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

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Weekends, Hill Shadow-style.

This week Ben happened to pick up a packet of the Pancake Parlour’s pancake mix, and was absolutely astounded at how many ingredients were listed! I mean, they’re yummy, but I have no idea why a pancake mix would contain so many things. Maybe to help you justify the price of buying something that’s so simple to make at home!
Rarely does a weekend go by here where we don’t have pancakes. They’re super easy! Our pancake recipe is loosely based on Jamie Oliver’s one
HILL SHADOW FARM PANCAKES
Serves 4 -ish
2 cups SR flour (we use 1/2 wheat, 1/2 gluten free. I hear buckwheat flour works well too!)
2 cups milk of your choice (we use soy)
2 eggs (free range ONLY and ALWAYS, please x)
Pinch salt.
That’s seriously it! 
Whisk ingredients together til well-combined.
We cook our pancakes on our sandwich press left open – It works a treat! But your fry pan/skillet is fine. A medium/low temp is best. 
Pour out pancakes of 10 – 15 cm and wait until the air bubbles on the surface pop and don’t fill back in. The top of the pancake will be covered in craters & look ‘dry’ (not like wet batter) when it’s ready to flip. 
Serve with local honey or real maple syrup (it’s worth spending a little extra for the real stuff!)
I hope you’re out enjoying this beautiful weekend with your loved ones! I’m washing some beautiful alpaca fleece ready to card and spin. Won’t take long to dry today! 

Right, now go put your washing out, then make a cup of coffee and take it out under a tree with a good book x

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. 

Snippets, sunscreen, seeds, soil and sunshine.

Im gonna use a prompt from Kate over at Foxslane (I blog I adore – check it out!) and do a snippets post today. Maybe you can do one too? I’d love to check out yours…

enjoying
GLORIOUS spring Melbourne days. Today is a clear, sunny 26 degrees celcius.

playing
Nothing at the moment. The sound of the rainforest birds here, with the occasional neigh, “Mum!”, or cock-a-doodle-doo is all the sound track I need 🙂

smelling
My coffee here at my desk. Hazelnut! Yum!

wearing
Summer clothes and sunscreen! Already! Plus if I’m in the garden, my trusty Akubra, always. If you don’t know what an Akubra is, here you go. If you’re an Aussie and you don’t know what an Akubra is: SHAME ON YOU 😉

reading
Jackie French’s ‘Backyard Self-sufficiency’. The beans and peas are in in our new bale garden. Now FINGERSCROSSED they grow! (pleasepleaseplease) Gardening seems simple – plant a seed, good soil, water, sun. But my track record isnt great. I wish I knew why I have such bad luck with vegetables! Hopefully my luck will start to change! And soon!

crocheting
Ive been meaning to start a coffee-plunger cosy for my Stepdad… but… *sigh* Tonight! I swear!

flicking to
Not sure what this means (?) but im always flicking over to watch Dance Moms on You Channel. It’s my guilty pleasure *blush*

enjoying
Days outside in the sun NOT unpacking the few last boxes I should be getting around to… It’s just too nice out! I’m sure there’ll be more grey days like the one pictured below I can get around to those boxes.

not loving
Washing up. Does it ever end?!?!

knowing
I’ve got a horsey-girl on my hands. It’s only a matter of time before she asks me for a pony, I just know it. I’ve always said the girls can choose their own interests, and I will happily drive them to karate/soccer/art/dance/chess-WHATEVER. I am quite happy for neither of them to be horse-mad like Mummy. But I can see Katie’s interest in the horses already, and she’s always keen to hop on Will anytime I’m off for a ride. Daddy: just giving you an early head’s up… 😉

 

wondering
What the HECK Henry is barking at in the blackberry thicket!!! He keeps going up there and he just stares into the brambles and barks, and barks and barks!

dreaming
Of getting my sewing machine set up and my sewing table set up and making some new summer dresses for the girls! (And maybe me!) But that means getting in amongst THOSE AFORE-MENTIONED BOXES…so…

hoping
To adopt some ex-battery hens at the end of September, and give them a new life in free-range chook heaven! With this handsome devil-

Lennon

knitting
Last thing I did was a beanie for Ben. Actually, i did 2, because the first one turned out ridiculously small. It looked like a Jewish Kippah. We both nearly wet ourselves laughing and I gave that one to a friend’s little boy, and made another!

laughing at
Black Books. We’ve just watched the whole series again!

casting on
Hmm, what’s next? Im thinking of starting a school cardigan for Katie’s first year of school next year. The uniform is Red, Green and White, some I’m thinking a red one…

grateful for
This new childhood I can now provide my kids with! They are always outside now: Climbing, creating, exploring. The TV is hardly ever on during the day now. I love that they’ve got the run of this whole farm ‘playground’, and they absolutely love it!

adoring
Tara’s first pigtails!!!

 

smiling at
Kate’s antics on her trampoline, andhearing her talking to herself as she plays some involved imaginary game.
“…hey sister, we need to go to our house! No you cant until the fires have gone. We have to stay in Queensland…”

Your turn! What are you enjoying, playing, smelling, listening, wearing, reading crocheting, flicking to, enjoying, not loving, knowing, wondering, dreaming, hoping, knitting, laughing at, casting on, grateful for, adoring, smiling at?

Have a beautiful week. But, blog it later – get out an enjoy this gorgeous weather while it lasts!
xx






Storm warnings, gale force winds, big trees and fences don’t mix.

Kate and I have just trudged round every fence line after our first really windy night at Hill Shadow. The weather here under the mountain is truly wild, and though I LOVE a good storm, the wild winds do make a bit of a mess of the place!

Especially when you need good solid, safe electric fences for our horsey-charges! We always do a fence/tree/pony check after a windy night, just to make sure everyone’s still got a fence and 4 legs!

Fortunately everyone is fine and fences are still standing! Just one medium sized tree down, but in the creek, away from any fences and buildings. Phew!

Someone who definitely wasn’t affected by the weather (in a negative way) was Henry the orange mongrel, who spent all night in sleeping infront of the fire.

And so, to finish off this post – here’s a joke:


Why did the chicken cross the road? ;D

Proof the Hill Shadow Farm hens have nothing to fear! Our hens have free rein of the property all day, so they often pop up in the yard or at the window to visit us during the day. They have absolutely no fear of people, our dogs, or our children! Why would they?!

Peg Sorting: Tara’s favourite activity at present. I do wish she wouldn’t post them all down the holes in the brickwork though! Fun for her, but annoying for me to retrieve for the washing! X(

Any Spring ‘storm-age’ in your area?
Storms: Love em or hate em?
Do your animals make themselves at home like ours do?

Check your fences!
x

Father’s Day, Farmers Markets, and Baking Fails.

I’ve grabbed a quick 10 min with a cup of coffee to post this! Tara’s napping, and I’ve still gotta wash up and get firewood, and bring in the bins and put the washing out, and empty the compost and go for a run, and… and…
 
…hmm.
 
A farm girl’s work is never done!
 
 
So there’ll be no curling up in my favourite sunny reading spot for me today. Well, yet.
 
But Lenin and the girls love our sunny front door step. So much so, that they are reluctant to move, and I often have to swipe them aside/kick them outta the way/trip over them coming out the front door! Originally, he was named ‘Lenin’ after ‘The Good Life’ tv series’ rooster. But that rooster was named after a tyrannical dictator. And there’s just nothing tyrannical about our Lenin. He is the most laid-back, peaceful, lovely bird I’ve ever met! So, I think maybe ‘Lennon’ is a more appropriate name for him, no? And he does like beetles… 😉
 
 
Hay.
 
It’s been all about hay, here. We agist several horses – including Will my older ex-galloper gentleman – but in bushy, scrubby paddocks. So feed has to be brought in most of the time for our four-legged clients. Unfortunately it does this to my arms unless I cover them up while lugging it round.
 
 
 
And I sneeze, and I itch and I wheeze…. Luckily Katie doesn’t because I quite often find her like this in our hayshed.
 



 

The weekend hay delivery, aka Kate’s Stage Coach.
 


AND I made my first Hill Shadow Lemon Meringue Pie on Sunday, for father’s day afternoon tea (We love you Ben/Daddy!)

The curd was TO DIE FOR! (that’ll be those Hill Shadow Farm lemons and fresh Hill Shadow free range eggs! 😉 Of course!)

 
But unfortunately even though it came together beautifully and tasted heavenly, something funny happened to the egg whites and I ended up with quite a bit of liquid white after I baked it and put it in the fridge. Perhaps I shouldn’t have put it in the fridge?!
 
And finally here’s a pic of Tara at the Lilydale Farmers Market – she loved those ducklings! We came home with some yummy local pink lady apples, and some seedlings: Spearmint, Chamomile, Parsley, Coriander and Basil. We’ve planted those into a space in our new garden beds – next are the veggies! Katie bought a lemon soap and an orange ice block with her pocket money. Who knows? Next time we may be there as stallholders?
 
How did you enjoy the gorgeous weather this weekend?
Ever had a baking disaster?
What do you love at your farmers market?
 
Ooh?! Is that the baby…?
Go and get outside!
xx


Who needs the gym?

We are certainly well and truly into farm-mode now!

Although it is officially spring, it’s still been pretty cold at night here. Which means keeping the fire lit. Which means firewood. LOTS of firewood. We seem to burn it faster than we can collect it, chop it, stack it, and bring it in. It’s a constant chore: The fire is hungry and constantly must be fed. Hubby just bought his first log splitter and tomahawk, and BOY have they been getting a work out! And so has he: Working out ‘Lumber Jack-style’!

 
Since we just moved in, we’ve had no time to stockpile any firewood. And the former tenants didn’t leave any. There’s plenty about in the paddocks, but it all requires collecting, chopping, stacking, and drying. So: Job for next winter! STOCKPILE WOOD. 
 


I, too, am developing big callouses from shovelling clay aside in the garden, and carrying firewood to and fro. And splinters. Lots of splinters. Under my nails.

Note to self: Acquire some work gloves.

The other reason gloves maaaayyyy also be a good idea is that I am constantly wheezing and sneezing, and my arms are coming out in constant hives from carrying armloads of hay around the farm to the horses.

Yep: I’m allergic.

(Nope: I’m not joking.)

So has the novelty worn off yet?

…what do you think? 😉

 
I hope you’re keeping warm through these first days of spring, and that the blossoms are starting to come out at your place! I’ll be planting my first Hill Shadow harvest soon! So much to choose from!
 
What should I plant?
Have you planted yours?