Thursday, May 30, 2013


With the promise of more than two inches of rain on the horizon, we spent the whole of yesterday in the garden. We cleared out autumn and settled her in for the long, cold winter ahead.

We weeded, we forked over the empty beds and we filled them up with fresh compost. We picked bucket loads of carrots whose tops were starting to rot. We harvested the last of the tomatoes and beans and yanked out their vines. We thinned out and transplanted kale and spinach and cos. We planted broad beans soaked in garlic and chili (to deter the pesky possums). And we seeded a spiral of rocket and some parsley. 

And we lit a bonfire for warmth and to burn the sticks that held our tomatoes and beans up all through summer.

And my farmer boy made us cups of steaming hot Turkish coffee with cardamon.

It's a wonderful gift to realise that we are exactly where we want to be right now, doing exactly what we want to be doing. We are together, we are doing what we love: making and growing our own, we are being creative and we feel inspired and good. We feel really good.

Time and circumstances and bad weather may challenge that and probably change that, but for now it is.

And when we came in last night at dark, stoked the fire, settled in for the night and heard the rain starting to tumble down on the roof, we felt like we were up to date and on the right track.

Winter looks like she is settling in but our garden's ready for her.

If only I were as ready in the kitchen.
Soup again?
What're you having for dinner?


Tuesday, May 28, 2013


So, as I was saying the other day when we were so rudely interrupted by school uniforms and lunch boxes and readers, while we didn't find any mushrooms on our forest adventure, we did find another sort of treasure. Real treasure. Old treasure.

As we were walking up to the house following the path the gorse muncher had uncovered a few days before, we came across an old gold miners' camp complete with lots of bits of old crockery and glass.

During the mid 1800s to mid 1900s Daylesford was full of thousands of workers looking for gold. Our farm has a few mines dotted about and an old race running through it.

I'm not sure I have the words to convey the feeling of coming across this little camp. Part curiosity, part excitement, part feeling like we were trespassing, part awe, part respect and part fascination.

First we examined the pile already collected. The patterns on the the shards of ceramic, the letters on the glass bottles, the handles broken off and the different shapes and sizes. And then we wandered around and started searching for more in the nearby area - slowly uncovering and digging up pieces to add to our puzzle.

As we came across each piece we'd slowly dig around it and pull it out. Miss Pepper liked to spit on and wipe them to uncover their design but we were happy to wipe them on our pants.

Treasure hunting is so addictive. Long after farmer Bren left us we were still saying 'just one more piece' and 'what if the next one is a complete jug'...

At one stage, digging out what farmer Bren thought might have once been a rubbish bin, Miss Pepper wondered if there might be ghosts around. The ghosts of the people who ate off and drank from these implements way back then. So together we made a list of some of the questions we'd like to ask these ghosts if they came.

What is your name? Where are you from and what language do you speak? How long have you been here? What is your job here? Have you found anything interesting or valuable? Do you live in a tent or a hut? Do you have a family/children? How many people are working in this area with you? What will you eat today on those plates? Did you break the plates and bottles when you left them or did they decay over time?

It's funny to think that a couple of months ago we were on an archaeological dig in Israel unearthing pieces of ceramic from 2,500 years ago, and here we were digging up 150 year old ceramic and being as excited. 

This treasure is part of our farm's history and therefore part of ours.

We're not sure what we'll do with our discoveries. Maybe we'll leave them in the pile we found them in, maybe we'll make a mosaic or maybe something else will come to us. In the mean time this basket full is doing the rounds of classroom show and share.

I just feel happy about the added layer of history it adds to our farm's story and the questions it's making us ask and think about.

Have a wonderful Tuesday my friends.
May your travels be filled with treasures.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

secretly hoping for mushrooms

Mostly our weekends on the farm are busier than our week days. The farmer boys are away so we have all the farm chores to do, the girls are at home so there's lots of food-making and playing and organising to do. Then there's the music lessons, the plays with friends and the parties to taxi to and from. And finally, if there's any time left, there's a little socialising, or gardening, or relaxing of our own.

Somehow this morning, after breakfast but before lunch, we ended up with a little pocket of time to spare.

Miss Jazzy had gone out with a friend, Miss Indi had a friend in her room, and my farmer boy, my smallest farmer girl and I put our boots on and wandered down the hill in search of adventure. We took a knife and a basket along too because we were secretly hoping for mushrooms.

We headed straight to our pine forest. The old owner of our farm planted the forest, thinking it would support his retirement. I don't think we'll ever cut them down though: the chooks love it in there over winter and we just like having those tall thin trees around.

To be honest, I've never been mushrooming before. I'm not sure I would even like the taste of wild mushrooms. But I like the thought of hunting for them. And I love how much more you notice when you're nosing around the rows of trees. And pretty much everyone else around Daylesford is mushrooming at this time of the year, so I thought we may as well have a go too.

But we didn't find any edible ones. We found great big trippy looking toadstools and teeny weeny fairy looking stools, but no slippery jacks and no pine mushrooms.

We did find lots of other treasures to fill our basket with though: leaves and feathers and pine cones and stones. And we did get grazed by blackberry thorns and remember the forgotten hazelnut orchard. And we climbed on top of tree stumps and discussed where the goats will live and admired the job the gorse muncher did.

And after all that we did end up finding some amazing, proper treasures. But it's late and I have to get sorted for school, so I'll save that bit of the story for tomorrow. It's pretty exciting though.

Oh yeah, and late afternoon, after we came in from collecting the eggs, Miss Jazzy came home with a basket full of slippery jacks. So I guess now I have to work out what to do with them. Any suggestions?

I hope you have a happy and wonderful week my friends.
I've got nothing big planned but loads to do.

Bye. xx

Thursday, May 23, 2013

my story in eight

These are the last eight photos I took off my camera.

Mostly with photo taking, I take a bunch of pictures all at once and download them soon after and blog them not long after that. In those cases I pretty much know what to expect. And as the photos flash onto the screen, more often than not, the words that tell their stories come too.

Other times, my camera sits on the kitchen table or near the front door for days at a time, only picked up for a quick snap here and there. After these times the downloading is more of a surprise and more fun. Random snapshots that tell the tales of my life at a moment in time. 

As the eight photos in this post downloaded I was half looking and half eating a feijoa. As they popped onto the screen I noticed how autumnal their colour pallet is. I realised that I am so very obviously the Mum of school girls now as none of the photos has little kids in them. And I saw that although a huge amount more than these eight events has gone on in my life over the past few days, these photos do tell the story of my late autumn beautifully.

Photo one of the kitchen garden up there, tells the story of tiny little lettuces and spinachs trying to put on as much growth as possible while there is still sunshine and a bit of warmth in the air before winter really kicks in. Our kitchen garden is my happy place these days. I am always kicking my clogs on and picking some herbs or greens for a meal, doing a spot of weeding or transplanting or admiring. Yesterday we noticed the first few broccoli of the season which was cause for much excitement.

Photo two is of the loveliest, chunkiest wool I am currently using to knit my farmer boy a new beanie. I don't know about you but I find it very difficult to source really chunky, soft, pure wool. This stuff is from New Zealand, I bought it in Ocean Grove last week and now I'm thinking I should have bought more. Details here.

Yesterday I drove past farmer Bren on his tractor wearing two beanies at once, so I think next up once I finish this beanie will be a balaclava.

Photo three is of a marker for a seed tray filled with onion seeds in the hot house. On Tuesday we filled the hot house with trays of onion seeds and leek seeds. I'm hoping they grow big and strong soon enough to transplant them into the garden and leave us the space to start the tomato season all over again in August.

Photo four is of the bottle tree in Autumn. I love how that tree and its bottles tells a different story each season. After a summer of thick green foliage that practically hid the bottles from view, the leaves slowly turned golden and reflected in the bottles' glass. And now as the leaves fall to a carpet below the tree the bottles remain, swaying and occasionally clinking in the cool wind.

Photo five is of the basil seed we saved from this year's crop to dry out and plant again next year. There may not be any fresh, green basil leaves to flavour our cooking for some time, but our freezer is filled with containers of pesto for the winter.

Photo six is of the carpet of autumn leaves I mentioned above. I remember when I used to live in suburban Melbourne autumn was always filled with raked up piles of autumn leaves to be burned, composted and sometimes run through. The leaves on our farm are a bit more free range, blowing around, making a pretty mess and then disintegrating back into the earth. I think they are terribly beautiful and they make me happy even though I know that the leaves on the back deck and in the entrance way are a sign of my bad housekeeping.

Picture seven is of a big bowl full of green-manure seeds I mixed up before planting. Doesn't it look like soup mix! This mix of fenugreek, broad beans, peas and vetch went in where the tomatoes came out of the garden. Our garden worked super hard making the vines and fleshy tomato fruit over the past six months and this green manure crop will feed the soil and prepare it for next spring's plantings.

And picture eight I took a few minutes ago. Picture eight is of some gorgeous wool felt I bought off lovely Lizzie this morning at Mill Rose. I have book mark plans for this pile. Book marks with little vintage caravans parked on top. The publicity campaign for my book has begun and these book marks will be a part of it. I'm both excited and nervous. The release date is still a few months away but there's loads to do before then. Eeeeeeep!

I hope your week is telling a wonderful story.
I hope it is warm, delicious and pleasing to the eye.

Ciao x

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hello happy & beautiful (almost) winter list

It's freeeeeezing cold here. Today was dark and grey and stormy and wet. Winter feels like it has well and truly settled in two weeks early. Although this weather feels like it could drag me under, this year I am determined not to let it. I'm determined to stay on top of it all. And what better way than by noticing and remembering and appreciating and being grateful for the good in my life. The great in my life. The beautiful in my life.

So here we go, here's my HELLO HAPPY and BEAUTIFUL (almost) WINTER list.

I love watching my little girls and their dogs. It reminds me of what we wanted, what we dreamed of, when we decided to move to the country to bring up our family. Jazzy and Willow.

I love the bits of bright colour in our garden. We're pretty good at growing the edible and the functional, but we often forget about the purely decorative. The decorative serves a pretty important function too, so I am learning.

I'm so happy that the kitchen garden is looking almost ready to take on the winter months. Kale and lettuce and rocket and herbs and garlic and broccoli and carrots and beetroots. I've got a bundle of seeds to plant in the hot house next time I get a chance too.

Pom pom parties!

We bought a Clover pom pom maker last weekend and it is rocking our world. It is quick and fun to use and makes the best, fluffiest pom poms around.

It may be freeeeeeeeezing, but Daylesford does autumn beautifully. This tree up near the poly tunnels seems to change colour and glow as the day goes on.

A sneaky, mid-week, wintery getaway with my farmer boy. We had the caravan park and the beach to ourselves and spent a whole luxurious two days alone. (Thanks heaps M and D xx)

The very last of autumn's colourful bounty. Yesterday I spent a bit of a disgusting few hours poking through the sloppy, mouldy vines in the poly tunnels for the final time of the season. Tomorrow the chooks will go in and clean them up. It's been a wonderful season but the time has come to say farewell.

A sunny Sunday's work in the kitchen garden resulted in a ute load of garden scraps for the compost. Out with the old and in with the new. Hooray!!

I've been catching glimpses of the cubby-house in different lights, from different angles and falling in love over and over again. 

Keeping the home fires burning. Cooking our food and warming our home. Late in the evenings we like to pull chairs up to her and open an oven for extra warmth. Then my farmer boy reads some Michael Pollan out loud and I knit. It's cozy. And MP is a great writer. And my farmer boy is a great reader and he took that photo and he's a bit cute too.

Ahhhhh, I feel better already. I think I might have to make this a regular thing.

Do you want to play too? Here in the comments or on your blog?
What are some of the little things making you feel up and happy at the moment?
What's chasing your grey away?

Big love peeps.
Be good. xx

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Knit three


I had a crisis of knitting confidence a few days ago.

It's happened to me before. In fact I've probably even blogged about it here, but still...

I was sitting in a cafe in Daylesford near a woman wearing the most gorgeous wrap around shawl thing I had ever seen. It was chunky, big stitched, emerald green, it looked super soft and squishy warm and the pattern was just beautiful.

The whole time I was drinking my coffee, I was mentally going through the wool I have at home searching for the perfect yarn for project shawl. And trying to work out if I have big enough needles to get that chunky loose look. And of course I was also counting stitches. Or trying not to be too obvious while I was counting how many stitches in the width of the shawl.

As we got up to leave I couldn't help myself and asked her if she could take off her shawl so I could have a look at the shape and the the dimensions. I told her how much I adored it.

She held it up and it was a big chunky loop. About a meter and a half in length and half a meter in width, with a gorgeous cable detail running around it. When she put it back on she wound it around her neck twice and then sort of pulled it down her shoulders. She looked gorgeous.

And then I asked her if she'd made it, secretly hoping for some details and maybe even a pattern link. But she hadn't. She had in fact bought it in a shop in town.

So we walked down the hill to visit that shop. I don't know why, but we did.

And we found that very same shawl in a rainbow of colour options. They were acrylic and they were made in China and they cost twenty dollars each.

As we walked back to the car I felt really sad. Why would I bother knitting that shawl, if I could buy it so cheap? That much good quality, organic wool would probably cost me between sixty and eighty dollars and the time it would take me to knit it would be at least a few weeks.

I have that same discussion in my head about lots of the things we do on our farm and in our home. Why do we spend so much time and energy growing things from seed when we can buy them so cheap at the fruit shop? Why do we spend so much time preserving produce when it is available at a fraction of the cost, all year round, in tins and jars from the super market? Why do we bake our own bread, make our own clothes, gather our own honey, chop and split our own wood, repair things when they break, if there is an option to buy for a fraction of the price?

All these things take up so much time and sometimes don't save any money at all.

But the satisfaction that comes from doing them is priceless.

And although I probably wont end up knitting myself that particular shawl, it might feel a bit like trying to replicate a Big Mac from homegrown, organic ingredients, I know why I knit. I adore to knit. And I know that this winter I'll be sending my girls out into the icy cold world in beanies made especially for them with all my love. You can't buy that in a chain store.

Ravelry details here, here, and here

Thanks for the pattern link Christy xx
OK, three winter beanies done, it's time to wind some wool for my farmer boy. He thinks stripes for a change. Maybe.

So how about you?
Do you choose the slow even though the fast is cheaper?
Does the fast tempt you or discourage you? Or neither?
Are you knitting beanies too?

Big love and a happy and wonderful week for you my friends.

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