3 More things.

Bill Gates used to say do an extra thing each day and that will be another 365 things you get done for the year.

Me I am believer in the rounding function so for me do 3 extra things each day and you will have over a 1000 extra things done each year 🙂

One of the myths I often see in the alternative world is this thought a simple life being easy. It is harder than most people realise and that is part of the problem in a world where we expect life to cut us chances. But also more rewarding , or at least I think so.

So tonight’s 3 …

Sorted two barrow loads of bricks from the pile and cleaned those that needed it. For the next section of paving.IMG_9777

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More firewood from down the street IMG_9774

The Daily Bread as always before bed. IMG_9776IMG_9775

Time for sleep 🙂

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Preparing for Winter.

We haven’t had to use the stove since early December and it is unlikely we will see weather in the next few months that will require it but already I am getting ready for winter.

Last winter the pallet numbers dropped off dramatically late in the season as it got cold and people were looking for wood.

We chose to use up our wood for space with the granny flat project and had about 2 barrow loads come end of winter. I did a run up to wood for good and got a load and most of that is still left.

Since then I have managed to hit a few local fallen branches from people and locations, a good load from a friend up around Macedon along pruning from trees.

I am also getting in pallets making sure they are all heat treated timber and preferably hardwood.

So the hunt is ongoing. I have a hand saw and loppers in the car if I come across anything decent. Even a small branch can be a half to a full days heating in our very efficient stove.

Managed to harvest below and another barrow load locally after a large branch had come down in the wind over Christmas.

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And tonight I noted a tree dropped and nicely cut up into foot long blocks by an arborist two streets down on my way home. A quick knock on the door and a question and invited to take half. But the best was to meet and speak to a neighbour who I had never meet. An older guy very nice chatted for some time on his tomatoes and gave him some advice on his new lemon tree. Good to get to know the locals.

Three big barrow loads and the offer of the rest if his friends do not pickup there’s by tomorrow. I took the longer pieces as I have access to cut them up the other people may not have this. You need to be fair.

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Pity some of the branches where not a bit longer or I would have inoculated them with some shitake but beggars cannot be choosers.

As it is this wood is still a year of drying away from being used but it will get used.

And didn’t even need to use a car to bring it home that is local.

Cut up it will fuel us for a week or more 🙂

 

Working with or against Nature? (fat hen spanakopita)

I visited my parents place over the Christmas period had a really nice relaxing time. Foraged some items, took the family to a few different places but mostly just relaxed.

My father is the king of the drip system. He has beautiful rich red volcanic soil that is free draining, very free draining as such he tends to drip water the plants and along with 40 plus years of adding organic matter to the soil means his vegies grow incredibly well.

Because of this he also has minimal weed issues how ever one thing I did note that fat hen sometimes called lambs ear (Chenopodium album), dock and the purslane where doing really well. IMG_9318-2000

I grabbed some purslane to plant at my place and grabbed a large bag of fat hen which I made into spanakopita (recipe below).

To me it is interesting that this high protein crop that by my father’s admission (he is a rabid anti weed man 🙂 ) the chickens and sheep love is torn out spayed out and treated with disdain.

And there it is growing without water or love and just doings its own good thing. From a point of view of plants we are going to have to start to look at what will work by itself without lots of inputs or work and this is potentially a great option for fodder and food. The broad acre style of farming the crops you want rather that what will grow easily is simply not going to hold true in the long run.

And much to my father annoyance his granddaughter loves the fresh leaves of this plant and now it is naturalised in my back yard we have access to it for salads, cooking or as fodder for the chickens.

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As for the taste of the spanakopita. A. and I made up two batches of rolls and a pie with a half side fat hen and half spinach and apart from being slightly more beefy texture the kids and wife could not tell them apart and all was eaten.

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This is one good weed.

Recipe for Fat Hen (or spinach) Spanakopita.

  • Packet of filo or puff pastry (or if you are a better cook than me make your own 🙂 )
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 gram of feta
  • 75 grams of ricotta
  • 75 grams of quark cheese (could use another 75 grams of ricotta)
  • 2 bunches of spinach or equivalent or more of fat hen.( I like lots of green in my mix) shredded.
  • Butter melted and a brush
  • Two onions finely diced.
  • 1 or 2 Sprigs of mint finely sliced (to taste)
  • 1 or 2 Sprigs of dill finely sliced (to taste)
  • Dash of nutmeg.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients apart from the melted butter and pastry in a large bowl.

Lay out the filo or puff pastry. If using filo make sure you keep a damp towel over it put brushed melted butter over each sheet as you layer them. A. helped me with this process as two people make this easier. We use 3 or so layers for a roll and 3 or so layers top and then same bottom in a pie. Puff pastry is just one layer.

Spoon mix onto the pastry sheets and roll or make into pies. Do not over fill.

Butter top and make sure you butter the tray they are sitting on.

Put in an oven at 150 to 170 degrees Celsius till cooked through and browned (about 45 minutes) slow cook is a better option for your health than the western desire to deep fry/fast cook everything.

Once cooked leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving with a nice salad.

2016 And Onward

So 2015 was very much the year that said meh to us. Definitely not good but not bad either.

It was summed up by the accident on new year’s eve. Car a bit of a mess, annoyance with insurance but no one hurt able to limp home with the trailer load of material for the path I am building in the back yard.

So what is on for the year coming?

Well below is the philosophy I am going to try to take into the year.

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Maybe not ‘Epic Shit’ but definitely try to get shit done each day.

Spent the afternoon helping a friend with something he had been wanting to try for an extended time that one of the martial art I know teaches.

Also got the chance to teach him and a partner some foraging and plants we have in the back yard and send him home with plants. The start of a good year?

Just a start.

Let’s see how we deal with meh shall we!

It is going to be a long trip back from the edge.

I wrote about polishing my daughters and my shoes yesterday. I did this on that night because it was to be followed by the madness of a business trip.

As I have discussed the life I have is a hybrid life (read I am working out how to get of the stupid go round). I used to travel a lot for work now I am lucky I only rarely have to.

To a degree this was a good bad trip. It was a less than gentle reminder of the madness of the world that is the current business paradigm.

Up at 5:30am and out the door at 6:30am. Driven to the airport by migrant taxi driver who probably earns less than minimum wage for the hours he works even though the trip was the equivalent value to the amount of money we would spend on petrol for a week if we stay in Melbourne. Most of the money goes to the cost of a license and the monopoly system that can drive these kinds of wages.

To the airport. Check in and the madness of waste begins. Courtesy of the fear that pervades the world post terrorist acts everything is disposable and expensive. Again prices are high but lots of young people on the casual go round do the serving. Again the money goes to the airport corporations and governments who control it.

On the plane. More disposable items (most made from plastic and too small to efficiently recycle)

A weeks’ worth of fuel used up for our car per passenger on the way up.

Off the plane more taxi fares as above but a different city.

Meeting for 7 hours with a company that ships items from all over the world to Australia (admittedly they also have a large R&D facility here and the items are not something we can easily make here in Australia)

Back across city as above.

Into the airport. More disposables and same structure of casualization of the work force. Lots of tired burnt out souls in business suites wandering around looking for something to fill in their time and keep the amused. So buying crap basically.

Back on the plane and more disposables and more fuel.

Back to Melbourne and another taxi ride (same as the others) to get me home at 9:30pm

This is the life style so many aim for and yes this was a very productive meeting that reduced several weeks of back and forth to a single day of meetings. How anyone can see this as a romantic job option is beyond me (but then again I did once) let alone the staggering cost to the world of this day times the tens of thousands of people in this country or the millions worldwide every day

The whole process is highly exploitive. I was probably the least exploited in the process and in the end I had to work a 15 hour day!

So does this mean I throw my hands in the air and give up and not polish my shoes, not barter duck eggs for chiro treatment like my wife did yesterday, or go foraging for some figs on a tree I saw in a vacant block when I got of the train last week? Or work on the gift economy?

Maybe I could stop the feeds that show me how bad things are getting with plastic in the oceans or buy a second car with debt so I don’t have to see the exploitive nature of the taxi industry and can drive myself to the airport?

In the end it is none of these things it is a day of perspective and it is simply a reminder of the fact my hybridisation process needs to speed up.

In time, this short period we live in now will be seen as                 oddity, an epoch of unsustainability, and aberration of how we should treat people.

How do I know this? Because if it is not and we continue on like this then no one is going to look back on anything!

Off to collect the duck eggs before I go to work.

Increments

There is always more to do in the hippy household and less time.

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Just to add to my time (and with number 3 a week away) I have enrolled in a diploma of ‘Organic Farming’ to fill my time.

In the end all you can do is what you can do. I want to be able to have some flexibility with my kids and know in their teens I am going to need to be around a lot more. I can also see a time with the way things are going that having a business is going to be important to ensure some of my children at least have a place to work.

Despite the lack of posts we are still working towards self-sufficiency more now than before and it is well worth while reminding myself of the increments get done each day.

This weekend has been busy.

I picked up a second hand bath and built a new garden bed. I am very much into the ‘obtain a yield’ principle at the moment.

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While we are not perfect from an environmental point of view it has been a long time since we bought salad greens, eggs or many veggies.

We still get some veg from farmers markets and my parents but each plant, each garden bed, each bath used as wicking bed brings us a little closer to being independent. One more dollar or set of dollars, one more increment to move towards other goals.

It is the same with cooking from scratch or drying my own nettle tea rather than buying it each little amount adds up and allows you to do the next step. For us the cash saved from foraging wood for the fire, and heating with it will hopefully allow us to put PV solar on by the end of the year.

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Each day you pick up new skills. Who would have thought 12 months ago that I would be able to quickly whip up a bee feeder to make sure our third hive will be ok over winter. (again we have not paid for honey in the last 12 months and have traded it for a number of other things over time) each day pickup new skills and work on you and ours resilience.

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But mostly enjoy 🙂

Oh and I must admit to being a bit chuffed so far my perennial basil has been producing both leaves and flowers with no heating or costs. Just a nice spot sheltered spot. No greenhouse gases and full flavour, kids loved it for dinner in the spag bol

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