A Quiet RevolutionΒ 

​”Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” ~Marianne Williamson

We live in a world where homesteading, which is really just living much the way our grandparents would have, is a quietly revolutionary act. In a society ruled by corporations, this is one of the few ways we can take back control of our lives and reclaim responsibility for our future and for the future of the Earth.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to corporate greed and control. No, I’m not ok with you forcing farmers into unsustainable practices whilst offering (forcing) them ridiculously low prices for their produce. Farming is a profession which should be respected, celebrated and supported. I do not wish to be party to your bullying tactics.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to losing touch with seasonal living. Sorry, but I am not ok with eating out of season food that has been trucked in from out of state or worse still, shipped in from overseas. Those unnecessary food miles and the resulting pollution are not ok with me, thanks anyway. I would much rather wait patiently and truly enjoy the first magical strawberry of the season.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS, I’m not comfortable with large-scale monoculture practices and the subsequent chemical use. I would rather not ingest those pesticides if I can avoid it, and I’d prefer not to be responsible for degradation of our soil. Instead I will work to repair the soil on my small patch and feed my family food that barely needs rinsing.

Keeping animals for food, even if it’s just for eggs, is a way of saying NO THANKS, I am not ok with the factory farming industry and it’s unspeakably horrible treatment of animals (buying direct from one of the many wonderful, ethical farmers in this country can send the same message). I would rather watch my hens forage around my yard and gratefully accept the eggs they gift me in return.

Cooking from scratch is a way to say NO THANKS, I am not ok with accepting the highly processed and packaged foodlike items that are robbing us of our health. I would like to know what is in my food, know that it nourishes my children’s bodies. I can do without all of the unnecessary plastic that pollutes our planet.

NO THANKS, but I don’t want to accept a one size fits all life for myself or for my children’s education. I don’t want my clothes to be made from oil. I don’t want to rely on a factory to provide me with something so simple,  so everyday, as a dishcloth. I don’t want to pay for things I can do myself. I don’t want to live detached from the Earth I came from. 

Like a toddler I want to scream, “I can do it myself!”

Suburban homesteading is a way to take back control. Control of our spending, control of our health. Through growing, cooking and preserving our own food we can accept responsibility for ourselves and for our impact on the Earth. We can thumb our noses at the corporations that try to tell us how to live, from the clothes we wear to the water we drink. 

The problems of the world can seem insurmountable. We can feel lost, powerless and afraid. Or we can take back our power. 

Each person who plants a garden takes back some control and responsibility for themselves. Each person who plants a garden inspires a friend to do the same. Slowly, quietly, the revolution is spreading from one backyard to the next. 

Have you joined the suburban homesteading revolution?

Get started with these ideas for homesteading in the suburbs.

 

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The Holistic Homeschool

This article is Part Two of a series on holisitic homeschooling.

I know, I know. I promised this post moons ago. I’ve been busy writing an article for the next issue of Mulberry Magazine (due out very soon) and writing/procrastinating/agonising over my plan and report for the Home Education Unit. Not to mention the general business of running our micro homestead. But here it is. Finally πŸ˜‰

The holistic homeschool. What is it? What does it look like? What is the point?

In Part One of this series I talked about holisitic education and how it differs from traditional education. The topic is HUGE but at it’s core we can boil holisitic education down to a few points: rhythm, balance, relationships, a transdisciplinary approach. A holisitic homeschool takes these values and ideas and applies them to the home and to home education.

Here’s how it works at our house ☺

Our home hums along to a gentle rhythm. This makes sure our day-to-day life flows gently and with purpose. Children thrive on knowing what comes next and what to expect. And to be perfectly honest, so do I. When your home is also a homestead, daily rhythm becomes imperative. Those animals aren’t going to feed themselves unfortunately. At least the bread rises all on its own πŸ˜‰

Aside from a daily rhythm which includes our everyday chores, our meals, our lesson time, play time, self-directed learning time, etc., we also have a weekly rhythm. This helps us balance our lessons to ensure we are addressing all learning areas across the week, sharing our time between home and community, between lessons and play, between inside and outside.

Overlaid with this we have our yearly rhythm. This includes family celebrations, festivals, seasonal planting/harvesting/preserving and celebrating the cycle of seasons. We endeavour to live seasonally, with respect for nature and our place within the environment.

Each of these rhythms seeks to bring balance to our lives and our learning, to foster an understanding of and respect for the environment and to help us become productive members our chosen communities.

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One of our old rhythm charts


TIP! Writing out your rhythm on a chart serves as a helpful visual reminder to the whole family.

While we are focusing on bringing our lives into a harmonious balance, we are also seeking to balance our learning. Unlike traditional schooling, book learning isn’t deemed to be more important than learning (both through and about) art, music, handwork, yardwork, or even the learning that comes through being bored and at a loose end. It’s amazing the things you learn when you’ve got nothing but time and imagination!

Aside from the intrinsic value of each of the areas mentioned, we also believe that utilising these as tools is helpful in learning the more traditional subject areas. We discover science through story telling, maths through the art of form drawing, English comprehension through drawing and modelling. And this is just to name a few!

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A story began this science lesson outside with friends. We learn handwork with the help of songs. Drawing helps with comprehension of stories. Story and manipulatives assisted this maths lesson.

A balanced approach to learning has us overlapping between the subject areas. As holisitic homeschoolers we aren’t into learning subjects as separate entities, studied individually. We try to incorporate head, heart and hands learning- to bring story, song and art- to all areas.

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Art, song and story make it into all of our learning

We’re also not very interested in sitting still in one spot for our lessons. We learn in the garden, on our nature walks, at our co-op, and on family outings. We learn in the kitchen, in the playground, on our blackboard and in our books. It happens on our couch and on the floor. Learning happens in all sorts of places with all sorts of people. It happens as part of our daily life. It happens just as often while jumping around as it does sitting still. Actually with my kids it very rarely involves sitting still for long πŸ˜€

On a very practical note, we have tried curriculum and no curriculum, very structured and rather unstructured curriculum. We’ve gone DIY and we’ve gone open and go curriculum. For us, a Waldorf-inspired approach works best and we have found Kristie’s curriculum at BEarth Institute to be the right fit for us (nope, not being paid to say that and that is NOT an affiliate link. I just love the curriculum and wanted to share it with you all).

While we dedicate LOADS of time to pursuing personal interests, to freeplay and to just doing our own thing, we discovered unschooling just wasn’t for us. We prefer the structure, the rhythm, the balance, the parent/teacher-child relationship that comes with a holisitic model of homeschooling. We enjoy the magic, the art and the story of the Waldorf approach (even if the anthroposophy isn’t for us).

I’d love to hear what model of homeschooling you have adopted or are drawn to and why πŸ™‚

Happy Homeschooling xx

Take aim and fire!

I have recently discovered some people find it offensive for a suburban homesteading page to discuss despatching animals to feed your family. Trust facebook to bring out the ugly in people.

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It has me wondering though… are our followers not aware that we here at ‘Forage and Forge’ all about becoming as self-sufficient as we can on our little patch of suburbia OR do people not really know what suburban homesteading is? Maybe people believe we should strive for self-sufficient vegetarianism? Hmmmm

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So I have (of course) decided to write a series of blog posts explaining the how, what and why of suburban homesteading 😊 Which makes NOW the perfect time to ask any questions you have about this way of living.

Fire away!

A year on…

We’ve been here a year now.

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The garden has been mostly kind to us

We’ve been here a year and I now have a much better understanding of the small parcel of land we call home. I know where we get full sun and where the shadows fall. I know which areas flood and which drain well. I know which soil has rubble beneath the surface, and which is home to the worms.

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The old patch has been left to run wild at the end of summer

So we are planning to start a new vegie garden in a different location, and turn last years patch over to some dwarf fruit trees and herbs. This will be a major project with new fences, new pathways and all included, and will more than likely be a long and slow process.

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Planning in progress

I’m so excited. Planning is such great fun!

Weed tea

Sometimes my garden is growing lots of delicious,  nutritious food…

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And then sometimes it’s growing weeds. If I’m lucky it’s just a few and the chookies get a treat πŸ™‚

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But sometimes I have been lazy (so terribly lazy!). Times like this call for weed tea. Not the kind the aging hippy down the road drinks. The liquid gold kind. Weed tea FERTILISER πŸ˜‰

All of those nutrients the weeds have been stealing from your garden can easily be returned to their rightful place. All you need is a garbage bin with a lid, an old pillowcase, water and weeds. Lots of weeds!

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Step 1: pull out weeds and stuff them into your pillow case. Fill it right up and tie it off with a rubberband. This is your teabag.

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Step 2: put your teabag into your rubbish bin (henceforth known as your teapot) and cover with water. You may want to weigh it down with a large rock to keep the teabag submerged.

Step 3: this is the most important step. Put the lid on your teapot/bin TIGHT. This is going to stink in no time at all; you do NOT want it to spill.

Step 4: Now we wait.

Six weeks later all of the weeds will have drowned. Remove your teabag and empty it into your compost bin. Thise weeds are now dead so you can be sure they are not going to start growing in there. The watery sludge in the bottom of your teapot is your fertiliser. Give it a stir with a long stick. This is one designer scent you don’t want to be wearing.

(Come to think of it, you will want to be wearing gloves or using tongs -OR BOTH- when you remove the teabag).

Your homemade liquid fertiliser is strong so don’t apply it neat or you will burn your plants. Dilute it down 1 part weed tea to 10 parts water. Apply to the base of your plants in the morning. 

Voila!  The nuisance in your garden just saved you spending your hard earned cash on fertiliser. Organic and free! Bet you never thought you’d hear those two words together in a sentence :-p

Chickens: the ultimate recyclers

Alternatively titled: Reasons you should keep a chook or ten

Chickens eat your scraps.Β  All of them. They don’t care what it is. Just don’t give them avocado or the other things on this list. There will be no such thing as throwing away food if you have half a dozen chickens in your backyard.

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They turn your scraps into nitrogen-rich fertiliser. It’s pretty potent poo so I’d recommend putting it into your compost to break down rather than straight onto your garden. If you’re using paper or straw for bedding you can put that into your compost at the same time.

Chooks will weed your garden for you. Let them out into the garden and pull up a chair. Enjoy a quiet afternoon in the sun with one eye on the hens to make sure they don’t eat anything you don’t want them to (that is anything you want to end up on your plate). Your feathered friends will scratch at the topsoil, loosening it and removing (eating) the weeds, saving you the time and energy of doing it yourself. They may even deposit some of that lovely fertiliser directly onto your garden for you πŸ˜‰

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Sunshine weeding the garden

All of that eating and sunshine will give you lots of delicious eggs! Of course this saves you loads of money because freerange eggs are expensive. So technically your scraps and weeds just turned into money. You’ve also eliminated any ethical issues with eating eggs because you KNOW your hens are happy and healthy.

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Different breeds of chicken lay different sized and coloured eggs. Farm a rainbow

Even the shells aren’t waste! Crush them and use them. You can put them on the garden around your seedlings to keep slugs and snails away from your plants. Better yet, feed them back to your chickens as shell grit. The shells are hard because of the calcium in them. Feeding the shells back to the chickens ensures they are getting enough calcium in their diet to KEEP laying eggs with strong shells. The rough texture of the shells also helps to break up the food in their crop because they don’t have teeth to do the job. This is also why chickens eat rocks…not because they are crazy birds.

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See how helpful these birds are! They also make lovely pets. Chicken antics can keep me occupied for an unreasonable amount of time *blush* and they are easy enough for kids to look after.

Do you have other ideas for employing chickens for waste reduction in your household?