Continue to follow our journey over at Barradale Farm

 Just a reminder that if you would like to continue to follow us and our journey to a simpler life you can pop over to our new blog at Barradale Farm. You can follow the link to it HERE. We look forward to seeing you there! xx

A new beginning

 Dear readers, 

After much pondering and consideration, I have decided to close this blog. Simple living is an inherent part of who we are. It has helped shape us and move us from the life we lived towards the life we value and as such, my writing will always reflect that.

But don't worry I have a brand spanking new blog that better reflects where we are today and what we are trying to achieve. We have recently decided to name our farm Barradale Farm and it makes sense to rename the blog at the same time. As the farm grows it is more practical to have everything under the same, easily identifiable umbrella.

I have shared more in-depth reasoning behind this shift, and a reflection on our new blog at Barradale Farm.

I hope to see you there! 
Much love,

Come on in, excuse the mess!

We have had visitors this week, who arrived Monday. My very dear friend, her husband and their three lovely children. Before they came I attempted to clear space so we all fit, which was challenging, but it was also a good excuse for a much-needed declutter. They too are renovating their home and have been for several years now on and off, so I was reassured they wouldn't look at the various projects we have on the go.  

This is my lounge as I get ready to upload this post. Reusable shopping bags waiting to get put in the car, clean washing waiting to be folded, book shelves in use and clearly not ordered into a pretty rainbow theme.  

Instagram would have us think that our homes and cooking skills need to be perfect to be worthy enough to invite people into our homes and lives, but that isn't the case. Well, it shouldn't be the case for anyone worth knowing anyway.

A family home is a busy place. Where children should be free to play, create and make. Adults should be able to pursue their interests and have a space too, be it a little nook, shelf or perhaps a whole room if you're really lucky. Humans are innately creative beings, and I think finding ways in which to express creativity is key to finding satisfaction in a simpler life. Whether it be gardening, building, up-cycling, sewing, mending, cooking, photography, drawing, painting or tinkering. There is no hard and fast way in which one can express creativity. The opportunities are endless.

However, social media and the abundance of platforms in which people share their seemingly perfect homes can trigger a sense of insecurity. Just like in the fashion industry, the home decorating industry moves just dramatically and as equally fast. Rest assured, it is all a consumeristic marketing ploy designed to make you spend your hard-earned dollar bucks on things that really don't matter and you probably don't actually need. But what we see online isn't real. It's just a corner of a home or a snippet of a person's life. Anyone can clear a corner, fluff up a cushion, position a lush indoor plant and artistically drape a throw rug for a pretty photo. However good that corner looks, the rest of their house probably looks just like yours and mine. And really, do they ever really cook a roast with all the trimmings and pan gravy in those beautifully immaculate fancy, expensive ovens? Well, some might for sure, but I suspect many don't. What's more, if you look at the caption on some of those beautiful home accounts, many are being either paid or gave been given items to review in lieu of payment to promote. It works in their favour to present the item in a favourable light so they receive more items from other companies. It can be a lucrative business. Modern-day marketing is a brutal and insidious thing.  

However, in a simple home like ours, there is always cooking and washing on the go. Such is the cycle of family existence. The work is never really finished, we just move on to the next task. In a more conventional home, one might be able to close a door to stash away a mess. When living in a 30ft yurt, this is not the case. Our little home is on full display. The good and the not-so-good. 

My tiny kitchen which we fed 11 out of for the past week 3x/day while our friends visited. This afternoon there are stacked in the sink for handwashing, dodgy old bananas waiting to be cooked up over the weekend into cakes and pancakes as well as the usual stuff of life. 

I hope by inviting people into our imperfect yurt and our somewhat unconventional life, we can create deeper, more authentic relationships. There is something lovely about meeting in each other's homes. I usually find the conversations are freer and richer, due to not being under the pump to finish your meal and move on to free up space for the next customers. There is no splitting of bills at the end of a meal, and ugg boots are perfectly acceptable attire. 

Of course, there is a time and a place to enjoy a meal or a coffee out. It can offer a more central location, or be a special treat. But it's also more expensive, which given the current economy is prohibitive for many people. If there was ever a time to return to normalizing meeting in each other's homes, perhaps now is it. 

If needing to meet somewhere central there is an abundance of lovely parks, national parks, and picnic grounds readily available in most places. A while back when my parents were visiting from interstate, we went to a local historical village and there was a family who brought the most amazing picnic with them. They brought the table cloth, cloth napkins, a thermos, crockery and all. Their lunch was better than ours and no doubt significantly cheaper. I aspire to that level of organisation! 

C'mon over for a cuppa, excuse the mess!

So my encouragement this week is this dear readers if you hesitate to have people over because you worry your home is messy or outdated, please breathe. People want to see you, not your home. Toss the toys in a basket, tuck a throw rug over the couch if it is daggy, clear a spot on the kitchen table and pop the kettle on. Your home no matter how humble, is enough. Just as it is. Dust bunnies and all.

Much love,

distance makes the heart grow fonder

We have just come back from a beautiful week away. As always it was a mammoth effort to get everything organised before we left. To make sure the animals are all in good pasture and freshly moved. 

Henry and Elsie on their first flight. Elsie was not a fan of the descent....

Upon leaving I was a little frustrated with the basicness of our life here. I was sick to the bone with feeling like I was cooking and cleaning all the time. 

But after a week away of easy living, I came back to the rawness of our life and felt renewed. Our funny little round home, managery of farm animals and baby goats jumping all over the place. The cacophony of bird song in the morning and the trickle of the creek. 

Sometimes we just need a change of scenery to fully appreciate the blessings that exist in our own lives. 

It was wonderful to go away and see friends and family. We had a good rest living in a town in an actual proper house. With grandparents on hand to help lighten the load of caring for the children. It was a much-needed break.

But it was good to come home. There is something in the rawness of this place that's seeped into my bones. Yes, it can be hard and frustrating but also we are more deeply connected to nature and the world around us. Life is slow here on the farm, genuinely slow. Our days do not race past us, instead, we live at a natural human pace. Feeding animals, pulling a few weeds, cooking a meal, stopping to have a cuppa and a chat. Sure some days are flat out, we have four children and a certain level of work is inevitable, but many are not. 

In a world that seems obsessed with being busy, of having things on every moment of every day, it seems to be a somewhat unusual existence. I often hear people complaining about how busy they are, and yes there are days and seasons in which busyness can't be avoided. For many families having two working parents is an absolute necessity. (it has been for us at various points in our marriage) But that still leaves days off and time after work. But there are the same amount of hours in the day as there have always been.

Other times busy is a choice we make. It is a parent's choice to enrol their children in lots of extracurricular activities or to attend a different group each day with their toddlers. We live in a time where undertaking the necessary tasks of homemaking is easier than ever. We have appliances to help us prepare food more quickly, pre-made short-cuts like packet pastry. We have washing machines, dryers and vacuum cleaners. All of these things should be leading us to have more pleasure time. Time to spend with friends and family, to garden, to go on picnics, to read, write and pursue various hobbies. Instead, we seem to fill it with noise. With shopping for fun, going places to be entertained, with screens and rushing about. There seems to be a mentality that children need to go places to attend enrichment activities or they will fall behind. 

But throughout history, these things have not been available as the norm and were provided within the home or through family and friendship connections. Funnily enough, people managed just fine. In fact, I suspect we had stronger communities and significantly less social disconnection and loneliness than we do now. 

It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to "catch up" before we choose to visit a friend or take a holiday. That we need to wait until we have free time before we put aside the time to visit. But time is never really free. We can always fill it with something, and the fact is we are never really caught up. A house will always need maintenance, there will always be more work to do. The trick is recognising this and consciously putting our work down to invest in our real-life relationships with the gift of time. For they are the thing that gives us the greatest comfort, enjoyment and security in life.

The rest is just fluff.  

We have had five baby goats born this spring, and all are strong and healthy. There are three girls and two boys so far. There are more to come but I suspect they are still a little way off.

We had a set of twins born about a week ago, they were small and not all that sturdy. The bigger and stronger boy was born first and the smaller weaker girl came along second. It was a cold morning and the little girl was lacking energy. I watched her for an hour to see if she would pick up as the mother was quite caring to them both. But then I found her lying flat on her side and I decided to bundle her up and bring her inside. It was clear she wasn't going to pick up on her own. While William cuddled her to help her warm up, I milked the mother goat for her colostrum. Over the next hour and a half, I syringe-fed colostrum to the little goat. The combination of warmth and the colostrum gave her much-needed energy and I was soon able to return her to her mother. Thankfully the mother accepted her back and it has been onward and upwards for them both since. 

This is the benefit of having one person predominantly at home in our situation. It means I can monitor the animals and help any that find themselves unwell or tangled in fencing.  

It's wonderful to see so much life around the place. The fresian poddy claves are fully weaned now and are growing into big strong healthy girls. The steers are fattening up nicely on the tender spring grass, and the chooks are happy scratching about, though we risk growing sick of eating chicken soon. 

I hope this finds you well.

Much love, 

Spring time rituals

I rather like the idea of spring cleaning. Of taking everything out, giving it a good wash, hanging the rugs in the sun and beating them out. I would like to say I am working throughout little yurt top to bottom in a methodical, industrious and thorough manner but alas, that is not the case. I am working through it, but it's a snippet at a time. You might think that living in a small space would mean that it would be a quick job, but there are 6 people's belongings to sort through and some of our nooks and crannies are pretty full.

Though I did scrub Elsies cubby top to bottom and toss out the toys that were beyond it as some items had become mildewy and the dogs had traipsed mud through it. It's back to being a clean, healthy place for her to play again. If only the rest was so simple! 

Living in a tiny house seems like it would make cleaning easier, but in my experience, that’s not necessarily the case. Primarily because each area is heavily used and there is no space to spread out and work through things over a period of days. It means deep cleaning has to be tackled in small pockets. 

For example the other day I cleaned out the filing and the little art desk. That had to be juggled around a toddler playing at the table and children eating. I have had to learn to tackle one extra job at a time, on top of the usual household stuff. Something I know I can complete fully that day, taking into consideration interruptions. One day I got Grant to help me pull the window covers off so I could clean them inside and out thoroughly, another we tackled some mildew on the roof. A few days later I cleaned out my wardrobe, tossed old ripped items into the rag bin and bagged up good-quality things to donate. 

Once upon a time I would have been able to get all these things and more done in a day, but somehow, in the yurt things seem a little harder. I think because there is no way I can just close the door and focus on just the task at hand. The close, open nature of the yurt means my attention is never really able to be on one thing. My focus is constantly pulled elsewhere. To vacuum means to turn on the generator and switch the power over, to full a bucket with soapy hot water means to boil the kettle on the Aga or the gas stove. 

As I write this I have had to stop and make lunch, feed the cat, settle the baby who was woken by the dog and pull my boots on and run outside to help with Hagrid who got loose and was chasing a calf. (We have never managed to get him to bond well with cattle.)   

But just because it is a little more difficult, doesn't mean it can't be done. It just means things have to be broken up into bite size tasks. Over time those small tasks add up and before you know it the room has been deep cleaned and de-cluttered top to bottom. 

I have been more brutal this spring when it comes to tossing things out. The yurt is cluttered and it's driving me bonkers. We are also clearing out the storage space in the loft to turn into Angus’s room though Grant needs to find a day to work on the shelving. The boys need a little more room to play in peace without their LEGO creations being smashed by a cheeky toddler. 

But despite it being a slow process, and at at times frustrating. It is remains a deeply satisfying task. 

There is something instinctual that comes with the arrival of warmer days that pulls us to adapt with the seasons. To pull things out, let them air and free up space for the coming season. To know everything we grab in our wardrobes actually fits and is wearable. To clear away the cobwebs and dust that have built up over winter from the wood oven. To open the windows and let in the fresh, clean warm spring air. Being able to let the sheets and towels dry in sunshine outside, rather then above the wood oven.

It is worth the effort, even if sometimes it feels like We are chasing our tails. It leads to a calmer and more organised rhythm in our days over the coming season. 

Clearly, Rocket the adopted rescue cat is tuckered out by all the springtime activity! 

How are your spring time plans and activities going? 

Much love, 

Well hello there little one!

It has been a promising start to spring with the safe arrival of the first kid (of the goat variety I should clarify) of the season. A lovely, strong healthy girl born to a doting mother with oodles of milk. 

I think given all the baby animals in the world a baby Boer goat might have to be up there in the top 10, maybe even the top 5 sweetest babies, although I may be biased. There really is nothing quite like stroking their long soft velvety ears. Perhaps if there was more goat-ear stroking in the world, we would all be less stressed. A worthy experiment for a study if there ever was one, yes? 

My freshly rejuvenated garden near the back door is coming along beautifully. It is giving me hope that this year the garden might fare better than last. I'm slowly popping into my round garden for a few minutes at a time clearing it out, ready to add compost, manure and spring veggies. It's taking longer than I anticipated but sometimes that's just how life goes on our higgeldy piggeldy property. The farm has affectionately earned the nickname "Footrot Flats" which is a series of comics and a movie Aussies and Kiwis would be familiar with. 

I have been planning out the new garden area I want to build this spring and I really wanted to add some kind of water feature. Preferably a lovely pond with tall grasses and pretty ground covers around it with a simple spout fountain in the middle of it as a focal point. I started googling the price of ponds and quickly grew discouraged. Then as I always do, I hopped onto Marketplace and bingo! I stumbled on a big, sturdy pond liner for free that had just been listed a few minutes prior. Clearly, the thrifting Gods were in my corner that afternoon. The pond is a lovely diameter, but a little deeper than I would have chosen, so we will half-fill it with gravel to ensure it's well within the depth of the child-safe recommendations. 

Grant has been away this week for work and by golly we miss him. The boys are being incredibly helpful with the farm chores, which is heartening to see. They are all pitching in where they can without (too much) complaint. A reminder to me that though it can be hard at times, the benefits of this lifestyle and this property outweigh the negatives. The boys are thriving, they love they get to call this beautiful valley home and mostly willingly do what needs to be done to make it work. We are all entitled to our off days. Though poor Elsie has been asking for her Daddy, confused why he doesn't seem to be coming home from work like usual. 

On an early morning run to check Mama goat and her brand new baby.

I'm pleased to say Grants new forestry job is going well. It's all very professional, the people are lovely and things are looking promising for a permanent position beyond his 5-month seasonal contract. He finds the work really interesting and it's a place he would love to build a good career.  

I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity. 

I'm not going to lie, there have been some periods of deeply questioning if we had made the right decision in uprooting our lives and moving halfway across the country away from everything we knew and everyone we love. We moved because we believed it would provide better opportunities for our family. We fell in love with the beauty of the region, wooed by the lush forests and crystal clear creeks. We felt the towns and closest rural city would be wonderful centres for us, with good schools, TAFE and a growing University. 

But the reality has at times, been shaky. There have been more than a few discussions about if we should throw in the towel and opt-out for an easier life. One with mains power and a proper, full-size house. 

But despite that, something keeps us here. As you come into our gulley, the space opens before you. We wake in the morning to a cacophony of birdsong and wildlife. Kookaburras, magpies, catbirds, whip birds, cicadas, frogs and so many birds I still can't name. This morning I saw a big fat echidna scurrying across the track.  This place....Well, it's a bit magical. 

Now we seem to be in a period of living with COVID and things are functioning in a relatively normal manner, I have been blessed that Elsie and I have been able to attend a beautiful community garden group, storytime at the library, and our church playgroup regularly. I feel like I am finally making some lovely friends and building some great connections. And our shy, scared-of-everything little COVID baby is becoming more confident in herself, which is a delight to watch. There is a sweet spring fair at the community gardens this weekend, I'm looking forward to going. 

Today Grant comes home. I'm also looking forward to coffee in bed and a nice sleep-in! 
I hope you have had a lovely week. 

Much love,

Shades of grey and a new job

Grant starts a new job this week. It's full-time seasonal work with the forestry department. It's a good solid government job, and he is really looking forward to it. To be honest, so is our bank balance. It's a job he has wanted for a while but with Elsie being a baby and things so basic here, he didn't feel the time was right to apply as he is required to work away sometimes. But Elsie is getting bigger, the track is slowly being improved and the farm is becoming easier to manage.   

These photos were taken on a recent afternoon spent fishing with Grant's parents when they were visiting. They hired a boat for a couple of hours and we all really enjoyed ourselves. 

He left the dairy job after realizing there were very different communication styles and different expectations that were not going to be resolved. He watched the dairy churn through staff and it proved to be an unnecessarily stressful time. He enjoyed the work and the pay was fair, but after a few months of slogging his guts out it became clear that it wasn't going to work long-term. He had already started to apply for other jobs before deciding to hand in his resignation early. Over the past month or two, while forestry went through the slow government process of due diligence, he has been working full-time on the farm. It has been wonderful to have him here getting stuck into some big jobs like getting the bug shed usable and starting on the permanent fencing. The children loved having him about for their two-week school holidays and for once he was able to enjoy our recent run of visitors right alongside us. The timing, despite being initially stressful, could not have been better. 

Being seasonal forestry work, it is likely there will be days or even weeks working away fighting fires in national parks and forestry areas. Though he will be fairly reimbursed for being away, I am a little anxious about managing this place on my own. The dogs are excellent security, especially Hagrid the livestock guardian dog so I am not concerned about that. I'm more concerned about managing the animals, the children and keeping the house running in some kind of fashion. Fortunately, the boys are getting bigger and growing more helpful by the week. Slowly but surely our off-grid systems are improving. The days are longer meaning our solar is doing better too. We also have a small backup generator now which brings further peace of mind. Knowing Grant would likely be working away this summer, we recently upgraded our internet to Skylink, though it was a costly investment it was a necessary one.  Without satellite internet, we would have almost zero phone access. Our new and improved internet means communicating with the outside world is clear, fast, easy and reliable. It has brought me significant peace of mind. We also have some wonderful neighbours and friends I can call on if need be, so we will never really be alone. But still, I prefer it when Grant is home with us. 

Keeping good relations with neighbours is one of the important things about living in the country. In the city, if neighbours don't get along, there is no reason not to express that dislike. We have watched city folk move to the country and maintain that attitude, which results in them essentially throwing away their security blanket. In the country, where trees can fall on roads, floods can block off properties and bushfires can threaten livelihoods, it's best to live a  peaceful, accepting life with those around us. The further out you live from town, the more important it becomes to learn how to get along. To truly accept people for who they are, rather than what we wish they were. 

It seems we live in a world increasingly geared towards the opposite. News articles and situations are presented to us as strictly black or white. There is a growing expectation that people will agree with us without making room for listening to different viewpoints. To disagree respectfully seems to be a diminishing art form. Social media and algorithms designed to feed us only the things we like are a significant contributing factor I'm sure. As are news sites that report with strong bias, whether the station leans towards a conservative or liberal viewpoint, the effect is the same. In this day and age we have the ability to tune into whatever outlet gives us what we want to see and hear, rather than delivering a broader picture if what we need to see. We frequently see that people hold firm opinions about what "other" generations are or aren't, instead of seeing the beauty, wisdom and strengths in each and every age group. In an ever-increasing competitive job market, I often hear stories of employers expecting perfection from employees but delivering significantly less than perfection themselves. Unfortunately, due to the need to source good references and an increasingly casual workforce, employees are left with no real voice, lest they rock the boat. 

It seems for most of us, life is lived within the shades of grey. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses and we muddle through the best we can. Some of us are high achieving in a particular area, some of us are generalists who do well at a broad range of things, some of us are talkers, and some are listeners. Some are mathematicians and statisticians while others are intuitive and creative. Some have a heart to quietly serve those they care about, others may stand on their soap box and fight for inequality publically.

It seems to me that society is increasingly focussed on seeing what those around us are not, rather than what they are. When we look at what our garden has produced, rather than what it hasn't we can joyfully celebrate our harvest. When we focus on the things our community does well, it can inspire us to reach out a little wider. When we seek people's strengths and see the value they bring just as they are, we are less likely to become fixated and overly critical of their weaknesses. 

When we can find acceptance of our own shortcomings, it frees us up to see beauty in the various shades of grey that exist within all aspects of our lives, setting us up for a happier, more joyful and better-connected life. 

This morning as I have my cuppa, I'm looking at our tiny somewhat cluttered home, filled with washing hung at various stages of drying thinking about all the things we have, and all the people whose presence bless our lives. Including you dear readers. I hope you have a lovely day. 

Much love,

PS I have had some readers email recently to let me know they couldn't comment. I have played around with some settings and it seems ok on my end from what I can find. But amidst fiddling I have managed to be able to comment as myself again rather than anonymous, so I have managed to change something. If you have a moment could you let me know if you are able to comment or not? For a writer, comments are a lovely part of blogging and I'd like to ensure it is possible for those who want to chat! xx  


Spring is in the air

It's been a busy couple of months here with a stream of Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, and cousins visiting. It was wonderful. It is not easy living so far away from everyone, especially after the past two years of border closures, so these visits from loved ones are particularly special. Everyone has returned home and things have returned to normal. However, there is still a visit from dear friends to look forward to at the beginning of October. Yay!

There have been some new additions to the farm in the way of two Friesian heifer poddy calves. Friesians are a well-known dairy breed and we aim to train them both to be milking cows. We hope we to use them to help us raise poddy calves in the future.  Buying Poddys is a cheap and easy way to begin to build up a small herd of cattle. We have an abundance of grass here, it is one thing we grow extremely well, especially in the warmer months. Being bottle-fed, the calves are very sweet, especially the black one who walks around trying to suck on everyone's clothing in the hope of discovering milk, much to the boys delight. 

The meat chickens are fully grown and we have begun to process them in batches. Anyone who visits will be fed chicken for the next couple of months! And by we, I mean Grant. I confess to being useless when it comes to the processing of animals. I'm far too tender-hearted. Although I am more than happy to cook them up, knowing they have had a good life.

I'm pleased to say the bug shed is lined out. and up and running The cement floor ensures it's rodent proof, and the slow combustion wood fire maintains a warm dry atmosphere which the woodroaches require for good breeding. It still needs insulating and exterior cladding which will take more time and money, but it is warm and dry and the woodies seem very happy with their new home. 

The room out the back is the woodroach palace. There is a heavy duty tarp along the back protecting it from the weather. It still needs exterior cladding and insulating. But it's functioning which is the most important thing!

The goats are looking well with big swollen tummies. We have given up trying to predict when they will kid. It seems they have been pregnant forever. We have found a fellow living not too far away who has been working on breeding hardy Boer goats with worm-resistant genetics. We hope to replace Bob and add a couple more does in the not-too-distant future. 

Recently Grant and I had a discussion, where I expressed my need to have a project that was wholly mine. A project that I have free rein on. Something I don't have to wait around for him to want to work on it with me. As such, the garden has become that project. Grant will help me by carting in compost and gravel with the big cattle trailer as I am not confident carting such a heavy load on our rough tracks. But I will unload it and do the rest as I see fit. Sure, we will talk about things, but it is a project that I will have the final say on. He doesn't think he is bossy. It is likely I feel the way I do due to different communication styles and the passion he has for this property. Such is the joy of married life!    

With spring here and a project up my sleeve, I have been chipping away at getting the gardens ready. Nothing grew during winter except a few weeds and maybe some leafy greens and herbs, and even then it wasn't much. I think the soil was cold, sodden and heavy after the record wet season and didn't ever really get a chance to dry out. 

I have since been busy opening the soil up, adding compost, manure, and trace minerals. After the past couple of incredibly wet summers, we have come to realize our soil needs a lot of extra nutrients added to counteract the runoff. 

This spring I hope to add a bunch of raised beds down the bottom of the garden, to add to the two I have. Both the raised beds were done as hugelkultur beds and are looking ok, though the soil needs further improvement. I mixed compost in with our heavy soils to save money, whereas in hindsight I should have just topped them with 10cm or so of pure compost. I might still dig out the top layer and do so in a few months yet, depending on how the seedlings develop. 

Our round garden is in dire need of some springtime TLC next, which I'm hoping to get done over the weekend.   

Grant built me some wonderful and much-needed steps to our front door. Apparently, we are in for an incredibly wet summer for the third year in a row, so a safe walkway with my dicky ankle is a huge relief. There is a fair bit more gravel to bring in for various paths and around the veggie beds, but it all takes time and money. I was initially going to lay barkchips around the raised garden beds when the time comes, but have since learned that many people in tick-prone areas find gravel helps keep ticks at bay. Particularly important around our yurt as we have small animals and children. I also rather like the idea of burning weeds with a blow torch, which is something you obviously can't do if the paths are topped with bark chips. Win-Win!

Well, the day is beckoning and the sun is shining. 

Much love,



new arrivals on the farm

Recently we had a friend over for dinner and he offered us 30 meat chooks that were surplus to his needs. He kindly grew them out until they no longer needed heating and then passed them on to us for a carton of beer. 

We have no experience growing meat chooks, so it will be an interesting experiment. So far they are living very happily with our egg chooks, scratching about on pasture and able to freely undergo their natural chicken behaviours. I foresee a lot of chicken dinners in the future. 

We will have to process them at various sizes due to only having very limited freezer space. We also have a couple of Australorp roosters which are not too far from going in the pot. I'm interested to see the difference in flavour and texture between the meat chickens and the heritage Australorp chicken. We might need to cook them side by side as a comparison. 

It's already clear that the meat chickens are a far more cost-effective breed to put in the pot. The rate at which they can convert feed into weight is astounding to watch.  They are already the same size as our Austrlorp chicks that hatched out 6 weeks ago. 

We also have another new addition to the farm, which readers who follow along on Instagram might have already heard about. Meet Emma the Maremma who is to the right of Hagrid in the photo below. We will probably change her name to Gemma, as there is already one Emma here, clearly. And since I was here first, I claim shotgun on keeping my name. Already I have called back to answer Grant when he was calling her. Ha!

Emma is a really sweet girl. She has gentle kind eyes and particularly loves the kids, having grown up with children. She was given to us from another lovely, caring small farm. Her last farm had regular open days, and she was no longer coping with visitors on her turf.

Guardian livestock dogs are working dogs, they have been bred for thousands of years to be independent and protect their flock (animal and people) from perceived threats. Maremmas are known for being snappy dogs and as such, require respect. Anatolian shepherds like Hagrid are generally considered less snappy, but they are bigger dogs with a significantly stronger jaw. They too are bred to protect their flock and protect they will do. Having seen Hagrid in action, I wouldn't want to be on the end of those jaws.

Sadly, there are many livestock guardian dogs surrendered as their owners realize they have taken on more than they can handle. Sure, they are cool dogs. Sometimes people get lucky and end up with a chilled-out companion. But all too often, as any livestock guardian rescue organisation will tell you, people find themselves with a big independently-minded dog that has become excessively protective over its environment. 

Emma's previous owners are lovely and I was pleased to make more connections with similarly minded people in the area. They carefully made sure she was going to another farm, where she had the company of another livestock dog and would be able to work. They really do love it, and I'm pleased that she has settled in so beautifully. 

All the other creatures on the farm are doing well. They all look happy the weather has dried out after an incredibly wet summer. Tucker the border collie is delightful as always, Aggie continues to rule the roost. Barking to be let out at ungodly hours of the morning and then barking again to be let back in, lest she is forced to sleep outside. The cats are content, the cattle are looking fat and healthy and Hagrid is thrilled with his new mate. Hopefully, she will help calm him down a bit and grow a brain, he's a bit like an over-exuberant 18-year-old boy at the moment. 

Now we just need more goats for them to guard. I'm not sure Bob the billy goat has done his job this time around. The girls should have kidded before winter and though they all look nice and round, they are not showing any signs of kidding anytime soon. We had planned for them to kid before winter, so we will give them a few more weeks and if there is no action then we might have to start looking for a new billy goat. 

Well, that's about all the animal updates I have to offer this morning. I hope this finds you well. 

Much love, 



It's 3am as I'm sitting writing this and when I got up to load up the fire I discovered it was nearly out. I am nursing it back to life before I return to bed to try and ensure the yurt is warm when everyone wakes in a few hours. I'll fill the kettle and put it on the stovetop before going back to bed so it's hot for Grants morning cup of tea when he gets up at 6.

The yurt has very little thermal mass, so once the fire is out it quickly cools down. Last night I slept through and the kids grumbled all morning as they shivered getting changed.
This is the reality of living off-grid. There is no backup system. No heater we can quickly plug in because we can't be bothered or because the fire went out. The wood always needs to be sourced, chopped, stacked and split, the wood box inside needs to be filled once or twice a day. 

To write to you now I have had to unplug most of the house and turn on the inverter so we have power. I can't keep it on for long as I'm running on our very small battery bank. It's not good for them to run out. 

To save power, I light candles when I'm up overnight. To run the washing machine, dishwasher and vacuum I need to turn the generator on. Fortunately, these days our generator has a remote, but it still needs fueling up, and that fuel has to be lugged in. If we don't keep an eye on our fuel stores, we loose our backup power. Which is fine unless someone accidentally drains the batteries by plugging in something we can only run when the sun is shining. Which happens, because people make mistakes. When that happens we have no power, no lights and no wifi/phone service. 

When we first moved here we had two small solar panels and one car battery. It ran some 12v lights, a tiny fan and the 12v telly but not all at once. It also allowed me to turn the internet on briefly a few times throughout the day, as that required the inverter which uses a fair bit of power on its own. 

Over the last 3 years, we have become accustomed to living like this. It has made us more conscious of our ecological footprint, and we have become more connected to the seasons. When it's hot, the yurt is hot. When it's cold we feel it also. Due to the design of the yurt, we are connected to the nature around us. The rain and the wind is noisy, we can hear the rustle of the trees and the birds sing. Even when all the doors and windows are closed. 

Over the last few years our systems have become more technological, we have a bigger solar system and battery bank which allows us to run power all day. I even run a dishwasher and washing machine on the generator with ease. 

Recently we were discussing if we should bring a second-hand cottage onto the property, which I mentioned a few posts back. After a lot of discussion and too-ing and fro-ing, we have decided against it. 

Instead, we will be putting on a large deck, with a couple of rooms on it for the boys. The deck will have big panels that can be closed for winter and it will be a kind of outdoor/indoor room. We have an old wood oven we will put out there as part of an outdoor kitchen for off-grid summer cooking. We can rejig the living space of the yurt a bit to add some more kitchen bench along the outer edge and a wall of bookshelves. Elsie will be moved up to the loft, her room will become a home office/sewing room for me and Grant will put a door at the opening so they can be closed off for privacy. One day we can retrofit the yurt to have better insulation, windows and cladding. Many people do, but there is no rush.  

We have decided to make do with what we have got, to utilize every spare cm and keep our debits down. Rather than put ourselves under unnecessary financial pressure, we are choosing time. Time with our family. Time to work on our property. Time to sit around the campfire, go on bushwalks and tend to our small, but slowly expanding garden.  

Our home here will never be big, but I'm fine about that. I like my funny little house. I like feeling connected to the seasons. I like that living small forces us outside. Humans are prone to taking the easy path, which I don't think is always good for us. In many ways, our lives have never been easier. We have 24/7 connection at our fingertips, tools for every job, climate control at the press of a button, and endless food at our disposal. Instead of being happier, we are more stressed with mental health issues at an all-time high. The cost of living is higher than ever before. People suffer from disconnection and loneliness. Longing to be part of a community. 

The reserve bank is going to keep increasing interest rates for at least the remainder of the year. Currently, they are still low but combined with the record-breaking house prices and subsequent mortgages, it's going to hurt. There is also increasing talk of a global recession.  

The cost of fresh veggies is going through the roof, $10 lettuce, anyone? (to be fair, it's not the season for lettuce, but nonetheless.) and going to the fuel pump is an exercise in pain. Not to mention there's been a drastic increase in the cost of energy. 

It seems like many people are experiencing or are about to experience a level of financial hardship they have not experienced before, with no sign of things improving any time soon. The growth economy is clearly broken and unsustainable. Yet our world leaders and those in power refuse to back down. 

But we as individuals do have a choice in how we live our lives. Now is a good time to be trying to grow our own food, or to join a community garden if space doesn't allow much. It's a great time to have chickens, who turn kitchen scraps and garden greens into little balls of protein goodness. It's a wonderful time to support our local op-shops and to learn how to mend and make do. It's a brilliant time to learn how to cook delicious, frugal, healthy meals from scratch. 

But if we focus only on saving money from a purely a scarcity mindset, life can become pretty miserable. 
Instead, if we can shift our perspective to look for the joys and delight within an experience we can change our perception. Despite living in perhaps the fastest moving period in history, it is possible to re-learn how to focus and be entirely in the moment, rather than distracted by all things trying to compete for our attention. 

Elsie and I went with a dear family friend to a local historical village the other day. She loved the 'choo choo' train especially. The big beautiful Clydesdale horses had my heart. 

Entertainment doesn't have to cost much for it to be fantastic. Picnics, bushwalks, going to the river/lake/beach. Spending time at parks or in the garden, watching a movie or even starting a family-friendly series together are all good fun. Having friends over for a make-your-own pizza is a delicious and cheap way to feed a crowd, and gives everyone a shared project to focus on. Recently an old friend taught us a couple of new card games, and now whenever we go out I need to make sure there is a deck of cards in my bag at the boys request. Checking out your local historical sites can be a super interesting experience too. The possibilities are endless, and I find if we are still feeling uninspired or restless, we just need to add some more people into the mix and suddenly they bring a whole different perspective. 

I don't believe we are designed to do this thing called life alone, rather we are meant to do it surrounded by friends and family. Wether they be people we share the same genetics with, or similar interests. 

On that note, I had best get going. My favorite people need me. 

Much love,

changing seasons and Winter routines

With the cooler weather having firmly arrived, the Aga has been lit around the clock. This means I can cook freely at any time of the day without the concern of wasting gas, stacking chores or heating up the yurt. 

For most people, these kinds of things don't require a lot of consideration. If you live on the grid in a normal house with air conditioning, you can flick a switch to turn the air conditioning on when you're cooking. Gas or power for the stove is usually via mains, so if you don't stack baking, sure you will pay more in utilities, but you likely don't have to cart it in yourself. 

But living off-grid means that's not the case for us, so winter is a welcome change. 

The after school/witching hour/pre-dinner window is always an intense time with small children. There are snacks to dole out, chores to complete and tired behaviour to soothe, all whilst trying to get a nourishing meal on the table at a reasonable hour. 

The one thing that has always been my saving grace with a gaggle of children underfoot, is cooking dinner in the morning. If I can cook a double or even a triple batch, that's even better. That way no matter how the day unfolds, you know you have a healthy dinner sorted. If the afternoon really falls apart, you can feed the kids early, run them through the bath and get them ready for an early night. I find winter especially accommodating for this kind of routine. In winter we naturally tend to lean towards warm, nourishing meals of casseroles, soups and roasts. These kinds of meals are perfect for popping on the Aga, or in the slow cooker if you have one and allowing it to simmer away all afternoon.

Tonight's dinner is a savoury mince. The kids have requested pasta on the side and I'll steam some broccoli, tossing in some butter, and lemon juice and seasoning it at the end. The mince is a simple, rustic meal, with whatever veggies I could rustle up thrown in for goodness. A generous handful of fresh herbs from the garden added in at the end will help to lighten it up.  It's a bit of an old fashioned dish, and certainly not one you will find on Master Chef but it's a cheap, healthy, comforting dinner that the kids all enjoy. And frankly, that's enough for me. I am not big on dinner time battles, I prefer to keep foods familiar and predictable while children are young, and slowly over time broaden their palettes. Once children understand the concept of just trying a bite of something new, then mealtimes can become more adventurous again. Also in my experience, it's often easier to introduce a new food in the morning to a child, rather than at dinner when they are already tired and at the end of their day.   

I was listening to the radio the other day and there were economists discussing the sale of mince having increased dramatically, due to the rising cost of living and people feeling the strain on their purse pockets. I think mince gets a hard time, it's like the ultimately uncool cut of meat. But for many people, it's a versatile staple, and kids usually like it. I think texturally it's easy for them to manage and the higher far content makes it tasty. We eat a lot of mince. 

It's amazing to think of how things have changed in the last 30 years isn't it? When I was a kid, I remember we ate a fair bit of lamb, it was considered an affordable cut of meat. But now it is rare for my children to eat it, because it's become so expensive. Chicken is generally affordable, though modern chicken farming practices are concerning. 

There is a lot of wisdom in old, fashioned thrifty cooking. The kind of cooking that is reliant on the seasons and what's available locally. Not only is it cheaper, but it is also more sustainable and strengthens the local economy. I often like to flick through older recipe books for ideas or look at recipes online. It seems that in the past everyday meals were often simpler, often using fewer ingredients. Although desserts including homemade pastry etc were more labour intensive than simply buying it pre-made. But I suspect for many, pie wasn't considered a week-day dessert. Well not in an Australian context anyway. America seems to eat significantly more pie than us, if books are anything to go by.  

If I cook a big batch of something, the next morning I will usually try and do some baking for the week. Predominantly biscuits or cakes for the kid's lunch boxes. Baking with kids is also a great way of doing an activity with them, so it kills two birds with one stone. Though it is usually significantly messier and slower, but that's working with kids in general. By planning and alternating what I cook each morning, I ensure we are eating wholesome, budget-friendly food, with minimal effort and time in the kitchen.  

What are your favourite thrifty meals? Do you alter what you cook to suit the seasons? What's on your table this week? 

Much love, 

considering choices

It seems everyone has finally recovered from the terrible tummy bug. I don't think our family has ever been so sick and I am beyond thankful it is behind us. Now to rebuild everyone's immunity. Unfortunately, as soon as the children were over the tummy bug, they began to come down with a nasty cold one by one. I suspect having covid a couple of months ago, really knocked our immune systems out and it's going to take a bit of work and a lot of rest to get them back in shape. 

Sooty hiding her face from the world. I have found myself in a similar situation as sickness strikes our home again. Will it ever end?! 

In the meantime, we have been having big conversations about how to move forward. 

A suggestion came up recently to buy my parents' vineyard in South Australia after the next harvest, as they are looking to retire sometime in the coming two years. Due to where William is at in school, it's unlikely that will work, as we want him to be well settled in before year 11/12. But it got us looking at options, and we could potentially afford to buy a similar property in the region, which is the area where I grew up. The property could be established, with a house/shedding and mains power and water. You get more for your money there than you can here. 

But as with everything, there are pros and cons to such a move. The pros are that we would be closer to old friends and family and we would move to an actual house. Day to day life would be significantly easier. 

But, we have opportunities here as a family that we wouldn't have there. It's a totally different style of farming, livestock compared to horticulture. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and the children are settled into wonderful schools and youth groups. 

This kid has never known a 'normal' life. She lives in the bush, with countless animals as her friends. She has a really magical childhood.
When it comes to the crunch, the main frustrations I have been struggling with are access problems and housing. We are beginning to outgrow the yurt. It's been a great little home but with a teen and a tween in the house, space is at a premium. I don't mind living simply, in fact, it's kinda my thing. But I am struggling with not having a space of my own. To maintain some level of long term sanity, I need to be able to sew and write without needing to rescue my laptop from the threat of spills or deal with constant interruptions. The only place I can work is on the kitchen table, which also acts as a food prep area, a desk, the laundry folding station, art studio, and home office for 5 other people. Even if they are not using it directly, they are inevitably milling around me. Jostling, asking questions and generally needing me. All. The. Time. 

After a week or two of prayer, weighing things up, and exploring options we are leaning towards staying. But the process of considering options was important for me. I needed to remember we will always have different cards on the table, and that choosing a different path doesn't equate to failure if that's what is right for our family. It's funny the stories we subconsciously tell ourselves, which when put under examination don't actually stack up. 

However, Grant enjoys his work and though things have been incredibly tough I do believe we are close to breaking the back of this place. I just need to keep reminding myself. 

Most people give up just when they're bout to achieve success. They quit on the one-yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown. 
                                                                            H. Ross Perot  

The bugs are not far from having their new home which is a good side income when running well. Which will make all the difference to our budget and our sense of financial security. I am slowly meeting more people as everything opens back up and playgroups and the like have returned on a regular basis. Our family has decided to make building community and attending local events more of a priority. We have been terrible at losing ourselves in all the work that needs to be done here. However, the work will never end. The projects we take on, need to be meaningful and align with our values. We could do any number of things here, but that doesn't mean we should. 

We have also been considering options on how we can create more space and some privacy for me. One option is to build a deck and add a couple of fully insulated rooms under it for the boys, linked by a kind of indoor/outdoor living space. Elsie would move up to the cozy loft and I would turn her little room into my study/sewing room. Another option we have considered is buying an old timber cottage, re-locating it to the farm and then renovating it as funds allow. If I were to be honest, purchasing a cottage and renovating it would be my preferred option. Then we could rent out the yurt for a small amount of rent + a few hours of gardening/week to a couple or young family interested in living a simpler, more sustainable life. But we will see where we are financially in a few months once the bugs are up and going. 

Wet washing hanging on the line above the wood burning Aga, and clean washing folded on the table, patiently waiting for people to put it away. 

It is good to consider options and to remember that the way things are now, is not the way they will always be.  Everything always seems more challenging when everyone is sick. And we have had a lot of sickness over the last couple of months. 

There are many people I have talked to over the years that are waiting for the perfect opportunity, or the perfect property to move to. They dream of living a different life, they talk about living another life but the idea of actually making the change is paralyzing. And look, I get it. We all fear failure and looking silly to a degree. Of people saying "I told you so." But unless we are willing to consider change, and I mean truly consider it, we will never know what we could be missing out on. There is wisdom in waiting, researching and not rushing into a situation. But we also only have one life. Sometimes it can be helpful to review all the options on the table, even if it's just to ensure we are still on the right path. Whatever that path may be. 

As far as life on the farm goes, it looks like we have another week of rain on the cards, and the Aga has been burning 24/7. There is clean washing drying in every available space. My garden has slowed for winter, and naughty Aggie dug up a bunch of seedlings. Those she didn't brutalise, seem to have stopped growing. Ahh well, one day I'll have a good size greenhouse to prolong the growing season.

Anyway, I hear little footsteps shuffling out of the bedroom and it seems Elsie has woken up from her midday nap. I hope all is well with you. Are you considering any changes big or small in your life?

Much love,





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