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