Thursday, November 22, 2007

New pics of the block

Yesterday our friend Jill from Kingston went to have a look over our block for us (Thanks Jill!). The report was the cabin was wide open and there was stuff everywhere. Arrggh, panic stations, ring the agent, he said he would go and lock up and take pictures. Anyway, actually the stuff everywhere was alot less stuff than was there before so it looked neat and tidy to us and yes the cabin was open but everything is still in there along with some extra things that I'm sure we can either use or freecycle. So in the end it was all ok... whew ;-)

Here's some of the new images:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

All ours

Well as my darling wife Rebecca would say "It's a s**t load of land" and it's all ours now. We can't wait to pop that cork and bring in the new year.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Exciting News

We are booked to leave for Tassie on December 30!

Before then, we are going to finish the work on this house and put it on the market. We are already packing things ready for the move.

We're really excited!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

First permaculture design

Well, I've been doing some dreaming about our block and this is what I have so far. I've just realised I haven't put in a greenhouse/potting shed so that would likely go between the house and chook tractor for daily checking. However, as I said, this is all just dreaming at this stage.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Horizons

This is the view up the property from the gate (which is at the top of a steep driveway). You can see the old tree and the forests on the perimeter

This is the view across the property from the gate

My favourite - this is the view from the site where we will plant the house, which will hopefully be made from straw bales we grow ourselves.

Another view from the house site

Or new views.

We have returned from a very busy and very productive time in Tasmania. We have bought new land, secured a PO Box; enrolled Georgia in school (school in Tassie starts in Kinder, at the age of 4); opened a local bank account; found our builder; met the local GP; met the mayor and his dep; made ourselves known in the local establishments (there aren't that many!); found the laundromat and the hardware store and I have got work lined up, for if and when I want it!

So now we have a few things to do. We need to plan the house for building, which should commence in January 09. We've been in touch with the builder. We're discussing plans and things now, and knowing the lay of our land, it is easier to work things out in terms of position, north facing-ness (!), views etc. I have a lovely big scrapbook of our ideas. It's fun and exciting.

We also have to plan our accommodation. On site there is a temporary accommodation, which we will renovate to become the guest cabin. It looks terrible now, but after we have refurbished and clad it with timber or something on the outside, it will be comfortable. It will be small though, and I am not sure how I will cope with living in a 2 room cabin, coming from an 8 room house... but there will be 23 acres of land surrounding me, and the build will be in the pipeline. Our office will be in an old bus. It's huge. How strange, but soon it should be quite funky.

The land is 23 acres. It slopes. It has the feel of rolling hills about it, like all the area around Geeveston. On the boundaries of our land are rainforests. We will own approximately 6 acres of forest. It's beautiful. There is a creek on the border of one of the corners of the top end of the property. There is a 125 year old blackwood in the centre of the land, which will be for the children's cubby house. The 'cabin' is powered with a generator and there is a water tank for the water supply. We'll be looking into powering the place, probably off the grid, with renewable energy.

I can't wait to plant the veges and get some animals. I will get some chickens first. And a dog, but I'm not sure which type. It's exciting. We're really encouraged about our decision; the people we have met so far are very fond of Geeveston and they congratulate us on our decision.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Well. Things are working out nicely for our move to Tasmania. We sold our investment property easily and very nicely indeed. I have tendered my resignation at work, effective at the end of the year. Now we need to get our house ready to sell, and find some land in Tasmania. Both those should be happening shortly!

Monte is renovating the bathroom as I write this. He is very busy getting everything done.

Our home is a bustle of excitement. Even Georgia is eager to move to fresher pastures. She is very excited. Matthew doesn't know what is going on, but he is very happy just the same! He's walking more and more.

Recently the weather in Adelaide was quite warm, with temperatures in the 30s. It felt so hot. Now it is cool, wet and windy. I am looking forward to a cooler summer in Tassie. The average summer temperature there is just 21 degrees. That sounds lovely! I think the sun has a real bite to it there, but 21 has got to be better than 40+.

Going out to tea tonight to celebrate the sale of the house. I want to get a bottle of Moet but Monte doesn't like champagne.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harsh realities

I often come against the criticism of being too pessamistic in my assessment of what the future will be like for our children. Given the news I read sometimes I think I'm being too optimistic! There really seems to be so little being done to mitigate the consequences of our actions at the moment. So to backup some of the things I outlined in my 'Glimpsing the future' post I've included a list of links:

Mass migration -,,2078954,00.html Soil depletion -
Water shortage -
Fishery collapse -
Murray River -
Adelaide water -
Energy depletion -
Grain supply -
Food security -
Biofuels v food -
Peak Oil -

I hope this clarifies the situation. Even assuming the best case scenario for each, all of these things combined means severe hardship in one way or another.

Coq au vin

Ok - I hate touching raw meat, let alone eating it, but I decided that I feel ok about eating meat that I know is good. So once I got used to the idea of Beaky in the fridge, and decided that it was just chicken, and that I've eaten chicken before, I quickly drank two glasses of champagne and washed her out.

I melted several teaspoons of butter in the pan, then browned the chook. Then I heated up the oven, placed her in my favourite casserole dish, covered her in a bottle of reasobnably good red wine, and baked her in the oven. An hour later, I sauteed some white onions and mushooms. I poured the red wine into the pan and left the chook in the oven to keep warm. Monte thickened up the gravy with some cornflour. We served the chicken with scolloped potatoes (including one of our own sweet potatoes) and loads of gravy.

Georgia thought the meal absolutely delicious. She got gravy everywhere. When I said "bok bok bok" she said, "Don't do that mummy because we're eating the chicken." I am so proud of her, being so OK with eating one of our chooks. Georgia's name means "Farmer, tiller of the earth," and she really suits that name. Beaky means "delicious," now. And we'd slaughter another chook again. Maybe for Christmas.

And the smell? The best way to describe the smell of baking our chook is that of fresh baking bread. Isn't that the best scent? It was really lovely, and we have some good stock for the future.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Glimpsing the future

As a parent it's natural to peer into the crystal ball for your children and wonder what their lives will be like. You want to ensure you prepare them for that future as best you can. For me that crystal ball seems to contain nightmare scenes; global warming, energy depletion, soil depletion, economic collapse, food and water shortages and more. How do I prepare my children for this?

The first thing that needs to be done is to have a best guess at the future of the place we live: Adelaide, South Australia. It's already a semi-arid area so a failure of the global transport network, as is likely with energy depletion, will cause food hardships in the area. Most of the agriculture we do have relies heavily on pumped water, and that is at risk both at the pump (energy depletion) and from the source (Murray River is suffering from global warming and ecological collapse). The unirrigated agriculture is suffering serously from soil depletion as nutrients are constantly being removed and replaced only with synthetic fertiliser. The synthetic fertiliser, along with most other agricultural chemicals, is also likely to be unavailable as a result of energy depletion because they are largely oil and natural gas dependant.

Many of these issues will cause havoc in highly populated regions so it seems likely that Australia will have a constant stream of global warming refugees moving down from the north. The areas to the north and north-west of Australia are the most populous in the world. Many of these countries are already seriously stressed with food and water shortages, so ecological stress via global warming and soil depletion will hit them hard. Other countries, like Japan, are only able to feed their populations because of the global market, with money raised by selling energy intensive manufactured products.

So for us the move to Tasmania is about providing for our children. To have enough land to largely provide for ourselves via organic gardening and permaculture. To have a buffer (Bass Straight) between us and the potential mass migration resulting from global warming. To be living in an area that has very good access for sea and river transport (sailboats folks). To live in an area that still has the remnants of community not yet destroyed by nationalisation and more recently globalisation. To have a plentiful suply of water and wood for heating. To have a well designed solar passive house that hardly needs heating or cooling. To provide our own energy. To learn and pass on the skills our children will need in their lives.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chicken Karma

The chook that was affectionatly known as Debeaky after our dog got over friendly has left the building. Well, in truth she's entered the building and is precicely located on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This was my first experience in dispatching and preparing a chook and it wasn't as bad as I feared. It had been a point of discussion for a while because she wasn't laying and the other chooks were pushing her around. We were catching the bunny before lunch and Rebecca dared me. When I got the axe out and she realised that I was actually going to do it Rebecca ran and hid but it was quickly over and then the plucking began. What joy! It took a while but I imagine after a few more goes the whole process would be done in under 10 minutes. Once the chook was relatively clean I took it inside to gut it. With Rebecca yelling out instructions from Jackie French's Chook Book we managed to get the smelly bits out. We decided not to experiment with offal or feet at this stage so the dog got to have another taste of Debeaky. Anyway, because she's now too old for roasting we are thinking of using Jackie French's Coq au vin recipe.

Even given the unfortunate incident with D'art (the dog) she had a good life. The chook tractor gets moved onto fresh ground every two weeks, she got plenty of greens and she had space to move. I even put a swinging perch in there for my girls. If you compare that to the horrible life of a battery hen or a broiler as seen in this picture we really should be happier eating our own chooks than the cheap breasts on polystyrene trays from Coles. Is it tastier? I'll let you know!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Fishy fishy fishy fish

I've finally caught my first fish! It's seems silly for a 30 year old to get excited about catching a fish but it's something that I never did as a kid. I had been fishing of a jetty a few times so up until now my impression of it was sitting around getting bored. Going out on the boat with Wayne was a different experience altogether. With a fish finder and GPS we hunted the fish down before even throwing over the line. In the end we brought home six nice sized snapper of which I hooked three. There was a squid that got away and a number of smaller snapper that had a kiss and swam again. It was a fun day out on the water and it's hard to believe that I've missed out on this for all these years. I'm hooked!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Decision

We have decided to move down to Tasmania next year.

We're doing this for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have always dreamed of living on a plot of land, growing our own food and raising some animals. We want the space, the fresh air and the freedom. Secondly, we've chosen Tasmania for its resources, as well as the property values. We love Tasmania, and have travelled there a few times throughout our life together. Thirdly, we want an opportunity to build a strawbale home. We love the idea of being independent, producing our own energy and necessities, like food. We love the idea of doing our little bit for the environment.

For now, we're looking into the logistics of the move, as well as getting our two houses ready to sell. We'll sell the rental property first, and with that money, we'll buy some land. We're going to need to decide whether we live onsite, or rent nearby, and to make that decision there are several factors we must consider: the children's needs (Georgia is starting kindergarten next year); distance to the property; travel time; finances etc.

The hardest part of preparing to move is preparing to leave my good friend, Amanda, and our families. I know these relationships will survive, and that we'll have house guests frequently, so that soothes the pain a bit. Georgia and Frances have grown up together. It will be sad not to see them play practically every day, but I believe they too will be friends for ever. Besides, we're going to try to talk Amanda and Wayne to come down to Tassie too. Mwahahahahaha


Thursday, February 01, 2007

You can calculate your ecological footprint at The statement at the end about how many worlds we would need if everyone lived like us really makes you think. I've only recently realised that the more we in industrialised countries consume the less there is for others in the third world. Who invented the term "third world" anyway? It makes you think that they are on a different planet with less resources and our over consumption is disconnected from their under consumption. Quite convenient really... the reality is the opposite. Our wealth allows us to buy the resources and work hours of the third world for next to nothing and leave the people there to starve.
I was chatting to Mum about different types of GreenPower. I feel that we should be avoiding biomass power generation because while it can be argued that it is a carbon neutral process because the carbon stored in the biomass is released then restored in new biomass it would be better to let the biomass compost naturally and therefore store the carbon in the soil. This process improves the soil rather than degrading it by constantly extracting minerals and nutrients. It is argued by some people that a significant amount of carbon could be sequestered into our soils in this way. Soil degradation is yet another significant issue that we will face in the coming years.

Here's a link about a proposed biomass power plant that could have a devastating impact on the ecosystem in the Huon Valley in Tasmania:

For more info on greenpower go to

For a comprehensive review of the issues of peak oil, climate change and the current geopolitical situation being caused by energy security issues go to:
Recently I went to my first meeting of the Southern Grazers and Growers which is a group of permaculture enthusiasts in the Marion area. It's seems to be a great group of people that enjoy having fun, learning and helping each other. I'm looking forward to blackberry picking with them on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The "tortilla crisis" currently hitting Mexico seems to be the first example of the food v fuel issue I posted on a while back. The Mexican Government is trying to hold back the prices but given the huge push in the US to produce ethanol from corn I think they would be better off trying to find an alternative staple crop for their people or turn all the dope plantations into corn fields. With the Cantarell oil field rapidly dropping production they won't have the money to buy corn from the US for much longer and Mexican growers will be under serious pressure to sell their corn into the US market. I'm wondering when this issue is going to hit our supermarket shelves given many processed foods have corn additives. Then there's the soyabean additives which will also compound the problem.

In Australia as we come out if this drought I can see corn production being marketed to farmers or at least being seriously attractive to farmers that need to make some quick cash to get back in the good books with the banks. I've already seen a mention on a commodities analysis on TV of Australian farmers that don't traditionally grow much corn perhaps moving into it based on the surge in the corn market.

Here's a link to find out more on the "tortilla crisis":

PS To to folks from the permaculture forum I've taken the map thing down in the hope that murray will put one on the forum home page.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

In permaculture the concept of waste does not exist. A waste is really just a resource that you don't need. In permaculture you match these resources with other systems that need that resource as an input. The idea is to create closed systems if possible to cycle energy, nutrients and minerals around. Chicken tractor systems are a simple example. Given the chance a chicken will, clean up fallen fruit, eat pest insects, deal with your kitchen scraps, weed and fertilse your garden then give you an egg for your trouble.

A new movement called Zero Waste is pushing for manufacturers to consider the full lifecycle of a product and it's packaging. The idea behind Zero Waste is simple: basically, nothing with a second use should be thrown away. And if something doesn't have a second use, it shouldn't exist. The Berkeley Ecology Center, a West Coast leader in the Zero Waste movement, puts it this way, "If it can't be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production."

Like permaculture it's simple and logical but the majority of us aren't doing it because we are so used to a society that has enough energy to create waste, transport it away and dig big holes to put it in.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I just read this article:

It makes you wonder when the exponential rise in use of grains for ethanol will start to correlate with an equally exponential rise in hunger related deaths. With around 25000 people dying every day at the moment ethanol is obviously going to cause a serious moral dilema in the next few years.

Hi Folks

Mum recently lent me a book on climate change by Tim Flannery 'We are theWeather Makers - The Story of Global Warming'. It was a great follow up tothe Al Gore documentary that Rebecca and I went to see 'An InconvenientTruth'. Now that I have a deeper understanding of this potentiallydevastating issue I feel it is important that I bring it into focus forthose around me. Some global warming facts:
- We in Australia are the largest greenhouse gas producing nation per headof population in the world and that's something I am personally deeplyashamed of.
- US is the largest greenhouse gas emitter world wide
- China's booming economy means that within a few years it will eclipse theUS as a greenhouse gas producer (they are building a large coal powerstation every few weeks in China). - Scientists are predicting the extinction of 50% of species worldwide
- As global warming increases so will the frequency and severity of El Ninoevents like we are currently experiencing
- By increasing evaporation, global warming will increase precipitation butit will be in severe more events (floods/storms)
- Warmer waters in the tropics will increase the frequency and severitycyclones, hurricanes and typhoons
- Some pacific nations will need to be evacuated
- Water shortages will worsenI could go on but it would just get depressing.

What kind of world willGeorgia, Matthew, Isaac, Angelica, Amelia and Harry and their friends inherit? It seems the time to act was 30 years ago and the time for drasticaction is now. The longer we wait the more costly it will be to clean upthis mess.

Reading the Tim Flannery book prompted me to look into the green poweroption at my electricity supplier TRU energy. I've gone with the 100% newwind energy option even though it was the most expensive because wind energyis one of the simplest and cheapest ways for us to turn mechanical energyinto electrical energy. It's going to cost us around an extra $5 per weekand I'm going to try and improve the energy efficiency of our home to offsetthat cost. I've started with the compact fluorescent light bulbs which savearound 80% of lighting energy. What kind of parent would I be if I didn't do everything I could for the future my children will be growing up in? I don't want them to be struggling for basics like food and water when we are livingin abundance.

Let's do what we can ourselves and encourage those around us to do the same.

Love to all.