It has been two years since we moved from city life to rural life. Two years!! Wow, I can’t believe that on Easter Monday 2013 it was our anniversary. I still remember the day when we made the purchase and signed the dotted line. When Andrew and I decided to move out of our Hobart two bedroom apartment from to the country, we never thought that we would be living on an island owning ten acres and learning to be 100% self sufficient. We thought we would buy one, maybe two acres and have a small vegetable patch and grow some of our own food.
We did look at a lot of places before we signed that line. However there was no place that caught our heart like the one that we are living in now.
So there is a lot to catch up on and tell you. If you have been following me on my Facebook page and my Instagram page I am pretty confident that you may be feeling like you are living with me. I will break this post down into a few parts because in a few days I will be able to introduce you to some very cute friends of mine…
For the last two years Andrew and I have been learning a lot about everything to do with living self-sufficient. From growing our own food, raising animals, the wonderful cycle of the seasons, nature, biolytix composting systems, electric fences and power.
We live off the grid and generate our own power by a wind turbine and solar. It has been a long learning curve with the power and half way through we started to have a lot of trouble with it. For some reason we were short-circuiting the fuse box and running out of power.
There were quite a few nights I would be walking out into the cold, down to the shed to run the generator so I could use some lights in the house just to wash up! I purchased a Vitamix and I can only use that when the sun is beaming onto the panels and the batteries are full to the brim. The Vitamix is the only appliance that will cut the power completely off. The good old Breville food processor runs like a dream.
We finally figured out what the problem was with having no power and it was due to the composting worm farm, our toilet system called the Biolytix. Our pipes had become blocked and the motor was not switching off when it should have. So it was actually drawing all our power out of the batteries. All fixed up, but it was a very frustrating and expensive time for us.
The upside is I have learnt a lot about off the grid systems and we purchased more solar panels…Bonus!
The second bonus is, I have learnt a lot about power consumption. And being consciously aware of how much power we can save by not using an electric kettle, down sizing our fridge, using only one light at a time or one appliance at a time. And I have become more aware of how much water I was actually wasting when living in the apartment. I know re-use and re-cycle our water.
We have on demand gas and when waiting for the hot water to come through there is quite a bit of cold that would be running down the drain. I now capture the water in a bucket and out it goes onto the garden. This is the same in the shower.
The bonus of living off the grid, saving water, being aware of water consumption and down sizing is – the realization of how power hungry we were in the apartment and how we could of saved quite a bit of money if we took the time to learn more.
There has been one major upset here on the property and that is when we lost all of our chooks to quolls. We have not had chooks for the last year because of the quolls. Quolls are atrocious for eating the chooks heads off and leaving the body. This is not at nighttime either. We locked our chooks up at night; it was actually during the day.
Our chook pen is about 600 metres away from the house and there is a lot of bracken fern around the pen so I think the quolls would hide in there until they were ready to pounce. Now you will have to wait but the exciting thing that’s about to happen in a few days time means I will be cooking my own eggs again.
To come from the city with zero experience and not knowing how to look after chooks, it was extremely upsetting that I had to bury my girls. It took a lot of courage to even pick the chooks up. A lot of tears and stomping back up the hill thinking I don’t want to do it anymore…
Thank god I didn’t listen to those thoughts when I was feeling down! Because I would not of been able to show you the next bit. My garden.
I am so in love with my garden (and being in my overalls). Andrew and I have been working really hard on making it productive and with the help and advice from the local community and my neighbours I am proud to say it is a success. We are eating all of our own food from the three vegetable gardens and drum roll please…Andrew and I are just about to start our very own market garden! Awesome!
So that will be part three of this Bruny Island update and I can’t wait to share it with you. In the last two years I have been super busy learning all about living simply and gardening. Rotating beds, compost, soil health, companion planting, bugs (good and bad), creating a healthy ecology system and organic farming. Add this to travelling to PNG twice and working in the background and planning the future of Primal Living. It has been a very busy couple of years.
Has it all been perfect? Nope. It has been damn hard. My pictures may show lots of pretty flowers and plants but I also want to tell you that its bloody hard work growing your own food, and for what we are trying to achieve it is a full time job. There are times that I walk outside and feel totally overwhelmed that I walk back inside, put on my sneakers and go for a walk or I grab a book, read or cook.
If I am not in the garden digging, planting and planning, I am preserving the excess produce and cooking up lots of yummy and nourishing meals for us and continuing reading and writing for Primal. Moving here and challenging ourselves has certainly made me stronger and has made me realise that if I need to get something done, I need to learn how to do it (with the help of my neighbours) and get in there and do it.
Farm life can really be hard, but would I have it any other way…. NO WAY. This life that we are creating for ourselves, the life of living self sufficient, living the primal way, the way before industrialisation is the life that we both want and will achieve.
I look back and see what we have already done in the two years we have been here and it deserves a big pat on the back. I think the only things that I have bought that I haven’t grown is sweet potato, avocadoes, fresh lemons and limes, garlic, ginger and eggs. Our meat that we serve up is our own pork and the lamb is from one of the farmers here on the island. All the other fruit and vegetables are either ours or it has come from our neighbours or one of the farms close by on the island
Bruny Island is a magical place; I am surrounded by a beautiful community who will do anything for you and I would do anything for them. Growing all our own food and nourishing our bodies with beautiful fresh and seasonal produce is so special that I want to do it for the rest of my life. I am also looking forward to inviting you here soon to be a part of this special place (another post)
When I put on my overalls to start my day out in the garden a sense of happiness comes over me. I feel so comfortable in my overalls and that’s where I know I am in the right place and I can achieve anything I want.
The other day I harvested all the tomatoes, red and green. I sat the green ones on my kitchen window seal and also hung them up in our shed to ripen. When I looked back at the beautiful fruit I wanted to cry. Yep, cry. Not because I had green tomatoes, but because my home was filled with fresh produce that I have grown with my own hands. My food that we are eating is not only recognisable but it is so nourishing for us.
All I think about now is the seasons, nature, being outside, growing food, cooking food, learning old ways and sharing it with you. Health could not be any more simple. I am avoiding the modern food system and returning to the culinary traditions of our ancestors and cooking and preserving food the way it is meant to be.
Life on Bruny the last two years has had its ups and downs but the good times have out weighed the bad times and the bad times I have learnt so much from. So really, they are not bad at all.
I have learnt a lot about myself to be able to grow, be strong and keep on learning. Never give up on your dream. My passions are to grow food, live off the land, inspire others to live and be well and fall in love with natural living. I can see my dreams and passions unfold in front of me. And that is exciting!!!!!
Thank you for reading and being apart of my journey. I hope I have inspired you to start a vegetable patch, ditch some of the foods that we can’t recognize and enjoy some natural living.
I will leave you with some beautiful photos of growing food. Remember I had zero experience with growing food. So I know that you can do it too.
Below is the beautiful clothes line of tomatoes. I started with a lot of green ones and it has been two weeks since we first hung them. I now have a lot of ripe tomatoes. WIN!I planted over 40 pumpkins and received a great crop. Only one was damaged.
My first ever potatoes I have grown and they taste amazing. Especially cooked in lard.
I would not know what to do without my awesome neighbours. They’re a wealth of knowldege.
Yep, I am very excited that I can grow big potatoes
I am amazed at how many potatoes you receive back when you only plant a few in the ground. Arhhh, mother nature. You’re amazing
We have had the best raspberry season. It is only now (late April) that they have stopped. There were lots of raspberry and cream bowls happening.
Most of the time I ate the raspberries straight off the cane. If I felt peckish, out I go and pick. Perfect morning tea!
I grew the most amazing sunflower plants. Every time I looked at them they made me smile. Now I will have heaps of sunflower seeds. Actually, writing that has just reminded me to go and put bags over the heads to catch the seeds. No need to buy sunflower seeds for awhile. Another WIN!!
I loved eating my greens beans. I ate them raw and used in stir-fry’s and soups. They were delicious. I still have more to pick. Awesome crop.
I grew some small, but yummy capsicums. They were so sweet. The spots on the leaves I am not sure what they’re and I need to do further investigation. By all means please comment below if you can help. Sharing the love is great for learning.
I didn’t receive a lot of broccoli. It went to seed very quickly. What I did grow was super yummy.
These tasted amazing. I only got a few but they were awesome and I can’t wait to grow them again.
My soil is clay. Next season I will combine clay with sand to help grow carrots straight. However these tastes so sweet. I loved eating them raw and made a couple of batches of carrot, ginger and turmeric soup.
Just look at these. They are so cute. The eggplants have not been picked yet. They’re very plump and I will be picking them in a few days time to make eggplant dip. Yum!
One thing I can do really well here is grow greens. Below is kale, silverbeet, rainbow chard and also celery hiding in the corner. I still have enough of all these greens to keep me going into autumn and winter. Having only planted more in the last week.
So there you have it. A few photos of what I grew last season. This was my spring, summer crop of 2014. I am super proud of what I have done.
You know, you can grow food too. You don’t need ten acres. If you have a front lawn, a balcony that receives sun, a backyard or even pots – you can grow your own food. Yay!
I would like to dedicate this blog post to every single gardener and farmer out there. I can now appreciate the hard work that you all do to bring real food to the table. You are all amazing and all deserve a thank you.
So from me to you, thank you. And to all of my community, please never stop supporting our local farmers and gardeners. Without them, our health and our planet would be in real trouble.
See you soon for part 2