02 April 2012

Slow Living Month - March

Once again it's time to join up with Christine of Slow Living Essentials to take some time to look back over March's achievements with the Slow Living Project.

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
As well as vegetables, I'm currently trying to "grow" yeast, and make my first batch of sourdough starter.  It's half-way there, so hopefully next month I will be able to report on my first sourdough bread.

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.


  1. What a fantastic round up for March you have here! I'll admit to being slightly envious that you visited the handspinners guild..I DO so hope to get there one day!

    Talking about mushrooms, those salmon coloured pine ones are the only type I feel comfortable picking..they are very hard to confuse with other varieties. The first one for the season was spotted the other day under our pine tree out the front - exciting!

    Enjoy those chooks..what fun! :)

    1. How wonderful to be able to pick and eat Pine Mushrooms that fresh! They were probably only picked the morning or day before I bought them, but by the next morning the few leftovers that we had had started to go off, so clearly picking them and eating them straight away is the best strategy!

      And you should definitely visit the Handspinners Guild, I'm sure you'd love it, you might even be able to sell some of your beautiful brightly coloured spun wool there!

    2. Ahh, you're very kind! Re. the mushrooms..if they start to get a green tinge around the edges or where they've been bumped against each other, that's fine, it's just the orange juice oxidizing. Frightening to look at but still perfectly safe to eat. ;)

  2. Congratulations on trying sour dough...we have done it on and off and love the results.

    1. Thanks Wendy. It's Day 7 now of the starter, so the last feed today hopefully before I can try a loaf!

  3. How fun to be able to help your friend plan her new garden. :-D

  4. Oh, wow! That all sounds great. Congratulations on your gorgeous chookies. The lunch almost all from your garden is wonderful. I found learning to crochet online was hard and am so glad I did an adult short course... now just finding time to practice! Congratulations on joining the library (I love the library) and 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' is a great read, isn't it (her fiction books are really good too).

    1. Thanks Dixibelle. Your articles on chickens at www.hercanberra.com.au were really good to read when we were going through the planning stages for getting the chickens. You were brave to go with such young chicks! I was surprised like you at how difficult is was to actually find the breed and age of chicken that we wanted to buy.

  5. To answer your question, I wrote a post about shearing alpacas a couple of years ago...

    We are planning to make a video this year.

  6. I'm so happy you joined the library! I can't imagine not using the library. Atm my children are doing the Premier's Reading Challenge and we couldn't get through it without the library books.

    Sounds like you've been doing heaps. Enjoy the sourdough !

  7. Ooohhh Lots of fun for you this month! I'm also a big fan of the library. We are regulars on a Thursday night when they are open later. I usually use the online catalogue to find the books, request them and then when we go in - there they are waiting on the request shelf for me! Its a fabulous system. If you ask nicely, they will often buy books if they don't have them in their system or borrow them from other libraries- thats how I got hold of a copy of Rhonda's book "Guide to simple living!" Enjoy the library! - Kara

  8. Thank you all for your lovely comments. Clearly libraries are much loved, which is a really great sign of healthy communities I think. I look forward to getting to know my library, although I don't think I'll ever be willing to completely give up my passion for collecting books and supporting my favourite independent bookstores. Happy reading everyone!

  9. I'm a bit slow in commenting sorry, but you sound like you had a wonderful month! Aren't chickens lovely? So glad you found such joy at your library. I love ours and go once a week, though I must admit I often have to renew the books I get out! Nice to meet you : ) Stacey

  10. Thanks Stacey, lovely to meet you too! I look forward to reading your monthly updates as well.