It’s official……………

8 03 2017

I am now an old fart.

Yesterday, I turned 65 (will she still love me…?) and am now officially a pensioner. To celebrate, I did the unthinkable, flying over 2,500 km to join my family and friends in Queensland who all wanted to see me. Love miles George Monbiot calls them……. not only that, we also drove more than 300km in Glenda’s little car, though it would have only burned 15 litres of petrol doing so. I’m over feeling guilty over my travels now ; whatever I do (or don’t do) will not make one iota of difference to the outcomes of western civilisation…..

If ever I needed reminding of why I will never return to the big island, the weather while I was burning all those fossil fuels was downright awful. Maybe it’s because I am getting old, or maybe it’s due to climate change, but I could not remember the heat being as oppressive as it was……. as I type, in Geeveston, it’s 21 degrees (C of course…) and I have my shirt off……. after harvesting in the market garden, more later.

Everyone I spoke too was mumbling through the thick air about the oppressive heat, and the lack of rain…… worst summer in living memory, etc etc etc………… in the end, I spent most of the time eating, drinking, sweating (when not in airconditioning) or traveling by oil powered transport. Now I’m back, I have to wear off the pounds I put on in just three days!

Glenda and I made the time to see Bruce at Mt Glorious. Where too it was hot….. Mt Glorious? For Pete’s sake, it’s 600m above sea level..?

There’s never enough time to talk to Bruce. Like me, he is short of people he can have an actual conversation that makes sense with, and after just three hours, we had to go back down the mountain to the pea soup.

Bruce related a story to me that relates highly to an article I recently published about PV’s negative ERoEI. It goes something like this……:

His in-laws, who live off the grid near Stanthorpe in Queensland, had a pretty good 20 year old 24V battery bank charged with an array of 12V solar panels. It worked just fine, until the lady of the house decided to replace the fridge, and voila, the system could not cope. So she contacted the company who installed the original system to upgrade it. “But everything’s changed now” she was told…… you will have to replace the whole lot…. nonsense said Bruce (as I said when he was telling me what happened). 12V modules are a thing of the past now, unless you’re willing to pay for ‘camping’ versions of these things that cost ten times as much per Watt as the ‘conventional’ gear being screwed to everyone’s roofs these days…… talk about an expensive fridge.

The company involved could not be bothered to tinker with the system, they reckoned the batteries and associated inverter and charging gear were too old and not worth the effort. So off it all came, now replaced with the latest stuff, including the ridiculous use of a grid tied inverter needing to be hooked up to an ‘island’ bit of gear to make it work as a standalone inverter. And at 20 years old, all that stuff was right on the verge of paying itself off in energy return, but now it’s a pile of waste with a negative ERoEI. Bruce has the panels, but I suspect he doesn’t need them, though they could be good backup for his old system should anything go wrong with it……….

The other interesting thing that happened to me was on the flight up…… I just happened to sit next to this Canadian, who, after some banter, it was discovered knew all about peak oil and ‘the end of capitalism’. Maybe there are more and more people ‘getting it’ these days.

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Steak from the neighbours, mashed potatoes with parsley and garlic from the garden, plus home grown beans – all washed down with home brewed cider made with apples from trees I can see from here…

Back to reality. I was a tad concerned about leaving my garden unattended, particularly not being watered in this warm weather, but I need not have worried, it seems to have thrived on neglect! This morning I harvested 7.3kg of tomatoes, 9.6kg of snow peas (!) and a 3kg zucchini that was as long as my arm…… a zuccini that big is not salable, so I chopped it up for the chooks. Waste nothing (unlike solar power companies).

I’m actually starting to feel like I’m living in abundance, at least for the time being. I ate a watermelon from the poly tunnel before leaving for Qld, and this morning I got stuck into a delicious rockmelon. I’ve been making blackberry jam, and there’s such a glut of berries now, I will be making more for the next couple of weeks…. and just before leaving, I bought half a pig from my neighbour, and is it soooo delicious……. Eat your heart out Queenslanders……





Rezoning the Fanny Farm…..

24 11 2016

When we first arrived here, there was a lot of infrastructure. Most of it was certainly useful, not least the dam of course, but much of what was here did not make much sense, permaculture-wise. I surmise that most of that was down to the fact there never was a zone zero to start with, ie, the kitchen! In fact with no house at all, and a shed never designed to be lived in and in completely the wrong place, it was left to me to rezone everything to make it work.

20161111_100602When the neighbours’ house, which I think might have been the original farmhouse, was excised from our property forty years ago, strange things were done….. to start with, said farmhouse is totally surrounded by our land. One of their sheds is the boundary line…… something that would never happen today. Then someone built a chook house, leaning against said shed. Being on the southern side of this tin shed, it never had access to sunlight, and let’s face it, chickens like sunlight as much as people do!

A new French wwoofer called Charlotte turned up recently, and we got stuck into dismantling this useless chook pen, for relocation at the market garden under construction, the idea being to integrate the birds into the garden system to clear them once harvested, and fertilise the resulting bare dirt in readiness for the next crop. This will be done in rotation, hence all those gates (four of which I brought from Queensland as a cage to raise the load level in the ute!) Permaculture 101……

Then Fanny (yes, Fanny, from the Fanny Farm!) also arrived and between the three of us, 20161116_143139we’ve done a lot of work (actually, they work much harder than me….) putting recycled posts from Matt’s farm all over the joint, and some from the chicken run that was attached to the lean to affair we dismantled.  Waste nothing…! Then we removed low hanging and overgrown ‘pig wire’ from the fencing near the road that was of no use whatsoever. That was recycled to prepare for the new chicken netting that will be hung off it soon.

20161124_120120Today, the roof and front wall for the house arrived. I decided to order the lot in one go, just to have the iron for the new chook house’s roof. In any case, I’ve decided to spend all our money up front before the banks go under. Not taking any chances! My two young French wwoofers and the delivery guy and I unloaded the ton and a half of corrugated iron off the truck. After lunch, we put up the tin, and screwed it down. Another job ticked off the list.

Having useful wwoofers is just amazing, and they are such great company, allowing me to practice my really rusty French back to life. They also keep on insisting to do the cooking, and why should I refuse, especially when the results are really nice to eat?20161124_151355

As you can tell, I’m having a really terrible time. All the plants we put in the polytunnel are doing extremely well, especially when compared to the tomatoes I killed last year in the frost at the back of the shed. It’s all coming together, our planning application has even gone into Council…  I just need the house site to dry off completely so we can start putting profiles in for the digging of the foundations.

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Channelling the Joy

18 06 2015

George Monbiot

George Monbiot

Go George……  I think his latest writings show a deeper understanding of our predicaments than ever, and we need him as a popular ‘voice’ to spread the truth.  Enjoy….

In defending the natural world, we should be honest about our motivations – it’s love that drives us, not money.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 17th June 2015

Who wants to see the living world destroyed? Who wants an end to birdsong, bees and coral reefs, the falcon’s stoop, the salmon’s leap? Who wants to see the soil stripped from the land, the sea rimmed with rubbish?

No one. And yet it happens. Seven billion of us allow fossil fuel companies to push shut the narrow atmospheric door through which humanity stepped. We permit industrial farming to tear away the soil,banish trees from the hills, engineer another silent spring. We let the owners of grouse moors, 1% of the 1%, shoot and poison hen harriers, peregrines and eagles. We watch mutely as a small fleet of monster fishing ships trashes the oceans.

Why are the defenders of the living world so ineffective? It is partly, of course, that everyone is complicit; we have all been swept off our feet by the tide of hyperconsumption, our natural greed excited, corporate propaganda chiming with a will to believe that there is no cost. But perhaps environmentalism is also afflicted by a deeper failure: arising possibly from embarrassment or fear, a failure of emotional honesty.

I have asked meetings of green-minded people to raise their hands if they became defenders of nature because they were worried about the state of their bank accounts. Never has a hand appeared. Yet I see the same people base their appeal to others on the argument that they will lose money if we don’t protect the natural world.

Such claims are factual, but they are also dishonest: we pretend that this is what animates us, when in most cases it does not. The reality is that we care because we love. Nature appealed to our hearts, when we were children, long before it appealed to our heads, let alone our pockets. Yet we seem to believe we can persuade people to change their lives through the cold, mechanical power of reason, supported by statistics.

I see the encyclical by Pope Francis, which will be published on Thursday, as a potential turning point. He will argue that not only the physical survival of the poor, but also our spiritual welfare depends on the protection of the natural world; and in both respects he is right.

I don’t mean to suggest that a belief in God is the answer to our environmental crisis. Among Pope Francis’s opponents is the evangelical Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has written to him arguing that we have a holy duty to keep burning fossil fuel, as “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork”. It also insists that exercising the dominion granted to humankind in Genesis means tilling the whole Earth”, transforming it “from wilderness to garden and ultimately to garden city”.

There are similar tendencies within the Vatican. Cardinal George Pell, its head of finance, currently immersed in a scandal involving paedophile priests in Australia, is a prominent climate change denier. His lecture to the Global Warming Policy Foundation was the usual catalogue of zombie myths (discredited claims that keep resurfacing), nonsequiturs and outright garbage, championing, for example, the groundless claim that undersea volcanoes could be responsible for global warming. There are plenty of senior Catholics seeking to undermine the Pope’s defence of the living world; which could explain why his encyclical was leaked.

What I mean is that Pope Francis, a man with whom I disagree profoundly on matters such as equal marriage and contraceptives, reminds us that the living world provides not only material goods and tangible services, but is also essential to other aspects of our well-being. And you don’t have to believe in God to endorse that view.

In his beautiful book The Moth Snowstorm, Michael McCarthy suggests that a capacity to love the natural world, rather than merely to exist within it, might be a uniquely human trait. When we are close to nature, we sometimes find ourselves, as Christians put it, surprised by joy: “a happiness with an overtone of something more, which we might term an elevated or, indeed, a spiritual quality.”

He believes we are wired to develop a rich emotional relationship with nature. A large body of research suggests that contact with the living world remains essential to our psychological and physiological well-being. (A paper published this week, for example, claims that green spaces around city schools improve children’s mental performance).

This does not mean that all people love nature; what it means, McCarthy proposes, is that there’s a universal propensity to love it, which may be drowned out by the noise that assails our minds. As I’ve found while volunteering with the outdoor education charity Wide Horizons, this love can be provoked almost immediately, even among children who have never visited the countryside before. Nature, McCarthy argues, remains our home, “the true haven for our psyches”, and retains an astonishing capacity to bring peace to troubled minds. Acknowledging our love for the living world does something that a library full of papers on sustainable development and ecosystem services cannot: it engages the imagination as well as the intellect. It inspires belief; and this is essential to the lasting success of any movement.

Is this a version of the religious conviction from which Pope Francis speaks? Or could his religion be a version of a much deeper and older love? Could a belief in God be a way of explaining and channelling the joy, the burst of love that nature sometimes provokes in us? Conversely, could the hyperconsumption that both religious and secular environmentalists lament be a response to ecological boredom: the void that a loss of contact with the natural world leaves in our psyches?

Of course, this doesn’t answer the whole problem. If the acknowledgement of love becomes the means by which we inspire environmentalism in others, how do we translate it into political change? But I believe it’s a better grounding for action than pretending that what really matters to us is the state of the economy. By being honest about our motivation we can inspire in others the passions that inspired us.

http://www.monbiot.com





Mon Abri is still for sale…..

30 01 2015

We have probably got the buyers for our property we have been searching for…….  it’s just that it’s taking Scott (who years ago did a PDC with Bill Mollison in the US) and his charming wife Amanda ages to sell their property so they can move into ours.  In an effort to sell sooner rather than later, we have been ‘marketing’ this place privately, and we’ve had several prospects, but frankly people like those who read this blog are so few and far between, that the whole exercise is reinforcing my feelings we are royally screwed….

In an attempt at resolving ‘what we are doing wrong’, I sent some of them an email asking for feedback.  Some felt it was too far from where they worked, one who was downsizing from 100 acres thought the neighbours were too close (good luck with that…. less than 100 acres won’t give you the privacy you are accustomed to!), but one email blew me away, and I thought I’d share it with you…..

Hi mike
It’s the presentation. I will be blunt and honest. The home was very untidy and unclean and things like the stove and the heating with cobwebs and insulation hanging off is off putting. Also the window frames are old and very uneven so the sustainable aspect is lost. Lots of work would need to be done to the home to bring it up to scratch inside and out including garden area.
Hope this helps
Untidy?  Are we selling the crap in our house too?  And unclean, after we spent hours actually cleaning it?  Obviously this person was after a Noosa style house with gleaming shiny surfaces.
The stove (I expect she means the AGA) is 60 years old for goodness sake…….  it says so in the advert.  Did she really expect it to look brand new?  And the cobwebs on the hot water tank, which is hidden from view inside it’s own cupboard with an attractive (I think) mini orb corrugated iron door, is not on public display, I only show it to people as an example of a very clever idea that results in never using electricity to boost it……..  This country living.  Outside, there are spiders.  Lots of them.  And rats, and mice, and frogs, and toads, and snakes, and foxes, and millions of birds, and did I mention the snakes?  And the hanging insulation is a 5 second job to fix, it was only like that because I’ve been opening the door far more times than usual!
The windows.  I’ve been spending hours sanding all the flaky paint off and reputtying the glass for Scott and Amanda’s benefit, I expect now, and today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel as I start painting the last four……  HOW the sustainable aspect is lost when I recycle old windows is beyond me.  Not only that, but I regard those windows to be an utterly essential part of the house’s energy efficiency as they are casement able to be opened to optimise catching breezes, with timber frames that, unlike Aluminium ones, do not transfer heat between the inside and outside to keep the house cool in Summer and warm in Winter when they are closed.  The ‘uneven’ comment baffles me, no idea what she’s on about here, they are all straight and level….
noweedsYes ‘the garden area’ could use some tidying up if you’re so inclined, but I’m busy painting windows and sorting the abundant crap in this house we are not taking to Tasmania….  Besides, it’s not a garden, it’s a food forest!  The first commandment of Permaculture should read “Thou shalt not mow”.  I constantly wonder how the neighbours will cope when they can no longer spend four or five hours a week mowing their acreage when the fuel runs out.
But like I said somewhere else on this blog, I think people want to live sustainably, it’s just that when confronted with the reality of it……  they don’t like it.  This particular woman and her husband, who drove a large unsustainable SUV to boot, should stay away from the countryside…. and forget the whole idea of living sustainably.  It’s clearly not their thing.




The Look

29 05 2014

Reblogged from Steve Harrison’s http://tonightmyfingerssmellofgarlic.com/  blog Posted on 26/05/2014

More than a look
A letter from the pottery and the late autumn garden

I heard a couple of young designers talking about sustainability and recycling, as if they had invented it.

Apparently, it’s the new hot topic in design. It’s so interesting to listen to young people talk about things that they know very little about. I must have sounded like such a twat when I was young  –  and probably still do for that matter. These people were talking about sustainable design as a ‘feature’ of design.  It wasn’t the effect of consumerism, or its consequences, that was of interest to them.  It was the look of things. It was all about design and The Look! Real sustainability didn’t seem to be the core issue.
Being a baby boomer, I grew up through the sixties and seventies and was very involved in the ‘do-it-yourself’ kind of sustainability. The grass roots approach. When I met ‘The Lovely’ at Art School and we set up house together in a flat in Bondi, I promised her, not a lovely home or plain comfortable house, not even a shed.  I knew that I would never be able to buy a house earning the sort of money that potter could earn, so I was only looking for vacant land.  I initially promised her a life in a tent! Fortunately she said OK!  Count me in!  She didn’t mind a bit of hard work. I thought that I would find some little piece of bushland and pitch a tent while I built a mud brick shed, a pottery, a kiln and then, at a later date, a house.
This was what a lot of people did here in Australia in the past. Especially the returned solders in the post war period. My own father bought a vacant bush block and cleared it with a mattock, and hand cut a track to get trucks to the site. Then we all lived in a caravan for a year while he built the first two rooms.  After that, we all lived in that cramped building, while he built the next few rooms.  The house was only just finished a few years before my older brother left home. Everything was paid for, bit by bit, as you went along.  There was no credit, or ‘LendLease’ in those days.  No plastic card credit.
I was interested in living what I thought would be a less-complicated life.  I was wrong.  All lives are complicated.  However, in my youthful enthusiasm.  I considered that living directly on the land and eating from the that land as much as possible by way of gardens and orchards, then making pots to sell that were made out of the land, should all be doable.  Well, as I said, I was naïve and full of youthful hubris.  For someone interested in DIY sustainability, the obvious choice was to build with earth, dug free from the land and turned into capital by shear effort and will power.  Creating capital out of virtually nothing is a pretty neat trick.  So all but one of our buildings are made from mud bricks.  Of course, keeping chickens and ducks and eating the vegetable that we grew ourselves in an organic garden were all part of that daydream.
Well, it all came true.  It wasn’t a dream.  It was made real by dogged hard work of two dedicated people who teamed up and concentrated in a single minded effort to make it reality. Of course it didn’t all happen as planned.  There were detours and setbacks. Lots of little hiccups along the way.  But we made it happen.  Janine turned out to be one hell of a tough girl.  I’m so glad that she accepted my offer.  And as it turned out, we didn’t need the tent.
A kiln was built and pots were made and sold, but we always had a big vegetable garden and one of the first things we did, was to plant fruit trees for the future.  Once we were a little more secure, I made pots and glazes from the raw materials that occurred in the landscape around us.  It took time to research and uncover all the potential of the local geology, but bit by bit, I found one material after another that I could use to replace a previously bought ingredient in my recipes.  These days we buy very little, but I do still buy some ingredients that are very hard to find, or make from what we have here to work with, like bentonite and alumina powder. Recently, I have even bought some plastic kaolin to add to my mixtures to make them a lot more potter friendly on the wheel.
Unlike young designers in the inner city, we are not interested in ‘The Look’ of things so much as the reality in total, their cost, both in money terms but in particular the cost to the environment, their carbon debt and their running costs. That is why we have chosen not to own a big car, an air conditioner, a microwave, a large plasma screen and other energy hungry appliances.  So we don’t have The Look, we have chosen not to buy into it.  We have a busy sustainable life which takes a lot of time and personal effort  to maintain.  We just don’t have enough time or energy to have a real job to pay for ‘The Look’.  We’ve ended up with the blisters, the gritty, real, sustainability part, but without ‘The Look’.  One very good outcome of all this DIY, is that we don’t have a mortgage and we can afford to live this small life.
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In the garden, the cauliflowers are in full flower just now, so we are finding ways to use them up. One of our long time favourites is to cut it into bit sized chunks and eat it raw dipped in aioli made from our own garlic, lemons, local organic eggs and locally produced olive oil. That’s an entrée that is worth waiting all year for. It’s just terrific, great flavours and textures. Almost a meal in itself.
AioliIMG_3915
1 egg
1 lemon
1 cup of olive oil
5 or 6 or 10 cloves of garlic, depending on size.
Chop up the garlic and add the egg, whip it up into a thick yellow frenzy with half of the oil and the lemon juice, lastly add the remaining oil and mix it into the emultion, add pepper to taste and a little salt if you like. I don’t. If your eggs are small, use less oil, or add a second egg.
At the end of the summer, we ended up with a silver beet ‘tree’ that grew on the edge of the garden path. It grew as tall as me and finally had to be held up with a tall wooden stake. It finally ripened its seeds and the wind blew them all over the garden. We now have loads of the green stemmed silver beet growing everywhere. I’ve been mowing it to keep it down to a manageabe amount. The Lovely transplanted a dozen or so seedlings into a bed, where they will be safe from my whipper snipper and garden chipper hoe.
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They grow so fast at this time of year, so we have to find ways eat it with out getting too bored. The usual way is to just scorch it in a fry pan and sweat it down to a small warm mass. I believe that it’s called ‘whilted’ spinach. What is nice about it is that it doesn’t involve any oil or even water, just some heat. We serve it with a little lemon juice or alternatively with a dash of white wine vinegar. It seems to go quite well with most things that we eat.
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Because these plants are so prolific just now we are constantly trying new ways to use it up. Not unlike the situation with zucchinis in the summer time.
It makes a lovely fresh side dish that is really quick to make and no washing up. just rinse the pan and it’s back up on the hook. A more substantial dinner at this time of year that is warm, satisfying and low fat is spinach and ricotta pie.
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Wilt the spinach, as above. You can make ricotta very easily from milk that is past it’s use-by date by heating it gently and adding some lemon juice to it. It will separate into curds and whey, drain off the whey and add the curds to the spinach and place into the pie crust, cap it off and add a little grated cheese and /or brush with the whey or milk to get a nice brown top.

We have completed 2 of our 5 wood firing, weekend workshops and had work shown in the Manly Regional Gallery and at Ivy Hill Gallery down the south coast to coincide with the International Wood firing Conference. I couldn’t afford the time to go for the whole thing, but managed to get down there for a couple of days. So now it’s back into the workshop to start throwing more work. I have shows coming up in Singapore and Taiwan in the next few months, so I need to get productive.
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The Lovely, catches my visage in the mirror, so that it shows my bald spot. It’s not a good look.  Its not ‘The Look’ either.
It’s just a look and that’s how I am. Best wishes from the thinning potter, and I don’t mean waistline, and his happy snapperJanine was given a really simple recipe for pastry from Marta Armarda, a ceramic artist from Spain, who was in residence at Sturt workshops in Mittagong.




Mon Abri – For Sale!

19 04 2013

SOLD

By all means read on……..  but if you were thinking of buying, I’m afraid you’re too late.

When I built this place, never in a million years did I ever think we would sell it.  Just yesterday, a permaculture friend (who lives in Black Mountain – see below)  asked me why were we selling after doing all that work?  I only had one reply to that, my ageing body no longer tolerates the heat…… I start struggling when the mercury hits 27 degrees.  She thought it was odd, she told me she was sad to see Summer ending….  whilst I’m glad to see the back of it!  So if you like Queensland’s hot weather, come buy a piece of Paradise.  I want to live in Tasmania. POSITION They say there are only three criteria for picking somewhere to live: position, position, position! Noosa COORAN is in the Noosa Hinterland area.  It’s Noosa Shire’s best kept secret.  Just 30 minutes from Noosa, famous for its National Park, beaches, fishing, sailing, surf and surfing, restaurants, and laid back living, it’s truly affordable real estate.  There isn’t one single traffic light here – but you’ll have to learn to use roundabouts, which I personally think are great!

Cooran's main street

Cooran’s main street

Cooran has its own small shop/Post Office (owned by our neighbours), a hairdresser, a restaurant/takeaway, a brand new business selling organic seedlings, and a large hall – where monthly quality music concerts are held – and it’s serviced by buses and trains.  It also has its own primary school, all within walking/cycling distance. Just five minutes down the road by car is Pomona where you’ll find doctors, an IGA supermarket, shops, restaurants, a [great] hardware store, landscaping supplies, a cinema, two petrol stations, an excellent car mechanic, and I could go on.  Less than ten minutes further down the road is Cooroy, like Pomona only bigger.  There are two High Schools, one in Pomona and one in Cooroy.  There’s a school bus service to take students there from Cooran. There is also a bus service to the Noosa Pengari Steiner School operating from Pomona just 6 or 7 minutes away. Central Queensland University has a hub at Noosaville where my wife was studying. Alternatively, you can shop in Gympie where some things are cheaper. They have great local Sunday markets where I buy all my vegetable seedlings which are top quality. It’s the same distance away as Noosa… (more Farmers markets)  but there are traffic lights! Cooran to Brisbane is a two hour drive, or two and a half hours by train.  There are two daily trains between Brisbane and Cooran.  More if you’re prepared to drive to Cooroy or Nambour. OUR BLOCK Our land covers approximately 1.5 acres. It is part of an estate, for want of a better word, that consists of 1 to 5 acre blocks subdivided from the original dairy farm which existed here until about 1990. The road past our place is a dead end, with perhaps another 25 houses further up the road.  It’s generally very quiet, we never lock the place, and nothing’s ever disappeared!  As a community, we look out for each other, and help looking after friends’ animals when they need to go away for a few days. It all started as a totally blank lawn, and I suggest you visit this page where you can get another idea of what the property lookscooranaerial like.. bearing in mind in never ceases to change…. High and dry and out of all flooding, 95m above sea level.  The original [German] farmer who subdivided his 130 acres has personally told me he never sprayed, and hoed all weeds by hand!  So while it’s not registered organic…. it is.  The land slopes gently to the West and South.  The soil is pretty good, and wherever I’m growing food, it has been substantially improved with loads of goat and chicken poo and compost.  Whatever you plant here just leaps out of the ground!  Rainfall is normally 1200mm a year. noweedsThe whole block has been designed to Permaculture principles, with greywater recycling (which we use to water and produce our own mulch), animals for manures, milk, meat and eggs.  There’s a 200m² vegetable garden which in the past has produced (and still does in season!) Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Corn, Peas, Beans, Beetroots, Carrots, Artichokes, Capsicums, Chillies, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Pumpkins, Sorrel, Lettuce, Tahitian Spinach, English Spinach, and I’m sure I’ve left something out……. oh yes, ginger and turmeric, and of course herbs galore.  And of course loads of Comfrey, Arrowroot, and Cassava, the Permaculture stalwarts….

Zone 1, seen from the roof

Zone 1, seen from the roof

A NOTE ON PERMACULTURE We have had people here inspecting the place and obviously had no idea of what Permaculture is all about.  Permaculture is NOT gardening.  If you are unsure about what Permaculture is all about, I suggest you read this….

Permaculture Food Forest

Organic Gardening

If you’re after manicured gardens and beautiful lawns, this is not the place for you, and that’s because neither are sustainable.  The first rule of Permaculture is Thou shalt not mow.  Soon enough, there will not be enough fuel to mow.  How will you cope with six foot high grass everywhere unless you get rid of it and transition to edible zero waste landscapes?  We emulate nature, we don’t fight it…  it’s a losing battle anyway.

Sunrise over Mt Cooroora

Sunrise over Mt Cooroora

We have views of three volcanic plugs, Mt Pinbarren to the East, Mt Cooroora to the South, and Mt Cooran to the South West. The aerial photo above shows we have added a small shed parallel to the boundary to the right of the house, and more solar panels have been added to the W roof .  All the fruit trees are considerably larger now. You can see two water tanks, one at each end of the house.  I’m planning to add a third tank at the North end of the shed to drought proof the garden… THE HOUSE (click all photos to enlarge) monabri2909 glossyMon Abri is a unique house.  You won’t find anything remotely like it, anywhere.

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Because of its resource saving features, we won a Glossy Award for the design way back in 2007.  I like to think it’s also Australia’s most energy efficient house.  Prove me wrong, I’ll cop it on the chin…….  we are very very proud of our effort here…..  and if you need convincing it’s not hard to get it all wrong, even with the best of intents, watch this.

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Sunset at beer o'clock on the deck

Sunset at beer o’clock on the deck

Mon Abri Floorplan

Mon Abri Floorplan

It’s a split level design with just seven steps between downstairs, the living space, and upstairs, where all the bedrooms are, and the bathroom and toilet.  It’s 145m²  in area, plus a veranda and large 25m² deck at the rear overlooking the view, and another veranda at the front; it has four bedrooms, or if you prefer three plus an office.  The bathroom has a double corner bath, a shower, a bidet and a hand basin.  The toilet (composting) has its own separate handbasin… and is unique in that it opens to the outside as well as the inside, a most handy feature when gardening…..

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Tiling in living area

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North Point at the front door

The living area is tiled with Terracotta, in a French Provincial style.  Pretty well everyone who walks in is blown away by the character of the place…. no one has ever said they didn’t like it!  The entire house is tiled (except the kitchen which has a cork floor for comfort), and tiled with creative flair at that……

Glenda being a Ceramic Artist, has put a lot of effort in making sure no floor was boring!  There’s even a mosaic of a Black Cockatoo (the emblem of the Glossy Awards) outside the bathroom, which itself is finished in turquoise Balinese river stones…. has to be seen it to be believed..

The kitchen is entirely “hand made”, with not a sign of chip board or MDF board to offgas nasties for you to breathe.  In fact there are none in the whole house…….  And the food garden is right outside for quick access. IMG_0216IMG_0215 Unless you really really object to our hyper efficient fridge, it comes with the house.  We cook on a five burner gas

Walk in pantry

Walk in pantry

cooktop, and the AGA……. which holds a certain place of pride here…  the kitchen is the stereotypical “country style”, and it has a walk-in pantry to store the home brew and preserves with a light that comes on automatically when you walk in…..  It’s the kitchen I’ve always wanted, and I will build another one just like it in Tasmania. SHD2014 finishedcobovenThe kitchen now also has an addition…  our treasured cob oven which we intend to use in Summer so that we can still bake bread and pizzas, and cook roasts without heating up the house.

All the ceilings are raked pine, and mini orb corrugated iron has been tastefully used as features in the kitchen and bathroom to give it that “Queensland feel”…. and it’s so easy to keep clean too.  The windows are either louvres or recycled casement windows from old Queenslanders to maximise ventilation, a must in this climate.  An explanation of the house’s solar passive design can be found here.

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Entrance to bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

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Master Bedroom

Mon Abri has three bedrooms.  The Master Bedroom is 3.6m wide by 4.8m long and easily accommodates a king sized bed.  It has excellent ventilation with windows on the North and South sides, and its own door to the outside, which are fitted with curtains and pelmets to keep the heat out in Summer, and in during Winter….  It is also just steps away from the toilet and bathroom. The other two bedrooms have queen size beds, and are also both fitted with curtains and pelmets, as well as ceiling fans.  They both have built in wardrobes, and one has its own door to the outside. All the bedrooms are wonderfully warm in Winter and cool in Summer as they all have substantial thermal mass with Gympie Block walls and turquoise tiles to match the decor….

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 2

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Bedroom 3

Night time view from the Master Bedroom.... I never tire of this aspect last thing before going to sleep!

Night time view from the Master Bedroom…. I never tire of this aspect last thing before going to sleep!

The house tank has never run out, and is in fact half full as I write this.  With 45,000 L of garden water, I estimate it would be possible to keep zone 1 watered even if it didn’t rain for six months at all. The house is plumbed to what must be the most ecologically sustainable drainage system, described in detail at this page on this blog.

Formal Lounge

Formal Lounge

The asking price has now been reduced to $425,000.  This is a bit more than what other houses around here might cost (though our neighbour just put their unsustainable house on the market for $550,000!), but we are selling an established self sufficient lifestyle, and besides none of them offer potentially cost free living.  Apart from the $1000 a year rates, with simple commonsense management, anyone living here would have zero electricity bills (in fact an income), zero water bills, and zero sewerage bills…… IMG_0037 The house also comes with a year’s supply of firewood. Bear in mind we also plan to move as little of our stuff as possible to Tasmania… it is a long way!  So we are prepared to throw in all the furniture as part of the cost. This page is work in progress.  As I make more finishing touches, I will update it with fresh photos, so if you are interested or know someone who might be, return soon to see what else is new. To contact me re buying Mon Abri, email me at damnthematrix at riseup dot net.  My mobile is 0447 500 566.  Seriously interested buyers only please, no tyre kickers.