on-site developments

Hello friends,

We hope you all had a safe & fun Christmas & New Year.

Its been just over a month since our last post. Such a lot has been happening & we hope to share some of our journey over the past 4 weeks with you in this post. Overall its been an absolutely awesome time, filled with cool new learning, fun home projects, lovely friends, new and old, and beautiful moments with nature. Its also been a time of making progress with our new home. We think you will be amazed at what we have achieved around our little camp site since we arrived. So many things have been coming together quickly and effortlessly, like our roof & water tank. If you have read our ‘Easy Progress’ post from a few months back, you will understand that we continue to feel really supported in our new direction. At one level, it has indeed been ‘easy progress’.

There have also been big challenges, several tears, and a quite a bit of stress. We have been pushed to our limits physically, emotionally and relationally. That’s because we are in a process of constant learning and adaptation. Absolutely everything feels new. New job, new environment, new relationships, new skills, new routine… For both of us it has felt as though there is simply no space to rest, to be comfortable, to breathe. Like being a baby & learning how to walk and talk. So there is definitely a sense of balance between excitement with the new and frustration with the new. Mostly, we have been handling ourselves really beautifully, but when resources hit the limit, then tensions have flared and tears have erupted. I guess sometimes that’s where the rest, the space, the breath returns.

When we first arrived it was just us in our caravan. Our most critical task was laying out as much of our cracker dust as we had the energy to do, as this made our site increasingly liveable. Without the cracker dust we would be squelching around in mud every time it rained…and it rained quite a bit in our first couple of weeks. Every day, before and after work we were shoveling, wheel-barrowing and raking cracker dust around our little site.

Rachel on wheelbarrow duty

It didn’t take many days of this ‘home landscaping’ on top of our daily farm work before our muscles were aching like never before. Only excitement and necessity kept us going. Slowly our site began to expand and when it rained we were floating above it on a island of cracker dust!

You will notice in the photo above, in the left hand lower corner, the concrete footing for our roof… Our most exciting development so far. I can’t remember when we first spoke with our builder, James, but I think it was just before we arrived. He’s a local guy and the partner of someone who works at the farm. His reputation is for quality and speed, or as everyone kept telling us: James will look after you. He doesn’t muck around.

Turns out James doesn’t muck around and by December 19th, a mere 13 days after we arrived, our roof was designed and up! Here’s a couple of shots of it going up… the posts are in…

Site from above with steel posts in place

all 9 panels of sheeting goes up…

The boys had to come back on the Wednesday to install some bracing to the structure and fit the down-pipe. They also kindly helped me install the water tank. While the boys were putting the roof up, Michelle was running around getting supplies to erect our water tank. The tank was delivered 2 days before the roof went up, just days before Christmas… and the tank people even threw in an old tank stand for almost nothing. Then we had to create a level place for the tank to be positioned next to our down-pipe. With a little help from our builder friends, it all came together just in time for another big downpour and before we knew it, we had rain-water on site!

the tank awaits its home

tank you very much

A couple of days after the rain-water tank went functional, Rod had a chance to connect the spring-fed-dam water directly to our caravan, so we had two clean and natural sources of fresh water. We went from carrying water down the hill from the shed in buckets and collecting rain water of the caravan annex, to having fresh water in the van, and loads of water outside to fill our buckets for showering. Having never lived in such a simple set up, we were amazed at what an enormous difference these few changes made to our quality of life. With the roof up, we didn’t have to worry about the caravan leaking, we could spread our stuff out a little more, and when it rained we still had plenty of room to keep our clothes and shoes dry, as well as some room to sit, relax and eat outside the van.

our dry area expands around us

the rock wall

One of our next tasks was to create a rock boundary, in part for beauty and in part to keep our cracker dust in place when it rained. You can see in the above shot the rock wall meandering down from the water tank… we collected these rocks from all around the farm, largely from just in front of our site, but also from up top where we grow food.

rachel at one with the rocks

The list of landscaping jobs has been endless and continues to grow as we plan and live on our new site. One of our key aims is to live harmoniously with the existing environment around us. To do this well, we are in the process of creating a grey water treatment pathway, which will filter the water that runs off from our caravan. We only use products that are completely biodegradable to wash our hands and dishes and clean our teeth, but we want to create a system that effectively processes our grey water before it reaches the creek 20 metres below our site. We have had fun creating a run-off system, using weed-mat, rocks, gravel and plants as a first step in the filtration system. Down the track we intend to plant some Banana trees further down the run-off slope as these are apparently very good for cleaning up grey water.

looking up towards the drain pipe

looking down the run-off system

We want the system to look as natural as possible. The gravel and plants will help to process and break down whatever is in the grey-water. This system is also intended to stop any erosion occurring on the left hand side of our site. On top of this site, just above the drain-pipe, we will create a herb garden, which will lend further support to the back wall, as well as providing us with some fresh herbs near to our camp site.

In other news around the camp site, we have begun work on some retaining walls down the front, NW facing slope. It’s a fairly gentle slope, but there is still potential for erosion over time, so we are planning a series of untreated hardwood sleepers, weed-mat, native grasses and trees to prevent any major slippage in the event of torrential downpours.

looking up via the retaining structures

Since completing these few structures at the end of last week, we have both been struck down with a tummy flu and all progress around our site has been put on hold. This weekend, we are feeling better, but planning some much needed rest. The list of jobs is endless, but self-care is essential if we are to stay sane and not injure ourselves! The weeds can keep growing for another week and hopefully no torrential rains!!

We haven’t even begun to fill you in on our farming adventures over the past 4 weeks. We might leave that for another post (soon I promise), otherwise this post will go on forever and we will test your patience.

We really hope you have enjoyed this little update. Our intention is to be back in regular contact again from now on. So we look forward to continuing to share our adventures in growing with you as they evolve into this new phase. There are many exciting times ahead to be sure…

Until next time, stay well, grow something edible, and feel free to post a comment or join us on Facebook or Twitter…

With love,

Michelle, Rachel & Harry

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3 thoughts on “on-site developments

  1. Hi Michelle and Rachel (hugs to Harry!) – Wow… massive changes… it’s come SO far since the muddy, boggy space a couple of months ago. Can’t wait to see what it will look like when it’s done. A very happy new year to all of your – all the best for 2012 🙂

  2. Indeed indeed you have done quite a lot gals. Im so impressed with the speed you are doing it all, AND at the same time doing the farmer thing. We are so proud of you, and remember, times are tested no matter if you are embarking on your lifetime dream or living the doldrums of a unit in byron. Keep plodding away gals. MWAH!

  3. Michelle and Rachel and Harry! Happy New Year, New roof, new water tank, new railway sleepers, rockery and caravan. Thank you for the update, I had been wondering! Wishing you everything that is best for this coming year, and again, congratulations on progress and creating home.

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