Monday, October 22, 2012

Yep it's been awhile...

It's been busy round these parts of late. 
We've been to the circus, we've spent some much needed time with a very special friend and her gorgeous little one, we've had quite a bit of vomiting, we've had helpful and happy visitors, we've had extraordinarily busy times at work, we've had rain, we've had cubby building, we've had pergola building, we've had stair carving, we've had solar system installing. The busyness combined with our total absence of electricity has meant slow times for our blog.  The busyness has also meant we've kept a pretty poor photo record. Luckily Olive has maintained the photo record with her precious impressions of herself and life around her. 

Now I'm here it's hard to know where to begin…

My dad couriered our solar system down from Sydney a couple of weeks back. A lovely and generous act. We had a local electrician booked into install it and we were feeling excited. Then, on the eve before installation it started to rain and it just kept raining. Then it got really windy, so it was really rainy and really windy which are not optimal conditions for solar panel installation. Of course the irony for us was that the last big rain we had was back in April during our straw bale building workshop. And so one does wonder about the confluence of rain and building projects but anyway, we weren't too fussed about the delay given we've been living without electricity for more than two months, another week or so made little difference. For the most part we were happy for that rain, we had all our fruit trees and new Spring plantings to think of. Also our duck dam was turning into a puddle. I have to admit, that on the rainy rainy day I spent quite some time in our loft eating biscuits and watching the water rushing into the dam. Living here on our land during the rain was good. It helped us to see how much more we can do to develop better water management systems on our little piece of hill. Yes, more dams and more tanks but also more swales to slow the movement of water in the ground. For it is said that the most efficient way to store water is in the ground. So yes we have been adhering, in a very committed fashion, to permaculture principle number 1 - Observe and interact. 

Rain on the hills, rain in the valley
Little orchard duck dam filling up.. Yippee
Just before the big rain, Annie's dad Alf came down for a couple of days to help us with our pergola. The pergola project was stalled, mainly on account of neither Annie or I knowing how to get it moving. Yes we built a house but we were totally daunted by the pergola project. We need the pergola area to provide some extra undercover area, for while we are finding the size of our tiny straw bale pretty fine we do get a bit tested on very rainy or very cold days as the kids start to bounce off the walls and there's really no room for that sort of shenanigan. So now we have an almost-finished pergola and it feels good. We've planted pumpkins and Scarlet runner beans to trail up the sides and over the top to provide a quick-fix shade solution for this Summer but we're on the lookout for a longer term solution for Summer shade and Winter sun - grapes probably, kiwi-fruit maybe.Have you got any suggestions?

a bit of pergola, looking north-east
After Alf had departed and after we had our uninstalled solar array dropped off, we were lucky enough to enjoy the company of Genn and Jeff from Boise, Idaho. It's a long story as to how we came to have Genn and Jeff to stay, needless to say we were very glad to share this time with them.  Unfortunately, in the flurry of activity photos seem to have been forgotten. However you can find them over here. My dad also came back for a visit so we had a very busy week here on our block. Many meals were cooked, many dishes washed, many beers drunk and many jobs completed thanks to the fine efforts of this trio. The finest of efforts was reserved for a seemingly thankless task of carving a staircase out of the batter wall behind the house. The ground had gone hard and crusty and we feared we would never get it done but thanks to Peps, Genn and Jeff we now have a super-handsome staircase that will lead us to a very gorgeous old gate through which we will enter the orchard, bee, duck and top dam precinct. 

Staircase, looking hot

After a week of hard labour, Peps declared the need for a wash so I fired up the fire bath for him on a mild and sunny afternoon. As he lay there in the Spring sun he declared "Some people would pay thousands for this!" Indeed they would. We have still not tired of the fire bath novelty. It is a glorious way to wile away an hour.

And amidst all this stair carving, eating, playing, cooking, laughing, yelling, drilling, digging was Bruno calmly and competently installing our little custom made off grid solar system. It took three days to install but now it is done. We were nervous but now we are thrilled, but that is a story for another time. 


  1. Oh man, you guys have done soooo much!!! Love the pergola! Love the stairs {jealousy is seeping through my bones as I roll my ankle several times a day traipsing up and down our wobbly, steep bank}.Love the outdoor bath {but I couldn't do the naked thing;)}Love, love, love that you guys have finally got some power! You must be so happy:) Oh the things you will be able to do now. xx

  2. PS oh, and I meant to say: go the grapevines!! for over the pergola. Of course a grapeviney owner would be saying that;) A mix of ornamental and edible would be gorgeous. x

  3. Thanks Kim, yep we are feeling pretty good about our progress. It's interesting to reflect on how quickly things change as we moved into a building site and while there is still so much crap around, it gets less a building site each day. Oh but there is always more to do, so much more....Yes we think it will be grapes. Though probably all edible as we are greedy guts when it comes to fruit + we're just so much about the edible... x

  4. Imagine the jealousy seeping through Kim's bones and multiply...
    Power! Orchard! Pergola! Solar panels! Power! Bees! Dam! Power! Cubby! Staircase! Power!! Did I say power?
    Really it all looks amazing I am so happy to see it coming along this quickly!

  5. Peps!! He's great - love the bath comment. Vx

  6. I truly appreciate you taking the time to share this informative post, I'll definitely be back for more! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Steve. So glad you found it informative,