Tag Archives: rural life

So this is Christmas….

I was listening to the iconic John Lennon song ‘Happy Xmas – War is Over’ while celebrating Christmas Eve with my chicks and my parents here in our rural nest, and realised that, in answer to the question ‘And what have you done?’ I have a long list on some topics and a very short and bare one on others.     Maintaining this blog would fall on the latter list and yet I am still loathe to let it go. (In fact I just paid all the invoices to renew my web-hosting for another year just this evening!)

So what have I done?    This year has been a year of consolidation with life in the country. Our little flock of 5 sheep grew to 17, and we have enjoyed some lovely lamb meals as a result.  Our flock of chickens shrank from 14 to 6 and our egg production increased as a result!   Go figure!   We started the year with two dogs and ended with two dogs, but sadly not the same two.  Dottie the crazy terrier has survived to deafen us with her barks but after a couple of unusual and serious illnesses we lost Milo the Labrador in November.     In December we welcomed Buddy the kelpie and he is settling in well, but has not replaced Milo in my boy’s affections.

We adopted a resuce dog, Buddy the Kelpie, in December 2016.

We adopted a resuce dog, Buddy the Kelpie, in December 2016.

On a business level the year started well with me doing lots of sewing for the Shop Handmade, and lots of consulting for a new business venture.  By the end of the year the sewing was non-existent and I had to pull back from all the consulting as I was facing burn out again and didn’t want to head back down that path.   I live in hope that I will return to consulting and sewing in 2017, but we will see.

Our flock of sheep includes two sets of twin lambs born in late October.

Our flock of sheep includes two sets of twin lambs born in late October.

The family front is where the hardest work has been focused.   My boy has continued to struggle with mainstream schooling, and with his frustrations turning into aggression and violence. As we end the year I still don’t have answers on the school question but am comfortable that, after 4 separate hospital admissions I am on top of managing his behaviour, and that he is on the right combination of medications.   He is 10 now (I know – where did that baby boy go?) and is incredibly articulate, intelligent and compassionate, but also demanding and exhausting.    My girls have also had a rough year with the constant stress of living with this stress taking it’s toll on them.  I have found an excellent team of professionals to help support them and am sure we will get through this but the combination of all their needs saw me stepping away from the small amount of work I was doing and trying to be as present as possible for all three of them.  My artist-in-residence finished primary school with her art chosen for the cover of the yearbook, and my eldest chick has found her groove and her tribe at school and brought home some great feedback on her school report.

2016 has been tough.  In our home and in many other homes across the world.  I don’t think that there is any particular magic in a new year changing social attitudes, or the way an autistic child’s brain works, but I am hopeful that the 6 week school holiday break will give us all a chance to recharge, refocus and rebuild some of our battered resilience.   In the meantime I have gone back to the basics.  I have been sewing for the love of creating, not for work.   There are handmade pyjamas appearing under several family Christmas trees this year, there is a queen sized patchwork quilt that is almost, but not quite, finished for my eldest chick to receive in the morning under the tree, and there is hand embroidery on another gift after my discovery of the joys of sashiko (Japanese embroidery) earlier in the year.  My plan is to work on small personal projects for a while, then to get back to designing and making on a business level when I am ready.

My gorgeous mother helping me to pin the quilt sandwich together before tackled machine quilting it - perhaps choosing a queen size quilt for my first self-quilted quilt was a tad ambitious!

My gorgeous mother helping me to pin the quilt sandwich together before tackled machine quilting it – perhaps choosing a queen size quilt for my first self-quilted quilt was a tad ambitious!

I hope that your Christmas and New Year is spent with people you love, who cherish you for who you are, and that you have a chance to recharge and rebuild before the next year sweeps us away into everyday life again.  From my nest to yours, Merry Christmas. xx

An end of year wrap up

I have been very quiet here over the last few months, although still using Instagram and Facebook.  I think social media goes in cycles – sometimes it is about the story, sometimes it is about the image and sometimes it is about the conversation.   It seems timely, then, when the year is about to roll over, to capture a bit of the last 12 months in story, image and conversation!  (All this without sending anyone to sleep. Hmmm….can I rise to the challenge?!)

This year was a big year for my little family with our move to a new nest and rural life.  At this point (days away from the 12 month mark) I can honestly say that I do not regret the move at all.  There are days when yet another drive into town makes my heart sink, but for the most part even the commute (20 minutes to most places I need to get to) is extremely civilised!  We now have 12 hens, 5 sheep, 2 dogs and 4 goldfish.

We bottle fed Poh Poh from when she was about 6 hours old and all fell in love with her.

We bottle fed Poh Poh from when she was about 6 hours old and all fell in love with her.

We welcomed Milo into the household to join Dottie the crazy terrier. He gets a lot of cuddles.

We welcomed Milo into the household to join Dottie the crazy terrier. He gets a lot of cuddles.

We leased one of our paddocks to the neighbours so we also get to enjoy their horses.  The gardens are beautiful and my parents do a lot of work to maintain them (I say guiltily!)  We named the property as a birthday gift for my Dad (who is a Deacon) and the same friend who made the sign also made a custom ordered signpost for the garden as a gift for both of them.

The sign for our property made of jarrah from Western Australia by the very talented Michael from Wood and Wax Studios.

The sign for our property made of jarrah from Western Australia by the very talented Michael from Wood and Wax Studios.

The garden signpost with a few of the places my parents have lived marked on it!

The garden signpost with a few of the places my parents have lived marked on it!

Also on the family front we had a wonderful family gathering in September to celebrate my parents’ 70th birthdays – with two of my siblings, and 6 of their siblings, plus partners, along with lovely friends, joining us for about 4 days.  We have now established that the house can accomodate 9 extra people, and cope with two camper vans. It was a huge highlight for all of us.

In October we went camping after a (much too long) haitus.  It was perfect!

My favourite spot to camp. With this view from the kitchen, there is little to complain about!

My favourite spot to camp. With this view from the kitchen, there is little to complain about!

Big changes in the house included replacing the very, very, very busy carpet with something a little more neutral, and starting the mammoth task of painting.  With the newly opened Ikea store in town light fittings are next on the list!!

Before and after with the carpet replacement!

Before and after with the carpet replacement!

On the sewing front I have been busy. I had a two month break when I injured myself in an altercation with my boy, but returned and have been busy ever since.  For a woman who was intent on being a bag designer I seem to make an awful lot of baby products now – but they sell well, so I am not complaining!  After putting my on-line shop on vacation mode about a year ago, thinking it would be for a month or so, it is still not open.  The upcoming holiday period is a great opportunity for me to sit down and plan what the next year is going to look like – and how I am going to run my business is a big part of that.  I have developed a pile of new products over the last few months, including gift sets, teething blankies (with really soft bamboo velour backing), bibs that can have a dummy clipped to them, fabric covered journals, and a pile of Christmas decorations!  They have mainly been sold through Shop Handmade, with a few custom orders here and there.

A boxed gift set with blanket, bib and teething ring toy - part of my new product range.

A boxed gift set with blanket, bib and teething ring toy – part of my new product range.

Teething Ring Blankets with soft bamboo velour and cotton - they feel sooo nice!

Teething Ring Blankets with soft bamboo velour and cotton – they feel sooo nice!

Fabric covered journals for keeping all your notes looking good!

Fabric covered journals for keeping all your notes looking good!

I have also completed two very special custom orders for people who wanted cushion covers made using clothing that was special to a deceased grandparent, as gifts for their family.  It is a privilege to be entrusted with cutting up these garments that hold so many memories, in order to create a lasting momento.

These cushion covers were made from two shirts that my customer has kept of her grandmothers. I was able to keep the button detail of one shirt, and to add a strip of the fabric on each back too.

These cushion covers were made from two shirts that my customer has kept of her grandmothers. I was able to keep the button detail of one shirt, and to add a strip of the fabric on each back too.

Life with my chicks has had it’s ups and downs – as it always does, but as the year draws to a close there is a feeling that we might be making headway with some of my boy’s issues.  We had to change doctors and counsellors during the year when his both left town, and although it has been a drawn out process to get everyone up to speed we seem to be there now, and to be gaining extra support to assist in supporting him.   The girls have both grown a lot this year, in size and maturity, with the eldest chick even doing household chores without complaining!  Wonders will never cease!

I will spend the next few weeks thinking about what is next for this little bird, and my business and my family, and hopefully will appear here with a little more frequency than I have been!

I hope that this year has treated you kindly, that you have been loved and supported, and that the New Year brings joy, creativity and peace to you.

 

Rural update #489

Guess what?  It is still winter.  I know – who would have thought?   We are deep in the midst of the short days, frozen mornings, thick fogs, and wood fires.  There has been a significant investment in thermal underwear, ski jackets and gloves – and that is just for around the farm!  Although, much to the disappointment of the children we haven’t had heavy snowfalls on the property so far, there have been some in the area, and the snow on the mountains around the area certainly makes for icy winds.  It is that time of year when finding a spot in the sun, behind glass, warms your bones and makes it hard to leave.  And when the sun across the ground in the late afternoon makes everything glow golden.

Afternoon sun|a little bird made me

The number of livestock on the property has grown.  No more dogs (yet) although we have been introducing Dottie to a friend’s Labrador who is quite obliging and lets her be in charge and boss him around, so we will see how that goes.  No – we have progressed to horses. Even better – they aren’t ours!  We have leased our big paddock to our neighbours who have quite a few horses, and they are keeping some in the paddock (which helps keep the grass from simply feeding the kangaroos).  The artist-in-residence is beside herself with joy, and goes to visit them several times a day on the holidays and weekends, and every afternoon on school days.  She will have a riding lesson with the neighbours tomorrow and could not be more excited!  Dad has great plans for collecting the manure for the garden.  The boy thinks that he might learn to be a blacksmith so he can make horseshoes for them.  The eldest is a bit bemused by all the fuss, and  I just like the sound of gentle neighs and harrumphs across the night air when I am lying in bed – true country life!Horses|a little bird made me

The 11 chickens are now all sharing one coop and run, with little drama so far.  The white and black (unknown breed) speckled ones should start laying soon, which is good as our original brown girl is coming to the end of her laying life.  The shells of her eggs are getting more and more fragile and she only lays one every few days now, rather than one a day as she used to.  She is healthy and spritely though, so I am sure that there will be great debates about what should happen to her once she stops laying.  (Dad being practical and farmer like, and me being sentimental and protective like!)

The big news is that we are having a party to celebrate Mum and Dad’s 70th birthdays (which are about 6 weeks apart).  Apart from the obvious Pinterest frenzy that I have gone into (decorations, drinks, presents, signs, more decorations…..) it has also turned my mind far more sharply to re-decorating.  As I type I am sitting surrounded by swatches of carpet.  YES!  The ugly multi-coloured casino style carpet will be replaced soon!  I have found the carpet I want (seriously – anything with a 25 year guarantee on wear, stains, colour, etc will get me in) but the colour?  Boy that is a tough one!  And why is the carpet so important?  Because once we choose the carpet we can choose the paint for the walls……. etc, etc, etc!  Grey, beige, greige, mushroom, oatmeal, silverfern, koala, chirp – these are all names I have been considering. Really – what colour is ‘chirp’?

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I am not sure how much will actually get done before the party, but it has turned everyone’s mind to the topic.  The boy has asked to trial sleeping in the spare room to see if he likes it better than his room.  He wants dark blue walls, which to be frank is an improvement on his previous request for black.   The artist in residence has created her own Pinterest board with decorating ideas and has settled on a colour scheme (aqua, pale pink and gold).  We have spent quite a bit of time discussing how to best carry out her ideas.  (There will be recycling, freezer paper stencils, a staple gun, and fabric involved in the current iteration of the plan!)  The eldest is just desperately trying to avoid any suggestion that she might have to change rooms (hers is the biggest by far!)

We stayed home for the school holidays.  This time last year we had our spontaneous trip to Hawaii.  This year life and funds are significantly different, and the weather was horrid, so we stayed home.  We had friends come to visit, and family!  My nephew managed an evening with us whilst in town on a school trip (he lives on the other side of the country) and my cousin and his wife came to stay for a night, which was so much fun.  The kids caught up with friends, had pyjama days, and we played cards, watched movies, went to appointments, etc.

I took the artist-in-residence, the boy and one of his friends, to the theatre to see the Flying Fruit Fly Circus performance ‘Under the bed’ at the Canberra Theatre Centre.  (The eldest declaring that she was too old for such things.)  It was the first time I have taken the boy to the theatre and it was the perfect performance for it – it started at 6pm, and went for one hour.  He enjoyed it, although he and his friend talked non-stop through it.  Their commentary was amazing at times – where adults might cringe at a mistake like a dropped hula hoop they were marvelling that it was only one that had been dropped. At other times it had nothing at all to do with the show.  I tried to shush them without stressing them out but it had little effect. At the end of the performance the people in the row in front commented that they might be the two biggest chatterboxes in town, but it was mostly good natured.  I was a bit amazed at how I coped and didn’t let it stress me out.  I explained afterwards that they weren’t misbehaving – they were just coping with this new experience by talking it through.Theatre tickets|a little bird made me

By the end of the holidays I was exhausted, and sick.  Having the kids back at school was a relief on one level, as it meant that I could sleep and recuperate, but stressful on another level, as the boy has not coped with the return to school.  I am learning more each day about how to work with him, and by Thursday night had got to the bottom of what was bothering him, so today was actually a good day for him.  I feel like it is one step forward, two steps back at the moment, but then I look back at where we were a year ago, and have to recognise that we have come a long way.  Learning more about how his mind works, and how he interprets the world around him helps, but then trying to convey that to his teachers, my parents, his father, etc becomes exhausting.

For now though, carpet swatches and Pinterest boards are calling my name.  (Yep – its Friday night and I am partying hard here on the farm!)  I hope that you are well, and that your weekend is full of creative moments.

Oh – and if you want something to cheer you up and entertain you, check out the page called ‘My Awesome Life’ on Facebook.  Very clever stuff.

 

Rural update #258

I am guilty of making many hasty fast well-considered-rapid decisions. Some turn out spectacularly well. (Like buying this property). Others take a bit more time before their success or otherwise can be determined. Last week I made a decision that we needed a second dog (for reasons that seemed sensible upon examination). And within 48 hours was driving 2 hours to collect a rescue dog who was described as ‘medium’ in size and had all the attributes I was looking for. The idea was that he would ‘belong’ to my son, supported by me.

The ‘medium’ dog turned out to be more ‘extra-large’ sized but just delightful so we brought him home.

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All the way home I explained to the children, and my parents (via phone) how we would introduce our dog Dottie to the newcomer. Hmmmm….. A slight waste of good air. An excited child let Dottie out of the house just as I was getting Gunner (that is his name) from the car. She went into psycho-attack-terrier mode and flew at him and much screaming, hysteria and a bit of blood later two traumatised dogs were separated.

Much advice and strict rules being laid down by me means that one week on we are still keeping them separate- walking him multiple times a day while she is locked out of the way, etc. His size means that my son can’t walk him on his own, and isn’t really interested in training him. It is an extra job for me on top of all my other obligations. He can’t be let loose to roam because he is still learning not to chase kangaroos,the neighbours sheep, horses, cows. He can’t be left in the dog run because he just wants to be with us, so he jumps, all 4 legs off the ground, as high as the 1.8m high fence. And yet, despite all this, one week on, after many discussions between my parents and myself, we are still persisting in attempting to socialise the two dogs and to train Gunner (who is so food motivated that it is easy!)

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At first I thought it was my fear of failure that kept me from chucking it in and returning him, but now I realise that it is bigger than that. Even if we do have to re home him eventually he deserves a chance to be trained, loved, and cuddled. I enjoy my multiple long walks around the property with him each day. It is time to explore my land in more detail, to have time to clear my head, to think and plan. I had forgotten the joy of owning big dogs. (I used to have two.)They have to be walked. You can’t skip a walk because you don’t feel like it, or it is raining, or it is cold. And they can’t just be walked around the block. They have to be walked a long way. It is good for me to be out there going up and down hills again! Whether the two dogs ever become best friends or not, I am going to persist a little longer.

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In deciding to devote more time to him I had to assess my time and commitments. After a brilliant few weeks at school my boy has struggled this week, and been home early each day. I haven’t been seeing much, or spending time online sorting out ‘things’ I need to stay on top of. At first I was stressing about this. Then I remembered. Giving my children time is what life is all about. Breathing out and stepping through each day with that as my focus is okay.

Finally, what would a rural update be without photos of the chickens?!

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Rural update #879

This week of the school holidays has been busy with visitors, shopping to prepare for the winter school terms, and a few more visitors. It has also been rainy, windy and wet. But surprisingly that hasn’t stopped the children spending time outside!

The boy has been designing and building a fort under a tree near the dam. Each visitor who arrives is taken to examine the fort and assist in its further construction. On Wednesday there were three boys down there, sharpening sticks, building a shower (?!?!) and having a ball. The boy received a pocket knife as a gift from his father last week so it has been used for much of this activity. Which meant three boys with cuts that required band aids- but not a word of complaint from any of them!

Yesterday it was the boy and another friend out there for hours, and happy as larks! When her father came to collect her I noticed a bruise and cut near her eye. She calmly explained this had happened when she fell from a tree she was climbing. No hysterics, or even tears! This move to the country with space to have adventures is good for everyone!

It is also good for beautiful garden images!

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In between all of this I have been squeezing in some sewing and planning. Hopefully there will be photos of some new products to share in the next few days.

But for now it is time to sleep. Tomorrow is ANZAC Day, commemorating 100 years since troops fought at Gallipoli. It is a day where we remember and respect all those who served in the wars and in our defence forces, who fought to give us a life where kids can still be kids, and where climbing a tree and building a fort can happen.

Lest we forget.

Rural update #5346

I have been posting my completely random rural updates on my personal facebook page but realised that sharing them here could be fun.

Farm life is all about the glamorous clothing when it is first thing in the morning and animals need attention!
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Last night my chicks arrived home with chicks in a box, and this morning I actually got to see them!

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It is another cold wet day today so my boy and some friends are building a fort inside . They insisted on picking roses to decorate inside their tents, and have gathered all the trinkets they can find!

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Winter is coming!

It is cold and wet here on the farm today, so the fires are burning and cupboards are being examined for winter wardrobes. But the colours outside continue to be stunning!

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I have been tinkering with a little project over the weekend, along with nursing my dog who is having a slow recovery from her snake bite, and spending a morning drinking tea and catching up with an old friend. And now my chicks have returned from their trip s being inside with the fires going and listening to their adventures is the best place to be!

Stay warm friends and have a great start to the week!