2014 in Review.

It has been a year of ups and downs to be honest.

For the most part up but a few things along the way that have made it an interesting times 🙂

On January 5th 2014. I posted a blog for 2014 on a plan.


These included

  1. Drop our energy usage below the 50% for Australians (a Paul Wheaton definition of being green)
  2. Improve the back yard as far as it carrying capacity goes (permaculture Principle 3: Obtain a yield – you cannot work on an empty stomach)
  3. Eat more locally, sustainably and ethically and importantly buy a LOT less from the duopoly in Australia
  4. Feel generally better about our position in life.

So how did we go on these 4 items?

Pretty good actually

One item 1 we have reduced our power bill to 40% of the average usage and this is even lower now the solar has kicked in. Gas is a bit harder to quantify we are either at national average or 50% of it depending on how you play with numbers. Either way our gas consumption has dropped by over 80% over winter and 1/3 in the warmer months

On item 2. A very mixed bag. Lots of good stuff happening but the garden could still do with some work but it is getting better each year. The year of the backyard it was not so much :

3. We eat more Australian produce and have reduced our dependency on the duopoly (Coles and Woolworths) form over 80% to less than 40% so all in all a good outcome.

Option 4. Even with the addition of a 3rd child we are looking are feeling better. A. is planning to stay home longer with this child and we are enjoying the moments with the kids and life in general. I am still a registered member of the cult of business but I take breaks from it for a while.

So highlights other than those above?

  1. House Reno Done – House is far more efficient with the addition of the insulation in the walls.
  2. Lots of Fruit on trees last year and this year (fruit trees and berries are doing best in backyard)
  3. Solar on the roof. Really starting to kick in we use no power off the grid during the day and even with the addition of a split system we use less power than we used to by 50%
  4. Wood stove. Reduced our gas bill by 80% over winter and this is from when we were out all day at work to having the people at home all day. So a big effect. We got our fuel for free but even if we had to pay for fuel it would still be a payback in less than 2 years as it is we will be in the clear by mid next year. It is nice not burning fossil gas so much and the warmth is so much better.
  5. Side of the house is now decked this has added an incredible dimension to the house and allowed us to feel like we have expanded the house and just makes it nicer to sit and relax 🙂
  6. Down to a 1 Car Family (and surviving)
  7. 3 healthy hives (lost one but got another 1)
  8. Decent crop of Garlic
  9. Back area setup for kids to play in.
  10. And …Birth of number 3 🙂


For next Year

  1. Insulation in Floor last area in the house but I may look at roof as well.
  2. Improve gap efficiency after the reno (things have moved in reno and in general)
  3. Improve energy usage in house
  4. Hot house finished.
  5. More garden beds
  6. Bike back on the road.
  7. Reduce what we have (still way to much stuff)
  8. Get back into produce swaps.
  9. Maybe a PDC if Darren Doherty runs one.

On other fronts we are trying to chill out more and enjoy the kids and enjoy friends and family. In this hectic life you need to remember they are the most important thing. They always where and it is only this society and this time that has forgotten that.

I did have a list of 24 things I wanted to do or learn. I did zero of them… but no biggie as they are still worth doing and I will look at them again this year. I got a lot done but not the list and the most important things in life being my family did get looked after 🙂

I have heard quite a few people say to me they will be glad when the year is over and many said the same of 2013. Life is to short and too precious so enjoy your year ahead. Make it the best you can.

Wishing everyone a great New Years and hope it all comes together for you in 2015.




Finishing Christmas with a simple meal and simple lesson in life

So we have had our Christmas splurge. In reality ours while generous it was not the masses of excess I have seen other years or from others.

I will say this, it may be the crowd I hang with but the year seems to be a lot quieter at this time of year. A great many people are simply not buying into the sales and mess (could have been spending Christmas in a depressed regional centre as well)

Our Christmas plans were interrupted to a degree by a bought of gastro in the house. We ended up simplifying them and reduced travel time by 2-3 hours and the pace just felt a lot more relaxed.

We ended up at my parents, dry and warm but quiet and relaxed.

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The meals for us where generous but relatively simple, presents where practical and not ostentatious and the main thing was simply time spent with family. In time this will become the norm rather than the exception. The decline perhaps has already begun with a great many people so the chance for waste and excess will become less.

On the last day at my parents place we decided to head to the local trout farm as we had promised the children that they could try fishing and sitting on a river bank for 4 hours to get nothing will not attract children to fishing (it put me off most fishing 🙂 ).

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So we spent about an hour got 9 beautiful rainbow trout

Cooked simply n a BBQ nothing better. A salad from my parents’ house, chips from their own potatoes. Simple but good.


And the kids well they again know where the food came from and the only comment was from the 5 year old that she would eat the fish but not bloody 🙂

Guest post on Ranting’s of an Amateur Chef.

So I have been a follower of the Ranting chef for several years.

I am honoured he offered me a guest post and had a post I was about to put together for something A. and I have been eating a fair bit later that I thought would suite.

To me he the ranting chef is a constant. Every day in rolls another email about a meal to make.

My wife often comments can go to a fridge and pull together a meal from what appears to be nothing. It is a skill I used living in share houses in London when I lived there in the 90’s it is skill that allows me to save money and means we waste little.

Perhaps the first step in people taking back some control of their lives is cooking their own meals and knowing what is in them. Cooking from scratch should not be in the realm of master chef style reality television shows or only the realm of celebrity chefs it should be a day to day thing. Shown to be easy skill it really is.

With knowing what comes in your meal is the ability to mix in the few ingredients have in your garden you started gardening in or the items you have never seen before from the local farmers market.

The Ranting Chef blog shows this day by day, week by week, building up skills and using ingredients.

His stamina is also quite impressive in regards to rolling out blog posts as a blogger who is an absentee writer a lot of the time I know how hard to roll out a post almost every day for years at a time.


Since last Time.

WOW October 19th was the last time I posted on word press.

No point in apologizing life has been insane to say the least 🙂 It is interesting so many of the blogs I follow are not posting much. It seems to be the way at the moment.

So what has happened since the last blog post

Buy Nothing new October

Worked a treat and we ended up half way into November before we bought anything other than a few blades for some tools. We are currently clearing out stuff so we are not buying much anyway.

We have asked the family to avoid non practical presents for Christmas such as clothes for the kids and nothing for us please.

We have small, house a medium sized yard, a ton of projects unfinished we do not require any more stuff. We need to finish projects and get rid of stuff. The amount of stuff is certainly not enhancing our lives. (Post on small is better and gift economy latter)

Solar on the roof.

Yep 2.5KW of Solar. Balanced out by the split system we have put in admittedly but definitely a game changer for us. The fire reduced our fossil gas use by 80% over winter and we are hoping to reduce our power by the same with the solar systems.

We have also signed up for Powershop who support the RET

(post on this latter as well)

Low Carb Diet

Both A. and I are on a low carb diet, which is really a low processed food diet as once you take out the carbs it gets hard to buy any processed food.

Plan is to get weight down then look at where the weight is going on and manage it through a balanced by lower calorific diet.

Biggest change no processed foods! Second biggest change the lack of rubbish and recycling.

(Blog on this and why reducing everyone’s diet to 2000 calories might be the answer to come)

Wicking and garden beds everywhere

Hot house going gang buster, had a huge sale of rhubarb (first sales for the house) garden beds in, wicking beds working and being developed all over the garden.

(several posts on this to come)

Bumper crop of cherries and Fruit this Year.

Thought wow so many cherries this year. Must be doing the right things. Then discovered best cherry season for years… still taking credit.

Back part of the food forest is going gang busters as well plums and berries. No apricots or greengage this year.

Apples and pears going well. Pomegranate is going well. Peaches going well. Strawberry Guava first flower.

Good crop of citrus (still our weakest area) and figs are doing well

Lots of flowers and lots of predators and prey. parasitic wasps, dragon fly, lady birds and skinks everywhere.

Grafting worked about 40% which I am happy with but can improve on (first year)

(Yep, more posts)

New Swarm on site

Got a new swarm after we were forced to move our old one. It came in a big old pot and can stay there a while till it settles in. We have put it in a spot no one can see it from outside our property and are keeping quiet re it.

Amazing what this little swarm has done as we really noticed the drop off in pollinators when the other hives where moved. Even walking back from the station at night I see so few bees. I think we underestimated how much work our hive was doing.

We plan to move another hive back soon but they are doing well up at my parents place so for the moment all is good . We did have to buy honey for the first time in a long while so we need to do a raid 🙂

(posts on bees to come)

I am sure there is a lot more happened but that will do for the moment. More post to come I hope …