it’s a while since i updated this blog and i’m considering pulling it down and setting up a new one. this one was conceived under very different conditions from the ones now prevailing and i’ve changed. evidently a skin change is indicated.
when i last updated more or less regularly more than two years ago i was still living in my tiny caravan on my little farmlet battling with floods and furious neighbours, sickness and glorious creative outbursts, snakes, ants, goat-hating greenies and hippy-hating public servants, pagan-hating church-paragons and vicissitudes too many and various to mention and barely managing to keep things going, but yay, ultimately succeeding; and at last, things having gone not just smoothly but actually on the improve for a year or so, i can take stock and maybe take control of things again.
according to my own invented divination and magical spell-casting system, based on the numbers one to twelve, i have twelve vistas, obtainable from viewpoints accessible to me from my current positions within my own predicament at any given time. from these viewpoints i can peruse, for example, my material reality, or my social life and prospects, my spiritual political and psychological positions, or financial, business or career prospects. here i start with a quick look at my material, practical, down to earth reality and find myself reasonably well-situated to pick up the threads and retrieve the good life i worked so hard for in the early days!
- my mine: what i can call my own
- my tower: rights and responsibilties
- my tree: how i protect it
- my stone circle: how i secure its interconnectedness
- my farm: how i manage it
- my shack: how i keep house
- my harvest: how i provide
- my eggs: how i propagate
- my nuts: how i secure my future
- my tanks: how i sustain essential supplies
- my books: how i record and communicate
- my wool: how i create.
so quite simply i have a fairly large bush block with lots of wildlife and neighbours few and far between, mostly distant and since they tend to be city people up for the weekend, they’re mostly not there. glorious solitude and if you avoid the pubs, the local violent crime rate is vanishingly small. the soil is very thin terracotta coloured adobe over limestone, it doesn’t always manage to quite cover the bedrock, which is stark white in contrast. limestone cracks in frost and heat and so the ground is covered with sharp stones as well as scatterings of oolites, some quite large but most the size of a marble or only a little larger. there are some small dongas containing very deep soil, but they are dish-shaped depressions left from old blowholes now almost filled with windsilt from the north, and all the surrounding land drains into them during torrential rain
so they are prone to flash-flooding. this land is not entirely my own. i share it with kangaroos, for example, and wombats. i extend my protection to them in exchange for the liberties i take with their land. and i confine myself to my farmlet which is less than an acre, only lightly pasturing my goats on the rest of it, and there’s a road down to my maildrum.
the homestead began with a tent, then a caravan and a goat, many years ago. the caravan has fallen apart but its chassis is still there, forming the basis of a rockery which one day i will get around to building. now there are three caravans, one in quite good order, and two which i can now begin to restore. and there is a ten foot by thirteen foot tiny house which i and my two dogs and cat are currently inhabiting. there is a goat yard and two chook houses.
we imported a few loads of pine off-cuts for the original homestead fence, which lasted for years and years before it finally twisted and warped like driftwood and fell apart a while back and has been replaced with much less beautiful and not very effective double cyclone fence, which has to be two meters high to keep out goats and kangaroos. it’s high on my list of priorities to mend that fence and install proper gates.
a little to the west there is a little stone circle, which has seen many happy mostly obodic rituals for the safety, healing and prosperity of our lands, our people and our fauna and flora. it facilitates a life of connection and relevance to the land, the cosmos, and the wheel of the year.
there is a healthy herd of goats, which i am now taking in hand again with the help of my kelpie/staffie cross sheepdog, who has a very good relationship with the goats, which he plays with from earliest kidhood so that they don’t fear him as they grow up. i get some kindly help with them now and then from the man who brings the hay. there are four aging hens laying one or two eggs a day and two old roosters. there is a small terrier who is unsurpassed as a ratter and has therefore freed the place of the snakes that feed on them. i have only seen one this year and that was in early spring and it was moving rapidly away. there are gardens and an orchard within the fenced area. several of the orchard trees died in the last flash flood when more than five inches of rain fell in one night within a couple of weeks of a two inch downpour which had saturated the soil so there was virtually no drainage for a week or so and two weeks before their root zone was free from waterlogging. others are slowly recovering from the trauma. pomes, grapes and citrus did survive, stone fruits didn’t.
my home is the ten by thirteen foot tiny house. dear old nellie built it with not very much outside help and it is a sould, solid building capable of being turned into a very neat little dwelling. it has an odd assortment of furniture, including an antique dressing table that used to belong to my grandmother, a seventy year old packing crate from a ship, some hollow logs. two office chairs and a nondescript divan bed. nevertheless it sort of works. there’s a rug on the floor. there’s no lock on the door.
i have an old goatyard, long disused, which i want to re-fence and provide with catchment for water to irrigate goat-fodder. dog roses, saltbush, wild fennel, queen anne’s lace, maize and sunflowers would improve the goats’ diet and not be hard to maintain. it would take some of the pressure off the pasture during summer as well. i have several cut-down tanks i want to grow grass and other crops in to feed to the milking goats and their growing kids. this also reduces the amount of hay i have to buy.
my eggs come from a well-loved but now pretty-well clapped out flock of affectionately regarded but not exactly show-quality chooks. the roosters are both sons of purebreds: a sophisticated though aging white leghorne cross with a magnificent red comb and a mild case of scaly leg, and an aristocratic albeit wild colonial black australorp cross, with a rakish pea-crown he inherited from his mother. they live in and free-range around Phuckingham Phalace, which is near the goatyard. the other chookhouse will house some new bantams, and i’ll slip some hens’ eggs under one of them when she goes broody.
nuts are an important part of my life. in that flood i lost a beloved walnut tree that yielded beautiful nuts and a pair of almond trees that pollinated each other. both grown from seed, one was a bitter almond, rather rare nowadays, but i adored it. i will replant them in a less flood-prone position. crushed nuts can provide the hens with useful nutrition and reduce feed costs.
all this is dependent on water, of course. in this climate a five metre by three metre roof collects from ten inches of rain something like seven hundred and fifty gallons of water a year. that’s fifty gallons a square metre. with care, every square metre of catchment i put up can put enough water for one tree into a tank. i like the idea of each tree having its own water supply. the bantam house has about four square metres of catchment that could support a seed-shedding shade tree as well as the bantams themselves. with pool-liner becoming cheap and reliable i can make long-lasting water tanks out of cheap materials.
i once wanted to make my own parchment and create wonderful calligraphic works of art and wisdom and maybe someday i will. i have made my own shoes out of goat skin, and a small drum as well, but when it comes to books, the beauty of parchment notwithstanding, the paper sort wins on sheer practicality – but for how long? ebooks and wikipedia are clearing my bookshelves except for a few old favourites and my laptop has greatly reduced the amount of paper i use in writing my books, keeping my records and studying languages and history.
i’ve always tried to make at least some of my own clothes, and a fleece-bearing animal was considered essential to my farm. the fair elinor is the last of my angoras, and she gives but a ragged handful or two of the lovely mohair her ancestors gave. it’s a sheer joy to dye, spin and knit but a bastard to weave. 😀 i have however some nice fleeces in storage including alpaca and merino lambswool, and will spin those before i replace the lovely elinor. for weaving, perhaps i will need a sheep.