Week 10 and Week 11

 

 

How are we going?

In January, people were asking me how our year was going and I would look at them, coyly, and reply in a questioning tone “Good?”  They looked at me eagerly and I felt like the correct response to the question was “Fabulous!” But it felt a bit early to make any kind of meaningful judgement and I take longer than most to reach an obvious conclusion. However, now I can safely say that we’ve had truly wonderful start to the year.  We went to the hall on Friday night for the games night that Etienne and a few others have organised to get us all out from in front of Netflix and down to the hall to socialise on Friday nights. Whilst shooting the breeze, a neighbour asked me “how’s your self-sufficiency thing going?”  I was finally able to reply excitedly, “Incredible”  This led to a discussion about how Etienne and I feel really blessed and privileged to have this time on the farm, doing things with family and friends, getting to know all the animals, reading books,  building knowledge, learning about plants and best of all, feeling life slow down. The neighbour I was talking to, who is my age, 45 or 46 or something, has been working part-time on his farm for years, living minimally, making and recycling everything he needs, looking after his kids.  A good life.

Financially, the year is going well.  We’ve been feeling really grateful and even a bit cocky.  “This is so easy” we’ve been bragging to each other.  Needless to say, Murphy’s Law should kick in shortly in the form of an appliance breakdown (my money’s on the fridge) to remind us to keep our heads down and our traps shut!

Below is a pic of the sun rising through the early morning mist.DSCN0619

Obstacles and challenges

We started this year wanting to see if we could set ourselves up to live a fairly stocky standard lifestyle on a very small budget ($10,000 to cover rego for one car, electricity (solar panels), phone and internet, farm necessities, rates, fuel etc).  Our central goals were to:

  1. live minimally
  2. no money from Centrelink (only FTB which goes into a separate account for Izzy)
  3. shop at locally owned stores buying locally made products
  4. make and recycle our own things.

Unfortunately in the last few weeks we’ve had to let go of some of our high and mighty ideals.  It all started on Saturday 3rd March when Etienne was trying to do the dishes and our kitchen plug failed to stop all the water leaking out of the sink.  ‘Where can I buy a plug?’ I thought.  Later that morning, I found myself stepping out of the midday heat into the arctic conditions of the escalator under Central.  When I lazily reached the top there was a brightly lit Woolworths, full of familiar faces, awaiting me with a choice of fully functioning plugs at very reasonable prices.  However, they were not made in Australia.  I sighed, let go of my pride and allowed some gratitude in as I selected the appropriate  plug (later it turned out that Etienne had said “don’t get the plug with the raised catch,” not “get the plug with the raised catch”).  Hey,, I thought, now that I’m already here, I might as well get a few other items: rice and dates.  Our rice growing experiment has left us with a harvest of hulled rice and unfortunately we don’t own a de-huller, so we’ve been buying dryland brown rice that is grown in Goolmangar, down the road from us, for $6.50 a kilo.  At woolies, I bought a 5 kilo bag of Jasmine rice for $11!

The funniest part of this story is that the next week we blew a light bulb.  So, after two months of not going to woolies, I went twice in a week.  Impermanence is the only permanence!  So… let’s review the goals:

  • live minimally
  • no money from Centrelink (only FTB which goes into a separate account for Izzy)
  • shop at locally owned stores buying locally made products
  • make and recycle our own things

Activities over the past two weeks:

International Women’s Day is celebrated in Lismore through a week-long festival of activities from March 3rd onward.  The opening ceremony on Saturday began with an indigenous Elder/Aunty who held court and spoke beautifully of the universal power that women hold.   We stood in a circle with a fire in the centre and we were all invited to gather leaves and flowers and throw them on the fire.  It felt like a sacred moment as we are stood back acknowledging those around us in the swirling smoke. Judith Light, an older feminist activist read an brilliant, emotional and hopeful poem that touched my heart ( that code for I cried!!).  The Aunty walked around the circle and invited people to take the mic and make their own statement.  It was beautiful and powerful to hear the voices of women sharing wisdom and knowledge gathered through experiences that we could all connect with on one level or another.  It was great to see some men there enjoying the ceremony with their partners, daughters, friends etc.

There were lots of free or pay by donation activities offered through the week. I went to a women’s expression workshop on Monday.  I didn’t know what to expect so I was a bit nervous.  We sat in a circle and talked about what it meant to be a woman, about how women are perceived in society, how we act around others, how we relate to people, our strategies for communication etc.  It was inspiring to hear all these voices and again it was interesting to hear stories that rang true for the rest of group and connected us very deeply.  It was like group therapy – the facilitator is a counsellor so that makes sense.

I also did yoga in a different style, a mix of Hatha and Vinyasa, in a nice space with lovely people. We were invited to stay after the session for green tea and chat.  Then I raced off and did a burlesque class which was f#@king awesome, sexy and erotic and FUN.  Our instructor was hilarious, when she was performing every muscle in her body was sexy, she looked beautiful and moved with such style.  When she stopped dancing, that persona shattered and she became this straight talking, frowning, awkward woman who walked more like a jilleroo on her way to do some fencing, than the beautiful creature she had been only moments before.  What a woman!  I only wish I had taken a pair of heels because it just wasn’t the same to dance barefoot.

***

Bee went down to Melbourne last Thursday to look for accommodation and a job.  She was a bit hesitant about going and then suddenly her farm job dried up and she announced she was leaving on 15 March. We held a hastily organised farewell slash twenty-first birthday party for her, with friends and family friends that she has grown up with.  It was a truly lovely day with great people, great food  (bring a plate and I suspect everyone brought their signature dish because the food was sensational), speeches, presents. laughter and conversation.  We don’t celebrate many milestones in our culture and my only wish was that it would be a special day for her, and I believe it was.  Thanks universe…

***

What’s on the menu?  

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Lunch: Roast eggplant goat cheese and bunyanut salad, smoked duck breast, choko chutney, tomato, carrot, hummus on toast.

 

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Lunch: Duck confit with avocado and bunya-nut salad and goat’s cheese on toast.
Lunch
Mixed salad and veggies, home-made sauerkraut, pickles and choko chutney and a slice of Etienne’s bacon.
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Salad, duck breast, choko chutney, bread, goat cheese and cucumber pickles

I seem to be energised to take photos at lunch time but by dinner time I always forget.  Dinners are still usually stir-fry, curry or roast.

I regularly make muffins which consist of honey, goat cheese, egg and flour.  I boil the honey and goat cheese until they caramelise, then add flour and egg.  That’s the base.  Then I can add fruit or raw organic cacao (from bulk food) or at the moment I have vanilla because Bee left us two bags of food when she went to Melbourne!!

IN the garden:

Below are some pictures of the trees and gardens:

 

These banana trees and the passionfruit vines are close to the house.

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The outdoor garden

I’ve just planted celery and parsley in the outdoor garden.  At the moment, this garden is providing us with Brazilian spinach, cucumbers, beans, zucchini, and mung beans.  We planted mung beans as an experiment.  Etienne harvested some yesterday.

 

 

The tamarillos have almost finished fruiting.  I often put them in our breakfast smoothies.  I planted the peas in the beginning of March, a bit earlier than the usual time, after St Patrick’s day.  Hopefully they’ll survive.

 

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New addition to the family: two ducks. We’ve put them in the orchard with the stone fruit trees.

We’ve been gifted some ducks that we’ve put in the orchard under the netting.  They’re grass eaters so they don’t require a lot of feeding.  There’s one female and a drake and we hope they’ll get down to business and procreate!!

In the green house: Beans, carrots, zucchini, radish seedlings, eggplant and tomatoes

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Carrots
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Beans, beans, beans
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Radish

Etienne went fishing this morning and caught a carp, an invasive introduced species that is damaging the waterways and therefore needs to be culled.  It’s also very, very tasty when smoked with hickory shavings.

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I’m typing this post on Saturday morning after going to the games night at the hall last night.   Had some great chats with people.  It’s always lovely learning new things about people who have been in the area for decades.  Ended the night with a game of six handed Euchre, we joked and teased, laughed and swore, the usual card game banter.  All round it was an enjoyable night.

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