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.

The benefits of stooping low

petitparadis paddock

6:45 am Early Morning Training

One hour and ten minutes of squats – while picking up horse manure and hauling feed bags of the stuff to the ute. Then off-loading at the house garden.

It wasn’t as much of a marathon effort at last time as I was limited as to how long I could stay. But I wanted to fit it into the day because, I like to keep the paddock relatively clear for the owner so that I keep getting invited back. I prioritise the areas where the vehicles have to pass over so that at least they are not squishing into cow pats and horse dung unnecessarily. 

This time around there were some further observations. Most of the dung was already starting to break down and was quite crumbly. I wasn’t so surprised after the recent rain over the last few weeks. There were also dung beetles, which I’d seen evidence of before but not as active and prevalent as they were today.

It was great to get out and get some air while the day was just starting. A bit of peace and some bird song. Just before it was time to leave the sun was getting quite warm and the flies were starting to come out. A good time to depart.

This lot of manure is likely to be for the next crop of corn. The pop corn is just starting to look like flowering and I have another corn variety I’d like to squeeze into the growing season to keep the seed fresh.

The Throwing of the Seed

petitparadis garden bed

The new garden is bolting.

Seeds are ripening and reaching for the sky. It is coming to a close, the initial burst of vigor. Underneath this cloak of leaves and seeding pods are pumpkins and melons. Growing, engorging themselves towards mature fruit.

Mrs PP and the Littlest Fella took delight in scattering marigold seed around the garden beds on Monday. Sowing the seed in the simplest of ways with the most rewarding effort.

Despite light showers it is still requiring regular watering and this is the crucial time to get regular water to it so that fruits develop. 

The tradies are amazed at how quickly the garden has ‘shot up’. Now seed sowing is required so that we get a good crop of greens and vegetables during 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”