Chores, responsibilities and children

Goodness this past couple of weeks has flown.

Grant has just had a run of 7 days straight so things have been busy here. Bear also managed to rip his chest open badly in the bush when he and Tucker went to push back some wild dogs that have been eyeing off our goats. The wild dogs have been patrolling since the floods, perhaps the heavy rain washed away our dogs scent markers. Luckily, I could get him straight into the vets who stitched him up, inserted wound drains and put him antibiotics. He spent a couple of nights in by the Aga while he recovered. Poor fella, though he is doing quite well now.  

A couple of months ago Grant started a new job in a farming/rural supplies shop. Soon after he was promoted to manager. The job has been a huge blessing. He's working within a big organisation with a good reputation which is managed by good honest people, the work is interesting and the organisation is well run with all the appropriate checks and balances in place as you would expect. 

Finding good work on the MNC has proven to be far more difficult than we ever anticipated. He has done crap jobs for crap money, he's been treated badly, witnessed shonky behaviour and been ripped off. One place still owing him over 3k which we know we won't see. Prior to moving here, Grant has always been able to find decent work which he has enjoyed, and has always been considered a hard working and well respected employee. I cannot describe the relief we feel that he is back in such a place. It's the kind of organisation he hopes to be in for many years to come, and a place where he feels he can build a solid career.

However, he is out the door by 6:45am and isn't back until 6:30pm so as a family we are still adapting to a shift in routine. The boys have all stepped up to the plate and are doing a wonderful job of pulling their weight. Firstly, they are all responsible for keeping their own rooms clean which includes dusting, vacuuming and changing their linen though I will often help with the doona covers for the younger boys, as they can be tricky! I help with a deep clean/sort when necessary too. I'm not too fussed about how they keep their rooms, as long as they are cleaned a little mess in between is perfectly fine as their rooms are their space. They also each have a list of responsibilities suited to their age and interests.  Some jobs will change seasonally and some will be added or adjusted as necessary. 

The little boys bedroom after I helped them with a deep clean

We believe a bit of work is good for children, and all people really. I am not a maid to tend to their every whim and need. They are capable little people in their own right and if they can't do something, the only way they will learn is by being taught and practising it. Living off-grid with simple systems in place is more complex and more time consuming then living in an ordinary house in the suburbs. As such we all need to pull our weight so we can have time to enjoy our days together too and not work all the time. 

Henry (8yrs)
Feeding chickens/collecting eggs
emptying compost bin
stacking wood
clean porch weekly
Filling up the sawdust bin for the composting toilet

Angus (10yrs)
emptying dishwasher
feeding cat
bring in/stack firewood inside
clean porch weekly
Bring in dry washing

Will (13yrs)
Feeding goats
feeding dogs
chopping wood
filling generator/managing water pump (If it needs doing when Grants not home)
sorting rubbish (with help)
Mowing (with help)

Generally, The boys are pretty good at helping out. There is the odd protest of course but it's usually only when they are feeling tired/run down and we step in to help if that's the case. Pocket money and screen time are reliant on being a helpful and contributing part of the family and for us this generally works pretty well. Jobs are also part of an ongoing conversation. Sometimes the boys will swap jobs and that's fine, as long as the work gets done in a fair manner I'm not too fussed how they work it out between themselves. 

We also expect them to look after their belongings and ours. If they wreck something through carelessness despite being reminded, then they need to either replace it with their own savings or contribute financially to the cost of replacing it. Recently someone left Grants drill out in the heavy rain after being told many times in the past to put the tools away when they were finished with them. The culprit has lost his pocket money for two months in order to contribute halves for a new drill. Another little someone kept leaving the lid off the chook feed bin despite many, many reminders and several batches of pellets being ruined until he had to contribute some of his own money to a new bag of pellets. I have recieved surprised looks when I have mentioned these things to people, but I believe it is fair and reasonable. We are working hard to counteract the mentality of living in a time where everything is considered disposable. I very much hope our children will grow up realising there is a cost to their choices. Financially, ethically and from an environmental viewpoint. Of course things get broken, wear out and accidents will happen, that is a part of life with children. We see that very differently from on going carelessness and a lack of regard for things. Generally the boys are pretty good at looking after things, it's a lesson they don't wish to learn too may times!  

I feel like as I read back on this that people might think we are too tough on the kids but each family is different and each has different circumstances which is perfectly ok. We enjoy a wonderful life here together on the farm. That life takes work yes, but it involves such beauty and lovely times together that we all agree it's pretty special, and no one wants to live anywhere else.

Much love,

Finally it happened


I finally managed to convince Grant that it was time for chickens, and they are delightful! Grant has built a simple and kinda movable chicken tractor so we can rotate them in conjunction with the goats. 

Every week or two we move the goats around the farm using portable electric fencing. Once we have moved them we put the chicken tractor in their last place. By doing this we are utilising the chickens to aerate the soil that they have trampled as well as using their enthusiastic scratchings to break down the manure the goats have left behind which helps to disperse it into the soil. They also eat weeds and insects. All in all, we hope this will help with long term soil improvement as per regenerative farming practises. I really like Joel Salatin's work on regenerative agriculture and how well managed livestock can actually help improve soil health, increase topsoil and aid biodiversity.  

In the future we hope to add cattle and maybe pigs for our families consumption. Though the pigs at least will be a little way down the track. Slow and steady and all of that. And we need a bigger freezer.

Our chook shelter is a simple A-frame building with nesting boxes on each side. Grant has built it from salvaged/scrap materials so the cost was minimal. There is a door that can be closed at night to secure them from predators and it has branches inside for perches as well as nesting boxes which are filled with clean wood shavings. In time, once my lavender and wormwood plants are big enough, I'll also add worm their clippings to their boxes to help with natural mite control.     

The chickens are left to free range through the day and they spend their days foraging for bugs and weeds. They also get a quality layers pellet, kitchen scraps and a glurp of garlic infused apple cider vinegar in their water to help with natural parasite control. By allowing them to free range, they get a diverse and varied diet as well as being able to undertake all their normal chicken behaviour, so they are very happy chooks.

Henry especially loves the chooks and he has assumed most of their day to day care, with a little help when it comes to tipping out the water and cleaning out their laying boxes. He will hang out with them for an hour or so at a time to talk to them, cuddle them and feed them. I also love the presence of the chooks about the place. Their funny fluffy bottoms as they run to greet you, their clucks and crows throughout the day. They bring a kind of simple joy to the place.

Much love,


The flood

It has been a tumultuous time since moving to the farm. First, we were fortunate to escape the devastating bushfires which raged across the countryside. There was an early wind change and the fire swung back on itself just 1km from our farm. Then there has been setting up the farm, a pandemic, a new baby and then about a month or so ago this area was devastated by violent flooding, with some areas recording over 800mm in a few days. I have never seen such rain. It rained day and night for days on end. Dampness seeped into everything, and it was impossible to stave off even with the wood fire going. 

Our neighbours checking out our track once the flood water had receded.

The ground groaned with water. With every footstep water would pour out like a sponge being squeezed. The creeks and rivers swelled with torrents of muddy water, bursting their banks and taking everything in its path. Trees, houses, cars, houses. All at its mercy.    

The night before the flood Grant parked his car on the other side of the creek, just in case the creek rose which it sometimes does in heavy rain, but at that point we had little idea what was coming. By morning our creek crossing was a raging torrent of water. Grant, new to his job was determined to get to work, but I decided to keep the younger boys home. Grant and Will felt the crossing out with a long stick, and they realised the crossing had been entirely eroded away. They decided to go for a walk and see if they could find an area where the water wasn't rushing so much. Concerned how they would go, I sent Grant a message asking him to let me know when they were out safe. Two hours later it showed it hadn't been delivered, meaning they hadn't made it off the property to reception. 

I grew deeply concerned that one of them might have slipped and been hurt and the other was waiting with them for help. I knew Grant would never risk a creek crossing unless he was certain, but trees were falling, and the ground was slippery. I rang the neighbours to see if they had seen his car leave, wondering if his phone might have just become wet. They hadn't. I rang his work and Wills school to check if they had arrived. They hadn't seen them either. My heart sunk. That meant they were more than likely still on the farm. 


By this time the creeks were raising rapidly. I rang my neighbour again and asked them to notify the SES and I loaded up the kids in the 4WD to start to search where it was safe to do so. I called the dogs to come for a run, hoping that they might be able to hear them through the sounds of the pouring rain and roar of the creek. I did a very careful lap of the property, eventually making it up onto our track. I Found tracks, meaning the boys had thankfully made it out. But in my concern for them, I managed to misjudge the height of the creek which had risen greatly in a spot I had thought would still be passable, or at least the track would remain wide enough to turn around. I was wrong. Left with nowhere to turn, I had little choice but to reverse back up the track in 4WD, whilst navigating the narrow, slippery, steep path. To the right of me there was a sheer drop off much of the way and it was a slow trip. with the window open in the rain open so I could ensure I was well clear of the soggy edge. Eventually, I got to a wider place and managed to turn around and continue the drive home facing the right way. 


Once I got back to the safety of the yurt, I saw a stack of missed calls. My neighbour upon the advice of the SES had been advised to escalate the call to the Police. Grant eventually got out and managed to get in contact with them they were able to call the search off before it got underway. I was relieved to hear his voice and based on the urgent flood warnings he and Will came home while it was still safe to do so. A few hours later the river burst its banks, flooding us all in on the farm for several days. Fortunately, we were all together with a well-stocked pantry, spare fuel for the generator, and spare gas on hand as well as the Aga. 

The boys got free reign on their screens while we were flooded in and there were many movies watched. 

Aside from road and creek crossings we were fortunate our home and belongings remained safe and dry. The yurt is up high and dry on the hill, and we watched the creeks rise with amazement. they reached over 30m wide in places, with whole trees being ripped out and carried downstream. However, my little garden was badly battered. I have since been going through weeding, pulling out the dry loving plants that didn't appreciate water-logged roots. I have spread a good dose of manure, replanted and mulched ready for Autumn. 

Elsie hanging out in the garden after a little TLC. 

Since the flood there has been a definite shift in the seasons on the farm. The nights are cool and crisp, our valley is shrouded in mist in the early mornings. I light the Aga every couple of days. We could survive without it most of the time still, but the warmth that radiates from it is deeply comforting and it means I can transition to cooking soups, roasts and nourishing stews.

We have a few other new and exciting projects on the go here, but I shall have to leave that for next time.  I hope you are all well. 

Much love,


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