Have you ever thought about living off the land, getting away from it all and seeing if you can make it without all the stuff?
In 2009 we moved into our home that I affectionately call, Booka Farm, I had a dream of creating a sustainable living back then, and it hasn’t changed. I gave that name to this property because it brings back fun memories of our beach shack that we were lucky and privileged enough to holiday at every chance we got when growing up. It was a fair hike from our home in the Pilbara town of Hedland, some 1500 odd kilometres away. They were tin shacks with push out windows, pit toilet and if you were fancy, a donkey set up for hot water, oh and came with ocean views and a hop skip and jump through the sand to the beach. I look back at this time and my time growing up on Main Roads camps in the Pilbara and Kimberley and know that it was this simple upbringing that gives me my thirst to find out all that I can about living simply, and to use these techniques any which way I can to live pretty naturally.
Not always easy, not always successfully, but I have a heck of a lot of fun trying.
This year has been the first year for us to put in a crop. What a learning curve. There’s no way I would have synthetic inputs. Nup, no way. No superphosphate here thanks. So late at night when my partner arrived home with bags of goodness to put on the crop that night, because the rains were coming and they needed fertilising, it meant a few cursed words when some were not as ‘natural’ as I wanted. Did they go on? No. Did we separate over the discussion? No. He gets me, whilst he may not agree with all my ideas, he at least respects my thinking.
Here’s what we did to get started on our sustainable farming journey and put in our crop as naturally as possible.
Our neighbour, so helpful & knowledgeable, came over with his tractor and bits attached to prepare the soil. Think it’s called harrow, I did ask, promptly forgot. He made it mostly himself, very clever man.
We had purchased seed – oats and pasture grass. We wanted something that our little flock of sheep could graze over rather than bale up. I read a lot of Pat Coleby’s books, they are my bible, and I like the idea of keeping on your land what you need rather than intense farming to feed others. If we can grow enough to feed our sheep so we don’t have to buy any in during the summer months how cool would that be?
Even better would be to grow lots of things to feed our sheep, chooks and us! Imagine that.
We used pelletised chook manure for fertiliser. Whilst I know, well, I’ve read this may not be the best because of the farms it comes from, and inputs they use, it’s as close as I could get with what I knew. I’d love to go down the line of remineralising the land to forgo this need. That’s my long-term goal.
In it all went. Then we waited for them to grow. I often went and peaked out at the bare earth.
And finally, it came up. Bit sparse, but a bit more rain, bit more sunshine and it’s looking quite ok for first timers, I think. This sustainable living gig might actually work.
What other things are we growing?
We have put in some vegies. I’ve grown a few things since being here, broccoli, kale, carrot, spuds, cauli, lettuce. I think I’ve tried most things, not always successfully.
This year we put in a few more fruit trees too. I’d love to have something fruiting every month so I’ve sat down and written tree names, when the fruit will be ready.
Is anyone else spending their precious time doing this? I get weird looks from some people but one day when this property is brimming with produce I’ll have the biggest smile.
Figs all f**d up!
Whilst on the subject of fruit trees. Our fig tree is big and beautiful and normally has abundant fruit but last year it got this gremlin on it and it went all over our fruit. I asked Dr Google and from what I can figure out it is a scale, barnacle scale of some sort. I squish them and its all purpley coloured. I thought the onslaught of ants were eating them and left them alone to do their thing. Little did I know they were moving them all over the tree! No figs last season.
Another friend came over and mentioned that there was black soot too, which I’m thinking might be a result of the scale or is it vice versa?
Anyway, this year I’m on top of it, hopefully. I’ve learned not to kill the messenger and take this as a message that the trees need some extra loving, they may be lacking in something for them to come under attack. So I’m researching natural citrus fertilisers.
My detective hat is on, if you have any clue, please let me know I’d really appreciate the help. In the meantime, I’ve made up a natural scale bug killer oil.
Thanks to the crew at the Green Life Soil Company I came across their recipe online. I made up their White Oil Spray and added a teaspoon of Neem Oil into it. I’m thinking kill the bug, control the soot and we’ll be right.
This is our sustainable living journey so far. Enough going on here to keep anyone out of trouble.
We are harvesting our grey water to feed the new fruit trees – dwarf apricot, mandarin, granny smith apple, high early apple (I think).
We have established fruit trees of Mulberry, Fig and Mayer Lemon.
We planted in Lime, Navel Orange, Pink Lady Apple, another apple (died), Peacharine, feijoa last year.
We are on bore and rain water here, no mains.
We have chickens for eggs, to eat weeds, provide manure for garden (after letting it age for quite some time) and company. Nothing better than watching your chooks at play.
I’ve started a compost heap so many times then forgot about it, then started it again. I’ve got one going now and chucking on the chook poo there too.
We did have a worm farm. Yep forgot about that to. It’s on the list to revive so I can use the wee on the garden.
We have some vegies in. Spuds soon to be harvested and we are munching on kale, lettuce, the odd pea here and there.
We’ve got heaps of roof space to collect water now with a new patio that my amazing partner built. Might need another water tank…noted.
I’m trying to reduce the plastic and useless packaging in our everyday life. Whilst I’m onto it in the business when it comes to shopping, omg, it’s not easy. I loved visiting farmers markets but now we are quite a big drive away from any and our Perth organic businesses who home deliver don’t like coming up the hill this far.
Our crop is in and it’s growing. I’m over the moon happy it hasn’t got any synthetic inputs in it and crossing fingers it all works out. If you have any tips on what organic inputs we can use please let me know.
Washing is done with grey water safe detergent and I pop a few drops of Tea Tree oil in the final cycle.
We make all our own body care products through my business. Well we get the leftovers, but hey that’s amazing I think!
We have a scraps bucket for any leftovers suitable for chickens.
I try and make any bug killers that attack our trees and whip up a mean concoction to help heal our sheep or chooks, cats & dog if ever they get into trouble.
As you know I’m a big believer in doing what you can with what you’ve got. If you’re not on property you can still grow lots of things and put in practises to help in your sustainable living journey.
I love a Facebook group called Jettos Patch, check it out, lots of tips and there’s bound to be more. If you know of some great ones on natural farming, sustainable living be sure to let us know.
Oh, and I’m letting go of perfectionism. Just do it! Give it go and see what happens, that’s half the fun right there.
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