Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Summers here .

Summer is here and the garden is suffering.

Although most of our plants  are surviving the area often known as grass ( in our case mown weeds) is dead.

We are lucky that we have both tank and town water plus we have a grey water system.

I've moved over 60 metres of wood chip mulch and still have a huge pile to shift but my tractor is out of action.

Mulching the plants has helped heaps to retain water but still it's extremely dry here .

Friday, 12 January 2018

It's 2018 !

Wow 2017 is done and dusted and 2018 is here .

I haven't written anything since mid 2017 as we have been busy helping a variety of family members with gardening and building projects.

As a result our own space has been very much neglected.

This year we are hoping to build a shade house, get the aquaponics fully functional and get the back paddock growing and producing.

We're five or six years away from retirement so it's crucial that our veggies , poultry and orchards are producing well in the next few years,

We have an orchard in the chicken yard to maximise rotten fruit and bug clean ups and  another in the paddock across the sewage  lines to take  advantage of any moisture we can find.

Our grey water system is up and running and our orchard in the paddock is kept alive with help from the grey water .

We have a steady stream of excess roosters and Drakes to fill our need for meat and our chickens and ducks keep ourselves and our grown family in eggs.

Last year we spent very little on the poultry as we had acesss to free wheat emptied from the feeder bins around our area . ( Farmers sometimes dump grain in wayside stops when a new grain is being harvested.)

The local bakery gives me stale bread for the poultry in exchange for the occasional dozen eggs for their own personal use.

I sell any excess eggs locally which allowed us our meat and eggs for zero dollars and some of this money paid for the layer pellets.

We're very happy with our results with  two years into our setting up.

It hasn't all been smooth sailing though as I tried hay bale gardening and that was a bit of a flop and Mr Fox  discovered our chickens and ducks and thought he'd have a snack.

We lost 10 half grown ducklings in one night .

One of our incubator rounds of chickens produced only 1 chick from 24 eggs.

So we've invested in four new chickens to give us a new rooster and a fresh bloodline.

Last year also saw us purchase some new ducks so as to add new blood to our flock.

We now have six guinea fowl which are very noisy but I'm told they help move snakes away with their noise and constant movement.

We had two sheep but moved them on as they were more trouble than they are worth.

I'd love to have a milking goat but my husband isn't convinced.

We had one years ago and I'd make cheese , ice cream and of course there was the milk but my husband thinks it would be too much of a tie.

So our paddock will become an extension of the garden but with a lot more trees and less lawn so as to become low maintainence .

                                   Some of our Khaki  Campbell ducks . They look a bit raggedy 
                                  as they're sun bleached and the mating has been fairly intense 
                                                        so the poor girls are a bit bald .

                                         Our chickens are mostly black Australorps and our
                                          new chickens consist of two blacks, two blues
                                          and a splash.

Friday, 23 June 2017

It's raining at The Elephants Nest

Don't you hate it when you plan to spend the day building a new Chook fence and surrounds for the grey water system and you wake up to rain !

I love rain I really do and anyone reading this who is a gardener will understand .

So a change of plans .

I think if I can get the measurements for the panels we can build a couple and fit them when the rain eases.

We are attempting to make a fence that doesn't need to be dug in as the ground here is extremely rocky.

Mind you we could plant sticks and they'd grow as the beautiful volcanic soil lends itself to growth it's just the rocks that come with it that's the problem .

This is the beginning of our grey water filtration system.

One bath will hold a worm farm, one scoria with reed plants and the final one the holding tank..

Today we hope to add the drainage pipes and begin closing the underneath in.

Then I'll plant around them to make them more attractive.

These old sheds are being turned into a chicken house and a duck house.

We have a smaller chicken run at the front of the house but as  our poultry numbers have grown have decided to leave the front pen for nesting Mums and their ducklings or chickens.
Today we're hoping to begin fencing it properly as we've had Mr Fox hanging around and we don't want our poultry to become his dinner .

It all looks a bit messy now but once it's fenced and I plant some trees and shrubs around it that will change .

Well the rain cleared and we did a tonne of work but didn't even touch the greywater system .

Perhaps that can be next weekends project ?

Here are a couple of pictures of what we did do.

Keeping in mind it's about reusing and recycling don't expect any of it to look brand new ( except the uprights in the chicken run.

We still need a few pieces of tin to finish the fence and we need to make a door .

Next weekend should see that job completed .



Some time back I purchased two trailer loads of pavers for $30 knowing I'd find a use for them .

This is the beginning of that usage.

We still have all of these pavers left so I'm hoping to extend the path around to the orchard and have an area for the bins to sit on too.

Penny pinching in the garden

Im lucky that I love cottage gardens because you can either use newer materials to build the larger pieces of your plans or you can upcycle / restore items.

When we bought The Elephants Nest it was a typical old farmhouse with multiple dilapidated sheds on it and cypress trees everywhere.

It's only 0.4 hectares( 1 acre) but we removed 14 cypress trees ( our forefathers loved these old trees but they don't trim well, hold dust, encourage spiders and suck the nutrients from the soil and nothing grows under them so they had to go)

We also removed 3 sheds and enough tin, wire and hard rubbish to fill many trucks.

Once we'd cleared ( and set aside what we would reuse) the site we had it refenced as the fences wouldn't hold a butterfly!

We built a new shed, rewired the house, replumbed it too, put in a new kitchen, new bathroom and built a lovely deck on the back.

Several windows had to be replaced and we changed some doors as well.

By the time we returned from living in Western Australia we owned the house but were left with a blank canvas.

Our garden is coming along nicely but we still have so much to do.
Ok more pictures of what we've been up too.

We had to fence around the veggie patch as our dog Annie liked the short cut straight off the back deck across the newly planted seedlings to the front gate so she could bark at anyone who happened by.
She was joined by our flock of hens who delighted in helping us garden by ploughing up what we'd just sown😡

Our fence is old pieces of steel pipe and old timbers we found here and on a neighbouring property.

We wanted the garden to look like it had been here for years as I love the dilapidated look hehe.

More photos .....this is the West side of the house , we used part of  the broken concrete floor of an old shed to make a crazy path.
Many of the plants were purchased from community markets.
I've planted ornamental pears and mulberry trees along this side as they'll shade the house from the hot afternoon sun in Summer but will drop their leaves in Autumn allowing light and warmth into the house in Winter.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Before and after

Today I thought I'd share a few photos of our block .
Sometimes as a reader you don't want to see what happened in between so here are the before and after shots .
This is our front path, we made a fence around what would become the chicken pen and fruit orchard.
 With the fence completed I planted honeysuckle along its expanse to wind through the old timber and soften the look .
Finally we were able to plant our fruit trees.
                                    This is how our orchard looks today one year after planting .

Monday, 5 June 2017

A Path ! A Path and a nice old fence

I'm sorry I've been so busy that I hadn't even given the blog a second thought.

Ive reread my musings and thought I need to show you a few of the projects we started and how they look now.

We've been here for eighteen months and are still having a wonderful time.

It's become a challenge to put a meal on the table that we've produced ourselves which is pretty damn cool.

We needed a path before last Winter made the dirt a soggy , muddy mess and also a fence around the veggie patch to stop the chickens scratching the hell out of it and Annie dog using the short cut to the front gate straight through the vegetables .

We used old pieces of timber from around our block and we bought some as well.
Because it's such a rocky site we drove star pickets into the ground then bolted old timbers onto them As we had metres of old steel pipes we'd pulled up from the ground we used that as the braces to hold the timber.
I wanted it to look like the garden had been here for years 

This is how our path and fence look today I'm sure you'll agree you'd never know 18months ago it was a dry , baron space.
We'd pulled down several old sheds and we broke up the concrete floor and reused it as crazy paving .

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Day three

The following post is from  13th December 2015.

Home !

I've waited so long to be home.

Back with our family and friends and out of the relentless heat of The Pilbara.

Don't get me wrong North West Western Australia is ruggedly beautiful and every Australian should go there if only for a visit.

I've been in every state of Australia and they all have something unique to see but Victoria holds our family and lifelong friends.

This is our third full day at home. My back , arms and legs have muscles I'd forgotten about but as I roll into bed at night happily exhausted I'm excited for the new day .

My body sinks into the softness of our bed and whispers there, there it's alright rest now....My feet haven't worn shoes for weeks and the leather of my Rossi's that keep my tootsies safe while working outside have made my poor old feet ache ( toughen up feet we've got a long way to go)

We've woken to the early morning warbling of magpies while sheep and cows call across the way to the otherwise still of the dawn.

We've mowed and mowed and whipper snipped the house yard and our weeds look much more appealing.

We've discussed the need for sheep for the paddock and our chicken pen lies flat packed waiting for us to assemble it and retrieve our chickens that are being reared by three different friends.

My hands are dry and sore despite the copious amounts of lotion I've applied .
It's all the dirt, dust from gardening and also from the unpacking.

Box after box are deposited on the veranda .

We rummage through trying to find this or that.

Yesterday we had morning tea with one of our boys and our two daughters and a variety of spouses PLUS eight of our grandchildren .

What a joyous noise we make .

Today our eldest boy arrives as he had to work yesterday and missed the festivities.

I'm sitting here in my pjs and knitted slippers ( cold feet now there's a new experience)

Picture hooks now where did I see them???

Have an awesome day.

ps I've booked a flight to Kalgoorlie as our Annie dog has been sighted several times by is too scared to approach anyone. So I'll spend 5/6 hours on a plane tomorrow and hopefully she'll come to me.....stay tuned ..

Monday, 6 March 2017

First Greeting

Here we are !

I finally worked out how to post a blog.

I want to share part of our story.

We are two fifty somethings with a grown family.

A year ago we returned home to Victoria after living for seven years in the The Pilbara region of Western Australia.

This is our journey into returning after a long absence and settling back into a completely different lifestyle.

A climatic change and a house set on .4 hectares (1 acre) that was just a flat dry paddock.

We've made mistakes but that's how you learn.

Initially I'll post backwards from the day we arrived back so you'll have an idea of what we've done.

Living simply, recycling, a little bit of permaculture and an awful lot of hard work..

Come and take a peek.


We'd lived in Western Australia for seven years and in that time we'd downsized from our five bedroom family home to a small weatherboard home on .4 hectare in a different area.

Our five adult children had all grown and left to pursue their own lives and we wanted to kick back live simply , grow our own food and live as sustainably as possible.

It took us 6 days to make the long hot drive and we lost our Annie dog at Kalgoorlie .

We had to continue on without her and our friends there said they'd keep searching for her.

On the 10th December 2015 we arrived home and this was our garden.