I have been thinking about this post for awhile. My last post here on the farm.
It's hard to put in words what the last five years has meant to me. There are so many stories, so many memories....
We moved here having never grown anything before. Ever. I didn't know how to plant a seed, what vegetables grew in what season, the importance of soil health, weeding, mulching, composting, propagating, companion planting, yields. Not a thing.
Oh what we have learnt!
Oh what we have grown!
We built sixteen raised garden beds and two market gardens and started a community garden.
Over the years we have grown tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, silverbeet, garlic, brussel sprouts, bok choy, mizuna, rocket, lettuce, eggplants, broadbeans, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, radish, artichokes, peas, carrots, turnips, beetroots, zucchini, chillis, cabbage, pears, apples, peaches, plums, cherries, herbs and lots of pretty flowers...
I now call myself a Gardener.
I will now always grow as much as I can.
Farm animals were a first too. We started with a flock of six chickens (Australorps). The novelty of collecting our own eggs never shifted. I bought an old mobile office from the local metal scrap yard for $500 and converted it into a mobile chicken coop. I fell in love with heritage breed chickens. I even thought of raising chickens for show. I loved visiting the poultry auctions and farms and talking with passionate chicken lovers. We bought an incubator and started hatching our own. A man at the local produce store gave me 100 fertile eggs once which I quickly put in our incubator and had too many chickens.. that was nearly as crazy as the time I rescued eight roosters from a man (I love roosters!) and let them roam the farm which was a bit of a disaster because too many roosters... and our cow Pattie and her calf. Having a pet cow was wonderful. Pattie loved Ben and the feeling was mutual. We watched her birth several calves over the years. She was an amazing mother.
The pigs were a HUGE learning curve! Oh how I love piggies!! They should be a domestic animal not a farm animal (although I know this is true for some) They are so smart and affectionate. I decided once that it would be a good idea to breed our two gilts...I found a friend of a friend that let me borrow his boar. We borrowed a horse float from a friend to pick up the boar. Loading him on to the float was no problem but as we started to drive home, along the country roads, Ben noticed that the boar was literally bending back the metal door of the trailer and trying to get out. We pulled over in the middle of no where and tried to work out what to do..if the boar succeeded it could have been fatal for him but more importantly the danger it could have caused someone else driving down the road... In complete panic and desperation I dug around in Ben's truck and found an old packet of rice crackers and a metal bracket. I poured the remaining rice crackers into the float and we wedged the bracket under the door and slowly drove home with our hearts in our mouths.... The amount of times over the years we would look at each other and say, 'what are we doing?'. It felt like the Truman show at times. Driving home with the boar that afternoon was one of those times. We traded guinea fowls for peking ducks with our neighbours. We didn't keep them long as they didn't get on with the chickens and required a lot of water which during Summer we just didn't have.
I found a supplier of meat birds and we raised several batches of meat birds which was another very interesting experience.
Some of these animals we raised for meat. With the support of our neighbours we learnt the whole process 'paddock to plate'. We will be forever grateful for that experience. To raise and grow your own food has COMPLETELY changed my views and appreciation of food for ever.
The opportunity to convert The Old Girl into a useable space has been an honour!
Not only did I love every minute of that process but The Old Girl gave us the opportunity to meet extraordinary people and bring so many people together. The gatherings for farmers, artists, makers, family and friends. The workshops, lunches, and dinners. The opportunity to see crafts being shared such as botanical dyeing, bread making, ceramics, fermenting, quilting, knitting, soap making, sausage making, and spoon carving. The Old Girl became a place that brought together friends but mostly strangers. Strangers with a common thread. After a day together embraced in the arms of The Old Girl people would leave with a full tummy and a full heart, a new skill and most importantly made a new friend or two. She is a magical, magical place.
There are so many more things I would like to mention/remember such as..
the time we built the smoker, the treehouse, the chicken coop, the pig sty, the times spent home schooling in the barn, the days spent exploring the local areas, the days building a fire and toasting marshmallows and sandwiches, the days teaching the kids to drive the mower, the days when Bruce would arrive with a gift from his latest hunting adventure, the days spent watching something hatch, the days plucking, the days preserving, making sausages, bacon and salami, hanging and braiding garlic, podding beans, picking plums, the days chopping wood, the days chasing chickens, pigs, and/or cows around a paddock, the days we built fences, moved fences, the days we swam in dams or water holes, we tried to catch yabbies, we watched out for snakes, we watched out for foxes, we watched out for fires or flooding, we met farmers who had been here for generations, new farmers, we met people who had just moved from the city, we read our story in four magazines and the local paper, we learnt about birds, frogs, cows, pigs, chickens, geese, rabbits, kangaroos, wallabies, grass, trees, plants, flowers, seasons, food, water fall, frost, tractors, guns, gumboots, wet weather gear, irrigation systems, water tanks, history of this area, this farm, this home...
We came here to experience life on a farm, to grow our own food and most importantly to fill our souls.
We leave filled to the absolute brim.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you to everyone.
(I plan to keep writing here as our new chapter unfolds...At this stage the house we are moving into is not complete so we will be bunking down with family and friends until we don't know...looks like Kobi and Maya may be homeschooled for some time until spaces become available at the school we have chosen..I have arranged a plot at a local community garden...decided to take up surfing, sailing and yoga, as well as return to my studies and lots of Aunt duties. make new friends, spend lots of time with old friends and of course our beautiful families...I look forward to sharing with you)
love Tash x