Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Hello lovely friends. How are things with you? I'm good. Really good. Really busy and really good.
You see along with all the spring craziness in the gardens and orchards and at home, we are also getting ready to hold our first ever clearing sale this weekend. We've been on this farm for almost 15 years and oh my goodness we've collected a lot of stuff. Sheds full of stuff, cupboards full of stuff and a cellar full of stuff.
So this week, along with all the planting and weeding and watering and parenting, we've been pulling out and sorting through our history. It's been fun and emotional and exhausting.
Farmer Bren has a bit more info on his blog if you are interested.
In the meantime I thought I might do a bit of a show and tell about my knitting.
First up we have the green love heart socks.
I knitted these for my Mum.
I don't know about all mums, but I like to think that most mums deserve a pair of socks hand made especially for them. My Mum calls these her magic socks and wears them when the going gets a bit tough. It makes me happy to think that in times when things are a bit hard for her, she can put on her magic socks and know how much she is loved.
Heart toe up sock details here.
I made this little cardigan for our friend Steph's new baby Holly. Like I wrote on instagram - not much makes me clucky for babies these days BUT knitting teeny tiny cardigans, now that's another story entirely.
Holly's card details here.
Then I started contemplating the growing pile of little sock balls leftover after I finished each pair of socks. I couldn't just let them sit there now could I?! I decided it was either knit one pair of socks with all the bits and pieces, or I could start a patchy memory blanket. Each square, or each few squares, a memory of a time and a place a person I knitted the socks for. The blanket won.
This is a looooooooong term project. Each square is knitted with 4ply yarn on 2mm needles which means they are small and slow. But I'm loving the though of it. And if I get sick of it at any stage I can turn it into a cushion.
Scrappy sock blanket details here.
And then I decided I needed some more colour in my sock blanket so I cast on a new pair of socks. You can't see it yet but these ones will have a cute diagonal stripy pattern thing on them.
And that green ball up there on the right was wound with the ball winder and swift my family bought me for my birthday. How ace does it look!! I love it. I just want to wind all the wool into balls now.
And that's me. All knitted and caught up.
So how about you? What have you been making in your spare, or stolen, time? Care to share?
Loads a love to you friends.
I hope someone you love makes something lovely for you sometime soon.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
There are some days where me and my farmer boy frantically rush through the farm jobs all day long hoping to have them done before school pick-up so we can slow down then and enjoy the afternoons with our girls. Then there are other times when we save jobs for when the girls get home. When we plan their after school activities carefully looking forward to sharing these special tasks with them.
Last week we had a few frames of honey to spin, it would have been quicker and easier to get the job done then and there, but there was no way we could resist the thought of the girls' excitement at watching the sticky frames become jars of delicious gold.
The first step we took to extract the honey from the frames was to uncap the honeycomb. Using a heated uncapping knife we carefully scraped the surface of the comb to remove the wax lid of each cell of honey.
Then we placed the frames of uncapped honey in the extractor,
and we cranked the handle which using centrifugal force spins the honey right out of the comb and onto the sides of the extractor.
We took turns turning and spinning, and spinning and turning, until the frames were empty and the bottom of the extractor was full of honey which had dripped down the sides.
Then we opened the valve at the bottom of the extractor, let the honey pour out into a honey strainer and then into a big bowl at the the bottom.
After that all there was to do was wash all the sticky fingers and bits of equipment, pour all the honey into jars, eat spoonfuls straight from the jars and then some on toast.
And then later on I baked this cake.
I know I'm writing this blog as if we did all the cool stuff but really we all know that we just took the baton on the last little leg of the honey journey. It's really the bees that live here at Daylesford Organics with us who do the real work pollinating our fruit and veggies, providing our spring soundtrack and not being too cranky when we take a tiny share of their honey now and then.
I feel so very fortunate to have cool activities like honey spinning to share with our girls, to watch their excited faces as they play their parts and to see how proud they are of themselves and how much more connected they are to their food source as they spoon big spoonfuls of golden honey into their porridge each morning.
What a fascinating, exciting, sticky, delicious, buzzy world.
Bee good my friends.
Big sweet love to you from me.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
The girls who live in my house wear shorts under their dresses so they can climb trees, they ask for bows and arrows for birthday presents and they experiment with starting fires without matches. The girls who live in my house explore the forest out the back of our farm on weekends, they carry sticks for fighting the enemy and have lengthy discussions about what they would eat if their home disappeared. The girls who live in my house have scratched up knees, they wear their hair in long plaits to keep it out of their way and they play games about escaping from jail, about fighting dragons and about ninjas. The girls who live in my house are brave, and a bit wild, and a lot noisy.
So I guess it makes sense that the girls who live in my house are interested in reading books with adventurous female characters in them. Books about girls who aren't afraid to find their own way, to break the rules and who definitely are not afraid of boys.
Recently my friend Bron, Maxabella Loves, sent me a book that her clever sister A.L. wrote. Even though it is a book aimed at upper primary school aged kids, I read it in one night. Even though I knew at the time I was risking exhaustion the next day, I could not put it down.
The Mapmaker Chronicles is filled with adventure. It is full of interesting characters, mythical sea creatures, drama, and emotion. From the website:
The King is determined to discover what lies beyond the known world, and has promised a handsome prize to the ship's captain who can bring him a map of the whole globe. To do that, they'll need mapmakers - and 14-year-old Quinn is shocked to be one of the chosen.
While his older brothers long for adventure, Quinn is content with a quiet life on the farm, but when word of his special talent gets out, he has no choice but to pack his bags and join the mismatched crew of slaves and stowaways on board the Libertas. The other competitors will do anything to win, but the greatest danger may come from the strange sea monster hot on their tail or the mysterious unchartered lands for which they are bound.I really loved this book and highly recommend it to other nine+ year olds (and their Mum's too).
But I really do have to tell you that my favourite part of this whole thing was when I read on Bron's Facebook page that she'd spent the past month reading a chapter a night to her kids. And her kids LOVED the book and were sad when they came to the end. But only once they did come to the end did their Mum tell them that their auntie Al was the author. Imagine that! Your very own auntie the author of your very favourite book. So cool!!
I have am thrilled to announce that Hachette, publishers of The Mapmaker Chronicles, would like to give away one copy of the book to one of you guys. Yay! Please leave a comment below telling me something about the adventurous girls in your life or your favourite adventurous girls in fiction and I'll choose a winner early next week.
Until then I hope your dreams are sweet tonight.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Late yesterday afternoon while visiting one of our hives we watched a bee hatching.
It had been one of those messy mornings when the girls wanted to do anything else but farming and be anywhere else but outside, and I felt disappointed and took it personally and found it difficult to give up the idyllic picture I'd had in my head of how we'd spend the day. But eventually I did give up and after an hour or so of broad-bean picking and shelling, we went our three separate ways; one into town, one to my parents' house and us three to visit the bees.
Even though we've had our own bee hives now for a few years, I still mostly feel like a beginner bee-keeper. It's like when we put on our suits, light the smoker and crack open the first hive, we enter a whole other world. And even though I'm not really scared of being stung, I am constantly aware of doing the right thing by the bees. Often I don't even realise until we come home and get our bee gear off how filled with adrenaline I've been. Bees are buzzy and their hives vibrate with activity and by opening them up we are exposing them and you can feel their tension. And we've noticed that different hives seem to have different personalities. We have one particular one that always feels frantic while some of the others are much calmer.
Late yesterday afternoon we visited one of our calmer hives. We cracked open the lid, slowly pulled out a few frames to see what was going on, and on one of the frames closer to the centre we found a bee hatching out of its cell.
It was such an incredible experience to see it nibble its way out of the capping. First came the feelers, waving around and then the head. After a bit more wriggling it went back inside and turned around and tried again from a different direction. And then the whole bee wandered out. A brand new, light grey coloured bee.
What a buzz!! It felt like such a privilege watching that bee's story unfold.
All three of us were so excited about what we had just witnessed as we closed the hive up, collected the honey frames we had swapped from another hive and drove up to the house.
And later on as I heard Miss Pepper tell the story of the hatching baby bee first to her grandparents and then to each of her sisters, I realised that it was OK that they hadn't wanted to come along. This is their world, they are SURROUNDED by bee keeping and veggie growing and bio dynamic stirring on all sides. It makes sense that they need some time out, that they need to find their own passions, and it makes sense that they just want to socialise on their weekends too. I just hope Miss Pepper remains our farm loving, animal cuddling, bee-keeping girl for many years to come.
Check out this link if you want to see some great pictures and info about the bee's life cycle.
And may your news be good news.
Lots of love
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Hello! How are you dear friend. I was wondering if you might like to join me on a quick skip through my past week that was. I know it's a little self indulgent but it was a gorgeous week and I'd really like to catch it before it flitters off in the wind.
So here we go, this past week;
I visited a family with their new baby girl Holly, not even 19 hours old.
I sliced my thumb open on a pair of secateurs.
I saw blood clot and was impressed at my body, but not so much by the sight.
I woke up one year older.
I thought a lot about what a wonderful place right now is to be.
I threw a little, last minute birthday breakfast in our garden and hired a coffee van. During the party I was serenaded by my family, the girls singing and Bren on the ukulele, on the steps of the cubby-house.
I wrote an article for one of my fave magazines.
I sucked honey out of honeycomb that we stole from the roof of one of our hives.
I started reading my first ever e-book - My Year Without Matches - which I am really enjoying, but still missing turning the pages.
I spent two whole days not knitting due to my cut thumb.
I sent the girls to school with yesterday's plaits due to my cut thumb.
I read through the 102 Clover crochet hook entries and loved every single one. I love how crochet unties us, calms our busy minds and enables us to make pretty gifts from scratch for ourselves and other people in our lives. Eventually I chose Dre at No Frills Mum because her story touched me. Dre please email me your postal details and I'll get gorgeous Renae to mail you your hooks ASAP.
I thought a bit about how cool it would be to run a yarn store like Yarn Haus and how we should support Renae by buying our yarn from her because she is brave and living her dreams and sourcing some really gorgeous yarns.
I spent an afternoon without house water when farmer Bren ploughed through a pipe.
I cleaned up another Mother's child's poo in our bathroom without any water (of course it happened when I had none).
I knitted a hedgehog Softie for Mirabel.
I did half of Indi's painting homework.
I remembered that I'm not such a great painter.
I remembered that I love couscous.
I felt overwhelmed and honoured and thrilled by all the birthday messages and calls and love.
I ate my first mango of the season.
I visited a bio dynamic sheep farm and fell more in love with wool.
I accumulated 246 unread emails.
I accumulated a kitchen table full of beautiful birthday flowers.
I donated to our community's Clay Space project.
I listened to this song and watched this film so many times and felt more than a little bit proud of our Indi, Tim and Geoffrey.
I think that's all the main points. I'll probably think of more once I press publish.
I have to now, my farmer boy is teaching the girls to make fire with a magnifying glass and I don't want to miss out.
So how about you?
What have you been up to this past week dear friends?
Tell me three or four things in the comments if you like, I'd love to know.
I hope you have the most wonderful weekend.
Love Kate xx