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?


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

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

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!