Showing posts from 2011

One rubbish and recycle bin used for the whole year

Principle 6: Produce no waste

Our 'binimum' mission of filling one recycle bin and one rubbish bin in one year has been successfully completed! There was even a little bit of room left for more recycling, but we wanted to hang onto some of our containers because they are so useful.
I was pretty sure that we wouldn't make our rubbish goal with a couple of months to go, but some gentle persuasion (jumping on rubbish) we managed to get all of our household and shed waste into the rubbish bin. Unfortunately it was so well compacted that only half came out when the bin was 'emptied'!
The recycle bin was less of a challenge, though it is twice the size of the rubbish bin. We reused a lot of the containers that we bought, and even asked for more from our neighbours when we were preserving. I'm sure that there is a limit to how many you can hold on to, but I'd still like to get some more of those oil cans to turn into drawers.

Here are some of the things that we di…

Town branding rejected - with some help

Principle 4: Apply self regulation and accept feedback

After seeing the new Seymour branding designs at the local market I was inspired to write an article in the local paper offering an alternative to a military theme for the town, that being the railway. It seems that there was quite a bit of support for my suggestion, and others who supported the inclusion of the Goulburn River / Historic Bridge along with the Military and Railway. In fact nobody that I spoke to supported a Military theme on it's own.
Unfortunately the recommendations made to council did not reflect this and figures supplied in the recommendations still suggested that 90% of people supported the military theme.
I wrote this letter to the councillors just before their meeting:
I write to inform you of my objection to the branding of Seymour with a Military theme and the process employed.

The options provided to the public were all military based and did not actually provide any real option at all.

At Chris Guth…

Something smells fishy around here

Principle 6: Produce no waste
Principle 11: Use edges and value the marginal

A phone call from my mate Brian produced an unexpected frenzy of activity at our house recently. In preparation for a wedding reception at my old home of Commonground, three and a half large (20 litre) buckets of filleted Snapper fish frames (and one whole one) were made available to us. There were probably 30 - 40 of them, all caught in Port Phillip bay the day before. Rather than just compost these we decided to value add them, as Kunie was very excited by the idea of producing fish stock.
We weren't really set up for dealing with such an abundant harvest, but got to task as soon as I came home with them. I chopped up the frames into more manageable pieces using a tomahawk and we filled up a large pot which was topped up with water and put on the gas - about five times. Once brought to the boil the frames were removed and fish meat carefully separated.
Meanwhile... I raced off and went shopping for a fr…

Tree House evolution

Principle 5: Use and value renewable resources and services

Over the past four months the stark box in a tree has transformed into a treetop wonderland. As the canopy regrows after the heavy pruning it provides a ever changing shaded play space that overlooks the gardens and activities below.
Pruning continues ad hoc as the internal area of the tree house is used in imaginary games (fishing, cooking etc). It's envisaged that the larger surviving branches will be tied together to create an espailered dome after the leaf drop, further enhancing this creative space that continues to evolve.

The longest pelmet ever?

Design Principle 2: Catch and store energy

I spent quite a few months thinking about the best way to build a 7m long pelmet, and came up with this approach...
...90x45mm pine battens were screwed into the box beams on the ceiling, supporting the structure. 75x19mm pieces of pine were attached at an angle to the battens so that they run vertically and a small chock of wood was added to brace them onto the rail brackets. The weather boards were nailed onto these mini studs. I added some extra support in between the curtain rail brackets using metal bracing off-cuts. I added a plain pine cornice and oiled and varnished the lot, so that it ties in with the rest of the room.
The diagram below shows how the pelmet prevents convection currents in winter, during summer our eaves do most of the work by preventing any sun from hitting the north (sunward) facing windows. Sun reflection off the decking and the external temperature transfer heat through the glass during summer. We close the curtai…

Finishing touches

Principle 7: Design from patterns to details
There have been a bunch of jobs that I've been working on while the family have been in Japan visiting family. The types of things that I can live without doing, but haunt me every time I walk past them. The details.
The bathroom sink cover plate was quite a task, though a relatively small one. I tried to find a piece of timber that would cover the plumbing with a natural edge on the bottom. Of course there wasn't one suitable, so I had to make it up, gluing two pieces together.
I made up a template to get the shape that I was after and transferred this onto the red gum. Getting the curve to fit below the sink was a bit tricky without the right tools. A band saw would be great, but a drill and some wood files had to do.
I attached brackets to the inside and mounted the final piece from the back. It was oiled with linseed and painted with three coats of floor bio varnish so that it matched the rest of the bench.

Principle 6: Produce n…

Heritage right outside the door

Principle 1: Observe and interact

On a walk through the Seymour Market recently I noticed a council display putting forward some logo designs for the new town branding. All four of the designs were a Military Theme. As it happens, I have been reading a book about the history of Seymour called 'New Crossing Place' by H. G. Martingdale. The impact of the railway on the town was enormous, and I felt that council should consider, and offer as an option, the branding of Seymour as a Railway Town. 

I contacted Chris Guthrie, the business development officer who presented the councils proposal and asked why the option of branding Seymour as a Railway Town was not put forward. In his response he said:
"...during consultations undertaken to date (around 180 people have provided opinion already at public displays of the brand throughout the town) the Military Theme has gained strong support. I would say overwhelmingly – above 90% of people support this approach. People are generally p…

New life for Cherry Plums

Principle 9: Use small and slow solutions
When I bought this property I inherited about a dozen wild Cherry Plum trees. I've retained most of them with the idea of grafting on other fruiting varieties. Using the Cherry Plum as a root stock gives me the ability to graft on varieties of the Prunus family: Plums, Peaches, Necatines, Apricots, Almonds and Cherries. The Cherry Plums were all out of control, I removed a few of them and have been gradually prunning back the rest of them, using a few different approaches.
The ground level pruning approach, with lots of young whips coming up. The hack it back really hard approach, with pretty good recovery. And the slowly, slowly approach which leaves some mature branches to bear fruit and still offer shade for the summer. I've used this later approach in prunning the established apple and pear tree, with a three to four year vision for bringing the tree down to a more managable level. I've uses hand tools for the majority of the pr…

Building a treehouse

Principle 11: Use edges and value the marginal

I had been wondering whether or not to remove this large tree from the backyard for some time. I've had it identified by a couple of people but never written down the name and forgotten it promptly. It's an elm of some descrition I think and I'm pretty sure that it's considered a weed. It's a fast growing and brittle timber, very light like balsa wood. I prunned it heavily to about a third of it's height about a year ago.
There have been a few good reasons why I've kept it, even though it shades out my minimal prime vegie growing land. It's deciduous, providing shade in the summer for the kids to play under, it can provide an ongoing timber source (firewood, garden use) and I saw potential for it to become the base for a tree house for the kids. Creating space where there wasn't any before - important stuff on a small block.
After a year or so of mulling over the idea of a tree house I decided to do it. …