Where else?

9 July 2012
This post was written over the space of a few days ...
Hanno went out this morning and I took the time to work and sit in the garden. It was cold and windy, overhead a black cockatoo screeched for its mate. As the pine trees moved with the wind, acorns dropped into our yard. Luckily, the fence and rain forest protect our vegetable garden and yard from the worst of the winds but when you look up, the trees and birds show how strong the wind gusts are here mid-winter.

Hettie was sitting on the bench and every so often I took a break from my work and sat next to her. She didn't make a sound, or move, but she knew I was there. At 15, she sleeps all day in the sun on that little bench. My main work that day was to water the vegetables and when the soil was moist, to apply homemade comfrey tea to all the green leafy plants. Comfrey tea is packed full of nitrogen and minerals and it's a very useful fertiliser that is easily made in a bucket in the backyard. Easy, economical and nourishing, that's a great trio of benefits. I was going to prune the orange tree too but I looked at it and wanted to see the fruit on the tree for a while longer. It looks so pretty and it's a once a year event, so I'll take it slow with them.

There is something to be said for this kind of gentle work. The type of work that can be done anytime, not to any particular timetable or for any special need. A cup of tea taken outside to sip with legs stretched out, is enjoyed while I look around at the chickens and vegetables and up at the tall trees again to see what the wind is blowing around. Often it's just the acorns, but then a bird will squark and there will be a flurry of feathers or leaves, then it settles down again.

And now it's a few days later and I've done some light pruning and harvested more oranges. There will be fresh orange juice on the dinner table tonight. When the main pruning is complete, I'll have to treat the tree with some eco-oil because there is a lot of sooty mould on the leaves and if I leave it, it will weaken the tree.

I took this photo from behind the fence near the creek, looking back into our yard towards the shed and house. You can see Hanno putting up the new chicken fence. I'll write about it later in the week.

All sorts of plans are made out there in our backyard. Plans to prune, move, fertilise, sow, enlarge, cut back and grow. But this is also where we have many of our family celebrations - this is a special place. There is a lot happening here now, we are growing vegetables, fruit and eggs; there will be a lot happening in the years to come. We have two little boys who, I hope, will spend a lot of time visiting us here running, exploring and learning. We have to keep it safe and healthy for them as well as ourselves. We want them to love it here as much as we do. There are plans for a sand pit soon, something that will encourage creative play for Jamie and Alex while they're toddlers. When they're a little older, we'll show them how to sow seeds, plant seedlings, collect eggs, identify vegetables and to see the beauty out there. You don't have to go too far to find beauty if you have a garden. It's right there, in front of your eyes, all you have to do is slow down enough to recognise that even the ordinary and mundane things in life have a reason and often a certain kind of beauty. When you "get" that, the appreciation of it transforms you.

I look around here and know that we are safe and protected. That we can make use of the soil to grow food, that we can harvest water from the roof top and store it, that we can hang our laundry out to dry in the clear sunlight, and that whatever effort we put in here supports our lifestyle and makes us the people we are. This backyard supports our decision to live as we do and I can't think of anywhere I would rather be on a cold and windy winter's day. Where else would I feel so comfortable and at home.

Over the weekend Hanno and I have been talking a lot about our garden. He often watches German TV on the computer and last week he saw a segment about German pensioners on the lowest pension. These people were making ends meet by buying and selling at markets and Hanno said one lady sat in the cold for seven hours to make forty euros. We talked about how lucky and grateful we are to live in a prosperous country with such a good climate. Our land and the climate we live in help us provide for ourselves. Not only do we harvest our own food, this food is organic and fresher than any we could buy anywhere. Yes, we both know that our garden is a great asset and it has enabled us live on our meagre budget, to eat healthy food, and to share a lot of it.

We bought seedlings from the local farmers market yesterday morning and now the bare patches in the garden beds are full again, new potatoes have been planted, more manure dug in, the gardens have been tidied up and the chooks have had a bonanza of food  flung over their fence. Everyone is satisfied.

There is much to be thankful for at the Hetzel house.


  1. This was such a tender post, Rhonda... I could really relate to it. I spent my morning tidying and prettying up my garden space a bit. After 3 years of very utilitarian food gardening and renovations I need a little more "pretty" in my life :) I was so thankful as I spruced up my outdoor space that I have the freedom to do this very thing... putter in my garden with the dog at my heels, stop to watch the birds feed, listen to chickens chatter to each other... it was a busy but peaceful morning that totally relaxed me. I too, am thinking about Grandchildren and how they will enjoy this space with me. I can hardly wait to have a little one toddling about with me in the garden, basket in hand... stopping to pick and taste... This is absolutely the best time in my life, and I'm so very grateful for each and every day.

  2. A lovely glimpse at your life...seeing your tomatoes remind me I need to get planning for spring.

  3. A thoughtful post. I love quiet times like these where you are doing a methodical job like pruning, or picking vegetables/fruit- it is the time where you remember to be grateful .

  4. My husband spent yesterday making four new raised garden beds taking the total to ten. We are looking forward to having lots more home grown veggies for our family of 8.

  5. What a satisfying post to read. I sat here and sighed after reading it and seeing the pictures.

    Hearing you speak of your grandsons and the sand pit reminded me of when our first grandson was a young toddler. He's now nineteen years old and just completed his first year of college - yikes! Can it be that time has passed that fast? My husband and I built Joseph (and the next four grands used it also) a sandbox. Papa did the woodwork and I made a waterproof top to cover the roof of the sandbox. It worked well to keep water and kitties out when lowered and when raised, it protected the children from sunburns. The best thing of all was that Papa and I loved working together toward a common goal, as has been our habit many times over our fourty-seven year marriage. Reading your words "we", "our", and "us" caused me to smile and to think about what a good team you and Hanno are, just as my husband are.

    Thanks for the glimpse into your last few days. Just wish we could grow oranges where I live...it's not temperate enough here in North Carolina.

    Love from Diane in North Carolina

  6. Hi Rhonda,
    funny to see tomatoes at this time of year. Where I live (Armidale) we've already had a couple of minus nines!
    It's a particular kind of joy one gets potterring around in the garden. Very lucky to have discovered this joy.
    Have a wonderful day,Madeleine

  7. I've just come in from flinging food at MY very contented chookies. It's a good old life, isn't it?

  8. Diane, sharing it with someone we love makes it so much better, don't you think?

    LOL Frog, it most certainly is.

  9. G'DAY Rhonda,

    My boys are away and I'm sitting here with my daughter Skye reading your events, just taking it nice and slow together, these times are memories that will last a life time. We are keen to get the day started yet it is lovely just sitting here with her having a cuppa and enjoying all that we have and looking forward to a wonderful week to ourselves with tomatoes to bottle, relish to make and strawberry jam to make by the kilo.
    Your place sounds just like ours, where it is lovely to just sit and talk about what we have, plans to make and the enjoyment of how lucky we are.

    Enjoy the rain this week, the seedlings will love it,

    Thank-you and have a GREAT one,


  10. Sorry forgot to ask about the eco-oil for the sooty mould, is that what's it called and can you make it, or do you get it from the local hardware.



  11. Rhonda such a lovely post.

    I spend the weekend pottering around, no hurry, everybody off doing their thing. I was at home, did some washing, made some household cleaner and washing powder(first attempt, huge fan already). Gave the kitchen a good scrub, sparkled. Wondered out into the garden, watched the chooks run around for a while. Bought clothes in off line dry. I realised its the small things that matter, make bed pick up clothes room smiles back Di

  12. Hi Rhonda, Firstly I got hooked on your book, now I just love reading your blog everyday. Today especially I felt like I had spent a lovely day in your garden with you. I am trying very hard to emulate your lifestyle following a few tough years and recently left full time employment with a view to enjoy and enrich my life as you have done. I agree with your comment to Diane, I just wish I had done this sooner so my dear late husband was here to share it with me too. Thanks for the inspiration Rhonda (and Hanno). Dawn

  13. g'day

    again you have given us a beautiful post rhonda, so content you sound, ahhh one day i hope to be as content & happy in my own home & yard too.
    have a great week
    cheers :))
    selina from kilkivan qld

  14. I can't thank you enough for your blog. Your posts bring me such a sense of peace and gentleness, and they're so inspiring at the same time. Thank you so much for taking time out of your life to write this blog!

  15. Matt, I bought my Eco-oil at Green Harvest in Maleny

    There is a homemade version you can use called white oil - It's easily made if you have a blender. The recipe is here:

  16. Hi Rhonda, I always enjoy taking some time out to read your post. As I sit and read I was just wondering if you have heard of or read the book Mitten Strings for God. I guess you could say it is all about living in the moment. I have only just started reading it myself, but I thought it is something you might really enjoy. I actually found out about it from a link to a blog you posted a while ago 'Vintage Rose', which thanks to you I have really enjoyed visiting!!

  17. thank you so much for the link to the homemade white oil, I am in desperate need of some for scale insect on my citrus plants right now!

  18. A lovely calming post, we should all take the time to be thankful for what we have and what we can do to keep ourselves loving and living this simple lifestyle.

    Sue xx

  19. I really enjoyed reading your post today Rhonda. It paints a lovely picture of a life gently lived. Best wishes from Jean.

  20. You are so right. If you have a life like yours, there is a lot to be thankful for.
    Here in The Netherlands there are people who have to do with a lot less too.
    My husband and I are also very grateful for the things we have.
    There are people with a lot less.
    Have a great day.

  21. This is a wonderful life to choose. We really are lucky living in australia

  22. You certainly do well from your mid winter garden Rhonda. It is more productive than our mid summer garden this year, here in rain battered southern England.

    I love the photo of your dear old cat. She`s a lucky girl to have a kind home and a sunny bench to sleep on in her twilight years.

  23. Wonderful post Rhonda :) Your vivid description and sincere appreciation really touches me. Through your words I can almost hear and smell your garden...

  24. I love your Hettie kitty. Please, if you can, give her a little
    ear scritch from me =)

  25. As always, I enjoy your post. It makes me feel like you are a neighbor down the road. It is so nice for you to be able to grow food in mid winter.
    Here just south of Chicago we have been dealing with very high heat and a mostly dry season. Not much is growing well.


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