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 ...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Full circle becomes an ending ...

Well, I thought we'd closed a chapter on part of our experience of life at the farm and  yet, another turn has been taken in the story.

Many of you know about the ash saplings that were cut on the bike path, and the story that followed.   For those who don',t you can find it hereherehere and here .

... another chapter unfolded this week.

Having had the luxury of time at the farm, I've been able to bear witness to things that happen over time ... and see the deeper pattern or story of life unfolding as it takes shape  ... I have thoroughly felt the privilege of this. 

As I entered the farm on Monday, I bumped into Michael, the man who we first went to... to find out the fate of the little clump of Ash trees that had disappeared.

He had news to bear.  The big Ash tree had died ... and in the moment he told me I felt deeply that this news was to do with how deeply interconnected life is.

After that little clump of Ash disappeared and the community went through it's process of shock and grief and loss; the children stopped visiting and playing as they used to ... many, many families now just walked by, or had a very different relationship with that tiny area of land.

Occasionally I would walk down there with the children with me ... the landscape had changed and so too had all the relationships connected to that landscape.   The creativity and imagination that had been poured out and into the environment, the songs, the dance, the love, the fire and passion the games and imaginative play that I'd been witness too had ended ... and within two years, the parent tree had died.

I'd noticed this tree change and become old and brittle and saw that it didn't hold it's leaves like it used to ... and while there may be any number of logical, botanical or explainable reasons as to why this tree had died ... I knew I was seeing that it slowly died after the community of relationships it shared had ended.

This to me is the nature of having a relationship with a place and the natural world.  It teaches us profoundly.

The branches on the tree and deadwood will be lopped, and there will be something to climb on left ... yet could it be that with that one little change to the environment ... the removal of a little clump of ash trees, growing right next to the mother tree and bringing joy and love to hundreds of children ... the mother tree died with the loss of all that it loved and felt loved and sustained by energetically ...

I wonder ...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ted Smith ...

In the string of goodbyes that have happened of late ... here we come to the last.

Ted Smith ...

Ted we've covered so much ground I hardly know where to start ... hmm .. how about here ... with a peek at the little Ted that first came along to the farm ...

With Magnus who you adored (and he adored you too Ted)

If there was to be one word only that I could choose to describe you Ted ... it would have to be passionate.   From when we first met up until now, you have not ceased to share your passion with us.  Passionate love for your friends, passionate curiosity about life.   Passionate determination when you set your mind to something, passionate inquiry when you want to understand something ... passionate love of football (Go the Hawks!)

You are switched on Ted and passionate about life.   It has been so satisfying to be on the other end of.   We know when you are happy and we know when you aren't ... and you can show enormous patience and will, when we are trying to cross the gap between the two.

It's like you've had journeys within a journey.   There was your first year with Jyra and Dakota and Magnus and Ari ...  there was just so much love between you all that friday mornings started to be a little mill around in a pool of love together ... often for ages, we'd all just feel the love and be in it together.   

Magnus was your idol and he was such a great person for you to look up to and be inspired by.   He always gave his best and had a heart as big as yours.  High voltage met high voltage when it came to heart power between you both.

We weathered the changes when lots of faces left and new ones came ... and in time, guess what Ted ?  You and I were in love again with a whole new gang and a whole new way and it too has been really good.

Ari, has been your loyal and loving friend and sometimes, Ari's sweetness comes out most when you are happy.

We've seen you master the Peppercorn tree and then master the big hill near the Oak Tree... You've been muddy from head to toe and have had the stamina to walk for hours.   There isn't any type of weather that you haven't been thoroughly immersed in and we've idled some hours by the fire.

In the time it's taken for our latest little gang to bond, you've found yourself in the best of company with Frieda, Ari, Yoshi and Olivia.   Strong personalities, strong energy and lots of sensitivity and love in the mix too.   For you it's been great and vice versa ... and I've often had a 'Thank god it friday moment at the end of my week ... ' ... not thank god it's nearly over, but divine thanks for the blessing of the company I keep on that day.    There's been a lot of love shared and a lot of fun had.

You are so loved Ted and almost like an institution at the farm after such a long time ... like Fridays and Ted and the farm have all belonged together no matter what.

You don't shy away from anything Ted ... even a good dance!

You and the brothers getting a little creative with a hat dance ...


Ari watching over you constructing ..

Cubby Fun with Frieda ...

Ted you have such a great support team at home ... Andy, Luke, Isabel and Kitty ... and all the family beyond that, who I've heard about and got to know over the years.

You've given us all so much love, helped us all to grow and learn, laughed with us and at us and haven't minded when we've all had a good laugh at you.  We love you very much Ted and will miss your enthusiasm, intelligence and yes ... have to say it one more time ... your passion.

Good bye Ted ... safe travels and one thing is for sure ... it won't be a dull journey for you !

Cracking up ...

Farrah, Roxy, Archie, Monty and Reuben spent a beautiful morning at the farm today.   Miles were covered with loads of beautiful moments where we encountered the animals ... the sheep, the goats, some calves, some horses.  

A group of older people sat near where we picnicked and the question of the moment was, 'Why have they got cracks in their faces?'  Now that was a great conversation ... and at moments on the inside, it was cracking me up!

At another point in the day, Farrah announced, 'Danella, you're hilarious' ... then added after only a moments pause, 'but not that hilarious.' ... as if to say, just don't get carried away with yourself now that I've told you that.

Here's just one peek at each child on this very beautiful day ...

Archie ...

Roxy ...

Monty ...

Reuben ...

Farrah ...

The dynamic duo of the day ... Archie and Reuben

... and we're going to the chapel ...

At the end of Samson's last day, the children wanted to do something special.  We decided to walk somewhere special and they wanted to go somewhere they hadn't been before.   What sprang to mind was a walk to the chapel.  

 Amanda, the interpretive officer is a friendly neighbour ... she knows we are around and is always happy to see us.   The chapel itself has been restored and is quite beautiful ... and I offered to the children that I could take them for a walk and show them another beautiful place near the farm.

They wanted to know if it was like the art gallery ... yet not the art gallery ... and when I said, 'Well it sort of is.'   That was enough for them.

In we walked and Amanda was really happy to see we had come to visit, and really happy for us to wander and look.

The chapel was quiet and still and the children were gorgeous.

Lot's of 'Wows' when we walked in ... followed by, 'Look at that' ..'Look at that' ... and they were so respectful of being in a space that they weren't familiar with, 'Can we walk here?' 'Can we look at things?'

... and we did.

The altar is carved intricately of marble.   To the children, a large tactile story book, 'Look, this is amazing.' ... and they walked up and touched it and walked round it to take it in.   It sits in an enclave that is dome shaped with art work up to the ceiling reminiscent of the Sistine chapel era type of thing, with mandala stain glass windows.   The children loved the beauty and detail and the light that was coming in here too.  They noticed things all around and asked, 'What's that?' 'Who's that?'   ... and of course they were funny too.

On a pedestal on the wall was a statue of a nun, in black and white habit.   Kornelius and Samson noticed her and asked, 'Who's that up there?'  

I told them it was a nun ... and without wanting to know what a nun was or anymore info,   there was general agreement, 'She's a bit scary.'

Along one wall were a series of oil paintings, known as 'The Stations of the Cross' and the children stood to look up at the art in this 'gallery'.  They've been to the C3 gallery before and now anywhere with art work is a gallery ... and they quite love knowing it's there to look at.

Kornelius took in the first picture he looked at and asked, 'Who's that?'   

I told him it was a picture of Jesus.

'Who's Jesus?'

'Well Jesus is a man who lived a long time ago, about 2000 years ago.'

'Oh...' looking at the painting...'what's so special about him?'

The conversation opened up and I did my best to share answers to their questions about this story, in a simple way and as I've come to understand it.

'He was a teacher, a kind man, a caring man and a real warrior for peace and love.  He cared a real lot about how people were and would often do brave things to bring about more love between people.'


'How come he's lying down?'

Well that picture is telling about when he died ...

'What's that guy at the end of the bed got wings for?'

'He's an angel.'


'How come he's got gold around his head?'

'Well Jesus was so full of love and compassion that people could see it shining out of him ... it shone out of him like light.   That gold is meant to show how shiny bright he was.'

'So how come there are more pictures?' ... looking down the line of oil paintings.

'Well that's meant to be a story about part of his life ... a bit like a story book up on the walls and each painting is like a page.'

'Oh ... are there other stories too?'

No mostly about Jesus in here ... and then they noticed the stain glass windows ... 'What about in there ... ?'

... 'Well that is more of the same story.'

'Oh .. oh ... not like the other gallery.'  ... which of course has the work of a number of artists going on at once.

... and on we went, looking at the seats and sitting in them and asking who else has sat there and seeing how the light shone in the stain glass ... and noticing the organ pipes and asking who played the music and what songs they sang and things like, 'Do you think they know twinkle, twinkle?'

The thing that was really delightful is that children were in a non religious, non prejudiced, multi-sensory experience of the chapel as it was on that day.    It's got an incredibly beautiful wooden ceiling and is a bit like the inside hull of an upturned boat, that has been handcrafted.   They noticed this and took it in.   They walked up close to all thing we saw and touched what they could ... and asked a whole lot about everything else.   

In the end, it was deemed, 'a pretty good gallery' ... and that we had indeed gone somewhere special with Samson on his last day.


Olivia creating beauty ...

When we settled in for some time in the Witch's Garden on friday morning, Olivia took to creating some beauty in the cubby house there ...

She was so tender and gentle ... joined by Yoshi for a bit ... she delicately chose and placed things all around the entry ... each gumnut, twig, grass blade ... hand picked and deliberately placed with incredible focus and attention to detail. 

Take a peek ...

This tiny hole in a stump became a 'vase' for some delicately chosen and place green and long fine sticks ....

Sam a beautiful little man ...

Sam arrived quietly, with no fuss and I have to say ... there was no turning back.   He had landed in the right place at the right time and was definitely with the right people.   I often thought of this, over the time he's been with us as it was very seamless and beautiful.   It has always just felt right to have him along.

Having known older brother Toby and Mum and Dad and John and Granny Sue and ... getting to know little sister Violet too ... you've been the treat Sam, that brought them all into our lives in 2012.

One thing I've found really strong in you as a quality, is that I can count on you.   You are really loyal and dependable, and it helps create a feeling of things being safe for everyone in our little gang.  When you'd ask something or find out how something was done ... that was it, you'd get it and be happy to do so and to pass it on to others, anytime needed.

You'd take things in with great wonder and delight, have a great sense of humour and really love the same in others.  I can hear you laughing now as I write.

Guinea pig cuddles with you were always a treat ... you love them and we'd always find they'd just chill in your lap like they'd landed in a really good nest.

Luca, Anna, Sonny and Alessia looked up to you ... while you're the middle child in your family, with us you were a bit like a big brother, helpful, kind and lots of fun too .. Whether it was a great hike, or gentle play, climbing a tree or watching a bug, everything we did was of interest to you and in amongst it all you'd also make us laugh.

 I'd have to say my theme song for you is ... 'Easy ... easy like sunday morning (though we were always on a thursday) ... as that's how you've been ... a very easy companion to have along ... and an easy friend to love.

You've got a heart full of love for your family Sam and we wish ever so well for next year.   We'll miss you and send you off with our love ... goodbye Sam ...

What do you like with your corn chips .. ?

Oli opened his lunch box up on his last day ... took one look at some corn chips that were in there amongst all else and gave a long grumbling 'OH..oh..oh..', followed by, 'I don't like those corn chips.'

I asked, 'What's wrong with them Oli, don't you like the flavour?'

His reply, 'No, they've just got no brocc-amole with them.'

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bye bye Anna ...

Anna you've had quite the journey over time at the farm ...

In your first year you arrived, things eventually became little girl heaven, with Daisy and Romy, Milana and Alessia ... and YOU!   Those were the days where things were always fun and mighty sweet.   Lots of songs could be heard and fairy games would emerge ... along with adventure at the farm.   It was such a beautiful beginning for you, enough personality and fun for you to find your way safely into friendship.

... and while you were mostly quiet and little reserved, there have been moments of you that have been so tender and sweet ... you'd take your own time and find your own way to have those moments too ..

... and life moved on, faces changed and you had a chance to fall in love with Sonny and Sam and your good friend Luca joined us.   Along with Alessia, this became your safe place for 2012.

...  it's been wonderful.

You've found your feet, found your way and often would quietly watch, ponder and consider ... then quietly share your deep perception about what was happening.   Like the wet day we watched two ducks forage in the mud and as they poked around and moved side by side, then away from each other and then eventually settled into a rhythm that worked for them both in the same small puddle.   It was you that told us the ducks were sharing ... with a feeling that you understood they'd gone through a process to get there ...

Alessia has drawn you into the safest of places for creative play.   Together you've made home and painted each others faces ... and you'd get so involved and tender in your conversation with each other like there was only the two of you here, and all that mattered was the fun you were having together.

An all time favourite game has been the doctors game ... it started one thursday morning after a tumble for one of the children when we needed to dust off a knee, and make sure things were ok ... and it's taken on enormous proportion.   It's become the game the whole gang play together.   You are also funny too.   Everyone announces who they are and then all of a sudden, we have a problem as there are all patients and no Doctors ... and you are all determined to stay as you are too ...  I think part of the reason it's a favourite is because of how much you love it Anna.   You love everyone being involved and you love everyone taking care of each other and you lie there and be as still and patient as can be when it's your turn to be 'sick' ... and are very busy and totally attentive when you take on being a nurse or Dr. ... there is no amount of attention needed that wears you out.

When I look back, it's been such a long journey.  Yet as it came to say goodbye ... it felt all too soon.

We love you Anna and all know the joy you felt being with all of us.   We'll miss you and it feels good to know that Kate, Chris and little brother Sam will all take part in the next wonderful chapter of your life.

Good bye from us all Anna ...

Luca, Anna, Sam, Alessia and Sonny

Growing up for guinea pigs ...

While walking down to the guinea pig house on friday morning, after a play under the Peppercorn tree near the pigs ... all the children were chatting about guinea pigs ... Ari quietly beside me seemed to be pondering all things and then that little flash of realisation came across him, and he announced with an air of wisdom and certainty, 'When guinea pigs grow up they turn into pigs you know.  A pig is just a big guinea pig.'

What can I say ... Oli Schwarz

Right folks ... get ready to roll ... for it's Oli Schwarz we are about salute ... and life with Oli really does roll.

A high voltage package of fun, personality to burn, enthusiasm that never ends and talents galore that he's only too happy to share.  There aren't too many half hearted moments with Oli ... when you get into things Oli you really get into them ... and cook up a storm of fun ...

You are a total social entrepeneur ... you LOVE meeting people, making connections, sharing what's going on in your life socially and finding out the same for others and so often, it's the glue that makes it all work.

You've got a great sense of humour and ask questions to find answers ... when you ask, you really want to know and don't let up until we get somewhere ... even when I'm totally frustrated with you.

A one man show ... there isn't a power tool, workman's toy or piece of machinery that you can't mimic ... an industrial human beatbox while you play ... and so fine tuned that if anyone else does a siren or saw noise and it's 'not quite right' ... without missing a beat you stand and magnificently offer ... 'No, it's like this ...  BEE..bah.bee.bah ... or whatever is needed for that moment.

Oli you have given us all so much and kept us thoroughly entertained along the way.

... and along with all that high voltage fun, you can be as tender and sweet as a little kitten 

There is no corner of the farm untouched, no person you've met who's not been touched or entertained by your presence ... and no amount of fun we haven't had ... and while you've been at it Oli, we've all heard just how much you love, Libby and Phillip, Grammy Dorothy, Patchy and Claudy and Gretzy ... who's coming to join us next year and seems like she'll bear the touch for you when it comes to making fun and sharing a big personality :) ...

You are an awesome little man Oli Schwarz, we love you and have felt loved by you ... and are going to miss you a lot ... there's definitely a little Oli in us all now ... and that's a very good thing.  Thanks so much for the love, the fun and the learning.

Farvel Kornelius ...

As our year comes to an end, the time to say goodbye to Kornelius has come.   Another moment that will take a bit of getting used to.

Kornelius has often been like a quiet sentinel in the group.   Not saying that he's always quiet ... he's not.   Also not saying he stands back and watches ... sometimes he does and often he doesn't.   He somehow just carries himself with this 'watching over' presence about him ... like he's watching over his friends and holding their best interests to heart.

He's always liked to understand what is the best way to do things and wants to understand this, when it comes to making sure his friends are feeling good and happy.   I've been witness to this for two years now ... and it's such a privilege to know a child over that sort of time ... things just deepen ... and we got to know each other really well.

That's how it's been with Kornelius ...

He's also such a package of quiet surprises ... like today, after two years of visiting the farm and just not really being into the guinea pigs, he got the most excited I've ever seen him about them and just had to hold one.   Week after week we've visited, he's happy to be there and happy for his friends to hold one though mostly says, 'Nah ... I don't want to hold one.'  ... which is of course ok for us.

He's mostly loved how things all work together.   Often asking questions about why things are the way they are ... and how things work ... and what their place is in life.  Together with Samson there would often be great philosophical discussion for us all to ponder and when songs would emerge, Kornelius really wanted a pirate song.   The first song that popped into my head, the day he first asked, that I knew about pirates, was Bob Marley's,'Redemption Song' ... so I sang it and week after week.  When we'd settle in and find comfort with each other, Kornelius would ask, 'Can you sing that pirate song again?' ... he'd stop what he was doing, listen, watch me and leave me feeling like the best singer in the world.

When it came to games, whatever he, Samson and Oli came up with was ALWAYS the best game in the world, and without a beat, they'd just assume anyone else would want to be part of it ... imagination explosion would happened when he joined forces with those two and the air would be electrified with a fast paced, cracking adventure.

... and at times he'd come stand close and I could feel a big cuddle coming on and he'd happily plonk in my lap, chat and snuggle, and I'd find him gentle like a lamb and ever so sweet.

There's also the gentleman streak as he'd watch over, where he'd hold gates for us all ... or make sure we were all through something or over something ... at any rate, together ... it always mattered that we stuck together and while Redemption Song was your personal pirate anthem ... this became the theme song for us all while you were with us ...

I'm sticking with you

Kman so much has happened while you've been with us and we all love you heaps. I know I'm going to miss having you at the farm, yet also know you are ready for more of what life has coming your way.   We know it's your birthday and you are about to head off to Norway for Xmas to see Mor Mor and have a totally different Xmas experience to what it's about here.  We loved big sister Agnes, and now we know and love you and look forward to getting to know little brother Rolf and the journey for you family continuing. 

Have the best of times and go knowing you really are a very dear and special little(ok not so little) man ... 

Bye Kman ...