What simple living means to us

Since starting our budding YouTube channel, I have spent a lot of time contemplating the ways we are living simply and what simple living means to our family. We have been on this path for quite a while now, and it's become our normal. I sometimes get a reminder that not all people live like us. Particularly when someone emails me or messages me on IG asking for advice or thanking me for helping them see how they can make simple changes in their own lives. 

Our kitchen dining area in the yurt. Though the yurt is only 30ft or a touch over 9m in diameter, there is always room for everyone. 

I have also been watching YouTube to see how others are living simply, and the stories they are sharing through their channel. There are some people who have big families often share quite practical videos. Then there are people who are trying to live and maintain the old ways of doing things. These tend to be both informative and beautiful. There are people who use their unique sense of creativity to express their lives with beautiful filming and music. There are some people who appear to live a more ecologically conscious lifestyle than others, and people who live simply in towns as well as those who live on smallholdings or farms like us.  

Which raises the question, what do we have to offer in this space? 

For us, simple living is a continuing journey, which fluctuates depending on the season of life we are in. But the thread that seems to connect everyone who is trying to live simply is a sense of mindfulness and consideration for each other and the world in which we live. 

Recently a friend of ours who is gluten and dairy intolerant went to a party. Quite a fancy one at that. However, despite that, he was shown little consideration. Rather than the hosts quickly frying him a steak and tossing together a simple garden salad with a shop-bought loaf of gluten-free bread, he was tossed a bag of plain corn chips and told that was his dinner while others feasted. While listening to his story it dawned on me it was a sad reflection about how many people choose to live their lives. Not bothering to consider how their choices impact others and make them feel. (I say this as a white woman of privilege. Who makes imperfect choices due to budget constraints and from living withing a consumerist model society.)

One of the biggest shifts for me in trying to live more simply has been the conscious consideration about how the choices I make affect others and make them feel. I want as many of the daily actions I undertake to be kind. Kind to the earth, and kind to the people who have been a part of the process of getting an item in my hands.

On a small scale, I want those that visit our little home to feel welcomed. I want to feed them nourishing food which they enjoy, prepared with love. When they leave the table, I want them to feel as though we have shown them love. 

When it comes to purchasing food, we aim to buy Australian made independent brands because we feel the farmers and producers are often paid a fairer price for their produce. If there is an option packaged in cardboard I'll choose that as it will leave the smallest environmental impact on the earth as it will be composted or burnt in one of our regular campfires. The ash then gets tossed back into the bush as organic matter.

We choose second-hand items where appropriate. Shopping at local op-shops is not only utilizing other peoples unwanted items, but it also put the profits straight back into the local community, supporting vulnerable people. However, we don't buy everything secondhand. When we buy new we first try to shop local to support the local economy and jobs. We then look online to support an Australian business and if the item is still something we need but can't get in Australia, then we will buy from overseas.     

We cloth nappy and use white cotton flannels as baby wipes. Our clothes are line-dried. Though we have a generator, we don't own a dryer.

Elsie is perfectly happy in her cloth nappies. Despite expensive marketing strategies that aim to convince us that disposables are better, Cloth nappies are perfectly absorbent, easy to care for and leak-free when washed properly. 

There is always washing either being hung, folded or patiently waiting to be put away. It's a perfectly normal on-going reality of family life.

I want my children to know the comfort of clean warm clothes and warm cosy beds that smell like sunshine when they hop in. To be excited when served their favourite foods just because I wanted to see their pleasure. To see their delight when they open the sweets tin to discover an abundance of their favourite homemade biscuits has appeared while they were at school.

The consumerist model in which we have become accustomed to living within belittle these kinds of tasks. It tells us that things should be fancier, bigger, newer. That we should buy foods for convenience and that making these kinds of items is a hassle. That housework should be outsourced if you can possibly afford too, that it’s dull and uninteresting. Even menial. Whilst cleaning a house might not be a particularly complex task, the feeling of coming home to a safe, clean home where the members of the family feel loved and valued is powerful and not to be underestimated. 

So I wonder, what does simple living mean to you? And what aspects of simple living would you like to hear more about, or personally explore this year?

Much love,

moving forward and adjusting plans

It’s 10:30 am and already it’s hot and muggy.

I have caved. Although it’s early, the generator is humming away, drowning out the sounds of the bush.  The cool air from the little air conditioner is blowing on me, whispering to me I’m a fraud for not being able tough it out without some modern conveniences. 

But by golly the Australian summer is tough. There is rain predicted this afternoon and the air is heavy and still, without a cloud in the sky. In the few short minutes it took me to hang out a load of washing, sweat dripped down my back, causing my dress to cling to me uncomfortably.

The kids are playing monopoly at the kitchen table, breakfast dishes are piled up in the sink, the Wheetbix setting like glue.  I should do them, but that would require moving away from the cool of the air conditioner so they can wait. Our air conditioner is too small for the space due to needing to run off the generator, but it’s something. At least for the person sitting in front of it.   

Elsie is shuffling about in her cloth nappy, happily flicking through books.  Every few minutes she comes up to me wanting a cuddle, contemplating her morning nap and then pulls away just as her eyes begin to droop.  She is not a fan of naps. Which is unfortunate, as I‘m rather fond of them.

Elsie loves sitting in front of the screen door watching the world

On the farm, things are moving along slowly. We are itching for progress but everything takes longer then we expect. The last few weekends Grant has been laying the timber flooring which is a fiddley job due to needing to work around the lattice walls. Ideally, it would have been laid before we built the yurt which would have been quicker and easier, but that's just not the way things worked out. It seems to be a common problem we experience here. We don’t have the funds to do something straight up, so everything takes infinitely longer as we work around whatever systems we have had to put in place to make do in the meantime.   

The weeds are overtaking the gardens due to the combination of rain and sunshine. The harsh summer sun and lack of shade around the veggies mean I can’t plop Elsie on the ground while I work to keep on top of them. The sun is in the middle of the sky a 9:30 am at the moment. With Grant back in full-time work, everything is looking rather wild and I have been feeling a little disheartened. 

Like with anything that's not working, we have had to re-assess and simplify our expectations. After some conversation and looking at where each of our interests lies, I think we have made a mistake with the initial garden designs. Both of us have limited time, for Grant, it's due to work, for me it’s due to Elsie. Grants first passion is livestock. He loves the goats and woodies so his priority is rightly those at the moment. Getting the fencing up and his shed built is necessary infrastructure because without decent infrastructure, everything is significantly slower which is wasting both precious time and money. With 4 young children and one of us in full-time work we just don't have the time to dabble in too many directions and have different projects on the go. As much as we would love too, this is simply not the season for it. A lesson we have perhaps learnt the hard way. But adjusting expectations and shifting how we are doing things is possible. It just takes a little reflection and humility to say we made a mistake and move on. Afterall, we love this place and hope to be here for the long haul. We will get there eventually. 

Plants from a neighbour

Aside from blogging, vlogging and cooking our family nourishing meals, I really enjoy gardening and I am impatient to get chickens again. But the current veggie garden as is too far away from the yurt and due to its layout I'm unable to do incidental maintenance on it when I happen to be outside. So, once this season's veggies are picked I’ll build a few small beds and plant a couple more trees for shade/fruit in the yurt yard, to create a very simplified food forest style garden. The big veggie patch will just need to be put to rest for the next year or two. Since the yurt yard is already fenced, it will mean there is one less job for Grant and hopefully, the chooks can free range in the house paddock. 

Grant, however, is not remotely convinced by this idea, but he admits he doesn't have the time at the moment for everything so he has agreed he will do his thing and leave me to do mine. He’s also not convinced my beds won't get dug up by the dogs but it's only Aggie who digs and jumping isn’t her strong point. I figure the kids and I can make some little 45cm garden edging out of weaving sticks or something similar, it doesn't take much to deter her. The thing is we don't have to agree on everything. We only have to agree to respect each other enough to let the other explore the avenues they are interested in, within reason of course.      

But seasons and all that. In a year or two, he can re-instate his big veggie patch to his hearts desire if that's what he wants. 

However, I did manage to find him a rather handsome boer billy goat recently that the kids have named Bob. Bob has moved in with Esme, Vicki, Shirly, Maggie, and the rest of the girls. Hagrid has accepted him as one of his mob and we hope to hear the pitter-patter of little hooves in the middle of the year.  

So, that’s where we are at in the beginning of 2021. Are you doing any adjusting of goals this year? If so I’d love to hear about it. 

Much love,

P.S. I’m having a little trouble responding to comments and I apologise if I havn’t responded recently. I can assure you I have tried! Blogger wont let me reply to each one but I can often reply as a whole new comment. Hearing about what others are doing is one of my favorite things about this little corner of the web. 



A new year, a drama and a new vlog

Happy new year dear readers! 

We have had a few weeks of good summer rain now. The creeks are flowing beautifully, and everything is growing before our eyes. And the Cicadas are deafening. The cacophony of birds that usually sing and call out in the mornings is quieter than usual. I’m not sure if they have gotten fat from feasting on cicadas and all the other insects that seem to have come out with the rains or if the cicadas have given them a headache and so they can't be bothered singing at the moment. 

I have been away from the blog longer then I intended. I got caught up with the goings-on of a busy young family and everyone being home for school holidays.  Which is wonderful but it always takes a few weeks to shake down into some kind of rhythm. Well, for me anyway.  

However, I have been working on our second vlog which is now up on YouTube. I apologise for the sound quality, there is no escape from the cicadas here and the mic has picked them up over me. I do hope you can muddle through with me while I learn the ropes and next vlog I will tweak a few things and see if that helps. Also, Grant has promised me he will be in the next one, so there is that. He is rather camera shy. If you want to watch it you can find HERE. If you could take a moment to like, subscribe or share it will greatly help the algorithm to recognise my little channel to suggest it to others. 

Along with the explosion of cicada numbers, its also been a terrible year for ticks here. A few months ago long time readers will remember we lost dear Ronnie, our tan and white border collie to ticks. We routinely treat our dogs for ticks but with the arrival of Elsie their cover had lapsed a little and despite treatment, Ronnie didn’t make it. We were utterly devastated. Grant was hit especially hard by the loss of his best mate, so I went on a search and I found him Tucker. A beautiful failed farm dog who is an utter delight. 

All our dogs continue to be treated with Bravecto, but now with multiple alarms on our phones to ensure their treatment never lapses again.  However, despite being well with the treatment window and checking for ticks nightly, a few days ago we woke to find Tucker partially paralysed. 

Tucker sedated and resting at home after tratment. 

Here he is, on the mend but still weak and flat. 

My heart sunk. 

I looked over him again quickly but I couldn’t find anything, so I swiftly bundled everyone into the car and took him to the vets. The vet found two small ticks on his neck I had missed. Because of the treatment they were dying. She told us that even with the treatment the ticks will release a small amount of toxin before they drop off. Normally a dog can process this but seeing as this year is so bad the toxins had built up in Tucker and made him sick.  Fortunately, the tick treatment had stopped the full dose of the toxins being released and with good vet care which included tick anti-serum, antibiotics, IV fluids, antiemetics to stop him vomiting and choking, and sedation to keep him still and calm he is back home and well on the road to recovery. Though we are significantly out of pocket from the experience and he will be flat and weak for a while yet.
Tuk is now spending his days inside and seems to have claimed one of the couches as his own. But he is here, and we are deeply relieved. 

The vets suggested in wet years like this that the chewable tablets are more effective. Though they need to be given every three-months compared to the six-month treatment of the drops. There is also a tick repellant collar available the vet recommended that works in conjunction with the medicated chews. So we have made the switch and hopefully, that will be the last of the ticks we see. I have included a photo of the products we have chosen to use, we are not affiliated with the companies at all. I just wanted to share what has been recommended to us in the hope no one else has to learn the hard way. 

Well that's all from me today, if there is anything you would like to see on the vlog please do let me know and I will see if I can answer your questions!

Much love,
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