The last weeks of autumn

It’s nearly officially winter but we have been experiencing some beautiful weather still. The Awatere Valley is beautiful in all it’s golden autumn spendor, the vineyards will soon be bare, the garden will soon just be bog but for now everything is just lovely. These two photos are of each end of our street.

The view at the end of one end of our street. I don't know if this photo shows very well the old Seddon Flax Mill built during WW2, in anticipation of needing to produce our own fibres. It was used but not for long.

The view at the end of one end of our street. I don’t know if this photo shows very well the old Seddon Flax Mill built during WW2, in anticipation of needing to produce our own fibres. It was used but not for long

Looking down our little street, you can see Roger's dead blue truck parked outside our place

Looking down our little street, you can see Roger’s dead blue truck parked outside our place, it’s next to the cream house on the corner

Roger has been tidying up the garden, pruning back all the fruit trees, berry bushes and boundary trees. I took this last weekend, he is in there somewhere. all of this along with all the others has been stacked into huge heaps, sorted into firewood, long straight branches to use for staking etc, all the finer stuff put onto next seasons garden spaces, it will kill all the weeds and shed its leaves directly onto the soil which he will then dig in. What remains to be burned will be done at the end of winter.DSC02271

I sit on a little step out the front on a nice morning to have my coffee. Everything is dying off but still a nice place to enjoy. This, down the front of the house, is the feeder trough we took out of the old shearing shed that was being pulled down. We grew strawberries in it.DSC02281We have heaps of Chillis growing in the glasshouse and I need to make more Chilli Sauce, I have made two batches so far and not liked either so if anyone has a tried and true recipe for Sweet Chilli sauce they would like to share….?

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Feijoas and Figs are still coming thick and fast. Most have been frozen but I have made lots of Feijoa and Walnut cakes, Feijoa and Fig crumbles and a large quantity of Feijoa Wine, which at this stage taste more like a cider than a wine – and a wickedly potent one at that! The Feijoas have been huge this year.DSC02246One of my readers and dear friend Linne (A Random Harvest) recently sent me money to buy stock to raffle for the people of Vanuatu, recovering from their cyclone. It raised $160 which was awesome, thank you so much Linne. Another here, who I feel would rather remain nameless, gave a very generous donation to a fund for them and I thank her on behalf of our friends there xx you lovely ladies.

DSC02222When I do my wrappings I make alot of mistakes and have been frustrated at the waste involved so decided to try and recycle those mistakes. My first effort at handmade paper drying in the sun, it has dried Calendula petals and Lemon Verbena in it. I wanted to experiment with something I have plenty of before I use precious Rose petals etc….I need lots of practice!

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Other than that I am still busy making soap etc, seeing to Freeconomy which now has nearly 750 members, still drying herbs and flowers and working a little. We have had another spate of quakes so all our stuff has been taken down and lies around the outsides of the rooms, the house looks a mess but better than risking losing everything again. My heart goes out to the people of Nepal who have lived with such terror and lost so much, I can’t imagine what life is like for them these past few weeks!

I almost forgot to say – tomorrow Syd starts his new job as a rest home visitor, a petting dog. I am hoping we both enjoy it!IMG_3178

The frightening increase of Autism…projections of 1 in 2 children being born with it by year 2025

I read an article a few weeks back and it has just sat in my mind until yesterday when I commented on someone’s blog, it actually scares the hell out of me. This IS REAL and the consequences are mind blowing.

Autism rates have grown hugely over the last 50 years, this chart shows it’s increase since the 70’s, it is now thought to be as common as 1 in 68 children are affected by it.

At the current rate it is projected by researcher Stephanie Seneff half of all American children will be autistic by the year 2025, read here. There is no reason to expect it to be any different in other (particularly) Western countries.

The year 2025 is not some year pulled from a science fiction movie, it is 10 years away. The consequences of this are tragic and it’s happening. These are our next generation of peoples – these are who will care for our elderly, protect our countries, be our next generation of parents IF they become parents, these will be our citizens of the 21st century. I am not being discriminatory here about Autistic children – I met a 13 year old boy a couple of months ago who was extremely intelligent and a very charming boy. The reality for his parents is constant behavioural issues, needing to relocate because they can’t get adequate help for him, he is constantly bullied at school, he has social problems, huge anxiety and obsessions and much as his parents love him dearly and are great parents, they also have 5 other children and it’s a huge stress for them. I work as a mental health support worker and know that the children’s mental health team has grown in size very quickly to cope with the growing numbers of those coming through with Autism and Aspergers – this impacts on lives, a projection of 1 in 2 in ten years time is a huge impact on our society as we have known it.

Much has been said about the vaccination of our children causing the sharp rise in numbers, Seneff discusses the use of glyphosate in our agriculture, even birth control pills are thought to be to blame – there are many views on why but whatever the reason it all comes down to our use of CHEMICALS in many/every area of our lives. I watched a trailer for a movie the other day in which a man stated “of the 30,000 chemicals known to be in use in our world today only 1 % has been tested for safety by independent researchers”. 30,000!!! We make food from chemicals and package it in chemicals – we bathe in chemicals, we feast on them, we inhale them, we smother them on our skin, we are prescribed them when sick, we pollute our natural resources with them, our air is full of them… our lives are being affected in ways we haven’t been willing to acknowledge by our exposure to them, these numbers don’t lie.

And for anyone who trusts that our lifestyle has no bearing on our high and quickly growing incidence of autism there’s this – autism in the Amish is 1 in 10,000,

1 in 2 children is a disturbing reality for me and it needs to be a wake up call for all. These are our children, our grandchildren…this is our projected future of only ten years. We each need to start shopping smart and educating ourselves….we need to push chemicals into extinction by the way we spend, by the choices we make – each of us, all of us. Can you really imagine our world at the end of our own lifetime with increasing statistics like this?

Autumn Harvests

I seem to have gone right through summer with only one or two posts, I apologise for my absence at the busiest time of the year for a garden blog – it’s just been crazy busy here. Most of my computer time is taken up with the Freeconomy Facebook page these days and I feel it’s important to keep up with that.

While the bottom vege garden is being put to sleep for winter the fruit trees and bushes have been giving us a huge amount of fruit – we have peaches, figs and all sorts of berries coming in bucket loads. I am freezing most of this, have made jams but no bottling of fruit this year – though I have made a batch of peach wine (I will post the recipe for this when I find out if it’s ok)

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This is what my benches look like every couple of days!

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We have harvested around 4 kgs of honey from the hives but have left heaps there for the bees for winter. I found an easy way to extract, covering an oven tray with aluminium mesh, cutting all the honey and comb out of the screen and placing on the mesh, put in the oven on around 50 deg C (barely warm) and the honey melts into the pan leaving the wax behind.

The herb garden is nearly empty and much of it sitting dried in boxes or hanging on two old clothes airers – what the lady of the houses uses when hubby is too busy to make a rack for her!

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The green hedges around the front have all grown up now creating the privacy we wanted.

DSC02214What else we have been doing: Roger is enjoying being back building and is doing an adult apprenticeship (did I mention that?) so he has been studying. He has also had some great scores from stuff that has been headed for dumps – a huge amount of school library shelving came home and has been shared out amongst his mates. He has lined his basement workshop with it and it’s now very orderly and tidy! He also got a great pile of insulation that was going to be thrown out and he has put it both underfloor and topped up the attic with it. He has been working on the water feature and finally got it standing, it was too heavy to lift on his own.

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With leftover concrete he made this on an old beehive tray I scavenged two years ago. In January we went to a family reunion at the site of the old homestead his mother was raised in and he took an old piece of barbed wire and a piece of chimney rock, they are in the middle here.

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Our truck has broken down so I am sort of stranded at home during the weeks, unable to work because I can’t get there. I can’t get to the markets either though my sister kindly offered to sell stuff for me at her market up North. Also all my products are now in our community office which sells local crafts. I have been doing the garden, preserving all the food (we have two large full freezers for winter) making sauces, chutneys and jams. Making a heap of soaps etc and trying to declutter by giving stuff to Freeconomy. All my soaps and creams are generally left downstairs which is a pain so I converted a little desk with it’s drawers and cupboards to a little store of things closer to hand. ???????????????????????????????

We are still intending on having a shop here so are moving in that direction…when all the food stops coming in and only the front garden producing again it gives more time for other things.

So, that’s what we are up to, I haven’t disappeared…still around :) I hope those of you going in to Spring are enjoying the warmer weather and those of you heading towards winter have your firewood at the ready!

Help needed for the people of Vanuatu

I have written several posts in the past talking about our friends from Vanuatu and a couple of my blogging friends have kindly emailed me to ask if they can help them in some way. Yes please, if you can!

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Vanuatu is a group of 80 islands in the Pacific ocean, many of the men from Vanuatu come to NZ to work as seasonal workers in our vineyards and fruit orchards, this is how we came to know a group of them – they worked with Roger in a vineyard and for the past four years we have got to know them and learn more about them.  A post I did for Eco-grandma aka Living Simply Free about the men we know.

The majority of Islanders are unemployed, their jobs are “gardeners” which means they simply grow their food, their homes are dwellings built from what is available on community land. They fished and ate from fruit and coconut trees that grew prolifically on their islands – now destroyed by the cyclone. Their lives are humble, they are humble. Because there is so little employment there there are little taxes paid, their government is poor – education costs nearly $300 a term and that is why the men come here, so their children can be educated and the men are proud of their ability to do this for their children, it’s a huge thing for them. Most of the men are now returning home to help there, to go back (with less money than they hoped to earn) to no homes, no food, no government assistance. Aid has been slow to reach them, made worse by the fact there are so many islands, many communities live quite remotely.

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Seasonal workers await news from Vanuatu

We are unable to get in touch with those men we know however ALL the people’s of Vanuatu need help – these people think as one, their community, their beloved country and they would want help for all not just them – so, I am asking here please donate if you can, even $5 to the Red Cross or Unicef to help them. There has also been a page set up at Givealittle for Marlburians to send a large container of building materials and though I know none of you live here I do know this money is going straight to this cause so adding it here: http://givealittle.co.nz/cause/marlboroughassistsvanuatu/donations

A newspaper article about this fundraising

A 4 minute radio discussion from John Campbell, one of our journalists who is there now.

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Herbal Folklore

quarteracrelifestyle:

As a follow up to yesterdays post I thought I would share this :)

Originally posted on Sanctuary Gardener:

Fantasy forest house via 1ms.net SG

Tuesday evening, I attended my first meeting of the South Carolina Herbal Society here in Charleston. Because I’m very interested in learning about herbs and herbal medicine, I brought my membership form and annual fee with me. After the first meeting, I can already say that it is going to be worth it! The leader of the meeting is an experienced herbalist, and she shared for an hour and a half on herbal folklore. As we know, there is usually a thread of truth underlying “old wives’ tales” or folklore, so it was interesting to learn how people used herbs centuries ago. Although she couldn’t possibly touch on every herb and its folklore in that short period of time, she did speak about the most common herbs. I’d like to now share with you some of what I learned.

I took pages and pages of notes during the meeting, writing furiously to…

View original 1,491 more words

Autumn and the Herb Garden

I cannot believe it’s the first week of Autumn here, summer seems to gone so fast! We have had a very dry summer, officially reaching drought conditions a month ago and there have been fires in our area this summer for the first time in quite a few years. With Autumn comes the dying off of the garden and I have been busy preserving all the herbs as they also reach their end. This year we extended the herb garden with our last ornamental garden pulled out and planted. I LOVE the herb gardens and learning more about their uses – love cooking with them, using them in soaps and herbal creams and skincare….I still have much to learn but I really enjoy it! This year we have had Mint, Soapwort, Parsley, Feverfew, Nasturtiums, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Peppermint, Comfrey, Basil, Lemon Verbena, Echinacea, Rosemary, Tarragon, Calendula, Thymes, Oregano, Don Quai, Sage and Chives and I have also been collecting wild plants and weeds like Borage, Dandelion, California Poppy, Plantain etc. I don’t grow Lavender yet but I will next year. With a friend down the road with a lavender hedge and a sister with a lavender farm there seems little need right now to grow it.

French Tarragon

French Tarragon

I love using these fresh but need them throughout the year so I have been drying them all, the kitchen herbs are in jars in the pantry, the ones I use for soaps etc stored in many paper bags and boxes.

Chamomile

Chamomile

Last week while out picking Sage and Rosemary I had the great? idea of trying smudge sticks (I am all fingers and thumbs so found these a little fiddly to begin with) A quick look on-line gave me the instructions and these are my first attempts. One thing worth noting if you ever decide to try them – they shrink ALOT. Don’t tie off your ends of string as you will probably need to re-tie them but these are lovely to make and smell gorgeous.

Smudge

Smudge

What can be made from the herb garden excites me and if you have ever thought you would like to grow and experiment with them I urge you to do it – I read about them for years but never really did much about it, they are beautiful to use.

Herbal toner

Herbal toner

 

Dandelion & Calendula

Dandelion & Calendula

I am sorry to see the end of the herb growing season and have been rushing to dry everything….the poor garden is looking rather empty now….tomorrow I will be taking all the basil and making pesto to freeze. I also like to freeze fresh herbs in olive oil in ice cube trays, rosemary, basil and oregano are nice done this way. I had plans to make some seasoned salts too but they are at least dried and I can do this later in the season when not so busy. It’s also a time of seed saving though early days yet.

The front porch seat where things are put to dry

The front porch seat where things are put to dry

Mid January we went away for the weekend and passed through the city where the lovely Gallivanta lives (a fellow blogger) She had told me to drop in if we were down that way as she had a book for me. She had two as it happened and they are lovely ones too :) I very much appreciated them and though I haven’t had time to sit and read too much I know through Autumn and winter I will have my nose stuck in these!

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AND, though I really didn’t need the extra work and had to think long and hard about it I started another blog two days ago to be added to my shop site when I can figure out how to do that. On this blog I have always kept to more frugal ideas and recipes but this new one has the recipes for what I sell. Two reasons for doing this…they are nice! and they also show the work and expense that goes into making nice products for sale. Though not exactly cheap to make many use flowers, herbs, weeds and wildflowers so if you are interested in making your own skincare and home products I invite you to follow me here https://www.tumbleweedsnaturals.wordpress.com/  – It is VERY new and you will recognise a couple of recipes I have shared here at quarteracre.