Petit Paradis in Collage


The Eighth instalment of our annual bit of artwork tracking the Two Little Fellas.

This year, on a whim, our youngest Little Fella takes the stage given that he’s played smaller roles in previous pictures and I loved how he embraced his nature playground in the garden – quite literally.

Over the years friends and family have wanted to know a bit of the story behind the artwork so this is a little about this years . . .

In the New Year we will move to Tillellan, the long-term project that is finally nearing completion. The landscaping and backyard will be a project within its own right. In anticipation of the move this years art features some of the elements of the original petit paradis abode.  A kind of thank you and goodbye for our first family home.

This place has seen several families of guinea pigs and chickens pass through it. It was pivotal in my adventures in seed saving and building up varieties, quantities and experience in locally adapted edible species. As a result, much of the growing space was for seed production and really only supplemented our kitchen from time to time with food. Moving to Tillellan we plan to accommodate both requirements.

There was a whole lot I could have put into this picture, but some of the highlights are the Pitaya flowers that made a showy display the last couple of autumns. Our eldest Little Fella is feeding Pinky, Brownie and Missy Miss – some of our current guinea pigs. Our original g-pigs Maiki & Jazz can be found in the picture as well along with various pet chooks that have been on the adventure also.

One of the favourite things about the house that I will miss is seeing the flocks of ibis and pelicans flying past the house on their way out to feed or returning home in the afternoon. Quite regularly we’ve had a half dozen or more pelicans glide low and slow over the houses and past our living area window in the early morning. It is a magical site, especially when they are low enough to hear their wing beats, and I missed it when we rented briefly so I know I will when we move.


There are various flowers and the quail, some of our container gardens and goldfish and koi. Fruit trees and crops that we’ve had. The garden itself was different with every passing year as it adapted to the needs and requirements of the family and whatever we were doing in preparation for the eventual move. Whether it was sorting out salvaged resources or propagating varieties of plants.

It will be a little sad I imagine to part ways, but we’ve also out-grown it rapidly and its very much a natural transition for us. It would have been just right with the Two Little Fellas, but with the addition of Gran and her various requirements we’ve definitely overstayed.

Summer Sunflowers

petitparadis sunflower

The new garden is struggling at the moment. Bouts of hot weather and wind interspersed with showers of miniscule rain. In between other duties I have chopped and dropped some of the fat hen and other ‘weeds’ to mulch around the edibles that are fruiting.

The sunflowers are opening and in the morning sun are magnets to bees and brilliant in their colour. A simple joy. An inspiration to grow a whole heap of them next summer!



We don’t need to go too far out of town to be able to see Kangaroos.

They mingle in the fields with cattle and sheep, grazing on the grass and lazing under trees in the heat of the day.

Much the same as our guinea pigs and rabbits. Eat, eat, eat, slumber. Rpt.

Our rabbits and guinea pigs have their work cut out for them. They really are working animals for us, as well as pets. It’s not uncommon for us to arrive home to a bag of green waste from my Dad’s garden or pruning material from friends. As the grass rapidly encroaches on the hillside at the back of Tillellan the day is drawing closer for the g-pigs and rabbits to get into gear and keep things in check.

The grass, though not a favourite element of mine if requiring regular mowing or trimming, is proving useful in keeping the sand down. It is also going to be a solar energy trap for us. As it grows and grows it will be a food source for our animals which will convert it into manure, eggs, meat and such things. All very, very handy stuff.

In maintaining the grass (not to be confused with lawn) I usually trim it down and leave the clippings in situ to fall between and build up the soil. Recently I have also raked up a bit and used this to cover areas of sand to keep it down.

I’m also keen to get the quail onto some grass and dirt. They are doing fine, but I think they will benefit from having some regular, fresh grass to pick at. I’m sure we will notice the change in the quality of the eggs. Much as we do with our own chicken eggs in comparison to other sources we receive eggs from. Free-range, bio-dynamic or organic. For some reason, our own chooks provide us with bright, orange yolks. We love them.

Perhaps that is the secret ingredient.

Retrofitting the Suburbs *


petitparadis retrofitting the suburbs

Self-reliance. . .

It has always been an economic foundation of every society in history, it’s just that in the super-charged affluence of the past couple of decades we’ve managed to suck it dry and shift everything up, into the monetary economy. And when you get economic contraction it’s just natural that people start doing things again at home and on an exchange basis. We call this the re-localisation process. This re-localisation movement will shift power and respect to older and rural people with self-reliance skills. People who can work physically. People who are applying permaculture principles. Whether they are doing that consciously or unconsciously.

– David Holmgren

This economic contraction that David Holmgren has been talking and writing about for some time now is kick-starting the household and local community economies. That is, it’s operating outside the monetary, formal economy. Folks are working their jobs and also doing a bit on the side as a means to both get by financially, diversify their income streams, support larger families (kids, elders . . .) and do something that they enjoy.


Further Reading:

Lunchbox/Soapbox: David Holmgren on Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability

The Story of Change

The New Future


* retrofit

  1. Add (a component or accessory) to something that did not have it when manufactured.
    “motorists who retrofit catalysts to older cars”
    Provide (something) with a component or accessory not fitted during manufacture.
    “buses have been retrofitted with easy-access features”
noun: retrofit; plural noun: retrofits
  1. an act of retrofitting a component or accessory.
    “uninsulated and oddly designed dream houses that are badly in need of a retrofit”

Milk Kefir – Welcome Home!



Mr DIG was curious about Milk Kefir. He was asking questions. Seeking further information. So with a little inquiring we procured some in a matter of hours. From Miss L.

“Where are we meeting her?” DIG asked.

“Outside the 24 Hour Gym.”

“OK.” He said in a tone indicating the dubious sounding nature of the rendezvous. I could tell his curiosity was growing.

Following the carpark meet up, our new addition to the Petit Paradis family was cradled safely in a little jar on Mr DIG’s lap. Our next stop had us pulling into a drive-way where Mr DIG was quick to spot the Adult Shop.

“We’re not going to the Adult Shop are we?”

“No.” I replied. “Not the front anyway. I prefer to park out the back.” Which we did so that we could go to the Vege Shop to purchase some Moonshine Milk.

DIG’s intrigue and wonder as he transcended into the crazy world of Mr Petit Paradis & The Culture of the Milk Kefir was a joy to witness.


As a family we’ve had a reasonable break from milk kefir and I was keen to get some going for summer. I thoroughly enjoyed it in smoothies and as Mrs PP had pointed out, despite being a dairy product, it had left a gap in our gut health and a missing link in our arsenal for fighting off immune system invaders.

Our last culture we had for over seven years and despite searching the depths of the chest freezer and fridge freezer I could not locate any.  I was sure I had put our culture into long-term storage and ‘perfect hibernation’. At any rate, we had managed to obtain a shiny, new, bright culture from our carpark rendezvous and things were looking up for Mr DIG and gut health.

“It’s like a family pet.” I told DIG. “It needs regular feeding. You have to manage it and look after in. Talk to it nicely. Put it in the fridge to slow it down if you’re going away for any length of time. It takes a little while to get acquainted, but it’s potentially a friend for life.”

For all things kefir I thoroughly recommend the following site for stacks of information.

Dom’s All About Kefir Grains & Kefir