by | Aug 8, 2017 | Baking, Design, In the Garden, In the kitchen, Soil

There is a list and sketches on a drawing we made. A drawing of our land and our dreams.

Pigs on the south paddocks.

Native wind breaks to the west, south and east.

Establish a wetland and create habitat around it.

Plant oaks and nuts to provide long term food diversity for animals.

Establish a small orchard for harvesting apples, plums, nashis, pears, quinces and other fruits suited to a cold climate.

Create a kitchen garden for everyday vegetables and herbs.

Establish a berry orchard to the north of the house with irrigation and locate it so that it also acts as a fire retardant.

Create wind breaks close to the house with hedges.

Buy a tractor.

Complete the guest house and guest kitchen.

Build a dish rack for the kitchen so that the benches are free of dishes.

Plant olives:  if the cost of harvesting and processing them to make oil, is comparable or less than the cost of buying quality local oil.

Seal gaps in the greenhouse so that when it rains water does not get in.

Build a roof above the north facing guest house so that when fierce wet northerlies come, the rain does not make its way under the door.

This is but a tiny, minuscule part of the list…the list is very long.

Sometimes the list seems very big…during those times I think…just relax…no need to hurry…family first, list second.

I have appreciative genes. The kind of genes that rarely allow me to lose sight of what is important. And the most important part of this journey is our well being and our commitment to caring for each other.

Ralf and I have been fortunate in that over our time together we have improved the way we communicate with each other and hence this project has not caused us stress so far.

I sometimes get really worried about money, about borrowing too much. At my age, my parents had well and truly paid off all of their debts. They owned their house outright within five years of its purchase by doing without.  Without holidays, without furniture with the exception of the very basic essentials, beds, kitchen table etc.  My mum worked as a hairdresser and my dad cut leather patterns by hand.

This month we bought a tractor and I am therefore thinking a great deal about money.

Our tractor ‘Svetlania’  will allow us to move the eight or so topsoils mounds that have resided in our paddocks since the wetland was established.

It will move the gravel mound that has been sitting in the middle of our drive way.

It will slash the long grass, rip the soil for tree planting and dig fence posts, allow us to finish topping paths with screenings so that we are mud free around the house, it will lift the extremely large rocks that came out of our sewage system, so that we can place them strategically in desired locations.

I just really hope we haven’t over extended ourselves.

Our conversations have patterns, and circular paths, my conversations with Ralf…first let’s secure some more income, then let’s spend a little more. Income first spend second…Ralf is transitioning into running his own business: water conservation engineering. CV’s have been rewritten, repolished and sent out to various networks.

I have really slowed down, I feel a bit tired, but still very motivated. I need to finish weeding the berry orchard before spring and prune canes. I have only pruned a third.

I planted garlic in late July and it is growing. I have sprinkled manure and rock dust to help it grow.

I have planted a green manure in one of the kitchen garden beds and have tarped the remaining bed to kill cape weed.

It’s time to sow seeds for summer crops and to create a microclimate in the greenhouse. The nights are too cold for seeds to germinate even in the greenhouse so I am going to collect bricks and create a brick shelter within the greenhouse to help retain day temperature heat at night.

I am loving my life here so very much, may it last, may it last…

This pile of Guilford gravel has been sitting here for a really long time, but with the new tractor it has now been removed and spread along walking paths.


The beginnings of the kitchen garden many months ago.


The front triangle bed now has sides and is planted with green manure on the left and garlic on the right.The back bed has yet to have sides built. Tarps have been laid and held down by rocks to kill Capeweed.


Green manure rows: radish, peas, lucerne, oats.


Gravel topping to improve paths around the kitchen garden: in the process of being spread.


Ralf takes a break from his desk to get some work done outside; to stretch, and to exercise before another stint at the computer.


Garlic shoots are growing.


Fruit trees have been temporarily planted in the kitchen garden soil to keep moisture to their roots while we prepare the orchard for planting.


Some of the berries have been mulched to smother invasive weeds.


Progress is slow in the prairie/bee garden but 30 Panicum virgatum ‘Rubrum’ have recently been planted. If they make it through to summer they will be gorgeous plants to see. Another 50 have been ordered.


The addition of 30 Panicum virgatum ‘Rubrum’ in the prairie garden: this photo shows 16 plants with tree guards.


The pizza room (yet to build oven) gets really wet in winter with water reaching our door step, so we will need to build windows and install doors to make this space usable.


This north facing guest kitchen door gets battered by rain and needs protection. Ralf has ordered flashing and is beginning to build a shelter above it.


The guest kitchen has had a little bit of detailing done along the workbench.


Ralf works on sealing the greenhouse to prevent water from entering in winter.


A clothes line has been installed in the greenhouse to get us through the winter months.


The kitchen splash back will soon have a dish rack installed! Woo hoo.


Dish rack waiting to be oiled.


‘Larder girl’ has been hung by the larder door.


Bread is once again being made on a very regular basis.





  1. Joel

    Hey Mara, this is so inspiring to see! We can relate to having long lists, and to having anxiety about debt. It’s wonderful however to see all of the positive change you’ve already created and cultivated. I especially enjoy how you’re now tweaking your thinking and designs as you continue to learn your landscape. Thank you for doing what you do!

    • Mara

      Thank you heaps Joel…and I am so inspired by the landscape history work you are doing. I only recently got hold of an EVC list for our site and a better description of the nature of the land we are on.

      At some point, I would love to prepare a document similar to the one that you have produced. It gives so much meaning to the work being done and a ‘beginning to the story ‘.

  2. isi

    ahhhhw mara.. can i come on a woofing holiday at your lovely house? like a working retreat away from home? for a weekend? please? xxx

    • Mara

      I’d love that as I need the help, and we have a room that you can have on your own…definitely just text me when the time is right…love lots to you, mara


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