257. Lifestyle Block ~ Homesteading with the “Cute Factor” | Alpaca Peruvian Black Gold | Jane Toy | Wanganui, New Zealand


Welcome to the show today! I’m so excited because I have a guest who’s in the Facebook group and a listener and on the other side of the world who shares her passion for homesteading also known as Lifestyle Block.

Tell us a little about yourself.

So, I’m in New Zealand for start in the north island in a place called Wanganui which is on the west coast of the North Island. It’s about 1/2 way down in a pretty good climate. You can grow pretty much anything here!

We’re about 20 minutes out of town of about 40k people. An average size town here in New Zealand.

We have 2 hectacres about 5 acres

  • 4 1/2 acres of pastureland
  • 1/2 acre around the garden which is pretty much food
  • few roses and things but

mainly food

We moved here in May 2017, so we’ve been here just over a year and a half and made huge strides. Doing things slowly isn’t really my style so we decided to jump in gunboats and all!

We made the decision to change our lifestyle dramatically on the back of the US elections

2016 Elections

a lot of people in America might be surprised to know that New Zealanders followed that election really closely. Aside from us being really horrified, we decided that you know, individuals have to take a move to really counteract some of the nonsense that’s going on in the world.

So we decided we would move and make this a place for ourselves for our family and friends. It was a really big jump but we did it!

Well this is so fascinating and you know I’m very interested in politics.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I’ve lived lots of different places, but my very first gardening memory, when I was about 6, my parents moved from the lower part of the north island up here to Wanganui, that was back in the early 70s. Wanganui is really coastal, so there is a lot of land on sand dunes.

We have this really intensely black iron sand.

nothing grows in this sand other then

  • coach grass, this gnarly tough grass
  • June grasses
  • box thorn

But your making things grow?

Well, my mother bless her tried to put in a garden, but didn’t really know about putting extra organic material, because my memory was she would try to plant things and they wouldn’t grow. I remember watching the water disappear, I remember being out there and watch her trying to water the garden and her just really having no success at all.


Then when I was twelve

Mum took me on holiday to England to see her parents.

My grandparents were avid gardeners and I remember thinking as a child at home, my grandparents garden where everything is blooming and they can’t and there was such a difference between what they were growing and I thought, why can they grow things and she couldn’t?

Sounds like she was sure trying?

Yes, she was trying!

I think putting a lot of organic soil in the sand would make a big difference.

How did you learn how to garden organically, is that what’s made you be more successful?


yeah, it is, but I kind of feel like, I inherited green fingers from my grandparents

I’ve really never needed to apply fertilizers, always been into composting.

The first house already had a compost bin already sit up. I didn’t seem to have any pests. I didn’t have any money to buy fertilizers and it worked. The next garden, again, I just had amazing soil, this was a big vegetable garden and I had 2 little girls by now so I was growing food for us

  • no money
  • making due with the compost


I’m kind of a really active person and I found when I had little kids, one way of, I wasn’t sort of to sit down and play on the uni-ball. I used to take them out in the vegetable garden digging

  • used to sit in the garden
  • digging up worms
  • looking for insects
  • always had them out in the garden

That was another reason to be organic, I didn’t want them sitting in the garden playing in chemicals.

So, I’m torn between going with the questions and asking about something that grew well, you about your sweet little farm and the llamas and the animals you have. The cute little animals you have. Did you just get 2 new goats?


No, but we did just get 2 new baby alpacas and they are alpacas, if you call them llamas they will spit at you!

A quick thing about alpacas and llamas they are vastly different.

What’s different, I thought it was just their fur, I thought it was more for clothes, etc.

Alpaca fleece is really very fine

Is there a reason that you chose alpacas over llamas? How did you get into them to begin with?


The Cute Factor

Because we’re crazy

We have a term  lifestyle block which is probably similar to what you call homesteading?

lifestyle block that’s where you live it’s like a tiny farm. Lifestyle block people in New Zealand have a problem with the “cute factor”

If you’ve got a bit of land, you’ve got to have it

We were on holiday on south island and we went on an alpaca farm tour. 

We met all these alpacas and we got to:

  • touch them
  • cuddle them
  • fell in love with these alpacas

When we came back and bought this land and looked into the animals that we wanted. 

I spin too. For my alpacas, I use a lot of fiber, so the idea was 

  • get the alpacas
  • for their sheer
  • keep the fleece
  • process it and sell it and use it!

But, that so far hasn’t really worked out, because I just haven’t had time to do the processing and spinning. So got them for the fiber.

fiber pool

I did talk to a friend Jim Swanson, I interviewed in episode 42 who has llamas here and he talked about using the manure in his garden. Do you do that?

Peruvian black gold

Yes, Wow! The manure is just astounding! Anything will grow, I call it Peruvian black gold

hail from Peru originally

good thing is you can use it straight on your garden

I learned a lot about paddock rotation

Joel Salatin

Dirt To Soil by Gabe Brown https://amzn.to/2BAMQ5f

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture

Dirt To Soil by Gabe Brown

follow a good paddock rotation


I don’t have to use wormers on my animals

  • take alpacas
  • sheep
  • goats

leave the pastures for a month


Tell us about something that grew well this year.

1/2 an acre

try to grow all of our own food

something that grew well this year

so blessed with the soil

I attract good soil

broccoli was just fantastic

autumn and winter

summer now, early summer

man it’s hot!

  • broccoli
  • perpetual spinach
  • silver beet

grew really well last year

so many herbs

grow like weeds

dry a lot of herbs

bought a dehydrator last year


some weeks I’d be drying a different herb

use it myself



I’ve got lots of herbs

  • 2 types of parsley
  • Italian flat leaf
  • oregano
  • marjoram
  • mint
  • pig mint
  • ordinary mint
  • chocolate mint a handful
  • chives
  • garlic chives
  • lemon balm
  • pineapple sage
  • sage
  • chamomile
  • rosemary

every herb that I would need

I planted a lot of plants for the bees

When we moved in here one of the first things I did was put in an orchard

herbs in

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

This year, I think I missed the boat a bit, I wanted to put in some currants.

I would like a chipper, for garden mulch, I have a really large area that I use for composting.

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

my garlic

my first season when we moved in here the garlic was just amazing, did us for a whole year

  • harvested it just before Christmas last year
  • I’ve given a lot of it away
  • garlic rust
  • leave it to do it’s think
  • tiny stunted garlic bulbs
  • rust all up the leaves
  • pretty wet
  • fungus
  • I’m still gonna use it, but it’s just hard because the cloves are so tiny
  • learned my lesson to put it somewhere next year

put it somewhere it’s gonna get a lot of airflow though it, that’s somewhere really important that it has the airflow goes through it!

  • attacks the leaves
  • really ugly
  • google garlic rust

leaves are green, it has these ghastly broad orange spots all over

Did you put it in the same place as the last year?

  • bulbs didn’t grow
  • that was
  • disappointed
  • whole nitrogen fixer
  • gross feeder

moved it somewhere, that on reflection, when I saw the rust it probably wasn’t getting enough breeze to dry off the leaves! So I learned my lesson.

Another lesson I’m trying to learn! 

There are things I can’t grow here two things


just kind of

just sits there

gets to a certain point and


Those are eggplants right?

they kind of  flower they limp along and hang in there but they just don’t produce.

Mike used to have a problem like that and what seems to work for him, is that he used to put them spread throughout the garden, one or two in a tomato bed, and one in a pepper plant, and then he started put them in a dedicated bed with several plants that is just eggplants and that seemed to work. 

That’s what I do, so that’s not working.

Well, maybe that’s not the solution that worked. 

sunlight factors

You never know what has been put into the soil previously

The weather makes such a difference, perhaps it doesn’t like a hot climate so 

  • maybe it’s too hot
  • or I’m watering them too much

I’ve just got to do the research.


Before we get to the root of things, do you have a farm where you’re selling things for market?

I’m just growing for us, we have a business in town that my husband runs. 

  • So it’s me just doing the gardening!
  • We have animals out here
  • that’s my full time job
  • growing food for my family
  • we’ve got our own chucks for eggs and we raise our own meat.

So we grow as much as our own food as possible, what we don’t use I five away we have 5 children between us, my parents live in Wanganui and a sister close by.

That was the whole point was to make a space for ourselves and our family so we don’t have to rely on the tainted systems out there.

Love at First Sight

That’s how Mike and I met, because I got frustrated like that, when George Bush senior was in power and we attacked Iraq in Desert Storm, and I was so surprised with all the protesting we did we still attacked and went forward. I said I want to go live off grid and get away from the system. My friends were all like, you show go plant trees, someone connected me with the crew Mike was working for and sometimes I really miss those days, when we did live off grid and we didn’t have a tv and electricity and all that! I love Facebook because here we are talking and sharing, but other days, I miss the simplicity we had back then. 

It’s a matter of having a really good balance with the connectivity with what’s going on in the world and not.

Going back to nature, and the practices that are nurturing for yourself and family and community

Never moved here really with the idea of making the money, except the alpaca fiber.


We eat goat meat

  • lovely meat
  • raise our own sheep for the same thing

haven’t got meat chickens, basically don’t eat a lot of it. 

If we don’t raise it we don’t eat it, we don’t buy any of it.


Because I hand raised them, they are so wonderful to handle.


I am gonna use goat milk to make my own cheese, another thing taken off our list of things we have to buy.


That’s how we are. We add more a lot every year. We’ve had trouble with predators, so livestock is tuff out our house.

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Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!


Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

Yeah, I really don’t like really really don’t like thinning seedlings. I find it really onerous!I feel like, you took the trouble to grow now I’m riding you out of the garden.

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

I love pruning!


 Free Organic Garden Course 

I can totally relate to your thinning thing ~ I was just thinking I need to put something in my garden course I am creating about thinning.

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

Wow! Best garden advice I’ve ever received

start small

great advice but I’ve never followed it

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be?

When we moved here there’s a little tiny home-kill room, attached to a shed in the paddock. In there, there was this old knife, a very nasty looking thing. I sort of grabbed it thinking it doesn’t look very nice, don’t want it hanging out. 

It’s the best thing for

  • digging out weeds
  • edging

My favorite gardening tool! Just this gnarly old knife, and it’s so old but it’s the best tool!

I can:

  • edge with it
  • get weeds out of tiny place
  • weed in between a crop

I think it serves the same purpose as that

that and my trowel

I am always armed with my knife and my trowel

Those are very handy, and of course my wheel-barrow, I couldn’t  be without my knife and my trowel!

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

Well, I love rhubarb, and we’ve had a lot of rhubarb!

A very simple delicious was of starting the day. 

I make up a

rhubarb and strawberries compote

Easy to make it, quick to make

  • strawberries
  • rhubarb
  • bit of fruit
  • maple syrup
  • little bit of vanilla
  • tablespoon of some balsamic vinegar

let it reduce down to this beautiful and rich deliciousness, I just use it on my museli and for crumble

  • cook it
  • puree
  • makes it rich

I’m not the biggest fan of rhubarb, but we have this giant plant and Mike is always asking me to make something with it, but this sounds easy and delicious! I love the balsamic vinegar idea.

I got that out of a recipe book using some other compote, and tried this.

Another thing this year I made is 

rhubarb and vanilla jam

when you’re making jam, it’s great huge sugar content so you don’t have the issue of sourness.

I pretty much have it all the time, cause it seems to grow about all year round.

A favorite internet resource?

Well, YouTube is so universally handy for anything and I like to listen to Ted Talks about the environment, I find that very useful. 

Also in NZ, it’s just accessible to everyone.

lifestyle block.nz

huge resource of articles forms

growing organically

can access from an

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

Podcasts – I get a lot out of that. You get

Permaculture Podcast

with Scott Mann

Australian one All the Dirt

every country has all these resources

BBC The gardener’s corner

their seasons are opposite but you can listen to their spring when it’s our spring.

As far in box, honestly in books, Gabe Brown’s book

Dirt To Soil by Gabe Brown https://amzn.to/2BAMQ5f

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture

Folks This Ain't Normal by Joel Salatin https://amzn.to/2CuCyFM

Joel Salatin’s Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

is just great! Pretty simple!


Final question-

If there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

Such a huge questions. I mean I try to keep a sense of humor about

  • to create a greener world
  • born to move
  • born to be an integral part of nature

we’re not outside of it, We don’t own the land we are on, we are stewards of it and we need to take our responsibility a lot more seriously!


  • took ourselves out of nature
  • stopped moving our own bodies
  • stopped understanding how to feed ourselves
  • allowing nature how to have a positive effect
  • interrupted the carbon cycle

Because we stopped interacting with nature it’s causing so many problems

  • individuals
  • couples
  • families

Would start to understand the benefits of growing our own food

So many major issues would be resolved as part of our daily lives

  • health
  • relationships
  • all these problems

We need to start realizing what is our purpose our, we are part of nature!

Sure, we’re a part of it! I think that was one of the most eloquent answers that has come through on my show! I feel like you are like the ideal listener, perfect avatar, because we talk about more then just growing vegetables, it’s how to create an organic oasis, and a whole nature and environment! There is a big farm-to-school movement and hope things are changing.

that’s vital


one person

I know a lot of people can not afford it, but there’s a lot of people who choose not to do it!

But I observe lots of people who can afford it and instead of 

  • flashier car
  • expensive gym memberships

garden going to waste

Could spend more time moving in their gardens

We need to start making choices

  • that make us responsible not only for the environment but for our own health.

I agree, for sure! I might not spend as much time in the garden as Mike does but I think because I eat all his vegetables I am healthier. I read this article in the NY Times, one of the things it said, was taking better care of things like your car etc. It had all these ways to be a better steward of the land, kind of in the tech world.

Green jobs for a greener future

I think a lot of what you are saying, is people do have to make those choices if they could. But like you were saying in the beginning, you used compost because you didn’t have money. I’m always getting so frustrated when people are like we can’t go green, it’s too expensive, we can’t give up our carbon, we have to rely on fossil fuels because it’s just economically unfeasible but to me I think if we just invested in research the ideas would come up. The more we put towards green jobs the more it would grow.

Oh definitely. We’ve got to start as individuals.

It’s no good expecting our

  • local government
  • national government

to fix everything for us!! We need to take responsibility for ourselves

Part of it is teaching the next generation, how to actually:

We’re the only species on earth that can’t feed ourselves!!!!

IT’s just insane, we think we’re so special but we can’t even feed ourselves, we have to rely on getting in a car and going to the grocery choice.

In the beginning, I was going to say individuals do make a difference and all those choices that you’re making, really add up, I think you are a great example of that because each time your family, you make that choice and you make a better choice your doing something for the planet!

Every time you make a decision to nurture yourself in nature you’re adding to the planet! Every time you decide to even buy an object with plastic or plastic bags!

Every little decision adds up!

Every part of the decision!

When I think of how many plastic bags I’ve saved having used my own cloth bags over 20 years now. It is so hard! I stand at the stores for hours, I stand there for like 20 minutes debating, I am trying to eat healthier and choose raspberries over the chocolate bar and then I’m like how many raspberries am I gonna get for the plastic container they come in?

Yeah and have they been sprayed with toxic chemicals and have they been grown in this soil filled with chemical fertilizers? 

Every time we make these choices, we need to start thinking about these choices, you’re buying the raspberries, get in the trash as well!

We have to make a small step to make these changes.

I think one of the things, since China stopped taking the plastics last January, I’ve been thinking, they don’t recycle plastics where I live anymore, and when I go visit my mom and I see how easy it is to just throw that plastic in the green bin that some garbage man just picks up, I almost feel like that all this recycling has made us complacent and lazy in many ways.

Reduce Not Recycle

I’ve made such a concerted effort to give up plastic this year, it’s been hard and challenging the more you do it, you see it starts to become part of you.

recycling because a catch phrase

it’s not

keep on going that next step

good starting point

  • reduce

  • refuse

reduce your consumption and refusing to do it

You can’t just go from full on, using all of these plastic things and then go to nothing.

less plastic

But if you just take the next step before you know it you’ve made a giant change.

Even though, I’ve been trying to move things along, I see we’re at 90 minutes but I think listeners will love this as much as I have because you are my ideal avatar!


Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

in my top talk

if we all just slowed down bit

My top tip is to observe, observe, observe, mother nature is a patient teacher.


always give you the net opportunity to learn and understanding and just by observing what nature does, we will learn to work alongside her

  • our garden
  • plants
  • animals

without us, the perfect balance, health well being


our planet

we’re what screws it up! We need to step back and observe and learn from it!

Just observe!

go out and look at a tree

observe what your cat does

got to have a lot more humility!

Thanks Joy, I mean Jane, so sorry! You’ve been a wonderful eloquent guest!

Please support us on Patreon so we can keep the show up on the internet. It cost close to $100 a month just to keep it up on the internet for the website etc so if you could help by supporting it with an $1/month contribution or $10/month to join the Green Future Growers Book Club where we can delve deep into some of the best gardening books that have been recommended on the show! GoDaddy even is bugging me for dollars just to have the domain name…

OGP Patreon Page Green Future Grower Book Club


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