Well despite having only just caught up with sleep, being part way through a 15 day juice detox and getting back to a busy week of work I am still buzzing from my last weekend and start to the week. I went to the amazing Milkwood Permaculture Institute up in Mudgee to attend a natural building course.
I will not go into details of the building process as I think it is only fair for Milkwood to publish the detailed steps in their excellent blog (they allready have an overview of the build so jump to their site and have a look once you have finished reading this post) which I would strongly recommend that people sigh up for.
Suffice to say I had a great 4 days we built a rubble foundation, stacked bales, built a reciprocal roof, rendered the outside with lime render, the inside with clay render and put second hand timber on the roof in preparation for a earth roof they are planning (we didn’t quite get onto this but that was no biggie)
My brain was fried by the sheer volume of information and the professional builder who was the instructor gave us amazing amounts of information and was so generous with his knowledge it was ridiculous.
But it was more than the course. Being at Milkwood showed what can be done. As Sam the builder said ‘Many talk the talk, these guys walk the walk’. We did a quick site tour and the knowledge and skill and the understanding is everywhere. From the management of water to energy to food production. All done with a level of practicality I don’t often in people who are out to change in this area.
The people on the course where great and everyone got a chance to try everything as well as get good sound theoretical knowledge and ask as many questions and discuss options.
We ate incredibly well (most of it from Milkwood) and sat outside and watched the stars, drank tea, planned and chatted as a group.
Even the 11 hour drive home and a couple of hours sleep before heading to work, worked out well. It gave me the time to sort through the info I had in my head and idea’s I need to get into. And boy do I have a few idea’s.
I have already put in more winter vegies and am looking at the hot house glass going I have to get this going now. I have to get the new chicken pens sorted. And a host of other things to keep me entertained.
It is still unlikely I will ever get a consensus for a move out country and build something as grand as full sized sustainable house and permaculture life style block 🙂 At the end of the day I do see a reno of my place in the very near future and a weekender where I can put in more food forest and my own zone 4/5 and build of a small place to stay in. Probably a lot like the one we built up there. The reciprocal roof is such a thing of beauty I couldn’t not have one on any building I built.
I also gained a huge amount of knowledge about what to do with my place to get it more efficient. So I will continue to dream and will most likely be back to Milkwood to do more courses. I will also still keep working on getting the most out of my little urban block. After all not everyone can have acreage in a finite future and being able to do what I can in the suburbs is the most important thing.
Oh and one last thing. I got to see the mythical upside down fire in action. And yes it definitely does work.