Cup Day in the sun

Melbourne Cup Day, the first Tuesday in November is a special day for those in the Melbourne metropolitan area as it’s a public holiday. The only one in the second half of the year (nothing between the Queens birthday weekend and Christmas) thanks to Show Day holiday in September being canned. 😦

Many people take the Monday off work to make it a 4 day weekend and that’s what Martin did. We’ve spent the weekend preparing for snake season and clearing away the wood piles and branches littering the front and back gardens. Tuesday however I had the invitation to spend some time visiting a friend and fellow blogger Lynda from Living in the Land of Oz fame. I left home not long before 10, arriving in time for a cuppa and to meet Lynda’s lovely sister and her sisters gorgeous grand kids. They headed out for a tour-de-parks and Lynda and I headed out to the gardens to hear their plans and ideas for transforming more of their garden into a food production paradise. Something new here, more gardens there, and some fun ideas over there too. All I can say is watch her blog space. 🙂

First stop after the patio area was to a small rather large treat saved for me and protected by a punnet placed on top. A strawberry of rather generous proportions, almost glowing in its delicious ripeness, sending out its siren scent of freshness and all with my name on it! I picked it, photographed it and munched it. Mmmmmm 🙂

This is the strawberry that Lynda grew.

This is the strawberry that Lynda grew.

On to the other beds which I admired with nothing feigned. Lynda has great gardens and will have a great crop to harvest over the Summer and into Autumn for sure. 🙂 Lynda’s overall garden space was much smaller than I’d thought based upon the photos I’ve seen which makes it even more impressive to see what produce comes from her garden, what massive veggies and how many self seeded plants (weeds if you like ;)) in her beds too.

Lunch was delicious with chicken meatballs, lamb chops, potato salad and cooked tomatoes, ginger beer to wash it down and great conversation and laughs with which to enjoy it all. It was a delicious lunch and I had a lovely time. 😀

Never give up hope. This is the lesson I've learned in the garden of late. I replanted this rose bush even though I thought it likely to be dead (I did prune it rather hard) and it's done little since... Until now. I can't wait to see flowers.

Never give up hope. This is the lesson I’ve learned in the garden of late. I replanted this rose-bush even though I thought it likely to be dead (I did prune it rather hard) and it’s done little since… Until now. I can’t wait to see flowers.

Sadly I had a bit of a time limit on my visit. I couldn’t leave Martin with a list of jobs a mile long and 3 kids, all with colds, for the entire day. We loaded up all the gifts Lynda had for me. I’d dug out all her weeds (self seeded tomato plants ;)) to plant in my own gardens, loaded in a generously gifted Lemon Balm in a pot, a set of draws with shelves above, spring onion seeds and a huge bag of old towels and sheets for me to upcycle into kids pajamas and reusable “paper” towels and the like. 😀 All I had taken down was a carton of eggs, sadly not even full. 😦 Lousy swap on Lynda’s side of things hey. 😦

A watermelon! I figured none of the seeds would grow but waddaya know! Maybe there are more awaiting optimal conditions. :)

A watermelon! I figured none of the seeds would grow but waddaya know! Maybe there are more awaiting optimal conditions.

So, loaded up I headed off, this time to Melton to visit with Gav and Kim. I had a few things to pick up from them including cheese kit gear (curd nerd-ville here I come :D) and it was a nice day to have a cool drink poolside. Sadly I couldn’t spend the time I would have liked with my friends as I was already later than I had planned getting home, so I bid them farewell and headed off home.

Arriving home I discovered my amazing husband had cleaned the kitchen, washed all the dishes and was working his way through the vacuuming! Well impressed. 😀 And grateful too. 🙂

This is the strawberry that I grew. Divided into 4 (a slice each for the kids and I) it didn't go very far but oh my the taste was divine!

This is the strawberry that I grew. Divided into 4 (a slice each for the kids and I) it didn’t go very far but oh my the taste was divine! Bit smaller than the whopper Lynda grew and saved for me.

We finished off mulching the branches (thanks to our handyman) and Martin spent some more time sawing up the wood pile until a part went missing from the chainsaw (seriously, power tools in our house cause more angst than anything :() and although I wouldn’t say we’re exactly snake proofed I know we’ve put in 4 solid days of attending to and dealing with much of what we needed to around the garden. 🙂

I thought I’d share this idea I’ve had with you all. I’ve been addressing my perceptions of things. Snakes, sharks, carnivorous dinosaurs (Jas is right into dinosaurs at the moment) have an image of being evil but they’re not really. They do what they do because that’s what they do, nothing more. A snake will bite if it feels threatened. Some more so than others (brown snakes are rather aggressive) but they are not evil because of that. It’s taking some time to adjust my thinking on this but we do now live in the country and I guess every area has its risks. Country locations have their snakes, the city has its traffic. Some areas are prone to storms, others to long hot dry summers, others to monsoonal rains and cyclones and many of our beaches are visited by sharks, including those that will eat people. It’s about recognising this and adjusting ones thinking to fit in with Mother Nature, not expecting her to fit in with us. Sure I can do my best to snake proof our property (and I will) but I don’t have the right to expect never to see a snake. 🙂

Does that make sense?

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.