Monday, October 8, 2012

Ginger Champagne is GO

OK, so Eileen and I spent Saturday afternoon inpromptuly batching up 42 liters of ginger champagne. This is GOOD STUFF. Well, it will be in 9 months time......

There is another 25 litres of Kiwi Melomel doing a secondary ferment on the bookcase in front of my desk. I am waiting for this to slow down enough to bottle....Its a delicate balance.....too much fermenting left to do after bottling means exploding bottles and popping corks.....too little and the melomel is still, just enough and we have lovely spritzy bubbles! There is no science to this with wild fermentation - just gut. Trust your gut. Wait for the planets to align and for the creative tension in one's tummy to go still and clear and say "It is time"

All through the house I can here the gentle "glub..........glub......" from 4 different airlocks.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

20,000 tiny deaths in the family

OK, so I have some sad news I have been saving up.......we acknowledge the passing of Dear Queen Malina on the Front Deck and 20,000 of her best friends.

The girls didn't make it though winter.......

The forensic investigation is considering a number of possibilities.......when I checked the hive just before winter, I noticed a few strange things....there had been a massive die off of worker bees.....lots of their dried out bodies up above the queen excluder......and most of the extra honey stores I was planning on harvesting were gone.......I put this down to a wee bit of poisoning.......Mr Duck had oiled the decking around the hive, AND there had been lots of resealing of the roads in the suburb.....both of these could have set the girls back a bit.

Also, during this little peek I saw HRH Queen Malina herself! This was unexpected as I had assumed she would have been replaced by a daughter long before now.....she is a almost three years old. I was NOT expecting to see her little white dotty back at all.

So it is possible she was failing as the hive went into winter.......and that there were perhaps not enough girls in the hive or honey stores to get them through......

Anyhooo, the hive is empty and silent.

When I get around to it I will take the hive apart and check it more thoroughly, and get it ready for a new swarm in the spring.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Winter Greens

OK, so remember those wicking garden beds I was putting in.......well, they were great over summer and have been even better over winter. The covers are actually pretty good at keeping the frost out and the warmth in.

We have had cut and come again lettuce pretty much all winter.......

 And for the first year I have grown valeriana or corn salad....It is really only getting a kick along now. I think I planted it a bit too late.......

 And this is something new.....miners lettuce. It is really nice to eat and has the same cut and come again characteristics that are so valuable in winter.......

Baby spinach has been crisp and sweet. I have just planted some more rows of seeds in the spaces. Its not too late to get a second crop of spinach in the ONC.

 Yummi. What a great selection for my green smoothies and salads each day!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Enough already.

 I came across this interview with Vicki Robin of "You Money or Your Life" fame. Downloaded the book onto my magical Kindle......

Goodness. It has triggered a bit of serious soul searching and deep reflection. I know I am probably the LAST humanoid in the elegant frugality blogosphere to discover YMOYL but you know...better late than never!

Things I have discovered so far:
  • I have some seriously $^@&ed up deeply held beliefs about money, work and what it is for.....ever as a free range chook. 
  • I have enough. 

I REALLY do have enough stuff.

Anyhoo, I feel deeply inspired and almost giddy with anticipation. I feel like my eyes have been OPENED.

In other news, and in homage to all things wonderful and free, I started making Kiwi Vinegar today with some of the very last squishy kiwis. Its only been a few hours, but it is ALREADY smelling divine.

Recipe adapted from the pineapple skin recipe from WILD FERMENTATION by Sandor Ellix Katz.

Ingredients are:
  • 1 liter rain water
  • 60 gms sugar
  • Squishy Kiwis
  • 2 weeks.

How much does 1 liter of Boutique Organic Kiwi Vinegar cost to make?

However much 60 grams of white sugar costs.

Now that is elegant.

In other news, I am going to a Christmas in July well August celebration tomorrow night. In line with my new frugal elegance, I made 8 little jars of moisturizer to give out as presents.

Well, that's Friday and that is all.

Have decided not to spend any money this week. Given that I have ENOUGH and all. Except on food. And some unavoidable work travel expenses while I am in FNQ later this week.

Gook luck me!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Formic Acid and BAS statements

One of the down sides of being a free range chook is the requirement to produce a BAS each quarter. Here is Ziva helping me to sort my receipts out.......

In other news, ANTS discovered the Kiwi Melomel. Big long trail of ants climbing up and going in, no ants coming out, lots of ants floating on the top.

I fished as many as I could out.....and anyway it was time to get all the fruit out so I strained the whole lot into a new carboy....and capped it off with an air lock. Perhaps the judicious addition of some formic acid in the form of deceased ant carcases will only help....? who knows.

The crochet cardigan is going nicely thank you. The ducks have picked up their laying - YAY GO DUCKS.

I met the lovely Mr and Mrs Bredbo Valley View Farm at the farmers markets today. They had a little trailer fill of cute little show and tell piggies. SWOON.

Thats it for a Sunday.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Two delicious things on this raining afternoon. Three if you count having a nap. Oh the life of a duck herding consultant!

Behold the Kiwi Melomel on day 3. The froth has gone. I think the froth was mostly pollen from the honey and a result of all the swishing and stirring to get the honey to dissolve on a mid winter day. 

And I have just ordered the yarn for a new project. How gorgeous is this crocheted cardigan! Gwynne from next door lent me the pattern. She has made the same thing but out of different wool. I fell in love with the colours as much as the pattern, so for once I am going to follow the pattern COMPLETELY and even use the SPECIFIED wool in the SPECIFIED colours! What fun to try a bit of compliance. How hard could it be?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

everyone loves kiwi fruit

Enough already with the ranting. (sorry about that)

 We are on the last few buckets of this years kiwi fruit. I know I do go on about how perfect these vines are for ONCian regions......BUT THEY ARE! What else gives you fresh beautiful fruit in the DEAD of winter. Kiwi fruit are BEST when they are left on the vine until late June or July.  Of course, by this stage, EVERYONE in the neighborhood is after them.

Luckily bread trumps kiwi fruit, so it is easy enough to cajole the possums onto bread. But there was such a big crop this year there has been more than enough for everyone.

Mostly we just eat these fresh - tones of them every day. They also feature heavily in the daily green smoothie affair. AND this year I am trying them in my very first batch of kiwi hooch melomel. Yessiree folks. Its time for some more WILD FERMENTATION.We are still working our way merrily through bottle after bottle of cherry melomel (locally known as "cherry sherry") , sparkling wild plum melomel and um, I think that's it.) How on earth could sparkly kiwi stuff not work?

Above you can see 20 odd liters of water, honey and mushed up kiwis. Will keep you posted.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

we eat weeds

OK, So, we are still worshiping at the altar of green smoothies. Between the raised garden beds and the green house we have a pretty constant supply of lovely greens for smoothies and salads.

Two "weeds" that used to be problems in one of the raised garden beds are nettles and what I now know is CHICKWEED. Regular viewers will know that I have a long term love affair going on with COOKED nettles, so imagine how excited I got when I read somewhere that they go just fine in smoothies and that somehow magically whizzing them up gets rid of the stingyness. (where does it go?)

After a few cautious trials I can happily confirm this to be TRUE.

But onto the CHICKWEED. In winter, my raised garden bets get sozzled in THIS which I pull out and toss to the ducks who much it down happily (I should have known).

Turns out it is CHICKWEED. Which is also, it turns out, perfect for green smoothies.

So this morning's concoction was:

Chia Seeds

And from the garden, freshly picked:

Corn Salad
Baby Spinach

Yum yum.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Money Diet Debt Challenge

OK. SO. I am feeling very inspired after hanging around at Adam Baker's Man VS Debt website In consultation with Mr Duck I am back on the money diet and WE have set ourselves a challenge to pay $20,000 in extra payments off the princess castle mortgage by the end of the calendar year.

Actually my goal is to pay off our house mortgage as soon as possible, but it makes sense to start off slowly and break it down into little achievable chunks. I think we owe just under $200,000. Not a lot by average standards, but WOW, wouldn't it feel great if it was a big FAT ZERO and we completely owned our happy home. Happy Christmas to US.

Those of you with a less irrepressible approach to high cash flow would already KNOW that there are two ways to make money......earn MORE and spend LESS. Usually I just focus on the first, but this time I am gunna focus on the second just as much if not more.

Here is Adam's TED x talk here.

My bible on the journey if Rhonda's DOWN TO EARTH book. I love this book so much.

Land of NO DEBT

Bring it on. 

Yours in BIG LOVE

To blog or not to blog.....

That is the question. What is a blog for? Does it matter if you only do it now and again? A lot has been happening internally, but not much of it is coming out in words, or even pictures.

I think I will take the camera out for a walk and see what is happening in my life.

There has been quiet. And ups and downs. And people behaving beautifully. And people behaving badly. Just people doing their stuff. Frankly I am not a fan.

The duck.


Monday, June 18, 2012

my movie has been funded!

So cool, the movie I backed on kickstarter has reached its goal and is going to get funded!

I think I have watched this trailer perhaps 10 times and it still fills me with incredible joy and still makes me a bit teary.

Its not too late to become a  backer and perhaps get your very own copy of the DVD sent out to you, or receive a free download........

The internets. Making it so easy to connect and be part of good things.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Crochet with a Duck and a Llama

It's on again folks.

If you are a fellow ONCian who thinks they might just like to learn the gentle art of CROCHET, well, Alpaca Magic is running another CRAZY ABOUT CROCHET course and you can learn to crochet from a duck.

This was such fun last year. The course runs over three Saturday afternoons from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

The workshops happen in a sunny warm space at Alpaca Magic out at Sutton. Dates for this year are:

Saturday 16th, 23rd and 30th June
From 1:00pm - 4:00pm
At Alpaca Magic, 2771 Sutton Rd, Sutton.

  • Session 1 will cover the basic stitches, reading crochet recipes, yarns and basic Llama hugging techniques. 
  • Session 2 will have you all ready to start on a lovely project of your choosing - perhaps a nice beanie or noodley spiral scarf.
  • Session 3 will see us finishing up our projects, leaning another new stitch and going 3D into the world of crochet flowers. 

Cost will be $160 for the whole three days including a cuppa, lots of support and giggles and fun, enchanted encounters with the llamas and alpacas, course notes, your very own crochet hook and some practice yarn.

EVEN IF YOU HAVE NEVER HELD A CROCHET HOOK BEFORE AND ARE ESPECIALLY SCARED you are very very welcome. You will be able to buy beautiful yarn made from the fleeces of the alpacas that live at the farm - home grown fleece! Of course you are welcome to use other yarns of your choosing because THIS IS ABOUT CROCHET LOVE.

What do you think? Prospective Gentleman Crocheters are very welcome - CROCHET IS NOT FOR SISSIES you know.

Enrollment forms are available from the Alpaca Magic website. Is this a nice thing to do?

You betcha.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

lives of quiet desparation

Hey internets. Its only 8:00am and already I have been moved to tears by three lovely things. How cool is life! How lovely is it to be ALIVE?!

Some of you may not be aware that earlier this year I did a very cool thing. (just as cool as green smoothies)

I gave up STRESS.

Yup. Just gave it up. Don't need it any more.

Since then, I have noticed (from my serene sea of calm) that people I LOVE LOVE LOVE catch and hold on to stress so so much and this makes my heart so sad. I notice the bad habits that I used to be very GOOD AT and COMMITTED TO being played out in my lovelies.....something happens at work, our staff do something stupid/dumb/mean/silly/REALLY STUPID, and somehow that becomes OUR problem, and we get STRESSED and distressed about things that really have nothing to do with us, and really, while we may be able to influence them/it/the situation, it really isnt something that we can change or fix (we can not actually stop stupid people from being stupid) and it doesn't actually need to affect US PERSONALLY and cause us distress......and headaches, and tight necks and force us to eat timtams and all the rest.

We CHOOSE to take things personally and get stressed about things.

Anyhoo, I choose LIFE!

My dear friend Sherdie who I suspect is also on the verge of giving up stress blogged about this:

Have you seen the Should I Quit Test? A free 5-min test to see if you should leave your job.

I scored 28 on a scale of 130 where 130 means you REALLY NEED TO QUIT YOUR JOB NOW. So I think this is a good sign I am kinda on the right track.

Other lovely things that happened today is that I became a kickstarter backer. I backed this film which means I am now a movie investor!

You might like to watch the short. It made me weep in a nice way. I think it is an important message.

Now what was the other lovely thing....

Oh, thats right....I am a big fan of the whole hungryforchange phenomenon, and this morning in my inbox there was this nice link to a clip about John Gabriel's book about weightloss. 

Now I know I am someone who does not struggle with weighty issues, but I have friends that do and I think the whole hungry for change and john gabriel stuff is really really important.

Somehow, giving up stress, choosing LIFE, drinking green smoothies every day, spreading the word that its OK not to live a life of quiet desperation, giving yourself permission to quit your stupid job and start following your hearts desires and growing the things you want more of in your life, and loving your body and finding what it needs to feel safe and not be porky and being kind to our selves and each other and backing a project financially that I think deserves to happen which is also rewarding the project team for following THEIR dreams all on a Saturday morning before my greensmoothie points to a lovely Saturday methinks.

big love everyone

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

and another thing

Two posts in one day. Who woulda thought.......

I grew some fat arse pumpkins down at the community garden this year. Slyly offered the Couragnaut one........then he had to carry it.

Another made it to the St John Vianney Primary School fete for a "guess how much this crazy pumpkin weighs" fund raising competition. That one took two humans to carry.

Another one is basking resplendent and on display in our front garden.  I noticed some little animal has been gnawing on it.....keep going buddy!

The other night over some drinks and a fire the gauntlet was laid down, the challenge was put out there......the Holder Community Garden is having a pumpkin growing competition next year.

Of course I intend to win.

So tell me, is $10 for a single super sized champion blood line pumpkin seed from parents who both topped 500kg too much to pay? 

I didn't think so.

Apron Swap

We return now to regular broadcasting.........

Remember the apron swap? Well, in the end, I was super happy with my sewing achievements. This gorgeous thing safely made its way to Eileen in California. HOW COOL IS THAT!

I found the most beautiful 1920's reproduction apron pattern. Fellow ONCians, if you are interested, I am happy for you to trace your own version from mine, It is so lovely lovely lovely.

Looking at these photos taken by Mr Duck just before I posted it off, I realize how much linear time has slipped by....that would be a T-SHIRT I am wearing, and those would be bright green leaves on the Kiwi Vine....which are still green, but with crunchy frosted bits on top and masses of ripening kiwis.......

So. I declare I can SEW. kinda. If you don't look too closely.......

AND, no photos yet, but I did receive the most gorgeous lovely apron from Eileen in return.

I love a good global swapping project!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Worshiping at the Altar of Green Smoothies

Well, it has been almost a month since I started worshiping at the altar of green smoothies. This was breakfast yesterday; banana, pear, apple,ginger and fresh from the garden: lettuce, baby beet leaves, parsley, carrot tops, black kale, and mint.

 And this is what it looks like all mushed up. DELICIOUS.

Today was chia seeds, cinnamon, apple, banana and a WHOLE LETTUCE.

I think these things have changes my life. I feel zingy and I have more energy and the fog is lifting from my brain and I have lost 2 kg without even trying. Other weird things, I have LOST my cravings for naughty sweet cakes and deserts and bread and biscuits. They have just gorn......

Crazy stuff.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lacuna Sabbath

 Hooray. Today was a slothful devotional to the Lacuna Sabbath. I did manage to get out of my jammies by noon, but only barely. I did manage to finish a new crocheted beanie in delicious Noro Silk Garden yarn, a scrumptious indulgence.

Anyhoo, I know I have been tardy dear interwebs.........

So now for a quick update. Behold the first Austrian Oil Seed Pumpkin. Now, I am a FAN of the is true and I was especially looking forward to seeing inside of this magical beast..........

On the PLUS side, these pepitas are HUGE and DELICIOUS. On the down side, many of them have already germinated........which is a bit weird. Any ideas? I did have the pumpkin showy-offily displayed on the warmth of the kitchen bench for a week or so....perhaps too much warmth?

 Another downer is that this is one TASTELESS pumpkin......but with really tough and bitter skin......the flesh is OK in an insipid overgrown squash hide it in a casserole or curry kind of way, but even me who is a signed up lover of pumpkin skin was pretty keen to steer clear of that yucki bitter stuff..........

Would I grow them again? That depends on whether the other pumpkins from this vine have better pepitas......fingers crossed.

I have discovered the delights and wonderfulness of GREEN SMOOTHIES.  Behold my breakfast, just before it gets apple, pear and an assortment of greens from the garden. I love this stuff.

I am on the hunt for purslane......I am sure I have seen it growing in the garden and around the traps..... I am on a mission to identify and EAT as much as I can before the first frost........and have purchased some seeds from greenharvest so that if I grow it from scratch, I might better identify the stuff in the wild!

And I am thinking about chemicals. Dieldren to be exact, because I have a sneaky suspicion it is everywhere........Dieldren used to be sprayed around all over the place with gay abandon and strong government endorsement......just like DDT........anyhoo, Dieldren is something I regularly test compost for (mine and others) and let me tell you, even it you didn't put it in, it is there in the finished product, even if it is just a tiny turns up in the most unlikely places..........

And if it was sprayed on your farm, or your garden, or your house, it is probably still there. In the soil. 

sheesh. Sometimes its better not to know these things!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hungry for Change

First I watched this. It is Jamie Oliver's TED award speech from 2010. Pretty powerful stuff.

This is also pretty powerful stuff. But in a really really good uplifting empowering exciting way. I watched the full film this afternoon on the 'puter. You can watch it for free for the next few days.........

Sunday, March 18, 2012

God Help my Swap Partner

OK, so the duck has not sewn for over, um, lets see, 41 minus 18, that's 23 years. Now, my beloved sister moved to the dark dank cold isle (Tasmania) about a year ago and left me her beloved dutiful Elna sewing machine.

Anyhoo I signed up for Down to Earth's Apron swap seems 1) I got so much joy out of the dishcloth swap and 2) I would really like to learn how to sew seems I have enough lovely pink chair fabric left over to make a spiffy skirt and 3) I now have in my possession a much loved functional basic but dependable sewing machine with a proven track record.

I mane REALLY, how hard could it be?

  Harder than we might think.

My poor swap buddy. I apologize in advance.
Lucky I decided to do some practice.

I mean, I got HALF the bias binding on OK. That is DUCK binding don't you know. The other half I put on the wrong side....then I was having problems with the tension.....and lets face it, I am a gumby.

I then found this gorgeous tutorial. This is about the cutest.

Thank you angry chicken.

So, dear Swap Buddy, let me ASSURE you this is a PRACTICE, and I will KEEP PRACTICING until I create something worthy of sending you!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ducks, Humans & Comfrey

From my desk where I am busily procrastinating, I can hear the ducks munching away on the comfrey. They love it. I love it too. I know some folks are a bit thing about eating it but I must admit I do whack whole leaves of the stuff into my green smoothies. The hysteria about comfrey being poisonous seems a little (lot) over blown to me. From what I have read, the leaves are PROFOUNDLY good for you, quite safe and no bad things have happened to anyone from eating them......

Anyway, I trust the ducks.

In other news, even though they are moulting, these girls are STILL laying their beautiful big fat orange yolked eggs.Thats 9 months straight - for 2 and 3 year old duckies. HAZZAH for ducks.

Must be the comfrey.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

kiwi cuttings - plants for FREE

OK, so I did a little research. Yes, I know, I am meant to be writing a report for naturally my attention turns to anything but........

Looks like Diggers WILL be selling Issai again later this year. Hooray!
But I am gunna make some for free.

These nice people here at The Walden Effect say it is FINE to take soft wood cuttings in Summer. Well, it is almost still here we go. They say SURE you can stuff around with rooting powders, propagation trays, heat mats and misters, OR you can just whack them into jars of water and see how you go.

So this is what I have done. I did add some VRM XLR8 Bio (link downloads brochure) for good measure, to help out compete bad fungi and help with root establishment. I also added a little rooting gel...........

Will keep you posted.

Odds and Sods

This is cool. We have our first ever Actinidia Arguta "Issai" hardy (or "grape") kiwi fruit. Don't get too excited. It is really only half an inch long. This little vine had lots of flowers this year, but only one set. It is meant to be self fertile......but who knows. These little vines were available for just a very short time from Diggers a few years ago but I have not seen them since. If the little farm project comes off, I will need to take some cuttings from this little fella over winter, and a few of his friends......

There is a little back log of winter seedlings in the glass house waiting for space to become available down at the community garden. Now that sounds like we have a very productive thing going on down there, but that is not quite true. All that wonderful rain finished up the tomatoes who did not like having wet feet one bit at all. There is lots of cleaning up to do. I have discovered the autopots are super at getting seeds up. 

Here is something I haven't seen before on our Lisbon lemon tree - old and new season lemons all at once. Lisbons I think are good for our cold climate.....they do not really fruit all year, mostly in winter, but this year our lovely tree is proving us wrong. They make a biggish tree, and have big thorns, but it is a real old fashioned lemon on a cold hardy bush. This tree is looking a little yellow. I think I need to give her a big feed and add some Epsom salts for a good shot of magnesium.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Triumphant Again

You may rest assured that your loyal duck herder continues to be associated with the ONCs BEST PERFORMING COMMUNITY GARDEN EVER IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE AND BEYOND. 

Yesiree. Once again we CLEANED UP at the Canberra Royal Horticultural Society thingy show.

Completely kicked arse. CLEANED THE TABLE with our arch nemesis Cook Community Garden's buts. 

First Prize - Best Vegetable Exibit
First Prize - Best Fruit Exhibit
First Prize - Best Flower Exhibit.
Second Prize - Overall Display. (Congratulations Kaleen Garden on this one! Your veggies were spectacular)

And yes, that is my pumpkin on the floor!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Meeting an old friend for the first time

Yesterday afternoon was a special treat. Rhonda from Down to Earth fame was in Canberra for a book signing, and my golly gosh I high tailed it through the rain over to Paperchain in Manuka to give her a big fat hug.

And I bought my first copy of Down to Earth. First, because I am sure I will be buying many more over the coming months as gifts.

And Rhonda signed it for me and drew me a duck.

This book is just beautiful.
And it felt pretty wonderful to give Rhonda and Hanno a big real hug.

Do ya self a favor.......get a copy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weathering the Storm

We are expecting weather. WEATHER. Mostly around these parts that would mean gasping for air and water in over 40 degree heat bunkering down for the bush fires.......descicating ourselves in the hot westerly winds.......

But no. La Nina it very kind to us here. When she chooses to visit. We are expecting a few days of gentle but relentless rain. RAIN.


I will not have a mean thing said about La Nina.

Anyhoo, is there a chance that 3 months of absence will pass un-noticed?

And in other news. Imagine if you were offered a farm....... a FARM to live on - to rent, in the middle of no where......not a princess castle worthy farm..... but a farm non the less....would you go? should we go? shall we go?

It is going to be an interesting year...........

enjoy the rain ONCians......

Season of the Tomato

Hello world. It is the season of the tomato. It is. I wonder if 21 bottles of tomatoes will be enough.......