Friday, 11 March 2011

Homesteading and home schooling

Top. The Ulbrich Orchestra

2. The Homestead

3. Bottled fruit

4. Willoma weaving

5. The axeman at work

6. The control centre

7. Tara spinning home dyed wool

8. Wood fired sourdough bread

My intention had been to tour a large part of Tasmania, but I got no further than Deloraine in the central north area. It is my sort of ideal town: small; 3,000, beautiful, a really strong community spirit, with the largest craft fair in the Southern Hemisphere, 2 music festivals for this year, a co-op., local shops (not clone), very matey, red neck, hippie and retirees from the mainland, all of this surrounded by the Great Western Tiers, an area of great natural beauty. I stayed in the area for nearly three months, with the above as my last home stay for the 2010-2011 Wwoofing season (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), a scheme with some work in return for board and friendship.

I had never stayed with home schooling hosts before in my eleven years of doing this sort of thing, and was most pleasantly surprised at the parents and family. Amazing what can be achieved by dedicated parents in all aspects of child development: social, academic and creative. The children were all very articulate, as well as quisical on everything. Skillfully taking part in all areas of running the household, but no slouching on the academic, either. They participate in local sports, clubs and adventure. None of the usual mobile phones, computer games, junk food, fashions, or being bored. A model for others to follow.

I learned how to make and bake sourdough bread in a wood fired oven, to bottle fruit, (which I had done centuries ago when helping my mother in those make do, honest post-war days), also my wood splitting skills and stacking were honed. Also I learned how to weave. To drink rain water at all my recent stays makes me loath to drink English tap water on my return. To live a more simple life with wonderful people in a pristine environment was so memorable.

I expect to be back in the UK for the spring of 2011 and the forwarding of its clocks, thus having two springs and two summers in twelve months!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Bridge building

The recent tirrential rains and flooding washed out the
bridge to John's house. It is on private land, the cost of rebuilding professionally would be prohibitive. So. the oly answer was diy. Being a real community costs were minimised, mainly the cost of feeding the woofers. Max and Greg, his son, felled the trees (niton eucylaptus), and used their tractor to put them onto a trailer for the two km journey. It took just over a week of hard work and clever inginuity from John to complete the task. Men and women joined in, with never more than four at any one one time working. There are three concrete piers with two logs

spanning the length of the bridge. Screws bolted old railway sleepers to the log base.

Top. Trees for felling
2. Max trimming logs
3. First half of the bridge
4. John, Veronika and Marina, on 2nd span.
5. Almost complete

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Jackeys Marsh

Top. Paddy the sheep and cattle dog
1. Abandonded farm machinery
2. View from farm
3. Wiltshire cattle
4. Hereford cattle
5. Nearby self-built house
6. Sunrise at High Marsh Farm

Currently i am staying at a beef and sheep farm.
It is a first time. The area is hidden and surrounded by mountains. My marvellous host is taking me around to meet all the characters who live in the area: fugitives, dreamers, eccentrics, craftsmen, reclusives, throw backs to an earlier age, religious zealots, a real live soap opera!

Here i have been helping in tree felling, bridge building, rounding up sheep and cattle with Paddy and really getting my feet under the kitchen table with the local community.

Western Creek

1. Ripening applesHouse, bike and backdrop
2. House, bike and backdrop
3. Large blueberries from garden
4.Yoga studio made from straw bales
5. Saraswati altar
6. Cow dung used for a religious ceremony

I stayed at a yoga retreat in Western Creek, with mountains as a backdrop. Meditation was also practised. Sheep and a large garden supplied most food needs. The Saraswati practise their religion with chanting and also make offerings using cow dung, which has an acrid smoke.
it was so nice to eat bread that was made and baked daily in a wood-fired oven.

Almost every night I heard wallabies being zapped on the electric fence next to my bedroom. Possums clambered noisily on my roof trying to get into the garden where they wreck fruit trees. There would be a stunned into silence after they too were zapped by the electric fence, before they tumbled noisily back down the roof.

I enjoyed hearing the noisy roof-climbing possums getting zapped by the electric fence; they tear down the fruit and other trees.
Wallabies also run up against it with a stunned bump. They eat the vegetables. Daily, wood-fired
sourdough bread, was a great treat.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Highland Herbs

1. Alternative accomodation
Highland Herbs is set at 800m in a secluded and spectacular environment.
A variety of herbs are grown which are made into teas, and other types of potion, such as evening primrose, camomile, spearmint and many others They are picked, dried and processes, which i found interesting.

2. View from lavender field

Tasks included picking red clover, weeding nettles, gathering rose petals, harvesting spearmint, picking elderflower.

Life was very collegiate and harmonious, with lots of debate and discussion with the group of wwoofers from around the world.

2. Surrounding woods and cliffs

3. Drying shed

4. Rose petals drying

5. Harvesting spearmint

6. My house on the hill

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Cradle Mountain

I have spent many happy hours over a few days wandering the Crater Lake National Park, which is part of a World Heritage Area. Dove Lake is one of the lakes set below the mountains and has an alpine flora of moors, glacial lakes and mountains. There are walks and treks varying from twenty minutes up to many days.

Seen from the saddle

After the Xmas festivities i loaded my bicycle panniers and took the overnight ferry to Tasmania, across the Bass Straighs.

Surprised to find that Tassie has the largest crop of legal poppies in the world which is used for medical use.

The hills are so long and steep with a loaded bike, but compensated by beautiful scenery, quite different from "the Mainland!"

Staying with locals allows me to really get my feet under the table and experience the real flavour of life here.

View with foxgloves
View with poppies
Wallaby as seen in OZ
Don't pick notice, with menaces
Tasmanian poppy fields