I wrote this a few months back, after our last trip to our friends' farm. It will be a while between trips as they're off abroad for work for a few years. Good luck on your adventure Mel and Percy, we will miss you but we look forward to Curryfest. Much love xxx
Is there anything better when you’re a child than camping with friends in a paddock?
And is there anything better as a parent than to watch your kids running in hectic circles with the children of your long-time friends, laughing, swapping intel back and forth in the funny conversations of 2, 6, 8, 10 and 13-year-olds, learning new skills like how to light a camp fire and fry sausages for elevenses, or how to cast a line in a dam?
Days at our friends’ farm are a joy to all of us. They are both an escape and a home coming, comforting and messy as a teenage slumber party; a relaxed sort of chaos.
We bring our kids back to the city tired, with burry socks, matted hair and barely-brushed teeth but full to the brim with fresh air and night sky stories.
They are medicine for us too, these farm days; a break from the trenches of every day parenthood and work. There is silliness, laughter, too much red wine and a fireside playlist with no skipping allowed. The old and the new are everywhere around us.
There is cooking, lots of cooking. Sometimes baking. Skillet cookies, a quick batch of Anzacs or stone fruits roasted in rough puff rolled out on the long wooden bench. The kitchen is always crowded with people, overflowing fruit bowls, bread piles and hanging pots. Children run through, someone is making a round of cocktails and flour motes float in the afternoon light. Time slows but the days still pass too quickly.
This trip we also made smallgoods. We dubbed the weekend Sausagefest and we made salami. Everyone had a job, cutting, mincing, picking wild fennel for the seeds, massaging in the magic (curing) salt, cranking the machine, guiding the mince through the casings, tying the knots, pinning and hanging. There was a lot of banter about best practice and the supervisor’s crook back. He had to lie down a couple of times. They warned him to stay away from the cocktails.
The salamis have been hung to age, some in the cool room and some in an old wardrobe-turned-drying-cupboard in the shed. Only two have slipped their knots. Not quite best practice but close. There are plans afoot for a tomato weekend at the end of next summer. We will turn ourselves into Italians yet. Maybe in Puglia. There's a 60th coming up, someone said.