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

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

Dear Jarrah

Dear Jazzy,

Although I don't think you've ever read my blog before, as our middle child I know you'd point out the injustice if I didn't write to you like I did to Indi when she was off on her school adventure two years ago, and so I will.

Dear Jazzy,

Last Sunday night we took you to the airport for your six week class trip to France and Spain.

After weeks of preparation, after days of goodbyes, after breakfast pancakes and last minute adjustments, we five jumped in the car and drove away. In the car on the way there, despite your initial protests, I played the latest Heavyweight podcast - Rob, and you laughed the loudest. Of course you did. In our family you are 'the broken arm guy' and as our middle child, there's no way we'd be ever be allowed to forget it.

Sandwiched in between your sisters, our role as your parents is to make you feel and trust that your experiences are no less important and are valued and acknowledged equally. So we discussed your trip and tried our hardest not to compare it to Indi's. But secretly, inside my heart, I felt pleased with my own mum-experience. I knew what I was in for this time and felt a little more prepared to let you go.

At the airport you ran off excitedly with your friends, you posed for photos, danced and then we watched you as you handed over your passport and checked yourself in. It was impossible to feel overemotional when you appeared so calm, capable and ready.

We four drove home from the airport flicking through so many podcasts, but nothing fit. I think we were all a bit lost in the silence, thinking of what the Jarrah-sized hole would feel like in our lives.

On Monday, while you were still in the air, Pepper went back to school, Indi studied at home we worked on the farm and continued our attempts to use up the winter produce in the garden to make room for spring. Late in the afternoon we got a message letting us know you'd arrived in Paris with a photo of your first meal.

I wondered if you slept on the plane. I wondered if you watched movies or ate your meals. I wondered who you sat next to and what you did on your two hour stop-over in an airport far, far away.

On Tuesday we woke up with 15 year old you in our hearts. It was raining hard and I knew that if you were here you'd be bargaining for a deep bath. We put together the frames for three more bee boxes, we made Pepper's birthday party invitations, we weeded and planted and watered and cooked, and then late in the afternoon we called you and sang 'happy birthday!' Even though it had only been a few days, it made us so happy to hear your voice. To hear that you'd just been woken up with songs and cards. I love that you felt celebrated. I love that you are the 15 year old girl who wants an electric guitar for her birthday. And I hope you found all of our cards in your backpack.

On Wednesday the wind was blowing hard and unsettled everyone and everything. All of my plans to start planting out the market garden were pushed over and I felt on edge and annoyed.

On Thursday we woke up and the wind had stopped and everything felt still, thank goodness. I noticed that the first of the peonies that always flower on your birthday is out. I thought I might pick it and put it in a jar next to my bed but then I changed my mind and left it there to admire each time I walk past it to my studio.

On Thursday I also started spinning wheel lessons and dad finished his first bowl on his new lathe. He carved it out of a eucalyptus burl - a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds.

With all that tricky grain going in every direction it was quite a challenge for him to turn but the results are totally worth the effort. Such a beautiful piece.

Which brings me to today. It's the most magnificent spring day. I'm sitting on the couch in my studio watching the birds visiting the banksia tree outside, I can just hear the sound of John on his mulcher cleaning up the gorse behind the tractor shed and I'm contemplating trying to type and treadle the spinning wheel at the same time.

And of course I'm thinking of you. I love that your school cares about rites of passage and the transition through adolescence. I love how perfectly timed this trip is for you. And I love you!

It's 6.30am in Paris, I wonder what adventures your today holds for you.

So this is it, the first of my stories from while you're away. I can't wait to hear yours.

All my love


Friday, October 5, 2018

hand-knit socks and clogs

At the start of this week my farmer boy suggested we try something different. Instead of writing out a grand, all encompassing farm-to-do list, instead we only write down two tasks per day. It was a way of keeping things achievable rather than overwhelming, interesting rather than annoying, and hopefully the bite sized chunks would keep the momentum going and would stop us from getting distracted and keep us on the task at hand.

On Monday we weeded and mulched in the morning and stacked wood in the afternoon. On Tuesday we mowed the orchard in the morning and visited the bees in the afternoon. On Wednesday I planted seeds in the greenhouse and Bren was supposed to mow but instead had a day of organising and managing with a little bit of mowing and watering in-between. Yesterday was a write-off as far as the farm was concerned but quite productive elsewhere - I had my hair cut, I spent some time fixing the sleeve on the cardigan I'm knitting, we started getting Jazzy's things packed and in the afternoon we trained to Melbourne to buy some things and go to a book launch.

Looking back on it now I can see that this way of organising things suits us. More than waking up and discussing it, more than the mega, never-ending list on the fridge, and more than writing the jobs down after we've done them at the end of the day. Each day we woke up ready to go, we worked hard, we even found time to do some extras - we built a Holtz Hausen woodstack, our friend's Bob and John of @treestotimber started milling some of our trees into the timber that we will use someday soon to build a barn, we kept a bonfire going for four days clearing up an area where a few trees came down, we hung out with the girls and friends and did school holiday things, and we picked up a new wood turning lathe for him and he set it up.

We also looked after Indi and reassured her that every kid doing year 12 in Australia is feeling the same way she is, we did everything we could to get Jazzy ready to go overseas THIS SUNDAY for six weeks and we picked Pepper up from the airport after her trip up north to hang out with her grandparents and cousins.

And in between all of that and the housework, I knitted. And I finally sewed in the ends of the last two pairs of socks that I made. Thick ribbed mohair socks, may they be worn in good health for many years to come. Click here if you are interested in the details.

And just quietly how good do the stripey socks look with the new clogs I bought myself to celebrate being a tulip grower. I feel so rich every time I bring an arm-full up to the house, I don't know why I've never grown them before. I love them!

And with that I'm out of here and off to pick some more! 

But before you go why don't you tell me how you've been?
What's your best trick for staying on task and productive?
What's your favourite thing to make when you have too many leeks?

See you later alligator!

Love, Kate x

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