Friday, March 30, 2018

in a hurry

Hello honey bunches!

How are you going? How's your week been?

It's the first day of the autumn school holidays here. Jazzy and her cousin Remy are helping Bren make matza lasagne in the kitchen, Pepper is playing a game on her iPad, Indi is reading her homework aloud to herself in the sun room and I've got a zillion things I should be doing, but instead I'm going to spend a few minutes with you. I'm going to have to make it a quick one this week, but hopefully the pictures will tell a thousand words and it'll all work out.

I took the top photo of the cocktail tomatoes four days ago on a day we came so very close to losing them and the flowers to frost. It felt like a very narrow escape. But there's nothing quite like a near miss to remind us of how fleeting the seasons are and to appreciate what we've got while we've got it.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed picking the tomatoes that day. Even those tiny little, fiddly ones. Not to mention eating them.

Last Sunday we had a stall at the very first Daylesford Sunday Farmer's Market. It was the first farmer's market we've had a stall at in years and years and we had the most wonderful day. We sold baskets of apples and bunches of flowers, we bought lots from the other stall holders, and we chatted with so many people and can't wait to do it again this Sunday.

And these photos are from this morning when Bren and the girls rescued some of the grapes that grow on our back deck from the birds and made grape juice.

Ahhhhhhh I feel like I've got so much more to say, but it'll be dark soon and I have a million things to do.

Thank you once again to everyone who wrote kind messages to me about my blog. They really mean the world to me. I can't thank you enough. I am going to continue for now, how could I not?

I hope to be a bit more organised with my blog time next week.

I wish I could take a photo and show you how many birds are eating Bren's leftover grapes on the deck right now but I have to fly.

Happy long weekend! Happy Pesach! Happy Easter!!

Before you go why don't you tell me something fun that's going on in your life at the moment. Or something not fun but interesting. I'm all ears.

Lots of love, Kate x

Friday, March 23, 2018

thirty four

Hello lovely ones,

I hope you've had a gorgeous week.

I just typed out the first 34 things that came to mind when I thought of my week that just was, here they are...

We watched a movie called Faces and Places and absolutely adored it. I never agree to watching subtitled films because I still can't knit and read at the same time, but this time I made an exception and I'm so pleased I did. I highly recommend it.

listened to the first episode of the second season of Ear Hustle and loved it. One of you guys originally recommended it to me and if it was you, thank you so much. x

knitted the second sleeve of my Mirehouse sweater. Gosh, when I first cast on I thought it would be a quick knit because of the 10ply yarn and the size 4mm needles, but I guess not.

finished reading Lullaby. I read it in two days. I'm always interested in books that start with the last chapter and what they must do to keep us reading when we know where we're headed. This book was not put-downable. My Mum told me that it's actually inspired by a true story too. I must remember to google it.

We made and sold apple spirals at Pepper's school's autumn fair.

felt sick watching news of the bush fires on the other side of the state.

received a copy of The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart  by Holly Ringland in the mail from the kind people at Harper Collins and I can't wait to get through the book I'm currently reading so I can start it. It might just have the most beautiful cover I've ever seen. And it's about the language of flowers and a flower farmer!!! What more could one want in a book?!

I got dressed in my gym clothes for the first time in about three weeks and went to train with a new trainer and a new class. After two happy years at my old gym I was pretty nervous to begin with, but I loved it and look forward to going back.

drove through the forest to catch a train in the dark to the city.

visited the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show on a media pass before it opened. On a media pass!!! How cool. Our media group toured the gardens and met the winners, we did a few workshops, we walked around and we were given goodie bags. I'm not really into formal manicured gardens so it pleased me greatly that the overall winning garden had boxer shorts hanging on a Hills hoist, a cricket pitch, and some overgrown grassy bits. I loved it. 

 I carried my big camera off the farm for the first time in ages and took photos of the flower show but unfortunately the light was so bright and the shadows were so harsh that I wasn't really happy with any of them. What a shame.

read the last chapter of my Mum's new manuscript and loved the way she ended it.

We picked crates and crates of apples.

We picked crates and crates of tomatoes. We squished most of them, made a sauce with onion, garlic and basil and bottled them for later.

We picked crates and crates of cucumbers. We fermented lots in jars.

We stayed in a house close to the big girls' school for two nights.

We sent Bren and Pepper and some friends off camping for two nights.

started reading Mrs by Caitlin Macy.

ate so much of Bren's tabouli.

felt stupidly disappointed when one of my dahlias snapped off at the roots during a big wind storm.

picked so many flowers. I picked a big jar full to take away with us and looking at it sitting up all bright and happy on the kitchen table made me feel so happy. 

We sang to my sister Emily on her birthday.

realised that all of my clothes suit country and farm living but aren't that great for visits to the city. For so long I was proud of the fact that I could easily straddle both worlds; not anymore. 

We filled out the paperwork for a new, weekly Daylesford farmer's market starting this Sunday. It's been  years since we've done a market and I'm a bit excited.

started thinking about the design of our market stall. Crates? Boxes? Baskets? Signs?

dressed Miss Pepper in a school uniform to be extra on a tv show.

We visited our bees and started getting them ready for winter.

tried not to think of winter.

met a woman in a cafe this morning who I've only ever chatted to on instagram and I think she's as awesome as her flowers and photos. At the start she recognised my girls and introduced herself, in the end I liked her so much I wished I didn't have to leave.

We ate cheese, tomatoes and pickled cucumbers on toast for lunch most days. I ate it for breakfast and sometimes for dinner too.

felt proud of, and exasperated by, and protective of, and amazed by, and frustrated by, and in love with, and anxious for, and thrilled for, and sad for, and hopeful for, and enchanted by our girls.

drove through the forest this morning after two days away and had butterflies in my tummy at the thought of seeing and cuddling my farmer boy.

drove into our little oasis in the trees and was so excited to see the next bit of the autumn renovation framed up before my eyes.

felt touched by the comments about where you live and read my blog on my last post. To be honest I've been contemplating taking a break from my blog for a while. After almost ten years, I feel like I'm constantly repeating myself these days and sometimes I wonder if anyone even cares. But then after reading your comments I felt inspired to continue. Thank you so much for being part of my community and for being so kind. xx

And that's 34 of me. Please feel free to tell me one or two about you.

Until next week...

Lots of love,

Kate x

Friday, March 16, 2018

10 things

Hello and welcome to another Friday here at Foxs Lane.

I hope that this finds you warm and well and happy in the thought that you've got a little pocket of time to yourself.

I wonder if it's morning or afternoon where you are? If you're reading on your computer or phone? If there are people around or if you're all by yourself? I wonder if you have a queue of blogs to read? If you clicked onto my site or got this as an email? And I wonder how many Fridays we've spent together you and me, through the internet, over the years?

I'm so happy that you've joined me today. I know how precious your time is and it means the world that you're spending some of it with me.

So I thought that this week, to make some sort of sense out of my jumbled up mind, we'd do one of those 10 things about right now posts. Are you ready? Okay let's get started.

Along with almost everything else in the garden that's ripe right now, we're picking and podding the scarlet runner beans that grew up the outside of the tee-pee in our garden. I love how those dried out, rattley skins slit open to expose the most beautiful purple beans.

We're picking armfuls of basil for salads, sandwiches, pizzas, sauces and for pesto.

We had a terribly wet spring and then a dreadful apple season last year, so this season feels a little bit lucky and extra special. Walking up and down the rows, watching the apples on the trees sizing and colouring up, tasting them to see if the starches have turned to sugar, and then picking bags and crates full is an apple farmers dream come true.

Once picked, most of our our apples go on the road side stall at the front of our farm. If you're passing by you should totally pop in - Daylesford Organics - 19 Foxs Lane Muskvale.

Right now the stall is full of Cox's Orange Pippin, with Red Delicious and Jonathan coming soon.

We're picking a crate of tomatoes a day, saucing them and then bottling them for winter time.

I'm sure I write this every year - but even though it feels like such a lot of work to do now, in an already crazy full autumn schedule, I love thinking of the sunshine filled gift I'm giving to winter-us by filling these jars with tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and basil.

We're renovating again. This paving out the front of the sun-room, on both sides of the front door is the start, and from here we're heading all the way across the front of the house to the right. We're extending the sun-room, we're making a wood shed and who knows what else will come up while we're at it.

This is a picture of the first sleeve, but I've actually finished that one and now I'm knitting the second sleeve of my Mirehouse sweater. Gosh I really need to get it finished soon so I can start preparing for my toe-up sock knitting master class at Soul Craft festival.

We're picking flowers. How cool is it that with most varieties of flowers the more you pick them the more prolifically they grow!! Now why don't fruit and vegetables do the same?

After I publish this we're going to pick some bunches to pop on the farm stall for the weekend. Apples and posies, sounds like the start of a beautiful weekend.

I've got the door to the studio open and I'm listening to the birds calling to each other about the delicious grapes they've found growing over our back deck. I'm listening to the washing machine telling me that it's finished its cycle. I'm listening to the wind blowing through the eucalyptus trees. And I just listened to and loved the episode of Invisibilia called - I,I,I. Him. (I should probably warn you that I had to pull my car off the road for a bit because I was sobbing so hard.)

A few days ago when I came to the end of the pile of books on my bedside table I found this copy of Picnic at Hanging Rock in the bookshelves. The kind people at Penguin sent it to me a few years ago when they re released it with this cute cover.

I actually can't believe I've never read it before, but part of me is glad I waited. The story is set in the area where I drive my girls to school every day so the descriptions of the the landscapes feel familiar and almost personal. Whenever I read a book I get completely immersed in its pages and in its world and this one is no exception. A few days ago Indi took me on a drive around the back streets of Macedon and part of the way up to Mount Macedon and although the book was set over 100 years ago in a time before cars or made roads, I could almost see the horse drawn carriage go past with a flutter of white summer dresses floating behind and hear the clapping of hooves on the ground.

From the very first page the descriptions of the flower filled, carefully cultivated gardens have delighted me. Sentences like 'Out in the gay green garden beyond the schoolroom the bed of dahlias glowed as if they were on fire, caught by the late afternoon sun' were written more than 50 years ago but could easily be used to describe the scene outside our sun room on any given February or March afternoon.

I am smitten by this haunting tale, the characters, the eerie mystery, the landscape, the history. If I finish reading it over the weekend I think I'll get my family to watch the movie with me.

I'll leave you with this little Buddhist thought my wonderful friend Melissa sent me a few weeks ago and I've found helpful this week. What we strain to hold - slips through our fingers. By opening our hands, things rest lightly upon our palms.

And that's me!
Tell me what you've been up to?
Where you've been?
What you've thought?
What you've done?

See you next week.



Friday, March 9, 2018

picking + preserving

Would you mind terribly if I didn't write many words this week and left you with these photos?

Farmer Bren came home this morning and told me that he thinks this weekend will be the last of the hot weather and from next week it will be positively autumnal. And then when I popped in to visit this lady who grows flowers nearby she said she's certain we'll have our first frost before the month is up and that it'll be 'a doozy'. 'Like Snow', she remarked casually while I started hyperventilating walking back to my car.

I am not ready!

I know we've had the most incredible growing season this spring and summer. I know that my fears of growing without poly tunnels for the first time in 15 years were unfounded. And I know that I should really be thinking about some sort of frost protection for the summer vegetables and flowers to extend their season a little. But still I love this colourful, busy time of the year and I'm not ready to say goodbye just yet.

So if it's all the same to you, I'm going to leave it at that this week, I'm going to press publish on this post, and then I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon: harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers, watering the bits of the garden that still aren't irrigated, looking for the apple bunting I made a few years ago, picking Cox's Orange Pippin apples, making some flower posies, touching up the signs for the main road, making the apple stall look cute for the long weekend, fermenting some cucumbers, filling the Fowlers machine with jars of tomato sauce, making some more apple rings for the dehydrator, feeding the chooks and dogs, hanging the washing on the line and making dinner for the girls.

Why don't you tell me a bit about what's going on in your world instead.
What's on your urgent list of things to do today?
What are you procrastinating by doing instead?
Are you ready for the next season?
What are you baking, making, growing, planning, dreaming about?

See you next week!

Love Kate x

Friday, March 2, 2018

two autumn hours

It's autumn, the sky is white and overcast, there is a sticky fruit smell in the air, and I'm wearing a cardigan.

This morning on the way home from dropping Pepper at school I had a little panic about the fact that I had no idea what to write my blog about today, and not one single photo from the week on my camera. What to post about? What to say?

For so much of the year we're looking after the plants and trees hoping that eventually they'll look after us. For so much of the year we're waiting and watching. For so much of the year being a farmer feels like just another word to describe a problem solver. And for so much of the year we're dreaming of arms and baskets and crates full of produce. Of compot, and pesto and fritters, oh my.

And then BAM we're here! Harvest-time!

In one day last week I found myself picking hazelnuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, apples, plums, nectarines, nashis, grapes, zucchini, cabbages, onions and a bunch of flowers. On another day I squished hundreds of tomatoes and made sauce, I halved and froze plums, I stewed a crate of nectarines, fermented some cucumbers, made dried apple rings and plum leather. My head is spinning.

It's crazy. There's a queue of black crates filled with produce by the front door waiting for me to process them and the overflow is covering the kitchen table.

I keep thinking about how great it would be if the harvest was spread out over the whole year instead of just a few weeks. But it's not, so I'm running with it; trying to remember that for the next year I'll dream of picking a sun warmed plum straight off the tree, I'll wish for a nashi grabbed in a rush on the way to school, a lunchbox filled with garden goodness, afternoon tea picked greedily off the vine. It's a crazy and colourful and sticky time of the year, it feels bountiful and lucky and I'm so happy to be here at long last.

So this week my blog is a two hour view into that crazy. I took each one of these photos between 9 and 11am this morning and I think they can give you a little  glimpse into our world.

While we're picking and preserving like crazy, we're also preparing for winter by filling up the green-house with vegetable and flower seeds.

We're watching the decline of our amazing zinnia crop and noticing that the bees don't seem to mind. Hopefully we'll collect lots of seeds for next season's flowers before we pull the whole row.

We're always watching and learning and admiring.

I bought a bag of mystery dahlia tubers from our local fruit and vegetable shop last spring, I'm so excited that they're finally flowering.

There's a row of perennial flowers right up the top of this garden that doesn't have its irrigation connected yet. I love those few minutes every day when I can stand hose in hand giving them a drink, checking on their progress, pulling a few weeds and then standing back up again to look at this beautiful, colourful view.

I don't know the proper names for most things in our garden, but I've been with them from the time they were tiny seeds, to a few leaves, all the way through to their buds and flowers. I've watched them and encouraged them every step of the way. And now I'm so proud of them. I really am.

When we first started talking about growing rows of flowers I dreamt of taking photos of our girls in the late afternoon light, wearing sun-dresses and carrying armfuls. I'd better get my act together now it's autumn, while there's still sun and colour and a bounty of blooms.

I'm obsessing over our nashis. Gosh I love them. I think I ate about eight yesterday.

I'm loving all those baby scarlet runner beans.

We're always cutting big bunches of flowers.

You know it never occurred to me that the art of flower arranging may be a little elusive to me. I think I thought that the flowers would lead me, as would all the millions of pictures of arrangements I've looked at in my time. But I'm here to tell you that it hasn't been as simple as I'd thought. Sometimes it does come together quickly and looks like the beautiful posy I'd pictured in my mind. But other times have found me pulling bits out and sticking them back in so many times that the stems get bent and the leaves start to droop and I wonder what made me think I could do this in the first place.

I've found the best way for me to practise is to have a few vases on the go and to add and subtract over the day each time I walk past them. It's been fun to try my hand at round posies as well as the more asymmetrical, sprawling arrangements. 

I'd love to do a flower arranging class or 10 at some stage. Maybe later in the year.

And of course we're picking apples.

Galas this morning.

Picking bags full.

And crates full.

While watching the other varieties carefully.

Coxs Orange Pippins will be next and shortly followed by Red Delicious.

We picked Abas yesterday.

And we're finally filling the little stall at the front of our farm. Yay! It's so exciting to throw open those doors, fill the shelves and invite the people in.

I can't tell you how much it pleases me to know that the apples we've been picking are going straight into the shopping bags of our lovely customers. There are no trucks, no cold-stores, no middle-men, no retail mark-ups, no-one to notice if you're in your pyjamas - just fruit (and hopefully flowers soon), all grown by us, picked by us, certified organic and most importantly DELICIOUS!!

If you are local, if you are passing by, or if you've been dreaming of a day-trip to our lovely area - please pop by.

We're at Daylesford Organics - 19 Foxs Lane Muskvale

All the apples are $6kg, please bring correct change and your own shopping bag.

And that's me for the week!
I'd better get dressed now, we're off to a picnic at the big girls' school.

How have you been anyway?
Have you had a good week?
What are you picking from your garden?
Are you a good flower arranger?
What were you up to between 9 and 11am this morning?

I hope you have a gorgeous sunshiny weekend.

Lots of love,

Kate x

ps. thanks so much for all of your sleep remedies, support and suggestions,  I've made a list and am slowly working through it. x

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