We used to celebrate this way

“Wow, well yes that is a pig, that is a bit confronting…” this was the words that a friend that had come along for my wife’s 40th stated as she saw me lift the suckling pig rotating over the coals onto the cutting board.

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It was my wife’s 40th birthday and too many it was both a revelation and a bit confronting to see where their meal really came from.In the end everyone handled it well particularly our 4 year old who is well aware of where her meat comes from.

My wife and I had run around for a couple of days madly cooking up a storm, rather than outsource it we decided that we would make it ourselves. It ended up being a lot cheaper and allowed us to control the process and to a greater degree the ingredients.

To people it was like “you made all of that” and yes we did. My parents helped. We organized what we could in advance. Baked the quinces, blood plum crumble, rhubarb crumble and nectarine pie. We purchased the veggies from our local farmer’s market stall holders, the birds and meat from our local butcher and what we had grown ourselves we used first. The rolls from our local family bakery down the road. The cake from the local lady who runs the Greek deli. As with so much else in our country we had to buy some things from the duopoly supermarkets but we kept that to a very small minimum.

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We tried to do the permie thing of slowing water down but with the money getting it into the smaller businesses that are family run, letting it drip down into the society growing people and the local community not just letting it run away like a flood gouging our society an then being stored in huge dams that destroy much of what was once there beneath it.

Yes I could have outsourced it, it would have cost me a bit more been a lot easier but there is value in cooking a meal for those you value enough to invite to such an event.

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Yes we cheated, some party pies and some crackers (cheese from the local cheese maker and the quince and pear from my mum) and small goods from the local family run Mediterranean supermarket. We did what we could and didn’t lose any sleep over what we couldn’t.

I think for some the idea of catering for 60-70 with a whole suckling pig is just a bit big to start with and that is fine. Start small make one course but give it a try and even if you can’t do it go and get what you can from a local supplier. Do what you can.

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You are inviting those nearest and dearest to you, most of them are statistically are likely to work for a smaller business in this country so if you just outsource it or go to the big two for everything then you are to a degree having a party at their expense where they are invited along.

At the end of the day we had a great time, kids ran around and had a ball, 15 kids sang happy birthday to my wife which she thought was just the cutest happy birthday she had heard. We spoke to friends we ate, yes we ate and all in all we have a great time.

And as a side note people looked at my garden and many said they got inspiration from it they browsed chatted made new friends.

We used to celebrate this way. Something special now I see people eating out every day we are so wealthy we can feast by times gone past standards every day.

They out, outsource their meals to restaurants or to large conglomerates (see people doing the birthday party at MacDonald’s).

The feasting is supposed to be a special occasion thing to celebrate a milestone, the harvest, the birth of child a wedding, a religious milestone. Hopefully people will head back this way. We cannot continue to feast each day. It does not at all help the world, the poor get poorer the world gets more waste but for us it is just as corrosive. It makes us unhealthy, it becomes the norm, the gray, it ends up having no value. It makes our minds as fat as our bodies. A feast is an event and should be something to look forward to. Very different from celebrating the day to day with our friends, family and neighbors with a simple meal.

Go out and plan a feast for an event. Do what you can yourself and see if the feast is so very different from your normal day to day? If it is not then we you may need to get back to some peaks and troughs to enjoying things simple and really enjoying the feasts.

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A Busy Week

Man what a busy week. After restarting blogging here and realizing that I was paralyzed by own my thought pattern I have found that the process of just getting into the blog has led to a burst in energy here doing the real stuff here in urban hippie land.

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We have a function here in a week or so and (more on that next week) add to that A. has finally run out of patience at not being able to get into the car port for the last 12 months.

I have so many projects where I have all the parts and have just been in a state of ennui it will be a while before I need purchase anything which is a great situation to be in.

This weekends projects have been to get the back yard into a safe state for non-urban hippy children and adults. Our kids are not helicopter parented and they know about nails in old pallets and to stay away from the stinging nettle. Not all kids have had that well a developed level of self-preservation J or have made as many mistakes …

So the back yard was cleared up and looking pretty swish. Unlike other times I have made sure that it has not been a quick cleanup. Where possible I have finished projects rather than just dumping the items in the area where the shed will be moved to as a hidey spot. If I couldn’t I have grouped them into projects to be worked on later.

A number of things done will be posted in the week to come. Such as extending a chicken run getting the front garden bed started but the big one was the side path and clearing up the 1.5 cubic meters of road base that I have had in the drive way for the last year or so and was threating to get me into trouble with the non-hippie wife.

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While cleaning up I found a large amount of snails and slugs and the girls have been very happy to help my getting rid of them 🙂

As you know I am great collector (read hoarder) of things and hold a great believe in the idea of not buying something new if you have something that will fill its place.

The side of the house in the coolest and least sunny part of the site. I store my mushroom logs there and have wasabi and other shade loving plants. It also provided access to the back of the house and it has been a bit of disaster with a lot of water coming down and a lot of weeds needing to be managed.

So the first order of the day was to get down some weed proof material. I could have purchased weed mat but I had a lot, and I mean a lot of the bags that I get my organic chicken food in. So why not utilize them? Why buy more stuff made from petro chemicals when I already have it here and have to purchase it for what I need?

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So I laid them in an overlapping pattern and then piled on the blue metal road base and when I ran out of bags grabbed dome the old ripped tent tunnel cover I had that was not water tight enough for a wicking bed and used that. By the end of the weekend the base is down and the rest of the phase will be to compact it and then a thin layer of sand, and then lay second had bricks that I have been collecting (and using for garden beds) finally as nature abhors a vacuum I will supper seed the brick gaps with a mixture of herb seeds, roman chamomile and lots of dandelion seeds mixed with sand. Those spots in high usage area’s will remain clear the rest will produce for the bees and for us. As I go through the phases I will explain each one and why I am doing it this way.

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Phase one is the road base, and it was chosen is for two reasons.

One. We have quite reactive soil and I have seen what it has done to concrete slabs in the back shed and the road base has a bit more flex in it. In a worst case scenario the bricks can be pulled up re-laid if they get too moved.

The second is embodied energy. While the breaking up and transporting the basalt for the road base is intensive it pales in comparison to the amount of energy for concrete. Don’t get me wrong we use concrete and will continue to. For some jobs it is the best and most effective product but where possible we limit its use.

I also got a wicking bed in a bath ready to go and this will hopefully be completed by the end of the week.

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Time to get some sleep… need to go to work to get a rest tomorrow.

Didn’t plan it so going to have to wing it.

Last year a friend gave me some amazing Sicilian basil. Big leaves perfect on a slice of bread as it had a milder flavour and was large enough that two or three leaves covered a slice of A. sourdough.

Teamed up with good cheese it was awesome.

So at the end of summer it died back to a few twigs but a lot of seeds. I put the poor sad pot at the back door with plans to put a bag over it to collect the seeds for next year. But each time I walked past less seeds where there and I forgot or got busy. It would have taken me 5 minutes to do it but didn’t…

It is a luxury in this time we are in that I don’t have to stress about it as I can always go online and find some or ask the friend again. In the future we may not be so lucky in which case I would hope I am more disciplined or one of my neighbours is. Seed saving is a skill I am more intermittent at than good at. I is a skill that I have said I will work on this year along with better propagation techniques.

But I did have an idea that sad forlorn pot was still! There maybe, just maybe some of the seeds in it?

So I am going to do a bit of an experiment. I covered the pot with a light dusting of good potting mix and chucked it in a tub it allow the water to wick up. It went into my new propagation hot house. What is the worst that could happen? Some weeds grow? Chickens can eat those.

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It got me thinking that now is the time to work on skills and experiment now, build for a future where at the very least everything we do will become much more expensive and learning very unusual skills harder as $200 flight to another city to do a course becomes a $500 train trip or $1000 plan ride.

It is a reason my garden beds are mostly made with recycled blue stone blocks or bricks they will last forever and can be reused over and over again with little to no additional fossil inputs.

So as i have said before go out there and skill up, But I add to that go out there and experiment as well!

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Are we all making it easier to do nothing at all?

So I have been quiet again… nothing new there … (or NO news there 🙂 )

And have been contemplating why?

I had a think on father’s day as sick number 2 child was sleeping in the sun next to me and came to the conclusion I have been my own worst enemy in a number of ways recently. I have been looking at what I have been doing and going well that is not blog worthy, that is not environmental ‘enough’ and worst of all comparing. I think that other person is doing everything so much better than me. Look they are living in a yurt made of their own hair and fuelling it with their own dried dung while living entirely of raw foraged food…

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Perfection is a dangerous, dangerous thing. It can easily paralyse us and make us look at what we are doing and says I can’t compete with that and simply give up. It is something those of us interested in a better world need to consider. Often near enough is a damn side better than not at all!

I think looking back on it that has been an issue with me over the last 6 or so months. Recently however I have had a couple of the shining examples that have held themselves out as the saviours of various parts of the world and I have been comparing myself to start to look not so perfect after all.

They don’t look bad, not even poor, quite good actually but not perfect.

It has made me consider that we all do what we can and judging yourself to harshly is counterproductive. I lost sight of why I am doing what “I” do and lost my own direction. So I am going to get back on the horse and live by the old motto below.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are, when you can!

Now amusingly as we speak of full circles. Sunday was father’s day and strangely enough I had a ground hog moment when I realised that last father’s day I worked on my mini seed raising hot house and again I did the same thing this year. 

The unit last year worked ok but had a few serious faults and lead to some losses so I wanted to do something a bit different and easier to use this year.

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So it has had an upgrade with recycled windows replacing the builders plastic and it now has much better access as the two windows at the front are hinged which will mean I can see everything and easily access the seedlings to manage them and check on them (which is a major cause of failure last year).

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I have moved it so it is not in the way but close enough and easy to get to keep an eye on it.(we live in this house it can’t just be my green playground)

I was lucky and have been harvesting the hard wast for a while and it made of repurposed material,  an old shelf I found, some old shower screens for the ends, and windows I picked up as hard rubbish, even the boards are from a pallet I found. Only some of the screws are new.

In the end I like making stuff up from what others in our society perceive as no longer useful the environmental aspect is important but anyone using a cheap commercial mini hot house from Aldi or Bunning’s is still doing more for the environment than those who poo poo the purchases of such items on environmental grounds and do nothing.

Again do what you can with what you have! If I worked out all the environmental background noise of my cordless drill I used to build my mini hot house if I had only bought one for occasional use then the cheap plastic seed raising hot houses looks very good in comparison (no Congo gorilla parts for a start in the battery components or slave child labour to mine those materials)

To me not wasting that is the primary driver. Not spending $60 or $100 is a good thing as it allows me to utilise that money in a far more environmentally effective ways in the rest of my life style.

But as I don’t get to make stuff in my challenging white collar job it is kind of cool to make it myself which is as good a reason as any.

As you can see I still need to seal a few gaps and add some latches but it is a working unit now and will be for a number of years if I look after it.

Even without those steps I can now start to plant up some seeds and get into the doing what I can part for the coming spring.

A quick question. When was the last time you read about a complete failure on a blog by the blog poster? Something I need to rectify myself on this site from now on. I screw up recipes and other projects all the time and learn from them.

Expect to see some failures documented in the future. 🙂