Reflections and looking forward

We are into the final countdown of the saga that has become moving. November 11th was pinged as moving day, and indeed we did begin to move our possessions up there that weekend, but sadly, we are still living in our house here in Spotswood. Things have stretched out, mainly due to us adding extra renovations (like the bathroom) so no blame on our builder John who has been amazing. But as we enter into the final days of our city life I find myself reflecting more and more on the year that has been and how it is that we have reached the point we are at.

When I stop and think about what changes this year alone has brought… It was January 1st or 2nd when Martin gave the go ahead for the move to country Victoria and it was only Melbourne Cup Day last year (November 1st 2011) that we camped with friends in Trentham (nearly freezing ourselves solid in the process) that I started seriously pushing this ludicrous idea on my husband. Since then we’ve researched locations, (Trentham, Woodend, Kyneton, Lara and finally Ballan) building materials and fruit and vegetable varieties. I’ve delved into natural fibres vs synthetics, polyurethane, polyethylene, shellac, VOC’s, then chicken breeds, goat breeds, species of trees, natural vs herbicides/pesticides and all sorts of other things. It’s been an incredible journey of knowledge and my poor husband has been awoken from sleep several times by my exclamations of disgust or surprise at all hours when I’m researching because I can’t sleep. On occasion I’ve actually woken him to share some new knowledge I’ve come across that simply cannot wait until morning. He usually isn’t too appreciative of that but hey, you get that. šŸ˜›

Martin too has had changes to get his head around, more than just the financials. He’s been the one who’s got his head around all the mortgage details, who has just added extra time to his commute to work, who is doing the heavy lifting and the hard yakka even now and he’s done so much research into Trevor, our tractor, both in looking into what we needed for mowing and also in fixing Trevor. He’s actually spending the night in Ballan tonight to start bright and early on fixing Trevor and mowing before the snakes decide our garden is their ideal habitat (saw one dead on the side of the road today). (And he has just called me so I can listen to the sound of his little engine chugging away merrily. Still some to do but he is working, YAY!:D ) Martin has been my absolute rock as I’ve dived head first into all of this, listening to my eco-ranting, huge dreams and plans for the next 1,2,5 and 10 years. He’s not put down my thoughts of goats, more acres, sheep, chickens, ducks and all the rest, just brought the voice of reason in regards to timing and practicality. He’s dealt with most of the builder queries, allowed me my perfect kitchen (although he still won’t let me call it MY kitchen) and promptly, although not necessarily cheerfully, paid the bills as they’ve come in. He’s also watched the kids whilst I’ve been shopping for tiles and carpet, helping to entertain them, feed them and keep them safe whilst I’ve dug gardens, planted seeds and then he has helped handle the machinery or lifting that I can’t do, digging holes for posts, cementing them in and also happily chainsawing off branches I’ve deemed in the way (although I think he’s enjoyed playing with his new chainsaw there šŸ˜‰ ). He has been incredible, sharing our story with work colleagues and finding similar dreams, shared experiences and bringing home sage advice from those that have been there done that. He’s also listened to me moan and groan about sore muscles and aching bones, despite being 11 years my senior and probably aching just as much (sorry honey, I couldn’t resist that one šŸ˜‰ ). Just cos I don’t say it enough, thank you for being absolutely the best husband and girl could ask for and for your amazing support and belief this year. I love you.

The kids have been included in all the changes too. They’ve been up to their elbows in compost, planted seeds, pulled out plants and weeds, clambered around tyres, helped us cement in posts, watered plants, carried things, dug holes (they particularly like the digging bits šŸ™‚ ) and so many other things. They’ve learned to collect eggs, feed chickens and they’ve helped me pick up our chicks and put down bedding for them.Ā It’s a time of huge change for them and they have copedĀ marvelouslyĀ with changes in their routine, meals on the run, hours spent in the car, repeated episodes of Thomas to keep them content, changes in childcare and making new friends too. I am so proud of each of them. Despite their voicing that they don’t want to move (it’s a stubborn streak I am well familiar with as I know where they inherited at least half of it šŸ˜‰ ) I know they absolutely adore the freedom and space to play at Ballan. They have come so far in their confidences too – Jas was even playing with (albeit not quite touching) 2 friendly border collies last weekend after their owner introduced them (one was called Jasper). He screamed blue murder about 2 much smaller dogs just a few short months ago. Allegra has grown in confidence too, although she still has her “daddy daddy” moments as only a 3 year old daddy’s girl can have. She loves to help with watering and helped me plant out some flowers today too. She likes ” fwowers” so I can see that I will have to look further into friendly bug mixes which contain many plants and flowers enticing to the predator bugs we want in our gardens. And Orik has grown up with freedoms and fun that the other 2 have only just discovered. He’s had battles with chickens, specifically Okku to whom he has taken a shine. Sadly, she is a moody fat feather duster with a sour disposition and the score so far is Okku 4: 0 Orik. That’s how many times he’s been pecked. šŸ˜¦ He’s also had free ranging freedom in the garden that I would not have dared to give the other 2 at his age, not because he is any different to them but because I am different.

And the changes in me have been profound. I’ve dealt with and am continuing to deal with my phobias, facing up to parenting fears and discovering a food intolerance. Ā I’ve given up coffee and cut down/out chocolate and refined sugars. I’ve learned about fats and oils, cooking sourdough and read up and dreamed about making my own cheeses and deli meats. I’ve changed the way I view so many things and I know that my thought processes are still in the middle of massive upheaval. So much of what I have taken for granted I now question, and so many things I used to love I now can’t stand and so much I believed and trusted to be true I now struggle to readjust to a world where I know they are not.

I don’t write all this here as I plan to sit on my laurels and nor am I expecting praise or rewards or anything. I have my rewards already in my improved health and happiness and in the health and happiness of my family. I am merely reflecting out loud so to speak on the year that has nearly come to a close (only 32 days until Christmas and 39 until 2013) and the journey that has lead us/me to this point where we are moving.

I actually never thought I’d move again until into a retirement or nursing home. In fact I seem to recall uttering the words “over my dead body” to Martin on more than one occasion, but here we are over half way through moving. I’m up to my eyeballs in packed and half boxes, unpacked stuff that I don’t know when to start packing, sleeping on mattresses on the floor, living with half a wardrobe (I packed most of our summer clothes in anticipation of moving a month ago) and I’m tired of not remembering if something is here in Spotswood or there in Ballan. I’m also tired of having limited cooking supplies as I’ve been trying to use up what we have and not buy more as it’s just more to move. But we have now got a date when the carpet will be down, and the tiles will also be finished and we will be able to start sleeping in our new house.There may still be things incomplete or unfinished – we still await completion dates on our wood heater, solar hot water system, gas connection and final plumbing details but we can work around these things if needed. Thermy will help with the cooking and I survived for 2 weeks washing in kettle heated bath water during the gas crisis in the late 90’s so I’m sure we can do that again. It won’t be for too long anyway and I know the kids will love the adventure. lol

And once we have moved we will be able to pick up life again, visiting friends and inviting them over to visit too, having all my household goods available and the kids will get to enjoy 2 Christmases, the actual 25th of December one and the bonus one they will have when they get to open up their boxed up toys. I’m also looking forward to joining our local play group, meeting other kinder and childcare mums as Jas starts 4yo kinder next year and Allegra will have a day of childcare. It’s going to be a mega busy year next year with a lot of changes and big adjustments, but since 2013 contains the number 13 it should be my lucky year. Bring it on!

Jas doing papier mache last year.

Allegra about 12 months ago

Orik at about 3-4 months old

And my big boy now

Such a great helper

And my (not really anymore) bubba


Operation Homestead: Days 9, 10 and 11.

Saturday might have been frustrating but Sunday was glorious! Sunday was a day of HUGE achievement! I am so proud of all of us. Martin got a lot more of the mowing done. It’s sadly still slow going as the grass is so long and there are so many trees and several stumps, as well as 3 children all wanting a piece of him but most of it is done. Yay.

The kitchen is also gone too, as is the laundry sink and the carpets. It’s all gone to new homes now which is fantastic and the bonus is that the house is pretty much gutted – only floors and a few wardrobe doors to go for things to be completely gutted. With the builder starting tomorrow the timing is perfect. My job now is about choosing paint colours. The kitchen colours were chosen a few weeks ago so it’s all about matching colours now. We’ve chosen a nearly no VOC paint and low VOC undercoat to prevent off-gassing of nasties into the house. VOC’s or Volatile Organic CompoundsĀ are organic chemicalsĀ that have a high vapour pressureĀ at ordinary, room-temperatureĀ conditions. Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporateĀ or sublimateĀ from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enterĀ the surrounding air. An example is formaldehyde. (Thanks Wiki šŸ˜‰ ).

Next choice to make is the colours for the floors. We’ve opted to go with tiles as they provide great thermal mass. Thermal mass is how well the building regulates the temperature by absorbing heat/cool. Think of a hot summers day and how quickly a weatherboard house heats up when compared to a brick house. The brick house has greater thermal mass so it takes longer to heat up and conversely to cool down too. The house currently has floating floorboards which have poor thermal mass so we’re keen to help increase that. Tiles will absorb any available heat from the sun in winter when the sun comes through the back door and kitchen window but in summer when the sun is high they will be pleasantly cool to walk on and help keep things cool. The bedrooms will beĀ carpetedĀ so I need to research into carpet next. I dislike the idea of man-made fibres so I am already leaning towards wool, although I know there are corn carpets, recycled water bottle carpets and then the standard synthetics as well as blends but as much as I love the idea of innovative recycling, I just love the idea of lush wool carpets underfoot. Still, as I said, research needs to be done. If anyone has any advice…?

Out in the gardens we managed to nearly finish off 2 more no dig beds. I need about another 1/2 load of compost to finish them both off so I think 4 more loads of compost will have us done and dusted on the beds. We’ll see. I also got my compost bin built. 4 pallets, 8 stakes and hey presto, a cheap, easy and movable compost. šŸ™‚Ā We got some of the old sub-division fence down too which makes way for the grapes too so I can wire that up next weekend, and we also have fence palings we can use to fix up the fence here in Spotswood. Reuse win! šŸ™‚

The next big massive job on the cards is building the chicken house. I’m thinking about 2.5 x 2.5 metres, give or take as I am planning to build it using the superadobe technique. I am using old flat sheets sewn into bags but I need to source a LOT more flat sheets and a lot of clean fill soil too. The whole lot will then be rendered although I’ve yet to decide on the render material. I’m looking forward to building it as I love the whole natural building concept but I have a lot to do to get it ready to build then built.

We finally got home about 9:30 with 3 kids who transferred straight into bed. It as an exhausting day and we were both aching and stiff after all the manual labour but I feel so pleased with all we achieved.

Monday was a quiet day Ā but I managed a run up to Ballan today to deliver the builder his key and drop off a few pieces of outdoor furniture and some potted plants.Ā Next job though is to organise fencing and that is my task for the morning. Time for me to head to bed though tonight. I’m still exhausted after all the work on the weekend and anyway, I’m sleeping with somebody new tonight who propositioned me in the sweetest way. šŸ˜‰ “Mummy, can I sleep wiv you tonight please?” How can I resist. šŸ˜€

Night all.