posted 24 May 2017, 04:41 by D Graves

We've had 'problems' with one or more quolls. First getting into the pigeon cage perhaps 2 years ago. And this year into the duck cage around New Year and then again on Friday night. Horrible. Not going to describe it on here. After improving their cage yet again to make it more impenetrable, I decided to set a trap. I put it on top of the duck house. The next morning it was lying on the floor. So, I turned it the right way up and set it again, leaving it on the ground alongside the cage. Next morning it was empty but the door was closed. Not sure if it was a possum bumping it or what (something is able to open the food buckets some days??!). So, I set it yet again. Next morning I went to open the duck house door and looked over to the cage - a quoll ! Got it. Incredible. Somehow, I wasn't angry with it.. I moved it away from the ducks and went to call Evita and get a camera:

After calling a nearby National Park, we drove to the edge of the park and let it go. It is a beautiful and rare animal.

Winter on it's way

posted 21 May 2017, 03:19 by D Graves   [ updated 21 May 2017, 03:22 ]

After some help from John, with a 'border' around the door, when he was visiting earlier this month, the dome is completed. This will keep more of the rain and wind out. Plantings doing well and looking forward to them thriving in Spring!dome completed

Also, John and I built this wood feeder for the heater in the greenhouse:
rocket mass heater wood feeder

Here is a short video of it in action:
It is working well and means the fire will burn for several hours without us having to check on it (as long as the pieces of wood are nice and long!).

The mushrooms are loving the wet March and bits of rain in Autumn. Here is a dense flush on the dam wall:

Another helper made a video of Dylan's answers to some general permaculture questions:

Off-grid Living talk

posted 20 May 2017, 06:24 by D Graves   [ updated 21 May 2017, 01:13 ]

I offered to do a talk at the Permaculture Australia Gathering in early May on Off-grid Living. Here are the info sheets I prepared before and had available for people to photograph afterwards if they wanted to (open in full screen presentation please):

Permaculture Australia Gathering

posted 20 May 2017, 04:18 by D Graves   [ updated 20 May 2017, 04:21 ]

Almost a year ago I became a member of Permaculture Australia (PA). The primary reason was so we could advertise our superadobe building event. The bonus was to get the PIP magazine subscription (2 issues) which I have enjoyed reading. Anyhow, with the annual Gathering of PA last week being held fairly locally at Djanbung Gardens in Nimbim, I went along. Also, they were holding the AGM, so I decided to nominate myself to become a board member. Here is a poster summarising what PA is trying to do (and why I want to get involved):
Permaculture Australia poster

The main gathering was the Saturday and consisted of various talks and tours. I volunteered and did a 1 hour talk on Off-grid living (resource sheets here). This was after listening to one on bamboo:
bamboo talk

bamboo tools

Bamboo is a useful alternative to the painted metal commonplace nowadays:
bamboo gazebo

Another presenter talking later about promoting food localisation by holding food trail events:

30 year anniversary dinner celebrating 30 years of PA being in operation. Guests through skype - Rowe Morrow and Costa !

Lovely dinner in mud brick building with great food produced by Robyn's daughter and her cafe staff:
lovely dinner

Great example of localising 'proper' food:
abundance cafe

Great to see that the Repair Cafe is happening in Nimbin too:
nimbin repair cafe

The new-ish compost toilets at Djunbung Gardens:
compost toilets

And I got accepted to join the board of PA on Sunday at the AGM !

SPG - gleaning - olives

posted 11 May 2017, 04:47 by D Graves

A member let us know about a friend with olive trees who doesn't like olives!? The friend gave us permission to pick as many as we needed. We put this out to the permaculture group and had several people come and pick on today's gorgeous morning:

olive picking

many trees to choose from:
many trees to choose from

lots of different varieties:

Ready for washing and curing:
olive haul

We'll wash them several times in water over several days. We remove any debris and damaged olives. Then we put them into clean buckets with good quality salt - the ratio is 1kg to 10 litres of water to make the brine. This is changed after 2 weeks. After another 2 weeks they are bottled with culinary herbs and olive oil - we use rosemary, garlic, tarragon, chilli, thyme, oregano. Eat after 2 months. If you want to eat them sooner, then cut eat olives with a knife and they'll marinate in as little as 2 weeks - depends on your taste preference.

IPD - 2017

posted 7 May 2017, 04:28 by D Graves   [ updated 7 May 2017, 04:29 ]

In support of International Permaculture Day on May the 7th every year, we invited the permaculture group to come to our place for a Gathering on the day before. We had a tour, discussion about the future of the group, a talk about papercrete, afternoon tea, live music, and a fire circle. I recorded John's talk about papercrete. If you want more information, especially images, do a google search for 大茉莉 (this is pronounced Da Mor Lee) and is the name of their recreational farm in Southern Taiwan where he uses papercrete for the walls of the buildings:

Autumn 2017

posted 28 Apr 2017, 00:33 by D Graves   [ updated 28 Apr 2017, 02:15 ]

I love Autumn because the days start with a crisp coolness that transitions to a sunny warmness that feels so good on the body. As the days shorten, we get less done, but that means we rest slightly more and more each day or do inside 'work'. We've moved pots and trays from the shadehouse to the greenhouse and soon will reinvigorate the soil and plant the beds out. This Winter, I aim to improve the heater by creating some kind of 'shifter' that will periodically move the wood so that it drops down and keeps the fire burning for long stretches of time. And it's coming soon, almost a frost this morning, although we may have a week or so more before the frost does come and end the growing of several vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, and so on)

Since the last post 3 weeks ago, we have been working hard to fully complete the dome so that it is ready to accommodate our friends from Taiwan tonight. Of course, we are always doing lots of others things in between:

Of course, Evita has also been preserving as much as she can; - lemon grass sauce, tomato jam and sauce, zucchini relish, cucumber ferment, feijoa jam and olives (from friends), herbs, as well as collecting and saving seeds.

'obby 'ole

posted 7 Apr 2017, 04:33 by D Graves   [ updated 7 Apr 2017, 04:35 ]

Excited to have just about finished the 'obby 'ole today. Site cleaned up and only minor things left to do. Happy with how it has turned out and looking forward to when the plants have grown and it starts to look even better!

Many hands have helped build this structure; from the excavator driver in October to the superadobe course team later that month to many helpers since then - at least 20 different people! We appreciate and value their help. 

Here are a couple of recent photos. Pond going in before the soil restoration and plantings:

Path edging, lots of plants in, and mulched a week later: 
hobbit treasures

Otherwise, we had even more rain late in March, taking the month's total to an unexpected 237mm! So all tanks, ponds, and dams overflowing:

Late March: another goat shelter about to take shape near front gate:

Two half days and they're in and I don't have to walk/pull them all the way down the driveway and back each day. All built from reused materials, of course:
goat shelter

Autumn equinox update

posted 21 Mar 2017, 14:46 by D Graves   [ updated 21 Mar 2017, 14:47 ]

Our quarterly video update showing what we have been doing over the past 3 months:

SPG - Repair Cafe

posted 18 Mar 2017, 02:12 by D Graves   [ updated 18 Mar 2017, 04:10 ]

repair cafe ad poster

Today we went to the first Repair Cafe in Stanthorpe. There were 4 repairers plus 2 more available to either fix bicycles or musical instruments. We set up inside because it was raining and wet outside. The first items arrived promptly! An alarm clock with no sound and a child's talking soft toy. Soon after an old fan presented with buttons not staying down i.e. one has to hold the button down for it to work! everyone soon busy...

The fan was old, made in Taiwan, but easy to take apart. A good clean of the mechanical button switches and it worked again! Good for another 20 years perhaps!? Satisfying to repair old things built to last as that means not having to replace it with the designed obsolescence of cheap Chinese made appliances of nowadays...

The alarm clock was very difficult to take apart, with one hexagonal screw along with normal phillips ones. This had to be drilled out as the head was stripped by a previous repair attempt. It then had to be pulled apart as it had also been glued. Obviously made not to be repaired! Anyhow, it seems the speaker still worked (tested with a battery voltage applied across it), and so presumed that something on the electronic circuit board was at fault in not outputting the sounds to the speaker. Disappointing.

The soft toy had lots of thin wires inside the stuffing and then an integrated circuit board controlling the functionality. Again, nothing obviously repairable, so disappointing to give it back 'talkingless'. On the positive side, a rice cooker was brought in by a Taiwanese woman that was not switching on. On opening up and testing at various points with a meter, we quickly deduced where the problem was - a blown thermal fuse! Again, poor design - it should be a resettable fuse:
fault finding
So, after a quick visit to Top Beat, a new one was purchased for $3.50 and installed. 1 rice cooker averted from the tip and a very very happy lady who won't be burning her rice on the stovetop anymore ;)

Two chairs easily repaired and safer to use:
fixing chair

chair repair

A stick blender was brought in late in the session and after much difficulty in opening it up - again NOT designed to be fixed - it turns out a blown fuse on the circuit board was to blame (again, why not a resettable fuse!?). Destined for the dump (and re-purchase) due to a $1 fuse weak point!! A sad world capitalism has caused...

And to finish off, a repair for the cafe's kitchen - a lid's handle glued back in place!! 

Thanks to Yvette and the cafe for hosting us all and providing sustenance as needed - yummy! A second Repair Cafe is on the cards in a few months time. Look out for it and save your repair items!

Thank you to all the helpers for coming, giving up their time, and sharing their skills :)

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