Little farm adventures

view from the living room

We have spent the last few days on a beautiful farm in rural NSW.

chainsawing a log

I learned some basic chainsaw.

demonstrating what not to do

We all had a go at chopping wood.

roast lamb, crackling

There was very fresh roast lamb with chewy, salty crackling.

alpacas and sheep

We tracked a small herd through a paddock...

peeing paca

...much to their chagrin.

boop!

The miniature donkey was friendly, though. I got a boop!

enough boop

Okay, go away now please.

lopsided fire

We built a bonfire as the sun set.

scrumpy cider

Enjoyed scrumpy cider at Sully's Cider House. They do rhubarb & ginger beer, blackberry wine, and walnut wine too. So good.

quad bike in the paddock

We went for a quad bike ride out in the paddock.

heifers are cows who are pregnant for the first time

Visited the cows.

steers are neutered male cows

And the steers.

chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Roasted chestnuts on an open fire.

dog chewing stick

While enjoying the company of dog.

dog with blanket

Who seems to like his blanket. :D Yay!

We're back in Sydney now, chilling out before dinner. It's great to have stable internet back, though I didn't miss it at all with all those things to see and do. I did, however, miss being able to look up plants.

The weekend gave me many seeds for dreaming. What kind of 'farm' we would want for ourselves, what we would do with it, and how we might live one day. It's still a long road before we get there, but it's nice to have an idea of where we might go. I think the real teller would be at the height of summer. Can we stand working in the blistering heat? Could we still love a land that's barren and dry? I think if we could, we'd know it's for us.

Glutening freely

chicken pie with sauce

After a spate of allergic symptoms, the doctor suggested I may have Atopy and instructed me on how to use Ventolin and Nasonex when things get bad. She also wrote me referrals for a skin patch test and a coeliac blood test.

To prepare for a coeliac test, one must indulge in all manner of gluten to try and trigger the reaction they test for. So this week, I ate all the things. Starting with a chicken pie.

savoury muffin with pepita sprinkle

And a savoury muffin.

bowl of mussels with Turkish bread

And garlic chilli fennel mussels with Turkish bread.

pizza bun with pineapple

And a pizza bun. God, how I missed this. It's the simple things that do it.

pancakes and toast for breakfast

We didn't have to be selective with breakfast. Could eat anything, anywhere.

sour cream and onion flavoured crackers

These crackers weren't the best. But they're pretty good when you're starving and need something salty. It took me just 5 minutes to demolish half a packet. Eventually, I threw the rest away in a fit of self-loathing.

ham and cheese danish, fresh baked and bitten

A ham and cheese danish, on the other hand, is just fine.

spicy beef penne

I haven't missed pasta as much since finding a good brand of gluten-free pasta, but all the same, eating this penne was like saying hi to a dear old friend. Even though it was a little bit overcooked.

a burger with real bread

I have very much missed burgers on real bread from Grill'd. Gluten free bread is just not the same.

bread crust textures on a frozwich

And - ah! - a Croissant Express frozwich. Those the crusty bread textures. Such a treat.

a delicious snack cracker

My lovely colleague made a round of snacks with smoked salmon, avocado, soya mayo, and a crispy rye cracker.

I'm not so sad as to take photos of everything I ate (though I did mean to). I had pizza too, and hot cross buns. Chocolate ones.

Food has been great going in. But being in and coming out have been mighty average. I've had better days. Am looking forward to getting back to normal eating, as sad as it'll be to give up fluffy breads and easy meals. I do enjoy my relationship with food on Primal, and hope that stems from a healthy place.

Project Hair: Day 0

short haircut, day 0

I'm going to try growing my hair for donation. My hairdresser told me wig-makers love Asian hair, because it's thick and holds up against the piles of treatment required to make it usable.

So, here I am on day 0. Donated hair needs to be at least 30cm from where you cut it, which for me, will be the base of my hair at the back of my neck. Once the sides catch up with the base, we can start counting.

According to my hairdresser, human hair grows approximately half an inch per month, so it'll take me a couple of years to get there. Hair growth can supposedly be sped up by taking flaxseed oil or deep sea kelp. It supposedly makes your hair stronger too, but since you eat them, the effect is systemic. So my underarm hair, leg hair and sexy chest hair will also grow fast and strong.

Hmm!

This will be an interesting experiment.

Hair progress: -4cm

The arranging of things

rosemary flower

I've had time to think about what my Horticulture course and work experience means to me. I got into it for the love of gardening, and from feeling disenchanted about working with technology. Particular in web and marketing areas, you deal in the 'unreal'. You sell concepts, ideas. At times, it feels dishonest, like selling an air sandwich.

Dealing in plants seems wholesome in comparison, but you don't just 'deal in plants'. Like in technology, the plant industry has different flavours and practices.

My favourite part about all this has been arranging plants. Presentation, putting stuff in order, working with harmony and juxtaposition, getting quiet time to learn botanical names and plant characteristics. It’s certainly showed me how I’m inclined, and what led me to web design in the first place. I wonder, if I worked in a café or cat hotel, would I still love most the arranging of things?

My least favourite part is the customer service, because I still don’t know enough to help most people. My team are nice about it, and remind me often that no one expects that much from a beginner, but I still feel disappointed when lack of knowledge stops me from being able to help, especially when the answer could be so simple.

I decided for my last couple shifts that if I don’t know an answer, I’d not think twice about pulling out my phone and looking it up. It’s not orthodox, but if an organisation has a problem with it, given the age we live in, they may not get to have a problem with it for long. Luckily, the staff at my Bunnings store will use iDevices soon to look stuff up on the spot. That made it seem like whipping out my phone in a retail situation would be an okay thing to do. I do wonder what this changes about the customer service frontier. These are interesting times.

One day, I think I’d like to find a way to combine 'plants stuff' with technology and craft. These are the three major pursuits in my life. If something in me didn’t believe in the validity of this combination, I wouldn’t feel so naturally drawn to it. I do see a place for it in our future. I feel as though modern society moves towards a closer connection with nature.

It probably always has done, and it’s only being exposed to it now that leads me to think I see it as an emergent movement, but... also maybe not? We are right in the middle of the Information Revolution, and we won’t always be. Just as the age of agriculture gave way to the Industrial Revolution, which has dovetailed into the present technological era, change is as it always has been: imminent.

If biotech is the next epoch for the developed world, and something Kurzweil this way comes, why wouldn’t mankind and its civilisation converge with systems that have survived for longer and more persistently? Why wouldn’t we intermingle our lives with the sustainable lives of plants?

So, I see a place for my aspirations in our world. Even something as small as creating, say, a bedside clock that doubles as a planter. That’s a start. Who knows where that could lead? Maybe one day, we’ll have bioengineered plants that will allow the clock to be powered by photosynthetic energy. Maybe the whole clock is itself a plant. This is a hare-brained, far-fetched idea, but you know, even the largest tree began as a seed.

This gives me hope.

Hours completed: 64 of 70

Stuff I'm working on

Nippon blanket - now for dog

My blanket project from last year grew less interesting with every square. It was meant to be a 100-patch glory for cold nights on the couch. Then cut back to 81 pieces because fuck doing 19 more squares for hardly a size difference. Now it's relegated to being a dog blanket for a Cavalier Spaniel pup we'll be visiting in a couple of weeks. So, that's on the cards - stitching up all 36 pieces, then rubbing my face in it so it smells like me.

Along with this are more half-finished, barely started, and mostly done projects strewn around my desk. Fancy a look?

my first weaving

My first weaving project, using orange and light aqua yarn. I almost gave up on it because the weave was too loose, but then I learned about stiffening fabric and figure I could starch this and make a display piece. That was a month ago. I haven't touched it since.

Sullivan's felting tools

This felting kit is waiting to be picked up. I'm scared, though. These needles are sharp and rough. I have thimbles, but it's still risky. Something stupid is going to happen. Blood will probably happen.

basket of unfinished projects

There's a lot going on in this tiny basket of bits. That blue stuff is a baby kimono awaiting more yarn. The white stuff will be made into a hat. The blue-grey thing is alpaca yarn slowly transforming into a scarf. The red stuff will go towards a neckie. And the orange bits will end up a present for someone in the family.

Victorian-esque collar

I had a go at making a Victorian collar - sort of. It's almost done. It needs some buttons, but every night, I cbf.

The Modern Girl's Guide to Hatmaking by Mary Jane Baxter

Throughout my childhood, I wondered what kind of wizardry went into making hats. At some point in my life, I would like to find out, thanks to this book I found at Planet Books. The craft of hat-making is called millenery. It sounds like it requires a lot of steam and glue. However, before I can even think of starting, I have to make a gateway piece:

calico, cotton drill and a fabric pencil

An apron. This is my cotton drill fabric, calico and a fabric pencil. The book recommends using an apron when crafting, so your clothes don't get smudged or snagged on your hat. An apron is a nice, simple re-introduction to sewing machines and sewing. This will be my competence litmus.

Other projects I can't take pictures of include...

  • A gamedev project
  • Nursing fresh seeds and seedlings for a winter crop
  • Growing indoor basil over winter
  • Making succulent cuttings in cute pots
  • Adding a second species of moss to my two-year old terrariums
  • A coeliac test

Busy busy busy.

The "Mona" glove

the

Ah! I am excited. One of my goals this year is to put something cute in a shop. Yesterday, I delivered the "Mona" gloves to Lucy In Disguise, and independent retro, recycled, vintage and handmade store in Subiaco. :)

The lowdown:

  • Handmade, 100% wool, natural dyed wood button, hand wash only.
  • Available in limited supply from mid-Autumn at Lucy In Disguise in Subiaco.
  • Part of my quaint goods collection at The Softery.

Funny timing - just a couple hours after I dropped off the glove, the weather turned a huge corner and we got super rain all evening. Google weather says the cool weather is finally here, at least for another week. Get your gear ready - winter is freakin coming!!