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1-year blogaversary!

Tomorrow is the 1-year anniversary of my first ever post on this blog.  HAPPY BLOGAVERSARY to me!  And thank you dear readers for taking an interest in my ramblings.

When I started this blog I didn't really try to enunciate why we have this lifestyle, its something that kind of evolved for us, so I hadn't really thought about, but now reading other people's blogs has given me a clearer idea of what we are doing and why, so allow me to attempt to summarise our influences here, everything we do on our eight acres relates to one of the following principles:
  • Preparedness: We have a feeling that things are going to change in the near future and we should be prepared (Dixibelle uses the term "Survironmentalism"), in particular we are expecting that fuel, food and other resources will be more difficult to get and that makes us want to at least know how to do things ourselves, if not actually converting to full self-sufficiency before we absolutely have to.  We don't mind taking advantage of modern conveniences (electricity, fossil fuels etc) while they are available, but we want to be prepared in case one day they are not.
  • Animal Welfare: We both have a real love for animals, to the point where we don't mind having a few around and we hate to think of any animal suffering in confinement/industrial farming operations.  This doesn't mean we've turned vegetarian, just that we want to know that the meat, eggs and milk we're eating has come from happy healthy animals and the only way to know for sure is to raise them and kill them yourself (apart from the dogs, none of the animals are considered pets, as much as we do care for their welfare).
  • Good food: We also like to eat good food, both for the taste and for the nutrition, and for us that means fresh, unprocessed and organic if possible.  Living in a small town in rural Queensland means its pretty hard to buy anything organic!  There's no local health food shop and constantly ordering online gets expensive (you should see me when I get to a health food shop in the city!), so the best way to get real food is to grow it/ make it ourselves.   
  • No Toxic Chemicals: We don't want to be exposed to unnecessary chemicals in the food we eat or the products that we use, particularly cosmetics and cleaners.  We are also reducing the chemicals that we use for stock management and weed control.  This is part of preparedness too, as many of these chemicals may not be so easy to buy one day.
  • Frugal Living: We want to retire early and enjoy living on our farm, so the cheaper we can live now, the more we can save and less we will need to have saved in order to continue our lifestyle after we retire (ie if we know how to live cheap now, its going to make retirement even easier).  If just happens that being prepared and growing our own food is also the cheapest option in the long run as we have a very low ongoing cost of living after we've invested in the initial infrastructure.

My main reasons for starting this blog were the lack of credible first-hand Australia-relevant modern information available on the net (and even in books) about the kinds of things that my husband and I have been working on.  Often when we got stuck and needed some advice we would spend hours looking for information and trying to figure out what to do, we usually ended up using trial and error to get the result we wanted.  For example, raising our first poddy calf, killing chickens, tanning a steer hide, butchering meat, figuring out what grows in Nanango etc....  I wanted to write about what had worked for us, so that other people who wanted to try similar things (for whatever reasons) would at least have somewhere to start.  I hope that this blog becomes a useful reference, as well as a record for us so we can remember what we did and when.

Although the blog was really supposed to be about WHAT we were doing, I do keep getting sidetracked and writing about the WHY as well.  I hope this helps people to understand our reasons and maybe think about the future viability of their own lifestyles, even if my opinions might get a bit much for some people!

I called the blog eight acres because I found myself using that phrase frequently to describe our lifestyle, as in "well we live on eight acres, so we have chickens, steers and a big vege garden" (although as I wrote above, its so much more complicated than that!).  I'm glad I didn't over-describe it, because our lives keep changing, and this is certainly not a one-issue blog, I could have called it "My eco-green-frugal-simple-self sufficient-sustainable-whole food-real food-lots of animals-natural-organic-life", but that would have been a bit too long!  I hope that it doesn't make people think that they need to have eight acres to do what we're doing.  You probably do need at least five acres to have cattle, goats need even less (a backyard in the city even), but you can keep a few chickens on a small suburban block and you can grow veges in pots on an apartment balcony or courtyard if that's the only space you have, and there are always community gardens as well.  If you have more than eight acres, you can do even more, but please don't feel limited by the space you have, there's so much you can still do with whatever you have to work with.

The surprising part about blogging has been all the great people I've "met" through their blogs on similar topics. I've been able to get ideas and inspiration from other people all around the world.  This has helped us to develop our ideas and abilities even further.  Some of the things that we've tried because I saw it on another blog include knitting, sprouting and reading Nourishing Traditions, and there's plenty more I'd like to try when I get time, including investigating installing solar panels, making sourdough, and planting into wicking beds.  The general discussion of all things sustainable and unwasteful has been the best part though, it keeps me interested and committed to trying harder to achieve our aims above.  I nominated some of my favourite blogs in my Leibster award post, but there are plenty of others on the right-hand side of my blog page and I encourage you to check them out, if you like my blog, you'll probably like them too.


Since I started this blog this time last year, we have had some major milestones
  • The floods in January left us isolated from Nanango, Kingaroy, Brisbane and Gympie for several days, which really tested our preparedness, but we never lost electricity, so with our freezer full of meat and garden full of veges, we weren't too worried and got stuck into building a dog box for the back of the ute.
  • We needed the dog box because we had agreed to look after my friend's wee kelpie Chime, who arrived in March and is now great friends with Cheryl.
  • Our next new arrival was Bella the cow and her calf Molly (finally a house cow and learning to make cheese), as well as two new limousine-cross steers (Bratwurst and Frankfurter) to join Bruce and Rocket
  • We didn't have Bruce for much longer as he was plenty big enough to be butchered, we had to buy another freezer just to fit him in!  And then we finally got around to tanning his hide later in the year.
  • The hens that we hatched in February are now laying and their brothers are either in freezer or have found new homes and we've incubated the first eggs of this season to continue our breeding program.
  • The garden suffered extensive frost damage over winter and I've learnt more about our confusing climate here in Nanango (not quite temperate, not quite sub-tropical) and what to plant for next winter and saved lots of seeds, but I'm feeling much better now I've seen all the new spring growth.
  • We joined the South Burnett Permaculture Group and have enjoyed sharing permie ideas and meeting similar people, as well as a few interesting farm tours so far.
  • My husband and I also celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October, ohhhhh.
  • I finally got some diatomeceous earth and we are thinking about hanging up our AC back rub - using the organic cattle oil already though - to completing our chemical-free cattle management plans, fingers-crossed they stay healthy and happy this summer!
  • The dogs are chemical free too now :)
Plans for next year and beyond
You can never be too prepared and produce enough variety of food, so there's plenty more to do!  In the next year and beyond we plan to:
  • set up aquaponics and a worm farm (seemingly unrelated?  I want to feed the worms to the fish)
  • try making sourdough
  • try growing mushrooms (have to wait for winter, its too hot here in summer)
  • dry my excess herbs (either buy a food dehydrator or use a simple method using existing equipment)
  • get pigs (mmmm bacon) - I think this is in the "beyond" category, just dreaming!
  • render tallow from the next steer we butcher
  • get better at hatching chicks
  • install solar panels?
  • finish numerous tidying-up projects, such as our front entrance, our driveway, the chicken-mesh around the bottom of our house that keeps the animals out (ugly!) and the house-yard fence.
  • and I'm sure more things will add to this list as I get ideas from other blogs :)
I hope you've enjoyed reading my blog and will continue to follow our adventures.  I hope that some of the information has been helpful too.




Comments

  1. You live just around the corner from where I was living in Broadbeach. :) Just a quick 3 hr trip away.

    Winter is starting to lift up and things are warming but the frozen earth is aggravating me.... Cannot bear to see those fallow beds in the front yard.

    Next year should be more manageable as something would be overwintered and hardened in them already so as to not be bare soil. :)

    Northern vs Southern Hemisphere gardening time lines. Allows you to garden vicariously through others while you are sitting inside muttering. ;)

    (btw, do they still have that day time talk show panel program with the really fat man and the two skinny ladies?)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Found your site quite by accident but very interesting. Thank you. I live not far from you in Blackbutt. Agree with the comment that we're not quite warm temperate and not quite sub-tropical, I think that's a positive and gives us a bit more scope but also more trial and error. I'm certainly enjoying growing our veges and setting up the fruit orchard as well as preserving products in various ways. I will follow your journey with interest. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

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