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.

Home Cooking

petit paradis breakfast

Mr DIG asked me, amidst preparing dinner. . . 

“Do you like cooking then?”

( Dear Reader – Do you like Mr DIG? He asks good questions don’t you think? Makes for diverse blog posts! )

I had to think about it.

“I think so.” I replied.

Though I really wasn’t sure anymore. I used to enjoy it but since the Little Fellas came along – plus Gran with all the challenges that the Taste Monster brings to the table – I really think the answer is more ‘Not so much.’

Then it got me thinking about why this was so. Why I continued.

To which the answer came, because I still want to know what is in our food and what my family is eating.

It takes time, there are dishes and pots and pans to wash and the appreciation from the gathering at the table is more often lacking and instead insulting and damaging to the soul of a home cook. But they are healthy, they do eat most of their meals despite being distracted and eating with their hands from time to time. And I care. And I’m stubborn. In a good way, I hope.

Gran is better off too. Though a recent chicken salad with home made mayonnaise and noodles was so uncomfortable to sit through. She looked disinterested and miserable. She is trying to kill off the Taste Monster and its destructive ways with her blood sugar. But the misery. Oh the misery.

I cook with care and with love, but it’s a hard task at the moment. The immediate rewards are few, but I’m in for the long term gains.

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



Petite Récolte

petitparadis potatoes

A quick dip into the dry, dry sand of the new garden produced a small harvest of Pink Eye Potatoes that were an initial planting when we started the garden bed. These complimented the sausages we cooked for our dinner with DIG.

The garden is growing well, adorned with frogs and dahlias and lots of small, insect attracting blossoms. The King Skinks have really settled in and the kikuyu grass is filling in the gaps between garden  beds. This I am encouraging at the moment as it will keep the sand down during summer and give us options for placing our various small livestock for feeding.

There are sweet peas flowering and various melons and pumpkin vines which have most likely just come up from the base of compost I put down to start the garden beds. These are thriving and should do well provided we can keep the water up to them until we move in. They are just starting to set fruit now. Once we are in the house then we can start to use the greywater for some irrigation until the rest of the water treatment area is set up.

petitparadis eggs

We also discovered the new location our hens were using for nesting. Given the relative disruption in the backyard recently they have been laying their eggs in a half full wine barrel once used as a plant pot. Under an upturned wheelbarrow, very secretive, sheltered and shady. This latest one which took a week to find was deep in a hedge amongst a labrynth of sticks.


Spring Cleaning


So we’re two thirds through Spring and after being out of action for a few days I was ready to set a new course. I wasn’t sure how to articulate this to the rest of the family, so I just started to do it anyway. I guess you could say it was a bit of Spring Cleaning mixed with high expectations to be moving house shortly. There was lots to do after a few days of absence.

After not visiting the garden at Tillellan for a few days I noticed the difference. Taller greens and some flowers blooming. New leaves on some cuttings. Most of the ‘normal’ fruit trees are well advanced but I’d taken a fig that was really just a stick and had been for some time. I thought I’d give it a chance, burying it deep into the richer, wormier* soil. It’s sprouted to life. With this, I have taken over the rest of the tamarillo and mulberry cuttings and planted them out too.

Not surprisingly, the garden was dry after the relentless wind we’ve had – that has persisted the last few days. The garden beds were given a good soak once we’d planted out more propagation pieces and some seedlings. I’m looking forward to having the watering a little more automatic once we move in.

It was really nice to spend some time in the garden. The silverbeet is coming along nicely and we delivered a bunch to the neighbours. Shortly afterwards they gifted us with two baskets from their attic clean out. Perfect for collecting the garden produce as the one we had is rather small when harvesting great bunches of silverbeet. These baskets have been given a wash and dry and are ready for their new and busy life. A lovely little memory too of Grans dear friend who had used the baskets previously.

There were all sorts of different insects making appearances and our first frog in the vegetable garden. This is a good sign. Frogs at our current garden have been a bit hit and miss. Mainly just the burrowing frogs. I suspect that cats may have something to do with it. The frogs just never seemed to stick around.

Surveying the garden scene also gave me some ideas of where to initially move the rabbits when we make the shift. The chickens may be a little trickier at the moment and I may need to make a temporary enclosure for them.

With some decent bunches of silverbeet in hand I had a moment of ‘I’ve made it’, as I reflected on the great bouquets of silverbeet that my grandfather would bring to my family from time to time when I was a youngster. A small but significant gardening moment. And so many more to come as the garden continues to evolve. It’s early days yet.


Mother Hen took her five chicks out for a walk this afternoon abandoning the last egg in the nest and stepping out to take a long overdue dust bath. The other hens are being a bit mothering also, which is nice. Amazing to realise that over night our chook population has doubled.

A hutch was set up with fresh straw ready for keeping them secure and safe at night. I ventured down to the garden in the evening to find her and her brood already nesting in it and ready for nightfall.

*wormier – as in, filled with worms!