The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple. ~Doris Janzen Longacre

The best way to bring a sustainable change in the world around me is by bringing the change in myself

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How to get started on the Path to Providing for Your Family

I just found this great post at Country living in the Cariboo valley I am so impressed with this blog and good advice from Annie and Graham. Just had to share this with you all.

How to Get Started on the Path to Providing for Your Family
If you're used to buying your groceries at the supermarkets, and/or have never raised animals and/or had a garden....then trying to get started can certainly feel overwhelming! Why not get started, but just start Small? Trying to do too much too quickly, can be a recipe for burnout and frustration.

Starting small will not only get you on the path to providing for your family, but it will teach you a lot and as your self confidence grows (and time) goes by, you can implement another activity on your homestead (or in your backyard).

What kind of vegetable seems to on your family's plates the most often? That's a good one to plant this year....for us it is potatoes I think. So, it's important for us to be sure to grow lots of potatoes this year. (The bonus with potatoes is you can feed them off to animals, once you are sure you have enuf to store for winter eating for your family.)

Other veggies we eat a lot of include green beans (so 2 double rows get planted), beets (3 or 4 rows) peas (so plant these up the fence that runs around the garden perimeter....

If you don't have much experience with veggie gardening, it will take a few years before you can closely figure out How much to plant, in order to put enough by so there is food for your family over the winter. Just get a start this year, and this fall you can count up your jars of canned beans, and figure out if you need to grow more next year.....keep notes, start a garden journal to record this kind of info. Next year, when it comes to ordering seed, you'll have a good idea of how much seed you will need.

Looking to add animals into the mix? I don't have a lot of experience with animals, but as far as I am concerned, #1 are chickens. Wonderful, you just feed them and water them....every day (almost) they will pay you back. We started with 4 hens, the next year we were up to 15....

EVERY time you have an extra dozen, (after you have put a couple dozen away for your family) sell the eggs. Keep the egg money in a separate jar. Once you get an egg customer, call them each week, see if they are in need of another dozen. Pay for your chicken feed OUT of the jar. Find another customer (or as it often seems to happen, your one customer will find u the next one)....rinse and repeat.

Over time, you will have enuf money in your jar to pay for their feed....and still more money in the jar. Got an extra $15 in there?? Next time you are at the feed store, pick up a couple of T-posts....pick up a roll of chicken wire.

I am a BIG fan of T-posts and chicken wire.....temporary fencing can then be set up wherever you need it and for however long u need it. Put the chickens in there in the afternoon, and let them find their own food of bugs and grass....don't let them scratch Right down to the ground. Before that happens, pull out the T-posts and set your fencing up somewhere else that needs a good grazing. Setting up fencing Against exsisting buildings or fence posts reduces the number of T-posts you need.

Chickens LIKE to work....bored chickens get unhealthy and start picking on each other, just to give themselves something to do. Harness that energy and put it into something that will help You. Chickens allowed to free range and graze will lower the feed bill, and that's what u want. Meanwhile, your family is enjoying the eggs, extras can be sold, and the money saved up for feed and the "next thing on the farm list".

If you have access to fresh manure, set up temporary fencing around the manure pile, and let the girls in...within days they will have eaten all the small seeds they find a bits of leftover grain. They'll also scratch and fluff up that manure pile for you....let Them do the work! Then...move the fencing. Once the manure has sat for a month or two, you can wheel it over to your veggie garden.

Meanwhile, you're saving your egg money in the jar. Over time, say you end up with an extra $50 in there (after the feed, that you are Now able to buy in either bulk or buy multiple bags so you have them on hand). An extra $50 will buy you some meat birds (in season of course) Here in BC, $50 will probably get you 20 birds, by the time you take shipping into consideration.

Well, how many meat birds can your family eat? Averaging about say 5.5 lbs....20 chickens will enable your family to have chicken every 2 1/2 weeks or so. It's possible to get 4 meals off a chicken (including the soup at the end). See how all this is adding up over time?

Yes, the first year you will have to put out money for meat bird feed....However, time it right for your season. Raise the birds when u hardly have to supplement their heat after the first 2 weeks. During the spring, summer and fall, if you let your laying hens free range of graze in temporary coops, you won't be spending as much money on Their feed....use the money instead to buy feed for the meat birds (20% protein). Keep selling eggs...rinse and repeat.

Another easy way to offset your laying hen's feed bill (while collecting their eggs) is to feed them veggies and greens from the garden during the growing season. You can feed greens to meat birds too, but you'll always have to buy them their special feed. Meat birds are bred to gain weight FAST, and they just won't do it living off of garden greens.

Eight weeks later, butcher your meat birds. Still have your one or two egg customers? Do yourself a favour (and them) and Give them one bird, all dressed out. Thank them for buying your eggs and hand over a chicken. Let them know you're going to do meat birds the following year. If they should want some, they can order some.

In addition, you've just been given a LOT of fantastic manure from those meat birds....let it compost, then add it to your veggie gardens....rinse and repeat.

Meanwhile, you're making sure you spend any egg money on feed. If you have leftover money, keep buying T-posts or wire...or veggie seeds. Every time, put the money BACK into either your garden or your animal needs.

You will see, over time that you can add Slowly to your homesteading - every little bit helps. Concentrate first on What your family needs are, sell any excess.

Does your family drink a lot of milk? Think about saving towards a goat.... you can supply milk and cheese for your family. They like to eat brush and scrub, so if you have areas like this that you want to clear off for future pasture or gardens, put the goats in there, You'll need stronger fencing tho than T-posts, you know what they say about goats!

If you have small trees that need to be spaced, you can cut the trees down and use them for fence rails....take the branches off and use them for bean or pea supports in your veggie garden.

The idea is to spend as little as possible in the beginning....over time, keep plowing your monies back into your barnyard and gardens....

Feed ANY weeds you pull to your laying hens....when you finish harvesting parts of your veggie garden, move the T-posts in to section off part of the garden, then put some hens in there. They'll work your soil, eat the bugs, and add manure all at the same time. Better for you that They do the work.

When u cut the grass, give the clippings to both the laying hens and the meat birds....if you have excess, start putting it down between the veggie garden rows to keep the weeds down. It will also add to improving your garden soil.

One more thought...for goodness sake, don't underprice your eggs, etc! That is the Worst thing you can do.....any customers that are wanting to buy farm fresh eggs or veggies are willing to pay at Least what the supermarket charges. It should be more, because of your attention to growing as naturally as possible....people are willing to pay a premiim for this. Don't overcharge, but jeez, don't undercharge. That's totally shooting yourself in the foot, Plus you are messing up any other farmer's plans to try to recoup their original costs....

Note I'm not incuding hay in the above....the way we work here, we do not overwinter any animals except for laying hens. We may get a beef cow in the future, once we start rejuvenating our pastures and putting aside our own hay to feed them over winter...

You'll need to have some hay or straw or something on hand for on the floor of your chicken coop. No reason you can't grow the grass long, then cut it down and use that! Or straw, leaves or anything else you can think of that is no cost....your hens will not mind!

Begin to think of your farm or backyard as a cycle....everything has a season, as much as possible needs to be returned to the land to increase soil fertility. Put things in and take things out (the meat and eggs). Focus on improving your soil and the health of your cheaply as possible. I'm willing to wager that in the next couple of years, you will be eating a LOT healthier for a lot less money....

Does this info help? I hope so, please leave comments and let us know. Start small, but get started! You can do it...your family will eat healthier, eat fresher, you'll save money and hopefully in a year or two, all your animals will be self-sustaining.

This is the best method and advice I have found so far on our path to self sustainablity. I for one will be back for more. Thanks Annie and Graham. Our weather forecast is rain and very strong wind this weekend.
Have a great weekend everyone, and stay safe.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hey the chookies are big girls now... almost

Bet ya haven't seen this road sign before!

Harry and the Matildas have done well! The chicks are nearly all grown up now and it looks like I can safely say we don't have any roosters "Yet". The new little pullets have not started laying yet, can't wait for that day. You will see the sign out the front "Eggs for Sale" ... Jumbo sized eggs.

This is the favorite spot for them to get a drink when they free rangeing.

Egg production is done a bit atm, but won't be long and the girls will start popping them out again, just ya wait and see. Should be just over a dozen eggs a day!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rose Cottage gets a deck, stairs and a roof.

A few more pics of Rose Cottage, getting a deck, stairs and roof.

The frame work for the deck, good preparation work takes long but so worth the effort. And unless your colour blind Green is the order of the day, and every other day Lol

Roxy taking a break from supervising!

Give a girl power tools, and watch her go. Still amazed Nilo drilled, contersunk and screwed the whole deck herself. Well done!

Now here is no shortage of wood to burn, imagine sitting on the stairs with a hot chocolate or marshmellows warming up with a wood fire burning at night. Winters are cold here but sadly no snow!

P.S. You will have to come back for more progress pics after the long weekend.
Until nexttime

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

RSPCA Million Paws Walk 2010

Just a few pics from the major fund raising walk for the RSPCA. Well supported by doggie owners. The Blond One with her friends and Knight. who was lucky enough to get a bath before coming home.

Next best thing to going to the doggie park ... sadly Mom and Dad so busy we don't go there anymore. I had a great day making new friends.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dreamtime art .....

These two artworks have been painted on the walls of our little school in Bellbrook. I am going to try point out a few interesting bits on them, mind you I know very little about this kind of art. So if I get it wrong please forgive me. The first one was painted by two artists merging their culture, one white and one abborginal. The scene is of the sun setting on our river down by the bridge.

I really love is one ... Could those be the hands prints of children having gone to this little school.It made by placing the hands on a wall, then sprayed over them leaving the print. The Rainbow Serpent is often described as the primary figure in the chronicle of Creation. In this myth, she creates many natural features and human beings and establishes the foundation of totemism.

Photo's taken by my grandson Cobi. xox

"In the Dreamtime all the earth lay sleeping. Nothing grew. Nothing moved. Everything was quiet and still. The animals, birds, and reptiles lay sleeping under the earth’s crust. Then one day the Rainbow Serpent awoke from her slumber and pushed her way through the earth’s crust, moving the stones that lay in her way.

When she emerged, she looked about her and then traveled over the land, going in all directions. She traveled far and wide, and when she grew tired she curled herself into a heap and slept. Upon the earth she left her winding tracks and the imprint of her sleeping body. When she had traveled all the earth, she returned to the place where she had first appeared and called to the frogs, “Come out!”

The frogs were very slow to come from below the earth’s crust, for their bellies were heavy with water which they had stored in their sleep. The Rainbow Serpent tickled their stomachs, and when the frogs laughed, the water ran all over the earth to fill the tracks of the Rainbow Serpent’s wanderings – and that is how the lakes and rivers were formed.

Then the grass began to grow, and trees sprang up, and so life began on earth. All the animals, birds, and reptiles awoke and followed the Rainbow Serpent, the Mother of Life, across the land. They were happy on earth, and each lived and hunted for food with his own tribe. The kangaroo, wallaby, and emu tribes lived on the plains, the reptile tribes lived among the rocks and stones, and the bird tribes flew through the air and lived in the trees.

The Rainbow Serpent made laws that all were asked to obey, but some grew quarrelsome and were troublemakers. The Rainbow Serpent scolded them, saying, “Those who keep my laws I shall reward well, I shall give to them a human form. They and their children and their children’s children shall roam this earth forever. This shall be their land. Those who break my laws I shall punish. They shall be turned to stone, never to walk the earth again.”

So the law breakers were turned to stones, and became mountains and hills, to stand forever and watch over the tribes hunting for food at their feet. But those who kept her laws she turned into human form, and gave each of them his own totem of the animal, bird, or reptile whence they came. So the tribes knew themselves by their own totems: the kangaroo, the emu, the carpet snake, and many, many more. And in order that none should starve, she ruled that no man should eat of his own totem, but only of other totems. In this way there was food for all.

So the tribes lived together in the land given to them by the Mother of Life, the Rainbow Serpent, and they knew that the land would always be theirs, and that no one should ever take it from them."
Lets pay our respect to a Thughutti Elder Pastor George Quinlin.

Pastor George Quinlin was a Thunghutti Elder from the Macleay Valley of New South Wales. He was born and raised on the Bellbrook Aboriginal Reserve. He has spoken at a number of conferences in Australia and overseas. He has represented his people on a number of occasions in meetings with Government ministers at both state and federal level.
He has been a pastor for twenty-nine years and has ministered in many areas of Australia. He is among the last of those living that he grew up with. He attributes his long life to his spiritual beliefs and following sound health principles.

I got to meet this lovely gentleman a few times, his horses walked our little bitty land and he asked if I had any objection to them grazing there, which I did not mind. I just fenced where they could not walk. We used to chat while he feed them buckets of oats when the grass was a little scares. His wife Esther still lives in the area and does beautiful art for sale.

Still wonder what's there to do in Bellbrook. Watch for updates ........
Until nexttime

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jar of small change buys ....

Well what do ya know, the small change challenge I set myself has finally paid for a new Chef LPG Gas stove. I bought a new stove this afternoon on the spur of the moment, for Lavender Cottage.

Been saving for sometime now, every thursday evening I empty my purse of any coin in there into a big money tin. The tin can't be opened without distroying it completely, so you can't pinch any money from it. I was still $200 short so put it on layby giving me 2 weeks to pay the rest. Checked out the prices and found one shop to be $799 and right next door they wanted $599 for the same stove on special. Guess where I went ... does that explain my impulse buying.

Now there were plenty nice stainless steel stoves to choose from for megabucks starting from $1499 to $3699 but really do I need such a fancy stove? Imagine a little banana loaf getting lost in that huge oven. No I did the right thing and got the cheaper and smaller stove. This one works on LPG Gas even for the grill and oven, it will do the job nicely thank you. Now I am sorted with applicances for the kitchen ... gas fridge and stove ... the two most important items taken care of when your not on the grid.

BTW my power bill has just arrived today and yes it's high $654 for the quarter. And they talking of price increases again. Imagine how much it will cost then.

Do you have some thing special to save for, maybe getting a challenge like this could help you getting one step closer to your goal.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Auction time again

Now that's one place I love to go! Laws Auctions in Sydney is the place to go for building materials, tiles, kitchens and whitegoods. As you can gather I do most of the bidding as George is better off earning a buck and me spending it lol. Monday's the building materials,and Wensdays the other stuff. We were needing a pack of 90 x 35 mm hardwood for the fence, three windows and a pack of 10 big lattice panels. Wanna know what I am going to do with so much lattice?? I got a vision .... again says husband with a worried look on his face. Still got to look for a secondhand solid door and 1 more window so I will have to go looking at the secondhand building supplier in Penrith on the weekend. Not paying for a new one just to paint it red, thats suppose to be good fung shui. Another good place to look is at the Bower bird in Marrickville.

Then off to the nursery for 2 red rose bushes and maybe a climbing white iceberg rose... never planted a rose garden before. I have just seen the most beautiful red climbing rose in a new blog I visited today, would love to have one just like that. Any suggestions growing roses would be welcome. Or maybe I just wait and prepare the soil first .......

Our auction purchases were delivered this afternoon, just in time to cut the fencing wood to size for the following weekend. I need to paint some of the lattice and some 70 X 45 timbers for timber surrounds, my favorite colour "Green" Going to be a busy weekend for sure. All preparation work for the following weekend.

Until tomorrow with pics of the progress
Off to bed we go ... night

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Many Hands make light work ... Rose Cottage

So as not to confuse everyone, we have had a name change Rose cottage is now Lavender cottage and the new garden shed/cottage is now and forever known as Nilo and Des's "Rose Cottage" It's all got to do with the purple paint I found that was marked grey on the tin of mismatched paint. Rose Cottage was "supposed to be a garden shed or that's what my poor husband thought" Did I not tell you I had big plans for that wood box. We put it up the friday for our guests instead of a tent, then us girls decided it could have been just a little bigger. "The broomsticks and knockers" (as Des calls it) Grandma's bed which is an antique bed has tiny pink roses on the round bits ... I inherited the bed from a friend as nobody wanted it. George was grumbling as usual for a bit but soon got with it, now the floor plan has doubled, we getting 2 windows and a door, a small deck out the front. The second window and door still need to be bought and roofing still needs to go up. We did use some polycardinate corrogated roofing in the meantime. Red Cedar cladding has been nailed to the outside and next time we will put all the trimmings up. Add lights and all the other stuff to finish it off. Lucky we had so much material just waiting .....
Here's a few pics of our progress so far

Thursday, May 6, 2010

On the road again ...

We just about ready to roll out, the borrowed car trailer is loaded and strapped down. Even packed the kitchen sink ...It's going to be a mission getting the wooden base off again tomorrow and it staying put where we take it off. I got one chance and that's it he says! George has gone off to bed about an hour ago. I still got a few things to do before I'm ready to get a little beauty sleep. I made some "Padkos" (food for the road)just a few rolls with roast beef and mustard. I remember the days when Padkos was boiled eggs, sandwiches and chicken drumsticks and a flask of strong coffee. You'd stopped by the roadside, pulled out the picnic basket, everyone hovering around the car hugging a mug of coffee. Do you remember those days?

Our friends Nilo and Des are also coming, It's been a interesting progress with all the help and advice Nilo has been getting on Facebook, baking Aniseed Rusks to take along. Can't wait to try them. See ya there Nilo.
Better go now and finish the packing Have a great weekend

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Paint fumes and garden shed for Lavender Hill

The painter woman's been at it again, this time the "paint" was a mix of bitumen and kerocene, black sticky gunk stirred and thined down with a little kero. I pinched the Blond One's plastic gloves, she only washes dishes when we away in anycase so she would not find out until the weekend. Why paint bitumen, cause it is used by builders as waterproofing on outside walls before they shovel dirt against house/retaining walls. Termites don't like it either. So let's hope it is going to save my new wooden garden shed from being eaten up by termites. A slap of bitumen to the underside of the base/floor, and now it's ready to be transported to the farm. the walls are in large panels (Plywood on 2X4's), them I need to paint a light colour (white) to lighten the inside of the shed. Assembly and clad with weatherboards........add one roof.

If you haven't noticed yet I was born with a paintbrush in one hand and a tin of paint in the other, LOL Don't stand still for to long or ya will get painted!

Now I am sure you going to expect this shed to come out of a box all nicely cut to size with instruction ... my dear husband sure wishes the same thing but no. It's a very large wooden box 2.5 X 3.5 sq mts with a VERY SOLID floor weighing a ton, yep it comes from work totally free, just waiting to be recycled into a shed. I can see it painted a sage green or lavender with a little white accent. Some guttering to attach my fairylights come christmas. I got great plans for that box!

Have you bought any paint lately? if you have you would have noticed how dear it is. But sometimes you can get a bargain by looking in their mismatch section, there they keep tins of paint that haven't come out quite the right colour, normally they paint a little spot on the lid to see the colour. These paints get discounted very cheaply. I found a huge 20ltr tin exterior weathershield paint with a grey marker for $65 same price as a 4 ltr can. But upon closer inspection found it to be lavender after stirring for 5 mins, what a bonus!!!

Maybe by the weekend you will have the first glimps of my "awesome" garden shed (Don't ya love kids expressions it's either cool, sick or awesome that your pick)
We leave Friday morning early for the weekend.
I'll be back with a colour sample soon,
see ya

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lavender Cottage (we have had a name change)... project in progress

Down to Earth post ... I beg your forgiveness my dear friends, I have neglected you all, but we been at the farm for a bit and we have been flat out at work too.

But first I must tell you all about Lavender cottage, that's going to be my little guest cottage. Finally my dear husband has cottoned on to the idea and we started building it. All out of recycled stuff and maybe a few new bits and pieces. The huge steel bases come from a cnc machine weighing a few ton, brought into Australia via boat from Japan and it sits protected in a metal cage. The cage bit will be turned into another chookhouse or shed later. My job was clean the frames of any rust using an angle grinder and to paint the metal with Grey Rust Guard. I do have a colour scheme in mind but thats for a later post.

(Before this cage was covered in a tarp and everything was neatly stacked inside. Until we got this great idea ... we had to swing the whole thing 45% so the cottage will face east towards the main cottage that we plan to live in. To the left of the pic is another storage cage with a heap of building timbers inside it, when that's gone I plan to plant a few citrus trees there. They should love the afternoon son.)

2 Bases get bolted together, then wooden panels with openings for doors and windows get built, they then get stood up and screwed together forming the walls of the cottage. Cypress wood cladding wil cover the panels, they are seconds we bought at auction. Sliding door and roof trusses comes from Scott's old home before they did renovations. The wooden floor comes from a factory and will need a little sanding and revanishing. Then another base will be the little cypress pine deck with bull nose corrogated iron roofing. I will update pics after the next weekend, we're there.

So what are we going to end up with: a large cubby house with an open plan ... 1 queensized bed, side tables, 1 built in cupboard, a shower and handbasin, laundry with a composting toilet, 2 lounge chairs and corner tv cabinet, smallish kitchen area and a sliding door leading to an outside decked veranda with steps onto a cosy courtyard.

So until nexttime