Welcome ...
This blog has been created to allow family and friends to share in and become part of the experience of 'Down at the Farm'.
Enjoy the children, their love for each other and their open hearted wonder and excitement.
Over time you will get to know the farm through their eyes and will see how they spend their day with each other in a very rich, organic way.
Each vignette is a snapshot in time. Follow from one to another, then on to more and you can share in our unfoldment and journey.
Enjoy your visit ...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

... it's got a long, long, long, long, neck!

Well Ted came back to friday mornings at the farm for the new year with new friends ... Mac and Frieda ... and it didn't take long for this to happen ...

... a happy little huddle playing in the tan bark as if they'd known each other for ages. 

Ted talked his head off all morning long ... after all he had a good month and a half of time without us seeing each other to catch up on!

It was like he wanted me to know everything and was so full of excitement and joy at being back at the farm that he had to let me know Ted style ... which is to tell you all of what he knows and all of what is happening!

At first, before we landed in the tan bark and the huddle, he wanted to know where Magnus was ... when I told him, he took in that he wasn't coming and in a flash said, 'There's Mag.'  I turned round to see and said, 'Maggie the cat?'  Ted's reply was, 'No, Magnus.  That's Magnus,'  pointing and looking straight at Maggie.  As we wandered, he'd see another child and ask, 'What's he's name?'  When I'd answer, 'I don't know.' Ted would say, 'It's Magnus.' ... he'd then stand and look and take them in for moment and say, 'Yeah, that's Magnus.'

It was like he spent the first hour missing Magnus and seeing him in everyone who crossed our path.

Mac had the most gorgeous t-shirt on and he was so pleased when he noticed that I had noticed.  He saw me looking and taking it in ... and instantly started to tell me about it and about the giraffe having a long, long, long, long neck ... as he walked his fingers up it a bit incy, wincy spider like.

Frieda arrived in delight at being at the farm and things stayed that way for her all day long.   She was very happy and got quite a thrill when we were playing down the back and she foung a gum tree branch with gumnuts on it.   Last visit Frieda had, we'd found the same and she'd painstakingly taking all the nuts of the branch, carried them for ages from one place of play to the next and by the end of the day had lost them.   She just picked up from where she left off this time putting them in a little container from her lunch with a tight lid on it so they didn't go missing.

It was a very easy morning.  It was a bit like there was a lot of quiet joy at just being at the farm, being together and the new beginning feeling really good all roung.  The children were most happy playing and the weather helped out as it was gorgeous ...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Orlando meets Anna

Today there were just two.

Orlando came along for his first day at the farm with us ... though he knows the farm well as he has been coming along to visit with mum for some time now.
Anna came back to start a new year and it was the sweetest and gentlest of starts to thursdays.  
Orlando and Anna meeting and getting to know each other.

I had some surplus apples from a friends tree and we started the day together taking some of them to feed the horses.   This was a big hit, especially when Mickey the donkey joined in and took his apple bite by bite ... very delicate and polite next to the horses chomping with great gusto.
Next stop was the barn as Heather the cow was soon to arrive for milking.  Both children were really excited about doing this and happy to have Anita's guiding hand near by.

Orlando's turn

Anna's turn
Orlando announced at the end, 'I can't do it.'  To which I replied, 'Yes you can Orlando, you did a great job.'  To which he then said, 'But I got it on the floor.'
I suddenly got a sense of him really caring about learning to do things well and that he'd really applied himself with the cow milking only to discover he couldn't quite get it in the bucket.   Quite a quality in a young man.
We talked about lots of other things we could do and a picnic sounded good until Anna piped up with, 'No, I don't want a picnic, I want to do some eggs.'
Great that she felt she could change her mind and have her difference ... best of all was that Orlando thought this was a great idea to and Anna found one egg in the chicken house to collect.
The children were quietly taking each other in and Orlando was reaching out to make conversation with Anna the whole time which was so lovely to see.   He just seemed immediately comfortable and safe with us.

A wander down the back ...

Past the windmill

Following a peacock

... and we soon ended up in 'The Witches Garden'  ... and first thing on the menu was ... well ... the menu ... it was picnic time.

Both children were really comfortable in each others company and Orlando kept reaching towards Anna for conversation ...

"When's you're birthday?"
"Well do you know my favourite colour?"
"It's yellow."

It was like he was reaching inside to find all the things that really mattered to find out and share when you are getting to know a new friend.

It melted Anna's reserve ... she warmed up with him and they began to chat and laugh and share things they had to eat with each other ... asking with so politely and caring to say thank you.  Very gorgeous between them.

A little magpie lark came to visit.   Very close to us all it came ... looking  for tidbits and Orlando had a very up close interaction with it which was pretty special for him and also for Anna and I to see.

Laying some crumbs to as temptation.

Coming in for a flutter

Then off for a moment before back for more.

Meanwhile, Anna was now really warmed up for things and once she'd eaten, there was no stopping her.   She bounced up in total delight to entice Orlando to come and play and explore ... which he did.  Together they had the loveliest of times.

Orlando soon got involved feeding the goats and Anna met a new little friend Ella who was more than happy to have her face painted by Anna ... in exchange for painting Anna's face too.

'What colour would you like?'

'OK, I'll get some.'

'Here, I'll put it on now.'

Once time for Ella to go had come, Orlando had finished with the goats and it was back to Orlando and Anna ... already feeling like there was a lot of warmth and very good feeling between these too.

Such a lovely start to thursdays ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The tale of the tail feather

Today was full of glory moments ... moments were each of the children were in their full glory.

The first little face I saw was Jyra's when she arrived with Tessa.  Jyra didn't stop delighting all day.   Then Oli with a big hug and smooch for me.  Lastly in walked Anna, giving me the nod that she was accompanied by two people I didn't know.

Next a boy walked out looking mighty puffed up and pleased with himself.   I asked who he was and he told me in deep tones, 'Chuck' ... apparently a spy!

Next thing out from under the hat popped a little head, who opened his mouth and pulled a grape from inside each cheek out of his mouth and there stood Harvey in all his glory, cracking up laughing that he'd fooled me ... especially by filling out his cheeks with grapes.  Now if that wasn't a sign that things would be good today, I don't know what was.

'Chuck', was followed by Samson alias, another spy!

An animated conversation was soon underway and each time we decided what to do and where to go, someone would be distracted and we'd end up looking at a chicken and forgetting out intent to start exploring.

This wasn't really a problem ... it lead us in the end to the guinea pig house.  Samson, Oli and Harvey were really please to cuddle and hold the guinea pigs.  Jyra decided to play hostess and took my hand so we could find some fresh grass to feed them.   She was super gorgeous handing picking it and showing me and just as gorgeous handing it to each of the boys and receiving their thank you's ... which were abundantly given.

At one point Oli announced that his guinea pig wouldn't eat.  I looked to see him gently trying to push some grass at the wrong end of the guinea pig!  Oli's solution ... 'Well turn it round, turn it round danella!'

Harvey and Honey

Jyra, Samson and Oli all warming up with each other ...

Guinea pigs over and we went to see Heather the cow get milked. 

Harvey milking

Samsons turn

From here we headed to visit the pigs.  Greta's 'babies' are more like 5 year olds (relatively speaking) ... and how I came to that conclusion was listening to how they sounded when Greta walked off each time they wanted to suckle.

Our destination after this was none other than The Witches Garden.  That place has become so special that it's like entering into a whole other space where time alters a little and many other worlds open to us ... the children are pulled towards that magical experience so strongly.

The children quickly wanted a picnic and if you look at the little faces in these shots, you'll feel some sense of the mood.  They were totally enjoying each other and the gentle joy of picnicking too ...

Harvey went water divining and soon started to dig ... Jyra joined him and he was so gentle and loving and in his welcome for her to join such a wonderful experience with him.   A lot of quiet love flowed between these two.

Jyra later got some gumleaves and started to show me how she could make things with them and it wasn't long before ...

She placed one in a button hole in my shirt twisted it back on itself and made a little hole so it could stay there for me ... she was very gentle and when she began, looked into my face asking with her eyes more than anything if it was ok to put a leaf there ... while at the same time I could sense her  little mind tick over as she was making up what she was doing as she was going ...

Samson and Oli, just kept playing and playing and playing ... in the bushes up the trees, talking with the goats, feeding them banana skin ... a lot of energy and enthusiasm was expended here ... and all four of the children would join in things along the way too.

Our next stop was the horse corale.  The day had gone from cool to slowly warming by now and in a short space of time it got plain hot.  I was helping Jyra make a cubby with a stand used to help riders mount the horses and our picnic blanket.  We soon had a little space made and in no time at all ... all four children were in it.   No more that 2m x 1m  I think they played there in harmony for a good hour to an hour and a half.   It was amazing to witness so intimately this tiny space used so creatively, cooperatively and harmoniously for such a time.  Best thing of all, we were outdoors with the sun shining and had created our own shade so the children could continue to enjoy the sand.

The day was not over yet, though I feel this next part of the adventure almost deserves it's own heading.   I'll call it 'chapter 2' in case anyone needs to go make a cuppa or grab a glass of wine ...

Chapter 2

Our play in the sand came to it's own natural close and we moved under the awning on the stables to picnic once more and to play on.

A little magpie lark came to visit.   Very curious and showing no fear, it came up close and looked at each of us.   Harvey watched it quite intently and announced.   'I've always wanted to catch a bird and eat it.'   Like some ancient memory in him was stirring and he almost felt compelled to see if he could live it.

Harvey being Harvey, kept watching the bird, drank some water ... noticed his bottle was empty and took the lid off to look inside.   He started to fill it with sand and seemed distracted from the bird and now engrossed with something else.   After a while he had the bottle filled with sand and little pebbles and some hay and he came over and asked if I'd help him get the lid on, which I did.  Triumphantly he stood up, eyes immediately on the bird again and I asked, 'What are you going to with the bottle Harvey?'  He said, 'Swing it round and round my head and then see if I can let it go and it will get the bird and I can catch it.'  

He had all the while been alight with his desire to catch the bird.

I asked, 'Do you know what will happened if you do that Harvey?'  He replied, 'I might catch it.'  I said, 'That's true, though if you hit it, you might kill it or hurt it really badly.'   Harvey though for a moment and then said, 'Oh ... ' looked slightly lost for a moment and then said, 'Well if I could just get close, I could put the bottle on it's feet to hold it still  ... and then I could catch it and it won't get hurt or killed.' 

'Harvey that's true and you've have such good ideas.  The best thing is that we don't hurt or kill the bird as this farm is a place where we don't kill or hurt any of the animals.   None of the animals here are for eating, only the plants and fruit and veges.'

Then I asked Harvey if he wanted to be a warrior ... to which he replied with wide eyes and great enthusiasm, 'Yeah!'   and I offered, 'Well can I tell you a story about how some native people from America taught there warriors how to get close to a bird without killing or hurting them and that doing that was part of how the boys became young men and warriors?'  Harvey was at my feet and all ears ... the three other children with him.

I simple told a story I'd once heard of how a tribe in America, used to set a task for the boys to gather an eagle feather from a bird in the wild and how the journey they took was a warriors journey and a sign that they were now a man.  I talked with Harvey and how the boys were taught to use their bodies, their minds, their wills, their hearts and their spirits to take this journey.  I told him how they'd have to climb to high rocky places to find the eagles nest and that they were so focused and strong that they knew how to move silently and they'd learn to be patient enough to wait until the could lie near the nest, reach in a pull a feather from the eagles tail and that they could then go back to their tribe with the feather and wear it proudly for it was a sign that they were now a warrior.

All the children loved the story which was told simple, with all their questions and so fitting for not squashing what was stirring in Harvey and giving him something exciting to strive for.

When we'd finished, I told Harvey that they reason they were taught to go for a tail feather was because it wouldn't hurt the animal.  Then I asked Harvey, 'Do you think you have enough skill to be so silent that you can get close to the magpie lark without it flying away?'

Harvey was up in a flash and moving with great stealth and skill immediately.

He was off to get  his tail feather.

The most awesome thing happened .. as we moved around the stables and across the paddock, the magpie lark stayed with us as if it too were locked in this dance with Harvey and us all.

Finally down by the river as the day came to a close, we all watched as Harvey took his silent steps with enormous focus and attention and got so close that he touched the birds tail before it moved ... and then it only took a couple of steps away.

The thrill that run through us all could have powered Melbourne for a week.  Harvey was now on  a mission to feel himself  become a warrior and we ... his little tribe were really happy for him.

Each of the other children had added their patience, love, encouragement and support while all this happened and had simultaneously continued their own threads of play and adventure too.

At the end of the day, I said to Harvey as he left, 'Harvey don't forget to tell mum about what happened with the bird.'   To which Harvey turned to Anna and said, 'Mum when I get a feather from a tail of a bird, you have to ring danella up!'

While it would have been so easy to say, 'Harvey you can't catch a bird and eat it here.' It was so much more worthwhile to take the time to find out more ... I know Harvey well enough to know that his heart is in the right place ... and reasoning with him knowing that, turned out to be quite a journey full of pleasure for us all!

A little love letter ...

When Sienna came to visit last week, she brought me a little letter she'd written.   I couldn't quite get over it as it was so full of love and appreciation ...and she was full joy giving to me and sharing this new skill she now has ... writing.

I just had to share it ...

She writes my name just how she says it :)

Sienna and Pebbles the cat.

three times two = a really good day for all !

This little post belongs to last week and with photos not wanting to load we've had to wait ...

We had two siblings from each of three families spend the day together last thursday.

Twin brothers Arlo and Oscar came for their first day.  Sisters Anna and Iris, who visit the farm regularly, also spent their first day together in one of our little gangs ... and Sienna and Magnus who have both come along over time for weekly visits and came together for a day ... making our three times two.

Farm magic was afoot for we couldn't have asked for a better mix of personalities on the day.

Arlo swinging from a branch 'like spiderman'

Oscar making a quick dash out of the tree and off to see what some of the other children were doing.

Can you see me?  Pint sized Iris had no qualms climbing ... and loved being able to peek out at what the others were up to while she was doing it.

Anna with a peacock feather ... quietly taking in its beauty.

School holidays at the farm can be really busy and the guinea pigs are often only open for short times during the day so they don't get totally overwhelmed and stressed.   We were lucky.   They were open in the morning and we all got to warm up with each other cuddling the guinea pigs.  It doesn't come much better than that ...





Sienna, Magnus, Anna

Iris sidled up to big sister Anna

The whole gang

We also got to visit the baby chicks and spend time watching the ducks bathe and dig for things to nibble in some compost.   That was fascinating as the duck seemed to loose half it's head underground for a moment.

Yet the best fun of all was down the back playing in the Witches Garden ... that went on for hours.  The best thing was the goats were next door and Pebbles the cat came to visit and smooch and a little magpie lark came close and was curious too ... so our play was interspersed with some great moments with the animals.   The goats especially entertain as they love the foliage in the garden and happy to say hello and be fed.

The play and conversation between the children was easy ... all day long and their joy and delight at the wonder and mystery of the farm as well as the animals was gorgeous.   If it ever ended up that this three times two could spend the day together again and I think it would 'Yes' all round for the adventure for sure.