Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A time for work

The talks by Joel Salatin that I recently attended worked like a shot in the arm; an injection of energy.  There's nothing like inspiration to awaken/rekindle motivation and get the blood flowing.

I wake each morning full of energy and with many ideas of things I would like to achieve in the day.  Sometimes I even find myself outside in my nightie and slippers before I know what's happened!  The timing of the talks was serendipitous too.  Why?  This is the time of year for work.  The weather conditions for plants, the comfort levels of working and the amount of time available are all better at this time.

The summer heat has gone, it's even raining regularly at the moment.  Cool days and a gentle soaking means everything planted stands a chance of becoming established before next summer arrives.

The temperature is perfect for work too.  The days are chilly so I don a jacket, hat and scarf when I head out but I can manage some serious physical work on these cool days.  It doesn't take long before shoveling out a trailer of manure has me stripping down to a t-shirt.  In summer, I would only last five minutes before giving up.

Autumn is also more generous with allowing me time.  Spring in the garden means soil preparation, planting, fertilising; summer is for watering and heat management and extra attention for the animals.  Late summer is a crazy time of year because so many fruits and veggies are ready and need to be dealt with.  As I learn more about preserving, each summer I am busier in the kitchen.  Now, with my shelves as ready as they will be and only the promise of a day of picking a friend's olives ahead of me, I'm out working.
I've been leaving my trailer at a near-by stable and picking it up a couple a days later, laden with stinky goodness for my paddocks and garden.  I've been shoveling it straight onto the top of the paddocks.  Because we are on a hill, I layer it thickly at the top end and hope that gravity will work in my favour over the next couple of months.  I imagine the rain and chooks will help it spread further down the paddocks without much actual intervention from me.  Occasionally, living on a hill has its benefits.

Daily we drop in to the post office in the hopes that our electric netting fence, that we ordered online, will be there.  When it arrives, we can put our chooks out in the paddock to do their best work.  They can scratch and peck at the moist dirt, spreading the aforementioned manure as they go.  With a bit of luck and a little management, the dirt may transition to become a layer of actual soil in the next season or so!  Last year, I laid branches across one of the paddocks on the contours and I can already see they are beginning to hold the soil and create flatter, more grassy spots.  The addition of some fertility should make a good improvement.

Sometimes I layer the manure with straw or hay from the goat pens to create a nice, hot compost.  It makes a beautiful addition to the garden beds!

Our does have been to visit a local buck.  He's a bit of a stud actually so I wait with baited breath now, hoping that they don't cycle again.  We're hopeful for some lovely baby goats in about five months time....

I have planted tagasaste for forage and put in some apricot seeds.  These were saved from apricots we ate.  I put the seeds in the fridge to plant out later in the year.  They were starting to sprout in the fridge however, so I've sown them and made little plastic covers in the hopes of seeing them through winter.  So far, so good.  They have shot up out of the ground and look great.  I will use these as forage for the goats as well.

I've planted elder-flowers, jerusalem artichokes, and a wormwood grown from a cutting.  The wormwood is next to the chook shed as an insect repellent.  I'm hoping all my new systems are more established by next summer and that life will be easier and more comfortable for us and the animals alike.  I'm deliberately planting chook plants near the chooks and goat plants near the goats to make our work flow.

Belle and I asked Hubby to show us how to use the power drill and we're ridiculously proud of ourselves!  We made a goat shelter from pallets.  I've since collected heaps more pallets ready to scatter shelters all over our property.  Armed with my newly found power tool skills, I've also created a clothes rack for the winter months so that we don't spend all our time negotiating clothes hanging on clothes horses set up in the lounge room.  I'll hang it upstairs to catch the rising heat and the ceilings are higher there so I can raise the clothes out of my way.
Daisy overseeing the construction
I'm also dreaming of completing the bulk of our hard physical work before winter really sets in.  I'm picturing gentle days inside near the fire, crafting, spinning and cooking up winter delights to serve at the end of a short and chilly day.  I like the idea of winter being a time of rest and recuperation before the busyness of Spring and the yearly cycle begin again.

Do you find that each year follows a pattern (or rythym.....  I love the peaceful sound of that term) and are you working harder than usual now?


RobynLouise said...

I'm in the Riverina and even though the weather is becoming chilly and the wind blows almost constantly now I find I'm out in the yard more. I couldn't handle the heat over summer and there's lots to be done here as I've only rented this place for 7 months. Compost is breaking down nicely, I'm giving away limes and lemons to anyone who wants them, as I live alone, and I've begun digging out old ornamental gardens and converting them to vegetable/herb areas...all with the permission of the landlords :). Lol, sometimes I think my job gets in the way of my lifestyle but it does pay the bills!

Cheryl said...

I knew you would find your mojo again! But I have to say I'm exhausted just reading about your work!!

Chris said...

Autumn is my favourite time of year to garden as well. No over 30 temps and generally when the rain comes, its not a storm. Its also the best time to take cuttings.

I look forward to reading more about your goat shelters. :)

Anonymous said...

I think I needed this post Linda. We live in very similar conditions. I, too, live on a steep slope that is arid in summer and where nature takes what is up the top and delivers it down to the bottom of our property on a regular basis via wind and the occasional bout of rain that we get. I, too, have despaired about managing to create what we want here but then I get out into the garden and something comes over me and suddenly my despair has possiblities tangled up with it all over again.

I love your newfound skills with the drill and that you have been putting them to good use. We are just about to pick up about 10 trailer loads of horse manure that has been collecting in a mountain over the past year and then the week after, I will be raking up our elderly neighbours oak leaves from her enormous oak trees. We should get about 15 - 20 trailer loads of them and I will layer the manure and oak leaves up behind Sanctuary (my enclosed veggie garden) so that nature can leach those nutrients down the slope and into my garden with the rain etc.

Wormwood will grow on a hot tin roof. You could take more cuttings and grow them dotted around your property as nothing will eat them. I really love this post and it came at exactly the right time :)

Margaret said...

It seems that your place is a hive of activity at the moment, well done, you may want to look at some more water storage as a long range weather forecast is for a dry cycle coming up.
I have some power tools and it is so much fun to see what is possible with a bit of practice. ...have fun.

purplepear said...

What a lovely post Linda. You have been very busy and I agree these cooler months have been such a blessing. I"m quite often jealous of really cold climates where outside life comes to a halt except of course animal care, and families get to nestle inside for prolonged periods and rest. Our climate here is quite mild and it feels like we just keep going but at a slower pace thank goodness. Well done with your new power tool skills!

Gingi Freeman said...

Hey there! I found your blog through a Sustainable Bloggers Link Up site!! I am loving your blog.. we NEED to keep in touch! I love all of the work you do, people who are constantly striving to improve their land speak to me! <3

Hope to keep in touch! - www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Linda said...

Lol RobynLouise! Damn money! Sounds like you're having lots of Autumn fun.

Yes Cheryl, I exhaust myself too! But I sure sleep well after a day in the paddock. :-)

I must post about our goat shelters Chris but it's housing for chooks that's got me stumped right now. I need shelter in the paddocks when I put them in the net fencing and can't use a trailer because of the terrain.

Narf, isn't it amazing how just getting outside and working hard can change your outlook. Have fun with your leaves and manure! And yes. I must take more cuttings from the wormwood.

Margaret, I've heard the predictions about the upcoming weather cycle and I'm trying my hardest to ignore it. Too depressing to think about!

Kate, thank you for reminding me that there's always something to feel grateful about. While I hate the summer months I DO get to enjoy contrasting seasons!

Hi Gingi, nice to meet you. I popped over to your blog for a peek. Sounds like you are a busy Mum!

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

Just keep piling that manure on the ground. Don't even worry about spreading it if the chickens are going to spread it about for you. I am sure you will have soil in no time at all. I love this time of year because like you I can actually get some heavy labor done without wanting to keel over or retreat to the shade.