End of a productive month

This month has just been so busy and exciting. The vegetable beds are coming along nicely as are the new trees and their gardens. I’ve put in the first lot of seeds that will then be transplanted out around the tree circles. One is a strawberry and edible flower bed and the other is a “tea” herbs bed (chamomile, peppermint, bergamot and lemon balm).

Here’s Craig’s 3am inspiration:

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It’s wonderful making this into a reality.

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Most of the work is going into the building of the 8 raised vegetable beds.

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It’s also been a huge month for visitors, I do love the kind that like to roll up their sleeves and pitch in, it would have taken at least a week or two longer to get these footings done without the help of Simon and Mikey.

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What else has happened? Oh, we’ve been spoilt by Edouard, croissants and crepes, oh my!
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The boys all went off the snow with Carla & Lucas, while I stayed home and enjoyed the sunshine and kept toasty warm 🙂

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I’ve learnt to prune fruit trees with the help of another villager, Sharon (learn being the operative word). Aren’t the almond flowers just lovely?

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We had to make some repairs on the new pump but that should now be a little more resilient. We accidentally left it on and it began pumping air instead of water, so it broke, all good, it’s all learning and now we shouldn’t be able to make the same mistake again.

The cows at TeMara farm have started to calve and the milking is also beginning to happen. We all went over on Monday afternoon to give Bob a hand to bring the girls down for their first turn on the milking machine.

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It was really nice to know I still have a handle on the basic ins-&-outs of milking a cow by hand and now I also know how to get them onto the milking machine.

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(and yes, I did cuddle them).

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Can’t wait to see the progress September will bring (even if I will be taking a two week break over the holidays to spend with family in Australia).

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July Update

Another new batch of WWOOFers, this time two french girls – Maureen and Lou. They had hoped to stay for longer than a week but Lou’s plans changed and she had to get back to france to take advantage of a job offer. While they were with us I taught them to knit, and they each made a very basic scarf to take home and in return I have a lovely wedded garden bed at the bottom of the drive (makes me smile whenever I pass it now).
Untitled We also baby sat Tinkerbell (the dog) for a few days, which was fun.
It’s been such a lovely warm winter this year with many cups of tea in the sunshine.
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Amish Farm Leads The Way to Local Food Security in Indiana

Now this is pretty cool

Future Growing LLC

Greenhouse at Sunrise Hydroponics Greenhouse at Sunrise Hydroponics. (Click photo to enlarge)

When you hear about a farm that supplies all-natural, sustainable produce, using 90% less water and 90% less land, one that utilizes the most advanced vertical aeroponic technology on earth, you surely would not guess it would be an Amish farm. Yet in Topeka, Indiana, you cannot get produce that is more local, fresh, healthy, and sustainable — even in the middle of an Indiana blizzard — like you can get at Sunrise Hydroponics, an Amish farm.

Sunrise Hydroponics is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Marlin and Loretta Miller on their rural farm in Topeka. I have had the privilege of working with the Amish community for more than half a decade, and have come to learn that, while their lives seem simple to many outsiders, their homes, farms, and businesses are highly innovative. The Amish utilize cutting-edge and creative forms of technology to improve…

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Week in the Life – Day 04

Today is the big day, our house frame is going up!

There was no delay allowed this morning. Craig had us all out of bed and out the door to be on site by 8am! No time for breakfast even, he swung past the bakery and picked up plain croissants and coffee to be eaten in the car (I think he’s excited).

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Yesterday the builders put together a part of the second story frame and gathered all the other jigsaw pieces ready for the arrival of the crane.

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Craig got his hard hat and safety car, he was going to be a part of this build no matter what!

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I observed all from the safety and comfort of the car (croissants, cuddles and a mocha to keep me happy).

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At every stage of the build I took photos and updated my facebook page to keep our friends and family in the loop. My dad was pretty thrilled to be able to have a skype video chat and see some of the work as it progressed.

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Safety chats and machine organisations came first:

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But within minutes the first wall was being lifted into place:

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William was in and out of the car most of the morning, interested in some stages but mostly off in his own creative world:

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“There’s a house with a wall, with a wall, with a wall…”

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Second story being lifted as once piece into place:

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At one point today the crane driver noticed that William and the builders children (who had come to watch with raising with their mum) were struggling with the little digger. He took the time to grab some oil and get the machine into working order once more. My favorite people are those who take the time to help out kids, listen to their needs and not just disregard them.

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Building sites have some fantastic things to play with:

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Here comes the roof trusses:
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We took lunch with the SantaBarbara’s before heading back down to our site and finding all the trusses neatly lined up.

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The framing for the roof was lifted into place as well, savings a great deal of time and making things much safer for the builders who now don’t have to spend hours up in scaffolding with fiddly tools and bits of wood.

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We did have a minor accident today, William misjudged how long his legs were and how high the trailer was and ended up in tears. He was so beside himself that he ended up vomiting all over himself which just added insult to injury really. Poor wee mite.

By early afternoon William and I were done and headed back home for a great deal of resting in front of the tv. Craig stayed on site with the builders till the frame was complete.

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We ended the evening with chinese takeaway.

Favorite Moments:

Watching this house frame go up after so many years of waiting was the highlight of my year, and yes, I cried.

William to Craig when he came over to chat – “Daddy, get back there and build!”

William listening in on adults talking about him – “I’m not precious!”

Week in the Life – Day 03

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Morning snuggles in bed.

Today was one of those days when you think things will be fine, but they end up spiraling down hill very very fast but then you are rescued and it’s ok.

Today I’m grateful for friends who come when you call them in tears because you’ve suddenly realised that you can’t manage this day alone after all. Also for play-doh that makes a great, easy distraction I can just manage to do to pass the time before help returns.

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Backyardigans on the iPad while mummy lays down again

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Lunch delivery

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Me for the rest of the day

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while Craig worked away from home and William disappeared to neighbours. At around 2pm I got an update that said he wouldn’t be coming home for dinner, he had other plans. So day that was too hard to manage resulted in one I didn’t have to manage. William returned in time for a story and bed and Craig returned to a dark and sleep filled house many hours later.

Favorite Moment:

Watching William try to brush my teeth with his little tongue moving from side to side and up and down as he concentrated on the task at hand.

Week in the Life – Day 02

Things are looking better for this weeks weather:
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Observations:

* Watching farmer Bob bring down the sheep from the top paddock with the help of his dog Tess.

* We rescued a bird from the fireplace before getting it going. William was very concerned about the bird and delighted when it finally flew free out the window – much too busy to take photos, pity. I had to smile later as Craig attempted to start the fire (after cleaning out all the soot the bird freed from the chimney)and William kept going on about Daddy meltingegg sand how he wished he wouldn’t do it – turns out Craig was using egg cartons to light the fire.

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* That at least my new diagnosis may have a little relief attached to them, but they are still mostly untreatable and don’t change a great deal for me really.
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Gratitude:

* For glorious sunrises seen through cracks in the curtain at 6am

* Phone calls (on the drink bottle lid phone) from Ranger Juney calling Super Hedgehog and Cover Boy to action

* Good manners from my 4 year old, like “excuse me please Mummy”, “your welcome” and “may I please be excused from the table”

* Brownies and strawberry cheesecake for morning tea after doctors visits.

Overheard:

* Spontanious songs

* “I’m not William today, I’m hedgehog boy”

* “I never imagined I would ever own something like that.” Craig returning to our house, currently being assembled on site.

* The boys constructing a cereal ox space craft before bed
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Favorite Moment:

* Watchng William and Little One play with a ring from the milk bottle over breakfast.

* Listening to William’s concern for the poor bird and joint family effort to get it first out of the fireplace where it had wedged itself and then away from a startled cat suddenly awoken by a crash on the window above his head and finally convincing it to fly outside to freedom.

* Lying in bed feeling exhausted with a small child, himself with a raging fever, singing nursery rhymes together and laughing through the worst.

The jigsaw puzzle that is our house frame:
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Week in the life – Day 01

This week I’ve embarked on a “Week in the life” project. Eventually the words and photos will come together as a printed scrapbook, but for now I’m holding them here to keep them safe.

I really wanted to do this project this week, because it is the week our house frame is going to be put up. It’s been four years in the dreaming and planning. Four house site changes, only to return to the original site. Two completed house plans submitted to Council. An island move and three houses lived in.

Monday

Today begins the WitL project:

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The weather forecast isn’t looking auspicious for the house buildand I’m nervous.

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Our mourning started at 6am with conversations about random topics with William and Mummy while Daddy slept on, oblivious. When 7am ticked around it was all hands on deck and out of bed.

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Lunchboxes had to be packed, people getting dressed and apparently my legs getting cut off
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before we headed out the door by 8am for breakfast at the bakery. We usually do this little outing closer to the end of the week unless we need to be in town early, like today.
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I had a round of blood tests to grit my teeth through, you do not know how relieved I was that my favorite vampire (otherwise known as a phlebotomist) was in.

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This meant a quick and an only mildly painful draining before we headed off again to complete a few more errands before heading of to pre-school.

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A quick trip past the house site to see the roof frame had been assembled reading for the end of the week.
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We all settled into our usual Monday work. Craig spent a day in skype meeting after skype meeting while I ended took a mid-morning rest with an audio book of Enders Game. Lunch and more meetings saw the early afternoon disappear. A small indulgence of homemade lemon syrup cake for afternoon tea went down a treat

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before we received a phone call to collect a sick little boy.

When we arrived at pre-school, William was happily laying down on the couch with a cold flannel on his forehead, grinning up at us. He may have had a 39 degree temperature,

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but the attention made up for any other discomforts it would seem.

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The rest of the afternoon with was spent with Mummy & William curled up in bed watching cartoons.

None of us was 100% today. Some of us were feeling overwhelmed and others generally sick. The overall feeling and need for today was a strong desire to be together in our little family, loving and supporting each other as best we could.

Grateful: Today I’m grateful for a caring husband and father who does his best to tend to us with a smile and over flowing love.

Craig was grateful that his wife was “happy sick” all day.

Favorite Moment: William telling us all about his ‘favorite thing’ today over dinner. It was learning about simple machines. How convenient that he happened to have watched Sid the Science Kid episode about just that very thing this afternoon AND played with them at pre-school this morning too… hmmmm

The ground work

So, while I’m sitting in the lounge room of the youth hostel, waiting for the hours to pass before I can return home to my boys, I thought I’d take a moment to share a few photos.

The house build has begun and by the end of next week we should have a finished slab floor. We’ve opted for a polished slab in the downstairs area of the house, mostly because it’s the cheapest option but that’s not to say it’s not a lovely option. We will be tying the house into the area with local river rocks (large and small rounds) as part of the mix and I really think the finished product will be stunning.

The last few weeks have involved pouring the piles (or stumps as they are called in Australia).
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I had planned an treating our master builder, and friend, to a picnic lunch with us and his daughter who I was looking after during some of the school holidays. It was unfortunate that lunch time also coincided with the arrival of the cement trucks and so it was all hands on deck and go go go. Not that the kids minded.
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School holidays over and the boxing was installed (forgive me if I get the building terms mixed up, I’m still learning all the lingo).
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While I’ve been away, I’m told that much of the plumbing has now been laid and the underfloor heating coils (connected to the wetback of our Wamsler combustion oven) will be laid on Wednesday and the slab poured Thursday/Friday.
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The white stuff is the insulation layer
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The slab will just sit there curing for a couple of weeks at this point. The timber frame for the house has all been completed and is waiting in lovely piles ready to be assembled on site.
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So yeah, proof that we are making progress 😉

Gouda

Waxed Gouda
A few months back, Sharon, Katie and I made a cumin gouda and tonight I finally cut it and it’s delicious. I had a lot of trouble keeping it mould free so after a few weeks I waxed it instead of growing a natural rind and I’m so very very glad I did. The red bits you can see on the cheese is the wax (obviously) and the little brown specs are the cumin seeds, yum).

I tend to get out the habit of making cheese as often as I’d like, ultimately I’d love to be making a cheese every week. Anything from a monthly batch of feta or something that needs to be aged for months on (or years) on end to a lovely soft camembert reading to eat in a week. This is a definite feeling of self satisfaction and personal accomplishment that comes from serving up a slice of your own cheese.

 

Satsuma Plums

Sharon has just harvested a load of Satsuma plums from the community orchard, I’m so excited that these are the red fleshed variety of plums that I dream about. We had a tree across the road from my school when I was just a wee little thing. After school we would rush over the road and climb into it’s branches and gorge on these delectable fruits – until the council started to spray all the roadside trees and we were no longer allowed to eat them 😦

I actually don’t recall the last time I had the pleasure of eating one of these plums so I’m so very excited that I’ll have a chance to grab a few kilos to preserve as well as eat fresh.

I’m going to preserve them nice and simply like in the link for Canning with kids. Making pies this winter out of these plums will (as Pip would say) “make me super happy”.