A selection of our writings from 2009 to the present. If you'd like to keep up to date with our latest posts, please subscribe below.

Cold season food and family cloth

The cold months in Daylesford are a time of surprise and pleasure. It has given us much delight, for example, to suck out the bletted jelly from medlars plucked from the tree.
The currawongs have loved them too.

We’ve been praising walked-for snared rabbit, stewing the flesh, brothing the bones and salting the pelts.

We’ve been digging up dandelion roots for roasting and brewing into a dark thick coffee. Patrick discusses the full process in the next issue of Pip magazine.

Our goodly neighbours brought us back some fish they’d caught on the coast and we cooked them on coals in the garden, which made us nostalgic for what we loved about living on the road.

We’ve been hunting common pine mushrooms like these saffron milk caps,

and slippery jacks,

We’ve been harvesting and drying hawthorn berries for Meg’s nourishing herbal infusions (with rosemary, rose hips, elderberries, parsley and fennel).

We’ve been juicing autumn’s cellared fruit and winter’s wondrous weeds.

We’ve been free-ranging the chooks to make sure they are healthy to get them through the sub-zero nights.

We’ve been finishing off the SWAP* shed, ready for our next guests.

We’ve been reclaiming our peasant sensibilities with our friend Vasko, herding his sheep on common land as part of an organic land management model.

This is the current land management model: herbicides kill a patch of the nutritious free street vegetable mallow in Daylesford and the toxic residues end up in the local water supply.

One of the big break throughs AaF has made since our last post was to rid our household of toilet paper. We once spent around $260 a year on this unsustainable, forest-pulp product.

Here is our bathroom. Notice anything unusual?

Instead of toilet paper there are numerous cut up rectangles of cloth sitting on the cistern that are used over and over again. We cut this cloth from an old flannelette bed sheet.

In our SWAP* shed we have built a simple composting bucket toilet, note the family cloth here too.

After wiping with a rectangle of family cloth, we simply fold the cloth and put it in a bucket with a lid that sits beside the toilet. Family cloth is much softer than toilet paper and much much easier to process than cloth nappies.

Inside the bucket it is dry. Occasionally we throw in a few drops of eucalyptus oil. It doesn’t smell at all (although we may have to adapt the process in the warmer months). We learnt by trial and error that cutting the cloth with pinking shears,

didn’t help with the cloth fraying when they went through the wash.

So we bartered a sour-dough lesson with the delightful Mathilda, who beautifully over-locked them.

This is what they now look like up close.

About once or twice a week we put on a hot wash of our family cloth and hang them out to dry.

Thanks boys! And thank you Dear Reader for checking in with us again.

*SWAP (Social Warming Artists and Permaculturalists) is our version of WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms).


  1. Mel says:

    Your family really is so cool! Thanks for the continued inspiration. Where can I find more info about your SWAP initiative? Mel 🙂

  2. Permapoesis says:

    Hello Mel, thanks for saying. We have SWAPs come and stay intermittently. It's a fairly informal arrangement. We're looking for people to come and swap labour and ideas for food and board (as a hybrid between permaculture barter and an artist-in-residence programme). It operates as a gift economy where SWAPs learn and physically contribute to the day-to-day production of our household or community's food resources, for around 4 hours a day. The rest of the time SWAPs get on with their own creative, scholarly or like project that benefits the world in some way. In return SWAPs get 3 meals a day and a small dwelling of their own (the SWAP shed). We are looking for SWAPs who are excited about rolling up their sleeves, getting their hands in the soil and engaging in political, philosophical, microbial and ethical conversations around transitioning to ecological and just societies. If a SWAP sounds like you, please email us when you'd like to come and let's see where it goes from there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Have you thought about just using your hand and water to clean yourself? Just thought this might be of interest to you…..It requires very little input.

  4. Permapoesis says:

    That is certainly crossing us over into the next strata of simplification; yes, very little input. Thanks for pushing us and making the case. Not sure we're quite there yet, maybe because it's deep winter and comfort begs. But we certainly agree there is nothing quite like taking a crap in a forest, using bark to wipe and washing our hands in leaf humus.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There was a long discussion at our place after you first mentioned the family cloth. A good discussion though!
    I'd love to do your SWAP initiative, just reading your blog sets off sparks in my brain, staying in the SWAP shed may well explode my poor brain though 🙂
    Love your work guys.

  6. Permapoesis says:

    Hey chfg, glad we're setting off sparks, we're surely trying to start a fire, only not one made of carbon. We'd love to host you at some stage. Let us know.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I loved this – lots of discussion at home was forthcoming as a result.

    By the way, never mind toilet paper; Unicef reckons that over a billion people are still engaging in open defecation – squating and pooing in the fields – in India alone it's almost 600 million. It creates all sorts of issues for women in particular, who are constrained as to when and where they can have a poo or a pee, but it's also related to high infant mortality.

    Thanks for having the courage to be different!


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