It’s the second week of January and I find myself reflecting more on 2016.
I didn’t have the horror year that seems to have been the collective experience of many via various social media feeds. Numerology didn’t deal me a dodgy hand and for that, I’m extremely grateful. I appreciate the health, security, privilege and love that I experienced in 2016. I really enjoyed our overseas trip and am so thankful that it finally happened. One, because it means that DH and I made it through the ups and downs of ten years of marriage and two, because I’m conflicted about driving my car to work, let alone travelling thousands of kilometres by plane and train.
In my planning journey for 2017, I have been sorting priorities and goals and working out ways to remind myself to live more consciously, be that in the moment or by my values. The Universe, with a little help from Facebook, gave me a gentle reminder that I’m heading in the right direction by providing this blog post by George Monbiot from 2012.
So it’s been around a while. So it’s not “current” news. But, like the best writing, it’s transcendent because the topic is so relevant and still something of which we need to be conscious.
I had a great Christmas. I spent time with my siblings, parents, friends (old and new) and we enjoyed each other’s company, as well as good food and great beach weather. And for me, their presence was present enough.
This blog has been sadly neglected. I guess part of that is that I’m not really into talking to myself and part of that is that I haven’t been applying myself to the farm, so didn’t really have much to talk about. But it’s a new year. And new years always stir new beginnings in me, a pattern I am becoming more aware of as I get older.
I have some new subscribers, hello! Now that I know there are people out there interested, it makes sense to me to apply more of myself to this blog as a record of who I am and what I have to share, and the changes I make in myself and the world around me. I have been oscillating; between city and farm, work and self-employment, here and there, up-beat and down-trodden. I’d like a little stability and I’m placing this blog at the centre of that. Sure, it might be a big call, but I’m nothing if not extravagant!
My list of 100 things to do around this little farm in 2017 looks like this:
- Build more veg beds to complete vegie patch
- Plan and complete keyline ploughing
- Plan and build roof extension
- Plan and build filter bed for olive processing waste into compost
- Build 8 compost bays
- Plan and build chook tractors for paddocks
- Plan and build greenhouse
- Build deck at west end of house
- Plan and build chook house for domestic use
- Plan and build irrigation for olive trees
- Prune olive trees
- Finish Whole Farm Plan
Install water tanks under deck
- Plant vegies
- Get breeding stock of chickens
- Document the farm projects as I go (at least monthly blog updates, with photos)
- Plan and build fire protection system (irrigation etc)
- Plan and build swale and dam system
- Plant tree corridor
- Mulch olive trees
- Plan and implement underplanting of olive trees
- Install taps at each corner of the house
- Plan and install irrigation for garden around house
- Plan and build herb garden
- Get organic certification
- Get biodynamic certification
- Plan and implement rotational cropping system for vegie patch
- Plant and install wall planters that I got for Christmas 2016
- Sell olive oil in storage
- Plan and build chook tractor for vegie patch
- Install library/spare bedroom layout in loft
- Plan and build internal fences
- Fix exterior fences
- Build new entrance gates
- Plant perimeter trees
- Plan and build hops trellis
- Plant berries
- Plant bananas
- Plant coffee
- Plant espalier fruit trees about the vegie patch
- Get breeding stock of cows
- Plan and build dairy
- Plant citrus grove
- Plant avocado trees
- Plant more pomegranates
- Plant chestnut grove
- Plant hazelnuts
- Plan and complete landscaping around house
- Plan and complete landscaping around processing shed
- Rearrange bedroom furniture
- Get two proper wardrobes
- Install shelves in study above the desk
- Buy and install shelves for cool and dry stores
- Plan and build strawberry forest
- Plant flowers/succulents under the solar array
- Replace wood heater
- Plan and implement rotational grazing system
- Plan and implement rotational cropping system for farm paddocks
- Plan and build grain sprouting system
- Buy seed planting equipment for paddocks
Buy soil blockers (large and small)
- Plan and build tool shed under deck at the western end
- Buy electric mesh fencing
- Plan and build She Shed
- Plan and build 3 tiny houses
- Plan and build retaining wall behind processing shed
- Plan and build retaining wall near machinery shed
- Make path beside processing shed
- Plan and build stables
- Plan and build new graded road through property
- Install bath in bathroom
- Install shelves in laundry cupboard
- Install carpet in bedrooms
- Plan and build cool store into machinery shed retaining wall
- Empty shipping container and convert to dry store
- Get breeding stock of sheep
- Get riding horses
- Get draft horses
- Plan and build cafe/store at new gate
- Plan and build ice house
- Build and landscape natural swimming pool
- Landscape creek path, include small bridge
- Landscape big rock area
- Plan and build natural swimming pool
- Create sacred grotto
- Plan and build temple
- Seed truffles
- Seed mushrooms under pines
- Clean and organise machinery shed
- Buy and install shelves for machinery shed
- Plan and build labyrinth walk
- Install double-glazed windows
- Plan and build grape trellis
- Plant sugar beets and make sugar
- Buy horse drawn carriage
- Buy horse drawn wagon/cart
- Plan and build retreat/chapel building
- Plan and build glamping space at small dam
- Buy antique armchairs for studio space
- Plan and build a stile over the fence to Neil’s place
There is some crossover between this list and the Business Goals list I’ve written for myself this year, but that’s another blog post. These projects are things that I’ve wanted to do for a while and I’m curious to see how many I can get through this year.
Anyone would think that the district is ablaze like it’s mid-Summer today. The smoke haze in our part of the world is thick and still, stinging the eyes and back of the throat. Asthmatics beware!
I was driving back from Bendigo and became more and more incensed by the increase in smoke haze as I travelled towards ThisLittleFarm. We live in an area with many vineyards, but also large cropping properties further north. I was dismayed by the burning off of the crop residue and vine prunings that I saw as I drove. What a lovely opportunity for carbon sequestration going up in smoke!
In America, co-ops and community supported agriculture (CSA) schemes are well known and well supported. CSAs began in Japan in the 80’s when some city-dwelling women started the teikei movement which means “putting the farmers’ faces on the food”. They were underwhelmed with the lack of knowledge about where the food came from, who grew it and how. Australians are usually more familiar with box schemes, which is a similar concept, but has some fundamental differences, usually in the finances of the schemes.
If I stop to assess my motivations, I always wanted to buy a farm because of the perceived security that it offers – owning land on which to grow food and collect water and feed my soul. The space to roam and dream and work and be free. But I have come to realise that it doesn’t work that way. I don’t own the land. In some ways it owns me! But more importantly, I am only care-taking. This land was here long before me. It is ancient and bold and brave and awesome and beautiful, even though it is currently degraded and denuded and devalued.
My recent experiment with biochar is working really well as a mulch for the feijoa trees at the farm.
I have been thinking of ways to refine the process to produce maximum charcoal and little or no ash. I should have stayed up all night to watch the previous burn but I didn’t and so lost a fair amount of the charcoal in the process. I’m now curious to see if it’s possible for me to produce charcoal with no ash at all.
Today I got my medieval on and had a go at making biochar. This is a skill still practiced by charcoal burners in Europe, although it’s been a dying art for a while now. It’s rediscovery as a potential solution to climate change has caused a resurgence in interest and production of this ancient material as it helps sequester carbon when the charcoal is added to soil.