Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Working out our water storage needs...

Earlier in the year we did a water usage audit for our home - if you want to do your own water audit look here.  As a follow-up I have been meaning to do a water storage needs analysis - so here is the start of the analysis.

I based my workings on the information given in Rosemary Morrow's book "Earth User's Guide to Permaculture"


I wanted to calculate how much rainwater tank volume I would need to have to flush the toilet and use the washing machine for the whole year.  I will explore the amount of water I use on the garden and in the glasshouse at a later date.

At the moment, we have a single tank (10,000 litres) which we use for the garden, including the glasshouse as well as the main toilet and washing machine.  In summer I switch off the rainwater to the toilet and washing machine to conserve water for garden and glasshouse.

Here is my water storage needs analysis for the toilet and washing machine.

1. Household consumption of water for the washing machine and the main toilet was 4,800 litres per month.
2. Rainfall in Orange is spread fairly evenly throughout the year - although it is driest from March - May.  Mean monthly rainfall ranges from 52 mm in April to 97 mm in August (from Climate Data Online by the Bureau Of Meteorology) - I should aim to have a month supply (about 5,000 litres or half a tank) in reserve to use as a buffer.
3. Our area of roof that is hooked up into our 10,000 litre tank is 100m2.
4. Based on this roof area and the average monthly rainfall I worked out the volume of rainwater we can harvest each month for this main water tank (= roof area draining to tank x average monthly rainfall).  Depending on the month we can harvest between 5,200 or 9,700 litres of water per month. So that's at least half a tank full depending on the month - and sometimes nearly a full tank.  Even in the drier months of the year (March - May) we can harvest at least half a tank of water which is our current estimated usage for the toilet and washing machine.

So my conclusion from these calculations is that our current tank is adequate to run the toilet and washing machine all the time.  However, if I want water for the garden and glasshouse I should investigate where else we can put another rainwater tank - in a small yard space is limited.  We currently have a 1,000 l tank under the back deck which we rarely use.  Is this enough for our glasshouse and garden? - that's for another day's calculations.

If I can save 4,800 litres per month of town water, or 57,600 litres per year we could save nearly $90 a year - which would be about a quarter of our water costs.

I write this as is lightly rains outside - its a good feeling to know that we are harvesting rainwater as I sit at the computer.

Do you have the resources to be less dependant on the town water supply.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A couple of days exploring Aboriginal culture

On Thursday and Friday I went to Dubbo to participate in two days of Cultural Awareness training.  It was both an enlightening and confronting experience.  Here are some of the highlights that I thought were worth sharing.

A snapshot of the timeline of the European - Aboriginal relations:

1770 - South Eastern Australia declare "Terra Nullius" by Captain Cook

1882 - Aborigines Protection Policy introduced. This involved the segregation of Aborigines onto Aboriginal Reserves and most public schools did not allow Aboriginal students (determined by the local whie community)

1901 - Federation of Australia.  Aboriginal people not recognised at all in the constitution - they are denied citizenship.  The White Australia Policy was the first Act of the Federal Parliment.

1920 - the Aboriginal population estimated to be at its lowest.  Down from an estimated 300 - 750,000 in the late 1770's to about 60,000.

1936 - the Assimilation Policy formalised.  Aboriginal people were to be assimilated into white Australia - those that did not conform were segregated from society. The future of Aborigines were decided by their Aboriginal Protectors.

Here's a list of some of their restrictions:
  • banished from towns forcing them into humpies on the outskirts
  • were banned from the streets after 6pm
  • required to get leave permits to visit nearby towns
  • in country hospitals they had to wait until doctors had attended all white patients before they could receive treatment
  • were not allowed to drink alcohol
  • they were discouraged from fraternising with white Australians and not allowed to marry them without permission
Further to this, they had to apply for official exemption from these conditions to become citizens of Australia.

1967 - Referendum - The Australian Consitution recognises Aboriginals and Torres Straight Islanders as Australian citizens.  They now have the righ to vote. Prior to this any census on Aboriginals was done alongside flora and fauna surveys.

1972 - the Aboriginal tent embassy set up in Canberra in protest of Federal inaction on Aboriginal issues. The NSW Director-General of Education approved the withdrawal of the section of the Teacher's Handbook which dealt with Principles rights to refuse enrolment to Aboriginal children because of home conditions or substantial oppostition from the community.

1992 - Mabo descision that overturned the concept of Terra Nullius.

While covering these confronting facts in the morning sessions, we were able to explore more of the local Dubbo Aboriginal culture and connections to land by exploring for samples of worked stones..

seeing a magnificent canoe tree..

visiting the local Aboriginal fish traps at a poular fishing spot..

and then visiting a site with lots of axe gringing grooves..

A special thanks should go to those who shared so much of their personal experiences with us over the two days - and I am looking forward to working more closely with you through my work at TAFE and in Landcare.

It was a great experience, and although we as a family try to learn more about Aboriginal culture in our local communities and when travelling and camping - days like this are always confronting and rewarding. 

I have on my reading list a few articles / books to read more about Aboriginal culture in the Central Tablelands... more specifically about the Bathurst Wars and the Wiradjuri warrior Windradyne.  Also the books Blood on the Wattle and Why Warriors Lie Down and Die.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Garlic sprouting...

When I did lots of cooking on the weekend I found my garllic sprouting in the bottom of the potato cupboard..... so spent 10 minutes planting garlic with my littlest.... should have a good harvest for next summer - I am slowly trying to buidl up supplies so that I am self sufficient in garlic supplies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A warm purchase

Called in at the Cook Park "Park Guildry" today and found this lovely beanie for the cold weather that is starting in Orange.  Below is how the beanie was described on the label.  It was great to be able to purchase someone else's handicrafts - I hope that this beanie won't be borrowed by Dad or the kids.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Clearing out the summer garden as the first frosts descend

The first frosts in our garden mark the end of the warm weather... and with winter setting in it was time to clear out some of the summer garden left overs to make way for the winter and upcoming spring crops.

we harvested the green tomatoes - maybe for some green tomato pickles...

we collected the last of the pumpkins...

mmmm... lots of pumpkin curry and soup over the next month or so..

...our Littlest riding her Giant Pumpkin... she planted the seed, pollinated the flower and watched her pumpkin grow all summer and was of course there to help when Dad picked it yesterday...

..we also collected some seed from our climbing beans for next season...

We made the most of having a few clear garden beds, and spread out some of the Autumn leaves we collected the other day and put out our composted chook bedding from the Tumbleweed compost bin.

Must get back to the garden to plant some more winter seedlings and some of our sprouting garlic from the cupboard.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Autumn harvest

We did our first afterschool harvest of autumn leaves today.....

.... it is great that the neighbours rake them into piles in the gutter so we can collect them....

...we jump on the leaves in the bin to get more in...

We got two wheelie bins full of Autumn leaves tonight... hopefully we can get some more tomorrow night.....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chocolate: The bitter truth

Four Corners ran the BBC program "Chocolate: The bitter truth" last night.... just thought it was worth sharing - so here it is below (in 6 smaller videos).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Our Get Outdoors Challenge finishes with a psst....

We were going so well as a family getting outdoors daily in April until the last week..... I had a huge workload... running workshops and teaching... I had help from Grandma... and the kids were getting outdoors a bit... then the first colds for the year started to keep the kids indoors and in bed.

some outdoors time with Dad earlier in April...

While I was working Grandma managed to fit in some walks with the kids, the boys started their outdoor soccer and the kids spent time building their cubby in the back yard.

We have found that getting outdoors as a family daily is a hard task to achieve... even though the kids manage to play outdoors most days.  I would like to now think that I could use at least one outdoor time on weekly basis to get the kids closer to nature.

We started today by having a picnic and bushwalk up at the Pinnacle Reserve amongst the tall Manna Gums and Snow Gums. 

We even managed to get sick kids up to the lookout to enjoy the views over Orange

- although we were all horrified to see a bulldozer clearing the lovely bush below! (that's the tiny yellow spot in the middle of the photo)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our moves to a better hot chocolate as winter approaches...

It is the start of Fairtrade fortnight... and we are all being encouraged to swap to Fairtrade brands of at least one thing.  As mentioned in my earlier post... we are going to commit to changing (or our Big Swap) to Fairtrade chocolate, drinking chocolate and coffee.  So this is what we are doing.

I have been trying to change our hot chocoalte powder over our last few shops... the photo below showing our progression.....  We had started with Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate.... and then with limited options in our supermarket moved to the Organic Earth Organic Drinking Chocolate... a step better because it was organic ....  On our last trip to the shops I picked up a container of  Republica Drinking Chocolate which is 100% Fairtrade, Australian Owned and Organic drinking chocolate.... and it tastes great... a much richer chocolate than many of the other hot chocolates on the shelves. 

With continued increase in demand for organic and Fairtrade products I do hope the choice of products on the shelves will continue to increase.

On the coffee front... I have been bringing home a (limited) range of Fairtrade coffee beans available in our shops and have established a taste score sheet up over the coffee grinder to find a coffee that passes the taste test of Dad who is a coffee snob.  I will let you know how we are progressing on finding a Fairtrade coffee to swap too.