Did you miss me in your inbox every day? This post is going to be long! I must admit to enjoying the freedom to add little bits to posts whenever something interesting happens rather than having to think up things to say. I also like the freedom to take photos of interesting things rather than having to take them for the sake of a daily post. This week where I have abstained from posting has most certainly revealed a few things about me to myself. The very first thing that it has revealed is that I used the computer too much. I would spend hours here researching, posting, hunting for things and was spending more time online than I was out there in the great outdoors. We have collected an enormous amount of dry firewood from the property and have saved ourselves a fortune in the process. All of you constant readers will know that we are doing another Diploma this year in landscape design. I am saying “sustainable landscape design” because that is where my heart is. I could care less about standard gardening and commonplace ideas and would rather scrape by sustainably than live a life of mass consumption. Steve and I have been noticing all sorts of ways to save money, reuse and recycle things around Serendipity Farm and are starting to notice that our attempts are paying off. As we are penniless hippies living on the breadline we need to ensure that our ‘income’ (such as it is…) not only stretches to paying our bills but that it allows us to do what we want to do on Serendipity Farm. We have some future wants including large and small rainwater collecting tanks and we want to buy a wind turbine because Serendipity Farm is one of the windiest places that we have ever lived and it makes sense to use what is available. We were spending about $80 on booze a fortnight and decided to give it up for our savings and our health. I decided to give up a lifelong bad habit of dieting and simply learn how to eat what my body needed. Paired with at least an hour of walking the dogs a day and I have managed to lose 5kg (yes Nat…I got out those scales!) without even noticing that I was even doing so. I feel better, my poor long suffering knees are feeling great (despite my determination to get them to give way at every available moment) and I am starting to discover what it is to have actual available energy when you want and need it thanks to not starving myself and feeding my poor long suffering body what it needs to function.
A little Philadelphus to mark the felling of a large tree in the first garden and the subsequent squishing of most of the tangled overgrown Philadelphus (Mock Orange) and a fair percentage of blackberries in the process. You win some…you lose some…
The early morning breakfast board. The bread is for the 5 older feral chooks and Houdini and her 7 mid sized baby chooks and the cheese is for the feral cats. We have added a small bowl of tiny cheese bits for Effel and her babies. Please don’t tell me that “Cheese isn’t good for cats” because these are feral and you know what? Dead bits of frog, mumified possum and bin scrapings are probably not good for cats either but I dare say this lot would jump at them in an instant so a little bit of daily cheese is the least of their worries
This is a Carpobrotus acinaciformis or Pigface as it is commonly called around here. It is usually found on the shoreline of sandy beaches and dunes and is a most interesting salt tolerant (just about everything tolerant if the truth be known) succulent.
Usually they have red or pink flowers but this one appears to have a sort of apricot colour.
Here you can see the base of the flower and this is where it starts to get interesting…
Here is what happens when the flower drops and a fruit forms. The fruit is entirely edible and Australian Aboriginals eat them. We have this plant growing on Serendipity Farm and as mentioned, it is almost indestructable. You can walk over it, it has lovely bright shiny mesembryanthemum flowers and will grow in just about any soil type. All that plus it is a native and I figure that this great ground cover is going to feature in more than one place on Serendipity Farm
I am, however, a little bit miffed. Steve…who no-one would call “fat” has just lost 6kg by doing nothing other than giving up booze. Men have it all over we women (especially we women who are of a ‘certain age’ and who nature and gravity are conspiring to bring down to earth with a massive bump…) when it comes to metabolism and Steve had a head start thanks to genetics. I am pleased to announce my new “diet”. Eat more food in the morning and lunch time than you do at night…add lots of veggies and cooked beans to your diet (stop pulling faces…it works!), buy a dog and walk it and get your ass off the computer and out into the great wild outdoors with your poor long suffering husband who usually has to do everything himself because his dearly beloved is sitting on the P.C. engrossed and you are too polite to get a crowbar and evict her. This week, after realising just how much time I spent on the computer, I decided to check my emails in the morning and nothing else. I have stuck to that apart from study where we had to do a bit of typing, and in place of messing about accomplishing little online, I have crocheted, I have read copious quantities of books, I have wandered about outside sucking delicious fresh air into my previously “cooped up” lungs, I have helped Steve as he lumberjacked, chainsawed and lugged wood from all sorts of areas over Serendipity Farm and have discovered that gravity is not just something that you learn about in science and that it CAN be my friend. When you have finished huffing and puffing your way up a very steep slope (like the steep slope that can be found all over Serendipity Farm…) to a large pile of chainsawed logs, you can use gravity to your advantage to throw those round logs down the hill and once they stop rolling (say by hitting the fence for instance…) you can then load them into the trailer that you can actually get to this bit of the property (because the rest of the property is overpopulated with rocks) and then transport them to the wood shed. I never knew how satisfying it could be to really get stuck into hard slog and then stand back and look at your mounting pile of firewood, knowing that you haven’t had to pay anything for it other than a little bit of fuel and chain bar oil for the chainsaw and a bit of petrol to get the car and trailer up to the top paddock. I have a new found respect for Steve and his amazing capacity to move around, lug heavy things and keep going and by sourcing our firewood from our own property we have reduced the amount of fuel and energy that we have to use and the garden is much tidier after our efforts.
We passed this most interesting of gates on one of our walks this week. The little dog was barking his head off and I could hear his owner telling him to be quiet and asked her if I could take a photo of her interesting planter box. She was more than willing for me to do so
Ecclectic sustainable artistic gardening and xeriscape (water wise) to boot! Good on you attractive young hippy lady with a small child on your hip. Cheers for letting me share your wonderful repurposed gate and this pretty windowbox
I don’t know if there is anything sustainable about this wonderful house boat but the elderly couple that allowed me to take this photo seem to be leading a most interesting life on the tideline in their rustic home. I wonder if the fishing is good?
Isn’t this a really lovely dry stone wall?
This picture was going to be a nice long line of delightful artisanal craftwork for you to enjoy but fatty refused to budge from rubbing his nose on the lawn so you are stuck with Bezial in the shot
We walked the dogs a whole lot and we have spent time relocating Effel and her 4 squintillion babies all over the place. They started down the driveway in a large clump of agapanthus but with bad weather on the way and our advanced knowledge of Effel and her terrible mothering skills, AND the fact that most of these little sweet fluffballs are actually blue Wyandotte’s and might be worth $20 each in a few months we decided to try to keep as many of them alive as possible and relocated them to Steve’s shed in Pingu’s old cage. It only took us 2 days to realise that Effel was NOT going to be happy cooped up inside a tiny little hay filled cage and that we were going to have to think about a slightly longer term solution for Effel and her babies. Knowing that they needed to be isolated from the other hens made it somewhat hard as we had removed the chicken wire in the chook roost when our hens started to reproduce exponentially and they started to fill the small bit of the roost where we had previously thrown our clucky hens whenever they wanted to hatch out a clutch of eggs alarmingly and so we had to confine Effel to the outside enclosed area of the coop. We decided to reuse (LOVE that word and it’s application :o) Pingu’s cage that Effel and her fluffballs had been living in for 2 days and cut a door into the front. After cutting half of the wire from the front of the domed cage we then covered it with 2 tarpaulins to make sure that it was weatherproof and we stuffed it full of hay to keep the little darlings dry and warm. We didn’t want the hay getting wet should it rain so we mounted 2 old wooden louvered doors from an old pantry cupboard that had completely disintegrated but we kept the doors for just such a purpose as this, on some treated pine logs and then put the new fluffball home on top. That evening, when we were making sure that Effel got her babies into their new luxury pad we noticed Effel sitting on 2 babies and the rest huddled in the cold in a corner…soon after a most frustrating (for us) but hilarious (to anyone watching) bout of running around chasing tiny chickens who have an incredible turn of speed and who were most determined to hide UNDER their new cage rather than in with their mum we managed to rake the babies out of their hiding places (yes RAKE!) and hurl (sorry place gently) them in with Effel all the time muttering under our breath about how we were going to decapitate Effel at the next sign of cluckiness. The next day we removed the tin, we took Hebel blocks and placed them all around the outside of the cage to stop the chicks from hiding underneath the cage and mounted a nice new longer (less of an angle to get up into the cage) wooden gangplank for the babies to climb up inside their new home. It seems like we have spent the whole week fussing over Effel and moving her all over the place but finally it seems like we might have sorted out the problems and everyone is still alive and we assume, happy.
This is a Rosa rubiginosa L. (Wild briar rose) that has become a bit of an environmental weed here in Tasmania. I am going to take advantage of its apparent glee for spreading all over our local area and am going to harvest the hips (fruit) to use in making wine, jam and syrup. Why waste one of the best sources of vitamin C when it is just going to waste?
This is the sole walnut that we were able to isolate from our Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) tree. It is quite a large tree and the rats have been taking advantage of its bumper crop of walnuts this year. I am thinking about tethering Earl to the walnut tree to see what the rats think of him
This is what a fresh walnut looks like. It was white and sweet and nothing like a regular dried walnut kernel. I savoured it slowly and will be tethering Earl ealy next season and awaiting a rat pelt jacket…we cant waste anything around here you know!
The temptation to “just have a little go” on the computer has slowly given way to an uneasy feeling that I have been wasting a whole lot of time online and that I have to do something to make up for it. The lugging of the wood was in part due to this feeling. Steve is very happy that I am actively starting to “do” physical things around the place. I regularly do a MAX music survey where I am asked my opinion of some short bursts of music. I do this, because I need to address the obvious bias of the young towards total crap music and ensure that the rest of us (not young) are able to turn on radios and hear something that won’t make us cry, vomit or pull our hair out in frustration. Let’s get one thing straight…I HATE manufactured garbage American/Australian/U.K Idol “music”. It’s NOT music people…it is carefully crafted phaff that garners bits and pieces from anything that has made it big and the people that “sing” it are primped, stuffed, anorexic people who are there because they look or sound like someone who has managed to make it big. Real music is born of passion and talent, not of a mishmash of platinum selling hits bound together with well-known riffs and sung by plastic ken and Barbie dolls on steroids. Thus it is my duty to ensure that all of the easily led mass consuming children of today are balanced out by an aging penniless hippy hell bent on promoting real music. I vote up groups that are original and that actually sing and I vote down crap and Beyoncé (can’t stand the bird). In saying that…after the last survey where I promoted Gotye and bucketed Katie Perry I was asked what my favourite song of the month was. I chose “somebody I used to know” (Gotye) and then my explanation was that I really…really…really…really…really loved it. I won a C.D. Great you might say, but it was a C.D. of crap music! AARRGGHH! I just did a quick phone around and palmed it off before I have even taken receipt of it to one of my daughters who dabbles in “crap” music on a regular basis. It’s even going to her house rather than here so that I don’t even have to be offended by touching it.
One of our trailer loads of nice dry wood that we have been collecting this week
This little Astroloma humifusum or Native cranberry is a Tasmanian native groundcover and apart from the small red flowers (that took me on a merry dance when I was trying to find out what this plant was because they look like heath flowers) it has an edible fruit. Another thing that is growing all over Serendipity Farm that is most welcome to stay
This skewed photo (reminiscent of old Batman episodes) shows the new home of Stretch. Stretch is a horrifying mix of plastic, beans and stretchiness that has taken on the form of a rubber chicken. Stretch was purchased many years ago when we lived in Albany on the lower South coast of Western Australia from the $2 shop for (coincedentally) $2. When we moved to Tasmania 5 years ago, I gave Stretch to mum to look after as she couldn’t bear to see him get thrown out. When I went back to Albany for my mum’s funeral and travelled to her little unit with my sister to help her sort out some of the contents I found Stretch in one of her cupboards. I decided that Stretch had been languishing in W.A. for too long and that his fame (or infamy more likely) should spread to Tasmania.
Don’t let his flacid stretchy naked body fool you…beneath that benign rubber surface lies the cold hard eyes of a killer! Look deep into the eyes of Stretch and be afraid…be VERY afraid…
I also decided that with some of my new found spare time that I would take a few extra books out of the library. I ended up with a very eclectic pile of books garnered from the few meek mild mannered shelves at the Exeter Library. I have never perused the shelves there before because, to be honest, there aren’t all that many of them. I was surprised at the range that I discovered and selected a book about Terry Pratchett (my favourite author), a book by Bodger from Scrapheap challenge all about living sustainably and minimising your carbon footprint, a book on “hot plants for cold climates” full of delightful tropical looking plants for winter wonderlands like ours, a book about “down to earth garden design” that isn’t really what I thought that it would be but is interesting reading anyway and last, but by no means least a book called “Bust D.I.Y. guide to life”. I didn’t really look at it in the library but saw D.I.Y. and decided to give it a go. It turns out that “Bust” is a magazine founded by women for women and aimed at “real women” rather than the hopeless, consumerist, neurotic anorexics that “womankind” is becoming thanks to the best efforts of the media and gay fashion designers. I have never heard of this magazine before but this book was a real eye opener! Forget all about “cucumber packs” for your eyes…this book tells you how to repair relationships, bury your dead and make your own sex toys! Now I don’t know about you, but any book that is going to tell you how to make your own sustainable sex toys is alright by me! I don’t think that I will be making many sex toys but I will be making some of the woven bracelets made out of embroidery thread and there are some interesting printing projects for fabric and wallpaper that amused me along with home-made shower curtains and some most interesting recipes. This book is great fun and everyone should take it out of the library or buy it to support women like this who are trying to tear down the stereotypes of what makes a good women’s magazine. If I can find this magazine, I am going to subscribe to it.
“Well looky what little Early has found here eh?”…a nice stash of bottles ready for the taking…
An action shot of the descent from the table of a dog who knows that he really shouldn’t be on the table sourcing his own supply of plastic bottles before they are offered but who could care less about being told off or the opinion of his protesting owners
I have some very interesting people reading my humble little blog now from all over the globe. I have no idea why they are reading my posts because when I have gone to their blogs to have a stickybeak at their lives I am totally in awe of these amazing people and how they are living and what they are doing. Fantastic photographers with great senses of humour, amazing sustainable blogs, people travelling the world and sharing their horticultural, sustainable lives with us in daily posts and some amazing people sharing all sorts of fantastic plans and knowledge. I love you all! I don’t know you personally, but thank you so much for sharing your blogs with me, let alone reading this whacked out little attempt at communication with the rest of the world. I promise you that I am getting so much more from you than you are getting from me, but should you ever find yourself lost and scared in Northern Tasmania (not hard to do…) please feel free to drop in on Serendipity Farm where you will get a warm welcome, a nice hot cup of tea and we will even be good enough to point you in the direction of the nearest airport where you can safely hightail it out of Australia’s equivalent of the Ozarks. The only thing missing is the alligator’s and to be honest, global warming is most probably going to deliver them into our waiting laps in no time flat. I have been letting my hair grow longer and after brushing it after my shower this morning, and after scaring the dogs with my howling whilst removing all of the knots, I realised that should I be that way inclined…you know… really REALLY sustainable, that I could most probably weave something out of my own hair. I just read that book that Florida recommended to me “Lambs of God” and a fair bit of human hair weaving went on inside the covers. I wouldn’t want to wear a human hair jumper as I would imagine it would be right up there with a horse hair couch, but I dare say you could use it in some form of artistic expressionism involving textiles. Do you see what I have been reduced (or elevated) to? I am starting to think of all sorts of weird and wonderful things because my brain has been freed from the relative security (your security, not mine) of confinement online to creative expression out there in the big wide world. Apart from the study days that have harnessed my thoughts and prevented me from making human hair underpants, there hasn’t been a whole lot to keep me safely out of the way of the rest of humanity. We have walked the streets of Sidmouth, Rowella, Beaconsfield, Exeter, Launceston, Georgetown and Kayena and I have been spotted collecting discarded soft drink and water bottles on these walks. I dare say the bus driver that waved to me this morning was lauding my community spirit to the kids on the bus as he noted my arm full of these bottles. I would love to be smug about my rubbish collection but I can’t. It is my year of living honestly and I have an ulterior motive. I am typing this on Thursday and we are off to town tomorrow (or yesterday as you are reading this on Saturday night/Sunday morning depending on where in the world you are) and apart from wheeling our computer and study workstation (desk) into the spare room and closing our door to stop Earl from removing all of the stuffing from our nice new king sized bed mattress (he started nibbling it last week) we have to leave our house to the mercy of Earl. I collected all of these water bottles, coke bottles, iced tea bottles and even a 2 litre juice bottle from the roadside verges so that I can put them all around the house in the vain hope that Earl will eat the bottles rather than anything else that he decides to lay eyes on. I promise that I will insert the remaining mangled shards of plastic into the recycling bin so in a way, Earl is helping us to recycle and clean up Australia, but I don’t have a lot of faith that everything will be fully intact by the time that we get home from our meeting with our lecturer. Steve has a lot more faith than I do in Earl. After our last meeting Earl hadn’t eaten anything. The next day, after a lovely long hour and a half walk he started eating the mattress. We don’t really know how to explain Earls desire to eat things as it transcends all of the literature written about “why dogs run amok”. “Day are bored” say’s Cesar Milan…Earl is NOT bored…we just walked him for 2 hours all around the neighbourhood…he peed on every single light pole, tree and several rubbish bins, he sniffed up a lawn full of grass, he rolled on the gravel verge 77 times, he ran, he jumped, he saw cows, he saw goats, sheep and chickens…he even saw a goose…HE IS NOT BORED! Why is he eating our house? Because he likes to. That is what we have decided. Now we didn’t have to pay $500 for Cesar’s C.D. course or do dog psychology 101 to find that out, we just had to see how happy he was when he was eating the bed…the bottles…the toys…Pingu…pieces of wood out of the wood box etc. Earl just likes how things feel in his mouth. One day he will stop doing that and we will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Until then, we have to take evasive action and should we forget and leave something out we have really no one to blame but ourselves so its bottle scattering on Friday for me…
This photo was taken over the water at Georgetown when we were walking the dogs yesterday. As you can see the weather has adapted to it being autumn now with a passion and we only just missed the downpour that those clouds were holding in our honour before we got back to the car.
Much as I don’t like being in photos SOMEONE had to hold those leads as otherwise carnage would ensue. I am looking a bit like Richard David James of Aphex Twin fame…sigh…oh well…I guess that’s better than some of the people that I could look like! In case anyone out there is admiring my sense of style (HA!) and would like to drop in to their local clothing purveyor to copy my look you can’t! I am proud to anounce that my entire ensemble was sourced from various thrift shops and that the thrift shopping in Tasmania is brilliant. I am most proud of recycling classic clothes rather than buying into the need to consume precious resources to follow fashion which is nothing more than a marketing ploy to sell more clothes. I am constantly amazed by the range and extent of clothing that you can pick up in thrift shops and even my Doc Martin’s were sourced from a Thrift shop for $1. Cheers to everyone that donates so that both Charity and our precious world resources (and my bank account) can be spared their respective denudations (is that a word?!)
I am going to leave it there for today. I dare say I will be able to add a bit here about our meeting with our lecturer and Earl’s behaviour for tomorrow. I am really enjoying my time out in the real world. I guess what I thought was my control base was really a bit of a prison. The real world is fun too. I am just going to have to develop a bit of a balance between the two. Oh MAN am I tired! It is mid-afternoon Saturday and it’s the beginning of a personal epiphany. Steve got up this morning at 6am as he wanted to take both dogs for a walk in the dark. They love spotting wallabies and possums and rabbits and the excitement factor makes up for walking their usual route. We are trying to save petrol and Earl wouldn’t care where we walked but Bezial is a walk snob and expects to be given a different vista each and every day or he balks and refuses to walk. It is difficult to get a 40kg dog to move when he is stubbornly digging in his heels and dragging 40kg of stubborn dog up hills is no fun. We learned to give Bezial his different walks and he will allow us to do the same route approximately once a fortnight. We have to pay an exorbitant price for fuel (10c a litre more than Launceston) out here so we try to make sure that we don’t have to put any extra fuel in when we don’t have to and so we have taken to subterfuge and trickery to lure Bezial into walking the same way twice in a fortnight. It worked and the dogs got back home and tumbled through the dog door to greet me and slobber all over me just as I had gotten out of bed and had the kettle on ready for my morning libation. I had spent 30 minutes lying in bed thinking about life. As mentioned previously in this post there are some amazing bloggers reading my blog and exponentially more whose amazing blogs I am reading. I have developed a deep thirst for good quality information especially regarding the environment, the truth and sustainability (with a few closet sittings of food porn thrown in for good measure). I tend to be quite introspective and think a lot about things and have done so most of my life. After my divorce, I promised myself to always simplify my life and be honest and up front with even the most challenging of concepts and events. I have discovered that this might hurt bitterly at first but is always the quickest and cleanest way to deal with things. Whilst lying in bed this morning I was thinking about Serendipity Farm and just how much work needed to be done around here. We have plenty of conundrums going on including feral cats, chicken population explosions and various piles of debris growing exponentially every time we start to clear out the undergrowth. My epiphany came when listening to U2 singing “it’s a beautiful day” on the radio closely followed by David Bowie and “Changes”…I listened to the words and discovered that I really DID want to get stuck in and do something here. I wanted to stop procrastinating and start “Doing”. I got up, told Steve about my idea and together we just spent 5 ½ hours working to remove the usable wood from the piles of debris that we generated in the heat of summer where council gave us the perfect excuse to ignore the mountains of wood and branches by posting a “Fire Ban” sign at the end of the road…we have been faithfully observing this fire ban with secret glee because it has been stopping us from having to do much and today we took the bull by the horns and reduced 3 of the piles down to nothing, stacked wood up for the winter, cut up kindling wood and removed a weed tree and reduced it to compost sized bits. Steve chainsawed up logs, I collected them and lugged them to their resting place and the hens clucked and got highly excited at the prospect of insects spraying out with the sawdust from the back of the chainsaw. I am absolutely knackered but I am also feeling serene and complete. You are witnessing a woman who has decided to “get stuck in” and over the next few weeks, with the perfect conditions of autumn under our belt I will share how we are going to tackle the tangled mass of Buddleia globosa, Hebe’s, Abutilon, Philadelphus and acres of blackberries at the front of the house. I am most determined to clear this area out and plant out some of our potted plants. It’s so much easier to work for hours on end when the weather is nice and cold and you can relax in front of a warm fire at night time and soothe your aching body whilst feeling content about your accomplishments.
I think I might finish up there folks. I have noticed that this post seems to be almost as big as 7 regular posts…I am almost over my need to turn on the computer every time I walk past it. I am reading Frances Mayes “Under the Tuscan Sun” and am about to attempt some of the weird and wacky crafts (not a euphemism for ‘sex toys’ by the way ;) in The Bust DIY guide to life (by Laurie Henzel and Debbie Stoller should you want to take it out for your own personal use…to read the articles of course!) and I am feeling more centred and happy than I have since mum died. The temperature is apparently going down to 4C tonight and we are now able to wake up to LAFM rather than the ABC. The old clock radio would only allow us to play ABC on it and it was dad’s old radio… this new radio (installed since Earl ate the cord of the old one) will allow us to play everything EXCEPT the ABC! How incredibly ironic. Well folks, this is it…your weekly post just about to be posted hot off the press. Hopefully it was worth your wait and your weekly fix feeds you for the rest of the week. Thank you and welcome to all of my new blog readers and despite being in awe at how amazing your blogs are, it made me smile to see so many of you signing up to get regular posts. I love being able to read all of your posts and now that posting daily is off limits, I sip my morning elixir as I sit reading these gems and know how it feels to look forward to someone posting. See you all next week and to my newfound blog posters, Cheers for my early morning wake up call.