Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A day

Today was an exceptionally average day. I don't mean average in the way that it's often used to mean "not great" (quite the opposite in fact) but in the sense that today was a day like so many of our days here on the farm. When I think of today, I feel peaceful and full of joy.

Lots of people - friends, family, and strangers alike - often comment on how hard our life seems. It's true that we do forego many of the creature comforts most people in the west take for granted, like internal plumbing, for example. But these 'sacrifices', for us, generally have a flip side, like experiencing the surprising and immense joy of things like bathing and doing the dishes outside. It's also true that many of the things we do take for granted, like carrying 20kg barrels of water and bags of feed over several hundred metres, several times a day, may seem a lot like hard work, but the work keeps us strong, and means we don't have to go to a gym to get our daily exercise.

So what does an exceptionally average day on Autumn Farm look like?

Pearl, Oski and I rose at around 6.30 (a little later than usual) and set to work tending to the animals - letting the chickens out, letting the dogs off, making sure everyone has food and water. It was an overcast morning, but we could see the sun trying to bust through the clouds. We cheered it on, for the chickens' sake - they've had enough dampness these last few days.

When we returned to the homestead, Olive had woken up and was reading in bed in the loft. We made tea and hot water with lemon, and the kids had spelt pikelets with the last of the preserved blackberries from last summer for their breakfast. We packed lunchboxes (leftover veggie dumplings, more pikelets and fruit) and Pearl headed off for her day's work cooking at a cafe in town.

The kids played wild games with the dogs as I did the dishes, and then Olive got the bus to school.

With the 'morning rush' over and done with, Oski and I set to work on the important business of sewing  and harvesting and preparing food, which took up the rest of the day.

I made 3 skirts for the Mumbulla spring fair, and a bolero for my friend Genna (she's making me a hat as a trade!), sitting at the big table outside where we do pretty much everything, while Oski played around me, making 'jam' from some mulberries he'd picked. 
My dad came over to chop up some firewood for us, and we chatted, he played with Oski, and helped me to move the chicken houses and top up food and water before heading off.
Around lunch time, Oski and I harvested 2 massive bowls of broad beans. We sat together at the table and shelled them, then blended half of them with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, grated parmesan and mint to make a broad bean pesto, one of our favourite springtime treats, which will provide snacks and lunches for the next few days. The other half we reserved for our dinner. We then dined on a pretty random but delicious luncheon of broad bean pesto, leftover chicken, kimchi straight from the jar, fruit, nuts and the last of the pikelets.
Our appetites sated, we once again did the rounds of the chickens, played with the dogs, admired the new ducklings in the orchard, and tended to the 5 day old chicks in the brooder house.
A few days ago Pearl's dad had caught us a massive salmon, which was to be our dinner. Inspired by one of our favourite cookbooks, Moro East, we stuffed it with fennel, lemon and parsley, wrapped it in foil, and set it on the barbecue to cook. As the most delicious smells started wafting from the cooking fish, we headed into the orchard to take out the compost, admire the babies again, and collect many many eggs.

The afternoon is maybe my favourite time of the day for wandering and looking, and it was especially beautiful today given the weird mix of sunshine, big black clouds and enormous, intermittent raindrops.

And then Pearl and Olive came home, and much catching-up and storytelling, pesto-tasting, kissing and cuddling ensued. Final dinner preparations (cous cous with broad beans and yoghurt dressing and a simple cabbage coleslaw) were made as children played and water was delivered to the chickens.
Dinner was, as always, chaotic and rowdy and delicious. We're all pretty exhausted by this time of the day, but it's also a joyful catch-up time, especially on days like today where we've each been doing our own things. Meal times are possibly the times we feel most rich, because we feast so well on a bounty of home-made and home-grown goodness that is almost ridiculous, looking out over our beautiful valley, listening to the birds and, tonight, watching the kangaroos. It's hard not to feel blessed when your meal-times look like that and home made chicken liver pâté and fresh broad bean pesto are your go-to staples.

After dinner was Oski's 'pretend birthday', complete with a sand cake and pass the parcel presents.

The light was starting to fade as we got Oski ready for bed, and he and I retired to the loft for stories and cuddles and sleep, while Pearl and Olive locked up all the chickens and delivered the dogs to their night-time chook-guarding posts.

In all, I'd say that from wake-up time to sleep time, we spent a total of about 15 minutes inside the house. It was a lovely, average day, and I wouldn't swap the hard work for all the creature comforts in the world.

How was your day?


  1. Your average day sounds very lovely. And I am in awe at the graceful way your family lives without the usual modernities :-) The weather has been strange hasn't it! Keeps flipping back and forth here between blue and sunny then the darkest grey with sharp rain and fierce wind. Wishing for some days of sun to dry the sheets!

  2. What may be an average day to you sounds like a weekend day to me, minus the tramping hundreds of meters. My garden and livestock (chickens fore eggs, and one day meat chickens I hope!) is all on a suburban block, so my tramping is in the 10s of meters.
    The garden tending, livestock checking, and general garden meandering exist in the pre and post work times for me, sadly. One day I plan to move out country and have my own few acres, but it won't be happening for a few years yet. Thanks for allowing me to live vicariously through your day. It just makes me more sure that that's what I want in my life, one day.

  3. Sounds like a lovely day, in fact I'm a little bit jealous!

  4. Wow that about describes my idea of a perfect day. Some days are like that in our suburban plot and they are my favourite. Generally on those days we cook and eat around the fire too. Today I spent most of my day at the computer with the sustaining knowledge that those kinds of days for me are almost finished!

    I had my hand in the sheep poo bin on the weekend, potting some basil seedlings, and realised I was smiling and thinking ' I love sticking my hand in this poo bin.......' !!! I would love it even more if it were our own sheep donating the poo! But you have to start somewhere don't you.


  5. I love it that you love it, and that's why you're family are just so lovely to be around. Lots of love :)

  6. Sounds like heaven. Country life is wonderful. Cannot wait to take a look at this lovely part of the world!
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. What a delightful way to spend your day, thanks for sharing. The simple life is also our dream and is what we are working towards too so thanks for all the inspiration :)

  8. I have really enjoyed your lovely blog. The pictures are like eye candy.