Friday, 26 July 2013

Man Invents Machine To Convert Plastic Into Oil

Man Invents Machine To Convert Plastic Into Oil

Watch this!!
I have got to get one of these!!!

Revealed: how GCSE results owe more to genes than teaching » The Spectator

Intelligence is mostly genetic and will, very soon, be testable. My father finished primary school in the army at the age of 19, my mother finished high school early, does that mean my intelligence is low? In truth it is circumstance that stopped my parents from becoming educated (World War 2 will do that) and I grew up in a house full of books and interesting conversations with interesting people, so my parent's IQ is probably higher than it would at first appear. The article below proposes (subtly) that we test children's genetic potential for intelligence and base their education on the results.

Revealed: how GCSE results owe more to genes than teaching » The Spectator

This article says that if we know the projected IQ of children, we won't love them any less. Maybe mothers and teachers won't but what about the people who make legislation? People are already numbers and statistics to them, merely because of the distance from the majority they stand at. How long will it be until we are shipped off to a  work house because our genes aren't good enough?

What do you think?

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Thinking about water use

I was just reading a post from one of the blogs I follow,

It's all about water harvesting and daily water use. It started me thinking about how we use and conserve our water. So I thought I would share the broad details of our water harvesting and use here in the humpy.

When we moved here we had one 1000litre tank which harvested water from the roof of the humpy (about 6 x 9m then). There is no mains water here, if you want it, you have to get it yourself. We have gradually increased our storage to 5000 litres on the humpy (in the form of two tanks) which are pumped to the top of the ridge into a 22000 litre 'header tank' which gravity feeds back to the humpy.

The drinking water tank; 2500L

The 'pump up' tank; 2500L. The pump is that thing under the tin in the front.

The green one in the front is the header tank. The black tank is the new one (yet to be installed)

This provides all our water needs; washing, drinking, garden and animals. I did a quick calculation and discovered that we use about 143 litres a day, including the garden. These are the figures I used;

Water use
Litres per week
Showering  (15 L x 24 showers)
Animal watering
Garden watering
Clothes washing
Drinking and cooking
Washing up

Of course in dry weather our usage goes up as the garden uses more and the animal water needs refilling more often, I would add another 100L per week to the tally for dry weather use.

Because we have had good rain over the last five years it doesn't seem as important to conserve water at the moment, but the one thing you can count on in the bush is that there will be drought (and fire and flood and locust plague). With this in mind, we recently bought a larger header tank (27000L) and plan to move the old one down to the humpy so we can harvest every drop that falls on our roof. With all that storage and at current usage, we should be able to survive for a year without rain.

How do you rate your water usage?
What do you do to conserve water?

I can always use more ideas?

It Doesn’t Take Much….

It Doesn’t Take Much….

Linda Woodrow has been one of my inspirations for years. Check out her blog, its full of information and human moments.

Friday, 19 July 2013

How To Make A Mind Map - Version 2

Mind maps are really useful things; I use them for planning assignments and lessons. I also use them to plan a new project around the property. Here is a short clip on how to make them... just ignore the annoying music; I recomend the mute button.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Advanced Cell Grazing - Permaculture Livestock Systems at Zaytuna Farm

Advanced Cell Grazing - Permaculture Livestock Systems at Zaytuna Farm

Have a look at this idea.
I would love to establish this on my property.
Time to get planning....

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in dogs?

This clip shows one of our dogs; Jess, guarding her pet guinea fowl. It may look like she wants to eat him, but she is actually looking after him. The little nips she gives him are a signal to move; herding behaviour. That particular guinea fowl was a sickly chick and so spent a month sleeping in a box by the fire, which is also where Jess sleeps (not in a box, on a mat by the fire), so they must have bonded. She spends her day following him and if he gets into a fight (which he does a lot) she will move in and break it up. When he goes outside the yard where she can't follow Jess will sit at the gate looking worried until he returns. When he flies up into a tree to sleep at night Jess comes to the door to be let in, she flops down by the fire with a sigh that sounds like the one I give when I get home from work.

Jess has an adult puppy; Val, who also lives with us, but she has never been like that with her own pup. I don't know if this is frustrated herding/ guardian behaviour or if she has an OCD tendency.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Stage two Hugelkultur bed finished

Today was a really productive day. Firstly we decided that we need firewood this morning, which mean't that the trailer had to be emptied of it's current half load of top soil. My two daughters and I got all that soil moved onto the stage two hugelkultur bed in about an hour then collected some mulch and planted a few seedlings in it (just for fun).

 I am so happy to have that bed space to plant out, I can't wait until it starts to produce. The chooks are beginning to lay again, so I have heaps of eggs to play with.

We also had a visit from our heron; he stops by to check out the dam about once a month.

  Meanwhile my partner (who had another day off; two in a fortnight!!) whipper-snipped a path through the tall blady grass so I could move the sheep onto new ground. This involves taking down the electric fencing and putting it up again in a new spot.

 They are now busily clearing a pile of tree heads I want too use for firewood and hugelkultur. I am so pleased we got sheep; they save us so much work and they are such characters.
So almost time to go back to work, I hope I can continue to develop my garden.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

This is a short clip showing two of the birds who call our place home arguing about who owns 'my' wool basket. They are both from the Corvidia family; a currawong (big black one) and a butcher bird (grey scale one) and so are about as smart as the average 5 year old. We raised both of them and they have both spent considerable time in the wool basket as chicks.
All our animals (kids included) go through a 'we don't hit' learning phase where we show them it isn't acceptable to be violent in the house, that way there is a safe zone for everyone even natural enemies like these two.
You can see them both asserting their right to the basket but being too polite to fight because I am there. They sometimes roost together in the house so are not really enemies, although their species usually are. Things will probably change when they both have children (you know what that's like).

Pew (the currawong) has left home and joined a gang of juvenile currawongs although he still spends about one day a week at home. We expect that to change when he gets a steady girlfriend and hope he doesn't bring the grandkids home for baby sitting too often.
Roadie (the butcherbird) is hunting for himself and doesn't need help with anything. He still sleeps inside (its Winter and the stove is warm) on a high perch and relies on us for affection (play and cuddles) but that will change in the Summer when he starts to look for a mate. Being a member of a solitary species, he won't join a gang but will find a single girl and settle down for life.
With wild birds there is always a risk of over-humanizing (and who wants more of them) but the risk is fairly low with the corvid family, thanks to their intelligence.
The galahs on the other hand......well that's a story for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sustainable, Simple, Slow Living Blogs: Join the Linky List | Sustainable Suburbia

Sustainable, Simple, Slow Living Blogs: Join the Linky List | Sustainable Suburbia

This is a great blog with links to heaps of other fascinating blogs from all over the world (even Australia).

Have a look at what people are doing out there while I struggle on with sticky soil and wood gathering.
I will post photos of the finished beds.

It's back to work/school again soon, so my posting will taper off for the term, I will try very hard to update at least once a week though.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

What is a humpy??

It occurred to me that 'humpy' may not be a common term for people outside my own geographical area (yes, I can be a bit slow).

According to a good old google search a humpy is;

"A humpy or gunyah[1][2] is a small, temporary shelter made from bark and tree branches, traditionally used by Australian Aborigines, with a standing tree usually used as the main support. The word humpy comes from the Jagera language (a Murri people from Coorparoo in Brisbane); other language groups would have different names for the structure.
Both names were adopted by early white settlers, and now form part of the Australian lexicon. Small impermanent dwellings, made of branches and bark (particularly paperbark) were built prior to the construction of more permanent buildings, and were referred to as humpies.
It is sometimes called a lean-to, since it can rely on the tree for support.
In South Australia, such a shelter is known as a "wurley" (also spelled "wurlie"), possibly from the Kaurna language.[3]"    

In my world a humpy is a knocked-together-in-a-weekend dwelling. Many people in our area live in humpies, much to the dismay of the council. We have little choice as building a house is too costly and we don't want to move away as we enjoy the bush lifestyle. 

There is a star rating system for humpies;

one star; has a roof, dirt floor and  possibly two walls. Allowing inhabitants to get out of the rain but is cold in winter often leading to the installation of a 200 litre fire drum for heating and cooking purposes. Bathing and washing up are carried out with the help of a bucket and a boiler of water on the fire drum, waste water is drained directly onto the ground outside. Lighting is provided by candles, gas lamps and torches. The toilet is an outside pit toilet.

two star; has three to four walls and carpet laid over the dirt floor or some other floor covering. Providing greater protection from the elements but precluding the addition of a fire drum as the smoke does not dissipate. Such dwellings usually include an old wood fueled stove someone has previously taken to the dump, which allows for heating, cooking and hot water (in boilers on the stove), but still smokes a lot. Bathing facilities are a bathtub in the yard surrounded by the ubiquitous blue tarp and draining directly onto the ground. Bathing water is supplied by bucket and is poured over ones-self with a jug (from Tupperware if you have any taste at all). Washing up is achieved by having a sink set up on trestle legs with a bucket under the drain hole, water is bucketed to and from the sink on a regular basis. Lighting is provided by a gas lamp as it is now too dangerous to have a naked flame in the humpy. The toilet is still an outside pit toilet set up (commonly called a 'dunny').

three star; Has a raised floor and doors that lock. Has a second hand wood heater or stove, purchased at a local auction and most likely has a small solar system allowing for the use of two lights in the evening. Bathing consists of  an inside bathtub that drains to the outside (perhaps to a banana circle) and has a cold tap to supply water. Bathing is still accomplished by use of a bucket and jug. The kitchen sink is still on trestle legs but has a cold water tap over it, waste water is still bucketed out from it though.
The toilet is still a 'dunny' way down the hill.

four star; Has both a wood stove and a heater, purchased second hand from the Tender Centre (a local auction house). Has no gaps around the top of walls which allow local wildlife to come and go as they please and sports a kitchen sink cupboard unit with a cold water tap and a drain to take waste water to the banana circle. The toilet is a really deep pit with a permanent building above it fairly close to the humpy but carefully downhill and down wind.

five star; has a solar system which runs lighting and the TV as well as a computer and allows the use of a modem for hour long stretches. The bath has a 12 volt pump attached and has a permanent shower plumbed in, with (the height of luxury) hot water supplied to both bath and kitchen sink. Water is heated with either a solar system or a hot water jacket in the (bought new) fuel stove. Five star humpys may even be lined with fibre board or ply wood. The toilet is a bought compost unit (council approved) installed within metres of the humpy.

Have a look at the photos of our humpy and see if you can rate it...

Our Humpy

Monday, 8 July 2013

I just signed a community energy petition.
Have look at it and consider the possibilities...

Community Energy NOW

Cultivate Social and Emotional Skills with Ecoliteracy | Edutopia

Cultivate Social and Emotional Skills with Ecoliteracy | Edutopia

This is a great post about environmental education. lots of information.
I became an environmental educator because of principle one of this post; empathy for all living things. Having empathy doesn't mean that we don't eat meat, it means that we give the animal we are going to eat the best possible life it can have and kill it quickly and as painlessly as possible and treat the sacrifice with the respect it deserves.

We have a grace we say which encompasses my philosophy perfectly;

"Great are the life forms that let us eat them,
one day our bodies too will be food.
Great is the Goddess that made things so yummy,
and great are the hands that make them taste good."

Dirt is hard work!

Well.. I hate to look gift dirt in the mouth (so to speak) but the last lot of soil from my sister's house has turned into really hard work; I knew I would have to sieve out the grass roots but I didn't factor in how sticky the stuff is. The soil from further up the ridge is red basalt; the most sought after growing soil there is, but it has a high clay content which means that it sticks to everything!!
I spent the afternoon scooping soil into a bucket with a flower pot (a small one) while sorting out blady grass, bracken and kykuyu. The chooks loved the extra greens though and I got a little bit done (about a third of the load). Oh well back to it tomorrow.

You can see the beautiful colour of the soil; like chocolate.

 I did manage to plant some bush beans in the stage one area though.

The bush beans I planted today
The beds in that run are starting to look respectable.
The chooks love the extra greens

I can't wait till there are vegetables in my new bed.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A place value knowledge diagnostic

An understanding of the place value system used in the Hindu -Arabic number system is at the base of all mathematical understanding. Kids need to understand that our number system is organised by powers of ten and there is a standard way to write them.

This is from a group produced slide show on place value learning.

I then found a really simple test for place value knowledge. So simple you can do it at home.

SToPV test