Weellll, the forestry export market fell over a couple of months back and everybody has either had to take their outstanding holidays and/or drop afew days each month. I was put on 3 week months and now am on alternate weeks. Oh Yay! (not). 50% drop ouch, but better than being sent down the road. Good thing I had already worked on clearing all the debts out of the way. After I got over the shock of it all, I realised that this is the perfect time to ramp it up on reducing consumption, recycling etc... I've got my power bill down to $65 a month and as soon as I get the last lot of my brothers meat up to him, I can do away with the old freezer thats in the garage. Its seriously old and very rusty so its probably wasting afew dollars more than it should be. It will be interesting to see how much it has cost to run. I still have my one in the laundry which I think I'll keep for a little longer but am looking at how I can manage without that one too. All the appliances that are not being used have been unplugged and removed from their socket. I'm not too sure this makes much of a difference, but a friend told me it does so out they all came. I rediscovered my thermos flask and have found that I only need to boil the electric jug once in the morning, 2 coffees and thermos that lasts me for most of the day. I have a kettle sitting on the firebox all the time, either on the hot plate to bring it up to temperature or sitting on the trivet to keep it warm. I had already decided to cut back on my sugar intake and have found that I can drink tea without sugar, so out came my little teapot. I tried making tea how my mums' chinese bosses do, by refilling the teapot with hot water rather than using a new teabag each time. I started off with some of the green tea they had given us to try and liked it. Every now and then I add alittle dried peppermint or chamomile that I dried last year....the peppermint from a friend and my own chamomile. So I am now down to 2 cups of coffee and alot less teabags than I would normally have used. Actually I found that the teapot stays nice and warm sitting on another trivet at the back of the stove. I discovered a pot of honey tucked away it the back of the top cupboard and noticed that my teeth feel better for having used it rather than the sugar. I am still cooking on the fire box. I do start off my stir fries/casseroles ( so much nicer sounding than stew) with the gas hob and then transfer it to the firebox once they are both hot. I am still using the same 9kg gas bottle from the beginning of the year. Not too sure when exactly I put that one on. I thought it was january, but it must have been april. I havent got the hang off cooking the rice on that properly yet, it just comes out gluggy, so I'm still using my old electric rice cooker. I decided to eat my way through all those canned things that I put away for emergencies. Those were supposed to have been when somebody arrived unexpected and needed feeding, not this. I have found that I do NOT like tinned stew. Its bland, I doubt its very nutritious- I felt hungry after eating one, so they get used as a base with little more meat or beans with garden vegies thrown in. I still have a glut of turnips that self sowed all over the place. Good thing I find them very tasty. Down to my last few carrots, well the ones I could remember where they were. I was pleasantly surpirsed to see lot of little seedling sprouting up in the garden,Finally! Maybe spring is really here again. The Urenika spuds are almost a meal all by themselves with a little butter and parsley.Still got shit loads of homegrown beans dried and I think I am becoming acclimatized to them now. I think I will grow the white potatoes this year. I had so many of them I couldnt stand the sight of them last year. The Urenikas are lovely, but the make lousy scalloped potatoes (pommes dauphine?) Last week a friend told me that her neighbour decided to have a go at growing some vegies instead of just flowers. She didnt want to dig out her flowers so she grew her first ever crop of potatoes in three of those plastic two handle laundry tub basket thingies. These apparently grew huge and she is still chopping her way through the last basket. Didnt bother to harvest them when they died down, just stored it all as is in her garage under the bench. Its times like this I hate that I hate plastic and am supposed to be ridding myself of things made from this. I have already assigned the old bath to the kumaras this year and have been eyeing up the old plastic compost bin my daughter in law gave me that I didnt dare throw away.I might have a go at growing some Cliffs' kidney potatoes in this or maybe some Desirees. My little box of 'neighbours' walnuts is still half full and these I snack on or toast, chop up and sprinkle over my dinner. The oranges are not quite ready to eat even though they are a lovely bright orange and I have a dinky little lemon still left on the tree. The water tank is just under half full now. That didnt take as long as I thought it would. I started to worry that I will have a full tank and no way of using it, til it was pointed out that the attachment at the bottom of the tank will fit the hose fittings so I can water the garden with it over summer, at least til the water level gets down to the height of the garden. With the vegie garden, the first two beds have been squared off. The first long one in the middle of the garden and the smaller one in front of the hedge. The large one has mainly the leeks that were put in way too late and still smaller than pencils, so I guess they be great in summer. The shallots are doing okay, actually, I couldn't help myself and bought a dozen from the supermarket cos I had never seen that sort-I'm sure it had a crazy name like banana shallots. very long and big. We'll see how they do. I found the last lot of the elephant garlic that got buried in the oats experiment last year. Thankfully most of them seem to have grown again. Late in summer, I dug up some garlic I had planted under one of the fruit trees and decided to rebury only some of it and use the rest in the kitchen. I found it nice and plump, easier to to peel and deliciously juicy. So I ask myself why do I pull out and dry out my garlic only to get bitchy when it starts to sprout in late summer and go bitter. Why not just either leave it where it is or dig it up once its died down and bury it somewhere out of the way. I'm going to try it this year and see how they go. In the smaller the bed, I have transplanted the asparagus plants that were rescued from the paths. These are at the front right next to the main path to the lawn. The middle one has huge buds on it compared to the other two. If the chooks left me any strawberry plants, I'll pop them in there too. The rest of the bed has been hoed to get it ready for the Jersey Ben potatoes. Everyone loved the potato salad I made with these at Christmas time.( bought tatties). I saved a handful and planted them along the top of the rock wall. The sprouted and grew and died down again. Unfortunately, the chooks also love little potatoes and ate alot of them, so not enough to give to my brother. Whats left should be just about enough to plant the smaller bed out with and these are currently sitting in an egg tray to chit up. These should be going in before the end of September, apparently, to give them time to grow nicely for Xmas. I have the frost clothe hoops in place to so once they go in, the frost clothe will go on and anchored down to keep both the chooks and the local cats out of there.