Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Creek

Now our number one and only son has gone back to school it feels like we can get back into things properly instead of swanning around because we are on “holidays”.

Yesterday I went down to our creek garden where there are paw paws, pigeon peas and pumpkin growing and cleared out a fair bit a guinea grass, a bit easier to do now it has rained. Loving the rain right now.

Anyway, we can now see the creek, which is running now it has started to rain, and the paw paws are now visible instead of amongst it all. This garden is a low maintenance, take of itself garden, so no watering just mulching and they just grow, that is the way a lot of it should be, and gardening shouldn’t be that hard. If you do it right it can just go its own way.

I actually have a permaculture DVD which shows a food forest being grown. They plant everything in such a way that everything gets what it needs to grow and everything gets along and people don’t need to do very much at all, if anything.

I love that wildness of it, I guess that is why I take delight in things popping up in weird places in the garden, and never pull them out just because they aren’t in a row or have sprouted in the “wrong place. Love seeing things grow out of the straw from the chook pen, which I guess is the main reason things pop up in strange places, makes it interesting.

So, back to the creek. We have decided to build some steps down to the creek and a retaining wall so the dirt doesn’t’ get washed away, the actually comes up quite high when there is a storm but we don’t’ often see it as it also goes down quite quickly. We do however see the debris left up fairly high and don’t want all out soil going with it.

I have always wanted to make it a picnic area down there with a fire pit to put a BBQ plate over. If we put in steps and manage to keep the guinea grass down it would be, actually already is, a great stop to sit and enjoy. I love this spot on the property, even when it is overgrown.

Building steps at the creek is now officially on “The List”, don’t know when we will get to but it is on there and will happen – eventually.


While reading my morning news this morning, and I must get my daily news fix, I came across this article about plastic going into the food chain via our clothing. We try to have clothing made of natural fibres, I find synthetic material uncomfortable so make every effort, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Undies and sox always seem to have something extra in them. Anyway, apparently little bits of plastic comes out of this synthetic material with every wash and into our drains and out into the oceans and into the food chain. Check out the article as it explains it better and I will certainly be making more effort than normal with our clothing purchases.

Here is an article about how Australians don’t’ care about where their food comes from. The link was posted on a thread that is going on the Simple Saving forum about how the Australian Food and Grocery Industry is in Crisis. I would like to think that most people care, but I know people who don’t, however I also do know people who do care and hopefully that will spread.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just A Catchup

Our number one and only son has gone off to his first day back at school for the year. He is in Year 10 this year and has gone into a senior uniform and looks very smart in his white shirt, though I wonder how long it will take before there is pen or some such thing on that white shirt.

Our number one and only son also did not look like death warmed over, which he should have as he hasn’t been getting out of bed before 8 or 9 am most mornings for the last seven or eight weeks of the holidays, so 6 am is completely foreign to him. So I guess it is mixture of a little enthusiasm, which will probably be gone by tomorrow and the extra early night I made him have.

So yesterday was spent making lunch box stuff, sausage rolls with zucchini and carrot in them (of which we ate the first batch so we had to make another lot), cheese and ham scrolls and banana bread. I am all cooked out, hopefully we made enough to keep us going for a little while at least.

We have been getting enough rain, at least a drizzle every day, that I haven’t had to worry about the garden, though we have been mowing to keep the grass down.

There is not a lot in the garden as it has been too hot but the snake beans are coming along well, gigantic cucumber seedlings still surviving, some rocket, bok choy, pak choy, eggplant, little capsicums and we may have a couple a paw paws ready to pick soon.

I have some okra plants which I grew from seed that are very healthy, I was told it is too late for okra but mine are quite strong.

We got enough mangoes off our small trees to make one batch of chutney and eat some for breakfast so I am really happy about that. There are some small fruits on other trees like a few of oranges, two limes, one mandarin and I think that is it, we really need to fertilise and put more mulch on.

One of my cacti has a lovely flower on it and I have actually taken a photo this time. The only thing outside that doesn’t’ need looking after are the cacti, they thrive on neglect and produce lovely flowers.

Our Dragon fruit is also going really well in pots, I didn’t know that they grew so fast, I have spots for them to be planted out but need to get some posts for them to grow up and some soil. It will be nice when we eventually get some fruit off them.


Here is a post at a blog called ZenHabits about bad habits. I was thinking about all the New Year resolutions that a lot of people make but a lot of the time they don’t know how to keep that resolution, this post gives some ideas. You should read the rest of the blog while you are there.

There are a lot of blogs I enjoy visiting, sometimes I only get to zoom through to catch up, and Domesblissity is one of my favourites, I think mainly because there is lots of yummy food being discussed. A few recent posts to check out are Make your own bulk mixes for baking and Man-sized packed lunch ideas.

The Greening of Gavin is another blog I visit and so should everyone, and this recent post is one I enjoyed, especially the bit by the Dali Lama at the bottom, everyone should think about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012


We are so lucky to live in a developed country where we have water on tap, literally. There are millions of people in our world who don't have access to clean water or water that is close to their homes. We only have to turn on the tap and out it comes into our kitchen and bathroom sinks, into our showers and washing machines and onto our gardens.

Growing up we had to be careful with water as we had no town water, we had rain water and used dam water for washing and we had think about what we were doing. My parents have lived back in town for many years now but still conserve water even in the rainy times, and these habits have been good during drought.

So here I am living without town water and relying a lot on the rain. I really do think about rain a lot as we go without it for so many months and the tanks levels drop so we really do need to keep our water usage in the front of our minds.

It really makes you appreciate water though, for the most part, the majority of us don't think much about it at all, we turn on the tap and out it comes, but what happens if one day it doesn't happen? How would you feel?

In the last few weeks we have had our water pump for the house die, and then it was revived about a week or so later and now our bore pump died but I don't think this one will come back.

It was suggested to me to use the house rain water tanks to water the garden, the wet season is coming so it will be right. The wet season might be coming but it isn't here yet, I thought it had started when we had rain last time, but it wasn't, it was just one lot of rain. So I could use the house water, however I could do this maybe once as the house tanks are under half and the wet season is late. Gardens use up a lot of water and using up our house water is not a good idea.

So yesterday I was bucketing the rinse water from the washing machine onto the garden so everything wouldn't die, it has been rather hot here. We managed to get an electric water transfer pump, and while it isn't powerful enough to get the bore water up, it easily sucks out water from the dam and I can now hand water the garden from there. It will work for the short term till we can replace the bore pump.

Would you believe it, it rained last night. It was very exciting and of course I went out to listen to the water falling into the new little tank out the front, a lovely sound :) This new little tank has a tap on the bottom and we can drink out of it if we need to so it is great to hear it filling.

We ended up with 57mm in the gauge this morning, so the tanks got filled a bit, and the garden and orchard got watered so I am very happy, I really hope this is the start of the wet season for us.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Things Come in Threes

Something that I don't understand is when people ask how our farm is going. We don't have a farm, we have a very large suburban block of nearly 6acres out of town, not a farm. We don't grow crops and we don't rear animals, we have a vegetable garden, some fruit trees and some chooks that think they own the place and can do whatever they want, so it doesn't really describe a working farm where we make a living.

Anyway, one thing about having a very large suburban block is it does take more work and of course more things to go wrong.

To get water into the taps of the house requires a water pump, if the power goes out no water and if you don't listen properly and take notice of what it is doing and turn the tap on, off, on again it will cut out. So of course over Christmas this happened and it died completely, a blown circuit thingy. This was eventually going to happen as it was getting worse and harder to restart but it was not a good time.

My very smart partner in crime and life figured out how to bypass it but every time we wanted water we had to turn the power switch on first, this was because everything was shut down for Christmas. However, seeing he is so smart, he fixed it and we are now back to normal but we do need to replace that circuit thingy, and living with having to switch the power on every time we wanted water for over a week was a pain. All good now though.

The next thing is our dog's ear is puffing up. She had this last year on her other ear and it took three operations to fix, so far it is not very large but we are keeping an eye on it and hoping it will just go away :)

The third thing is one of our small water tanks split and we lost all our water out the front. It wasn't a huge amount of water but it was the water we use for the chooks and dog and feet washing and so on. We had always planned to replace those tanks with a larger one, but of course things only happen when they become a priority and get bumped to the top of the list (this is because it usually costs a fair bit to do stuff so only do it when we absolutely have to).

So this became a "must do" thing as we need the water, so I had to whip out the emergency fund and we built a frame, filled it with crusher dust and put on a 2,500litre tank. It is only small but it will provide, when filled, the water needed and we can also drink out of it too. It has a tap on the bottom, high enough to fit a bucket under it and it is all ready to go, just need some rain now, come on rain.

The fourth thing that happened is we had to leave one of the small chicks, now three and a half months old, out for the night. Our number one son and I were going out for the evening and that one chick would not go back into the pen. It ran all over the place including down the creek embankment and falling down the creek, luckily dry. So running late I had to go down, make my way through all the bush and get it out as it would never have found it's way and it just had to stay out.

When we got home, do you think we could find it? No. So after a shower and in my PJs with boots on I went bush again to continue looking, back down the creek in case it fell down again. I was thinking that maybe it was perching on a branch somewhere and I was right, on the skinniest branch ever of course, halfway up, as I was down in the creek, halfway up the vertical bank, I eventually found it in the dark. As I certainly couldn't get to it either up or going down, she had to stay there and hope a bush python didn't get her during the night.

It was one of this lot that wouldn't go in the pen.

I got up really early the next morning to go find her in case she couldn't get back up and had fallen down the creek again but there she was, at the crack of dawn, wandering around the pen no worse for wear. At least she slept in the safest place she could find.

We have been making this very yummy feta cheese with my new cheese maker I got for Christmas and we just can't get enough. Feta on biscuits for lunch, yum, also a bit of homemade mango chutney with it is nice, well I like it but my partner in crime and life doesn't (the chutney with feta that is) but that just means more for me :P

So life is busy, I have been sketching, reading, crocheting, gardening, cooking and when school goes back in a week and half we will get back into a routine, which much as I like not HAVING to get out of bed so early, routine actually works best for all of us.


This article at Survival Mom reminds me to continue to learn new skills. I like learning new stuff especially if it is useful. My current new skill is the cheese making, which my partner in crime and life are learning together. My other new skill is rope climbing, not sure how useful it is but it does contribute to my fitness level, there is skill and getting over it in your head and a bit of strength. Anyway, I plan on learning more skills this year.

Check out this recycling project, pipes being used for book shelves. It stirs the imagination :)

If Down To Earth isn't a blog you visit regularly then you are just plain crazy and you must go and have a look, it is lovely. Check out this post and then read all the others.

Now, I have just have to figure out why my laptop screen is fading, everything I have tried so far hasn't worked so it is something beyond me and I must wait on the expertise of my partner in crime and life. Better be something simple and not something to add to the list of "things come in threes" :D

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Here we are at the beginning of another year and we have so many plans for the next twelve months, including not to spend so much money :) guess we had better creative.

We had a very nice Christmas and New Year, Christmas Day being spent kayaking and eating lychees on the river, very decadent in our minds. I never saw in the New Year as I fell asleep, late is 10pm for me, can't imagine how I managed when I was young.

I got a cheese making kit for Christmas and so we have made feta cheese and mozzarella cheese using organic bio-dynamic local milk and so it turned out just lovely. It is so easy so there is lots of cheese on our horizon.

Here is the feta being put into the container to drain and set.

This is the mozzarella being stretched before being rolled into balls.

Here is the mozzarella about to be eaten on biscuits, very nice :D

I have also been looking, though not very actively, for a couple of stools for the verandah. We came across these old office stools being sold for $6 each where we play squash so we grabbed two, if there had of been more room in the truck I would have gotten more.

I was hoping to have enough material left from covering the benches to cover these, but it was not so. I did have some other upholstery material so as you can see one is purple and one is yellow, gotta run with what you have.

I have started crocheting a blanket as I need to use up my wool before my wool buying addiction has me getting some more. We don't have enough blankets anyway for people who live in the tropics and now live up the mountain where it is colder.

Our place now has carpet all the way through it. I am not a carpet person at all but it will keep the place warmer in the winter, keep the dust down a little and it was cheap. At $4 a metre we couldn't pass it up, it was cheap as they wanted to get rid of it so we got all they had and it has done the whole place.

So we have just laid the carpet in the bedroom and it is way better than cement I can tell you. I bought a little cordless, rechargeable, electric carpet sweeper in the after Christmas sales and so can zoom around with that each day to keep it all clean. It actually sucks up quite a lot and as long as I give a good vacuum all over once a week, I think that is all we should need.

I really need to catch up on everyone's blogs as I haven't had time and I am sure everyone has been really busy the last few weeks, it will be interesting to see what everyone has been up to and if they have any plans for the year.

Happy New Year :D