Saturday, January 27, 2018

Blank slate

When I wrote this post recently, about our predicament with access to permanent water supply - I could almost hear the crickets in the background, afterwards. Not from my readers, but within my own head. I'd accounted for a pretty big, system failure. Which meant, the way we did things around here, was about to change.

Having a realisation though, and formulating a response to it, doesn't necessarily happen at the same time. Hence, the cacophony of crickets. It took several days, pondering the blank slate before me, in order to pick a direction.

Two things happened, during this period of reflection though. Firstly, I started a new online art course, which I poured myself into. You can read about it, at Make-do-Studio. Secondly; was having my mind in Permaculture Solutions mode. Because I had a property with a problem, of not being able to grow food - so how was I intending to use it, in the future?

Native Spotted Gum

This land was successfully used for logging, in the past. It grows 40 metre hardwood, eucalyptus trees, in a very short period of time, on natural rainfall. We have needed to control the saplings, before they turned into those towering monsters. But several have gotten away on us, and are now too close to the house.

So we cannot grow food on natural rainfall, but we can grow weedy, hardwood trees, that NEED to be controlled. Ideas started to cross pollinate, between the two things I was pouring myself into: the property, and my new found desire to create things.

 A beautiful rainbow, fell over our trees, on Christmas 2017

I started to wonder, could they be merged? Could our land be used, to create things, other than food - to trade with those, who CAN grow food? This is what I am pondering at the moment. I have a few ideas kicking around, which have silenced the crickets for now.

Anything I do, has to be manageable mostly, by me though. As that was another system failure, I recognised, in close succession to the water issue. Maybe another post, for another day though? But I have to be able to run a household, a property, raise a family AND (dare I say it) look after myself, while developing a new business I can run from home?

The property was on my mind, so I used it, to create a picture
Titled: "You-eclipsed-us"

In closing, I need to comment on my word for the year. Sacrifice. It has let itself be known, quite often, during these precedings of reflection. I've had to give-up growing food (for the immediate future) and sift through the ashes of what's left. As unpleasant as the notion of sacrifice may be - it's conclusion, creates room for new things to flourish.

So that's how I plan to move forward - exploring new opportunities, which pays homage to our land for what it is, not what it isn't. If I seem a little different than normal, at all, on this blog - it's because I'm sorting through the changes I need to make. For things to continue to prosper, however that turns out. Thanks in advance, for bearing with me.

Are you having to do anything different, than normal, in your daily life? Or have you had to give up something, you weren't anticipating?


  1. Love your picture! Clearly your property is on your mind, as is sacrifice, but it sounds to me like it's leading you (perhaps in a round-a-bout way) to a positive place with new opportunities. When you wrote about not being able to grow food in any sizeable quantities the other day, I thought immediately of the sourdough bread you bake and how I would happily trade some veg for your bread (seeing every loaf I bake is like a brick)! I am a permaculture novice but I think developing bartering relationships within your community is very much in line with that philosophy.

    My daily life changed quite a lot three years ago. I took extended leave from my daytime job. I'd had enough. Yes, sacrifice (especially of the monetary/career kind was involved) but it gave me the time and space to change schools for my son - even though I drive him a long way to school and back every day now. I have used the many hours I wait now (for the homeward drive) wisely, to work on aspects of my life I wanted to change. It is something I do not regret. Meg:)

    1. Thank you Meg. Doing my picture, brought me comfort at a time that felt so unsettled. The transition time, is probably the most challenging. The what ifs, that crop up? But as you say, and have discovered yourself, new opportunities arise which tend to be more meaningful. I'm glad you gleaned something worthwhile, from your initial sacrifice.

      Thanks for sharing your story. :)

  2. Meg's idea is good....barter for what you need with what you can provide, but I still think food-growing should be a priority. I guess in your position I would be asking myself some questions:

    1. All things considered, how many years can I (and my husband and my children) expect to live?
    2. How will energy decline (the end of oil primarily) and climate change affect our lives, here in the place we live and particularly if we stay here?
    3. Could we do better in a different place? (e.g I read the blog of a former Qld resident who has located to Tas in order to prepare....cooler weather, fertile soil, permaculture property being designed). He's hoping he's got enough time to get it ready, before the wheels fall off.

    It basically depends on how you see the future. I think we're stuffed (pardon the language!) and if I was younger I'd be relocating to a cooler place with good soil and rainfall. But I'm 74 and hoping I'll be pushing up daisies before it all gets too much worse. Even so, I'm still doing all I can to be as self-sufficient as possible and hoping, as it gets worse, that my neighbours will see the dangers ahead and start to prepare themselves (I doubt they do at the moment). Some are already growing some of their own food and that's a good start towards community happening.

    Sorry if this sounds pessimistic, but I've been studying energy decline for a long time and there are no easy solutions.

    1. Pessimistic or realistic? I appreciate your feedback, as these are things I contemplate almost daily too. It's one of the reasons I didn't want to accept we couldn't grow food here. We had contemplated relocating to Tasmania, in the past. There were a range of issues, from unpredictable seasonal work, to finding a place that also wasn't experiencing drought. It's less harsh than Qld weather, for sure! But it occurred to me, we could spend a lot of money relocating, only to find ourselves in a similar predicament.

      I'm actually glad we didn't move to Tasmania (at the time) because I later developed a seasonal asthma cough, when the night-time temperatures, drop. As much as I prefer the cool of winter, over the heat of summer, my lungs doth protest too much! Getting off dairy during winter though, seems to reduce the severity of the cough, to avoid buying the inhaler. But that's for a Qld winter. ;)

      My goal is to temporarily give up growing food, until we can address the water supply issue. To do that, we need money, so I'm contemplating the options my land still has available to procure it. Getting permanent water, could be some ways off in the distance, or maybe sooner - it depends how quickly I can get the ball rolling. ;)

  3. Here in the UK we have a TV gardener called Mony Don, he tells us we are only the caretakers of our soil, and not the creators, to go with what we have, make small improvements, but to listen and watch what it produces, anything else is wasted energy, time and cost. The hardest part is coming to terms with this advice, it's hard not to be able to grow what you love, but adapt grow what you can and be a happy gardener. The hardest part is coming to terms with his wise words, I find once you stop the struggle to grow what you wanted, and change your way of gardening, it becomes fun again, and you have a different type of garden, still beautiful, just different. I wish you luck on your journey.

    1. I like Monty Don. Especially the Gardening tours he does, all over the world. He seems to get a pulse on a region, and knows exactly how to express what's going on, botanically. Yet another way to look at gardening, Marlene. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hmmm I don't suppose selling wood is an option, Chris. I heard someone say on ABC radio this morning that at his place down the range the temp has been 42C to 45C each day on his digital thermometer! I imagine it would be very hot at your place as well. Not good for growing food I must say. It makes all the difference if you have access to lots of water. We do and I am still having trouble growing veggies. LOL! They are just shrivelling up.

    1. I really need to get a proper weather station, because I'm sure what they're predict for our "region" isn't what we're getting. They say we should be around 33-34 degrees, but it feels closer to 38! My garden seems to think so as well, as the fruit trees are getting sun-burned leafs.

      I have been wondering if the shriveling up, has to do with when the leaves emerged. I noticed when we had all that rain, back in spring, the leafs that emerged were soft and sappy from all the moisture. But then summer comes, and those leafs succumb to transpiration and disease, very quickly.

  5. This is exactly what I would expect from a resourceful, resilient person such as yourself! Agrarianism is very much a community economy, because everyone can't do everything. I say you are definitely on the right track. It will be interesting to see how your new direction works out.

    1. Thank you Leigh. It will be our community that gets us through any food predicaments - or not. I notice quite a few people who have sunk bores, are growing excess to sell to others. We contemplated how many pumpkins we'd have to sell, to pay off a bore. Based on what the local supplier is charging, we calculated over 6000!

      I hope to report on how things develop in the future. :)

  6. This is a great post Chris and it struck a cord with me as soon as I read it.

    As you know this is my struggle every year, and this year is bad because the veggies are not producing well at all. It might look good in the photos on my blog but I am not picking much produce. The capsicums this year have been a failure and bugs have infested my tomatoes and eggplants so I am losing more than I am picking. It is so disappointing with all the effort I put into growing my own. The water cost alone is going to be up because of the extreme temperatures that have been here this month(another 46C day tomorrow). Truly I just want to give up! Where we live there are not many options for organic food. I travel 1 1/2 hours to a farmers market once a month and stock up, but other than that there is only supermarket food. Once the heat goes away the veggies will probably do better, well at least I hope so :)

    I suggested planting sandalwood trees on our block when we moved here and if we had done that we would be reaping the rewards right now. Our soil is good for growing sandalwood. Recently I brought the subject up again with hubby, but he doesn't seem interested.

    I don't know if your area is suitable for sandalwood growing, maybe something you could consider.

    Great advice through these comments. I loved what Meg said.


    1. Sad to hear how your veggies have faired, Tania. But also not surprising either. I did manage to grow wild tomatoes in the new hugelkultur beds, but they had to go straight to the chickens. As the pest load was such, they were infested with maggots. Great for chickens and egg production, so not a total loss, lol. But we would have loved some tomatoes too. I think we got a handful that weren't infested.

      All my fruit trees got infested too. So all that fruit went to the chickens as well. It just goes to show, it's not just a water shortage, but an increase in pest loads, when plants start to struggle. If I could sell battered and fried grasshoppers, I'd make a fortune! ;)

      Our land is great at growing Silky Oak and Iron bark, as well as other native hardwoods. Our clay soils, probably wouldn't favour sandalwood, given they don't seem to like water-logging. Which we can get, once the rain actually falls, lol. I have also enjoyed reading everyone's response to something, we all shares - challenges in our growing environments.

  7. In one way Chris you can feel relief at coming to this knowledge. That's the first step. You have choices to make now, and they will bring exciting challenges. Bartering for what you can't grow is a logical idea too. I know folks who live in harsh and dry areas of our great land, all of them learn to accept the challenges before they move onto the positives. It's no good flogging a dead horse so that you can say you grew your own tomatoes. Growing our own food is not the be all and end all of life. You have other interests and talents that will carry over any shortfall you may feel you have. So breath out, look around at the beauty of where you live and embrace the freedom of not having to make it into something it isn't.

    1. Thanks Sally. I have been giving considerable thought to embracing what we have, as we have it. And you have affirmed this thought process too. We may get to that place of growing more of our own food, but not in the way we have been doing it. Now is the time for regrouping, and finding treasure in what we have. :)


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