November 15, 2014 | Ronda Jambe

Under the Moruya Moon (17)

There is busy and rewarding and then there is too busy and uncertain rewards. We have been caught up these past few months working out how far to go with developing our little land on a ridge. The kangaroos are part of the considerations, but are not amenable to negotiations about our relative rights. Are we the settlers and they the Palestinians in this scenario?

The workmen tell us we have created an all-you-can-eat buffet for the roos, by putting in 580m2 of kikuya turf. I note that this is about 50% larger than most of the house sites they are offering in the newest development area of Canberra. But I like a bit of Lebensraum, and being surrounded by more trees than people.


Once it gets established, it won’t need mowing or watering, and the roos won’t do it too much damage. In the meantime, I run out shouting and occasionally throwing stones at them around dusk, when they arrive in clusters for the party. Seeing them bounding out of sight conjures up images of Jurassic Park, but they don’t frighten me. And who could begrudge this pretty rock wallaby a few nibbles, all by herself, enjoying a bit of compost?

rock wallaby

Men with Machines! They are the best, moving earth if not heaven to my designs. All in the hope of a) managing water as we are on a ridge coming off another ridge and b) creating defined places suitable for landscaping and veggie beds and c) one flat area on the whole 17 acres that could be used for badminton and croquet, two activities of my childhood that still appeal. That would provide an alternative to the table tennis we play frequently inside. Finally d) is another garage on this block, closer to where we need it. Any place not being planted must be mulched, and the trucks have brought in and spread heaps of it:


This year has seen some real progress, including the outdoor closet for boots and an alcove for putting them on:


Some hardy vines are already growing on the trellis to screen it in. I am very pleased with my design and the carpenter who built it for me.


All this is a satisfying distraction from the nonsense of the Abbott government (they don’t seem capable of thinking as much as 16 years into the future) and the interesting developments in the dropping price of oil (is it really a plan to pressure the Russians and Iranians?)

I spent a lot of time this week making orange-iced cupcakes for our local State Emergency Services awareness event. All the locals, women and men, seem to have heaps more practical skills than we do, so I am content to be the kitchen hand. There is a lot of technique to icing a cupcake!

cup cakes

The local gardening group ran a public discussion on local food production, and an old colleague is running a workshop in town next week on climate change. I’ll be there for that one, after attending the annual general meeting of the peak oil group I belong to in Canberra. Interesting times, good people doing good things in the community. I don’t ask for more than that, and am grateful to participate where I can.

Like anything worthwhile, developing a vision of small scale rural independence requires a lot of quiet time puttering away, weeding and watering, planting and harvesting. My little craft cabin will soon enough have lavender plants to soften its outline.

Soon enough, too, the path now indicated by the US and China will become the start of real international action on climate change. Growth without shrinkage in emissions won’t work, other paths to prosperity are available.

me at cabin

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 12:39 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Environment


  1. Suggest you look up permaculture and cultivation free gardening; if you haven’t already, Ronda.
    Sweet potatoes will grow from supermarket bought tubers, and the vines alone can be immediately replanted, (put a clod of earth on top, every 4-6 inches) to maximize the harvest potential once you harvest; meaning, a couple of different types, could see you completely self sufficient, in low GI carbs.
    Cultivation free gardening (and a family home just doesn’t need a great big one) only requires, (a) piece(s) of 10x 20M black plastic. (Total weed control) followed by the application of seed and mulch in nice little rows.
    And the plastic can be rolled out every spring, (or whenever) for a good number of years.
    The rows can be marked by the companion planting of radishes, which I’m assured, are not to the Roos’ taste, and with their appearance in just days, mark the rows!? roos are also not partial to marigold borders.
    Dams as the only source of water, can be a problem, and halved by covering them, if not too large; to more or less eliminate evaporation.
    Otherwise, you could rely on fickle rain if you want to use native fish to eliminate the mosquitoes, and provide some protein or not? A glasshouse the size of your studio, will allow you to produce plenty of off season food. And for just 1-2% of the water use or needs, of a traditional garden.
    Golden perch would be my first second and third choice for the dam, and are marvelous wrapped in foil, or clay; and cooked in hot ashes, along with a liberal application of lime and butter based marinade.
    Lining dams will also minimize seepage losses.
    The very last thing you will ever need, is a bone dry dam at the height of the bushfire season!
    I sure the SES will have told you, the house looks like a halfway decent fire shelter.
    Solar powered electric fences, will allow you to decide when and if you want the roos to graze.
    My choice would be a few goats, which are I’m reliably told, one of the best ways to reduce/control weeds and simultaneously reduce any problematic fuel load.
    And the stuff that comes out of the south end of a north bound goat, is fine organic fertilizer.
    Moreover, their milk can be very useful, but particularly for those with an allergy to cow’s milk.
    I’m told it also makes fine cheese and yoghurt?
    Alternatively, very territorial Alpacas, will ensure they are the only ones grazing on your turf.
    Geese likewise, and make very fine watch dogs into the bargain! Plant geraniums around; I’m informed that snakes who smell their prey, are repelled by them.
    Primates find Funnel Web spider bites, quite lethal!
    We have no antivenom!
    Keep a couple of very quick knock down aerosols, just for the purpose of eliminating them; as they have this nasty habit of coming indoors, (house or car) whenever rain threatens!
    I’m all for live and let live, but strongly object to sharing a bed and my human warmth, with one of these nightmares, but particularly in the car, at midnight and in the rain!
    Have fun, Alan B. Goulding

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — November 17, 2014 @ 10:59 am

  2. Ah, Alan, that all sounds so wonderful, but I would need a Mr Goulding to help me with all that. My spouse isn’t interested. And I am ping-ponging back and forth between this garden and one Canberra. Weeding and cleaning at both ends. But this year my cherry tree in Canberra is laden with yummy fruit, so I have been enjoying that.

    Comment by ronda jambe — November 22, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

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