Saturday, 9 August 2014

Simple living

Occasionally we host group tours here on our little farm. It all started a few years ago when we received a phone call from the Deaf Society in Adelaide. They were planning their monthly bus trip outing, had heard that we sold honey direct from the farm & wanted to call in for a look at what we've got here.  I really didn't think we had much to show them, but welcomed them anyway. They asked to have morning tea here, so that was a start. We had a month to prepare so we gathered our thoughts & made a plan.
Finally the day came & we waited nervously for their arrival. All forty six of them. The morning tea trestle tables set up on the verandah were stacked with home made goodies, the urn was boiling, the coffee plungers were ready & some chairs were placed around.  What a sight it was to see the huge bus pull up outside our gate. Rather overwhelming. What had we done?
First they had a cuppa & something to eat. I made shortbread from my home made butter from our house cow which was a talking point, & also some Anzac biscuits. A simple morning tea that was much appreciated as it was all made from scratch. Tea was made in tea pots & coffee made in plungers.
Our old milk separator is permanently set up on the verandah so we separated a bucket of that morning's milk to demonstrate the workings of this ingenious contraption. Extracting the cream from the milk was a huge hit.
From there we started walking around the farm & talked about grafting of fruit trees, the keeping of pigs, the smoking of bacon, hams & sausages, & the management of fowls for meat & eggs. Across the paddock to the shearing shed where we had a couple of sheep & two alpacas penned for close inspection, into the dairy & milking parlour where they could see the workings there although we didn't do a milking demonstration. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, our cows aren't very sociable with strangers & it could have been dangerous.
Then we went on to the honey shed to show the equipment we use for extracting the honey. Once again, there was no actual demonstration for safety purposes.
There were jars of honey for purchase & plenty of my home made jams on sale as well which sold like hot cakes.
The bus driver started tooting the horn of the bus & it was time for them to depart.  They had spent just over two hours here & all agreed that it wasn't enough time.
The cost to the group back then was $5 per head. After taking out our expenses for the tea & coffee we put all the money from the morning tea in an envelope & donated it back to them. The Deaf Society was a worthy cause to support with the profits.
Since then we've hosted many gardening groups & various clubs using the same formula.   The proceeds are used for our charity work in Nepal.
If we hadn't been prompted we would never have thought we had enough  to interest visitors, but the opposite proved to be true & we have raised quite a lot of money for assisting families in Nepal.
So I would urge others to think outside the square. Maybe you also have something to share with interested visitors whether for raising money for charity or for supplementing your income.
I wrote up an information sheet for visitors to take away with them which I'll share with you here.
                                   Willing participants at our latest Bio-dynamic workshop.

Welcome to our little patch.
Purchased in 2004 & with the house in a derelict state we set out our three main priorities.
1- Remove ugly dead pine trees at the front & replant a screen of trees.
2- Establish a vegetable garden.
3- Erect some basic fencing so we could raise some sheep & hens for our own meat & eggs.
All other additions, dairy, shearing shed, stock yards, sheds etc have evolved in the following years as time & money permitted.
After those priorities were in place we started renovating the house to make it comfortable & energy efficient while retaining the size & character of the old place.
Solar panels were installed & as we are frugal with our use of electrical gadgets they produce more power than we use, thus receiving a yearly cheque from our supplier.
A wood burning heater in the living area warms the house & wood burning kitchen stove for cooking & warmth almost year round. When the temp goes above 25degrees we use the gas stove.

The house was built in 1911 from stone, has high thermal mass & with wise management we enjoy comfortable temperatures year round.
Heating with wood from sustainable sources during winter keeps us warm & closing the doors & windows during hot summer days keeps us cool. Ceiling fans, canvas outdoor blinds, wide verandahs, & deciduous plantings add to our comfort. Air conditioning was installed but is rarely needed.
Rain water tanks capacity of 120,000litres provides all our needs for the house, garden & stock water troughs.
Grey water from the laundry & bathroom gravity feeds to water our fruit trees & vegetable gardens.
We make our own soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent, skin lotions & deodorant using no chemicals.
Growing most of our fruits & vegetables organically & making everything from scratch, no fast foods or convenience processed foods.
All our meat is grown here on the property to our ethical, humane standards & organic practices. Most of the meat is butchered on farm to reduce stress on the animals & improve the eating quality.
Two milking cows provide all of our dairy needs year round - milk, yoghurt, cheese, butter, cream, icecream.
Baby pigs are purchased in Sept each year, fed on milk & scraps, & slaughtered in February.

Sheep & cattle for meat & a small income from Merino wool.
Fowls for eggs & meat. Bees for honey & pollinating the garden & orchard.
Fruit trees for jams, preserves & fresh fruit. Animal manures feed the methane digester to provide enough gas for running the barbeque a couple times a week during summer.
We prefer to use herbs, vitamins & organic foods instead of medicines & chemicals for ourselves & animals.
Paddock management, stock rotation, & access to beneficial herbs keeps parasites & worm burdens under control.
Composted animal manure, liquid fertilisers & bio-dynamic preparations are all made on farm & used throughout. Bio-char & bone-char made in Brian's home built burner for feeding the gardens & paddocks.
A contractor cuts & bales our hay & we cut our own chaff.
Our gardens reflect the way we live & the plants we grow need to survive the challenges we face here; pests (earwigs & millepedes), hot dry summers & severe frosts to name a few. Weeds have their place & we've learned to be a bit more relaxed about them. In the wetter months we enjoy the lushness & colour but accept the dryer times for what they are & don't water excessively. Seasons!
All proceeds from Farm Tours & Jam sales are used for our Nepal Family Assistance Projects.
"Living simply so that others may simply live"
Tours with morning or afternoon tea are available year round.
Bookings required.  Min 5 people.

I've been watching the stats for this blog & today have reached 1,302 page views from places as far flung as UK, USA, Ukraine, Finland, Poland, Germany, NZ, Russia & France.
This seems unfathomable to this self confessed, tech challenged amateur.  So, if you've happened along to find this blog I'd really love to know where you are & how you found the blog. I'm quite certain other readers would enjoy your feedback, as would I.  Even better if you could share some of your experiences as the way we do things here on our farm isn't the only way & doesn't suit everyone. Maybe we could all learn a better or easier way to get the task done.


  1. Love your Blog & love the idea of Living Simply & Sustainably, something we should all try to bring into our lives a little more, eating healthy home cooked meals, using natural soaps etc & spending time outdoors in the sunshine amongst plants & animals. Also helping others in whatever way we are able. Inspirational & Great Ideas!

  2. Such a joy. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. I have been lucky enough to have visited your beautiful home & farm, & thoroughly recommend a visit... I came away inspired by the warmth of two amazing people, stunning food, wonderful garden and healthy happy animals. Your honey is wonderful, and your soap is just the best thing ever. I could go on and on. Looking forward to the next blog as always.......


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