In our household, we are constantly questioning - Does how we choose to live, feed our souls? Everyone has their own version of what makes or measures the important stuff - but for us - this is the right question.
The intention that as a family, we try to move forward with in our homesteading way of life. The journey that we've been on until this moment has impacted our children and how they see the world and allows us to constantly address any dis-ease or unsettled feelings that may occur. Not going to lie - this can take time. So, I'm going to share with you where we are at with our garden, livestock and workshops.
We harm none, then we try to listen more. Simple right? In the midst of our really busy lives, we have to take time to listen to the land, the elements, the plants & trees and each other not only to give us a sense of peace and connection, but to attune our small family to the needs of our working animals - At the moment our only working animals are the chickens. Their behaviour & egg production tells me what's working and whether to alter or keep our strategies. Sitting near them, reading a book or just being still for a while gives them meaning and reminds us they're to be protected. They're not just production machines for the eggs that we use for baking, but beings that deserve to live full life in an urban situation.
Now that Autumn rain and cooler temperatures are upon us, I am drying herbs in preparation for the cooler, wetter months of winter. Rosemary, lavender and thyme are my herbs of choice in the nesting boxes, combined with shredded paper to bulk out the nests. Doing this helps to keep any mites at bay in an attempt to avoid any potential problems. It's like a newly made bed and is quite satisfying to make as it smell fresh and clean and all the old bedding goes into the compost. I change the beds usually every 2 weeks unless it becomes particularly messy. Currently we have 2 girls laying for us, so the run is fairly small and the upkeep is minimal. We move the cage every second day, a procedure that our macadamia tree has been very grateful for as the nutrient left behind has made for an explosive crop and in return the chickens receive welcome dappled shade.
This time in the orchard, Autumn, we also make space to notice which tree is in bloom, fruit or leaf. Like a child, if we feed, nurture and meet its needs and have an ongoing conversation, the orchard and the biome living within it will thrive and flourish, feeding us in return. The constant balance of this ensures that our careful planting will provide our family with a year round, seasonal, living harvest that should meet a lot of our nutritional needs. We live near Cornwall Park, a beautiful place, where we walked our adorable, horse sized dog, Bob, before he passed away. Now that I am less on a mission to get him exercised and outside, we walk just for ourselves, together, at a more leisurely pace. The leaves are turning and the wind is cooling, but the earth is still warm and until April when daylight savings ends, the evenings are still light. So now, looking forward, there is a lot of reparation to do before the winter months begin. This is the time of excess fruit and vegetables. While I am a big believer in eating living foods, we can extend the autumn season through to spring and summer by making jams, jellies, preserves and chutneys. Dry herbs for the home made bread baking, teas and for general consumption.
The space that we have is constantly evolving. We move our recycle bins filled with vegetables and herbs into different spaces to follow the shade or sun as the plant requires and to allow for the next crop of greenery to be grown. I've always had a kitchen herb garden and have found it so useful to keep all these plants close to the back door. At the moment our back steps are covered with pots of herbs, some regular and some unusual, with a narrow pathway down between them so I can pick fresh and use straight away. I've also got all kinds of wild herbs and weeds deliberately in all the cracks and edges of our garden for easy access. It's important to watch the plants and alter their situation should they show signs of stress. Like us, they all enjoy different environments and thrive in different climates.
We've put up some dates for the up coming workshops on to the Oak and Thistle website where we will be teaching classes at the Onehunga Community House on Selwyn Road. Take a look at the workshops page
Very soon we are going to advertise some specialist full teaching days in our own kitchen. Numbers will be absolutely minimal... We'll update you very soon!