25 Jul 2017

have a bonfire



A few weeks ago the school holidays had just begun, we wrote a list of all things we'd like to do together and stuck it up on the fridge - it included tasks like clearing out the shed and catching up on egg cleaning, but also play dates with friends and crafting and a david attenborough movie night - and near the top was "have a bonfire!" And so we stacked stacked dead logs and branches against an old tree stump in the paddock beside our house, and we made ready a pile of broken furniture and soiled cardboard we could burn too. I made marshmallows using honey and we invited neighbours around to enjoy the warmth with us. The little boys sat mesmerised by the flames as the sun set, it was an especially beautiful, clear winter's evening...

- honey marshmallows -

2 tablespoons bovine gelatine, grass-fed if possible
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup runny honey
tapioca flour (for dusting)

let gelatine powder "bloom" with a 1/4 cup water in a large mixing bowl. meanwhile bring honey and remaining 1/4 cup water to boil on a medium heat. pour hot honey liquid slowly into gelatine, beating on a medium speed with an electric mixer - continue to whip mixture until firm and glossy - around 10 minutes. Spread marshmallow into a paper lined dish and set in the fridge for a couple of hours. Using a sharp knife, cut marshmallow up into cubes and dust with tapioca flour. store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few months...

15 Jun 2017

wintering


here we are again
wintering,
we delight in the green of our garden,
cabbages and snow pea shoots, 
bulbs emerging, 
how quickly the body 
changes with the season -
craves warm cups of tea
and sunshine on the cheek,
hopes for clothes to dry on the line,
clear noses, more sleep -
as farm life begins to slow,
we are so very ready to unplug,
unwind, stretch those tired muscles,
help a back heal, ask big questions
about ourselves, our future, dreams -
we lie awake at night
for the unknowns,
for the night feeds,
we rise in the morning
our breath made visible in the crisp air
the kettle boils slowly, the porridge slower still -
and sometimes the pasture is covered in sparkling frost
and sometimes when we drive to school the fog is so thick
we can barely see ahead, then pulling up by the playground
we hear children running around laughing,
for the novelty of the thing - 
this season,
and it's only just beginning.




10 May 2017

the star quilt


Not long before his second birthday Beren began climbing out of his cot and refusing to be put back in for naps. We moved him into a little toddler-sized trundle bed and then most recently the bottom of a lovely pre-loved bunk bed. He has taken to it happily - and I think especially likes having his big brother so close above him. It seemed a perfect birthday gift to make him his very own big-boy-bed sized quilt. I love the simplicity of big sawtooth star blocks; I made these with bright coloured cottons from my stash - they look so cheery against the creamy white and match beautifully with the screen-printed ABC wall hanging my aunty made for my siblings and I when we were little. Of course my favourite part is the hand-quilting at the end; all the slightly imperfect stitches and seams, no two stars are alike. My mum gave him the teepee tent as a birthday gift - so I folded up the quilt and hid it inside for him to discover - when he did he smiled and pointed "star! star!" May it be used to adorn his bed, construct forts, taken camping, laid out to picnic with, keep him warm and snug for many years to come... x

6 May 2017

the birthing of archer brenin

I had a strange sense of anticipation on Saturday night, November 5th. I was just three days shy of my due date, and it was becoming increasingly uncomfortable to carry my full belly of baby around - to sit, drive, keep up with a busy toddler. After putting the boys to bed and a hearty dinner of roast chicken (raised by us) I set about sewing with varying success; a linen changing mat cover and a pair of cotton gauze pants. Later than night Alex pulled up a chair and we chatted about the pending birth; we agreed that Monday would be the best day for baby to arrive, if one could plan these things!

I struggled to fall asleep that night, every position I got into seemed uncomfortable, I tossed and turned, felt a dull ache in my stomach, and finally around 4am decided to just get up. I  felt like the baby would be coming soon, and began to potter around the house; stacking the dishwasher, clearing the sink, getting breakfast ready, packing away sewing things, I was hungry and ate yoghurt with chopped up banana and granola. I had to go to the toilet again and still had a lingering dull crampy feeling, so I decided to run bath with lavender and epsom salts. It was just after 5am now - I had a little lamp on for dim light, the warm water washed over me, then contractions started to come regularly every 10-12 minutes. I felt them come and go - anticipated the intense rushes and breathed long slow breaths - the spaces between contractions were becoming more and more of a relief. It felt sacred somehow, to be alone and labouring, and yet feel safe in my home, in the bath my mum helped us install, trusting my body to know what to do. I thought about the babe inside my womb, wondered what his face would be like, the colour of his hair... 

The warmth of the water was so soothing, I must have been in there for almost an hour when Alex woke up and popped his head round the door - I think it’s started I said, so he went up to quickly feed out the chickens. Slowly I got out of the bath, dried and dressed myself - pausing for contractions, learning on the edge of the bed, circling my hips for relief, taking the slow “silky” breaths I'd practiced throughout the pregnancy, and exhaling through my mouth. I got my hospital bags ready - and felt so thankful that my older boys had been able to have a full night’s sleep. Reuben was up first at around 6.45am, then Beren soon after. They had breakfast and we called my parents-in-law to come and collect the boys. I called our local country hospital and spoke to the midwife, and we agreed since my last labour was so short, I should make my way in soon. 
There was a bit of confusion about cars - you see, we had a farmers market to attend to that morning. Thankfully we still had Ant, our farm volunteer staying with us, and he agreed to go ahead with our car (packed with market things and our chickens and eggs) and set up. My father-in-law would drive me in to the hospital, Alex would follow behind in Ant's truck. I closed my eyes for most of the car trip in, gripping the seat in silence, leaning my head into the window, praying. I wished Alex was with me. 

At the hospital, midwife Lisa was there to greet me with a big hug and a warm smile - we were both glad to have “got each other” this time - she took me up to the birth room, Alex soon joined us with my bags and set up our music - the same playlist we made for Beren's birth (and Reuben's before him), with a couple of extra tracks added in. Lisa started a bath and we chatted, she told me to relax, that the car trip might have slowed things down a bit, not to worry… the bath was soon ready and I undressed - as I walked toward the bathroom I had such a powerful contraction I had to get down to my hands and knees to breathe through it. When I finally made it to the bathroom, I looked at my big tight belly in the mirror, just to pause and take the familiar sight one last time…

 The warm bath water was sweet relief for my lower back, which was really beginning to ache unbearably. Alex joined me by the side of the bath, kissing my face, stroking my head. He told me to loved me and that I was strong, I could do it, this would be the last time I had to… I stayed a while in the bath before feeling an urgency to get out and return to my hands and knees on the floor, the contractions were getting more intense and I needed to feel firm against the earth. I leaned into a gym ball and Alex pressed warm towels into my back. I wanted to move back out into the main room - it was lit only by the natural morning light streaming through the windows. Lisa got a mat ready, felt my belly and listened to the baby’s heartbeat through the next contraction, she said I was beginning to sound different, like I was needing to push, I felt it too. 

The transitional stage felt so different from my other births, my contractions seemed to  alternate between mild and so much more intense, forceful pushing ones. I asked Lisa to check how far I was along, she did gently and said I was fully dilated, that I could push when I felt like it… and with the next contraction my waters broke, I groaned and pushed, leaning on my knees into the end of the bed - I could feel baby’s head getting into place, I made short blowing breaths as baby’s head began to crown, and that minute or two, between the next contraction, seemed like the longest in all the world. A searing sting, and then a final push, and out came baby. I sat down on the ground, holding my new baby boy, his cord still attached, I took in the sight of this pink, squishy babe - dark haired like his brother, he was covered in white vernix. His head seemed rounder and more delicate than my other babes. It was 9.45am. We were in love.
We had three boys names on our list, but Archer fit best of all. We named him Archer Brenin. Brenin is Welsh for king, and Archer an old English name we just liked the sound of - we call him Archie and Archie-babe...

Leading up to the birth I asked a few close friends to pray for me, to write a blessing or a word of encouragement… a number of people prayed specifically for joy and peace - and truly I felt that - it was as peaceful a labour as one could wish for (in the circumstances) - yes, I felt discomfort and intense pain, I had to persevere, but I also felt strong and able and the sweetest, sweet joy!

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning"


x

6 Apr 2017

twenty eight

On saturday I turned twenty eight and had a lovely birthday - my mum and stepdad and sister came to stay for the weekend so it felt a real luxury to spend it with them; especially to get those warm birthday hugs (only mums and sisters can give) and to have their help wrangling the little boys. I had home-grown boiled eggs for breakfast and tea in my beautiful new mugs made by a local ceramicist, read cards and well wishes from loved ones near and far,  went out for lunch and some window shopping in town, soaked in a hot bath undisturbed by small people, devoured a delicious dinner of moussaka and salad, sipped sparkling elderflower and my sister and I made a messy (but delicious) layered hazelnut sponge with buttercream and ganache. And we played word games afterwards. And oh! Alex surprised with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers grown and foraged locally by a very talented friend and florist. The roses smelt especially glorious... A happy day indeed x

30 Mar 2017

ode to slow

is not so much the speed
as the mind and heart moving in sync -

and sometimes its a brisk pace
of farm chores, jobs to be done,
a juggle and a tussle of needs and wants
and hats and bananas and clean nappies -
laundry hung to dry, eggs to be packed,

or the steady pace of a toddler who stoops low
to notice a small beetle scuttle across the floor
or in the grey of the morning
the flapping arms and open smile
of a babe, just awakened -
ahhh, in the carefully savoured sips of hot tea,
and the smell of verbena leaves crushed,

or the time we woke up earlier than usual,
and finding ourselves with time aplenty to
draw after breakfast, he working on squids
and me on a sketchy hen -
how good it felt to my weary eyes,
to see that old friend, familiar blue!

a tuning in
on car rides to school;
confessions of a five year old,
questions asked, ideas posed -
"how many days will you be alive mama?"
or to a well-written book propped open on a pillow
while breastfeeding in bed
(instead of scrolling on my phone)
to shed a tear for the beauty of the afternoon sun
against the kitchen wall,
and tuning out
to the inner-critic who
so easily finds fault, or worries,
to the temptation to keep scrolling
on social media, and to all the cheap news and fluff,

is choosing to live with less,
or make do, mend a thing,
borrow, go without even -

taking time, when we can, to do just one thing -

is being rooted
unquestionably
in belief, in the
treasures of the heart;
gentleness, compassion, love, grace, celebration -

is being exactly where I am at this moment,
contented.




18 Mar 2017

there and back again


Oh friend, do you know It's been nineteen months since I left this space?  And while it was absolutely the right decision at the time, I have been mulling over the thought of returning in the last little while. In nineteen months, we have grown our farm and our family - we are blessed with three little boys now, and our youngest Archie is nearing five months old. We are busy as ever with chickens and eggs and honeybees and babies and the demands of each day and life we care for. We continue to sink our roots down in a beautiful local community, and weather the seasons and unknowns of our occupation on the land. More than ever, I find myself easily distracted, easily overwhelmed, tempted to scroll through social media and skim superficially through news and articles on my phone, and yet I feel a tug at my heart to connect deeper - I miss the days of slowing down to write (and read) whole blog posts - to pause to comment, to acknowledge, to note down the happenings, take out my good camera, capture beauty, pen thoughts, prayers, memories, sing odes to the seasons, sketch whimsies.

So I am back here with no great vision, just an urge to write again, and savour more fully the everyday graces...


2 Aug 2015

eight years a windhover (and farewell)

Oh friends, isn't the wattle flowering along all the roads around here beautiful? That distinct smell and yellow fluff reminds me Spring is not far away...

This August marks eight years since I started this here blog - how strange to think when I started it - in my first year of university, just eighteen years old, that I would keep it up all these years later. It has been an enormous blessing - a place at once to feel familiar, comfortable, thankful and vulnerable - when I moved house, lived overseas, missed my kin, had children, worked, convalesced, meditated. So many friends made, dialogues started, I have felt so much encouragement and validation as an artist, cook, writer, mama in being able to share here. Truly, looking back I realise how much I needed it. It's been eight years and now it's time to go...

I have always had an agreement with myself that when it seemed time to move on from here, I would. I've been mulling over this for months now - a sense of distance from this space, and a deep right feeling that it's time to close this chapter.

And as you know, in the last year Alex and I have really taken a huge leap of faith - in starting a smallholding farm business, Hand to Ground - since it's inception I've felt the need to pour more time and energy it's vital, young years - my days are overflowing with what we are trying to create, grow, sell, establish - the very full occupation of caring for my young boys, tending to a garden, selling produce and making local connections... and as much as I love reading blogs and keeping up with friends on Facebook and instagram swooning, I really do need time to carve out and call sacred -  time to slow down, be mindful, nourished - offline. Not to mention the inevitable weaning that comes with such limited internet connect here in the countryside!

And so, from time to time, or as often as I can - I will document my days of learning to homestead and build a nourishing life on my instagram and on our farm blog...
Oh, blog - there are so many posts half written in my drafts, things I wanted to say and didn't, or couldn't find the time to put exactly how they needed to be said, or soon became too outdated and no longer relevant to the narrative of life as it moved along. Still, you've been so good to me. I not do not leave empty handed... in fact, I look forward in the next year or two to compiling a series of printed photo books with my favourite posts, odes, poems, photos, reflections, recipes...

Finally readers, it's you I owe a great thanks -
for joining me here, going away and returning,
leaving comments, emails, or unspoken well-wishes,
supporting my crafty or poetic or wordy pursuits -
delighting in the seasons, in my loves,
thank you 

and for the last time let me ask you to please comment, if you can, and tell me:

where are you reading this?
what is your favourite season?
what is your beverage of choice?
what do you like to read?
what have you liked best here?

fare thee well and adieu,
thewindhover
eight years ago...

29 Jul 2015

thankful, a list

 
feeling: quite cold - it's been snowing not that far from us
making: door snakes to stop the drafts and wooly hats for our heads
eating: lots of roasted root vegetables (parsnips, poatoes and beetroot especially)
drinking: warm milk with raw honey and ginger 
thinking: about all those emails to catch up on
disliking: dripping noses
planning: for farmers markets, baby chicks, and vegetable gardens
growing: heirloom cabbages, sprouting broccoli, kale, cos lettuce and masses of parsley!
watching: daffodil, freesia and jonquil bulbs pop up in the grass
delighting: in the wide smiles and tongue-poking of our cheeky baby
anticipating: a busy busy Spring
playing: with wonderful homemade polymer/borax "slime" 
cutting: colourful paper snowflakes with the kiddo
listening: to eggs on the boil, wind against the windows, lambs bleating in the pasture
reading: epic fantasy "Magician", and "the polytunnel book: fruit and vegetable all year round"
praying: for peace and understanding
wearing: layers and layers of wool (thermals, socks, sweaters, beret, scarf)
collecting: dozens of eggs every day
laughing: at funny three-year-old expressions
loving: the indoor plants on top of the fridge
remembering: childhoods spent listening to my grandma's stories
contemplating: a big change
knowing: the nights of broken sleep pass
wanting: a long long soak in a bath tub
wishing: we had a bath tub... 

Inspired by Pip's monthly reflections. Happy Wednesday friends with all you're doing, thinking, hoping...