Tuesday, July 23, 2013

salami day

During the holidays we put aside a day for the Salami.  The day that starts at the crack of dawn, the freezing winter chill ideal for making the cured meat, and drove to the local butchers to pick up our order of pork legs.  I listen to my husband ramble on about his memories as a child, how he would go to the farm with this parents and they would select the pig and the farmer would kill it instantly.  Nothing was wasted.  His mother would drain the blood, keeping it for a delicacy and the ears apparently were a special treat as well.  He remembers those days well, it was a day on the calender he looked forward to, and even got a day off school for....now that's what I call an education!

We take our pork legs and drive to friends home...or shall I say garage.  He is really set up, but not in a bells and whistles kind of way...just a practical way.  The mincer is a sight to behold....I wonder how old it must be, and someone has done a fine job bolting to to a small table on casters and rigging up a motor on it.

The morning is spent, as I like to put in "in production"...we all have a job, and it takes a team to make Salami.  We butcher, trim and cut the meat.  We mince it up, and mix in the essential amount of salt, flavourings like homemade capsicum sauce, pepper, chilli and paprika.  We mix with our hands, mine start to go numb due to the meat still being so chilled.  The skins are soaking in luke warm water with lemon and red wine and then we start to fill them, tying them off tight.  Before I know it, the whole process is over.  They are hung and a small fire in a wheelbarrow will help them dry out.

We reward ourselves and our rumbling tummies by cooking up some salami that was made a few weeks prior over the fire....a glass of home made vino and all before 12 noon!  This the the life!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

taking shape

Our house is really starting to take shape now.  I mean we have a roof.  It's a significant step that I didn't think would be so overwhelming until it happened and I got all emotional, choked up even and pretended that the wind had blown dirt in my eye to excuse the welling up of tears.  

It's. Really. Happening.  

We spent a week up near our soon to be home over the holidays.  Time we spent there was shared with the builders, and watching them work, like a well oiled machine constructing my house, our home is just phenomenal.  I mean, hats off to those guys...they really are amazing craftsman. 

Our time was used up making up the veg boxes that will soon be home to seasonal produce and feed my family.  The aim is that it will be ready come time for spring planting.  We have to get it rabbit and kangaroo proof first!  We also planted 33 olive trees...all by hand and even though that ground was soft, I'm already hoping that I don't have to manually dig too many more holes....Did someone say machine post digger?  

I got familiar with the brush cutter and paid eager attention to using the ride on mower...things I have previously known nothing about.  Even my mind is taking shape to a whole new way of living.  And its exciting!  

Oh and what do you think of the new header?  Thanks to Dan for designing the perfect logo for us and our new adventure!  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

sneak peak

I'm a visual person.  Casting my eyes onto how things will look,  to imagine the bigger picture and how tiny samples will look hundreds time their actual size.   This trait is somewhat of an issue when building a house from scratch and having to rely on the old noggin for imagery that is yet to be put into a tangible visual for my eyes to feast upon.

These images, completed by our architect at the time of designing the floor plan has helped tremendously in piecing together the two demential into three and morphing our ideas into life.  I giggle at the silhouette people standing in my virtual house.  Which one am I?  The one in the kitchen no doubt.

It's like a little sneak peak into what our house will look like.  A vision that is helping me create a house into our home, adding depth, detail, texture and life.   You can see from image two our house design has a major focus on sustainability, using what nature will give us and maximising its power.  Windows are key to our house design.  They are everywhere, yet with a purpose.   This weekend we'll visit our house again...check and double check all the windows and make sure their just right the frames are all made up.  I can't wait to see the potential views we will have....

13 Acres Family

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

reality of sufficiency

Since realising that our dream to move onto land and live a more semi-sustainable life has been apparent, what was dwelling in the forefront of our mind was just how sustainable we wanted to be.  We knew that growing our own vegetable produce, planting small scale orchards and having chooks were a given.  What we weren't sure about was the choices about our meat.   What would we do once the chickens stops laying?  What about hunting and foraging?

Well, the answer came to us during our weekend at Whole Larder Love Workshop.  We learnt about the reality of being sustainable enough to dispatch our own chickens once they are no longer productive with egg laying.  The husband is in the process of getting a gun licence that will allow him to shoot wild rabbit, a meat that is perfect addition to our diet, tastes fabulous and helps cut the number of these introduced species in the area.  We learnt how to skin, gut and butcher the rabbit, knowing how to cook which cuts and also how to assess the meat for quality.  All practical, hands on learning.

The emotional lead up to our first time killing a chicken was complex.  As a meat eater, I was still very naive about the whole process, but by comparison also about the treatment of the chickens that are available in the supermarkets.  The chickens we killed came from an organic farm, just down the road. They had lived a good life, with loads of freedom for them to produce wonderful organic eggs.  Once their productivity declined, their meat is still edible even though these birds are much older than their supermarket counterparts.  A chook like this needs different cooking techniques because of age difference, but still is wonderful meat.  Nothing is wasted besides the internal organs as the bones have made the most delicious stock.

When it was my turn to take a live chicken out of the cage, turn it upside down in the killing cone and slice the jugular, snap the neck and end it's life, I knew it wouldn't be easy.  I doubted my ability, my resolve and whether I could actually do it.  My heart was pounding, my head thinking the whole time of what to do, my hands slightly shaky.  It wasn't easy...but it probably never will be easy, just something I get used to doing.  It was wonderful having such a supportive group of people, all encouraging one another through our emotional turmoil.  Once the bird is plucked of all it's feathers it begins to look recognisably like the chicken you buy for roasting, and are comfortable with seeing...It's just getting to that point that was so unfamiliar. We learnt how to pluck the feathers after submerging in a hot water bath and the gutting was such an experience (nose pegs recommended).

I learnt a new skill which I believe I can apply to our way of life on our land.  Reducing food miles, not relying solely on supermarkets and how knowing how the meat has been cared for and treated is all important.

I learnt a valuable lesson in the reality of our goal towards sustainability.

Do you have dreams and goals towards sustainability?  What are they?


Monday, April 1, 2013


Last week, just before dawn, I snuck out of our country apartment.  I left my bestie and our daughters sleeping.  We'd travelled up that familiar freeway the night before and the purpose of my trip was drawing closer.  Today was the day the builders lay our concrete slab.  I'd kind of ear-marked this event as one of those pinnacle moments that I knew it would all start feeling "real" and also a moment that I knew I wanted to be present to see it all happen before my eye.  So with half a dozen boys, me and my camera and a chilly autumn morning, the crane, the cement truck and the level set, work began.

The sun rose in the East as each truck load came and went delivering cement. It was a magical crisp morning and in a few hours, the footings and the hydronic heating were all covered with the concrete left to set.

The foundations are laid.  For what will be our home.

13 acres family

Saturday, March 2, 2013

bricks & water

We've come up this weekend to check out the progress at the block. A marvellous day, the first few days of Autumn, and not a cloud in the sky.  Here at night it's already beginning to get fresh...blanket weather, which is welcome given the humid heat of late in Melbourne.

It's been a few weeks since I've been and during that time, I knew that the brickies were starting and that a pump had been ordered.  Lo and behold we turn up and there are the beginnings of brick footings and the pump is actually connected and trenched.  It actually looks like a building site.   There is bore access on our land, which means a good, regular supply of water which shouldn't ever run out.  It's been tested and it will be perfect for irrigation and even drinking if need be.   We also have the power cables in the shed waiting for the sparky to fit some lights and switches.  Very exciting times.

The Kangaroos however were looking a little stern as to why we interrupted their siesta.

The 13 acres family