Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Garden Organisation

I have to actually water the gardens now as the wet season comes to an end and there hasn’t been much rain to speak of.

I have realised over the year that I have spread my gardens out too much and it has required way too much work to water everything, so I am in the process of gathering the gardens together. I am nearly there, and putting in irrigations plays a huge part in it.

I think I got a bit carried away with having so much space to play with that it was too exciting :D I did have things together but some of the early stuff was put in bad places and I now have to dig these things up to move them with the rest. If I don’t, these things just don’t get watered often as they are away from the main garden area.

I have planted out the louffa’s and choko’s with the passionfruit, and plan to put in another row with passionfruit, so having four rows total beside the containers. I am unsure if I will put irrigations on these or just water these by hand, I am thinking a good soaking twice a week might be enough with enough mulch on top.

The garden around the edge of the driving circle that goes around the main garden rows is another one that doesn’t require watering every day, but I will put irrigation in this one. I have the potatoes, pigeon peas, galangal, ginger, turmeric, rosellas and bananas in it.

The main garden has all the high maintenance stuff that needs looking after all the time, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers etc and so I put the water on it most days. Thank goodness for bore water otherwise we would be screwed, but we wouldn’t live here if there wasn’t bore water, you have to have water :)

I did have a plan for the gardens at the beginning, and I have mostly stuck with it as it was a good plan, however I did stray a little on occasion and it now have to work to fix it. I am sorting out the stuff that I won’t bother with, finding the stuff that works, and meeting people who are doing the same as us and swapping seeds and ideas.

Like a lot of things in life, it is a life long journey and there is always more to learn, just because you have done something for years doesn’t mean you know it all. Sometimes you repeat the same things, the same way, without ever expanding your knowledge or learning to do things better, more efficiently. Live and learn :D


I am a chocolate addict, can’t help myself, you can keep me very happy by giving me chocolate, I have a friend who doesn’t like chocolate and I find it amazing, how could you not, though I probably eat her share in this world. Now, onto the point, “Only 3 per cent of the world's global chocolate supply is ethically certified to have been harvested without the use of forced, child, or trafficked labour.” I try and buy fair trade chocolate most of the time, don’t always and I feel guilty for it, but will from now on it really doesn’t cost much. However, we are so used to buying things so cheap that we don’t’ think about the high cost to others just so we can have a cheap chocolate bar or a $3 t-shirt.

I liked this post about plastics at The Non-Consumer Advocate, I like reading peoples thought on stuff like this.

There is also this old post at Living on a Dime about how many clothes do we need. I think we (as in we as a society) have too many clothes, too many cheap clothes (that is whole other issue) and not enough quality clothes that last the distance. Also, when do we have the time, or the occasion, to wear a room full of clothes? We have been carting around an old wardrobe that gives us about 2foot of hanging space each (we never seem to live anywhere with built-in’s), we have some drawers each and that’s it, we seem to have an adequate amount of clothes for our needs and wants.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Second-hand Shopping

The week has just flown by and now it is Sunday and I have to get ready for the next week. Where does time go? You certainly can’t catch it and store it in a jar for later when you need it :)

I spent Friday with a friend at one of our local towns and had a wonderful day. We scoured the second-hand shops and purchased some lovely biodynamic veges to take home.

I found some old knitting and crochet patterns for 10cents and 20cents each which made me very happy. These old patterns are a little bit of an obsession, I always keep my eye open for them. I find that they are patterns that never date, generally quite easy (which works for me very well) and are useful, not some doodad that has no purpose (seen plenty of those).

Another book I picked up is about another subject I like (well, I suppose I wouldn’t get a book about something I wasn’t interested in) is about the weather. I paid 50cents for this one, and it is not just any old book about the weather, it is about reading the weather by watching animals and plant life, fascinating :)

It is even better that it is an Australian book, so the animals are of course Australian, talking about emus, black cockatoos and brush turkeys. So if an emu only has a small amount of eggs (they can have up to 20 eggs though usually 9 to 12 eggs) this could indicate a long dry spell. Crocodile nests have been found a lot higher up the bank than usual before flooding (I need to take note of this one).

This book also has a chapter on weather rhymes and lore, like this one – Ring around the moon; rain before noon. Ring around the sun; rain before night is done. Apparently cirrostratus clouds can produce halos around the moon and the sun and this often indicates unstable weather. Who knew?

I also picked up some chokos (for 10cents each)for planting, two green and two white, had never seen white ones before. I killed my last lot so this time they are going in raised beds. I have a lot of choko recipes I really want to try so hopefully these ones will take.

When we got our biodynamic veges I got some potatoes which they had on special. They were on special as they were soft and sprouting so I am going to plant them and see if they are any different to the other potatoes I have planted (which are going very well by the way).

So today I had better go and get so more garden soil to plant the chokos, I also have some other seedlings which really must be planted out.

Yesterday my partner in crime and life chopped up a tree that had fallen, it was waterlogged and must have gotten top heavy and so over it went. We thought we might have been able to save it, however, despite looking skinny, it was tall and heavy and we couldn’t shift it. So now it is firewood.

I have to say a big thank you to African Aussie as we exchanged seeds this week. I hope the rosellas go well and I have some research to do on gem squash and jicama.


At the Australian Conservation Foundation there is an article about why we should be nuclear free, especially in light of the disaster in Japan. I have come across other articles about this same issue and I guess we will be hearing about this for a long while.

Save money and cut carbon is the heading of this article at New Dream. We certainly do need to cut carbon and we always want to save money, but we don’t want to change our lifestyle too much (also known as having our cake and eating it too). So there are more of these articles popping up to help us out.

Seeing my current interest is about peak oil, here is another article about it titled Peak Oil Stage.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


This morning I feel like I just stepped into Brigadoon, it is so misty and I had to squint to see the chook pen across the paddock.

I don’t have a lot to say today but I feel like writing and being school holidays I have time. I am up early as usual but don’t have to do anything as our number one and only son won’t stumble out till much later and my partner in crime and life wont’ be up until nearly lunchtime. So I am enjoying the peace of the early morning.

Though, I am listening to a CD that was a gift from one of my gorgeous Tai Chi friends, it is called “music as medicine” and it so suits this peaceful early morning. It is Nawang Khechog with R. Carlos Nakor and has chants, Native American flute songs, and Tibetan flute songs and is truly a lovely album. I can’t thank my friend enough for thinking of me and I will be using it a lot in our Tai Chi classes and at home.

My other current favourite album is Robert Plant and Allison Krauss called Raising Sand, it is easy to listen to and has some great songs on it, which is why I am listening to it so often, obviously :)

I found a fresh egg for my breakfast this morning, there is still only one chook laying about every other day on average, but can’t be long until the others catch up. They certainly do things in their own time :P

My seedlings are coming along well, I have cow peas and pigeon peas, one winged bean (the ones I really want to grow and am having trouble with but have managed to get a couple growing in the garden but I now no longer have any seeds and probably can’t get any more according to my source). I have a few little paw paws popped up, the seeds were given to us and have come from the best ever red paw paw, so we shall see.

Winged beans are a tropical legume from New Guinea and so of course does best in the tropics where there is a lot of rain fall. It is apparently called the”one species supermarket” as most of the plant is edible. You eat the bean, I won’t say obviously because sometimes you can’t eat the beans of plants, but also the flower, leaves and tuberous roots. So you can see why I really, really want to grow this bean, I just need to get some more seeds which I should get as my plants seem to be growing. They are currently living in a jungle of wild tomatoes and gigantic cucumbers.


Did you know that it is fifty years today since the first man went into space? It was the Russians who went into space and safely came back in a short trip that lasted 108 minutes, how amazing would that have felt? Personally, I would love to go into space but believe I would be happier going there with Star Trek technology than randomly floating around like it looks like we currently do.

Over a Scathing Weekly was a hilarious book review that I just loved, there was serious bits too, but now I have images in my head, probably set in for the day :P

Here is an article I found interesting, “Energy crisis leaves Nepal in the dark”. I never knew.

I really have to include these articles here, here and here on the decline of the bee population. We can’t survive without bees so this is a huge concern. I am happy to report that we have wild bees here on our property and regular bees have been seen in my garden.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bacon Hock and Vege Soup

School holidays have started for us and so it is time to come up with some stuff to do that isn’t too boring. One rule that we are continuing with though is no TV, computer or Xbox between 10am and 5.15pm (when my partner in crime and life goes to work for the night). We start at 10 am as it gives me time to write a blog post if I have anything to say that day, check world news and pop into everyone’s blogs for a quick read.

Yesterday we lit a fire in our fire pit and cooked some sausages for a bit of afternoon tea, nothing like food cooked over an open fire :)

We had an old bacon hock in the freezer that really needed using so my partner in crime and life made up a bacon hock and vegetable soup in the camp oven and popped it on the fire. It was so yum.

That is the one of the many advantages of living out of town, we can light a fire and have a BBQ and nobody cares. It also costs us nothing to cook except some dead branches that we collected from around the property, which is good when you have to cook something for a few hours.

We have decided that we need to collect the recipes that we like into a folder. We have lots of camp oven recipes but we forget which ones we like as we don’t actually cook often enough in it, so we are going to collect the recipes and cook more outside. It also means that we can toast marshmallows, YUM :D


I have read a few blogs recently on what people keep in their bags, for some reason I find this very interesting, maybe because I cart a fair bit around with me. The latest blog about this is at The Apartment Prepper’s, one thing on her list which I hadn’t thought of (but should have) is a solar watch, I need to look out for one of those. My partner in crime and life had one once, good watch until it died.

There have been some disturbing articles recently about how we are going to have to live without antibiotics, as we have overused them and bugs are becoming resistant to them. There is this one at ABC news from last week, this one from the UK from last year and some more info here. However I found articles going back much further warning of this, and of course there has been other talk for quite a while, but it is now back in the mainstream news. We should all be concerned.

Here is another blog that I like that isn't in one of my side lists but is in my favourites, it is called Vintage Foodie, check it out, it is a good one.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Our First Egg

We have finally had our first egg. It is a little thing compared to regular eggs, but I guess they will get bigger. Self sufficiency is now one step closer, YAY :))

We are not sure which of the girls laid it, but it is only one of them as the next day there was another little egg, and I expect another one today. We are hoping the others will follow her lead, whoever she is.

You can see the size difference between the eggs, the cute little white one is about two thirds the size of the other.

We haven’t eaten them yet, we are just looking at them, however when we do I expect them to be great. Even though I am too scared to free range them at the moment (and I have to fence the garden) they get plenty of greens. Once or twice a week we go and cut grass and weed the garden and take them a barrow load for their pen, they pick over that for ages.

It is raining and windy here at the moment and we are not spending a lot of time outside, so this morning I just ran out and cut them the leaves of some snake beans, kang kong, sweet potato and pigeon peas along with some grass before the rain hit again. I will do that again tomorrow, it only takes five minutes and they get their daily greens.

The paw paws that I planted down at the creek so I can give the chooks lots fruit are coming along really well. In the mean time the other paw paw still has green fruit which just seem to be getting bigger and bigger, I guess they will eventually ripen.

Talking about sweet potato, I went to see if there was some ready to go the other day and pulled out this large red sweet potato. I decided to stop at one :P


On this dreary day I popped over to African Aussie and discovered this fantastic photo of a heleconia to put some colour into my day. There are some other great photos too :)

Despite the fact that the cost of fuel is on the rise we seem to be putting more cars on the road, building more roads to accomodate these cars and taking away public transport. At treehugger there is this article about freeway air pollution, now I know this is not new, we all know that air pollution affects our health, but doesn't hurt to have it put back into the front off our minds so we think about what we are doing.

Global food security and shortages seem to be talked about all over at the moment as people are becoming more concerned about it. Especially with all the current world events on the news every day, it is in our face making us think about it (though there are still people out there who are blissfully unaware and some who don't care). Anyway, at Pat Veretto's Frugal Living Blog, is a post about "why we will experience a food shortage".

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Chairs and Coconuts

We have had a great weekend. Our number one and only son had a friend stay over on Saturday night and we had friends come for lunch on Sunday, and I made Tzatziki dip for the first time ever using one of our homegrown gigantic cucmbers (actually, only using half of it). I turned out gorgeous :D

We went into town early on Saturday and played squash, picked up some groceries and bought us all new office chairs.

We all needed new chairs for various reasons, our number one and only son has one that is older than him and the wheels are falling off, I needed one as I didn’t have one and my back was aching from sitting on the organ stool, and my partner in crime had one that he broke soon after getting it (it was a cheap one so can’t expect too much).

We spent slightly more than cheap, and the quality is so much more. The men ended up with typical colours, black and brown, I wanted purple but have to make do with red, there was also not a lot of choice as the trucks with stock are still stuck on the other side of flooded roads.

On Saturday afternoon we lit a fire, the boy’s tried for about two minutes and insisted that the wood was too wet and wandered off, so my partner in crime and life went and had it going in about five minutes. We took over the BBQ plate when the fire was nice and hot, gave them some sausages and tongs and left them to provide for themselves. They also toasted a whole bag of marshmallows on sticks, and then I think the rain kicked in a little, but they enjoyed themselves.

We had friends come for lunch on Sunday and they are on a similar journey as us but they have 3 acres. It was good to compare notes on what we each are doing and we also exchange seeds and seedlings. Last time I was up there I came home with seedlings of natives and this time, we sent them home with strawberry plants, Aloe Vera, gigantic cucumber seeds, a gigantic cucumber and wild cherry tomatoes so they can eat them and save the seeds.

Apart from being a cheap way to get the garden growing, we sometimes get things we didn’t know about before and if I happen to kill off my stuff, I have somewhere to go and get more seeds. The seeds are all heirloom, non- GMO, organic, not stuffed around with ones that we CAN save seeds from. Not like the ones you buy from other companies that are sterile, and you can’t continually grow generations of. I still buy seeds from the good companies even though I can save the seeds, sometimes I don’t save the seeds as it is too difficult or I kill off my plants.

I have rosella plants that are about fourth or fifth generation :D I also gave some seeds to the Botanical Gardens as a friend volunteered there and theirs all were lost (can’t remember why), she knew I grew them so I saved seeds for them. It is good to spread the love, feels good.

We were given some coconuts over the weekend, some for our non laying chooks to eat (honestly, they have the life of Riley) and five sprouted ones to plant. So we went and planted them this morning between the driveway and the boundary fence but not close to anything that coconuts will drop on and destroy.

We have been wondering what to do with that area, it doesn’t do anything but grow grass, it is close to the boundary and the people next door have their shed (which they live in) close to the fence so we had think carefully about it. Being a fairly wet area the coconuts should go well there and we don’t have to look after them much.

Today I have made a chocolate cake and two pumpkin fruit cakes, all very yummy. So going to go have some more cake with my cuppa tea.


Talking about seed saving, I am obviously not the only one thinking out it. Over at Just A Prepper's Place she is also talking about it.

There is a news article at ABC news about how fruit and vege prices are high due to our natural disasters. There is also more and more talk about global food security. One thing we can personally do to help ourselves in regard to high food prices and food securtiy is to grow our own, regardless of how small an area you have. High food prices and food security are concerns that are not going to go away.

Something I didn't know is that American milk is banned in most of Europe, Australia and a couple of other places due to the bovine growth hormone. Over at Living Prepared is a post about it with some links. Personally, we drink biodynamic organic local milk, it is gorgeous, the correct colour for milk and supports our local farmers.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Year Of Firsts

In a previous post I wrote about all the things we had done this year and it got me thinking about all the things we had done for the first time.

I remember helping my parents put a fence around our property when I was a teenager, using a wire strainer and putting in posts (helping as much as a teenage girl does anyway) but I had never built a chook pen. The amount of research that went into that alone was huge, planning how it would look, where it would be and what materials, we had to consider bush pythons and roaming and wild dogs.


We personally have never had chooks, though growing up mum had chooks, ducks, geese and turkeys, and while I know a little about them, we still did our research and got information including a book on chooks,“Raising Chickens for Dummies” :D

My partner in crime and life didn’t want a rooster either and my only memory of roosters was big arrogant things that chase you, but our Dave is not like that at all. We have been told that rooster’s chase you when they think of you as competition which happens when you hand raise them and think you are another rooster, ungrateful things :p

I remember going around the paddocks to pick up all the rocks and throw them into the trailer with my parents (I actually don’t know what they did with all those rocks, maybe around the gardens, can’t recall) but I had never built a path. We had to do this as we were making muddy tracks to the doors and bringing more of the outside in.

While I have nearly always had some sort of garden, I had never built one from scratch, let alone have it so successful. Things have either not grown at all, or grown humungous, can’t figure that one out. I can’t seem to grow corn from seed but have these amazing paw paws coming along.

I have always had herbs and maybe some tomatoes but had never grown potatoes. My small experiment of potatoes worked so well I have more in now and plan on creating more potato patches.

I had never used a ride on mower before and not sure if my partner in crime and life had either, however seeing the one we have is old and needs fixing from time to time, he now knows a lot about ride on mowers. We find it an enjoyable thing to do, very meditative, with nothing else to do but be alone with the plovers following along behind looking for bugs.

We had also never built an outdoor shower, never had to climb a ladder to get onto the mezzanine level to get to the desk top computer, never lived in a big shed, never even thought about getting a shipping container (never knew you could even buy them), never bought water tanks and have never had an actual orchard with quite a variety of fruit trees (always wanted one though).

I am sure that there are many more things that we have done for the first time in the last twelve months, there are so many things you would never get to do unless you have a bit of acreage. We always wanted a larger property however this one is proving to be plenty of work, especially as we are working to become as self sufficient as we can.

It wouldn’t be as much work (or fun) if we just lived here and didn’t do as much with the place, some people do that, I guess they just want to be out of town. Each to their own, the world would be boring if we were all the same. However, I think you get much more enjoyment by doing all the things you could do when you have acreage, if you have the space why not grow a vege garden, plant fruit trees and bush tucker, have some chooks?

A bush bean and yet another wild tomato :)

A lot of people I know can’t understand why I don’t want to go in to town, “it’s not far, you’ll still come in”. However what they don’t get, even if I explain, is that we have be planning for this for over twenty years (yeah, we are a little slow but other stuff got in the way), and we are where we are, because we want to be.

So I just want to stay on our property, work on the garden and trees, work on growing as much of our own food as I can, and look at the chooks while I wait for them to lay eggs. If I wanted to be in town all the time I would have stayed there, we have a lot of plans that we have been working on for a long time and I just want to be here to do it. Can’t do stuff if I am running into town every five minutes because I can’t say “NO” to people (getting them to accept no is also a problem, and me not caving in), I am getting better at that.

So we obviously love it here and plan on staying for a while, we have a lot of work yet to be done, more gardens, more trees, a fence, some ducks and maybe geese (still thinking on that one). We are going to learn to make our cheese (we can get cheese making kits so we are checking them out) but not sure about getting a milking goat (apart from the trouble they cause, we can never leave home again).

Another luffa seedling has popped up, better get their bed ready.

There has been talk about getting bees, but we need to do a lot more research before we get into that, and there is the thought (planted by someone we know and now my partner in crime and life wants to do it) to build a wooden pier/bridge thing onto the dam. See, so much to do, so little time, and there are always more ideas popping into our heads, it is all so exciting.


Over at City Roots Country Life, there is this post about making bread, Emma has some good tips about making bread and some links. I actually cheat when making bread, I use bread mix, but I am going to make it from scratch, this year, I swear, I am inspired :D

Yesterday there was talk of petrol getting to $2 a litre which is rather disturbing. Someone said that it wouldn't, but hey, petrol is already at $1.45 a litre here and desiel is about $1.50 a litre, maybe a little more. Not really such a big jump to $2 a litre is it? And really, who thinks it will go down?

At Treehugger, they are sailing around following the plastic pollution in the oceans and we can follow their journey. This pops up from time to time on documentaries, but it is out there all the time killing ocean life. I like to think they won't find much, but I have seen photos of what it looks like, here are a couple of links here and here. Take a look, it is horrific.