Friday, 28 April 2017

Turning the Compost

"Turn your spoil into soil" ~ Unknown

Ideally I would like to turn my compost every three to four days to keep it hot. At the moment I have a couple of little distractions that are taking my attention away from compost making.

So I turned the compost for the first time on Monday.

In this photo I have lifted the wire cage off the compost and set it to the side. The compost is turned back into the wire cage. First I have put some manure in contact with the ground.

After shovelling some of the compost in I have added water to aid the decomposition process.  I want to avoid the compost being too dry or too wet. What I want in the heap is to have the wetness of a rung out sponge.

Adding bran to the compost pile during turning

 Towards the middle of the pile I have added a bucket load of bran and watered the pile again. The bran will help the pile to heat up.  

Molasses mixed with water ready to be added to the compost pile

When nearly finished turning the compost I added a cup of molasses to a watering can of water and poured this mix over the pile. This is also supposed to help the heating and fermentation process in the pile. 

The compost pile turned and covered

Don turned the compost pile again yesterday.

Watching all the action from the dog run.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Helping dreams become reality

When our thoughts, words and actions are in harmony with the person we want to be, our goals, and the life we wish to create, we draw people and opportunities into our lives to help turn our dreams into reality. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Introducing Moxie and Banjo

She is brown and he is black with a dusting of cocoa. They both have some
white areas on their coats.

We have two new additions to the homestead. Meet Moxie and Banjo. 

We drove about an hour down the Coast on Friday to collect them. 

They are two months old. Their mother is a short-haired Border Collie and their father is a white Kelpie. Both parents are farm dogs, working with cattle.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Making Compost While the Sun Shines

"Compost is proof that there is life after death." ~Unknown

This is the starting point for the layered compost. Tumbling compost bin is
in the background.

Making compost is primarily about making good humus. A secondary benefit is that it helps recycle waste. Additionally, making my own compost saves money as buying commercial compost becomes expensive when large quantities are needed.  
Ideally a compost heap will be big. At least one square metre by one metre high is needed.  This will help the pile generate enough heat to kill any weed seeds.  

If you haven't made compost before you will be amazed by how much the pile reduces as it breaks down. As a general rule, a one metre square by one metre high pile of compost will break down to about 30 cm high by the time it is ready to use. This will make about one third of a cubic meter to spread on your garden. This amount doesn't really go that far if you are living on acreage or have a big suburban garden.

Shredded paper added to the compost pile

Now, I am not always strict about my composting methods, and I do use several different composting bins to store organic matter. I have tumbling compost bins to store food scraps. I have a black compost bin that sits on the ground which often only contains brown grass clippings . These grass clippings still break down over time. 

Whenever I can though, I get serious about composting. When this happens I make a proper layered compost pile.

So my layers are mostly brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen).  I do also add manure pellets as I don't have any manure to collect on site. I also use some soil or preferably compost as a starter in the pile. Other things I use are bran and molasses as both seem to help the pile break down quicker for me.

This is a photo of the 'ingredients' I used in a previous layered compost pile.
In the photo can be seen grass clippings, shrub trimmings that have been run over
with a mower, lucerne or sugar cane mulch ( I can't remember which),
manure, bran in the yellow bucket and molasses in the bottle.

So what sort of things do I use for the brown content? Leaves, dry grass, newspaper, shredded paper, mulched branch cuttings, lucerne, sugarcane mulch. Things of that sort.

For the green I use freshly cut grass. Sometimes I may add hedge and shrub trimmings that have been put on the ground and run over with the mower.  Some people add kitchen waste to this layer but that is something I choose not to do. Animal manure can also be added to this layer.

Don made our compost bin from recycled fence panels. We had been gifted these old fence panels by a local farmer a couple of years ago.

If my compost heats up to somewhere between 50 and 65 degrees Celsius, most weed seed and pathogens should be destroyed. My aim is to create dark, friable, sweet smelling humus. By sweet smelling I mean fresh and woodsy.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Soul Direction

I have come to trust that if the next step scares me, it is probably a soul-directed act. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

This quote reminds me that everyone feels fear when trying something new or challenging. So I can choose to feel the fear and take the next step anyway. Or I can choose not to take that step and stay just as I am. Not taking the next step is still a choice, even if it is a self-limiting choice. 

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Identifying My Passions

"Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. " ~Thomas Jefferson

When I wrote the post Time and Tide I had been contemplating how people can put off dreams in favour of just getting through the daily grind. It is so easily done. Like many people, my everyday responsibilities can keep me on a treadmill of doing. I have little time  to pause and evaluate or dream.
Another barrier to achieving what I really want is  the abundance of  things on offer.  What is it that I really do want? Many of the things I want can be in opposition to each other. For example: Do I really want to upgrade my car, or do I want to pay down my debt and become debt free?

Can I really be, do, and have it all? Wasn't that the sort of thinking that was put in front of men and women in the 80's and early 90's? I know there are so many possibilities that I would love to explore. However I do not have the resources - the time and money to do everything that crosses my mind as a 'wouldn't it be nice…." possibility. So how can I know if I am on the right path for me at this present time?

I find the method used in the book  The Passion Test by Janet Bray Atwood and  Chris Atwood very helpful. I have used the book to help me clarify which of my desires are the most important. Using the method described in the book I came up with a list of 15 passions. I will share some of that list here

When my life is ideal I am;

  1. Creating a self-supporting home
  2. Having the freedom to do the things I love
  3. Having fun with kindred spirits
  4. Feeling financially secure
  5. Fit and flexible
  6. Influencing vast numbers of people to become more self-reliant, live deliberately and build localised communities.
  7. Travelling with Don in our caravan spending time in small towns getting to know the locals.
  8. Being part of a large, resourceful, valuable network.

In total I came up with a list of 15 things that I think would sum up my ideal life.  Realistically I know I cannot keep my attention on 15 different areas while doing all the things I need to do to keep my life ticking over.  By following the instructions in the book I was able to narrow my list of 15 passions down to a manageable five. 

 Next I examined how much each of the five passions were present in my life. Then I created a list of 'markers' for each passion. The markers are a list of things that paint a word picture of my life when that individual passion is present in my life. I then created a list of actions for each passion.  The actions are steps either big or small that I can focus on to help build momentum toward bringing my passions into my life more fully.

I think it is good to do something like this every couple of years or so as life changes us so much.  Something that is a passion now may no longer light my fire in a few years time. I remember back to when I was about 20, a couple of co-workers and I pipe-dreamt about running our own chocolate shop on Daydream Island. Trust me, this desire has not made it onto my current list of passions. ;-)

What are some of the things that would be on your list of passions?

You can find more information on the Passion test here

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Life of Riley

" Upon me soul Riley, you're doing quite well". ~ Pat Rooney

Currently I am living the life of Riley, but only because I am on vacation from work. This morning my husband and I went for a walk along a track the local council keeps clear for people who enjoy walking. The track runs for about 10 kilometres. It is an unusual feature in a rural area.

After our walk we drove into town for breakfast. The Bruce Highway passes directly in front of our current favourite coffee shop  and we enjoy watching the many caravans that go past. Simple stuff, no? However it is a change from the work-a-day world and I am enjoying the relative freedom that accompanies being on holiday. 

This afternoon I planted some lettuce and silver-beet. Tomorrow I hope to do some work on my compost system as it was terribly neglected during our hot, dry summer.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Time and Tide

'….when it is autumn in your life, the things that happened in your life, the things that happened in the past, or the experiences that were sown in the clay of your heart, almost unknown to you, now yield their fruit. Autumntime in a person's life can be a time of great gathering. It is a time for harvesting the fruits of your experiences."  ~ John O'Donohue 'Anam Cara'

My Jubilee year also marks the period when I begin transitioning from the summer of my life to its autumn. The spring of my life was the first 25 years. My life's summer period extended from 25 to 50. Now I have reached 50 the wheel of time turns onward and I am now in what I consider my life's autumn time.

As I was born in Autumn if feels possible that this time of my life will a time for harvesting the fruits of my experiences. The time of digging deep and collecting moments.  But this is also a time of remembering and gathering in knowledge and experience and applying  wisdom. Santayana said "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it".  Moving forward I want to avoid just doing the same old same old. 

This is the time to reach forth and take hold of different experiences.  As Czeslaw Milosz said "What is given to have tasted in this life, I have tasted".  So if not now, then when? What is holding me back? Is it false mental images, false fears that I am holding onto? Do I need to spend less time feeding my doubts and more time feeding my faith?

"It is a lonely experience to be at the deathbed of someone who is full of regret; to hear him say how he would love another year to do the things his heart has always dreamed of, but believed he could never do til he retired. " John O'Donohue.

I know of people who once retired purchased a caravan and spent a wonderful year travelling until illness intervened. Did they wait too long to pursue this long cherished desire?  I see a neighbour who has retired in the last couple of years struggling to get up and down the front steps to his home. I see another neighbour who retired in the last couple of years who is now on daily dialysis, and receiving in home care services.

Putting off meaningful experiences until retirement is a risky proposition. Time and tide wait for no man or woman.