Sew Awesome

I love that my boys don’t think sewing is for sissies girls. When they need something mended or sewn, they don’t just throw the item at me, expecting me to do it “because I’m the Mum”. They are totally willing to get involved with making it happen. Today my fifteen year old son wanted me to help him sew around the bottom of some jeans he’d just cut off, so they would fray just the right amount but no more. He helped me set up the machine, wanted to re-learn how to thread a bobbin and the machine itself, helped match the cotton, did a practise run…. and then happily let me do the actual stitching on the real deal. 🙂

Helping stitch a hem on 15yo son's jeans
The sewing of the jeans….. Minus the 15yo who did NOT want to be in the photograph thank you very much!

I find that whenever I get the sewing machine out, the kids gravitate to it like moths to a flame (I obviously don’t get it out very often!). So next up was Mr 12 who wanted to sew a cover for his iPod. We spent some time looking at fabrics in my overflowing crate (well, it had been all nicely stuffed in there with dust all over the lid, and when we opened the aforesaid lid it all popped out a bit like a jack-in-the-box! I obviously don’t get my fabrics out very often either!). We ended up deciding to cut some fabric off an old polar fleece blanket we no longer use much, and then he came up with a really creative idea to do two layers of fabric, with some funky green striped cotton (from some old curtains) as the outside layer. So, with creative juices a-flowing, we got to work. Well, it was mostly him actually, with me watching and guiding. And he didn’t mind being in the photograph either….

Declan sewing his first iPod sock
iPod Sock Creation Number One
Not such a perfect result
Whoops! Not such a perfect result. We didn’t allow enough “give” in the outside non-stretchy layer, so the inside layer was all squished up. But we had fun trying!
Success!
Success at last! We went for the simplified polar-fleece-only version (with polar fleece cut from the bottom of an old blanket – my older son’s toes might be a bit cold tonight!). And yes, I know, he looks kinda scary and as though he’s going to eat it, but what can you do? 🙂

An idea was birthed during the sewing process, of making and selling a bunch of these as a little business. Why not? We talked about the necessity to purchase materials and factor that into his “profit” and he’s keen to give it a go, so we’ll see where it takes him. I always thought his first business would be some kind of computer work, but it seems it may involve a sewing machine! 🙂

No Dig Vegie Patch

We’ve finally done it! The no dig garden that has lived only in my imagination for so long has finally become an actual thing in real life! Like most things, I learned a lot by researching on the internet and in books, but I topped off that learning by actually DOING it. I’ve now realised a few things I’d do differently next time, but like they say – live n learn!

Our good friends Ruth & Maddie putting Melissa’s (horse’s!) poo on top of the wet newspaper. We made the edging for the no dig garden out of corrugated iron & hardwood from a local reclaimed building supply centre. The only new thing is the screws to hold it altogether!
Our good friends Ruth and Maddie putting Melissa’s (horse’s!) poo on top of the wet newspaper. We made the edging for the no dig garden out of corrugated iron and hardwood from a local reclaimed building supply centre. The only new thing is the screws to hold it altogether!
The chooks went a wee bit crazy with excitement at the opportunity to consume vast quantities of bugs from under where the bales of hay had been sitting for some months. Woo hoo! Turning bugs into eggs – can’t complain about that!
The chooks went a wee bit crazy with excitement at the opportunity to consume vast quantities of bugs from under where the bales of hay had been sitting for some months. Woo hoo! Turning bugs into eggs – can’t complain about that!
Let the planting begin! We had bought some bales of hay and straw for Geoff’s 40th earlier in the year, and they’ve been slowly rotting in the backyard ever since, waiting for us to clear the weeds and get our no dig garden ready. They’re now nicely gross, ready to decompose further and provide beautiful nutrients for our plants to hopefully thrive in!
Let the planting begin! We had bought some bales of hay and straw for Geoff’s 40th earlier in the year, and they’ve been slowly rotting in the backyard ever since, waiting for us to clear the weeds and get our no dig garden ready. They’re now nicely gross, ready to decompose further and provide beautiful nutrients for our plants to hopefully thrive in!
Let there be a worm farm – in the middle of the garden! Thanks Toni for paying for a permaculture design course so I could scab some good ideas off you! :)  The idea is that you cover the PVC pipe with a tile so it’s nice and dark inside, you place food scraps in the pipe from time to time, and the little wormies crawl through the holes that are under soil level, get the food, and go back into the soil to do their “business”, adding the fertiliser right where it’s needed, without any need for me – a la worm-a-phobe – to have to actually touch or look at them! :)
Let there be a worm farm – in the middle of the garden!
Thanks Toni for paying for a permaculture design course so I could scab some good ideas off you! 🙂
The idea is that you cover the PVC pipe with a tile so it’s nice and dark inside, you place food scraps in the pipe from time to time, and the little wormies crawl through the holes that are under soil level, get the food, and go back into the soil to do their “business”, adding the fertiliser right where it’s needed, without any need for me – a la worm-a-phobe – to have to actually touch or look at them! 🙂
Geoff, Declan & Molly built a trellis out of bamboo from our friend’s backyard, for our sugar snap peas to climb up
Geoff, Declan & Molly built a trellis out of bamboo from our friend’s backyard, for our sugar snap peas to climb up
The plants are starting to grow!! I thought this was our first red strawberry, but was informed that there HAVE been others. At least they’ve been enjoyed! 🙂
SUCCESS! (With the addition of some finer plastic trellis attached to the bamboo.) Lesson learned: it would have been better to put the trellis on the north-facing side of the garden, rather than the east-facing side. Notice how the peas on the northern (right hand) side of the trellis are growing more quickly cuz they get more sunlight? Live n Learn – it’s all good :) As Albert Einstein said: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried…”
SUCCESS! (With the addition of some finer plastic trellis attached to the bamboo.) Lesson learned: it would have been better to put the trellis on the north-facing side of the garden, rather than the east-facing side. Notice how the peas on the northern (right hand) side of the trellis are growing more quickly cuz they get more sunlight? Live n Learn – it’s all good 🙂 As Albert Einstein said: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried…”

We have….. FIGS!

To our delight, we have discovered that the the little green figs on our figtree have become large-ish, more colourful, soft, ripe fruit! Yum…… 🙂

figs1
Beautiful delicious figs from our tree!
mollyfig
Out of the whole family, Miss M likes the figs the best…..

Of course, the trick was getting to them before the birds. Mind you, I’m figuring that the ones the birds get to first are at least going to a worthy cause! However, in an effort to try to keep at least SOME figs for ourselves (I know – how incredibly selfish of us!), my good friend Melissa came to the rescue again, this time with some bird netting. Unfortunately, there isn’t quite enough of it, so the birds still get under it and eat all the blessed fruit they like! At least they manage to get back out again, rather than getting stuck. Me thinks the bird netting might as well come down, and next time we’ll get a larger piece!

helpfulfriend
P.S. Thanks to the neighbour’s visiting tradies for the loan of the ute. They were paid with free figs, of course!
Whoopsies
Whoopsies

Some new additions to the fam… :)

So…. today was the day we bit the bullet, went for a beautiful country drive, and bought ourselves 6 little day-old chicks! SUCH an exciting moment. We’re really nowhere near ready for them, but my friend Melissa was going out to this great breeder to buy some ducklings and suggested I come with her and get started on our chicken adventure! Nothing like a bit of pressure to get those weeds & asbestos removed, and a chook house built! At least for now they can live in our laundry at night and in a spare rabbit hutch during the warm summer days! They’re SOOOOOO cute. We got one for each membe of the fam, although at this stage T & B are insisting they’re not at all interested. But I’m sure the girls will win them over with their charms.

And I have to say it’s also a little bit exciting to have the power balance change in the female direction, in this formerly-testosterone-fuelled household! Molly’s been wishing for a sister for a long time, so now she gets SIX!! That makes eight girls in the family now, in a funny kind of way. Actually, twelve if you count the mice. But then I suppose we’d have to count the male rabbit & dog, but I still think the girls win. Hang on while I add it up…… YES! Girls:12  Boys: 6  🙂

mollychicken
Two gorgeous girls
sleepingchicken
No, it’s not dead; it’s asleep!! I walked in to the laundry and Molly was singing the “Hush, Little Baby” lullaby to her chicken. Looks like it worked!
declanchicken
It’s amazing how the myth of boys always being “rough and tumble” can blown out of the water by the observation of a boy being super sweet and gentle with a baby chicken
cosychickens
A nice warm, cozy home (We learned a LOT about the needs of baby chickens, having never done this before!)


Mission-Weed-Destroy!

When we moved into our rental property, there was a big section up the back of the yard that was full of knee-high weeds. It didn’t look pretty. But it looked better then than it does now! Before we knew it, the weeds had just about taken over the back section of the yard and grown to be taller than me!!! (And I’m not short LOL). Mate, it was a jungle out there! And VERY overwhelming.

One day my good friend Melissa came and we got started on mission-weed-destroy! We removed the weeds from along the garage wall, and to our dismay discovered that underneath them were massive root systems – basically, they were tree trunks sawn off just above ground level! It seemed our problem was even bigger than we’d at first thought! I have to admit I felt pretty disheartened. And more so when all the weeds grew back again! (I won’t forget how sore my arms were after the day of hacking into the weeds, and it was pretty annoying that it was all for nothing!)

My mission then became about finding out what the weeds actually were and how to get rid of them. I really didn’t want to have to use poison, especially because we plan to grow food on this land, and also just because I like to do things a la naturally, as much as possible.

After much internet research I discovered that the weeds are a category 3 noxious weed called Green Cestrum which grows as high as 3 foot. It spreads most rapidly during spring (when we moved in) and also spreads more if the trunk is chopped down but not fully removed or poisoned. The previous owners had obviously chopped down quite a few of these bushes/trees, which has actually made the problem worse. Bummer!

Anyway, our lovely landlord, James, ended up offering to join us in a working bee, so yesterday was the day we donned out workboots and got stuck into it (AGAIN!). This time we managed to remove 3 entire root systems as well as a whole bunch of the spreading weeds. We’ve really only just begun, but at least we know how to tackle it now!

Here’s a small section of the yard, showing some of the weed spread and a small section that’s been cleared
Here’s a small section of the yard, showing some of the weed spread and a small section that’s been cleared
Here’s one of the exposed root systems – well, part of it!
Here’s one of the exposed root systems – well, part of it!
Going…..
Going…..
Going.....
Going…..
Gone! Woo Hoo!
Gone! Woo Hoo!
Look at some of the nasty buggers we pulled out. Bigger than your average bindii, hey!
Look at some of the nasty buggers we pulled out. Bigger than your average bindii, hey!

It was an AWESOME feeling to get that huge patch cleared (see the first picture!)

Post Script: We actually ended up leaving two plants & their runners because we ran out of time, and they are beginning to spread again! Grrrr…… Apparently the previous residents chopped some of the plants down but didn’t remove the root systems, so they’ve just spread like wildfire and we’re still trying to get on top of it!

It’s often the things we try to forget about or cover up that do the most damage.

Garden Surprises!

Our little passionfruit plant looked a bit sad for a while there, but seems to be doing ok now, in spite of a lack of attention! Meanwhile, I thought I’d tell you that a little while ago we found what appears to be figs growing on what appears to be a fig tree! They look and smell like figs; let’s hope when they’re ripe that they taste like figs too! I think a fig feast will be in order, and we might need some friends to help us eat them, cuz there are SO many!
figs

Today I also found another surprise treasure growing in a pot of lovely compost given to us by our good friends, Tim & Ruth Schloss. As you can see, the tomato plant we’d planted in the compost is dead (whoops) but look what IS growing!

gardensurprise

If you can identify it, let me know! To me, the most novice of all gardeners, it looks perhaps like some kind of climbing bean or pea? It definitely has tendrils, and a cute little yellow flower that I hope will grow into something edible! I love the way that learning often happens in surprising ways and surprising places!

Backyard Wasteland to Edible Food Garden

We recently had to move house (for the 3rd time in 2 and a half years) because (again) our landlord sold our house. This time we’re in a long-term rental with a wonderful landlord who actually (believe it or not!) wants us to use the yard for chooks, vegies etc. Yes, that’s right: he WANTS us to! This is a dream come true for us, because we’ve wanted to do something like this for SO long, but it’s usually difficult, if not impossible, when renting.

The challenge is that the backyard currently has a massively overgrown weed problem, coupled with plain grass on top of hard dirt! The weed problem has been overwhelming & getting us down a bit, and as we’ve started to get rid of them we’ve discovered an even bigger problem: huge root systems (as in, TRUNKS!) that we’re going to need to get rid of too!

Whilst feeling overwhelmed and disheartened about that, we figured it might help if we actually PLANTED something! So today we did it. We planted a passionfruit vine!! We chose the one part of the yard where there actually ISN’T weeds, which made it heaps easier.

It took me so long to work out the best way of doing that (and in the end we’ve pretty much just bunged it in), that I’m a bit worried how long it’s going to take us to do the rest LOL! I tend to read LOTS and plan LOTS and actually DO…. little. My ideas and planning can paralyze me. I tend to spend so much time planning and learning, that I hold back from actually “doing”.

So yeah, it’s going to be a huge learning curve for all of us. But fun along the journey too, I hope. And in the end?  Well, you never know, we just might end up with some food to eat! 🙂

Digging the hole for the passionfruit, capably supervised by big brother. Actually, to be honest, he also did some of the digging. :)
Digging the hole for the passionfruit, capably supervised by big brother. Actually, to be honest, he also did some of the digging. 🙂
mollyandmumpassionfruit
I really don’t have a green thumb. See! Even my gardening gloves are brown. So let’s hope this plant thrives! At least Molly’s thumbs appear to be green!
Done! See, it really wasn't that hard after all!
Done! See, it really wasn’t that hard after all!

The Channel 10 News

Declan’s been having lots of fun with the camera today, and it developed into an idea of him being a news reporter that mysteriously disappears while filming the news. I found him, with the camera set up and recording. He was “everything”: the camera man, the news reporter and the editor. We all ended up getting involved (well, everyone except Geoff, who is at work, and Travis, who is, as usual, at the beach). Brady masterfully helped develop the script to include himself and Molly and I got the job of doing the filming. (Molly even decided to wear a dress and have her hair and make up done, as part of being a “Channel 10 News Reporter”!) After a few funny attempts, this is the end result. (For what it’s worth, Molly gets the “most improved” award for the contrast between her first attempt, which included a very delayed entry of her only line and off-stage giggles during the fight scene, through to a very “polished” performance.) Look out Channel 10, your replacements are on their way! And look out Declan, the Mysterious Masked Man is on his way too!

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