Where to From Here?

Income streams, being hip, and those who’ve no other choice (through choice)

We’ve recently celebrated our third year of land stewardship here on Djaning, and all in all, to say the least, we’re pretty chuffed. We’ve so far managed and are still managing rocky terrain both internally and literally.

As we sat in our king sized bed, kindly donated by an old friend, at the end of another long challenging day we made a point of noting some of the things we’ve been lucky enough to experience in our three previous years. Some, such as developing community interdependence are barely beginning, we feel we’ve barely scratched the surface of this integral element knowing more work is certainly needed and will always and forever require conciencious work, with its own notably enriching rewards. While others, like our ongoing plantings of both annuals and perrenials and the application of various methodologies within the diverse fields of bio-intensive, syntropic agriculture, forest gardening and others, have all improved exponentially. With every season, nay, every moment that passes being afforded another rewarding learning opportunity.

Laughing with pure joy at the end of another long day. This time implementing our first larger scale Syntropic system with help from community members and seriously ‘hip’ friend

With this in mind (still in our bed) we began to turn over our most hotly avoided and weary topic; poly income streams. Or, how to make ends meet so long as our dominant monetary economy exists. We’ve become quite used to being creative within our household economy, both in its physical form and its emotional form, from musical performances, teaching stints, sharing and exchanging fresh produce, and inviting new people in to our lives to share this journey with us. Though we tend to continue to come back to a pressing question:

How to create a life and livlihood within our current paradigm without feeding Wetiko?

To make an income from something that’s a passion seems to us the ideal. Which is essentially what it is we are trying to do. However in the process of selling our passion we’re often confronted with the notion of selling out. Need we pursue narcisitic VLOGing? Do we have to sell our souls to social media to turn a buck? We don’t want this to be just another fad. After all, being Green is the new Black. As The 70s funk band Tower of Power asked (in all their majesty) “What is hip?” furthered by the statement, “If you’re really hip the passing years will show.” 40 years of applied permaculture living should attest to this pursuit being genuinely “hip”.

In fact we feel this is beyond hip, beyond marketing. A return to The Mother, living “Off-Grid”, as if all those “on-grid” are some embrio straight out of a nightmarish scene from The Matrix. The irony is of course not lost on us. In our bid to return, our dismissal of The Grid, we’re spruiking ourselves through the very elements we’re endeavouring to supercede.

All this in mind (us still in bed – perhaps wearing furrowed brows) we look to the solutions. The people and things that have inspired us to get here. Those that are holding a light up ahead. We refer directly to our friends Artist As Family and their wholy inspiring approach (now notably removed from social media), and their expressed intention to not give any money, or as little as possible, to “The Man”. We also refer to our friends closer to home, eco-warriors who’ve been living off-grid before it was even a thing. Those who actively engage in such lifestyles because they know that any other choice would be to compromise not only their integrity but their soul, their spirit, their Joie de vivre!

In our initial ponderings and searchings for a more connected, more meaningful existence we were inspired by those putting it out there. They may well have been using social media and many of the other things they sought to upheave but in doing so they’ve inspired and encouraged countless others to do likewise.

So perhaps (droopy eyed now), their and our insistence on utilising these machines and mechanisms we’re doing as those prerenaissance, utilising the printing press to diseminate counter culture, inspiring the reformation and bohemians everwhere evermore. Or perhaps we’re just making ourselves and our little family that much happier, that much more resilient, that much more informed of all the potential that Gaia has to offer.

Oak: Homo Sapien, Ka-Pow! & Slow, Creeping Confidence

How is one supposed to compose a considered piece of writing after several months of disengagement? Easy right? Well, not so much.

The fact that we haven’t written has been playing on our minds, and the fact that it plays on our minds creates further blockages. We do however feel we have more than enough ‘excuses’ to warrant our absence. We half promised ourselves we wouldn’t do this, but here’s at least one good reason why we haven’t ‘blogged’ for such a long time.

Baby.

Yep, a baby boy. We called him Oak. Yes, we named him after one of natures most brilliant gifts; a tree. But we also named him after a feeling, an energy, and a human being.

First off, we should probably apologise to Oak for using him as an excuse for not writing our blog. Then we should explain and thank him, as because of him we’re relearning to slow down. To wholly appreciate. To savior moments.  To stare into a little face and know that at each moment he’s receiving information  that is completely new. Never before has this little being seen a sun rise, a sun set, a rain storm, a cloud, a flower, a smile. This in itself is something to be greatly treasured… With of course “treasured” being a limited term in its capacity to describe such an on going transformation.

So with this new post, we acknowledge Oak Elliott Quinlan. Soon to be 4 months old. Just beginning to smile, giggle, recognise familiar faces, tones, and sensations. With this post we publicly embrace our newest friend and family member.

This all goes without mentioning further council approvals and the mountains of paperwork that includes, the Australasian Permaculture Convergence, Family from England visiting, erecting a yurt, planting innumerable trees, organising future workshops and courses, realising dreams, and conquering inner demons. Which we all know takes a whole lot of…

Now that we’ve explained ourselves, we’d also like to take this moment to acknowledge the passing of one year, one full cycle around our star on our little rock, since we’ve been on Djaning.

We’d like to share a few of the things we’ve learned in this time.

First of all, we’ve realised one year is a long time. It’s also no time at all, and for many things it’s just enough. It’s as if you only really begin appreciating and comprehending the passing of time once you’re doing that which you feel you were put on the earth to do. Or, begun listening to ‘your heart’. Cheesy we know, but it’s true.

The near 1000 trees we’ve planted so far are establishing themselves. We’ve witnessed a year of weather cycles; the deciduous trees shedding their leaves, the frost pockets showing themselves (minus 2 a few nights), the warming up of Spring, and the intense, humid heat of summer (45 degrees on one brutal Sunday). Through observing these cycles we’ve been better able to plan our movement through the land and its emerging organic design.

Our first ‘final’ design

The “final’ design we began a year ago is now coming into its own as the main frame is in. As many who’ve implemented such designs, there’s certain restrictions to any landscape. It’s curves and features naturally lend themselves to only a set number of mainframe alterations, ‘facelifts’. Djaning being no exception. As our two dams, main swale, and entrance road are now settling in, we have begun to be able to observe more closely our, and most importantly, natures, patterns.

Our zone one is evolving through this observation, tweaking our design as we use the space. The few citrus and stone fruit trees we planted a year ago are now settled in and are producing some excellent desire lines around our space, their edge becoming giant over flowing beds of perennial guilds. it is so exciting to watch this evolve and grow. “the edge is where its at” Thanks Charlie, David and Bill!

A happy and slowly evolved mix of pollinators, edible perennials and annuals, featuring; Kan Kong, lemon grass, nasturtium, sweet basil, stevia, cucumber, passion fruit (panama red & Norfolk black), native yam, strawberry guava, pigeon pea, lemon, native ginger, cape York lily, Brazilian Cherry, calendula, Brazilian spinach, seven year bean, winged bean, marigolds, chilli, comfrey, geraniums… on and on…

Our space is becoming a filled in canvas of food. Painting the landscape with garden beds. Our initial excitement at growing an array of annuals was quickly sidelined by the emerging perennials. As the delicious and common place annuals were eaten up and gone, our perennials kept growing and gave us something even more inspiring than just beautiful garden beds. Interesting greens like Kan Kong and the mushroom plant make excellent stir frys. We have all manner of wonderful herbs – medicinal, edible, insect repelling – this world of wonderous plants is just opening up to us and we love it!

Our flowers attract bees and insects, and really add to our overall moral through their constant changing beauty.

So with all this and more, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with our progress and happenings.

Also, (another reason for our lack of blogging perhaps?!), see our up and coming as well as our recent forays into permaculture teaching!

Here:

Fionn teaching @ Zaytuna Farm, Home of the Permaculture Research Institute

Here:

And Here: http://krishnavillage-retreat.com/permaculture

The Ebb & Flow of the Good Life

To hear the sound of a new family members’ pelvis being crushed under the wheel of your utility vehicle is something that is likely to disturb sleep. To have an official looking man in an official looking car, wearing an official looking suit arrive at your house and tell you you’re officially unofficial (living illegally), is also likely to create restless slumber…

These are certain experiences that have ‘touched’ our lives lately, so forgive us for not writing an update a little sooner. We’ve been somewhat preoccupied. Not to worry though, there has been some marvellous aspects, however we’ll get to those later in an attempt to leave you on a high note.

So the opening sentence may have some thinking we ran over our own or someone else’s new born child. Not so. It was our most recent addition, the first live-in domestic animal on the farm. 4 month old Blue Heeler cross, Thida. She was a trooper. A nipper, heel biter, hand shaker, back talking little wonder dog. At only 4 months old and only 2 of those with us on the farm it’s incredible just how much of an impact she’s made on us in her short time. We needn’t go into details, though we know there’s dog owners and lovers out there who feel our pain. So we’ll give you a shot of the little legend, and move on before we all well up and can’t read or write any longer.

thida

Now onto that official looking man arriving at our caravan door. It was a man from the local council who had come to tell us that what we were doing didn’t fit the bill. We weren’t to be occupying our own land for more than 2 days a week, and 60 days in a year, we needed a more stable grey water system (one of their approved cement boxes to be precise), and that some of the holes we’d dug to support our yurt were not written down in his little book and therefor we had had to stop work and were lucky we were only getting a warning. There’s some fairly colourful language that we’d have liked to use, and there’s a great deal that could be said about the real crimes of humanity, though we’ll spare us all and allow your imagination to do all that for you.

Our own compost toilet not dissimilar to this one
Our own compost toilet not dissimilar to this one

One of the more interesting aspects of his arrival was that he inquired as to whether or not we were ‘doing permaculture’, and upon our muted nod and vague shrug, he added whether or not we knew Mr Lawton from down the road, less of a reaction from us proceeded. An eye brow raised and a sheepish smile perhaps. To which he informed us that Mr Lawton had had some trouble with the council in the past, though had now begun to tow the line, and had learned from his mistakes… It would seem someone at council has a bad impression of permaculture. What a shame. What a pity.

The most interesting of these events though seemed to come when we had to explain this to our three year friend and offspring. Questions as simple as “Why can’t we live here?” were unpacked and dismantled in the plainest of language that had us reeling at the madness of the world. “Because we don’t have a ‘proper’ toilet”. It also led to the consolidation of the idea of us not necessarily being ‘free’. We have our cage, albeit much larger than many, where by those who wield the power can enter at any time and coerce us to behave in the manner dictated by those who wield more power. A strong sense of being distrusted prevailed. As though if we were left to our own volition we’d somehow mess it all up. The irony of the fact that we’re here doing what we are because of the dominant paradigms inability to manage itself so far seemed to be lost on the Compliance Officer (official title on the card), who we’re guessing is yet to read into the non-fiction elements of any of the famous future distopian novels (1984, Brave New World, The Island).

The burning question remained; are we as a race so incapable, so lackluster that we need to be so closely monitored? Only to be answered by a resounding… Perhaps. Which in it’s own way has given us further impetus to push on and prove the point of permaculture, of a good life, of self sufficiency, that those with a basic foundation of a strong ethical and moral code can, will and do look after not only themselves but their community and in turn their bio-region, nation, and world.

goddess-earth-mother

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑