Let the Essential Oil Distilling Begin!

Fox Hill Hollow Eucalyptus Oil

We had to trim a termite infested branch of one of our Blakelyi Red Gum trees the other day and rather than waste the leaves by using them as kindling I really wanted to make essential oil. Being a cosmetic chemist whose been keen on making their own ingredients since I was about 19 this day has been a long time coming but finally I got to cook up some oils!

I wrote all about the experience on my Realize Beauty blog here and am now inspired to try more and learn more about the distillation process as I think it would bring a great new dimension to the lessons I plan to teach out at Fox Hill Hollow.  I’m sure that everyone will appreciate the chance to go home with their own little piece of aromatic heaven, fresh from the farm and I know I’ll enjoy cooking it!

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Dogs and Logs on a winters day.

There is nothing better than seeing the excitement on the dogs faces when we arrive at the land.  The only down side is that Maisy started to get a little too excited a while back and her killer instinct kicked in thanks to our lethargic local Kangaroo and Wallaby population who seem to take rather a long time to come up with an exit plan when we arrive, no matter how slowly we arrive!  Rather than end up with Maisy having to be tethered up during our non-walking time I looked into getting her a backpack that I could use to weigh her down a bit with the hope of slowing her down.  I’ve been using the backpack on her walks back home but have not been putting any weight in it as I don’t really want to beef her up any – I’d struggle to hold her back if she got much stronger, she’s already pretty sturdy – but today was the first time using it here and using it full!

Into the backpack went 2 x tins of diced pineapple and 2 x tins of soup – just under 1Kg of weight into each pocket. Not enough to stress her but enough to slow her down and allow any curious Kangaroos or Wallabies to hop, skip and jump away in time.  Maisy did jump a bit at first when the tins clattered together and I could see that she was a bit miffed at having to carry the extra weight around but within about 10 minutes she seemed to just get on with life as if nothing had happened and I could get on with stacking up the wood that Aub had chopped.

A good day all round, no animals were harmed and the food tins lived to be eaten another day 🙂

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House plans in, site office construction starts

There’s nothing quite like a full moon on a crisp winters night to get you in the mood for some thinking and that’s exactly what we were out at Fox Hill Hollow to do. Our plans have gone into council now and hopefully (fingers crossed) within three weeks we will know if we can get started or not.  We are both so excited even though it might take some time to finish as we plan to build this step-by-step with money saved along the way rather than taking out a loan.  So, in light of that we need to think about our immediate comfort and ability to work and that’s where the site office comes in.

The site office was chosen a little under two weeks ago, a 20 foot shipping container that we now just have to decide where to place.  We have somewhat outgrown the small caravan now that our children are taller than me (that’s not too hard though) and with nowhere to house granddad when he comes to lend a hand this container office/ spare room can’t come fast enough!  We opted for a 20 foot rather than another 40 foot container as we didn’t want to over-containerise the block (our permanent house will be made of 4 x 40 footers).  Also we didn’t want to commit to having to ‘do up’ a massive space.

The plan is for this 20 foot container to be split into two rooms,  one site office with a sofa bed and the other with a double bunk on the bottom and single bunk on top (or something similar).  That way we go from one to three bedrooms if and when we need it – we might even be able to start our retreat venture early!

After a bit of puzzling it was decided to place this new container out the front of the 40 footer which has become the garage/ shed really.  There will be a walkway between the new and old container that ends in a small portaloo style toilet facility (for night-time emergencies, our proper loo is a pit toilet further away) and the bush shower which we are about to plumb in heating for – can’t wait for that.  So all up it should be quite flash in a glamping kind of way.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the space we cleared for the new container.  Come next weekend it should be all placed and ready for us to start the building work.