Early days on the farm

So much to do, so much to do. Four months ago we moved to our 11 acres of serenity on a hilltop on the edge of Melbourne. Then two months ago our third child was born. So I’ve been pretty incapacitated for, oh, forever now. First with a ridiculously large third-time-round baby belly that contained an entire ocean and a nine pound child, then recovering from a C-section, then with a back injury, blah blah blah. The upshot is that I’ve worn a path from my house to my physiotherapist and I now have the strongest desire and the weakest physical capacity to get fit and healthy that I have ever had.

But despite all this, I have managed to get a few things done around here.

As of last week, at long last there are veggies growing on our farm! We found two corrugated metal garden beds not far from the chicken run; one full of weeds, the other full of old potatoes. The kids and I pulled out both, topped them up with compost (thanks to O who lugged the 25 litre compost bags around for me) and finally planted our first veggies: broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, carrots, and beetroot. I was a little too optimistic when I bought my seedlings and ran out of space for the lettuce and Brussels sprouts.

Yes, I do understand the irony. I’ve got 11 acres of empty farmland and I ran out of space for a punnet of lettuce seedlings.

Girl and potato

A friend once told me that potatoes were his favourite crop in the veg garden because there was such serendipity in sticking your hand into the dirt and pulling out a whole bunch of them.

I’m so frustratingly limited about what I can do right now, and it’s killing me. I have some overflowing pots of thyme and parsley that I want to put in some dirt somewhere, but until my back is stronger there’s not much I can do. I can’t dig a bed in the ground anywhere, and I can’t build a raised bed, or even haul some dirt into a pile to make one of those no-dig beds. So in the meantime, my excess lettuce seedlings languish, sadly. And the pea seeds I bought. And those Brussels sprouts.

*Sigh*

On the bright side, all this time in the great indoors has given me time to plan what I’d like to do around here. Build some nice big raised beds next to the chicken run. Plant an olive grove. Give the orchard a little TLC. Plant another lemon tree or two, and some oranges. A walnut tree would be nice too.

On the animal front, we haven’t been overly successful so far. O had three goats working as lawnmowers in one of the paddocks, but they kept running off to eat a neighbour’s apple trees, so we were eating goat stew a few nights later.

And we have a flock of ten chickens who don’t lay any eggs. One hen turned out to be a rooster, two started laying briefly before going broody, and much to my horror, my favourite chook was lost to our dog (I actually hurt my back after repairing the chook house after this particular incident… Rusty was definitely in the doghouse after that.. boom-tish!). But I am an optimist, and feel sure that we will see an egg appear in the nesting boxes again any day now.

Our dog seems to have had the most animal encounters out of all of us, and he proudly displays his conquests outside the back door. So far Rusty the Fearless (aka Rusty the Psycho, aka That F#%$&ing Dog) has managed to drag home a rabbit, an assortment of rodents, a mystery organ from god-knows-what animal, and even, a bit scarily, a brown snake. Thankfully it was dead. Twice, we’ve even seen him try to take down a fully grown kangaroo, but luckily for him they are even faster than he is – I hate to think what they would do to him if he ever cornered one.

The next job on O’s list is an invisible fence to curb the bloodlust.

Dog and dead snake

Rusty and his dead brown snake. This is the world’s second most venomous snake, after the taipan. Yes, Rusty is one hard core dog.

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