“What are you willing to trade for the life that you want to lead?” That seems to be the common thread running through my life. This morning I headed out to water the strawberries…a few handfuls of deliciousness for all that water…I watered the poor long suffering maple trees that we grew from seed about 3 years ago that are stunted in their pots and that are likely to still be stunted in their pots in a years’ time (those that are still alive that is…) because of a trade-off…veggie gardening and food production is more important than the cost of the potting mix required to repot these now, unnecessary, trees. After watering the “unnecessary” I headed up to the veggie garden and noticed that something has chewed my kale leaves off again…sigh…I know it wasn’t possums because they were too busy laying on the bird netting on the top of the bean bed reaching their hairy little arms through to pinch whatever vegetation they could manage to grasp…the trade-off here is that I don’t like using poison on my garden and the enormous slug that is apparently the reason behind my now skeletonised kale can be taken in triumph out to the henhouse where the duck will dispatch it with loud squishy joy (a degree of personal human joy can be obtained from said “squish!” so double bonus there!) and I cling steadfastly to my city dude attitude that one day we are going to be able to live with our native brethren in harmony because Serendipity Farm will be so cram packed FULL of food that neither of us is going to make a massive dent in its productivity. The trade-off is trampolining possums with rope burn on their arms and wallabies that are brave enough to circle the “unnecessary” bed and are picky enough to only eat the newly emerging leaves of what they grazed down prior to this present buffet style munching episode.
Firstly I have to say “THANK YOU; THANK YOU; THANK YOU!” to Jessie from the wonderful “Good life” blog http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/an-update-and-things-coming-together/ Jessie sent me some of her sourdough starter that she makes her gorgeous loaves with along with some kefir grains. I was over the moon that they only took a day to get here and I plonked the kefir grains straight into some milk and Steve headed over on a mercy dash to buy some organic rye flour from Beaconsfield. Jessie also made that lovely black dishcloth that you can see underneath the jar of milk and happy little kefir grains doing the backstroke. I got it this morning (hence the green smoothie behind…note the spoon that Steve made me for my smoothies, extra long and has a pointy end to liberate “bits” from my vitamix). Take careful note of the 3 almonds in front of “Audrey” (my new sourdough’s name because she is going to want me to “FEED HER SEYMOUR” ASAP…). They are the result of a very caring man who decided that they looked like they were “on the turn” and that he would save them from dying…sigh…it looks like Jessie’s children aren’t the only ones prone to picking unripe almonds from trees
After the mercy dash we have 2kg of rye flour to feed Audrey…
Audrey ensconsed in Herman’s old pot after being fed and watered. She is VERY happy by the way Rabid! It is a warm day here today and she has crept right up to the top of Herman’s old pot! I am going to feed her twice a day as a precaution against vinegar bricks…I now know that it wasn’t Herman’s fault…it was MINE! I should have been feeding him twice a day to encourage yeast growth, once a day encourages lactobacilli that make your bread sour and they must have been inhibiting the yeast as my bread didn’t rise enough…result…vinegar bricks. Maybe Audrey will be able to give me something that Herman couldn’t…an edible loaf of bread . Steve said “I don’t even want to look at it ok?” He has bad memories of us both being enslaved to Herman and his kin…around the clock nurturing that took over our lives! Now I have Audrey and the information that I need to ensure “I” don’t stuff it up, lets see if this little black duck can’t turn out something resembling “edible” . I am over the moon Jessie! You just made my day, my week and my month and I don’t even care that I am going to be Audrey’s indentured slave until I can wean her off her rye and get her back into the fridge where she belongs…she has earned her warm spot and her fast raise for the next few days
I don’t know where our local grocer gets these Mainland mangoes from but for $1 each, and supporting an Aussie farmer I am there!
This is what they look like after cutting away the seed and freezing them ready to be added to my breakfast green smoothies. The seeds have all been put into the compost heaps all over Serendipity Farm as an interesting experiment. I figure that if mangoes fell from trees, they would do so in hot and humid conditions not all that different to my compost heap so lets just see what happens…at the worst, the seeds will rot down into the compost, at best I get a mango tree…a win/win situation!
At the bottom of this philosophical ethos, I guess what I am trying to say is that I have chosen to live like a penniless student hippy and the trade-off is that I can live how I please. I can experiment with my vegetable garden and I can take the time to “feel” this space and work out what I want and where. I can research long into the night and I can get up early and do the same thing until lunchtime if I wish. I temper my efforts to learn everything that I can about our world and everything that is pertinent to what we are doing with studying to advance our “worth” to society. I am able to spend the time working out which plants are going to be right for our situation and our requirements. I can download PDF’s and head off on as many tangents as I like to find what I am after and to me, that ability is worth our “penniless” label. Money is pretty overrated. I can hear the son and heir scoffing now. He is a money man…he deals in it and his job pretty much revolves around the acquisition and hoarding of it. If you choose to live simply and think laterally you would be very surprised at how little green folding stuff you actually need. Rabid, my erstwhile idealistic heroine of Ballan who has more energy than the Eveready bunny and would give my chin out mum a run for her money with her stubborn refusal to give in, has recently opened my eyes to the power of bartering. Bartering has been used for millennia as a way for we proletariat peasants to access the goods and services that we need without the requirement of ready cash. Rabid likes Steve’s spoons… Rabid lusts after a little spoon of her own…Rabid sends sourdough to a lustful Narf7 and suddenly a world of possibilities opens up… I love sharing. I really do. I don’t know why, but it is part and parcel of “me” and Steve is learning how much happiness can be gleaned from generosity. By the way, does anyone out there want any Cape gooseberry seed? This plant is a marvel for drought ridden areas and will grow just about anywhere. The chooks love to eat its large leaves and adore the fruit. I love the fruit and it is related to tomatoes and tomatillo’s but if you let it ripen it is sweet and tasty. You can even make jam and chutney out of them and they grow like weeds. I love how they keep popping up everywhere courtesy of the chooks and their past pilfering of the lower fruit on one ancient perennial shrub that has been here metastasising since dad was alive. Let me know if you want some (anyone in Australia that is) and I will start drying some. I have them growing in the garden and the compost and can spare a few seed .
Not only are the cape gooseberries in the main garden, they grew all through the compost that we used to make the first set of garden beds and you can see one growing maniacally on the left of this shot…does this garden/jungle have any sort of order?! Not really…this is the result of 2 people hell bent on preventing the possums and wallabies from scarfing their produce…so hell bent that they have made it a virtually impenetrable fortress…and that includes for themselves! . The lettuce has gone to seed but I am going to collect it for lettuce futures and you can see the clover growing, I just left it because it is nitrogenous. I love how the veggie beds are evolving and doing their own thing (because that means that I don’t have to become a middle aged contortionist and slither sideways into them to correct anything that has gone wrong! )
The trade-off for having a maniacal rocket plant is that it is rocket in the bank. I get to save the seed, the rocket keeps the soil covered and moist and NOTHING eats this bitter plant when it has gone over to the dark and seedy side The rainbow chard are also doing well and I will share some more garden shots with you on Saturday
This is a teeny little compost heap. Well fortified and apparently of no interest to the possums because it didn’t have anything pinched from it last night. I have decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and make lots of little compost heaps all over the place where we want to plant trees. I figure that they will soften the soil, attract worms and add nutrients to the soil where we are going to plant in autumn. I think I am starting to learn a few things!
The lengths we have to go to just to keep compost inside our compost bays but as you can see, “things” are growing in them. This was the last half 10kg sack of spuds that had gone stringy and are just starting to grow through the layer of leaves. I have also planted mango seeds (you never know…) and adventitious pumpkins are sprouting all over the place. The other large compost bin full of potatoes has been hit hard by the slugs but they are soldiering on regardless. I “found” some jerusalem artichokes out on the nature strip (and some comfrey but that is for another walk with the dogs ) and brought a couple of them home and put them in the centre of the big compost heap…again… you never know!
Here is one of the culprits who are eating leafy things in the veggie garden…this one made a most satisfying noise as it slid down duckies happy beak!
Some of the veggies that we harvested this morning…thank GOODNESS I have a recipe to make “Zucchini Cream” out of that monster zuke!
Compost is another one of my trade-offs. I spend the time making round wire mesh compost bays and I spend the time putting my fruit and vegetable scraps into a bucket in my pantry and supplement them with the vacuum cleaner emptying’s and paper and cardboard snipped up as it becomes available. I cut up all of my cardboard boxes and use the little $4 paper shredder to shred all of the newspaper etc. that we are able to find. I have been known to pinch extra I.G.A. catalogues when we are in Beaconsfield as they are made with thick newspapery paper that is great for the compost heap. 1 ½ years ago I could have cared LESS about composting…composting was something that mum nagged me to do and thus went straight into the “NUP” basket. Now I lust after leaves in the park underneath big deciduous trees, I twitch when I see people carting green waste branches to the tip, I can’t even begin to imagine throwing paper and scraps into the bin where once it was something I did without thinking about it. The trade-off for this vigilance is that I get amazing compost to put into my gardens and to feed this poor dry ancient topsoil. Swings and roundabouts folks, there is always an up, and a down and it’s our place to find the best balance between the 2 that we can whether that involves learning to suck it up when you find yourself with a bean cube rather than a mass of foliage and knowing that if you take that problem and find a prospective solution, next year you will be triumphant. Learning and constantly finding new solutions, not only keeps your brain active but fills you with possibilities beyond what you thought possible. If you aren’t a materialistic person you might just find that living with less and going lateral feeds your soul. It has certainly opened up some incredible doors for me )
An ENORMOUS pile of ex-fish farm netting
A photo that Steve took from next to the veggie gardens…can anyone…ANYONE tell me how photo’s make things look so much better than they really do?!
This is a $2.50 “drinking coconut”. Back in the day I would have consumed the juice, eaten the meat and tossed the rest into the bin…not any more!
The liquid and the meat go into my morning green smoothie…
I also get this empty shell, that I dried out completely, that I can make a bird house out of or a simple coconut bowl…either way, this valuable resource won’t be wasted…
Even the white fibre on the outside of the coconut was chipped away and will go into the compost to enrich it’s suite of organisms… where once $2.50 wasn’t worth all that much, It most certainly is worth MUCH more in the sum of its parts now
I am starting to think about seed swapping again. Saving seed and swapping seed must be one of the most fundamentally fulfilling things that we can do. Not only are we “Sticking it to the man”, one of my favourite bolshie pastime, but we are feeding a tradition that goes back to our very human roots… survival through spreading the love (and load) around. Diversification is the means to survival. Monocrops are not the answer to our food problems. I would have thought that the great potato famine would have stood as testament to that. Back in biblical times there was famine and we need to learn from those lessons and not rely on single crops to be our saving grace. Monocrop’s are designed to line the pockets of the über rich and nothing to do with producing nutritious food for humanity. We need to diversify and work with what will grow best in our own little neck of the woods and learn to be satisfied with our lot, something that in the artificial world that humanity now manages to inhabit is an entirely foreign concept to mainstream thought processes…we are taught that we can have ANYTHING so long as we work hard enough…no we can’t folks. We can manipulate our environment just so much before it goes on the blink and refuses to do what we ask it to do any more. We need to work “with” rather than just take and that’s what we need to be learning now, how to solve the industrial sized problems that humanity has been forcing the world to live with for the last century. We CAN do this; it just involves that awful word that so many of our children would rather eat their left food than do…”work”. I, myself am not ashamed to admit to being incredibly lazy. I was one of those people contemplating the benefits of life without a left foot but I changed and if I can change, so can anyone. Again, all it took was a good hard honest look at how I was living and a strong desire to do something positive. I am NOT of the school of thought that “we are going to hell in a hand basket, let’s just group together and moan about “the end days” with sackcloth on our heads”…not THIS little black duck! If I am going out…I am doing it whilst trying to do something positive. If you can’t pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again it’s pretty much game over and I plan on living this life to my full potential for as long as I can and as happily as I can. I want to leave a positive legacy, led by example, for my children of just how important it is to keep going and learn to live within your means and be satisfied with your lot. In saying that, I am not talking about being stagnant. I am talking about exploring the parameters of the life that you have been handed and doing everything that you can with it…go as far to the left and right as you can and put miles on that life before you have to hand it over to be checked in.
Before ANY of my facebook friends do a double take and say “I SWEAR I have seen these last few photo’s before?”…yes you have and yes I AM going to use them here in the blog…whatchagonnadoeh? … I found these empty water bottles on a walk and decided to title this photo “EPIC fail”…
If you haven’t already got them, you should get these babies soon Jessie . I LOVE bartering! Bring it on!
“1 more photo…just ONE more photo and I SWEAR…”…
Everything except for the cheese came from Serendipity Farm .
I suppose it is all about that precious thing that makes humanity such a wild card…our ability to choose our own pathways. Our choices can change the world. Whether we know it or not, every action has an equal and opposite reaction and what we do DOES matter. I am talking science here folks, not hippy mumbo jumbo…call it “the butterfly effect” if you like. We are all here for a reason and it’s up to us how we choose to live. Steve just phoned and told me that David, the owner of “Wholesome House” our wholefood establishment of choice asked him about his wooden spoons! Steve is starting to see that his hobby could actually pay off. David is interested in stocking Steve’s spoons! We will take a selection of them in for him to see and we will see what happens from there. I guess you just have to be willing to explore those parameters and be brave enough to occasionally go out on one of those limbs on the boundaries. I have been thinking more and more about community. About developing all different kinds of communities, online, through the blog, locally and globally. Forging relationships with other people isn’t hard. Keeping relationships with other people is much more difficult. We aren’t taught how to negotiate, to listen and to suck it up these days and dealing mano-a-mano with other people isn’t as easy as it once was. Back in the day (say a century ago before industrialisation…) you HAD to get along with the other people in your community. You might not have liked them but each and every one had a place and a job within that community. You learned to live with each other because you HAD to and that is an incredibly valuable lesson and part of the reason why humanity survived and metastasised into what we are today, our adaptability. Industrialisation allowed us to play God. It gave us a false sense of our superiority and we ran amok. The problems that we are all having to face up to are a direct result of corporate greed and our insatiable desire to elevate ourselves above the rest and we are going to have to learn to live with less and accept the consequences of our actions BUT we can learn to do this with grace and hope and we can leave a better world for our children and their children. We just have to be willing to accept the trade-offs.