The good life

Posted January 31st, 2006 by Penny Wise

Am feeling nauseatingly content of late, as my 'Felicity Kendall' transformation moves up another notch! As I look around, even with the drought, things are looking pretty idyllic. Apart from the pampered donkeys on our two acre block, we also have two cows, two calves and they have recently been joined by Friday and Bob, two pet lambs courtesy of the neighbours. Technically the sheep were acquired with the sole purpose of keeping the grass down in our new orchard, but Bob keeps making a break to join the cows, leaving poor old Friday to chew out the orchard on his own and berate Bob loudly for being a rubbish friend.

At least Friday is getting plenty of company from me, as I have to walk through his domain to get through the vege garden every day at the moment and reap my bountiful harvest. Somehow the remains of the garden managed to survive Noel wreaking havoc on it with the fish fertiliser and it is currently producing big time. I love playing the hunter-gatherer! After starting off at an average of one bean a week, I'm now picking basketfuls and freezing them. We have beefsteak tomatoes, plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes all groaning under the weight of their fruit, which I gleefully relieve them of and use to make pasta sauces and home made tomato sauce. The sweetcorn did not survive being pounded by the fish brew from hell, but is probably just as well or it would have been suffocated by the pumpkins now winding themselves across half the garden. We still have a lot to learn about growing our own produce, but nothing beats eating something you have grown yourself!

I'm hoping that from now on our little garden will be even more productive, thanks to my latest purchase - at last I am the proud owner of a worm farm! I did heaps of research (and I mean HEAPS) on caring for and maintaining my wiggly friends and shopped around extensively for the best deal before finally settling on what appeared to be the most suitable for our family's requirements. I bought it brand new on eBay and you'll be pleased to know it is Australian made! The Can-o-Worms was described as 'the town house of worm farms' and included 1000 worms in the price (you need that many to start your farm off nicely). I had to admit it was kind of funny getting so excited about meeting my new worms, particularly as I used to run a mile from any I had ever had the misfortune to come across in the garden. But these ones are different! They are my pets and are here to do a valuable job. I can't wait to go and feed them and see what they're up to every day! Even at this early stage, there is evidence of the 'liquid gold' natural fertiliser they produce in their bottom tray - although Noel wasn't impressed when I told him to go and have a look and a dead worm fell out when he turned the tap!

As mentioned, I did do a fair amount of homework before setting up my farm and there are all kinds of ways of doing it. One site I did find valuable is relatively new, but has a really friendly and helpful online community of people and is called Aussies Living Simply ( - the perfect place to seek advice from other would-be Felicity Kendall types, who are striving towards, or already enjoying self-sufficiency. Really good for owners of small blocks like me, who like to keep a few animals and want to learn more about making their patch of heaven as productive as they can. I think I have even just about managed to convince Noel to let me keep a few chickens - he would never let me before as I wanted free range ones and he kept telling me the dogs would get them or they'd ruin the garden or poo on the veranda along with various other excuses. Unfortunately for him, the neighbours recently went away, leaving me in charge of their three laying hens and taking care of the feeding and egg collecting. Penny the hunter-gatherer strikes again! Through them, I discovered the perfect system, which allows them to do happy free range chook things, yet will keep them protected and will leave my garden and veranda unaffected. Even Noel hasn't found a way to argue against my perfect logic yet - where there's a will, there's a way!

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