The joys of homesteading

I don’t know if we have simply been inspired by the TV show River Cottage, or because it’s Christmas and Craig has some time away from his desk, the beautiful summer weather or all of the above, but we are really enjoying ourselves the last few days and been really really busy.

Christmas day started with us cooking breakfast for 55 people! All in the common house of Earthsong. It was wonderful and a great way to stop from feeling homesick. There were croissants with filings including homemade preserves, ham, cheese, tomato, avocado, pineapple, strawberries and cream and waffles. Orange juice, bubbly, tea or coffee to wash it all down with and wonderful company. It was an absolute delight, everyone seemed well feed and happy and the compliments and words of thanks were greatly received. We then followed it up with a very small pot-luck lunch, very laid back and quiet.

At the end of the day I was left with the remainders of a half-leg of ham, 10 “chips” of strawberries and a big bowl of sliced tomatoes. Craig and I did our best with the ham yesterday and this morning, and then this afternoon I turned the remainder into a big pot of yummy pea & ham soup served with a zucchini bread (or cake, it was pretty sweet, next time I serve it as bread I’ll put a lot less sugar in it, but with all that sugar it would be a delicious dessert with yogurt).

  After leaving the ham & split peas to soak for 4 hours I turned the bowl of sliced tomatoes into soup, I added vegetable stock, 2 baked potatoes, thyme and bay leaves, cooked it all up and then put it through the blender. It tastes amazing and I’m so looking forward to having it tomorrow with some more of the zucchini bread for lunch.

While I was busy in the kitchen, Craig was out side trying out our new auger (you stick one end in the ground and then turn the big handle to dig holes for posts). He managed to dig enough holes and embed posts into them ready to make our new garden fencing (to keep the poultry out).

I forgot to mention that prior to this activity we started our morning off by making breakfast, feeding the animals and watering the glass house, followed by a plum picking expedition. We have a wonderful mound of plums.

Tomorrow morning I have another busy cooking day scheduled with a long list of things to preserves and piles of yummy fresh food from the garden.

I’ll be turning the left over strawberries into more strawberry jam, the plums into jam, sauce and some sort of chutney, then there is the bean chutney and the zucchini pickles, not to mention the guests we have coming for dinner, the probable beheading of a chicken for the pot, oh and I would also like to do some sort of lactic fermentation of at least 1 cabbage. I think I’ll let Craig see to the feeding and watering of animals and plants tomorrow.

Now if that wasn’t enough activity for you, we also squeezed in a visit to a very cool kitchen shop called Milly’s Kitchen and spent a bucket load of money on new preserving jars (we already ran out of supplies with the last lot of preserving we did). This shop is full of wonderful kitchen goodies and I was in total heaven! I so need to find away to justify the sexy-as $300 copper jam pot… So shop visit, home, cooking, more holes & posts, dinner, a few minutes of archery practice (it’s been over a year since I’ve picked up my bow, and man do I suck, lol). Wondering around the gardens investigating the plants (yes the zucchini plants definitely have “rust” and some of the greenhouse tomatoes have blight), lots more plant maintenance was listed, noted and dealings with to come *sigh*. Now Craig is off in his workshed working on his workbench (I think?).

Sprocket has also been very active today too, it’s so bizarre to feel these little movements and huge reminder that I’m not alone in this body any more- how freaky does that sound!

In other news, in an attempt to protect our surprise second clutch of ducklings from the hungry Harrier Hawks, I built a dome for them.

 The dome consists of  12 meters of flexible pipe, 4 T connectors and some bird netting. Inside we’ve placed a shell pond for them to paddle away in with a little bridge to get in and out of the water. Mum and ducklings have been living in the dome for about a week now and seem pretty happy. The other poultry come and visit them throughout the day so we may actually get a good clutch surviving this time round.

It’s so nice to see so much happening around the home lately. Their are 2 types of onions hanging (brown and red), plus three bunches of bananas,  I’ve been feeling so great about cooking up a storm in the kitchen, to the point that I made a zucchini soufflé for the first time ever after just watching an episode of River Cottage a few days ago. It felt so decedent to sit down to a souffle for breakfast, made from the fruits of our own garden. I’m so hanging out for next weeks mail, I have starter cheese making kit arriving with all the necessary bits and pieces to make fetta and/or cottage cheese. 

I hope that the joys of our harvest continue to inspire and excite us in the future and never become hum-drum or “work”.

…how does your garden grow

I just got an email with pictures from Zooey who is in charge of watering my 3 sisters (the corn, zucchini and beans) I planted before leaving New Zealand, and am very happy to see loads of growth.

3 sisters 1

3 sisters 2

Raised Bed 1

We have created the first of the raised garden beds I would like to have around the rotunda garden. These are very basic beds, not built to last as yet but more to give people an idea of what they would be and give us something to play with now.

Raised Bed

Two wheelbarrow loads of dirt plus two bags of compost filled this bed (probably could have done with half a wheelbarrow more dirt).

I have planted it with a variation of “The Three Sisters” companion planting. Corn (early gem), climbing beans (Kentucky climbing) and Squash (or rather courgettes). The principle behind this is that the corn gives shelter and protection to the young beans and squash and stalks for the beans to grow up, the beans draw up nitrogen for the others and the squish provides ground cover, stopping weeds from growing. There may also be other benefits that I’m not currently aware of. I love these “guild” type plantings and would love to find more of them.

Three Sisters

Tulips & Braod Beans

Just thought I’d show some photos of my beautiful tulips emerging amidst the broad beans. It’s such a pretty sight to see when I come out on the balcony each day.

Braod Beans & Tulips

TulipThis was the first one to open.


Braod Bean The first of the broad beans to form.


 Earthsong’s new batch of ducklings and their mum

Who likes the little little duckies in the pond

And the mummy duck too

shy duckling

Three musckaters


Photos of our apartment

We finally have pics of the inside of our apartment, this is the view from our balcony and the inside of our kitchen (not sure what the green is all about around the stove and the wall though)…

We will probably be oiling the walls to bring out the earth textures and colour.

More pics here.

tickets are booked!

tickets are booked, tickets are booked, lalelade tickets are booked!
I have just booked and paid for our tickets to New Zealand, it is official we are flying out on a one-way ticket.

Date: 29 Dec 2006
Flight Number: QF0025
Deaprt: Melbourne @ 12.45pm
Terminal 2
Arrive: Auckland @ 6pm
Terminal I

Latest News

I have just learnt some new things about the construction of building I (the building our apartment is in), lofts are finished, end bedrooms are framed and weatherboards going on and south bedrooms are being framed.

Craig and I are planning to fly out around the 29th December, I still need to nuckle him down on the exact date and purchase the tickets. I’m still waiting to hear back from the shipping company about when the container will need to leave Oz. Idealy we would like it to arrive on the 30th December.

"A house with a roof with a roof with a roof"

We just got a pic of our apartment in Earthsong with the roof on!
Ok so our apartment is down the bottom end of the image (the roof with solar panels is a different block of units, so ours is the ones next to that)


We have just been informed that the last roof has gone up in Earthsong. This is actually the roof that covers our apartment block which means our apartment has a roof! It’s very exciting for us and hopefully we will have some photos soon!