Saving Grace

The last few months have been hectic. The last two months I've been burning the candles at both ends. When I returned from America I came home to a house move to finalise and a few other personal problems to deal with. It's been challenging to say the least, but we've come out on the other side. During the stressful times I kept reminding myself that things would get better. I said to myself, when I start making the sourdough loaves again, it would signal the return of normality. I'm making bread again.  

Moving house is always a pain. In fact it be lying if I said I don't hate the process. I loath it. This house move wasn't a real choice for us. We'd just started to feel settled. The veg garden was at the height of productivity, we had fresh food coming left, right and centre. Moving house means moving the veg garden, well what ever I can dig up, transplant and save. Before I went OS I formed some gardens beds with the help of my hunting buddy Jack. I planted a bunch of veg, some direct seeds and some as established seedlings. The idea was to have some action in the garden by my return.

 

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Winter has really set in here. We had snow the other day and most mornings we'll either have a frost or our little hill is covered in thick mist. When the winds are here they seem to move in for days at a time. The freezing winds force their way through the trees and the old buildings, finding gaps and making eery whistling sounds, almost like there's someone with you even when you're alone. When the rain and wind decide to marry the conditions are unbearable. Working out here means rugging up in layers, heavy duty boots and even gloves. Travel down off the hills however and it's a different story. The weather is totally different, it's calmer and bearable. Even as harsh as the weather can be living on a hill, it has it's rewards. We bask in a sense of isolation, of peace and comfort. Our style of comfort. At night our wood heater burns and warms our rooms and our hearts. Our kitchen is often filled with the aroma of onions sweating for a pumpkin soup, a hearty stew or a heavy pasta sauce. We eat hot meals from frozen veg we grew in summer. Corn fritters, pea soups, bean stews, pumpkin gnocchi and beetroot pasta. A loaf, hot out of the oven is a joy, an accomplishment of effort. Real butter melts on the test slice, giving me a big grin of both joy and pride. The coffee brews hot each morning on the stove, steams in a cup then heats my insides and wakes my slow mind. I love the winters here. My garden may be in a torpor but our lives are very much active.

 

The days are not with out their challenges. And setting up a new veg garden means that I'm put months behind schedule. Unfortunately I missed the boat with a few plantings but I'll have to make up for the loss in some other form of food. And to make matters worse, the rabbit proof fence I hurriedly made before my overseas jaunt had one flaw. A small gap hidden in the corner of the fence, just enough for what appears to be a family of rabbits. A recent morning discovery of rabbit destruction was heart breaking. The thought of missing out on all the broccoli, onion, kale, spinach and peas was actually scary. Where would I get my spring veg from now? These last few years we can live like we do because I source almost all of our food, a huge reduction in regards to cash outlay. But now it looks like I'll need to buy in some food from some local growers. We'll survive, but it's something that has settled in the back of my mind. It was my lack of care setting up the fence. It's my fault the rabbits got in. Accepting that sucks. It's the situation now, nothing I can do about it. I've replanted everything that was eaten, I've mended the fence OCD style and I'll now pray that the veg can survive the harsh winter and the fence holds out those beastly bunnies. The challenges of committing to what you believe in. Of a self reliant lifestyle. We may have chosen the good life. We never said it was the easy life. But it is a good life.

 

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There is one saving grace though. As I emptied a large container that I'd been using as a mini compost/worm farm I discovered a bunch of crisp potatoes that had been growing among the soil and rotting compost. A feed for the family indeed. In the paddocks the first bunches of stinging nettle have popped up where the farmers sheep camp under the larger trees. I think a few dinners of nettle pesto and potato gnocchi are in order, maybe even a warming nettle and spud soup.

 

I've been busy building a new home for our gang of chooks. I rebuilt the kids old cubby house and put up a fence, complete with a swinging rusty gate to house the girls within the already fenced veg garden. Hopefully the two fence system will keep the foxes away from killing the chooks but lets face it, anything is possible.

 

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At least for now we're getting fresh eggs again. And although the garden looks barren, it somehow feels complete now that chooks have returned. Their clucking kept me company as I replanted the seedlings that the rabbits ate. Life seems to be back to normal.

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