The Catch Up Post


It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, there hasn’t been much to talk about. Winter was here. It was long, and cold, and so very, very, very WET. It’s a little surprising how wet it was. I looked up the Bureau of Meteorology, and there was some information there that said it was the wettest June/July period for Melbourne on record. Basically it was so cold and wet – sideways rain, temps not above 6C most days – that we stayed inside, tending the fire and knitting things. (well, the others may have played cards, but I knitted.)

However, looking at some photos of the last little while on my phone, I saw that we had actually made some progress on some tasks… so with out further ado, via dot points and photos, here’s what we’ve been doing:

All that rain made the path to the cars very muddy. After the I-man fell one day and caught himself on one hand to save his suit from being mud-streaked, he snapped. And spent the Queen’s birthday long weekend digging a path bed, laying gravel, and using a whacker plate to compact it down. We’ve now got a path that we love, and MUCH less mud and dirt in the house! Win! (That there’s the Boychild helping. He’s so happy in his raincoat in the mud!)

The path got finished, complete with some winding through the garden, and I planted some lavender that I got at a bargain price from a local nursery to make an informal hedge eventually (that’s the lavender in pots, about to go in, and yes, it was a very rare sunny winter’s day – one of the few we had):

Amusing-shaped vegetables were harvested from the winter vegie patch. This one’s a parsnip. Only a couple were forked and twisted like this, the rest were gorgeously round, fat and just as a parsnip should be. Roasted alongside an organic chook… YUM!

Other things of note:

  • Boychild’s purple sprouting broccoli began to grow actual broccoli! Here are 2 shots: one just starting, and one just at harvest:

  • We’ve been eating masses of broccoli for the last 4 weeks. The plants have gone totally mad, and the side shoots that grow after the central head has been harvested are succulent and delicious, either raw or cooked! Yum!

  • Coco the goat has gone back to our friend’s house, just for a while, until the blackberries grow out of hand again. We’ve booked her back for late September!
  • We are taking the opportunity that a low livestock-to-person ratio offers, and renovating the chook shed. It is a lovely big one, but is not rat and fox proof, and the run is enormous, taking up the heart of our property. We’ve made a plan, and are excited about moving fences, opening up the heart of the place, and finally getting feathered friends again. We love chooks! Hooray! Photos of this are to come, I think it deserves a post all of it’s own.

And now that it’s Spring again, and the sun has been wrestling itself out from behind the rain clouds, I’m sure there’ll be more to tell, and more to show.




There’s been radio silence over here for a couple of weeks, because our Gilbert died. There’s no easier, nicer way to say it, because it’s neither easy nor nice.

He was our friend, cat-about-the-place, companion, sociable participator and giver of paws-on healing. Also, giver of catupuncture, which was one of the many surprise bonuses of letting him sit on your lap, apart from being allowed to beg favours and cups of tea from other people not quite so comprehensively pinned-down.

You see, Gilbert was mostly Maine Coon, which put him in the “lounge tiger” category of cat. He was HUGE: almost 8kg for most of his life, and we were astounded to find out that he was actually quite small for his breed. Maine Coon males usually hit between 9-12kg full grown. So we affectionately called him “our runt,” because cats like dignified nicknames like that.

We buried him in a spot he’d taken to lying in for most of the day. For better or worse, it’s just outside the dining room window, on an embankment that we can see when we’re sitting at the table. From inside, I wasn’t sure it was the best spot. After all, I am going to be staring at his grave each mealtime for the forseeable future. But once I was outside, standing in the spot he’d chosen for himself, I could see exactly why it was perfect. Sunny for most of the day, peaceful. A good vantage point to survey both the front and back gardens, and with a fence to the back and sides, so that nothing could sneak up on him.

We buried him with many tears and rememberances in an afternoon that felt full of ceremony. Texts from friends and family were read out, because he was a cat loved my many.

So for a while we’ll be opening the back door at random moments, to let in a phantom cat. And looking out for our footing whilst carrying loads of washing around, in case of sudden cat-between-the-ankles lunges, and other things you do when they’re habit and you’ve done them for 11 years.

Sigh. It’s just not the same without him.

Six months…

We’ve been here six months now. That dawned on me as I was brushing a Boychild’s teeth last night. It was slightly disconcerting, as I feel that we’ve really slowed down on the work that needs and wants to be done around here.

Canvassing opinion from some friends though assured me that we have made more great changes, and if we feel like we’ve slowed, and that the weeds are slowly creeping back, we can blame it on things like Christmas! and School Holidays! Spending Time with the Children! and Getting Ready for School to Start!! So it’s all good, really.

I can’t help feeling a little nostalgic for the early days of discovery – I know I have 6 more months, and then I will have been here, breathed this air, for the turn of a year. I will have seen the moods of a year pass in this place. Watched the sun stream from East to West each day for 365 of them. Or 366 this year. 6 more months, and then we can do some of the bigger things we’re planning; the infrastructure that needs to be taken down/shifted/put up. The plantings we’re dreaming of. Decide whether that home office we now have a permit for actually needs to be built or not…

What I do know is true is this: I fall in love with this place anew every day. It only takes a step outside to remind me how lucky and grateful I am to be able to call a place like this home. It is pretty shabby, and run-down, and the garden feels like a constant avalanche of weeds, produce and work, and I doubt that the edges will ever be neat, but there is something indefinably lovely about the whole thing. The ‘feel’ of it, which has gotten under my skin. I’m glad, and hope it never leaves.