Hugelkultur

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.04 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.13.46 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.19 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.12.48 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.11.44 pmThis past week I’ve been working on an epically large project.  The ground has been dug up to about two feet to be lined with logs and fallen timber in a process of soil regeneration called hugelkultur.

It’s a simple concept.  You’re taking carbon life forms and placing them into the soil to slowly decompose beneath your garden bed.  The results can have a lasting effect for up to 20 years!

The bed I’ve created was lined with logs then filled with jade cuttings and branches from around the house yard.  The next layer was compost.  Topping that was a huge layer of seaweed which we collected from Greenhead.  The seaweed took three trips to cover the entire bed.  The last few steps involve topping the green matter with the soil that was dug out, then adding a final layer of compost and hay or mulch.

My body has pulled me through this process – surprisingly with little soreness.  Overall exhaustion though was at an all-time high after I singlehandedly dug out the pit!  This is definitely a job for multiple people.

Wesley has particularly taken to the pit.  He’s also found great joy in all the mounds he can push his little dump truck over.

Only time will tell if the soil retains moisture – we’re going to let it settle and get some more decent rains on it before moving to the stage of planting.

All in all – this has been a thrilling project.  I really can’t wait to see how the veggies grow!

Farm endeavours.

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.18 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.35 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.57 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.59 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-14 at 5.11.23 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.55.40 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.07 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.29 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 6.00.20 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.41 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.32 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.14 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.48 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 6.00.42 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.59 pmIn a few short months we’ll have been living in this little house for a year.  When we first arrived there was considerable time spent drafting a plan to rejuvenate the sand filled yards surrounding us.  It’s been many years since someone we here to properly tend to the gardens, and even 7 years ago when we first lived here we made several attempts to tame the landscape and they all failed (apart from this one strange tree that is overtaking part of the house and more pest than shade giver).

We have dreams of an orchard, lawns, veggie gardens, native flower gardens, trees to provide to luxury of shade and a new chicken coop,

With no one living in the house for a few years nature had crept in and the interiors and they needed to be reclaimed by mankind.  That would involve fixing a leaky roof, cleaning dust laid windows, vacating the space of vermin and spiders as well as painting or repainting several rooms.

Tackling these projects solo with a toddler (as a part-time single parent) is no easy feat!  Mike is away at work in the northern tip of the State every second week leaving Wesley and I to our own devices.

Thankfully we have a very happy boy who loves to participate and join me outside.  For this I am ever grateful as it’s allowed for a few projects to begin and move in slow but steady stages.

This week I’ll be painstakingly dragging a wheelbarrow back and forth 150 metres to the old shearing shed near the house.  It’s a treasure trove of sheep manure!  To make this monotonous task more fun, I’ve given Wesley a harmonica and he hops into the wheelbarrow as we traverse back and forth.  He plays a little tune, and sometimes will stop and yell at me: 123 GO! When I set the whole thing down to give my arms a break.

It’s hilarious, and frankly Wesley’s company during the whole task has made it so enjoyable that when I went to do a load during his nap today – I missed his music and silly personality keeping us both entertained.  The job seemed a real effort without him.

We’re only into the start of winter, but with these beds not completed we’re going to be missing out on crucial rains!  We should have pushed harder to get this started but it was contingent on a lighter wheelbarrow (that only arrived this week).

Our chicken coop is up and working fabulously.  There are two separate pens one about 3x bigger than the other.  Our hens are all very happy laying at the moment.  They have such a grand, shaded space that Mike and I are both very proud to have built together.

Three bottlebrush trees, 4 macrocarpa trees, and one silver princess have been planted around the yard.  Several more will go in as we see how things fare the next few weeks.  Shade around this house is lacking so it’s an ongoing project.  All of the trees are natives and should be very hardy for drought.

Our mango, feijoa and avocado trees are another story.  These are doing ok – but only time will tell if they survive.  To have these fruits at our fingertips would be so wonderful.

Some of the plants mentioned above were given to us at a native plant giveaway last weekend by a group based in Jurien Bay (of which I’m now a member!) who survey the local flora and do bush tours together.  I’ve found my people!  They were given a grant to grow and distribute these native plants to locals to encourage more people to keep drought hardy species and grow native gardens, which is a fabulous idea.

Pictured are some trees, plants and bugs found around the farm the past couple of days and some of the aforementioned projects!

Huge thanks to Sally’s Baking Addiction for sharing her insanely gorgeous white cake recipe online.  We made it for Wesley’s birthday party.  It was so so so good.  Check out the recipe here. A testament to it’s goodness – I woke 2x in the night to polish of a few more pieces of the vanilla buttercream cake.  Wesley crammed much of it into his mouth during the cake cutting ceremony and discovered a love of frosting!  Even now a week later I’m still drooling thinking of it and I’m not even a baked goods person…

I’ll share more on the progress of the house and yards as we soldier onward!  For now, even though progress is slow – it still feels oh so good to see hard work coming together.  Even if it is inch by inch.

A few firsts.

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.24.20 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.22.34 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.22.55 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.20.31 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.20.45 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.21.03 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.22.16 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.22.23 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.23.02 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.23.15 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.23.23 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.23.47 amScreen Shot 2018-03-17 at 7.24.07 amThis past week held a few milestones for me.  Some of of the tasks worked well and some were a bit of a fail.  Either way, in taking these tasks on I’ve learned quite a lot and grown even more confident in what I can accomplish.

  1. Drove on my own for 1000km over the course of 6 days. To Perth and Back and then to Geraldton and Back.  My solo venturing for longer distances is giving me this sense of freedom and adventure that I really love!
  2. I picked up a large table and 6 chairs from Perth with Wesley.  Strapping the set on and driving 6 hours was a huge day but so worth the adventure!  At one point I had zero battery on my phone (no charger despite topping it to 100%) and it felt like I was in mission impossible driving up the highway wondering if I was going to find the house before the battery died.  It made for an exciting last 25 minute stretch of road.
  3. I removed a screen door from the front of the house and then helped Mike me install the new door and lock.
  4. Caught a photo of a baby mulga.
  5. Fertilised the lawn with organic lawn feed – but completely over measured and put the entire bag onto the grass (despite using a scale to weigh out a small portion).  The good news – we hope is that organic fertiliser is a lot less likely to burn your grass/garden as it’s slow release.  Fingers crossed!
  6. Strapped on a screen door and drive 4 hours to bring it home.  When I undid the strapping it had sadly been punctured through the box as I’d strapped it too hard!
  7. We dug in and installed a brand new line of sprinklers which will seal off the grass in our yard to fill in the edging.
  8. Tomorrow Mike is going to attempt to harvest his first ever batch of honey from his 5 hives that have been placed on a farm 20km up the road in a dense patch of Red Gum Trees.

Wesley has had some firsts here too!  His past few weeks the words have been spilling out and he’s starting to connect two words together now.  Here are some of the latest words:

Blue, Blue Fish, Eyes, Nose, Hair, Up, Down, Shiny, Yellow, 1,2,3 Down, Yah, Bye Bye Daddy, Roll, Frog.

We have some ongoing projects at the house at the moment, one of them I work on each week Mike is away – and that involves painting the trim and doors of the interior of the home.  That’s really freshening up the decor, I love seeing it all come together.  The project is taking a while but I am enjoying taking the time to put love into each project.

Till next time!

x

Home sweet home.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.55.38 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.56.15 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.56.50 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.57.03 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.57.24 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.57.36 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.57.45 amScreen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.58.21 amWe’ve been away from the farm for two weeks in New Zealand.  I’ll post more about that shortly, but for now I’d like to highlight some of the cool moments from the past few days back on the farm.

First Wesley has jumped into his groove and is a happy little chap running around playing with his bike, the chickens and swimming at the pool.

Last night we witnessed an incredibly beautiful lightning storm come through the region.  We woke this morning relieved to see that there were no lingering fires on the horizon.

I also managed to spot this rather impressive jumping spider, a female Sandalodes Superbus (Superb Jumping Spider) on the back gate of the house.

The chickens were very well taken care of during our trip, but sadly we’ve had to kill 5 roosters (saved the meat for the freezer) as they had completely destroyed several of the females.  We’ve got the numbers down so that the girls can recover and the balance of male to female will be appropriate.

We’re stoked to be home to enjoy the quiet space and the ease of life here in the country.  It’s clear to see that Wesley while he enjoyed New Zealand – loves his time here on the farm too.

On our second day home he pulled me close to him and said to me “I luh you” which oh my god I’ll never forget.  It was just so sweet and so beautiful.

Fresh Figs and a homemade chicken coop

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.46.35 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.46.19 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.45.57 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.42.24 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.43.22 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.44.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.44.22 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.45.26 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 1.47.18 pmScreen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.24.59 amScreen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.25.17 amThis week Mike and I passionately worked to complete our chicken complex.  The idea originally came to us when we first moved in, that summer was particularly hard for our last lot of chickens due to the sun exposure of the last pen.

We tore down the old space and placed our 16 chickens into a temporary shade sheltered pen for the past 5 months.  In the mean time Mike, Ashley and I have worked together to meticulously measure, concrete and assemble a sustainably recycled shed and pen for our little chooks.

It’s just in time as these birds will begin laying soon.

When we first got them they were teeny tiny chicks.  Wesley harassed them quite a bit with love during their time in the back porch and I was more than happy to take the chicken poop smell outside and while I can’t speak on behalf of the chicks I feel they might have been relieved to be away from prying fingers too.

This pen has ample room and a large shed for the birds to roost and lay their eggs in each day.

We’d love for them to be free range, but learned the hard way a few years back that fox and wild cats are always looking for an opportunity to get to birds left out in the open.  There is already evidence that they have tried digging and also pulling on the chicken wire.

The concept for fox proofing the space involves laying the chicken mesh in two layers about half a foot below the sand and two feet away from the structure.

Quite a bit of sweat went into this project and I think it’s one of the biggest projects we’ve undertook as a couple together.  I call it a sustainable effort because we salvaged the mesh doors and built the hut entirely from other peoples left over metal.  Pretty awesome way to recycle and save some $ too.

For now there are three roosters testing out how fox proof the space is.  Tonight is our third night and I really believe they will be safe.

The other night I heard some terrible screeching outside by a fox and took a headlamp to investigate.  I found it climbing up a fig tree!  The sound is similar to cats fighting.

Speaking of figs, we are now collecting fresh ripened figs in the quantities of about 20 a day.   It might be time to make some jam.

Also pictured:

  • 1 tiny chunky jumping spider
  • 1 large crevas dwelling jumping spider (the spider with the white line)
  • A three inch long little lizard
  • Beyond the bamboo and gumtree there was this wonderful creamy sunset.