What an inspiration you are Helen! It seems that it’s time to get this blog on the road again. My son Oscar and I have been busy in the garden for weeks now, watching and learning how nature works. We’ve managed, for example, to save strawberries from the
damage caused by months of rain – by ruthlessly removing spotty diseased leaves and allowing healthy new ones to form! Snapping off all runners before they get a chance to root also diverts the strawberries’ energy from making new plants to making fruit. As a result we’ve started to feast on lush juicy strawberries every night.
Shakespeare once said, “We lop away that bearing boughs may live”….. our consumerist society also needs some heavy lopping and fast too before it’s too late.
We are still so very lucky. Today Oscar and I baked bagels (or bangles as he calls them) and sprinkled them with poppy seeds. I’ve spent the last week collecting poppy seeds from the garden but am hoping to use most of them to keep our flowers growing next season. For dinner tonight we garnished our bagels with fresh dill from the garden as well as fine little rings of spanish onion – the first I’ve ever grown.
To the north 3000 people are isolated by flood waters but here, today, we are revelling in sunshine and harvesting dinner from our own backyard. We are intensely aware of how fortunate we currently are and how that good fortune carries with it a weight of responsibility.
One of the things that has been upsetting my boys the most has been the constant news of animals facing extinction. In the last few months we’ve launched into becoming chook farmers (on a very small scale) to do our bit to counteract this rapid decrease in species worldwide. Due to large companies like KFC and McDonalds, farmers around the world have been pressured into breeding a limited number of breeds of chicken …. lousy for chook lovers, lousy for chooks, and lousy for human survival if these limited breeds are wiped out. One of the main arguments for biodiversity is that the more species that exist the better the chances are that some will have what’s needed for survival if hit by disease, extreme weather conditions, a genetic weakness or an adverse reaction to something like genetically modified crops.
About 5 years ago, bantam Faverolles were virtually extinct in Australia. Faverolles were first imported from France by a chef in Melbourne because they are a wonderful chicken for both meat and egglaying. They even lay quite well during winter and are suited to cold climates like ours in Blackheath. Being an extremely gentle chook they’re also ideal for children as pets and, if nothing else, they’re extraordinarily beautiful. Members of the recently formed Faverolles Society are working hard to build up the breed in Australia and we’ve now put up our hand to help keep this breed alive and well in Blackheath.
Unlike millions of people around the world we still have the time and breathing space to be able to learn and teach our children how to cook and grow their own food, save their own seed, propogate their own plants, breed animals back from extinction. It takes from 3 to 10 years for things like asparagus and fruit and nut trees to begin producing a crop; it takes years to build an organic soil that can produce abundant food without chemical fertilisers. It is now, while things are good, that we need to prepare and do the groundwork for the future. It is now that we need to do things like growing our own food which can help to reduce our emissions and lower our consumption rates – currently 32 times higher than countries in the Third World.