Friday, May 26, 2017

latest may

'October's [or May in the Southern hemisphere] a blink of the eye. The apples weighing down the tree a minute ago are gone and the trees' leaves are yellow and thinning. A frost has snapped millions of trees all across the country into brightness. The ones that aren't evergreen are a combination of beautiful and tawdry, red orange gold the leaves, then brown, and down.
The days are unexpectedly mild. It doesn't feel that far from summer, not really, if it weren't for the underbite of the day, the lacy creep of the dark and the damp at its edges, the plants calm in the folding themselves away, the beads of the condensation on the webstrings hung between things.
On the warm days it feels wrong, so many leaves falling.
But the nights are cool to cold.
The spiders in the sheds and the houses are guarding their egg sacs in the roof corners.
The eggs for the coming year's butterflies are tucked on the undersides of the grass blades, dotting the dead looking stalks on the wasteland, camouflaged invisible on the scrubby looking bushes and twigs.'

Autumn by Ali Smith
Pages 177-178

I didn't love this book. While we were away a few weeks ago I asked a woman on the beach about the book she was reading because I loved the look of the cover. She told me it was a difficult book to read but parts of it were intensely beautiful. Having read it now I have to say that I agree with her review completely.

Some parts of Ali's book are so stunningly written that they are almost poetry. She describes scenes and seasons and relationships in a way that had me sighing and rereading them over and over trying to hold onto them. But the story itself I found tricky. Flipping between past and present, dealing with relationships, contemporary politics, art and time in no particular order made it a tricky read for me at times, but I'm still glad I read it.

twenty first

The things I bought at the Daylesford Sunday market last week. The skirt is pure wool and made in Australia, the clogs look like they've never even been worn.

Obviously I'm never going to be a fashion blogger, but these days my girls are so conscious of where and how and by whom their clothes were made, that we're always going on excursions to find them new-secondhand things to wear. Coming home with bits for me just feels like a bonus.

I'm thinking a charcoal top, a denim jacket, a grey shawl, black leggings, my new kilt, some hand-knit socks and my clogs...

twenty second

Hot house progress.

twenty third

Bowl carving.

twenty fourth

The cleaned window view from inside the hot house.

That lunch time I passed a pot of soup through the kitchen window and we sat with our backs to the house looking out those windows at the view. Is it possible that the world looks even more beautiful framed?

twenty fifth

About a week ago I posted a request on our local buy, swap and sell site:
We're looking for some freshly cut wood (within the last six months) for bowl turning. Ideally the pieces would need to be 15-30cm diameter and length, or larger. And the preferred species include fruit wood, alder, maple, and sycamore.
I had quite a few great responses, one of which told us of a big branch that had fallen off an Ash tree on the the side of a main road near here. Armed with his chainsaw farmer Bren went and cut up a ute load.

And then turned a couple of beautiful bowls.

He's waiting for them to slowly dry out before he oils them, I'm excited to see all those beautiful patterns and colours come out.

twenty six


Years ago, when we were farming seriously, we had one long poly tunnel set up in the middle of the market gardens. In 2009, a huge flood came through the bottom of our farm and washed away most of what we had growing at the time and parts of that poly tunnel.

A year or so later we salvaged what hoops and bits of plastic we could and built two tunnels up the top near our house. They've never been the prettiest or the neatest of fixtures, but they've done their job ever since growing our cucumbers and tomatoes and protecting them from the cool weather and the frosts.

But this past season, maybe the fifth or sixth that we've grown in them, we felt like the crops struggled. Despite all the green manures and compost we've fed into the soil and the water we've irrigated it with, the fertility felt lacking. So over the next week or so we're going to take them down. We're going to plant oats and peas and barley and then dig them in, we're going to let the rain fall on the earth naturally, and then when it feels right we'll plant spring or summer crops. The poly tunnel we'll build somewhere else.

I'm excited to extend the in ground garden that we planted behind the tunnels, I'm excited to rebuild the poly tunnels somewhere else but I'm mostly excited to change the whole look of this place. Every photo I take of our garden has those ugly, patched up tunnels in the background, soon it'll just be the forest.

And that's me for another week.

I contemplated not writing my blog this week after the horrific events in Manchester. The stories I've been reading feel very personal and relate able and I worried that posting photos and stories of normal, happy life would be trivial. Insensitive even. But after much thought I decided that the way I cope with the big wide world is to find joy in the little moments of my own small world. To notice and capture and honour.

Still my heart is with all those affected. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.

Sending love to you wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you believe and wishing for peace and safety.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Love Kate xx

Friday, May 19, 2017


Our days have been brilliantly autumnal. Sharp, icy cold mornings that quickly lead into brilliantly bright blue skied days. We run from job to job trying to get through as many as we can before the coming winter closes in on us. As we dig, stack, shovel, plow, seed, rake, fill and fork we feel the sun's warmth spread through our clothes and we slowly strip off our layers. There are little nests of hats and jumpers and shirts all over the place. These golden hours are short and we often find ourselves stopping mid shovel to breathe them in and to have yet another discussion about how lucky we are that all of our paths and decisions have led us here, to this work and this life and these days.  


From when we built our studio/second bedroom last spring, all the way through summer and into the beginning of autumn, I had this little Friday ritual. As soon as the girls were all at school I'd make myself a peppermint tea, look past the breakfast dishes and the piles of laundry and make my way to the green armchair in the corner of our room. And there I'd sit  with my laptop on my lap for the next few hours making my blog until it was done. 

Where I sat felt like it was such a big part of how I blogged that it never occurred to me that it would ever need to change. But then one Friday it just got too cold to sit in there. About a month ago, or maybe before, I walked in there, picked up my computer and my card-reader and came back into the lounge room. And ever since then I've done the same. 

Now I sit on one of the brown leather couches that I grew up sitting on, the fire roars beside me, the animals asleep nearby and although I'm comfy I feel much more available to the world, not as shut off, more distracted.

And the green armchair sits there draped in knitting as I dash past, sometimes covered in piles of clothes, sometimes a book, sometimes the pillows off the bed. Always inviting me to slow down and read a couple of pages, knit a few rows, find a way to heat the room and make it more comfortable to sit in.


Last week Indi spent the week camping and rock climbing with her class. She told me that on the last day, while they were packing up, one of their guides asked her what she would be doing for Mother's Day. Indi told her a bit about me and how my favourite things to do are knitting and burning shit. She guessed that we'd light a huge fire somewhere on our farm and then spend the day pulling branches onto it, knitting, eating and hanging out with family. Apparently her teacher gave her a strange look and said I sounded 'hilarious', but that's exactly what we did. And it was wonderful.

We ate babka, Kate shaped cookies, and chocolate covered pretzels and we drank Baileys, Turkish coffee and fizzy water. The girls drew pictures, Bren carved, I knitted and my parents spent the afternoon with us too. 

What more could this mother ask for?

A hand carved yarn bowl as a Mother's Day present, that's what! 

So beautiful. Made from a tree on our farm that started growing in an inconvenient place, carved on his foot powered pole lathe, with his hands, for me. What a gift. 


On Monday construction began on our new hot-house. Three massive wooden posts from an old bridge concreted into the ground, and lots of other marking and cutting and organising done. Since then some old windows have gone in but I'm afraid you'll have to wait until next week for a photo of them.


On Tuesday we spent time on our 'put the farm to sleep for winter' plan. Using the walk behind tractor, we mulched and then spaded in some of the summer vegetables. It's amazing to watch the corn stalks, the tomato vines, the capsicums, cabbages and broccoli, all mown down to the ground and then put back into the soil to break down. Just a few weeks ago we were visiting this patch a few times a day to harvest different things and now it'll be planted with a green manure crop and then left until spring. 

Thank you for feeding us garden, rest well.


A different view of the garden and the cubby house and the pole lathe.

On the drive into town a few days ago we were discussing the fact that this year we've been having a true autumn. Most seasons it feels like summer drifts on for a lot longer than it's meant to and then all of a sudden there's a cold snap and it's winter. Just like that. But this year we've had weeks of crisp sunny days, the colours of the trees have been spectacular and it's given us time to really finish one season and prepare for the next. To tick off a lot of our jobs. And to prepare to hibernate.


Yesterday was one of those days where I considered turning this into a photo an hour project instead. All day long as we fed the dogs and chooks, filled up a new garden bed with rocks and then soil and then planted it with garlic, as we planted green manure in the sock garden and then covered it, weeded the carrots, picked the beetroot, filled the trailer with wood and then stacked some more wood, I couldn't help but feel like this was a life that was filled with love and meaning and beauty. It was difficult to choose just one moment to photograph.


Which brings us to today.

The Guernsey wrap that slowly grows.

The book, Between A Wolf And A Dog, I am reading and LOVING! A beautifully written, insightful story about family, grief, relationships, betrayal, expectations and the fragility of life. I'm hoping for a little forgiveness by the end, but I'll have to wait and see.

This is one of those moody books that haunts me like a dream. It's there in the background as I go about my days and I'm sure the rain that is forecast to fall here on the weekend will only compound that fact. This is the type of book that I can't put down. Greedily snatching extra moments with it as I brush my teeth, eat my porridge and stay up way too late at night. I dread reaching the end of it because I'm enjoying it so much and then it'll be over, and also because of the knowledge that Georgia Blain, the author, died so young late last year making the book tragically final.

And that's my week, in pictures and words. It's been such a lovely week. I've felt clear and articulate, I've spent time with three precious friends, I've felt organised, I've loved and looked after and I've felt loved and looked after. It's been good.

I hope you my beautiful friend are traveling along well.
I hope you've got a good book to read, a great project to work on and something fun to look forward to.

I hope you have a happy weekend.

Lots of love,


Friday, May 12, 2017

the second week


When I decided to do a photo a day in May project last week one of the rules I imposed on myself was to not always capture the prettiest moments, but to challenge myself to look for the interesting and the gritty too. The two photos I took last Saturday are heading in that direction.

It was a freezing cold, wet, windy day and we'd called off all of the girls' activities and were bunkering down inside instead. There was one point in the late afternoon where I looked around at the cozy scene wondering what to capture. If I didn't get my shot then, I'd lose the light and miss my day. The fire was roaring, the house was a mess of papers and computers and musical instruments and girls, but nothing called to me. Then I looked outside, onto the back deck and decided.

I slipped on my clogs, quickly slid open the back door, snapped two photos and dashed inside again.

Leaves from the grape-vine that cover our back deck and give us shade in summer, grapes at the height of autumn, and then a sludgy mess as they decompose into winter.


Miss Pepper helping me out by searching for scarlet runner bean pods inside the tee-pee.


Knitted with love for my kitty cat obsessed, youngest. She loves them but did not love me dragging her outside into the cold and pulling up her leggings, as proven by her goose bumps.  

It's a free pattern I found on ravelry, you can find the details here.


Last year we grew a paddock of pumpkins. This year we didn't get them in til so late that they didn't get a chance to really get going before the days started to cool off, so we gave up on them and eventually pulled them out. The compost it seems had ideas, and seeds, of its own and grew this load. It's probably more than enough for us for the season anyway.


One of the first things we built when we moved to our farm back in 2001 was this hot house onto the side of our house. Using bits of poly pipe and greenhouse plastic, but without the help of YouTube, farmer Bren and my dad constructed a place for me to raise seeds and shelter some sensitive plants.

It's hard for us to remember where the idea for the plans came from. It's hard to imagine if we thought it would be a temporary fix or a long term solution. It's crazy to think about who we were back then: a couple with one baby girl and no farming experience.

And here we are all these years later pulling it down. Cutting the pipe, slicing at the plastic and digging out all of the soil. It's served us well over the years. I'd guess it's grown hundreds of thousands of plants.

And now it's time for an upgrade. We've drawn up the plans, we've gathered some old windows, we're starting on Monday. Watch this space.


Rushing outside last night to catch a photo of the flame tree glowing in the afternoon sun, it occurred to me that I could take the shot from what until the day before was inside the hot-house. Four steps to the right gave me another perspective. Makes me pleased to know that the new hot house will have opening windows. And how about that tree hey!


My current knitting project is a Guernsey wrap for Miss Indi. Remember when I told you a few weeks ago that Pepper had a list up on the door where family members could place their knitting orders? Indi ordered a scarf.

The thought of that scarf and the meters of knit stitch or purl stitch that would be involved in the making made me shudder. A more tedious project I couldn't imagine. That is until we sat on Ravelry for a while and looked at the endless possibilities of stitch combinations.

We chose this pattern because it was a mixture of textured patterns found on traditional fisherman's sweaters which would keep it interesting for me and yet was a simple long, rectangular scarf for her. I know I've barely even started, but so far I'm loving knitting it, long may it continue and grow.

The ravelry details are here.

And there they are, my seven (plus a couple) photos of the week.

It's been a bit of a topsy-turvey week for me. One afternoon I cried three separate times on the drive home from school at the sheer magnificence of the show that mother nature was putting on for us, the next day I heard a friend's difficult news and felt so weighed down by the weight of the world. Nasty, short sighted comments on a friend's Facebook shocked me and hurt my heart, but then a brother and sister raised over two million dollars in five cent pieces to kick cancer where it hurts and smash a world record. One of our girls got a role in a local production of The Three Lost Children and we were all thrilled, but then she has this bit of eczema that makes her so uncomfortable it hurts. Some of the olives were hit by frost, but the carrots are sweeter than ever. Up, down, up down. I'm blaming PMS and the full moon. And I'm hoping for clear skies and calm waters ahead. And sunshine of course.

I hope you've had a gorgeous week.
I wonder if the leaves are growing or falling off where you are?
If the days are getting longer or shorter?
If you use circulars or DPN's to knit your socks and sleeves?

Happy Mother's day!

Love Kate xx

Friday, May 5, 2017

every day in may

Hello honey bunches,

How's your week been?

I'm happy to report that after our bumpy homecoming, things here have been really good. It helps that the sun finally came out. And although it's still much too cold for my liking, we've had some bright, still, autumn days that have made my heart sing and my body happy to be outside and moving.

Last Monday morning I drove through the forest on the way home from taking Indi and Jarrah to school. The girls had been gorgeous in the car, I knew that Bren and Jobbo were meeting at home to plan the rebuild of the hot-house, the sunlight was streaming through the trees and I felt overcome with the feeling that my week ahead was rich with time and possibilities. It's the best feeling. I wanted to grab onto it and really feel it and take it home and make stuff happen.

At the same time I was listening to Sara Tasker's podcast interview with Xanthe Berkeley about the power of creative projects when it occurred to me that a creative project is just what I need. And with the start of May, the month that sort of rhymes with 'every day', the timing felt perfect. So I started auditioning projects in my head: a crocheted granny square a day, a water colour painting a day, one of those blankets people knit where each row is a reflection of the weather or the mood of the day, a blog post a day, a short film clip a day, a hundred words in a diary every day, a hexagon quilt project, an embroidery stitch a day, a hand written letter, a new recipe, an instagram post a day, a charcoal drawing...the possibilities felt endless and endlessly exciting.

In 2012 and 2014 I crocheted a different motif every day in May and loved it.

Then I arrived home, listened to the plans the boys had made, drank coffee, cleaned up the breakfast dishes, took some laundry off the line put it away and hung out some more, went to gym for an hour, came home and pulled the last of the irrigation lines out of a bottom paddock, checked on the olives, picked some flowers, brought in a load of wood, got Pepper from school and took her to her singing lesson, picked her up from her singing lesson and brought her home, took Jazzy to her dancing class and then came home to find Bren and Pepper making pasta for dinner.

The entire time I'd been wondering about my personal creative project: what form it would take, what skills I could hone or learn, and what materials I would need. Late in the day it occurred to me that the real question was when would I fit it in?

My project had to add creativity but not stress to my life.

As I watched them break the eggs and mix them into flour I decided on a capture project rather than a create project. As I watched them stir the two ingredients into a dough I chose my big camera over my phone. And as they rolled the dough out into long sheets and then skinny noodles I decided that I would document one moment of every day. One moment with a few photos.

Not the most special moments, not the most photogenic moments, not even the moments that have stories that I would usually blog, just the small moments that make up our days this May.

Ideally I'd like to push myself out of my comfort zone and take more photos indoors, I'd like to capture some tiny unposed moments, I'd like to be brave and play around with composition and settings, and I'd really love to trust myself more and not have to take 20 photos just in case the first 19 don't work.

I plan to publish them here on my blog with a short explanation or story. I thought about posting them every day but I don't want to break with this Friday thing that is working so well. And even though this might not feel any different to you than my usual style of blogging, it does for me - in its everydayness, it's making me see my world a bit differently, and its encouragement of risk.

I hope you like it - here goes.

On - May first - Bren and Pepper made made spaghetti for our dinner. Most afternoons I drive out to pick the big girls up from school and those two spend the time playing and making dinner for us. It works really well for them to make and bake and hang out, and then it works really well for us as a family to come together at the end of the day, to share a meal and catch up with each other's news.

On - May second  - we picked the last of the outside tomatoes and cabbages and basil before the predicted frosts arrived the next morning. This year we harvested, cooked, preserved and ate so many fewer tomatoes than in any other year I can remember, but still I'm happy to see the end of them. The last ones of the season always smell too strong and are too floury for my liking. This crate we picked on Tuesday is still sitting by the front door; there's a chance I'll cook them all up over the weekend, but it's more than likely they'll get fed to the chooks.

On - May third - we finally lit a great big fire and burnt all the heads of the trees that we cut down for firewood late last year. I know that my farmer boy mourns the carbon and would much rather mulch them and feed the land, but burning sh#@ is one of my favourite parts of autumn farming and happy wife - happy life, hey.

On - May fourth - we suited up and visited our bees. All of our hives seemed madly busy stockpiling for winter as the season is so obviously changing. And because our bees had a rough winter last year we were really careful and only took a few honey frames here and there and only where it looked like they had plenty. Taking honey from the bees always seems like such a gamble at this time of the year, but then the thought of that spoonful of honey in our porridge and in our tea makes it too hard to resist.

On - May fifth - literally five minutes ago, we picked some beetroot to go with our veggie burgers for dinner tonight. As I type this they're cooking on the stove. I think we'll make a rocket, feta and beetroot salad with lemon juice with some of it and slice the rest.

And that's my May so far.
How about yours? How's it going?
Do you have a creative project on the go?
Are you looking for one? Do you want to join me?
Do you do something everyday already?
Do you have something fun planned for the weekend? I hope so.

Oh and thank you so much for your feedback on my coping with winter post. I guess my every day project and the way it'll hopefully help me look for the photographable moments is part of the way I hope to deal with it a little better this year. That and a bunch of other things I've written down from all of your suggestions.

See you in a week my friends.

Love Kate xx

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