After four months ‘locked’ out of the farm, we returned this past week.
I prepped the family to prepare for broken things, dead things, fallen things, and many, many overgrown things.
As we drove up the driveway, we were greeted with can only be called a chorus of cobalt blue forget-me-nots, which were everywhere, a sea of blue. And lilac trees bursting with abundance and beauty, about ten trees in all.
Once again, I was filled with deep gratitude to be the custodian of such a pre-loved garden. The former owner had chosen the colour palette of purple, white and blue to welcome spring.
Luckily, there were not many broken things. Dead things – a bird which is generously giving its remains to the first hydrangea I planted. Fallen things – a few tree branches, but no trees. There were, of course, many, many overgrown things.
There were also signs of a rodent(s) taking up residence in the lounge.
Once again, we missed the three thousand daffodils in flower, just like we did last year due to lockdown.
I missed the one thousand bulbs a group of girlfriends and I had planted in winter between lockdowns.
Jess, our wonderful neighbour, has been keeping an eye on the farm while agisting twenty yews on our land for nearly a year.
We missed the lambing, which I had gleefully added to my calendar months ago, but the lambs still came.
So I spent a little bit of time each day over the long weekend just watching the lambs; my goodness, they are cute and hilarious.
My husband, Emrys, got to see and use the second-hand tractor he bought (sight unseen) during the lockdown. I have to say that for a man who spends most of his time in a suit, he looked mighty good with his checked flannelette shirt and Akubra driving his tractor!
Our youngest had a group of friends over to camp under the Messmate trees at the top paddock. My in-laws also resumed their weekly farm visits and bought the youngest of the Nekvapil clan for farm adventures with grandma and grandpa, auntie and uncle, and their cousin.
We had our first big bonfire to burn everything that we had pruned last year in our bush-fire prep, which we had hoped to do in winter, but hey – Covid.
I think we just got it in before the fire ban. We had to call the local CFA to let them know we would be burning that night so that they could put our fire on the Vic Emergency app.
We were a little nervous and worried we would do something wrong, but our neighbour who drives the local fire truck told us to call out if we needed him. Luckily, we didn’t.
From the moment we lit the fire, which was roughly three metres high, and four meters wide (we know to gather it up to give it a smaller surface area next time), it took three and a half hours.
As the fire watchers (in-laws, young ones, and teens) left the scene, my husband and I, the fire stewards, raked and shovelled. As it neared the end, I went back to the house (because we had not thought of it earlier – learning) and collected four buckets. We then made two trips from our natural pond, carried the eight buckets of water to the embers and coals, and doused them.
In the past, both my husband and I participated in Crossfit, so as we were carrying the full and heavy buckets of water, I said, “Instead of doing ‘the farmers carry’ in the gym, we are actually doing the farmers carry as farmers!” I was thrilled.
We fell into bed at 11.30, exhausted and exhilarated. We did another new thing together.
Over a couple of days, with all adult hands on deck, we planted rhubarb, strawberries, comfrey, perpetual spinach (highly recommend), Californian poppies, lavender, and foxgloves.
We mowed a lot—the ride-on mower, the hand mower, and the whipper snipper.
We weeded a lot.
We stacked, split, and tidied firewood.
We filled eight jerry cans of fuel for the tractor, only to realise it was the wrong fuel!
We ate good food and lit warming fires.
We celebrated my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday.
I read Beatrix Potter to my husband in front of the fire, and he read me Old English fairy tales.
We all enjoyed the time together, learning and making mistakes together.
Even though we missed the first breath of spring, we hope to have at least thirty more springs at the farm.
It is one of the beauties of nature, the seasons. We enjoy them for what they are before it all changes.