This month can probably be summed up in one word: Chickens! It seems strange to look back at my February Slow Living Month post and remember that when I wrote it I wasn't even ready to utter the word aloud, just give a bit of a hint of the idea forming in our minds. And now, a month later we've designed and built a chook house, sourced and bought some chickens and are now all getting along famously!
There have been a few other things going on too:
After spending a day with me in the Country Garden, my friend T seems to becoming quite inspired to start her own vegetable garden. We spent the whole drive home talking about how she could go about it, and setting up a plan to make it happen. I suggested starting by getting some herbs going, and a few quick growing and simple plants in pots just to give her confidence that it is achievable, while she plans a proper start in Spring. I sent her home with my favourite book "One Magic Square" to study and then took a whole lot of cuttings for her from my herbs and gave her some seeds that I'd saved earlier this year. I can't wait to work through it with her (OK T, I've written about it now, you're committed!!)
Every month I get together with a small group of friends for lunch, a group which has increased in size by 50% in the last year with the addition of two gorgeous babies. In March I invited the group to my house for lunch and managed to serve a menu almost entirely sourced from my garden. It felt really special to be able to share food that I've grown with my close friends.
In the vegetable self-sufficiency challenge I was substantially down from January and February to about 60%, (refer to the table at the bottom of this page) but that was actually due in large part to increased demand: M started making a salad of freshly picked vegetables for lunch every day, increasing the amount of vegetables eaten, and therefore we ended up going through the provisions that I'd picked from the garden quicker. We've continued to ride to the local markets every week for organic fruit and a few extra vegies to bulk out my vegie garden supplies, and for extra treats such as fresh wild mushrooms.
The City Garden was substantially enhanced in March with the addition of our beautiful chickens and a chook shed designed for the space and their needs.
This month we harvested tomatoes, capsicum, celery, eggplant, lettuce, rocket, spring onion, cucumber, beans, silverbeet, beetroot, radish and lots of herbs. We planted garlic, broad beans, fennel, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beetroot, carrots, beans, cavelo nero and silverbeet.
|The garden beds prepared for the coming seasons|
I've been knitting for years, but have never managed to learn how to crochet. Last week I found a link to a fantastic online lesson on Meet Me At Mikes explaining in simple steps how to make Granny Squares. I'd read many recommendations about how great Pip's instructions are, so decided to give it a go. After three terrible attempts, I've actually managed to crochet one, full of mistakes and really messy, but I reckon with a few more goes I might actually get the hang of it! And I agree, if anyone can teach you to crochet, it's Pip!
I've been looking for some really colourful wool for another project, and discovered the shopfront for the Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild of Victoria, complete with workshop space, gallery and shop. They have some gorgeous wools for sale and I couldn't resist these two.
Last month I read the Life at Arbordale Farm Slow Living Month post where Fiona talked about books that she'd been reading from her local library. I was somewhat embarrassed to admit that I'd never even been into my local library, and promised to make that my March Discovery item. So...This month I went to my local library and joined and went online and found some books that I've been wanting to read and ordered them and picked them up and am now reading them...wow, a revelation, it works a treat! I've just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" about her family's year of growing their own food on their farm in Appalachia, and living on only locally sourced food. I've also read an interesting locally produced publication called "City Permaculture", and am about to dive into Bill Mollison's bible "Permaculture, A Designer's Manual" - I might need to learn how to extend my loans for another month or two for that one!
I've really enjoyed spending time with my friends this month. Twice I had company for the day working in the Country Garden, and last week my friend C and I decided we needed a country adventure, so headed for Daylesford for a delicious lunch at Wombat Hill House, with its productive kitchen garden integrated into the outdoor seating area and into their menu, and then a wander around the botanic gardens, which were looking gorgeous in their autumn colour.