06 September 2013

Slow Living Month - August 2013

It's time once again to check in with Christine and the gang who gather each month at Slow Living Essentials to reflect on what has been achieved in the past month.

I've hardly managed to post anything on the blog this past month, which has nothing to do with not having anything happening, in fact it's actually the opposite.  I've had so much new and exciting stuff going into my head that when I've tried to write it down it all tries to tumble out at once and gets stuck!

Apart from starting a new work project, which is taking its own little corner of my brain (of course I pretend at work that it's more than just a corner!) and doing some exciting things around Fair Food, the main thing for me this month has been starting the Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course.  I was really looking forward to getting into the course, but it has completely exceeded my expectations.  Each week has filled my head with new learnings, or pushed things I already knew much further and linked bits together in new ways.  Wow!

So here is my August Slow Living Journal:

Finally, after not laying since early Autumn, the chickens have started laying again.  Not many eggs, and they are tiny, but we've been saving them up during the week and then having lovely Sunday morning breakfasts with them.
Not sure if this counts, as we ate it shortly after preparing it, but I've made butter a couple of times in the last month.  It's so delicious, and really easy to make.  When I was a kid I remember that we made it by putting cream in a jar and rolling it up and down a long corridor, but I used my stick blender with a whisk attachment, and did it in a few minutes, adding a pinch of Mildura pink salt.  A chef friend was inspired to try it after I told him about it, and rolled his into a log shape, then rolled that in a coating of sea salt so it was only on the outside, not right through.  I like that idea, and other things such as dried herbs or seeds could be added too.
*Does anyone know where I could get timber butter pats to shape the butter properly?

Apart from hot water and the stovetop, everything else in our house is electric, and in winter the electricity bills are enormous, but the alternatives have always seemed too expensive.  I'd love to get solar panels, but my thinking has been that our bills are too high for a solar system that we could afford (or the roof space that we have) to be worthwhile.  But I suddenly realised I've been thinking about it the wrong way around.  We should work toward getting solar, but before doing that, work hard to reduce our electricity consumption to a level that will make the panels effective once we have them.  So the first step is that I've just borrowed a Powermate electricity gauge from the local library and will spend the weekend working out first of all what is eating the most power, and then consider the most effective ways to reduce it.  Heating is the obvious one, but the bills are still large in warm weather, so there must be other things too.  I'll report back next month.

August has been Broccoli month.  After being a bit slow off the mark, both the Country Garden and City Garden crops of Purple Sprouting Broccoli are now going nuts!  Supporting the broccoli have been turnips, leek, carrots, fennel, celery, silverbeet, rhubarb and parsley.

I've planted most of the potatoes, and the beans, peas, more fennel and kale are all growing well.
Home grown vegetable production was back up in August to around 85%, a big jump from July.

Still on socks.  One majenta one finished and the other slowly on the way.

I also went to visit my aunt who is doing an Artist in Residence stint at Montsalvat at the moment in one of the cosy little artist studios in the grounds there.  She's doing a fun yarnbombing project, with new bits emerging every day.  You can check out her adventures here.
Permaculture! Permaculture! Permaculture!  I have been planning to write posts about the different sessions of the course, but there is just so much I am still absorbing that I haven't managed to get it out yet, beyond excited little grabs to everyone around me.  In a snapshot so far I have learnt about ecology, energy, chemistry, physics, genetics and biodiversity, nutrients, food chains, climate, patterns in the landscape, site analysis, zonal design, soils and bacteria... and so much more, and I'm only about a third of the way through the course!
I did my annual volunteer stint at the 3RRR Radiothon, taking subscriber calls.  3RRR is a community radio station, completely funded by its supporters, and there is always a great sense of fun and strong community bond during Radiothon week.  If you listen to it and haven't yet subscribed there is still time!  Give them a call on (03) 9388 1027!

I was fortunate to be given tickets by the Locavore Edition to their Fair Food forum in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago.  There were six fascinating and varied speakers, all involved in different aspects of "fair food":
  • Christine Milne, Leader of the Greens
  • Ben Falloon of Taranaki Farm
  • James Nathan of Food Orbit 
  • Russell Shield of Second Bite
  • Tammi Jonas of Jonai Farms
  • Peter Huff of Cultivating Community/ City of Yarra
I went along with a group of friends from work, and we were inspired to start up a formal Fair Food group at work with an aim "to educate and promote healthy, ethical and sustainable food amongst our colleagues and local community".  Some first projects are to get the milk in the kitchens changed to a local small producer/ supplier rather than the current multi-national corporation that is produced and processed in another state; changing the monthly staff fruit box delivery to a local, organic supplier; and reinvigorating the kitchen garden which is looking a bit unloved at the moment, including using it to do some workshops for staff.  

Filling my brain with fascinating stuff!!

And we did manage to sneak away for one night in the country, staying in a wacky little country pub where friends of ours who are in a bluegrass band (as you can see from the rack of banjos!) were playing.  A really fun night!

What were your Slow Living highlights for August?


  1. Your PSB is truly stunning!And on wooden butter pats, I HAVE seen then in country second hand shops. There is a second hand shop in Berrima NSW that I bet you would have a pair. I cant recall the name of the shop but I bet you could find it googling. They have an amazing range of old/ antique kitchen gear.

    1. Thanks that's a really good tip for finding some butter pats. I'll have a look at a couple of local places then I might try and seek out the Berrima one.

  2. What a wonderful, busy month! Congratulations on the PDC studies...I can see this being a perfect fit for you. Thankyou also for the link to the yarn bombing project, this looks amazing! Great to share in your month, T. xx

    1. Thanks Christine, it was a busy month for both of us I think!
      I'm really intrigued as to what the final yarnbombing outcome will be!

  3. I'm so excited for you! I don't know that people realise how life changing a permaculture design course can be. Our lives were revolutionised when I did my PDC. It changed our perceptions permanently. Enjoy!

    1. I can understand what you're saying about the course being life changing Linda, how could you go back to old ways after being exposed to so many amazing ideas?! I certainly enjoy following how you are implementing your learnings from it. :)

  4. I've never made butter myself, but I understand it's quite easy. A friend of mine makes it sometimes and it's so very delicious. :-)

    I'm so happy to hear you're enjoying your course.