moving forward and adjusting plans

It’s 10:30 am and already it’s hot and muggy.

I have caved. Although it’s early, the generator is humming away, drowning out the sounds of the bush.  The cool air from the little air conditioner is blowing on me, whispering to me I’m a fraud for not being able tough it out without some modern conveniences. 

But by golly the Australian summer is tough. There is rain predicted this afternoon and the air is heavy and still, without a cloud in the sky. In the few short minutes it took me to hang out a load of washing, sweat dripped down my back, causing my dress to cling to me uncomfortably.


The kids are playing monopoly at the kitchen table, breakfast dishes are piled up in the sink, the Wheetbix setting like glue.  I should do them, but that would require moving away from the cool of the air conditioner so they can wait. Our air conditioner is too small for the space due to needing to run off the generator, but it’s something. At least for the person sitting in front of it.   

Elsie is shuffling about in her cloth nappy, happily flicking through books.  Every few minutes she comes up to me wanting a cuddle, contemplating her morning nap and then pulls away just as her eyes begin to droop.  She is not a fan of naps. Which is unfortunate, as I‘m rather fond of them.

Elsie loves sitting in front of the screen door watching the world

On the farm, things are moving along slowly. We are itching for progress but everything takes longer then we expect. The last few weekends Grant has been laying the timber flooring which is a fiddley job due to needing to work around the lattice walls. Ideally, it would have been laid before we built the yurt which would have been quicker and easier, but that's just not the way things worked out. It seems to be a common problem we experience here. We don’t have the funds to do something straight up, so everything takes infinitely longer as we work around whatever systems we have had to put in place to make do in the meantime.   

The weeds are overtaking the gardens due to the combination of rain and sunshine. The harsh summer sun and lack of shade around the veggies mean I can’t plop Elsie on the ground while I work to keep on top of them. The sun is in the middle of the sky a 9:30 am at the moment. With Grant back in full-time work, everything is looking rather wild and I have been feeling a little disheartened. 


Like with anything that's not working, we have had to re-assess and simplify our expectations. After some conversation and looking at where each of our interests lies, I think we have made a mistake with the initial garden designs. Both of us have limited time, for Grant, it's due to work, for me it’s due to Elsie. Grants first passion is livestock. He loves the goats and woodies so his priority is rightly those at the moment. Getting the fencing up and his shed built is necessary infrastructure because without decent infrastructure, everything is significantly slower which is wasting both precious time and money. With 4 young children and one of us in full-time work we just don't have the time to dabble in too many directions and have different projects on the go. As much as we would love too, this is simply not the season for it. A lesson we have perhaps learnt the hard way. But adjusting expectations and shifting how we are doing things is possible. It just takes a little reflection and humility to say we made a mistake and move on. Afterall, we love this place and hope to be here for the long haul. We will get there eventually. 

Plants from a neighbour

Aside from blogging, vlogging and cooking our family nourishing meals, I really enjoy gardening and I am impatient to get chickens again. But the current veggie garden as is too far away from the yurt and due to its layout I'm unable to do incidental maintenance on it when I happen to be outside. So, once this season's veggies are picked I’ll build a few small beds and plant a couple more trees for shade/fruit in the yurt yard, to create a very simplified food forest style garden. The big veggie patch will just need to be put to rest for the next year or two. Since the yurt yard is already fenced, it will mean there is one less job for Grant and hopefully, the chooks can free range in the house paddock. 

Grant, however, is not remotely convinced by this idea, but he admits he doesn't have the time at the moment for everything so he has agreed he will do his thing and leave me to do mine. He’s also not convinced my beds won't get dug up by the dogs but it's only Aggie who digs and jumping isn’t her strong point. I figure the kids and I can make some little 45cm garden edging out of weaving sticks or something similar, it doesn't take much to deter her. The thing is we don't have to agree on everything. We only have to agree to respect each other enough to let the other explore the avenues they are interested in, within reason of course.      

But seasons and all that. In a year or two, he can re-instate his big veggie patch to his hearts desire if that's what he wants. 

However, I did manage to find him a rather handsome boer billy goat recently that the kids have named Bob. Bob has moved in with Esme, Vicki, Shirly, Maggie, and the rest of the girls. Hagrid has accepted him as one of his mob and we hope to hear the pitter-patter of little hooves in the middle of the year.  


So, that’s where we are at in the beginning of 2021. Are you doing any adjusting of goals this year? If so I’d love to hear about it. 

Much love,
Emma
xx

P.S. I’m having a little trouble responding to comments and I apologise if I havn’t responded recently. I can assure you I have tried! Blogger wont let me reply to each one but I can often reply as a whole new comment. Hearing about what others are doing is one of my favorite things about this little corner of the web. 

 

     

A new year, a drama and a new vlog


Happy new year dear readers! 

We have had a few weeks of good summer rain now. The creeks are flowing beautifully, and everything is growing before our eyes. And the Cicadas are deafening. The cacophony of birds that usually sing and call out in the mornings is quieter than usual. I’m not sure if they have gotten fat from feasting on cicadas and all the other insects that seem to have come out with the rains or if the cicadas have given them a headache and so they can't be bothered singing at the moment. 

I have been away from the blog longer then I intended. I got caught up with the goings-on of a busy young family and everyone being home for school holidays.  Which is wonderful but it always takes a few weeks to shake down into some kind of rhythm. Well, for me anyway.  

However, I have been working on our second vlog which is now up on YouTube. I apologise for the sound quality, there is no escape from the cicadas here and the mic has picked them up over me. I do hope you can muddle through with me while I learn the ropes and next vlog I will tweak a few things and see if that helps. Also, Grant has promised me he will be in the next one, so there is that. He is rather camera shy. If you want to watch it you can find HERE. If you could take a moment to like, subscribe or share it will greatly help the algorithm to recognise my little channel to suggest it to others. 


Along with the explosion of cicada numbers, its also been a terrible year for ticks here. A few months ago long time readers will remember we lost dear Ronnie, our tan and white border collie to ticks. We routinely treat our dogs for ticks but with the arrival of Elsie their cover had lapsed a little and despite treatment, Ronnie didn’t make it. We were utterly devastated. Grant was hit especially hard by the loss of his best mate, so I went on a search and I found him Tucker. A beautiful failed farm dog who is an utter delight. 

All our dogs continue to be treated with Bravecto, but now with multiple alarms on our phones to ensure their treatment never lapses again.  However, despite being well with the treatment window and checking for ticks nightly, a few days ago we woke to find Tucker partially paralysed. 

Tucker sedated and resting at home after tratment. 

Here he is, on the mend but still weak and flat. 

My heart sunk. 

I looked over him again quickly but I couldn’t find anything, so I swiftly bundled everyone into the car and took him to the vets. The vet found two small ticks on his neck I had missed. Because of the treatment they were dying. She told us that even with the treatment the ticks will release a small amount of toxin before they drop off. Normally a dog can process this but seeing as this year is so bad the toxins had built up in Tucker and made him sick.  Fortunately, the tick treatment had stopped the full dose of the toxins being released and with good vet care which included tick anti-serum, antibiotics, IV fluids, antiemetics to stop him vomiting and choking, and sedation to keep him still and calm he is back home and well on the road to recovery. Though we are significantly out of pocket from the experience and he will be flat and weak for a while yet.
 
Tuk is now spending his days inside and seems to have claimed one of the couches as his own. But he is here, and we are deeply relieved. 

The vets suggested in wet years like this that the chewable tablets are more effective. Though they need to be given every three-months compared to the six-month treatment of the drops. There is also a tick repellant collar available the vet recommended that works in conjunction with the medicated chews. So we have made the switch and hopefully, that will be the last of the ticks we see. I have included a photo of the products we have chosen to use, we are not affiliated with the companies at all. I just wanted to share what has been recommended to us in the hope no one else has to learn the hard way. 


Well that's all from me today, if there is anything you would like to see on the vlog please do let me know and I will see if I can answer your questions!

Much love,
Emma
Xx

surgery update and a podcast

Hello dear readers, I just wanted to pop in and let you know that surgery went well and I am home recovering. I'm a bit flat feeling, foggy-headed, tired and sore but all went well and I feel a little better every day. I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than 5kg for 6 weeks, which is proving very difficult with a baby who just wants her Mum. But Grant and the boys are all working together to make things as easy as possible.


Aggie my ever loyal little Sidekick. Happy to have a kip too. 

Before I went into the hospital, I did a podcast with my dear friend Allie from The Decluttered Home. If you're up for a listen you can find it HERE and check out her Facebook page HERE


I have started working on the next vlog, but each morning I intend to get up early to film the birds and the beautiful sunrise but my bed keeps calling me back. Perhaps tomorrow morning I will get there. I hope to have it out next Friday so I had best get cracking. 


Well aside from that, things have been quiet here. Elsie is sound asleep so I might join her in bed for a little kip. 


Much love,
Emma
xx

Surgery, goats and gardening

It's been heating up here and summer is well and truly on its way.  



I have surgery this Friday which will leave me out of action for roughly 6 weeks, which is annoying but it needs to be done. Grant will be able to bring Elsie into me whenever she needs a feed so that is reassuring at least. They have booked a room not far from the hospital and I'm glad to know everyone will be close by. 

I have been trying to get my little herb/medicinal garden sorted before surgery and though all the plants are still small they are establishing well and with this warm weather I'm sure will take off soon. In there I have
Rosemary
lavender
thyme
sage
clary sage
marjoram
parsley
aloe vera
calendula
echinacea
horseradish
mint
basil
coriander (finished, I'm waiting on seed to form to collect)
spring onion
shallot
leeks
rocket  
Borage
comfrey
daisy
seaside daisy
salvias
lambs ear
allysum
a few varieties of chilli


I'm planning a new garden bed not far from the kitchen door with elderberry which I'll prune up to offer a little shade to some bits and bobs underneath. I can't get the elderberry until the new year locally but I can get the boys onto clearing the grass and putting in a basic timber edge. It feels wonderful to have claimed my little garden back after Grant tried to turn it into an extension of his veggie patch. Ha!

Grant will have to be at home to help with any lifting of Elsie post surgery for a couple of weeks at least. Though he will need to be helping us inside, I'm hoping he can get the fence up around the veggies while Elsie and I are resting. It's the only thing holding us back from getting chickens, we have their portable chicken house all ready to go and I'm growing increasingly impatient. I keep insisting it’s not really a farm without chickens in the aim to hurry the fencing along, but my attempts at coercion seem to fall on deaf ears.

We are also on the look out for a boer billy goat. I thought they might be pregnant but apparently they are not. As I have shared before Grant is the one with lots of livestock experience out of the two of us. Me? Not so much. which makes for some interesting conversations.


Because I am new to livestock, I find owning the goats super exciting. I love them, perhaps a bit too much for something that is to be sold to be eaten in the future.
I have been watching them closely and the other week I swore their little udders were swollen. I took it as a sign they were about to kid as they had been in with a billy goat prior to us buying them. Although they were quite young at that point.

I, determined to be a good goat midwife, turned to google to research all the signs of imminent birth in a nanny goat. Swollen udders are good, as well as drippy vulvas. So I dragged Grant along as a begrudging side kick to hold them so I could inspect their vulvas. Were they swollen? Maybe a bit? I thought to my self. Definitely not drippy...hmm....what does a not pregnant goat vulva look like? I probably should look it up. Is it even legal to google images of goat vulvas or will it trigger some online warning system? Oh god, that would be awkward. I better not google it, just incase.

Meanwhile, Grant was trying to gently wrangle the goats into submission so I could hold up their tails to get a good squiz at their rear ends.

After a bit of wrestling Grant began to lose patience.

“Bloody stabby little creatures.....Em, did you even look at the date we got them to calculate their due date?” He said

“Oh yeah” I replied.

So, off I tottered to find the paper work. Only to realise if they had of been pregnant they would have kidded a 4 to 6 weeks ago.

Whoops.

At least now I know what a normal goat vulva looks like, I guess. 

The girls are otherwise looking wonderful, healthy and fat, living their best lives grazing on mixed grasses, woody shrubs and weeds to their hearts content. Hopefully in the new year we will hear the putter patter of little hooves. 

Well, I can hear Elsie stirring from her nap, best dash. 

Much love, 
Emma
Xx

A new job and a new vlog

Firstly I wanted to say thanks for everyone's kind words, comments and support to my first vlog. It was a really interesting process and I look forward to learning more and getting better at it as I go along. It was quite a daunting thing to put up. If you missed it you can watch it here HERE



For those of you who have been following along for many years know that roughly 3 years ago I became unwell with pericarditis, a virus attacked my heart and it became weak and inflamed. Usually, pericarditis is resolved relatively quickly but mine went on to become chronic and along with it I developed a kind of chronic fatigue. I was unwell for a good 18 months and I needed to leave my part-time chaplaincy work and theological study.  Prior to having Elsie, I had two miscarriages so my body has endured, and come through a huge amount in the last three years.  But as a result of it all, I have put on a lot of weight which at times I am incredibly self-conscious of. I am working on, and mostly winning at reframing my inner dialogue regarding my body shape. 


Women are consistently told that being slim is more beautiful, it is seen as perfectly acceptable to pass comment on a persons weight gain or loss, rather than first consider a person's overall health. It's an awful way of existing. Those values have been forced upon us by an industry that requires women to be filled with self-doubt and insecurities in order to coerce them into a consumerist model. Imagine if holistic health was celebrated and pursued. The world would be a very different place.




My focus now is on health, core strength and improving my gut health via following roughly along with a Nourishing Traditions style of eating. Which has a focus on whole foods cooked well, bone broths along with fermented foods and soaked grains. I have noticed recently I feel a lot stronger and healthier in myself then I have in the last few years. I can feel my body is healing although I still have bouts of extreme fatigue now and again.  Fortunately, they are usually short-lived these days. Mentally and spiritually I feel incredibly content and happy and I think in time if I continue along this path my body will settle into its own ideal weight when the time is right, without me forcing it or admonishing it along the way.  


So to stand in front of a camera and post my first vlog to YouTube was confronting, knowing the kind of cruelty that bigger women often have to face on a public platform. It was an experiment as such. For those of you that liked, followed and commented with such kindness on the channel your support means alot and as a result of that encouragement, vlogging is something I look forward to pursuing further.  


Things here on the farm are going really well otherwise. Grant has a new job which he can do around farm work and the morning school run so that's ideal.  The people he is working for are genuinely wonderful people who care deeply about their staff which is refreshing.  They treat their staff with respect and loyalty, knowing their staff will inturn work hard for them and show them the same kind of loyalty in return. A basic principle that seems to be missing these days in many workplaces, where the bottom line is looked at and making a quick buck overrides long term planning of having solid, loyal, reliable, hardworking employees. Looking after employees well will always cost less in the long run due to increased understanding of the intricacies within a certain workplace, fewer mistakes, more efficient systems being developed over time and less time needed to spent training up new staff constantly. I have surgery coming up soon and Grant will need a little time off to help with Elsie, his new workplace is very understanding and supportive of this and have assured him his job will be waiting which is a huge relief.  


It does however, mean the market garden will not be expanded any further at this point in time. Instead we will keep it as a family veggie garden with the aim of putting out a farmgate stall in the future for excess produce. There is so much infrastructure yet to build and the bugs to expand which is where Grant feels the hours he does have here need to be put at this point in time. Not to mention the yurt to finish. It doesn't mean there will never be a market garden, it's just due to Covid and Grant loosing his job we were pushing harder then we were really ready too, so we have pulled back a bit. Rome wasn't built in a day and all that.

 


Tucker has settled in beautifully, though he has a penchant for chasing vehicles which has been problematic while the sustainable logging has been underway. They have done a brilliant job of sourcing good hardwood from the designated areas without touching the protected areas or sullying up the waterways. We have roads established in the hills now which will help with future bushfire mitigation and seasonal backburning. The money raised will allow us to clear our personal debit, buy a small excavator with a post hole borer for fencing and some floor coverings for the yurt. Oh, and I promised the boys a new trampoline. Ours is currently sporting a giant hole which is not ideal. To the credit of the kids though, they have made the hole a part their games and usually manage to jump around it. Usually.


I keep pinching myself now. To think of where we are today to where we were 18 months ago is astounding. Life is certainly getting easier and although financially things are still tight, its not nearly as stressful as it was when we first moved and we were genuinley struggling to make ends meet on a day to day basis. Maybe we weren't so mad moving here after all. 


Much love,
Emma
xx

 

Vlog #1

In the last couple of weeks I have been working on a new project. I had been pondering for a while about starting a YouTube channel to share our story on a different style of platform. I’ll still be blogging of course, but some things are better or more easily shown on film. 

So decided to finally take the leap and I have been learning how to cut, edit and upload to YouTube. From YouTube, because where else does anyone learn anything new these days?! 

There *may* have been wine consumed as a result of said learning. Nonetheless, here is my first vlog. It’s a little rough around the edges but we all have to start somewhere, yes?  


Much love, 
Emma
Xx


Goodness, how time flies! 


We have recently come back from a wonderful week away in Canberra where we were able to finally introduce Elsie to Grant's family. Gosh, it was lovely!  We ate out, took the kids to all kinds of interesting things and generally did all the kinds of "town" things that are hard to do here.  Also, an indoor bathroom was a huge luxury. I'm not going to lie, I miss the indoor bathroom. 

A birthday and goings on

Firstly I'd like to thank all of you who sent us kind wishes after the passing of Ronnie.  We really appreciate the time it took to comment and your thoughts.  This is such a wonderfully kind little corner of the internet.  xx

This weekend our firstborn Will turned 13.  Officially a teenager.  Oh, how time flies!  Though in truth he has been a teenager in spirit for quite a while.  It's a pleasure to watch him working out who he is and to see him delve into and pursue his own interests.  He is still working away on his little log cabin, felling the trees with his axe, dragging them to the site and slowly notching them out.  It is slow, hard work but an excellent project for an energetic young bloke. Grant's promised him some time out there to give him a hand and keep him company for a bit.   


An unexpected loss


It was a dreadfully sad day yesterday.  A few days ago we found some fully engorged paralysis ticks on Ronnie our border collie.  We treat all our animals routinely with Bravecto a reliable tick/flea treatment but with one thing or another we were a little late with his next dose.  Not terribly late, but clearly late enough. The poor fellow must have collected some on a bushwalk and though we pulled them off and rushed him to the vet who gave him antiserum and various other medications it sadly wasn't enough. He has now been laid to rest alongside old Tessa.

Hug your pets a tightly tonight dear readers.
Much love,
Emma
xx    




Clothing a family for less

Clothing a big family well can be an expensive prospect.  Cheap clothes throw up serious ethical and sustainability questions and better quality clothing quickly adds up, especially when you take into consideration how quickly children grow. 

Elsie in her vintage duds, 50c op-shopped onsie and homemade bib from fabric offcuts.  

But it is possible to meet everyone's clothing needs on a limited budget, it just takes a little more effort, time and foresight.
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