A time for everything

Although we may have a couple of hundred acres, our garden area is comparatively small at this point in time. It's been a steep learning curve moving from the hot, arid climate of South Australia to our current growing climate in NSW. In our valley we get a sub-tropical summer and a temperate winter with hard frosts overnight. Learning what grows when has been hit and miss. In summer things grow like mad, including the weeds. In winter, frosts burn off any tender plants and growth grinds to a near halt. Though there are a few things like kale and spinach that remain reliable producers.  


But these spaces, though they are not huge, actually provide our family of six with a surprising amount of food. Things like herbs, asian greens, kale and spinach are incredibly generous plants. I just harvest the outer leaves as we need them and they continue to produce. Pinching out the flowers helps to prolong their productivity and likewise if you cut spring onions off at the base rather then pulling them out they quickly re-shoot. 

Every week I plant another 1-2 of punnets of seedlings to ensure we have a continuous supply. It's not the most frugal method of buying plants, but I can buy punnet of seedlings for around the same price as I can buy a bunch of kale, so it works out far more economical in the long run. And I'm supporting a local business at the same time.


In an ideal world I would grow everything from seed, and some things I do. But in this season with young children, livestock and living off-grid with a haphazard system, seeds are somewhat less forgiving. There is plenty of time for that in the future. We do not need to do everything perfectly all the time and I'm a big believer that giving things a crack is far more important perfection.

This garden for me is not about doing as much as humanly possible and building something I cannot sustain which then makes me feel like a failure that I'm dropping all the balls. (A feeling most of us can relate too I’m sure.) Instead, it is about slowly creating something that works for us, in this season of our lives. If I add one or two new garden beds and plant 2-3 fruit trees every year, then in 5 years time that's going to end up being a really substantial and well established garden.  And the process will have been enjoyable and workable around our lifestyle.  Sure, I could throw myself in and do all the things all at once, but I'm not sure that putting ourselves under enormous pressure and working around the clock is the most sustainable path to success. Instead, in my experience it is a sure fire way to burnout. 

It might be a surprise to think of burnout existing within the simple living/homesteading community, but it does, just as it is in any other group of people. Which sounds odd doesn't it? People jump into this way of life passionate about growing, preserving, sewing and making things. People want to produce their own meat, dairy, veggies and live off-grid. They want full freezers and shelves of beautifully canned goods. They might want to "stick it to the man” who ever that is. But then they get so busy doing all the things they eventually find themselves  just as unhappy, stressed and worn out as they were when they decided to start to simplify. 


And suddenly, simple living isn't that simple. 

They might rush into buying equipment they feel they need to meet their sustainable living goal, discovering with dismay the costs quickly add up and they have fallen down an alternative rabbit hole of consumerism. They might find they can't produce or sell their produce for the money they thought and the realisation on them dawns that it takes a huge amount of time and effort to produce anything well at all. Then throw in the uncertainty of the weather which can make or break us and it all gets too much and people find themselves feeling like they have failed their dream. 

It is a sobering thought.  

"Busy" is the modern day narrative to success and it takes work to unpack that mindset and§ pursue a gentler path. It's been my experience that the most profound and soul enriching experiences usually occur in the quiet. Sure God, (feel free to insert your personal spiritual lean here) can work in the busy, loud stressed and chaotic. But can we hear Him in that environment? I'm not so sure. And I'm less sure that we are meant too.     

There are many pieces of scripture which have impacted my life, but the following is one that I think of almost daily, and I think no matter what your belief system, it's stands as a beautiful and profound piece of writing.   


    There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.


I have found when I try to do all the things that are important to me all at once I end up stressed and feeling unless. Like I am failing at doing the things I feel so strongly about. But it doesn't necessarily mean that thing is something I shouldn't be doing or that I can't do, instead it may just be a thing I have picked up in the wrong season. The season for that thing still exists, it's just a little in the future. 

Gardening, simple living, cooking from scratch, establishing a farm or a homestead. These are all good things, but that doesn't mean they all need to be done at once. Perhaps in this season you plant a few pots of herbs near the kitchen, or source one garden bed in which to start to grow a few easy pick greens. Perhaps you might try and cut out one packaged item, like biscuits, and make your own most of the time. It's ok if you can only do it some of the time. Starting is the most important thing. Maybe its bringing your own bags to the supermarket for now and later on you might work out how to minimise more plastic packaging. Perhaps you might cancel one streaming service, or reduce your kids screen time 5 minutes at a time until it's at a place you feel happy with, that lies in with the life you want to be living.  


There are some people for whom huge sweeping changes work. But I suspect for many of us, maybe the majority of us, that making small steady changes work better. 

It is through many, many small changes I have found myself here today. Living off-grid, establishing a beautiful farm with goats, cows, chickens and veggies with my family by my side. Sure there have been a couple of big leaps of faith along the way, but the truth is that all of them first started with the little steps.


I wonder if you are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out? Is this a season in which you could, and maybe need to put something down? Or are you itching to live a life that seems unattainable? My encouragement today is to simply start where you are. To perhaps give yourself permission to try something a little different. 

Much love,
Emma
xx










 

And finally, new life

This little fellow was born in the wee hours of Saturday morning, safe and well much to our relief. The mother Coco is a gentle, attentive and patient mother. He wasn't the strongest or most energetic newborn which had us a little concerned, but with her patience and encouragement he is making beautiful progress and they have formed a strong bond. Phew! 


Starting our boer goat herd has been harder than we anticipated. There has been losses of a mother, stillborns and babies which has resulted in hours of futile round the clock care, research and adaptation. But this little fellow marks a new season of hope. That maybe, just maybe, we are past our initial bumps and a sign we might just be getting the hang of this goat herding thing.   

As I look around the farm I can see lots of examples of us settling into this place. Our first garden beds are becoming well established, the new trees we planted last season are shooting out, the animals are looking strong and healthy. I'm hoping to trial milking Coco as she has an abundance of milk to see if having a dairy animals is something we are ready for in this season on the farm. 


Our tiny home is becoming increasingly easier to live in, as we implement and improve our very basic systems.....Though hot water on tap would be nice. Or perhaps I am just getting used to this haphazard way of life. 

I'm finding the less time I spend in town the less time I'm wanting to spend there. Though it is always nice to head out for a cuppa and sit at the beach. When I'm not home on the farm my thoughts drift back to the animals, hoping the young ones are ok and that none have got them selves in trouble without us there to help. 

I love watching the kids out with the animals or marching through the bush with pocket knives in hand and plans of how they are going to build their next bush shelter. The TV show Alone is a big hit here. We are about into fire season which marks the end of their little campfires being carefully built in the bush, but soon the rains will come and that will be replaced by plenty of wading and sitting in the cool flowing creeks. It's school holidays for the next two weeks. The kids, perhaps tired by the never ending talk of covid and the upheaval of switching between home learning/lockdown and school are not their usual upbeat selves and all suggestions of non-screen activities have been met with unenthusiastic grunts which is unusual here. I guess like many adults who are feeling flat at the moment, our kids are not immune.


What free, hyper local activities are your families engaging in at the moment?   

On that note, I best get going. I have no intention of letting these kids spend the next week and a half on screens all day so it's time to muster up some enthusiasm. 

Much love,
Emma
xx  

      

 







A pictorial: Life on the farm

There have been ups and downs on the farm this week. Life and loss, such is farm life. I have sat down to write about it a couple of times, but the words haven’t come. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. 

Instead I share with you some of the ups.  ❤️

Sending much love to you and yours, I hope you are keeping well.
Emma
Xx












 

Spring

Spring is in the air at the farm. 





The winds are blowing in warm and the frosty nights are all but finished. I lit the Aga for the first time in a couple of weeks last night and it served as a comforting ritual. Adding wood, adjusting the air flow, filling the kettles and warming the children's clothes for bed on the bar. Then pouring Elsies bath in front of it for her to sit and play under its warmth while I cleaned up the kitchen. 

It reminded me I need to cook up a couple of big vats of chicken broth before it gets too hot to have the Aga simmering away for hours on end. Summer and a wood oven here do not go hand in hand, much to my dismay. 


As I look out over the farm I can see two of the goats that look ready to kid, the chooks and the 3 little steers basking in the suns warmth.  We did have 4 steers, but one was smaller and got scours severely despite maintaining its previous diet when we bought him. We did our best with de-scour medication and feeding him electrolytes via a stomach tube throughout the day/night but he sadly died just as we were beginning to think he might actually pull through. 


The steers are doing a great job of keeping the grass down, which is exactly what we had hoped for coming into summer. We have already seen a couple of snakes waking up from their winters hibernation and short pasture around the yurt minimises their tendency to come up and makes them easier to spot when they do. Being Australia, most of the snakes here can kill you so it's best to dissuade them from hanging about.

It feels like we are beginning to find some kind of new daily rhythm in this on-going lockdown. The boys get stuck into their school work early and get it over with. Well, except Henry, who likes to dawdle his way through all aspects of life. There is always one, yes?

            Being a lover of colour, I don't remember buying this lavender. But it's quite pretty anyway. 

Today they have had a particularly great day. They all got their work done by midday, we worked through any issues, got it submitted and they have been happily hanging out ever since. A month into lock down and I have noticed they are becoming closer and more tolerant of each other. Angus and Henry have always been close, but Will is older and had been drifting away into his teenage world. But with no peers and lots of discussions about kindness and being the only friends each of them will have for a while longer yet, their seperate worlds are once again becoming one. Which warms this mothers heart. 

The new garden bed area is built, and one half planted out. I'm looking for an appropriate small tree for the other half which will become more of a little natural play space for Elsie with log stepping stones, flowers, scrappy grasses and maybe a little cubby in the corner. I did have cardboard laid to suppress weeds until we got it done, but it seems a curious little scottish terrier found something enticing in there and has made a real mess of it, fortunately there were no plants in there yet....Lucky she's cute!


See the mess Aggie has left behind her on the right? Fortunately I had not begun to plant that side out. On the left there is a small crepe myrtle, asian greens, some herbs, salvias, and lettuce seedlings on the go.
 
Gardening is slow here, but it feels good to finally have this little space at the planting stage. We still need to bring in more gravel for the paths, but it all takes time. This space serves as a dog free space, meaning Elsie can play safely without direct supervision. While Tucker and Bear are wonderful with the kids, they are big, strong working dogs so we never leave them unattended with her. They are more likely to knock her over with enthusiasm rather than aggression, but better safe than sorry.  

Next, I need to get into my little round garden. Now it seems the last of the frosts are over some things need a prune, I need to pull a few weeds, add some compost and mulch it ready for spring. I'm amazed at how quickly things grow here. The little flowering plum and silver birch I planted a year ago have shot up.  As has the giant bamboo which will act as an insulating green wall along the side of the yurt. The lemon and mulberry trees are a little slower, but I'm hoping this season they will get some good growth on them. Though the only one that has managed to get any mulberries was a cheeky little Henry bird. 


Well, Grant has just arrived home after a long days work. We are having an easy dinner of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, fried tomato and fresh greens from the garden with home made chocolate brownie for dessert. A comfort meal for sure!

Much love,
Emma
xx 






lockdown blues

It seems we are in lock down again in rural NSW and not a moment too soon. In fact one could say it's possibly several weeks too late. It was planned to be a one week lockdown to get on top of the highly contagious DELTA variant. However, it's already stretched out to two weeks and considering it has escaped into various regional communities and numbers are continue to grow I suspect we will be in lockdown a long while yet. 


It's all becoming a little Lord of the Flies here. With shelters being built and dirt bomb wars counting as play. Will is in the second shelter. In typical Will style he wouldn't come out for a photo. But I tried.  

Last week home educating in lock down was a bit rough, if I am completely honest. I was tired, Elsie was ratty, the boys took a bit to adjust and it all, trying to meet everyones educational needs in a tiny yurt while tube feeding a sick calf several times a day, who later died was all a bit much. It came to a head on Friday when I pinched a nerve in my back and in an overwhelmed, teary fit of anger I declared the week over and issued a free for all on screens after basic chores and reading time was done.  

Grant being a steadying hand, brought home some seedlings from his work for my new garden area, pizza and chocolate for all and a plan of action to ensure this week was smoother. 

So, the weekend began with shuffling Will out into the old vintage caravan which sits just a few meters from the yurt. That way he has some privacy, a quiet place to study and attend his classes online in peace as necessary. We have sorted through a bunch of things to chuck/donate which will always accumulate with a mob of growing children and turned his old loft space into a much needed storage area. This has freed up the little down stairs room for Elsie and we set up her little toddler bed and moved some of her things which were taking over our tiny lounge space into there. It needs paint, the flooring laid and maybe a little rug yet but it will be a sweet nook for her. One I hope will tempt her out of our bed and into her own at some point. But I'm not holding my breath for that.       

Elsie is a great help in the garden. She refuses to wear shoes and likes to collect any boots left on the porch with dirt. 

This week the boys have chosen their own projects to work on and much of their weekly reading/writing will revolve around that. Angus has chosen WW2 and Henry wants to learn about Mexico, primarily because he want to cook tacos and Mexican food which I'm more than happy to encourage. There will be a bit of geography, history, politics, art (displaying their findings) along with plenty of reading, writing, watching and of course cooking to do. Angus is hoping to cook a meal made with war time rations. I confess to being a little less enthused at the meal that comes from his project then Henry's but I'm sure it will be interesting at least! 

With our tiny yurt having a big re-shuffle, a new garden being planted out and home learning being dictated by us in a way the school is happy with and that works better for our family, I feel more prepared this week. 

But it is only Monday. (Well, it was when I started writing this post. Clearly it is now Wednesday.)

It seems rain is on the forecast and it has settled in which is a bit of a pest as I have approximately eleventy billion loads of washing to do and no dryer to help. But we have had a dry couple of months so it will be good for the creeks and the pasture no doubt.     

But there will always be ups and downs in life, I think they can act as a reminder to take stock of our situation and what we can do do make our lives work better for us, father than moving forward blindly doing the same old thing.

When I sat and thought about why the week had spiralled there were a few issues that arose. Some were the practical challenges of having a big family in a tiny space, which Grant helped to address in a way I feel is now utilising our limited space better. I also felt frustrated that the time I had finally found in my days to pursue some writing/vlogging more regularly, was taken away by suddenly having 4 children underfoot 24/7 with no end in sight. And the fact that those 4 children were being very naughty in not bothering to pick up any of their things, clear away dishes or wipe up their messes despite knowing how and constant nagging. This meant my daily work load had increased to an overwhelming level while still living in a pigsty. After some a tightening of routine around meals, (they cannot graze all day because they are bored) setting clear expectations around daily chores and dishing out consequences when they act like I'm their maid. The boys have picked up their slack and thankfully, are towing the line again.  

They are really beautiful kids, but most of us will try it on at some point or another. I mean if there is someone willing to do your chores, wouldn't you take it up? Holding people and children into account for their behaviour and choices is important. I believe it's a big part to having a happy, balanced home where everyone can feel valued. As is having reasonable expectations of what kids can and should be doing. Kids are capable little people, it doesn't do anyone any favours to not treat them as such. 

Well, considering it's Wednesday morning and this post was planned for Monday I had best hit enter despite it feeling utterly haphazard and it not being my usual style of writing. Also Elsie has learnt how to empty her bottles on the floor into giant puddles and then lay in them. Which is what she has done as I have been attempting to finish this post.....Please send chocolate and wine and any spare sanity you have lying about. 

If you are lockdown trying to juggle balls you never expected to have to juggle, I send love and my best wishes. Go gently in these weird times we are living in.

Much love,
Emma
xx 

P.S. Just to add to the joys here, my iPhone which is only two years old appears to be broken. So please excuse any old photos that appear with my posts. It is the best I can do! 






Cultivating a sense of thankfulness within ordinary days

It's easy be thankful when things are cruising along, there is money in the bank, everyone is healthy and you're in a job that is reliable and pays well.


But what about when things aren't great? 

We all have those times, when we feel like we are facing a mountain of impossible-ness and life is falling down around our ears. Or we might be so damn tired from wrangling small children and doing the same thing day in and day out that we feel like we are loosing ourselves amongst the daily grind. We might be facing economic uncertainty, health challenges or significant life changes. All of which we have experienced ourselves in one form or another, as many long time readers will know. 

How do we cultivate a sense of thankfulness when it seems there is really not a lot to be grateful for? 
I'm afraid I don't have any hard and fast answers, but I do think cultivating a sense of gratitude among our ordinary days can help us keep momentum in the hard times. It can help us to keep moving forward and take the next step.  

Sometimes when we are feeling sad or disheartened, the first thing we can do is to stop and acknowledge those feelings, to give ourselves permission to sit in it a bit, to process our reality and to hopefully shuffle forward, even if it's just a little shuffle.

Thankful for healthy home grown organic veggies and more bought from some friends market garden. 
If you're in the mid-north coast of NSW check out The Vicars Blend Currently they are growing lovely organic veggies, but soon they will be getting started on a boutique winery too. 

As a christian woman, sitting in prayer is important in helping me adjust my focus from my immediate situation and emotions to looking at the bigger picture. I find prayer quietens my mind and heart which then helps to reconnect me to purpose and place. It reminds me I am loved and never alone. Perhaps people who meditate find a similar kind of peace.

Some days, when we are in the thick of a difficult season the idea of finding joyful moments in our days might be too far a stretch. But, often we can still look for small moments of pleasure or peace speckled throughout our days. Below are a few things I find help me to cultivate a sense of thankfulness, even when things are not OK.

Savouring the pleasure of a hot, strong cuppa in a favourite mug.

Chocolate.  

Breathing in the top of Elsies head to fill my body with love endorphins, even when she's not sleeping and I'm completely and utterly exhausted. 

Thankful for an unexpected afternoon nap. I was catching up on Glady's daily NSW COVID update and I think Elsie found it a bit much that day. As did the rest of NSW no doubt.  

Laughing at the silly YouTube clip My teenager has shared with me. Even if I don't think it's particularly funny myself, watching him laugh is lovely. Taking a moment to bask in others happiness can help us remember ours will return.

Holding my family tight after an argument as we talk out how our communication process broke down, or in fact, exploded with loud voices and angry words. We are only human after all.

Touching base with family or friends, even if they are two thousand kms away and I miss them like crazy. I'm thankful for technology that allows me to share photos, videos and hear their voices at the press of a button. Can you imagine going through these covid times without it? 

Giving thanks when folding the never ending pile of clean washing. Stay with me here, I know this one sounds a little bonkers. But I give thanks for having good, warm, comfortable clothes to wear. Though I admit I find it much easier to be grateful for clean washing rather than wet muddy washing....It's not to say I don't ever resent the washing or the chores, but resenting them isn't going to make them any easier to do, so I may as well try to do them with a thankful spirit. The chores reflect that I have a safe secure home to live in and a family to love.  

Giving thanks that I have nourishing food which I can prepare into a tasty meal for my family. And when I'm just too tired, the house is a mess and I have a cranky babe to juggle while trying to connect with the boys, wrangle goats or the multitude of other things that need doing, I'm grateful for pizza that Grant can pick up on the way home from work. Or two minute noodles or baked beans for that matter. I'm thankful that we go to bed each night with full tummies.

Washing to do reminds me we have enough clean, warm comfortable clothing for our family.

I'm thankful for Grant's work where he is treated well and he enjoys being, even if finances often remain stressfully tight.  

I'm thankful for books and the ability to escape to another world. For the warmth from the sun after a stint of cold days or the relief of nightfall in the midst of a scorching Australian summer.

I'm thankful for my little garden and the progress we are making in expanding it. Even if that progress seems painfully slow. There is something about being in nature that is soothing to the most weary soul. Whether it be the bush, the beach, the plains or the forest. Each possess their own kind of beauty. 

It would be nice if life was a smooth as an Instagram reel, but that's just not reality. We all have ups and downs and seasons we don't know if we will be able to bear. But for me, cultivating a sense of thankfulness in the small pockets of peace or pleasure throughout even the hardest days is what keeps me looking forward.     

So dear readers, Id love to hear what do you find helps you when things are tough? 

Much love,
Emma
xx

Thankyou and some Housekeeping

Hello dear readers! Just a quick thank you post today and some blogger housekeeping I thought I should update you on. 

Firstly, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone for continuing to read here. I know blogging has gone out of fashion for the most part, with people preferring the instant-ness of Instagram, but I appreciate those of you who still visit here and persist with me through the sometimes sporadic postings! 


As Elsie gets older, we are finding a better rhythm to our days and as you may have noticed blogs are becoming more and more frequent again. I am greatly enjoying having the time and headspace to write and share our life on this platform. I also love blogs as they are a way of writers sharing their lives more deeply, and I feel authentically. 

When I’m here I don't have to worry if the little Instagram squares look balanced or appealing, what hash tags are trending, or trying to make content the algorithm likes. I don’t think about whether or not I should pay to boost posts so they don't get lost among the masses. (I currently don't.) I'm trying to understand that side of Instagram, but between you and me, I like it better here.   

But within that, for people to actually find this blog and the other things we are trying to create (like the YouTube channel) I have a small favour to ask. If you are on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook please consider taking a minute to like and subscribe to my page/account or just hit hit like on the things you enjoy reading about. The links are all in my sidebar so they are easy to find.
 
I know it seems small, but it really does help send the message to the internet powers that be, that there is interest here, and that the simple living message is worth sharing to a broader audience. And hence, it helps this little corner be found by those searching for a different life. A simpler life. 

And finally, to those that do like, subscribe and take the time to email or leave lovely comments....

THANK YOU.

Thank you for continuing to read and visit. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to connect and let me know that something I have written or shared has resonated with you long enough for you to stop and actually let me know about it. The comments are the thing that has kept me going over the years. The kindness shown and the ability to meet like minded souls in a world that seems intent on looking everywhere but within our homes and our families for pleasure, contentment and beauty. This kind of life, though perhaps not glamorous nor showy matters. It's important. Perhaps more so now than ever. 

For those that were subscribed, it seems the email subscription on this blog is no longer working and that particular gadget has since been discontinued. Being the technological numpty that I am, I have no idea who was subscribed, nor where to find such a list, or even if such a list was available to me. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a new way of adding one.  But I always add new posts to Instagram and Facebook so if you follow along there, you won’t miss out. 

Much love dear readers. 
Emma
xx   

sadness on the farm

We are struggling with our goats. They are rotated every 1-2 weeks on fresh, rested ground and have a really diverse diet of grasses and woody weeds. They look strong and healthy but a couple of days ago one gave birth prematurely to still born twins. She retained some placenta which we thought had been passed in full and sadly, she died overnight.



We have had 3 goats birth now and have no living babies to show for it which is heart breaking.  The first birthed unexpectedly and we had made the mistake of not separating Hagrid off from the pregnant girls. Being young, it seems he was over excited and licked the baby goat to death after birth. There were no signs of trauma or damage to him and Hagrid was quite distressed when we had to remove the dead baby goat from his flock. He is excellent with the goats generally, it was entirely out fault for not separating him and actively teaching him how to act around baby goats. It was a hard lesson to learn. 


Next was a runty little goat rejected by its mother. I took it in and tried to save it, but sadly it died too. Its mother is not the best frame but we are hoping next time she does better. 


Aggie keeping watch over the sick goat. In this photo we are trying to warm her up in the warmer of the Aga. The warmer is exactly that, warm, but not hot. They have frequently been used on farms as an incubator for cold, sick animals. 


We are researching and doing our best to provide them with everything they need. When we bought them they were weaners and a they were a bit runty and struggling with worms. The farmer had just drenched them with a new drench that seemed to be working better, but they have remained very susceptible to worms since. This wasn't helped by the serious floods we experienced a few months ago. Like much of this region, we had a very difficult outbreak of barbers pole after the floods and the ground was sodden. We couldn't move the goats to higher ground as we couldn't get them across the swollen creeks and they spent a couple of weeks knee deep in mud. They lost condition, perhaps that impart has led to increased difficulties in maintaining healthy, live pregnancies. Perhaps our soil/feed is deficient in a nutrient. We will up their pelleted feed to daily as we have only been giving it as a treat, in the hope of filling any potential dietary gaps. They have apple cider vinegar in their water to help with gut health, are vaccinated and a lick block available. I'm unsure of what else to do. 


As all the issues have been different, perhaps it is just that they are first time mothers and we have had a run of particularly bad luck. Perhaps we need better genetics, or a different breed of goat entirely. Perhaps their next births will be more successful. 


What I do know is that I am finding very disheartening. Since I am home most, it is me finding the dead animals and having to remove them. Grant having extensive livestock experience, is much more matter of fact about these things. He’s confident we work it out in time and all will be fine. He's on the look out for a few proven mothers to add to our small flock at a decent price, which is proving difficult to find at the moment. 


A poor photo of the new garden beds in progress and the sand pit to the right, ready to be filled. 


In happier news, we have two new garden beds nearly built and mostly retained. There is just a small retaining wall along the yurt to finish off. Between them is a pebble path to the caravan and outdoor laundry area. This area will be fenced off with a recycled timber picket style fence like my other little garden and it will become a dog-free play area for Elise with a little sandpit and plenty of sensory plants. The sandpit is built and waiting for a load of sand to fill it. The new garden beds will be a combination of veggies, herbs, flowers and a couple of small shrubby trees. There is a crape myrtle in one bed and there will be an Elderberry in the other, once I can lay my hands on one locally.  


When it comes to planting we are going with a kind of no-dig method which means laying a thick layer of cardboard then bringing in a load of mushroom compost/mulch to plant it out. Though clearly one bed has been built up with the retaining. The cardboard will suppress weeds which is a big struggle in such a warm, wet area. We also have two raised beds to find a place for in the yard. One we brought with us from SA and the other I bought of market place for $20. The kids are in the process of collecting sticks and small logs to turn them into hugelkultur beds. I think I'll be sticking to thrifting second hand raised beds from here on out. Building fences around each garden bed to keep out the dogs is very time consuming and raised beds are a natural deterrent to dogs digging and trampling. Also I can place them and fill them myself which frees up Grant for more important jobs like building the shed and building up his wood roach business. 


We are working on a garden update YouTube clip at the moment, which will show our garden plans. I hope to get it out in the next couple of weeks. You can see the last one Grant and I did HERE



Well, the sun is shining and its a beautiful day so I'm off the pop some washing on, tidy up and enjoy the beautiful day. I hope things are well where you are. 

Much love,
Emma 
xx

What's in a home?

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life." (Henry David Thoreau, Walden.)


With the world seeming uncertain at the moment, it's a good time to look inwards at our home and how we are living. 

When it comes to the crunch a good house is that which provides us shelter from the elements. A place that is warm and dry when its cold and a place to escape the heat in summer. It should provide a comfortable place to rest, and allow us to prepare food in a hygienic and safe manner. Our home needs to be able to store our belongings and clothing. It's should also be a place to experience community and fellow ship with those around us. To share a meal, for children to play, learn and grow. You know, when COVID restrictions aren't interfering with that. 

These needs can be met in a small and simple home, even a yurt.



But what is it in us that craves more? Why do we desire homes with so many rooms that some of them barely get used? Why do we build homes so big that they fill their block leaving no space for a garden? Why do we hanker after bigger and better televisions, and the latest interior decorations?

Perhaps it is because we envy what we see on TV, magazines and in shop windows. Maybe we look at the beautiful scenes and imagine how lovely it would be to have a home that looked like that, one which is clean and pretty and organised. But when we buy the items to create our own version of that space it ends up feeling wrong. It gets messy, the Instagram perfect white couches get coffee spilled on them, the dogs jump on them and the kids leave their crap everywhere. 

So perhaps the answer is more storage, better storage. So off we head to the shops to buy the ideal storage that will keep everything in order so we can have that beautiful house. Still clutter accumulates, mess happens and we are constantly cleaning to keep the house looking beautiful. 

One might look at this scene and think it is messy. Compared to a magazine image, I guess it is. But the reality is that it's just the ordinary goings on of a family home. It's nothing to hide away nor be frustrated over.  It is the stuff of life.  

Perhaps we have outgrown the house? So off we go to get a bigger house, a newer house and a bigger mortgage. A bigger mortgage means everyone has to work just a little more to pay it off. Of course it will need its own look, items and decorations. 

Eventually we find ourselves tired. The bigger house requires more maintenance, it takes longer to clean and no one has the time because they have to work more to afford the bigger mortgage. The built in wardrobes are bursting with clothes and before we know it, it has all become just a bit too much. Because everyone is so tired and busy working to earn the extra money to afford the lifestyle they have found them selves in, relationships falter. 

Money is a huge stressor on a family. There are many families who live day to day because they simply have no choice. This post isn't referring to them. This post is referring to those of us who have the privilege of choice.

The world is in a season of uncertainty. I feel it is more important than ever to focus inwards at what we have and make the most of it. To find the beauty that exists in the ordinary parts of our lives. To build resilient homes and relationships. To minimise debit if we can and simplify our lives to create a bit of a buffer. Just in case. Many of us have been living just a little bit out of our means for a really long time. 

The warmer of the wood oven acting like an incubator for a rejected kid. Unfortunately she died, but I'm thankful we got to make her last hours warm, safe and comfortable. 

So what can we do to make a small home work rather then upsizing? I'm not going to lie, I would love one extra room. A room for a sewing room/office with a spare single bed would be really helpful. But considering we have only just got a bathroom, which is not yet finished, that is unlikely to happen any time soon. 

Instead we can look at little ways to make our spaces work better for us. The first thing is to de-clutter. Draw by draw, room by room. If you don't use it, look at it or even remember you had it, you really don't need it.  There are stacks of ways to declutter and people who will write about it better than I. But getting rid of clutter and useless crap is really helpful to creating a home that functions well for you.    

Creating a space for Elsie to cultivate reading. This way the books can face outwards so they are more visually appealing and I can rotate them. 

Look at the furniture you have and if it is serving its purpose as well as it could. For example, our couches are too big for our tiny lounge area. I am on the look out for a second hand slim-ish brown leather two seater lounge/chaise combo that I can actually vacuum under. Along with the rocking chair and maybe beanbags for the little kids, this small shift will open up the lounge area hugely. (I actually found one which would be perfect but it's in Sydney and they are locked down...dang it!) Once I sell our couch, the cost involved will be minimal, if anything. There is stacks of amazing furniture available second hand and it is easy to buy and sell items to make the space you have work the very best it can. I can't remember the last time I bought furniture new. 

Is your kitchen too small or is your dining table too big? Do you need as many plates, bowls and cups as you have or can you get rid of those ones jammed right in the back of the cupboard? Do you use all your pots and pans that fall out of your cupboard every time you open it? What about clothes, do you even like all the items taking up space in your bursting wardrobe? 

Historically, homes were much smaller than they are today and families generally bigger. When lamenting the size or mess within my home, my mind often wanders back to this fact. It reminds me to pull up my socks, focus on the present and get on with the task at hand. 

Rather than looking outward for what is going to make our lives better, perhaps it is more helpful to look inwards at what we already have and how we are using it.

Including that precious thing too often over looked. Our time.      

Much love,
Emma
xx




 

Simple self care when caring for young children

Self care. 



We all hear how important it is, right? But who has the money for a massage? And if we did have the money, who would look after the kids? 

When we hear the words "self care" we often imagine luxurious spa days, massages, manicures and fancy hair cuts. This is what media and advertising would like us to think self care was, and for some people who enjoy these kinds of things, it can indeed be a form of self care.  However, I am a woman of simple needs. A home body who is most comfortable in leggings, a soft dress and a cardigan. If, like me, you have a bunch of small children to care for, have mobility problems, or are living with a tight budget these kinds of costly 'self care' experiences are totally unattainable.
 
And to be honest, while it is important we get a chance to step away from the weight of our responsibilities from time to time to breathe deeply and be alone with our thoughts, the kind of self care I find most helpful is in the small daily habits. 

During this seemingly never ending season of COVID self care is incredibly important. Lots of us are tired and the world feels heavy and uncertain. People are facing unemployment, reduced hours and financial hardship. They are trying to work form home while homeschooling/home educating small children, which for any one who is in this position, it is a near impossible task. And then there are those who are most at risk of getting sick or are sick. The burn out and exhaustion people are facing is very real and many people are teetering on the edge.

So what does self care look like in this heavy, time poor, cash poor, uncertain season of life? 



For lots of people, their time is stretched so thin trying to juggle all the balls that self care can only exist in small pockets of time. With this in mind, I thought I would share a few things I find helpful.
 
Actually taking 5 minutes to sit down to drink a nice hot cuppa, preferably somewhere sunny or where you can look out to nature. 

If drinking a cuppa alone isn't an option, create a ritual of 'tea time' and serve the kids sweet camomile tea or warm milk in their own little mug and drink your 'tea' together. It might take a little time to get in routine, but at the very least I have found it has the affect of making me feel like we are vaguely civilised. 

Listen to the essential news and then turn it off. We know COVID is crap and horrible. It's important to keep up to date, but it serves no purpose to us to down our selves in it by listening to the news all day. Popping on some favourite music or an uplifting podcast is much more beneficial.

Breathe. Take 5 slow deep breaths right into your belly. Stop and do it throughout the day when you feel that tension settling in your chest.  

Embrace your inner cat and stretch if you're finding yourself sitting for long periods of time. 

Pack away toys and rotate them so at the end of the day you don't have to clean up an insanely messy area. 

Take a walk around the yard along or with the little person in your life. Take the time to look at your plants and even pulling a few weeds. If you get to clear a little section, perhaps you can plant some cheerful flowers or herbs. 


Take a moment to pop on a podcast while folding the never ending rounds of washing. Or don't fold it and chuck it on the spare bed and make a game of the kids finding their clothes every morning. what ever works. Just don't beat yourself up over it either way. 

Pop on a show/movie for the kids and actually lay down on the couch while they watch it, rather than using that time to catch up. Because really, when it comes to a house full of small children, one is never actually caught up. 



Have a hot shower, change into clean clothes and actually use the moisturiser that's been relegated to the back of the cabinet, forgotten in the midst of teaching children to wipe their own bottoms and brush their teeth. 

Change your sheets and dust your bedside tables to help create a clear, relaxing sleep space.

Open the windows to let in the fresh air.

Give some love to your indoor plants. Get rid of dead ones and replace them with hardier options. Don't beat yourself up about killing them, think of them like a bunch of flowers. They gave you joy while they were alive and even the best gardeners have things die on them. It's all trial and error.    

If social media is sucking time and energy delete them off your phone and pop the phone on a shelf so it's not right next to you to avoid mindless scrolling. 

When it comes to bath time, pop a few drops of lavender oil in the bath and some magnesium salts to aid in a restful sleep for the big and the small people in the house. 

Try to cook a nourishing meal in bulk every few days. Less cooking, less dishes and it saves money and time. If you can make it a one pot meal where all the veggies are incorporated even better. And if you're too tired, scrambled eggs on toast is a perfectly acceptable meal. And two minute noodles, whilst not being the best option, will fill tummies with no fighting just fine. My kids love when they get two minute noodles for dinner. I figure if you serve fruit and yoghurt for dessert you're looking at a pretty balanced meal. 

These little daily rituals are the kinds of things that fill my cup when life feels heavy. They are not grand nor impressive, and part of me feels a little silly writing such a list. But these things exist as small reminders to breathe and to remember the way we spend our minutes is the way we spend our days and as such, our lives. I know from my own experience it can be all too easy to throw myself deep into mothering, and then find myself drowning under the weight. Having forgotten that I too have needs that need to be tended to.  

So dear readers, what little rituals do you find helpful in your day to keep you steady? Is there anything in this list that resonates with you? 

Much love,
Emma
xx




Powered by Blogger.