Monday, August 27, 2012

July 2012

Since writing garden goings on I've decided to do a monthly post on all things sustainaburban and this is the first one. It's a summary of what's been going on at our place, not just in the garden. You tend to write blog posts on good, positive stuff, which can make blogs a bit untruthful I find. So this segment will try to document the good, the bad and the ugly.

This sure has been a dry July and it's definitely nothing to do with my drinking habits. The driest July on record, 23mm chasing an average of 175mm. Thankfully we had a full tank to start the month and we didn't get anywhere near empty. I've drawn some markers on the side of the tank to take some guess work out of judging the tank level, which I do by banging on the side of the tank.

Being dry means it's been cold at night too, so our gas use for heating is pretty high this month. Power use is up too due to boosting the solar hot water. I've just set the timer to boost for 45 minutes every day at 4pm. This is the best time to boost since it's at the peak of solar gain and takes the least time to get the water hot enough for showers, etc.

The chooks don't seem to miss a beat in the cold. We're still getting 3-4 eggs a day from our four brown chooks. The Australorps have laid two eggs in about 6 months! Amy got sick and I made her chicken soup, which made me think why didn't I slaughter one of our own?

The vege garden's looking great, with broad beans in full flower, lots of broccoli ready to eat. The peas have been awful this winter though, really struggling to get going and getting brown spots on the leaves before dying. We should start getting summer seeds in the cloche now, but haven't got around to it yet.

We haven't been doing many preserves, just a beer brew (Pilsener, great to brew in the cold). We ran out of preserved tomatoes last week and actually had to buy a tray of tinned ones for the first time in about two years!

We went to the Murchison and saw outback olympics, well just one sport really. They had a big polocross carnival with teams from all over WA. Polocross is an amazing cross between polo and Lacrosse. The riders and horses are so skillful and fast it's hard to believe. Amy's parents will be leaving the Murch soon so this might be our last visit for a while. Quin, Freda and I made it to the top of Errabiddy bluff. A great effort for the younguns, Quin was so excited he just about wet his dacks!

We saw the Big Old Bears EP launch at Mojo's and it was great. You can buy the CD here.

The 28's (Ringneck parrots) are getting jiggy with it, munyin cruel hard or mating depending on how you like it. They are in residence in the bird box up our big gum tree in the back garden and hopefully will have another brood this year. Here's a pic of the male standing guard in the never ending battle with arch enemies the Galah's.

The Fr8 has had a work out recently. I've been riding it to work 2-3 times a week, a 40km round trip. It's been great, it takes 45 minutes which is half an hour less than the bus (and 20 minutes more than the car). I can feel my legs getting stronger by the day.

Plastic Free July went pretty well. It made us think hard about trying to avoid single use plastic. Rather than just being a temporary thing, there are a few things we will keep on doing. We found a good hemp shampoo bar which we like so no more tubes of shampoo. Amy made a yummy dip called labneh, which is easy to make. Just drain your (homemade) yoghurt with a sieve and muslin cloth for a few hours. Then you can have it straight with crackers or mix in any herbs and spices you like. Amy loves her homemade deodorant, she says it's much more effective than the crystal ones you buy at the shop. We've been ordering takeaway food and asking to have it put in our own containers. Most are happy to do this if you turn up a bit earlier so they can put it straight in. We bought four metal straws, they're $4 each but should last Quin a few years. If we eat out we take them with us for kid's drinks.

Vital statistics:

kWh electricity generated (per day):       2.5
kWh electricity used (per day):                6.2
kWh gas used (per day):          10.2
L water used (per day):           297
Rainfall mm (4 weeks):                 23
Tank level (L):               9,000
km by car (per day):                22
km by cargo bike (per day):    21
Eggs laid (per day):                  3.8

Sorry this is so late, I've been very sick. Now I need to get on with August...