Archive | Self-sustainability

Welcome Winter Sun

Sun

Praying Mantis

We have been gripped by cold this past week, it’s really been freezing! I’m so grateful to be able to go outside and sit in the warm sun. Oh, to feel those rays on your skin is just lovely. Jen spotted a little visitor in our kitchen yesterday, a Praying Mantis, this is the largest one I’ve ever seen. She was watching me very intently while I was trying to take a photo of her.

Sun1

Sun2

Sunny Days Shawlette

I’m finished knitting the Sunny Days Shawlette, just love how the contrasting yak yarn turned out. I’m going to block it tomorrow…

Lavender

Nest

Sun3

Shadows

I’ve had a lovely afternoon with my girls, shopping for a few Father’s Day gifts and just spending time together.

LED

We’ve started replacing our light bulbs with LEDs, they are much more environmentally friendly and so economical, the original outlay for the bulbs is quite pricey though but these bulbs will benefit our power usage in the long run. Our house is quite dark during the winter months, so we tend to switch on a lights a lot more. Apparently, these bulbs can last for up to 20 years.

Charlie

Hope you are having a restful Saturday.

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Natural Dyeing with Onion Skins

I have really been enjoying all the knitting that has been going on around here and felt I really wanted to knit a cowl with naturally dyed wool with an autumn theme. I have been saving onions skins in a packet in the veggie drawer and I finally had enough today to dye some wool. It is such fun watching the colours develop in the dye pot and attach to the wool. So if you feel you would like to give natural dyeing a try, I took some photos of the process to share here…

Materials:
About 5 handfuls of red and brown onion skins
Stainless steel pot used only for your dyeing
Vinegar
Merino wool

Wind your wool into a skein if it isn’t already in one. Soak the skein in a bowl of water for a few hours, making sure the water reaches every part of your skein. Then place some vinegar in the water and leave this to stand for another hour or so.

I love the look of these onion skins!
Fill your pot half full with water and place the onion skins in the water. Push the skins under the water and turn on the heat. Bring the pot to almost boiling point, don’t let it boil as I find this ruins the vibrant colour. Then turn down the heat and let it cool a little. It is always a good idea to let the wool and the dye bath be the same temperature when the wool is placed in the pot so that it isn’t ‘shocked’ as this will negatively affect the colourway.

Lovely rich colour.

Place the skein of wool in the dye bath and allow the pot to simmer gently, don’t let it boil or the colour will become a dirty brown and the wool will felt. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes until there is a beautiful rich colour on the wool.

When you are happy with the colour, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool completely.

When your wool has cooled, remove it from the dye bath and rinse it in a basin of water.

Gently squeeze out the water from the skein and hang it out to dry.

And that’s all there is too it:)

PS. this embroidered tea towel is one I sewed when I was in primary school…

Happy wool dyeing! ūüôā

27

Worm Farms

Today the girls wormeries arrived, they were so excited and we set them up straight away! First we unpacked everything inside the boxes and started to add the layers as per instructions. We put in the worms and a small amount of food for them. The worms are going to live in the kitchen in the space where the dishwasher used to be. We no longer have a dishwasher and I¬†actually find¬†the process of washing up by hand¬†more enjoyable than using the machine, this might not make sense, but instead of rinsing all¬†the dishes first and then packing¬†the machine, using expensive dishwasher soaps and plenty of water, we now just wash by hand in the sink and it feels good, it makes me feel more connected to my tasks as a homemaker…¬†Ok, I am going way off topic here… Anyway, back to the wormeries, we have got 4 now and this should give us amazing worm tea and compost for the garden. They are Wizzard Worms Wormeries and are so compact and tidy and look quite sweet in the corner of our kitchen. It’s nice to think that there are sweet little worms working away quietly at our kitchen scraps converting them into worm tea and compost, pure liquid gold…

The worms arrived packed in this cardboard box with plenty of moist compost and paper.

Kitchen scraps went on top with a few pieces of shredded cardboard…

Once we were finished we covered both sides of the worm bin with soaked newspaper and let the precious creatures get on with their magic composting…

Wormery update:
Just to answer some questions, the wormeries should be¬†just fine¬†situated in your kitchen, they do not have an odour if they have the perfect balance of air, moisture and food. If you are going to keep your worm farm outside, it needs to be kept in the shade. Sometimes if the worms are overfed, then quite a putrid smell can emanate from the bin because of the rotting veg. I cut up my veggie scraps quite small to help the little worms with their composting. Most veggie scraps can go into the bin except citrus, pineapple, onions and I also don’t add potato skins or potatoes. (added 27 May 2011)
Here are some links to DIY wormeries.
12

Keeping Chickens…

We have been keeping laying hens for quite a few years now, they all have names and the children can tell them all apart… They are so amazing to watch… We often just sit and watch their movements around the garden , the way they scratch in the dirt for small bugs, how they sandbath in a soft sandy spot and the way they run, this is all very entertaining. After they sandbath, they are covered in damp sand and if you pick them up, they feel incredibly heavy…
This photo above is of our chickens’ housing, it is a wooden house 3 metres by 3 metres, with a verandah, we have also enclosed a small area with wire fencing for them to roam around. After they have eaten in the morning and layed their eggs, we open the door at the back of their house and they are free to move around the entire front garden. Most of the day they range free eating grass and small insects and grit. The little pebbles / grit¬†aid with their digestion. We have planted a number of fruit trees around their enclosure to give them shade over the next few months / years.¬†We have planted apples, a prune tree and¬† a Peacan Nut tree and as well as providing the chickens with shade, we will also benefit from the fruit and nuts…
This is the inside of their house with perches on the sides. Chickens really like to roost when they sleep and every afternoon around 5:30 pm they all walk into their house and find their spot on their perches, we close their door to keep them safe and warm. They all know exactly where their specific spot is and that is where they sleep every night. We also spread fresh straw over the floor to keep it clean and they also love to scratch in it.
We only have seven chooks and these are their laying baskets that are lined with straw. Every morning, after they have eaten their laying mash, they all take turns to lay their eggs in a basket. They only like to use one basket at a time, so they seem to alternate between the two but either use one or the other, never both at the same time.
We feed them laying mash everyday and into this we add additional seeds, barley, oats, mealie meal¬†etc… We also give them ground up egg shells once a week to help with digestion and give them calcium, but we make sure that the shells have been finely crushed first so that they don’t have any ideas about eating their own¬†eggs:) We also have a bowl in the kitchen, where we keep any leftovers that they can eat, oats porridge, scrambled egg, salad vegetables etc… All of this is really good for their diet. It is also vitally important that they have fresh water everyday. And in return we are gifted with the most beautiful free range eggs, with yolks that are golden yellow…
This is Bumbles (named by the children)…
Today we took them to the back garden where we have our compost heaps, they are scratching through our middle heap, aerating the compost and giving it a good turn over.

We all went and sat outside in our little fruit orchard to watch them while they were scratching on the compost heaps…

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead…

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