It’s the 26th of January here and for people in Australia that means Australia day which is a public holiday. Yay! The public holiday celebrates the landing of the First Fleet on the continent way back on the exact same day in 1788. For those that don’t know it, the First Fleet comprised quite a few ships carrying a whole bunch of criminals, some military to supervise them and a couple of free settlers of questionable sanity. The first sensible act upon arriving on this continent was to send ships off to obtain more supplies from the nearest English colonies. It quickly became evident that a bunch of criminals from urban areas of the UK really knew very little about farming in a strange and unfamiliar environment. Needless to say, the whole lot of them almost starved.
I have a wide streak of irreverence so for me the 26th of January is to be celebrated for the national government funded and commercial free youth radio station which is broadcast across most of the continent: Triple J - because that radio station hosts the Hottest 100 countdown. As a fun fact listeners vote over the Internet for a limit of 10 songs per listener and just to show how much attention the countdown receives here, there were more than 2,000,000 votes. That’s right 2 million votes. That’s a whole lot of votes. In fact it is the biggest music poll anywhere on the planet. And yes, I’m outing myself here as something of a youth music tragic because I’ve been listening to the countdown and also the radio station since 1994. Long live the government funded commercial free youth oriented music radio station Triple J! That alone makes me happy to pay my taxes, it does.
Back to the real world and in breaking farm news: The first steel step has been installed for the cantina shed. It is looking good and most importantly of all, steel is far less prone to bouts of spontaneous combustion during a bushfire than a treated pine step (which was the material it replaced)!
|The steel step is cemented into position for the cantina shed|
The yellow spirit level sticks as well as the pencil mark on the shed itself ensures that the step is level on both axes as well as being visually level with the cantina shed itself.
|Another coat of undercoat is painted onto the cantina steel step|
The concrete stairs reaching from the courtyard to the future strawberry and potato beds have now also been finished this week. I’ve even brought in enough trailer loads of woody mulch and mushroom compost mix to establish the new larger garden beds on either side of those concrete stairs. That particular mix needs to settle over the next few months before I can place plants into it, but eventually it will be a massive garden bed of flowers, herbs and mixed vegetables. It may be of some interest to those readers that are interested in all things soil to see just how thickly I apply such a mix. Very observant readers will also notice the low tech method I use to dry my clothes!
|The concrete stairs to the future potato and strawberry beds are now finished and the dogs approve|
When you live on the side of a mountain, you really need stairs. So this week I’ve also commenced constructing the steel stairs which will replace the final combustible item of building material which are attached to the house. The steel construction involved welding four individual steps with supports which will replace a timber set of stairs currently attached to the house. I had an interesting experience whilst welding the stairs because after a few hours I’d drawn so much electrical energy from the solar power system and on such a hot day that the thermal overload safety switch kicked in on the inverter (the machine that converts battery DC power to mains AC power) and for only a second time in my experience the entire system shut down. And, I was let with no power at all – nothing…
|Four new stair treads have been manufactured for the new stair treads|
The weather has turned cooler here today and for the next week, however bushfires are still on my mind so I cut a steel sheet to perfectly cover the solid timber door which will be used for the future firewood shed.I later refitted the handle and deadbolt lock.
|A steel sheet has been cut this week to cover the solid timber door which will be used for the future wood shed|
|Me looking unimpressed after an hour of cutting fruit for apple cider vinegar|
Add a bit of water and some yeast – if you want – and after a few weeks the whole mass will commence fermenting. Initially, it should look like this:
|Apples in a plastic bucket at the beginning of their journey into apple cider and apple cider vinegar|
|Blackwood trees producing copious seeds in Cherokee|
|Blackwood seeds on the tree|
|Scritchy the boss dog investigates the Blackwood seed pods collected today|
|Seed pods on the tree Lucerne tree|
Those trees are so named because not only are they exceptionally hardy in very challenging conditions, but the leaves contain more than 20% protein and are exceptionally good hassle free fodder for chickens, pigs etc. If you are not growing them and you could be, then I have to ask the question: Why not?
It might be my imagination and I certainly could be wrong, but autumn looks as though it has arrived early this year. The recent massive continent wide monsoonal storm has dumped a huge quantity of water in the centre of the continent and things there have become greener. Here though, the Araucana chickens have started moulting and gone off the lay which they normally do in autumn and some of the fruit trees are showing a touch of autumn colour. It is weird because a year ago and in two weeks time I was facing a serious bushfire threat.
|Autumn looks as though it may have come early this year|
How did I get here?
My experiments with growing food crops quickly progressed in the small inner city terrace backyard and I learned many useful lessons. Unfortunately I couldn’t escape the fact that I quickly ran out of space. The backyard soon became much too small and crowded, so I yearned for a larger chunk of land.
Now, anyone who has tried to purchase land in Australia will know that land is expensive and the closer that land is to a major city, the more expensive it is. How anyone can make a profit in agriculture in this country with land prices the way they are is a complete mystery to me.
Anyway, so I looked around for a long time before realising that the only reason that land would be cheap was because no one else would want it. Thus with that thought at the back of my mind, I stumbled across the block of land here.
It had lots of things going for it such as the high risk of wildfire which really seemed to scare people for some strange reason. As another positive for me, the owners refused to spend any money at all on advertising the sale, so to say that the property was really hard to find was a true understatement.
On a serious note, being on the side of the saddle of an extinct (hopefully) volcano, the soils were deep, and the volcanic massif reared out of elevated plains so was an excellent cloud catcher and thus rainfall was more reliable than other parts of the state.
The title also stated that it was permissible to build a house on the land, so I took a gamble and bought it.
To be continued…