3 minutes of downtime

What do you do in your 3 minutes of downtime? Sure you’re probably thinking what is this woman on about…3 minutes of downtime…she’s a stay-at-home mum she has heaps of downtime. Ya right! I wish.

Between taking care of my beautiful baby girl, housework, cooking, car seat rentals, event managing the Central Otago A&P show, and managing our small farm, I get about 3 minutes of downtime, that are just for me. And in this time I am usually trying to gulp back a latte, peruse facebook, pinterest,twitter and instagram at the same time, or I am working on my photos, editing and playing with my camera. It’s my time. I can do with what I want and I enjoy it. Although it may be short, it’s re-boosting and invigorating and I need it.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining here. I love being a stay-at-home mum and love managing the farm and all of the other jobs I have taken on. It’s busy but that’s how I like it. But it does mean I just need these few minutes of me time a day to enjoy everything I do just a little bit more. And in today’s 3 minutes I wrote this blog, and the baby is up again so here we go. 🙂

Lots of love out there!

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The grass is growing

I love warm mild winter days. That’s right it’s mid-July and we are sitting at a balmy 17 degrees down here on the South Island! We are supposed to be in to our coldest time of year and for the past two days I have been able to turn the fire off and get out and enjoy the sunshine.

The washing is hanging out -for the second day in a row and has dried completely. The fire is off and windows are open airing out the house. It could not have come at a better time actually with our bout of sickness and germy little bugs everywhere. A good air out is exactly what this house needs. And in term of the farm this weather is fantastic! We had a little bit of rain earlier this week an now these warm temperatures the grass will be loving it and so will our stock. It’s not so hard on them and they aren’t burning calories to stay warm, rather bulking up how we want them too. Our paddocks are looking green and lovely against the golden sun and I know we will have enough feed to make it through the second half of winter. There is no need to break the ice on the trough these days and your fingers don’t freeze when shifting breaks because of soggy wet gloves. I love these days on the farm and being able to go out without have to spend fifteen minutes getting both me and the bubs dressed to withstand the weather. I know we will soon again be back to freezing temperatures and frosty mornings, but for now I will enjoy the sunshine and get my healthy dose of vitamin D.

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As I sit here breathing in the gorgeous fresh Central Otago air, drinking my coffee of course (how else am I supposed to make it through the day?) and lying in the warm winter sun like a cat, I cant help but thin about how lucky we are to live where we do. Even in the midst of what is supposed to be a yucky cold time of year we these days and are surrounded by the beauty of the landscape, one can only sometimes describe has barren and harsh. But this is home. And I cannot think of a better place to call home.

Weekend Love

I love weekends. Not because I work and have time off on weekends – as I’m a stay-at-home mummy so my job is never done. But because we have daddy home on the weekends. And it’s also not because he lets me sit and do nothing and takes care of everything – haha -far from it. I end up doing most of the chores on the weekend because someone else is there to watch bubs.

No, I love weekends because at least once we have a lie-in and snuggles in bed with bubs. I love this time and precious moments we have together and the smiles she gives her daddy as if he is the only man in the world (and I hope it stays that way a very long time). And then I’m usually up with bubs for a bit getting her dressed and sorted for the day and just as she is going down for her first nap, daddy gets up and cooks up an amazing breakfast, usually bacon and eggs fresh from the neighbours chooks (cannot wait to get our own soon). I love it. I don’t think he realises how much I do love it. It’s an hour of ‘us’ time and he does all the cooking and makes me a fantastic latte and I get to sit back and enjoy. Sure I still have to do dishes and the washing and the vacuuming and get myself sorted for the day, but at least we have that time with each other. Conversation is good, food is good and the company well it’s the best. It makes me smile and I love that we can enjoy this time together – I know these days are fleeting and soon there will be little rugrats joining us at the table and wanting to eat what daddy has on his plate and not on their own plate. And this will bring a whole new level of joy to our lives.

Until then I’m going to enjoy those weekend breakfasts and time together of just us.

And duty calls, baby is crying and dishes still are not done. Off I go!

So apparently I’m a dog person now…

Ask me five years ago if I would ever get a dog and my answer would have been ‘hells no!’ Too much work, not enough time, I work full-time, and it would be neglected etc etc. The list would have gone on and on. I also lived in a big busy city and I did not think it fair to have a dog locked up in a house all day only to go for walks on a lead and never have anytime to be free and run around and do doggy things. I would have been a terrible dog mummy.

And then I moved to New Zealand and my life did a 180. I was no longer surrounded by buildings and concrete, rather lived miles from the city and had the wide open air around me. My perspectives changed a little and having a dog only seemed to make sense. Now three years later, we have two dogs and I cannot imagine my life without them.

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Macy
We got Macy two years ago – before moving to the farm. She’s one very active, excited and lovable Springer Spaniel. To say she is part of the family is an understatement. She has nestled her way into our hearts, home and sometimes even our bed. And my now five month old baby girl is absolutely in love with her already – can’t wait to watch them grow up together.

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Our first baby
Then we moved to a small farm in Chatto Creek, and needed a working dog. Macy was just not going to cut it shifting lambs for us – way too fast and way to excited to just chase, not move stock. So we got Ra, a Huntaway mix. He is shy and timid, but can work stock and is very lovable. Loves to get scratches and snuggles and lie on the porch and soak up the sunshine. But he works when he needs to and most of the time he is pretty good at it.

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Ra
I used to scoff at people who talked about their dogs as being a family member and found it just a bit odd. I admit it. So what made me become a dog person. I’m not quite sure, but I think of at least five reasons.

1) Their unconditional love. No matter what happens or how long you have been gone for or how little time you have been gone for, my dogs are so excited to see me. I mean wag the tail, jump up and down excited to see me. They get happy seeing my car come down the road. And when you’re not feeling the best, they are right there with you trying to cheer you up, snuggling in and wanting cuddles.

2) They understand. I don’t know how they know what’s going on but they do. They can sense emotions and know how to act accordingly. I remember bringing my baby girl home in January and I was unsure about how the dogs would react. I was not in the best way after having her and I got out of the car and let Macy off her kennel. She didn’t jump, bark or try to barrel me over (I had not seen her in almost a week), rather she quietly walked beside me as I hobbled my way over to the car where my partner and bubs were. She sniffed the blanket I had our baby girl wrapped in and that was it. She accepted her into our family immediately. Always wanting to give kisses which we stop, but she loved her right away and knew she had to be gentle.

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3) A sense of security. Dogs hear everything – they know when things are off – and they want nothing to happen to you. I just feel a bit safer with my dogs around. Especially on nights when it’s just me and bubs at home. I know if someone is around or coming up the drive because the dogs will let me know.

4) They want to make you happy.  Yup their whole goal is to please their owners. They see you as the leader of their pack and they want to make you happy. Always looking for you when out for a walk and listen to your commands in order to please you. Everything they do is for you and possibly for a few treats and cuddles.

5) They work harder than me. I mean this in a good way. They make working life on the farm a lot easier. Macy catches rabbits, Ra rounds up stock and Macy helps their as well. Saves me a whole bunch of running and walking myself. Work smarter not harder, and a good dog will allow you to do that.

So I’ll say it now – ‘I’m a dog person” -yup that’s right – love these little monsters heaps, and cannot imagine my life without a dog now. Sure sometimes its tough when you want to getaway but we have great neighbours who feed and walk them when we are away and my father-in-law loves Macy and would watch her in a heart beat for us. We are lucky that way. And I guess I’m lucky that they found their way into our lives. My little girl is growing up with her best friend already.

Macy come, sit with us and play.

Shifting breaks 

So it’s a girls day on the farm. Little Miss A and I are out shifting lambs and feed breaks for the cattle. We got this!


Not three minutes after I finished were our calves into the new grass. Winter feeding is tough on them but they have heaps of feed with turnips and grass we sowed this past Autumn. Happy wee boys they are! 

30 Day Photo Challenge

I am embarking on a 30 Day Photo Challenge with a few others in a farming group I am a part of. The original idea is not mine (ie. the list) and is from another blogger and farming mum, Just A Farmers Wife (#jafwphotochallenge). But I also wanted to share my photos with my readers, so here it is…

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Day 1: self-portrait. Who am I kidding I love selfies. But how to come up with one that was a wee bit artistic and showing who I am today. Well. I’m a mum first and foremost. It’s amazing how quickly one can settle into that role. But I do enjoy taking a small time out when my wee button is sleeping and enjoying the life I have created. This mornings sunrise and hard frost was gorgeous, made even more amazing by a delicious coffee and knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Life is good and I am happy and nothing beats looking over the paddocks knowing that you worked hard to get here with your partner and that everything is as perfect as it can be. #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 2: something new So I decided my new ‘project’ would be learning to crochet. I saw some patterns I thought were so cute so now I have to learn to do it!

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Day 3: something cold. Well fairly easy to get a good shot this morning, a minus 6 start and a hard frost. Out breaking the ice off the water troughs for the cows and lambs. You know they were thirsty when they all go running for it. Brrrr need to add that to the morning routine now #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 4: food A midweek roast at our house tonight #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 5: symmetry. I love these windows in my house. Give it so much character and they will be something I will miss when we eventually build our new home. But single pane windows are cold in the winter. Brrrr #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 6: water. It’s a rainy old morning here in Springvale. Definitely will not be hanging out the washing today #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 7: shadows. #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 8: something orange. Took this yesterday when out for lunch with my sister and her beautiful twins had a great day #jafwphotochallenge #somethingorange #orange #flower

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Day 9: animal. My first fur baby. ‘Look I’m sitting so where’s my treat?!?’ #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 10: scenery- The Hawkduns. This was taken a few weeks ago when I went to visit some friends. We used to live out this way and had these beautiful mountains as our view everyday. Now I can just see the tops of them from our new place #jafwphotochallenge #scenery

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Day 11: something old. This is an old family milk churn. Love that it has been passed down and has original tags. #jafwphotochallenge #milkchurn
 

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Day 12: animal again. This is our working dog Ra. Tough when he needs to be but such a big suck. Loves sleeping on the porch in the sun and playing. #jafwphotochallenge #animal

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Day 13: flower. The last rose left in my mother in laws garden. Winter has set in here #jafwphotochallenge #rose

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Day 14: what you wore today. This seems to be my go to outfit lately. Super comfy and easy to breastfeed. Can dress it up or down with the right boots. But when we are just mucking around the farm gum boots and wooly hat are the way to go. And my best accessory of course is Little Miss A! #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 15: love. Sunday snuggles in bed with my beautiful family #jafwphotochallenge #love

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Day 16: black + white. The mailboxes On Keddell Rd. #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 17: it makes me happy. It makes me happy to be able to enjoy time with loved ones and friends over a cup of coffee in the winter snuggled up by the fire. There is so much that makes me happy it’s hard to choose just one thing. And I cannot wait to catch up with family and friends back home in September. #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 18: what’s happening at 4? Sorting out end of year financials with this wee button helping me #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 19: nature

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Day 20: art. One of my favourite art pieces I own. A painting by Matt Durant (2009) a Toronto artist. He used reclaimed timber to paint this one. I like the message it portrays about what we as society are doing to the environment. The crane removing the last tree from the city. Should be a wake up call to all of us. I loved it so much it was shipped across seas from Canada when I moved to New Zealand. #jafwphotochallenge #mattdurantstudio

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Day 21: begins with ‘t’. Tides. Low tide at Moreaki Boulders. Away for the weekend and loving being by the ocean #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 22: lines. Feeling very uninspired today unfortunately. Took this photo a while back in Dunedin. #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 23: i spy. #jafwphotochallenge

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Day 24: bag. My ‘I can’t leave home without it bag’. Always packed and ready to go. Change of clothes for bubs and a top for me (just in case) extra nappies, toys, spew clothes, hand cream, hats mitts and booties, wallet, lip balm, Plunket book, and probably everything else in between. #jafwphotochallenge #bag #lovethisbag

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Day 25: winter. I was secretly hoping to wake up this morning to gorgeous snowfall so I could post a winter picture. But alas that did not happen. So I thought I would post pictures of the stereotypical Canadian winter. I spent Christmas in the Yukon Territory one year dog sledding. Here are some of my favourite shots from that trip. I do miss the snow! #jafwphotochallenge #dogsledding #winter
Day 26: movement. Took this timelapse yesterday when shifting the calves feed break with bubs. Movement of the break and us moving. #jafwphotochallenge. See this link for video

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Day 27: body. This little growing body continues to amaze me every single day. Can’t wait to watch her grow into an amazing girl #jafwphotochallenge

Well it’s winter time again…

Yes it’s true – winter has finally hit. It’s cold and frosty and the condensation is dripping down the windows (I hate single pane windows), at least on the plus I have a diesel fire and I don’t need to be carrying wood inside everyday!

But that being said, winter does bring on a whole new set of chores to stay on top of. One of the most important things is getting out early in the morning when it’s still frosty to break the ice off of the water troughs for the animals. Although this does not sounds too bad when you have  4 month old in tow it makes a bit more interesting. A once 10 min job, turns into almost a 45 minute affair, once you get little miss bundled and myself bundled (although usually I’ll admit it I’m still in my pj’s) and off to the various paddocks where the stock are to break the ice with my trusted old wooden broom handle. Sometimes I’m lucky and can do this when she naps, but not so easy at the moment with our motorbike out of commission. It definitely wakes you up in the morning though!

Feeding out is also something you forget about in the summer – the stock happily grazing along and not a care in the world. And wham winter hits and all the sudden there is not enough feed so your feeding out hay and bailage, along with break feeding the paddocks to ensure you will get through the winter. We were lucky this year and had a bit of a late start of winter, but now that it has arrived we are in the full swing of things.

Don’t get me wrong – I love all of this – but winter does bring another dynamic to the farm and we just need to stay on top of things. I am usually able to do a walk of the paddocks in the afternoon and check on all of the stock and make sure everything is running smoothly. At least then if there are any major problems we can get it sorted before dark. The longest day is coming up soon and after that things just seem to get a bit brighter…no pun intended 😛

So a random post about chores I know, but it was just what was on my mind today.

 

Coffee or Tea? Both, in the Garden Please

I love coffee! Let’s just get that out of the way – I love that morning hit and pick me up…and to make things even better my lovely partner bought me an espresso machine for Christmas! Yay! Now I can make an amazing latte, for breakfast! No better way to start the morning. IMG_8899.JPGBUT, the environmentalist in me cringes a bit every time I make one. I think of all of those little capsules, not being recycled and ending up straight into the landfills. Not good at all for anyone. But I have figured a few things out, and make my morning habit a little less harmful. First of all, the machine I have is a Nespresso. Amazing coffee and company for a number of reasons. By 2020, Nespresso will sustainably source 100% of its permanent Grand Cru range (the range I use), so you know your coffee is coming from a healthy and well looked after source and work force. It’s important to know that it is sustainably managed right from the beginning. Secondly, Nespresso also recycles their capsules, making them into new capsules again, thereby reducing the impact of continually producing aluminum. You just simply have to drop them off at the closest center. In other words, the company is making steps forward to make a difference for the environment.

However, talking about the company is not the reason for my post. Shocking I know. Rather I want to share how amazing coffee grounds and tea leaves are for your garden and how you can start making small changes at home to help out with your garden. Composting with coffee and tea is a great way to make use of something that would otherwise fill up landfills. Coffee and tea add nitrogen to your compost pile. There are a number of ways you can use it, one by adding to your pile, or it can be added directly to soil as fertilizer for your plants. Coffee grounds add organic material to your soil, which improves drainage, water retention and aeration in the soil, just add it in around your plants.  I like to add it to the compost pile as I find it helps to break down the other organic materials and the worms love it! Moist tea leaves added to the compost bin increase the speed with which your pile decomposes as well. Most tea bags are compostable, but 20-30% may be made of polyproplene, which will not decompose. These will feel slippery to the touch and have a heated sealed edge. Still fine to use in the compost bin, just know that you will be pulling out tea bags later on.

So what does this have to do with the espresso capsules. Well it’s actually quite easy to get the grounds out of the capsules and make use of them in your own garden. I maybe spend 10 minutes a week on this and provide my garden and compost heap with the extra boost it needs. Simply cut the top open in a cross with a knife and scrape out the grounds into a bowl or your bin. And then of course store your emptied capsules until you are able to drop them off at a recycling center which accepts them. Easy peesy and you’ll probably feel pretty good about lessening your ecological footprint as well. And obviously espresso capsules are not the only coffee people drink – so any grounds are great to be used in the garden or compost bin. Your plants will love it!

Coffee grounds can also be used for:

  • Mulch for plants
  • Keep slugs and snails away
  • Some say it is a cat repellent (I use lemon balm herb for this planted among the vegetables)
  • Worm food for vermicomposting

Just remember that if we all do these little things, it will make a huge difference in the end. So enjoy your morning coffee or tea without the guilt, and keep your garden ticking away happily.

Red Red Raspberries

Who doesn’t love raspberries? Such a delicious and refreshing treat in the summertime and I cannot get enough of fresh berries – I miss them so much in the winter.

Raspberries are not only delicious, but amazingly healthy for you as well. They are high in fiber, and contain Vitamin A, folate, antioxidants and numerous minerals. The juice contains Vitamin C and the little seeds contain Vitamin E. No guilt eating these at all.

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Raspberries are like a weed! They multiply quickly and readily, so be sure you are happy with where you have decided to plant your bush. Raspberries need rich, deep soil that drains well year round. They are not happy with soggy feet. If planting a new bush, early spring time is best. I however am not following this rule as m lovely neighbour just dropped off some raspberry cane trimmings and they need to get into the ground. These trimmings were from her well established stock and they should take well as it is similar soil and area that they are being replanted too. Do expect some detail and wilting until the roots are once again established.

It is imperative not to let your raspberries dry out in the summer. Although they don’t like wet feet, they are not necessarily drought resistant. And with our hot and dry summers in Central Otago a watering of all of my plants every other day is imperative.

So at the moment it is a wait and see game for me, and hope that the canes take off nicely and we are going to have a beautiful bounty of sweet red delicious raspberries next year.

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Fresh From the Garden

There is nothing better than walking out to the garden and picking up everything you need for tea that night. A beautiful cauliflower, some potatoes, lettuce, peas, carrots and the list goes on and on. Most backyard gardeners probably do not use pesticides or herbicides, but if you do you for sure need to be washing your fruit prior to eating. If not I would still suggest rinsing and ensuring you are free and clear of all bugs. Nothing worse than diving into dinner and having a bite of cauliflower with a side of earwig…yummy! (Earwigs have got to be the most disgusting insects…I’m sorry I just can’t handle them and they thrive in floral vegetables as there are so many nooks and crannies they can hide in).

So the ‘lovely’ earwig is actually what inspired my post. I pulled a IMG_8699stunning cauliflower from the garden today to roast up for dinner tonight and once I got cutting it up out come the ear wigs – not heaps just a few but enough to make me cringe. So how do you ensure you are free of the little pests before cooking? Not all vegetables follow the same cleaning process…so I thought I would share some of my tricks and hacks for this.

Cleaning your garden vegetables naturally

Before cleaning your vegetables, make sure your hands are clean -using soap and water and washing for about 20 seconds. Also make sure your work space that you will be using is cleaning to avoid cross-contamination with meat and other fruit/vegetables for example, leafy greens, berries and root vegetables should not be prepared together. Clean cutting boards and knives are best to use. Really the point of washing is to make sure all visible dirt is removed and any pesky insects have disappeared.

Floral Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke) – soak in a clean bowl with cool water and lemon juice for 2 minutes. Rinse after soaking with cool water.

Root Vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beetroot etc) -you can use a scrub brush or just your hands cleaning off all visible dirt from the vegetable.

Leafy Vegetables (lettuce, spinach, kale etc) -remove the outside layer and rinse under cool water – again removing all visible dirt (no more than 2 minutes) -you will want to dry these before eating as well. I use the ‘tea towel whip’ method. Grab a clean tea towel – put lettuce on it for example – head outside and ‘whip it, whip it real good’, back and forth so majority of the water is removed from the leaves.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and peppers just need a quick rinse under cool water.

IMG_8740If you are ever in doubt with your fruits or vegetables and are unsure or just want the extra clean – a little lemon juice and distilled vinegar with water is a great natural cleaner. (Although I would not suggest on using on berries)

Now back to my roasted cauliflower which is working away in the oven – yum, yum…a little bit of olive oil, Parmesan cheese and garlic scapes. Delicious!