My Pins

Friday, June 28, 2013

An Ounce Of Prevention

Being in the depth of winter here in Tasmania with the temperature regularly dropping into minus temperatures overnight now our first topic discussed at the Living Better meet-up was wool; it's use, care and protection. 
Coincidently this week, 4Corners aired a particularly damning expose of the exploitation of clothing factory workers. To say that these workers paid less than $3 per day in unsafe factories with no entitlements, protection etc is to spouse the usual blah, blah rhetoric. But to SEE their maimed and missing limbs and hear how a mother sees her son just once a year etc etc....
This is big clothing companies that retail in our countries squeezing the tightest dollar from the manufacturers. I am taking some responsibility for this too. Recently I have bought insanely cheap knitwear and though I marvelled and mused "how can they make it for the price?" that was as far as my thoughts went. In this country as recession has hit, we have congratulated ourselves staying afloat, keeping fed, staying warm....but clearly at the expense of poorer countries. 
Please, I urge you to watch this episode and report from 4 Corners called

The book in the photo above as you can see by the cover is a collection of war time brochures that though outdated in some of the energy information, still has valuable and timely household wisdom for today. A lot of the literature was about making clothing last. Our group discussed how in today's society little thought is given to the preservation or care of clothing. It is bought so cheaply and usually quality is compromised. Households are more inclined to throw clothing into machines and wear them less than a year and casually toss them out. Like the "Slow Food" movement principles, we can apply this also to our goods we use and wear. For instance, think about kitchen cabinetry. When you add up the time the timber took to grow, the miles that the product, raw and dressed travelled, the hours that it passed from hand to hand as it was crafted from tree to cabinet, it becomes mind boggling when one considers how cavalier people can be gutting their kitchens for a new one because it is not cosmetically fashionable enough.

Not so for Kylie over at lucy violet vintage, check out her story here about saving a Tasmanian Oak kitchen on the other side of Australia....but I digress a little.
Back to wool. Same applies. From the farmer to the shearer to the textile worker, literally miles and miles and lots of dollars but what IF we stopped for a moment and consciously thought about our purchases and cared for our things with the respect they deserved. 
Wool is a champion fibre. It is insulating and used in housing and garments. It can be spun from the finest of threads to the thick textiles and even felted. It is soil and stain resistant. It is fire retardant. 
I have woollen garments in my wardrobe typically older than 20 years. My oldest garment would be my grey scarf that my mother used to wear in 1973. That's 40 years old! Even older is the dress that my father knit for my grandmother, tucked away in a trunk here safely.

This is typical moth damage.
Woollen garments need not be washed every single wear as they are soil resistant. A mark needs only spot treatment like a sponge. After wear simply air before folding and putting away. Perhaps there has been a spot here and a moth has certainly found it. 

At the meet-up last night we discussed some simple ingredients from our garden and local area that can be used to deter moths and silverfish in cupboards. 
You may recall posts recently about our trip to the west coast. While there I picked up a couple of bags of Huon pine shavings, wonderful for the hen house and in the nesting boxes acts as a natural insect deterrent. It smells divine too. If you don't have access to Huon Pine then Cedar chips are commonly used in such a sachet. I acquired absithe artemesia plant from Killiecrankie Farm, commonly it is known as Wormwood and another wonderful pest deterrent and good for planting near the fowl yard. In the later part of summer I harvested and dried the leaves easily for use in wardrobe sachets. The lavender was also cut and dried upside down in the summer. Not only does it smell good but it is also an insect deterrent. Lastly from the pantry we added cloves which also has anti-mould properties. 
People have used ingredients like these for centuries. There are no hard and fast rules, just make sure the ingredients are dry and that they have insect repellent properties. You can also add essential oils if you wish to or other fragrant herbs as you prefer. 

You can simply cut a square of fine lawn or muslin and place a small pile of the ingredients in the centre then gather the fabric and tie off with a piece of string or ribbon. Recycle those small gauze drawstring sachets you sometimes get or stitch a shape like the heart above (here for more ideas and also here) and stuff with the ingredients and some wadding and sew closed. As simple or as pretty as you like. This is a great project to do with children and they make lovely presents at Christmas or for teachers.
And that was just the FIRST topic we discussed but that's enough for now, more tomorrow.....
when we talk about 
Elderberry Tincture

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

White, White or White?

Know what's behind this.....?

When I moved in this second abandoned fireplace was put in the too hard basket and the sideboard nicely covered all for more than 20 years. It's time to repaint so I'm going to deal with a few things properly.

All the china has been packed into tubs and the furniture cleared....

What hasn't fit into tubs is squashed onto any spare flat surface.

We've sampled different whites....

but like the rest of the planet I've chosen "Antique White USA"
Things might get a little quiet and boring on this blog for a while, the crafting projects are on hold this winter and sanding is on the agenda instead.
Do share your experiences and thoughts though about white colour schemes, it's all helpful and may save some grave mistakes....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Cost of Free Food

Last week in the previous post I was telling you about our special guest from the 
who came to talk with us at "Living Better". The following is taken from their site,

The idea 
Urban farming Tasmania is a free Tasmanian collective supporting new friendships and stronger communities through sharing fruit and vegetables, art & music. The idea came from seeing a lot of wasted fruit and vegetables and we thought this problem could be solved through a collective which could grow and share fruit and vegetables,  art, music and performance.

The main manifestation of this idea has been a weekly swap market of fresh produce and made product, the idea being that as a community we come together and share the excess and make up short falls in each others resources. No monetary exchange. Seasonally a volunteer force also collects/forages produce and turns that into preserved produce.

Just days before Bridgette came to speak with us about the project, the local paper had done an article on page 5 about the project. There was general excitement about how positive the community felt and the growth of this tiny little idea.
this article brought this project to the attention of the council.
(insert dastardly dangerous spooky music)

Immediate changes needed to be met in order to comply within the definition of a council regulation free market. 
1.Food may NOT be swapped or bartered (even though there is no monetary exchange) but must be donated or gifted.
This brings up some interesting discussion issues I think and I would like you to ponder this first point. Is there a lot of difference between either method? (shoulder shrug *meh!) To me it is a bit hair splitting. I do have a small concern though that if food doesn't have a perceived value will we treat this event differently. Will people still come and support week after week and "donate" food in order to gain the "gift" of some food. How does the committee make this work? One idea was that all the food is put on a large trestle and then people take what they need. Very altruistic but does this successfully ensure that someone who brought apples isn't stuck with, well, apples!

2. Fruit and vegetables need to be whole, labelled and registered.
Hmmm, because we wouldn't want someone to get carrots and not know what they were! What about pumpkin? Does that mean you can't cut and share a pumpkin? And registered! Really? We need to create some red tape and fill out forms and create paper waste in order to gift food.
OK whatever, world gone mad but some things we have to just suck up....

3. No baked or cooked foods till further notice, there being issues of sourcing commercial kitchens and food handling standards.
Well I kind of expected this one. We have over-regulated ourselves to the point now that "it just isn't safe to trust food prep to just anyone" and all the regs ensures that things are done properly with a minimising of danger and should something go wrong then somebody is certainly accountable on some form or registration somewhere. Even poor old fresh eggs are subjected to a long list of regs.

Does this all seem just a little obstructionist? Do you think people can really be bothered in the face of all this negative nervous Nelliness. I am sure the energy of this group will soldier on, life is full of small setbacks. 

The last point from the council was a doozy though and it had everyone scurrying for points of law and here it is......
4. Foraging for food on public land may be an illegal activity and was to cease till further notice and the public food map had to be temporarily removed until advice was sort. 


Interesting notion isn't it.
Food should be left to drop and not eaten. It is preferable that food wasted and littered than someone should RISK safety by eating it. I believe that this is ultimately what food producers and manufacturers would love to happen. There has been a concerted fear of food safety campaign being waged since the second world war. 
Lets think about this for a moment.
Eating an apple from a tree on the side of the road could be illegal food foraging from public land but fishing from a stream is fine???

All of this happened within a week and to council's credit and the Urban Farming Groups' compliance, the market is still scheduled to proceed each Monday as planned with the changes.
The other good news is that council have now issued a statement about foraging food and I quote,

'We encourage sustainability practices within the Northern Tasmanian community and has no objection to members of the public taking fruit or other produce from street trees or trees within the Council's public reserves. However, the taking of fruit or other produce should only be done in locations where it is safe to do so, using methods which are also safe. Fruit and other produce should not be collected from roads or from trees by climbing or using ladders. The Council does not spray these trees with insecticides or pesticides, so care should be taken to ensure any fruit or produce collected is free from insects'.

So the good news is that the public food map is back!

Do be careful of those organic non-sprayed unsafe fruits though!!!
In case you are not capable to discern for yourself they have also spelled out the common sense rules too. Please, we have to stop this cotton wool wrapping and let people use their own common sense before we breed it out of the next generation otherwise what hope will we have then.

Your thoughts/comments? 
Do you have a group similar in your area?
Have council regulations made you give up?
Do you think food foraging is unsafe?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cleaning, Foraging, Divining

Our Living Better group met last week and we celebrated our first anniversary.
We had a speaker from the group talk about cleaning without chemicals. There are a number of ways to achieve this and each style suits different people, their lifestyles and methods.
There is the Enjo method which is reliant on just water and the micro-fibre of the cloths. There is also the home based methods of pantry items like bi-carb soda, vinegar and lavender oil for the very industrious. The third alternative that Elisha presented to us was by Nature Direct. It relies on the micro-fibre cloths AND different blends of essential oils and extracts, like pine, cypress, eucalyptus, clove and rosemary. It is an Australian company and nearly all the products are made in Australia which is important to us. Chemical cleaning manufacturers are not required by law in Australia to list their ingredients but they are required to list warnings....and there are plenty of those. The products from Nature Direct list all their ingredients and while you wouldn't want to ingest them, they are certainly not going to cause great harm. Check out their "Did you know...?" page here.

Our next guest speaker was Bridgette from Urban Farming Tasmania.
She runs a "market" on a Monday at the Tasmanian College of Arts and the idea is that people bring produce from their gardens or foraged along with any other trade items like music, artwork and design. Her group essentially wanted a community style market where no money changed hands and people supported each other by trading their surplus. They are passionate about seasonal living and not letting food go to waste, in fact they are wanting council to plant more food instead of ornamentals. They have produced a free food map of the area plotting figs, walnuts, apples, sloes, quinces and more about the greater Launceston area. We all received a gift from Bridgette (pictured above) of quince paste made from local foraged fruit. We were very excited by her project and many more tree sites were suggested 
stay tuned for there is more to this story.
In the few days since we met Bridgette, Council has been made aware of the group through a newspaper article and they are coming down hard but I want to discuss this more fully in a day or so when we see their final stipulations. You can see this all unfolding on their facebook site. There is a can of worms here.
A very controversial point still in debate at the moment is the legality of foraging fruit from public land. They seem to have an issue with the food map. People on both sides are scrambling to find legalities. 
Does this mean fishing is not legal? To me that is foraged food from public land?
Anyway, we will have this debate in a day or two. In the meantime please show this group your love and support with kind messages.

Our last speaker introduced us to water divining. The image above from WikiHow is very similar to the rods we tried (as usual I got caught up in the moment and no pictures!)
Martin told us his story and demonstrated as he walked about the room how the rods moved and swayed. Each of us had a turn and were amazed at how the rods swerved and we were not able to control it. It is very hard to understand and though there is plenty of documented anecdotal evidence, I don't think there is any scientific specific evidence. 
It was a really interesting and fun way to top off our night. This is a new venue for us too and I am pleased to say that it was wonderful having a large quiet room all to ourselves. We would not have been able to have the cleaning demo or the water divining demonstration as well in the pub. The lighting is good and it is heated and we have our own toilet amenities too.  

Our next meeting is 27th June 7-9 at the Workers Club in Launceston
We'll be discussing winter remedies and bee keeping and possibly fruit tree pruning.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Wild Tasmania, My Home

This spectacular piece is by Selmesfilms. It was shot by Phil Selmes on a visit to Tasmania.
(My guess is) the beginning shots are of the East Coast travelling down to the Tasman Peninsula then up through the central rainforest areas, perhaps Mt Field National Park. It also looked a lot like Liffey Falls as well in one shot. The last third is travelling the central highlands to Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake which is an alpine region and usually covered by snow in the colder months.
The first mammal shot is a paddymelon or a potteroo (not sure) a small wallaby type anyway and the second fury lump is a wombat.
I'll not lie to you, it brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. I am very passionate about my beautiful home and this is just one aspect of it.
It is spectacular. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...