Independence Days – Quiet times and the Fungus Fair

I’ve had another quiet week at home this week. Nearly two months at home without travelling has to be some sort of record for me. I’ve managed to cut way back on my work trips this year, and so far it looks like I’ll only need to travel once in the first six months of the year. Woo Hoo!

Having said that, I feel like I’m in a bit of a rut. The garden is going well and doesn’t take much of my time anymore. I’ve been consolidating my crochet skills and feel like I have that under control. My exercise routine is just that….a routine. I’m the sort of person that loves starting something new and without something new and exciting, I feel lost. I need some inspiration!

This morning, Brendan and I went to the Fungus Fair. It wasn’t as big as I was expecting, but we learned some interesting things nonetheless. I particularly enjoying seeing how certain mushrooms can be used to dye natural fibers. The range of colours were wonderful.

On the way home from the fair we went past the Convention Center to give our support to the various groups protesting Monsanto who was in town for a science convention. It was great to see the crowd out with their signs and banners despite the wet weather. Hopefully they achieved their purpose of educating the public about some of Monsanto’s practices.

OK, onto this week’s update.

Getting off the Economic Grid

  • In the long term, both Brendan and I envisage operating a number of home based businesses. It’s important for us to do things we are passionate about and which allow us the flexibility of working hours that suit us. We want out of the rat race and being our own boss is how we plan to achieve that. To that end, Brendan has been working hard this week to get his home-based bike repair and service business up and running. The shed is all tricked out with new tools and looks very professional. I’ll take some photos later this week for his website. He might even write a guest post about it if I ask him nicely.
  • Another important goal is to remove ourselves as much as possible from the consumer economy. Where possible, we buy used or homemade, so for our friend’s baby shower last night I didn’t just want to go out and buy a gift from the registry. I decided to give the gift of a family photography session when the little one arrives and I also crocheted him a little beanie (below). The parents to be were so happy that they get the photo session they really wanted, and I got to remain true to my values.

Grow some food

  • We’ve had a slug invasion this week. They chomped through my collard and broccoli seedlings overnight so I had to do something about it ASAP. I usually just go slug hunting late at night or early in the morning. My eye is fine tuned to finding their slimy trails on my plants. I probably should do some research on deterrents to keep my seedlings safe until they are big enough to cope.
  • I harvested our first spinach. It was delicious. I pulled one out at the roots and now the half we didn’t eat is in the fridge in a cup of water. It’s keeping well this way so we’ll be able to eat the rest of it tonight.
  • We’ve had more rain this week. In the last couple of months I’ve only needed to hand water the seedlings. All the mature vegetables are coping quite well with just the natural rainfall, which is a nice change from drip irrigating every second day.

Reduce Energy Dependence

  • My lack of travelling this year has done wonders for reducing my energy use. It’s a nice change to the usual feelings of guilt about all the air miles I accrue.

Plan to own some productive land

  • A friend from Australia has been visiting this week. We’ve been discussing the extremely high property prices in Oz and bemoaning the fact that it’s too expensive to buy anything without becoming a complete debt slave. He has dreams of living a sustainable lifestyle on 40 acres, so we’ve been sharing stories about our future plans. It’s amazing how many people are on this same wavelength. I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the last month to find like-minded people where I least expected them to be.


  1. Fungus fair. Now that is pretty cool. Sadly we don’t have anything like that around here. I have spent some time learning about growing mushrooms and combined with the compost that we make I think that we have a good chance of growing all that we need in the future. When I get the time to work on it …

    Getting off the economic grid. We are doing much the same. Here’s a question (that you may or may not feel like answering): do you know how little money you can live on? Sam and I went through this process and totalled up our necessary expenses. The result was (surprisingly) around about $7000 (AU) each per year (not counting repayments for my credit card debt). This was a real revelation to me. It is possible (given the right situation) to be able to live comfortably on very little money. This is of course dependent upon paying off the debt!

    I would be really interested to know what you (and anyone else) could get by on. We both aim to be able to support ourselves with modest businesses that don’t take up all of our time (as is currently the case).

    Your partner Brendan’s business sounds like a good one in that respect. I can see bicycles becoming very important in many people’s lives in the future. We are concentrating on value added (preserved) food goods ourselves. Growing the ingredients and then doing the processing.

    Growing food: have you tried beer traps for the slugs? I have had some luck with them in the past. Well done on the spinach.

    We grow a lot of silver beet here (collecting the seed each year and then growing again). If you pick the leaves before they get too big, then they are very much like spinach, but easier to grow (basically you can’t kill silver beet with a stick). We just harvest a leaves from each plant as we need them and the plants go on growing all summer.

    Productive land: we have a couple of acres in total (spread over three sites). I would love to have more land, but (as you mention) it’s pretty expensive. What we have has good water and good soil, so we can easily grow enough food for ourselves.

    The main question that we felt we needed to answer was: what do we want to grow, versus what can we buy in bulk and stockpile? The answer for us is: we will stockpile macro nutrients (carbohydrate and fat) which store very well and we will grow micro nutrients (fresh vegetables and fruit), plus dairy and meat. I am interested to hear your ideas.

  2. Hi LS:

    I’m working on a couple of posts about getting off the economic grid, so I’ll cover many of your questions in the next couple of weeks. You bring up some excellent points though. How much could we really live on? To be honest I don’t know, but if I spend a little time it would be easy enough to work out. I record everything we spend so I have over a decade worth of budgets to go back through if I need. Until recently I was in debt, and repayments were my biggest expense. For that reason alone I knew I needed to keep working. Now that I’m free of that, my financial outgoings are fairly minimal.

    Regarding slugs: Yep, we’ve tried beer traps. They work brilliantly, but Brendan keeps drinking the beer before we can use it on the slugs. Now I need to implement a Brendan trap!

    Productive land and growing food: I agree with your plan. I don’t think we’ll bother to grow our carbs. Oats, beans, wheat all store easily and can be bought in bulk. We’ll focus on fruit and vege first. Then I’d like to get into small scale dairy (goats?) and honey. Not sure that we’ll ever grow our own meat simply becuase I’m a soft touch when it comes to animals.

    Thanks for your comment. I like the feedback, and you’ve given me some ideas for some future posts.

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