Saturday in the sunshine

The weather has been rather pleasant these last 3 or so days of Winter. I had to keep reminding myself that today was indeed still Winter. It felt more like we should have been in Continue reading

Are you supporting fossil fuel industries without knowing about it?

It has recently come to my attention that our superannuation companies/retirement fund companies often reinvest our money into fossil fuel industries. I mean, after all there is big money where oil and coal is concerned, but as someone who is actively trying to reduce my reliance upon and use of fossil fuels, Supporting those that invest in them is not a comforting thought. Continue reading

Films, motivation, dreams and plans

I follow a blog by a new but wonderful blogger who lives pretty locally to me, Lynda from Living in the Land of Oz. She’s pretty new to the blogosphere (like I’m such old news myself 😉 ) so please pop over and check her out. I’ve learned some very important things from Lynda. We’ve chatted on the phone, shared laughs, shared information and contacts and more. Her most recent blog post however is about another great eco film about a woman turning her traditional Devon farm, run using fossil fuels and traditional farming methods, handed down over thousands of years (although more recently mechanised) into a farm that can and will be sustainably run once the pending peak oil crisis hits us. The education I received in that one short hour! The mind blowing information, revelations and honest home truths left me absolutely floored! And VERY inspired. Inspired enough to raid the kids art drawer, pull out the textas (marker pens) and paper and get designing. Well, drawing more like. I’m not much for design to tell the honest truth. lol The most frightening comment made in the film though is the belief that the critical year for this crisis is 2013. It fits with what i believe, that’s for sure.

Anyway, long story short, I had planned to plant an orchard out the eastern side of our house where there is currently a stand of silver Poplar trees weeds and this had evolved into a hugelkultur inspired orchard but has been upgraded to the gold standard now. 😀 The plan is to chop out the trees weeds, remove the debris (there are rows upon rows of roofing tiles in there, all brittle and useless though I think) and grass weeds (I might just put down cardboard mulch), poison out the tree stumps (if only there was another affordable and practical option but truly there really isn’t 😦 ) then put the logs back in, cover them with a high nitrogen source (hoping to follow up some friends with horses) and cover the lot with soil. I’m debating on poplar tree borders and mulched poplars to fill the area but that will result in higher carbon output from the trees and hence a higher nitrogen content must be added – more horse poo or fresh mown grass etc – but that is highly dependent on being able to beg, borrow or steal an industrial mulcher like council workers and tree loppers use. Anyone have access 😉 We also need to channel a lot of standing water from our front garden that accumulates on our thick clay soil in depressions in our oh-so-even front lawn over winter. 😉 Rather than dig swales which are basically shallow channels like the ones that run down the middle of freeway verges, a time consuming and energy consuming practice, we’re planning on low but (hopefully) effective channeling hugelkultur beds which will also help absorb and use that excess water. 🙂 I figure we may almost end up with seasonal creek beds running across the garden, all of which we can channel into the creek that dissects our block. I also need to put paths through the beds to allow access to plant and harvest the trees.

Now however, with this heading to being a forest garden I have at least  28 tabs open in Chrome to look up cultivars of trees, to assess the qualities of the plants I plan to have in the forest garden and their compatibility with our soil, climate and each other as well as their safety (as much as my kids love rhubarb I am anxious about planting it as I am not sure whether the leaves being highly poisonous is too much of a risk to take) and growing properties. I mean, does it matter if the garden ends up with an under-carpet of mint if that mint is drawing up nutrients that will aide all the other plants? This is what I am ready to research this morning as I sit here typing by candle light. 🙂

Forest gardens are layered forests of edible or beneficial to edible plants, set out similar to how a real forest is. Large trees, an under canopy, large shrubs then smaller ones, climbers using the taller trees to haul themselves up and ground covers that suppress weeds, protect roots and help trap moisture. There are plants that fix nitrogen with their roots (legumes), plants that draw nutrients up from the deep (comfrey), trees with deep roots that draw water (as do the poplar trees and it’s probably why they were planted in the first place) and also trees that flower, drawing the pollinators. If you want to know more, check out here, here, here and here or ask Dr Google. There is heaps of information out there. 🙂

So Lynda, I just want to thank you so very much for your post. You have focused my direction, guided, educated and inspired me incredibly. From the bottom of my stomach (it IS a food forest after all) I thank you. 🙂

I found hope for the future

I watched a TED talk this morning. It was sent to me from a site I receive regular emails from, The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and I’ve come across some interesting articles covering a very wide range of topics, all related to permaculture and sustainability and gardening/agriculture or the environment in general. Many of the articles don’t appeal or I don’t find relevant for where we are at personally, which is not to say they’re not brilliant. But this one, appealed for some reason. I’ve been recommended TED talks in the past and I’ve come across some fascinating talks, from the value of silence to ways to combat climate change. You can follow the link to see others on topics of your choosing and listen to some remarkable speakers. 🙂 This particular TED talk talks about dessertification, the process by which grassland is turned into dessert, a HUGE problem around our world. I’ve been saving this one up for a few days until I had the bandwidth available which, now that we have phone and internet connected (HOORAY) I now have access to the needed bandwidth (it’s not huge but it’s more than I was prepared to use on my pre-paid  internet dongle doovy. 🙂

This speaker, Allan Savory, brought me to despair with his words but finished off on such a huge high note that I was in tears and applauding along with the rest of the audience. I think my kids thought I was nuts (I think they really KNOW I’m nuts to be honest 😉 ) and I wanted to share his words with you. There are some that are a little scary and some that are heartbreaking. He has been to the depths and risen to the dizzying heights in his research and I think he may have found the way to literally save our planet if those to whom this is directly relevant see and hear and follow. So, once you’ve watched this, if you believe and agree, please forward it on, share it around and encourage people to see and listen.

The link is here.

Is growth the solution or the problem?

Big Ideas - Full program podcastMartin enjoys hanging out the washing. No, I don’t make him do it. 😉 He offers… For the 20 minutes or more of uninterrupted(except by mosquitoes) peace and quiet. He gets to be alone. He gets to listen to the radio if he likes. He gets to listen to Radio National, his station of choice. I prefer background music to talking so he loves this quiet time in our garden in the twilight after the kids are in bed where he gets to enjoy the peace at the end of a long day.

The other evening whilst he was hanging out the washing he comes in with his little hand held transistor and tells me I would LOVE this talk. I’m thinking “no, not really” until I heard the topic of discussion. Continue reading

Makes you stop and think seriously… Or if it doesn’t, it should.

I don’t like using the word “should” as it’s me telling you what I think your mind needs to believe. It’s imposing ones thoughts and beliefs upon another. You should eat more/less. You should get more sleep. I mean, who am I to judge what you should or shouldn’t do? But in this case I feel strongly enough to tell you that I think you should read this post. It should make you stop and think. It should make you take check of your lifestyle and how you use fossil fuels. That’s a strong place to be and between you and me it makes me nervous to be dictating my beliefs. But unless we share what we believe strongly about we are not going to get the message we wish to share, across to anyone. Be it your religious beliefs or other lifestyle choices – vegetarianism, veganism, walking not driving, Commodore vs Ford (that’s for my brother the pro Ford king) or any other stand or stance you take on anything at all – we all have things we believe strongly in, passions we live, eat and breathe or values we would die for. Well, this is something I believe strongly enough in to tell you I believe you should read this. It’s facts, not a diatribe. It’s information, not a sermon. It’s data that allows you to come to your own conclusions. And if it’s enough to make me feel deeply sorry for a snake, me the ophidiophobe, then hey, it’s powerful stuff.

PLEASE read this. 🙂

Warmest decade on record brings record temperatures and weather extremes. It made me think of the film Day after Tomorrow as there are many any similarities in what happened in the film and what happened in real life. Ok, not to the extremes of Hollywood but the jet stream activity sounds very familiar to fans of the film.

Again I ask, please read it.

Fire and a long week with the kids

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Oh so sweet pineapple chunks in juice and then pineapple juice beside it (the lighting makes it look white but it’s just the solids in the juice settling slowly slowly)

It’s been a long week. In fact it’s been a very long week and not one I would be keen to repeat any time soon. In fact pretty much the only highlights have been the delivery from a friend of some pineapples which I bottled and another blog post from 23thorns that had me chortling away like crazy as I tried to read it out loud to my husband. If you don’t already follow his blog I highly recommend it. Not only educational but extremely well written, witty and as funny as hell!

Last weeks white nectarines and apricots. Golden goodness that the kids have enjoyed on their porridge and with custard.

Last weeks white nectarines and apricots. Golden goodness that the kids have enjoyed on their porridge and with custard.

Anyway, my week has been full of misbehaving and children who obviously need their ears cleaned out or switched on( either way), mishaps, things not going to plan and mercurial weather.

Today has been a hot one. The temperatures this week have ranged from 6 degree lows through to high 30’s which makes it challenging to do simple things like put the kids to bed (summer pajamas or winter ones) and it plays with the mind when it’s freezing cold and you want to light the fire but it’s going to be mid 20’s the next day (we DID light it which just seems so very wrong in mid January). But today is also a day of total fire ban across the state where the fire risks are severe for most and extreme for the Wimmera and North Central which is pretty normal for January here. What is more concerning is the weather itself. Hot weather alone does not a high fire danger day make. But the wind today has been pretty awful, gusting back and forwards, blowing often from the north(ish), and it’s strong! The roof of the kids cubby which hadn’t yet been fastened down, has been blown off which is no mean feat given that it’s made from corrugated iron and heavy timber. I can’t lift the roofing pieces by myself. The trees were bending rather alarmingly back and forwards then side to side and anything not fastened down is probably half way to Geelong now. A pretty bad day for our local CFA’s I am guessing (my husband said they had sooty faces when he spoke to them about getting our fire hydrant refilled). I am just profoundly grateful we didn’t have extreme temperatures today. I have a feeling that had the temps been in the low to mid 40’s we would have had a catastrophic fire danger day. A Code Red day. They’re scary enough when one is living in inner suburbia… But now that we are country dwellers… 😦

It’s one of the bad things about not having the television connected. We’ve made the decision to not install it at this stage and so far, to be honest, we’ve not really missed it. We both feel that most of the news is doom and gloom, shared only to grab ratings but every now and then I realise there are things we are missing. I mean I really don’t care who plays Christian Grey in the 50 shades movies, nor what the Kardashians are up to or even particularly who wins the tennis, football, cricket etc. It just doesn’t interest me (unless it’s World Cup football in which case both Martin and I will be glued to every England and Australia game) BUT keeping up on things like severe weather warnings is becoming more and more necessary.

I read a couple of blogs today about climate change, increased average temperatures, hottest decades, hottest days on record and it frightens me. I don’t claim to be an expert on climate change, not by a long shot BUT the science is showing warming trends, temperatures on average increasing and the weather conditions are most definitely responding with greater severity. Keeping tabs on weather conditions, both locally and further abroad is starting to make even greater sense to me. I know the UK has had another very wet winter with flooding which we keep an eye on, or an ear actually as my mother-in-law always keeps us up to date with what the weather is doing over there (Martin’s brother and sister-in-law also live there as well as other relatives) and my mother’s family are spread out through New South Wales so we like to keep tabs on what’s happening there too.

This week I’ve most definitely been out of touch as our internet is once again gone so I’ve been reliant on the iPhone again – difficult. I’ve only just found out that NSW has had some of its hottest temperatures on record with catastrophic fire days although we’ve kept an ear to the ground regarding the fires near Wagga Wagga (my uncle and aunt live there) and I know there has been the hottest day recorded in Tasmania in the last week too, along with catastrophic fires there too. There have also been fires around Wallan where my sister-in-law works and her boss sent her home (all safe and well thankfully) as well as fires a little closer to our slice of paradise here, both at Ballarat and Daylesford which are both only about 30 minutes drive away. Not near enough to be personally threatening but close enough to want to keep an ear out.

Breakfast time Mummy! Wake up!!!

Breakfast time Mummy! Wake up!!!

This morning I woke up to find that one of us (most likely me but I don’t want t admit to a moment of sheer stupidity) left the spigot on the water filter in the “on” position. I’d emptied it of filtered water making my ginger beer (I’ll post on that soon) and I’d refilled the water. It takes a while for the clean water to filter through so it would have started dripping slowly sometime around 12:30 or after when I was well and truly in bed (Martin got up to make a bottle though so ha! I can blame him! 😉 ). This morning I had a puddle of water all over the kitchen bench, soaking a few bit and bobs like instruction manuals I had sitting there, and a second puddle on the floor. Topped off with an imminent food delivery, 3 hungry kids and the frustration of discovering we had no butter (there goes the idea of sandwiches for lunch to keep the house nice and cool), well, let’s just say it wasn’t a great way to start the day. Mopped up, kids eating (late breakfast in the end) and my wonderful delivery arrives. It’s my first order and I am extremely impressed! Highland Heritage Farm (Facebook page and blog) delivered, in a lovely wooden crate, my order of organic oats, cashews, own grown red onions, spuds, beans and eggs (a wonderful selection of colours and sizes) as well as some free “glut” veggies of turnips, zucchinis and also some rhubarb (not sure if you can call that a fruit or a veggie). It’s locally grown, home delivered, supporting a family of like-minded people (they also use sourdough and grow organic) and it’s beautifully fresh produce so I couldn’t be happier. I’ve used up our 7 hard won eggs today (I think my hens are broken as that’s 9 days of eggs! 😛 ) Not sure yet how to use the dozen zucchinis I have in my fridge although the rhubarb will served for breakfast I think. The turnips will also be a first time cook for me too. Never had them before. 🙂 Any recipes to share?

I do NOT want to wear this dress Mummy!

I do NOT want to wear this dress Mummy!

The rest of the week has been lacklustre. I baked some bread in Ignisa’s oven when she was lit (may as well make use of the heat I guess), but otherwise, just a bit of online shopping (for organic foods and such, not shopping for fun), dishes, toilet training (*sigh* will it ever be over?), washing washing and more washing and taking out and bringing in the chicks. Just a quiet week on the homestead I guess, punctuated by “I don’t want to wear a dress” tantrums, please don’t climb out the windows moments and all the rest. I am very glad it’s over and very much looking forward to the weekend (BRING IT ON!!!). Jasper, who helped me amazingly with putting away washing will come with me to the Ballan Farmers Market as a treat and he will get some money to spend. He knows it’s not a toy market, but a food market and I told him that they have honey, peanut butter and cheese that he might like to buy. His eyes lit up more and more with each suggestion. Too funny kiddo! 😀 We’ve also dealt with his ongoing processing of grief from the death of John the chicken. 😦 This morning he was beside himself, sobbing that Ellie was dead. It took me 5 minutes to work out what he was saying. Once I had located the missing Ellie, his stuffed toy elephant we had a chat and the world was right again. A challenging conversation.

We've found Ellie

We’ve found Ellie

We’ve managed a little more unpacking, some serious furniture rearranging (I think I have things where they work now) and more processing of larger city house into smaller country house with different priorities (more gardens, less stuff) so it’s all slowly slowly coming together. The old house is nearly empty (although the shed is another thing) The skip is also gone now which involved a very close call with 2 cats whom were unbeknownst to us hiding under the skip. I’m not sure who got the bigger fright, them when their cool hiding place on a hot day suddenly made loud noise and lifted up in the air, or me when first Minnie then Maxxie came boiling out from underneath the rapidly shrinking hole at the end of the skip! Frightened the life out of all 3 of us (they have about 8 left each I think).  Anyway, another full week and I am very much looking forward to bed.