It’s a quiet and sunshiny morning on our farm. Our resident tawny frogmouths have gone back to bed after hunting through the night, perched just outside the hollow where their clutch of eggs is hiding. They blend in so perfectly with the branches of the huge gum tree, that it’s a game for Bear and me to find them every day.
I’ve learned that life on a farm is a mix of inspiring beauty, simple pleasures, and gutting loss. Newborns and fresh produce and breathtaking sunsets go arm in arm with devastating hail storms, flooding, and death. This week a fox, or two, dug a hole under the chicken yard fence and went on a rampage, killing everything in sight. Only one turkey and four chickens survived. We were so sad, yet also thankful for the plucky survivors, including our favourite hen who hid for two days before showing up at the gate ready for some lunch. We were so happy to see her alive and well.
We mourned the loss, then took a deep breath and moved on, making the most of a bad situation. We’ve been wanting to shift the birds into new pens so we could plant the old ones with all sorts of greens they love to eat, then cover with specially made elevated grates Bear designed which will allow the birds to have access to fresh grasses and plants without being able to scratch out the roots. Now we don’t need to shift the birds, and can plant nearly all the pens right away. They will be lush and green when it’s time to rebuild our flock, providing them with a constant source of nutritious foraging.
We also get to plan our new flock, choosing the varieties we want most, and bringing them home as we find them. I’m so excited about that. I love going to farms and acreages, choosing the birds to join our little family.
Amidst the loss there is much good. I took the last week to spend more time looking after us. Making sure we’re getting enough rest and relaxation, ensuring “we” don’t get lost amidst projects and tasks. It’s been lovely. We’ve been watching French cooking dvds while we eat breakfast, getting thoroughly inspired with delectable ways to use the foods we grow and raise. We’ve turned errands into dates, making an animal feed run an excuse for lunch at a bakery and a gorgeous drive in the country. We’ve taken naps and sat around the campfire with dear friends, getting our bodies and hearts revived and restored.
Personally it’s been good too. Getting in bed early each night so I can read a bit before sleep has done wonders for cutting down on nightmares. Choosing light-hearted fare – Amelia Peabody, Phryne Fisher, Enid Blyton – gives my brain happy things to focus on and ensures a much better sleep. There’s something about feisty heroines and adventurous children that put my heart and mind in a good place.
My gardens continue to bring me much joy. This incredibly warm Autumn has plants and fruit trees all mixed up. I’ve been harvesting peas for weeks and our apple trees are flowering. Tomato plants are popping up everywhere and my elderflower hedge is getting blossoms again. Winter is only a week away, but you’d never know it with all the Spring growth everywhere.
Yesterday I spent an entire afternoon outside. Pure bliss. I dug new garden beds and transplanted rainbow chard and Red Russian kale, and planted caraway and meadowsweet. The radishes, coriander, red onion, purple carrots, and leeks I planted earlier are all sprouting beautifully. Striped eggplants, capsicums, and chilies continue to produce, and I’ve been harvesting purple-topped turnips, sugar snap peas, and snow peas nearly every day. Beetroots and red carrots are nearly ready to harvest, and romaine, mustard greens, and silverbeet are getting bigger and bigger.
My herbs are thriving after the good rain we had last week. I’ve started making borage tea and will be adding it to our apple wine to see if it really does give courage like medieval people believed. I made a huge vat of comfrey tea yesterday, and will let it ferment for the next while until it’s ready to pour over my gardens and give everything a good feed. I’ve been shoveling manure and hauling straw for mulch, lugging bags of feed and picking up trash a naughty dog scattered hither and yon. It feels so good to be outside, sun on my shoulders, wind in my hair, geese, dogs, and goats coming to see what I’m up to.
Today is a writing day and I’m looking forward to it. I’m tucked up in bed with a view of trees and blue sky, ready to spin sentences and string together paragraphs, edit photos and submit articles. It’s going to be good.
How are you taking care of yourself this week? xo