Welcome to February

Isn’t it amazing how fast time passes? At least this year I can say that I have been actively working towards something, rather than coasting along hoping things will change. I have to say, it’s made a huge difference to my mental health.

I am pleased to report that the thing that I have achieved is the installation of two water tanks under the deck. Not much for some, but when you realise that they weigh roughly 100kg each when empty, and the headspace under there was less than a metre in most places, and that our annual rainfall is only around 450mm, having more tanks in place is a great achievement. Kudos to my husband for his assistance, as always. I’m not sure the plumbing is exactly code, but you can click through to see some of the pictures of the (almost) finished project.

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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.

Wanderlust

My little brother is off to Japan to treat himself for his birthday this year. It’s got me thinking. We did a lot of travelling as a family when I was a child. We lived in England for 18 months and did side trips around the UK in the summer holidays. We visited my dad’s European friends from when he was an exchange student back in his high school days. We visited far flung family members on the way back to Australia. It developed my love of change, new experiences and travel to foreign climes at an early age. Charles and I went back to the UK for Christmas in 2005 when my Dad was living there, before we got married.

Pretty much since Charles and I met, we have talked about going on the Trans-Siberian Railway for our 10th anniversary. It was never decided whether that would be our 10th wedding anniversary or our 10th anniversary of meeting.

Today is our 10th anniversary of meeting and we had discussed making the trip in October this year (our 9th wedding anniversary) as we figured the Autumn weather would be pretty awesome for a trip across Europe and down through China. Also, my older brother and his family are living in China at the moment, so it would be a great chance to catch up with them.

Now the time has come to start planning the trip, I’m in two minds about it. I’d still love to go; it’s not somewhere I’ve been before and I love train travel over massive distances. On the other hand, peak oil is upon us and I can’t honestly justify increasing my carbon footprint by such a huge amount to get to the start of the journey (either St Petersburg or Beijing depending on which direction we travel). I know that the plane will go whether I’m on it or not, whether it’s full or not; I know that the train will run too. But at a time when I’m trying to cut down on my driving to help reduce my carbon footprint and fossil fuel use, I don’t think we’re going to head overseas any time soon.

What are your thoughts on international travel? Do you class it a need or a want? Does it make a difference if it’s for business?

Rediscovery and recovery

Hello there! I’ve been away from the keyboard again. Normally this would make me feel intensely guilty about not sticking with my goals and plans etc, but part of what I’ve been doing while I’ve been away is a bit of self reflection.

I was busy being a domestic goddess in Melbourne and going quietly crazy through depression and boredom so I got help and got better. Life is looking good again and I’m back to share it with you, lovely readers. I rediscovered my passion for farming and have decided to eschew the big smoke for good. I have moved; lock, stock, cats and chooks, back to ThisLittleFarm and it’s time for action about the place. We’re starting with harvesting the olives but there’s plenty to get into after that so watch this space.

 

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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