Monday, 14 April 2014

The fisherman returns

Yesterday afternoon I picked hubby up from the airport after his wonderful and successful fishing trip in Walpole, Western Australia.  He spent time fishing with my farming brother, my nephew and my brothers mate, a good all round blokey time was had by all.  Here are a few photos from hubby's time away.

Eric with a beautiful sea salmon.

These kangaroos roamed in and out of the caravan park.

Hubbies accommodation was the hippy van.

I think a hard working farmer deserves to lie down while waiting for the fish to bite.

Eric, Trev and Ben.

Sandscapes on the beach.

Cleaning the days catch with a friend who lives locally.

Eric with one that didn't get away.

After the fishing week was over, hubby drove back up to the farm to stay with Mum for a couple of days.  On the way he stopped off at the tree top walk.

Without question hubby enjoyed his holiday and would love to do it again.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Making a difference

I've tried writing this post about five times and each time it's come out wrong.  So I left it alone for a few days to see if I could express myself better.  It's not happening so I'll just plug away regardless and hope I make some sense.  (Warning, long post.)

Perhaps it's a sign of getting older but as I look around I despair about all the things in the world that shouldn't happen like war, poverty, starvation, decimation of our planet and I wonder if there is anything I can do that will make a difference.  The things I've mentioned seem overwhelming at times and what can one person possibly do that can make a difference, it seem hopeless and I feel helpless.  Those things are out of my control but I do have a small measure of control and influence over my immediate environment, my home, my garden, my interactions with people on a daily basis.
I would like to make a difference and surely the best place to start would be in my own backyard so to speak.

How I interact and react to everyday situations can make a difference.  How so?  If I'm in traffic and it's frustrating, I can either choose to become impatient and annoyed at the car in front who seems to be holding me up or the car that came along side and then cut me off.  I can blast my horn to show my displeasure or I can keep my cool.  If I blast my horn I make someone else angry which does nothing for them or me.  Everyone is anxious to get somewhere whether it be to work, or dropping the kids at school or picking them up.  Everyone wants to get where they are going and if you just let that person on the side road get on the highway in front of you when traffic is at a crawl, you really make their day.  Your good turn might encourage them to do something nice for someone else in traffic and might cause a ripple effect.  One small act of kindness may in fact have a huge impact on others.  Of course we won't really know but it's worth trying anyway.
The fact that people are starving on our planet is a terrible thing.  I can't feed the world but I can make sure I do my best not to waste food.  It's easy to waste food when there is an abundance of either money to buy it and a bountiful supply of it.  I think it's easy to waste food when you don't have an intimate relationship with growing your own food.  If you grow it yourself, you work hard at it planting seeds and seedlings, watering, fertilising, weeding, mulching, watching out for pests and diseases and working at overcoming those problems.  In effect you know how hard it was to produce and you appreciate the effort that has gone into that production.  Who wants to waste food that has required hard work and effort to grow?  It's easy to be disassociated from that basic thing we all need and that's food.  (By the way I'm not criticising anyone who doesn't grow their own food, it's just not possible for most of us with our lifestyle and circumstances.)  It's easy to waste water, electricity and many other things but not necessary.  Just because we have doesn't mean we should waste.

 A number of years ago, the state of Victoria where I live had suffered a 10 year drought and our water reserves were at an all time low.  Severe water restrictions were put in place and it made us all mindful of how we can get by with less water than what we think.  I remember that even hand watering our gardens was severely restricted and as I have a large garden, that made keeping it alive in our very hot summer extremely difficult.  What kept my garden alive that summer was saving the rinse water from the laundry wash, decanting it from the laundry trough into a watering can and watering plants with that.  It was hard work as I live on a slope, it took a lot of time but I saved my garden.  A small tub was placed in the sink in the kitchen and whenever we rinsed our hands, that water was captured and used on the garden.  I placed a bucket in the shower recess while showering and that little bit of excess water that gets splashed around was saved too.  After this experience of water shortage we made the decision to install rain water tanks which enable us to water the garden in summer when it's needed without the need to use the mains water.  Not only does save valuable drinking water, it saves us money too.  I am ever so grateful to my husband who is not only brilliant in his I.T. paid work, he is a wonderful handyman too.  He can do most things he puts his hand to which has saved us thousands of dollars over the years.

Growing up on a farm I was use to seeing my Dad and brother fix things, repair things (especially machinery that continually broke down), make do, build, invent, salvage, save materials, recycle.  My husband does the same thing.  He saves screw, nuts, bolts, timber, anything he thinks may come in handy.  He has fixed Charlotte's older car a number of times although it's not possible for him to service our newer cars in the same way as they have too much electronic/computerised components for that.  But he does as much as he can.  He builds things.  He built a cubby house for the girls when they were little.  When they outgrew it, he converted it to a potting shed and built it in such a way that it could be dismantled and moved which is what he did when we built the studio.  He's built a chook shed, a garden room and fences and gates when I brought home a puppy 11 years ago.  He's also built a dark room under the house so he can pursue his black and white photography hobby.

So what is my point.  As much as we are able, it's good to do things for ourselves as it  makes us resourceful and saves money.  An abundance of money and access to goods and services has contributed to making us a wasteful and somewhat lazy society.  I stress here, some of us not all of us.   Does our consumer and throw away society contribute to our overly stressful busy lifestyle?  I think it does.  If we continue to want more, think we need more, desire more, then we have to work more to earn the money to buy more.  We have a far greater reliance on others in maintaining this lifestyle than if we did more for ourselves.

Recently our council had it's annual hard rubbish collection of unwanted household goods.  This is a service that is greatly appreciated because it is very difficult to get rid of old mattresses, fridges, washing machines and other large items that have broken and are unrepairable.  But seeing the manner of things out on the footpath to be collected had me in some cases grieving.  I saw perfectly good items of furniture ready to be collected, to be compacted in the rubbish truck and put into land fill.  Thankfully we do have some very enterprising people who come around with their utes and trailers to pick up the scrap metal and other things they have a use for.  But on the whole, it is an example of a throw away society, a society that is wasteful, a society that makes poor quality items that cannot be repaired or fall apart.  There is of course always the money to buy a new one and this is what our consumer riddled society relies on, what big business and corporations rely on.  It seems to me to be a sad thing when the existence and survival of the economies of the world are reliant on consumer growth.  Surely there must be a saturation point.  I'm not an economist so perhaps my perceptions and thinking are naive.  I do know it's just not that simple.

I seemed to have got off the beaten track here so will try to get back to my point which is how can we do more for ourselves and become less reliant on others?  How can we make a difference in a world that seems to be out of control in so many ways?  If everyone does just one or two things differently, reduces their reliance on using more than they need, whether that is less water, less electricity, not wasting food, perhaps grow some of their own food, all of those small steps can and will make a difference collectively.

So may I encourage us to try changing one small thing for a week.  It doesn't matter what it is.  If we are time poor we can still smile at the stranger walking down the street and say hello and wish them a good day.  All it takes is for us to be aware, to be thinking outwardly, to be thinking community.

I would like to say that in writing this post I am mindful of my own waste and excesses over the years.  I am guilty of having far too many clothes and shoes, a studio stuffed with craft items.  But I do remember when we were first married and buying our own home, when the interest rates were at 17.5% plus, our furniture was all second hand.  Hubby made me side tables from chipboard and they were covered with a cloth, perfectly acceptable.  My clothes were mostly from charity shops and many of our babies toys and some of their clothes were from there too.  We were most appreciative of the gifts of clothes, books and toys we received when our girls were born.  Hubby made their cradle and change table and the pram we bought second hand from a good friend.  I made bunny rugs, washed nappies and when they were older made little dresses and trackies.  I was so very grateful to my sister who bought some gorgeous clothes for my girls when they were little.  Am I looking for sympathy, definitely not.  It's an explanation of how we can manage with less than what we think and still be very happy.  And may I stress that my family has never ever gone without.  We have always had enough and in more recent years more than enough for which I am very grateful.  Despite having more than enough, I want to remind myself not to be wasteful, to be grateful, to try and make a difference where I can.

For those of you who have laboured reading through to the end of this post, I thank you.  And thank you for allowing me the indulgence of putting into words things that mean much too me.

I'll leave you with a few photos of what I've been working hard on for the last few weeks.  My apologies for the poor quality, they were taken on my phone.

The vege patch planted a couple of weeks ago has grown quite well.  I've added nasturtiums and there's a rhubarb further down the end behind the larger pots.

Chinese cabbage, parsnip, Savoy cabbage.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Morning sky

While I was having my early morning cup of tea this morning, I noticed a golden glow inside our living room.  Looking up and out the window I noticed a sky worthy of a photo or two.

 Half an hour later as hubby was walking to the train station for work, he sent me a text to tell me about this beautiful rainbow in the western sky.

I'm off early tomorrow morning to take hubby to the airport as he is flying to Western Australia to go on a fishing trip with my brother.  They are going down the southwest coast to a place called Warpole where they will be looking to hook some salmon on their rods.  Hubby is hiring a Hippy Campervan for his accommodation at the caravan park.  Louise, can you see/imagine hubby in a hippy van?!!  :)  He has a five hour drive after he gets off the plane so it's going to be a long day for him.  Might have photos to share if I'm lucky.

Anne xx

Monday, 31 March 2014

Gardening moments

It's done.  My new vegetable patch has been dug over, had compost and cow manure added, seedlings planted and mulched with lovely pea straw.  In the garden are cauliflower, bunching broccoli, red onions, leek, pak choy, spinach, carrots and beetroot.  The onions and leeks were planted amongst the cauliflower and broccoli to hopefully trick the white butterflies.  I also potted up a blueberry, cape gooseberry and a perennial basil.

Perennial basil
Today I removed the contents of the potting shed back into the potting shed.  They had temporarily been housed in the unoccupied chook shed while the potting shed was dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere to make way for the studio.  Looking forward to getting some more chooks in the near future.

Hubby made a temporary enclosure for my compost heap which will do until he has time to build more permanent construction.  I mowed the grass this morning so the contents of the grass catcher was added to the compost pile together with prunings from the herb patch and other overgrown foliage.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

On a mission

So I'm on a bit of a mission, a voyage of discovery and experimentation and it's all to do with gardening.   See that garden bed below, it has been cleared.  I've hacked, pruned, grubbed out shrub roots with a spade and mattock. 

This was a beast.

So what am I doing taking out quite a nice garden bed, well I want to make a big vegetable patch and grow food.  I've been reading up on permaculture, composting, making a difference in our own backyard and so I'm starting on a very small scale to see what happens.  We do have a vege patch in the back yard but it is not doing too well.  Tomatoes are not happening this year.  :(

We get rid of an amazing amount of foliage including leaves, branches and weeds from our property all year and I'd like to try and put as much of that back into the ground as I can.  So the contents of the wheelbarrow is the start of my compost heap.  The grapevine has started to drop it's leaves and I've also pruned to let more light into the family room.  I stripped the leaves off what I pruned, put them in a pile and ran the lawn mower over them.  I raked up some other leaves and they got the same treatment.  Together with some grass clippings, I've got a nice little pile of goodies ready to do its thing.  I'm throwing in my kitchen scraps too and to my absolute delight when I went and checked my pile this afternoon, it's all hot inside which is what it is supposed to be doing.  I'm collecting paper and cardboard to add as well and the coffee grounds can be added too.

 Now I don't know how this whole permaculture thing is going to work because we are surrounded by trees and very little light enters our property.  We are also on the south side of a hill, not so good if you live in the southern hemisphere.  Vegetables and fruit need sunshine to grow but I'm sure there must be a way to get things happening starting with getting the soil healthy.  So my newly cleared ground is going to be bombed with cow manure, compost and mulch.  We have heavy clay soil so there is a bit to do to make it a happier place for veges to grow.  I've been spending up to 3 hours in the garden nearly every day and loving it.  It rained today so I cleaned the house instead.

If anyone has any success stories, tips, knowledge about composting, permaculture, growing veges in shade etc, I'd love to hear them.  I'm thinking of getting some more chooks too.  All those eggs and fertiliser. 

Well I've a busy weekend ahead.  Charlotte will be home from her Queensland holiday, my sister-in-law and nephew are coming over for dinner Saturday night before he goes off to study in Italy and travel for a few months and then Sunday/Monday will be spent with my gorgeous niece who loves to craft.