Friday, November 16, 2018

eighteen

Yesterday our Indigo had her eighteenth birthday and this afternoon, at 5.15pm, she'll put her pen down on her last exam and officially finish her life as a school girl forever.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how when most people consider having babies, they think about having babies and possibly toddlers, but never about having grown up kids.



For me so much of it was about the chubby little babies, about breast feeding, about wooden toys and cloth nappies, and about parenting close to nature in a way that felt wild and free. I'm sure I had visions of picnics in the sunshine where babies napped on blankets and beautiful scenes where toddlers ran through meadows of wild flowers with butterflies flying all about them.

I remember a phone call from Bren's mum Rene not long before Indi was born urging us to make a list of practical things a baby would need and to start crossing them off. Spurred into action we rode our bikes to some local op shops and bought bags full of baby clothes. Then we spent the next few weeks dying and appliquéing. 

Eventually she gave up and took us and our list shopping for nappies and buckets and a bath herself. I can still remember standing in the queue to pay with an enormous belly but still unable to imagine actually using these things. At that stage it was still all about the birth. It was hard to imagine the baby.

Let alone the teenager. 


And then there was a baby Indigo. And eight months after she was born we moved to the country to give her that wild and free childhood. We grew our own veggies, we kept chickens and goats and rabbits and alpacas, we made a circle of friends with children the same age, and when she was five she started school.

It's funny to think of how different those first few years of school are to the last.

On Indi's first day of school we knew the teacher and her family well, we knew almost every child in her class and after she said goodbye and went into the classroom, we spent the rest of the morning with the other parents celebrating and commiserating. We couldn't believe how big they were, we were scared they wouldn't be able to undo the clasps on their lunch boxes, find their ways back to class after recess, or make it to the toilet in time.


On her first day at high school,

and then her first day at her second high school, we dropped her off without knowing the names of her teachers, or many of the kids in her class, or how she got to be so big and independent.


Which brings us to today. To an 18 year old, adult, almost no longer school girl.

Even though the hours and the days and the months and the years and sometimes the minutes felt so long, I still can't quite work out how we got here. How Bren and I raised a whole adult. An intelligent, creative, sensitive, empathetic person.

Last night on the phone one of my sisters asked me if I had gotten over the drama of Indi's birth yet. If I had come to terms with the planned home water birth that ended up as an emergency cesarean? Oh gosh yes, I told her, Indi is so full of life, she's so magical and interesting and so full of potential. It's hard to imagine her not being here and how she got here seems inconsequential.

Late last night lying in bed with my eyes closed I thought about those words I'd spoken and I let the feelings they brought up swirl around me and I realised that I've come full circle. 18+ years ago I could hardly imagine the baby and here I am now watching this incredible grown person. She feels bigger than what we've given her and so very ready for what's to come. I have to think really hard to remember that fat squishy baby.



In the Hebrew language the word life or alive chai  is made of two letters - a chet and a yud. In Hebrew each letter is given a numerological value, in this case the chet is 8 and the yud is 10, together they make 18.

The more I think about that, the more I love it.

You're 18 Indi!! You're alive!! We wish for you the greatest adventures. We hope you meet incredible people and make life-long friends. We hope you live a life filled with creativity and music and passion and fun and flowers. We hope you travel the world and we hope that you come home to visit. We hope that you never stop learning and that you get lots of opportunities to teach. We hope that when you're knocked down you remember how strong you are and that you can deal with it. We hope that you remember how great it makes you feel to put your feelings into songs.

And we hope that wherever you are in the world, whatever you're doing, that you know how cherished and adored you are and how very proud of you we feel.

And with that it's time to sign off and drive you to school for what might just be the very last time.

Happy, happiest birthday Indigo apple!! Let the festivities begin!!

Love xx


Friday, November 9, 2018

this and that

THIS is where I live in springtime. In this little room made of recycled windows and doors. I spend my`days sowing seeds, watching them germinate, talking to them, watering them, pricking them out and waiting patiently for the soil to warm up and the danger of frost to be over so I can plant them outside. It's been just over a year since we built this space onto the side of our house, it's hard to even imagine life and growing before.


THIS is a little glimpse into what it looks like inside the greenhouse at the moment. Trays and pots and planters of fruit and vegetables and flowers, putting down roots and growing up leaves, getting bigger and stronger every time I check in on them.

THIS is the greenhouse overflow. Last week or the week before I filled up every inch of space on the table, every shelf and window sill, and much of the floor space too. So I moved some of the big guys into the sun-room. Now you can hardly walk in there. The forecast is looking promising though, so get ready garden, here these guys come.

THIS is the badge Miss Indi made me to wear on my birthday last Sunday.

THIS is the pile of hair pins my farmer boy made me for my birthday. The light one in the middle is made from sycamore off my parents' old farm in Tasmania and the other three are from wood from around here. As anyone who wears wooden pins in their hair knows, these things are incredibly hard to come by and having four crafted by those hands that I love makes me feel like I've won the lottery. I'm rich!

We had the most wonderful few days away at the beach last weekend. We walked everywhere, we ate a late breakfast and an early dinner out every day, we read books, we watched the whole first season of Succession, we did face masks in the bath, we played games, we talked and talked and talked, we saw A Star Is Born at the movies, I knitted, I was sung to by all of my favourite people, I cried, I laughed and I felt incredibly lucky to have the luxury of so much time alone with my boy. It was the absolute best.

THIS is what my washing line looks like now that I'm a beginner spinner. That's fleece inside those laundry bags and the thought of pulling out the staples, flick carding them, drafting them out and spinning them, washing and then knitting them, kept me up last night. I've got that excited, addicted, can't think of anything else, need more time in my day, butterflies in my tummy feeling about a craft again. 

THIS is one of the little projects I'm busying my hands with while I wait to have enough handspun of my own to knit. It's the Mimi hat by my friend Sabine - Frisabi Knits - the details are here.

THIS is the new shelf in my studio.  The one above the window. It goes across the back and along the right wall to meet the door. I'm going to fill it with plants and books.

THIS is the strawberry bed that I look at from my studio window. It looks like it's going to be a bumper crop this year.

THIS is one of the self seeded patches of spring onions that feeds hundreds of bees every day. They love that stuff.

THIS is the book I am reading the moment, my sister Abby's copy of - The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire by Chloe Hooper. One of the stories of the Black Saturday bush fires of February 2009. I've only read about 50 pages so far but already it feels like a horror story. It is harrowing and devastating and heartbreaking, but it also feels insightful and moving and important. It's probably a good thing for me to read at the start of this fire season: I've already started making lists of things to prepare.

THIS, right now, feels like such a huge moment in the life of our family. Next Monday our Indi starts her final school year exams and by this time next week will be completing her last one and finishing with high school forever. Next Thursday Indi will celebrate her 18th birthday which means Bren and I will have parented a child all the way through from babyhood to childhood to adulthood. In just over a week our Jazzy will return from her six week overseas trip. The emails and photos have been sparse but from what we can gather it looks and sounds like she's been having the most unbelievably incredible adventure. This week our Pepper got to meet her little buddy. As part of the oldest class in her school next year, she gets paired up with one of the youngest. It's so funny to think of our youngest being the oldest. She's so ready though. And in the middle of all of that me and Bren are rushing around trying to balance the farming, parenting, crafting, building, cooking, playing, making, exercising and growing, all while trying to hold onto the magic we felt last weekend.

And that's that.

And THIS dear friends is my thank you to you. Thank you for your birthday kindness, for your wishes, for your sweetness and for your sunshine. I love ya's all!!

Before you go tell me what's going on at THIS time in your world? What's keeping you up at night? What have you got on your shelf? What are you making? What are you learning? What did you get for your birthday? How will your life be different this time next week?

Wishing you luck and love and adventures.

Kate xx






Friday, November 2, 2018

off to the seaside


Hello friends,

How have you been?

I'm writing to you from a little house in a small seaside town about an hour and half drive from our farm in the forest. This morning after we took Pepper to school and Indi to my parent's house, did all the farm chores and packed our bags, I took this photo and then we drove here.

As far as we can remember we've only ever left the girls to go away alone two other times. Once when we flew to Sydney in 2009 to accept a couple of Vogue Produce Awards. And once in May 2015 when we came here, to this same little town, and stayed in our caravan in a caravan park.

Ever so luckily, this time my parents agreed to stay at our house and look after things while we're gone. We're giddy with gratefulness.

We left the girls with new matching pyjamas, a new book to read and a bottle of delicious smelling bubble bath. I think they're going to have a lovely time.

And as for us, we've got books and Netflix and knitting, there are a couple of walking tracks nearby, the beach and some great looking cafes. So for the next three days it's just my farmer boy and me. I still can't believe it's true. And it's my birthday on Sunday!

So I'll see you next week honey bunches. I'll be older and hopefully a little wiser.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Love, Kate xx




Friday, October 26, 2018

eleven!

Last Saturday at 3.30 in the afternoon Pepper's friends came to our place for her party. They knew they were coming to celebrate her and to go on a treasure hunt but other than that it was all a surprise. 

We had spent the morning watching the skies and cursing the rains, and by late afternoon it was cold but looked clear.

They played the chocolate game as they waited for everyone to arrive - taking turns to roll the dice until someone rolled a double number. Whoever did had to dress up in all the pieces of the silly costume we had gathered, take a knife and fork and start cutting up and eating the chocolate. They ate as many pieces as they could before the next person rolled a double and took over.

After the sugar rush it was time to start the treasure hunt off with the first clue.

CLUE NUMBER ONE
At the start of our farm sits something that's red,
It used to plough paddocks but now it's old and it's dead.
On the seat of this beast sits your very first clue,
Go find it, then read it and it'll tell you what to do.



CLUE NUMBER TWO
Walk down Foxs Lane turn right before the hive,
Wander through the apple blossom if for the next clue you strive.
Keep your eyes open for a blanket or two,
You must each make 2 pom-poms before you get the next clue.



CLUE NUMBER THREE 
Go back to the driveway, turn left then start walking,
Head to the caravan, not too much talking.
When you get there take a seat, on a chair or the floor,
You must each get your nails done, before clue number 4.


CLUE NUMBER FOUR
Head up to the place where our veggies all grow,
The grass is a little long and might need a mow.
There you'll find a table with some food to eat,
Relax and enjoy, take a load off your feet.






CLUE NUMBER FIVE
Now head down the path to the tee-pee of burnt sticks,
Look around for some old eggs for your very next trick.
Stand behind the marker, take aim at the middle,
When you're done with this game, I'll hand you the next riddle.


CLUE NUMBER SIX
Go back to the place where we keep our wood,
There are prizes in the parcel, this is going to be good!


CLUE NUMBER SEVEN
The next clue in this game leads you somewhere so near,
A mere 20 steps away in the sunroom so dear.
Now all that's left is the cake and the song,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR PEPPER!!!!
Thank you all for coming and playing along!


After the hunt they spent hours putting together and filming a movie, complete with storyline, costumes and characters. They ate pizza for dinner, watched the first Now You See Me movie and then snuggled into their sleeping bags and fell asleep. By the time we got up on Sunday morning to make them pancakes for breakfast, they'd already started watching Now You See Me 2. They were dopey and tired and so very sweet.


Our Pepper's actual birthday was on Wednesday. 11!! We celebrated her over breakfast, she took chocolate crackles to share with her class at school and afterwards we picked flowers and painted them, had dinner in a restaurant nearby and promised her a kitten when the shelters start having some again.

What a blessing that kid is to our family. We've always called her Puppy because she brings so much energy, joy and empathy to all those around.

I can't believe she's the same age now as Indi was when we went on our caravan trip. I can't believe today is Indi's last day ever at school. Crazy.

And as for the scavenger hunt, if you're a long time Foxs Lane reader and thought it felt familiar, that's because it is. In 2014, when our Jazzy turned 11, we did the same for her. Almost exactly. And when Pepper told me a few weeks ago that she wanted the treasure hunt party Jazzy had, all I had to do was click back, change a few lines of a few of the clues and that was it. Easy peasy.

Yet again I'm so grateful for this blog and all the records it has helped me keep over the years.

And that's that. Two spring birthdays over and two more to go.

Thanks for coming friends!
Do you have special birthday traditions at your place?
Did you when you were growing up?

I hope you have a beautiful weekend.

See you next Friday.

Love, Kate x




Friday, October 19, 2018

expect the unexpected



I think I'm going to call this blog post - expect the unexpected. Not the surprise it's your party!!  kind of unexpected, more of the if you don't have expectations then you won't be disappointed, in fact you may just end up being pleasantly surprised.

This morning over coffee I was having the same conversation with my farmer boy that we've had at least a million times before. I was comparing our crazy, mixed-up, wild farm with those that you see in the magazines and on the design sites. How come after all these seasons, after all those hours, after all the experience and sweat and planning and money and tears...our farm is as wild as ever?

There were times in the past where this sort of statement first thing in the morning might have been the cause for an argument. I would think that I was stating a fact, yet he would take it personally. These days though, after 17 and half years on this land, we're getting better at seeing things differently. Or perhaps he's just getting better at reminding me.

'I think the neat aesthetic picture we have as humans isn't necessarily good for nature' he told me.
'The pretty picture of a farm made of perfectly neat rows isn't how the natural world works. Nothing grows neatly on its own. Nothing grows in isolation. Nothing grows in monoculture. Nature is inherently messy. An old growth forest in all its beauty is still messy.'


I looked out the window and thought of all the times we'd come to this point in the past. When he'd talked to me about what herbicides do to the earth and how as certified organic farmers we've chosen to have less control but more biodiversity, less neatness and more jungle, less magazine perfect and more us perfect.

And so this morning it was a quick turn around from expected frustration to unexpected pride and satisfaction.


This entire past week wasn't what I had expected it to be at all. There was no weeding, no mowing, no planting rows of seedlings in the garden, no mulching, no burning off, no workouts at the gym, and worst of all there was no bee pollination of the apple blossom in the orchards.

At the start of this week while visiting our bees a few things happened that were unexpected: first I hurt my neck so badly, and then not long after the temperatures dropped, the wind picked up and it rained for days.

It wasn't great. I felt sorry for myself and I worried about the apples. It felt hard not to take the terrible pollination weather personally, it felt so dreadfully timed. I felt more concerned every time someone tried to cheer me up by telling me the rain was needed and that Mother Nature would look after us, and I remembered those few years when we hardly got a crop at all. 

But life went on. I drove Indi to school for her practise exams, we planned Pepper's birthday party, I stayed up late into the night and finished two books and I watched the rest of the garden soaking up the rain and loving it.

And unexpectedly because my neck was too sore to do much outside, I planted and planted and planted up the greenhouse.


We planted and tidied up the garden near the house.


I had another spinning lesson with my teacher Rebecca and have fallen in love.

I used to worry that learning to spin would be just another craft that would take time away from knitting, where now I can see that it's only going to add to the experience. Especially when I'm spinning the fleece of our own sheep hopefully within the next year.

I also had a fair bit of couch time and was able to cast off my Lanes cardigan, pictures to follow hopefully next week.








This morning, scared to have any expectations after the week of wild weather, we took our second coffees of the day down to the orchard to see what was going on.

And we were pleasantly surprised.

Most of the blossom had survived the lashing, the bees were flying around in a drunk frenzy and the smell was intoxicating. Thank goodness, thank Mother Nature, phew.

There are even a few teeny tiny apples! That swollen bit on the stem to the right of my finger will hopefully, if all goes to plan weather wise, be a delicious Mutzu apple come next April. That's our Jazzy's favourite apple in the world, if she were here she'd be very excited.

So while some crappy things did happen this week ruling the expected impossible, the unexpected was actually surprisingly okay. Possibly even perfectly okay

And that's me for the week. If I could put in an order for next week I'd ask for injury free and sunny, but I know better than that.

I hope your week has been unexpectedly, perfectly okay friends.
Are the apples blossoming or ripe for the picking where you are?
Are the seeds for sowing or for saving?
Was your week what you expected?

When I write this next week my baby will be 11!! She was one when I started this blog.
I'd best be off and go and bake her birthday cake.

Love to you!

Kate x



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