The year that was – 2013

Much to my surprise 2013 has come to a close. And as is natural at this time of year I am reflecting over the year that was.

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Home sweet home

I received a message this morning from a friend whom I met through this blog and who is now a neighbour, which said “welcome home”. πŸ˜€ It IS welcome home too and that was something that has sat so profoundly right in my heart all day today. We are home. We truly are home. πŸ™‚

The kids and I spent our first night here last night. Martin has slept here twice but tonight is the first night our entire family will be sleeping under our new roof. The cats, Maxxie and Minnie aren’t so impressed by their new location, but that probably has more to do with the fact that they’ve been confined to quarters since arriving. They’re in the bathroom at the moment but as soon as the chicks can be ensconced somewhere else safely, my furry boys will move into the laundry. Just for long enough to get them used to it all at least.

The chicks have transitioned well although their peeping woke me more than once last night. For such small creatures they sure can make a loud noise. Their antics, particularly when I refill their food has me giggling every time. It’s a melee! πŸ˜€

There isn’t much other animal news. The chickens have settled in well and we have had 3 of the 10 nesting boxes graced with an egg. Higgy sang her heart out today announcing her warm white deposit. I anticipate having to encourage the chicks to perch rather than hiding out in a tyre again tonight though. I’m hoping it sinks in sokn where they need to sleep although 9 not that small dorkings all jammed like sardines into a tyre is pretty funny. A friend told me how to tell the roosters from the hens too. The hens retain their brown breast feathers whereas the roosters lose the brown and get black and white speckles. Looks like we have 4 hens, possibly a 5th from 9 which works well as 3-4 hens are all we need for eggs. We’ve got our pekin bantams and we will also have the ducks later when they begin to lay too. Lots of eggs to come! And our 9 chicks appear to be a 6-3 in favour of the hens. Time will tell if I’m right but I’m keen to try putting a ring around their legs to mark them as to which to see if I’m right.

But the most exciting parts of my day today were mostly the mundane. I had a lovely time standing in the dappled shade, hanging out the washing on my new (2nd hand but new to me) clothesline and I’ve got 2 loaves of bread rising on the bench. That was a little trickier than normal, adjusting to a new bench location as well as not being able to stand on the freshly filled grout lines on the tiles. But my sourdough starter was demanding attention and I can’t go another day without my bread. I’ve fired the oven up to clean out the nasties so I can bake them soon. Fresh bread for breakfast and I’ve got orange blossom honey to go on it. Nom Nom Nom! πŸ˜€

But most excitingly of all our cooker/heater arrived. My Thermalux Gourmet Cooker is a heater with cooktop, hot water heater and oven! :oD it weighs an absolute tonne! Took 3 men to haul it in (and that was no easy task either) and then the plumbers got to hooking it all up whilst John our builder tiled, put up blinds, grouted and other stuff. I believe the cooker is ready to go! Pity it’s going to be high 20’s tomorrow. I want to build a fire! 😦 It’s all connected to the solar hot water too. So we are heating our water as we speak, nearly entirely off grid. It will work like this. Solar is first, (which is what we have running now) and will contribute, even if only a little, on cold days too. Secondly is the wood fired heater which in winter will serve many purposes. If the water is not hot enough (50*C I believe) then the gas booster will kick in. Currently we are trying to sort out gas (mains or bottle) so the fourth and final water heating option will come in handy for now – electric. It won’t kick in unless there is no sun, no wood heater and no gas so it’s unlikely to be used beyond the next little while until we get gas. And with the low temperature setting, we will use even less. We already have luke warm water thanks to a lovely warm day. πŸ™‚ Next part to that equation will be our water tank but one step at a time. πŸ™‚

Sadly we didn’t realise our plans to visit Fairy Park for Allegra’s party as returning the van turned into a bit of a pain but we celebrated her birthday none the less. Happy 3rd birthday my princess. Love you to bits! πŸ™‚

So, as I lie here taking a much needed (and deserved) break, all I can hear is the fan on my oven fan as it cooks off whatever horrid chemical they coat it with, the sounds of my tireless husband bringing in boxes we hadn’t found time to move in earlier, the sound of the birds (sparrows, passing sulphur-crested cockatoos and one small black bird that sings its glorious little heart out), and the deafening sound of silence! A silence so profound we will most likely hear the chorus of the stars tonight. πŸ™‚ My children fell deeply asleep within minutes of their heads hitting the pillow and I suspect I will too when bed time rolls around. In the mean time I had better get my backside back into gear. So much yet to do.

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Today

Today is moving day! Yippee and about time I tell you! Martin is off sourcing a truck and I am supposed to be packing and getting things ready but I’m procrastinating again. I hate packing! But, the main things we need for tonight are ready to go so it isn’t all bad. πŸ™‚

We had a call from the plumber this morning to discuss the installation of the heater. As Martin was following up the heater, it arrived at the shop on the back of a truck! Talk about timing. Even better, it’s to be installed today! Woo hoo! πŸ˜€

We got a few bits and pieces moved up yesterday – our bed frame is set up and waiting for a mattress and the kids drawers are up as well as the deep freeze which came up Saturday as my local informal co-op had their organic lamb delivered yesterday. I am looking forward to getting into my kitchen and cooking something but sadly that won’t be for the next couple of days. I really should let John finish tiling first I reckon.

Our chooks and ducks are settling nicely into their new home, although the old pecking order has moved along with the chooks sadly. Higgy, our little black pekin bantam is a vicious little thing and has been pulling out the passing tails of anyone she can reach. Nasty little thing. 😦 Our baby chicks are doing well too. I haven’t killed any of them (to my utter relief) and they are as funny as pie to watch (is pie ever actually funny?). When I put in some oats of chicken crumbles for them they all dive on the tiny ramekin and all want to hop in and have a scratch. I mean, they are small and all but so is the food container so it’s quite a bun fight of tiny fluffies all scratching food all over the place. I’m looking forward to moving them up though as I’m tired of the light shining in our bedroom (the only place we can put them safely is right near our front door, just outside our room). It will be the laundry for the cats and bathroom for the chicks. πŸ™‚

Well, I’d better go get some more stuff sorted before my husband arrives home… Oops… Too late. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜›

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 πŸ˜‰ ). 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 πŸ˜‰ ). 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 πŸ™‚ ) 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.Β It’s a time of huge change for them and they have copedΒ marvelouslyΒ 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 πŸ˜‰ ) 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. 😦 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. Β 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