life on the farm october 2016




















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

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

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

May time be gentle with you x

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!

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

a bouncing baby lamb













Yesterday I got home and the wind was ferocious, wild, gusty and fierce. I think it did ‘something’ to Big Ears and as he suddenly started running, really fast, and bouncing and jumping and leaping around the other sheep and his muma, stopping for a brief second to see if I was still looking at him, which I was because I’m the nutter out in that wild wind taking photos of cute lambs until my fingers went numb! I will admit to laughing out loud, possibly ensuring I really did look like a crazy women, but boy it was so funny to watch. He was springing off all fours like a jack-in-a-box and his dear little personality shone through his leaps and spins and bounces. Precious!

I still pinch myself when I look out the back door in the morning. The view takes my breath away and the ever changing weather reveals a slightly different mood so it never really looks the same to me. This morning I awoke to see Big Ears and his muma sleeping by the fence that surrounds our house. Out the back door and through the kitchen window I can keep an eye on him and fall in love with him a little more each glance. Oh and to top it off, another little cute as a button lamb was born this week. What a treat it is to see these cycles out the back door, beats suburbia for me hands down.

There are some things however that are taking a little getting used to. Heating is not as convenient as a switch, nor as fast as a moment or two. Heating now takes some time, building the fire, lighting it, tending it, and then waiting for the heat to start pumping out and working its way around the house. It’s a beautiful heat, and worth the wait for sure, but there have been nights we’ve got home from work and I’ve sat there eating dinner in two alpaca jumpers, a scarf and a beanie. Would have worn my wrist warmers too if I ever found them. These seem to be one of the casualties of the move, all three handmade pairs! Vanished, maybe to be discovered at some time in the future – like how the peeler turned up one day! But for now I am without wrist warmers so I set to work on crocheting another pair, in aqua. As you can see from the photo, this enthusiastic start was closely followed by unpicking. Despite using the correct size hook and yarn, they worked up suitable for a giant. So I’m going to try with another yarn type, same ply, different fibre mix. Fingers crossed. That’s my plan for this afternoon actually after I’ve done a few things on my to do list, I will then ignore the rest of the list and sit by the fire which is now roaring, and crochet whilst it rains sideways down the valley.

Stay warm, may cute things make you laugh out loud x

babyhorns and big ears










One day this week I arrived home from work early and it was still daylight, which was such a treat! As soon as I opened the gate I noticed a sheep near next doors dam, not where they usually are. Then I spotted it. The cutest little newborn lamb. It sprung up, as only lambs can, and walked all wobbly like over to its Muma who was busy staring at me, no doubt wondering if I was a threat. I assured her I wasn’t, like she could understand me, and made kissing noises to the lamb. Oh if only you could see him turn his head and flop those big ears of his around. There’s something about the face proportions of a baby suffolk lamb, long little face with two ears that mostly stick out sideways and are as long as their face. I name him Big Ears, he’s adorable!

Meanwhile our neighbours cows have been busy chomping through our long grass and ‘fertilizing’ all the paddocks. They’ve been so entertaining to watch. The little fluffy calves are my favourite and I had quite the moment with one I’ve named Babyhorns. He, of course, has teeny horns sprouting out of his tufty curly fringe and is a gutsy little one. Mostly they take off as soon as you walk towards them but little Babyhorns held his ground. I approached him super slowly and when I saw him flinch and think about running I stopped. I talked to him the whole time, you know telling him how cute his curly fringe is and how one day those horns on his head are going to be so big. He looked at me for what seemed like ages, then tentatively took one step towards me. Then I took one small step towards him. Our eyes were locked and without blinking, but with some trepidation, Babyhorns took another step towards me. I repeated my last move and we stood there for a minute or so just checking each other out and me doing all the talking. I didn’t want to push my luck so I stepped backwards and then turned and came inside, smiling from ear to ear. I like to think Babyhorns was smiling too.

So after falling in love with the calves and the lambs I am now seriously asking myself if I’ll be able to ever keep animals like that to provide meat for us. I’ve got my doubts. I really want to as I am a meat eater and I like the idea that the meat I eat will come from an animal that’s lived a good stress-free natural-as-possible life. It’s been part of our grand plan for ages but the reality of seeing these animals every day, and not getting attached to them, is hitting home. I’m no fool, I always knew it would really challenge me, but am now considering how possible it will be rather than how hard it may be. And yes I know you’re not supposed to name them, golden rule and all that… but I can’t seem to help myself at the moment. Maybe it’s because they aren’t mine and I’m allowing myself to get attached to them, after all I’m not going to eat Babyhorns and Big Ears. Maybe it will be different when we get some of our own, for the sole purpose of providing meat for us. Maybe I won’t fall in love them.

Is it a bit lame to now tell you how I had this awesome vegetarian curry for dinner tonight? About as lame as naming my neighbours sheep and cows? Yep, thought so.

Wishing you sweet connections with the animals in your life x

life on the farm… may 2016















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

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