Thursday, February 4, 2016

school's in

It might just be impossible to write the blog post I want to write this morning.

It's Thursday, Bren is probably on his way home from driving the girls to school and I'm alone at the kitchen table in what would be a silent house but for the hummmmm of the dehydrator. All week I've been thinking about how to tell this story from my perspective. How to tell of the early days of starting a new school but without giving any of the girls' personal feelings or anecdotes away.

A while ago, when my girls were not so little anymore, it occurred to me that I have to keep them out of this blog to respect their privacy and their rights to tell their own tales and develop into their own people. Mostly I think I have succeeded although there have been times when we've had to workshop certain issues as a family and come up with solutions that suit everyone. If I stick to my thoughts and feelings and happenings then generally I am safe.

Although I do want to keep to these self imposed rules, I must admit that the censorship means that I am mostly telling less than half of the story and leaving out the best bits.

I long to tell the truth about our experience of parenting adolescents and teens. I'd love to talk about the struggles, the solutions, the failures and the joys. These years have challenged me way beyond the newborn years, they have thrilled me, terrified me, made me scream, and laugh and feel more full of love than I ever thought possible. Maybe if you've been visiting Foxs Lane for a while you've read some of this between the lines. Maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. I wish I could document these years more openly and feel that cathartic feeling that pressing publish on a meaty post brings. I wish I could read your feed back and know that you're going through it too, or that you remember when you did, or offer me advice, or reading material.

But while I have chosen to have a public profile, while I have chosen to air my dirty laundry for anyone to see, they have not decided the same.

So the story of starting a new high school 50 minutes away from here, a school that until two days ago didn't exist, is told from the mother's perspective only. I'll use broad sweeping statements and tell little bits of the story but if you read between the lines you'll notice the beginnings of something sparkley.

So far the commute has been long but easily doable between the six of us. The different starting and finishing times feels annoying but eventually will surely become valuable social time or homework time. The fact that there is homework assigned still doesn't make sense to me. I'd much prefer them to work outside on the farm or play with their sisters or friends after a day spent in classrooms. But they are enjoying the introductions to their subjects and looking forward to the benefits that a creative arts based school can provide.

Socially, my sweet friend Cath put it best when she described it as turning up at the best party ever - but alone. But knowing my girls, they won't be the new girls for long.

So I guess that's it. Day three and my shoulders are starting to relax and my stress headache is disappearing. It's still early days but I'm feeling a little bit optimistic in our decision.

I know from my limited experience parenting adolescents that there is no such thing as a smooth ride. That there will be bumps and skids and headwinds. I'm just hoping that our girls feel creatively fulfilled. That they feel included and challenged and empowered and educated. I hope they walk out of class sometimes feeling like they are buzzing with the excitement of new knowledge and the big wide world opening up to them. That they feel empowered to change their minds and then change them back again. I hope they feel inspired to go to places they've never been and to stay up late at night reading everything they can about a certain subject. I hope they want to go to school most mornings. I hope they make strong, life long friends.

And I hope we can maintain some sort of Jarrah/Indi/Pepper/Kate/Bren/farm/home/community balance.

I have so many hopes.

Love Kate

Sunday, January 31, 2016

thirty first

So that was January hey.

We picked and ate cucumbers, lettuce, beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, rhubarb, apricots, plums, apples and zucchini from the garden.

I read Relativity by Antonia Hayes, Hope Farm by Peggy Frew, The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood, The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman and part of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I really liked them all but I loved Charlotte's and ML's the most.

Thanks for all of your awesome suggestions back on the 18th, I'm going to be working my way through them for ages.

I listened to A LOT of podcasts while I ran, weeded, picked and pickled cucumbers and watered the garden. My farmer boy had many conversations with himself before he realised I wasn't listening and in return he gave me many frights when I was deeply immersed in a story and turned around to find him standing right there.

I think we only went to the movies once to see The Nowhere Boys.

I listened to this podcast and became obsessed with fermenting.

We watched and LOVED Transparent and felt awful about Making A Murderer and now have no idea what we should watch next.

We did so much farm work, we hung out with the girls, we got new sheep, we pickled a million cucumbers, we did some jigsaw puzzles, we had friends over, we had our organic inspection, we hung out in Melbourne, we ran on the cross trainer, we celebrated some birthdays and we hung out with family.

We didn't really slow down as much as I'd hoped to but I guess that's just summer on a farm.

I knitted Indi a Peter Pan collar, a shawl, bits of my memory blanket, a beanie and a doll's cardigan that I haven't taken photos of yet.

And of course I blogged on 28 of the 31 days. Mostly very late at night, mostly just snippets of things going on that day, and mostly I loved it and remembered how fabulous blogging is for me.

I ended last year feeling a bit uncomfortable and negative about myself. I can't pinpoint the time when it began but I wasn't feeling very confident and I didn't really like the conversations that were going on inside my head a lot of the time. I feel like the blogging changed that. Something about the writing and photographing and expressing myself and getting your feedback shifted my mental state and I noticed after only a few days that I was feeling so much more positive and sure and kinder to myself.

It is possible of course that it was something else that caused the shift but I am a long time believer in the creativity cure so I'll stick to that.

And this is where I thank you guys. I always like to think that I'd write this blog no matter what, but I'm not so certain that that's true. You read my words and that's brilliant but you also inspire me, and teach me, and help me, and challenge me, and guide me, and that means the world to me. We really are a community. You guys really are the best and my life is so much richer with you in it.

And lastly, I read every single comment on my last post and as much as I'd love to give each of you the prize, and as much as I was looking forward to writing all of your names on little bits of paper and then randomly selecting one - I just realised that I have to send it to Sarah of Say Little Hen who has left me an insightful comment on every single post I have written this month. Thank you so much Sarah please email me your postal details and I'll get your package in the mail this week.

So here we go into February, the month I've been excited for and dreading for ages. Pepper starts school tomorrow and the big girls start their new school on Tuesday. Fingers crossed for a smooth transition.

And as far as blogging goes, I hope to post once but hopefully twice a week from here on in.

Wishing you guys a fabulous and creative and love filled Feb.

With love,


PS the photos were randomly snapped this afternoon.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

thirtieth - a giveaway

Oh my goodness you guys there is only one day left in January this year. Which means after this post there is only one post left in my blog-a-thon for this year. And one more day of our summer holidays for this year. Wow! Wasn't New Year's Eve like a couple of days ago, a week at most?

So I guess the most appropriate thing to do on the second last post is to give some stuff away. Just for fun. Kinda like a thank you for coming along for the ride and holding my hand and making me feel like I'm not alone in this crazy uncoordinated dance I'm doing.

The prize is made up of five parts;

  1. My book! It's called Vantastic: Retro holidays in the modern world and it's full of pictures and stories from the caravan trip we took up the centre of Australia and down the west coast a few years ago. There's loads of practical info, craft how-to's, recipes and heaps more fun stuff. If you like caravans and family and adventures - then this book is for you!
  2. That Dotty Angel dress pattern that I bought two of by accident. I still haven't made mine but hopefully you'll get yours off the cutting table, onto the machine and be wearing it before I've even opened the packet and chosen my fabric. And you'll look great in it of course.
  3. A couple of wash-cloths I crocheted.
  4. An apple carry bag that I screen printed.
  5. A copy of Slow Living magazine that includes an article I wrote about craft as therapy and the pattern for the wash-clothes above.
Cool?! Awesome.

To enter leave me a comment below telling me something you think I'd like to know. Simple.

You gotta be in it to win it folks. 

Big love,



Friday, January 29, 2016

twenty ninth

I hope you'll forgive me for being short and sweet tonight but I fear all the words have been used up in our house over the course of the past 12 hours or so. I'm exhausted, I'm tired of the questions, I'm tired of the demands, I'm tired of the whinging, I'm tired of the stories, I'm tired of the comparisons and I'm tired of being challenged all the time.

It's possible that it's me and that I slept badly last night because by 10am I was already pounding the cross trainer as a way to relieve stress.

It's possible that it's the result of waaaaay too many late nights and unstructured days.

It's possible that it's just something that happens as the end of the summer holidays draw near or perhaps it's the anxiety of the new school year looming.

It's possible that Miss Pepper was sick for a few days and is only now starting to recover.

I could go on...but like I said, too many words.

So let's just look at the pretty flowers and seeds and hope that tomorrow will be a happier, sunshinier, smilier new day.

Sorry for the grumps.


PS there are only two more every day blogs in January - wow!
PPS there are only six more posts until I hit 1,000 posts on this blog - WOW!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

twenty eighth - tom

So you guys have met our new sheep, our new kitten and now it's time for me to introduce you to our new Maremma pup, Tom. Tom is four months old and the son of a Maremma who was born here on our farm.

Tom lives with and looks after our chooks.

He also lives with his best buddy Bingo the Maremma.

And our four sheep, Mittens, Beanie, Socks and Cardigan.

He doesn't live with Miss Pepper but she certainly does spend a lot of time with him and with the sheep trying to get them to eat a cucumber or grain out of her hands.

Tom loves to run up and down his fence and bark like crazy if anyone he doesn't know comes by.

He's not too sure about the game where Pepper pretends to ride him.

And his favourite thing in the whole world, apart from dinner time, is a big tickle on the tummy.

Welcome Tom and thanks for doing such an awesome job.

And thank you guys for doing an awesome job of reassuring me that we'll be OK in the next stage of our family's life. Your messages were filled with such kindness and understanding and they mean the world to me. Your suggestions of talking books and podcasts and conversations will definitely be taken on board. And your personal stories of how your lives have changed, what's worked for you and what hasn't and your opinions on how best to tackle long commutes have made me feel like we are not alone in this and that it is definitely worthwhile. A little part of me is even getting excited.

I'd love to think that I'll get back to each of you either on my blog or in the message you sent to me, but realistically I may not so please consider this a massive THANK YOU!! You are wonderful and you never fail to hold my hand and walk with me down the track and I appreciate it beyond words. I have a whole blog post in my head about how important my blog and your feedback is to my life and this is a perfect example of how and why. So thank you again.

And goodnight from me and Tom and the rest of the crew here at Daylesford Organics.

We hope you have the sweetest dreams.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

twenty seventh

It's the twenty seventh day of the year and I'm sitting here with an anxious feeling in my tummy that won't go away. These photos don't really have anything to do with my anxious feeling except that when I look at them they tell the story of a simple life and my anxiety is that I'm about to lose all of that. I feel like our family potato picking days are numbered. That things are about to get crazy.

From next Tuesday my two big girls will start going to a school that is 50 minutes drive away from here. That's 50 minutes drive one way, which means that if I take them in in the morning and come home in between, that's four hours of my day spent in the car. Unfortunately from what we can work out none of the public transport available works.

I am incredibly lucky because my farmer boy and my parents are going to share the load. And without a doubt the driving is worth it because the school they are going to go to is going to be incredible, but still. Our life as a family is going to change. Our farm life is going to change. And Miss Pepper who will still go to school in Daylesford, her life is going to change too.

The other day at spinning group an older woman told me to embrace this change. To enjoy the challenges and opportunities that this new stage in life brings. She said that although it feels enormous to me now, that time will fly and soon we'll be in a different phase. My farmer boy keeps quoting her back at me. He likes Charlotte's way of thinking.

And I am trying. Another woman I met told me about the knitting group that runs in a nearby town on Tuesday mornings and then invited me back to her house afterwards each week for a private spinning class. I could also spend time in a local library writing my blog or notes I have for a book. I can think of loads of ways to pass the time if I stay for the school day so there's less driving, but then I'm away from here. And if I'm away from here then less farming will get done, less house stuff and cooking will get done, I'll spend less time with Pepper and in our community and with Bren. And if he does it then he'll miss out on all of that and me.

Not to mention the girls whose lives will shift. Home will remain here but their friends will all live further away and so their social lives will move further away too.

Mostly I feel positive and optimistic about what's to come. This school feels like an opportunity we cannot pass up. I sat through speeches by the principal, head of campus and teachers yesterday with tears in my eyes. This is going to be a really wonderful place to learn and I feel like it'll provide our girls with the best education we could hope for for them.

But things are definitely going to change, and part of me misses the simplicity and slowness and ease of now already.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

twenty sixth

Somehow I've gotten myself all the way to the twenty sixth day of the new year without a single craft post. Strange but true.

I guess that considering the amount of daylight hours we're having and the amount of farm work that needs doing, it's possibly understandable that not many stitches are being stitched, but still some are and I should tell you about them.

Starting with this shawl.

In the middle of last year my beautiful instagram friend Lori posted photos of the shawl she'd just knitted and I fell in love. To date I haven't really been much of a shawl knitter but I have made two and I enjoyed knitting them and have worn them often. But something about Lori's shawl made me stop scrolling and look at it for a while. Possibly the colour, maybe the tassels or the criss-cross design and definitely Lori's gorgeous photos of it both being knitted and complete.

I left a few comments gushing about my love. Lori ridiculously kindly offered to send me the yarn and the pattern to make my own. I knitted it. And then I waited for Miss Indi to come home after being away for ages so I could photograph it and share it with you.

There's something about shawls. They're kind of old fashioned but comforting and cozy at the same time, and that extra layer that you throw over your shoulders can make all the difference to your body warmth.

Someone once told me that when interviewing for prospective employees, they had a rule never to hire anyone who wore a shawl because of the time they'd waste fussing with it. I just giggled as much then typing that as I did when he first told me. Bit silly hey. But I guess there are people out there who can wear them effortlessly. They throw them on, twist them up and walk away looking fabulous. And then there are those of us who need to spend a little bit more time getting it right. And then readjusting when the end slips out. And then tucking Maybe I should get my farmer boy to carve me a shawl pin.

I think I might just have a another shawl or two in me before the year is up. There's something very meditative and calming about those long rows.

For those who like details - my Aristida shawl is raveled here.

Big love,


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