Friday, April 28, 2017

from peak to past




It was weird the way we left our farm for ten days and by the time we got back everything felt different. In the scheme of things ten days doesn't sound like such a long time. We felt confident before we left that not much would change while we were away, that things would feel the same when we returned.

I remember other times away when we've sent requests home for photos of the gardens and orchards, looking forward to noticing new growth and old patterns, but not this time. In ten days we didn't expect any changes at all.

But quite the opposite happened. We left crisp, sunshiney, tee-shirt wearing days. We left apples, pears and quinces on the trees and tomatoes, zucchinis and cucumbers on the vines. We left trees covered in green leaves. We left days that dried laundry on the line and nights that were crisp enough to light the fire. We left blue skies and light and the promise of time to get everything done.


And then we returned last Monday into another season. The five days we've been home have been grey, freezing cold and the sort of wet that sinks in without definite beginnings and ends to the rain storms.

While we were away the wild animals cleared all the fruit off the trees and off the ground. They were so thorough that I felt like we'd been robbed until my farmer boy pointed out that no human would take all the rotten fruit from under the trees as well. Pears, apples, nashis and even the medlars have been eaten up without a scrap left behind.

The day after we got back I picked a crate of tomatoes and I could probably go through them again today and get another. But for every firm, ripe tomato, there are three split, squooshy soft ones. Hunting through the vines feels like an unlucky dip when you put your hands in and are confronted by the overripe, the decay, the damp, the slugs, the tar and that old tomato smell. Last Monday I lost my lens cap in a row of tomatoes and it still feels too icky in there to go back and look.

I'm gradually picking the beans as their pods brown off. There are carrots, beetroots, lots of leafy greens and leeks by the row. And for some reason the birds have left us some quinces for jelly. But the peak of the season has most definitely past and it feels like we're almost at that time now where some things will keep in the ground but nothing much will grow.

How did we go from peak to past so quickly? How are we not meant to take it personally when six months ago we were optimistically planting seeds and yet here we are now pulling out the debris by the armful and chucking it on the compost pile?


But the leaves have put on quite the show for us over the past few days. Everywhere you look there are reds and oranges and yellows and purples. We're constantly elbowing each other, pointing things out and ooooing and ahhhhing.

And as for the laundry and the fire? Inside and all the time.



I'm really worried about late autumn and winter. I'm anxious about the gloomy, grey days that are so cold they make my bones ache. I'm worried about driving the girls to school and back in the dark, over the mountains, on icy roads. I'm worried about the months where nothing grows in the garden. I'm worried about the inevitable questioning of whether I'm even a farmer if I'm not growing anything. I'm worried about feeling stuck and slow and uninspired and uninteresting. I'm worried about all the jobs on the farm I want to do before it's too cold to go out and do them. I'm worried about mould and damp and the slushy mud. I'm worried about how long it'll be before the warmth of the sun touches my face again. In a way I feel like I'm half a person in winter and I'm worried about that too.

A little while ago someone wrote to me on my blog about how often I express fear and that maybe I should confront it. In this case it's certainly true, I do have a fear of winter and I am totally willing and ready to accept it and face it this year. I'd love to work out where it comes from and what it's all about and how to conquer it. Or a least experience a milder version of it. I hope it's possible



But in the meantime here are some of the ways that I'm going to try and warm up my last month of autumn and my winter a bit:

I'm going to try and raise my level of fitness by going to gym for another session a week or by committing to some home exercise time on a regular basis. Actually maybe I need to a goal to work towards.

I'm going to expand my soup repertoire past the leek and potato and vegetable basics.

I'm going to learn something new. I think it's time for me to leave my comfort zone and experiment.

I'm going to try again to try and meditate.

I'm going to research and buy some quality, not itchy thermal underwear.

I'm going to take a break from knitting socks after I finish this pair and knit a bunch of beanies, mittens, scarves and shawls. Pepper has a list up on the door where family members can place their orders.

I'm going to make myself rug up and get outside whenever it's not windy and raining.

I'm going to plan some trips to Melbourne.

I am going to make up a mantra about decay and rotting being part of the cycle of life and I'm going to write it out and repeat it to myself.

I'm going to (try my hardest to) keep our house clean and tidy.

I'm going to make some nice smelling bath things.

When we're stuck inside for days at a time, I'm going to remind myself that I dream of the slow, quiet days in summer and autumn and try to re-frame the whole situation.


And then I walk out the front door and there are mushrooms growing on the grass. Seriously. I am not a fan of the fungus.

How about you?
Has the season changed where you are?
Do you have any sure fire ways to beat the cold weather blues?
Do you have any super soup recipes, yoga for beginners You-tubes, meditation for dummies apps?
Do you have anything fun planned for the weekend?
I hope so.

See you next week.

Love Kate
xx





Friday, April 21, 2017

island time










It's our last afternoon on the island. I'm hoping that these photos will tell their own stories of our week away so I can go and spend the last precious moments outside rather than in the air-conditioning tapping away on my computer.

It's been magical.


See you next week with stories from back on the farm.

LoveLove

xx

PS. If you have any tips for easy reentry I'd love to hear them. I hear it's cold and wintry back home.


Friday, April 14, 2017

a week away



Happy Friday you guys!

I just counted and this is the 22nd blog post I've written since I started posting regularly on Fridays late last year. 22!! That's practically half a year's worth. But this post feel like a weird one. You see right now I am so far from Foxs Lane that I am in another time zone. I'm so far from Foxs Lane that when I look out of my window all I can see are airport buildings and planes taking off. So far from Foxs Lane that I didn't even pack my work overalls. And so far from Foxs Lane that my mind and thoughts are out of the forest and the orchards and the gardens, and are instead in a world that is humid and filled with travel and swimming and family.

We've cleaned up, handed our place over to the house minders and traveled a little way across the world to celebrate Bren's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Traveling along with me and Bren and his parents are his sister and her husband and our six girls. What fun! What a lot of giggling.

So you can probably understand that writing a blog about farmey, homey, seasonal living wouldn't feel quite right while we're so far away from it. And writing about our time away doesn't feel all that doable when so far we've only been traveling.

So I'm going to keep this one short and sweet.

Firstly, last stormy Sunday night a big tree fell down across our driveway. We're really lucky that we have other ways to get in and out, lucky that it didn't land on anything that mattered or cause any damage, lucky that farmer Bren is super qualified with a chain saw and lucky that our firewood for 2019 got a nice top up. But when your week is neatly ordered into jobs that need to be done before you hand over the farm for a week, spending a chunk of time cutting a big tree takes a bit of rearranging.


And I'm super lucky that The Bulldogs won the first game of football the new socks were worn to so now they are undisputed 'lucky socks'. Yay!

Details on ravelry here. 


Just before we left I finished reading The Mothers by Brit Bennett, which I highly recommend. After a few really disappointing books, I couldn't put The Mothers down. It is intelligent, emotional, topical, sad, and hopeful. I think it's a book whose characters will continue to travel through my life with me for a little while longer. I loved it.

And then on the plane I started Walkaway which Harper Collins so kindly sent me. Honestly I have never read anything quite like this 'techno thriller' but am completely fascinated by the futuristic tale and where it will take me.

A 500 page book to read, a new pair of just cast on socks to knit, so many of my favourite people to hang with and a week away from home in a most gorgeous spot feels a bit heavenly.

And that's it! Short and sweet.

I hope you have a heavenly weekend.
Have you got anything planned?
Are you reading, knitting, cooking or growing anything exciting?
Is the sun shining there?

I hope so.

Big love,

Kate
xx


Happy anni Rene and John xxxxxx


Friday, April 7, 2017

ten things

Hello lovelies,

It's early April, one month into autumn, and the first day of the school holidays. Bren and Pepper have gone camping, Indi and Jazzy are in the other room listening to Cat Stevens and after my initial panic at remembering that it's blog day, I've settled in with my lap-top and I'm ready to go.

So these are the ten photos that I've taken over the past week. Ten autumnal pictures about what my life looks like right now. And because ten is such a nice even number, I think I'll stick with that and write 10 bunches of words about life to go with them. 

Sound good? Good.

Thing one - I've decided that I'd quite like to be a flower farmer when I grow up. For most of the time we have been farming here we have concentrated primarily on growing edible things, but over the past few years we've given over rows and beds to flowers. For the bees, for picking bunches of, and because they add colour and just look so glorious showing off their sweet blossom smelling faces to the world. Next season I want to grow twice as many as we grew this season and then even more than that. I think I'd better start researching eh.

Thing two - Miss Pepper put together these posies to present to Indi and Jazzy the other night after their singing performances in their school's soiree. The big girls loved them but they were pretty wilted by the time they got to them, I told you I needed to do some research.

Thing three - We're at that funny part of the season where too much is too much. Every spare space in our house is filled with crates and boxes and baskets of produce waiting to be preserved. Beans, quinces, apples, tomatoes, pears, cucumbers, beetroot, grapes, cabbages, basil and nashis, all ready to bottle and boil and dehydrate and stew and ferment and freeze. The house smells like overripe fruit and to be honest I think I'm almost at that point when I can seriously say that I'll be happy not to eat another raw tomato until next year. I'm definitely at that point where I'm sick of reaching for something only to find it mushy and mouldy on the inside. Better hop to it and slice and dice quicker.


Thing four - As the days have been slowly growing colder and shorter and darker, I've been compiling a list in my head of things that I love about Autumn and one of those is definitely lighting bonfires. Standing around a pile of burning logs with a steaming hot cup of tea warming my hands makes me as happy, as happy as can be.

Thing five - Watching Bren as he refines his tools, develops muscle memory, gets into his flow and makes the most beautiful bowls from wood off our farm makes me pretty happy too. We've been talking about setting up an undercover space with a wood heater for when the weather turns nasty soon, complete with a comfy arm chair for a knitting companion. Hopefully we've got a few weeks of mild outdoor days before then though.

Thing six - While Bren's been making wooden bowls on his lathe, Miss Pepper has been carving little wooden beads from his offcuts. I'll have to remember to get a photo of them all strung onto her necklace when she gets home.

Thing seven - I finally finished Emily's Bulldogs socks. A quick soak in some wool wash, a nice block, a photo on a daughter's feet and then I'll be handing them over. 

Thing eight - Whenever I finish a knitting project I reward myself with knitting a few extra squares onto my memory blanket. Unfortunately the red, white and blue from the footy socks don't exactly work in the blanket's colour palette, so I'm using scraps from socks past this time.

Thing nine -  My blog and clever author friend Zanni Louise sent me the sweetest package this week. A copy of her latest book Archie and The Bear, some brown wool, a crochet hook and the pattern to make an adorable bear hat. It really is a gorgeous book and I am so proud of Zanni and excited to think of little bears all over the world cuddling up to read her wise words and turn her pretty pages.

Thing ten - I just started this book last night so I don't have much to say about it yet other than how different it is to the last three Australian books I read. I find myself constantly rejigging the pictures in my head, the geography, the religousness, the culture, the way the people look and the foods that they eat - it's all so very unfamiliar and foreign - but I guess that's one of the things I love best about books and reading. I have loved the first 88 pages and look forward to the rest.

Thing ten.one - I want to thank you all so very much for your responses to my last blog post. Thank you as always for your kindness and encouragement, it means the world to me. I am very slowly going through them all and thinking about how you read my words, look at my pictures and where to go from here. I'm most interested in the regular Friday posting and how many of you said you look for my blog now rather than have it delivered to you. I like to think of it as part of your Friday routine. And I'm pretty happy with how it's working from my side too. Making me want to commit and be reliable and dependable. It's good.

Thing ten.two - (Ugh, I never was any good at maths.) Somehow with all the long days of hard farm work we've been doing over the past week I've sprained my right wrist. I'm happy to take a day off today to rest it and hang out with my big girls. I was relieved to find that I could still type these words. But I'm upset that it hurts to knit. After all, what good is sitting still without knitting?

Okay, time to stop, the girls want to watch a episode of 13 Reasons Why.


So how about you, have you read anything, watched anything, listened to anything good lately?

I hope you've had a lovely last week and are looking forward to something fun on the weekend.


Love Kate

xx



Friday, March 31, 2017

just do it!

Hello honey bunches,

I hope this finds you well and happy, not too warm or too cold, and maybe, hopefully, enjoying a little pocket of time you've carved out just for yourself and nobody else.

Before I start I want to acknowledge that I'm learning how hard it is for me to get straight into the blog writing without a quick discussion of the process. (Please see the the first paragraph of my last blog post for more info on this). I think I know what I want to write about today but I don't know where to start, and setting the scene, describing my morning and talking about where I am at, feels like a short cut from here to there. But knowing that my mum will arrive in a few hours with her (metaphoric) red pen and draw a line through this paragraph on her way to changing my semi colons to colons and moving my commas around makes me wonder if I should try a bit harder or just do it, as the case may be.

Just do it - if there were a theme to my past week, that would be it.

Just do it began last Monday in our gym session, as so many of my big thoughts and blog posts do lately, have you noticed that? The session was actually about finding our wall. Our trainer smashed us. Push ups and sits ups and running and rowing, ropes and weights and squats and kicks and so much more. And then the whole lot again three more times. In the third round I found my wall but somehow got through it and went on. 

But the harder it got, the tireder I became, the more my head talk took over. 'I just finished my period so I don't have a lot of energy today', I thought, 'it's so humid and there's no air' I went on, 'we split and stacked so much wood yesterday so I'm too tired today', I tried, 'I can't concentrate on my breathing', 'I don't like this song', 'I feel weak', 'I don't know what's wrong with me', 'I can't do this'...

Some of them I kept to myself and some of them I puffed out loud to our trainer. 

Just do it - she replied.

And after she told me a couple of times I took it on and tried it. I stopped myself from making the same old excuses and turned inwards to get the job done. I didn't let myself feel the pain but tightened my core, checked my position and focused on the finish line. Over and over until I did it. And it was the best feeling.

All through the week I've tried to do the same. Stop the crazy amount of head talk, stop the self doubt and the questions and all the multiple choices, and just get the job done. I've carried enormous rounds of wood to the splitter, I've pulled up hundreds of meters of irrigation lines that had grass growing over them, I've dealt with daughters with extreme emotions, I've hung washing on the line in winds that almost pushed me over, I've squished a zillion tomatoes and processed just as many apples, I've shopped the city with two teenagers, and I've picked and carried crates and crates of apples and pears and quinces.

I just did it.

You know as silly as it sounds I've never really thought much about that brand's slogan - Just do it - they were only just words until I put them into action and felt them in my core. Now I feel like I could totally wear them on my tee-shirt.....just joking.


I've included the next few photos just for fun. Jazzy asked to borrow my camera while we were out picking fruit earlier in the week and I just did it. It was lovely to see her perspective, nice to be in a few photos for a change and interesting to see what I look like from the back and how farmery my hands are.

Then they all had a go.

Jazzy took this photo.

Indi took this photo.

And Pepper took this photo. I can't help but laugh every time I look at it at how she got everything in focus except for us. I love it.

And with that I have a few questions for you;

Do you read my blog on your phone, tablet or computer?
How do you know when I've updated my blog?
Approximately how many blogs do you read these days?
Do you read my blog for the craft, the family, the farming or something else?
Do you have anything you'd like me to blog about?
Are you listening to S-Town? (I'm up to chapter three)
If you had heaps of pears what would you do with them? (These look good)
Do you, can you, should you just do it?

Thanks and so much love,

Kate xx





Friday, March 24, 2017

empty

Hello lovelies,

Last week as my mum sat on my chair and edited my commas, and tenses, and hyphens, she told me that she always wants to delete the part of my blog where I discuss the writing of the blog. She thinks it's a means to getting into the writing of the blog but unnecessary to the actual blog itself. So with that in mind I'm not going to start with a discussion about my process, instead I'm going to start somewhere else entirely.

I'm going to start with the word empty.

For our past few gym sessions, we've made a point of sitting down at the start when we first arrive, to set the intention of the class. On Monday we let go of the fear and today we used the word empty. We emptied out everything that we brought in with us and started afresh.

I emptied out the apples being eaten by the birds, the school dramas, the washing in the machine since yesterday, the period pain, the phone calls I have to make, the emails I have to return, my messy mind, Pepper's tummy ache, my to-do list and all sorts of other rambly etceteras and made an effort to be present in my body.

To make this blog I'm going to take the word empty in another direction. I'm going to empty out all the photos I have in my camera from the past week and write a little bit about each.

Let's go.


A few days ago we made sauerkraut. And I took a few photos inside. Which I never do because we live in the forest and it is often too dark in here. I love growing cabbages, and I love eating sauerkraut, and recently after listening to Richard Fidler's interview with Giulia Enders about The powerful impact of gut health on our bodies and brains and Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis's report on the intricate relationship between the gut micro biome and the brain - The second brain - on All In The Mind, I've started viewing it as medicine too.


I've been watching all those dangly beans fade from green to brown and waiting for their pods to rattle so I can pick them and fill jars with them, and winter soups and stews full of them, and later on come spring time, plant them all over again.


I've been watching as parts of our garden fade and die off.




Parts of our garden reach their autumnal peak.

And some parts of our garden lie empty and ready to be filled.

I knitted leisurely rows of Emily's birthday Bulldogs socks until I found out that the AFL men's competition starts again tonight. TONIGHT!! Better get a wriggle on, hey.


I watched Bren spend every spare second outside working with wood.


We made fruit leather using my old recipe from here.


We squished and bottled jars of tomato sauce.

We made semi dried tomatoes in the oven using my old recipe from here.


And we made apple compote and dried apple rings using my old recipe from here.


And I've left the best to last. Over the past week Bren has started making bowls on his pole lathe from wood that he's found around our farm.

I should rephrase that: over the past week Bren has been thinking, speaking, watching YouTube clips, reading, dreaming and obsessing about wooden, pole-lathe-turned bowls. The making has been somewhat limited due to the weather and the busy season. But holy moly you guys, BOWLS!!!

I am beyond excited at these beautiful creations and the potential ahead. I am so very inspired watching his process, his need to learn and itch to create. And truthfully I'm a bit jealous of his obsession. I'm feeling so stuck creatively and would so love a dose of that excitement that comes with learning a new craft.

So I guess having started this post with the word empty, it's quite fitting to finish it with a photo of a bowl. A vessel waiting to be filled - with apples, with little love notes, with the treasures I find when I empty the pockets for the wash, I guess time will tell. And in fact I quite love them empty because it means you can see the beautiful grain and chisel marks inside.

And with that I'm out of photos, which must mean it's the end of the blog.

But first tell me about you - are you a sauerkrauter? A preserver? A lover of hot or cold weather? Fiction or non fiction? Happy or sad movies?

Me? - yes, yes, hot, fiction, sad with happy endings.

Happy weekend you guys.

Love Kate xx






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