A bit of a natter

It's been incredibly dry this spring. There is very little grass, the bush is crispy and we are having to supplement feed the animals. Our creek is down to a couple of rapidly diminishing spring-fed water holes. People around us are having to buy water by the tankerload which is costing them approximately $600/10,000L. The average Australian uses 270L/day, so you can imagine just how quickly these costs would add up for a family, even if they are extremely frugal with their water usage. 

This is not good news for my new garden, I'm keeping it alive with careful watering, but nothing has taken off yet and I'm hesitant to plant more until it rains. However, it remains a place of joy and peace for me and I find myself drawn out there constantly. 

The cats are loving the new garden, especially Sooty who has always preferred to be inside. She loves the pond. 

Sinking a bore has quickly gone to the top of the priority list. Unfortunately, it's expensive. I think it will be around 10-20k.

Grant has been working massive days fire fighting in the state forests for work. It seems arsonists are keeping busy already and everyone is bracing for a disastrous fire season. We are all hoping the wet season breaks soon and that the long-range forecasts are wrong. What we wouldn't give for a good long soaking downpour! Thankfully the boys are all getting older and more are more capable at farm work. Without them, it would be very difficult. 

I don't know if the arson is worse this year than other years, but it certainly seems like it. What causes people to deliberately light fires and put people, homes, livestock and nature at risk? Is it worse since COVID? Years of social distancing, an uncertain economic climate and an endlessly rising cost of living certainly doesn't help people feel like they have a place in this world or like they are connected to their community. 

But amongst the lack of rain and bushfires, there are good things happening on our farm. First and foremost William turned 16. Where have the years gone? He is growing into a lovely young man. He works hard, is kind and protective over those he loves and he loves the farm. We are very proud of him and it is a blessing to be his mother. Will is excited to get his Learner's licence and begin to learn to drive, he is utterly car-mad. I don't write a lot about the bigger children these days, especially Will as their stories have become their own and they don't always want me to share photos of them online. But they don't mind the odd one. 

Will requested a double-layer chocolate cake, covered in his favourite lollies. For the life of me, I couldn't find the birthday candles, so we settled with one giant one. Of course, I found the candles later, exactly where they always are. Ha!

Grant turns 40 in a few days. I remember when we got together, just a month or so before my 21st birthday. Grant being Grant doesn't want anything special for his birthday, though he commented he would like some comfy work shorts and some new hankies. I'm sure a pub meal and a chocolate cake wouldn't go astray either. All the things he wants are huge and farm-related like fencing materials, a slasher and a bore dug. Perhaps I should buy him a lotto ticket! I would so love to buy him those things, perhaps one day it will be possible. 

It got me thinking back to when I first started blogging and how little the boys were. Henry was just a babe on my back. Oh, how times have changed. Here is the very first post I did back in 2015 A Simple Living Journey. Blogging was different then, it was a kind of long-hand version of Instagram. My writing was terrible, my spelling worse and my grammar? Well, let's not go there. However, it was something I enjoyed and it brought much-needed structure and connection to my days.

As I was poking back through old posts, I wondered how past me would react if she could see us now? Would she be shocked? Excited? Daunted? Life is a funny thing. There are so many paths to explore with endless opportunities. I can't wonder where we will be in another 8 years. The boys will be grown, having finished their schooling and hopefully working or studying in an industry they enjoy. Will we even still be on the farm? I imagine so, but who knows what the future holds. The last 8 years have been full of changes. It has seemed at times that change is the only constant we have had. Aside from each other of course! I do hope the next 8 are a little slower, steadier and involve continuing to put down roots in our community. 

School holidays are upon us and I am pleased for the rest. The boys were quite run down this term, especially towards the end. Grant has booked a few days off and he wants to get cracking on the fencing for a secure dairy goat overnight pen and the permanent deep litter chicken yard. Sadly, our chook numbers are down due to a murderous steer that when given half a chance, chases the chickens and stomps on them. Our last rooster was a dud, so we will be on the lookout for some nice Australorps to purchase in a few weeks. The guinea fowl are less trusting of the steers as well as more agile, so we will have to settle with them for tick control around the house paddock until the grumpy steer is sold or put in the freezer. 

My parents are coming for a visit this school holidays which will be nice. They are staying in Port Macquarie and will do day trips out here and we will go into town too. We might even get some beach time in and the kids are hoping to go to the cinema. We always enjoy a bit of civilised town time! 

Well, that's about all from us for now. I had best finish hanging the clean washing on the line, tackle the dishes and lay some mulch on the garden. 

I hope this finds you well, sending much love and blessings to you and yours. 
Emma xx

Choosing a home dairy animal

One of the most important questions we have found when building our homestead from scratch is "What is of high value to us?" 

There are so many ways we could tackle this property. We could focus on the farm side working on fencelines, improving genetics, improving pasture etc. We could work on the ecological side of regenerating creeklines and getting rid of weeds. I could raise and preserve all our fruit and vegetables. I could sew and knit all our own clothes and household items, and I could become a cheesemaker. Every one of these is a good and worthy avenue to pursue and master. Hopefully, eventually, I will tackle all of these things in one form or another. 

But not necessarily all at once. 

One of the things I wanted when we moved here was a dairy animal. To provide our family with nutrient-dense, quality raw milk. It is very difficult to buy raw milk in Australia as there are strict laws and large fines around it. There are ways to skirt these by cow sharing, but to do that you need to have people around you doing a cow share program. We looked into getting a Jersey x dairy cow, but I faltered knowing dealing with the sheer volume of milk day after day, week after week was likely going to be more than I could handle. Our family uses about 3L of milk daily; a dairy cow might as much as 10-20L/day in their peak milk production, even when calf sharing. We don't have the solar to support a second fridge needed to cool and store that volume of milk, nor the space to have a specially dedicated cheese storage fridge in the yurt. 

Instead, we settled on a dairy goat. 

Her name is Hoopla and she is a British Alpine. 

We actually got two goats initially but they escaped into the bush. It was a huge blow and I was a teary mess and riddled with guilt over making a mistake that lost them in the first place. I was blessed that their old owner Sandra visited and helped me look for them, kindly sharing her similar goat-keeping woes over the years and reassuring me with similar stories. Thankfully we managed to get Hoopla back. Hopefully, Mona has found herself a new home with a farmer somewhere way over the ridge.    

Goats are highly social animals and should always be with at least one other goat, so Hoopla goes and visits with the Boer goats when she needs company. To be honest she prefers to be near the house and us with the two border collies. But she is due to kid at the end of the month, and then she will have her babies to keep her company. We are also on the lookout for a second British Alpine, I would love one from her old flock as her breeder Sandra is a wonderful woman who cares deeply about her herd of dairy goats. She makes beautiful goat's milk soap and you can find her at Mountain Goat Soap. I have found her products to be very gentle and nourishing, especially on sensitive skin and hair. 


We settled on a dairy goat rather than a dairy cow for various reasons. Firstly the volume of milk suits our needs and current yurt living situation perfectly. We should have enough fresh milk to keep us in milk, yoghurt and a little fresh cottage cheese/ricotta almost perfectly. And frankly, that is about all the time I will have to spend on preserving dairy products. If there comes a time I want to delve more deeply into cheese making I can always milk a second doe, but whether I milk one or two goats can fluctuate in response to the season we are in. Feeding and tending to Hoopla takes about 30 minutes a day when she is in milk. 

She is due to kid at the end of the month so I am currently not milking. But I have just started getting her used to the stand again. While she is eating her dairy meal I brush her, pat her all over, talk to her and run my hand over her udder and teats so she is used to the routine and is relaxed and confident when milking time comes around. 

Health benefits

Goat milk is incredibly nutrient-dense. Goat milk is naturally A2, which many people find easier to digest. It is lower in lactose than cow's milk as well as being naturally homogenized and gentler on the tummy. It is higher in protein and it contains more vitamins and minerals than cow's milk too.  

Nearly all baby animals can tolerate goat's milk, without scouring which is a testament to its digestibility. Many babies who cannot tolerate cow's milk can tolerate goat milk, and those with eczema often find goat's milk reduces their flair-ups, both when consumed or applied to the skin in the form of soap or creams. When we first got Hoopla she was in milk and we all found we felt better drinking her fresh milk. Especially Grant who drank goat milk as a child due to health issues. 


A goat is significantly smaller than a cow, and as a 5"3 woman, I can easily handle a goat. If she startles or missteps she is not likely to hurt me badly, which was a consideration due to living remotely with limited phone reception when away from the yurt. I am confident handling goats, I am less confident handling cows. 


Raw, fresh goat's milk is a different product than what you can buy from the supermarket. It is mild and creamy in taste. Goat milk cheese is delicious and has a wonderful bite to it due to its unique combination of fatty acids, which makes it quite sought after. Though currently, I do not want to delve too deeply into cheese making due to time, energy and space constraints, it is certainly something I look forward to exploring in the future once we have expanded the yurt. 


Goats are diverse browsers, meaning they do well on a combination of pasture and woody weeds. In this season of climate change and the prediction that we will experience longer droughts and more extreme temperature changes, it makes sense on our property to have goats as they can utilize both the pasture and the bounty of woody weeds which they love. This gives us added climate and food source resilience. 

Though we don't generally supplement our boer goats feed, we do give Hoopla a mix of dairy meal twice daily and add we add in lucerne hay when she is in milk to increase her butter fat content. But a pair of dairy goats will eat significantly less than a dairy cow which is a financial benefit too, as well as being easier to manage in drought or for those on a smaller property.

Incorporating into our systems

When bringing an animal onto a property, whether it be large animals like a pig, cow, or goat or small ones like chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs it is important to consider how they will interact with the local landscape. Some questions to consider might be....Is your climate suitable for the breed, can you buy the necessary feed locally for a good price? Does the animal interact with your landscape and other animals in a positive and beneficial manner? How many kms will the food they require travel from the source of production to you? Can you grow the majority of the food the animal needs yourself? How will you deal with their waste products to gain the most benefit from them? What kind of fencing and infrastructure will they require? 

Perhaps the most important question is; Do you realistically have the time, energy and resources to ensure the animal is looked after the way it deserves to be? Ie can your goat/cow/whatever freely undertake all the natural behaviours that are inherent to its species like running, climbing, browsing, moving freely, socializing, sleeping and escaping the elements. 


A goat is cheaper than a cow. Hoopla was a well-bred, proven, fully-trained dairy goat and she cost us around $450. Mona the goat we lost was about $500. Similarly, a fully trained, quality dairy cow might cost around $2000+ Goats are easy to transport to the vet in a time of sickness. We can lay a tarp in the back of the car and drive a sick goat to the vet if necessary, avoiding the call-out fee which is often necessary with a large animal like a cow. They are often easier to treat due to their smaller size. Goats cost less to feed and require smaller doses of medication when unwell. 


In our situation, a dairy goat makes sense logistically, not only due to the kind of land we have but also because we are already keeping Boer goats. When our dairy goat is in season and ready to be bred, she can go and visit our boer billy goat. We don't need to worry about finding a bull, buying semen or getting someone in to artificially inseminate our dairy animal like we would with a dairy cow. Logistically that makes keeping goats for milk significantly easier, and cheaper too. 


Though space isn't an issue for us, a dairy goat can be kept in a smaller space than that which is required for a cow. Hannah Molony from Good Life Permaculture has a wonderful video about urban goat keeping which she does at her suburban Tasmanian home you can check out HERE. But the benefit for us is that we can keep our dairy goats in our house paddock, which works in beautifully with our more intensive growing systems. 

And finally....

When choosing things to do on your property whether you have a big or small place, enjoyment and pleasure and passion should certainly be a consideration in anything you add or bring onto the property if you want it to be a sustainable venture both emotionally and in a practical sense. I love goats. They are my favourite farm animals to date. They are funny and full of character, and I am confident and enjoy being around them. For us, having a goat for fresh milk makes sense for our property, in this season and with the time and energy I have to invest into milking. 

We are more likely to get the most out of the things we enjoy doing and to do them to the best of our ability which maximises the return on every level. For example, if we hate kale, we are not going to nurture it to get the best yield. It would be better to use the time, space and resources to grow something we love to eat. (I am just using kale as an example, I actually love kale! But it seems to be a somewhat divisive vegetable)

It's the same with a dairy animal. 

Just because someone else keeps a dairy animal and you like the idea of it, it doesn't mean it is the right choice for you in this season. Be realistic about your time, energy and resources in the season you are in, not the season you wish you were in. Only you can decide what is of high value to you in this season, remembering we all walk to the beat of our own drum.  

Much love,


Building a permaculture garden and a new season

Hello there! 

It's been a bit since I have popped in, and I apologise. We got into a rut at our place.  Progress and projects seemed to crawl along, and everything felt like a struggle. It happens to us all, but the important thing is to remember it is only a season, and that we can pull ourselves out of it. Especially with good family and friends around us. 

This is Hoopla our British alpine dairy goat, just popping in to say hello too. 

Back in May, I started a permaculture course with David Holmgren and Beck Lowe through Melliodora and it's been wonderful to connect with like-minded people all over Australia and the world. I'm nearing the end of it now and it has helped to clarify a priorities list and given me ways in which to talk to Grant about what is important to me. We have been tinkering with designs and working out what is of high value to us. We have been working on the yurt garden (which in a permie sense is our zone 1) over winter as it is something we could do with very little money utilizing what we have here. We have used large rocks from the farm to build garden boarders and paths, used timber logs from the forest as stepping stones and then we have been bringing in either a load of compost or gravel for the paths once a fortnight. There are still a few more loads to go, but in the meantime, we have been sowing seeds and planting seedlings in the garden spaces as they are built. We managed to find a pond and outdoor setting for free off Facebook Marketplace which has been amazing. Already there has been a huge transformation and I can't wait until it matures and fills out.  I'll be sure to share the design with you all once I have finished tinkering with it, though as gardens are always evolving, it too will no doubt change. 

One of the best things about doing the permaculture course has been the people. The teachers David and Beck are amazing, but it's been delightful being able to meet so many people on the same path. It seems like Instagram and Facebook have gotten incredibly loud with either nastiness or endless advertising of things we can't afford or are not realistic to our way of life. I miss the days when everyone was blogging and sharing their stories and pictures of their gardens cobbled together out of this and that, their projects on the go and their modest DIY housing projects. Now it seems people are either a professional interior designer or a florist! Which I know of course isn't true, it's just what the algorithms want us to see. But golly it's annoying. Rhonda Hetzel is back on her blog Down to Earth, and it was a timely reminder to share here what we have been up to. 

Turning 40, falling into a rut and my last baby suddenly seeming grown....Well, I lost myself there for a bit. We are also quite isolated on our property, primarily due to the driveway and I struggle with that. But with Grant's encouragement, I have been making a big effort to catch up with friends for coffee or dinner in town and it's brought much-needed balance to my life. I've also started attending a bible study fortnightly through our church and the people in it are wonderful. To do things just for me again after being deep in the season of mothering and our 4th baby has indeed been a blessing. 

But with spring at our doorstep, it seems like a new season is here in my life too. Having broken the back of the yurt-yard garden, I've been reminded of the potential this somewhat wild property holds. 

The next job to tackle will be to build a new chook yard, expand our flock and then we will focus all our energy on starting the deck. We have decided that aside from the odd day on 'can't be ignored' farm jobs, the undercover deck with two more bedrooms, a small bathroom and a summer kitchen needs to be our absolute priority. For the sake of everyone's sanity. The boys are getting bigger and I have resumed theological study part-time and need a quiet space to work. The yurt is a sweet little home but it is not quiet, nor spacious. 

This introvert needs a quiet nook all of her own! 

Well, I'll keep today's post short as I have things I need to get stuck into study-wise. But it's good to touch base with you all and I apologise it's been a while! But all is well in our little corner of the world, how are things with you? 

Much love,


a good catch up and some interesting links

The school holidays are winding down in Australia and the children return to school next week. William is currently on a camp no doubt having a blast and it seems particularly quiet here with only three children home. 

Elsie has gone through leaps and bounds developmentally recently and she suddenly seems so big! She is playing better with her brothers and loves to tag along on their adventures. They help her navigate tricky terrain and do a fantastic job of looking after her. Angus and Henry are always thick as thieves during the school holidays and are both homebodies. 

We went to the local show for the first time since moving to NSW. For those who aren't familiar with a country show they happen once a year and were traditionally a place communities could get together and show off their best livestock, horse skills, working dogs, cakes, jams, preserves, flower displays, artwork, knitting, sewing and more. It's a bit of friendly competition to see who can walk away with a blue ribbon. 

These days there are rides, show bags and a sideshow alley too. The kids enjoyed the dodgem cars and a ride each but we avoided the games and show bags which consist of overpriced plastic junk that usually gets tossed in the trash after a day. Elsie got a little knitted purse and a cardigan for her doll made by the women of the CWA (County Womens Association) who give the proceeds of their stall to a well-deserving local cause. All in all, it was a lovely day out. My favourite was the milking goats with whom I spent quite a lot of time patting. Elsie thought all the different chickens were hilarious, the boys thought the demolition derby was exciting and we all enjoyed the horsemanship. The crowd favourite was a pony called Tully, who might have been small in stature but by golly, she could jump. 

I'm pleased to report that I have fully recovered from Covid now and my energy and enthusiasm has returned. Over the last couple of days, I have been thoroughly dusting and wiping over the lattice walls in the yurt. I didn't intend to do the whole yurt but I pulled a desk away from the wall to clean under it and then noticed how dusty the lattice above it was. After cleaning that small section, I noticed the rest of the walls looked revolting in comparison. (Isn't that always the case?!) 

So, I have been methodically working my way around the yurt scrubbing walls. It is slow and messy as everything needs to be moved and the lattice is tricky to clean but it's a good job done that's for sure. I should probably dust more but usually find more interesting things to do, like playing with goats! I'm also going to give William's room a once over while he is away. He left it tidy enough and usually, once a term I like to deep clean the boy's areas with them. In between those times, they do it themselves, but they don't always do it quite as thoroughly as they should. Mind you, given the state of the yurt lattice, I can't complain. 

We had a bit of a run of bad luck over the past term. Along with illness and covid, my old Suzuki finally died. We bought a second-hand Mitsubishi Pajero which was a great buy and ran well, but as I was going down our mountain the radiator hose fell off (which should never happen) and I accidentally cooked the engine. Badly. The repair was going to be as much as the car and that was if no further damage had been done, which we couldn't be sure of. So we bit the bullet and bought another second-hand Mitsubishi Pajero. 

The best car we could find in our budget was a couple of hours away, so we thought we would take the opportunity to go for a lovely country drive and visit some interesting places along the way. When we arrived to the pretty town of Guyra we inspected the car, took it for a test drive, had a yarn to the very nice fellow who was selling it and all seemed good. I managed to drive it 20kms down the road before it shuddered to a stop. 

There *may* have been cussing. 

Fortunately it was just a $50 bearing that gave way which attaches to a belt that charges the alternator. Except it was Good Friday and nothing was open, and it was raining with intermittent hail. Turns out Guyra is significantly colder then our place. We probrably should have checked BOM before we left. 

Thankfully seller was a lovely, honest man and rushed to help us get it towed to the mechanics. He then got it fixed, gave it a service and got the mechanic to give it a once over for our peace of mind even though it wasnt really due at his cost. The next week he and his friend met us partway so we could attempt to pick up the car again and thankfully this time all went smoothly. At least we metsome lovely new people and might even make it Guyra again to try and catch the snow. 

Now we have two cars to sell to a wrecking yard, neither of which will be worth much so sadly, we are out of pocket far more money than we had intended. But such is life. I am now looking for ways to tighten our belt strap. I am feeling enthusiastic and inspired by the challenge. 

On the weekend I'm going to make a fresh batch of laundry liquid. I'm not sure why I got out of the habit of making it. I use the recipe from Down To Earth by Rhonda Hetzel, but I use Sard soap which I find a little more effective for my grubby mob. While making cleaning supplies I'll also whip up a batch of soap. These products are gentler and far more natural than most of the shop-bought alternatives, especially for the price point. 

I have also noticed a few more "shortcuts" making it into my home recently. That nearly always adds extra dollars onto the shopping bill, as well as extra additives that we don't need. Have you noticed your shopping bill getting more expensive? How are you managing to trim it?

I've been trawling through the specials and bulk buys to mealplan as carefully as possible. I'm really pleased that the weather has cooled and that soups are back on the menu. I think for tonight's dinner there will be a chunky minestrone soup with some bone broth in it for extra nourishment. With the weather cooling, I'm able to use the wood oven more, which is free as we have an abundance of sustainably harvested timber from our property. 

I tend to do click-and-collect as we live a two-hour return trip from the big supermarkets and it saves me a lot of time. However, I go to an independent fruit and veg market for all our veggie needs. I buy whatever is seasonal and well-priced then work it into our meals as necessary. Midweek top-ups of milk etc are done at the IGA which is 45 minutes away and Grant usually gets it on his way home from work. 

Menu Plan

x1/x2 means I will cook enough for 1 or 2 meals


  • Cerial (wheetbix)
  • Porridge
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Toast


  • Two minute noodles (kids treat) x1
  • Simple quiche x2
  • Sandwiches x2
  • Pizza scrolls x1
  • Baked beans and toast x1


  • Minestrone soup x 2 meals
  • Pork Roast with seasonal veg x1
  • Leftover roast pork with stir-fried greens and steamed rice x1 
  • Beef stroganoff with pasta/potato and veggies x2
  • Chicken strips, home made oven chips and veggies x1


  • Popcorn
  • Banana bread
  • Musli bars
  • Anzac biscuits
  • Fruit/yoghurt
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Apple crumble

Interesting links of things I have enjoyed recently

YouTube: Amazing Life In Shoria Mountains. Russia Village Life

YouTube: A Step Saving Kitchen, 1949

YouTube: Lessons From the Great Depression | With Mary's Nest

ABC: Everyday Supermarket Phsycology Tricks

10 best ways to increase dopamine naturally

Why we chose to live in a yurt

Sometimes I get questions about why we live in a yurt. I wrote a post about living in a yurt before which I have linked to further down in the blog post. In that post, I talked about dimensions, shared floor plans and some of the practical aspects of living in a yurt. 

But as the cost of living is rapidly increasing with the rising interest rates and inflation I wanted to share more deeply about why we made the decision to live simply in alternative housing. I hope by sharing our story that it will help others look at where and how they are living, and if there are things they could consider doing differently during these difficult times. Not necessarily to live in a yurt, because for most people it wouldn't suit nor be even possible. But to perhaps help people see the benefits and potential of living in a smaller, more humble home. I guess I hope to provide some balance to the narrative that bigger is better. 

Our kitchen is small but functional. I do a lot of prep on the kitchen table too. 

Living in a yurt

Firstly living in a yurt is nothing new. People have been living well in yurts for thousands of years. Originally they were primarily used as traditional housing for nomadic people in Central Asia, particularly in Mongolia. If you're interested you can read about the history of yurts HERE.

If you want to see more you can watch this great documentary on YouTube - Life with Mongolian Nomads (Kate Humber Documentry)

Our yurt is a modern yurt, roughly based on a traditional design but using modern building methods and materials. While a modern yurt can be pulled down and moved, it is a big task and still relies on a deck or a round subfloor, whereas a traditional Mongolian yurt/ger can be erected on the ground and packed and unpacked with relative ease. We have lived in our modern yurt for 3.5 years now. I call it a modern yurt due to the materials it is built with. It is not made with wool felt and canvas like traditional Mongolian yurts or gers. Instead, it is made with a heavy-duty coated polyester material and the roof is made from fire-resistant heavy-duty industrial vinyl. It also has a thin layer of man-made insulation. There is some debate in the yurt world about these kinds of modern yurts not being "real" yurts or that man-made materials are inferior. But each to their own. For us our home and its style suits us and the region in which we live quite well.  

The tall roof adds to a feeling of spaciousness. 

Being in the sub-tropics we often have prolonged periods of rain and very high humidity. A traditional yurt made with natural fibres would not be well suited as they would struggle to dry out and would develop mould. Mongolia is a cold, dry region and the natural materials used in traditional yurts is better suited to dry climates where they can breathe easily. 

Choosing a yurt as a home filled the brief we had at the time. We needed a home that came together fast for not a whole heap of money. The yurt was set up in a week and gave our family a comparatively spacious home compared to some of the alternatives we had considered like a bus or large caravan. Once it was up, it was essentially done. We didn't have to insulate, plaster or paint while trying to live in the space, which was essential to me. Moving interstate with a young family was enough to juggle at the time. 

We have adapted our yurt over the years and put in internal walls, a kitchen, a loft, cupboards and shelving. It is no longer a movable building. When we initially built the yurt it was one big open space and we positioned wardrobes and bookshelves to give us privacy. It helped that our children were a lot younger at the time and privacy was less of an issue. The internal space of our yurt has evolved over the years and suits us quite well now. Though we will be adding a large undercover deck with an extra bedroom on it when we can, hopefully starting in a few months.   

We chose a yurt as a home as it was important to us that we lived on our property from the beginning. We couldn't afford to build. If we had chosen to live in a rental property and tried to save a deposit to get a loan to build, we would still be renting now and would have frittered away many thousands of dollars in the process. The average weekly rent for a family home here is $500-$600. That cost over 3.5 years would roughy have accumulated to $90,000 - $100,000 plus bills. Easily double what we have spent living in our own small but comfortable yurt home.  

A yurt isn't a perfect home. It is poorly insulated compared to a traditional home and it is a hot building in summer. But we have many windows we keep open in the summer months and run fans which get us through the worst of it. We can go for a dip in the creek/river to cool off and if it is unbearably hot we do have a small air conditioner that I can position a chair in front of to create a cool little play space on the floor. It isn't big enough to cool the whole yurt but it's enough. However we have to run the generator for it, so we don't use it often. There are many people who believe that living in constant climate-controlled environments is not healthy for our bodies and that experiencing varied seasonal temperatures in our bodies builds hardiness. Perhaps it is not a bad thing, it certainly means we go swimming more in our beautiful rivers and oceans. 

Our wood-burning Aga keeps us warm in winter, as does wearing jumpers and putting extra blankets on our beds. 

Yurts look complicated, are they easy to set up?

In short, yes. We found the Pacific Yurt very easy to assemble and we did it mostly by ourselves over a week. However, the roof covers are very heavy and awkward and require a couple of strong people to help get them on. We found the Pacific Yurt instructions very clear and also their customer service was excellent. I'm confident that if we had any queries or issues during the building process, they would have been more than happy to advise us of a solution.  

If you want to read more details about our yurt, its design and its floor plan you can find an older post I did HERE. 

How many years does a yurt last?

A yurt is essentially a timber-framed building and as such the frame will last as long as any other timber-framed building, as long as the covers of the yurt are in good condition. The frame will need to be kept dry to protect it and observed for signs of borers or termites over the years. You can buy replacement covers if needed, or some people clad them with solid siding once the covers wear out. I have seen many people who have been living in their yurts for 15-20 years and the original covers are still going strong. All homes need some form of maintenance, be it paint, roof repair, gutters fixed etc. Since the yurt is a small and simple design, the maintenance required is minimal. So far we have not done anything nor had any issues with the exterior. Though the outside could do with a gentle scrub with a soapy broom and a good rinse. This a job we will tackle once we have the window covers on for winter.  

The interior lattice does collect a little dust but that's not hard to deal with a handheld broom and a vacuum cleaner once or twice a year. 

Is it legal to live in a yurt?

In most places in Australia, you will not get council approval to live full-time in a yurt. However, you may get approval to have a yurt on your property and live in it a couple of days a week. So if you choose to live in a yurt or a similar kind of alternative dwelling you will likely do so at your own risk. It is important to consider the region you are in and how pedantic your local council is and if there are other people living in unapproved dwellings to see if it is generally accepted. Where we are there are people all through the mountains living in sheds, shacks, caravans and tiny homes hidden out of sight, just as we are. If you are going to live in an unapproved dwelling it is best to get along with your neighbours because the council will often turn a blind eye as long as no formal complaints arise.

Each country and state will have its own rules and regulations which you will need to research for yourself. 

Why would you choose to live in a yurt if the council can force you to move out? 

We choose that risk because we want to live well and maximise the time we have as a family together. We do not want to live our lives with both parents being forced to work just to survive. I understand for many people there is little choice and it is necessary to have two parents working full-time.  We know from our own lives it is very difficult to support a family these days if you're on a low to modest income, many single parents face even more challenges. Many other people love their careers and find their paid work valuable and enjoyable and want to balance that with an equally meaningful home life. 

We are all different and I think that is a very good thing. 

For us living in a yurt minimised debit, which allowed us to afford to have one parent at home. This is a decision we value as a family and will continue to do for as long as it's viable and suits us. We want to live a simple home-based life and to spend as much time as a family together as possible. We don't want to put our kids in childcare/before-school care/after-school care if we can avoid it. Given the distance, our children have to go to school that would not only be very tiring for them but it's expensive too for a family our size. We want to have the time to milk goats, build our farm, garden, cook nourishing meals and be present for our children. To make that possible we make choices that enable us to live as cheaply as we can and minimise debt. 

Here you can see the stairs leading up into the loft. Under the stairs is a big pantry. 

It seems that with each generation the average person is losing essential skills that would have once been considered normal. Many people can't sew on a button or take up a hem. They don't know how to mend, cook, ferment, fix or build things. We have an epidemic of depression, loneliness and isolation. Our children are at risk of being the first generation to live shorter lives than those before it due to the increasing presence of chronic health problems. This detachment from the basic elements of life seems to be the opposite of "progress" in all the areas that truly matter. 

Not so long ago in Australia, an average family could buy a block of land in the country and build a simple, modest home themselves for their family using local materials. Now it seems there are endless boxes to tick, forms to fill out and criteria to meet. I think in many cases the endless red tape to get through has gone way above and beyond what is sensible and logical. Not to mention there is a fee to pay at every turn which is clearly fattening someone's pocket.  When I look at housing developments today I see big homes with multiple living spaces and bathrooms that take up the majority of their small blocks. There is little room left for children to play outside, for dogs to run or to create beautiful, productive gardens. The homes are designed so individuals all have their 'own space' which on one hand can be nice, but in a small home, people are naturally brought together. They learn how to adapt to each other and their needs out of necessity and practice. Generally speaking, the majority of people have lived in small homes throughout the ages, and there is an element of living small that is deeply beneficial to fostering close relationships.  

This is the boys loft, The room is divided in two so they each have their own space and their own set of custom shelving that utilises the height in the ceiling. 

For us living in a yurt is a way we have chosen to live a little outside the system, a way we can claim back some of our independence from debit and financial pressure whilst still having a sweet and cosy home for our family. We can't escape rates and taxes, and we are happy for our dollar bucks to go towards important services that help the collective good. But what we can do is choose to minimise our personal debt in every way possible and live a life that aligns with our values. 

Will we always live in a yurt? I don't know. There are parts of a traditional home that I miss, but then I suspect if I were ever to move back into a traditional home, there would be parts of living in a yurt I would miss also. 

For us during this season of life, it works. 

Much love,

caring for a large family when unwell

Finally, after an exhausting couple of weeks recovering from covid, I'm on the mend. Thankfully the rest of the family recovered well and more quickly than me. Covid itself wasn't too bad in regards to flu symptoms but I was physically very weak, dizzy and exhausted. Even the most minor jobs seemed like monumental mountains to climb. I'm still not 100% energy-wise and tire quickly, but I feel much better generally. I have learnt over the years that when sick I need to listen to my body and let everything possible go, including feelings of guilt, until I'm fully better. 

I come from a long line of people who soldier on when you're unwell, never taking a sick day unless you're dying and even then ensuring you've not dropped a ball. Well, I tried that a few years back when I had pericarditis and I ended up with a chronically weak and inflamed heart for two years, which served no one. Even now I get sicker than I used to and it takes me longer to recover. These days when I'm sick I literally take to bed for as long as necessary. I get up and do tasks as I feel I can for short bursts and I take short gentle walks on the farm but otherwise, I doze, read and basically let the kids have a free for all on-screen time until I'm better. Guilt-free. On days when cooking is too much, frozen food in boxes is embraced.

In this post, I thought I would share some tips on streamlining how we survive as a big family when unwell. When you're a parent and sick the key is to do things in small pockets of time. You might only be able to manage 5-10 minutes of gentle work before needing to rest. The important thing is to listen to your body the best you can and delegate tasks to older children and partners where possible. 

Quick and easy meals when unwell 

If you are sick and have little energy cooking can seem like an overwhelming task. Especially if you have a family to feed. I get it. But families need feeding and if like us you don't have a village or extended family near to help then it often falls to mothers to keep the wheels turning. 

The first meal is a simple, nourishing meal that can feed the masses with little effort and mess.

Baked chicken and veggies
Line a tray with baking paper and dice potatoes and carrots and any other veggies you can rustle up from your crisper. If you only have potato don't stress, potato is incredibly nutrient dense and full of vitamins and minerals as well as having a soothing effect on tummies. Drizzle olive oil and season the veggies. I use a herbed salt called Herbamare. If you can get away with not peeling veggies all the better. 

Next, lay out some alfoil and pop a couple of chicken breasts on it. Drizzle with a little olive oil or lemon juice, and throw some salt/pepper/garlic from a jar at them. If you have enough energy to gather some herbs from the garden great, if not a little paprika sprinkled on works or just keep it super simple. Scrunch the alfoil so it makes a pouch for the chicken to steam in and whack it in the oven. 

Pop the oven on to about 200C and dinner should be ready in roughly an hour with no more assistance from you, aside from slicing the chicken and serving it out. Leftovers will keep well in the fridge.  

Ham and cheese toasties on wholemeal bread
If your kids will eat tomatoes on their toasties great! Mine won't. 

Fruit and yoghurt drizzled with honey 
Full of vitamin C, good bacteria for gut health, and nice on sore throats. Raw honey is an added bonus. 

Scrambled eggs on toast
If you can grate some cheese into the eggs it makes it a little more nourishing as well as spreading some avocado on the toast. But eggs are an incredibly dense nutrient source by themselves if that's all you can manage. Remember the aim is to feed your family the best you can with zero guilt. No Michelin stars are required! 

Smooth vegetable soup 
Pumpkin or cauliflower and potato soup are great bases for a thick smooth soup. I roughly chop ingredients, add bacon/ham if I have some and throw it all in a big pot at the same time and cover it with water/chicken stock. Then I season as necessary and allow to simmer for 30mins-1hr. Once the veggies are soft, blitz the lot with a stick blender until smooth. I don't faff about with browning bacon or stages of cooking when unwell. Soups are incredibly forgiving. Grated cheese on top may help tempt little people to eat. 

Chicken soup
There are so many varieties of chicken soup you can make. If you are super unwell plain chicken broth is wonderful. If you can throw in some noodles it becomes more filling. If you have a bit more energy you might like to make a pot of chicken and veggie soup. If you can manage to include ginger, turmeric and throw copious amounts of ginger in it all the better. Quirky cooking has a great recipe I love HERE if you can manage it. Though you might want to leave out chilli for kids. I add siracha sauce to my own bowl to get a nose-clearing chilli hit. You don't need a Thermomix. A big pot, kitchen knife and chopping board is perfectly adequate. 

To simplify you might like to use a jar of grated ginger/garlic, shop-bought chicken broth and add a diced-up chicken breast or two, depending on how many you are feeding. Frozen diced veggies also work.

When I can't manage those meals and I want to offer something even simpler I turn to;
  • Baked beans on toast (even canned beans are incredibly good for you)
  • Fish fingers and frozen chips (or slice some potato/sweet potato into chips and bake with olive oil and herb salt if you can manage that)
  • Plain pasta with butter and herb salt
  • Cerial/porridge. Add brown sugar and cinnamon to porridge, cinnamon is extremely good for soothing upset tummies. 
  • Fruit and yoghurt
  • Crackers
  • Decent real fruit juice (from the fridge section without preservatives preferably)  
  • Rice noodles with chicken broth 

Other things to consider

Keeping a couple of litres of chicken broth in the freezer is great for times of sickness to add into simple soups or serve plain with noodles for chicken noodle soup as is having a few frozen 'just in case meals' on hand that you have prepared earlier. But if you are caught out without these things on hand, the meal suggestions above require little effort, and minimal time being physically upright cooking whilst creating very few dirty dishes. 

Keeping a jar of minced garlic/ginger, long-life milk and chicken broth in my pantry are mealtime saviours when the proverbial hits the fan. Because it will always hit the fan when you are least prepared for it. And that's ok - life happens. 

If you're unwell and your pantry is empty, remember to utilize click-and-collect grocery services and home delivery. These are a godsend when unwell. The big supermarket websites are very easy to register for and navigate and are very secure. 

Focus on basic cleaning tasks only

No matter what is going on with us, there are some things that need to happen even when we are unwell. Children need to be fed, clean and safe, animals need to be fed and their enclosures/litter trays clean. Dishes need to be done so you don't invite sickness on top of sickness and dirty/infected linen needs to be hot washed.  

If kids are on the mend they can begin to look after their own space again by stripping their beds and re-making them, hanging up clean washing, bringing in dry washing and feeding pets. Though maybe not all on the same day! Give them a small job or two and let them tackle it at their own pace throughout the day. For instance, they might be able to strip their bed in the morning and make it in the afternoon. That little bit of help can be huge when you are sick yourself and trying to keep a household cared for and functioning.  

Minimising the workload when sick is the key to survival. Kids can drink from drink bottles which are washed in hot soapy water daily rather than cups, and keep snacks on hand that they can help themselves to. Little packets of popcorn are a great snack choice if you don't have the energy to make it yourself. As are small tubs of yoghurt. Yes, single-use plastic is bad. But when everyone is sick it's more important than ever to maintain a certain level of hygiene. If choosing a few pre-packaged items helps you to keep a clean and hygienic kitchen by minimising washing up, then it's a worthy sacrifice for a few days. No one needs food poisoning on top of illness.  

If like me you are trying to live simply and minimise your footprint on the earth it can feel hard to embrace convenience items. But when you're unwell, this is exactly the time to lower our standards. The reality is that 70-80% of pollution and waste comes from just a few huge worldwide companies and industries. Big corporations have tried to shift the responsibility and guilt onto the consumer to deflect the blame, which leaves us bending over backwards to do the right things for the environment while they continue merrily polluting on a massive scale and making record profits in the process. If you can afford to use the dryer, run the dishwasher a little more or buy some convenience foods when unwell, this is the time to do it. 

If you are well enough to continue to avoid single-use plastics - wonderful! But if you need to lean on convenience for a week or two to survive - don't beat yourself up. Unnecessary self-imposed guilt won't help you heal faster. By doing what you can to rest and make a full recovery, you will ensure you get back on your feet and are able to live your green life sooner while helping others work out how to do the same. 

If children are unwell, giving them a wipe with a warm flannel and a clean change of PJs is perfectly fine if that's all they and you can manage. Sometimes a nice warm shower or bubble bath can be wonderful for helping ease aches and pains though, as well as being a helpful way to pass time and for kids to have a nice bubbly splash. 

Convenience items I like to have on hand during times of illness

  • Tissues
  • Paper towel
  • Pre-packaged chicken broth (If I don't have any in the freezer)
  • Little packets of popcorn
  • Individual yoghurts
  • Crackers
  • Eco bathroom spray, either an orange cleaner or an Earth Choice one (usually I use bicarb/eucalyptus and vinegar but when sick I revert to a stronger bought version)
  • Paracetamol and Nurofen for adults and children
  • Icy poles

Embrace technology like dishwashers, dryers and slow cookers if you have them. Dirty/infected washing needs to be dealt with quickly. When I'm really sick I hang everything inside and point a fan on it no matter the weather. When I had a dryer I felt no guilt using that when I was sick, though generally avoided using it at other times. Clean washing needn't be folded or put away when sick if you can't manage it, it will be there when you are well. As long as dirty/infected washing isn't allowed to fester. Ordinary washing can often wait, just focus on the bare essentials.  

I usually use old cotton rags for cleaning, but when everyone is sick or there is gastro in the house it's handy to have a stronger eco-spray and paper towel on hand. I like to keep the loo, sink and high-traffic areas like the kitchen table wiped over. I might give the shower a quick spray, and let it sit for 5 minutes before rinsing it off. It literally only takes a couple of minutes and can help to break the cycle of illness. Paper towels can be composted rather than having damp, dirty cleaning rags sitting forgotten in a bucket to go mouldy. (This might not be an issue for you - if not great!)

Remember to go gently

When you are a homemaker we often want our homes to be lovely places for our families. We feel it is our job to feed everyone well and care for them. When I was a young mother I hated things being dirty or the feeling that the chores were getting away from me. I would feel anxious and become frustrated at myself and the situation we were in. I would push myself to do things when I should have rested - sick and exhausted people do not do tasks efficiently! 

Over the years I have learned to float rather than fight my way through times of difficulty. It is a skill I wish I had grasped earlier. Sickness and difficult times will come and go, babies teeth will come in, and children will eventually learn how to sleep through the night. The house will be messy at times and then it will be tidy, fresh and clean at other times. Seasons, stages, and levels of health all dictate how much we are able to do and when. There are no prizes for working so hard you end up chronically unwell and burnt out. Listen to your body, cuddle your babies, and try to focus on the essentials of keeping your home healthy. The rest can wait. Sometimes it feels like you are treading water in a muddy swamp and everything is hard. Breathe, and work in short, gentle 5-10 minute blocks. If you feel well enough, do try to get some fresh air and time in nature to reset. 

And remember, self-imposed guilt doesn't serve you, it will only drain your precious energy making everything seem harder. Go gently, and give yourself and others in your home grace. The hard season will soon pass and the time will come again when you have the energy and motivation to catch up and set things right.

Much love,

Coming into Autumn

It has been hot and incredibly humid here in recent weeks and I confess it has sapped the energy out of me. Grant also came home from a recent work trip and with Covid, so the children and I are home battling that too. Grant bounced back well, which I am thankful for. 

I do not do well in the heat, unlike my husband and children who seem far more resilient to it.  But as we enter Autumn I feel a sense of hope and enthusiasm that cooler weather is on its way. I was built for cool weather. Wood fires, nourishing slow-cooked meals, scarves, boots and woollen jumpers. In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best idea to move to the sub-tropics where our winter season is disappointingly short. At least we are in the mountains where we get some good frosts and cooler winter days. When it's hot and humid I dream of living in the snowy mountains, though I'm sure if I was there I would come to curse the cold too. Ha! We can however grow year-round here, which when it comes to farming can be an asset. 

Like many people, I have been growing increasingly despondent about the state of our beautiful country. Rising interest rates, two-income families unable to find housing and being forced into homelessness and to use food banks. If working people can't afford food and accommodation then our elderly, disabled and vulnerable have no chance. 

So much for the lucky country. 

Electricity is about to jump by 20%. The elderly and those at home due to illness, disability or looking after small children should be able to afford to stay cool or keep warm in this country, but that is a reality slipping further and further away for many. Our schools and hospital systems are crying out for help and support. People are leaving the industries in droves from sheer exhaustion and burnout. It is a blight on our nation. 

The haves continue to shop and live like there is nothing wrong while renting out their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th homes as holiday homes and air B&Bs to maximise return, rather than renting them out as long-term housing for locals for a fair price. That's if they even bother to let them at all. There is a huge number of empty homes across the country, owned by people who don't bother to rent them out as it is better for their back pocket and their tax return not to. Where has the Aussie attitude of 'helping out your mate' disappeared to?  The government is scared of upsetting those in privileged positions and are doing little to force their hand to be compassionate and think of their countrymen before their own already well-padded pocket. If the government has the power to lock down the country, shut borders, and stop trade for two years straight, then they certainly have the ability to fix, or at least ease these problems. Australia is quickly becoming a country I do not recognise and it has happened in my lifetime. I remember how comparatively easy it was to get our foot on the property ladder 18 years ago. Now people can't even find a rental for their families. I turn 40 in a few months.

We are more thankful than ever for Grant's good stable job, though it is not ideal having him off the property full-time. However, we are committed to keeping me at home with Elsie for as long as it remains possible and to be there for the boys.

In order to keep me home we have been discussing plans to make things as manageable as possible in the garden and animal management. In the bottom garden, we have been moving soil and creating garden borders with rocks from the property. We will be laying down extensive gravel paths to minimise mowing and weed management. I'll continue to share some things we are tweaking to make things easier and lighter to manage as time goes by. The structural part of building a garden is always slow, and then it quickly comes together quickly once the plants go in and the mulch is laid. This Autumn we are going to plant a lot of trees around the yurt to help create a cool shady oasis, under the trees we will fill the garden beds with flowers and herbs and pretty shrubs. The little garden near the kitchen door is lovely and shady now and it is significantly cooler, so we will be replicating this elsewhere. It's a good time to plant tender seedlings in Autumn as the sun is not so harsh and new plants have a chance to get established without getting fried. There are also fewer pests and mildew problems. In many places, gardens are winding down in Autumn but being in the sub-tropics we can grow year-round. Though pretty much everything halts in the midst of winter. 

As they do every summer our goats have struggled with worms, particularly the deadly barbers pole worm. This last couple of months we have been trialling feeding them some soaked barley with ACV and then adding 1tsp of copper sulphate/goat/week as well as alternating the drenches we use and utilising good rotational grazing practices. There are a few other mineral additives we can tweak too. It's a matter of experimentation. They do have a quality goat lick with them at all times, but it is not enough during our challenging sub-tropical summers. They have done better than last year, and are otherwise in good condition. We sadly lost one baby male goat which was unfortunate. I tried to save him and he seemed to be improving but his heart suddenly gave out which was very frustrating. I have had to come to accept that even the most attentive care can't save them all. We have ordered a new bio-wormer which we hope will be a game changer and planted herbs to add to the soaked grain which will aid with natural worm prevention and good gut health. I have a few other natural goat care tips to trial and I am curious to see how we fare next summer. 

Cows are comparatively easy. They do their thing, eat grass and grow fat without much assistance from us. They are far less demanding, but they are also fussier grazers and due to their size, can be harder to handle. Though our steers are gentle, many cattle are not. Ours are about ready to take to market, though prices have dropped recently so we will hold off a little longer.

Although the cows are easier in some regards we will continue to focus on the goats while I am the one primarily at home. The goats are smaller and easier for me to manage. If a goat is hurt or sick I can lift it, move it and treat it on my own. They are gentle and less likely to injure me when I am here alone.  I really enjoy working with them. 

Come easter we will begin to build the goat milking shed and sick bay, as well as finish the fence of the new vegetable garden area. I am really looking forward to having these projects underway and to be able to produce more of our own food moving forward. It seems increasingly important in these rapidly changing times. 

We have also been looking into getting WWOOFERS or Help-ex, as much as I would like to have them to help with the gardening and orchard planting this Autumn, we will probably have to wait for the deck to be finished with the new rooms on it, as we will need Williams caravan for their accommodation and he will shift into what is currently our room in the yurt. It's a frustrating delay but I am unsure how to work around it without spending significant amounts of time on starting yet another project. 

Due to Covid, I am struggling with a terribly foggy head, fatigue and severe headaches. If you could pray for healing for our family that would be appreciated and if I am quiet here over the next week or two, that is why. But when I can, I will share some ways we as a family of 6 save money.  

Much love,

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