Back online at home

Warning: this post might be a bit boring if you don’t know us personally.  It’s more like a “letter back home”, just keeping the folks updated on the little things that go on.  But you’re very welcome to read it anyway.

It’s been a while since I posted.  Felice has been carrying the can (bless her prolific little brain…er… I mean, big brain) because the computer at home has spent the last few weeks at the repair shop, and she’s the one with occasional access to a different computer.  At least, that’s my story.

So many things have happened.  Of course, the biggie is coal seam gas mining.  Much has been written about that elsewhere, including by us.  Apart from that, in no particular order…

The chook saga seems to have been resolved, at least for now.  We haven’t lost a single chook since this post, even though I saw a grey goshawk flying into the flooded gums near the chook run.  Rodney (the rooster formerly known as Omar) has been weaving his male magic on the hens, and now most of them accept his food offerings and consent to have him stand on top of them occasionally.

We also discovered that feeding the chooks extra greens keeps them laying throughout winter.  I wish we’d thought of that in autumn, when we could have sown extra silverbeet.  Instead, we use scraps from the local fruit and veg shop (which sells local fruit and veg, as well as being local to us) and I spend a part of each morning scouring outside the chook run for tropical chickweed, comfrey and any odd scrap of cabbage etc we’re not planning to eat ourselves.

This year, we’ve begun to notice the changes in vegetation with the seasons.  I’d love to have an intuitive feel for what plants do what when, but for now it’s a little bit more conscious, and I have to fill my notebooks with little scribbles with question marks, like “6.7.11 little truffly fungi in soil of winter garden. ???”  We’ve discovered that the commelina (Commelina cyanea) and centella (gotu kola/Centella asiatica) the chooks devoured over summer has inconveniently disappeared over winter, to be replaced by blue billygoat weed (don’t ask me the latin name) when we don’t catch it in time and a lot of lovely native geranium (Geranium solanderi).  The basket grass (Oplismenus aemulus, I think) is seeding, and one sunny afternoon we sat on the grass under the big ironbarks and clipped a bunch of the seeds, which I spread on the bank behind the house to try to help replace the blady grass, which is exactly the wrong grass to have as a firebreak.

The plants have taken some of the pain away from the intriguing number of mechanical difficulties we’ve had over the last weeks.  We’ve had to replace, in order:

  • The air filter on the mulcher
  • The battery of the car
  • The modem in the computer
  • The starter motor in the ute
  • The engine of the ute 🙁
  • The bolt in the driver side rear view mirror of the ute
  • The alternator of the car
  • The oil cap on one of the chainsaws
  • 2 struts in the back of my guitar
  • The inner tube on the postie bike

All learning experiences!  Touch wood, we seem to have most things fixed now.  The postie bike inner tube job still awaits unfortunately.

Ooh, ooh and the tank gardens!  We cut up our old water tank and installed it as two round raised beds in front of the house.  We haven’t been gardening too close to the house before because when we put the generator on it fumes all over anything growing too close, but now we have a plan to move the generator.  It will be lovely to be able to nip out for some basil and parsley, instead of making the 50-second trek to the main gardens.

Oh, there’s a million other things to say: we discovered kefir, and sourdough, and fermented porridge (actually excitingly nicer than it sounds).  I found some solid old tools at the monthly car boot market – no plastic bits to fall off! and we went to a talk by Robyn Francis that changed the way I look at the gardening year.  We’ve done some experimenting with composts of locally abundant materials, and Felice has perfected her homemade woodfired pizza recipe.  The joy of Friday night pizza is beyond words (and not just because we’re comparing it to fermented porridge).


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