What's in a home?

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life." (Henry David Thoreau, Walden.)


With the world seeming uncertain at the moment, it's a good time to look inwards at our home and how we are living. 

When it comes to the crunch a good house is that which provides us shelter from the elements. A place that is warm and dry when its cold and a place to escape the heat in summer. It should provide a comfortable place to rest, and allow us to prepare food in a hygienic and safe manner. Our home needs to be able to store our belongings and clothing. It's should also be a place to experience community and fellow ship with those around us. To share a meal, for children to play, learn and grow. You know, when COVID restrictions aren't interfering with that. 

These needs can be met in a small and simple home, even a yurt.



But what is it in us that craves more? Why do we desire homes with so many rooms that some of them barely get used? Why do we build homes so big that they fill their block leaving no space for a garden? Why do we hanker after bigger and better televisions, and the latest interior decorations?

Perhaps it is because we envy what we see on TV, magazines and in shop windows. Maybe we look at the beautiful scenes and imagine how lovely it would be to have a home that looked like that, one which is clean and pretty and organised. But when we buy the items to create our own version of that space it ends up feeling wrong. It gets messy, the Instagram perfect white couches get coffee spilled on them, the dogs jump on them and the kids leave their crap everywhere. 

So perhaps the answer is more storage, better storage. So off we head to the shops to buy the ideal storage that will keep everything in order so we can have that beautiful house. Still clutter accumulates, mess happens and we are constantly cleaning to keep the house looking beautiful. 

One might look at this scene and think it is messy. Compared to a magazine image, I guess it is. But the reality is that it's just the ordinary goings on of a family home. It's nothing to hide away nor be frustrated over.  It is the stuff of life.  

Perhaps we have outgrown the house? So off we go to get a bigger house, a newer house and a bigger mortgage. A bigger mortgage means everyone has to work just a little more to pay it off. Of course it will need its own look, items and decorations. 

Eventually we find ourselves tired. The bigger house requires more maintenance, it takes longer to clean and no one has the time because they have to work more to afford the bigger mortgage. The built in wardrobes are bursting with clothes and before we know it, it has all become just a bit too much. Because everyone is so tired and busy working to earn the extra money to afford the lifestyle they have found them selves in, relationships falter. 

Money is a huge stressor on a family. There are many families who live day to day because they simply have no choice. This post isn't referring to them. This post is referring to those of us who have the privilege of choice.

The world is in a season of uncertainty. I feel it is more important than ever to focus inwards at what we have and make the most of it. To find the beauty that exists in the ordinary parts of our lives. To build resilient homes and relationships. To minimise debit if we can and simplify our lives to create a bit of a buffer. Just in case. Many of us have been living just a little bit out of our means for a really long time. 

The warmer of the wood oven acting like an incubator for a rejected kid. Unfortunately she died, but I'm thankful we got to make her last hours warm, safe and comfortable. 

So what can we do to make a small home work rather then upsizing? I'm not going to lie, I would love one extra room. A room for a sewing room/office with a spare single bed would be really helpful. But considering we have only just got a bathroom, which is not yet finished, that is unlikely to happen any time soon. 

Instead we can look at little ways to make our spaces work better for us. The first thing is to de-clutter. Draw by draw, room by room. If you don't use it, look at it or even remember you had it, you really don't need it.  There are stacks of ways to declutter and people who will write about it better than I. But getting rid of clutter and useless crap is really helpful to creating a home that functions well for you.    

Creating a space for Elsie to cultivate reading. This way the books can face outwards so they are more visually appealing and I can rotate them. 

Look at the furniture you have and if it is serving its purpose as well as it could. For example, our couches are too big for our tiny lounge area. I am on the look out for a second hand slim-ish brown leather two seater lounge/chaise combo that I can actually vacuum under. Along with the rocking chair and maybe beanbags for the little kids, this small shift will open up the lounge area hugely. (I actually found one which would be perfect but it's in Sydney and they are locked down...dang it!) Once I sell our couch, the cost involved will be minimal, if anything. There is stacks of amazing furniture available second hand and it is easy to buy and sell items to make the space you have work the very best it can. I can't remember the last time I bought furniture new. 

Is your kitchen too small or is your dining table too big? Do you need as many plates, bowls and cups as you have or can you get rid of those ones jammed right in the back of the cupboard? Do you use all your pots and pans that fall out of your cupboard every time you open it? What about clothes, do you even like all the items taking up space in your bursting wardrobe? 

Historically, homes were much smaller than they are today and families generally bigger. When lamenting the size or mess within my home, my mind often wanders back to this fact. It reminds me to pull up my socks, focus on the present and get on with the task at hand. 

Rather than looking outward for what is going to make our lives better, perhaps it is more helpful to look inwards at what we already have and how we are using it.

Including that precious thing too often over looked. Our time.      

Much love,
Emma
xx




 

Simple self care when caring for young children

Self care. 



We all hear how important it is, right? But who has the money for a massage? And if we did have the money, who would look after the kids? 

When we hear the words "self care" we often imagine luxurious spa days, massages, manicures and fancy hair cuts. This is what media and advertising would like us to think self care was, and for some people who enjoy these kinds of things, it can indeed be a form of self care.  However, I am a woman of simple needs. A home body who is most comfortable in leggings, a soft dress and a cardigan. If, like me, you have a bunch of small children to care for, have mobility problems, or are living with a tight budget these kinds of costly 'self care' experiences are totally unattainable.
 
And to be honest, while it is important we get a chance to step away from the weight of our responsibilities from time to time to breathe deeply and be alone with our thoughts, the kind of self care I find most helpful is in the small daily habits. 

During this seemingly never ending season of COVID self care is incredibly important. Lots of us are tired and the world feels heavy and uncertain. People are facing unemployment, reduced hours and financial hardship. They are trying to work form home while homeschooling/home educating small children, which for any one who is in this position, it is a near impossible task. And then there are those who are most at risk of getting sick or are sick. The burn out and exhaustion people are facing is very real and many people are teetering on the edge.

So what does self care look like in this heavy, time poor, cash poor, uncertain season of life? 



For lots of people, their time is stretched so thin trying to juggle all the balls that self care can only exist in small pockets of time. With this in mind, I thought I would share a few things I find helpful.
 
Actually taking 5 minutes to sit down to drink a nice hot cuppa, preferably somewhere sunny or where you can look out to nature. 

If drinking a cuppa alone isn't an option, create a ritual of 'tea time' and serve the kids sweet camomile tea or warm milk in their own little mug and drink your 'tea' together. It might take a little time to get in routine, but at the very least I have found it has the affect of making me feel like we are vaguely civilised. 

Listen to the essential news and then turn it off. We know COVID is crap and horrible. It's important to keep up to date, but it serves no purpose to us to down our selves in it by listening to the news all day. Popping on some favourite music or an uplifting podcast is much more beneficial.

Breathe. Take 5 slow deep breaths right into your belly. Stop and do it throughout the day when you feel that tension settling in your chest.  

Embrace your inner cat and stretch if you're finding yourself sitting for long periods of time. 

Pack away toys and rotate them so at the end of the day you don't have to clean up an insanely messy area. 

Take a walk around the yard along or with the little person in your life. Take the time to look at your plants and even pulling a few weeds. If you get to clear a little section, perhaps you can plant some cheerful flowers or herbs. 


Take a moment to pop on a podcast while folding the never ending rounds of washing. Or don't fold it and chuck it on the spare bed and make a game of the kids finding their clothes every morning. what ever works. Just don't beat yourself up over it either way. 

Pop on a show/movie for the kids and actually lay down on the couch while they watch it, rather than using that time to catch up. Because really, when it comes to a house full of small children, one is never actually caught up. 



Have a hot shower, change into clean clothes and actually use the moisturiser that's been relegated to the back of the cabinet, forgotten in the midst of teaching children to wipe their own bottoms and brush their teeth. 

Change your sheets and dust your bedside tables to help create a clear, relaxing sleep space.

Open the windows to let in the fresh air.

Give some love to your indoor plants. Get rid of dead ones and replace them with hardier options. Don't beat yourself up about killing them, think of them like a bunch of flowers. They gave you joy while they were alive and even the best gardeners have things die on them. It's all trial and error.    

If social media is sucking time and energy delete them off your phone and pop the phone on a shelf so it's not right next to you to avoid mindless scrolling. 

When it comes to bath time, pop a few drops of lavender oil in the bath and some magnesium salts to aid in a restful sleep for the big and the small people in the house. 

Try to cook a nourishing meal in bulk every few days. Less cooking, less dishes and it saves money and time. If you can make it a one pot meal where all the veggies are incorporated even better. And if you're too tired, scrambled eggs on toast is a perfectly acceptable meal. And two minute noodles, whilst not being the best option, will fill tummies with no fighting just fine. My kids love when they get two minute noodles for dinner. I figure if you serve fruit and yoghurt for dessert you're looking at a pretty balanced meal. 

These little daily rituals are the kinds of things that fill my cup when life feels heavy. They are not grand nor impressive, and part of me feels a little silly writing such a list. But these things exist as small reminders to breathe and to remember the way we spend our minutes is the way we spend our days and as such, our lives. I know from my own experience it can be all too easy to throw myself deep into mothering, and then find myself drowning under the weight. Having forgotten that I too have needs that need to be tended to.  

So dear readers, what little rituals do you find helpful in your day to keep you steady? Is there anything in this list that resonates with you? 

Much love,
Emma
xx




Living simply, goats and a new vlog

How are you dear readers?
 
It seems COVID has taken off in NSW and Sydney is in hard lock down. It has also escaped to Melbourne and SA and as such, they are locked down too. 


If you are reading this from Sydney or any other locked down area please know we are thinking of you and holding you in our prayers. While we are not locked down on the mid-north coast yet, there are more restrictions in place. Our family is unable to visit another family as we are more than 5 people. For the first time since COVID started, Will has to wear a mask at school. Masks are now compulsory for everyone over 12. This variant is affecting children and if the virus pops up any where near us we will be switching to home schooling quick smart. I have already decided if that happens again I will mostly not be using the school curriculum. The teachers do an amazing job in near impossible circumstances, but we wasted so much time juggling the various online platforms they were on and switching back and forth that it added a whole other layer of stress. Our satellite internet can be sluggish which doesn’t help. Because I am full time at home, I have the luxury of working out our own curriculum. We will be working out our own schedule, projects and work directed by what is relevant to us, while working towards the schools desired outcomes. Except perhaps maths. I have found the online maths component helpful. I figure if I look after our family it will also free up the teachers to focus on the families who are juggling the impossible of working from home and learning from home. 


This past week Grant and I have been working on a new vlog, and if you are after something calm, soothing and a little daggy to watch the link is HERE. If you could take a moment to like, subscribe and even share it would mean a lot. We see a lot of American homesteaders online, but not so many Australian ones and we would love to contribute to that space from a mindful and sustainable viewpoint.

In this vlog we chat about our goats and show how we rotate them. I do a little cooking on the wood oven and you see plenty of little Elsie telling the goats who is boss. When did she get so big?! Even Grant sat down and had a bit of a yarn. Miracles will never cease. I have learnt a lot about filming and editing over the course of making these last few vlogs. I can say there is a vast improvement in the final product of this vlog, and I have many strategies in mind to continue to improve. 

There are two schools of thought when undertaking a new endeavour. One is to practise and not release something until you have it nailed, the other is to start small and learn along the way, gathering encouragement and ideas as you go. I am a big fan of the latter. I learn best by doing and sharing. It is how this blog started and grew to what it is today and I think there is honesty and transparency in keeping things real. I think just giving things a good crack is a great life lesson. Whether it be starting a garden, learning to sew, knit, cook a new recipe, thrift, paint, mend, tinker or write. Not one ever got better at something by sitting on the couch simply thinking about it.  


If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed by uncertainty of the worlds events, I encourage you to take a deep breath, make a cuppa and think about just one small thing you would like to do. It can be tiny. Do you love indoor plants? Look around your home and clear a nice sunny spot ready to welcome in an indoor plant next time you go to the shops. Or take a cutting off a succulent when you're going for a walk, which has the added bonus of being free. Rip up an old towel or sheet to use as cloth rags to stop buying chux. Buy vinegar, eucalyptus oil and bi-carb instead of that bottle of toxic disinfectant. Change your sheets and dust your bedside tables to help create a soothing bedtime routine.  

Still too much? Perhaps eat a piece of fruit and take a nice hot shower. It's ok you're finding things hard. It is a bloody hard season. You are here and you are going to get though it day by day. When the world seems out of control, these small actions help us to create a form of self care and in turn we are taking meaningful action towards a more frugal, nourishing life within our home. It's so important we take the time to look after ourselves.Sure, listen in to the news to receive the daily updates as necessary and then switch it off and put on some uplifting music. Try to create pockets of loveliness in your day, even if you're surrounded by small children. I know it's hard! Perhaps, a nice hot cuppa with a choccie biscuit, or send the kids out to find 10 insects/leaves/flowers in the garden so you can breathe for just 5 minutes. My kids love having a cup of tea and a biscuit with me and it has the bonus effect of making me feel like we are civilised despite the chaos that might surround us.  

Look after yourselves dear readers, and go gently.  

Much love, 
Emma
xx




   



Quiet days and bathroom progress

We are all sick at the moment with a nasty cold, well most of us anyway. Grant and Will seem to have missed the cold this time round. I have had Angus and Henry home from school since last Thursday. It feels like the days stretch on forever and I'm dragging my feet to get anything much done. 


Currently the sun is out, though the air remains crisp.  I have rugged the kids up and turfed them out onto the trampoline for a bit to make the most of the sunshine while I try to get the yurt into some kind of order.  I always feel better when the floors are clean, even if it doesn't last long. Clearly, as I am here with you my motivation to get on top of the jobs wained! 

As such, not a lot has been going on from my end. There have been movies, cups of tea, books, tissues and mandarins in hand. And the washing, which never ends. Even Aggie has relegated herself to the couch. Refusing to go outside for anything but a wee, before taking her rightful place back on the couch again, surrounded by blankets and pillows no less.




However Grant, as usual, is a hive of activity. He's been pottering away on building the permanent bathroom/mudroom under the little porch which is wonderful. As always we are using as much recycled materials as possible. It is being clad in second hand iron, the wooden door was bought from the local salvedge yard, the bath is a free salvage find as is the sink which isn't in yet. The internal walls will be clad in a waterproof sheeting with a tile look. It's super quick to install, affordable and should be tough for this kind of space.  The composting toilet box is made up of left over bench from the kitchen and varnished. The inner pipe is a giant free salvaged PVC pipe and under the porch we are using big black bins for the collection of waste. They then get left to compost and the fully composted material will get scattered in the bush. 



The bathroom is clearly a building site, and as such it currently looks pretty grubby. It doesn't help that Tucker has decided he likes to sleep in the bath, and until the walls are clad we can't keep the cheeky fellow out. But once it's finished the floors and bath etc will all scrub up just fine with a bit of elbow grease and it will be a clean, functional space. In the aim of being transparent and keeping it real, I figure I may as well show you the progress shots. I will be very happy not to have to traipse across the yard to shower in our current draughty makeshift bathroom which consists of some old iron, a cattle trough and a camping hot water system with terrible water pressure. I mean it gets you clean sure, but it gets old fast. 

Anyway, I think it's time for Elsie to have a nap so I best get going. I hope you are keeping well dear readers! 

Much love,
Emma
xx
      



 

Chores, responsibilities and children

Goodness this past couple of weeks has flown.


Grant has just had a run of 7 days straight so things have been busy here. Bear also managed to rip his chest open badly in the bush when he and Tucker went to push back some wild dogs that have been eyeing off our goats. The wild dogs have been patrolling since the floods, perhaps the heavy rain washed away our dogs scent markers. Luckily, I could get him straight into the vets who stitched him up, inserted wound drains and put him antibiotics. He spent a couple of nights in by the Aga while he recovered. Poor fella, though he is doing quite well now.  

A couple of months ago Grant started a new job in a farming/rural supplies shop. Soon after he was promoted to manager. The job has been a huge blessing. He's working within a big organisation with a good reputation which is managed by good honest people, the work is interesting and the organisation is well run with all the appropriate checks and balances in place as you would expect. 

Finding good work on the MNC has proven to be far more difficult than we ever anticipated. He has done crap jobs for crap money, he's been treated badly, witnessed shonky behaviour and been ripped off. One place still owing him over 3k which we know we won't see. Prior to moving here, Grant has always been able to find decent work which he has enjoyed, and has always been considered a hard working and well respected employee. I cannot describe the relief we feel that he is back in such a place. It's the kind of organisation he hopes to be in for many years to come, and a place where he feels he can build a solid career.



However, he is out the door by 6:45am and isn't back until 6:30pm so as a family we are still adapting to a shift in routine. The boys have all stepped up to the plate and are doing a wonderful job of pulling their weight. Firstly, they are all responsible for keeping their own rooms clean which includes dusting, vacuuming and changing their linen though I will often help with the doona covers for the younger boys, as they can be tricky! I help with a deep clean/sort when necessary too. I'm not too fussed about how they keep their rooms, as long as they are cleaned a little mess in between is perfectly fine as their rooms are their space. They also each have a list of responsibilities suited to their age and interests.  Some jobs will change seasonally and some will be added or adjusted as necessary. 


The little boys bedroom after I helped them with a deep clean

We believe a bit of work is good for children, and all people really. I am not a maid to tend to their every whim and need. They are capable little people in their own right and if they can't do something, the only way they will learn is by being taught and practising it. Living off-grid with simple systems in place is more complex and more time consuming then living in an ordinary house in the suburbs. As such we all need to pull our weight so we can have time to enjoy our days together too and not work all the time. 

Henry (8yrs)
Feeding chickens/collecting eggs
emptying compost bin
stacking wood
clean porch weekly
Filling up the sawdust bin for the composting toilet

Angus (10yrs)
emptying dishwasher
feeding cat
bring in/stack firewood inside
clean porch weekly
Bring in dry washing

Will (13yrs)
Feeding goats
feeding dogs
chopping wood
filling generator/managing water pump (If it needs doing when Grants not home)
sorting rubbish (with help)
Mowing (with help)

Generally, The boys are pretty good at helping out. There is the odd protest of course but it's usually only when they are feeling tired/run down and we step in to help if that's the case. Pocket money and screen time are reliant on being a helpful and contributing part of the family and for us this generally works pretty well. Jobs are also part of an ongoing conversation. Sometimes the boys will swap jobs and that's fine, as long as the work gets done in a fair manner I'm not too fussed how they work it out between themselves. 

We also expect them to look after their belongings and ours. If they wreck something through carelessness despite being reminded, then they need to either replace it with their own savings or contribute financially to the cost of replacing it. Recently someone left Grants drill out in the heavy rain after being told many times in the past to put the tools away when they were finished with them. The culprit has lost his pocket money for two months in order to contribute halves for a new drill. Another little someone kept leaving the lid off the chook feed bin despite many, many reminders and several batches of pellets being ruined until he had to contribute some of his own money to a new bag of pellets. I have recieved surprised looks when I have mentioned these things to people, but I believe it is fair and reasonable. We are working hard to counteract the mentality of living in a time where everything is considered disposable. I very much hope our children will grow up realising there is a cost to their choices. Financially, ethically and from an environmental viewpoint. Of course things get broken, wear out and accidents will happen, that is a part of life with children. We see that very differently from on going carelessness and a lack of regard for things. Generally the boys are pretty good at looking after things, it's a lesson they don't wish to learn too may times!  

I feel like as I read back on this that people might think we are too tough on the kids but each family is different and each has different circumstances which is perfectly ok. We enjoy a wonderful life here together on the farm. That life takes work yes, but it involves such beauty and lovely times together that we all agree it's pretty special, and no one wants to live anywhere else.

Much love,
Emma
xx  

Finally it happened

Chickens! 



I finally managed to convince Grant that it was time for chickens, and they are delightful! Grant has built a simple and kinda movable chicken tractor so we can rotate them in conjunction with the goats. 

Every week or two we move the goats around the farm using portable electric fencing. Once we have moved them we put the chicken tractor in their last place. By doing this we are utilising the chickens to aerate the soil that they have trampled as well as using their enthusiastic scratchings to break down the manure the goats have left behind which helps to disperse it into the soil. They also eat weeds and insects. All in all, we hope this will help with long term soil improvement as per regenerative farming practises. I really like Joel Salatin's work on regenerative agriculture and how well managed livestock can actually help improve soil health, increase topsoil and aid biodiversity.  



In the future we hope to add cattle and maybe pigs for our families consumption. Though the pigs at least will be a little way down the track. Slow and steady and all of that. And we need a bigger freezer.

Our chook shelter is a simple A-frame building with nesting boxes on each side. Grant has built it from salvaged/scrap materials so the cost was minimal. There is a door that can be closed at night to secure them from predators and it has branches inside for perches as well as nesting boxes which are filled with clean wood shavings. In time, once my lavender and wormwood plants are big enough, I'll also add worm their clippings to their boxes to help with natural mite control.     



The chickens are left to free range through the day and they spend their days foraging for bugs and weeds. They also get a quality layers pellet, kitchen scraps and a glurp of garlic infused apple cider vinegar in their water to help with natural parasite control. By allowing them to free range, they get a diverse and varied diet as well as being able to undertake all their normal chicken behaviour, so they are very happy chooks.



Henry especially loves the chooks and he has assumed most of their day to day care, with a little help when it comes to tipping out the water and cleaning out their laying boxes. He will hang out with them for an hour or so at a time to talk to them, cuddle them and feed them. I also love the presence of the chooks about the place. Their funny fluffy bottoms as they run to greet you, their clucks and crows throughout the day. They bring a kind of simple joy to the place.

Much love,
Emma
xx


  


The flood


It has been a tumultuous time since moving to the farm. First, we were fortunate to escape the devastating bushfires which raged across the countryside. There was an early wind change and the fire swung back on itself just 1km from our farm. Then there has been setting up the farm, a pandemic, a new baby and then about a month or so ago this area was devastated by violent flooding, with some areas recording over 800mm in a few days. I have never seen such rain. It rained day and night for days on end. Dampness seeped into everything, and it was impossible to stave off even with the wood fire going. 



Our neighbours checking out our track once the flood water had receded.


The ground groaned with water. With every footstep water would pour out like a sponge being squeezed. The creeks and rivers swelled with torrents of muddy water, bursting their banks and taking everything in its path. Trees, houses, cars, houses. All at its mercy.    

The night before the flood Grant parked his car on the other side of the creek, just in case the creek rose which it sometimes does in heavy rain, but at that point we had little idea what was coming. By morning our creek crossing was a raging torrent of water. Grant, new to his job was determined to get to work, but I decided to keep the younger boys home. Grant and Will felt the crossing out with a long stick, and they realised the crossing had been entirely eroded away. They decided to go for a walk and see if they could find an area where the water wasn't rushing so much. Concerned how they would go, I sent Grant a message asking him to let me know when they were out safe. Two hours later it showed it hadn't been delivered, meaning they hadn't made it off the property to reception. 

I grew deeply concerned that one of them might have slipped and been hurt and the other was waiting with them for help. I knew Grant would never risk a creek crossing unless he was certain, but trees were falling, and the ground was slippery. I rang the neighbours to see if they had seen his car leave, wondering if his phone might have just become wet. They hadn't. I rang his work and Wills school to check if they had arrived. They hadn't seen them either. My heart sunk. That meant they were more than likely still on the farm. 

 

By this time the creeks were raising rapidly. I rang my neighbour again and asked them to notify the SES and I loaded up the kids in the 4WD to start to search where it was safe to do so. I called the dogs to come for a run, hoping that they might be able to hear them through the sounds of the pouring rain and roar of the creek. I did a very careful lap of the property, eventually making it up onto our track. I Found tracks, meaning the boys had thankfully made it out. But in my concern for them, I managed to misjudge the height of the creek which had risen greatly in a spot I had thought would still be passable, or at least the track would remain wide enough to turn around. I was wrong. Left with nowhere to turn, I had little choice but to reverse back up the track in 4WD, whilst navigating the narrow, slippery, steep path. To the right of me there was a sheer drop off much of the way and it was a slow trip. with the window open in the rain open so I could ensure I was well clear of the soggy edge. Eventually, I got to a wider place and managed to turn around and continue the drive home facing the right way. 

 

Once I got back to the safety of the yurt, I saw a stack of missed calls. My neighbour upon the advice of the SES had been advised to escalate the call to the Police. Grant eventually got out and managed to get in contact with them they were able to call the search off before it got underway. I was relieved to hear his voice and based on the urgent flood warnings he and Will came home while it was still safe to do so. A few hours later the river burst its banks, flooding us all in on the farm for several days. Fortunately, we were all together with a well-stocked pantry, spare fuel for the generator, and spare gas on hand as well as the Aga. 

The boys got free reign on their screens while we were flooded in and there were many movies watched. 



Aside from road and creek crossings we were fortunate our home and belongings remained safe and dry. The yurt is up high and dry on the hill, and we watched the creeks rise with amazement. they reached over 30m wide in places, with whole trees being ripped out and carried downstream. However, my little garden was badly battered. I have since been going through weeding, pulling out the dry loving plants that didn't appreciate water-logged roots. I have spread a good dose of manure, replanted and mulched ready for Autumn. 


Elsie hanging out in the garden after a little TLC. 

Since the flood there has been a definite shift in the seasons on the farm. The nights are cool and crisp, our valley is shrouded in mist in the early mornings. I light the Aga every couple of days. We could survive without it most of the time still, but the warmth that radiates from it is deeply comforting and it means I can transition to cooking soups, roasts and nourishing stews.

We have a few other new and exciting projects on the go here, but I shall have to leave that for next time.  I hope you are all well. 

Much love,
Emma

xx      


















And then she was one!

Dearest readers, I’m sorry this post is a little delayed. I have been oh so tired and keeping things afloat in the real world has taken every ounce of energy. We are good and well, I have just been a bit worn out. But with the change of seasons and Autumn upon us, I’m feeling somewhat rejuvenated and refreshed. 






But somewhere in amongst it all, it seems Elsie turned one! I cannot quite believe it. She has filled our lives with love, laughter and sweet cuddles. It feels as though she has always been here with us and each and everyone of us adores her. She is such a funny character, sensitive but cheerful. Always looking to her family for connection and love. She remains not a great sleeper, but we muddle through just fine. 

And what a time to come into the world, her first year of life has been through the covid pandemic. We have spent much of it at home in our own little bubble, safe and snug in the yurt.


Her birthday was held over the span of a weekend. There was time spent outside, quiet time inside watching the Frozen movie (she loves singing) church and her favourite meal of a roast chicken, with veggies and gravy. There was a simple butter cake with naturally coloured pale pink icing, adorned with tiny seaside daisies from the garden. It was lovely and without too much fuss, just as her entrance into our family has been. 

I made her a jointed Waldorf/natural fibre doll which she loves to snuggle, and found a little cane bed for it on marketplace. I named the little doll Bonnie and she will get long hair when Elsie is a little older if she wants that.  I intended on making her clothes and I have some lovely fabrics popped aside but I ran out of time. No rush though, I found a little pair of dolls flannel PJ’s in amongst the teddies which will do until I get to sewing a dress for her. Elsie also received beautiful new clothes and a little basket with some tiny cloth dolls which she also loves.







 Once upon a time I would have worried about her gift being unfinished. Worried that I was not being a good enough mother, or that I wasn’t showing her the same level of organisation as I would have Will on his first birthday. Which is only natural now as there are 4 children’s needs to consider at any one time. But with each child I have learned there is no ‘perfect’ and that children are very capable of showing their parents grace if things are a little muddled, as long as we too show them grace in return. Life is a bit messy and imperfect here. But it is full of love which is about the most important thing. 

Much love to you all,
Emma
Xx    

Yurt Frequently asked questions

I often get messages and emails asking various questions about our yurt. Recently a reader asked if I had a FAQ post specifically on the yurt, which I thought was a brilliant idea. I don't remember doing one so so here we are. 



Why did you choose a yurt? 
When we bought our farm it had zero infrastructure. Because we wanted to live on it immediately we looked extensively at numerous housing options before settling on a modern yurt. They can be fully erected within a few days, there is no further insulating/plastering to be done on the external structure, they offer a comparatively large space which can be sectioned off, (compared to a caravan/tiny home) they are affordable and when we do eventually build a home it will become an interesting and unique B&B.

How big is your yurt?
It is a 30ft yurt. We have it roughly divided in half and downstairs, we have two bedrooms and an upper loft which is divided into two spaces. We built a small walk-in pantry underneath the central half spiral staircase. The other half is an open kitchen/lounge/dining area. We are really happy with this layout and feel we have maximised every inch of the space we have. You can see a floor plan below and there are built-in shelves in the boys' rooms in the mezzanine which are above our wardrobe and the other one. 


What yurt company did you use and why?
We did a lot of research into various yurt companies, yurts are far more common in the USA then they are here in Australia and we settled on Pacific Yurts. They have a long and reliable history of producing good quality yurts, an excellent and comprehensive website and were brilliant to deal with.  

Here is their link Pacific Yurts  

Pacific Yurts came highly recommended and had clear customizable options. They have a history of excellent customer service and utilising the best materials available, which is why we choose them. We felt we could trust them with our money and that they would deliver what they promised. 
Blue Mountain Yurts are an Australian supplier of the American made Colerado Yurts. They are worth looking into, though I have no personal experience with them so with anything, please do your own research. It's a big cost item! Sometimes we talk about putting a second smaller yurt for more space for the kids as they grow and if we decide to do this we will look more closely at them, purely due to the import costs which we were caught out by. 

However, we remain incredibly happy with our Pacific Yurt and highly recommend them. 

What is your yurt built on?
Our yurt is built on a timber platform. The platform is built from hardwood turpentine stilts, felled from our own property with treated pine joists with yellow tongue flooring laid on top. We have hardwood flooring laid on that. The platform plans are included in the yurt instructions, and you can get them emailed to you prior to your yurt arriving. 


How much did it cost?
We paid about $30k for the yurt itself. Though this will fluctuate depending on what the Aussie dollar is doing. However, we got caught out with shipping which added an extra $12k on the Australian side of things. This included things like GST, import taxes, handling fees, storage space, customs manager etc. 

How did you import it?
Pacific Yurts crated our yurt up brilliantly and it was packed into a 20ft shipping container.
You will need to hire a customs manager who will liaise with the company to organise shipment.  
You also need to be aware of the brown marmorated stink bug when importing timber from the USA. Fumigation and then a quarantine period may be required depending on the season. We were fortunate we didn't need this as the already high import cost could have skyrocketed. 

Australia's borders are highly regulated and at this time, Pacific Yurts had not imported many yurts into Australia so they were unsure themselves on how to ensure they were following Australian protocol. We worked it out together, and I know they had a couple more yurts being built to ship to Australia so no doubt they have their procedures in place now.   

What is the yurt made from? Our yurt is a modern yurt, made with modern technology and materials. You can read about the construction and materials here


What is it like living in a yurt?
It's good. The yurt linings are very thin compared to a conventional building so the temperature fluctuates quite a lot. Though with the windows open and fans on we do ok in the sub-tropics. I feel like the temperature is easier to manage in the winter with the wood oven on. Due to condensation building on the windows when it's cold, it's important to keep airflow moving to help dry out the condensation to minimize the risk of mildew forming. Fans can help this. Though we have not had this problem, I have read of others struggling. 

Due to the yurts thin walls, the dome and many windows, we feel very connected to nature. We can hear the winds shift, the leaves rustle and the birds sing with clarity. Which we love. When I go into a conventional home I'm often surprised by the feeling of disconnect to nature. Perhaps it is also the yurts exposed timber and gently curved walls that help make it feel like a peaceful building. When it rains, however, it is very noisy! 








Would you choose a yurt again? 
Grant and I have talked extensively about this upon reflection. Though long term perhaps it might have saved a little money to build a shed home or something similar, we didn't want to be living in a dusty building site with a young family for many years to come. The speed and simplicity of erecting the yurt was the biggest appeal for us, and all things considered, it has given us a comfortable little home. We still feel we have made the right decision for our family as the yurt has given us the chance to think about what kind of home we want to build on the farm in the future. When that time comes, we will be able to do much of the work ourselves which can save a lot of money. We will not be forced into rushed or sub-optimal decisions due to needing to get into it quickly, as we are quite comfortable here.   

Let me know if there are any further questions and I can edit this post to include them for future reference. 

Much love, 
Emma
xx




Powered by Blogger.