there and back again

Oh friend, do you know It's been nineteen months since I left this space?  And while it was absolutely the right decision at the time, I have been mulling over the thought of returning in the last little while. In nineteen months, we have grown our farm and our family - we are blessed with three little boys now, and our youngest Archie is nearing five months old. We are busy as ever with chickens and eggs and honeybees and babies and the demands of each day and life we care for. We continue to sink our roots down in a beautiful local community, and weather the seasons and unknowns of our occupation on the land. More than ever, I find myself easily distracted, easily overwhelmed, tempted to scroll through social media and skim superficially through news and articles on my phone, and yet I feel a tug at my heart to connect deeper - I miss the days of slowing down to write (and read) whole blog posts - to pause to comment, to acknowledge, to note down the happenings, take out my good camera, capture beauty, pen thoughts, prayers, memories, sing odes to the seasons, sketch whimsies.

So I am back here with no great vision, just an urge to write again, and savour more fully the everyday graces...

eight years a windhover (and farewell)

Oh friends, isn't the wattle flowering along all the roads around here beautiful? That distinct smell and yellow fluff reminds me Spring is not far away...

This August marks eight years since I started this here blog - how strange to think when I started it - in my first year of university, just eighteen years old, that I would keep it up all these years later. It has been an enormous blessing - a place at once to feel familiar, comfortable, thankful and vulnerable - when I moved house, lived overseas, missed my kin, had children, worked, convalesced, meditated. So many friends made, dialogues started, I have felt so much encouragement and validation as an artist, cook, writer, mama in being able to share here. Truly, looking back I realise how much I needed it. It's been eight years and now it's time to go...

I have always had an agreement with myself that when it seemed time to move on from here, I would. I've been mulling over this for months now - a sense of distance from this space, and a deep right feeling that it's time to close this chapter.

And as you know, in the last year Alex and I have really taken a huge leap of faith - in starting a smallholding farm business, Hand to Ground - since it's inception I've felt the need to pour more time and energy it's vital, young years - my days are overflowing with what we are trying to create, grow, sell, establish - the very full occupation of caring for my young boys, tending to a garden, selling produce and making local connections... and as much as I love reading blogs and keeping up with friends on Facebook and instagram swooning, I really do need time to carve out and call sacred -  time to slow down, be mindful, nourished - offline. Not to mention the inevitable weaning that comes with such limited internet connect here in the countryside!

And so, from time to time, or as often as I can - I will document my days of learning to homestead and build a nourishing life on my instagram and on our farm blog...
Oh, blog - there are so many posts half written in my drafts, things I wanted to say and didn't, or couldn't find the time to put exactly how they needed to be said, or soon became too outdated and no longer relevant to the narrative of life as it moved along. Still, you've been so good to me. I not do not leave empty handed... in fact, I look forward in the next year or two to compiling a series of printed photo books with my favourite posts, odes, poems, photos, reflections, recipes...

Finally readers, it's you I owe a great thanks -
for joining me here, going away and returning,
leaving comments, emails, or unspoken well-wishes,
supporting my crafty or poetic or wordy pursuits -
delighting in the seasons, in my loves,
thank you 

and for the last time let me ask you to please comment, if you can, and tell me:

where are you reading this?
what is your favourite season?
what is your beverage of choice?
what do you like to read?
what have you liked best here?

fare thee well and adieu,
eight years ago...

thankful, a list

feeling: quite cold - it's been snowing not that far from us
making: door snakes to stop the drafts and wooly hats for our heads
eating: lots of roasted root vegetables (parsnips, poatoes and beetroot especially)
drinking: warm milk with raw honey and ginger 
thinking: about all those emails to catch up on
disliking: dripping noses
planning: for farmers markets, baby chicks, and vegetable gardens
growing: heirloom cabbages, sprouting broccoli, kale, cos lettuce and masses of parsley!
watching: daffodil, freesia and jonquil bulbs pop up in the grass
delighting: in the wide smiles and tongue-poking of our cheeky baby
anticipating: a busy busy Spring
playing: with wonderful homemade polymer/borax "slime" 
cutting: colourful paper snowflakes with the kiddo
listening: to eggs on the boil, wind against the windows, lambs bleating in the pasture
reading: epic fantasy "Magician", and "the polytunnel book: fruit and vegetable all year round"
praying: for peace and understanding
wearing: layers and layers of wool (thermals, socks, sweaters, beret, scarf)
collecting: dozens of eggs every day
laughing: at funny three-year-old expressions
loving: the indoor plants on top of the fridge
remembering: childhoods spent listening to my grandma's stories
contemplating: a big change
knowing: the nights of broken sleep pass
wanting: a long long soak in a bath tub
wishing: we had a bath tub... 

Inspired by Pip's monthly reflections. Happy Wednesday friends with all you're doing, thinking, hoping...

a little quilt

 A few days before Beren was born I finished hand stitching the hem of his little quilt. It became a quiet meditation in the late months of my pregnancy, preparing myself for his pending arrival. Now  it hangs on the side of his crib - those natural, earthy hues, a balm for my tired eyes. A reminder also, that a crafty season will come again...

I came up with the simple design of squares and rectangles. Save the bamboo fleece wadding and hand dyed silk thread - it's made entirely of linen. The square pieces from linen scraps I had lying around and found (to my delight) a 1 1/2 yard length of stone coloured linen was just enough to frame them and back the quilt. Like all my quilts, it's not perfectly straight and symmetrical - but I like that - linen is such a wondrous, wrinkle-prone fibre - it leans itself generously to imperfection...

Oh and do you remember the little quilt I made for Reuben those three and half years ago? So very colourful and bold compared to this, but still in good use...

life with two

As you may have guessed, I seldom find time to update on here the stories of life and new motherhood of two boys - what a constant, intense, satisfying (and sometimes unsatisfying), beautiful occupation it is! Truthfully, most of the time I am happy to just pause (without camera lens or pen and paper) and soak into my soul the scenes of juggling, mess and mayhem, of everyday goodness; like my three year old leaning in to kiss his baby brother - who when he hears his big brother's voice - will smile and coo wildly. The love between them is vast and I feel teary at the ease with which his big brother especially - has adjusted to life with a sibling. At the same time I feel a twinge of lament that I documented his first year of life so clearly, month-by-month - compared to his little brother - because it’s true, you do forget so many things…

Our Beren is now fourteen weeks old, and oh! he is so far a calm, pensive and cuddly soul...
He is very chatty, and will for ten or twenty minutes at a time - look into your eyes and "talk" to you with eyebrows raised,
He is mostly happy to put himself to sleep
He loves watching his brother playing/talking/whinging/reading and will beam with glee
He gives little chuckles when you blow raspberries on his tummy
He likes to be warm, and does not like cold hands changing him
He makes those lovely sighs when sleeping,
He nurses with gusto, sometimes too quickly,
His legs are deliciously chubby, so far he's in the 90th percentile for weight!
He has been on so many more car trips than his brother did at this age and for the most part likes the car seat, as long as we're moving... 
He is muscular and robust - those big hands, such a strong neck, we're certain he'll be helping us around the farm in no time,
He likes being worn - in woven wraps and carriers (probably because it keeps him so warm)
He has been to farmers markets, up windswept hills, and on a plane to Sydney,
He has been introduced to chickens,
He has had to learn the art of waiting, and is mostly so very patient - 
He doesn't get very many baths, but always smells so milky pure,
Despite everyone always saying how much he looks exactly like Reu - he is distinctly his own person - his face is more oval, eyes bluer, his hair darker -
He smiles often, and especially after feeds - those contented, love drunk smiles are my favourite.

I think you assume because you have had a baby before, that it will be easier the second time - and in many ways it has been, well - maybe not easier, but certainly more relaxed. My initial fears of managing two little ones - of getting organised to go places - of keeping healthy - of getting wholesome meals together - and keeping on top of the chores - have mellowed into a kind of peacefulness - an acceptance to take each day as it comes... let my fears be known... set limits... ask for help... expect every task to take longer... prioritise what's most important... be okay with imperfections... take sleep in increments... give more hugs... try to go for a walk every day... pray... 

I am no perfect mother to my boys, but I am theirs. And they are mine. 

Ode to grandma, the storyteller

Nancy Margaret
or just grandma to me -
where do I begin to remember you,

all you’ve been?

do I start with your soft skin -
those bright and kindly eyes
your aged and crackly voice, 
asking us always to plant
on each cheek and forehead - kisses three,
your powdery nose and loose singlets,
legs lying in the sun
for vitamin d you said, and everyday
in armchair or lounge or bed
open books, folded newspapers
the napkins up your sleeves -
your tiny handwritten notes,
the keenest, most hungry
mind for news of the world

you read everything -
biography, philosophy,
fiction and non, literature
poetry, history, magazine
old letters intended for you
and others that weren’t,
school notes and failed
a wealth of knowledge,
a treasury of verse,
story, song -
the meaning of words
the stories of others
you felt the most,
they made you cry -
made you happiest

the child who lived in the bush
won a scholarship for school in the city,

wrote and edited poetry,

became a schoolteacher

whose grandma rode past Ned Kelly

whose father went to war,

who married a farmer
and had eight children
birthed and breastfed
and how many young minds
you taught too -
when we were children
you came each summer
with a full and musty suitcase
sweeping us up in big hugs
tucking us into bed
we would request from your repertoire
favoured stories, fables, poems -
all the milestones you shared,
our first walks, words, school concerts -
then as teenagers,
you came to live with us -
in my room and then by the dining room table
your movements were slow and strained
but your mind as sharp as ever,
how you loved the bustle of a full house
all our comings and goings -
and in the early dark of morning,
a voice asking
who’s there?

you the tea drinker,
liberally with milk -
teabags stretched for three cups,
lashings of butter,
we knew the gifts you liked to eat
dark chocolate, crystallised ginger,
marzipan, peppermints -
sardines on toast,
cheese and beetroot,
the time you taught me to eat 
nasturtium leaves,

your faith that weathered decades
of experience and loss, 
unshakeable, in a loving God -
we counted on our fingers 
forty-one people
have come into being because of you,
you were not perfect
but you were as much
as a person can be -
a capable woman,
a generous mother
a great teacher
a wise listener
a miraculous storyteller -
and even in your last years
a source of interest,
faithfulness, remembrance
the older fragile you
barely moving,
with my own red-haired boy
who helped pop green peas
in your mouth,
who kissed your hand
and ran cars along your bed
I like him, you said, and smiled

and on my last visit
the mind that remembered
the chickens we keep
the days until they lay
the porridge that came late
you were lively, 
gripping my hands
with papery skin so soft -
those kindly eyes
thank you for visiting 
you said,

thank you for all you gave me
a love for words
to read and write
and recite aloud
to soak in sunshine
and watch the seasons,
to treasure hope,
and care for kin -
and above all,
the gift of life -
you gave to me
my mum.


(of a moment beautifully ordinary, odd, wondrous to remember always)
Reuben: "Look what I found in the garden mama - a fire flower!" Oh I say, the most amazing nasturtium blooms and still alive in midwinter...

Beren: during his first visit to the chickens at five weeks old, safe view from under dad's coat...
Reuben: "Mama... heeelp... I need you to help me clean it up"... the do-I-look-guilty-of-something-truly-mishevious?" face - you know, like scatter the contents of container of tapioca flour through the house!

Beren: decides on a cold winter's morning this is the best place to be; wrapped up warm in bed on mama's knees...


today was a perfectly lovely shortest-day-of-the-year - 
it was cold, so very cold
but it was radiantly blue
crisp, sun-soaked

I woke to the uncomfortable snuffling of my baby's congested nose (poor lad)
and the knowledge that my parents were asleep in the spare room
that a happy day awaited us - 
sunday morning pancakes,
cuddles, conversation,
paella, slow pace,

late morning, I walked up those hills you see in the first picture
I watched lambs frolicking
 and wrapped my scarf around my ears
I felt alive and well,
and so thankful for fresh air,
for kin, Creator -

later the boy and I planted 
the little pansies a friend gifted us
and we inspected the garden, 
cypress green
spring onion shoots
curly worms

through the window we spied the babe 
warm, still sleeping -

for such a cold day 
we spent a lot of it outdoors,
and it was the best shortest-day we've had.