Hi! We’re the Blakes!!
My name is Kim and I am married to a wonderfully amazing man called Russell (aka Rusty). We have a delightfully gorgeous little girl called Tahlia and hope to give her some brothers or sisters in coming years. Home for us is the south east of Melbourne, Australia (down near the bottom of the mainland, for those not sure where we are).
We are a family who base our lives on the Word of God with our relationship with Jesus at the centre. We are very committed members of our church, with both of us involved in the worship music team and the multi media team.
I am a trained school teacher with two Bachelor Degrees and a Masters Degree and for 15 years I’ve taught at government high schools here in Melbourne. I teach music and love it!! I taught classroom music and was department head for a good many years. Right now I’m taking things a bit easier and teaching Instrumental Music in the form of singing lessons, so only 1, 2 or 3 students at a time and running the choir. I also teach private music lessons at home, teaching piano, violin, and singing. In between all that I love having cuddles and play time with my little girl, keeping our vegie patch going, cooking up some new tasty treat, or reading my favourite blog! (and far too often looking around the house and wondering how the dust got so deep under the TV, or just how long has it been since I last vacuumed?)
My hubby, Russ, is a technical sales person for an electronic security manufacturer. He also does a lot of work on this website behind the scenes, all the technical stuff (which I don’t understand). His great love is computers and networking, particularly specialising in computer and online security. He looks after the whole network computer system at our church. And he’s also just started learning the saxophone! And most importantly of all, he’s an amazing husband and Dad!
Our daughter is Tahlia Joy, born July 2013 via emergency C-section. Not what we had planned, but we’re all here happy and healthy, which is the most important thing. Tahlia is the absolute joy of our lives and we feel so incredibly privileged and blessed to have been given her! She is just the most delightful and amazing little girl! My father in law calls her our “robot baby”, and my sister reckons Russ “programmed” her to be an almost perfect baby. She was sleeping through the night by the third week, took to solid foods at 6 months like a dream, happy to eat anything and everything she was given, breastfed without any dramas from day 1, and greets me every single morning without fail with a big grin and a giggle!!
We started on our food/lifestyle journey in 2009, not long after we moved into the house we had just built. We had been married 6 months and had decided to try to live as self-sustaining and eco friendly as possible. At that point in time we had no idea where that decision would lead us (and we have many years yet to continue on this journey).
We began with a house that was fully insulated (all external walls and the whole roof). Then gas-boosted solar hot water. About 6 months later we decided to invest in a solar electricity system, consisting of a large inverter and 9 top quality mono-crystalline panels. (We are blessed with a lot of sun in Australia, most of the time). In almost 5 years we have only paid 1 electricity bill, and most of the time get PAID money by the electricity company, as our government has a very generous feed in tariff for all electricity we can put back into the grid.
About 1 year ago we got the final big thing we had been saving up for. A fully integrated tank water system. So far we have 2 tanks that hold 6,000 litres between them (with plans to add one more), and they are hooked up to a pump and filters and lead to 5 different taps around the garden, plus connected to indoor plumbing that was installed at the time we built the house. It means that we have both our toilets, plus the washing machine, plus an indoor tap all hooked up to the tanks. So no heading out in the searing heat, or pouring rain to fill up our water jug or kettle!!
During this time, we (more specifically, I) delved into the world of gardening. I started by reading the Yates guide to gardening, which for many years has been a gardening bible here in Australia. However, I soon started buying gardening magazines, particularly ABC Gardening Australia, and ABC Organic Gardener. I read every issue cover to cover taking in as much information as I could find. I bought the books they recommended and read them from cover to cover. I scoured the internet for information. I read and read and read!
And all my reading led me to a single conclusion. Our food supply is in SERIOUS trouble. From toxic, unsustainable farming practices, to animal cruelty, to imported food that is grown with and sprayed with who knows what, I made the decision there and then that I owed my family the best and healthiest food I could possibly provide for them. And what better way to know what’s going into your food then to grow it yourself!!
And so began my journey as an organic gardener…
Our house and property are a very standard suburban size, just under 600sqm. Yet on that we have managed to fit an ample 3 bedroom house with twin garage, a chicken coop and run, 12 fruit trees, a blueberry patch, a native bushfoods garden, and a large veggie garden based on the French patere style, plus a patch of grass for the kids to run around on.
For me, cooking and gardening really go hand in hand. I made a list of the food we regularly ate and tried my hand at growing those first. I have learnt so much with every crop I have grown, but I have found almost since day one that I do seem to have a knack for gardening. I do a lot of research and apply what I have learnt, and mostly it seems to work. However, don’t get me started on indoor plants! Try as I might I manage to kill absolutely anything I try to grow indoors!! But outside, everything grows gangbusters!!
So, our journey into self-sustainability and healthy living continued, one step at a time. First it was raw milk! Wow, there was no going back!! Then, organic sourdough, non-wheat bread. Then wanting to start buying organic versions of everything food related that we possibly could. We did a pantry clean out and threw out (or gave away) virtually every processed, pre-packaged item we had.
We researched more. And more. We found out we needed to ditch the vegetable oils and invested in large tubs of organic cold pressed coconut oil. We moved from white sugar, to raw sugar, to rapadura, finally ending up with honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar. And we brought butter back with a vengeance!!
Before you know it, we had started up a Co-op with 3 other couples, one of them being my sister and her hubby. We had quite a few families sign up with us, and it was how it became affordable for us to start buying most of our food organic, even most of our pantry goods! We could now buy in bulk and often at wholesale prices everything from pastured meat, to organic dried fruits, to raw cocoa powder. And most of it was now delivered to our door!
From there the whole healthy living thing has spiraled into a whole other life. It’s fascinating how you only have to start questioning one thing, to start finding yourself questioning other things. And before you know it, you’re questioning everything!! What’s in my toothpaste? What am I washing my face with every day? Should the stuff I clean the shower with really smell this toxic? How “healthy” is the over-the-counter cough medicine that I’m buying? And so it goes…
And of course, once you have children it goes even further. What’s really in baby formula? What’s the best first foods to feed them? Should I be giving them baby Panadol at 3 months of age? What do I really think about immunisation? And what about school? Is homeschooling really “do-able”?
Ahh, my friends, once you head down the path of change, you will find you can never go back. And that, most certainly, is a good thing!!
WildRocket has come about from a desire to help other like-minded souls along this journey. To put all the hard work, research and lessons we have learnt to use for more than just our own personal gain. We would like to see hundreds of others benefit from this, as well as provide a forum for you all to contribute and share what you know with each other.
We would love for you to join us on this adventure of discovery and learn how to make the healthiest, most fulfilling life for you and your family!! Hang on tight and don’t look back. Here we go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!