The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Friday 28 August 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 28th August, 2020.

Thank you for all of your beautiful and kind messages, emails, comments... everything.   I have truly felt supported by prayer.  Here, a week later, we are upright and the whole family has been wonderful and helped each other. I have stayed several nights with Mum and I liked being there, at the farm, with things are they always were... so familiar and comforting.

It is a case of getting every thing you ever wanted and every prayer answered and still being sad.
But you can be grateful and sad at the same time.
Twenty three years ago we nearly lost Dad and we prayed and prayed to keep him here.  He got to see the girls grow up and be so close to them.  All those bonus years!!   Then this time last year we nearly lost him and he had a pacemaker put in. And he had a whole extra year!  And boy did he use it!
Next I was praying he would get to see Sidney born.  And he did!  I was the one to tell him of the arrival and when I rang him it was the happiest I have ever heard him.  He was so so over the moon with the births of the other Great Grandchildren.  This phone call was probably the happiest I have ever heard him!  He just kept saying "oh that's marvellous, oh that is marvellous, who wouldn't think this is marvellous..?"  haha!   And then when I told him that  Sidney's second name was Thomas (after him) he was just about off- the- planet -thrilled. He said "they didn't have to do that"  but added something like but he honoured that they did!   Oh, that was a beautiful phone call.
Next thing I was praying he would get to see Sidney... and he did!     And I was so grateful and have photos of that beautiful meeting with Dad's arm around Lucy and them both beaming.

More recently we had wonderful talks and visits.  I had chance to ask him everything I could think of.    He was so very happy with me being here, how he could come anytime and sit at my kitchen table and I would sit down and talk with him.  I knew to stop and spend that time.  I always thanked him for coming.  He would stop and inspect the veggie garden on the way out, usually carrying a carton of eggs.  Then he would cast his eye around the garden and the paddocks happily.   His great plan had come together  to the extend that all his children, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren are securely living on parts of the farm.
He was a planner and a thinker.  He knew what needed doing and he made a way.

Only in the last two weeks I had a change.  I stopped asking for extensions and for the first time I asked that Dad would get his wish to go suddenly and quickly which would be home on the farm.  He didn't want any more hospital stays.  He didn't want to stop working and sit around.  He couldn't stand it.  He didn't want to get too old...or unable.  So I prayed he would get things how he wanted them.
And he did.

 I got everything I ever wanted and prayed for and it comes with a mix of gratitude and sadness.

The last thing Dad would want is  everyone sitting around moping.   He would be thrilled how the family has been.  He would be thrilled Lucy got to come to the farm and Sidney gained so much weight this week!  He would want us to thrive and help each other.  He would want the Great Grandkids to be doing well.

Dad and Mum created an amazing home over the years.  Staying there is so nice.   I am hoping some of my pictures give you an impression.   In bed at night the sound of frogs is so loud and continuous! Like a chorus.  This is how it sounds during the day... turn the sound up.   This pond is out my bedroom window by about 50 yards.

The birds at the farm are beautiful.  Blue Wrens are my favourite but they are tiny and jumpy!  But I don't need a special camera, the bigger birds are so friendly I can just use my iPhone for a photo.

This is one of the Grey Shrike Thrush sitting on a friends foot in Mum's garden...(up with the volume again.)

I will report what I can as far as home and pantry building goes.   I picked Bay Leaves and Lavender and have them drying near the fire. 

And as there can never be a dull moment I have two new lambs.  They are not tiny babies but three or four weeks old.  This makes them harder to get feeding... although I will not have to feed them for very long.  And they run away until they settle in so you can see this one is on a lead.  Hopefully by tomorrow this won't be needed anymore but I can't chase them around the paddock to catch them as they are too fast! 

My story shows that the work we do in our homes and for our families affects many generations greatly.   The Great Grand childrens' children will be reaping the benefits of Dad's love,  work and planning for them as I will be for the rest of my life.  So much gratitude.  

Be encouraged.    In these times we face many challenges!   It is not easy.  But our God is a Way Maker.  Dad was a way maker...  and so determined.  And prayer makes a difference.   Dad left a note about God being with the patient.   Working with out head and our hands.   And how God helps those who help themselves.  Hence he was a worker.  He was the hardest worker I have ever known.   

Please tell me about your week.  I hope you found ways to get ahead, build up your pantry, preparedness and

Thursday 20 August 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 20th August, 2020.

It was a better week.  Or I coped better.  I was very humbled by many replies, messages, emails, hand written letters and calls and the things some of you are going through due to lockdowns and quarantines etc.  I have no words to express how sorry I am for those separated from loved ones especially the sick and dying.  It turns out this is more common that I would have thought.   So this makes our situation look minor.    As for our situation... thank you to everyone who had suggestions.   All week the family worked on finding ways to keep Lucy and family safe and able to get medical help if needed.  And feel supported.  Dad came to see me.  He kept saying "don't worry, don't worry."   But he didn't say what he was doing...  I really can't go into that here but some of you were on the right track with your suggestions.   To further dishearten Lucy two of her farming neighbours moved out this week.  They cannot stay and continue to farm and have their children educated and have medical access so they left.   There are a lot of farmers in a desperate situation as of midnight tonight.

I decided to do all I could and pray hard.  We made the most of the opportunity presented this week to still see Lucy, the girls and Sidney.  I travelled down with two cold packs full of cooking.   The day before I made two big pots of spaghetti sauce then two large lasagnas.  

I did a tray bake of sausages and veggies and a potato bake. 
And cup cakes of course.

We had a beautiful time together.  Now to hope we find a way to do this next week. 

I did have days where worry and nerves got me.  I am hearing of just so many businesses closing. Due to the border closures even a key medical clinic had to close. The vet for many cannot go to the farms.  The local hospital is short of staff as nurses can't get to work.  I could just go on and on... I think is this Australia?
Now is the time for the full armour of God.   To pray more.  To really be thoughtful and prudent.  To use the skills we have learned and learn new ones!   When stuck I still think of Elizabeth Elliot's "do the next thing."  Yes... just do the next thing and then the next.  This stops me from being frozen and not knowing which direction to go.   

Some of the other ways I found to build up the home and our preparedness were:

In "buy swap and sell" I noticed a beautiful antique chest of drawers with the curved front.  I would call this Baroque style maybe but not sure if that is right.   I have always loved them.  It was $150.  Compared to what I have seen this wasn't too bad however I wouldn't pay that.   Then I noticed that add said "and also a Kelvinator Upright Freezer" and the price was for them BOTH.  Now I was interested! But you never know if an electrical appliance is any good and working.... so we went to inspect and when we arrived I knew the man selling it!    He was someone very nice from my old home town. So I had no worries with buying it!   
Now I have another freezer in my "collection."  Freezers have been very hard to get.  Many have searched for freezers and they are a rare species like caning lids and all things now so sought after. 
The drawers need some work and I have a plan...

I had to think fast about where to put this freezer.  There was no obvious place.  But I found one.  It involved moving a set of shelves out of the kitchen.  I unloaded that and re homed everything.  Once you start on a project like this it seems endless.    The shelves have become much better shelving for my laundry... where I also had to take everything apart, get the shelves in and re do it all.   But now I have a much better system and know everything I have (and how much) in the laundry.

Beautiful free little succulents came my way.  I am thrilled with them.   For now I quickly potted them up so they get root systems.   

I used paper cups to have enough small pots.

I put a big pice of corned beef in the slow cooker for the day.   It was so big it didn't fit so I cut it in half and made it fit!   Later I rolled one piece in cracked pepper and olive oil. I then baked it. Then you have Pastrami.   Andy loved it.  I stood and make a dozen man sized rolls with cheese and corned beef or cheese and Pastrami.   These went into the new freezer.   I use the plastic bag the rolls came in with a paper towel between each one.  These are so handy!

While the fire is still going I continued dehydrating herbs and veggies.  I am building a collection in my special cupboard.

We had rain.  Tuesday night we had a whole inch!  We woke up to a lake out the front!   We knew that the front paddocks can become wetlands in a good year.  But I have never seen this until now!   From the kitchen and lounge room windows we now see water and ducks.   I hope to show some photos next week.  And it is still raining!

I was given some lemons.

I wrote up my week early as I had a day of appointments today.   But last night  before 10 pm my brother rang.  He was at Mum and Dad's and Dad had died.  It was sudden and I don't think he suffered any pain.  I knew this day would come and I knew it might be soon.
Last week Danny on Deep South Homestead had his Dad in hospital and he said he just doesn't want his Dad to suffer.   His words leapt out to me over and over all week I thought of that.  I don't want Dad to suffer.   Dad would never want to be incapacitated, stuck at home,  unable...   that would be suffering to him.   So I kept these words with me.  And I knew it was coming.  And Dad did not suffer.   He also had said, in a more recent near miss, that he wanted to die at home.   
He was also very happy.   He was over the moon with the birth of Sidney.  He got to see him.  He was so happy he completed his plan to provide for us all, for myself and Chloe and Lucy who he set up on properties to become theirs.  He wanted his Great Grandchildren to be secure.  He worked all his life beginning when he was about 11 and kicked out of school for being left handed and called stupid.  He taught himself to read and became the most widely read person I have ever known.  He helped many people in a private way so no one ever knew.  Some of these stories may come out now.
I have been incredibly blessed and my girls have been incredibly blessed as he was like their own Dad as well as mine.  I just could not have been luckier.  Dad was an overcomer. 
When Dad left from his visit he was confident he found a way to give Lucy and family access to medical help and all they need.   When he left I thanked him for coming.  I always thanked him for coming.  We always sat at the kitchen table (which he insisted I had to have) and drank from his special huge cup and saucer.  As he drove off he hung his arm out the ute window and waved.  I had a feeling then it might have been a wave goodbye.   So again I thought of "I do not want my Dad to suffer."

Another thing that has been with me all week is God is a way maker.  When there isn't a way it doesn't matter as God is a way maker.  I felt like some readers may need to hear that.


Thursday 13 August 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 14th August, 2020.

I would love to say it has been a much easier week!  But if I did I would be lying!   On Wednesday night we had news that another batch of new rules are coming into place.  This lot will cut Lucy and her family off from us completely and also cut them off from school, Doctors, hospital, baby weigh ins.... everything.   The minute I found out it was a true head in hands, I am going to be sick moment.  

Since then we have worked to find out if there are any exceptions and what are our options?   The property Lucy lives on had land on both sides of the border but the driveway in Victoria.   As it is turning out many essential workers like nurses and school teachers (and others) will also be now unable to go to work.   So as far as I can see things are collapsing.

The news last night had a headline and when I see some of these I take a photo of the TV with my phone.   It was "Food Shortage and Price Hike Warnings."    And there sure will be.  If people cannot work, goods cannot be moved,  processing plants are shut or cut to minimal productive, even some supermarkets are shut, then yes there are going to be big problems.   Basics may soon become luxuries.

Lucy's neighbours are evacuating.  They cannot live with being cut off from their work, school etc so they are moving and have to be gone by next Friday.   Lucy and family cannot evacuate to here, they won't let them come this far.   Since there are no covid cases in the border community it makes you wonder.   So our time and energy has gone on this and sleep has not been easy.

I have a chance to meet with Lucy on Monday and then when this comes into place next week this may be the last time.  There is a lot of talk that this could last two years.  We are not accepting that.  But it could be my last change to do anything to help for a while so I am baking flat out and taking as many ready frozen meals as I can make.  Today is Lasagne and Spaghetti sauce bulk cooking day.

If you live in Australia you know the situation keeps changing.  It happens fast.  Be ready.
If you are overseas then I am seeing a lot to be concerned about in the USA and the UK just declared a  recession with GDP dropping 21% between April and June, which is a nose dive!

I knew I was preparing for SOMETHING.  I knew SOMETHING was coming.   I still think this is not it.  Another round of businesses will give up because of this and another tsunami of unemployed will be added.  As of next week our state requires Hotels, Cafes etc to employ an additional person to be a Marshal to oversee  social distancing etc.  Most of them are already really struggling. This will finish many more.   You can comply and do all the right things but it still means open, close, open close, lose business, new rules, new expenses...  sometime most will give up.  And another tsunami of job losses.   So I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I don't think this will be a recession it will be a depression.  
Obviously this is my opinion and I would be thrilled to be wrong.
Sorry to be so depressing.  Our family is being torn apart but we are going to fight on.

We are not going to give up.  In this time I have seen tremendous kindness.   People from the Doctor to the school teachers have reached out to Lucy in tremendous ways.  I have to say the worse things are the more an act of kindness or offer of help is like a shining star.  
We are beginning to see levels of desperation I have not ever seen in my lifetime.  Nothing new to generations before me.  But we had it very good growing up.  We never knew a shortage of anything. We were never stopped from being with our own family.   If something broke out sick people were quarantined.  Now well people are quarantined.  This is different.

Ok change of subject!   (Then I need to get cooking!)

This week I kept dehydrating and rearranged the pantry so I have a nice cool and dark cupboard to keep my dehydrated goods.   I also ordered a jar vacuum sealer so that I can seal them properly and get the maximum life for the goods inside.

Because it is still winter here the fire is always on.  At all times something is dehydrating.  

I now save the ends of the gluten free bread and dry those. Later they can be GF breadcrumbs or croutons.

This was a whole head of celery.  Once day it filled one medium jar.  

I am a member of a fair few pantry and canning groups.   From these I am seeing a huge number of people struggling to get jars, lids, seals etc.   Canning equipment is the new toilet paper, chickens or freezers!    Dehydrating is a very good alternative!   I still feel Rain Country on You Tube is a good place to learn all about Dehydrating.

I make Lemon Curd and froze it all for future cakes and pie fillings.

I added 94 Australian organic garlic cloves to me dehydrated goods.   I purchased these from a home grown company.

This week I was able to go to two op shops (thrift stores) and I make the most of them.  They were closed for months but now open.   I will never take them for granted again.  I am stocking up on fabrics, cottons, wool yarn.   This time I got two Queen size pure wool (Onkaparinga) blankets for my Dad.  He wants some as he saw mine.   He doesn't like modern quilts.   I prayed to find some since I haven't seen them lately.  There they were, a pair and in Dad's favourite green.  Also one in red and black which is a car blanket.  Beautiful condition.   During the week these have all taken a turn drying in the lounge room after being washed with my homemade wool wash.  They smell beautiful and come up so soft.
The op shop also had a bucket (yes bucket!) full of Fowlers brand new canning lids.   Fowlers is to Australia what Ball is to America in canning goods.    To top it off I got a heap of pure cottons in various florals,  some gingham and a remnant of pure wool   It was my lucky day that is for sure.

I did a stock up shop.   Then I made up 18 ham and cheese rolls and froze those.

Each day there is the normal stuff.  I try and do some weeding, the housework, take greens to the chickens and collect the eggs...  If I get everything done I can do some sewing.

I needed a nice gift for my Uncle. He us unwell so getting the virus would be a disaster.   I made him some face masks.  I covered a box I had.  I used a card I made.  I made the masks from remnants of other projects.  So the whole gift may have cost $2?   But it is a good gift!  (well I think so!)

He likes dogs so he got a Collie mask in there!

I also made extra masks for myself.  I already made some for Mum, Lucy, Chloe and my Aunt.

Now I am attempting to use remnants and make up masks that I can use as gifts and to barter.   I think I made 16 this week.   For gifts and bartering I package them up individually.

Now I am on to some manly ones.

I also finished up making bibs.  I made ten.  

So that is my week.  Veggies are drying on the fire now,  I have masks cut out.  I need to go collect the eggs then get my spaghetti sauce going.  I like it to cook three hours then some will go to lasagne and some will be portioned out to freeze.

It is not an option for Sidney not to see his paediatrician so please pray and we will continue to fight.  We won't be giving up.  To go the other way is a long distance and would put Lucy and the baby right into covid infected areas.  Which would be stupid!

When things get really worrying my nervous system isn't the best.  It would be a fair guess that many people are feeling nervous, stressed, depressed.   But we can't give up, we may have a long way to go.  We might have years to go.  

How did you do this week?  Were you able to add to your pantry or the garden?  Are you harvesting at the moment?   I know lots of the USA ladies are.   The little things we do daily add up to such a lot.   Please be encouraged to keep going and taking every

Thursday 6 August 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 7th August, 2020.

I can give a better report than last week!  That is something!
My Dad is doing better, thank you to everyone who has prayed for him.

There is so much going on it is hard to keep track of.  Everyone in Australia knows and anyone from overseas might have seen the Victorian situation in the news.   Things have pretty much got a bit worse daily.  This is our neighbouring state and my daughter lives just over the border.

We cannot go to Lucy's home, however, we could meet in her nearest town and so that is what we did. Chloe and I headed off loaded up with cooking and all kinds of things for the girls and the baby.
We had a little lunch together and made it seem like a little party for the girls.
I took cup cakes as usual!

Sidney is now a month old. Already!

So this was a good and beautiful day.

I went to Aldi but there was not much on the shelves.... 

We had news headlines forecasting likely food shortages nation wide.  Since they rarely admit such things this was interesting.   And you can see why.  The port of Melbourne is where most imports enter Australia.  The meat processing plants are operating at reduced rates and many industries are closed down altogether. 

I went into town to do a stock up.  I did things like fill every prescription,  buy Vitamin C, Zinc, cough medicine and so on.   One supermarket was quite well stocked.  The other was very low on meat and quite a lot of empty shelves.  

This town is around 20 minutes from the border.   I heard several reports of cars with Victorian number plates being attacked, scratched and notes left on them.  Now people are afraid of anyone coming over the border.   This is a pretty sleepy, nice little town normally.   It frightens me to see how quickly people become agitated and this becomes aggression.... actually it is a shock.   And a warning really as if things go too much further south then honestly you do not want to be out and about, you need to be home.

My stock up was considerable and I have still been putting away things this morning.  I think I have finally done it!  

For ladies in other states... the decline with Victoria been just a disaster to watch.  Things can happen quickly.  So please be very watchful.

I found some beautiful jars in the op shop plus brand new canning lids!  I will take some photos when I get the jars all washed up.

All week I have had the fire going... it is cold here!  At all times I have had something dehydrating.  Thanks to Patsy I joined an Instagram challenge called #everybitcountschallenge  and I have been dehydrating and storing up fresh things, things from the garden and frozen veggies as I need to clear some freezer room.  I have been learning a lot about dehydrating from Heidi at  Rain Country on You tube.  She is very helpful.  And inspiring! 

I have onions going today in one tray and peas in two others.   Then I will be slicing about some capsicum to do next.  I am amazed at the fresh bright colours and the small amount of space things reduce down to.   I write on each jar "one whole head of celery" so I remember as it looks like a small amount but to put it back in use I would use a small amount to add to a chicken soup.  

There have been times this week I felt a sense of panic and worry.  I try to reel that in but it isn't always easy.  However I have seen some answers to prayer and been very blessed. 
Sometimes you feel too upset and wonky to feel like you can pray.  Or that your wonky prayers are not good enough.  These are good times to ask someone to pray for you.  But just as it doesn't matter what language you pray in I don't think it matters if prayers are disjointed,  confused or all over the place.  Sometimes we don't even know WHAT to pray for.  We just know we need help.  Lord please help me is a perfectly fine prayer...
Anyway,  some of my prayers have been answered in wonderful ways.  This has made me feel so much better and reminded me to just keep praying!

On the weekend my brother rang me up and asked if I would be home and if I would like some good soil for my garden?   He turned up with his truck...

This is volcanic black soil with broken down manure mixed in.  It is beautiful!  It was the best gift ever.  I was so excited!   I have the raised garden beds to finish filling, bathtubs coming,  my pumpkin patches to build up,  the whole herb and veggie patch can get a few inches of this on top.  All the fruit trees and have some of this around them to form a little water holding moat and they will get the nutrients as I water.  I have begun moving it one barrow at a time!

I hope my Aunt is reading this.  She will be thrilled!

I was given more bags of shredded paper.  These went into chicken nesting boxes for nice fresh bedding.

I used two large pumpkins (from the pumpkins I grew) to make a big pot of soup.

In the sewing room I continued making bibs.  This second batch are larger ones...

We really really need rain.  It is meant to be on the way.  I really hope so. 

How did you manage to keep going,  add to your pantry, preparedness or garden?  I managed to do some work in all three of these areas.   There are the first signs Spring is not too far way.  I want my garden beds ready to plant by then! 

If you would like further reading this is a good article from Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.  I like to read things that give you constructive things to do rather than just information to worry about.

I am hoping for a rainy weekend, warm meals (as the slow cooker is on) crochet and sewing.   We need some time to rest and plan.  Some time to think.  I think as well... now is a good time to put your health first and build up your families health.  Stress is really draining.  We probably need extra nutrition and good sleep.  These things are valuable