Fog and photos

I took this picture on Monday. We had the foggiest day I’ve seen since we moved to Ballan. The fog moved in late morning and stayed until after dark. It moved in again the next afternoon along with the rain. I expect we may see more fog this afternoon. My water tank already has enough water to come out of the taps. YAY! 😀 Continue reading

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Another weekend

Yes, another weekend has passed and here I sit, warming myself by Ignisa’s glowing belly, sipping a hot cocoa just before bed and reflecting on the weekend that was.

In some ways we have done precious little this weekend. Martin has managed to procure some nicely seasoned (read bone dry) wood extremely locally (just across the creek on our own property so has it) and chopped up the necessary for the weeks supply but aside from that and the other daily tasks we have done little. We have however, achieved a lot.

One of the things small towns are know for is their sense of community. Sometimes it’s a negative when the whole town knows the whole towns business but on the whole, there is a sense of community that is hard to find in larger towns or cities. And that sense of community, of being local people for our local area is something we sought when we moved here to Ballan. And, we have found it. Not just in Ballan but also in the surrounding towns.

The ultimate smal-town busybody – Rachel Lynde

Saturday was a day for the people. Meeting up with and spending time with 2 different families. Like-minded people. People who are walking their eco journey. People who don’t look at you like you’ve got bats in t he belfry when you talk about things like organic vegetables, peak oil, melting polar ice caps, solar panels and homemade just about anything. It’s nice not to be a rabid little hippy sometimes but just someone who is doing her part and who’s levels of rabid are understood and maybe even applauded. 🙂 That’s not big-noting myself or saying I do heaps/enough/great. That’s just saying that to some people I know I am extreme, go to far or am just plain crazy. The moniker Rabid Little Hippy was given to me after all. 😉 So, Saturday was a day to spend time sharing ideas, ideals and general conversation about eco and unrelated things.

We started the day off with a visit to Gavin Webber again. I have a few friends who are also keen to get into the homemade cheese scene and who better to ask than Gav of Little Green Cheese fame (and of course Greening of Gavin fame 😉 ) and as Gav sells both mozzarella and feta kits I said I’d grab them some mozzarella kits so our visit began with me picking up the kits. When Martin expressed some mild jealousy at my intended visit I was cheeky enough to ask if it would be ok for the rest of my family to “tag along”. With permission granted we headed off armed with cake. What ensued was a visit filled with laughter, serious conversation, shared beliefs and ideals and in general a great time. The kids all seemed to have taken their angel pills again and so were all on the best of best behaviour. We had great food, colby cheese and morning tea that edged nearly into mid-afternoon! 😀 I hope we didn’t overstay our welcome guys but we had a wonderful time. Thank you.

We lost Jasper and Allegra to the sandman in the car on the way home and Orik was also due for a nap so we had a couple of quiet hours before heading out once again, this time to Phoenix Park for a roast lamb dinner. And my goodness was it good! Organic lamb and the full trappings cooked by someone else. I know I can cook a good roast but there is something about eating food that you haven’t had to prepare yourself. I swear it really does taste better! 😀 And again, several hours of like-minded people sharing ideas, dreams and goals as well as achievements. A great finish to a great day.

One of the best bits of a busy Saturday is that the kids sleep well and we scored a sleep in Sunday morning! I was also smart enough to head to bed early and so scored nearly 11 hours of sleep with only 1 interruption! I cannot remember when last that happened! 😀 And an 8am wake up to boot! Win!

Today was a much quieter day and although we didn’t achieve what we had planned, the house is tidier and the souls are peaceful, hopefully ready for the week ahead.

Oh, and for those that have seen my washing pile, I’ve folded and put most of it away! 😉

Operation Homestead: I forgot the photos

Today was another crazy amazing day. Friends of ours were having a major blitz to get some of their house built and Martin was up helping them for  the day so it was just the kids and I along with a head full of plans. And as per usual, the best laid plans and all that… lol

Started off baking up a storm  72 cheese and vegemite scrolls and 2 loaves of sourdough bread. Finally got moving and up to pick up some more compost. Arrived at the house and started to take down the dog shelter which will be repurposed into a temporary hen house and later a wood shed. In the mean time, the reinforced mesh had to come down so we can finish cleaning up and then mow in there. To my surprise, I found an egg! A quick float check in a bucket of water revealed that it was fresh so I returned it to its rightful owners, our neighbours whose Isa Brown houdinis had been finding their way onto our block. Looks like the fence was fixed just in time, well as far as it goes for their egg supplies at least.

I was interrupted in my work by the arrival of my kitchen. MAJOR SQUEEEEE! 😀 😀 😀 Installation will happen next week but every beautiful piece of it is here.

The afternoon was made considerably easier by Orik having a nice long nap and the kids playing relatively nicely. I dug 2 holes for my veggie garden gate posts and laid in my last no-dig garden bed (just need to get some more mulch to top them off) – a long one to run alongside the veggie garden fence, using the fencing for trellis for this years beans. I am hoping to sink in another post and string up some fencing wire, possibly ringlock (I’ve been having lessons in fencing terminology) this week. I also finished ripping down the last 2 feet of wooden fencing so that is FINALLY done. Another job knocked off the list.

The best bit was the kids running around in the garden, helping to wet the paper for the garden beds, jumping on the trampoline like fiends and helping dig the post holes too. We had some funny as moments – I caught Jasper trying to cram 4 pieces of slice in his mouth all at once, Allegra’s major fixation with an indigo blue plastic bottle she found somewhere and her love of tipping out water (usually into car seat cup holders or internal car door handles 😦 ) and Orik who is loving playing in (and probably eating) the dirt. I just can’t wait until we are moved in and they can play in the garden every day.

Anyway, given everything that was going on (add a trip to Trentham and dropping some compost off to friends) I kinda sorta forgot to take any photos. So, despite getting nearly everything done that I planned, my plans for a photo montage post just didn’t happen. So in the interest of having SOME photo’s…

Ringlock fencing

An Isa Brown chicken

The post hole digger I used before I found that friends have a petrol powered one. Looking forward to not needing to use this again.

Operation Homestead: Day 22/Start of week 3

The beds are in! Garden beds that is. There are now 6 large garden beds across the back fence of our block. I am STOKED! I may have room for one more (hopefully) and I am now looking for some more lucerne mulch, preferably organic, with which to mulch them. One more load of compost to top up 2 of the beds and put in the 1 more and that may well be it. If I get a 2nd load there will be excess for friends and also some to kick start my own compost heap/keep for later when it’s time to bury my spuds again.

Speaking of spuds, I had a peek underneath the lucerne mulch in the spud beds and in all 3 beds I was rewarded to see that the spuds are growing! 😀

I had a nice chat to our neighbour over the back fence whilst he chook-proofed the back fence (those sly girls keep finding yet another way either over or under or through the fence) and he said we should be pretty safe to be frost free by Melbourne Cup weekend. For those who aren’t in Melbourne, The Cup is the first Tuesday in November. That means I can plant my beans and peas now (only the flowers are frost sensitive) and my spuds should be all fine and dandy too. If frost seems likely this week I can just bury them again which will keep them safe and toasty underground. IT’S TIME FOR PLANTING! 😀 😀 😀 And that means, those that have offered to help might just be getting that muster call soon. 😉

Time for bed now as I have another busy day in Ballan tomorrow, but this time without my husband who is going to help some friends out. Just the kids and I. Eek! More gardening, a kitchen delivery, maybe planting some seeds and hopefully getting some trellis and sandpit sand too. I will do my best to post some photos tomorrow.

Operation Homestead: Days 15 & 16

What a weekend! Yet again, exhausted but elated and we have made some real progress that is hugely visible. Don’t you hate when you slave away at something but at the end there really isn’t an awful lot to show for the work invested?  This weekend, in fact the whole week has left a very visible mark on the house and gardens. 😀

Yesterday was a day of showers. Not particularly warm (although not cold either) and it couldn’t decide if it wanted to shower or not. I was also down with a rotten headache and sore neck (hence the headache) and after a night of broken sleep from Orik who is attempting to cut 3 molars all at once, it wasn’t the best of days. Still, I managed to work on the defencing of the gardens. I didn’t get to impale but did remove many of the palings at least. 😉 Martin, due  the warmer weather forecast today and with summer just around the corner, continued to focus on the grass. Mowing a 1/2 acre of foot high grass is no mean feat at the best of times, but when it’s wet and hiding all sorts of things like empty buckets, broken pipes, carpet, rotted down carseats and plenty of rocks and tree stumps, well, let’s just say he has the patience of a saint. He was also watching the kids as I was working out the front. And poor Orik took a faceplant onto the bitumen, breaking his fall and slide with his nose. Poor bubba. 😦 We headed home about 4:30 with grumpy kids and a cranky headachey me. Frustrating kind of day.

Today more than made up for the frustrations and disappointments of yesterday though. We arrived up there armed with food supplies and snags to have a little barbecue with friends and I had a run to Gordon, a nearby town to grab some give away pots of currant cuttings. I came home with 4 pots of currants, both red and black, some of which are even fruiting (yay 😀 ) and 2 pots of thornless blackberries, all of which will be planted and trained over the fences (when we get them). What a wonderful score. 🙂

The afternoon involved 3 kids behaving themselves very well, a LOT more mowing being achieved, a side fence almost completely removed, a temporary fence being installed and more. No spuds up yet but their beds are nice and toasty under the lucerne mulch and the veggie beds are rotting down nicely. Soon they will be ready for planting. Maybe another week or two until the end of the frosts? Oh I hope so.

The pile of rubbish removed and the fencing to the near left that is now completely gone.

Work on the house has progressed too. Our builder, John, started work on Wednesday. In 3 days he has finished clearing out the kitchen, stripped all the floors out (tiles, floating floorboards and a bit of remaining underlay), removed the old wardrobes and built the framework for our walk in robes, removed the wardrobe in what will be Jasper’s room, changed the wardrobe in what will be Allegra’s room to be a wardrobe for both Jasper and Allegra’s room (it was too deep and just wasted space before – now it’s 2 useable wardrobes), cleared out the laundry and bathroom and removed all the broken doors.

The exciting part is that my kitchen should be ready to go in next week and be finished the week after! Paint colour has been chosen so I need to get a move on and work out tiles and carpet now.

Well, the children are all asleep and I’m not far off sleep either. A few more pictures of our work and the property and our family.

Some very temporary fencing. It’s enough to keep Orik in and slow Jasper and Allegra.

My little poser 😉

My poor bubba getting ready for bed with the grazes of the road on his nose.

Jasper flaked!

Our creek

A glorious winters day in the garden

Today has been a very pleasant one. Seeing the glorious sunshine outside I just HAD to get out and enjoy it. Having a lot of washing to hang out meant I didn’t feel frivolous just soaking up the rays. Washing hung and more still being done. By the way, what is it with small children and washing? I swear they can get themselves dirty just by breathing. Well, today they did a lot more than just breathe, and boy were they dirty! And gloriously happy and probably a little cold too. Whilst they painted things with muddy water and paint brushes, drew with green crayon on the hot water heater, dropped pebbles all over the lawn and then picked them all up again after getting in trouble for it, jumped on the trampoline, swung on the swings, dug up worms, fed the chooks and found a crysalis, I started dismantling the trampoline and fed all my seeds and pot plants with some Seasol. Stoked to see it is 100% organic too. I also planted my sage seedlings in various pots too so my thumbs got a little more greening today as well. Yay.

Anyway, once the “work”was done I just lay on the trampoline on my tummy and did some reading online. It was bliss! And informative too. Thoughts of Peak Oil got me thinking and I got to wondering what life was like before the industrial and agricultural revolution. Before petrol and diesel. Way back in the “olden days”. Well, before modern machinery was steam power. Before steam was horse power. Before horse power was donkey, ass and oxen power and before that was shanks pony. Most people had a veggie garden and chooks and most farmers raised their own pigs too. Land often was worked until there was no nutritional value left as crop rotation wasn’t understood and soil nutrition undiscovered. Unless you planted legumes as well your soil would cease to produce the crop you normally grew. Manure, wood ash, and other substances were used with varying degrees of success to re-energise the soil but the science behind it wasn’t understood.

A farmer using a hand plow

Food transport was probably not much farther than the nearest town so food shortages could be quite localised if there had been a local disaster, and at the end of winter like around now you were most probably on some kind of food rationing. Keeping animals was expensive as far as food went too so only wealthier farmers could afford to raise them. Wool was a big money crop and most people only owned a few sets of clothes their entire lifetime as it was just too expensive to buy or make more. Labour intensive too.

Another thing to think of too is foods we consider to be such staples like pasta, rice, potatoes and such weren’t even around or available. Spuds were only brought back from the America’s in 1600 or so! Staples were a grain mush instead. And here’s a statistic that stunned me. 80% of people were in agriculture in the 1300’s compared to less than 2% in the developed world today! We have moved so far away from our food.

It all got me thinking, bringing together a whole lot of aspects and thoughts from A Crude Awakening, The Power of Community and Food Inc. We need to get ourselves back to the land and back to at least having our own veggie gardens and a fruit tree or 2 as most people had back in those “olden days”. If you have the room, keep a few chooks too for eggs. If you own your home and get on well with your neighbours you could even work out who grows what and then divide your crop evenly between you all. When we move I will be moving a lot closer to my dear friend Corrie-Lyn whom I am hoping to be able to play crop swapsies with. We already swap jars of preserves and information and we both bought our canners together. She is one of my greatest inspirations! I am hoping to find other like minded people in Ballan too and I won’t be too far from Gavin either, whom I one day very much hope to meet. He is another huge inspiration and it was his blog that got me started watching the films that have changed my life. And another friend Penny who also has veggies, fruit trees and chooks will be nearly a neighbour too. Both Penny and Corrie-Lyn are Thermomix owners too.

So, I consider that an incredibly profitable day in the garden. Vitamin D, great play time for the children, fresh air, chores done AND some education too.