Friday, 23 January 2015

Summer heat

When I was a young girl my mother used to say, "Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies merely shine!"  Her mother used to say it to her and now I say it to my children. Possibly the saying began as a little reminder of etiquette. Who knows.  Now it continues for fun.

I've done lots of shining recently.  I'm sick of shining from droplets rolling down my face and back as I work with the goats and garden!

I find the heat and dryness of summer unbearable and have whinged about it before.  Our house becomes ridiculously hot on bad days.  We have an air conditioner (which doesn't run well) but I'm very reluctant to use a method of cooling that relies so heavily on fossil fuels.  If more and more hot days are to become the norm then we need to find other ways to adapt to our changing climate.

Last year I toughed it out and tried my best to stay cool at home by all sorts of different methods.  This year the local swimming pool is our new method of adaptation.  It's working fairly well.  Basically I've decided to stop resenting and fighting the heat.  I whizz through my basic jobs of caring for the animals and garden, hang out some washing and am ready to leave the house when the pool opens.  Sometimes we meet with friends, sometimes we go on our own.  The kids are loving it and I have so much fun with them while I'm there.  I'm trying to accept that any jobs around the house and yard will have to wait until the cooler days.
Lessons
It's working well for a relaxed and happier summer except for the fact that it doesn't fix the night time issues; kids that can't sleep because of the heat, parents that can't sleep because of the heat.  I'm not sure if you handle tiredness and heat with grace but I'm revolting and grumpy on some days.  I'm also having regular tantrums about the flies in the house.   Ughh!
Playing
We plan to work on our home to make it more summer friendly but it will be a long, slow process as time and money allow.  Some very kind friends recently gave us some suggestions which we will use.  Added to the solutions I had in my head already, hopefully in a few years our home will be much more comfortable.  Blinds, shade trees to the west and south west, some ceiling fans and a well placed window are all things we will be working on.
Chilling
Now, can't chat any longer.  The children are yelling out that it's nearly time to go to the pool.  Please let me know any tips and tricks you have for coping in the heat or making homes summer friendly!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Evenings

Living on property and having animals makes for busy evenings.  Each day around here is different.  Sometimes our days are filled with appointments, sometimes we go to the pool for summer holiday fun, sometimes it's housework and shopping.  Today we're picking up a new milking goat and I'm tossing up a trip to buy fruit for preserving.  However, no matter what happens during the day, through necessity, the evenings are all pretty much the same.
I love going through the routine at days end.  Wandering to the orchard with a bucket and spoon, making up a mash for the poultry.   It's the back chooks that are fed first, followed by the dorkings, then the geese.  Lastly I feed the front chooks and leave a little in the bottom of the bucket for our lone duck.  (Must address that and find myself an appleyard drake)  The bucket is left with the duck ready to pick up the next day as I go through the process again.

Meanwhile, Belle makes up the food for the goats and fills their overnight hayfeeders.  We are both very popular with all our livestock at this time of day.  Chooks, duck and geese run after us eager for something yummy.  The kid goat maaa's away to tell us he's hungry too.
A hopeful goose!
I find a few leaves to place on the hay racks.  At this time of day we just use forage to entice the goats up to their night pens.  In the mornings, I cut more substantial forage to keep them happy in their paddock.

At this time of year, I need to attend to the garden next.  It's a rare day that I don't need to water!  Pots, a couple of the winter beds and my main summer bed, the round garden, all need to be watered.  This is a time I use to inspect the garden as well.  I've learnt a lot about gardening this year so we have some good results showing.  It's nice to check for ripening tomatoes and to wonder how I will know when the eggplant is ready.  I have one reasonably large one on the bush and I've been waiting for it to become an eggplant-y shape but wonder if it's just not going to be an elongated one.  Do you know how to tell when they're ready?
There was one special evening this week on which we were treated to a special concert complete with tickets, seating and a raffle!
It's not all roses though because I need to make the difficult decision of which plants get watered properly and which just receive the minimum they need to keep them alive through the summer.  Water is so scarce here.  Whenever it rains, the water soaks into the parched soil rather than running off into the dam.  We need flooding rains to fill it again.  Sadly, this week Victoria received flooding rains but we somehow missed out.  We had plenty of beautiful rain on the garden but not enough to fill our dams.  My rhubarb is a sorry sight as it is one of the plants I've held the water back from so that I can grow the annual veggies well.

Once the watering is complete it's back into the house and back to reality.  The mundane tasks of dishes to be dealt with, picking up some of the days mess, tallying up all the jobs I didn't get done and wondering where the day went!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Monthly nine - December 2014

Ooops! Ummm...... I'm a bit late this month.  I won't bore you with the whys and wherefores.  I'll just get on it because you may be waiting to post your amazing, busy, jam-packed stories from December.  This link-up is the brain child of Christine over at Slow Living Essentials.  I have inherited it recently.  Each month we recap what we've been up to in nine interesting categories.  We have plenty of regular people who post.  You are welcome to join in!  How was your Christmas month?

Deep breath from me....  Here goes December.  THE busiest month of the year!

NOURISH:

Well.  Let's talk Christmas Day fare.  Mum brought her wonderful potato salad, strongly flavoured with garlic and basil, and some prawns.  One of my friends gave me some homemade dukkah as a gift and we loved snacking on that!  I bought some ham from another friend who raises pigs and cooked a free range chook.  The choices went on and on.

We enjoyed snacks, drinks, a meal, each others company and lots of yummy dessert.  Mum and Dad always bring Christmas Pud and Dad makes a brandy custard.  I made a trifle in an effort to rekindle a family tradition.  Nana always served trifle on the big day.  Mine was altered somewhat and included beautiful blueberries from a local farm.  My eldest daughter, Lou Lou, made her first ever pavlova and it was yumm-my!  You can never, ever have too much dessert!!
PREPARE:

I was given some beetroot in December so had a go at pickled beetroot.  I don't know how it turned out yet because I'm saving it for later in the year.
REDUCE:

Not me, but my my daughter Belle made a bag for her friend's birthday.  Damn!  I forgot to take a photo.  Guess what we bought Belle for Christmas?  A second hand sewing machine of her very own.  No more fighting with an eleven year old over time at the sewing machine.  Perhaps this was actually more a gift for me?  Hee hee!

GREEN:

Yep.  More soap.  I also went back to using bi-carb and salt as toothpaste.  I've been using an Australian-made herbal toothpaste because the children weren't keen on the bi-carb.  However, Buddy really hated the taste of the commercial product so both of us are using the bi-carb mix.  Not sure how I'll go yet.  Last time I tried it the kids kept getting it wet so I'm trying to be there when he uses it.  I'll try and teach him to just wet his toothbrush first and (with clean hands) sprinkle on some powder.
GROW:

My tomatoes are looking great!  I'm just waiting for the first to ripen and it's happening as we speak!  I'm out there daily checking for colour.  I harvested my first zucchinis in December too.  Isn't it funny how yummy they taste at the beginning of each season before we become thoroughly bored of trying to find new ways to eat them by Autumn?
CREATE:
 
Oh. My. Goodness!!!!  December is overly full of CREATE!!  I made giant replicas of tea-bags full of goats poo.  These were special teabags for the watering can.  I made soap.  I made beeswax impregnated wraps to cover food.  I crocheted covers for some of the soap.....  Sorry.  No photos.  Christmas gifts keep me soooo busy that I completely forgot.   I can, however, show you a photo of a special gift from Belle.  On Christmas Day she really, really surprised me when she gave me an embroidered lavender bag that I had no inkling about!  I felt very special.

DISCOVER:

I haven't spent much time educating myself lately.  I've been borrowing Paullina Simons' books from the library.  They are HUGE books!  But oh so good.

ENHANCE:

Goodness!  To think I often used to have trouble with this category.  My life has been so full with sharing/swapping food, receiving gardening advice, helping or being helped with transporting trailers to collect manure, sharing recipes...

ENJOY:

I'm feeling gooey about our connectedness lately.  We've had several pre-Christmas get togethers with other friends.  While I bemoaned my busyness and lack of time, I love being so involved with others around us.

We also had a special first birthday celebration in December.  My lovely little granddaughter had a party which meant a trip to celebrate.  She's such a sweet heart!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Monthly Nine - November 2014

November can't be over!  It can't!!  This was to be my year of The Organised Christmas!  Somehow, because I had decided a couple months ago on the presents I wanted to make for people, it was a fait accompli in my mind.  Hmmm.  I'd better move faster.  I certainly know how I'll be spending my December!

I'm looking forward to hearing what you've been up to during November.  If you're new to this link up you'll find the details here.  Please join in with us and share your achievements under the nine slow living categories created by Christine from Slow Living Essentials.

Nourish

I find I go through stages where I choose my meals depending on the food available to buy ethically and then stages where I look to our place first.  Then there are the stages where I'm not organised so I do the best I can from the supermarket aisles.  The old organic pasta sauce is a fall back in this house.

Anyway, November was a reasonable month for providing from our own place.  We've snacked on lots of peas straight from the pod.  We've had spinach to cook with, and lots of home made cheese.  We enjoyed eating quiches.  The peas are a great thing for trips.  We pick them and throw them straight into a bag.  Then we enjoy snacking on their sweetness as we travel.  The kids love being allowed to throw the pods out of the car window in the rural areas.

We've also eaten a lot of cheese and lettuce and egg and lettuce sandwiches.  I have so much yummy lettuce in the garden and also eggs in abundance.  Though I do believe the children may have removed the lettuce from their sandwiches while I wasn't looking!

Prepare 

I was lucky enough to get some elderflowers and made my first ever batch of cordial.  I was surprised at how delicious it is and I'm trying to get a cutting going now so that I can make this yummy drink every year.

Reduce

I'm astounded by the amount of washing we create!  No matter how often I wash clothes, there are always more at the bottom of the basket.  I'm nagging encouraging the kids to wear the same pyjamas for a few nights before selecting a new pair.  I haven't decided yet how many nights I can stretch it out before it's unacceptably gross!  I'm also thinking I should cull some of their clothes so they don't  have as many to collect around the place.  Buddy in particular is a bit of a show pony and will wear more than one outfit in a day if I'm not watching.  He'll decide he wants to change his look from 'farmer' to 'footballer' and hang his farmer shirt on a chair or the end of his bed to wear the next day.  Then he forgets and get a new shirt out instead.  I would really like to reduce the amount of water we use.
My lovely mother helping with Buddy
Green

I enjoyed a day of soap making with a friend.  It was wonderful!  Our children enjoyed each other's company and kept out of our way while we played in the kitchen.  We managed to make five batches which translated to about sixty bars of soap.  We tried adding food colouring for the first time.  I usually just leave my soaps fairly plain.  The colouring worked beautifully and I've decided to stop making the same old, same old and start experimenting a little more.  It's fun!!
Grow

The garden is having it's best year yet.  The spring garden always grows nice and green but this year I have finally learnt some basics and everything is growing quickly.  I had not been using enough compost over the years I have been gardening.  Somehow I missed the point.  Possibly that was due to my frugal nature and inclination to stretch everything out.  Anyway, I now heap the compost on and my friend told me about potash.  I guess I've read all this stuff before but didn't realise the importance.  This particular friend has an amazing veggie garden and grows enough to preserve for leaner times of year so I figured listening to her methods would be a very good idea!  My tomatoes are looking so healthy and large.  They are covered in flowers and I'm regularly checking to see if any have set.  Hopefully it won't be long now!
 I've really squashed my veggies in to make the best use of water.  I love the result.  It's a delightful hodge podge of lettuce, dill, peas, carrots (yes, you heard right - I've finally had some carrot success), zucchini, rocket etc.

Create

Everything in this category is a big secret at this time of year!  I've been on the sewing machine, I've had the crochet hook out and we're hoping to get crafty with paper today.
Discover

I found a fifty cent copy of Lord of the Flies at the op shop so I re-read it.  Such a well written but disturbing book!  Possibly because we all know people with these personalities.   I suppose some people really do have a very dark side when you look at historical events during war time.  The up side is, the people in my life are people I really like and admire!

I also discovered some welcome and some not so welcome wildlife visiting in the garden.  I would much rather the snakes hung out in the bush outside our garden.

Enhance

I'm really glad that Christine dreamt up this category!  It's one of the most important, in my mind.  Though some months I find this a hard catergory to fill, it's the process of doing things for each other that gives life meaning.  It connects people and improves our lives.  Loneliness is something I can only imagine at this point in my life thankfully, but I'm sure it must be awful for people who don't have connections.  This month I was able to make soap with a friend as mentioned above, I was linked in to a manure collection through the same friend, I was able to donate goats milk for a cheese making workshop and I cooked a meal for a friend who needed a hand.  I've enjoyed being mentored in my gardening by another friend who really wants to see me succeed.  Aren't I a lucky person!!

Enjoy

I attended a fiftieth birthday where I walked around most of the night with a silly smile on my face.  (Nothing to do with the delicious cocktails, of course)  I felt ridiculously gooey about my friends and even their friends that I was meeting for the first time.  Everyone was so real and open and my children and husband had as much fun as I did.  How wonderful to have down times in our crazily busy life to reflect on the fun and friendship in our world.
I would love to hear about your month!  Please join us for the Monthly Nine.


Friday, 28 November 2014

A productive spring

This spring has seemed more springy than most!  We always enjoy the garden at this time of year but,  armed with good gardening advice from a friend, I'm currently enjoying my most successful and abundant garden yet!  I have so much lettuce that I'm feeding it to the chooks as well as their regular fare of scraps and mash. They love it!!
We've also been enjoying success with our poultry.   We've had lots of broody girls and have quickly popped eggs under the snugly, feathery bottoms.  It has paid off with lots of cuteness happening in the orchard!  We have two more hens sitting and they should be hatching babies this week.

Hahahaha!  The above photos are terrible but I had to risk life and limb to take them.  I wasn't getting any closer.  Mum and Dad geese are SCARY!!!
I love it when things go right around here.  Soon we will produce even more eggs, have some home grown poultry to enjoy eating and hopefully soon I can start preserving food to enjoy in the cooler months next year.

I also had some unexpected visitors this week.  Rosie popped over without letting me know. 
 It was sooo nice to see my cheeky little granddaughter!  And Rosie and I had a great time and even spent a girly night watching DVDs and eating cheese and chocolate!

How are things at your place and how does your garden grow?!


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Slow living in October take two

My sincere apologies, particularly to Ecogrrl.  I've been whining all month about my computer issues as I've battled away on the iPad.  Yet I still haven't sorted it out.

I was delighted to successfully create a linky list for the Monthly Nine and a few people linked through and I was chuffed to have managed it.  However, today I discovered that Ecogrrl left a comment to let me know she was unable to link.  That was ages ago and I've only just realised.

You can find Ecogrrl and her October news here.

I'm concerned there may be others who attempted to link and were unable.  If so, I'm sorry.

And in case the existing links have issues they are -

And of course, Ecogrrl

I'm struggling a bit lately to keep up the daily juggle, which is why I have still not fixed the computer. No excuses, just an explanation.  Not everything gets done, just the things at the top of the list and obviously blogging wasn't up there recently!  I'll try to lift my game.  Do you feel like you're always trying to keep too many balls in the air too?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

On my plate


Hi there, I hope you're doing something lovely with this beautiful, if somewhat hot, weekend.  I have a thousand things I could be doing but I'm lying in the hammock, under a tree, writing a post.  I've been sewing Christmas presents this afternoon and Belle has been working alongside me.

I'm loving this time of year.  I'm trying to fly through my household chores early, leaving the day free to teach the kids and then spend some time in the garden.  I'm trying to get out into it at least once a day.    That way, I can identify any problems early and I'm also aware of the food available for eating.
The little round garden is jam packed with veggies.  I've chosen to cram it all in because our biggest issue here is water.  I want to grow as much as possible in the smallest possible space so that I only need to keep one area of ground moist.  It's working quite well except I keep wanting to plant more seedlings so the 'one area' I need to keep moist has expanded to include two other small beds!  Oopsy!
      
In the round bed I have tomatoes that are looking very promising, eggplant, capsicum, some holey silver beet (haven't found the culprit yet), spinach, peas, leeks, carrots, dill, coriander, lettuce, nasturtiums, viola, beetroot and kohl rabi.  Of those vegetables we are harvesting lettuce, peas, a couple of carrots, spinach and the viola and nasturtiums.

I have been loving looking around the garden and planning our meals around our produce.  Yesterday I had eggs from the chook shed, goat's cheese in the fridge (thanks girls) and spinach in the garden.   Well the obvious choice was a spinach and goat's cheese quiche with a garden salad of lettuce, peas and edible flowers.  Yu-uum!! 
Now THIS is what I aspire to!  A healthy, delicious meal using ingredients from here, our place, creating next to no emissions caused by food transport, improving the soil due to us adding carbon to the soil in the form of compost during the gardening process.  What's not to love?!!

Of course, there were other ingredients, such as salt and pepper, that were bought in, but all in all, a much better way to provide food. I would be happy if I produced a meal this sustainable once a week, ecstatic if I managed it two or three times a week, and completely, absolutely smug beside myself with happiness if I could do it all the time!

Is this your aspiration too?