This August the 2 folk, the dog and the tractor all took things a little slowly.
What do I mean by slow?
Normally I would go on to explain, quote others etc about the term ‘slow living’ and how it involves ideas such as intention, simplicity, mindfulness, balance and connection. (FYI, pg 257 of Brooke McAlary’s lovely read “Slow”). But not this time.
I mean all the plans we had for August seemed to take longer to unfold than we expected. I’m not sure if other owner builders feel the same way about the time it takes to complete buildings. Always longer than you plan, even after years of practice and a Master who is a quantifying savant.
It has taken a while but we have come to embrace, even enjoy, this time lag. It gives us a chance to use the half built space to see how it functions. Function is an important focus of this modern farmhouse. We use the time to dream, trial and work out the finishes that work best for us in this space. We try for robust, resilient and beautiful materials. This year we have trialled treated zinc metal cabinet doors and Tasmanian Blackwood wall panels. We love the wood so much we are ordering more panels to change out the zinc doors and looking at where else we can use them.
Obviously this time lag does require us to eschew design trends, fashionability or hot ideas in favour of timeless classics. Attempts to incorporate the latest look would only end in interior design armageddon given it would be delivered some years post the trend ending!
We are building a house we hope will sit well in its environment – not like a flash dunny in a paddock. Deploys materials that are robust and acquire a patina that comes with age – that’s aged wood as opposed to gauged plasterboard walls. Demonstrates the concept of space – a few good things in their place. Acknowledges how ultimately nature is the best source for decoration inspiration – natural materials and a limited colour palette to offset the mass of human made concrete. So we have large picture windows to show off the landscape and seasons, we use wood to soften the hard functional flooring and use natural light to create a sense of space. We love comfort and generosity so I’m thinking our few furnishings will take this on but formality and highly decorated won’t really work for us. There are no layers, what you see is what you get. This is our take on a (comfy?) minimalist aesthetic and it feels such a luxury to build our home to fit our lives.
Last month’s book list showed the tome that is Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massy. I finished it this month and it did help get me off my butt to put into practice some of the learnings written about. The book describes how most learning has come from folk hitting extreme scenarios that forced them to act differently. Their generosity in using their experiences to educate folk like me, before we hit walls, is beyond measurable.
Nurture the land, save the people is the primary message I took away from the book. (This is not new!)
We have more trees to plant, native grasses, forbs and plants to encourage, soil to improve, biodiversity to evolve before we will feel we have improved this patch so that it can start to nurture us, and our animals (stock and native) and our garlic. This month we are deploying the sheep to graze and manure the site for next season’s garlic planting. This gives their existing paddocks time to rest and grow as the soil warms and rains encourage new growth. Rotational grazing (cell grazing) is where we are starting and seems well documented as a means to encourage biodiversity in plants, animals and soil biota. All of this supports self organisation of the land to better manage undesirable elements such as water runoff, erosion, Christmas beetle larvae, internal sheep parasites and weather extremes.
But we are no experts! This is our approach to regenerate our land, make it more productive and produce a better quality product (wool and garlic). Piece by piece we are starting our journey to develop a holistic management practice.
At the start of August the 2 folk and the dog attended the annual Australian Garlic Industry Association workshop and conference. It was all things garlic and a band of dedicated inspiring growers with piles of information to share. From large commercial operators through to teeny tiny boutique folk like us.
Garlic is a multi faceted, generous and robust plant, I suspect a lot like its growers. It is no longer the white poncy fumigated bulb languishing on the super market shelf. Nor is it the jar of preservative packed odd colour mush I grew up with. Oh no.
Photos courtesy of Australian Garlic Industry Assoc
Garlic is purple, stripey, blotchy, pink, bronze, hot, spicy, pack you a punch, linger longer than socially acceptable warm your soul herb of amazingness. The milder flavour varietals for the raw dressing will always be around, but it seems Australia wants a punch of flavour and colour. As the market speaks so the growers plant.
It will take a couple of seasons before such complex garlic will be readily available, but for those eagle eyed of you, limited quantity fresh bulbs from this harvest should be available at farmers markets and online.
August Book List
Twenty years from now you will be more dissappointed with the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.