10 June 2013: an absolutely ordinary rainbow.

I wrote this during our last few days in Australia…

There’s too much going on in my head to organize this post, so I think I’ll just make a list…

>>> It’s hard to believe our time in Australia is coming to an end. For as long as I can remember I’ve been warned how quickly time passes you by. That before you can even stop to think about the present, you’re already living the future. That as you get older time will pass you by even quicker.

>>> I’ve learned a lot of things from my adventure in Australia, but one lesson I think will really stick with me is to slow down. We’re not meant to live our lives on the fast track watching our life happen before our eyes, we’re supposed to live in the moment and try to capture the memories as best we can. Since living in Australia I can’t even count the number of times I didn’t realize what day of the week it was or what time it was. I was working and living and not caring about how much time was left in the day or how many days away the weekend is.

>>> It was January and now it’s June. June = going home. I’ve been looking forward to going home ever since I left. Not that I wanted to come home right away, but I knew how great it would be to come home. Even going a few hours from home and coming back feels great. Leaving for 6 months and coming home is bound to feel awesome.

>>> I had to say goodbye to my goats this past weekend. My girls. Charlotte and Josie. The sweetest goats you will ever know. Go ahead and laugh at my love of caprines. I don’t care what you say; goats rock. I owe a lot to them. They helped solidify what I want to do with my life. I have hopes of owning a small dairy farm and selling artisan goat’s cheese. One night, in the anticipation of getting Charlotte and Josie, I was reading one of my new goat books, when I set it down, looked over at Jonathon and said in a very Minnesota/North Dakota accent, “I’m gonna be a goat farmer!” My girls were just the beginning of realizing my dreams.

>>> I have a new friend who was first our roommate. His name is Will and he is a writer, specifically of poems. He wrote us a poem that means a lot to me. Read it here.

>>>  I’ve been reminded once again that language barriers are no excuse. Two years ago when I was part of a team building a house for a family in need in Guatemala, my mom and I got in a water balloon fight with a mother and her children. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard and seeing the smiles on the faces of the children and well deserving mother was indescribable. A few weeks ago Jonathon and I, along with Will, invited Michelle, Liv, and Miki over for dinner and drinks. Michelle and Liv who are from the Netherlands, speak fluent English. On the other hand, Miki, who is Japanese, tends to struggle a bit. After dinner we played a game called Jungle Speed. Long story short, Miki quickly picked up on the game and we all had tons of fun. A night I will never forget.

>>> We have learned so much on this trip. Invaluable lessons that we will always remember. Lessons we’ll look back on as we develop our own vegetable farm. We couldn’t be more thankful to have had an opportunity like this.

>>> Today we left the farm. A place I have a feeling I will look back on often. A place of many firsts for me, as well as for Jonathon. We are so excited to go home and see family and start our next chapter in life, but I couldn’t help but be a bit teary-eyed as we drove past the farm this morning. Such a beautiful piece of land at the foot of an old volcano…which is a great thing when growing organic veg, the soil is top notch! It’s always hard to leave a place, but even harder when you don’t know if you’ll see it again. I’d like to think we’ll make trips periodically to visit friends and see more of this country as we’ve barely even started, but you just never know.

The list could go on forever, but I think I’ll stop here.

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Be present.

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It’s funny how quickly you can fall into a routine. We’ve always known our Australian adventure was never a permanent thing, but we easily sank into a schedule. It just became a way of life we were used to. June would come and we would be on our way back home, feeling like it all happened too fast. But what’s even funnier is how quickly you can fall out of routine. We took one simple week off to spend some time in a part of Australia that is often overlooked by tourists, but never imagined how hard it would be to come back.

Jonathon and I went on a fantastic trip to Tasmania. A week filled to the brim with hiking, viewing incredible landscapes, lots of great food and wine, a marriage proposal that I’m still trying to comprehend; experiencing a place that truly is like no other (you wouldn’t know you were still in Australia if it wasn’t for the accents). But when it was time to head back to the mainland we really struggled. Not because we didn’t want the vacation to end (we didn’t, but that’s a different can of worms), but because we felt like we were supposed to be heading back home, home to North Dakota where all of our friends and family are.

It was a feeling neither of us expected. We knew we were heading back to the farm where we would continue the routine per usual. A routine we had come to enjoy, but it just didn’t feel right anymore. We did what we had to do and have slowly fallen back into the routine, but all we can think about is getting home and how we have 7 long weeks before we get to board the plane.

Yet somehow in the last couple of days I’ve been reminded of how blessed we are to be spending this time in Australia and how lucky we are to have the life we do.

^^^because when you stop and look around this life is pretty amazing ^^^

I think we all can become complacent with the way we live our lives. Everything turns to normalcy. As creatures of habit we need to be reminded of how this life is pretty amazing.

The other night I had dreams of my Grandpa Bruce. A man that never took life for granted. A man that as they say “grabbed life by the horns.” I think of him often since he passed almost two years ago, but I hadn’t had dreams of him. These dreams in particular felt so real: his smile, his uncontrollable, contagious laugh, his handlebar mustache. Nothing was really happening, but all I could remember were these still-shots of being with him. Various people came in and out, but it was always at least him and I. They stuck with me the rest of the day and hung around a few days more, reminding me to be thankful and present and enjoy the rest of my time here. Leave it to my stubborn Grandpa to not allow me to take this all for granted.

This was just the start, though. I remembered why we were here in the first place. To learn and grow and understand more the life of an organic vegetable operation and to provide heaps of good food to so many people. All lessons we have learned and hope to bring back with us to create our own organic operation. This whole experience has also allowed us to meet so many great people from all walks of life. We’re currently invited to visit our newfound friends in Mexico, Japan, Italy, Ireland, Holland, of course Australia…and Minnesota nonetheless.

The current WWOOFER’s are one gal from Japan, two gals from Ireland, one gal from Holland, and a guy from Minnesota that just came to hang out and get away from his desk job (sound familiar?). It was decided not long after our return back to farm that we would have a celebratory dinner party in honor of our recent engagement. That party commenced last night and needless to say it was yet another reminder to not wish our time away on wanting to be home. We were even given a glorious chocolate cake inscribed with “Congrats Hannah & Jonathon” with lots of pink hearts from our dear friend and restaurant chef, Pauline. How could we not feel blessed? We left the party knowing we had made five new, incredible friends.

So, creature of habit, this is me, reminding you, to not take this life for granted. Or any experience or moment in time whether you’re just trying to figure out the self-timer on your camera and are proposed to all within 60 seconds, sitting by a warm fire reading a book, or jumping for joy because all the snow has finally melted and summer’s on it’s way. Be present…

And most of all >>> Be in love with your life. Every minute of it. <<< – Jack Kerouac

Working hard or hardly working.

We’ve been in Australia nearly two months and I have only written two blog posts. Not at all what I expected, but then again, much of the last two months has not been what I expected. Expect the unexpected has surely taken on a whole new meaning.

Since I flipped our calendar to March I’ve been thinking a lot about our time here thus far. We work almost everyday,  haven’t had much of a break, and have only had one small trip (not including the many drives to Daylesford, Ballarat, and Melbourne for veggie deliveries and or farmer’s markets). But none of it feels at all like work. I don’t dread the day ahead of me, or wonder what I can fill my time with. I still hate the alarm clock and the fact that I overuse the snooze button, but once I’m up and have had my morning coffee or tea, I’m ready and excited for the day ahead.

This unfamiliar feeling is a large part of why we decided to spend 6 months here. The both of us just can’t take the 9-5 desk job; Jonathon needs the physical activity and using his hands and I, well, I think I am just too distracted and slightly A.D.D. to sit at a computer for 8 hours a day. I also need a lot of interaction with human beings and as smart as our computers are these days, they just don’t cut it. I need conversation and thought provocation, not mind numbing computer screens and Facebook.We both loved our jobs and our coworkers before we left, but just couldn’t handle the desks anymore.

So as much as we work and as hard as we work, we feel we are hardly working. We feel so privileged to be in a place where we can grow heaps of organic vegetables for people and do our small part in feeding the world…the right way.

I have had friends and family ask what our days are like here, so I thought I would give a weekly overview of our life here in Australia.

Sunday: Our day off, but usually spent catching up on work we didn’t get to the week before.
Monday & Tuesday: Our slowest days of the week. Often consumed by weeding, picking apples, or again catching up on missed duties. Tuesday for me is a day off from farm duties to work on my freelance design (including some marketing/design work for the farm) , this blog (which I somehow never get to), and a chance for me to try out some new recipes and indulge in all the fresh food we have access to.
Wednesday: Oh, what a day. These are our 12-14 hour work days. This is our first “pick & pack” of the week, picking and packing roughly 40 boxes of 12-15 different varieties of fruits and vegetables for the Hepburn Springs and Castlemaine areas. Once that order is out the door, we start packing for our wholesale customers who usually take another 30-40 boxes of wholesale fruit and veg. Jonathon and I then deliver the wholesale order to a bloke who trucks it all down to Melbourne at 4:00am the following day.
Thursday: Another slowerish day; a nice break between Wednesdays and Fridays. We pick and pack about 12 boxes (a slowly growing order) for the Ballarat area. An area we have recently tapped back into with a new drop-off point (a willing person to coordinate a place for our customers to pick up their boxes) and home deliveries. Once picked and packed, Jonathon and I leave the farm around 3:30 to make the 4:00 delivery.
Friday: Also a 12-14 hour work day. We pick and pack for roughly 80-90 fruit and veg boxes. About 40-50 of them are picked up early Saturday morning by a local guy and re-sold to a customer base in the Melbourne area. This has been a new addition, but a great one; especially because we don’t have to deliver! The rest are then delivered to Melbourne on Saturday. We usually have to hustle to take showers and then head over to the Cellar Door restaurant for Friday Night Pizza Night. Jonathon is the wood-fired pizza chef and I the pizza cutter/server. After all the customers are served, we get to enjoy our own wood-fired pizza!
Saturday: We pack the van with part of Friday’s order and head to Melbourne around 8:00am. We have two drop-off points and then stop at our friends Marcus and Angie’s place (also our main wholesale customers) for a little business mixed with fun and a great lunch! We sometimes do a bit of sightseeing, but usually leave pretty quickly to head back to the farm. Some Saturdays, like today, Jonathon heads to Melbourne by himself and I grab a WWOOF‘er or two and haul produce to the Daylesford Farmer’s Market. Saturdays are pretty enjoyable; it’s always great to see the faces of the people who buy our veg!

Whew, that was probably long and boring to read, but some posts just have to be more informational, then entertaining! I almost forgot to mention that we recently bought two goats! Which means add “wash and sanitize milking bucket and gear, milk Charlotte, cool milk, wash milking gear again,” to the beginning of each day. With that said, world, I’d like you to meet our girls Charlotte (red collar) and Josephine “Josie” (green collar).

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DSC_0777CharlotteandJosiePer usual, you can check out more of my photos on my Flickr page here.