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.

Nothing but Flowers . . .

This used to be real estate
Now it’s only fields and trees
Where, where is the town?
Now, it’s nothing but flowers
The highways and cars
Were sacrificed for agriculture
I thought that we’d start over
But I guess I was wrong

Talking Heads (Nothing but) Flowers


petitparadis backyard

I’ve been looking at our greater backyard through the eyes of a tourist.

Mr DIG’s stay has meant the occasional trip out and about. Happy little forays into nature to escape the troubles and pressures and stresses around us presently. I’ve enjoyed the moments of serenity and poise rather immensely and have found myself with not only a renewed interest to get out into the further reaches of Nature more often, but also with a deeper gratitude for the incredible beauty close to home, or within reach.

“There is so much about modern agriculture that I do not like, but scenes of hay bales in open fields with trees or rolling hills is quite therapeutic for me to look at.” I told Mr DIG.

We have meandered through lake, beach, forest, farmland, river and urban environments. Had long chats with tea, coffee or chai over random and varied subject matter.

After such a long time away from some of the things I have enjoyed in the past it feels as though there is an approaching opportunity to bring them back home and discover them again.

Beyond the backyard is a natural world of inspiration that can be used to create a magical backyard at home. As the song (Nothing but) Flowers addresses, we are not likely to free ourselves of urban settings too easily despite our love of Nature, but I think we can make them something special and worthwhile and nourishing. The infrastructure and community is there, we can benefit from modifying it to suit our new needs and desires.


Further Reading:

The Great Southern Region

Southern Forests

Farmer Wants A Life

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”
― Bill Mollison

This may not be a new observation, but it’s new to me.

As customers of our local farmers market we have noticed the phenomena of the natural transition.

An aging farming population are now wanting to scale down or sell out altogether. I can’t blame them. But who is going to step up and take over the running of the farm or primary produce operation? There doesn’t appear to be many takers.

In dinner table conversation the topic has come up a few times and I’m sure Mrs PP has mused over the notion of taking on some sort of enterprise with  the attraction of the lifestyle, the healthy living, the rural location. Frequently I hear ‘it’s such a wonderful lifestyle.’

I’m musing over the notion of working 7 days a week, continual maintenance of farm equipment, searching out new markets and maintaining current ones, managing the family & Gran whilst living out of town (potentially a significant distance), early starts on weekends to get to the farmers market (and trying to visualise who would be doing most of this)…



Free Hay on offer because of rain damage and flooding to the paddock.


I want to be more Dad than Taxi Driver. In regional Australia the travel distances can be Long & Far!


We are struggling at the moment with all that having a family involves. There is no time dedicated to the running of our garden and tending to the animals. It kind of happens in fits and starts. I feel like I have to battle to get things planted in time due to all the other distractions in our lives. To my mind farmers have the luxury of having time to do this. Afterall, it’s their job. But making hay while the sun shines or planting out the next crop TODAY often doesn’t happen, because LIFE is happening. If this our current situation – I cannot even imagine depending on our efforts on the land for an income – especially given we’d want to farm as naturally as possible.

The vision for Tillellan is quite adequate enough for the present time. Feed ourselves (and animals), family and others. This is still really in the pipe-dream stage, but we are gradually making progress on the first stage given that the second garden is providing some greens and starting to set a nice crop of pumpkins. Further establishment of new garden beds and some supplementary aquaponics set ups will enhance this.

We also wanted to position ourselves in town to lessen travel in the car, especially while the Little Fellas are going through school and doing extra curricular activities. I want to be more Dad than Taxi Driver. In regional Australia the travel distances can be Long & Far!

But the potential problem of valuable farming land already under good farming practice and management slipping away or falling back into ‘traditional farming’ is a concern. Our own solution at this stage is to take more responsibility for our own food production and to support these farmers where we can by utilising our local Farmers Markets or visiting the farm gate sales.


Further reading:

Farmers calling it quits

Tasmanian Farmer Numbers dropping



“So, when are you moving in?”

petitparadis floors bathroom

A big week is planned.

This week should see the installation of the kitchen, laundry, garage door and possibly the final stages of electrical work and the solar pv system. At some point the final window treatments will go in also.

Cupboard doors still need fitting and the two sets of stair cases – so we can access the house from the front and the garden to the back.

Once this work is done the Painter is hoping for clear access to finish off the final touches. All going well it will still be a couple of weeks before we move. Pretty close to Christmas when I look at the calendar. 

petitparadis garden bed

The garden in the meantime is a rambling jungle of vegetables, potted trees, sunflowers, dahlias, nasturtium, vines and a diversity of grasses that have come to the garden through compost, horse manure, hay/straw and wind. Some of these I will catch seeds from to create a mixed crop for the animals into the future.

The area itself is well overdue for another tidy up. There is more planting to do and a bit more condensing of pots into one area for easier watering. Cardboard that we have removed from the skip bin is needing utilising so that it starts to break down and create top soil. With the assistance of our DIG, I managed to do some rearranging of pallets to retain some of the sandy banks.

Letting Go

I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.
— Jeffrey McDaniel

I found it quite liberating traveling around the world with just a back pack.

But there were many times when even that was pushed to the limit and my pack was heavy enough to become a nuisance. Charity stores, second hand shops and lost property boxes assisted with the natural cycling of items. As some things were moved on, others would replace them. Or as more cherished items came along, others were passed on to make room. I found an acoustic guitar in a fishing tackle shop in the old town in Edinburgh and it was a travel companion for a while through the UK and France. At times it was troublesome to carry around. Spending time between traveling, working and being semi-sedentary however, it was a great companion. I still regard it as a favourite item. As an instrument it is a delight. It is also a bit unique in that the bridge can be removed easily. And it also has some great stories to share that I cherish.

petitparadis guitar

Let go, or be dragged.

—  Unknown

Returning home was also an event of reuniting with all my Other Stuff that had been stored for a couple of years. This has since been whittled down significantly and I have found that even my favourite hobbies have stood the test of time because they take up little room. Especially nowadays with digital storage. The once exception being my artwork, though I have come to favour more and more, doing work on watercolour paper rather than ‘bulky’ canvases.

Our seed collection is the only other collection we really have and that will take up just a small portion of our house once we have our utility room set up. Our collection of plants and trees will be planted in the garden.

The current irony is that for the first time we are actually moving into a larger house and shedding more of our collective stuff. Clothes are not an issue for me as I have reduced them significantly over the last few years – and then more again in the last 12 months. More clothes keep coming from the Universe, but I am usually quick to pass them on if they are not suitable. Or keep them for  a while and discard others by various means.

Items of Stuff that might not be complete or are of no immediate use have found themselves allocated to various boxes and taken to either a second hand store or the Tip Shop where they will more than likely be discovered for their Inherent & Intrinsic Usefulness.

Letting go is not getting rid of memories. Memories will stay, they always do. Letting go is making sure that the pain associated with the memories goes away.
— Arti Honrao

We have been inundated with kids artwork. It is amazing and delightful and is incredible to watch the changes in perception and ability over even a short space of time. My wife will, from time to time, point out a deeper and more cognitive explanation as to what is going on behind the artwork as our boys develop. The writing is on the wall though. Potentially boxes and boxes of artwork lie ahead of us in the future, so I photograph them and the very finest of the bunch get preserved for Periodic Moments of Appreciation. Or, for framing so that we can enjoy them in our living space. This all occurs of course once they have been removed from their Prestigious And Rightful Place Of First Accolades – the kitchen fridge.

Or cupboard.

Or wall.

Or pantry.

Digitise. . . . Wonderful.

There’s an important difference between giving up and letting go.
–Jessica Hatchigan

The cycling continues as we clear stuff out, but there is a ratio to it at the moment. Lots of Stuff Out – A Little Back. We visited a Tip Shop with the Little Fellas. They wanted a handful of toys, but with some explaining we managed to leave the toys there and bring only two pieces of clothing which had gradually risen to new heights on the priority purchases list over the past few weeks as summer approaches. Shorts and jeans.