Monday, January 28, 2013

These days..

Mark the end of our Summer holiDays..

Sweet days filled with few commitments,

Time, time I say, to stop and tackle a project or two..

Time to watch the beans grow!

And even meet a new friend..

Time to bake..and say yes to tween requests to bake,

For the purpose of a celebration. A teen celebration! 

My goodness, I can hardly believe it! We have a teenager on our hands!
{Yikes!! Parent handbook please, anyone?}

Hoping you're enjoying the last few days of the summer holidays if you're south of the equator! 
{and staying particularly warm and cosy if you're not ;)}

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A pallet garden on wheels..

Are you a mobile gardener? I couldn't resist this project which I came across while reading my new favourite gardening book. A wheely vegie bed! What's not to love? The using up of scrap pallets called to me in a way that made even the cockatoos sing..and we just happened to have two such scrappy pallets lying around the side of the house!  The planets had aligned and the tweens were content. The window of opportunity was open..wide open for a little project making session..

Two pallets are needed for this project and if you're inspired, don't be like me and use two odd shaped ones..find two that are exactly the same dimensions as each other..rebuilding pallets, especially ones as scrappy as mine is a less than pleasant job, especially in the baking hot sun! Serves me right for ignoring the sensible advice in the book..
Once the pallet frames are adapted, the fun part can commence - the filling of the 'beds'! 
Not before some very important castors are added for ease of mobility, mind you. Oh, and a little weedmat to prevent the precious potting soil from washing through the slots...

The beds were layered with a mixture of bought potting mix, homemade compost and worm castings and then watered well before introducing the tender young seedlings. 

Baby leaf spinach, mixed lettuce, basil and pak choy were planted in each of the quarters and then watered in gently with a diluted seaweed solution. The bed was then wheeled (with great satisfaction, might I add!) into the shade, to avoid the hottest of our afternoon sun.

Easily dismantled if need be, these beds are ideal for renters or those on the move.  Plus the ability to follow the sun (or shade, in our case!) is just a whole lot of fun! Gosh I loved this project, did I mention that already?

Are you a container gardener? What are some nifty tips you've picked up along the way? 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fun stuff to do with fallen timber

Living on a generously treed property, it makes sense to come up with interesting ways to put our inevitable fallen timber to use. It goes without saying that our preferred way of using the timber is for heating our home over winter with using it as a fuel for our woodoven or chiminea coming in a close second.

But there is just SO much of it!

I honestly feel a little overwhelmed at times looking at it all..once it has fallen or more frighteningly - when it is about to fall! And I'm not even the one cutting it up..that job goes to the wonderfully capable hubby who has become quite a seasoned woodsplitter in the last few years! 

Anyhow, back to topic, it is a whole lot of fun and very satisfying to put this generous commodity to good use, aside from the obvious heating/cooking uses.. 

For instance, a few sneakily acquired logs make handy garden edging for tricky bends where straight logs just don't cut it (eep, pun not intended!). 

A strategically placed trunk section makes a useful 'stepping stone' for the middle of the bed to assist in future harvesting..

Teepees and wigwams are a given. The size? Whatever length of the branches that are hanging about..

A recent addition here, my first gate made with scrounged twigs. I am sure there must be an easier way than pre-drilling and then nailing each branch, talk about tedious! Twining or wiring perhaps? If you know, please share! I would love to try more of this style of creation...I'm thinking fencing or portable hurdle panels.

The rustic gate does an adequate job of keeping the poochy one contained, much to his disappointment! 

A most exciting discovery of late: 'Donkey steps'!

The easiest steps you'll ever make, I promise! Just take yourself down to the back of the property, and there, one will find lengths of timber that the able one is yet to dock up which are the perfect diameter and length for this project. Bring them back to your gentle slope, you know, the one that you always seem to find yourself sliding down on the wet grass over winter and get positioning!

Once they're in place, a couple of stakes at each end on the 'down side' and then back fill with mulch or gravel. I told you they were easy! And such fun to make..and walk on ..and sit on!

 Festive wishing trees and advent calenders are another option if there are some odd scrappy branches lying around and it's that time of year.

And lastly, quite backbreaking to get in position this seating arrangement would have to be one of my favourite uses for our fallen timber to date..

They fit comfortably around our 'in progress Millie Ross firepit', and thanks to hubby's even eye, the logs are all cut a uniform size which means that all log seating occupants are at eye level with each other!
How thoughtful was he?

Do you make use of fallen timber? What interesting ways have you put it to use?

Friday, January 18, 2013


Lately we have had a couple of exciting events take place here. Firstly, a few weeks before Christmas, our black silkie hen, Schwarzy, decided she was ready to sit on a nest. Her first nest. Our first nest! I  sourced some fertilised Barnevelder eggs from a friend of my mum's and managed to squeeze 7 of them under her fluffy rump late one night. Gosh, it would have to be the longest three weeks I have ever lived through! 

But then. just a couple of weeks into her 'sitting', one of our Isa Browns decided she too would like to sit as well! 

I couldn't help but oblige her instincts, being kindly passed on some fertile eggs from a veggie group friend. Just half a dozen, enough to satisfy her needs, hopefully. 

Both sets hatched. The Barnevelders hatching four out of the seven eggs and my friend's donation hatching two out of her six...

'Backyard cross' chick, 2 days old
It was a real surprise for me to find that Isa Browns can and do go broody! I didn't hold out much hope for her, figuring her for a fair-weather mother, but she proved me wrong and sat firmly on those eggs for the 21 days, only hopping off for every second day for a snack and a drink (to my knowledge, at least!) and turning them diligently every half an hour! Once the first two chicks had hatched, she sat solid on the remaining four eggs for another day until she must have figured that nothing was coming out of them and off the nest she hopped. With great relief, I imagine - as we had some real scorching weather during her spell. The two little ones clumsily in tow..

Meanwhile, Schwarzy and her Barnevelder brood were growing every day, having hatched a couple of weeks earlier!

Two dark chicks with a stripe down their back and two paler chicks. After some late night googling, I found that some people have experienced the darker ones being hens while the paler ones often seem to be the roosters. Who knows? I think we'll wait and see..

Front - two dark chicks, behind - two paler chicks

They were SOOO cute!!

Barnevelders are primarily a laying breed so we will hopefully have some henny additions to our flock in a few months time. And if there happened to be a handsome rooster catching my eye, it would be fair to say there would be available perch space for him!

The hutch I made is functioning well, especially with the addition of their outside run which gets closed off at night. And Schwarzy is a wonderful mother! It is fascinating to watch instinct in action.

The Barnevelder chicks are growing so fast and no longer resemble the fluffy cuteness they were just a mere three weeks ago. More rather, gawky adolescents growing in their feathers and asserting themselves in play! One could spend hours watching them..and we do.
Barnevelder chick, 3 weeks old
Especially our pooch, who has taken to sitting beside either pen, whichever takes his fancy and tuning into 'chick-vision' for hours at a time. It is a most absorbing channel, quite like nothing we've ever viewed before.

Do you watch chick-vision? 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Slow Living 2012 - The final wrap up - month 12!

I know, I know, as the old saying goes it's better late than never!

I can hardly believe that the year of this challenge has come to an end. The months seemed to roll around so fast and it was not at all difficult to come up with something I had accomplished that month for each most of the categorues. Definitely a great way to build motivation! I am also really looking forward to reading over the past 12 months and reflecting on my accomplishments. But without further ado, the final wrap up for 2012!

Feel like doing the same? Just leave a link to your blog post written in this format at the bottom of this page and enjoy hopping over to see what others have been up to, hopefully gaining some new ideas and inspiration.  For a detailed description of each category, click here.  

{nourish} Hmmm, let's see. December saw a definite focus on food and while not much Christmas baking took place, I did enjoy making my first ever baked Christmas dinner. It's usually warm weather around that time and we never seem to move past the reliable salads and cold ham platters. It was a nice change this (last!) year to have a hot meal!

We also partook in several bbq's. A solstice celebration at the top of our mountain, a new years eve bbq and quite a few more quiet ones at home with the finer weather calling us outdoors.

{prepare} Ok, I lied, I really did find it difficult to write something for every category! Zippo preparation in the way of preserving/bottling took place in December! What can I say, it really is the silly season and this time around I really felt it. Does braiding garlic count?

{reduce} I've been having a whale of a time lately scrounging up materials in the garden to repurpose into other useful things. Hubby pulled up our rotten railway sleepers that were our front and side steps and I immediately found a use for them as garden when they eventually break down completely, they'll make great compost! With a massive yard clean up, I have taken the opportunity to have a good stock take of exactly what I have on hand for future projects  (err, chook runs) and have finally finished the outdoor run for our hatchy mamas! Oh and throw in a set of 'donkey steps' made with homegrown timber and bark chips and I'm feeling particularly smug. ;)

{grow} There's a LOT planted out however we seem to be in a bit of a lull at the moment...the raspberries have finished and we are waiting for the summer growers to reach maturity. Plenty of green tomatoes and our first ever spaghetti squash, how exciting! Beans are looking promising, as are corn, eggplant and mini capsicums.

Harvests we enjoyed during  December included the ever delightful raspberries, a small patch of potatoes, the odd apricot and garlic. Plenty of garlic.

{green} May I sing the praises of bicarb once more? I am finding it a most versatile home and body cleaner, it really is very underrated. I just love the stuff! Toothpaste, deodorant, hair wash, bath and basin cleaner, carpet deodoriser, the list goes on! I'm sure it would make a great doggy wash, too!

Chook reading and garden projects. This is what is occupying my mind lately!

My new favourite gardening book - The Thrifty Gardener by ABC Gardening Australia presenter, Millie Ross. Such COOL projects to try from a like minded scrounger. Her firepit is already on the go...

{create} Surprisingly, December saw a little bit of creativity among the hectic social calender. Gifts were finished off, one being a scarf made with hand dyed and hand spun alpaca fibre for my eldest (sooo glad to get this one under my belt! Photo soon..), along with a couple of hand knitted beanies for the younger ones' teachers. Oh and another beanie for my brother, who I drew in the family kris kringle. I also was pestered enough by the youngest to dye some of her feathers that she had collected..actually, she did the dying herself by applying it with a paintbrush, I just heated them up for her to set the dye, the clever cookie.

Hand painted cockatoo feathers!

{enhance} With the school year coming to a close, I volunteered to do a shift for the 'graduation dinner' held for the grade sixes. With our middle one going into grade six, this work will then be done this year by the grade five parents - a great system! It was a lovely night for them with a Rock'n'Roll themed dinner, a milkshake bar, bopping music and the most enormous hamburgers and cherry sundaes you ever did see!

{enjoy} Lots to enjoy during the month of December, although at times I felt a little overwhelmed with the social hecticness of it all. A (particularly lengthy) ballet concert, art exhibition and theatre performance were all highlights. Toss in the Solstice, Christmas and my birthday and the month was pretty much taken care of. However,  what I enjoyed most of all were the quieter moments at home where we could enjoy hearing ourselves think and taking delight in seeing our first ever chickens hatch! Two broody hens are now raising their own little families, one with two, and the other with four. So precious!

Who said Isa Brown's don't go broody? 

So, tell me, if it's not too late that is, how was your month?

Did you enjoy these monthly wrap ups? Did you find motivation in visiting other peoples' blogs? Have you found like minded souls that share fantastic tips? Share it all, people! I'd love to hear!  :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I Am Here

In a place where the cows visit daily...

Where the weather is hot. So hot.

and the accomodation is charming. Yes, very charming...

 Where smiley faced breakfasts are cooked by a chilled husband for noisy kids..

A place where maps are studied daily and routes are planned..

And then visited.

High places. Extremely high places.

A place where the beers are cold, which is quite a good thing in a heatwave!

I am in a place where the rivers, streams and watering holes are cool and clear, which are a necessity to visit on these sweltering afternoons..

A place where the scenery is glorious. Truly. Every minute. 

If you are uncomfortably close to bushfires, I send all my positive vibes your way. You are in my thoughts.

If you are in the heat, keep cool out there. :)

(Sit tight for Slow Living final wrap up for 2012 - month 12. With my mind currently in Deep Holiday Mode, this will be postponed for a week or so. More time to ponder over the month's achievements, eh?)

Happy New Year, peepsicles. x
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