We bought a block of dirt in the hills behind Goomboorian (Qld). By putt-putting away from Brisbane in our old Kombi we just knew that we were embarking on a self-sustainability adventure of beyond epic proportions. We had absolutely no idea how absolutely right we were about all that. It was a grand case of Hippie Daze in the Earth Garden.
Our to-be-lived-in-shed was made of mud brick. We cut an old water tank in half, filled it with lovely clayish muck from the creek, mixed it all about, and pressed out a beautiful stream of rectangular earth clods. Construction day was full of bonhomie, flagons of cheap red, and the odd toke or ten … then it rained heavily the next day. The shed had small eaves and since we didn’t realise that you had to stick straw as binding in with the mud – well, the shed promptly melted and the mud returned to where it had come from. The word ‘recycling’ has such a lovely ring to it don’t you think?
The solar hot water system was made of old black hose pipe. We rolled it in a coil on the ground, filled it up with water, bunged a cork in either end, and let the sun do what the sun does best. We stood around, as hippies do, with nothing but a bar of soap on and joyfully waited for a lovely warm and desperately needed rinse … and then the kookaburras arrived. They thought it was a rolled up red-bellied black snake and promptly punctured the crap out of it. Didn’t kill our hopes for the upgrading of the RET though.
We picked up an old slow-combustion fireplace from the tip. Mixed some ash with wet newspaper to form a paste and cleaned up the glass door. Stuck air conditioning duct tubing on top as a flue and stacked the whole beauty up with firewood and put it to the match … kamikaze type Possum promptly jumped out of a gum, fell down the flue, and stared out at us through the glass door. Fast combustion was quickly replacing slow combustion but it all turned out OK in the end. The possum pranced off muttering “I’m inclined to forgive you, after all there was no coal in there, you lot are obviously into renewables.”
The vege garden was a work of art. We planted the carrots and silver beet in a mandala pattern that would have brought a beam to the dials of the Monks at Chenrezig. Our permaculture street-cred was looking pretty good and we started to compose an article on ‘Hippies and Sustainable Lifestyles’ for Earth Garden Magazine … the killer hares in the area noticed that there was no fence around the veges and quickly razored the lot to the ground. We are not sure if there is a market for ‘organically-raised hares’. There was certainly no market for our article.
We put an old bicycle up in a sturdy frame and attached dynamos to the tyres and linked the whole whirring contraption to a couple of old Telstra batteries … the spinny things on the dynamos were rusted solid and though we pedalled like hell for hours on end – it soon became apparent that our efforts to go off-grid perhaps needed a tad further thought. Mind you, we now have thighs like tree trunks and can do the 100m in fifteen seconds flat.
It will come as no surprise to you to know that we are currently living in the Kombi, bathing in the creek, jumping up and down to keep warm, buying our veges, using the old bus’s battery to keep a light going, munching on Hare stew, and watching continual re-runs of Alice’s Restaurant and The Good Life on the portable DVD player to keep our spirits flying high … if the highness droops we have a couple of plants out the back to boost them right back up again.
So, never give up on your efforts to have as small a personal footprint on this earth as you can … since we are intrepid never say die hippie types we have just completed a course entitled ‘Sustainable Lifestyle and Power Generation Tips PLAN- B’. You can only get into that select course if you have managed to royally stuff up ‘PLAN-A’. The course tutors welcomed us with open arms and said that we were incredibly prime candidates. Wow – that was so nice of them.
Guess what? Tomorrow is a brand new day. And we are building a Mud Brick Shed!
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