Our place has changed heaps since I last posted about it. It’s looking really lovely just now so I thought I’d give you a photo tour. This is what you see when you come in from the front gate. The front half I built when I was 22, with no building experience! It cost $10,000, and I kept it cheap by doing absolutely everything myself. The back half, we added last year.
Here you can see the front of the original house, with its beautiful gothic arched windows that I got from an old church. Back right is the chook house, and a wooden gate that goes to the chook area and our son Jesse’s garden.
This is the entrance to the new part of the house, the kitchen door. You can just make out the table through the window – we have many happy family meals at that kitchen table.
Here’s the pretty herb garden beneath that kitchen window:
And here’s our home from the other side. I was inspired by French country farm houses, and I think it really does look a bit like one:
Now come inside, let me show you the kitchen:
All the cabinets are made from old weather boards. The kitchen has the most glorious view from the window, which you can see in this photo here:
And here’s the table where we eat, chat, and watch each other do silly interpretive dance routines on the ‘stage’ that is our kitchen floor.
When we eat, the rabbit, who free ranges in the garden, likes to hang out near us outside the window, entertaining us. It’s nearly as good as interpretive dance.
There’s a lovely little Alice-In-Wonderland style arched doorway that goes from the kitchen to the lounge room:
Now step through into the lounge room, and you’ll see we’ve finally got a wood stove, which makes me very, very happy in winter. When everything is grey and dark and wet, lighting the fire lifts my spirits. I always did intend to have a wood stove but the one I installed when I first built the house was stolen (!!) and then we put a cupboard in its space, and after that we couldn’t figure out what to do with all the STUFF that we depended on in the cupboard, so I couldn’t replace the woodstove! Now that we’ve added to our home, the kitchen is in the new bit, and the woodstove is in the lounge room.
Now here’s our front door, and through the arch window, you can see my fishing girl statue. She’s been trying to catch fish in that pond for months, but no go yet, unfortunately.
Right in front of those lovely arched windows is my art desk, where I spend most of my time:
I also make art in the bathroom (which you have to go outside to get to), where I have a bench for dirty/stinky jobs like plastering, soldering and spray-painting:
It’s pretty squishy in there, and the only reason I’m allowed in there at all with my dangerous tools is because the room is in shocking state of disrepair with the roof about to fall in and holes on the wall. It’s next up on our home-improvements agenda. In the meantime, you can see we still have our composting toilet:
Which works great and doesn’t stink at all.
Now come back inside and upstairs. This is the loft, which is home to our bath, and originally Paula, Jesse and I all slept here. Yes – all squished in like peas in a pod. Now the loft is just for Jesse:
And here the bedroom, my favourite room in the house:
Sitting up in bed, journaling, is probably my favourite switch-off activity, the best possible way to restore myself. When we slept in the loft, that was pretty hard on my back, as I never had anything to lean against, and had to sit right in the middle of the bed so I wouldn’t hit my head on the ceiling. Here in the new bed, I can spend hours journaling comfortably.
I think my favourite feature of the room is the chandelier, which existed as a dream in my journal for years before I finally had space for one. I made it from old forks, pewter jugs and other scavenged metals. I took a metalsmithing course just to learn how to do this, and now as a result, I’ve got the skills to do other metalwork – it heralded the beginning of a jewellery making career!
The bedroom has a lovely arched window:
And a wardrobe made from salvaged timber:
With this little corset I found in France, hanging on my grandmother’s coathanger:
Ok, let’s head outside and I’ll show you the garden.
If you go through that little wooden gate I mentioned back at the start of this post, you’ll find yourself standing in front of the chook pen. They have a little yellow house to roost in, and a big pen covered with a grape vine to play in. But through the day we open the gate and they hang out in the orchard too. See the black square bin in the photo above? Worms live in there.
Here’s Jesse’s vegie garden and cubby, fenced off from the chooks, who would otherwise destroy it:
We’ve got a separate pen for our meat chickens, and they hang out under our fig and mandarine trees:
Now on the other side of the house, if you step outside our new kitchen door, there’s a garden of wild greens, and the beautiful mosaic path Paula made, leading to my vegie garden:
My favourite piece of garden art is here too, a stencil I painted onto a piece of tin Paula gave me. She flattened it and added some barbed wire as a frame:
Now here’s my vegie garden, where most of my gardening efforts are concentrated:
It’s got raised beds, and a fence around it to keep out animals. I try to plant out roughly a square metre each month for us to eat. To know more about how I produce maximum food from this, read my page, How To Really Grow Food In Your Backyard.
This bed here is just ripening up, and we’ll be eating from it soon:
But we’re already eating zucchinis while we polish off the last of winter’s spinach, broccoli and beetroots:
Past my vegie garden is my ‘food forest’:
At one end of the food forest is the composting station. This is where the composting toilet results go, and all food and garden scraps, and entire dead animals. In fact, my neighbours bring me their expired animals to dispose of here. It burns hot and fast. When I empty stuff onto it, and come back a week later, it all looks like dirt. Ultimately, this feeds the vegies and fruit trees, which makes for a nearly-closed system of fertility.
The food forest is also home to bees:
Who think they own the forest and sometimes buzz me when I’m out there doing destructive things like weeding. I’ve learnt from experience that if buzzed, I get two warnings and then a sting. If it’s not a good day for a bee sting, I head inside after the first warning.
There’s a fair bit of food hidden in my forest:
And some lovely little spots like this one:
And there we have it, folks. Thanks for looking around with me…