News

Living a more sustainable self sufficient life

When I started this slow living journey I started to think more about the way we consume. Not just in regards to food but clothing, tools and appliances. Often I feel torn between the want to support local artisans and the need to be able to buy something cheaply so I have more money for a rainy day and for the bigger goal of buying our own property.

Part of the reason we try to make and grow so much ourselves is that we had a lot of debt when I fell pregnant with my first. We wanted to be able to provide and eat the best meals and wear good quality garments that didn’t support questionable companies. So not having a lot of money really left us with two choices buy cheap crap (and buy it constantly because we all know it doesn’t last the distance) or learn to do it ourselves. I’m sure you can guess what direction we went in!

A huge influence in the beginning our simple living journey was Rhonda Hetzel I regularly read her blog Down to Earth while I was pregnant visualizing myself living the beautiful life style she described. As soon as her book came out I bought it and I still regularly use it for its wonderful recipes. Her tips on debt reduction greatly helped us learn to manage our money and become debt free. So although we do not own property yet we are 100% debt free which is a great achievement
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When I was a child my mother worked very hard making craft items and children’s clothing to sell at markets for extra money. She taught me basic sewing as a child (unfortunately I’m still very basic when it comes to seeing) and I could sew my dolls clothes something I loved doing but didn’t pursue much in my early 20s. My children now have some of the clothes my mother made and hand painted. The quality far outweighs anything we could buy at the department store and the kids love wearing clothing made for them by their Oma.

More recently I started crocheting and I’ve found I really had a passion for it. My first attempt was when I was pregnant with my first. I was trying to crochet baby slippers and I don’t know what I did wrong but they were not slippers they were monsters!! I cast crochet aside and went back to knitting but had to give this up due to carpal tunnel.

I didnt pick up the hook again until after my second was born 3 years later. Again I had carpal tunnel but for some reason when knitting triggered it crochet did not and so I made the giant blanket seen in my earlier post. Since then I crochet daily and have started listing some creations on etsy.
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But crocheting has led me to wonder how do the beautiful yarns we use in projects get produced and are they ethical? There are a lot of beautifully dyed yarns from China using Australian wool and it blows my mind we send fleeces (and food) overseas to be processed, packaged and sent back. I wanted quality yarn that was ethically produced I could use to make long lasting garments. Unfortunately yarn like this is expensive to buy and never one to do things by halves I’ve purchased a huge garbage bag full of raw Alpaca fleece am preparing the fibre with a old cat brush and am now started learning to spin on a drop spindle with my 4 year old. The yarns are rough but we are getting better and their is so much to learn. I have a great admiration for spinners and weavers and am really looking forward to seeing where this journey takes us next. 💮🌺🌻🌸

Homesteading, News

Settling in!

It’s been a while now since we made our huge move from rural NSW to Southern Tasmania and I think we have almost recovered! Spring has passed with lots of rainy weather the blossoms that were full of promise were mostly blown off in the wind and rain but we have got a lot of lovely apples maturing on the trees.
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I hear from friends and family back in our old town that it hasn’t stopped raining since we left so I’m really glad we chose to move when we did. I’ve wasted no time in getting the spring seedlings started and they are really taking off.
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We truly love the area we have moved to there’s so much to inspire us being close to the mountains and the sea and for the first time in my life I feel like we’ve found ‘our place’
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Mr Hunter Gatherer is happy working on farms so we have decided not to do markets again and will just be focussing on growing and preserving for ourselves and saving as much money as we can so we can buy our own land. I must admit I am really enjoying living in town as much as I miss the animals in some ways living a sustainable frugal simple life is well simpler than living the simple life on a farming property. Its certainly must easier!
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The little Hunter Gatherers are really happy to be nearer to social groups and we socialize much more regularly than we ever did before and were all much happier for it.

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The crochet addiction hasn’t faded and I’ve been crocheting everything I can. I want to see what I like doing and use up recycled materials I have although I can’t walk past a yarn shop without buying something.

The blanket a friend gave me that I mentioned in a previous post has become shopping bags, children’s boho vests, dishclothes and scrubbing cloths there’s even some left over which I may make a adult vest from.
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I’m really enjoying discovering more about fibres and the process of wool making and spinning. I’m not yet sure what I will do with all my creations some I’ve sold to friends but mostly they are going in a box until I decide what to do with them!
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I’m finding less and less time and inspiration to blog recently. I do hope this will change and writing is such a wonderful outlet and a great way to track our journey but I’m finding instagram much easier to manage day to day so for anyone wanting regular updates you can follow us @huntergathererforager . Now I’m off to crochet a crocodile and think about our brunch baking!
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Homesteading, News

Crochet Crazies

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Well I’m hooked (pardon the pun) since I’ve finished up most of the preserving and gardening chores the weather has kept us indoors mostly. The kids have avoided cabin fever by lots of craft and messy creative play but I’ve had to find something to keep me sane when I can’t get us all outside and I struggle with the anxiety of finding a new home for us in Tasmania.

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I’ve always been a knitter. Not a great knitter but I preferred it to crochet as I couldn’t figure out the patterns or what I was doing. It’s been roughly  10 years since I picked up a hook but now with the help of you tube and google I’ve managed to decipher and learn new stitches with ease and I love it!

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You may remember the mermaid blanket project I mentioned in a previous post that I took on for Little  Miss Hunter Gatherer well many mistakes were made and it is now a family sized blanket not a Mermaid tail blanket. I am thrilled with my achievement but have decided to take on smaller projects until I’m ready to face the tail and try again.

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My Next project after this was soap savers and they are great. They stop the kids  leaving the soap in the tub and can be used to exfoliate. I just used acrylic yarn for my first practice runs but I’d like to make some in cotton and natural fibers later.

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After this I made a plastic bag holder to replace the ugly recycled milk bottle plastic bag holder. It’s much nicer and now I’ve accomplished this pattern I can easily make shopping bags for our market adventures in Tassie.

I’ve even made cup cozies and unearthed some vintage patterns that I didn’t even know I had while packing up my studio!

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My current project is a crochet crown for little miss hunter gatherer and after that will be one for the young lad. I’m really enjoying this distraction from the stress of house hunting. Twice we have thought we found the perfect home, we’ve gone through the applications, been approved and then the owner has changed their mind due to personal reasons. This makes it hard with such a big move as we are left in Limbo. So Please universe if your listening send us our long term homestead rental in Tassie!

Foody things, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Green Tomato sauce

Hello we are still here cuddled up away from the cold, wet weather. The frosts have hit and what was left of my Autumn greens has turned to slime.

I’ve been pondering new things to do with Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes (my preferred name) we have a lot in the garden but the aptly nicknamed ‘fartichoke’ makes for musical evenings whenever we eat them! I’ve read that fermenting them can stop this so I will be experimenting this week and making Kale and sunchoke kimchi.
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We have been lazy in the garden and since kisses the Jersey cow ate my greenhouse I haven’t felt motivated.

The brassicas I planted late summer and Autumn arr going well but it’s been too cold, windy and now rainy to enjoy outside time. It’s a time for cosy by the fire crafts and baking. The mermaid blanket is making great progress and is now half way there.
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Today I accepted that the last lot of tomatoes won’t ripen and I’d be better off to process them green. I made a green tomato sauce based on a ketchup recipe. I’m trying to wean little miss Hunter gatherer off the preservative laden tomato sauce she calls ‘crazy’ sauce so I’m hoping this sweet sauce will do the job.
The result is a delicious and sweet sauce that I made with minimal effort thanks to the pressure cooker! I didn’t even need to peel or chop the tomatoes as I used a stick blender afterwards. Oh how I love kitchen tools!
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Sweet Green Tomato Sauce

Ingredients
3kg green tomatoes
2 diced brown onions
2C sugar
1 lemon
5C cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Brown mustard seeds
1tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp all spice
1 star anise
2 cloves
1 tsp black pepper

Method
1. Using the pressure cooker or saucepan brown the diced onions.

2. Add all the other ingredients don’t worry about chopping just chuck it all in and pop the lid on.

3. If pressure cooking pop the lid on and once pressure is reached cook on low heat for 15minutes. Turn off heat then leave the lid of for another 20 mins
If using a saucepan bring to boil then put the lid and turn down simmering for 40 mins stirring every now and then.

4. Take lid off remove cinnamon stick and using stick blender blend until sauce consistency is to your likeing.

5. Reheat on stove then pop into warm sterilized bottles and process using your preferred method.

Homesteading, News

Birthday Blessings

We have been enjoying the cooler weather and a more relaxed time. There are still things to harvest and process as we get some light frosts but we are definitely enjoying the slower pace. The fire has been going which makes the house really hot but without it the icy air triggers my asthma. I’ve noticed little Mr Hunter Gatherer coughs too and I hope he hasn’t inherited my infliction.
May is a special month in our house as little Miss Forager had a 4th birthday.
We had a very low key celebration this year and I made a delicious Angel food cake decorated as the requested cat.
I’d never made Angel food cake before and it’s definitely a new favorite. Scrumptiously light and fluffy it’s a perfect match for my temperamental oven that will not bake a regular meringue and is a great way to use up egg whites.

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In the garden we have been busy planting out the brassicas and turning the pumpkin patch into a root vegetable patch. Mr Hunter Gatherer usually does the tilling and patch work but it’s been down to me and the kids this year to get it started. I’ve let the chooks in help loosen the top soil and will soon be planting turnips, mangelwurzal, salisfy, parsnip and a few Chinese cabbages.

The cold windy weather has had its challanges after the long summer but it’s been great to enjoy baking again and my sourdough starter is very happy to be nurtured after months of neglect.
We bake a big loaf twice a week and I’m getting better at making it lighter and fluffier. Our favorite flour is RYE so we’ve invested in a 20kg bag to keep us going.

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I’ve also been enjoying crocheting and have undertaken a huge project of a mermaid tail blanket for little miss forager. I’m loving how it’s turning out and now I’ve discovered the local wool shop has really good quality wool and is very affordable I think everyone in my family is destined to be given crochet items for pressies this year!

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In the chook yard we are enjoying a abundance of eggs again. Our young pullets have started to lay and we are very excited that our project of crossing Brahma with Araucana has produced not only gorgeous looking placid hens but also the goal of olive coloured eggs! This has always been one of our goals and we certainly feel accomplished. Now all I need to complete my ‘rainbow dozen’ is for the Maran hen to start laying her dark chocolate eggs.

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And last on the agenda is kisses moo. We have just changed the milking system as her milk was drying of. The calf was getting lots but us zero so we have switched to morning milking which is better for all of us. Seaweed is such a affectionate calf and let’s us pat him. He’s certainly inherited his mother’s temperament and it’s going to be a real challenge when it’s time to butcher him.

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Today we are considering mushroom adventures. The heavy rain last week and sunny weekend make it the perfect day for it and I really want to face my demons of the pickled mushrooms in Poland but I’ll save that story for next time.

In the meantime keep hunting gathering and foraging!