Dyeing to try it.

I’ve been experimenting with dyeing my own fibre for spinning of late, and Im getting more and more inspired by natural dyes. Ive been finding my brain exploding into sparks and catherine wheels of inspiration, thinking of all the plants, barks and fruits around Hill Shadow farm which could dye my yarn. I LOVE feeling inspired.

Here’s a link which shows you some of the differences between natural and synthetic dyes.

It looks like a fairly simple process, though I think there’s a lot of variables which can affect your colours.

Aaaaaaaaand since Im getting my online store up and going (!), keep an eye out for my new natural dyed, Hill Shadow Farm inspired, compassionate yarns… I cant wait. Im going to be a busy busy bee!

Here’s some beautiful dyeing and natural yarns to get YOU inspired! ❤

Timber and Twine

Dye-lot

Right: I’ve got a tonne of fleece I have to get clean and dry before tomorrow’s carding.

 
  
Im getting together with some friends and very talented fibre artists so we can swap knowledge and fluff.

Check us out on FB

Watch this space…!

xx

 

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Itchy feet, restless heart.

Hi guys – it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. But life’s like that, isn’t it? It’s like you blink and weeks have passed while you were just getting on with the ‘routine’.

The ‘routine’ has me a bit bummed lately. I mean I dont want to sound ungrateful – Im so blessed that my life is routine enough to be boringly comfortable, and not ravaged by war and uncertainty! And the grass is always greener, isn’t it?

But I’ve been catching up on Kate’s blog and their family’s trip overseas, and feeling a tad envious! Sometimes I want a bit of escapism! …But then I look at our animals and think “Omigosh I coudn’t possibly leave you for all that time, you smooshy fluffy Collie….*smoochsmoochsmooch*”

*sigh*

Still, next weekend, we’re off to McCrae to stay the weekend in a friend’s beach house, so Im looking forward to that! (AND the dogs get to come too!)

What else?

Oh yes – we finally got our spring seedlings in! We took the trailer and bought some market boxes for this year’s garden! The bales were great last year, but eventually they do start to decompose and fall to bits, and you find yourself with a bit of a mess of plants going to seed and sinkholes and twine. We’ve planted Choy Sum, Broccolini, Peas, Strawberries, Beetroots and I got one tiny tiny tomato to pop up – so fingers crossed it takes! Today I’m going to pop out to Mt Evelyn and grab some Zucchini and Leb cucumber seedlings. The cucumbers were prolific last year!

The apple trees are blossoming, the apricot’s looking good, the plum is… not as ‘fruity’ as last year. And the Hill Shadow Feral Bees are hard at work each day, you can hear the hum of them wokring all over the farm. Bless them x

Our 2 new goats got a haircut last week, and now they look like skinny little drowned rats! Poor boys! Their fleece hadn’t been maintained at all, so they were quite matted and dread locked round the chest, and I just didn’t have the heart to try to comb and pull at them. So we rang a mobile shearer and he popped out one day between jobs and now I have 2 cashmere fleeces in bags and two tiny skinny goats. I had high hopes of selling/using the fleece, but have found removing the guard hairs an absolute nightmare. Commercial cashmere gets dehaired by machine, and because this is shorn and not combed, some of it is a matted hairy mess. Still, when Im feeling patient, I clean up enough for me to use, and blend it in with something else.

This is our cashmere, blended with some alpaca I dyed orange and yellow, and plyed with the softest 16 micron merino – turned out ok, huh? Im planning on knitting this into a little beanie for my friend’s baby girl.

Currently on my needles is Ben’s birthday present (I’ve got til Dec 31!). It’s a v-neck jumper in TARDIS blue, with a pattern of Daleks and the TARDIS round the bottom. I spun all the wool myself – it’s half alpaca, half merino, indogo dyed by the Shepherdess herself, Niki – and Im hoping I’ll have enough… :S And Im kinda thinking about more socks… socks with cables… mmmm.

ok, I’ve ground to a halt. Time to go shower and get these girls dressed for the day. And feed the horse and let the goats out and break up the fights and put the washing on and tidy the breakfast things and…

*sigh* Oh well, at least it looks like being a beautiful day. And Im going to meet my friend Tash to check out the Lilydale Psychic Expo and have a coffee.

What are you going to do to make this day fun? Where are you travelling to next? What are you putting in your garden? What’s on your knitting needles? Who’s blog are you loving?

Tell me everything.
xx

And the farm grows…

We finally did it. We bought 2 goats. 

Well, I bought 2 goats. I was a little flu-ey and delirious at the time. But these are our new boys, who will hopefully start helping us control our weeds & lawn with out sprays.

Meet Jerry and George. They’re cashmere. 

The chickens are also loving this gorgeous warm weather we’re having – spring has sprung! 

And after the goats have a good go at our overgrown veggie patch, I’m getting some seedlings in! 

My favourite thing at the moment is to take my tea and a good book and lay on the trampoline in the gentle warm sun. Bare feet on warm grass. And the hum of the Hill Shadow Ferals working on our fruit tree blossoms. 

I love being on the verge of abundance, don’t you?! So blessed. 

Homespun, hay, and hungry hunters.

It’s getting colder and greyer at Hill Shadow. We still get blue skies, but colours are duller. The air is crisp. Morning frosts are a regular occurance now, and the report this morning said it was 3 degrees celcius.

I’d believe it.

I’ve been knitting lots of warm woolies! I’m about 3/4 through Ben’s woolley socks (he MIGHT get to wear the before the end of winter!). I discovered my friend Bec over at Peg and Jane spins the most amazing wool by hand (amazing skill!) so I’ve HAD to buy some and cast on a little cardi for Tara. Im in love with this wool! And knowing that it came from a small family farm in country Victoria, spun by Bec, and knitted by me, makes it all the more special.

And we bought a new little runabout car for Ben – FINALLY. We just couldnt do the too-ing and fro-ing in in the freezing pitch black early mornings and all hours of the night anymore! So this is Ben’s little work vehicle. And life has settle down CONSIDERABLY since!

It was great being a ‘one car family’ for all those years, but completely impractical now!

Last weekend we scored a few mouldy bales of hay from one of our agisters! Unsuitable as horse feed, but perfect for another bale garden! I’ve filled with layers of green clippings, cardboard, manure, straw, and compost, but so far I’ve just planted some peas and some bits and pieces from the garden. Not really sure what I’ll put in there yet.

And of course in true Hill Shadow Farm style, we’ve had some #accidentalfarming happening, with a butternut pumpkin popping up on its own in the garden and these… er… things.

There’s 2 of them. Pumpkins? Marrows?

Someone who has been loving all the wet weather is Katie!

MUDPIES!!! Perfect after-ballet activity!

And speaking of hay, we picked up this load for $4 a bale from an ad on Gumtree! BARGAIN! We got 20 bales, but I’m so getting another 20 when I can! What a steal!!! It’s so nice to have the barn full for winter. Its a comforting feeling; abundance.

Some of the old hay we were given went out to the chooks as a nice warm bed in their chookhouse. And Ben up-cycled this old coffee table into new nesting boxes for the girls – aren’t they brilliant!?

Unfortunately: Disaster. A few nights ago, we made a fatal communication error. I thought Ben had shut the chooks in for the night, he thought I had. We hadn’t. I woke in the night to frantic clucking and I knew. I bolted out in my pjs and gumboots and in my torchlight I saw the flashing eyes of 2 cunning foxes in the dark, licking their lips having helped themselves to our henhouse like theives in the night.

I felt so horribly guilty. We lost 5 girls through stupid forgetfulness, and we both felt absolutely horrible. I now have a very loud piercing alarm set to go off each evening to remind us to SHUT THE CHOOKS IN!!!



You know what IS good about winter though? Baking. Specifically, my husband’s baking.


Just LOOK at this apple pie!!! Tonight he’s making lemon meringue. God help my waistline! I shall have to chop wood for hours to work it all off!

The other thing I cant wait for about winter…

3 more weeks!

What do you look forward to about winter?

Keep warm
xxx

Puppies, pumpkins, pesto and pesky predators.

Hello! I’m typing this on my phone from my front step! So apologies if the spelling/formatting is all over the place! I have to blog this way as I’m multitasking: Chaperoning the chickens as they free range at the same time! 
Mrs Fox is back! And she’s picked off 3 chickens in the past 4 weeks. Last week as Ben left for work in the early dark hours of the morning, he caught her staring greedily into our henhouse; Sitting on her haunches at the door like a dog at a butcher shop window! And she comes right into our yard and up to the front door! Cheeky Lady! 
So no un-escorted free ranging for Lennon and the ladies. Grr. 
But today is an absolute cracker! My washing’s on the line, the windows are all open… It’s so lovely even some of my daffodil bulbs have gotten confused. 
“This is spring, right..?”
Wills having a lovely day in a light cotton sheet. I’ve added some warm, boiled barley porridge to his nightly feeds. He’s a bit older now, and he needs a bit extra in the colder months. Plus he deserves it ❤️x

I’m knitting up a red neck warmer for Katie to wear with her school uniform and some thick socks for Ben. These are my first socks! And they’re cuff-down style – which I believe isn’t usual?! – on teeny thin double-point needles. The first one has turned out so beautifully! 

There’s just a small problem: I only have one ball of wool left and the first sock took one-and-a-bit. And I found out from Morris and Sons in Melbourne that Admiral ombré 6 fach is discontinued!!! F%#€+*!?&@!!!!! Does anyone know where I can get a ball of this?! 

And the gardens going quietly into hibernation. The last corn fronds are sagging. The last tomatoes are shrivelling up. The last basil is curling and going brown. The bales around the bale garden are disintegrating as the first frosts come and turn the once lush-green baby fronds to crunchy silver-grey crystals. We’ll start piling up oak leaf-mulch, manure and compost.

There’s a few pumpkins sprawling around, which will come in handy for hot pumpkin soup with fresh crusty sour dough bread. And I’ve planted a few garlic bulbs, just to see if they come up. The chooks are moulting so we’re only getting one egg here or there, but I’ve been bottling passata at fever-pace: can’t let any of those tomatoes go to waste! There’s nothing like fresh pasta with homegrown tomato passata, and pesto made from the spoils of the ‘Basil Forest’! It’s our go-to week night dinner at the moment!
And if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll already know that Hill Shadow Farm will soon be getting a new addition!

Meet little Bluebell! She’s only 3 weeks old, but I’m totally smitten. She’s pure Border Collie. (Her mother Zoe is an absolute stunner, and super smart!) A pedigree working dog! I can’t wait to take her to obedience and agility classes! Keeping Collies active and mentally stimulated is essential, and I’m totally up to the challenge!
So that’s us, up to now. Katie’s at school, and Tara’s napping, so I’m being Chook Shepherd and sitting in the sun.

It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta do it 😉

Xx

Autumnal anxieties.

Waking up for the school routine today was just a bit greyer. A bit darker. The butter was unspreadably hard on the bench top. Katie asked where her school jumper was.

Autumn is here.

And I was over reading Kate’s post today, and it made me crave my ultimate warm comfort food: Avocado, Vegemite and Tomato on toast.

Unfortunately our Grosse Lisse’s aren’t doing so great. There’s SO many on the vines, but the minute one of them starts to show a hint of colour: BLOSSOM END ROT.

Ive brought a few green ones inside to see if I can ripen them on the window sill. So disappointing.

Sticks and Dip

The cuc’s are going gangbusters! Growing fast than I can pick them! Katie has cucumber in her lunch everyday, and luckily, Tara’s favourite lunch is “Sticks and Dip”.

Taking the lead from my fellow thrifty homesteading bloggers, Ive attempted to preserve some, and make some lacto-fermented cucumber pickle. (I used the same method I used here.)

Soon it’ll be time to plant seedlings in our winter foam planters for our next bale garden. Which we haven’t got the bales for yet. And to finish our dog fence. Which we haven’t got the wire for yet. And stack our season’s firewood. Which we haven’t got the chainsaw fixed, or started collecting yet. Or cleaned the chimney.

Ive been losing a fair bit of sleep lately.

Winter Foamy Seedling System!

Time’s just flying by. Proof of this: Katie our big school girl is 5 in a few weeks!!! I’ve knitted her these cute slippers from Ravelry. Purple by request!

Cookie knows how to stay warm.

Our plans for Autumn:

More Ex-batts – we’re down to 11 girls, so we’ll be adopting 10-15 more.

Hay stockpile – for the bale garden AND to last Will the winter! We currently have about 15 bales, but I’d feel much better with a stockpile of 30 or 40 more in our barn.

Finish the dog-proof fence – to enclose a new four-legged addition to the family we’ll adopt soon… saty tuned…

Firewood stockpile and service the chimney -it’s not working so great. we’ve been getting a fair bit of smoke in the house and it doesn’t draw very well.

Blackberry Jam – The blackberries are finished, and I have a freezer full of berries ready for pies and jams! I found a Slowcooker Jam recipe (Is there ANYTHING they cant do?!) – I HAVE to try it!

Cast on some beanies and winter woolies for us! –  Winter is coming! Time to get knitting!

…It’s not such a big To Do list, right?

Plus we have to workout what we need to plant now, build a new bale garden, sort out our finanaces, plan and hold Katie’s 5th birthday party, mow the lawn, prune the fruit trees…

*BREATHES HEAVILY INTO PAPER BAG*

At least I’ll be less of a One Woman Farm in the next few weeks: Ben had his last scheduled chemo session today! HURRAH! Hopefully this means he’s on the road to recovery. we’re very grateful that his prognosis is so positive, and we’re fairly certain he won’t need too much more treatment after this. Others are not so lucky, and cant be that certain of a positive outcome. For them there’s no end in sight to the chemo/radiation nightmare. My heart goes out to all those people. I’ve reminded myself of that often over the past few weeks, and it’s how I’ve stayed grateful and positive (even on the days I hit rock bottom. And there were a few of those too.)

Livestrong. Be grateful. Winter is coming, but so too is Spring.

Big love xx

Fatigue, food forests, foraging and fabulous flowers.

It’s been a hard week. A very very hard week.

But I think we’re finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Ben did his last full week of chemo, which means we only have two Thursday ‘short days’ to go. It was heartbreaking for me having to drive him there each day, like a lamb to the slaughter. It’s absolutely floored him. He’s lucky to get out of bed each day. And I’ve been doing the equivalent of a single mum and a ‘one woman farm’. I’m exhausted, and the cracks in my armor are beginning to show.

Luckily we’ve had our parents here for the worst weeks, and our new friends have been so helpful! Still, I can’t WAIT until he starts to feel better again.   

Cookie: Constant companion.


And summer is finally coming to an end. We’re going to have to start doing those Winter preparation jobs, like stock piling firewood and hay, and cleaning the fireplace.

The veggies are starting to go to seed with the end of the season, but the garden is still bountiful. Right now there is still tonnes of basil, plus green capsicums, parsley, lebanese cucumbers, rocket and quite a bounty of Gross Lisse tomatoes, still pale green.

We sadly lost another of the older hens last week. Not to a fox this time, but to some sort of respiratory virus-thing that all the others got and got over. But little old Snuggles just couldn’t seem to shake it, and got weaker and more lethargic. She was one of the original hens that were here when we moved in, so god knows how old she was!

Do they all have names? Well, no. But often they name themselves, and we certainly recognise individuals! Aside from Lennon the Rooster, there’s Hoppy (was lame, now better), Shiny (Kate’s favourite), Patchy (is patchy), Scruffy (is scruffy), Trouble (with a capital ‘T’) and Walkabout (who is always on her own at the far ends of the farm pecking at something and reluctant to come in for dinner).

We’re getting about six eggs a day.

And just LOOK AT KATE’S SUNFLOWERS! Magnificent! Planted herself before christmas and lovingly watered and tended by the Hill Shadow Ferals and all our other insect friends.

I can honestly say that we’ve discovered chaos is key in the garden! (Ours anyway!). Ours is an ecosystem. The weeds are welcome!: They shade the seedlings, hide the produce, feed the compost, hold the soil together, feed the birds, conserve the water. Insects are welcome!: the bees tend the flowers, the good bugs control the bad bugs. And we plant everything everywhere in every available space: “Wanna feed, Pests? – You’re gonna have to find it first…!” It is a veritable food forest!

I also recommend what I’ve termed “accidental farming”. Just seeing what comes up. We’ve had a tonne of seeds just sprout from our compost or shoot-off from parent plants. Just leave it be – you never know! Some of those have been our greatest producers! Survival of the fittest! (And if it turns out to be a weed, you can always pull it out later!) An example of this was our potatoes: We just decided to leave it be and see… and ‘presto’! Accidental Harvest!

Also anything you can forage is GOOD. FREE FOOD = #winning! Just be sure any plants you pick arent sprayed, get permission if you need it, and they are DEFINITELY what you think they are (ie mushrooms – mistakes can be fatal!) We have been harvesting LOADS of blackberries from our thicket (we asked our landlord not to spray them!) and found a rogue patch of mint growing in our gully, which we took a few shoots of and have now established in two big pots by our front door.

One day, Old Man. I will get you out for a ride again one day! x

Now, I best go. Tara’s putting stickers on my arms, Kate wants a snack, and there is a suspicious smell coming from Tara’s nappy…

And Im gonna cook some bicuits for Kate’s lunchbox, cast-on some knitted slippers, and feed the chooks. A farm girl’s work is never done! 🙂

xx

Rejection, regression, refusal, and remoteness.

It’s Friday afternoon of Kate’s first week of school, and I have committed the cardinal sin of putting on a movie to occupy Kate (Hey it’s hot and she’s had a big week! Well that’s my excuse…) and I’m shirking the washing up/cleaning/cooking in favour of this. Ben and Tara are asleep.

I’m feeling exhausted.

It’s been a big week.

Ben has ups and downs, so we really cant plan anything. Most of the time, he’s lying down or asleep. So im shouldering much of the driving/organising/parenting/farming/cleaning at the moment. Also I’m getting up in the night to the girls, and getting up with them at 6 or 6:30 each morning. It’s full-on. And it’s actually a bit lonely. When Ben is not asleep I try to take the girls out to get them out of the way and give him some quiet to work or rest, but it means when I come home, he goes to bed and I start dinner or bath the girls or feed the horse or watch tv on my own.

Kate has handled her first week of school really well and has made a few friends, but it has seen the return of her Encopresis (which I thought she was getting past!) – which if you’ve never been through it, is just HELL and RUNS YOUR LIFE. We’ve been battling it for a bout a year and a half now, pretty much non-stop, though over christmas it looked like she was over-coming it: Taking her self to the toilet without prompting and staying clean most days. Then she started school, and BANG. (As if I need that!) I dont really know if it’s cureable, but I pray every day that it will be!!! It’s just horrible: Disgusting, humiliating, frustrating.

When I’m not dealing with poo inside, I’m dealing with my animal poo outside, and that is the perfect segue to the garden. (See what I did there?)

Look at the corn-babies!

I didn’t have much time for the garden this week and last (Ben’s full week of chemo), but it has not suffered for it! In fact, the basil and tomatoes have taken over!

And it looks like the capsicums and cucumbers are going to be a success!

No success with the wheatgrass however! Sickly, little shoots or nothing at all! WTF?! I cant win! Oh well, not that it matters – I seem to have jammed part of my new juicer anyway, rendering it useless, until I can work out how to un-jam it.

(It’s really been a spectacularly bad week.)

The blackberries are going MAD, which is both good and bad: Bad for the fact that it is a nasty weed, but the fruit has been abundant and has made some great jam and muffins!

Also I grew come tiny stunted carrots (NEVER had success with carrots!) Which the kids liked pulling up and nibbling on anyway.

One other thing that I’ve found REALLY frustrating this week has come from trawling the internet for animal shelters, looking for a dog to adopt. I really wanted to adopt another dog after Henry. I miss having a dog, and Cookie is very much ‘Ben’s girl’. So, of course I have been looking at shelters and websites for almost 2 weeks, and let me tell you: The whole process has turned me RIGHT OFF adopting a shelter pet. Which is sad, because I know the idea is to encourage people to adopt rather than buy from backyards or pet shops. But the process is repetitive, intrusive, frustrating, and very expensive!

I have filled in countless forms justifying myself as an intelligent human being. I have given histories of previous animals, estimates of income, details of may daily routine including how much time I am likely to spend away from home, aquiesced to ‘home inspections’, and most of the time have received nothing but a computer-generated automatic response.

As soon as I say the words ‘we have a run, but no fence yet’ (My husband has cancer ok?!) and ‘small children’, I am often instantly dismissed.

And the animals I am deemed not fit to care for are often older dogs – 9 or 10 years old – of questionable breeding, but are still priced at $400 – $1000. (No: Im not kidding). WHERE IS THE INCENTIVE TO ADOPT? Some agencys even had the gall to tell me that “if” I was “shortlisted” they would match “ME” to a dog! Yep – I wouldn’t even get to choose!!!

I feel disillusioned, scrutinised, dismissed and frustrated. And sadly, I’m not sure I will continue down the avenue of looking at animal shelters. They seem to have waiting lists and an over-supply of people looking and not that many needy dogs (which is not the impression you get from the media and all these ‘adoption drives’ etc!). My illusions of going to the RSPCA and walking up and down the line of cages and finding the perfect mate who would jump into my arms and who would become my constant companion for ever seems really far away. Which is sad. Just look at the life we offer:

Yup. Clearly cold, neglected and miserable. (And just look at the TRAUMA life with our young children is bringing her!)

So I’m not sure what will happen from here. I know we have an amazing, loving, experienced home to offer a dog. But unfortunately, we just dont appear that way on an automated pdf form.

The search continues.

Any ideas? Have you ever adopted a shelter dog before? (Did you find the process completely intrusive/impersonal/offputting?!) 

We’re not THAT weird are we?!

Dont answer that.

Big love all, have a beautiful weekend. (It’s a bad week, not a bad life. This too shall pass.)
xx


Basil, baldness, bargains, and being ‘busy’.

It’s a snippets post! Ispired by one of Kate’s.

harvesting

Basil! Omigosh the basil! Im gonna have to start giving more pesto away! And we harvested all of our corn. It was really successful, so I dried an ear as an experiment, and planted a few dry corn kernals in our foam seed boxes, and blow me down: They germinated! So looks we’re gonna get another round of that yummy corn! YIPPEE! Self-sufficiency!

‘Hoppy’ – so photogenic!

reading

The House of Elliot by Jean Marsh. Did you ever see the TV series set in the 20s/30s? It was delicious. The book is just as delicious!

loving

My new slow juicer! I got it on Gumtree for $20 – BARGAIN! Totally worth driving across Melbourne and getting lost for! It’s the kind that makes pasta, and sorbet too. The sorbet is AWESOME.

Mango Sorbet. Ingredients: …mangoes.

It gets a bit less juice per amount of fruit than my old hurom juicer, but it does wheatgrass, sugarcane, frozen fruit, AND it’s so much easier to clean! BIG BONUS!

knitting

I’m about to start a beanie for Ben’s poor unprotected scalp!

His hair finally started to fall out from the chemo, and it was kinda ‘sting-y’, so he took the plunge and shaved it all off. And knock me down: IT ACTUALLY SUITS HIM!!! He looks about 10 years younger!

What a revalation!!!

planting

Wheatgrass for juice, but I’ve had some very mixed results. I put it on a windowsill. In the dark. In the light. In the full sun. In dirt. On paper towels. In peat. Lots of water. Just a mist. Covered with wet newspaper. Uncovered. But despite all my experimenting, I never manage to get the thick lush carpet of grass you see online. I just get a really sickly, wispy few tendrils in a whole tray, which equate to less than a shot of juice. But still I keep trying… It’s meant to be so easy to grow!?

buying

FRUIT! Tonnes of it! I’ve been trying to inject as much raw fresh food into our diet as we can to keep as all as healthy as possible while Ben’s body deals with chemo. And there’s SO MUCH beautiful summer fruit around! The mangoes! The watermelon! And OH the lychees!!!

sticking

– washing in the machine, dishes in the sink, pellets in the chook feeder, toys in the cupboard, the kids’ clean clothes in their wardrobes… It never ends; the ‘business’. I wish I was better at being still. I remember being present when I was young. Relishing moments, living in the now, fully enjoying and appreciating an experience. Somewhere along the line, I lost that. Im always 3-steps ahead: Planning, listing, predicting, anticipating, worrying… I dont REALLY enjoy things like I did as a child, because I’m always somewhere else. Or watching the clock. Or counting my bank balance. Or anticipating disaster.I wonder how I can reclaim that child-like sense of now: Where afternoons lasted forever, and days were full of suprises?

watching

The new series of Broadchurch. I was addicted to series one. I’m already addicted to season two. We always have to watch ‘just one more episode’, no matter how late it is!

relishing

Moments of ‘unplugged’ childhood play. Games with marbles, craft with wool and paint, picnics with toys, making up dance performances, conversations with fairies, games with princess and crowns and magic powers.

listening

To the sounds of Hill Shadow Farm: Horses whinneying, kookaburras laughing, Lennon crowing, Tara talking herself to sleep in her cot, the fridge turning on and off briefly….




We’re in for a big week this week. 4 FULL days of chemo, and poor old Ben is gonna get hammered. I’ve booked the girls into kindy for 2 days each, to minimise the noise/work for us at home so Ben can rest, but also to make sure they’re occupied and distracted while Daddy’s not well.

My mother and father in law will be here for a week, and I think it’ll be ‘survival mode’ for all. But in the meantime: Australia Day public holiday tomorrow to be enjoyed, and our 6th Wedding anniversary (Love you forever, Bear xxx).

One day at a time… one day at a time…

What are you harvesting, reading, loving, knitting, planting, buying, sticking, watching, relishing and listening to?

See you on the other side of the week!
xx

Pills, poison, patience, and pallid poultry.

Chemo days

This week was totally consumed with chemotherapy. Ben had to go everyday at 9am, sit in a hospital chair, while his body was effectively fed poison, again, and again, and again. He’s been amazing: sleeping lots, woozy and weak, but every minute he feels well enough, he’s helping out or playing with the girls.

He gets nausea – there’s a pill for that.
He gets dizzy – there’s a pill for that.
He gets insomnia – there’s a pill for that.
And he’s been chronically constipated (sorry Ben!) – and you guessed it….

I feel so bloody helpless. All I can really do is make him food/drink, let him sleep, check he’s remembered whatever pill he’s due for, and exit the kids whenever possible so he can have some peace! Phew. It’s tiring and emotionally pretty hard. And this is only after week one.

Eep.

On the Friday I booked both the kids into care, and went with him to keep him company for the few hours in the ward. I watched the nurses come and go: Efficient, professional, and endlessly paitient. I listened to the 93-year-old platelet-recipient in the next chair (“and he says to me ‘what are you in here for?’ And I say, ‘I think Im pregnant’. And then he looks at my paperwork and says ‘*insert medical term here*: I’ve never heard of that!’ And I said, ‘Well it’s probably never heard of you either!’…).  And I crocheted 2 tealight lanterns to sell at some local markets on a friends’ stall.
And I won a free knitting pattern over at Foxs Lane! Woohoo! Another project! I’m thinking a beanie for a certain husband who might need a head warmer/sun-protector soon…
Some people do chemo for YEARS. Thankgod for us, it should only be 9 weeks. HOPEFULLY.

But the garden, it doth provide. It’s all wild and going to seed now. But we still pick cherry toms, basil – loads of that!, lettuce, leeks, spring onion, spinach, corn, oregano, and parsley. Soon, we will hopefully pick our first Grosse Lisse tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, carrots, rocket, and more beetroot.

Corn! BIG success in a bed that nothing else could survive in because we couldn’t keep the slugs away! But the corn was too tough!

What to plant next, what to plant next… 😉

We were so proud of our spotty apricots (BEST JAM EVER. SERIOUSLY!), our “Accidental we-thought-they-were-ornamental-but-they’re-not-actually-they’re-just-undersized Plum Jam” and our poor bent apple tree’s 4 little green apples (I juiced em before the birds ate ’em!) . But our figs are so disappointing. They’re HUGE! We had high hopes! But inside they’re dry and completely tasteless. And before they get a chance to go really black, they get eaten (but not by us.). It’s not looking good. I dont know whether it’s because they dont get a chance to go fully ripe, or because the whole massive tree (well over 12 ft!) appears to be thriving from between 2 concrete slabs in an old garden bed and is deprived of water/nutrients/space..? However, every chance it gets, it send out new shoots, and it is massive and loaded with fruit, so I figure it cant be fareing too badly! Truly, you wouldn’t believe the mutant base of this tree and where it’s growing from. Isn’t nature’s resilience amazing?!

Tomatoes and basil: perfect bedfellows x (and that garden bed literally used to be A BED. Recycling, doncha know!?)

And can we recommend SWEET BITE as a cherry tomato variety?!?! Holy crud, these guys PRODUCED! For such a compect little bush (I’m talking balcony-pot-plant size!) they are LOADED with fruit, and the girls snack off those 2 little bushes every day! Highly recommended!

Discovery! We lay our glass panels (used for mini ‘glasshouses’ over our foam-boxed seedlings) on the weed patches in the direct summer sun! Who needs weedkiller & chemicals? Just leave it a few days, then move it somewhere else! The weeds cant handle the heat, and go brown and die! #AccidentalFarming

And our poor chookies appear to have… um… colds?! I’ve noticed a few looking listless, and they appear to have ‘snotty’ beaks and bubbly eyes… OMG – what?! You guys cant be sick too?! So Im frantically googling and I’ve added some garlic granules to their drinking water. and I swear I saw some lice on one of them… (There’s probably a pill for that.)

So tonight I’m listening to the wild wind, contemplating a shower and the washing up, googling chook antibiotics, wondering WHY THE HELL Katie isn’t going to sleep, drinking tea, savouring a belly full of cauliflower crust pizza (TRY IT), feeling grateful to live in a country that offers subsidised childcare in difficult circumstances, and trying to breathe deeply and evenly.

One day at a time.

-xx-