Tansley Farm: Part 1 – The Book of Reckoning

I’ve spent the past two weeks adapting to the rhythm of life here at Tansley Farm, embedding the daily tasks I’ll be responsible for when the family leaves this weekend. (The word quotidian comes to mind, because it’s a Very Good Word, but I’m afraid it’s too often used to mean common, or ordinary.)

I arrived just after the olive harvest, a few days ahead of schedule at the Farmer-In-Chief’s request. Since then, I’ve baked bread, made cheese, bottled cider and olive oil, milked goats, and caught a cold I’m blaming on the sheep. I’ve also met a lovely cast of characters here in the Adelaide Hills, from sheep-whisperers to winemakers to a man who can do everything, including juggle.

As promised by the area’s name, the region is comprised of rolling hills, though the farm itself straddles a rather steep valley, meaning I’ve been getting some serious hausfrau thighs going up and down to check the sheep and uphill chooks. This is in addition to my lean, mean, goat-milking machine forearms (2 liters in ten minutes!).

I believe I’ve mentioned before that my goal in life is to be a Really Useful Person. I’ve had a blast manifesting that over the past fortnight as I help the family prepare the farm for an extended departure: Farmer-In-Chief for six weeks, Brewmaster and the petite chou for six months. I’ve been making lists and checking them twice, hearkening to my Girl Friday restaurant-management-cum-personal-assistant days of yore. Over the past week, this list has been recorded in my oversized sketchbook, because I like being able to spread out lists and the heft of the paper is nice. This is, of course, the Book of Reckoning. (It is also the Book of Terrible Doodles and the Book of Late Night Poetry and the Book of Ideas For That Game I’ve Promised My Nephews Hope To God They’re Not Too Old By The Time I Get It Made.)

I’ll update with photos soon, but I just wanted to document what my daily schedule will be looking like for the next several weeks.

7-8: Wake, drink tea, grab a bite, stoke the fire.
8-830: Feed goats, dogs, downhill chooks. Release geese and aforementioned chooks.
9-930: Milk Gigi the goat, then bring her and Noelle out to the paddock. Bring their leftover hay. Check on the side chooks and boy sheep. Check the downhill chooks for eggs.
10-330: Do my danged thing, whether it’s reading, writing, eating, going into Adelaide, hanging out with the girl sheep, checking for eggs, making bread or cheese, completing various projects I’ve set around the farm. Keep the fire lit.
330-430: Muck out the goat pen and compost the leavings. Visit the uphill chooks for eggs and adoration. (It’s wonderful how much animals get excited to see you when you always show up with pockets full of seed or lupins. Friend of Animals badge indeed– who needs people and their complex desires?!)
515/sundown: Feed and secure geese in their house. Close up the roosting chookhouses. Return the goats to their shed/pen.

After that it’s just feeding the dogs and making sure the cats’ tray is scooped and their food dishes full. This place has a lovely assortment of well-loved animals and crops, and I’m excited about getting to step into this little fairytale of a place. I’ll keep you all up-to-date on the goings-on around the farm.

Happy Independence Day weekend indeed for this expat!


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