Time off is an important part of staying sane. For a full time stay at home mum with 3 kids under 5 life is challenging. There are days where things go smoothly, kids are dressed, fed and we’re on our way somewhere with minimal issues. Then there are other days that descend into madness, or worse yet, hell, and stay there until bed time. Those are the days I try very very hard to never think of again except to vow to do all in my power to prevent it happening again. Most days however are somewhere in between. This morning for example, I have a half naked child playing on cold tiles refusing to get dressed. The other 2 are happily playing although one is also not doing as told and so I get the chance to sit and blog whilst I await some obedience (getting dressed or putting on shoes are not difficult tasks). As I said, I don’t mind too much although if it starts to rain again they will find our plans are off. Can’t play in the garden when it’s cold and raining.
Yes, I said raining. 😀 I was woken this morning by my alarm and as I lay there I realised it was accompanied by a far more pleasant yet quiet, constant and in the background noise. 😀 Rain. 😀 Blessed precipitation! 😀 I’m not sure I remember the last time we had rain of any quantity sufficient to wet the washing. 😀 Probably February I think. 😦 So Linne, I thank you for sending your Canadian snow down to us here. 😀 😀 😀 I’m happy if you keep the cold weather though. Truly! 😀 And yes, I AM happy about the rain. 😉
I’m hoping the rain will have worked its magic on our soil though. Hard baked and terribly dry clay is a right pain in which to dig holes. It’s horrid if it’s too wet but there hasn’t been a biblical flooding downpour so here’s hoping it’s enough to make light work of the post holes that I plan to dig. I also plan to borrow the post hole digger of a friend if it is available. IF my kids ever get ready that is!
Well, as I was saying, time off from the kids when one is a stay at home parent is, in my humble opinion, a base necessity. Without that time to stop, regroup your scattered thoughts and actually act like an adult with a brain who can hold down an uninterrupted conversation is of vital importance to dwindling supplies of sanity. I hadn’t had the opportunity for a day off in quite some time. Sure, 20 minutes here to run to the farmers market or an hour there to the op shop but not a large piece of time designated specifically to being a grown up.
Well, finally my chance came. It was carefully planned as part of an evolving plan to have cake and eat it too. And it started by realising that David Holmgren was opening up Melliodora, his one hectare (2.5 acre) property in Hepburn which is a little over 30 minutes drive from Ballan. David is one of the fathers of Permaculture and Melliodora (I’m guessing its named after the eucalyptus melliodora – Yellow Box gum trees that are indigenous to the area) is a living and working example of what permaculture is and living it. 🙂
David offered 2 tours of Melliodora, one of his passive solar, off grid house that he built on the property and the other of the extensive gardens and permaculture systems in place. I opted for the garden tour. As much as I would simply adore to view his house and its clever designs (another time) I also felt it wasn’t really fair to leave Martin with 3 kids all day and also I figured that we would be able to use the ideas of his garden more than the house at this stage in our permaculture journey. Relevance to place and time. 🙂 So I signed up, with Lynda from Living in the Land of Oz fame for the afternoon tour.
David’s property is amazing. I can’t state that enough. His corn, of which only the stems remained, were well over 2 metres tall. His pumpkin patch, heavily hit with frost (it is the end of the season and we have had 2 heavy frosts in the area now) had been prolific as evidenced by the large pumpkins drying on benches and still in the garden. The tomatoes appear to have fruited well, the raspberries were very very tempting to pick and eat as I meandered past (I restrained myself with difficulty 😉 ) and it was lovely to see, that even among the seasons end plants that were not at their best, the broad beans were sprouting in between and new life was coming up in preparation for the winter crops.
David hobbled around (he’s on crutches with a broken foot (I think)), from perching point to perching point, speaking clearly and eloquently on all that they have done, covering topics of different soils and the health and uses for both, trees planted and existing from purchase (they have the most massive of massive pear trees thought to be around 150 or more years old), mulching, water channeling and catching, companion planting, “weeds” (clearly a passion of his) and of all the work they have done on their property as well as local catchments, roads and more.
My brain simply stopped working after about 2 hours of listening to him speak. The magnificent information and sheer quantity of it was too much for mummy-brained me but of what I have heard and actually absorbed there is enough there to keep me going for an age! I am still trying to process everything I heard and saw. It’s an awesome place to be!
This is David’s message for World Permaculture Day 2013.
David is an inspiring speaker. He’s surprisingly low key in some ways yet was incredibly detailed with what he shared. He didn’t motivate in me the burning fire to send me frantically out into the garden, tearing up the sods with my teeth but he’s had me calmly motivated, strengthened in resolve and motivation if you like, digging compost this morning into our first garden bed out front. I’m dusty and dirty and it feels good. 🙂
Our morning has not eventuated as planned (do they ever?) as the kids took so long mucking around getting dressed that Orik fell asleep so into his cot he’s gone and our outing is postponed. Jas, Egga and I all had a go post hole digging in soil that wasn’t much (if any) softened by the rain but I am hoping to pick up the digger tomorrow. We spent the rest of our time digging up the trial hugelkultur bed I built back in early February and it was exciting to see that despite the fact it has rained very very little since it was built, some of the bottom logs were damp, harbouring insects (slaters and centipedes) and doing what hugelkultur beds should do. There was also a little bit of that white wood rotting fungus too. 😀 It needed moving though as it was part of the original garden plan which has changed somewhat of late 😉 and is in the way now. The materials will be fully used in the new bed though and hopefully pass on their fungi and all that goodness to the rest of the logs in quick fashion.
Today is shaping up to be a good day (yes, it’s morning now). I’m hoping to be able to get the compost onto the bed. A legume crop sown for green manure purposes should help fix further nitrogen in there and then chopped in for mulch and green manure in the early spring, ready for it’s potato crop in late October, early November. Spuds and plants like pumpkins, zucchini and their relatives are great first crops for hugelkultur beds as they are low nitrogen requiring crops and hugelkultur beds can be low in nitrogen for the first few years. Legumes are also great as they draw nitrogen from the atmosphere, use what they need and fix the rest to their roots in small nodules (nitrogen fixing) which is left in the soil when you chop them down for mulch (before or after harvest). I think a crop of peas behind the spuds might work well too. 🙂