Our little farm Feed

Found it through the grapevine

1. Spike the loan pony

The environmental and financial benefits of sharing and hand-me-downs are widely recognised. Most of us know that when we borrow or favour pre-loved we minimise waste and reduce resource use. But a major hurdle in the use of second-hand items is being able to find what we need, when we need it.

I have found one of the most effective ways to find what you want without resorting to buying new is to let your friends and family know what you are searching for. It’s highly likely that someone will have what you need sitting unused and unloved in their garage or a spare room, or in our case, a paddock.

2. Spike the loan pony

We recently welcomed Spike the loan pony to our little farm. Little Eco has long wanted a pony, but we are not willing to buy her one until we are certain that she’ll give it the care and attention required. I started telling friends that we were searching for a pony to loan. Eventually a friend noticed a post on facebook about a pony looking for a temporary home.

3. Spike the loan pony

Spikes owners don’t have the space or time for him at the moment, but love him so much that they can’t bear to sell him. He’s come to live with us for a year or so. It’s a win-win situation that would not have happened had I not told friends of our search.

Another friend has challenged herself to furnish her home using only pre-loved content. She created a list of things she is seeking and circulated it to friends, family and colleagues. The response has been positive. “People have given me things like their grandma's pots and pans that they didn't use, but didn't want to throw out. As an added bonus, I’m forging new friendships with people who are dropping stuff off for me and sharing stories”.

For me, what I love most about sharing and passing on is that it it’s a nice way to support each other and encourage a sense of community and connection. I love that these exchanges are happening without the transfer of money. Unused things are moving onto a new home where they can be cherished and enjoyed. 

Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 28th September 2013.

Winter was....

1. winter was...when we enjoyed the first egg from our new hens

Winter 2013 was when we enjoyed the first egg from our new hens. 

3. Winter was....when our chooks (especially Eagle) got given plenty of love in return

The hens are given plenty of love in return. 

4. Winter was...when I stopped worrying about dragging an only child out to a rural property

I've stopped worrying about dragging an only child out to a rural area. Between school and visitors there are plenty of friends to play with. And when she is alone....

6. Winter was....when Little Eco had fun exploring - again in fancy dress

...there are always adventures to be had (more often than not, while wearing fancy-dress). 

7. Winter was...when Monday night became campfitre night

Monday night became 'campfire night'. I treasure our campfire conversations and am already looking forward to next Winter. 

9. Winter was....when kindling collection became one of my favourite moments of the day

Afternoon kindling collection became one of my favourite moments of the day. Initially I begrudged this chore, but quickly learnt to appreciate being forced to wander our property as the sun set. 

10. Winter was....when we finally got water...and then it didn't rain for 2 months

We finally got a water tank....and then it didn't rain for two whole months. Literally!

12. Winter was....when Daddy Eco built a fence for Spike

Daddy Eco built a fence. Somehow, 'build a fence for Spike the loan pony' made it to the top of our 'to-do' list. We still live in a shed, don't have a bathroom or internal plumbing, but we have one very nice fence. 

The fence was a necessary step in helping Little Eco fulfil a dream of getting a pony. In reality, spending our time and money on a fence, when we are bucketing water inside so that we can wash the dishes, is silly.

But there are no regrets...because fulfilling dreams is what life should be about. 


(I'm cheating with this picture because it's from Spring).  

This is little Eco telling me how happy she is to have a pony "from here to the end of space and back again"

I'll choose that happiness over a kitchen tap any day. 

Autumn was...

Summer was..

Spring was..

Winter was..


Autumn was.....

Autumn at our little farm 2

Autumn 2013 was the season we finally took a deep breath and looked beyond the struggles of living in a shed and started to appreciate how lucky we are to be creating a home in such a magical place. 

Autumn at our little farm 1

I shared one of my favourite childhood memories with Little Eco - damper twirls cooked on a campfire and filled with golden syrup. She enjoyed them so much she promptly declared Monday night is camp fire night. I can live with that. 

Autumn at our little farm 8

We celebrated the inaugural dunny move. 

Autumn at our little farm 7

The garden is slowly growing, with a little help from our chooks, free stable manure from Cessnock Showground and cheap mushroom compost from Gromore Mushroom farm near Singleton. As an added bonus, we're now harvesting loads of mushrooms from our garden and are regularly enjoying mushroom risotto, mushroom soup and mushroom rissoles

Autumn at our little farm 3

We've welcomed six more chooks to our little farm. Little Eco fell so quickly and deeply in love that I was worried for a while there that she was going to move into the chook pen. 

Autumn at our little farm bees

We also welcomed two bee hives. Yay! After saying goodbye to my backyard bees a few years ago I'm thrilled to finally have bees again. 

Autumn at our little farm 5

Autumn at our little farm 6

We're increasing the number of worms we have so that we have enough to feed to the chooks, so Little Eco's cubby now has it's very own worm farm. Speaking of the cubby....

Autumn at our little farm 10

Little Eco's pre-loved cubby has become the focus of her outdoor play and she often redecorates and rearranges. 

Autumn at our little farm 9

Despite our living conditons being pretty basic (still no running water!)- Little Eco has never been happier and I love that she's blossomed into a creative outdoor kid. 

Autumn at our little farm 11

I especially love that she's forever covered in mud - literally. My absolute favourite moment has to be when I sprung her swimming in a puddle. 

Autumn at our little farm 13

Autumn was when I started to truly appreciate that happiness does not come from having what you want - but from learning to be happy with what you have. 

How was your Autumn? 

Summer was..

Spring was..

Winter was..

Don't let fear of uncertainty stop you from following your dreams

Our Little Farm warming party 1

We're finally moving to our little farm this weekend.

Daddy Eco is worried we'll roast in the shed (literally) but all Little Eco and I care about is that we'll be together again and that we'll be living at our little farm. It's home.

The move and many of the other changes happening right now were initiated by Daddy Eco accepting a new job. He left a safe and secure public service position for one that is far from secure. 

It's a change he had been wanting to make for years. But I had dissuaded him because I thought giving up a permanent position was a stupid thing to do. So he plodded along in a job knowing it wasn't his ideal. 

Eventually we decided to risk the uncertainty.

He's happier because he's working in a job he loves; I'm happier because I got my little farm; and Little Eco is happier because she has space to play and explore (and a paddock for a horse). 

I'm glad we didn't let fear of uncertainty stop us from following our dreams. 

Now, all we have to do is embrace the uncertainty. 

Embracing uncertainty by preparing for worst case scenario

The main reason uncertainty is feared is concern that the worst could happen. However, if you identify the worst case scenario and prepare for it, then there's nothing to fear.

For us, worst case scenario is Daddy Eco could lose his job and my short-term work could dry up. This could realistically happen. Indeed, a few months into his new job Daddy Eco managed, by some miracle, to survive a sudden staff cut. 

We are preparing for worse case scenario by reducing debt. We're going to reduce our spending and put every single dollar we can into debt reduction. Having less debt and some savings will give us the freedom to follow our dreams without fear. 

Is fear of uncertainty stopping you from following your dreams?

We recently held a farm-warming party. The kids took off and entertained themselves. The adults sat around and relaxed. And our back paddock was scattered with tents. Perfect! I actually forgot to take a single photo during the party - so only have photos of the morning after (above). Madeline managed to take some pics and I shared pics of some of the farm-warming gifts we received on Instagram - including a bag of poo and a mulberry tree propagated from a nearby historic property. 

Spring was....

Spring 2012 was the season...

Going for a bike ride by Little eco footprints

...Little Eco and I started staying regularly at our little farm. Two nights a week we join Daddy Eco in the shed. 

We've fallen in love with the space. Space to run. Space to ride her bike. Space to explore. 

Card made from paperbark_Little eco footprints

...Little Eco started making sweet paperbark cards from the trees near our dam. 

Spring 2012 dry back paddock Little eco footprints

...We discovered just how dry and hot it gets at our little farm. Water is high on our list of priorities.

Spring 2012 our local swiming spot Little eco footprints

 ...Given the heat, trips to a nearby creek became a favourite afternoon activity. 


...I spotted these super cool lights at Berry Markets. I'm planning on making something like this for our shed.  

Spring 2012 shipping container cafe Little eco footprints

Spring 2012 Shipping container strudent accomodation in Canberra Little eco footprints

....our home dreams changed from a rammed earth home to a shipping container home with a roof-top shipping container pool (natural of course - so that it doubles as water storage).

I was thrilled to visit a shipping container cafe in Queanbeyan and to spot student accommodation at ANU made from stacked shipping containers



....we showed Little Eco where her Daddy and I got married


...I traveled loads for work. There were trips to Scone, Deniliquin, Canberra, Sydney and Perth. I enjoyed being part of a '21 Gum salute' and planted a tree at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. It was a quirky bent threatened plant that coincidentally grows in the wild only near where I grew up. I'm looking forward to watching this tree grow.

Spring 2012 Minimalist packing Little eco footprints

...with all this travel I finally nailed minimalist packing. Little Eco and I travelled to Perth for 6 days with carry-on luggage only. 

...I realised that we can cope (just) with both parents working full time. It will be worth it in the end. It looks like I'll continue working full time for all of next year too. It's a combination of being interested in the work that is available and wanting to reduce our debt a little.  Full-time work is not what I envisaged when we initially bought our little farm - but I'm slowly learning to accept that simple living can be fast and include full-time work (at least for a little while). 

How was Spring for you? Please wish us luck for Summer - at the end of December we move into an uinsulated shed. 

Winter was....