two years




















I couldn’t let our two year mark at harvest moon hill pass by without recognition here. And I’ve been meaning to pop in, for oh you know, six months or so! I know the posts are few and far between these days but here we are again… a new year… a new season… and change in the wild windy air…

As I type this I am watching our sheep mow the grass in our back yard with the three musketeers darting about around them. Despite the foxes and wedge tail eagles these three guinea fowl have thrived all by themselves with no human intervention of care or feed – if you don’t count all the nectarines and plums they ate from our trees! These moments of bliss are hard to describe, yet even harder is to articulate just how much I feel they impact on my wellbeing. Vast open spaces and prolonged periods of silence bring such deep calm and peace, I can only imagine how much more keyed up I would be not living here! I absolutely love it and feel so incredibly lucky we found this place.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all peace love and mung beans baby, there’s plenty of hard work and head scratching. Just like the three musketeers receive the odd bunting from Ziggy or a stalking from an eagle, there are unwanted nudges, death, sickness and loss on the farm too. We sadly and mysteriously lost our first little lamb born last year, Eileen. Burying her was heartbreaking yet also, in many ways, an inevitable part of farming, I understand that. We also had a sick sheep and had to intervene with medication, but first there was the matter of catching her for the vet. A missed footing and consequent stumble produced two broken ribs for Charlie and a greater appreciation for just how big these girls are. A week later and I am proud to say we managed to round up the whole flock (all six of them – real sheep farmers don’t laugh!) by ourselves and secure them in next doors cattle race where I injected them with their vitamin B12 & selenium shot. Another feather in our farming cap that definitely left us more traumatised than the sheep!

We’ve had more loss than bounty in the veggie garden but have slowly worked toward rectifying that, and now have a rather ugly but cost efficient immediate windbreak to protect the beds from the relentless elements of being high up on an exposed hill. We have to watch out for snakes and the seasonal battle of uninvited critter visitors in the roof. There are days of relentless mooing when our neighbours move their cattle or separate them into different paddocks and the flies in summer are horrendous – thick and sticky! But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Well, maybe the flies. And roof critters. And ok maybe the snakes too. I love quintessential country things like driving down our road and stopping to chat to the neighbour passing by in his car, windows down and waving off flies and saying ‘why yes, I’d love some of your excess apples and tomatoes thank you’ . The crystal clear nights when the milky way illuminates the sky and the stars glisten and the moon lights up the fields… The family of magpies who visit most mornings with their wake up songs… The odd wave to someone you know in town and no longer feeling like the stranger… but mostly I guess it’s the peace and watching the hills turn golden, then pink, then disappear into the night sky with only the sounds of the sheep munching nearby, the cows mooing, the birds all settling into bed for the night… it’s profoundly healing and as magic as it sounds.

We’ve enjoyed many apricots, plums and nectarines this summer from the trees the previous owners planted. Jam making days are a favourite and we have apricot jam, peach & apricot jam, nectarine jam, and blood plum jam bursting out of the pantry. The nectarines were so prolific we froze kilos of them (great for smoothies and homemade ice creams) and discovered that the sheep, particularly Lenny and Ziggy love nectarines! Our 18 month old orchard is growing well and we’ve managed to keep all 50 odd trees alive through two summers on very lean water rations, both to encourage deep roots and also because we didn’t want to run out of water. We didn’t, and although we are very low on water now, I’m hoping some decent rain is not far away. I know, even sounding like a farmer!

In other non farmy news my daughter and son in law moved into a beautiful new home in the Dandenong Ranges, and their cute dogs Sai & Kenzo recently provided the modelling for the new Stockman Leathercraft dog lead and collar set. My son made a trip back home at Christmas after travelling through Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. He’s just been through Cambodia on a motorbike and is now riding through Vietnam, soon to start making his way towards India. We’ve been working on Stockman Leathercraft over the summer. We ventured into local markets which were lots of fun and I have just finished setting up a new website. Craft has always been a form of sanity for both of us and we’ve enjoyed focusing heavily on this aspect of our lives over the last few months. I’m even adding plaiting to my list of crafty dabbles after becoming the new apprentice to help keep up with orders. I received a spinning wheel last year and learnt to spin… kind of…. I think it takes many years before you can say you can spin properly, but I can turn fibre into yarn now, even if it is a little wonky and uneven.

Break in transmission. I heard something bashing outside and looked up to see two rogue cows! They broke down the fence and ran through our paddock, then broke through another section of fence to get out! Luckily our sheep were in the backyard enclosure so I just had to race out there and close the gate to the paddock – or I’d have a crazy rogue cow or two at the back door and by the looks of the way they just pushed down the fences I’m thinking that could get ugly!

Ok back again… it’s a couple of days later but I’m determined to publish. There’s been a few times I’ve sat down and starting writing to you but then if I don’t finish in one go, time passes, I feel it becomes outdated, then I start thinking about my writing, what I’m writing, why I’m writing, and I can’t find a good enough reason to share it. I start second guessing all the words and the stories and think you probably don’t need my ramblings in your life. But you know what, who am I to say what you need or want in your life? Besides I love the process of writing my thoughts down, and I do love to look back and see when we planted the orchard, when I made that sheep beanie, when the lambs were born… etc… I use this blog as a reference for dates as they seem to mush together the older I get! So here goes on another long waffle session from me, and if you made it this far then you are a legend!

May you add some surprising feathers to your cap and be as full of sunshine as our jam cupboard x

PS – Did you wish upon a super blue blood moon too?

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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

taking stock, take four

Hello! Where have you been? Has it been good? Are you well?
I’ve been chasing my tail more than usual over the last month, so I figured a good way to catch up was with a taking stock post. (Thanks for the great prompts Pip!)

Kiandra, Kenzo & Sai

Making : Another baby alpaca scarf. Charcoal grey in the sweetest slightly lacey pattern.
Cooking : A slow cooked beef massaman for dinner. We’re up to hour 3 in oven and the house smells amazing.
Drinking : A ginger, lemon & honey cordial… I’ve run out of my homemade ginger syrup… I know, it’s criminal!
Reading: Blogs and I’m still flipping through my already read copy of Craft for Soul. So many gems in that book.
Wanting: A lot of not very much… if that makes sense?
Looking: For little farms in the country.
Playing: Fraser A Gorman Book of Love… heaps! And this one too… I can’t be held responsible if these get stuck in your head all day either.
Deciding: What stuff to keep and what to declutter. 18 years in the same home accumulates a lot of STUFF.
Wishing: All the stars would hurry up and align so everything could fall into place.
Enjoying: Crocheting… I’d so lost without my crafty times.
Waiting: For patience. Possibly not my strong point right now. See Wishing.
Liking: Walking Kenzo and Sai with my daughter.
Wondering: How I’ll go walking Kenzo & Sai by myself when my daughter and her fiance leave for Iceland. to. get. married!
Loving: That my daughter and her fiance are having the wedding of their dreams and nobody elses.
Pondering: How I’ll feel when her special day comes and I’ll be on the other side of the world…
Disliking: That my camera broke.
Considering: Buying a new camera. Any suggestions?
Watching: The belt orders mount up for Charlie… he’s a busy little plaiter these days.
Hoping: The Icelandic weather gods are kind.
Smelling: Daphne. One little vase fills the room with the sweetest scent.
Wearing: Yesterdays perfume, bed hair and runners from my walk this morning. I know, just so glamorous.
Noticing: How productive I am even when I’m stuffed. Soldier on then crash like a trooper I say.
Knowing: I need to walk more.
Thinking: I need to prioritise walking time. I totally love it but somehow it’s easy to push down the to do list.
Feeling: Satisfied with this weekends achievements of shopping, watching the MotoGP with my ma & pa, house cleaning and tidying, cooking, wrapping, writing, crocheting, mending, walking, and blogging!
Sorting: Clothes, not very successfully. I did a big declutter but left the two garbage bags full of clothes by the door for a week. I had to retrieve an item of clothing thrown out in a frenzied declutter moment. Twice.
Buying: Boots. It’s winter and they were on sale!
Getting: Excited about attending this amazing workshop.
Opening: Unexpected happy mail. What a thrill that is.
Giggling: At the guy who crossed the finish line on his knees, beside his motorbike, then gracefully just stood up and got back on. Funniest save ever.
Snacking: On too much Willies Cacao chocolate. The salted, milk of the gods and white are ridiculously delicious.
Coveting: Pretty little farms in the country.
Helping: This fundraising project. Imagine a school that teaches compassion and kindness and open-heartedness. Pretty wonderful right?
Hearing: Most mornings I hear the magpies warble whilst drinking my morning coffee in the window seat. It’s such a fave part of the day.

Ok so that’s me all caught up. How about you? Whatcha been up to?

May kindness and compassion touch you today.

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.

postcards from the country… peace

After not one, but two cups of the local freshly roasted and ground coffee, with blends named Zen and Smooth Criminal, I knew the day was going to be a goodie. 

The craft came out and stayed out… all day. Charlie stretching, bevelling and plaiting his leather whist I crocheted. The magpies warbled and sung, the ducks quacked and laughed, doing a damn fine laughing Donald Duck impersonation. The currawongs played their familiar tune and the kookaburras let us know the rain was coming… though I could already smell it in the air.
I felt myself unwind like my ball of yarn with every new row I crocheted. And I could hear it in Charlie’s voice, as he too relaxed into the quiet crafty day we had been dreaming of for ages.
Breezy winds rustled the trees and we watched as the early autumn leaves gracefully tumbled through the air, rolling and flipping along the ground until all was still… until the next breeze.
As the sun went down the local owl settled into his rhythmic whooo whooo whoo… and the calm quiet of the country settled into our beings.
Ah yes, that was the feeling I had been missing so much lately… peace. Welcome back my friend, I have missed you so.
Wishing you restful days full of peace.

spring happenings

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Gosh the last couple of weeks have just whizzed by! Where have you been?

I’ve been photographing my hubby’s beautiful leather plaited products… his shop has been super busy lately and we’re doing our best to keep up with orders… plaiting, photographing, listing, posting… it’s fantastic and very exciting to see elements of our dreams become part of our everyday lives. How lucky are we!?

I’ve been picking peonies and roses and enjoying watching the garden bloom into a colourful haven of peace and prettiness… We’ve been harvesting lots of our own veggies and the other day we ripped out a flower garden bed to plant a tomato patch. I got it into my head that I wanted to grow all the tomatoes for Grandma’s Tomato Sauce next year. Ripping out the garden bed was a huge day that involved a lot of sweat and great music… the kind of music that makes you break into rake air guitar (I’m looking at you J Mascis and Sweet Apple!)

I’m loving the new Lucinda Williams CD ‘Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone’. The song ‘Compassion’ lifts it’s lyrics from a poem Lucinda’s father wrote… I’m trying to live my life with this kind of compassion… for everyone… you know, not get impatient and curse idiot drivers and other such non-compassionate activities… it’s a challenge and some days are easier than others… but I love the idea of getting this beautiful song stuck in my head and becoming a subconscious reminder…

I’ve been making “Bubblegum Bunting” and wondering what’s the best way to photograph it… I finished the “Ducklings Reflections Scarf” … which was a total rip off of the gorgeous “Ducklings on Water blankie”… I’ve been secret squirreling a couple of other crochet projects for a special upcoming project… and I’m hoping to start a whole new project soon… maybe some knitting… with my divine baby alpaca yarn I brought back from Cusco… sometimes I just go to the yarn cupboard and squish it lovingly wondering what I shall make of it… I’m a bit weird like that, or maybe you do that too? Tell me you do!

I’ve been picnicking with my godsons… eating watermelon in the sunshine… such fun… I’m definitely going to make that happen more often! I’ve been chatting to my son who’s now in Colombia… he has been robbed at gunpoint in Ecuador (he’s fine), seen tarantulas and anacondas (not what’d be on my travel wish list), travelled for 20 hours at a time on a bus, partying (probably way too hard) a lot… and generally having the time of his life.

I’m really enjoying reading this blog, this blog and this blog lately… so much great stuff out there in webland, not enough time to get to it all!

What have you been doing?

Wishing you juicy watermelons in the sunshine and music that moves you…