My wildest dreams have come true

I think I’ve hinted previous about some exciting news to share and finally I am able to do so. In fact, it’s now a little overdue, but I hope you’ll forgive me when you hear how busy we have been. 🙂 Continue reading

What does the future hold?

Several posts on blogs I follow have really got me thinking of late, about what the future will hold. Gavin from the Greening of Gavin had a dream which he wrote out and shared as a short story (read it here) which really struck a deep chord with me. Thanks Gav! And today, I made a conscious decision to try to live some of that dream. Continue reading

On the flip side. 2013

So, we’re on the flip side. Welcome 2013. Despite my intentions and deepest desires I was awoken a mere 5 minutes after the new year rang in. My Small Man! I was in bed early to catch up on last nights missed sleep (again thanks Orik) but spent more time awake listening to the silence of new years eve (never heard that before in Melbourne) than asleep having that long and deeply desired full nights sleep.

It’s 8:30 as I write this. Did you realise that most of the world is still in last year? 🙂 Kinda cool hey.

Well, as we say, “see you on the flip side”… It’s the flip side! Day 1 of a mere 365 days in the year. There are 8760 hours to use, 525600 minutes to make count and I don’t know how many seconds. Wait, take just over 8 hours and 37 minutes from that! 😉 So what are you going to do with your year?

13 is my lucky number. I was born on Friday 13th so naturally, 13 sort of HAS to be lucky for me. 2013 will be a great year for us. It is sure lined up to be a great one with many first and opportunities and so much more. I’m feeling so hopeful albeit incredibly sleep deprived. And I have a dream! Actually, I have many dreams. I don’t do resolutions. I haven’t done for years. I stopped when I realised that when you’re drunk as a skunk (do skunks even drink booze) it’s not the best time to make deep and meaningful long term life affecting promises to oneself. Swearing to give up the smokes whilst inhaling deeply just seems silly to me. I’ve long since given up the smokes and the booze, neither as of New Years but still I resolve to make no resolutions each year. Ironically in making that resolution I am breaking it instantly. Lol

So this year as I said I have dreams. I have plans and desires to do things. I want to achieve. A blog I follow said to do epic shit and although my little world might not be the stuff of epics, I am definitely dreaming big. So, here are my dreams and plans and hopes and desires for 2013.

1. I would live to become self sufficient in most vegetables. To never buy a tomato again is probably my first big one, followed with pumpkins and then maybe carrots. I wouldn’t have thought it would be such a hard one but early I need to do some research into my gardens more, plan for Autumn and building my raised beds up and getting them full of compost and soil and green manure to rot down and grow over winter. The bed rotation plan is already sorted so Spring planning and planting is already mapped out.

2. I plan to remove all of the poplar trees on this side of the creek. A BIG task and no mean feat that. This will sadly include the use of a poison. The only other way is to dig up each and every root the trees have put out and that is simply not feasible. I have a bottle of poison there waiting and it burns a hole guiltily in my conscience every time as it goes against everything I believe but I also realise that sometimes there really is no other option. This plan also will involve some discussion with our neighbour as he has left 1 tree on his property near the fence line and its runners are shooting into our yard. If I poison the saplings I may well poison his tree. Not good for neighborly relations.

3. I’d like to become at least partly sufficient in meat. We are probably about 4-6 weeks away from chicken harvest as our roosters and hens are looking quite mature. It’s not something I am anticipating with joy but I believe that we need to take responsibility for our decision to eat meat and be intimately aware of the process it goes through to get to our plate. Modern society skips the step of raising and culling animals and those neat feather, wool or fur free, bloodless and ready to eat packages on polystyrene plates keeps us ignorant. I don’t want to be ignorant any more although this is not enlightenment I will enjoy. I’d also like to raise a lamb (once its bottle weaned) to be our lawn mower and later on, chops. Not sure if we will get a permit for that but it’s in the and still. And I also hope to be able to serve my family subterranean chicken too. Starting with the rabbit that’s sneaking in to my garden and eating my herbs! 😦

4. I’m hoping to get a goat. Well, 2 actually as they need the company. 1 for milk and 1 for companionship. Either a doe kid or a weather (desexed male). I believe in the health benefits of raw milk and I also know although I haven’t researched it much, that the dairy industry is also up there with cruel practices and unnatural farming practices. As a hue dairy consumer (I LOVE my milk) its something I want to be able to enjoy guilt free. I’m not going to drink soy as a substitute as soy is nothing even remotely close to the healthy drink the tv ads would have us believe and much soy is actually genetically modified (around 95% or so in America is GMO from memory) and although I can make nut milk or rice milk easily enough in Hermy the Thermy, I’ve not enjoyed it when I’ve made it.
This dream also ties in with the next one.

5. I would like to learn to make my own deli products. I would love to never buy cheese or salami or prosciutto again. Cheese making, according to the curd nerd Gavin from Greening of Gavin and Little Green Cheese fame is not overly difficult, just time consuming and I’d like to have a go at a cheddar or tasty type of cheese and mozzarella. It’s most definitely on the plan for this year to buy a kit and get started. As for prosciutto, I have a friend who’s mum makes her own pasta sauce and prosciutto or salami each year (yes, she’s Italian) and shes offered that i could come along! Who better to learn from than a real honest to goodness Italian nonna? 😀 I hope I can learn from her and then source free range organic and all round ethical pork to make it with.

6. I plan to fit out the house with curtains. We currently have roller blinds which go a long way to cutting out light and will help at keeping the heat in/out but not enough. So, fully lined curtains it is. Maybe even pelmets which will keep in even more heat/cool. But step by step there.

7. I plan to spend more time stopping and playing with my kids as well as including them in all we do. It’s hard to sit down and play trains or dolls when there is washing to hang and a floor to vacuum but its even more important to do. We already try and involve the kids in the jobs around the house as its their house too and we want to raise healthy happy and capable children who have a strong sense of their place in our family (by doing chores they are contributing to helping our family run smoothly) but I need to involve myself more in their small worlds. Lunch might be a cubby house tea party today. 🙂

8. I plan to experience my local area. We took a trip to Tuki Trout farm the other day (I’ll post more on this later) which was a brilliant day out. On the way home we decided to try and see what our local area has to offer. Day trips and outings. Ballarat has several things we have already planned to go and visit and there are others in Creswick, Geelong and around. Good family days out. I will of course share what we find. 🙂

9. And finally, I plan, at 9:57 to get up and out of bed. Not a bad sleep in for a mum of 3 on New Years Day. 😉

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Climate change and changing to suit the climate

Climate change.

Controvertial, no?

Is it real or is it just a hoax?

If it IS a hoax, what is the reason behind the hoax and who does it benefit?

If it is real, how do we sort the truth from the lies? How serious is it? Is it too late?

I only wish I knew the answers but I believe climate change, brought about by man, is real. If it is a hoax it benefits no-one that I can think of bar a few comparatively small companies producing environmentally friendly goods. If we believe it is a hoax however, I can think of a few industries that will reap the rewards (think of mining and drilling).

When I think back to what started my green journey I find it really hard to pin point any particular thing. I remember hassling my mum once about buying bleach and she ended up buying vinegar instead. I remember in grade 6 I think it was, doing an in class assignment where you answered multiple choice questions and it predicted a future scenario for you. Even then I preferred a large house in a small country town with an eco lifestyle. Ok, so I no longer want a large house (cleaning the house never entered my 12 yo mind 😉 ) but the rest of the scenario has pretty much played out to be true. I’ve also had that dream of living on a small acreage in the country for as long as I can remember, interspersed with eco dreams too. For as long as I can remember there has always been some level of environmental sustainability or homesteading about my dreams.

So what kicked it all into high gear then? I’ve already mentioned some of my journey of how it’s not easy to be green but it was probably the film The Day after Tomorrow that really prompted me to start making changes. Now, do I think that there will be 3 big storms to plunge the world into a new ice age? No. Do I think that the film is very over-dramatised? Yes. Do I think that the film makes a good point though? Yes. It got me thinking long and hard about climate change and our precious planet. It got me thinking about the impact that my choices and decisions have upon the planet and although it doesn’t touch on even half of the issues out there (deforestation of our jungles, over fishing, landfill, fossil fuel usage and so on) but at least for me it got me thinking. It got me processing. It made me realise that there is a LOT more to the world than just my little piece of it.

Now as I sit here today it’s a predicted high of 38C degrees (about 29 inside at the moment). It’s still November! The average maximum temperatures for Melbourne in November is 22C although the highest on record is 40.9 on November 27 1894 (info found here). It’s a total fire ban in both the Mallee and Wimera regions of Victoria too – the far north and west of the state where it’s already at severe fire danger (info found here). This is unusual for November in Victoria in my memory at least and I suspect that the odd rumours I’ve heard of a long hot summer may well turn out to be true. And after what Ballan locals have said was a long cold winter… Well it just seems to me, in my very unscientific opinion, that things are changing.

I believe things are reaching some pretty critical levels as far as climate change goes. I mean, from a cursory glance at my dear friend Dr Google, it seems the average temperature of the earth has risen less than a degree C which sounds negligible… But is it? I know the last few years here in Melbourne we’ve had some stinking hot days. I remember the new years we waved farewell to 2007 and hello to 2008 it was still a balmy 35C or 95F at midnight. Just over 13 months later on February 7th 2009 and we saw our hottest day on record, now known as Black Saturday because of the horrific bushfires that raged across our state. It changed our hottest ever recorded Victorian temperature to a whopping 48.8C (that’s 120F) recorded at Hopetown (stats taken from here). Melbourne reached 46.4C  or 115.5F (stats taken from here). Even without counting the fires in, it was a pretty rotten day here. Including the devastating fires, it was horrendous.

What melting polar ice?

The point is, the climate is changing and we are going to have to change along with it. I read a wonderful comment this morning on Narf77’s blog The Road to Serendipity about adaption. “I LOVE the positivity of permaculture…no sitting around whinging about how we won’t have citrus trees soon and isn’t it terrible…just straight away looking at the possibilities and adapting. That’s what I prize…adaptation and the ability to look on the bright side. That’s what is noble about the human race…” and it struck a chord. Even if we stopped burning each and every fossil fuel today and set everything right in one fell swoop I don’t believe the climate trend will change overnight. Things have gone too far for that. Arctic ice melting is a prime example. From what I’ve read it works like this. When there is a large amount of arctic ice it reflects back the heat of the sun a lot more, being white it’s reflective, not absorptive. However, when it gets hotter the polar ice melts and then there is less white reflective ice and more absorptive dark coloured ocean to contain the heat from the sun. This in turn melts more of the ice, which in its turn provides more dark ocean to absorb more heat and so on. I’m not sure how that is supposed to stop to be honest because it’s self perpetuating. The melting of the polar ice brings with it warmer temperatures, more water (the melting water surely has to go somewhere although I can’t seem to find anything but arguments about rising sea levels on Dr Google).

Tagasaste or tree lucerne

We MUST take more responsibility for the environment and try to stop the global warming trend but in correlation with this we need to adapt. I for one am glad we will be raising our elevation from about 17m above sea level to much closer to 500m… Just in case. I also plan to try to grow some plants that are not considered suitable for the Ballan climate – Tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis) or tree lucerne is one such tree. It’s a dry climate plant initially from the Canary islands and doesn’t like waterlogged soil but I am hoping by growing it in a raised bed in the chook pen that it will thrive and help provide food for the chickens. I am also going to try growing sweet potatoes next year. They’re not good in cold climates and not so great in temperate climates either (I tried to grow them a few years back) but I reckon it’s worth giving them a crack inside the greenhouse. I’ll probably also try ginger and turmeric too. The Tropical Hippy, a friend in both the blogosphere and real world who lives in tropical climes is giving sweet potatoes a go now if you’re keen to try them.

For me that adaption is to try and grow things locally so that I can reduce our food carbon miles. If I can’t grow it locally (bananas, mangoes, pineapples and other tropical fruits for starters) I need to weigh up the value of having access to these foods (bananas would be a big loss to my kids) versus their mileage. With many of our tropical fruits coming from Queensland they’re not as bad as they could be, but dates (which we use in cooking and as snacks – a huge loss to me) may well come from Iran or other local countries so their mileage is huge. I guess for me if I can localise as much as possible then buying some things with carbon miles isn’t so bad. I hope that the miles our tomatoes will travel will be about 20 metres from the veggie garden to the kitchen via shanks pony. 🙂 They will then be bottled which will use some gas or electricity in the processing but it’s much less than buying a can of imported tomatoes.

Anyway, this is becoming a bit of an incoherent ramble which I’m going to blame on the heat frying my brain (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉 ) so it’s time to sign off. We’re having a tv day here in the interests of keeping the kids calm whilst being locked inside away from the sun (not my favourite kind of day but needs must).