happy Straylia day

Since being back from the island I’ve been trying to get into a routine for the start of the new year. It’s been a bit challenging but I’m getting there. It was the Australia Day long weekend and as much as I would have liked to get over to the island, I’m getting a bit frustrated with the lack of progress. I contracted with a bloke to install concrete edging before Christmas so that I could lay the turf down and finish putting down the pebbles. There have been numerous delays and it’s still not done. I’ve had to cancel the delivery of turf several times due to him not completing the edging and I’m beginning to lose my patience. I generally prefer to do most things myself and I seem to have a lot of bad luck with getting people to do work. Perhaps I’m a soft touch and people take advantage of that. In future I’m not going to have anyone else do work at the island, they are just too unreliable.
I was hoping to be in a position to have guests over to the island at Christmas but while there is dirt everywhere it makes it unpleasant and annoying having to continuously mop the floor of the cottage.

The edging bloke had told me he was going to finish the edging this weekend so instead of going to the island, and since it was steaming hot, we went for a drive out to a local creek. Cutty loves to go for a drive and often sticks her head out the window in search of interesting smells.

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There was plenty of water in the creek since we’ve had rain over the last week. Cutty was in her element and this place reminded me of the creek we camped at down in Victoria about 5 years ago.

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And big surprise, the edging still hasn’t been done.

Self sufficiency

I appreciate that growing your own food isn’t a big deal but I can’t help thinking how amazing the natural cycle is. If everyone ate fresh food either grown by themselves or by small, local organic gardeners then we would almost certainly be living healthier and happier lives. My breakfast this morning consisted of homegrown organic watermelon and a glass of Stradbroke Island water. If I was in the city, it would have been a processed breakfast made from who knows what.

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Slaying the monster garden

Being the clueless gardner that I am I now realise that I probably didn’t put enough planning into the garden layout. How was I to know that melons and pumpkins take over everything in their path. I’ve been away from the island for a week and came back to a jungle. Underneath that jungle there were about 15 massive melons, enormous eggplants, crazy mutant cucumbers and one of the chilli plants was so laden with giant chillies that it had fallen over.
That was it, the mutant monster garden had to be tamed. I ripped out 6 barrow loads of melon and pumpkin plants. Here is just one of those loads.

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Within each barrow load there were melons and pumpkins at various stages from over ripe and rotting to under developed. I gave away some to neighbours, dumped the rest and kept these for myself.

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The cucumbers were enormous. The biggest was bent around in the shape of a horseshoe and it was so big that my hand couldn’t close fully around it. It kind of creeped me out and I felt a bit violated. I’m not sure I’ll feel completely comfortable eating it.

Anyway, I hear you saying, “enough with the freakin vegetables”. Ok, ok how about bugs?

I was amazed at the amount of insect life in the garden. Everywhere I looked there were bugs. It’s like it’s own little eco system. The plants feed on the dirt, the bugs feed on the plants, the birds feed on the bugs, the birds crap in the garden and the cycle begins again.

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And I noticed that there are several variety of bees. Unlike the normal orange bees, this one is black. There are also lots of tiny native stingless bees but I couldn’t manage to photograph any of them.

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After I decimated the garden I pulled out an old canoe project I’ve been working on. I love canoes and had often thought about putting a sailing rig on one. I came across this old canoe for sale a while back. It was in pretty bad shape. I did a bit of work to it and got the rig sorted. It has a detachable rudder and traditional rig. I made up a lee board to give it some directional stability. I put it all together today but haven’t had an opportunity to put it in the water yet. There’s still a bit of work before I launch it but I like the concept. It’s easy to carry, can be efficiently paddled if there is no wind to sail, can be loaded with a bit of gear and it’s cheaper than a boat. I might take it up to the next gaffers regatta for a bit of fun.

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A new chapter

When I look back on my life I can generally identify blocks of time that are akin to chapters of a book. I don’t think anyone has a set number of chapters but it’s probably fair to say that we share some basic ones. For example, high school, university, a job, maybe an entire career, a relationship, marriage, children etc.
I’ve had some great chapters so far. Living on my boat and discovering a passion for being on the sea was definitely one of the best. My move to land and building my place on the island is another. Of course there is an overlap between these chapters and that is my time with Cutty. I reckon she has another 7 or 8 years in her and to date, she has been one of the highlights of my life.
I’m now beginning a new chapter which conveniently coincides with the start of a new year. The real beauty in all of this is that I can, to some degree, be the author of each chapter. Obviously some things are out of my control, but the direction of each chapter depends on how I deal with the opportunities that I’m presented with. Do I embrace it or resist it?
I’m choosing to embrace it and see where it takes me.

And so a new chapter begins. I’m casting off the security of the dock lines to sail into uncharted waters. Metaphorically speaking of course.

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More garden

This is turning into a blog about vegetables.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks on the island and was really surprised at how the garden has developed. I’m going to have to rethink the garden since I’m only there on weekends and the amount of food it produces could feed me full time. During the past 2 weeks I’ve had 10 cucumbers, a dozen zucchini, pumpkins, watermelon, rockmelon and even some chilli. I’ve used the food mainly for pizzas. I’ve made 2 large jars of basil pesto and can’t keep up with the bazil. I’ve removed the zucchini plant as it was producing a glut of vegetables.
Below are some photos of the garden. It’s a monster!

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These little guys are keeping busy helping out in the garden.

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