Storms and Apples on the Farm

lap of apples

It’s so good to be back writing here again after an extended break to write my history book. It is done and dusted now, the launch taking place in less than two weeks! Lots of excitement about that. 🙂

It’s been a stormy sort of January with wild winds and skies full of dark brooding clouds. Sometimes the storms bring a cool reprieve from stifling heat and others bring sweltering humidity along with them.

goats in the grass

Whatever form they take, I do love a good storm. The rains have been such a gift, turning our parched, dry land into a lush oasis of waist high grasses perfect for hungry Kalahari goats.

Our Maremma dog, Apollo, has turned from a cuddly puppy into a wonderful guard for our Kalahari goat stock. He is a second mother to all the babies, licking them clean, babysitting while their Mums go off for a much-needed break and a good feed. We adore him.

Maremma guarding goats

When I can I like to take a break from house, farm, and writing work to sit in the grass with my dog Luna and watch the storms roll in over the hills and above the bush. The wind feels so good, and the reprieve from fierce sunlight is luscious. Luna loves it as much as I do, dashing back for pats and ear-scratches in between lizard hunting around fallen logs.

sitting in the grass

Stormy days are also good for my artwork, wood-burning, since it’s too hot during regular summer days. It’s so nice to curl up in a cozy chair with my tools, listening to audio books or chatting with Bear while I work. I’ve started a new line of cutting boards and can’t wait to have them in the shoppe ready for sale.

cutting board

We just harvested the first apples from our newly planted orchard, and that was so exciting. They’re only babies, too small and too few to do much with them, but they taste delicious and give us a hint of bounty to come in the years ahead. I’m excited about future days of using our apples for juicing, baking, canning, and making hard cider.

lap of apples

We finished fencing in the apple orchard and erected the arches needed for bird netting, and soon we will get the netting up to protect our precious trees from marauding wildlife. In the meantime, our Muscovy ducks are doing a splendid job keeping the weeds down and fertilizing the ground.

I’ve learned that in farming, everything worth anything takes a long time and a lot of work, but it’s always worth it. Bit by bit we get closer to self-sufficiency with orchards, gardens, eggs, meat animals, and all that sort of thing. It’s hard work, but we love it.

freshly picked apples

What are you excited about at your house this season? xo

The Year of the Farmer and One Year in Australia

Toowoomba cow art

Until this week I had no idea that this year was Year of the Farmer in Australia.

I discovered this when my friend Sharon insisted that my friend Ann and I visit something called “cow art” as we drove home from Toowoomba.

Not knowing what we were in for, we followed the signs until we arrived, jaws dropping at the sight of hundreds and hundreds of decorated cows filling an empty pasture.

We burst out laughing, hauled out our cameras and had a merry stroll among the cows, oohing and aahing over the amazingly creative designs.

As I saw one message after another: “protect our farms” “cows create careers” it made me proud, very proud to be a farmer here in Australia.

Toowoomba cow art

I realized anew just how important farmers are to the survival of a nation. They provide the bulk of our meat, milk, flour, vegetables and fruit, among other things.

It also renewed my desire to be as self-sufficient as possible.

When I arrived in Australia almost exactly one year ago, I was an utter novice in all things gardening, self-sufficiency and animal husbandry. I was scared of the chickens, reticent with the goats, and completely overwhelmed by my garden.

I feared I was doomed to failure. 🙂

But a year down the track I am a different woman.

I’m not in the least afraid of our animals and can dive to catch a wriggly baby goat or snatch a chook by the legs to carry him to a different pen. I can make up my own recipes and bake bread with nary a flicker of self-doubt. And I’m not scared of my garden anymore.  I manage it now, instead of it managing me. 🙂

It feels great. 🙂

This week on the farm we’re experimenting with providing huge bales of hay for the goats to nibble on, as opposed to tossing biscuits of hay into their pens at the end of each day. So far it’s working great and saves me a bit of work each day.

We’ve welcomed a new puppy to our family. Her name is Frejya, a Maremma, and she is the shy but lovely sister of Apollo and Solar. She fits in beautifully. 🙂

maremma pups and goats

I’m also gardening up a storm. At the moment I’m resting my dirt-covered, scratched and bruised self after spending the morning digging holes in rock-infested soil to plant trees, climbing vines and a rose bush. No doubt my back will be hollering at me in the morning, but it feels GREAT to have started my orchard/flower garden. 🙂

We’ve had some very hot weather the last few days and everything is flourishing so long as I run around watering profusely. 🙂 I love the sweet little violets, the feathery fennel stalks pushing up through the straw, and my wondrous miniature rose bush that is positively bursting with blooms.

violets and roses

It’s been a wonderful first year in Australia, and I’m looking forward to many, many more. 🙂

What is keeping you busy at your house?