Friday, December 7, 2018

some answers

Hello friends,

Another week has flown right on by. So many times I thought of these photos and that I should post them along with the answers to the questions in the comments at the bottom of my last post, but it never came to be.

This past week was warm and dry and I feel like we made use of every minute; planting veggies and flowers, weeding, mulching, pulling the garlic, watering and mowing. From first thing in the morning til last light at night. Summer craziness on the farm has begun.

And it's exciting to watch as the scarlet runner bean fronds grab hold and wind their way up and around the trellises, flowers on the tomatoes begin to emerge, broad beans fatten up and await their picking, dahlia shoots emerge out of the soil, lettuces grow and plump up, strawberries and peas wait for you to walk by and snap them off and each day new flowers open and show their pretty faces to the world.

So here are the photos now. My Lanes cardigan still buttonless (Ravelry details here). Indi and Jazzy, the foxgloves, delphiniums and the warm summer's eve.

And now for the question and answer bit.

Hi Carly. Now that Indi has finished school she's trying to get her hours of learner driving up to 120 so she can get her driver's license (she's currently sitting at about 94), she's relaxing and socialising and she's working for me on the farm. I can't actually remember any stand out signs from the climate rally but at one stage Bren turned to me and said we should have made one that said 'Organic Farming is the answer!' I love that imagined one too. My advice for a new gardener would be to only grow the things you love to eat and look at. And to grow rocket and radishes because they are quick and easy. And I'm okay. Not great. I had a fight with one of my kids this week that really rocked me (we're good again now) and yesterday I finally went to the doctor about my elbow and ankle and now I'm all strapped up in purple tape with exercises to do and a list of things I'm not allowed to do. And I'm not allowed to knit for a week which I am stressing about. Or spin. Ugh, what's a girl to do?! A week feels like such a very long time. x

Hi Small Catalogue, has my brain returned now that my youngest is 10 and if so did it come back gradually or in a rush? Hmmmm definitely not in a rush. Actually I feel like for me it's been less about getting my brain back and more about carving out a space of my own. And I don't just mean a physical space, although the construction of my studio definitely helped with that. Over the past year I've come out from behind my girls and really felt a push to rediscover who I am, what I need and want, and to create some projects for myself. It's ongoing obviously, and it often gets squashed by things like VCE and other demanding family issues, but I feel like this past year I have felt more true to myself than I ever remember feeling before. Do you? x

Hi Kate, ooooooh I love your question about the other senses and what they add to my stories. So often when I'm in the garden wandering around or working, with the soundtrack of the calling of the birds, the singing of the frogs, the rustling of the wind through the trees, the fountain of the water as it comes out of the ground and pours into the house dam, I'll grab my phone and try to record the visual together with the audio to try to capture the scene as a whole. It's a shame I can't do that here now. I think that when I took these photos of the girls it was early evening and the birds must have all been calling out to each other but my focus would have been on Indi and Jazzy, laughing, breaking into song, telling each other stories, finishing each other's sentences and being silly. And as for the smell, I've been finding the sweet peas quite overpowering. There would have been that just freshly watered smell and the dry forest smell is just starting to be noticeable. I'm writing all of this from inside my studio where I can't really smell anything except for the wood of the walls, but I'm sure I'll be much more aware of everything later on when I go back to work. x

And that's me today.

Where are you? What are you up to? What can you hear and smell? And how do you feel?

See you next week friends.


Kate x

Friday, November 30, 2018

until then

Hello friends.

Just a quick one today because we're taking our girls into Melbourne for the school students' strike for climate action to protect our future. We're catching the train into the city early and probably won't be home until late.

Hopefully I'll be back sometime over the weekend with more photos of my finished Lanes cardigan and the girls in the foxgloves. Hopefully I'll think of some stories to tell. Or maybe you could ask me a question and I'll try to answer it. Does that sound like a fun idea? Let's see what happens.

Until then, be kind to yourselves and each other.

Lots of love,

Kate xx

Friday, November 23, 2018

foxglove love

After our exam week away in a house in Macedon, after Indi's 18th birthday, after cocktails and dinners and dancing in the city to celebrate her, after Camberwell market, and after finally picking up our Jazzy from the airport, we came home. 

As someone who lives her life in bite-sized manageable portions, for weeks it had felt like the night of Sunday the 18th was when one portion stopped and Monday the 19th was a new beginning.

I dreamed that I would wake up on the Monday morning with the happy, comforting thought that all of my people were under our roof, snuggled up in their warm beds. And then I would go out and get stuck straight into my garden. I hoped to spend the next few days planting out every single pot in the greenhouse. I couldn't wait to begin.

I got dressed in my overalls and work boots, I popped a podcast in my ears and off I went.

But when I got there what I found wasn't exactly what I had expected.

What I found was a jungle. Weeds so thick I could hardly see the plants, grass so high I was scared I would step on a snake walking down the rows. There was no way I would be planting anything in that garden that day. I didn't know where to start, I couldn't work out what to do, I stood there feeling upset and out of control for a very long time.

After a while the words in my headphones started filtering into my brain and my consciousness. Coincidentally I was listening to a podcast that was talking about how feelings of anxiousness and panic can be compared to a working dog with no sheep. All that energy and enthusiasm and focus and drive, with no place to go. 

I was the dog, I needed to move my sheep/seedlings into their new paddock/garden, I needed to get practical, I needed an outlet, I needed a job.

So I mowed all the paths and I weeded some of the beds and when my farmer boy came over we pulled out some old crops, planted some more and then mulched them. After a while I began to see that things were looking more manageable, I felt less overwhelmed and I started to calm down. That evening I worked until it got too dark to see.

On Tuesday it poured with rain and the temperatures plummeted. I couldn't risk exposing my seedling babies to the elements, nor did it look like I should as the forecast for the rest of the week only looked colder and wetter and windier.

So the week that was supposed to be all about planting and staking and irrigating, instead ended up being spent mostly indoors...

spending time with our traveler. Looking at her pictures, listening to her stories, asking her questions, cuddling her, admiring her and feeling so grateful for the adventures she had and to have her back home.

Spinning fleece into wool. I'm still not great at it but I'm completely obsessed. I wrote once about how I was scared to start spinning my own yarn because it would take time away from the all important knitting. Well I'm here to report that it has. Absolutely! Apart from Indi's birthday crown, I've hardly knitted a stitch in weeks. And I'm okay with that. Happy even. It feels like it's adding to my knitting process rather than subtracting from it. I can't imagine how extra special it'll feel once I start creating something from what I've spun. I guess it's making a slow craft even slower but also so much richer. Lucky I'm not in a hurry.

I've been reading my sister Abby's copy of The Nowhere Child which is fast paced and suspenseful and completely unputdownable.

In between showers I pulled up one bed of garlic and then decided to leave the rest for another few weeks.

We finally divided our dahlia tubers. I would have loved to have planted them already but with all this rain it felt like too great a risk. Hopefully tomorrow.

I watched our poppies about to pop and begged them to wait until after the rains and it looked like they might have listened.

 I picked huge posies of roses and sweet peas and irises and peonies to brighten up the house.

And I've LOVED spending time as a family of five again, listening to Jazzy write a song on the guitar about her trip, watching Indi rediscovering life away from the pressures of school, walking through the garden collecting treasures with Pepper, admiring Bren's ongoing shed renovations, spending time in my studio, watching my girls comforting and cuddling and encouraging each other, and trying to remember that all this rain is such a blessing just before summer.

And sitting here right now writing this I can see that although this week didn't turn out how it was meant to, case in point being the still full to bursting greenhouse, it did turn out pretty wonderfully. Except for the cold, I haven't liked one single second of that.

Enough about me, how about you?
How has your week been?
Has it gone to plan? Or veered off wildly?
Can you relate to that sheep dog without any sheep feeling?
What flowers have you been picking from your garden?
What podcasts have you been loving?

I have to go now, Indi, Jazzy and Bren have come into my studio. Indi is trying on outfits for her graduation tonight and I need to focus.

Have a beautiful weekend my friends.

So much love to ya!

Kate x

Friday, November 16, 2018


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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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,
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

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