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,
Emma
Xx




     


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,
Emma
xx

 

New Vlog on YouTube. Finally!

Well, I have been away far longer then I intended but I was determined to finish off our latest vlog before my next post. Hence the delay. 



I gotta say, I find it significantly simpler to write about our life here. 

Videoing can be blurry, there are animals and children to work around. The weather and light needs to be taken into consideration. Batteries die and memory cards fill up mid-filming. Then there is the editing process which is a whole other kettle of fish. It's ALOT to get my head around. 

Although I'm painfully slow at filming and editing, and I make a ton of mistakes before I get to the point of producing something remotely ok-ish to actually post, I'm very much enjoying the process of learning the ropes of this visual form of story telling. 

I also adhere strongly to the philosophy of done is better then perfect. 

It is easy to be paralysed by the desire to create something of perfection, to be scared to show our wobbly first steps to avoid potential embarrassment. But when we are authentic, I believe it encourages others to try the thing they want to try too. To step off the well worn path of what society shows us is 'success'.

We are surrounded by images of perfection today in a way no other generation has ever had to navigate. Of perfect homes, perfect colour-coordinated children wearing cute outfits, perfectly manicured gardens and cars. It can be a lot of pressure on people who are already prone to perfectionism to feel they have to keep up. 

However, that's not the life we have choosen, nor is it the life we lead. Money is usually tight, our cars are dinged up, our farm has about eleventy billion projects to do, There are piles of salvaged materials patiently waiting to be needed, our clothes are mostly thrifted, as are most of the things we buy. But our garden is green, our animals healthy, our children happy and our hearts full of love. 

And that, dear readers, I think is pretty good. 

Besides, if we live our lives in fear of what might go wrong, imagine all the things that might go right we would miss?

So, on that note, if you're interested in checking out the vlog the link is below. In this vlog we share parts of our ordinary days living on the farm off-grid in a yurt, the children, animals and a general update of what we have been up to. And you see plenty of a super cute, toddling Elsie.

I hope you enjoy this snippet of our lives!

Much love,
Emma
xx









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,
Emma
xx










 

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,
Emma
xx  

      

 







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.
Emma
Xx












 

Spring

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,
Emma
xx 






lockdown blues

It seems we are in lock down again in rural NSW and not a moment too soon. In fact one could say it's possibly several weeks too late. It was planned to be a one week lockdown to get on top of the highly contagious DELTA variant. However, it's already stretched out to two weeks and considering it has escaped into various regional communities and numbers are continue to grow I suspect we will be in lockdown a long while yet. 


It's all becoming a little Lord of the Flies here. With shelters being built and dirt bomb wars counting as play. Will is in the second shelter. In typical Will style he wouldn't come out for a photo. But I tried.  

Last week home educating in lock down was a bit rough, if I am completely honest. I was tired, Elsie was ratty, the boys took a bit to adjust and it all, trying to meet everyones educational needs in a tiny yurt while tube feeding a sick calf several times a day, who later died was all a bit much. It came to a head on Friday when I pinched a nerve in my back and in an overwhelmed, teary fit of anger I declared the week over and issued a free for all on screens after basic chores and reading time was done.  

Grant being a steadying hand, brought home some seedlings from his work for my new garden area, pizza and chocolate for all and a plan of action to ensure this week was smoother. 

So, the weekend began with shuffling Will out into the old vintage caravan which sits just a few meters from the yurt. That way he has some privacy, a quiet place to study and attend his classes online in peace as necessary. We have sorted through a bunch of things to chuck/donate which will always accumulate with a mob of growing children and turned his old loft space into a much needed storage area. This has freed up the little down stairs room for Elsie and we set up her little toddler bed and moved some of her things which were taking over our tiny lounge space into there. It needs paint, the flooring laid and maybe a little rug yet but it will be a sweet nook for her. One I hope will tempt her out of our bed and into her own at some point. But I'm not holding my breath for that.       

Elsie is a great help in the garden. She refuses to wear shoes and likes to collect any boots left on the porch with dirt. 

This week the boys have chosen their own projects to work on and much of their weekly reading/writing will revolve around that. Angus has chosen WW2 and Henry wants to learn about Mexico, primarily because he want to cook tacos and Mexican food which I'm more than happy to encourage. There will be a bit of geography, history, politics, art (displaying their findings) along with plenty of reading, writing, watching and of course cooking to do. Angus is hoping to cook a meal made with war time rations. I confess to being a little less enthused at the meal that comes from his project then Henry's but I'm sure it will be interesting at least! 

With our tiny yurt having a big re-shuffle, a new garden being planted out and home learning being dictated by us in a way the school is happy with and that works better for our family, I feel more prepared this week. 

But it is only Monday. (Well, it was when I started writing this post. Clearly it is now Wednesday.)

It seems rain is on the forecast and it has settled in which is a bit of a pest as I have approximately eleventy billion loads of washing to do and no dryer to help. But we have had a dry couple of months so it will be good for the creeks and the pasture no doubt.     

But there will always be ups and downs in life, I think they can act as a reminder to take stock of our situation and what we can do do make our lives work better for us, father than moving forward blindly doing the same old thing.

When I sat and thought about why the week had spiralled there were a few issues that arose. Some were the practical challenges of having a big family in a tiny space, which Grant helped to address in a way I feel is now utilising our limited space better. I also felt frustrated that the time I had finally found in my days to pursue some writing/vlogging more regularly, was taken away by suddenly having 4 children underfoot 24/7 with no end in sight. And the fact that those 4 children were being very naughty in not bothering to pick up any of their things, clear away dishes or wipe up their messes despite knowing how and constant nagging. This meant my daily work load had increased to an overwhelming level while still living in a pigsty. After some a tightening of routine around meals, (they cannot graze all day because they are bored) setting clear expectations around daily chores and dishing out consequences when they act like I'm their maid. The boys have picked up their slack and thankfully, are towing the line again.  

They are really beautiful kids, but most of us will try it on at some point or another. I mean if there is someone willing to do your chores, wouldn't you take it up? Holding people and children into account for their behaviour and choices is important. I believe it's a big part to having a happy, balanced home where everyone can feel valued. As is having reasonable expectations of what kids can and should be doing. Kids are capable little people, it doesn't do anyone any favours to not treat them as such. 

Well, considering it's Wednesday morning and this post was planned for Monday I had best hit enter despite it feeling utterly haphazard and it not being my usual style of writing. Also Elsie has learnt how to empty her bottles on the floor into giant puddles and then lay in them. Which is what she has done as I have been attempting to finish this post.....Please send chocolate and wine and any spare sanity you have lying about. 

If you are lockdown trying to juggle balls you never expected to have to juggle, I send love and my best wishes. Go gently in these weird times we are living in.

Much love,
Emma
xx 

P.S. Just to add to the joys here, my iPhone which is only two years old appears to be broken. So please excuse any old photos that appear with my posts. It is the best I can do! 






Cultivating a sense of thankfulness within ordinary days

It's easy be thankful when things are cruising along, there is money in the bank, everyone is healthy and you're in a job that is reliable and pays well.


But what about when things aren't great? 

We all have those times, when we feel like we are facing a mountain of impossible-ness and life is falling down around our ears. Or we might be so damn tired from wrangling small children and doing the same thing day in and day out that we feel like we are loosing ourselves amongst the daily grind. We might be facing economic uncertainty, health challenges or significant life changes. All of which we have experienced ourselves in one form or another, as many long time readers will know. 

How do we cultivate a sense of thankfulness when it seems there is really not a lot to be grateful for? 
I'm afraid I don't have any hard and fast answers, but I do think cultivating a sense of gratitude among our ordinary days can help us keep momentum in the hard times. It can help us to keep moving forward and take the next step.  

Sometimes when we are feeling sad or disheartened, the first thing we can do is to stop and acknowledge those feelings, to give ourselves permission to sit in it a bit, to process our reality and to hopefully shuffle forward, even if it's just a little shuffle.

Thankful for healthy home grown organic veggies and more bought from some friends market garden. 
If you're in the mid-north coast of NSW check out The Vicars Blend Currently they are growing lovely organic veggies, but soon they will be getting started on a boutique winery too. 

As a christian woman, sitting in prayer is important in helping me adjust my focus from my immediate situation and emotions to looking at the bigger picture. I find prayer quietens my mind and heart which then helps to reconnect me to purpose and place. It reminds me I am loved and never alone. Perhaps people who meditate find a similar kind of peace.

Some days, when we are in the thick of a difficult season the idea of finding joyful moments in our days might be too far a stretch. But, often we can still look for small moments of pleasure or peace speckled throughout our days. Below are a few things I find help me to cultivate a sense of thankfulness, even when things are not OK.

Savouring the pleasure of a hot, strong cuppa in a favourite mug.

Chocolate.  

Breathing in the top of Elsies head to fill my body with love endorphins, even when she's not sleeping and I'm completely and utterly exhausted. 

Thankful for an unexpected afternoon nap. I was catching up on Glady's daily NSW COVID update and I think Elsie found it a bit much that day. As did the rest of NSW no doubt.  

Laughing at the silly YouTube clip My teenager has shared with me. Even if I don't think it's particularly funny myself, watching him laugh is lovely. Taking a moment to bask in others happiness can help us remember ours will return.

Holding my family tight after an argument as we talk out how our communication process broke down, or in fact, exploded with loud voices and angry words. We are only human after all.

Touching base with family or friends, even if they are two thousand kms away and I miss them like crazy. I'm thankful for technology that allows me to share photos, videos and hear their voices at the press of a button. Can you imagine going through these covid times without it? 

Giving thanks when folding the never ending pile of clean washing. Stay with me here, I know this one sounds a little bonkers. But I give thanks for having good, warm, comfortable clothes to wear. Though I admit I find it much easier to be grateful for clean washing rather than wet muddy washing....It's not to say I don't ever resent the washing or the chores, but resenting them isn't going to make them any easier to do, so I may as well try to do them with a thankful spirit. The chores reflect that I have a safe secure home to live in and a family to love.  

Giving thanks that I have nourishing food which I can prepare into a tasty meal for my family. And when I'm just too tired, the house is a mess and I have a cranky babe to juggle while trying to connect with the boys, wrangle goats or the multitude of other things that need doing, I'm grateful for pizza that Grant can pick up on the way home from work. Or two minute noodles or baked beans for that matter. I'm thankful that we go to bed each night with full tummies.

Washing to do reminds me we have enough clean, warm comfortable clothing for our family.

I'm thankful for Grant's work where he is treated well and he enjoys being, even if finances often remain stressfully tight.  

I'm thankful for books and the ability to escape to another world. For the warmth from the sun after a stint of cold days or the relief of nightfall in the midst of a scorching Australian summer.

I'm thankful for my little garden and the progress we are making in expanding it. Even if that progress seems painfully slow. There is something about being in nature that is soothing to the most weary soul. Whether it be the bush, the beach, the plains or the forest. Each possess their own kind of beauty. 

It would be nice if life was a smooth as an Instagram reel, but that's just not reality. We all have ups and downs and seasons we don't know if we will be able to bear. But for me, cultivating a sense of thankfulness in the small pockets of peace or pleasure throughout even the hardest days is what keeps me looking forward.     

So dear readers, Id love to hear what do you find helps you when things are tough? 

Much love,
Emma
xx

Thankyou and some Housekeeping

Hello dear readers! Just a quick thank you post today and some blogger housekeeping I thought I should update you on. 

Firstly, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone for continuing to read here. I know blogging has gone out of fashion for the most part, with people preferring the instant-ness of Instagram, but I appreciate those of you who still visit here and persist with me through the sometimes sporadic postings! 


As Elsie gets older, we are finding a better rhythm to our days and as you may have noticed blogs are becoming more and more frequent again. I am greatly enjoying having the time and headspace to write and share our life on this platform. I also love blogs as they are a way of writers sharing their lives more deeply, and I feel authentically. 

When I’m here I don't have to worry if the little Instagram squares look balanced or appealing, what hash tags are trending, or trying to make content the algorithm likes. I don’t think about whether or not I should pay to boost posts so they don't get lost among the masses. (I currently don't.) I'm trying to understand that side of Instagram, but between you and me, I like it better here.   

But within that, for people to actually find this blog and the other things we are trying to create (like the YouTube channel) I have a small favour to ask. If you are on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook please consider taking a minute to like and subscribe to my page/account or just hit hit like on the things you enjoy reading about. The links are all in my sidebar so they are easy to find.
 
I know it seems small, but it really does help send the message to the internet powers that be, that there is interest here, and that the simple living message is worth sharing to a broader audience. And hence, it helps this little corner be found by those searching for a different life. A simpler life. 

And finally, to those that do like, subscribe and take the time to email or leave lovely comments....

THANK YOU.

Thank you for continuing to read and visit. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to connect and let me know that something I have written or shared has resonated with you long enough for you to stop and actually let me know about it. The comments are the thing that has kept me going over the years. The kindness shown and the ability to meet like minded souls in a world that seems intent on looking everywhere but within our homes and our families for pleasure, contentment and beauty. This kind of life, though perhaps not glamorous nor showy matters. It's important. Perhaps more so now than ever. 

For those that were subscribed, it seems the email subscription on this blog is no longer working and that particular gadget has since been discontinued. Being the technological numpty that I am, I have no idea who was subscribed, nor where to find such a list, or even if such a list was available to me. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a new way of adding one.  But I always add new posts to Instagram and Facebook so if you follow along there, you won’t miss out. 

Much love dear readers. 
Emma
xx   
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