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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Survival Game part 1 & 2 ....

Mind if I play along, news filters slowly across the world, but it hits our island with such disbelieve and shock, very few people are prepared for it. Our Goverment tried to hide it, but they never counted on news spreading via the internet, our friends from different eco and simple living forums have put the word out before the TV stations broadcast shortages of food due to crops being poisoned. We're far from the problems and Goverment should have a back up plan, no need to worry to much! The supermarket shelves only stock enough food for 3 to 4 days, it crazy as people stock up on all the packaged goods,fill up their cars and boat jerrycans with petrol. Some folk lost their homes recently or are about to loss them due to the loss of jobs so they can't meet their morgage payments. We lucky our bush block's morgage is very low and we way ahead anyway. But we 6 hrs drive away from it and haven't got a lot on it atm, just an old caravan and a small unfinished cottage and no electricity. There a 20 ft container and most of the fencing is up, a chook house can be easily erected. Our jobs are not safe and with in 4 weeks we woun't be able to pay the rent anymore and we will be evicted anyway. We got enough diesel to get us to the farm. Dear Daughter drives a Territory and she manages to fill up her car and a few spare large jerrycans, Her car is loaded to the brim, even her sewing machines and over locker, useful if there is power but she's not leaving them she says. Her vet books take up a bit of space but they handy incase we need them as reference.

We need to get to the block asap before the masses leave the city. We start packing all the important stuff, food, medicial stuff, animals feed, bedding, clothes. All the livestock to go in the enclosed trailer, chooks go in wooden crates made especially for transposting them they squashed but that's just to bad, cats in their carriers. Everything packed on the suspended floor above the livestock, shade cloth covers the trailer to give the animals some relief from the summer sun. Niffy idea that was too. Count 6 sheep, 5 lambs,1 goat, 18 egg layers and 25 young meat birds. 6 cats and 3 large dogs.
It's time for stocktake, My food cupboard to well stocked and should carry our small family for 4/5 months easily. Before we leave all the fresh veggies need to be harvested and processed if possible. 2 queensized Mattresses and 2 singles get tied up ontop of the trailer's cage. Every man and his dog are on the road, some service stations are running out of fuel and we fill up frequently while it's still available. Nobody is very worried at this stage.

But I do have a secret stash at the farm, toilet papers, towels, sheets blankets, cooking equipment, clothes, canning bottles, gas stove and fridge, combustion stove with an endless supply of wood, water tanks, fuel tank with 200 ltr of petrol for the ride on, generators and other equipment, lots of building stuff and hardware. There's a veggie patch with sweet potatoes, a few fruit trees, bananas and prickly pears, not much to brag about. We do have a few advantages for a small village, a doctor, a local school, a pub, cop station, rural fire station and a river. Farmers in the area have cattle and a few sheep.
We arrive after being on the road for 10 hrs, exhausted ... the sheep have to be tendered too but the chooks can wait till the morning
It's Sonday, we have been here since friday and built a makeshift chook house for the black orpingtons, Harry and all the Matildas must wonder what happened to their nice accomodation. Clyde, 2 silkies hens and Issabella the leghorn have to make do with a A frame home. The meat birds are still in their wooden crate, it's big enough for another week or two. Daisy the goat knows the farm well, she used to travel in the Rodeo's canopy when she was little, only she now wants to sleep inside the caravan with us, not a good idea Daisy. She will need a yard and home too. The sheep have a shed and they happy munching the overgrown grass. Their fencing is well put up from last December, when they came for a 5 week vacation to the farm. I got warned then there were wild dogs and dingos up in the mountains but depending on how hunger they were they could come down this way.Only 1 water tank is connected atm, it's 4500 ltrs and it full.

The farm is overgrown with lantana again, it's a weed here did you know,it grows so densely you can't even get through. The bramble bushes down the creek have plenty fruit on them but to venture in there is looking for trouble atm, Need to get some gum boots/wellingtons and thick clothing for that. There is three problems we have to be aware of here ticks, spiders and snakes, they can make you very sick or kill you. Oh and the marsh fly, his a little green fly that bites ya and boy it is so sore, itches and then turns red and pussy.

We decide George needs to head back to Sydney with the trailer, to load water troughs, chain wire, timber posts and dismantle the chook palace and stuff we needed to bring but ran out of space. Tanya will go with him cause he is a type 2 diabetic and will find it hard doing all this by himself. And he still needs to give his notice at work and get the monies owing to him, he has a well paying job with lots of responsiblities. Lucky for us the owners of the business are money hungry creatures and will hang on to this business until the end. They refuse to give him money, only willing to pay half of his money and would rather give him the 4x4 ute (our company car)which is fully paid for. That's fine by us.

Tanya also needs to get as much of his medication Insulin, needles and swabs as possible. And more chook food and what ever else she can find. I would like my dining room table and chairs and dresser, the meat safe for making jerky, chopping block and carpets, I got no idea how they going to do it. Our friends Nick and Adele have been so kind and put them up for two nights. They renting and have also just lost they jobs, and they at a lose what to do next. George invites them to come live at the farm for a while.

George and Tanya are back by wensday with a full load, and My toy, A done up VW Beetle towing a small trailer, also loaded. God do I love them, I resigned losing it forever. ( if George knows how much I spend restoring that Beetle he would have a heart attack on the spot) They got one more supprise for me, 30 baby meat chookies and heaps of chick starter. 2 huge bags of potatoes that are ready for planting nobody wanted them so that was reduced, 2bags of brown onions, 2 pumpkins and a box of pie apples. More toilet paper and laundry soap.
They are exhausted from all the hard work and travel, they off to bed early. Tomorrow is another day ...
After a good night's sleep Tanya is feeling heaps better, but George is having a bad start to his day, his feet are swollen and his whole body is sore, I knew it would catch up on him. So today all he will do is sit around giving orders and sleep, tomorrow he should be heaps better. Meantime we have work to do and we need to unpack the trailers. I need to make a list of the food stuff and pack it away safely, lock and key, a key around my neck and one in a secret place just in case I lose this one. There is a lockable steel mouse proof cupboard our friend Des left it at the farm for us, it was used to store tools in but now it will be used as a pantry.

The new chookies need a wooden crate for their home for the next 2 weeks. We'll use the silky's crate for now. The bags of feed needs to be stored in a dry place so it's under the old brass bed in Rose Cottage, plenty of space for now. 2 Water troughs need to be filled up and one placed next to the sheep shed so water can run into them from the soon to be installed gutter. We have a bowl of lentil veggie soup with a slice of bread for lunch.

The furniture and carpets stays on the trailer covered with a tarp for now. Rose Cottage is far from ready to be lived in as a home, all it is a large room with a big deck atm, and a roof better than nothing. We bought a septic tank up the last time we came for a weekend and during the Christmas holidays it was going to be installed. It's rough and it ours. Tomorrow the diningroom furniture goes on the deck and it will start feeling like home. We will have to enclose the deck and make a small kitchen area, and build a bush bathroom/toilet. The caravan will also have to move from under the trees to where the carport will go. It will be Tanya's room for a while, she is already complaining about the storage. And that's what we will do this afternoon.

After dinner consisting of pasta and sauce, we decide do a to do list and that way we will all know what needs to be done and not run round like headless chooks.
Get the gutter up on the sheep shed
Need a house and yard for Daisy for nighttime.Get a gutter on her house too and another trough for the runoff.
Fence off a section for the dogs, can't leave them tied up all dag.
Enclose part of the deck for bad weather with the cypress weartherboards we were saving for the main cottage. Put insulation in and nail liner boards on the inside. (while they take a coffee brake I just slap some paint on the walls)
Unload the meat safe and chopping block and dinningroom furniture.
Then sort out the kitchen stuff, remove all cooking stuff from the caravan, get gas fridge on the deck and reconnect it. What a blessing this fridge will be, no electricity means no fridge and your food will spoil. Move the bush washup sink and fix the drainage pipes, I need another shelf for the pots and pans and some doors please.
George better feel better by the morning cause his list is getting longer.
Tanya loves mowing the lawn with the ride on and tomorrow first thing after breakfast she can start with that. While we dig a few holes for the posts and concrete them in. Start enclosing the deck while the concrete dries, then late afternoon get the fence up. Daisy's house just needs to be reassembled with a few screws and she's right to go.

The cats are being a right pain just wanting to escape the room, but they have to stay inside for atleast 2 weeks, they going to drive us nuts for sure.
Thank goodness we stocked up on hardware and building materials, it's going to come in very handy. It's late and we all tired ...

Quick answer we just about leaving for work. Meat safe is a storage cupboard with fly screen netting on 3 sides, it has shelves and under the shelves are 3 wooden rods to hang up meat. We make beef jerky very different to what you do and only in winter. Check out my blog for better explanations and recipe. I have been collecting for a long time and have been living the off the grid life at the farm for nearly 4 years so have got a few things to make my life easier. still it very primitive. We have a few gas bottles 4x 9 kg, 2 large ones that should last for6 months just running the fridge. gas stove will only work when there is no other way out. (save gas for fridge.)see ya gotta go
Day 10 ... I need to journal our progress daily, it will make a great read when everything is normal again, but what will normal be? All ready there seems to be an angry city with lots of angry people asking why does the Goverment not do something, being realistic why must the Goverment be souly responsible for this mess. How about people trying to help themselves too. Fuel prices have shot through the roof and the shops have had to put their prices up too because of transport costs. The shelves are emptied by 9am of foodstuff still coming through and soon there won't be any deliveries. The local radio had a discussion today with our minister by phone, they doing the best they can she says.
The roads were extra busy with people leaving the city, and there is a shortage of fuel, some service stations have got extra security watching nobody takes off without paying for their fuel. I am just glad we left when we did.
We got some fencing done and enclosed the deck, got the furniture sorted out, and mowed the lawn. George had to have a rest by middag, his feet were swollen again, that is what diabetes does to you. Rest ... no such luck for us though. Breakfast was a boiled egg with toast, lunch just a sandwick with a cup of tea, Dinner was more pasta and sauce. That was the last of the store bought bread. Hens layed 6 eggs today

George is worried what we're going to do without an income, it the first time he has not had a job since he started working at 17. I am not that worried about that atm, cause I have been planning our retirement since we bought this bush block. It's here just a little earlier than I expected. While they were back in Sydney I had gone to town and withdrew a far bit of money, it is always good to have cash on hand cause the banks could close their doors and then your stuck without money. (withdrew the money the company owed George for long service, holiday allowance and our weekly wages) They were not very happy with me! wanting to limit my withdrawal. At home I stowed the money away in a few glass bottles with lids and dug some holes under the (It's secret not telling lol). only keeping a few dollars handy.
Tomorrow I will get out the secret stockpiling containers that's been in the container, go through them and get some stuff we need atm and the rest will go back in storage. No need to have it all out, in case we get robbed or something.
Everyone gone to bed already while I am writing this journal by tealight candle.

Day 11 ... plan on working on the to do list, finish the fencing, screw on the gates and assemble Daisy' house. Get the gutters up I think the weather is changing and we be in for a storm this afternoon. Maybe I should rotory hoe a patch for the potatoes, add the old composted lawn clippings in and get the potatoes planted in the ground before the storm hits.
George is doing better today, his sugar levels are better under control today, just need to watch him not to overdo the physical work. He can have a rest later.
Our friends Nick and Adele with their 2 little girls are due to arrive soon and we need to prepare for them, find them somewhere to sleep. I am expecting them to bring the minimal stuff with them.
Breakfast we had oats porridge and an apple, I always have a few packets in my pantry of quick cooking oats (Low GI food)Lunch we rolled two potatoe for each in tin foil and baked it in the coals. Baked a Damper in the black pot over the coals (damper is a big round scone looking bread great with jam or bovril) and made a pumpkin soup for tea (dinner)
Checked out the seed box and need to start fixing up the veggiepatch for planting. Hens layed 5 eggs today. Can't believe it exactly 4 weeks to Christmas. Just before it starts pouring down we hear a car horn and it's them, they have been on the road since early morning and are starving, the girls love pumpkin soup and even ask for seconds. after a quick wash they fall asleep on a single mattress. News from the city is not good there's riots and trouble around every corner, traffic out of the city is crazy, cars dumped when the fuel runs out not good at all.

Adele brought all her groceries and butter, cheese and powder milk with, and a few bottles of alcohol. Their mattresses tied on the roof racks (thank goodness George told them to do that) and some bedding. Their furniture was put in storage and they had to paid in advance to keep it there. We will need to build a shed/room for them to live in, Nick have done some renovations to his house himself so is handy with a saw and hammer.

(We off to the farm this weekend so no post for the next few days, hve a great weekend Rina)
It was a great weekend of mowing the lawn , cleaning up and cutting up a dead tree for firewood. I thought of a nice firewood stack like I have seen one a few American girls blogs, stacked all neatly , well I have requested one, now lets see how long I have to wait. George even used his new Alcheapo Electric Blade sharper for his chain saw I bought him from Aldi's awhile ago. Do you have an Aldi's store in USA?

So here goes...Day 13
Where to house all these guests is going to be another thing, we barely got enough space for ourselfs. My worry is how are they going to intergrate and cope with our lifestyle for one Adele and the kids don't eat veggies, that will have to change if they want to live with us. Nick is easy he ate anything I gave him when he stayed with us for 2 weeks about 3 yrs ago. And Adele hate creepycrawlies of any kind.

We decided to turn the wooden shed into a one bedroom cottage, add a little deck on the front, just somewhere for them to sit with the kids and it's large enough to house a double bed and double bunks for the kids and a chest of draws. Later we could add another room and a bathroom to it. Nick and George start the renovations.

Adele keeps the little ones busy while I put together a macaroni, cheese and a little bacon dish for dinner, and an apple pie with custard for dessert. While the boys recharge the battery packs on the tools/drills, dinner is cooking in the small electric oven run by the small generator. It's lighter on fuel than the big one. I find some of the garlic is sprouting and needs to be planted if we to have garlic next year. Hens layed 5 eggs today. A jug of iced tea to quench thirst today. During the afternoon I try to phone my Boys in Queensland from the public phone booth in the village, I am relieved when one answers. They about to head to the farm as well. Jokingly remind me of all my mad ideas so they coming to see if we can all survive there. Yeah right ! That will mean 4 adults and 2 kids extra.

Tomorrow is washday so tonight I will cart water for the tub outside, add soap and sock cloths overnight, then it easier to scrub tomorrow. Tanya helps a little but keeps to herself a lot.
Day 14 ...
Wash day blues, swirled the washing around a bit, drained most of the dirty water and added some fresh water with a little laundry soap. The girls got into the water with Adele and they walked all over the lighter soiled washingaggitating the water and quess what it was all clean in no time. We wrung most of the water out and placed that in another bucket. Then she added boys work clothes to the soapy water and repeated the process, who needs a washing machine when the little ones had so much fun. A good rinse and wring to get rid of the excess water, and hang it on the line. A third load is put in to soak a little.

All this hard work is rewarded with a cup of tea and some apple and cinnanon muffins, baked while the boys were recharging the battery packs for the drills, there's even a few muffins for the freezer. I just mixed a homebrand cake mix packet with two diced apples, squeesed a few drops of lemon to stop the apples from going brown and sprinkled some cinnanon powder into the mix. How easy was that! It cost only 70cents for the cake mix! The boys were also glad for a treat with their coffee.

The cottage is getting on nicely, they found a small window to put in and all that's left to do is make the double doors, then add the bull nose roofing over the little deck, a gutter and a 45 gallon drum for water. Tonight they will be able to move the mattresses in, tomorrow George can sort out some beds for them.

I still got some mince and decide to make a meat loaf, rice, gravy and green beans mashed with an onion and a large potato. We have a full 10 kg bag of rice and then a small bag which Adele brought with. 3 cups is all we need tonight, tomorrow the chookies can have a little rice too. The young meat chooks are growing nicely, another 3 weeks and we could slaughter a few for the freezer. The babies are nearly 3 weeks old now and eating us out of house and home (not really)
Dinner is a sit down affair, time to gather everyone together and be thankful for what we got
Ya wonna read more?
Just remember this is copy right for those folks that think it worth doing something with ............... Thank you

Day 15 ... (part 2)
This morning I walked over to our neighbours farm, they are a friendly bunch, very helpful too. I got the son to help me put up fencing last year and bull doze some trees and lantana in the crownland next to our property in the name of "fire prevention" Paid him for the job too. They farm piglets and sell them to the Asian market here in Sydney, only now they might have a few spare cause they would be low on petrol. It's just a friendly visit and too see if I could buy a piglet off them. They happy to batter for my 2 silkies hens and 1 leghorn for eggs and rooster and 4 young meat chooks. I think thats fair and we'll deal tomorrow.

The boys drop what they doing and start get a yard ready for 2 piglets, it not very big but it sturdy. I hope I will score in the long run.Give a few months and we will have pork on the table.

Late afternoon the kids from Brisbane arrive, very squashed and tired, the small car is packed to the brim. Michael and grandson Cobi nearly 8 yrs old are not with them, so we very concerned. They left Brisbane a week ago on bicycles, and were going to ride during the day, camp in a small tent and sleeping bags. There was no sign of them on the road. Another well thought idea Michael doing nearly 650 klm with a small child but then he always did things his way in any case. His's one tough boy, did his first cycle endurance race when he was 13, 100klm in 5hrs and that with a normal street bike, we had to follow him all the way by car as he was the youngest to take part for a while. He was laughed at at the beginning of the race, most thought he'd never make it. Now he takes the young one on weekends for long rides in rough territory. Anyway if all goes well it should take them atleast 12 days.

With an extra male Neal around they quickly start work on Lavender Cottage again, just need to change the design slightly to add a second bedroom. That means we are going to be short on weatherboard cladding but we cross that bridge when we get there.There's about a week of work left to do to make it sort of livable. If only the weather stays good they get a move on.
Elize is Italian and an excellant cook so she'll be a great help in the kitchen. we use the dehydrator to dry a bag of onions , making dinner as we go. Pasta Bake with some garkic bread rolls they brought with. Hens layed 7 eggs today

Late afternoon we do some weeding and planting, add more compost to the sweet potatoes and just tidy up the place a bit. The seedlings I planted the otherday are just coming up and I carefully transplant them and water them. There's Comfrey, common mint, Rosemary, chillies and Galangha plants going very well so I sow a few parsley seeds, basil, coliander, lemon balm and thyme. I plant a varity of pumpkins and squashes, carrots, beetroot, turnips and parnips

Yeh Becky That's exactly what worries us too, only it early days for us into this disaster.
They would have set off around day 8, that might count in their favour. This is something my son would do in real life. He carted those bikes all the way from africa 4 yrs ago. If it not a motor bike it will be a bicycle trust me. Father and son have a wonderfull relationship and spend lots of time riding. My other son Neal is not sporty and would rather read or play on the computer. Elize is his fiance and Luke is from his first marriage. I am in two if Linda should appear on the show?!

Day 16 ...
Still no sign of them it's early days yet. What was he thinking, even if they travel safely how is a 7yr old going to cope? No sense in worring yet, Michael is a smart street wise kid. Soon to be ex daughter inlaw is not worried. Can they patch things up ... don't think so. Tanya is not at all happy with her brother (understatement) or Marna.

The boys are very busy getting the housing in order, only take breaks for teatime then get right back to it. The pace is to heavy for George and he takes a afternoon nap. It the first day of summer for us here in Australia, it hot and humid, the flies hang around waiting for you to open your mouth. They need an ozzie hats one with corks on, so when you turn your head it wacks the flies lol

The girls are bored and they decide to try a little crafting, so we knock up a weaving frame of sorts, string it and make a small shuttle from wood. Meantime they start cutting up some old tee shirts (from the secret stash boxes)in thin strips, join them and roll them into small balls. Then start weaving them into a small rug. They having fun! Tanya joined in too. She does not like Marna atm and just ignores her.To finish it off they add a broad binding around the outside with the sewing machine. I show them how to make a calico rag wreath for Christmas, soon we got 4 wreaths. My material stash just got smaller. Luke and the girls have been reading stories the whole afternoon.

The piglet swap happened as planned and our neighbour Faye was every so happy to have the 3 eggs for the day too. The meat chooks should be ready for Christmas Dinner, they only 3 people atm so one should be more than enough. Faye drives the local school bus, she's not to sure what will happen if the council is still going to run the bus service. She gave me a few lemons from her tree, that was very kind of her, so we will make a little lemonade syrup for cooldrinks.

Hens layed 9 eggs today
Baked a banana bread with an overripe banana.
Made damper and thick chicken noodle soup, a few carcasses from the fridge, added onions and grated carrot, noodles from those 2 min packets I had from the lasttime the boys visited. It's been boiling on the coals the whole afternoon.
Day 17 ...
Another day in paradise, so far we have been very lucky not having any unwanted guests, it's because we off the beaten track. Our Village is 60km from the main Pacific Highway, towards the mountains, even in the good days it's mostly the farming community and then the canoeists going to 5 Day creek camping grounds, they canoe down the Maclay River, must be stunning up there. The river passes at the foot of our villiage and goes all the way to the sea.

There's a few good fishing spots but that the local fishermen secret, and we not that local! The boys really want to go fishing and decide to try down by the bridge. Early morning and late afternoon is normally a good time here. They don't get anything worth keeping. So return and continue building. They mood is so much better, their step it up a notch.

Us girls keep ourselves busy weeding the garden and tending the animals. Hens layed 7 eggs today. The baby meat chooks will need another home soon they getting bigger by the day, some want to fly out the crate already. There is still plenty of chick starter. Piglets are happy with the uncrowded and non-smelly conditions from nextdoor. They kids think they so cute ... I can see tears coming when we slaughter them. Adele spends sometime with the kids colouring in and reading a story. After dinner we talk about the kids going back to school next year if they have a teacher. Tomorrow we will take a walk to school and have a chat to the teacher. It's have 45 kids at the best of times all kids from the district farms, some won't be able to come anymore due to saving petrol/diesel.

Still no sign of Michael and Cobi ...
Day 18 ...
After breakfast we head down to the little school, it's only a 10 min walk from us, there's only a few kids there atm and one teacher. She lives in the village with her husband and is going to try keep the school going, Our kids are most welcome to join. They have a veggie garden that her husband looks after and a few ducks. She does mention now that they are not getting paid anymore, she was hoping that the kid's parents will be contributing to maintance and cleaning of the school and yard and maybe in kind to her as well. (Hint taken) There is also a meeting in the park this afternoon, and we very welcome to attend, might be a good idea to introduce all my guests to the villiage, before they get concerned about the new faces around. Dr Paul and Constable Jade will be there to see things run smoothly. The village has a population of 160 so everyone know everyone, mostly are elderly.

The discussion is how we are going to cope without being able to drive to town 60klm away for our needs. Most villiagers have a small veggie patch and a few hens or ducks, meat is no major problem atm The good Dr is very much a tribal leader here and says he expects us to look out for each other and help where possible. Any problem need to be reported to Himself and Constable J, man what a team. Also the school will stay open for now, it's right nextdoor to the Constable's home, so he will keep an eye out for the kids and teacher. The good Dr will keep doing what he needs to do. Medical supplies could run short sometime down the track. They will risk going down to the Hospital in town tomorrow for medical supplies and any food stuff they can find. We are truly blessed to have them both!

Also we will have a swap and batter market every saturday morning in the park. Village security is inportant to everyone, please come introduce any family or friends arriving. The elderly are warned not to just open their doors to anyone they don't know. Keep doors locked and windows closed at night. Constable J will patrol the street at about 9pm, just to make sure there's no problems yet, also if everyone can be at home before it gets dark will help him a lot. Mark his neighbour offers to walk with him.

It hard having elderly residents around, extra care needs to be taken for them. If we look out for each other we might get through this thing together. It's the Aussie way! Christmas Carols will still be held in the park, it's a bring a plate affair (that means you need to bring a plate of something with you if you can afford it) Tea will be supplied.

Walking home we all feel a little relieved that the villiage is going to work together, and everybody was welcomed into the fold. We got to meet the dairy farmer cross the bridge and made arrangements to get some milk from him if possible. He want to batter milk for help around his farm. Dennis the Menise, that's our neighbour across the road, planted watermelons and rock melons which he normally sells from the back of his truck, it's just to dangerous selling on the highway atm, gives them away too anyone wanting any. He also sells firewood in winter.

Not a lot was done today ... dinner was some pasta and bolonaise sauce.
Still no sign of Michael and Cobi
Day 20 ...
Washing was done early this morning and hung up, the big girls took turns in the tub, good thing it's not winter here, their little tootsies would have frozen off. I think their just wanted to give the furniture another coat of paint, lol nothing like having your own space. For girls they have got on reasonably well. Tanya will not forgive Marna easily, nobody c..... on her brother and gets away with it, no love lost there, but I take it with a little more understanding, Michael is not the easiest person to live with, besides she did give me the best little boy ever. They will have to sort out their own problems.

Late afternoon the bed frames are ready and the boys carry them in, they start scheming for more bits of furniture lol, will have to talk to George, his wood stash has had a good workout. My secret stash boxes are next to be raided for extra bedding, shampoo/soap, candles & towels hmmm I need to watch them lol. A simple coat rack and a boot stand is needed too. One thing he does have to do is a small kitchen with a wash up basin, shelves and place for the little gas stove I used to use before I got the nice chef I bought with my small change challenge money. It's just for making warm drinks, cooking is done over at the Rose Cottage.The 3 ltr gas bottle will last 2 months if they carefull. They still need to add the bathroom and a hot water system of sorts. Woodfire & Beer kegs!!!! They trying their luck for the camping fridge to keep their milk and water cold, should I give in, it means extra gas useage? Come winter then they can use a bucket with water, in the shade, that is so cold the milk is fine for a few days in the water.

Tomorrow the kids start school again, it's nearly the end of the year, and it's good to keep things as normal as possible. Would have been great if Cobi was here already. They can atleast meet some of the kids from the village.

We need to use the candles sparingly until we can make more. The garden solar lights come in very handy, charge them during the day outside and bring them inside at night.

Firewood needs to be collected and cut it up with the chainsaw, stacking it properly. The weather is building again for a storm, I don't mind it raining at night. Today we saw our first snake a red bellie black, he just wanted to be on his way, not very aggressive but very poisoness. He's the good one of the snakes around here. The building materials and yard need to be cleaned up, no hiding places for Mr & Mrs Snake and their babies.
It's not wastefull at all, a treat is good for the spirits and gives a little hope too. A more balanced meal if possible is better, so stockpiling more legumes, rice, pastas, soup mixes, stock cubes, spices, and salt is important. If you buy homebrands they really are not that expensive. Portions should be just smaller, no seconds or heaped platesfull. thats my motto! We need to try cook for a diabetic so have to have more balanced meals.
Day 21 ...
The kids got up early they very excited going to school and meeting new friends, For morning tea they got an apple muffin each and one rockmelon/watermelon cubes on a stick each and a bottle of water. The mums walked them down to school something that they probably never did before, everyone drives and drops off these days.

It's good exercise for the mums too and great for their moods. Tanya power walks them around the villiage. She's a Zumba intructor and likes to keep fit, lack of exercise is maybe part of her mood swings. The Boys decide to try their hand at fishing again, lets hope better luck this time, they going to try further up the river and with earthworms.

The kids can't stop talking when we fetch them around midday. It's very different to their regular classes being all different ages and levels and only one teacher. The bigger kids help the little ones with their reading, and maths, then they get to have sometime to draw, while the older kids do other subjects. Then it morning tea break and run around a bit. Afterwards the little ones have a rest, while the older kids do some more work until 2pm Tomorrow they going to do Aussie history and maths.

The boys return successful with 2 bass, George fillets them and there's fish cakes for dinner with rice and a few peas mixed in from the freezer and tomato, 1grated carrot, diced onion and a little fresh chilli salsa. Apple pie for dessert and a small scope of ice cream Now that's finished too. We need to start emptying the freezer for those meat chooks we got to slaughter the week after, then they will be 8 weeks old, that should cut down on the chick starter too. The fish was nice and our fishermen promise to go fishing again soon.

It nearly bed time when Michael and Cobi announce their arrival by yelling and calling us from the road. They're in good spirits having just completed 650km from Brisbane. It joy you haven't seen in sometime, we all crying and laughing at the sametime. I look at Michael with such warm proud feelings "My Boys made it, he knows that look too". They a little skinnier than before, and they're alive and in one piece. Tomorrow we hear all about their adventure. It's a light meal for them tonight, bath and then off to bed.

Day 22 ...
Morning comes and we can't wait to find out more of the adventure. Michael is up early but Cobi wakes up at 9 am. The other kids have gone to school already. We all sat down with a cup of coffee and rusks (will give you the recipe later)and dunk will we listen to Michael.

They were very lucky and early on in the trip got a lift from a truckie going to Ballina about 180klm from Brisbane. Michael meet him at the service station and begged a lift. They rode for about 10klm out of town and looked for the nearest farm, where they knocked on the door and asked if it was ok to camp there. Explaining what and where they heading too. That area is topical and they farm with macedania nuts and avocado pears, coffee. Before Michael left he went to thank them and they gave him a few green avo's and two ripe ones. Micheal had made a small enclosed trailer to tow behind his bicycle and on top he had a spare bike for them each, spares for the bikes and a few tools and a foot pump,a small tent and a billy, some fishing line and hooks,2 tin plates and mugs,sharp knife 2 spoons and 2forks and 2 towels & soap,2 sets of cloths for them each. Energy bars, 2 min noodles, pck soups, 3 tins of bully beef (spam),salt, a few teabags and a small container of sugar, a little powder milk. and some apples. From his boys scout day he remembered how they make bread on a stick on the fire, so he took a packet of self raising flour too.They had two bottles of water on each bikes. Sun screen and caps

They road early morning before the heat got to them, have a midday break,eat and rested under a tree , then later did another 10 klm before they looked for another farm to camp at. That way they were reasonably safe, always offering to do small jobs in exchange for the night's safe camp. Sometimes he had to chop wood or help fix a fence and Cobi helped feed the animals. Some farmers invited them to join them for a meal. Wifes normally got Cobi to have a bath and wash his hair (typical women), one even washed his cloths.

They did a little bit of yabbying (like a fresh water prawn) with a bit of road kill (dead animal hit by a truck) at some of the river banks. Tie a piece of meat on a hook and handline, dangle it next to the river bank and slowly bring it in. Yabbies can't resist soon they got a few and drop them into boiling water until they turn pink. Peel and eat yummy. One afternoon they had a far size catch and decided to take the yabbies to the next farm and present the farmer's wife with some. They all had a feast that night.

At Coffs Harbour they got a large hand of bananas from the indian man and gave him 2 avo's. He let them camp but not close to the house. Next stop was Grafton, now we heading into the sugarcane area, farm houses are not close to the road, so they stay on the edge of towns. There is a bit of trouble at some places only we stayed as far away as possible. Somedays they had a few flat tyres, more patches than tyre, someday none. One day rolled into the next and he had lost track of what day it was. Cobi did not complain about the distance cause of all the different people, animals and swimming and fishing along the way. Just the flies!!!!

Just outside of our nearest town, another farmer stopped to give them a ride and asked them where they heading, cause if your heading up to the purple caravan. He can offer you a ride "They expecting ya Mate" He must have been at the villiage meeting.
Someone must have been looking after my 2 Boys, a silent prayer of thanks to Him for keeping my kids safe.
Today Grandma is going to cook a nice meal, a lamb leg roast with half a pumpkin, potatoes and rice/gravy. I been hanging onto that roast for today.

Day 23 ...
First we have to get their clothes washed after socking them over night, boy they are stinky! Cobi decided he also wanted to go with the other kids to school today, sure he would have told many a story to the new friends and teacher. There are stories of looting and protesting that Michael did not tell yesterday. That is why he could not wait to get here fast enough with Cobi, they could have been in all sorts of trouble if it weren't for the kind farmers letting them camp on their properties. He had a few avocadoes left and some overripe bananas, and a bag of pecan nuts, he traded for a avo and a three bananas.

The to do list needs to be looked at again, most of the jobs have been done, and everyone has a bed to sleep in. Still a couple of little finishing touches to the cottages like painting, putting up the veranda railings, a gutter here and there, and connecting rain barrels/tanks. It will happen as there is spare time available. One of our biggest problems will be water for everyone, baths are limited a basin fulls, more a wash than a bath. The kids get a plastic sandpit shell with a few inches of water to splash around in all day, cause it is hot even in the shade, bath time they have a little wash in the basin. All water get saved for the veggie patch. Today the boys concentrate on the roofing and gutterings, maybe just in time for the storm brewing.

I decide to set up my bookcase, most books I have read and was keeping them to sell at the Bush Market once a month. Only now the girls might want to have a read instead. There a variety of kids book and activity books , recipes and craft books too, I need to speak to George about a book case. Tanya might want to add her vet books and so freeing a little space. George is happy to make one and soon it painted and drying too.Tomorrow we'll fill it up with books and puzzles and games. Starting to fell more like home everyday.

My first attempt at baking bread was succsessfull , not very large loaves but tasty. Everyone attacks the tasty bread, smeering it with a little butter and veggiemite. We open a small jar of bread and butter cucmbers, and they polish that off. Served with a little tea. We're going to need milk soon and will have to go see the dairy farmer tomorrow. Neal and Nick offers to walk with me. Dinner is Pasta and sauce, Jelly and tinned fruit, we still got some rock melon left over and cut that up too. After Dinner Tanya and Michael take a little walk down to the creek, it's like the old days, they spending quality time talking and laughing. I am sure she was upset about him taking Cobi on such an adventure, her favorite nephew.

It's been a long day for everyone ....
Bored yet?
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