Monday, June 14, 2010

Channeling Kevin

The British TV series, Grand Designs has been around for a few years now and has really raised our awareness of the quality of the spaces we inhabit and how we live.

According to series host Kevin McCloud, environmental issues are here to stay: 'Eco-building is no longer the domain of the knit-your-own-sandals brigade. Legislation and the Rio and Kyoto protocols require us to consider the environmental impact of everything we do, and clearly our homes are big producers of pollution both in their construction and in day-to-day running.

Like Kevin, I moved out of the city a few years ago to live a more balanced, in-touch-with-nature sort of life. As much as I loved the buzz of the city, the prospect of raising a toddler in a polluted inner city neighbourhood meant all that excitement began to lose its charm.

Home now is a 110 year old former dairy farm house in the middle of rolling green fields - within easy reach of a decent coffee and a handful of stylish shops. Being more eco-conscious does not have to mean going to the the trouble of building an underground house like the one on an episode of GD, however.

I like the fact that we are "recycling" an old farm house, which we have gradually updated and are extending with an old church hall which was saved from demolition and moved to the property from a local school yard just before Christmas.

I am no hippy - believe me! I'm a former Fash-Mag-Slag with a penchant for designer shoes, but I must say I take great satisfaction in the fact that we harvest all our own water supply, grow our own fruit, vegies and herbs and have huge, tumbling compost bins.

Gone are most of our incandescant lightbulbs, replaced with those energy efficient ones that take a while to kick in and give a ghostly fish and chip shop sort of light (!). When the budget will allow, we are hoping to install some wind power in the form of an old windmill as well as solar panels which will be the next step for reducing our environmental footprint.

The one thing I have yet to tackle to complete the whole tree change picture is having chickens. Everyone of my new-found country friends assures me they are no trouble but something about their beady eyes unnerves me. That and the fact they attract snakes.
I wonder if Kevin has chooks?


  1. Your home and lifestyle sounds absolutely divine! Living in the country is my favourite thing - just being in touch with nature, hearing the crickets and seeing fireflies at night. I'll trade in designer shoes for that any day of the week! : )

  2. Well done Catherine, your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint is something to be extremely proud of.
    I'm with you on the chook front. We are tossing up whether to get some too. The snake problem is what is stopping me. With two young kids and a mum that would be doing the work, it's just a bit unnerving.
    I really must get my finger out and start a vegie garden too.

  3. Am loving Kevin and his buddy-in-kind Emmanuel Belliveau from 'World's Greenest Homes'.
    We are truly blessed to live in a beautiful semi-rural environment about 15mins from Noosa's Main Beach. This means that we have the joy of being surrounded by lots of green space, trees and wildlife but not too far away from all the other goodies that this part of the world has to offer.
    I too have shied away from the chook idea, not only snakes but rats are the biggest reason! Our local Farmer's Markets have terrific produce and you sometimes even get a 'double-yolker' from the egg lady.

    Enjoy the long weekend,


  4. We live in the Dandenongs amongst trees and fresh air as well as a wonderful view of rolling countryside. Space for the boys to ride their bikes and climb trees all on our own little half acre is worth all the slight inconveniences of semi-rural life.

  5. Sharnel - you'll love having even a small vegie patch if you cook. Keep it within easy access of the kitchen.(I can feel a vegie patch post coming on!)

  6. I'm sure he has them - doesn't he live in an old farmhouse in Somerset? They'd be pretty much mandatory, I'm sure.

    On the subject of Grand Designs, there has never been a television programme that I've been more addicted to. Cannot not not get enough of it. I wish it was a daily occurrence, like soaps.

    As for chickens, we inherited some from the people we bought our place from. They were eventually picked off one by one by the bandit quolls (in spite of locking them up every night with armed guards), but they were fabulous while they were alive - like a roving gang of old ladies, scandalised and scolding by turns. I really miss them.

  7. Go for it with the chooks..I am sure you will love them, cheers Katherine

  8. We were just discussing chooks today. I don't think I'm quite ready either, but I love the idea of fresh eggs. Maybe that's enough... Maybe.

  9. What does "harvest all our own water supply" mean? How do you do that?
    -B from Boston, US

  10. We are not connected to the town water supply so collect rain on the roof which is stored in tanks.
    I forgot to mention that we also treat our own waste.