Sunday, 3 May 2015

Monthly nine - April 2015

Well....  it's so hard to put aside a couple of hours to write a post at this time of year!  The weather is glorious but even on the overcast days, we can finally get out and do some real work.  The heavy jobs like collecting manure, working in the paddocks.  Jobs that really make a difference in the long run.  I've just dragged myself out of a paddock, where we were building a new goat shelter, to talk about April.

This is a monthly link-up dreamed up by Christine at Slow Living Essentials.  We bloggers get together and chat about April and our achievements in nine different categories.  There is much inspiration to be had here so join in the fun and link-up or simply visit the participating blogs to see what folk are up to!

I've been busy out and about, tripping around or (when home) out in the garden and paddocks so food has been a lot of snacky sultanas, dates and sesame seeds and I've cooked a few bulk meals to see us through.  I will admit there have been a few 'scratch' nights where the family have had to rustle up whatever they could find whether it be a peanut butter sandwich or some puffed rice with my fruit butter, and yoghurt with preserved fruit often featured too.
Pumpkin and I went collecting kindling together in the bush.  It was a fun little excursion including a lovely tour led by Pumpkin to show me the fairy path she has found in the bush.  I never knew it was there!!!   We thought we had collecting heaps of kindling but it only lasted a couple of weeks, not the good month or two we were imagining.


I was given some hand-me-downs that were quite moth eaten.  Because they were wool, I thought of composting them but decided they would make good, soft cloths.  We also used an old freezer basket to protect some newly planted elderflower plants.  It worked well.

I don't know how green this really is, but I purchased some conditioner to treat some little bugs that came to live on the children's heads!  I have used essential oils in the past and while I love aromatherapy and know that it really works, I started wondering about the safety of using strong oils on my children's hair.  Just because they are natural doesn't necessarily mean they are safe.  Some essential oils are potent so this time I just used the smother and comb method.  How I despise the little buggers!  We haven't been bothered with them since I began home schooling but I guess they are to be expected from time to time.


I've had a real slump in the garden.  Summer wore me out this year.  I was dejected by the end of it and stopped even trying to garden.  We spent near on a thousand dollars on water over the spring/summer season and it left me feeling as though we are living in the wrong area to achieve our dreams.  It's completely unsustainable.  I've since planted broccoli and spinach (thanks for the seedlings Mum) and I've been helping the kids prepare a flower bed at the base of their favourite tree.  So I think I've somewhat regained my enthusiasm to a degree but we have a lot to think about before next summer.

Yep.  Nup.  Zilch.  Nothing.  I didn't even get around to mending Buddy's favourite doll, George's leg.  He was wedged between the wall and bed and in Buddy's attempts to save him, he had a most unfortunate mishap.  The leg by which Buddy was extricating him came off!  George is a bit special to Buddy and often comes with us on family outings so I must get onto the repair work.  The old leg is made of plastic and too firm to sew through and I just haven't decided whether to give him a prosthetic or just sew up the gap and allow him to continue life with one leg only.  I'm leaning ('scuse pun) towards the one leg option.


Discovery.  Where do I start and where do I end!!  I was lucky enough to listen to Joel Salatin twice in April!  I have been so inspired.  I had soooo many plans after my permaculture design course that I completed years ago but it was just... too... hard... and my plans dwindled away........

Joel's talks, Don't be Scared, Be Strange, was just the thing I needed.  Many changes are now taking place on our farm.  There.  I said it.  Farm.  If you look back, I've never used this term before because I felt we just didn't cut it.  Well there you have change number one.  I'm daring to call this a farm because there is plenty going on right here and plenty more farming plans in the pipeline.


I'm an ex Vanuatu girl and I heard about some immediate needs following Cylone Pam.  I put a call out on Face Book and I couldn't believe the amazing response from my friends and our local schools.  My father knew of a shipping container due to leave Melbourne and made a trip down with the collected goods.  Thank you again all my kind and proactive friends.  You are amazing!
We've also been on the receiving end.  Buddy met a lady on the beach while we were holidaying and befriended her.  She was running a hire service for.... I don't know what they were!  Some sort of paddling board that you can stand on???!  As we walked passed her on our way back from a walk she offered Buddy a try.  I love it when people enjoy connections with Buddy and offer him new experiences.
And I must mention here that on one busy and harassed morning, I entered a small, country town shop that I don't usually frequent, in search of breakfast. I was on my way to a course and in the rush to get children ready and off to a friend's house, I forgot all about me.  It was far too early for hot food so I bought pre-packaged rubbish in desperation.  A packet of chicken twisties!  While I was settling myself into the car, the owner of the shop followed me out of the store and gave me a free cup of coffee!  I tried to pay him but he insisted.  It was a lovely feeling.  Those small kindnesses from strangers make life feel good.


We had a special April.  We were invited away with some very good friends.  They took us to a beach house that was meant for fancy folk!  It was fabulous to have such an experience with our friends.  Our youngest two children couldn't even recall seeing the sea.  They had so much fun visiting the wild, back beach (those waves are the most amazing fun) and the gentle, calm bay. 
Our trip away was only possible due to the generosity of another friend who took on the task of learning to milk our goats to allow us time to holiday.  Thank you so much!  Our girls couldn't have had better care.
Throw in a camp which was our first Steiner experience and April was amazing!  It seemed longer than most months because we squashed in so many different and new experiences.
I can't wait to hear about your April adventures.  Please link up below.


Margaret said...

April break sounds like just the right way to set you all up for the rest of the year.
If you decide to fix George you may be able to make some holes in the top of the leg with a hot needle and reattach with strong thread or fine wire,good luck, hope you get some of the rain that is making it's way south.

Linda said...

Oh Margaret! Thank you, thank you! I thought the hot needle sounded like it should work so gave it a try. It didn't work but since I had the doll, leg and needle in hand, I kept at it. I'm happy to say that with a thimble, upholstery thread and lots of cursing, George now has a messily repaired leg. Thanks for inspiring me. :-)

Chris said...

We live in a pocket of a long range of mountains, which seems to avoid getting all the lovely rain everyone else does. The downside is, we don't get enough consistent rain to sustain an edible garden (not a traditional one), but the upside is, we only get the tail end of bad storms, which means less damage to the garden than others get!

That thousand could have gone towards another rainwater tank, which is what we need too! I'm sure with your network of friends, you could find a free resource of water collecting vessels. We only have one tank but when we do get those rainstorms which fill it so its overflowing, we fill all the little vessels we've gathered with the excess.

That lovely man who gave you the free coffee, may have some empty catering containers he buys bulk supplies in, which he has to pay to be disposed of. It might not be as pretty as a lovely new tank, but boy do those drums, bottles and containers come in handy during the dry!

Just make sure with smallies around, you have secure lids so they don't fall in, Put heavy items on the lids too, if you have to.

Maybe you don't have enough money for a new big tank, but maybe you could buy a small one and attach it to any goat housing you have. That can collect their drinking water, so it doesn't come from the garden supply.

But yeah, I sympathise. :)

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

I think I love your discover bit the most Linda. Getting to hear Joel twice is pretty darn amazing, and changing the way you word and think about your place in this world is always a huge step. Your FARM sounds like a pretty amazing place to be a part of.

Cheryl said...

Joel talks? Don't be Scared, Be Strange?? That's crying out for me to watch! LOL I've never heard of it before, but you can bet I'll be looking it up.

Your April sounds so busy, but it also just screams of living life to the full, and that is awesome.

Anonymous said...

I am SO with you on the gardening thing. SO much water, so many rats (they ate ALL of my huge crop of tomatoes. We got 5 small ones with nibbles in them :( ) and whitefly clouds that are still up there even though I have to wear a scarf outdoors now. I am stoically going to refuse to give up. Bev, from Foodnstuff helped me to come up with a water wicked alternative to regular garden beds. Water wicking allows most of the water to stay put underneath the soil and "wick" up to the plants as and when they need it. You fill up a reservoir and it uses SO much less water. We had some large pots of almost dead strawberries that I had found the runners for at the tip and brought home and I was despairing of what to do with them as I had been getting up at 4.30am to water the whitefly and our soil just drains that precious water away so we took an old dinghy and we water wicked it. I dug the mostly dead (seriously brown with only tiny bits of green at the base) strawberries out of the mass of grass and weeds that had invaded their pots and set about planting them out into the newly wicked bed and you should see them now! They are huge, green, fruiting up a storm (that the slugs are enjoying immensely. STILL haven't figured out how to stop the pests yet but working on it this year...) and SO easy to water. Just fill up the reservoir with a hose when it needs it (a grand total of 5 times this growing season) and when it rains, they take advantage of water from the heavens. We are going to collect a stack of old fridges (no doors) etc. and turn everything that we can into water wicked garden beds this year. This year we WILL not have to get up at 4.30 to water gardens and we will NOT waste water! A gorgeous post (as usual) full of lovely moments, excellent hints and tips and the glory of a wonderful family all tied up with hessian string :)

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

Great wrap up of your month Linda. I was wondering if you could increase your water storage capacity so had a supply just for the garden, what about one off your new goat shed too.
I love Joel Salatin talks and I am sure it was amazing. I am looking forward to sharing what we got up to as it sure feels like April was a busy month. I will get my post up tomorrow.

Farmer Liz said...

Yay! It is a farm, I think anyone growing their own food should "own" that term, no matter how small your plot. I hope you figure out your water, it really is the key to everything. Whether you install a dam or bores, its a big expense but will make all the difference to your farming life.

Kathy said...

Wow your April was really jam packed! We lived in southern California desert for 30 yrs so you have my sympathy with the water problem. We moved! Idaho gets a lot more water and fewer got lots of what sound like great ideas though and where there is a will there is always a way!! We have half an acre and we call it the 'farm' only slightly tongue in cheek! I grew up on a farm and the work is the same just a lot less mechanization!

Linda said...

Chris, that thousand could have been better spent but it's catchment we need rather than a tank. We need to build a shed and catch off the roof. Yes, I SHOULD have vessels everywhere!

Cityhippyfarmgirl, I waa very lucky. I always feel like the good presenters talk in the city but this time I was in luck. Joel was amazing!

Cheryl, Joel Salatin talks about making good use of the land you are on - or connecting with land owners and using theirs. Even if you don't plan to farm, his ideas are fabulous.

Narf, I have bathtubs here, there and everywhere that I've gathered for just this purpose. I haven't got around to setting them up though! I must get organised before summer. There's also a small element of liking planting directly into the ground but, if it's not workiing, it's not working.

Fiona, I'm on to it! As time and money allow, I'll try to collect more water! I'll be over to read your post soon.

Thanks Liz, I need the encouragement atm.

Kathy, I love that your half acre is a 'farm'! There's lots you can do on small space. A lot of larger land isn't utilised efficiently.

Evi said...

Hello Linda, I'm late again!! And now I can't link up because the linky gadget has gone!!! boohoohoo!!!!
So here is the link -

I'd better get a wriggle on with Mays' round up so I'm on time!!! Loving your more frequent posts too!

Linda said...

Oh Evi! I'm so sorry! I'm not great at the computery stuff AND I've only just seen your comment. I'm popping over to visit your blog now and then I need to see what I can do about the link.