Seasonal Jobs

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Summer is gone and today was a sign of things to come.  Although many of you would scoff at our version of winter it is a clear contrast to our hot, wet summers.

Winter is heralded by cool clear days, cooler nights and a biting westerly wind which can make the apparent temperature seem much less.

Autumn foliageThe leaves have turned and are falling so it was time to gather some firewood as our wood-burner is the only form of heating we have in this house.

We retrieved the dry logs from the woodshed.  These were leftovers from last season.

002This box is right beside the door that leads upstairs.

003And some more under the house.

We are now ready for when we decide to light the fire.

FireplaceGMan has chopped another pile that was by the bottom gate and these are now stacked in the shed to dry out.

Ashes to Ashes, Branches to Mulch


We collect all of the fallen branches on our land for firewood, so today The Duke spent some time cutting up some more logs that were stacked and waiting to be cut.

Here are some of them cut and waiting to be stacked in the woodshed.

The mulcher which you can also see in the photograph also got a workout as we mulched several piles of smaller branches as well as some palm fronds and rotting branches.  As always, nothing is wasted so some of the mulch was added to one of the raised garden beds that we are filling and the rest will be spread under the native shrubs which are planted along part of the front boundary.  The mulch keeps the weeds mostly under control.

Piles of mulch
Next, we headed over to the area near the vegetable gardens.  There was more debris to mulch, including the remnants of the corn stalks.

More mulching
While the Duke and Psycho Dog were hard at work, I turned my attention to the new garden bed I built yesterday.  I needed a bit more mulch and soil to fill it up and then I planted some Purple King climbing beans and radishes.

Garden bed
It is along the outside of the chicken run so the fence will provide an excellent trellis for the beans.  I grew these beans a few months ago and had an absolutely fantastic crop so decided to grow them again.  I added a couple of star pickets and some wire to enclose the bed so that the chickens cannot dig it up when they are free-ranging.  I was just putting the finishing touches to the wire surround as the first drops of rain fell late this afternoon.  We had a tremendous thunderstorm with some huge bolts of lightening very close by but were lucky not to lose power.

Finally, just to prove that our garden is decorative as well as functional, here is a photo of the roses flowering in the front garden.

Tonight I am going to make some decisions about my 33 items for the round of Project 333 which began on April 1st.  I have kept track of what I have worn so far this month and will include them in the tally.  I hope to share the details of my choices with you tomorrow.

Woodshed – Finished


As you know, we demolished the old chicken run a couple of months ago but left the woodshed which was attached to the end of the run.  There was only chain wire between the coop and the woodshed and this was removed during the demolition process, leaving the woodshed without a side wall.  We had plenty of Colorbond sheeting which we salvaged from the demolition and yesterday The Duke created a side wall.  We also had to add a narrow strip to the roof and then finished it off with some metal angle, also salvaged.

Side of woodshed
The finishing touch was to plant a climbing vine that we bought yesterday.  It is a Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Vine.  I have been meaning to plant one for ages but have not really had the right spot.

I finally finished tidying and sorting all of the wood in the shed.  The wheelie bin is also full of kindling.  All of the wood is now in one place instead of various spots around the garage and under the house as well as the woodshed.

This is the area where the chicken run was so we are planning on extending the area which is planted with heliconias, gingers and bromeliads.  These are currently on the embankment to the left of the photo and we will extend it into the vacant space.  I plan to move some rocks to create a defined edge to the area .  The ground has lots of leaf litter as well as chicken manure and composted vegetable scraps so I don’t think we will have any trouble getting them to grow.

Just to let you know that starting from tomorrow I will be doing a series of posts about the practical applications of having a smaller selection of clothes.  Please join me then.



Today I want to share the next step in the ‘Streamline’ process that is outlined the book, “The Joy of Less”.

Make-up module

The concept of modules is that like things are kept together but more than that, it is about creating a group of items required for a particular task or activity.  It could be keeping your knitting needles, wool and pattern all together in one basket so that you can pick up your knitting at any time and know that it is all there.  Perhaps, creating a bill-paying station where you have all of the items required such as pens, stapler, filing box etc.

By keeping like items together this method helps you to identify where you have an unnecessary duplication of items.  An example is pens:  If you have them lying around on various desks, drawers, kitchen bench, side tables etc it is difficult to understand just how many there are.  Gather them up, check to see which ones don’t work (there will be some),and place them all together.  So, do you really need 57 pens?  They last for ages and you probably have more than a lifetime’s supply!  Choose the best 10, keep them together in a convenient and confined spot.  47 pens that have been lying around the house as clutter are gone!!

Once you start thinking in terms of modules you can apply the principle to almost anything in and around your home.

On the weekend, The Duke and I spent quite a bit of time decluttering, sorting and organising the workshop.  It is definitely a work in progress but now we can actually see some of the half-finished projects that had been buried under other things, completely forgotten or simply unable to be worked on due to the clutter on the workbench.  Much of what we did was putting like with like.  There were pieces of baling twine which we keep for various odd jobs.  It seemed like everywhere I turned there was another bit of baling twine but they are now all together in one plastic bag and easy to find when we need a piece.

We have almost finished demolishing the old chicken run and this has entailed removing the side of the woodshed which was adjacent to the run.  The woodshed will remain and a new side panel built to keep the weather out and the wood dry.  This has prompted us to look critically at all of the various piles of wood – everything from tree branches to leftover material from previous building projects.  We are attempting to get all of the suitable firewood in one place in the woodshed so that we can easily access it when needed in the winter months.  One day the firewood ‘module’ will be complete!

The wood is currently in piles to be cut for firewood, stored for future projects or simply of no use and needs to be re-homed or dumped.

Modules create efficiency and also limits.  Whilst the STREAMLINE process is most definitely NOT about rushing out and buying a whole lot of pretty boxes to stash your stuff in, it does help to be able to physically contain your identified ‘modules’.

Stationery module

You probably have ‘modules’ that work for you but that you have not even described as such.  Please share your idea and what works for you.

LIMITS is the next in the series and follows on very neatly from today’s topic.

What a Weekend!


Our weekends are usually full of activity at home because we are at work all week.  This one was no exception and I have to admit that it is great to get to Sunday evening and feel a real sense of achievement.

Of course there are all of the basics to be done so I had 2 loads of washing done and hung out on Friday evening.  The weather has been fine and dry for the past few days so the washing almost dried overnight.  This meant that I could do the ironing on Saturday morning.

Our first job was to split and stack some more firewood.


We will probably not use the fire much more this winter so there is now plenty of wood split and ready for next year.

Pile reduced

There was a huge pile of logs that needed splitting and they are almost all gone now.  Just lots of smaller pieces to be sorted and stacked into boxes.  It was great to get this done as we will be keeping the woodshed but dismantling the adjacent chicken house before long.  That is because we a building a new run for the chickens.

The new chicken run has been a considerable time in the planning and preparation but now you can actually see some progress.  We have dug the holes and set the 4 corner posts in concrete.  There are another 4 intermediate ones done, too.

Posts for the chicken run

There are still 6 more holes and posts to do so we are hoping that the fine weather continues so that we can do them next weekend.

The garden is looking really good at the moment as you can see.

Lemon tree

The lemon tree is groaning with the crop.

Vegie garden

Vegetables are growing well.  We need to have bok choy with a few meals this week before it completely overwhelms everything else.

AzaleaThe azalea is looking particularly pretty.

In between the outdoor work, I managed to do the shopping at the local Co-op, fruit and vegetable stall and Aldi as well as host some guests through AirBnB last night.

Here is a final shot looking down from the verandah of the area which will be the chicken run.  There will need to be some re-arranging of some of the plants that fall within the area, although I think the mango tree will probably stay.  This was taken late in the afternoon but you can see the peach tree on the left of the photo which is already starting to blossom.  In another couple of weeks it will be in full flower.


All in all, it has been a fun and productive weekend.  How was yours?

Happy Harvesting


In a complete turnaround from yesterday, it has been a gloriously sunny day although quite cool and windy.  Miss O was delighted when she woke up to sun streaming in the window.

Apart from a trip into Maleny to go to the library and a short stint in the nearby playground, we have spent the day at home.  While I have been doing some paid work, my grand-daughter has happily entertained herself with some dolls and a dolls house which I received from Freecycle a couple of years ago.  There has been lots of chattering, singing and imaginative play going on.

While we were hanging out the washing, Miss O noticed some lemons on the tree and was keen to pick them.  We put on our gumboots and headed downstairs to spend some time in the garden.  The first stop was the chicken run to give the chickens the contents of the scrap bucket.

2013-05-23 01Next, it was time to collect the eggs. Only 2 today.

2013-05-23 02Quite a number of limes had fallen and there were a few grapefruit ripe but most of the lemons and oranges will be a bit longer before they are ready.  We collected up the rotten fruit and put them in the compost bin.  We took the extendable fruit picker and picked some avocadoes from high up in the tree.  No words can begin to describe the squeals of delight and, “Get it, get it!” as Miss O bounded through the leaf litter, offering encouragement to me as I wielded the long-handled picker.

Finally, I took her out to the front yard where the cherry tomatoes are growing wild and flourishing.  It was only a couple of weeks since I had picked 2 kg of tomatoes so I was not sure how many there would be.  However, there we plenty to keep us entertained and she was quick to point out to me that you do not pick the green ones and the squishy ones are no good.

Miss O was very keen to pose with her harvest.

2013-05-23 03We put all of the produce in the bucket and used the wheelbarrow to collect some more firewood from the shed.

2013-05-23 04The clear sunny day means that the night will be cold so I will light the fire soon as the sun has just about set.  We will bring the clothes in from the line and hang them on the airer in front of the fire to finish drying.

All in all, it has been another productive and successful day and it has been lovely to have a helper with whom to share the work and the harvest.

The Circle of Life


On Friday afternoon I moved some of the wood that had been left to season.  It is now in the woodshed and will be split and added to the the stash of firewood which we keep for the wood heater.

2013-04-28 01Once I disturbed the ground, I was surrounded by the chickens who were eager to feast on the grubs and other insects which were lurking under the wood.  They had a wonderful time turning over the soil and looking for tasty morsels.

2013-04-28 02This weekend we have built 2 more raised garden beds.  One of them is lined with heavy cardboard that I had been saving.  Then we piled in a thick layer of dry leaf litter followed by some lawn clippings.  We will add more soil, compost and probably some mushroom compost which we will buy locally.  These 3 garden beds have been constructed entirely from leftover and salvaged materials.

2013-04-28 03I started to think about how we manage to use and recycle much of what is generated on our property.

The wood is from tree limbs that have fallen or been lopped on our block.  These will be used to heat our home.  The resulting ash is added to the garden beds, either directly or via the compost.  Any charcoal is saved in a jar of kerosene to use as firelighters.  We grow fruit and vegetables.  The chickens provide us with eggs.  The scraps and peels are fed to the chickens.  The chicken manure is added to the garden beds.  Leaf litter and lawn clippings are added to the compost.

It is all part of a never-ending cycle.

Split & Stacked


Today The Duke split some more firewood and I stacked it.  This is the perfect time of the year for this kind of job as the weather is pleasant during the day and we have had no rain for about a month so the wood is really dry.

Here it is all stacked along the side of the woodshed.  This is in addition to the stack that we have under the house.  We do not use a lot of wood so this will be a good start on our supply for next winter.  It is a great feeling to know that what we are doing know will keep us warm next year.

Do you do any seasonal preparation ahead of time?

Organising the Woodshed – Part 2

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Another cold, grey weekend has meant that the fire has been going most of the time.  This is a timely reminder to prepare some more firewood.

2012-06-24 01This is a pile of large logs near the woodshed.  They are pieces which The Duke had cut from large limbs that had dropped from the eucaplypt tree at the bottom of the garden.  We moved several loads in the wheelbarrow to a spot which is closer to the house.

2012-06-24 02The Duke split them into pieces of a more manageable size.

2012-06-24 03I loaded them into the wheelbarrow and then stacked them under the house.

2012-06-24 04

This is the result of less than 2 hours work spread over both days of the weekend.  We now have a substantial pile of split wood which will dry out completely since it is out of the weather.  We have achieved this through collecting wood from our own property, allowing it to weather for a couple of years and finally, splitting and stacking it.

Like many other activities of self-reliance we have a real sense of achievement and satisfaction in knowing that we have done what is required to maintain a warm, comfortable home through the winter.

We plan to continue splitting and stockpiling firewood until all of the current piles of logs are prepared for use.

Finally, a big thank to everyone who has commented this week.  I have responded to them all (I think).  Come back tomorrow for the next instalment of Project Streamline.