Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Moon

Tonight is the new moon and I've been thinking about what I want to get rid of. Unhealthy stress. Not the kind that motivates or niggles because something should really be acted on, but the movie reel over and over in my head type stress. The pointless kind that I end up feeling sick over or getting headachey over when my logic part of my brain tells me 'this is really stupid, let it go or deal with it in another way'.

I bring work stress home, even though I try not to. I worry about interactions I've had with people during the day - what did they mean by.....?, did I come across as too 'know-it-ally', aloof, a bad parent, a complete ditz etc. I haven't written/phoned/seen such and such in ages - I wonder if they're going to be upset/feel snubbed etc. I worry about so many things...despite my logical brain screaming 'GIVE IT A REST'.

I know I shouldn't do this. I try on a daily basis to be the best kind of person I can be. That is the honest truth. I shouldn't beat myself up about the number of times I fall short, because I don't hold others to ransom for these kinds of things....we get busy/tired/suffer from compassion fatigue sometimes, all of us. And yet, these niggly thoughts creep in constantly and I end up playing those reels, even when I'm in the garden where I should just be focussing on relaxing.

This moon, I am giving myself permission to ignore and send off all those useless thoughts.
And perhaps, if there's truth in the idea that a new habits takes 28days to form, it'll stick!

I'm going to plant a sunflower seed by this new moon (or lack thereof!) so I have a reminder every day of this goal. Perhaps by the time it flowers, I'll be feeling as sunny as it is.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lesotho Keyhole Garden

Recently I turned our round raised bed into a Lesotho style keyhole garden (minus the wedge) as an experiment in 'arid' gardening, because let's face it with multiple days in a row of 40+ heat here in summer, temperate gardening techniques aren't really adequate.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, Lesotho (in Africa) has a temperature range of 40+ during the day, down to -15 degrees at night. Some years ago the people were in dire straits, as their crops weren't producing and a large proportion of the population was malnourished. That was until they developed the idea of a keyhole bed.

The keyhole bed is a raised circular bed (made of stones, bricks etc) with a wedge cut out for access to it's centre. There, in the middle is a basket which sits through the core of the bed. The bed is built up in layers (like no dig gardens) but the inside is raised so the dirt/straw etc slopes down to the outer edge of the circle. Food scraps, manure, straw, compost etc is placed into the central basket, and grey water is poured into the basket which ensures the bed is gravity fed and moist right to outside, whilst fertilising as the baskets contents break down.

There are a number of great sites on this method. Here a link to one which shows you how a group of school children did it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I-_6Bog-rM

I planted some seeds and a few plants in mine, and it's the most exposed garden bed I have - yet seems to be doing really well so far. I'm still top watering though as I haven't managed to fill the basket (chook wire in my case) to the top yet so the gravity fed aspect isn't functional yet.

Just a tip though to any of you thinking of giving it a go....cover each layer of food scraps with sand, clippings or something...as the smell from mine wasn't terrific after a week or so in the sun until I sorted it!

Photos to come in a future post.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dragons, Pan and the Fool

I love this time of the year. Besides the intense need to spring clean, there is a sense of new beginnings, potential and renewed energy. I see it in the kids who have revived their interest in the sandpit and are now chasing Spring pets (in the form of aphids and bugs), in our beautiful goslings and the hen who has decided to go broody again this week, in the Husband who has been inspired to help build our lower pond, in the seedlings which have sprouted from the dark soil, in the dreams that visit with some definite purpose and even in me, and my outlook on how I will grow this season.

Obviously I'm not the only one to notice it - some like-minded souls shared their sightings of Spring energy with me this week, and the common thread couldn't be missed.

I even found the energy to go to the drumming circle that I've neglected for a couple of months and felt energised on so many levels from that night. I realised how much I appreciate this group of people. We're an eclectic mix but each member has their place and the rhythms just wouldn't be the same without the contribution of each one. I feel happy when I'm with them, and comfortable because a few of them are 'like-minded souls' and that adds another element to what we share.

Today I had a chance to chat with the Crone (of Wit's End fame) and during our conversation I found myself thinking how lucky I was to have found some people that understand things the way I do. People I can share things with, without having to explain, justify or watch for the raised eyebrow.

And later I felt, I'm getting better at being me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunshine through the rain!

There was sunshine at our home today despite the rains... but this golden orb was fluffy!

Zeus, Medusa and Persephone are pleased to announce the arrival of Nysa.



She was born early this morning. Nysa, means 'goal, ambition' - fitting since she was so keen to break out of her egg first.

Another gosling has since arrived this afternoon, but being a little damp still, it was hard to tell the sex...so naming will wait until tomorrow though I think it was another little girl. Since these goslings have arrived during a day of spring rain, I'm giving them both Rain Nymph names.

There are still a few eggs to hatch so tomorrow will bring more joy. The Munchkins are delighted. *Sigh* Isn't spring wonderful?!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wisdom of a 6 year old

Quote of the week - When asked why he simply refused to have gel put in his hair - after all his brother was keen?
Elder munchkin replied "Because, I don't want that stuff....I think people should just look the way they are"

Mum beams in the background....!!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spring is here!

Would you look at these gorgeous colours? Who says vegies aren't beautiful?


I really need to get outside - there's stuff to harvest and weeds to pull everyhere I look. This week though has been busy with some spring cleaning. It is so intrinsic - that need to open windows and smell fresh air in the house, to bring out the lighter coloured linen and bring vases of fresh flowers into the house.

I've decluttered, cleaned, sorted and polished bits and pieces and gosh it feels fine!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Some respite

It's been one heck of a week - the kind that reminds you how cruisy things are usually. I was well and truly burnt out by last night.

The good parts are that a: we have an official 'everything is ok with your child and no diagnosis of any kind is needed' from the paediatrician. Elder munchkin is just 'bright' and 'a little different', and "we are all different and need to allow for people's individuality' said the paediatrician. I could have hugged him! This is what we've felt/hoped the whole time - but you start to doubt yourself - am I being blind to my child's issues because I want everything to be ok? Am I in denial? At least now we have it officially.

It doesn't detract from the fact that Elder munchkin does need some support with a few things - but things are happening to make progress in those areas so I'm just happy to accept that what we need is patience, and time and things will work out.

The other thing - is that we've had some really positive behaviours from both the Munchkins the last couple of days, and I'm wondering if the diet is helping after all. We've added salicylates and everything is fine - I'm rejoicing at this part because I was fearing all those tomato seeds I'd planted wouldn't be used!

I'm starting to think nitrates and sulphites could be the nasties.

For anyone interested there is an organic, preservative free butcher in Mundaring who has great meat products, and best of all nitrate free ham! It tastes amazing - way better than normal ham. He'll also make sausages up for you using YOUR ingredients. So you can take in your own organic garlic, and herbs and he'll make them up. The only condition is that you have to do it in 8kg lots (to make it worthwhile) - it's pricey, but terrific we think.

Anyway - It's been an exhausting process the last few weeks but I've learnt heaps about all sorts of things, so that's a positive too I guess. One thing though that has struck me, is that I'm starting to feel a little angry at how narrow our perceptions of how a child is 'meant' to be, has become.
Where has the freedom to be 'different', 'themselves', 'creative', and 'individual' gone? Supposedly we are in a society which 'nurtures' children and their potential. I'm feeling a little disillusioned with that view at the moment. My experiences lately have shown that those things are fine as long as they sit within very narrow goal posts and are 'convenient' to the school system. And as a teacher, that's extremely disheartening to learn.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two steps forward..

And a couple of steps back. :(
Not great days with either of the munchkins the last couple of days. I'm so frustrated with the whole thing. Trying to stay hopeful that this is the reason they say you have to stick with it for 3 weeks, and get 5 good days in a row.
Perhaps we're all going through withdrawal, me included.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Progress?

I'm trying really hard not to get excited, but it can't be denied that:
  • Younger munchkin has slept through 2 nights in a row and his teacher commented on how calm he seemed today. He also came home and washed dishes, was a dream to shop with and whispered in the library- unheard of!)
  • Elder munchkin remembered to take his bag to the car today for the first time in 2 years, he's been reading without being nagged, and his teacher said there was a little more focus today...and that his handwriting has significantly improved overnight! (the book mentioned handwriting!!!!)

I'm trying really hard to not see things that aren't there, but these things were obvious and brought up by the teachers. I've told them about the diet and our agreement is that in the weeks ahead when we try out the challenges I won't tell them, they will hopefully notice it and say 'THIS WEEK!!' when it happens.

Elder Munchkin's teacher has seen a few of her students on this diet. She said in half the cases there wasn't a substantial enough change to warrant it being food alone, but in one case it was definitely so. She said that little boy was intolerant to salicylates (tomato was a particularly bad trigger). If he'd eaten tomato you could guarantee he'd punch someone out in the playground within 48 hours. Poor kid.

Fingers crossed. One day at a time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

EXTREME!!!! I'll give you extreme!!!

I did something so out of character today. I got MAD in public at a man in a shop.

I was waiting in car while Hubby went inside the store. While I was sitting there, I read the posters and notices on the window. One of the was a huge poster with labels reading 'Ban Fishing', 'Ban shooting' and 'Ban 4wding' - 'Stop the Extreme Greens before they stop our sports'.
I sat there reading this rubbish and suddenly felt really mad. I can deal with the to and fro that goes on between political parties but THIS crossed the line. THIS was ABSOLUTE RUBBISH!
WHAT LIES!!!
'
I got out, found hubby and said 'Look, is this the only place we can get this thing from?. He's looking at me strangely and says 'er...no - why?'
'Because I don't want to shop here. Have you seen the posters?' He looked, saw (the place was plastered in them) and understood. We thanked the owner, but told him not to worry about the item, and went to walk out.

The owner asked me what the problem was .....and (I still can't believe it) I told him. I said I didn't like his posters - they were utterly untrue, and people will believe that kind of stuff.
He said "Well that's the truth." I replied 'No it's not - those are complete LIES. The Greens have never said they would ban fishing or anything. That's totally misrepresented. They only want to have it managed so that future generations can enjoy the same lifestyle we do. We fish, and shoot (only rabbits for conservation purposes) and still vote Green.
He said - 'Yeah well I'm a conservationist love, but you've to read the fine print'.
Hubby, who'd already made it to the door, has now returned to drag me away from what is becoming a scene (customers are staring). As I get exited I cry 'I HAVE read small print - that's HOW I know!!!

Then I sat in the car totally abashed. What was I thinking? I never cause scenes. I keep my opinions to myself in public. Weird - is it the diet? I just got sooooo mad at how outrageous the poster is.

Anyway - for those of you wondering about the small print. The Green's do NOT want to ban fishing - especially as a sport (nor are the other claims accurate). Their suggesions for restraint apply to commercial fishing, not recreational. And as for the 'ban', the fine print reads...and I quote

"It is not 30% of the marine environment (as some parts of the fishing lobby is erroneously claiming) but 30% of the marine reserve areas."

Yeah I know, EXTREME huh?!

OMG what have we got ourselves into!

We're trying to stay chirpy about it all. Hubby has been a great sport and so have the kids althought younger munchkin confessed to me this afternoon this 'diet thing in the book is stupid mum' - 'stupid' being his strongest word. Luckily he was ok after we chatted again about why this was important, and that it's only for 2 weeks. 'We can do it!' I encouraged enthusiastically. I think I sounded convincing.

THANK THE GODDESS it's only 2 weeks is all I can say. It is killing me feeding my family the sort of stuff we have avoided like the plague for years. I actually felt embarrassed loading white sugar, Pretzels, and Crisps on the counter at Coles - what a way to feed a family.

It feels like all we're eating is sugar and carbs. It would help if the stores stocked the stuff we are craving - like the soy yoghurt and cream cheese. That would go a long way towards increasing the range of meals we could make. Unfortunately Coles and Woolworths don't carry the stuff. There is a Soylife Vanilla one - but they had to go and stick 160b in it didn't they?

So far I have definitely learned something - that it is really hard for the people out there who are intolerant to things to access the products they need. I didn't appreciate how easy shopping is for us. I have new sympathy for those who deal with it always.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FAILSAFE diet

Elder Munchkin has been having troubles at school for a while. Early in the piece he had surgery for constant problems with his tonsils and ear infections. That should have fixed some issues relating to his speech but it hasn't seemed to fix it all. Granted he doesn't snore as much or get tonsilitus (obviously) but his speech sounds like he constantly has a blocked nose. When he blows it, nothing comes out - it's more like the membranes are swollen. The specialist thought it may have been allergies, but nasal sprays haven't helped either. As a result, his speech is poor, he has poor habits also - drops end sounds and doesn't open his mouth enough. We've been working on this for ages with limited improvement.
In addition, I was approached last year and again this year by his teachers who suggested he was on the Autism spectrum. I'm a teacher myself and ok, you might say I'm in denial, but though he has behaviours that overlap with Aspergers (and don't we all) he doesn't exhibit the key ones or enough of them in my opinion. They suggested this because his social skills and attention aren't in line with his abilities in other areas (where he appears gifted)
If I was asked I'd say he would be diagnosed as ADD (not ADHD). His attention and focus is terrible, he can't follow routines, gets lost halfway through instuctions...just gets distracted by other stuff constantly (just like me as a child, less so now). He's not hyperactive, and happily sits quietly playing Lego, Kinex etc for hours - loves construction. I'm so hoping I'm utterly wrong, as the idea of medicating my child for this sort of thing just isn't something I want to have to face.

We have had routines in place for this child since he was born. Our house has charts with morning routines, evening routines. Our children don't watch TV (except for movie nights), they don't play hours of computer games (that sort of stuff is closely monitored). They don't eat rubbish etc etc. EVERYTHING we are supposed to do for a child's ideal development is done. And yet, the problems are there. It's frustrating. Obviously, there are thousands of families out there in the same boat. I have a dear friend (Asperger herself) who has all 3 of kids diagnosed with the same thing and she is an amazing mother. It's wrong of me, but I feel a little jaded when I see families (and in my line of work you see plenty) who don't bother putting in half the effort we do as parents, and yet their kids present as 'fine'. Ok, that's a stupid thing to say, but I guess I'm grieving this a little.

In any case, we are booked to see a paediatrician in a fortnight and in the meantime I stumbled across the FAILSAFE diet, which thousands and thousands of families apparently swear by.

The FAILSAFE stands for Free of Additives, Low in Salicylates, Amines and Flavour Enhancers. http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/healthandlifestyle.asp?sid=191

The results of this system seem too good to be true - and this stage, that's what I'm looking for because I do suspect food has an impact on our Munchkin - it explains why some days he seems fine, and others he's terrible. If it was something else, you'd expect more consistency in his behaviours.

So today was spent emptying our pantry and fridge and filling both with only 'allowed' foods so we aren't tempted. I'm lucky enough to have a gorgeous husband, who's every bit as wonderful a dad - who said, 'Right, well we'll all be on it then'. So the house is 'clean' to ensure no mistakes during the next 2 weeks while we're on the elimination part of it. We want to do this right, to give it the best possible chance.

There's reports that it has helped migraine sufferers too - so I might get something out of it too.

It's going to be an interesting 2 weeks....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Five Glorious Five....

A Munchkin in our home turned 5 today! We had a fun filled morning with the Munchkin's Kindy friends and a family gathering tonight.
Munchkin seriously stalled going to bed tonight. Obviously didn't want the day to end. And stroking that soft little Munchkin's hair as they settled into bed tonight, neither did I . Where does the time go? How do babies grow so fast? I try to savour the moments and yet every time I stop to look, it feels like so many have just slipped through my fingers.

I guess most parents feel this way...and to those of you out there who don't - please share your wisdom. I could use it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Introducing Zeus, Medusa and Persephone

Zeus (the Goose...well ok gander) was so named because he was the underdog in his previous home. We felt he needed a fresh start with a bold name. He is the white one with beautiful blue eyes.
I guess we had a theme at that point, and Hubby suggested Medusa for one of the females, as she is very beautiful, has a snake like head and hisses!!! You can see her in the background to the right.

We have named the second female (hidden behind Zeus) Persephone. Goddess of spring who was said to make the earth fertile (one of the reasons we got geese!). She is also beautiful.

They are settling in it seems. Though they are still nervous of us, Zeus will take food from my hand, and the others from less than half a metre away if I put it down between us. They love carrots!

Hubby saw some mating antics happening amidst the waterplay, and indeed one of the females - I didn't see who, is making a nest...and has laid an egg in it. I'm not counting any goslings before they hatch. I'd LOVE for them to hatch some this spring, but realistically, I would have thought the trauma of moving home would mean she probably won't sit that well.

Time will tell. Meanwhile we are thoroughly enjoying them and looking forward to letting them out into the orchard in the weeks ahead.

We Have Geese!!!!!

My camera's batteries are dead but pics tomorrow I promise!!!

It was short notice - and a busy weekend for everyone around here (thanks goes to our parents and Cousin Jim for all their help!) but they are home.

The new chook house is similar to my design (Hubby tells me he can make an outside door for egg collection cown the track) but a lot sturdier. It's made from 2 ute canopies, modified thanks to the amazing design and welding skills of our fathers. It's great and about $600 cheaper than the $600 dollar model we were looking at buying. All recycled too!

As for the Geese, they are Pilgrim Geese and absolutely beautiful. Hopefully in time they will become excellent weeders and feeders to the orchard. Currently they are staying in their shelter, just for a week or so until they settle in and feel at home.

Photos tomorrow!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The things we do!

This is how I communicate with my husband!




You're probably wondering what on earth this objet d'art is.. well, glad you asked. It's going to be our new chook house. (We are getting geese and they will be going into the current hen house so the chooks need a new home).


After numerous attempts to explain what I wanted and him trying the same - this got rather heated- and me failing dismally at some sort of diagram, I finally went away, then returned to plonk this in front of him.
"THIS is what I want!" I said proudly. He, rather rudely squinted at it, and made various remarks like "Do you think it'll need a door?" and 'What no roof or wire?".... ignoring the fact that it has an outside access point to eggs, and this design (unlike other unnamed people's) meant that the roosts are to the side so chooks aren't traipsing through their own muck to access the nesting boxes. Did he comment on those wonderful points...no! But at least he agreed to build it. Finally!

Now all we have to do is find a giant sized Nurofen box and we'll be right!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bonfire and Brew

Our cousins from the UK arrived this week - along with their gorgeous twins. Tonight the Clan gathered to welcome them properly with a bonfire. I think bonfires are one of my favourite winter things.
The way was lit with bottled candles and flares, down to the tangled mass of sticks, branches and roots that rose from the ground like an out of place beaver lodge. F-I-L had been busy the last few months, with a plan in mind.
It was a slow start, leaves lighting up brightly, then dying. But there was no end of encouragement from the crowd and after a quick scavenge for twigs we soon had a bright orb, and then a fire!
The young lads fueled it enthusiastically until the circle that had gathered widened considerably, to cope with heat, and better appreciate the view. There's something so connecting about a fire. One beautiful cousin had brought a friend with her and was introducing her to the Clan. In the explanations that followed about who was who, I mentioned 'Everyone here is connected somehow' (we are an extended group). And as I said it, I realised how we are so broad (cousins and second cousins and cousins once removed and in-laws, and siblings and friends that are family by choice) but there is a definite clanness to us.
I married into this clan, and feel it strongly as this is so unlike the family experiences from my background. But this is a family where the matriarch only ever treated me like a daughter, not a daughter-in-law, and I have a sister, (not a sister in law) and the cousins call me their cousin (not their cousin's wife). Here is a space and place for everyone - even my side of the family who are clan now too, not 'in-laws'.
With hot soup, roast meat, bread by the basketful, spicy mulled wine and wonderful company I just sat and bathed in the glorious feeling that I would not want to be anywhere else in the world but here. This is home and these are my people. And I am just the luckiest person alive.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The quiet time

Things are very slow at the moment. It's too cold to sow much into the ground (though I have been moving cabbage and spinach seedlings out into the orchard).
I thought I'd planted way too much broccolini this year (about 20 plants) but no, it's still not too much. We've been harvesting from the first succession every week or so (small amounts) and now that the others have caught up I managed to get a substantial double handful for tonight's chicken pie, but there still isn't enough to have this much every day or two, nor give bushels away to family/friends.
I wonder how much it takes? Every year we plant more, but still nowhere near enough. I'm at the point where I've decided to make every seed I can, count... and fill every space I can find with a vegie plant. I know some won't get the water they need, but those that tough it out will have their seed collected and perhaps I'll develop more drought tolerant varieties.

The good thing about winter is the time it leaves to plan and organise. I've been scouring Diggers' catalogues and placing orders. Boy will I be busy in spring!
In particular I've set myself a tomato goal for this summer. I'm waiting on an order of Amish Paste tomatoes, Jaune Flamme and some others of mixed varieties. The first two are for the sole intention of preserving.
The tomatoes were a flop last year. Soil was moist but leaves got burnt to a crisp in the 40plus heat...no crop!
This year I'm planting the tomatoes under trees in the orchard and in other spots where they'll be partly shaded. I was reminded by my father in law this week that they only needed heat not sun, which I knew..why didn't I do this last year?
In any case, we've never had a big enough crop of tomatoes that there's been heaps of surplus. This year I want SURPLUS PLUS! I dream of jars of homemade pasta sauce and dried tomatoes, neatly lined up in our store cupboard, ready for the winter months when we love to have pasta and pizza. This is the year!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Fire Pit

The light's not great because it's late afternoon but Ramsey reminded me I'd promised photos of the fire pit. This is it!
:)

Red bird of Happiness

You know those times when things really start to get on top of you? Final straw broke the camels back for me last night after we had some friends over and I was mortified by the way our kids behaved. They so know how to use manners and how to behave...so what the hell happens when they come in contact with people?

Its been a hard month or two where I'm feeling utterly incompetent in all my roles as mother, wife and professional. I am swamped, tired and angry that despite my best efforts nothing is seeming to run smoothly, or show the outcomes of the effort put in. The house is a constant battle to keep in any semblance of order, the kids are constantly at each others throats, not using their manners and being disrespectful and I am exhausted dealing with it all.

I go back to work in 2 days after the break, and I don't feel ready or enthused....not a good thing.

After a good cry last night I've sat down today to make 'tactical response plans' (which is how I usually deal with this kind of thing once I've fallen in a heap. Time to get up..."now what am I going to do about it" type thing.

I'm keeping up the high expectations of the kids and yes we've have a few 'Stand and think' sessions for both of them today. I've revamped our routines and looked at the tough spots. And realised why I get so stressed when I do - hubby's not usually home at the busy times of the day when I really need an extra set of hands. Like someone to run bathtime/clean the aftermath while the other tidies up the dinner dishes etc. Shift work is a killer for both the person doing it and for their partner.

In any case Hubby has come to the party agreeing to do some set chores 'sometime' during his week between shift hours. Those are things I can rely on being done and forget about them.

Anyway - boring post for anyone reading this. Personal rant and recovery really. Sometimes you just need to vent.

Despite feeling blergh today - I had to stop smile and quickly grab my camera for a moment of bliss when I saw this little guy on our railing outside the window. Isn't he beautiful? We are getting more and more small variety birds - and the Robin is one of my favourites.



Just as good as a bluebird of happiness.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A new look and some photos

Since this is a new start to the year of blog for me I thought a new look was in order. And here are the photos as promised.

The first is of the 'Potager' or herb circle. You can see the tiles I used. It has grown HEAPS since this photo was taken, but I still have to fill in some soil at the back - ran out of steam on this project...but will get there.




The next photo is of the front view (the lavender in the bottom left of the top photo is the lavender hedge you can see middle left in the 2nd shot). You can jus see my little blue shed in the background. This view is the view from our dining room.






And below, my cold frame. Mini - but is sufficient for now.









It's all looking so 'full' and green - the sort of garden I've always wanted. Have to admit I'm feeling very pleased that all that hard work is starting to pay off. If you click on the photos you'll get a better look.

And we have big plans for the place. And this time when I say 'we' I actually mean it! Hubby has agreed to get on board with the big projects namely to enclose our north side verandah (our house is solar passive so this will mean trapped heat from the bricks and no wind which will reduce the cold air on those windows) with bistro blinds so that we can roll them up in summer when we don't want the glass house effect.

In addition we are planning to build a shadehouse across the front of the house (south side) as this is the side that gets terribly hot in the afternoon in summer when the west setting sun hits the walls and windows. The shade house will be covered in a deciduos vine (grape or kiwi I'm thinking) so it will still let light in during the cooler months but provide cool breezes through the house in summer.



I think the plan will be to start on the shadehouse in Spring so we get the benefits of it this summer.

Things are in swing!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The RETURN!!!

It has been soooooooo long since I last posted. Life got very busy - as it does between caring for a young family, work and play (namely work... on our land).

The results will be posted up over the next few weeks.

So garden wise what have I been up to? Well research in a big way. I've been reading anything and everything I can on permaculture and finding ways to make it work here.

Here's a list of the changes since last post (over a year ago!)
  1. Built a keyhole shaped 'potager' - mainly filled with herbs. It's made out of the recycled roof tiles from our old house and is thriving! What a change from the dry patch it used to be. Plan to cover it with shade cloth for summer and put up a grape on trellis at the back shield carport.
  2. Put up a small shed - second hand passed on from a neighbour. It's blue and I love it! It got deemed 'mine' and has all my gardening stuff in it, plus a bench for workspace. I think I finally get the whole attraction men have about sheds.
  3. Built a swale....well sort of. I dug ditches in the orchard to catch the rain that runs downhill so fast. Not sure that they're exactly on contour as my method of planning them wasn't very scientific. I got the hose, watched where the water ran, and heaped dirt in front of it to stop it going down and redirect it sideways. Soon had a horizontal line across the orchard which I dug and heaped the dirt on the low side. In any case it works! I've also redirected the water from the driveway. The orchard is always so very dry in summer. Hopefully this year will be different - in any case it's never had this much water in it before.
  4. Built 2 ponds. Below our decking was a dry spot where nothing grew (water resistant soil due to the effects of leaves from the eucalypts above it). Since putting the 2 ponds in the decking area is noticeably cooler in summer and the wildlife has thrived. Insects abound and the quenda diggings have increased in that area 20 fold.
  5. Planted more fuit trees.
  6. Rezoned the main vegie patch. The orginal spot we tried years ago was too dry at the time. Since then the lavender hedge and lime tree surrounding it have grown and offer enough protection for it to be sheltered and ideal as a vegie patch. Again- recycled tiles form the raised bed.
  7. Build a rough compost bin area from old corrugated iron and some star pickets. It's not fancy but I have compost for the first time ever!
  8. Changing the face of the orchard - sowed a pasture of green manure (hoed and sowed by hand I might add!) and am trying to establish a food forest there instead of the typical orchard in rows. It will be some years before it looks as it should but this is a start.
  9. Saved some old grapevines that were lying on the ground in the paddock and have raised them on a wire/star picket fence.
  10. Built a fire pit/drumming circle area. We have to remove some pines due to the risk of borers. The segments have been arranged in a circle with brazier in the centre. I'm in the process of planting up the outside with natives to eventually create a 'cave' or secluded area. The kids already love it and we've had a few marshmallow toasting sessions to try it out.
  11. Have started making our own yoghurt. It's so easy - why haven't I been doing this for years?
  12. Installed a wood fire - this one we bought new for two reasons. Firstly we looked for months and couldn't find any decent ones secondhard. Those that were available aren't legal anymore due their emissions levels. Secondly Hubby insisted we get a 'pretty' one. We ended up getting a 'Jotul' which is supposed to be incredibly efficient (one of the best brands in the world in this regard apparently). The brand is Norwegian but I understand the parts were made here. There was much debate about getting a wood fire but the research showed they actually are greener than gas and electricity. With the cost of electricity going up too we thought it was silly to not make use of our land and be self sufficient in this regard. So I'm madly planting firewood for the years to come.
See - no time to blog when this is all happening. Photos to follow once I steal the batteries for my camera back from the kids!