a journal by stephanie claire birr & carson andrew maule.
WI to NZ & beyond.
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the gang headed out to a new track and new beach. this one may be my favorite yet.

"is that crusty bread in her mouth?"

the wind was relentless our entire sunday. we had moments ranging from fear of the animals being taken away to my teeth may get forced from my jaw. the sun came and went as it pleased, as did the rain. the pup and duck took over the porch.

that duckling is growing! she just started sleeping behind her wing (awwwwww) and her “adult feathers” are starting to show. she’s beginning to be able to dry herself off. she’s got angst and sassiness to spare.

in pockets of cooperating weather we worked to help Tana and Charles move in and we found time to Skype with Carson’s mom and sister, Katie in Madison and then his other sister Geneva in New York. they are all in talks of coming to visit!

later, we picked up our first true Wwoofer, Amelia from the ferry. to celebrate her arrival and the move, we had chili, Waiheke wine and ice cream up at our host’s home with our neighbor Sally. it felt for a moment we were back in Madison. chili and friends on a cozy Sunday night? perfect.


it won’t make sense now

when i set out on this walk, alone, my vision felt foggy. i was feeling dark, heavy and depressed. i had a head full of doubt, about myself mostly. lost in the “not good enough”.

this will not be one of those stories of walking myself clean. i didn’t come home feeling lighter, at least, not right away.

now, a few days later i can smile, knowing that whatever meaning i’m searching for is on her way. the moon finds her way back. i will dance in the darkness with my hands up to the light.

i am good enough, right here, right now. trust.

let it out so you can let it go.


friday night blur

friday came, marking our three week anniversary on the farm. we called the work day early, it was raining and windy all morning. we sat on the porch with our tea and our crew - we had a big night ahead helping Charles and Tana move in Auckland.

once 4:00pm hit, we headed to the car ferry with Charles. the ferry was very fancy with a setting area serving food and drinks, which lead me to the best ginger beer and now i’m hooked.

we got off and had about a 30 minute car ride ahead of us with me driving. it was rush hour, on a friday, it was dark and raining. i was nervous. Carson did great navigating and if you know Carson, you know a sense of direction is not his strongest quality.

we made it in to Auckland, unharmed and followed Charles upstairs to meet his son and his fiance and eat some pizza in between loading the cars. quickly, it was time to catch the passenger ferry home and it was the first time i felt like the world caught up with us and rested at normal speed.

we ordered drinks and sat up on top, it was a little chilly but we didn’t mind. i rested my head on Carson’s shoulder and we played 20 questions movie edition (we were stuck on 90’s movies) and sailed off into the dark, New Zealand waters.

is Tom Hanks in it? is it sports related?


it’s been a stormy, gray day and our flock is restless.

this is my stormy day favorite song and it plays in my head whenever the rain rolls in and stays. i don’t mind one bit.

a new day, a new beach

it’s really fun having Troy around. he is teaching us tons about the wildlife here in NZ and brings us to new beaches and makes us good food. tonight we stopped out at Onetangi Beach briefly, just in time to dip our toes in and see dolphins swim by! this is our second time seeing them, it happened the other day as we were collecting horse poop and i started crying it moved me so. they were doing flips and jumps out of the water, it made us happy a human had nothing to do with it.

before the beach, we had one hell of a day getting work done around the farm. we got a bunch planted in the upper garden and started more seedlings. we even got flowers in around the path we’ve been working on. we had pineapple for lunch and watched Annabelle wander more independently around the yard. she’s getting braver around Betty too, it’s been really fun to watch. it feels good having her out in the yard, sucking up worms and finding herself shade.

after we were home from our errands in town and that quick stop at the beach, we made some dinner and i ran into Troy and Betty Blue watching the sunset from high up on the property. we sat in the grass and watched the sky change colors, we could spot Spider off in the distance. our little neighborhood looked damn good.

beer is brewing - Carson was able to score some hops from the South Island to plant on the farm. soon we’ll have Annabelle Ale and Betty Blue Bock to sip under the stars.

i get moments where i catch myself thinking, “oh, I should text Ashley to get coffee in the morning.” or “maybe Sam could come this weekend.” or “it’s 3:30 and i’m already hungry, i wonder if Anda has had dinner yet…” i hope that never fades, it’s only been three weeks and i feel rooted and un-rooted at the same time. i like that too…. i hope that never fades.

comfortably uncomfortable,


wednesday: troy has a brilliant plan for the day

we were sitting on our porch, taking the morning slowly as Troy approached to say he had a game plan:

  1. he was going to make us some tea with leaves he found on his hike
  2. he was going to make us breakfast
  3. he wanted to take us on a hike in the afternoon

solid plan Troy.

so we worked hard throughout the day, the duck tagged along by my side in the greenhouse, the boys shoveled more gravel and organized parts of the shed and lawn. Troy and i started discussing planting projects. by 2:30 we were exhausted and it was warm.

Troy drove us out farther then we had been on the island to Whakanewha Regional Park. he taught us about trees and birds and we stopped to admire the waterfalls and tall fern trees. on the way home we stopped for fish and chips and ate them watching the sun fade on Palm Beach.

and now, i’m exhausted, Carson and i both tossed and turned last night, probably catching every hour pass by.

still, i can smell the hops of Carson’s beer he’s brewing and can feel Annabelle tugging at my pant leg and hear my book calling my name and i don’t want to let the day end just yet.

this duck is just too damn cute,


just a few more shots from today:

  1. the irises around the shower have bloomed into pure magic
  2. Carson started his first batch of beer, i got to help
  3. at the same moment this morning, a man came to mow the farm, a man came to check on the well and a man came to drop off gravel for a trail of sorts we started on
  4. Betty Blue following me on a photo hunt
  5. a sculpture amongst the fruit trees
  6. birds, nature, that sort of thing
  7. potatoes and a blooming plum tree
  8. foggy Auckland
  9. happy to have a neighbor on our little chunk of land

not pictured: our first cronut experience in town. not that i need another sweet treat to obsess over.


tuesday: annabelle’s big day

today, we felt ready. ready to just let her wander out of the door and see what unfolded.

she handled it like a champ. the chooks were afraid of her! they didn’t look her way once.

Betty put her paw on her once, but it was more to get her herded, not to eat her. we need to get Annabelle a little more used to the pup and then we’ll really be in business.

Annabelle followed me to the upper garden where Troy was working, poor Betty Blue isn’t allowed in there anyway so she didn’t get to join in the fun. the rest of the day we left our door open and she stayed between her front area of our home and the porch, it was very freeing. she would always return to my lap or Carson’s feet, but she was flapping around and eating bugs.

Troy, Carson and i are three proud parents.



5:45am football, ant dude, weedin’, easy morning at Sally’s, compost flipped, orange juice, long walk with betty on the coast, chili and beer, troy and annabelle clicked, solo walk to the beach, high tide, gravel talk, last drips of scotch, reading light, duckling at our feet, happy to