21 May 2015

autumn leaves

she's almost gone you know,
autumn, my season -

I catch the last glimpses of her
through the vineyard,
I feel her on my skin
a crisp, but not cold,
in the mornings -
a gentle warmth 
in the afternoon -

she has been a time of preparation,
production,
of harvest, birth -

soap is cured and wrapped
jars of caramel-coloured honey wait to consumed,
herbs, whole chickens, livers, stock bones fill the freezer,

the autumn garden, which was so prolific
a month ago, now grows slowly,
flowers begin to fade, seedlings 
brave the rain and damp -
slugs eat holes in my cabbages,
frost tickles the hills around us

roads are dotted every so often
with oaks
and poplars and plain trees
golden, undressing, unleaving -

I'm not ready for the next season I say to her
I'm not ready for you to slip off 
the horizon,
I'm not ready to wait a year -

you whisper softly 
(as you always do)
you must,

time to recollect ourselves, 
slow down, wrap up,
nourish body and soul,
and winter. 




p.s. our raw honey and cold-process soaps can be found here for sale

17 May 2015

portraits

(of a moment beautifully ordinary, odd, wondrous to remember always)
Reuben speaks with shining hazel eyes in loud, delighted tones at the Malmsbury Botanical Gardens: "Mamma! I've been exploring "the Lion" (island)... yes, it's a very nice Lion"...

Beren sleeps wrapped up warm on the big bed, with the clatter and clang of mama in the nearby kitchen, with the squawks and sounds of his older brother at play, with the bathroom fan or vacuum cleaner humming, he sleeps sound...
Reuben takes to the new sandpit immediately and no bad weather will deter him, on this particular occasion he is joined through the fence by his friend "sheepy"...

Beren, with his old english name and his dark blue eyes and sometimes furrowed brow, ponders this new life on the outside...

7 May 2015

still life

though life is seldom still these days
each moment, each thought
is full to the brim,

the dishes and laundry gather daily
in mountains
to soak or scrub or put away
sometimes I let them go
to hold my sleeping babe
or push a racing car along the table

I am learning how to balance
the needs of my kin,
mostly I am overwhelmed by it -
the constant call, stretch and pull;
in a day it is possible to feel
ordered, disorganised, frazzled,
energised, able, defeated,
lonely, accompanied, humbled

but my heart is fuller and
more thankful than it's ever been,

sickness hangs around the house
me feverish and delirious
with a nasty bout of mastitis
then in hospital for two days,
followed by colds, runny noses
and throats raw with swallowing,

so we make more ferments
fennel and cabbage kraut,
cranberry and ginger kombucha,
a bucket of raw honey water for mead -

the wind beats the house at night
and in the morning we fumble for socks
discovering the very cool climes of winter
are indeed coming -

when I feel sun on my cheeks
I praise the heavens,
thanksgiving for our snow peas
and silverbeet, parsley leaves
we dig for potatoes and fill
a bucket with delicious,
soil-dusted gold -

we dispatch our first thirty four
truly free-range pastured chickens,
(feathers, guts and all)
we celebrate with a roast -
it is the sweetest, juiciest bird
and I am brimming with pride
for my farmer man who raised it,

we catch a dozen mice,
we are gifted with child-minding
soup, cups of tea, conversation,
we curl up in bed and read,

I pick the last blooms
of this autumn garden;
a promise of what comes after the cold

19 Apr 2015

babymoon

eleven days old
and as many days
a mama of two
beautiful sons

so grateful for a time
of homebound, quietness
help and cups of tea

remembering the long nights
and short days, leaky,
jelly-tummy, sleepy, 
all over soreness

relishing those milk-drunk smiles,
grunts and sighs -
tender caresses of a big brother

for midwives visits,
for family, friends
fresh flowers, sunshine
rain in the night, warmth
by the fireside

small accomplishments -
a hair wash, a batch of bread
and various one-handed manoeuvres

and tears, oh so many
of tiredness and joy -
overwhelm, 

in short -
thanksgiving for a healthy, 
love-filled, beginning

xx





11 Apr 2015

Here.

Beren Argyle Sims
born 10.01am, Wednesday April 8th
3840g (8 lbs 7 oz) 51cm
.

as we drove to the hospital there was a 
rainbow in the sky, a promise I thought,
of what's to come

after three and half hours 
of oh-so intense labouring
we met our beloved son -

dark haired 
just as we'd dreamed,
healthy as an ox,
and lovely in every way

xx

5 Apr 2015

He is risen indeed.

4 Apr 2015

forty weeks

dearest babe,
tomorrow you are officially "due" and we are patiently waiting, hoping you might come into the world while my mama is visiting. tomorrow will also be easter sunday - a celebration of sacred promise, redemption and new life . I feel you moving lower and lower in my womb, especially in the middle of the night. I wonder about how you will arrive - the time of the day, the mood, the people in the room. I let go of a perfect "birthing" and focus instead on what I know - that my body is healthy and able, that you and I are loved immensely, that I cannot control the unknowns, that I need not fear. I am so ready to hold you close and whisper a truth in your ear... I love you so. 

2 Apr 2015

twenty six

yesterday was my birthday
I turned twenty six

it was warm and sunny
it was quiet too

I made a cake
with dark chocolate and 
our very own honey

the boy and I
picked a bunch
of birthday flowers
from the garden

I am 39 weeks
with child, and feeling it

ready to mark
the birth day
of my littlest one.

31 Mar 2015

prepare

the daisies I planted are finally blooming,
a little jacket is ready for seaming,
baskets are filled with small clothes, nappies and cloth,
the first quince of the season handpicked from a friend's tree,
and a batch of hot cross buns are baked -
this morning the boy introduces "his chicks" to the pasture,
and we spend the late afternoon harvesting honey,
elevenses are observed,
as are zinnias, and behind them golden nasturtiums, red geraniums -

we are in the final days of waiting for this so-loved little babe to emerge, and so we potter in the garden and plant out cabbages, we prepare our bedroom and assemble a bed with three sides next to ours, we clean the house, we keep running a business, we bake for easter, we plan a birthday meal, we hiatus from facebook, we cuddle on the bed and read stories, we welcome the gifts of friends (child-minding, encouraging messages, hole-digging, maple smoked bacon, pickles, appliance installation), we stretch on our hands and knees, we reflect on the word...

there is so much to be thankful for, so much to savour
and the less I worry about everything on my to-do list
and more I savour the rhythm
of these fresh autumn days,
and anticipate...

18 Mar 2015

scenes

Stuck around the mirror of our wardrobe are polaroids I took with Reu in Paris. 
It seems like an age ago we lived there, 
that my now articulate and boisterous boy 
was a babe in my arms. 

I gaze and reminisce - 
I imagine life in a few months, 
when this babe quickening in my womb 
is strong enough to hold his head up, oh
..
The dahlias are in season. 
Ruby-red, sun-gold, bloody lovely
..
I step on a floor laid sixty years ago, marvel at the poetry of stain and crack
..
We have thirty five chickens living in an upturned closet in our back room. 
I can hear them as I type, 
chirping noisily, scratching about, 
catching sunshine on their week old golden fuzz,

they were not planned - 
but acquired on a whim 
(because they needed a home)
it's a trial for us - in what will be 
an essential part of our business:
producing pastured chicken for eating
..
I am nearing thirty-eight weeks,
tomorrow Reu and I catch a short flight
to Sydney, for my sister's wedding
my doctor has cleared me to fly
but I am a little hesitant,
(of all the toddler and baggage juggling mostly)

then I remember soon
I'll be with my kin
and hugging them
..

12 Mar 2015

Harvesting


I say to Alex one of things I love best about living in these climes is the fruit and vegetables that grow so easily and abundantly. Autumn is an especially wonderful time with trees by the roadside laden with apples and plums. What better way to preserve over-ripe (or underripe) fruit then to cook down with spice and honey, puree and air dry - fruit leather being the happy result! It can then be cut up and put in cooking, soaked for muesli, or eaten as is, with a slice of cheese or two... my two favourite combinations are:
plum, apple + vanilla bean

4 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
10 small/medium plums, cored and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla bean
raw honey to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)

pear, rhubarb + cinnamon

4 large pears, peeled, cored and chopped
4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ground
raw honey to taste (I used about 2-3 heaped tablespoons, but you might want more to counter the rhubarb's tartness)

Cook fruit on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. Cool and blend into a fine puree. Smooth puree out over baking trays lined with baking paper and dry in a very sun place covered by mesh or glass or in the oven on it's lowest temperature overnight - I tend to put them on a table that gets flooded with morning sun for a few hours, then in a switched-off oven after I've done a big batch of baking so it's still very warm. You'll know it's dried sufficiently when the surface is firm and shiny. Gently pull leather away from baking paper and store in an airtight container. 

Other things are being harvested too - copious handfuls of basil, chives and parsley are picked for batches of pestro - which I spoon into ice-cube trays, freeze, press-out and store in bags for the rest of the year. 

I've also been rendering lard from the fat of two very well fed and cared for free-range pigs (courtesy of our good friends). Lard is so luxurious - fragrant as a belly roast as it melts - snow white and odourless when set - keeps for years in the fridge (and beyond in the freezer) - it can be safely heated to deep frying and roasting temperatures without burning or denaturing like most other fats and oils - a wonderful source of saturated fat - it's hard for me to fathom why this fat became so unpopular, and why it becomes a discarded "waste product" in abattoirs. I plan to use most of this lard for soap-making, as well as experiment with lip balm and hand salve using our own beeswax and dried herbs...