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,


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,



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.



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,

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