A mindful Christmas

Its early morning here and everyone is fast asleep. The soft morning light is just beginning to peak over the top of the mountains. The kookaburras are cackling and the rooster is crowing. Theres a cocophany of bird noise coming from the bush. 

I have been unwell this past couple of weeks with a cold that triggered my asthma and I have struggled to shake it. But I am on the mend now, so I thought I would pop in to say hello. 

How are your Christmas plans coming along? Are you getting organised? 

Christmas will be a simple affair here this year, money is very tight so we are trying to be creative in what we give and also give gifts that are needed. The little boys need a new pair of leather work boots each, so I'll need to pop into town and get those from the local farm supply shop. They would like some headsets for their tablets too and a wooden bow and arrows with a quiver which we will make ourselves. Grant will make the bows and arrows and I will sew some quivers from some sturdy denim I have. The arrows are just play arrows with little felt balls on the tips so no one looses an eye. Along with some new summer thongs (flip flops) a book, some chocolates and perhaps a nice little rechargeable torch each. We always seem to loose torches! 

For Elsie we picked up a sturdy home made cubby from marketplace for free, It just needs the floor repaired and some paint. The boys will fix it up, build some little shelves and I'll make some bunting, curtains and some other bits and bobs to make it a sweet play space. That aside, I'm in the process of making her some clothes for her dolls. There will be some books, chocolates and a few items of clothing just so she has some presents under the tree too.

Elsie's cubby, structurally it’s really strong and well made. Nothing a little TLC and a lick of paint won't fix.

Will would like me to sew a couple of little carry pouches for his guinea pigs as well as his usual request for money. He will get a book, a few much needed items of clothing and some chocolate too. Because no one is ever too old for books and chocolates. 

Their stockings will be filled with a few little things like pencils, pens, notebooks, lollies, socks and jocks ready for the new year. 

When I was browsing online I found a simple pattern for some really gorgeous advent calendars with pockets. I'm in the process of whipping up a couple of them I’ll tuck in with a box of chocolates. With the right fabrics I think they will make lovely gifts for some important women in our lives. Advent calendar link

There are a few other little gifts to give, but the list is small.

It feels a little sparse this year, but the reality is we are not willing to go into debit over giving gifts. That is not what Christmas about and it won't add any joy to the occasion if we are stressed about money. Instead, we will make it special with curated, thoughtful gifts, board games, swimming in the creek, fairy lights and lots of delicious home made goodies. A gingerbread house, honey biscuits and home made fruit cake with thick white icing. We might even make some toffees, just for fun. 

I suspect for a lot of families this year, Christmas is already feeling like a burden and they are filled with dread at the thought. There have been extended lockdowns, job losses and decreased work hours for so many people. If this resonates with you, I encourage you to take a deep breath and let go of the commercial expectations of giving lavish gifts.  

I’m not going to lie, there are times I have been tempted to buy lovely things we can’t afford, but by avoiding online browsing and creating detailed lists I can usually overcome the temptation. I try to not buy anything on a whim, instead I might cart something and then come back to it in a couple of days time if I still think it’s going to be useful/appreciated. Generally, most things are forgotten about or I think of an alternative in the meantime or I find the item on marketplace. 

I can hardly remember what gifts I got as a child, but I do remember the joy of Christmas. The special food, the people, the decorations and most importantly the love I felt with everyone being together. There will be church services to attend, carols by candle light and of course seeing the Christmas lights which is always special here as the summer days are long the kids get to stay up extra late.    

I have ventured into the shops a few times, and goodness they are packed already. The plastic, single use junky items over flowing in abundance, usually marketed as a bit of “silly fun”. But it’s not fun. The resources for all the the items we see on the shelves have to come from somewhere, and at the end of the day when they are broken, they have to get dumped somewhere too. I always find this a sobering thought, and it helps me put items back on the shelf that I don’t think will really be loved, valued or well used. Supporting small, ethical makers is always a good thing to do if possible. As is buying items like clothing made from natural fibres so at the end of the day they can be composted. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for commercial toys, it just means they might not need 50 versions of a similar thing. 

Bebe’ goes on all kinds of adventures with Elsie. She also has a little plastic doll with a dummy she likes to take in the bath with her. 

If we think about why an item is special to us, it’s usually because we only have one of them, so carries a high value. Perhaps it’s a beautiful mug we use for our morning coffee, given by a friend. A tool, that used to belong to a father or grandparent. A doll or teddy that goes along on all childhood adventures. Items become important and precious to us because of the stories they hold over time. I want my children’s lives to be filled with stories, and for them to grow up valuing their belongings. I don’t excessive consumerism adds to either of these things. Instead, I think thoughtful gifts and time spent together with items playing a part is what creates the cherished memories we are all longing for our families and children to have. 

I’d love to hear how you create memories over the Christmas season. 

Much love,


How to earn money off a farm/homestead

I often see people that have just moved to a property or homestead and one of their very first questions they ask is; "What can we do to make money off our property?" 

I think that this question, for most people anyway, is the wrong one. Unless they have the financial backing behind them to develop a fully functioning farm right from the get go. 

A more appropriate question is; "What can I do to save money and while providing for my family?"

It is generally far easier to save money than it is to earn money. Sadly, it’s common to hear of people finally moving to their homestead/farm then going bust within the first 1-3 years. They spend all their money establishing infrastructure and rushing out to get the animals they have always dreamed of as well as setting up huge growing spaces to pursue their dream of self-sufficiency. The problem is this all takes time and money. They are forced to work full time to provide the finances for their endeavours and then they are left with no time or energy to maintain what they are building, which then wastes more money and it quickly becomes a vicious cycle. Before long, a huge percentage of new farmers/homesteaders find themselves struggling financially, disheartened  and worn out. Many people get themselves into such a dire predicament, they are forced to sell their dream within a few years. 

A far more sustainable approach is to first learn how to provide for yourself. 

A families weekly food bill is often their biggest expense. By taking control of that and learning how to replace store bought food with home grown food in a reliable and cost effective manner, is a great first step. Once this stage is achieved, excess produce/seedlings can be sold at a farm gate stall or sold via marketplace or at a local farmers market. Or bartered for with someone who is producing something you are not, bartering gives you the added bonus of learning about how to do something you are not yet doing in the meantime. The money brought in can then go into subsidising on-going garden costs and slowly improving infrastructure like saving for a greenhouse or a quality irrigation system on timers. 

I'm a big believer in mastering one thing before adding another. 

When buying animals it's essential to do the necessary research first and ensure you have the appropriate infrastructure in place before buying the animal. If you have never built a fence, you might be surprised to learn it's not necessarily quick and easy to build good, strong fences that will hold animals in. Some animals like pigs, goats and some breeds of sheep are notoriously hard on fences. And sure, you can milk a cow in a paddock, but on a cold wet morning she's still going to need milking. And if you can't seperate her calf off, you're not going to get much milk for your all efforts, not to mention you'll still have the expense of her feed costs. Aside from keeping animals in, you need to be able to keep predators out. A penned animals is a sitting duck to predators like wild dogs and foxes. Because wild dogs are a real threat here, we have Hagrid our Anatolian Shephard who lives with and guards our goats. He also acts as a general alarm as he can hear/see/smell a long way. He is a wonderful asset to the farm, but he has his own set of expenses like vaccinations, worm/tick treatment and a rather large food bill.  

Another thing to consider is all animals will need medical care, which can add up. A scouring or stressed animals may need electrolytes/scour medication and it will need to be separated off and kept warm with its own set of food and water. Animals will need occasional drenching, tick/mite care, vaccinating and perhaps antibiotics. Wounds will need to be treated and kept clean. Of course we aim to rotate our animals carefully with good pasture management practices to minimise the risk of worms and the like, but in our warm, wet climate barbers pole is a particuarly nasty parasite. The wallabies and native wild life carry it in despite good rotational grazing. 

Grain and pelleted food will need to be kept in rodent proof bins, and straw and bedding will need to be kept in a shed/shelters to keep it clean, fresh and dry. Until you can do this, you're not ready to add animals into the mix, no matter how impatient you are to do so. Getting them earlier than you are ready for will likely result in wasted money, time, frustration and potentially the loss of animal life.  
So if you're looking at getting a farm/homestead, or perhaps you are just starting out and wanting to do all the things you have ever dreamed of. Just pause for a minute and breathe. Think about what you can do with what you have right now, in this season and make that the focus. Then make a plan of what you want to do next, how much it is going to cost, and start to save before you dive into the deep end and find yourself unable to tread water. 

Take it one step at a time. Remember if you want to be living this life for the long haul, don't risk it all by rushing in to tasks and diversifying before you are ready. 

Much love,


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