Christmas Wrap up

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.

Talking the talk vs walking the walk

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:

  1. Build more veg beds to complete vegie patch
  2. Plan and complete keyline ploughing
  3. Plan and build roof extension
  4. Plan and build filter bed for olive processing waste into compost
  5. Build 8 compost bays
  6. Plan and build chook tractors for paddocks
  7. Plan and build greenhouse
  8. Build deck at west end of house
  9. Plan and build chook house for domestic use
  10. Plan and build irrigation for olive trees
  11. Prune olive trees
  12. Finish Whole Farm Plan
  13. Install water tanks under deck
  14. Plant vegies
  15. Get breeding stock of chickens
  16. Document the farm projects as I go (at least monthly blog updates, with photos)
  17. Plan and build fire protection system (irrigation etc)
  18. Plan and build swale and dam system
  19. Plant tree corridor
  20. Mulch olive trees
  21. Plan and implement underplanting of olive trees
  22. Install taps at each corner of the house
  23. Plan and install irrigation for garden around house
  24. Plan and build herb garden
  25. Get organic certification
  26. Get biodynamic certification
  27. Plan and implement rotational cropping system for vegie patch
  28. Plant and install wall planters that I got for Christmas 2016
  29. Sell olive oil in storage
  30. Plan and build chook tractor for vegie patch
  31. Install library/spare bedroom layout in loft
  32. Plan and build internal fences
  33. Fix exterior fences
  34. Build new entrance gates
  35. Plant perimeter trees
  36. Plan and build hops trellis
  37. Plant berries
  38. Plant bananas
  39. Plant coffee
  40. Plant espalier fruit trees about the vegie patch
  41. Get breeding stock of cows
  42. Plan and build dairy
  43. Plant citrus grove
  44. Plant avocado trees
  45. Plant more pomegranates
  46. Plant chestnut grove
  47. Plant hazelnuts
  48. Plan and complete landscaping around house
  49. Plan and complete landscaping around processing shed
  50. Rearrange bedroom furniture
  51. Get two proper wardrobes
  52. Install shelves in study above the desk
  53. Buy and install shelves for cool and dry stores
  54. Plan and build strawberry forest
  55. Plant flowers/succulents under the solar array
  56. Replace wood heater
  57. Plan and implement rotational grazing system
  58. Plan and implement rotational cropping system for farm paddocks
  59. Plan and build grain sprouting system
  60. Buy seed planting equipment for paddocks
  61. Buy soil blockers (large and small)
  62. Plan and build tool shed under deck at the western end
  63. Buy electric mesh fencing
  64. Plan and build She Shed
  65. Plan and build 3 tiny houses
  66. Plan and build retaining wall behind processing shed
  67. Plan and build retaining wall near machinery shed
  68. Make path beside processing shed
  69. Plan and build stables
  70. Plan and build new graded road through property
  71. Install bath in bathroom
  72. Install shelves in laundry cupboard
  73. Install carpet in bedrooms
  74. Plan and build cool store into machinery shed retaining wall
  75. Empty shipping container and convert to dry store
  76. Get breeding stock of sheep
  77. Get riding horses
  78. Get draft horses
  79. Plan and build cafe/store at new gate
  80. Plan and build ice house
  81. Build and landscape natural swimming pool
  82. Landscape creek path, include small bridge
  83. Landscape big rock area
  84. Plan and build natural swimming pool
  85. Create sacred grotto
  86. Plan and build temple
  87. Seed truffles
  88. Seed mushrooms under pines
  89. Clean and organise machinery shed
  90. Buy and install shelves for machinery shed
  91. Plan and build labyrinth walk
  92. Install double-glazed windows
  93. Plan and build grape trellis
  94. Plant sugar beets and make sugar
  95. Buy horse drawn carriage
  96. Buy horse drawn wagon/cart
  97. Plan and build retreat/chapel building
  98. Plan and build glamping space at small dam
  99. Buy antique armchairs for studio space
  100. 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.

Ol’ Smokey

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!

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Community Supported Agriculture

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.

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Organic revolution in me

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.

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Further biochar musings

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.

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Biochar beginnings

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.

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