Friday, February 29, 2008

more Lacuna

After you have exhausted what there is in business,

politics, conviviality, and so on -

have found that none of these finally satisfy,

or permanently wear -

what remains? Nature remains.

Walt Whitman

Lacuna Sabbath

Hee hee hee hee hee

Look what I growed! Well, it growed itself really - Pa Duck Herder and I spent the afternoon dismantling all the old trellis and watering system at the new farm, and relocating it all back at the old farm (community garden). And look was was still growing up at the new farm, despite a month of neglect!

This is the first time I have tried growing watermelon - there were only 2 large ones on the vine - one for Dad, one for us! And it is delicious! I will definitely grow them again next year, in better soil and hopefully get more fruit. The variety is "sugar baby". And there are still heaps of seeds for next season. yay!

So that's it for the new farm - back to my lovely old soil at the community garden. Just in time for autumn plantings..... but more on that later no doubt.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

a day in the life......

Can you believe some people get paid for walking around landfills in bright yellow jackets and steel capped boots working out where to put super duper composting sheds, followed by lunch in a trendy cafe (different shoes), then a quick 80km drive through gorgeous farming country onto a lovely farm to work out where the "boutique" composting shed and leachate dam will go, followed by coffee in a trendy cafe in another country town......followed by a quick duck (no pun intended) into the office to make some phone calls and send some emails on the way home

I really love my job you know.....

and I get to work with such interesting people
people who know stuff
and who have done stuff

people who care about the environment, and are into SOLUTIONS rather than problems

I like those folks.

But is was COLD today. 15 degrees. plus WIND, and some sprinkles (not that I am complaining about those)

well, that is all.

Free-range-chook-living-in-tooti-fruiti-time out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

retail therapy

Well, its all been a bit rough these past weeks, what with the chicken plague and all. So to cheer me up, here is the autumn Eden Seed Order:

Herbs - Coriander - Cilantro - Slow Bolting
20g: 1@$4.40
Vegetables - Bean, Broad - Long Pod
Packets: 1@$2.80
Vegetables - Beetroot - Bull's Blood
Packets: 1@$2.80
Vegetables - Beetroot - Cylindra
Packets: 1@$2.80
Vegetables - Cabbage - Chinese Cabbage - Pak Choi - Kwang Moon-white Stem
Packets: 1@$2.80
Vegetables - Cabbage - Coir De Bue
Packets: 1@$2.80
Vegetables - Carrot - Chantenay Red-cored
Packets: 1@$2.80
Vegetables - Carrot - Danvers
Packets: 1@$2.80
Total: $24.00

well spent I reckon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

relish and the plague

Happy note: Juzzy gave me the recipe for her grandmother's tomato relish, untill now rigorously guarded by her father. Hmmmm, mmmmmmmm. Eight bottles before work yesterday - all for us! well, perhaps I will give Juzzy a bottle too.........
Now I know that relish recipes are a very personal thing, and I am very pleased to say this is the BEST recipe I have ever come accross, and we LOVE tomato relish, we have it on EVERYTHING, and now I hold the key to a forever supply of the good stuff!
Sad note: Chicken news is mostly bad. The plague is upon us. First Maurice, then Mongo, and now Gretel (this afternoon) are dead. Charlotte doesnt look too hot either.
As far as I can tell, Maurice looked like he had a sub-acute form of infectious laryngotracheitis, which if true, he would have bought in with him when we bought him 6 months ago, and which in theory, could be slowly making its way through the flock. Maurice had the tell tale chronic conjunctivitis. Unfortunately the symptom cluster for Mongo and now Gretel does not match any of the forms for "trac" as it is sometimes called - no pus, no mucus, no nasal discharge and no coughing. Just depression, and wilting, a bit of nodding and then death. I am at a complete loss as to what is going on.
So, the list of folks wanting to buy baby fluffies have all been informed that due to a bio-security disaster, there are no more fluffy-monsters for sale. I think that is the end of the fluffy breeding enterprise for some time to come. We are down to 2 adult fluffies, 10 young fluffies and one poor normal chicken, and of course - three indestructable ducks. I don't know what I am going to do about poor Charlotte - she HATES the fluffies, and I can't really put her in with them anyway untill I know if she is going to get sick, die and/or infect the others. And if I buy her a buddy, she may just end up infecting it as well. So she will just have to hang out by herself for a while. Sheesh.
Determined to end on a good note - the 100 foot challenge is a breeze! The BRANDYWINE tomatos are SUBLIME. Joe's ROCKMELONS are to die for. It is a good time of year in the garden, thats for sure ( if you dont look at all the newly dug chicken friend graves.......)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Duckherder Day

some photos from yesterday.....

scarlet runner beans - finally fruiting.

brandywine tomatos ripening

Where Mr and Mrs Duck Herder (and anyone else who pops in) hang out in summer (and winter - oh the joys of good solar orientation and deciduous trees!)

and from this evening.......

(drum roll please.........)

My new compost heap! Mixed weeds, old leeks and lawn clippings - carefully layered gelati style.

And, a new bed-in-waiting for potatos next spring.

This evening I finished weeding one of my plots at the community garden after a long long break. It has taken about three sessions - but very cathartic and therapeutic work. The section you can see above has all the weeds (mostly grasses) laid on top, and then covered with lawn clippings. These are left at the community garden by landscapers and comercial gardeners for us to use.

The next step will be to sprinkle on some blood and bone, and then perhaps top the whole thing with some straw I have left over from the Murrumbateman Field Days. Plots at the community garden are 9 meters by 5 meters. SO all up, I have two 45 square meter plots, and an extra 9 square meters from the one meter path running between them. This first plot is divided into three by two little paths just wide enough for me to get the wheel barrow down.

This section will give me just over 10 square meters of potatos - which should be plenty! The rest of the plot includes my lovely compost heap, and lots of space for autumn planntings - onions, garlic, kales, cabbages, brocoli, parsely and corriander. I am even feeling bold enough to try carrots again - I have never had much success with these. Oh, and another lot of spinach and beetroot, if I can get them in before it gets too cold.

that is all

PS - sorry about spelling - spellchecker still on the blink...

watcha-upto honey?

learning about bees.

Eric from down at the community garden keeps bees. He has three hives - two at the garden and one at home. Another friend of a friend keeps bees in his backyard too. At the growers market, the Mountain Creek Farm folks (grass fed moocows and free range pigs) have two types of honey - one eucalyt version from their farm, and a sweeter more floral version from their friends in town.
Eric says he will happily teach me the ways of the bees. He has lent me a book called "The ABC and XYZ of Bees". It is apparently the olde golde bible of beekeeping, and I am on the lookout for a copy of my own. This is my bedtime reading.
Hee hee. I am a bit allergic to bee stings, but I think they are clever and marvelous and wonderfull. We have lots of things growing in our garden already that they would like - honey locust, wattle, fruit trees etc. And I have something that could really use a bit of extra lovin' attention from the bees - those kiwi vines.
will keep you posted. Eric says he will give me a call next time he is going to open one of his hives, and I can come and talk to the bees too. I have been making friends with them while at the community garden, telling them that I am a friend and mean them no harm.

cool huh?

More about urban bee keeping here

And for ONC info and supplies - here

photo stolen from here

Eating for Victory!

Have been rediscovering the Path to Freedom site, and probably because I liked the graphics so much, will happily join the:

100 Foot Diet - Growing Closer to Home: A Lifelong Challenge

This from the Path to Freedom folks:

It wasn’t that long ago (1940s) that people planted Victory Gardens when it became necessary for them, due to wartime shortages, to grow their own food. Now, it’s our turn.

If you want to fight against peak oil, climate change and our consumerist culture, then join us and start a living protest right in your own back (front) yards. Be the change, live the solution! Use your yard (or balcony or porch steps) not only to grow food but also to cultivate a healthier and more fulfilling life.

There have been 100 mile diet and other eat local challenges. PTF’s homegrown revolutionaries are upping the ante by reducing the mileage to a few steps - to right outside your back or front door.

The challenge is simple. Beginning as soon as you can, prepare a meal at least once a week with only homegrown vegetables, fruit, herbs, eggs, dairy products or meat, using as few store bought ingredients as possible.

The purpose is plain - the waging of an all-out fight against the forces that keep you dependent on the system of petroleum fueled food. The degree to which you rely on today’s artificial corporate structure determines the extent of your vulnerability. Resolve to lessen your dependence on outside food sources.

The result is revolutionary. As you take back responsibility for your food supply, you’ll experience the empowerment and fulfillment that comes from learning the basic skills of providing for yourself and your family.

Let’s sow the seeds of victory and get our hands dirty to fill our plates. Plant a VICTORY GARDEN today!

:: Guidelines ::

A meal must be comprised of food grown on your property or garden plot (literally or figuratively within - 100 feet - of your front or back door). If non-homegrown ingredients are needed, then we suggest following these modified locavore guidelines

If not from BACKYARD, then Locally produced (PTF’s addition)

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic.

If not ORGANIC, then Family farm.

If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business.

If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Fair Trade.

If not any of the above, you are obviously eating McDonnalds or have gone into a supermarket for something other than toilet paper or white vinegar and should STOP NOW - JUST PUT IT DOWN! (duckherder's addition)

Anyhoo, in honour of the abundance of the duckherder garden, and my committement to what Ailleen calls "extreeme gardening" when it is done in the ONC*, I am happy to make the 100 foot challenge a daily rather than weekly effort. What do we think about that? And how many meters is that anyway? I might need to adjust the specs a little to 1500 meters, because that is how far the community garden is from the princess castle......

*Our Nation's Capital

PS - I am really sorry about the spelling mistakes in these past blogs - for some reason the blogger spell check is not working on my 'puter - and lets be frank - I suck at spelling.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

sorry on the hill

So, this morning Mountain Man and I trotted up to the big hill to listen to the big sorry. Chatting on the way up, as thousands of folks converged calmly and sedately onto the hill, we agreed that regardless of our general views of the major parties, this new government had opened the lid on a lovely national sentiment. And we were not dissapointed.

Now I have had very low expectations of Kevin Rudd, but my goodness, he did a fine job today. It was very very moving standing with so many people, listening to that long over due but sincere and well written speach. And I am not too proud to say I wept big duckie tears - of saddnes, of grief, of sorrow, of shame and of empathy.

For the first time since Paul Keating handed down the Native Tittle Legislation, I felt proud to be Australian, pround of this country and our government. I even felt hope!

So it was a little bit of a shock when Brendon Nelson proceed to deliver the most vilest of speeches. A poorly written, incoherent mess of contradictory ideas. He was AWEFUL. It was AWEFULL. And we all looked on in horror. And then we did the only thing we could - we turned our backs. Shame on you Brendon. Shame.

So there we have it - a beautiful expression of a growing national sentiment, hope, and recognition, with a sad little reminder of the impoverished vile little opinions of a few.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cucumbers and Spaghetti Squash

This year the summer harvest has been much restricted. The move from the community garden to the agistment farm has not been without it's challenges. Actually, now that the threat of Level 4 water restrictions seems to have ebbed back into the darkness, I have decided to go back to the community garden. I miss my lovely wormy rich soil - and it's just gunna take too long to turn that paddock of sawdust into something comparable. I popped down the other day, and there is quite a bit of weeding to catch up on I can tell you that for free!

More about that later, but anyhoo, in the meantime, I have been growing as much as possible here at the princess castle. Now technically we are on a 1000 square meter block, but most of that is in reality a lovely green jungle forest, and there is not much room for garden beds. So we go UP!

For example, here is a lovely spaghetti squash zooming along the top of the 6 foot fence. I think the fruit looks like lovely lanterns. You can not see all the other things growing below it. What's all that crap on the fence you ask, well, that is left over from the infamous avocado shanty - the thing that started off this blog.

Funnily enough, all the mulch and poop and love lavished on the recently deceased avocadoes has created HEAVEN for cucumbers, silver beet, beetroots , Italian parsley and these new lovely beauties - spaghetti squash. (I have raved about these before)

And FINALLY, we are eating those amazing brandywine tomatoes. They are lovely. Why no pictures? Well, they just don’t hang around long enough to be photographed!

The bushes they grow on are VERY vigorous – and I have had one burst out of it’s trellis cage with the weight of the ripening fruit and rain we have been having. It seems to be coping OK with being a prostrate variety. But all the others are going OK.

But are they better than the old favorite grosse lisse? Jury is still out. Will let you know. Certainly the fruit seems a little more robust.

So what else is coming out of our little garden atm? Cucumbers, silver beet, beetroots (yum!), herbs, potatoes and basil,

I need to get my act together and start planting seeds for autumn. That is my goal this weekend: make up some seedling mix out of worm castings, sand, compost and coconut fiber, and GET SOME SEEDS IN YOU LAZY DUCK!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What's new?

Anyone in the market for new cotton sheet sets might be interested in these little beauties:

Bargain of the week:
Queen Size Cotton Sheet Sets - $35 DELIVERED

Now that's a bargain.

I bought one set, and they arived the NEXT DAY. I was so impressed, I bought another two sets. So that should be us sorted for sheets for the next decade!

It can be very hard to find cotton sheets in the lovely earth colours I like, but here we are! purplish pink (what I would call a dusty pink) and coffee. yippee!

Other new things this week - Hydrogen Peroxide

This is my new wonder cleaning product. Imagine something that kills germs, sterilises cleaning cloths, cutting boards, kitchen bench tops and tooth brushes, and then breaks down into hydrogen and water, is safe for septics, and harmless for your garden or grey water system.

FABULOUS. I am just having a bit of trouble finding 1 liter bottles. It looks like perhaps hairdressing suppliers might be the way to go. Does anyone else use hydrogen peroxide for cleaning?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

more on that amazing machine

Today is a happy day. I am taking much joy from some very simple things. This morning at the Farmer's Market a nice man gave me a bag of soggy apricots. So now, as I write, I can hear that lovely little breadmaker making me up some apricot jam.

The other day I was musing about how lovely it is to have neighbours and work colleauges with fruit trees and jam making skills. I was gifted jars of freshly made apricot and fig jam for feeding Caroline's doggies for a week, and the biggest hippy gave me some of his WONDERFUL marmelade made with special oranges from Mildura. Each year he makes the trek to Mildura with his beloved to spend Christmas with her family. One of the side benifits of this trek is that he can source the perfect marmelade oranges - and I am quite a fan of perfect marmelade! In exchange, the biggest hippy relishes the duck eggs I frequently gift to him. That the next day, they return to the office in the form of luscious cakes for our morning tea is neither here nor there....

And what better way to indulge in these wonderful jams than to have finally cracked the "how to have fabulous bread when you don't eat wheat" conundrum. The little machine makes sublime wholemeal spelt bread, enriched with olive oil and whey flour, linseeds and sunflower seeds.

My Nanna made jam. As well as a long list of other elegantly frugal delights. I have never bothered because I don't see the point of buying fruit to make jam, and as yet, I don't have the orchard of my dreams. I did make cumquat jam once, but while pretty, cumquats are not my favourite fruit, and they certainly don't make a superior marmelade. The apricots are from a grower near orange. They are a different variety to apricots generally grown aroung ONC*, obvioulsy later - with a very different flavour.

And I feel very close to my Nanna standing at the sink cutting off rotten bits, seeding and chopping. I also feel a bit naughty siting here blogging while the super bread maker stirs the jam - when she would have had to stand at the stove stiring for an hour. I am also cheating by simulataniously sterilising the jam jars in the dishwasher - SHAMLESS. But I don't care! Chances are when we move to a farm next year, there will be no dish washer - and I will have to do it the old fashioned way - or buy a baby bottle steriliser......

And there is not much cuter than a bakers dozen fluffy white chickens squabling over a seriously rotten apricot - silkies are MADE for pottering under orchards - they love soft fruits more than any other chook breed I know. I look forward to that day when the flock can beetle around under an orchard.

* Our Nation's Capital

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lacuna Sabath

Not much of a Lacuna Sabath today - I had to go into Queanbeyan for work, BUT, here is a little someting from the garden that is giving me much joy at the moment - my baby magnolia tree didn't flower this year, BUT, here we are, in late summer - 4 blooms. I always forget what a stunning colour they are. They take my breath away. It is only a young tree, and it is in a challenging position, but hopefuly she will grow and grow and one day be spectacular.

And here is a bit of naughtiness, for Lucy C who missed the emergence of Mongo, the runtiest fluffy chicken ever. Mongo had just marched into the house through an open door and commenced eating the cat food. The sound of Mongo pecking in the cat bowl woke Poppet up who raced over to hunt Mongo away and start eating herself. So I gave Mongo some bread crumbs because he is so cute!

Also, I wanted to say thankyou folks for all your tea and sympathy about Maurice - thanks everyone. I miss that little fella lots. I am very grateful for all your kind posts and understanding. Thankfully no one else in the flock appears to be coming down with anything - so I remain hopeful. Prepared for the worst, but hopeful for the best, if you know what I mean.

Well thats it - Im off for bed.