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,





Unwell and seeking advice

We have all been hit by a nasty gastro bug, and goodness it has knocked us. Grant and Angus were the first to get it and though they have recovered now it took them a little over two weeks. Elsie, Henry and Will have recovered but their tummies are still tender.  I'm struggling to shake the last of it off, I have not eaten anything other than a small amount of toast and a little chicken soup in over a week. My taste buds are in dire need of a change. 

What are your suggestions dear readers? For healing sore tummies and simple meals. We are taking pro-biotics, having bone broth, plain crackers and toast. I feel like we need some simple transition meals over the coming week that are gentle, but a little more substantial before we are back to our usual diet. I'd love to hear your suggestions. 

Much love,

Autumn gardening in the sub-tropics

The mountains we live in create a funny climate. Technically we live in the subtropics, and as such our summers are long, hot, wet and humid. The valley we live in is surrounded by tall hills, which creates a microclimate that on one hand gives us protection from strong winds, but on the other hand, it means we struggle with moulds and mildew in the hot summer months. 

Turning these raised beds into a kind of hugelkulter beds.  

In winter get hard frosts overnight, and the hills cast shadows over our garden quite early in the day, which narrows our growing potential too. We are in our third year here, and I find gardening in the spring and autumn to be the most forgiving. If I am honest, our gardens are not as advanced as I would have hoped them to be by this point. There has been a lot of trial and error. Like really a lot. I remember listening to Millie, one of my favourite presenters on Gardening Australia one day and she told gardeners to not be discouraged by killing plants, that if you were going to garden, you were going to kill plants. It's all part and parcel of gardening. It really stuck with me. To see someone as awesome as Millie, still killing plants from time to time and still learning all these years later. Well, there is hope for me yet, which means there is hope for you too. 

When we first arrived here we came amidst drought and bushfires. Then the drought broke and for the last two years, we have had record-breaking rain and flooding. As such, we are yet to work out what a "normal" season looks like. We have learned a lot, including that weeds grow into monsters seemingly overnight. The insects multiply and demolish seedlings just as quickly, though once things get up off the ground they fare much better. Kale, herbs, spring onions, pumpkins, particular breeds of cherry tomato, and cucumbers thrive here. Each season I seem to be able to add a few more successes to my growing scoreboard. 

Our soil is low in potassium which means we need to add it to encourage flowering. A lot of other micro-nutrients seem to be leached out by the heavy rains meaning we need to add more compost and manures than we first realised.  Favourites like rosemary, lavenders and sage need a little encouragement here, preferring to be planted on slight mounds with some sandpit sand mixed in with compost to aid drainage in our heavy soil. I have never struggled to grow these three plants in the past. I can't tell you how many sages have turned up their toes at me since moving, and the lavenders. Oh, how they sulk after a big rain.

However, many perennial flowers seem to thrive and bloom in abundance. The regular rains mean it's a forgiving place to garden if you are a bit of a distracted gardener like me. Though we are not as far along as I would like, the bones of our garden are taking shape. I have decided I want to use raised beds at the bottom of the garden for greens and the like. Grant doesn't like raised beds so much, but I find the clearly defined spaces and barrier from blankets of encroaching weeds suits me. I keep an eye on second-hand beds on Facebook Marketplace and currently, I'm experimenting with making them into hugelkulter beds. Well, maybe hugelkulter inspired beds might be a more accurate description. I'm curious to see if the timber at the bottom of the raised garden beds helps with drainage. 

We are building still building the big vegetable garden beyond the yard which we will fence off from the dogs and cattle. Between all the other jobs Grant has on the go, he's slowly building a frame that will allow us to have a part of it under shade-cloth in the unrelenting summer sun. The big garden will be for sprawling large crops like pumpkins, bush tomatoes, zucchini, corn etc. He slowly works on putting posts in the ground between other jobs which is slow, but there is no real rush. It's better the job is done once and done well. 

We have some citrus planted along one side of the yard, and a mulberry tree on the other which has taken off. There are plans for an orchard on the gentle slope to the left of the yurt, but again, it will need to be fenced off from wildlife and livestock. As much as we are itching to get the orchard started, there is no point rushing and wasting money on trees that will likely get eaten before it's done. And there is no point in getting into debt over such things to achieve it quickly, as that would defeat the purpose of trying to grow our own food in the first place. 

If there was one thing moving to the farm and living in a small yurt on a limited budget has taught me,  it is patience. There is a saying amongst Christians to never pray for patience because God will teach you patience through having to wait. And by golly, we have had to wait. A huge portion of our off-grid life has been a lesson in patience. Accepting what is and adapting to the hurdles in front of us. Frustration and impatience are wasted emotions. They only serve to create feelings of discontent which sucks energy that could be used in a far more productive manner. It doesn't mean we don't indulge in them from time to time. But there is little point in allowing ourselves to dwell there for long. Especially when there are weeds to pull. 

What season is it where you are dear readers? Are you tending an established garden or are you a total beginner gardener who is perhaps tending a few potted plants? Both are wonderful and I'd love to hear where you are at. 

Much love, 


Taking an hour

It's an overcast morning this morning and I'm sitting at a lovely cafe, alone. Waiting for a coffee surrounded by music, friendly chatter and the scraping of dishes. 

A few shots of the garden in early Autumn. 

Grant and Angus are unwell with a tummy bug, though on the mend. I took the opportunity to wake up early and slip off to church alone. I have been badly needing some time by myself, highlighted by increasing feelings of impatience and crankiness. So today, I grabbed my laptop on my way out and vowed to take an hour between church, getting groceries, visiting the chemist, the farm supplies shop, petrol for the generator and Officeworks. It is actually bliss to be able to sit here, watch the world go by and touch base with you all. 

The yurt, while it is a lovely little home, feels like it is becoming increasingly smaller. The children are growing bigger and naturally take more space. Elsie is into everything and there is nowhere I can go to be simply alone in the quiet. It is part and parcel of being in the thick of mothering, but living small complicates things further.

In time, we hope to build a deck with a couple of rooms on it, which will help. But that is something for future me to enjoy. Current me needs a breather. 

I can always tell when I need a break. My inspiration and motivation to live more simply drop off. More and more "make do" meals find their way to the table, I find myself browsing online for things I don't need or even really want. Disposable nappies creep into my trolly, the idea of trying to keep up with another load of washing simply too much. Instead, I end up using that time saved mindlessly scrolling online. Ironically looking at others living more simply then I feel I am. Fortunately, I am pretty good at not buying the things I look at, but it is a habit that leaves me feeling somehow like what we have isn't enough. Which is of course, utter rubbish, and a reminder of the power of marketing. And very few people live simply perfectly all the time. 

As I sit here this morning, I realise I should have taken a morning for myself two weeks ago. I'm not sure about you, but I am often better at seeing others' needs than recognising my own. I am also not as good at going gently on myself as I would like. I suspect it is common amongst mothers. 

Thee reality is, we have recently gotten over a house of coronavirus, Grant has started a new job, the weather has been appalling which has made it impossible to keep up with the washing, we have had the boys Ganny visit for a few days which was wonderful though very busy, and currently, the other adult in the house is unwell. If there was ever a time to take advantage of shortcuts, now would be it. If a friend were to lament her perceived failures to me, I would of course point her to all the things she is doing right and wonderfully. I would remind her to give herself grace. But somehow, often it seems our inner dialogue speaks the opposite to us, and we have to take the time to stop and pull ourselves up on it and re-direct ourselves onto a kinder path. 

So dear readers, I wasn't sure what I would write to you about today when I sat down. It seems it has been a somewhat rambling post of setting myself straight and clearing my head. 

In an ideal world, I would manage to live waste-free, grow all our own food, cloth nappy my baby at all times and cook all our food entirely from scratch while supporting only local co-ops. There are definitely families who manage that, and they are utterly amazing. But alas, I am not one. Instead, I'm a bit disorganised and usually run 10 minutes late. I drink too much coffee and I get overwhelmed when things pile up. Sometimes all our meals are wholesome and cooked from scratch with home-baked goods in the kids lunch boxes, and other times, they are less so. Sometimes the floors are dirty, the washing basket is overflowing and instead of catching up on tasks while Elsie sleeps, I give in and join her, breathing in her sweet scent, marvelling at her dimpled hands and knowing it will mean there is porridge or scrambled eggs for dinner. Whoops. 

Today, present me is thankful for past me who cooked double last night, meaning we have sausage goulash for dinner and self-care looks like taking an hour, in a cool cafe. Alone. 

But now my tank has a little fuel in it, it's time to tackle the list of jobs and head home to my family. 
What are you doing to fill your tank? Do you need to take an hour? 

Here is a favourite article of mine, I re-visit it from time to time and I thought I would share it with you again, I'm sure I have shared it before but it felt relevant today. A mediocre life

Much love, 


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