Sunday, March 25, 2012

A convergence of events

On our journey towards a more sustainable life, one by one we are addressing areas that concern us. A recent convergence of circumstances has highlighted issues related to our meat intake, and prompted us to make some changes.

Some time back we decided that we would rather not kill our own animals for meat. This meant that we were leaving that unsavoury task to others, and from the frequent reports in our media, the process can be very inhumane. On a more practical level the commercial meat supply system from farm to homes can be hugely energy hungry. Issues include trucking feed to animals, trucking animals to abattoirs, then transporting the processed meat on to supermarkets and butchers and then there is the energy used in keeping the meat refrigerated. There are plenty of other issues too, such as land degradation in marginal farming areas, methane release, pollution of waterways etc. All not very sustainable.
Then, our friend Gavin who writes one of our favourite blogs ( ) published his goals for 2012, which included reducing his family’s meat intake by 80%. We have been steadily reducing our own meat intake for some time, but Gavin inspired us to go a bit further and make a similar reduction each week.

Our Juicer has been very busy
At about the same time we started getting a glut of fruit coming in from the orchard as well as some early vegetables. This lead to Heather’s brainwave of buying a good quality juicer. This we did, and the world of magnificent, nutritious freshly sourced juices opened up to us. Mind you, we do sometimes add a little in the way of exotic flavours (like fresh ginger) to make the most exquisite drinks. And of course, as we started to increase our intake of delicious vegetable drinks, our main meals became smaller, with less intake of meat.

Rice Paper Wraps
The final event in our little convergence of life changing ideas, was the arrival of our Kiwi friends, Tim and Mike. They are both vegetarian, and as mentioned in a previous post, Tim is a superstar at creating stunning meal creations. So since February 6th, Tim and Heather have created a series of “award winning” vegetarian feasts. The awards by the way, are presented by Andrew and Mike who do help out with some of the ideas, labour, washing up and pats on the back.  The meals have been so good that we have lost any desire to consume meat and intend maintaining our vegetarian diet as a regular part of our life.  Protein now comes from tofu, eggs, quinoa, soy milk, different nuts, seed sprouts, other seeds and various pulses and grains
Delicious Salads
This has been another important step for us towards a more sustainable life. Not only are we ensuring that we do not contribute to inhumane treatment of animals, we are also avoiding the meat industry’s energy costs and our rubbish bin does not contain all those plastic meat wrappings that end up in landfill. On the health front, our body weight has improved. We have each lost a few excess kilos that we had been carrying around. An added benefit is having more free space in our refrigerator
Delicious Cakes

The big question will be whether we revert to our traditional Christmas Dinner which has been a big family tradition forever. We are not going to make a big deal about whatever we decide, but in the future we will at the very minimum only occasionally include small portions of meat or seafood in our diet. Sometimes life’s experiences take us along new roads and this is one of them for us.

A Very Busy Day at the Harvest Festival

We were all a bit concerned about what the weather would offer for Autumnfest this year.  On the day before there was definitely a touch of winter about as cooler temperatures and rain settled in (parts of Victoria were even expecting a dusting of snow). However, those who worked the weather magic smiled on Autumnfest, and gave us a cloudy but pleasant day.

The local Seed savers Group answered plenty of queries
The cloudy conditions did not deter the one thousand plus visitors that joined us in celebrating the event. There was a real buzz and community feel to the day as individuals and families enjoyed the various activities, glorious food, talks, performances, demonstrations and opportunities to share information and knowledge. Our photos show some of the day’s activities.
There was plenty to chat about.
Some gave Zumba a go

Others joined the Labyrinth dancing

After the exercise it was time to enjoy some food

Emily the face painter was popular

Tim and Mike supplied freshly juiced organic drinks
Travis was busy all day baking wood fired pizzas

The Medieval games added a touch of history
During the day we met and chatted to dozens of people and were lucky enough to meet several readers of our blog. Everyone we spoke to, seemed to be enjoying the day and gave positive feedback and happy responses. Thank you to all helpers, participants and visitors for joining in and making it such a successful and special event.
Edd and Amanda's goats were a real hit with young and old
Of course it will all be happening again next year in March. If you want to join in as a stallholder or volunteer or just be kept informed about the event, keep an eye on this blog or send us an email ( and we will add you to our mailing list.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Healesville Autumnfest 2012 on Saturday March 24

The autumn equinox is almost upon us, and that means another big harvest celebration in Healesville on Saturday March 24. As was the case last year, the event also celebrates the first birthday of the magnificent Healesville Labyrinth. 
Tenderbreak Permaculture Farm Stall
This year for Autumnfest we have lined up a continuous program of free entertainment, talks, informative displays, art and craft demonstrations and stalls selling good organic tucker for one and all. Here are some of the highlights from the program:-

Learn about Alternative Technology
There will be plenty to learn about on the day: seed saving, permaculture, local plants, environmental issues, solar and other alternative energy and more. We hope to power our sound system using a portable solar system setup.

A medieval troupe will entertain and run activities for children. Swords and chain mail will be on display in this interactive fun for kids of all ages.
Patricia and her "Chookmobile"
Performances include music by Murray Goodchild, Michael Arvanitakis, Zumba, flute playing by Rich Eagle Evans and a mass choir performance.

Fun on the Labyrinth
Apart from walks around the Labyrinth there will be dancing, singing and a parade. For a peek at the Labyrinth website see .

"Crunchy Love" Wood-fired Pizza
Food stalls will include wood -fired  pizzas, freshly squeezed organic juices and other delectable foods as well as chai tea, organic coffee, Mexican hot chocolate and more. Bring your friends and tell your neighbours. Come along, enjoy the festival, say hello to us at the Tenderbreak stall and eat with your friends under the shade of the old oak trees.
Hats for all occasions
Yarra Valley Tourist Railway will be running rides to Tarrawarra Tunnel along the old historical railway track.

Autumnfest is located outside the old Healesville Railway Station in the Railway Park.
Plenty of stalls

Seed Savers will be there

March 24 will be a huge day in Healesville because Healesville Music Festival is also being held on this day. Both events have free entry and dovetail into each other. Autumnfest runs from 9am to 3pm and the Musical Festival continues the celebration on into the evening.

Hope to see you at Healesville Autumnfest 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Enjoying the Moment

Bubble beards!
This year is the first time we have taken on so many helpers over the summer period. Tim and Mike bring the total to 6 so far for this year. We really appreciate the help our visitors offer, but more than this, we enjoy sharing our lives with these generous people. Apart from the work, we try to ensure that there is plenty of time for pleasure, merriment and rest.  A good mix of work and play allows everyone to enjoy both pastimes for what they have to offer.
Face Off!

Many people need to press buttons on some technological gizmo to gain entertainment. Our enjoyment often comes from our natural surroundings – the antics of birds in the garden, the excitement at the appearance of particular insects, birds or other animals, the catch-the-ball acrobatics of our dog Blue, the clouds and the stars, the intensity of colours at particular times of the day and of course the company of like-minded friends.
We also make an effort to show our visitors a bit of the magnificent Yarra Valley and areas close by. Because Tim and Mike are with us for a while, we have been able to make several trips to Healesville, we have visited several parks including Maroondah Dam and Knox Arboretum, one to the Dandenong Ranges with a wander around William Ricketts Sanctuary and one to Dandenong Market. This adds a bit of variety to their stay at our place.
We also create our own fun; usually whimsical in nature. The simple pleasures are said to be the best, and luckily for us, Tim and Mike have a great sense of fun too.
Tastes like moon.

We sometimes play a curious, little game we call “Finding Lizzie”, which works a bit like the “Where’s Wally” books that were all the rage in the 1990’s. From time to time someone hides a soft toy lizard (Lizzie) around the house and the others try and find it. Sometimes it takes hours or days, and whoever finds it then has their turn. It may seem like a bit of silliness, but some light heartedness is a healthy emotion? Happiness can be a choice if the mind is receptive.
Serenading the corn

As a guitarist, Mike has daily practice sessions. When his music is wafting across the garden it not only adds another beautiful dimension to our surroundings, it may even help the plants grow! 
When in Rome........!
Mike also gets on well with our dog Blue, and they often go for walks or just hang around together contemplating life.  
Joie de vivre!
Tim is also an accomplished and creative photographer with a gift for catching the “quirky” or capturing a special moment in his images. He has a knack of being able to reveal different aspects of everyday objects. He shows that there is more to a flower or a face than we see at first glance.

NOW back to work everyone ...chop chop!!
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