Sunday, May 1, 2011

a day on the farm ....

national permaculture day today, if you weren't aware.  a day when those of us "permies" take great pride in being in full blown sustainability mode and show off what we are doing.  across sydney, there were heaps of backyards and allotments open for folks to see and be inspired by.  we chose to go another route .... instead heading away from the city to a small farm out near mudgee called Milkwood, where they have embraced permaculture from the ground up, literally.

My  beautiful boys loving
the farm way!
the husband and wife (and bub who is 2!) that run this place truly inspired scott and i.  a couple who abandoned their city lifestyle and embraced  permaculture with their whole hearts.  to those of us who get overwhelmed easily by this stuff and feel that you have to know heaps is encouraging to know that they started simple too! they are still doing it simple -- committed to using recycled materials where possible and appropriate, and saving an immense amount of money because of this focus.  you can tell they are always asking the question ... how can we re-use, recycle and make it happen with what we've got access to.

it was great to see a real life implementation of swales .... and how that can significantly help retain water .... or building beds on contour to maximize the use of water run off .   seeing the start of their own food forest .... and that it is, well, pretty darn simple!  and practical too!  it helped me to realise that we could actually do this!  i have to say the composting chicken coop really was amazing ... a home for 20 or so chickens where you put items for composting in at the top of the hill and watch the chickens scratch and do their good stuff in it  as it meanders and makes it's way to the bottom.  how ingenious!  <g> 

i must confess to being a mad follower of their blog.  the missus is the author and she shares a great yarn about the day-to-day triumphs and just living that they do on the farm.  it makes it all very personal and very achievable to us green horns.

and they are very generous.  they are learning and growing in their own methods of trying things and have started their business, teaching others about permaculture.  they have interns on their property that live there and learn and help them out .... everyone learning together and from each other. 

i had met Nick, the husband, at an intro to permaculture course and found him very down to earth.  and when we arrived at the open farm day, i found his wife no less engaging and genuine.  these are real folks, embracing a sustainable lifestyle because they want to have a better life for themselves and their family.  and their farm is a growing testimony to that .... seeing their successes and works in progress (nothing is ever a failure, btw, it's a learning experience!).  it was truly inspiring. 

oh, and psst ... the kids had fun too!  <g>  there is talk afoot that they will be starting a permie kids program that the children can be a part of along side parents doing the two week PDC (permaculture design course) .... i am hanging out for that!  what a learning opportunity for my kids!  <g>

anyway .... here are a few photo's from our day on the farm ....

Lea and JJ listening (haha) to Nick talk about, and showing us, the swales
they have on their property.  He also discussed the the tree planting and how
that aids in water retention on the property.  (btw, scott and i
were thoroughly engrossed!)
the earth dome.  done in a workshop on site as a test
and prototype.  cost effective, very stable and cozy ....
the chook dome (one of three chook runs).  this is meant to be moved
regularly for the birds to live, scratch and leave their lovely stuff to
improve the soil!

chook run #2. Nick is talking about how it's on a slope and they add materials at the top
and the chooks "do their thing" so that it comes out as at the bottom as compost
to be used on the food forest.
the start of their food forest. can't really show just
how cool it was to see this growing. nick talked a lot
about planting based on consistent, reliable produce
rather than sometimes heaps and inconsistently.

chook run #3.  had some chicks in this and a few sussex.  and a few breeds i couldn't
even try to spell.  these guys are getting into the interesting breeds ...
picking those that are best suited
for the uniqueness of the Mudgee climate.

the veggie patch out behind the shed (may not look much at the moment, but that's because
winter is coming in and their winter  crops are just starting to peak through).   scott and i have completely
rethought out back garden based on this.  looking at the lay of the land
they have built these beds on contour to catch as much of the natural rainfall as possible.

another look at what they've done.  simple ... wood borders, no dig beds,
mulching from the trees for paths .... how simple can you get?
 i am not sure i can sum up just how eye-opening this day was for us.  seeing the stuff that we are working towards in our own lives lived out really lifted our souls on the next step of our journey to sustainability and responsible living. 

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