’s been something we’ve talked about doing for ages so to finally tick that one off the list is super satisfying.

I also came across a very interesting little read on the internet this week that I wanted to share. Five things I’ve learned about the creative process by Ben Lee is inspiring and encouraging. An interesting article that helped me look at the creative process a little differently, I thought you might like it too. Let me know what you think?

May you tick something off your list and enjoy hot buttery bready breakfasts.