In january of 2011, Our family of five (now 6) lived off garden produce from our suburban front yard for one week, and we didn't loose any weight...unfortunately. It was an experience that changed the way we thought about food and the value of a suburban garden. Since then we have extended our sustainable food production beyond our suburban front yard, and into our local community and neighbourhood, beginning a community orchard and local food swap. One front yard just isn't enough!
The Rolling Stones were wrong when they said "I can't get no satisfaction". Obviously they didn't succeed in baking their own home-made bread, re-building a vegetable garden out of bessa blocks, planting a nectarine tree, sow approximately 40 varieties of fruit and vegetables and looking after a newborn and two kids and still have time to sit down and blog about it...yeah eat that rolling stones...write a song about that!!!
Now that we are done boasting, satisfaction we realise, comes at a price. Perhaps it is the recent sleep deprivation that caused Joe to become emotionally bi-polar over the past three weeks, riding the highs and lows that come with re-building a vegetable bed whilst trying to do his share of entertaining the kids. The poor man suffered several setbacks over the past three weekends.
Weekend 1: At 7 am Joe began supremely confident and optimistic that he would have 20 sq m of vegetable gardens laid and all things planted by afternoon tea.
At 8:46 am Joe was still trying to level his first brick, becoming somewhat agitated at G who insisted on handing him every earth worm she found.
End of weekend one, the front yard looked like a war zone, half of garden bed one built, husband on edge of despair and drowning his sorrows in a couple of home brews whilst new born did her 5th explosive poo after I had just changed her again...
next weekend will be better.
the sweet potatoes that we dug up from the old garden beds..a good 5 kg and yummy.
Weekend 2: We had prepared a working bee to lift Joe's spirits. Family and friends were recruited. On the morning of thunderous clouds accumulated above and the premature executive decision was made at 8:30 am to cancel the bee. By 9:03 there was not the skimpiest, single cloud to be seen. When we made the recall of the troops everyone had made alternative plans except for Steve (brother-in-law), our solo garden bed building hero.
When Steve arrived, it rained again.. actually it hailed.
12:27pm: Working bee officially cancelled, garden bed one 3/4 finished.
Weekend 3, Saturday morning: Joe has a 'man cold', sore back, and very bad attitude yet labours on stoically. 11:45 am Joe convinces himself that I am trying to sabotage the F.F.F.C. by intentionally feeding the newborn at clearly inconvenient times and sending the other two children out into the front yard to cause pestilence on my behalf...enough is enough. 12:00 pm Joe is put back in his place and apologised shortly there after.
worm hunt continues
Sunday : Joe adopts a new approach. 6:00 I get to sleep in, have coffee brought to me in bed. 10:30: Joe takes two kids for a two hour bush walk and picnic lunch whilst I read a mag in the sun and do some weeding.1:30 Joe gets time in the front yard to finish the first garden bed, plant the nectarine tree and chop the firewood.4:00pm garden bed one is successfully completed...satisfying....only two more to go!
Speaking of satisfaction, this week Joanna made some hot buns.... bread buns, that is. This week, we thought we would get busy in the kitchen and make some bread as a practice run for the challenge week. Making bread is dead easy. Sure you can buy a tip top loaf if you like, but bread buttered straight out of the oven is all together a very different experience, that doesn't leave you feeling bloated and guilty. We made a mix of flour, grains, yeast and water within minutes, and after letting the dough rest, it was in the oven in no time.
As soon as Aldi's has pasta makers on sale again, I will camp outside the nearest store to make sure we don't miss out again. We are super keen to make some home made pasta, but alas, the last time Aldi's sold manual pasta making machines, they strangely sold out within minutes. Unfortunately the sale coincided with the height of the Master Chef hysteria. There is no other reasonable explanation as to why the people of Penrith suddenly decided to go gourmet and stock up on pasta makers.
This time around, in the garden, we have planted most of our vege in seedling trays while we complete the garden beds. This month we have planted Lebanese zucchini and cucumber, the worlds largest pumpkin, bohemian, butternut and QLD blue pumpkins, tigerella tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprout, capsicums, artichoke and sunflowers in seedling trays. We have also planted basil, parsley, asparagus, celery, coriander and shallots directly into the new bed.
In addition to the vegetable beds, we also laid some new flower beds throughout the front yard, planting poppies, marigolds, pansies, lavender, chamomile, swan river daisies, snap dragons, sweet peas and many more varieties to attract the bees and add some colour in spring.
we have more to plant next month, but we are both falling asleep at the computer... so, we will talk about that next week. hope you guys are all doing well. don't forget, next month (September) is the time to plant pretty much everything:
Basil, beans, beetroot, broccoli, capsicums, Carrots,. celery, chilies, chives, coriander, corn, cucumber, dill, eggplant, Leek, lettuce, Pak Choy, parsley, peanuts, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, Rock melon, Silverbeet, strawberries, Sunflower, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon, Zucchini, and many more.
So don't let another year pass. Spring has unofficially sprung.
the first buds of spring on our lovely new nectarine tree
There were 3 in the bed, and the daddy one said, " get out and go back to your room, its 5 in the morning! no sunshine! no sunshine! see???!"
While Jo and the new bub stayed in hospital for 6 days, I had the pleasure of staying at home and looking after the two chidlies. Surprisingly, I managed to feed them, bath them and even hang a load of washing out in the rain, however, i made the fatal error of letting N into bed one night, as he had a terrible cough (possibly consumption, I thought to myself), and within seconds my bed was overrun by both of them.
at 1am, G demanded that I read her a book (no, i didn't). at 3 am, G demanded to go to the toilet. From 3am to 3:30, G yelled repeatedly , "It wont come out, it wont come out, it wont come out!" At 4am, N got up to give G a drink of water to "help it come out". At 5am, I woke to find G holding my nose, and listened to the following conversation between N and G.
N: "Gramps said that if you dont eat and you dont breath, then thats it. Ptttttth, your dead!
N: "I dont know why, but you have to let go of dads nose, or he will die, and wont make us breakfast".
It was 5:30am and only day 3.
Anyway, if the opportunity ever arises for a Dad to spend a whole week with the kids, without mum, he should jump at the chance. Even though it was hard, I got to hang with my 2 year old daughter, scoot with her to the park, graciously loose too many games of chess, and teach my son how to loose graciously. Drop him at preschool, and discuss the intricacies of Bottle top Bill, Angelina Ballerina, and roary the racing car.
It also gave my kids an opportunity to get to know me, and for me to appreciate what Jo does every day. I am so happy to have my girls back home safe and sound.
...and I am happy to be here. Our beautiful baby girl is a delight, she seems to actually understand the concept of sleep, which is a new experience for us. She feeds, burps, sleeps and poos like clockwork, every 4 hours and that has meant that I get to have some sense of 'normal' which helps when, like this morning, I still need to get ppl fed and dressed, lunches made, washing on, and out the door to preschool by 8:45. How long this will last...well we'll see. Joe is highly sceptical, I on the other hand (being more of an optimist) just keep telling myself 'it might last, you deserve an easy one, that is just the way she is and will remain...for ever...damn it...!) up to day 10...
I came home to beautiful painted 'welcome home' signs, a mopped floor (still impressed) and the grocery shopping done. Joe did a great job. N and G have adjusted to life with their little sister though G wandered into today with a huge plastic cricket stump and a coy look on her face as she quietly tried to cross the kitchen in front of me, I was immediately suspicious, "What are you up to bubbles?"
G: "Just goin in to hit baby R with this"
Me: "No my lovey you're not, that would really hurt baby R, and make her cry and you don't want that to happen do you?"
To which she agreed (thank goodness)...but like I said, adjusting really well!
N calls the baby "Cutey Head" which he thinks is hilarious, so much so that he managed to fill his entire "news" time at preschool today with a discussion about why he calls his baby sister "Cutey Head".
anyway it is ten past 8, and we have to go to sleep... having the time of our lives!
next week will be filled with many garden delights as the first buds of spring have sprung and we are gettin busy for our challenge countdown.