I’m Here To Learn

I’ve never pretended that I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m a fan of getting in there, giving it a try and learning all that I can while I’m there. I’m very lucky that I have a partner who also holds to that philosophy and believes that if its worth doing you can either learn it from a book, another person or just give it a red hot try and figure it out. I guess thats how we landed here. We’ve never grown more than an armful of vegies, never had fruit trees (except for the bush lemon that basically looked after itself), dabbled in chickens but nothing larger and here we are on 25 acres with fruit trees, gardens and forest to tend with plans of cows, self sufficiency, a different life.

This week I learned a lot. I learnt that I already am, at times, that woman who can do those things I want to do. I can chop enough wood to keep us warm for a week, I can cook on a wood stove every night and feed my family and I can chase a grumpy ram back into its pen every day if I need to.
This past week I threw myself in the deep end when I offered to look after my neighbours animals while they were away. I have never really looked after anything bigger than a cat or a chicken, was never a horsey type person and my memories of time on sheep stations my uncle worked on are snippets of walking on sheep backs and cow poo on my face, so yeah, out of my comfort zone. My neighbour gave me an hour run through on all the animals, what they needed and who I could call for back up if need be and then they left. EEP! I wondered what I had done, what was I thinking and how was I going to get through this week and do what needed to be done. I had their animals to look after, plus our property and my family to look after, on my own for most of it. The animals I looked after included chickens, a duck, sheep, goats, ponies and a very cute alpaca. Of course on the first day the grumpiest of the rams and his penmate escaped. After two hours (!) of chasing, coaxing, yelling and some swearing myself, Sim and L managed to get them back in. The next day it was just me and the kids and again he was out, again we managed to get him back in. It was hard and scary but we did it. I learnt to read animals better, I learnt goats aren’t scary at all when approached the right way, that I am a lot stronger than I thought carrying feed up and down hills and that my kids are amazing at helping when they need to (well I already knew that, but they really did shine, particularly L). I’m not claiming to be some sort of animal husbandry expert now. Far from it. I do, however, feel less fearful about moving to the next part of our plan and getting some larger animals. I can do this and there are people around me who I can learn from and call on for help.

So, our planning and dreaming continues. We are trying to figure out a good way to heat the house efficiently and are researching putting radiators in each room, run off the hot water system. The garden is growing along and I am planning on doing bigger plantings as the weeks and months pass. I have watched my first plants dieback now with cold and one frost, another learning experience for me. Just today Q and I began the task of FINALLY mulching all the fruit trees (4 down 30+ to go). There are plans for hydro electricity, more animals and maybe cabins for guests (both friends and the paying kind). There is an automated brewing machine built by Sim sitting in the front room and his first brew bubbling away in the pantry (something I am hoping he will guest blog about sometime soon). There are jams and preserves in the pantry, I have learnt to make bread from scratch and a warm fire burning in the kitchen. There are weeds to be removed, fences to be built and gates to be fixed. Over the last few months I have cried, yelled, screamed, smiled and thoroughly enjoyed and lived my life. I have felt so much, much more keenly than before. It is amazing in many ways what we have achieved, but really its not. We just got out there and gave it a shot.

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