ANZAC Picnic

This Wednesday is our first ANZAC day. It's a public holiday commemorating the poor buggers the Brits sent to Anzac cove to try to knock the turks out of the first world war. I'm too lazy get up for the dawn service tomorrow, but I will try to treat it as more than just a day off - it really does mean a lot to Australians, many of who have a grandfather (or great-grandfather) who was involved in the fighting in Turkey. Also, the meaning of the day has grown to encompass all Australia's war dead, which should give us pause for thought as Howard once again ignores common sense and the will of the people by doubling the Australian contingent in the illegal occupation of Iraq.
From a selfish perspective, ANZAC day falling on a Wednesday means I'm spending the whole week in Nimbin, and will only head in to Brisbane for the day on Thursday.

Saturday was a glorious day, and Nimbin is starting to get quite busy with tourists now that it's only two weeks until Mardi Grass, so we decided to take the car over the hill to the dam near Dorroughby, and have a look around. We stopped at a roadside honesty-box and grabbed some fresh bananas (5 cents a pop, and some of the best I've ever tasted!) and got the other ingredients we needed for a fine picnic at the dairy in Dorroughby. The lake formed by the dam for the water reservoir is really pleasant - there are flowers round the edge, and well cared for walks have been marked out around the dam and below. Apparently duck-billed platypodes are quite easy to spot in the waters below the dam, but we weren't quite patient enough (though we did spot an extremely chilled-out sunbathing turtle amongst the flowers).
As we ate our humble picnic, we were also treated to the sight of two large white parrots (Cacatue Sulphurea) having an (extremely loud) territorial dispute above our heads.
On Sunday I finally made good on my repeated resolutions to start taking a morning run - and 7:30 is a great time to get out near Nimbin; the sun isn't too hot yet, the clouds are still hugging the hills, and the locals are in a cheery mood (unless I was mistaking a succession of "get off the road, you idiot" gestures for friendly waves). We replaced the calories at the Rainbow cafe, and then went to the Nimbin skip to buy large rectangular pieces of fibroboard (to repair the holes I made in the walls when removing the bath with a pick axe) and drove cautiously back through town with the fibroboard sticking a good 5 foot behind the back of our li'l car. With what energy we had left after a morning run of at least several hundred yards (stop sniggering!) we also tackled the old, lantana-covered chicken coop halfway down the garden; hacking our way through the lantana roots, and using a combination of pick-axe, crowbar, wood saw, brute force and ignorance, in about three hours we cleared the structure right back to the underlying breeze-blocks. I know I want to do it up and get it weatherproof, but beyond that, I'm not sure what to do with the space - once cleaned up, it might make a good den or retreat (it's about the right size and distance from the house) or we might end up getting chickens of our own and using it as a chicken coop once again - the hard part is now done (except for fixing up the structure's roof) and I'm immersing myself in the Earth Garden Building Book's "Simple Roofs" chapter, and learning words like skillion, sarking, birdsmouth and truss. Another new world - funny how each and every one I discover has dafter vocabulary than the last.


Anonymous said...

Up until 2 weeks ago I would have been so jealous of your life-style but....ask your mate Mog about pheasant runs....goat sheds and mega back breaking work!!! We will be able to swap stories every week now.

Steph X

Alex Mogens said...

See, this is great... usually all I get from you are your political and cultural insights and a lot of back and forth. I have known nothing of your day to day life until you found cause to link to my website and I spotted it in the referrer logs! What fun! Now we can talk about things like composting..

5ynic said...

you're right about the back-breaking bit - but in a way that is the whole point of what we're doing! Both of us were putting on weight and getting the back problems, carpal tunnel, and other ailments that teenagers and people in their early 20s are getting all over the decadent west these days because they spend their whole bloody lives in front of a screen and keyboard!
I will definitely drop Mog a line about goat sheds though - it sounds like he might have tip or two for me.


5ynic said...

yeah, I've been kinda mean to you recently, treating a couple of your throwaway comments in unrelated emails as license to grill you in depth by email... And of course you then took the time to straighten out more than a couple of my misapprehensions - thanks! Basically, you're my only spy in North America, so when I'm puzzled about how things are going over there, you get the brunt of it every time!
I'm (tragically) very excited about composting, and also about other projects not yet underway such as grey-water reclamation, solar power, roof runoff tanks, chicken keeping and more - and you're top of the list of people I wanna share this excitement with... But I still need you as my only American spy!
PS - is it OK to deep-link to your Kavarna blog from here, or would you prefer a link to Kavarna 's homepage, given that you've got the domain name resolving to your blog pages anyway right now?

Alex said...

Absolutely, link to anything you like. You've got to share more photos (at least with us) though. I still picture you in London and the thought of you driving kind of blows my mind (though you were a fine driver across the US in '97), much less working on goat sheds. As far as composting goes, we use two of these for kitchen waste, we rotate them every two weeks. The 'efficient microbes' work very well in breaking stuff down. We then combine them with lawn and garden waste in one of these. We also have one of the latter at the restaurant too where we try to compost all our organic waste and coffee grounds. We tried to make our own (they're pretty costly). We had a friend (died in a motorcycle accident) who owned a shoe polish company and he was going to supply us with very large, blue plastic barrels, but after accounting for all the labor and materials, it wasn't financially worthwhile. We made a prototype and it's still sitting behind the coffeehouse, it just didn't work very well.

Alex said...

Oh and... I don't mind the political back and forth at all, I'm just happy to have a more multi-dimensional e-friendship!

Jay said...

Links to photos are coming soon. In fact a homepage is "coming soon"... But the photos should come sooner than that, like real soon. Nice compost-tumbler Alex - we looked at similar things and couldn't justify the cost, but we have no shortage of space, so we'll just live with compost taking longer to make due to less efficient aeration I guess. Composting, like many other things, seems to be a rich vein of contradictory advice on the web, so I will be quick to ask questions or let you know if we discover any useful tips. Indoors, we just use a very small pedal-bin which we empty every 24-48 hours into the main compost bin - much more low-tech!