Tuesday, April 9, 2013

She Sows Seeds

We finally have a home, and I finally have a new blog. Come visit at me and change your feeds to www.shesowsseeds.blogspot.com.au

This will be my last post on The Happy Campers. Thank-you for following our honeymoon journey - it certainly was an adventure! 

Emma x

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Our days at Ruby Hills

To know why we would agree (offer, even) to be custodians of a high maintenance organic and biodynamic dairy and egg farm for a week, where obviously the cows have to be milked twice daily, the eggs collected (often over 900 every day), the chooks fed, the pastures irrigated, the guardian dogs chased after they escape, the bursting veggie garden tended to, a home to maintain...well, to know why we would offer to do this, you must know our friends...

They are salt of the earth, incredibly genuine, work so hard, so incredibly bloody hard, without complaint or issue, with grace and humility, all whilst raising four small children in a beautiful manner. They are driven, they are true, they are brave in their decisions, sure of their convictions. They saw a vision for their family which ticked boxes of ethics and sustainability and they went out and grabbed it with both hands - created it for themselves. Ruby Hills Organics produces beautiful yummy milk and glorious eggs from their generous livestock, all thanks to Nic and Amy who have such vision and determination.

It's hard work, being farmers, we know that. We, however, don't have children. We also don't live on the far across the seas from our family. That's right, Amy is an American, Nic a Kiwi. So you can see that with a farming enterprise such as theirs plus four little people to nurture, trips 'home' are pretty non-existent let alone a holiday of any sorts really. Amy and I, being the geniuses that we are, put two and two together pretty quickly - we had a few weeks up our sleeves before we move to South Australia, they were in desperate need of a break, some breathing space, a trip to New Zealand to see Nic's family. It had been four years and two babies since they'd been, it was time. When friends like Nic and Amy ask you to step up, you step up, no questions asked...only 'how do we make this happen?' 

And so, we took the reigns of Ruby Hills on a Monday afternoon, waving the Paul's off to the airport and pushing Nic onto a plane. Cows were milked, calves were born, others were fed, eggs were collected and delivered, silage was distributed to hungry cows, irrigators were kept moving, chickens were fed, maremmas escaped and were re-captured. At first everything seemed to be taking us five times longer than anticipated: milking, egg collection, the first day was a scorcher and the cool room for the eggs died, maremmas left their posts, no huge dramas but all time consuming. Eventually though we got in the rhythm of this dairy/egg business. Matt grew up milking on a family friends farm (used to walk there after school as a wee one, is that child labour?!) but I've not had much to do with dairy farms despite growing up in Gippsland - it was spuds and sheep for me! I tried to help where I could: feeding calves, hosing down the yard after milking, driving the tractor to feed out silage, collecting and stacking the never-ending supply of eggs from the hens whilst Matt fed them. One thing was for sure, we had missed farming together like we used to in Yea a few years ago, it had been too long between drinks. Farming is hard work - but it is rewarding, so rewarding, especially if you do it with your spouse. Seeing the tanker fill up with milk you helped produce, eating delicious eggs you collected that morning from hens you know are happy, free range little things, well it's all pretty satisfying. That's why we're in this game (it sure as heck isn't for the money!)

While Matt tended to all things farm (well I helped feed silage and collect eggs), I set to work getting Amy's abode in tip-top shape. It wasn't in my job description but I just knew there was not enough hours in the day for her to get on top of everything. So I collected every stray piece of clothing, towel, sheet off every bed and set to washing, folding, sorting. I pulled her laundry apart, I scrubbed cupboards, I sorted winter coats, I swept, I mopped, I organised all the kids books and toys in their big shared room, I made beds, fluffed pillows, lined up little slippers, I pulled Amy's big walk-in pantry apart, cleaned every surface, sorted, organised, arranged it all back together again, all because I wanted our dear friends to come home to a house in a gleaming state. No washing to be done, no toys to trip over. A holiday after their holiday if you will.

I truly hope any of our little deeds were helpful, I also hope Amy can find things in her house now! It's all in the little things you do for people, this friendship business, and doing them because I really wanted to. This family deserves absolutely nothing less.

Thank-you for letting us be custodians of your precious farm for a brief while, now how will you come visit us in South Australia? Let's put our thinking caps on...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Big News

Image by me, of the wide open spaces in another place we call home, 'Inverness' at Boort

Anyone who read my old blog Cinderella at Brindabella, or knows me personally, knows our journey. One of big dreams, hopes, plans for a future, a home. My heartstrings pulled us home to the rolling hills of Gippsland in late 2010 from our happy place at Ythanbrae, our utopia in our little cottage that we walked away from, tears streaming down my face driving out the driveway, but full of hope that we would find our place...

But then...the year of 2011 was one I'd rather forget, one of scratch that, start again. One of struggle, difficult decision making, more struggle, stress, tears (oh the tears) and that sick feeling deep inside you where you know that you are not living the best life you deserve. It was full of that, and more. It was also the year we were married, the year we learnt so much about ourselves and our judgements, the power that we have when we work as a united front. Together.

Of course 2012 was the year of so much adventure, of self-discovery, of exploring not only our country but where our future would lie. If 2011 was the year we fell apart, 2012 was the year we put it all back together again. Over the course of our 14 months as homeless nomadic gypsies a picture was formed clearly in our minds - not of what 2013 would look like for us, nor even 2014 or 2015, but what our future would be like, what it would be full of and surrounded by. What was definite was that our future was just rosy, we had the fabulous luxury of time (so much time) together as husband and wife, talking, thinking, praying, always talking. If the inside of Luxie could talk he would have much to tell you. 

And so we move on. To bigger, better, more fabulous things. A new role awaits my clever husband, so clever he doesn't know it, so humble it is his greatest downfall. We have found a new home in the sandy hills of south east South Australia. A home with opportunities and challenges, with lots of cattle and sheep. Just the way we like it. We are moving far from family and friends, but not as far as some of our plans were. We won't know anyone, nor the area. I've been to Adelaide once on a business trip, but now it will be 'my city'*. We will be jumping head first into new challenges, a new community, a new way of life. We will be living a fairly remote lifestyle, 60km from the nearest 2 horse town, 80km to the nearest shops. I will be (hopefully) continuing to work from home, blogging, photographing and studying my way. Yes studying. I'm going back to school. More on that later.

Since we arrived home to our families at Christmas time we have had a time of reflection and big decision making to do. So many options, all extremely different and diverse put in front of us. What a problem to have: spoilt for choice. Where would our future lie? Those damn heartstrings were pulling at me again, back to our beloved Murrindindi hills. But I'd listened to that little voice before, I listened very, very closely again and we decided the voice was saying no, not yet, that part of your story is finished, move forward not back. Another little voice was whispering as well, saying no to one opportunity put in front of us, that's not what you want, not where your future lies. The little voice kept whispering, then chatting away merrily, then shouting until it became a roar. Then I realised the little/big voice wasn't saying 'no' - it was saying 'yes'. We decided to listen to the little voice.

We are happy. Happy to have made a decision that sits well with us, we feel this is the right step for us, an intermediate step before the next great leap. For now it is a step. We are happy to be having a home again to fill with love and laughter and memories. 

This step we feel is very much a part of our journey, just as the sadness of 2011 was and the joys of 2012 as well. It's all part of our story, which makes the journey all the more sweet.

Our story will continue, I promise, in the form of a blog. But not this one, this chapter of our story is closed. I will post again on 'The Happy Campers' as I develop a new blog for a new chapter. Until then I am going to soak in our last weeks with family and friends in Victoria and try not to think about the horror that is moving day! I'm going to dream of a new home to decorate, a new garden to grow, new friends to make, new wedding presents to finally get out of storage.

Thank-you for your words of support and encouragement throughout our journey as 'The Happy Campers' - it has been a blessing to share our story with the world wide web.

* Melbourne will ALWAYS be my city, just so you know.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Just Fine

We had strong lattes here. And here. And here.

We dealt with an often smiling, often crying, teething Miss Savannah. 

We went to the op shop and I left with a goose and $2 poorer.

We (ok, I) bounced until I was sore on the trampoline with the littles. 

We went to the garden with a basket and came back laden with enormous squash and juicy beets.

We put an excess of blackberries and nectarines to good use.

We made ice-cream. In the bathroom sink.

We ate a feast of (almost all) homegrown organic, happy food. Lamb slaughtered last week. Our beets and squash from our haul, onions with rosemary, silverbeet with mint. Ice-cream from the generous cows. 

We bathed the happy/sad baby, put littles to bed and sat, wine in hand, and spoke of possibilities, of opportunities and of journeys.

We spoke of wisdom and hindsight. Of people. The People. Our greatest asset, of which we can't even begin to put a value upon, is that of The People surrounding us. The People - supporting us, guiding us, cheering for us, are the greatest reminder of where our path lies. And that we can choose wisely and we will be just fine.

Just fine.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wanderings and Wonderings

I seemed to have lost my blogging mojo. If somebody finds it please return to me asap. Mainly, I think, because this blog was about our travels, and now that chapter's finished. My old blog was very home/cooking/sewing/decorating related, and now we don't have a home. I'm in blogging no man's land.

Anyway, so what has been happening? Well, we've been at our friends still in northern Victoria, spending Australia Day by the lake, skiing, swimming, listening to the hottest 100, the usual. Tessa has a haircut. Then last week Matt spent a week in South Australia with a friend, on the road selling bulls and rams, doing his thing, learning and absorbing (hopefully).

I spent the week hanging with my nieces, taking some photos for Lou of her baby bump in our beloved Melbourne town, eating waffles in Degraves with her girls. Wine time with my sisters, then home to those rolling hills of Thorpy to see more nieces off on the bus to school, have a beer with my dad at our local.

Whilst I was in the vacinity of a sewing machine at my mum's I decided to get back on the horse and whip up some little things to go back in my madeit shop. Tomorrow night I will be taking part in 'From Madeit With Love' - a shopping event to help raise funds for a family who tragically lost their mum recently in a car accident. Tammy was a fellow handmade sewer and mother of two, pregnant with their third. I can't imagine what those kids are going through, or will be in the coming years, it's the least I can do. Please pop by to Madeit tomorrow night (the 13th) at 8pm, there are so many other goodies available from generous handmade sellers. You can also go to the Facebook event page here for more information.

Matt returned from his jaunt west and I drove up to Yea to pick him up, back to our old stomping ground, through the familiar hills, collecting some beautiful flowering gum and proteas en route for our friends who had looked after him so well on his adventures. A swim in the pool with my main man Monty who I used to nanny back in the day, then back on the road heading south to Matt's parents at Inverloch. We are here for a few more days, Matt helping his Dad landscape the garden (it's quite a steep and tricky block) and hopefully catching up with lovely people.

I have a wedding to shoot this weekend in Melbourne, my first in a long time. Back on the horse in a few ways since being home! I guess it's like riding a bike...well I hope it is anyway.

We still have big decisions to make, ones which we are not taking lightly, hence the waiting and wondering, weighing up, writing lists, researching, calls back and forth to various people and recruitment agencies. I won't lie - it's mentally exhausting. I am sick of talking about it. I am sick of thinking about it. I want it to be done, but I want it to be done properly. And so we wait. Patience is a virtue, I can hear my mum's voice now.

We are closer though, always getting closer. Our two options though are so very different. The choice is ours to make. We know that we are in a particularly lucky situation, it is a good problem to have, this one of ours. But still...I want it to be done and dusted. Life on hold continues...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


For those who don't follow me on Instagram, here is a snapshot of life lately. Still homeless nomadic gypsies, finding our way from family to friends to more holidays and still making some big decisions. One can't rush these things.

A whole lot of love lies in those Ythanbrae hills for us... 
Coffee in the gallery I used to work in, thoroughly enjoying our 'homecoming' to Yea

Helping Matt feed bulls, I have missed working cattle with him

Visiting Miss Madeleine in Melbourne

Finally receiving my new baby

And finally sitting down at a hairdressers after a year, feeling human again

Skiing and wakeboarding on the lake of an evening

So good having this little one back with us

Getting my bake on after a year away from an oven!

Enjoying some sun in Barwon Heads

Trying to organise our life and future with a strong latte and new diary

Some design work I am doing at the moment...

...whilst Matt interviews via skype for a position I don't particularly want him to get

And so I crochet, a blanket for our cousin's baby due soon

Enjoying a shopping day out in Bendigo yesterday, a very hip cafe seemingly in the middle of nowhere industrial estate, very very cool

After lots of visiting all over Victoria to various friends and family, unfortunately losing one very special friend and extraordinary human over the Christmas period, getting our ski back on in the northern oasis and spending some time down at beautiful Barwon Heads last week, we are back in Boort - Matt working on our friends cropping farm and me doing various wifely duties (baking and crochet anyone?) as well as a bit of design and photography work on the side. Life is good, I am refusing to get impatient with all this decision making to be done about our future and where it lies. Fortune favours the brave, our mantra, and nothing rings truer after our year of soul searching and adventure. At our wedding we read from the book of Jeremiah, a favourite of mine. God does have great plans for us, to prosper us, give us hope and a future. Of that I'm sure.

Until next time, friends...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And so this is Christmas (Part Two)

As usual after we have stuffed ourselves silly at my Mum's house we drive down to Inverloch to 'Shirwell' - the original family holiday home of Matt's great grandparents generation, newly renovated this year by his aunty and uncle. Matt's parents have built their new home on what was a bush block, right on the beach with views over to Cape Liptrap. It has been such a long time coming and we were super excited to see the finished product of so much hard work and planning that goes into building 'the house' that will become the heart of our family now. 

And of course, there was a baby to snuggle, a pregnant cousin to admire, so much delicious vegetarian fare, a huge salmon on the barbie and the smells of mint and mango in the air. Christmas dinner at 'Shirwell' is a highlight for me - this year on the new deck by candlelight with all our loved ones chatting over a glass of wine. Bliss.

The following days have been filled with more baby snuggles, more delicious food, strong coffee, late lunches and walks on the beach with the dogs. We drag out the opening of presents down here, it is just far too relaxing! We finally opened some gifts today, and yesterday did our traditional Kris Kringle round-robin type game we do every year. The kids were happy with the handmade and cheap toys (of course) and the grown-up's shared their goods of chocolates, homemade biscuits, jams, coffee beans, scarves and the like. Just the way Christmas should be - our family together, sharing, giving, laughing. 

We are feeling so very blessed, full of joy and gratitude to be safely home with our families and to have enjoyed such a lovely Christmas both at my family and Matt's. In the coming weeks we will be finding our feet, making some pretty big decisions and continuing to discover where 'home' lies. In the meantime...I'm going to have another mince pie.