Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal

Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, by Joel Salatin.

if there ever ran a rebellious streak in your heart that you knew was justified and right ... then you will love this book.  Joel Salatin has become my hero and an icon of what i have always wanted to yell from the rafters, "THE SYSTEM IS SCREWED UP!!!!"

Salatin builds his book on a simple premise ... that the government has it wrong.  not the republican or democractic government (or here in australia the liberal or labor government) .... but the politicians.  they make the assumption that everyone is out to get each other (possibly because that is the way that they operate), and in doing so have so completely over regulated the small guy that he can't win.  he is screwed even before he starts.

and it's you and i who loose in the long run.  his premise is that with all the governmental regulations it means that grandma doesn't make those amazing cookies anymore .... or that the rich yummi-ness of fresh milk is a thing of the past.  it is destroying our individual ability to be creative because of ludicrous government regulations.

but he also challenges us with a solution .... rebel.  start to trust your neighbor and to own your own responsibilities in life.  if you want to eat meat or produce that has been locally grown but doesn't fit government guidelines .... then you should be able to.  and to own that decision!  if you make a silly mistake and have something you shouldn't have .... you don't blame someone else.... you don't seek retribution in the court systems.  you go, "gee .... I made a stupid mistake and I need to be responsible."  in other words .... we need to act like adults and treat each other with respect.

Salatin reveals much about his own personal life and trials as the anecdotes and stories pour forth.  he calls himself a Christian, Libertarian, Environmentalist, Capitalist Farmer.  basically, what he is saying is don't peg him in any one camp.  he's an issues driven fella ... and boy .... does that win points with me!  i wondered how in the world he got away with what he did .... he is so articulate and clearly thought out.  and then it came out .... he is a debater.  on the debate team in school and in uni.  he said it was the best part of his education.  no doubt!  with all the battles he has had to fight.

if i could pick on one thing it would be that the stories seem unending.  almost a "same song, 5th verse" at some points.  but you know .... i think that's his point.  the government has tried to screw him over from his chooks to his beef to his forestry to his home .... and that gets old.  i am amazed at his tenacity to fight.

i love this book.  i laughed too ... it's hard not too with the satirical style that he has.  the vivid imagery and his ability to call it as he sees it is is thoroughly engrossing.  read this book.  you will never be sorry for the insight and perspective it gives on the plight of the farmer and how we as individuals are being treated by the government.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

what in the world???

calling all chook / bird lovers ..... have a look at this (and note the comparison in size to my thumb!)

any idea what in the world it is?  it was in our chook house this morning.  wrong colour and size for our girls!  we do have a plethora of wild birds that scavange with our chooks .... but i am amazed at the thot that they might use our nesting boxes?!?!?!?  if you know what it could be ... please post your thots!

on another note .... these pages may be a bit slow for the next week or two.  i am going in for hand surgery tomorrow which will mean that the keyboard and i have a slightly removed relationship!  i had wanted to get my book review done before going in .... but alas ... two more chapters to read!  so you'll have to wait on that one!

cu soon!  and keep me entertained with what you think this egg might be!  <g>

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

... a fork in the road

so ... for better or worse, you guys are following my blog as our family embarks on the suburban sustainability adventure.  are you ready for the divergence in this yellow brick road that we are wandering down?

what would you do if your biggest dream was presented to you on a serving tray ... beautifully wrapped with all the trimmings and you were told .... GO FOR IT!

would you believe it?
would you laugh at it?
would you embrace it?

or ....

would you want to run the other direction because this is so exciting it is scary?

that is where i find myself.  hubby has been offered a job in rural NSW .... and not just any job, but a Sr level exec IT position that would be a great challenge for him.  wow.  my spine starts to get a bit tingly.  we go out to check on schools .... two great schools to choose from.  land?  oh yeah .... large acreages that are so within our price range and reach!  we could live the life the way we want .... and truly embark on that sustainability train ride hard core.

so why am i so nervous?  why does it scare me?

i have to make a confession:  i'm comfortable where i am ... i have poured so much into our lives and times here ... and it's really starting to show fruit.  why would i want to leave that now?  dare i admit that i'm a little scared?  what if we fail?  what if it's all too hard (inspite of the fact that we can get interns and woofers on board) .... what if?  what about?  have i thot of????? all the excuses start flowing.

why do it?  because of the challenge (when i started this blog i stated quite clearly that life could be better post 50!).  because i want to support my husband (it is a great job opportunity for him) .... and because of the life that we would be making for our family (creation care).

cherish the memories we have made, but don't look back .... look to the future

so i hope you will continue to join me in our quest to detach and get rid of things here.  to make the move.  truly finding sustainability on a back patio as we rent until we find a piece of land we can reclaim and be wise stewards of in our application of regenerative agriculture and permaculture principals.  i have a feeling that it is going to be a roller coaster.  but one that will be life changing for our family.  i can't ask for more than that.

so here we go .... with the next few months simplicity focusing on "shedding" excess .... so we can move simply!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Slice of Rebellion

at the breakfast table yesterday.

"mum, did you know we can't drink milk straight from a cow?  it's bad for you!"

who sais that?

"it's what we are learning at school.  they have to do something to it to make it OK for us to drink."

well, hon.  mum and dad don't actually agree with that.  we think that raw, natural milk the way God created it is good for you.  <sigh> sometimes mum and dad won't agree with what the school teaches .... but that's ok .... it's about you learning and appreciating many different ways to look at things .... and on this one, mum and dad disagree with the government.  and rest assured ... if we lived on a farm and had a dairy cow .... we would drink raw milk.

blank look and open mouth from kiddo in question ..... 
(secretly i am smiling, btw ... had to come to this one day!)

oh my goodness!  what has happened to me!  i've been reading this book everything i want to do is illegal, by Joel Salatin (book review to come soon .... promise!)  and suddenly i find myself free, even LIBERATED to ask ....

why would the government know what is better for me and my family than i do?

woman!  what has happened to you!

ok ... first, the argument, then the big picture perspective.

why drink pasturised milk?  the government says,  that raw milk can harbour dangerous micro-organisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family (off the US FDA web site).  so?  that's a pretty weak argument!  tell me there aren't a plethora of other risks that you and i take each day just by walking out the door.  good grief!

so why does the government pick on these?

it's because the Monsanto's, Nestle's and large multinationals of today have the poli's in their back pockets.  doesn't matter if they are labour or liberal, democrat or republic, greenie or whatever ..... the poli's do what the big guys tell them to do .... because they are out for one thing:  to line their own corporate pockets.

before you call me a negative nelly .... i dare you to tell me that fracking for natural gas is healthy and ok.  that having your drinking water catch on fire because of the gas content is ok .... and the reason it has that gas content is because of the leakage of natural gas from fracking.  good for you and me?  no.  good for the big guys?  oh yeah!  we need to find sustainable ways of enjoying this amazing world .... not destroying it simple to make the fat cats fatter!

and i won't even consider arguing with you until you have sat and seriously watched three movies.  Food, Inc., Fresh and Gasland.  you won't like them .... i certainly found them challenging .... but necessary for my families health.  don't you want that?

in his book, salatin makes a comment about the inability to enjoy raw milk.  he conjures an image of the "olden" days when you could have farm fresh cream butter or ice cream ... and the joy and delight that those products held.   they are raw .... natural .... hey .... THE WAY GOD INTENDED IT TO BE!

but that is not what the big corporates would have you believe.  they are the gods .... they determine what you and i eat, drink and enjoy .... and have us believing that it is in our best interest ..... all to line their own pockets!

.... my little slice of rebellion for the day.....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Kid's World

yesterday was a great day ... i had another one of those affirmative epiphanies.

yesterday we had a few mums and their kids over for a play date.  my children, being the highly social type .... thot this was gonna be a grand day.  i have to admit a slight bit of trepidation on my part.  we have done all this work in our backyard .... what will having 10 kids under the age of 10 do to our yard?  will they trip and fall into the beds .... or worse yet .... step on and destroy all the new plants that i've just put in?  i was truly feeling very protective about our garden and all that we had accomplished so far.

slap yourself maggs ..... silly girl!  several of the mums simply said ... wow!  this is such an interesting garden now!  so many nooks and crannies for the kids to play in and be interested by.  and that is exactly what happened.  the kids had a blast .... running between the beds with their light sabers or swords .... swinging from the trees like little monkeys.  oh yes, and the animal husbandry inclined just couldn't leave the chooks alone ... and had to hold every single one of them and get the others to do the same (i am wondering a bit what that will do to our egg production the next few days!).  and at the end of it all .... nary a plant was plowed or busted up!  i should've given the children more credit than that.  seeing them play in the yard and enjoy that space truly  warmed my heart.

and it really got me to thinking about our move to a sustainable lifestyle.  isn't this why we are doing this?  to provide a better future for our kids, their kids and so on?  to affect the lives of these little ones who's futures we can mold and shape to care for this amazing creation that God has blessed us with?

i have been really pleasantly amazed at how much our kids love being out in the backyard now.  the other day, they came home from a full morning of playing and skating in the park with school mates .... only to wolf down their lunch and go straight back outside .... and the three of them spent all that time just drawing .... they could've done that inside ... but because they are falling in love with their world, they wanted to be out and "in" it.

i am being grounded.  reminded of why we are doing what we are doing.

it's about quality of life .... about caring for this world, our family and our community. learning to respect the way God put the systems in place that work in such an amazing way.  about caring for our family and showing them love and respect.  and thinking about our global community that doesn't have what we have and what can we do to help and meet those needs.

it's about a sustainable, yummy lifestyle.  the kids are helping me to plant veg.  yeah!  they love seeing that.  and seeing that translate as they harvest the food, help cook it and enjoy eating it.  new flavours that THEY helped grow.  that THEY had an active part in bringing about.  and being really honest .... they love spinach from our garden .... but i just don't think they'd get as excited about the slimmy frozen stuff from the grocer!  i can't keep the cherry tomato's or pea's!  they eat them all before i have a chance to bring them in for dinner ... and they are proud because they helped to grow them too!  ENGAGEMENT.

it is truly a kid's world.  it is their future.  i have a responsibility to be a wise steward of what God has given us.  for them.  because the future is theirs.

Kid Friendly Sustainability Web Sites

my daughter's rendition of me in the backyard ..... <g>  way cool!

why we do what we do!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Treasure Hunting

today was adventure day. we had a goal of getting a few things for the garden .... and seeing how cheaply we could source it all.  even the kids thought it would be a grand day out!

we're ready!  let's go!

i should rewind.... our goal was to get chook poo and hay for the yard.  we need to build a few more beds, move a few things and get them all bedded down the no dig way with lasagna layers of poo, dirt, straw ... you get the picture!  the adventure part was doing it cheaply (e.g., NOT from the local produce or hardware store!), and having no idea where we were going!

the first strike was pretty easy.  we got our chook poo!  thank you very much!  8 bags for $20 .... ain't complaining there (well, actually i did a little later when we saw some for $2 a bag rather than $2.50 .... but it was still immensly cheaper than the hardware store!)

yo mum!  this stuff stinks!  hahahaha!

and then next!  well ..... truth be told, we got lost .... a bit!  kids had a bit of a nap ... we drove some more ... retraced our steps .... but we did find hay and even got our hands on some mushroom compost!

our haul!  not bad!

all in all, we paid just over $60 for all of this.  and wow .... look what we have now .....

our newest bed!  note that we have started putting
old junk in the yard ... our effort to make it just
a bit more eclectic!

tada!  our newest bed.  and i have a bale of hay left ..... 6 bags of chook poo and 4 bags of mushroom compost still to get through.  it felt really good sourcing stuff cheaply.  it didn't have to look good, or be packaged in the "approved" way .... it was just what it was.  and it worked!  ( i mean lets face it ... why put a pretty face on chook poo!) give this bed a few weeks to settle in .... my onions will be ready to plant out by then and voila!  i have my onion / leek and garlic bed!  yeah!

oh .... and i have to boast.  i was wandering through the beds today and found the following asparagus spear shooting up!  it was one of the first things we planted (actually transplanted this one) .... and i am so happy to see it bedding in .... and now i'm really ready for spring to hit!  bring it on!

p.s.  my egg quantities have doubled as well .... come on!  i want to do my spring happy dance!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

freedom to choose

i have started reading Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, by joel salatin.  review to come, but in the meantime, it has me thinking, again, about the control that the industry has over so much of what we do.  yeah, they SAY it is in our best interest.  but honestly .... we know the lobby for the big business is very strong and very powerful .... do you really think that controlling so much of our day-to-day lives is really in our best interest?

what would bless my socks off would be for people to take the time to educate themselves to the issues at hand.  why do we so often take the easy out and just assume that it's ok for the government to control our lives and choose what we put on our tables each day?  just take the time to watch Food, Inc. or Gasland and you will understand that it is the big business lobby that is in it for their own interests and gain.  and they are happy for you to not think and not use your brain to make your own best decisions for your family.

here in australia ......

joel salatin makes the point very early on in his book that the government is out to make you think that everyone wants to give you a raw deal.  that they will use unsafe standards or contaminated materials to make their goods with.  what would happen if we chose to have the opposite perspective.  that our neighbor farmer or producer is just out to grow goods and sell them.  to make some great creamy ice cream, home made jams or breads.  what if we believed in that and supported it rather than regulating it out of existence?

i know that i am feeling the affects of this quite directly.  we want for me to be able to stay at home and be there when our kids are growing.  this means i need to try and develop an income generator from home.  what better than playing off the things i love?  cooking and fresh produce!  value adding to what we grow so that we have yummy preserved and canned goods .... to sell and share with our community.  it's a win win!  i can stay home for my kids and local buyers get yummy food.  alas, the regulations are so tight here that i am unable to cook in my own kitchen because it's not a commercial kitchen!  they assume i am out to do the wrong thing ... to hurt people, or earn a cheap dollar. it's really wrong!  it's denying me the right to earn a living through what i do and for people to enjoy delectably yummy and good food that is .... egad .... healthy!

we need to fight this mentality.  people are so lethargic when it comes to what we put in our bodies.  don't wewant to eat healthy good food?  stuff that will give us energy and nutrients rather than filling us with empty calories? we need to fight this because we should have the freedom to decide what is best for our families.  we need to fight this way of thinking because it is our right to live free and enjoy the foods we want!

make a difference.  by local.  shop at your are market, not the large chain grocery stores.  go to a butcher to buy your meat .... ask if it is grain or grass fed (you always want grass!).  if you see a road side stall .... stop and buy their produce!  it may not be as pretty as the stuff in the large grocery stores .... but i bet it tastes better!

and the most important way we can make a difference is to think.  if we come across a regulation that is inhibiting our freedom .... question it.  talk to your local poli ... find out the rationale behind it.  is there a large multi-national behind it?  can almost guarantee that regulation will assist them!  use your freedom of expression and thinking to understand and make an educated choice .... not an easy or convenient choice .... but an educated choice!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

planning, propogation and patience ...

first of all .... apologies for not having written any updates for a while.  it's been the first week of winter school holidays here "down under" which means with my three munchkins ... chaos ensues .... you get the picture!

but we finished the week in style.  chooks are laying 2-3 eggs a day now, rather than 1-2 .... i think even they are trying to will spring to get here!  we found ourselves in a position of doing some fun planning, wrapping up propagating and seeing our patience beginning to pay off!

we've been wanting to modify our side beds for a while.  when we built them we were eager and ignorant.  we had six 1.5 x 1.5 semi attached beds  that were far too deep.  this meant i had to use valuable bed space to make a walking path.  we have severely modified the size of the beds with a bit of a keyhole design, allowing me to have access to all sides of the beds without stepping into them.  there is one "almost dead spot" that i can't reach .... for this we will be placing a worm tower .... and bob's your uncle.  scott got this all finished today .... with a little help from the kids as well!

i've also been working on the back crescent bed.  i have a dream to have trellis's running on one side (beans on the trellis, strawberries and asparagus for ground cover), with giant sunflowers and corn on the other (with beans running up this, and probably early zucchini as a ground cover too) ... .this will be my high growing bed.  today, i installed the trellis .... happy girl!

i've been madly propagating as well.  felt a bit bad when i realised that i could use chopped up willow leaves as the propagation medium.  but i can't worry too much as we don't have a willow!  so i am using the packet propagation mix.  currently have pineapple sage, lavender and two kinds of wattle that i've put in pots.  i'm looking forward to seeing how that works out.

in my green house i have heaps growing!  (in spite of an errant child going in and up-ending a grow shelf!  grrrrr!) the kohlrabi is coming on well, as is the celeriac .... and i've even got some celtuce in .... these are my ugly veg!  the beetroot, cauliflower, kavelo nero and cabbage are looking great.   i've even taken the plunge and have a few beans in as well.  and yes!  we have tomato's seeds in that are my early season mix.

the disappointment remains .... <sigh>  leeks.  a whole pallet of 24 spots with 2-3 seeds in each in wonderful seed raising mix and what do i have to show?  well ... two little spikes ..... <sigh>  what am i doing wrong?
two leeks out of this whole pallet!
what am i doing wrong!!!!!

my macrame pea climbing
and patience .... i am thrilled to say that we have pea's a plenty!  my fence in the front is FULL.  but the river cottage inspired macrame mesh that i did is finally coming good!  i wasn't sure at first .... but the pea's have finally gotten big enough that they are above the lip of the bed and are catching heaps more sun and are starting to take off now too .... i have high hopes that they will go ballistic and cover the entire macrame by spring!

ah spring .... it's in the air .... i can feel it .... with the great sunshine we had today, how could you not?  i know it's still a bit away ... but each day is just that much closer to my spring happy dance!