A long overdue update from 1/4 acre.

6 months after my last post I thought it was time I did another! Sorry for my absence, it’s just felt a crazy year with actually very little going on by way of the garden so little to write about anyway.

I gave up work completely 4 months ago after a long stressful 18 months including workplace bullying by new management then losing this job I loved when I refused to sign a new contract, going to care for a woman with an illness and finding that very demanding in too many ways. Actually, I was just very stressed, very angry and very worn down. Wendy is back now 🙂 After a shit 2 years I am feeling much better in myself and I am no longer feeling like I wish the world would just bugger off and leave me alone. Many of you would recognise that feeling I am sure!

Anyway, Spring is here and there is lots going on. Though we got plenty from our garden last summer it was not maintained as well as previous years but we have been busy this past month getting it all back up and ready to plant. Roger put an extra raised garden in the front and we have been eating from both all winter. Last Summer/Autumn we filled 2 large freezers full of produce and still have enough for another two months and we will be doing that again this year.

My soap business is going well. I have opened a small shop in half our lounge (which I don’t really advertise yet) and we need to make signs for this.img_1160

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This is most of it but not all. My products are in a few outlets now and I was asked yesterday if I could supply an Organics/Naturals shop in town they they move into a larger shop in a month or two. I am so excited about this one, not only because it’s probably the busiest outlet but because she is also interested in any produce we can grow. We have been sprayfree for four years and there is little in the way of sprayfree and organic produce in town, she has been unable to source local. I guess this is why the blog post today – finally, if you hang in there, it becomes possible to earn money off a not huge piece of land! The downside is Roger doesn’t have alot of spare time these days and it will be my job to do this alongside the soapmaking etc. Isn’t it good then, the timing coincides with me managing to get over myself! 🙂 It going to be verrrryy busy. An extended herb garden is also growing well but with increased sales means increased everything and I will need more.

One thing that I am sure has helped alot this past month has been trying flower oils for healing. I read about flower essence oils where they run along the same idea as Bach Flower Remedies but – those have never really appealed to me as a viable healing modality so I upped it. If liquids hold the “memory” of flowers surely there is better, researched flowers solarised in oils (as I read about) but for long periods for truer value. Here to tell you this DOES work! but needs to be well researched for personal needs. Oils are then massaged in and absorbed that way.

Some of you have asked about baby Catherine, my granddaughter, and how she is doing. Catherine was born blind due to congenital cataracts (actually the worst the surgeon had ever seen) She was operated on and now has wee glasses but any improvement has been slow and full of unknowns. Catherine also has challenging brain issues, she has had an awful time with seizures which are thankfully more controlled now, her future prognosis is not for a long life. This child is beautiful and her parents are incredible and along with her big sister they are a loving and tight family unit prepared for the challenges which lay ahead.13718552_1276870595657601_6454521658151308789_n

Other than all this I have been keeping an close interest in the state of politics both in this country and of course America – none of which I am discussing here because I am prone to ranting but far out, this is a crazy and fraught world right now, isn’t it?! One nice thing though is last weekend I met a lovely group of people who were doing a 400 km walk and a 3.5 hr ferry trip to protest at Parliament about the TPPA. The leader of the group was a mother whose was joined by her 3 kids aged from 5 to 11 – they walked that whole distance! What an education for those kids, aren’t they going to grow up to be the doers of our next generation 🙂

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Autumn, a time of unrelenting Feijoas!

I am short on time now today but decided I had too many photos stacking up for my blog that needed to be used so this is more a pictorial than anything 🙂 We have actually had great harvests this year and a beautiful Autumn that is only now beginning to get a wee bit cold. I have increased my hours at work again temporarily to 26 hrs a week and have been busy doing other things so my preserving has been down to nearly zilch – bar two batches of tomato sauce & 3 buckets of Feijoa wine, everything else has been frozen this year. we have two big upright freezers full of all sorts!

I did want to show you what every couple of days looks like here though.

We have had food enough to feed Africa for months. Our feijoa trees just haven’t stopped for weeks and we have given dozens of kilos away plus I have also made wine with 15 kgs of them – off two (not huge) trees!

Roger has put in another raised garden out the front and the big garden is going to just become an orchard. Two reasons for this, time and inability to keep the thing weeded – mowed around fruit trees and berries is alot easier. The herb garden has been extended and growing well.

Also, we are working towards opening a soap shop in our lounge, this opens straight onto the front porch so easy access. NZ has alot of home based shops and businesses so we will join the ranks. We will have handmade soaps, balms, vintage and rustic furnishings because that’s what we love and have/make. We have a long way to go but have started at least.

We were fortunate to get this shelf unit from the free site I run, it was a kitchen cabinet unit and Roger has removed the cupboard doors. It is full of junk right now and not ready, just wanted to show it. It’s four shelves deep and four across, takes up nearly a whole wall and I was so pleased to get it.IMG_0948

Our couches will be shifted to the dining room as there is only generally the two of us but will be plenty of room, we think we might be ready in a month…..!!!!

So, I haven’t been blogging, haven’t been doing all I used to do but have still been busy doing.

The Self Seeding Vegetable Garden

Just a short post because though I have mentioned this before, I don’t think I have ever photographed it to show.

Our lettuces, silverbeet (chard) and broccoli self seed, we haven’t bought seeds or seedlings for years. This front raised garden runs the width of the front section, this is much longer than the photo suggests. Every summer we leave our self sewn seedlings in and will plant beetroot etc in amongst them, we also leave a couple of plants of everything again go to seed mid summer. By end of summer this is what the garden looks like – this is full (actually overfull) of free food.

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We managed to grow some unintended pumpkins in here this year so they are being trained to wander over the sides and down onto the lawn. Also some tomato plants popped up. The loose-leaf lettuce are being eaten now with lots of new ones still popping up, the silverbeet nearly ready and will last months, the broccoli maybe another month, some carrots in here will be another 2 months, the pumpkins and tomatoes may be another 3 months away. By end of autumn it will have vegetables again going to seed and they germinate with the warmth of the following late Spring.

Our big vegetable garden down the back grew a heap of silverbeet and carrots this way this year.

We keep alot of organic matter up to this garden, along with worm castings etc,  to enbable us to grow this way – it’s fertile and loose.

 

A New Year

Happy New Year and I hope everyone had a  lovely Christmas 🙂 xx I, for one, am glad to see the back of 2015 lol, realllyyy hoping for a more stable year this year!

My great intentions of keeping up here has completely gone by the wayside….again! A few of you have been inquiring of me so I thought an update was well overdue, thanks so much ladies for your thoughts 🙂

Family first! My wee granddaughter due mid Feb has been doing VERY well and developing far better than was first expected. From being advised to terminate they are now expecting her to have only quite minor issues really in comparison – though she will still be delivered at the national children’s hospital they are expecting few complications and possibly only a minor surgery to her heart after birth, cognitive problems are not expected to be as major as first thought but they don’t really know the extent at this stage. All in all, looking far better and we are all feeling much more relaxed and waiting, waiting…… 🙂

Work: I got a new job through a friend, just a smallish one caring for a woman with a degenerative illness, I quite like it and it was a relief to have found it. Roger is still working for himself and has plenty of work now the holidays are over. We are feeling pretty positive about this new year, things have certainly started well enough 🙂 Tumbleweeds Soaps had a busy Christmas period and I am getting better known locally which is neat. I am going to focus this year on building on that as much as possible and will build up a good supply to have a small informal shop here downstairs, not quite as we planned but do-able.

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The Garden: Forever changing to become more manageable 🙂 The vege garden became so vast it was really hard to keep up with and Roger has decided to cut it back to 3 raised gardens, the rest will all be in fruit trees, berries etc. We have found out we can grow two varieties of Avocados in this area so are about to buy two trees, these grow huge so some other no-edible trees will have to be removed including our big old gum tree which will give us a heap of firewood instead. Our raspberries have gone beserk this year and for a month we have been picking 3 containers full every day or two. We are guessing we have picked around 50 kg so far. The vege garden has been productive again this year but I have done no preserving as yet, other than freezing berries. The herb garden has grown again with new plantings of the better used ones.

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We still have berries and fruit from last season to use up but nearly there. Not sure why Roger took this, but anyway!

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House: This was our Christmas present to ourselves, a run down dresser that had been used as a workshop bench and we weren’t quite sure if retrievable but bought it anyway, $52 from an online auction.IMG_0669This thing weighs a ton and how Roger manages to get this sort of stuff on and off trucks and into our house I don’t know, he is only a little guy! It was sanded down with an electric sander as it was in a really bad way but finally ready to come inside and we are pretty pleased with it.IMG_0675Ran out of wax so I had to make more – I am not so keen on varnishes and stains but a homemade furniture polish is bringing it up lovely.

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One little door needs a repair so that still needs to go on and one more coat of polish should bring it up nicely. Two drawer handles will be replaced at some stage. Strangely it has a mixture of different timbers which was hard to see under all the grease and paint.

Freeconomy: The local group I set up has remained constant at around 1500 members and is well used. It takes a bit of time but now members have figured out what it’s all about it is pretty hassle free. I am so glad I started it now, my first year had it’s complications but it’s great now.

I hope the New Year is a favourable one for all 🙂

So… maybe I will just be a soap maker :)

Hi all – sorry I have been away in my mind this year!

It has been a stressful year at work but all that has ended now after I didn’t sign a new contract, I am now unemployed. I loved my job, loved our team but the management has been awful and while some staff signed contracts under duress to keep their jobs 2 of us wouldn’t. Roger has no work either, however he has found private building jobs to do and has quite a bit lined up, we are hopeful he will keep getting enough to not have to go back to paid employment – his work kept running out and he decided he needed to source his own so left. Our 3 year plan of working for ourselves just came up and slapped us in the face two years prematurely but…we will survive I am sure 🙂

Workplace stress has taken up my whole year, through my attachment to my place of work and the people there I have just kept going feeling quite committed to seeing it through, however the last few months has had me wondering WHY? There are some life things that can’t be changed and they are the stuff of real life. My son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby together and are 6 months pregnant with my second granddaughter. The wee bub has a serious heart issue and presently unknown brain abnormalities. While we wait to see if she survives pregnancy, birth and subsequent heart ops this is very real life. Workplace stress, even with all the best intentions in the world, is needless drama – I could choose to say no more and walk away, life will go on.

What it means though is I have to make a living from what I can do right now and I have been busy making all sorts, I can’t deny foraging the countryside for flowers is feeling much better for me the last few days 🙂

Calendula, California Poppy and Violets

Calendula, California Poppy and Violets

Lots of soaps and different balms have been made and my first order went to the Winery. Woohoo!

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I am already planning my next post on the therapeutic herbs I grow, so that’s a good sign considering how Away I have been 🙂

The garden is all in and alot more fruit trees were bought this year, Roger is going to try espelier down the whole back driveway. The fruit and berries we froze last season have lasted us all year. We have used 3 different types every day for smoothies and still have alot left, enough to last till the first new berries etc. When you get to have raspberry, fig and peach (or similar) smoothies all year around on what you have grown in summer that’s pretty cool! We still have pumpkins, garlic, frozen vegetables, chutneys and sauce to last so while I didn’t appear to have much to post about last summer in reality we did better than the year before by just freezing everything instead of so much bottling of sweetened fruit we never ended up using because Wendy is not so keen on cooking these days – I think winter puddings are a thing of the past well and truly!

An update on Angus etc – they are all doing great and getting along fine 🙂 This little guy brings us so much pleasure, he is such a happy, joyful wee dude.

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Spring is Here ….and Soapy Business!

I haven’t posted for ages and apologise for that, I have had a few emails and messages asking if all is ok. Well, it’s been a stressful year through one thing and another but we are good and still rolling.

Garden: Is mostly planted now for the summer garden and Roger is on the ball this year after having an easier summer of it last year. He has planted early and covering at night from the odd frost that still hits. A large area has been planted with potatoes, these are planted early in the season to fight a pest we get in this area through summer. It destroys potatoes but only comes with the warmer weather. Beetroot, carrots, lettuces, onions, garlic (planted mid winter) broccolli, silverbeet and beans are all in, tomatoes are in the glasshouse and under shelter in the garden, two good compost heaps are ready for pumpkins to go in, corn will be back this year once potatoes come out. All the berries are set to go, all the fruit trees starting to blossom 🙂 Summer’s a coming!!! We gave our chooks away a few weeks back, we had a large area for the four chooks that were left and decided we could do more with that area.  Two chickens were no longer laying but all four were rehomed to a lovely couple to add to their collection of critters.

Freeconomy: There are nearly 1400 members now on our Facebook page and it’s going really well 🙂 I love watching this group at work and though there are occasional dramas it’s nothing that can’t be sorted easily really. We are planning a social event, a clothing swap but this has been in planning mode for some time, life just gets too busy or complicated for all.

Work: Meh! Roger has had periods of not enough work and mine has been stressful but we plod away.

Tumbleweeds Soaps: Some great news here! I have my first wholesale customer and I couldn’t be happier with who it is 🙂 Yealand’s Estate Winery is 5 minutes up the road and they grow organically and the first totally sustainable wine growers in the country, they are big and they are world famous. The guy who owns this is a legend in this area for retaining his humble manner and his ethos.

Yealand's Estate Winery, Awatere Valley, NZ

Yealand’s Estate Winery, Awatere Valley, NZ

They are going to be selling my products in the cellar door shop!

Cellar Door Shop

Cellar Door Shop

We had been planning towards opening a shop here at home but time and money were making that slow going, quite frankly this is a great opportunity and we both feel very lucky! And I am going to be busy…busy!

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3 Quote Challenge

Lois, the Eco Grandma invited me to take part in this 3 Quote Challenge where we share 3 quotes we love and then tag 3 others to do the same, thank you Lois 🙂 I am going to change this a little (because life is about breaking all the rules!) and invite anyone else who wants to to share their favourite quotes in the comments.

As a collector of quotes I had a hard time choosing only 3 but I have settled on these 3.

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I work as a support person for sufferers of mental illness, I once struggled greatly with my own. Sufferers live their lives with judgement, stigma and ridicule for who they are and yet I know through spending many years talking to them they are amongst the most sensitive and humble people on the planet. They are wounded through the actions of others, they have stories wanting telling of abuse, heartache and shattered self image because of mistreatment by others. They are articulate, often very intelligent and they care…about each other, the world and the chaos they see everywhere. To me, they “get it”. We live in a crazy world where the people who see it as crazy are thought to be the crazy and the people who can’t see it are the “normal”. We ARE a profoundly sick society and anything more said about that will appear a rant and purely my own opinion so I shall leave that there, but hell’s bells…our world is a mess!

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At the end of my life I would like to have as few regrets as possible over how I treated others, whether it’s family and friends or my fellow man and I would hate for my actions to cause something someone would remember forever. I am nowhere near perfect in this, for all my striving I am as pigheaded and obnoxious as the next person but I do know it’s important to at least always TRY to be kind if I can manage it. We never know where others are at or what they have been through. That is one thing I have noticed on social media, how unkind people can be 😦 Society has a terrible problem with bullying these days, I just find that awful and wonder where it all comes from, the spite and hatred for someone we barely know or don’t know at all. I guess I am just old enough to remember the days where people were actually nice to each other and to see how things have changed!

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🙂 This speaks to me in a way no other does, because she is my truth. Messy hair, wobbly crown, no, definately not a princess. I don’t need saving because I always have the shit handled – in my own weird & poorly executed fashion I can do anything, if I just knew what it was! It’s always a reminder not to take things too seriously because the Queen of Chaos that is me always survives and that’s the important thing. Life is a merry-go-round and if I happen to be the one not sitting in a safe position but hanging onto the rail screaming as it goes around, well, I guess that’s just who I am and I shall have to be content with that!