Monday, 26 August 2013

Like clockwork

I feel somewhat like a clockwork automaton mother most mornings. A bleary eyed robot dressed in crumpled pyjamas packing lunchboxes and tidying breakfast dishes and reminding little boys of all they need to do so that we can get out the door on time. I wasn't sure how we were going to add a baby to the mix and still get to school before the bell. But we have - most of the time. And I have the loving arms of my eight year old to thank for that. He scoops up his little sister and hops onto the bed with her while I pull on my clothes and brush my teeth, passing her back to me to pop into the sling for the walk to school. The love they already have for each other is written all over their faces.

This morning I am home alone for the first time since Thea was born, while Grant walks the kids to school. It only happens once a year, when his school has an extra day off for the boarders to head home for the weekend. And I could think of no better place to be than back in bed; which is where I intend to stay until they get home again.

Four months in and the early mornings and broken nights are catching up with me - exhaustion creeping its way back into my bones. I have been waiting for this deep tiredness to arrive after drifting through the first few months on a high of happy birth hormones. And like clockwork, here it is. As my hair drops out and the shadows reappear under my eyes I remind myself to slow down and rest when I can. I nurture myself with quiet days at home, warm baths and cups of tea in the morning sunshine. And we count down the days until spring holidays are here.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Four months

Thea is four months old today and lies sleeping in our bed with two of her big brothers (Darcy is home sick from school), as I write. She is chuckling (especially when I nibble on her deliciously chunky thighs) and learning to use her hands. She picked up her first toy yesterday. She has lost nearly all of her baby hair. She rides high on my back in her sling, and sits happily in the jogger with Quinn while I run through the dripping winter forest. She is my constant companion and I am loving these little glimpses into the person she will grow to be.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Down in the chook yard

Our girls are laying again after a long winter break when we were lucky to collect one egg a day. Now there are four or five eggs to gather each day, in a rainbow of colours that makes me smile inside and leaves me wishing that one (grown-up) member of our family hadn't developed an allergy to them in the last little while. So while no frittatas will be arriving on our dinner table anytime soon, the surplus means we can eat eggs for breakfast any day we please, once Dad has left for work in the morning. And pressing a carton of eggs into the hands of a grandparent feels a small token of gratitude for many years of eggs, fruit, vegetables and love being freely given to our family from their farm and gardens.

Our chicks grew up into mostly gangly roosters that met their end a month or two ago, along with the little Pekin hen we had hoped would keep our pet bantam company, but which turned out to have the same genetic defect as one of her brothers. She rapidly lost the use of her legs and had to be dispatched, as did our overly amorous drake, who would not leave the same bantam alone. With all that lopping of heads and sinking of sacks in the (duck's) bath tub, Quinn is starting to think his father's hands instruments of death. Grant arrived home from work one day and commented on a dog he had seen running down the road, before heading outside to make sure our garden gates were closed. Looking up from his jigsaw puzzle Quinn asked "Has Dad killed the dog?" He now blames him when a fish dies as well. Poor Dad - he never asked to be the family executioner.

Another duck was taken by a cat (we think), quickly followed by a Leghorn, so in the interests of broadening our flock against any future losses, Lewis and I set off to Albany with Thea for the winter poultry auction on the weekend. We came home with two beautiful Barnevelders that promptly flew over the back fence. Our neighbour passed one hen back over the fence that night (and she laid us a lovely speckly brown egg today), but her sister is nowhere to be seen.

The one hatchling still with us is our Polish chook, Stripey, endeared to us all by the comical mohawk it developed a few days after cracking its way out of its egg. We feared another rooster as her behaviour is very different from the rest of the girls, but she surprised us all by laying her first egg last week. Sighs of relief all around and a celebratory visit up to the house for the chook followed as soon as the boys got home from school.

Stripey as a two week old chick and last week in the garden

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Almond blossom

We took to the orchard with a chainsaw this winter, pruning back the plum tree hard in a bid to outwit the parrots with nets come summer. But I could not bring myself to touch the almond tree, although the birds left us not a single nut last summer. The first tree to blossom in the dark depths of winter, our graceful almond lifts my spirits every time I look out our bedroom window. The pink and white blooms flutter to the grass as I stare out across the trees to the far off glint of the blue grey inlet, bouncing Thea back to sleep in her hammock. Our tree is alive with bees and fairly hums with workers when you stand underneath on the blossomy carpet, gumboots squelching in the boggy turf after weeks of rain. Its branches are long and slender and reach up to the sky like a ballerina's arms. I stood undecided beneath its bare branches with the secateurs in my hands while Thea kicked on her blanket and the chickens scratched around us a month or so ago, then took a few branches off the smaller, younger tree instead. I will wrap that in netting once the nuts start to form and see if we manage to harvest any nuts come summer. But even if we don't I won't regret my naked blossoms for a moment.