A new post over at Pint Sized Permies

I’m not sure I’ve introduced my other blog properly. The Pint Sized Permies is a little blog dedicated to the permaculture and home education activities my 3 kids get up to. Not much happening there I’m afraid but I try to post there from time to time. Continue reading

The year that was – 2013

Much to my surprise 2013 has come to a close. And as is natural at this time of year I am reflecting over the year that was.

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It’s my birthday and I’ll garden in the rain if I want to

Yes, two facts that might startle those that know me well. I am indeed mentioning my birthday and yes, I was outside in the rain, gardening. Actually that’s three highly unlikely events all happening at once, all in this post. πŸ˜‰

One of three bunches of purple sprouting broccoli that I blanched and froze during the week. The rest is all going to seed which I hope to collect. I'd plant this broccoli again anytime.

One of three bunches of purple sprouting broccoli that I blanched and froze during the week. The rest is all going to seed which I hope to collect. I’d plant this broccoli again anytime.

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With all things being equal

The day and the night that is. Happy Equinox hippies. πŸ™‚ We are on the lighter side of it now and heading fast into Summer. πŸ˜€

True to form we spent the weekend in the garden, trying to get done all we need to do. Our fences are finished and had a test run with 5 kids under 7 on Saturday afternoon when my nephews came to visit us. Jasper, clever little fellow, showed us where the greatest weaknesses in our perimeters are within 5 minutes. The gates. They are easy to climbΒ and we then had the chance to recite the poem “swinging on a gate, swinging on a gate. 7 little sisters and a brother makes eight” although ours was more like 4 boy cousins and Allegra makes 5 but oh well. πŸ˜‰ We can easily put some chicken wire over the gates to stop the climbing but with them opening it we need to think about what steps we take.

Sitting on the deck eating hot chips for lunch. This is what we can see.

Sitting on the deck eating hot chips for lunch. This is what we can see. A LOT of mess!

And lowering clouds that threatened and pulled faces but didn't follow through on their threats.

A large woodpile to be moved and glowering clouds that threatened and pulled faces but didn’t follow through on their threats.

The fences have also opened a lot more of the garden up to us which the kids have been exploring and loving. πŸ™‚ We have some cleaning up to do there with a huge expanse of roofing tiles that need to be cleared (some will be broken up and used to create a base for the 3000L water tank we’re putting up to catch shed run off) but they’re pretty brittle sadly and not much use other than to add to cement to stabilise it or as a rock base underneath something else as the edges are too sharp to leave exposed. Another shameful waste. 😦 If anyone can think of any other uses…

Over the fence and down near the creek.

Over the fence and down near the creek.

Saturday also saw me out in the front garden digging up the area where I plan to plant my asparagus. There is old lino underneath small white stones and copious weeds that need to come up. I’ve discovered though that despite some widely variable weed-mats (plastic, lino, carpet underlay etc) and other interesting gardening choices we have one thing really going for us. The garden has worms. Yeah, I was going to write that we had worms but figured a little bit of class wouldn’t go astray this once. πŸ˜‰ The pebbles above the thick clay and lino layers are absolutely seething with worms. I feel like a murderer every time I dig as I can’t but help hurt some of them. So, I tried paying Jasper to collect them and move them to the hugelkultur and blueberry beds but even at 10c a worm he piked out after 40 worms.

So when I found out that my 6-year-old nephew is learning the value of money and saving up and was keen to earn his money I offered him the same deal. He collected just over 100 worms in a space probably 1×2 metres! :O We capped his earnings at $10 (as I was fast running out of money) which he was stoked with and he had a blast diving on worms like a hungry chicken whilst his dad (my brother) sat and watched (he’d hurt his back again sadly) and I dug. It was a really lovely time to be honest.

We talked gardening and worms although he prefers his worms hanging on a hook suspended in the water. I sent them home with various seeds and instructions on how to best plant them too as they are burgeoning gardeners, more for the curiosity than the intent of truly growing things I think, but I am stoked. πŸ˜€ I hope the green thumb bug sticks and Jayke continues to grow and then eat all the wonderful foods he grows. I hope for his sake the Summer is kind with warmth and rain in perfect balance (but this is Australia in a time of climate change so I’m not holding my breath) to give his garden the best possible start. I’ve also offered to buy some worm wee and castings from him when his brand new worm farm gets up and running. I spoke to my sister-in-law this morning too and after a few more jobs and a bit more pocket money Jayke had enough to buy what he had been saving for. πŸ˜€

He earned $4 and my garden is much happier.

Jasper earned $4 and my garden is much happier.

Sunday morning saw me finishing off the last few metres of chicken wiring under the edge of the shed to prevent escaping chooks and then for the first time in months the funny buggers were let out to free-range. They’ve been kept in to prevent garden damage as they have been marching straight under the house and out the front and have even headed towards the neighbours which, considering he trains greyhounds for racing is not in the best interest of the birds. They are now, with the fences in place and barrier wiring finished, safe and welcome in the garden. πŸ™‚ We need to build another small free-range access door for them so they don’t need to traipse into Anna’s run and then out to the garden, and so they can wander in and out as they please (to lay and such) too but on the whole it was lovely to see them out in the garden eating bugs and grass. πŸ˜€ And destroying my gardens of course. 😦

A messy back deck and free-ranging Dorkings.

A messy back deck and free-ranging Dorkings.

We also spent some time moving wood from out the front around to the wood lean-to, finishing off setting the trampoline up and moving it back to open up the garden a bit more and just general clean up. I have 1/2 of the asparagus bed area cleared and am now thinking I will build 2 beds instead of 1 but we shall see. I hope to finish digging up the rest of the stones and weeds today but if there is no lino or other weed-mat I shall just pull weeds and build on top. MUCH easier. πŸ™‚ I also simply MUST plant out my seeds today or I will have no tomato plants to plant out come November. So much to do and still so little time. At least I have a garden safe for the kids to run and play in. πŸ™‚

The Hawthorn is putting out leaves. Spring must truly be here.

The Hawthorn is putting out leaves. Spring must truly be here.

One lone daffy (past its prettiest). I shall plant out other bulbs down there later in the year.

One lone daffy (past its prettiest). I shall plant out other bulbs down there later in the year and hopefully pull out some of the sticky weed.

We also spent some great time with the kids. They were stripped down for Vitamin D again for most of the day and in the later afternoon on Sunday we had 3 nudiesΒ running around the garden having a blast. We also built a pirate ship with them using a few fence palings, a bike tyre, 2 chairs and 2 kids camp chairs. They weighed anchor, had a flag pole and even caught a whale. What fun and what imaginations. πŸ™‚

Our creek really does have some pretty little spots. Not bad for a storm-water drain with a glorified name.

Our creek really does have some pretty little spots. Not bad for a storm-water drain with a glorified name.

Last night saw me fall into serious unconsciousness around 10pm. Exhaustion and bed are a great combination and I love the feeling of being so tired that I’m melting into the sheets. Sheer bliss! πŸ˜€

Not much of our garden can be seen through the trees. I love our privacy.

Not much of our garden can be seen through the trees. I love our privacy.

What did you get up to on your weekend? Did you get stuck into Spring planting or Fall/Autumn clean up perhaps or just enjoy the sunshine perhaps?

Can’t wait

It’s days like this that I really can’t wait until we’ve moved. The kids are going stir crazy today and driving me nuts! I can’t wait until we move and I know they will play happily outside on the swings, trampoline and in the cubby house as opposed to now when they let out the Dorking chicks, play with the tap and get wet (it’s too cold for that today) and generally get into everything we’ve made clear they are not to touch.Β One we’ve moved I know it won’t cure these sort of days but I do know that there is the necessary space for them to burn off their canned up energy and in the nice clean and healthy air of the country.

In other news, I pick up our Muscovy ducks tomorrow and our new Dorking chicks on Friday. This time we will be taking day old (or a few days old) chicks and building a brooder box for them, raising them inside until 6 weeks old before sending them out to join the troops. Now I just need to find a place for the brooder that keeps them away from the cats. 😦 I don’t take on too much at once do I? 😎

Now, time to get back to packing.

A Day in Ballan that wasn’t quite how I planned

Today hasn’t quite gone as planned. In fact, I’m pretty glad it hasn’t. It’s been fun.
The plan was to come up early to Ballan, pick up some soil, finish off the tyre garden beds and the last few bits of the chook pen. Instead, we’ve arrived after lunch in foul weather (after 40C degrees last week, the 6C my car thermometre is telling me is a little hard to take) and found several cars in our back garden, a giant hole and detached sewer lines. Definitely no room for me to navigate the car with the trailer. I could barely turn around without the trailer. And our trailer was full of gravel anyway. Hmmm. Now what to do?

I tossed up the idea of visiting friends but our first port of call had to be lunch for the starving troops. We headed into the supermarket and grabbed some tasty treats. I was trying to figure out where to have lunch when I saw the train station so we parked up opposite the station to watch for trains. Now that we are done with lunch I think we might head home for some more packing.

Moving day is still a bit up in the air as our builder is still tiling but we may be able to move Monday. Even so we might start moving up and store stuff in the tent until the tiles are laid and grouted. With carpet on Thursday and the glazier to do shower screen, mirror and replace the broken glass next Wednesday, we are so close I can taste it! Looking forward to baking in my new oven and cooking us all a meal in my new kitchen (yes Martin, the kitchen IS mine. πŸ˜‰ )

Think I’ll be up again Thursday or Friday to plant my Tagasaste trees (Tree Lucerne) and I’ll bring the chooks up then too. Maybe even the bed frames. πŸ˜€