Thursday, March 29, 2012


It really feels like Autumn!

The early mornings and evenings are getting chillier and darker by the day. The light seems different somehow. Baskets of summer fruit and veg are slowly being jammed and bottled and put away for leaner times. The rows of the kitchen garden are being picked, pulled out, turned over, composted and seeds of winter greens are being planted. And summer's apples are finally ripe and being plucked from the trees.

At this time of the year the farmer boys drive around the area with trailers on the backs of their cars scouting out and picking from the wild apple trees they find along their ways. Baskets and buckets and bags are filled with the juicy fruit.

Last weekend families and friends gathered with their apples nearby at Liam and Kath's for the annual cider pressing.

Farmer Bren brought along his cycle powered apple scratter/grinder/mulcher and others brought their inventions too. Whole apples are fed into the top and turned into apple mush that comes out the other end.

Oops, and there's the photo of me in the ear hat you asked for...

After the scratter, the apple mush is wrapped up in bits of calico called cheeses and layered between wooden racks. Pressure is applied to the top of the pile and the apple juice is sqeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezed out and caught in a bucket below.

The apple juice is then drunk by little passers by, or poured into bigger drums for cider.

The dried out, squished apple cakes look like this at the end. Apparently they cooked one on the fire after we'd left, but from what I hear they wont be repeating that again.

And then of course there was the drinking of last years' cider, the campfire cooking and the Cider House String band.

I barely saw my kids the whole day. They were off running around with friends having as much fun as we were.

I love days like that. I love community and celebrations of seasons and fruit and time.

I do love a bit of cider too. Don't you?


Monday, March 26, 2012

HAPPY new week!

HAPPY new week you guys!

I hope it's full of good news, good fun and lots of inspiration.
Let's not sweat the small stuff, but look bigger and higher and wider.
Let's all be fabulous!

It's going to be a sunny week here.
I'm planning lots of gardening, honey collecting and of course the preserving continues.
What have you got on?
Anything exciting?
Hope so.

Hugest thanks to my gang for indulging my ear beanie obsession.
Hopefully there's a pattern coming soon.

Kate xx

Friday, March 23, 2012


You could say our family are a bit obsessed with food. We grow it for love and for a living. We enjoy preparing it and eating it and talking about it and sharing it. We love simple food. Rustic food. We love food you can recognise and we love food that is good for you.

But more than anything else we love food that is grown by us or by someone locally. We love food has been grown with love, food that has been grown without the use of any nasty chemicals and food that has been grown now, this very season, with all the nutrients still inside.

Last Wednesday afternoon we drove out to visit our friend Florian at Mount Franklin Organics. We sat in the sun on his deck overlooking his orchards and gardens. We threw stones for his dogs to bring back and we discussed life, organic farming and the season that was.

And then on our way out we sorted and weighed and bought five boxes of San Marzano tomatoes. Our five boxes had been picked that day and were warm to touch. You can see Florian above with what he called his blackberry, working out how much we bought.

Yesterday our girls stayed home from school to make roasted tomato passata.

We divided up the jobs and got to work. We washed, sliced, picked and made a herby/garlicy mix, mixed it all together and laid the tomatoes out on oven trays.
Then we roasted the tomatoes in the oven. YUM! (I look forward to doing this part in the earth oven next year when it's finished.)
Then we spooned the mixture into the mouli and then into a jug which filled the jars. Then those jars boiled in the Fowlers machine for an hour and a half to sterilise and seal them.
I guess what I didn't say at the start but I'll add at the end, is that we also love food filled with memories. And I know that every time we open a jar of this summery goodness over the cooler months to come, we'll remember the fun filled day we spent together in the kitchen making it.

How about you?
Do you like to preserve the glut for leaner times?
Would you like to?
What do you preserve? And do you have a favourite method or recipe?
Can you make the stores last all winter long?
Do you have memories of preserving days from when you were a child?
Do you think it's much simpler and easier to go and buy a tin from the market?
I wonder.

I do hope you have the most fabulous weekend this weekend and get to eat something delicious.

See ya. x

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Lately I've been feeling uninspired to turn on my computer. It's strange and so very unlike me. I'm hoping it's just a short lived phase and I'll be online inspired again soon. In the meantime here's a little catch up...

Lately I've been thinking a lot about facebook. I've been reading through the comments on that post and realising that a lot of people feel VERY strongly about it. In our house we've been making our own facebook user rules. Rules that work for us and make us feel safe.  This week my farmer boy got his own facebook account and he is actually really enjoying it. I have a feeling Miss Indi is enjoying watching her Dad's page more than her own. I think someday soon I will write a post entirely dedicated to what I have learnt about facebook so far, but I might have to join up first.

Lately I haven't had more than a few minutes at a time to craft it up. I've found that since ditching the tv during the week, I just don't crochet until the weekend. Apparently hook time and couch time and screen time go together for me.

Lately the boys have been building a new shed. Old school techniques with old materials. Some of the bits of wood they've been using are over one hundred years old. It's been a nice couple of days, every few weeks, kinda project. I think I should organise the women folk to make quilts on their shed building days. It seems right don't you think?

Lately I've been wondering about tomatoes. We have a cool room full of them and we are about to start preserving them tomorrow. But should we puree and bottle them all, or should we play around with other preserving recipes and techniques?

Lately I've been stressing about the weather. I do not like winter. I suffer the cold. I don't like wearing 100 layers and having the laundry drying inside. Freezing days make my bones ache. Grey days make me sad. So we've been brain storming ways to make winter warmer. New ways to heat the house, new ways to dry the washing, perhaps a new oven than heats and cooks.

Lately we've been enjoying eating and preserving the last of the summer berries, cooking and juicing the apples, munching on colourful carrots and crunchy peas and making a start on the earth oven.

Lately I've been reading books about parenting teens. It's funny, I never read one book about mothering a baby or a toddler and here I am with a stack of books on my bedside about adolescents. I'm not certain how much I am actually learning, but it's definitely feels good to find out we are not alone in this.

Lately farmer Bren has been obsessing over building a cycle powered apple crusher for apple cider. Miss Indi is one of 20 kids at her school to be part of a local landscapes project sponsored by the National Gallery of Victoria. Miss Jazzy has been working on her lolly project and just today was stung by a wasp twice (while her Dad was dumpster diving searching for parts for his bike project). And Miss Pepper is all about the letters and what things say.

Lately we've been enjoying the 350 fluffy day old (now week old) chicks we picked up last week.

Lately we've fallen off the menu planning wagon and it's been a 'what are we having tonight?' disaster. But after a huge bulk organic shop in Castlemaine today we are hopping straight back on tomorrow.

And lately I've been feeling pretty happy. The growing and preserving and cooking makes me happy. Spending time with my gang makes me happy. Thoughtful and kind emails make me happy. Phone conversations with old friends and plans with new friends make me happy. Watching my kids finding their passions makes me happy. My new plan makes me scared and happy. Miss Pepper begging me to make her a new dress today made me happy. Roses on the table makes me happy. Cooking from our garden makes me happy. Buttercup yellow makes me happy. My farmer boy makes me happiest.

So enough about me.
How are YOU??
What have you been up to lately?
What's making YOU happy?

Bye. x

Friday, March 16, 2012

end week.

It's the weekend. Hoorayyyyyy!!!!

Farmer Bren has gone to pick up the girls from school and I'm sitting here dreaming about all that I want to do this weekend and all that I don't. I feel like we are in desperate need of some slow time in this family. Some together time, some quiet time, some time to catch up.

Maybe I'll get a bit of crochet done. A stripe or two of the granny blanket or a fourth ears beanie for my farmer boy who looked at his girls all wearing them the other day and suggested that he just might like one too.

I might even get a chance to write up the pattern for those of you who have been asking.

We'll probably make some more pesto because it seems to be disappearing on toast and pasta as quickly as I've been making it.

Hopefully this weekend will involve a fair bit of hanging out here.

Maybe a dress will come of this pile this weekend.

A new dress would be nice don't you think?

Do you have piles of projects dotted about the house like I do?

I might get a chance to read the new Peppermint magazine over a cuppa.
Oh look there's our caravan!

If the weather is sunny we might get a chance to fill up and plant out some new kitchen garden beds. We need more space and these parts from the old apple sorting machine look perfect.

I know the girls are desperate to come home and keep colouring their babushka colouring books. Manda made them. Aren't they divine! I must say I'm a bit excited that Manda included a colouring book for me in the parcel too so I don't have to share.

Ms Manda is going to be selling them soon so be sure to keep an eye on her blog for the details.

And I'm really looking forward to slowing down and noticing the details, to movie night tonight, to doing the farm chores, to preserving the apples and to having Bren's folks up for lunch.

Maybe it'll all happen, maybe it wont, it really doesn't matter to me as long as we can slow it all down and be together.

What have you got planned?
Are you heading into a wild, exciting weekend or a calm and relaxing one?
Whatever you have planned, I hope it's wonderful.

See ya. xx

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the one where i found out my kid is on facebook.

Last Friday afternoon I took a break from the primary school swimming sports and went up the street to get a coffee. Walking up the hill I bumped into friends from our valley who I hadn't seen since for ages. We caught up quickly and as I started walking off they called out to me 'We loved the video of Pepper singing that Adele song on facebook!'


I am not on facebook.

As far as I knew, no one who lives in my house is on facebook.

So how on earth did a video of Pepper singing get onto facebook?

And then it hit me. INDI!

I asked them if it had been on Indi's account (in as unwobbly a voice as I could muster.) They weren't certain but their kids are all on facebook so they assumed Indi was too.


I walked off feeling like I'd been punched. Like my little girl had snuck out of our quiet little farm and headed off to Chapel street on a Saturday night. Where was my baby who let me dress her in my creations and who told me all her secrets? How could she have kept something like this from me? She's only 11.

And then after I worked myself up into a frenzy, there was the second guessing. Was this a big deal? If all the other kids are on facebook, then am I overreacting? And biggest of all, how come she hadn't told us????

In the end we discussed it with her over dinner. She said she'd joined up the weekend before at a friend's place. She said she had intended to talk to us about it but hadn't gotten around to it. She thought we might say no. She said ALL her friends are on facebook. She said she is only facebook friends with her real life friends. She said she understood that she can no longer put images of her sisters on there without our permission. She agreed that I will join and that we will be friends there so I can see. She promised not to be part of and to report any negative behaviour. She told us a few of her friends have had their accounts deleted by their parents because of swearing this week.

She also agreed to let me post this blog as a record.

So here we stand, on the cusp of the big wide world of pre-teen-hood. Basically making it up as we go along. Trying to pick our battles, trying to keep the lines of communication wide open, trying to stay relevant, but also trying to set boundaries and keep her farmy and a bit childish too.

Man, I look forward to having more confidence and experience with this the second and third times around.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

She's apples.

Once upon an Autumn, 11 years ago, we visited this farm for the very first time and the Jonny's were ripe on the apple trees. We walked the rows of the orchard and gave Miss Indi, then a four month old baby, a suck of an apple. She loved it. She made all sorts of excited noises. And we knew we had to buy this place and become apple farmers.

In the beginning it was just apples.
We have 1000 trees and about 40 varieties.
Then, after a few years of drought, we added the chooks, some more fruit trees and the vegies.
We pride ourselves that we are a mixed family farm.
That we have lots of chickens in our basket.

But we still have an apple on our Daylesford Organics logo.
We are apple farmers at heart.

And I have to admit, that when apple picking time comes along I am happiest of all.
I love walking down the quiet rows of the fruiting orchards.
I love the feeling of the apples coming off neatly in my hand.
I love the sound and feeling of emptying the filled picking bags into the crates.
I love how the newly lightened branches seem to bounce back so high after we ease them of their load.
I love how the apple is a symbol of health and happiness.
And of course I love having bowls and baskets and crates of apples in the kitchen and in the cool room.

We've been munching our way through lots of apples over the weekend.
We've been enjoying pies and cakes and compote too.

Not long now until cider making day.

I am not even slightly a religious person, but for some reason I never forget to acknowledge and thank the apple trees for their delicious fruit after we have picked it. To think about the work they have done for us and for the birds, and then to watch them lose their leaves and fall asleep.

I remember having an apple in my school lunch every day of my childhood, I love that my kids will remember growing and picking theirs too.

Do you love apples?
Did you have an apple a day in your lunch?
Do you have a favourite variety? A favourite apple recipe?
Are you a red or a green apple eater?
Are you on trend with the cider drinking thing?

Happy autumn peeps.

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