Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A visit to Purple Pear Farm.

This week I was lucky enough to visit Purple Pear Farm! I have been following Kate's blog for a number of years now, and had always been interested in her methods of farming. I am a beginner gardener trying to use permaculture methods in my modest veggie patch. To visit Kate and Marks large permaculture and biodynamic farm was simply inspiring. I went on a tour of the farm whilst Kate described how their methods of farming worked in all the different sections of their garden. To see how an organic garden such as this thrives makes me more determined to learn more about permaculture and push myself to apply these principles even more in my own patch.

What I learnt from Kate:
- Chooks and Guinea pigs can be used as labourers in my garden. I can easily build cages for them and move them about the place as I need the ground worked.
- Don't be scared of weeds. These can be pulled and left on the soil to act as mulch.
- Eat seasonally. We should be eating the foods that nature is providing for us at the present time.
- Lentils taste delicious.
- When one stops picking beans/peas of the plants, they stop producing - must keep picking.
- You can train baby ducks not to eat your vegetable plants.
- Seedlings need to be 'hardened off' between the greenhouse and the ground.
- You can create what you need for your garden from bits and pieces lying around - and this can look beautiful.
- We need to create habitats in our gardens to invite birds, lizards and bees.

There is still so much to learn!

Sam xox

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The new man in my life.

I have been missing from this blog for over two months now, but I have a very good excuse...

I bought a horse!!!

His name is Maverick - and he is just delightful! He is a six year old Australian Quarter Horse with a personality that is the sweetest. I have been spending almost all of my spare time with him - riding him, training him, brushing him, cleaning his feet and washing his coat.

This photo below is from the day he arrived. It was absolutely bucketing rain and it was the first time he had ever been in a horse float. However, within ten minutes of arriving he allowed me to halter him and lead him around. An absolutely perfect horse.

We are fast becoming good mates! I have never been a morning person but, now I have him, I jump out of bed and am in the paddock with him as the sun is rising. So wonderful for the soul :-)

He has such a cheeky personality too. He loves to give kisses...

And pull faces at the other horses...

Can't imagine a better day, then being in the paddock with him.

Sam xox

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preparing for autumn.

This week marked the arrival of autumn. The day when you wake up and find the air carries with it a crisp chill that hints of the cooler months to come. This kind of weather always stirs a desire in me to head for the mountains. Jamie and I both said so that morning when the first chill came. It was this weekend, 5 years ago, that my husband took me to the Snowy Mountains and proposed. I love this time of year.

I couldn't put it off any longer. My garden needed some work done to it to prepare for the change of season. As I have been caught up in 'real life', I decided that purchasing some seedlings from our farmers market would suffice for this round of planting, as I just haven't got around to planting much from seed.

I ripped out what was left of my summer crops. Dead beans and vines signalling the end of a season and my total lack of attention to my garden recently. These were removed.

And the planting began. I planted beans and radishes from seed...

Beetroot from seed...

Leeks as seedlings...

I cut back heavily my basil and parsley plants, then moved them into the part of my vegetable patch that receives the least sun light during the winter months...

Cos lettuce and kale were planted as seedlings...

Successive planting of radish seeds is yielding a good crop...

Two different varieties of chillies, some perennial capsicums, and rocket seedlings...

Progress so far...

My passion fruit has taken off. I cannot wait until fruits appear!

My hardy herbs are the only thing to thrive under my 'no attention at all' gardening method...

It feels good to have dirty nails again.

Sam xox

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pekin Bantams.

Our two new Pekin Bantams have settled into the coop nicely. I bought them from our local farmers markets a few weekends ago after Jamie had been complaining that we are not getting enough eggs from our two current chooks. I had planned on buying some more Isa Browns, or perhaps a couple of Australorps. But when I saw these two tiny ones in a cage all on their own, well, my heart melted and they came home with me.

When we introduced them into the coop, there was the predictable behaviour from Lady Sussex and Liberty - a couple of pecks to make sure these two new comers understood the pecking order. On the first evening I got a fright, as I couldn't find these two anywhere in the yard. After closer inspection in the nesting box, I discovered two little heads poking out from under the wing of Lady Sussex. These two had wiggled their way under her wings in a search for warmth/comfort, and as she is broody at the moment she was happy to play mum to them!

The ducks are not at all fussed by them, and have carried on as usual.

We haven't named them yet. Jamie has been calling them Houdini 1 and 2, as they have a knack for getting into strange places.

Sam xox

Monday, March 18, 2013

Changing of the seasons.

Yesterday I went to our local farmers markets and stocked up on seedlings. My vegetable garden has been bare for weeks, with the last of my summer crops having finished mid January. After watching how different vegetables grew in my garden last winter, I feel that I have a better understanding of what to place where this time round.
I bought:
Red cabbage
Perennial capsicums
Two types of chilli plant
Cos lettuce
Garlic chives

I also planted carrots, beetroot and beans from seed.

Here is a before shot...

 And after...

In other news I have taken up horse riding. It is something I have always wanted to try but could never afford when living in Sydney. This is one of my new self care activities. I love animals and being in the outdoors, plus the challenge of learning to communicate with such an animal is such a skill to learn! I have also been having great fun practicing some training drills with my neighbours horse, under her guidance of course :-)

And finally, this little guy has moved in with us. His name is Henry and he is cute as a button. He even came to work with me last week much to the amusement of my colleagues... who spent all day cuddling and fussing over him.

Sam xox

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I'm back from my hiatus. It wasn't planned. To be honest I have had a topsy-turvy couple of months. My world has turned upside down and up again, and it took me some time to regain my footing. Some personal challenges, thrown together with a promotion at work and the commencement of studying a Masters degree at Uni while working a 40 hour week has taken its toll on my crafting among other things.

Sometimes we need to step back and reassess our priorities. For me, surviving the last two months has meant letting my garden fall by the wayside. Not touching any crafts. And being okay with this. Not feeling bad about it. Not worrying what others think. Being honest with myself about what I am able to achieve at the moment, and knowing that this is good enough.

As a mental health worker, who works daily to support those living with mental health issues to overcome stigma, I would feel hypocritical if I didn't acknowledge that I have been struggling with my own mental health issues. I have made an effort over these past few weeks to just focus on my job, my education, my health and most importantly my marriage. And I have turned a corner with the help of supportive relationships, medication, and self care. I can concentrate for longer periods than I have been able to for a long time. My anxiety has settled and I sleep so well now. 

I am feeling happy again,

calm again,

motivated again,

 positive again. 

So on to the fun stuff...

Sam xox

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A helper in my garden.

It is the summer school holidays here in Australia, so I invited my little brother to stay with us for two weeks. He timed his arrival perfectly, getting here only ten days after our ducklings hatched. He thinks they are the sweetest and feeds them every morning. I will have to check his bags before he leaves to make sure he doesn't smuggle one with him, as I am not sure how keen Mum would be on that!

We have enjoyed lots of fun things together whilst he's been here. But there has also been work to be done, and having an extra pair of hands, even if they are small, does make a big difference. For two and a half hours Thursday afternoon we:
- Cleaned out the duck pond.
- Watered all the vegetable gardens.
- Harvested beans, cucumbers, carrots, capsicums, potatoes, tomatoes, basil and zucchini's .
- Pulled out the last of the carrots.
- Planted tomato seedlings.
- Harvested dried beans and saved the seeds.
- Water bathed the broody chook.
- Weeded the entire yard.

It was interesting having a kids perspective on this whole vegetable growing thing. He was concerned when he uprooted a purple carrot "this one isn't orange", when he harvested yellow pear tomatoes "these are not red", and found a "green worm" (caterpillar). Lessons were taught on heirloom varieties and good vs bad garden bugs. Eating dinner that night he tells us, "I could be a farmer when I grow up, it was really fun pulling out those carrots". I'll be sending him home with some bean seeds so he can give the farming life a try.

Feeling lucky to have had this time with him.

Sam xox