Australia (and Perth especially) relies heavily on the mining industry. And guess what? Every second person I’ve talked to lately has said that they have been hit recently by the mining industry not doing as well as previous. From friends on Facebook saying they’ve been made redundant, to my husband’s work struggling, to my friend who works as an accountant for a major miner telling me about their projects closing. All are saying, “Things are not looking too good at the moment.”
So what does that mean for me? It means that things are going to get a little more expensive for our household – petrol, groceries, overseas items. I have growing children who require new clothing (on what seems to be on a monthly basis), but I’ve also noticed the amount of food I need to place on their dinner plates has been increasing. My husband’s job is relatively secure, but as to how much work they will give him…?
In 2009, when things went badly pear-shaped, my husband’s employer reduced everyone to three days a week. That meant only 60% of his usual salary coming in. We had to cut corners.
One thing that always surprises me, is that people seemed to have lost the skills it requires to grow their own food. I find it one of the most rewarding pastimes. You prepare the soil, and put a seed in the ground, then xxx amount of weeks later, you’re eating the food. There’s always something coming out of my garden. In terms of dollars, it’s not a huge saving. But when things are tough, $10 extra each week helps.
In March I wrote in a draft blog: It’s the end of a very hot summer for me. We’ve just turned to autumn and the days are cooling off. The soil which has been baked dry will begin to soak in the autumn rains, and the worms that tend to the soil will begin to do their work. I will spread some chicken manure from my own hens over the soil, and let it work in.
I’ve picked a number of grapes off my vine, and gobbled them down. Just a snack, although the vines are groaning with produce. I also picked eggplant, tomato, capsicum and basil from the garden and put it in a pot to make a bolognaise sauce for tomorrow night. I threw in extra tomatoes from the shop, plus some onion, zucchini and carrot, but about 30% of the ingredients were from my garden. I flavoured the sauce with dried herbs I picked several months ago.
Two months later in this late May blog I’d have to change it to this: Today I’ve spent the day making sure the seeds are progressing fine. The carrot seeds are up, as are the brown onion seeds, the snow peas and some of the beetroot. The turnip seeds haven’t sprouted, which is a pain – are the seeds too old, need some more time, or did the ants steal them all? Today I picked twelve oranges off the tree, four mandarins, and then set my 7yo son juicing the 30 oranges I have lying around waiting for someone to eat.
I cut the rest of the grapes off the vines and fed them to the chooks. The silverbeet seedlings are going well, the eggplant and peas are growing vigorously, and the blueberry bushes have flowered.
The strawberries are flowering against the warm wall where I placed them, the basil is going wild and I still have 30 lemons I need to work out what to do with. The chooks gave me two eggs today, and hopefully this weekend we will be able to buy two more point-of-lay hens. With a growing family, more eggs will never go astray.
I find the same satisfaction with writing. You take nothing and create something beautiful. The blank page is your soil, and life and your creativity is the spark that seeds that soil. The author (farmer) needs some skill and knowledge to sow that seed. They can’t just grow any old seed – no one wants to buy bracken and thorns at the market. The author needs to carefully select their seed, make sure the seasons are correct, then plant that seed just right. The farmer needs to work it – work the soil, plant the seed, fertilise, water, get rid of the weeds and watch out for vermin. Likewise the author needs some skill – the ability to tell a story, get the grammar right, get the build up right, keep the reader’s attention. Then comes the harvest which is just as important. Editing must be done right. The wheat and chaff must be sorted. The fruit must carefully be handled to stop it bruising. It must be transported to market in a timely manner, and to the correct market.
The consumer buys and carefully takes it home to sample. Nothing can be rushed. An apple that is rushed and picked too soon will not be ripe. A mango that is not boxed carefully will be so full of bruises, it makes it inedible. Broccoli that is not packaged correctly will be spoiled by the time a consumer receives it.
And, of course, the potatoes full of worms will leave a sour taste in the reader’s mind. The potatoes looked good at the market, but when the reader got them home and cut into them, they were full of worms. The farmer pocketed their money and ran, but readers have long memories. The next time at the market, they bypass that farmer’s offering of potatoes and onions, and go for the farmer next door with the same offering, even if it is a little bit more expensive.
We all just hope to be that author.