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Month: September 2013

Farm Week Day 1 – To the orchard

Farm Week Day 1 – To the orchard

This weekend, after canning 17 1/4 litres of tomatoes, I declared this week a farm week.  I realised that there was more to do than I could do on the afternoons and evenings and the weekend had already crammed in lard making, gardening, laundry, dog walking, tomato collecting, tomato processing and canning as well as the regular home stuff.  Not enough hours in the day about covers it.

So instead of fighting it I decided that this week is a farm week.  We have a couple of outside homeschool activities this week (science club and a woodworking workshop) but I won’t be teaching this week.  Instead I’m going to focus on making use of the tomato crop that we’ve managed to get this year in our constant battle against the elements.  It is going to be a struggle as the weather is still against us but I’m determined to make it work!

orchard-0037 orchard-0038 orchard-0040So this morning, with 3 kilos of green tomatoes salted and waiting in my stock pot, we headed off in search of one ingredient we don’t (currently) produce ourselves, apples.  Lucky for us we didn’t have to go far, our local orchard is just 6 minutes away which is a perfect distance on a chill September morning.

The lady who owns and runs the orchard greeted us with cheer and enthusiasm, lifting our spirits even further.  She offered us the option of collecting perfect windfall apples for only $24 a bushel (that’s a LOT of apples!) and I admit I jumped at the chance with a winsome lack of shame.  After all I have two young children perfectly suited to hunting around under apple trees in the sunshine, a fabulous combination of botany and physical education to get the day off to a roaring start.

orchard-0039orchard-0041 orchard-0042As we scrabbled around under the trees in search of perfectly formed windfalls, the day got warmer and warmer.  We shed our layers as we brought our treasures again and again to our large bushel basket, holding them up like dew dipped jewels.  We couldn’t have been prouder of ourselves if we’d found a real dragon hoard, left abandoned under the dappled shade of the apple trees.

orchard-0043 orchard-0044 orchard-0047The boys took a well earned rest in the sunshine, munching on a couple of scrumped apples while I basked in the unexpected break in the clouds and contemplated all the delicious possibilities my bushel of apples might bring.  Of course a good batch of farmhouse chutney for which I am internationally famous (that’s a lie), as well as many gallons of apple sauce for the Neirin monster, some frozen pie fillings and fresh pies too and perhaps even a little apple juice to soothe our tired selves after a couple more hours of tomato gathering later this week.

Who knows, dear reader, who knows what the days might bring.  The possibilities glimmer like the shining dewdrops on the apple skins we plucked from the soft bosom of grass onto which they has slowly tumbled, each one turning in the sunshine to reveal it’s myriad faces of dreams and melting maybe futures.  But I do know this, whatever else this busy farm week may contain it will most assuredly contain apples.

Breathing Space

Breathing Space

This week we had the joy of hosting our science club at the farm.  We were doing a botany and tincture making day so it was perfect to have people here where there was plenty of room to spread out and plenty of plantain to tincture!

The children and parents roamed the fields and woods collecting leaves and flora, with so much space we never felt crowded and we were blessed with the most beautiful mild, sunny September day.  The whole event felt like a lovely gift, the chance to share our home with friends and watch our children soaking up learning as naturally as breathing.  breathing space-9962 breathing space-9963 breathing space-9964 breathing space-9968After the fun and frolics of botany learning, friends playing, mums chatting and the buzz and energy that comes from spending time with good friends, quiet fell over the house.  The boys tried to settle to their own quiet activities as I tidied round but none of us could find our groove.  I knew we needed to head outside again, to walk in the sunshine and fresh air just us, our family.

breathing space-9965breathing space-9969 breathing space-9971We scooped Winnie up and took ourselves off into the fields, roaming under the kind of blue sky that only seems to happen in the autumn.  The boys and the dog ran free as I strolled along behind, absorbing the warm breezes and soft scents blossoming up from the bountiful grasses.

I adore having friends over and the boys couldn’t be happier running rampant with their pals.  But there is something about the landing afterwards, when it’s just us in our own space without the distraction of other people, that can feel a little rocky.  It can leave us feeling scratchy and out of sorts.

breathing space-9977 breathing space-9978breathing space-9972Walking along our familiar path, but finding new treasures and fun along the way, returned us all to ourselves.  I felt that after so much outward energy, teaching our friends about our farm and connecting over lunch and laughter, I needed to take a deep breath in.  The rest of the afternoon tottered along in it’s own rhythm, with cooking, tidying, making and playing all happening alongside each other.  Nothing too exciting, nothing majorly of note but just what was needed .  Just the things that make up home.

 

Morning Walks

Morning Walks

My friend asked me yesterday if I still experience the same enjoyment of where we live or if, after waking up here each day for nearly two years, the excitement has worn off a little.

morning-0017 morning-0018 morning-0022 morning-0023I thought about it a lot as I did my morning chores along with the sunrise, marvelling as each new turn brought a fresh view of golden autumn morning.  Following Winnie on her early constitutional I was afforded such beautiful moments, glimpses of perfection that my heart was lifted and fit to bursting.

morning-0026 morning-0028 morning-0029

There is something so special about this first hour of the day, this beginning time when anything is possible.  Living here, with the sky stretched out above me and the fields rolling away into the golden glow, it is easy to forget the troubles of the world and even those I carry around with me; a heavy bag that slips from my shoulders as I marvel at the simple sights of natural beauty that shift with each step.

morning-0032 morning-0034 morning-0035As our walk comes to a close I laugh at Winnie emerging from her morning ‘bath’ in the pond, the steam rising around making it look like an expensive spa.  I walk slowly along, in no rush for this time to end, enjoying the crisp air, the sunshine peeking through the hedge tinting everything with a bronze glow.  I breathe the air and watch the last few stars in the sky wink out, over taken by the stretching sun of a beginning day.

So in answer to my lovely friend’s question, do I love it as much as I ever did?  Of course the answer is yes, every day and more tomorrow.  And that is a good thought to start the day on.

Labour Day

Labour Day

It’s sort of ironic that labour day is a holiday because around these here parts it meant, well, labour.  Yep there’s always lots to do on the farm and with school starting tomorrow there was a flurry of activity.

While I could wax lyrical about my homeschool filing system with extra nourishing coloured dividers, I will instead focus on the real hard graft that went on here today.  It was a wood fest people, the likes of which our corner of the world has never seen before.  Stephen and our wonderful neighbour got their chainsaw on in epic style.  Wood was chopped, logs were rolled, sweat was…sweated.  It was manly.

labour-9776 labour-9777 labour-9778 labour-9782In just 4 hours two determined chaps and their chainsaws turned a big pile of tree trunks into logs, logs that can now be split, stacked and dried ready for the winter to come.  Ready to be burned in our furnace and wood stove, keeping us warm through the cold nights to come.

Despite the sticky hot weather we’ve had this week the calendar tells us that time is ticking on.  The nights are drawing in, reminding us that the seasons will change and that the cold will come once again.  This winter, thanks to the hard work of these two chaps (and a couple more days including yours truly), there will be no wood chopping and splitting, just wood burning in the cosy safety of our home.

labour-9783 labour-9785 labour-9789Today was a busy day, a busy day in a busy week during a busy season.  That is the life we’ve chosen for ourselves, one that doesn’t include a lot of leisure time, not by today’s standards anyway.  But the work is part of what makes this life so wonderful and meaningful for us.  It is work that doesn’t just disappear into the ether, benefiting someone else somewhere else, it is benefitting us, here.  It is quantifiable and makes our lives better, it’s hard to argue with those kinds of results.

As we move into the fall season we are seeing many things come to a close.  Projects are being finished, animals are living out their final weeks, plans for winter are in the forefront of our minds.  We are so conscious of each season here, of what it brings and what it takes for us to be ready.  Each year we are a little more prepared, a little more ahead.  Last year we chopped wood right into the spring, it was a tiring and cold chore but one that had to be done.  This year we can look forward to a prepared woodpile that we simply have to walk out to and haul into the house, that feels like quite a luxury.  A luxury paid for by the work of two chaps on this labour day.