512, an extinct bird and an epiphany of sorts and the world of plants in fish terms as described by narf

Hi All,

Firstly, guess who has been blogging for 3 years today! WordPress just congratulated and thanked me…what for?! Cheers to everyone who comes along for the ride every week. I luv’s ya ALL :)

512, folks, is apparently to the internet what 42 is to the meaning of life. 512, is the magic number when it comes to P.C.’s at the moment but not in a good way. Apparently we are all hogging bandwidth to the nth degree. We are having a veritable smorgasbord of internet and each and every one of us all adds up to this magic number being breeched. One could ask why the boffins at the beginning of the internet didn’t think to use the number 512 billion, but I am sure they are currently kicking themselves for their lack of an intelligent narf7 back in the day. Not a lot can be done about the 512 problem aside from reset all of the large super servers and hope that we internet addicts don’t kick up too much of a stink in the meantime because the unthinkable is starting to happen… the internet is getting clogged up. Clogged up and shock HORROR…we can’t log on!

 

Extreme apologies to the person who owns this image, I am just using it to show what our small chook looks like. I think she must be a bantam throwback

Extreme apologies to the person who owns this image, I am just using it to show what our small chook looks like. I think she must be a bantam throwback

 

Now I was able to log on this morning at 3am and was able to do everything internetty and emaily etc. right up till 5.30 this morning when it all went kaput. I couldn’t comment on Ms Pauline’s latest blog post or Ms Snail of Happiness’s. I couldn’t reload pages and I was forced into the realisation that perhaps the internet might be having a little nap. That little nap has lasted 5 hours now and after phoning the girls, who are with the same service provider that we are, was told…

  1. We night owls aren’t all that happy about being woken up by you blackbirds!
  2. Err…nope…we haven’t got internet either

So it IS true what they say…misery DOES love company, if only to know that it is Dodo’s fault not ours. Stevie boy isn’t happy about the prospect of having to phone them up again as we get shunted to an offshore call centre where aside from having a terrible time understanding what is being asked of him, he tends to lose his temper with the ridiculous series of directions that he has to jump through in order to talk to someone in the know. Today he is just going to pretend to unplug the phone from the wall, run the internet cable into the phone hub etc. Why bother actually doing it when the only reason it is being asked for is that the person on the other end has a cheat sheet in front of them that says “ask this…then this…then that…” sigh… after pretending to satisfy what the operator has asked of him he may or may not get put through to someone in the know and after finding out that the girls internet is also out, methinks it might be a little more than just Sidmouth based.

Although this is still a pilfered image, it is much closer to what our girl looks like. She is much smaller than the rest of her brothers and sisters.

Although this is still a pilfered image, it is much closer to what our girl looks like. She is much smaller than the rest of her brothers and sisters.

Look what I found! A tiny little bit of already completed blog post! Oh joy of joys I don’t have to come up with the first couple of paragraphs, usually the hardest when my brain is spent and my energy is low. Today is blog post day but it is also 5.12am and nice and quiet, very dark (hello dark side of the moon) and I am merrily pilfering permaculture information while I type…I love multi-tasking ;).  I feel like I have been studying forever by the way. There is a little light at the end of the tunnel as our erstwhile lecturer has just informed we slaving minions that she is off overseas for three weeks to sun herself in the Pyrenees or wherever she is going in Europe (maybe she is off to ski in the Pyrenees…whatever she is doing she is AWOL!) and that we need to get a wriggle on with everything that is due in as goodness ONLY knows…she wouldn’t want to be thinking about a backlog of marking when she got back. Sigh…

This is what we have been up to in our studies. This image was taken to illustrate using the lasso tool in a tutorial we had to create

This is what we have been up to in our studies. This image was taken to illustrate using the lasso tool in a tutorial we had to create

The plus side (for there must always be a plus side to every difficult task) is that we are rapidly developing a new set of skills that are both challenging and rewarding. The more we slave, the more we know, the easier it gets and so while we aren’t donning snow boots and ski’s and sliding down endless slopes we are gaining valuable skills. Not entirely sure what we can use them for but if anyone wants a nice poster created let us know ;)

And this one was used to create a clipped image... we are learning a lot lately

And this one was used to create a clipped image… we are learning a lot lately

Here's the original for that clipped image, not a bad job really ;)

Here’s the original for that clipped image, not a bad job really ;)

Being nailed to your computer chair and only allowed out in order to walk the dog makes for a very dull week. I even got Steve to take the compost bin up to Sanctuary yesterday so that I didn’t have to look at the accusatory wafting’s of the nasturtiums gone feral, the comb over on the cut of sheoak that is now a fully-fledged set of waist length dreddies and the kale that no doubt the possums have been forced to eat due to having scoffed everything else in sight. We bought some lengths of metal clothes line encased in plastic in order to fix the top of Sanctuary to stop the little furry menaces from entering at will but thanks to our terrifying study schedule, we just haven’t had the time to do it and the one day that we did have time, it rained the whole day but whatchagonnado folks eh?

Here we have "converging lines" and this is going to be used for another task we have to do... lots of photos we have to take, lots of tutorials, lots of work...

Here we have “converging lines” and this is going to be used for another task we have to do… lots of photos we have to take, lots of tutorials, lots of work…

It is almost father’s day here in Australia. Yes…we do it differently to you guys in the U.S. as apparently our dads like to get gifts that make mowing the lawn easier or washing the car less of a chore in the early spring. Stevie-boy has been lusting after some man tools of late but our finances don’t quite run to these objects of desire…however narf to the rescue! I just got some online survey rewards, in the form of Bunnings gift vouchers, that cover the cost of the tasty tools and so the dogs are going to give Stevie-boy the tools for Father’s day. I can almost hear the manly “Squee’s!” from the future ;)

Sad dogs making the most of their terrible life by huddling in a sunbeam pitifully...

Sad dogs making the most of their terrible life by huddling in a sunbeam pitifully…

Well it is spring. It might still be August 27th in our neck of the woods but spring sprung back at the beginning of August and we have had very little rain, lots of sun and our temperatures are starting to warm up from single digits to angsty teens. Unlike other grumpy old people, I don’t mind the middle teens…I am not all that happy with the forty something’s to be honest. Those forty something’s have knobs on! Come to think of it. The thirty something’s are pretty terrible as well. Maybe I have a youth fixation when it comes to summer temperatures and like to stick to the teenagers and the twenty something’s…I hang with the hip and happening folks…the narf is most at home when blending into the lower denominators. In saying that, our growing season is now officially upon us. My wonderful friend Bev from the eminently learned blog FoodnStuff where you can learn all about producing food in our stressed Aussie conditions caught me lusting after her cuke-a-melons in a recent post and sent me a packet all of my very own! Not only have you made narf7 happy Ms Bev, but you have NO idea how happy you have made my eldest daughter Madeline who is besotted with all things cucumber and who is probably going to walk the 50km to my garden to eat my entire crop, she is that dedicated to the cause.

Cukamelons! And they are here on Serendipity Farm :). They might just be too cute to eat Bev ;)

Cukamelons! And they are here on Serendipity Farm :). They might just be too cute to eat Bev ;)

The blurb tells me that they are drought tolerant, that they taste like a cucumber crossed with some citrus and that they grow as big as grapes and are prolific fruiters...my kind of veggie! Thank you SO much Bev for your generosity :)

The blurb tells me that they are drought tolerant, that they taste like a cucumber crossed with some citrus and that they grow as big as grapes and are prolific fruiters…my kind of veggie! Thank you SO much Bev for your generosity :)

Now I need to get down to brass tacks. I have some delightful and most wonderful blogging mates who are steering me on the road to oversupply. My problem is that the garden pretty much does most of the work itself. You plant the things, they grow, they do what nature intended but it’s all of the peripherals that I need to get my head around. What seed to plant when? How long do they take to grow/fruit? When do I need to be planting the seed in order to get the maximum benefits of our short growing season? I am alarmed at reading posts about people chitting and planting and seedlings up and out of pots and time ticking…ticking…TICKING and Sanctuary stagnant in a pool of nasturtiums and acidic soil and me with NO idea how to remedy most of what I perceive as “threats” to our growing season (forgive me…I am in S.W.O.T. mode…you can’t drive all of those studies out of your mind en-masse…some of them hang about to interject at inopportune moments…). I have had most wonderfully kind people tell me to email them with my plan…my “Plan”…so that they can help me with it. For me to email my “Plan” I need to HAVE a “Plan”…eek! See I have a confession to make. Trees and shrubs do things themselves. I am a tree and shrub person and after digging a “root growth zone” (James, my long suffering cert 3 horticulture lecturer would be beaming now if he heard me call a “hole” a “root growth zone” like it rolled naturally off my tongue ;) ) and amending the soil interface (beaming…positively GLOWING! ;) ) so that the tree/shrub has the best chance of integrating itself with its new surroundings, it’s a matter of a bit of water at the right time, a bit of fertiliser (if it is needed) at the right time and away she goes…job done…hands dusted and off to cook the dinner.

Steve spent most of the other day standing on the deck with his binoculars and a camera trying to get a shot of "the remote control warship" that someone was sailing around Redwood island...on closer inspection it was just someone in a canoe... time for glasses Stevie-boy ;)

Steve spent most of the other day standing on the deck with his binoculars and a camera trying to get a shot of “the remote control warship” that someone was sailing around Redwood island…on closer inspection it was just someone in a canoe… time for glasses Stevie-boy ;)

Maybe it was too dark to see the canoe properly? ;) We called this image a rain-beam as it was right smack bang in the middle of a day full of rain.

Maybe it was too dark to see the canoe properly? ;) We called this image a rain-beam as it was right smack bang in the middle of a day full of rain.

Veggie gardening (on the whole), annual and perennial gardening appears to be a different kettle of fish. You know how some fish are big and laconic and just lie like slugs at the bottom of the creek and occasionally swish so that you know that they are still alive? Well they are the “Tree” fish… they don’t need much. They wait for their food to come to them via the water and their huge gaping mouths. There are other smaller fish that move around a bit…hover in the shadows of tree branches and overhanging edges and wait for smaller fish to dart by so that they can inhale them…they are the “Shrub” fish. Sometimes they need other “fish” to grow with them so that they are happy but on the whole, they are pretty self-sufficient and just do their own thing. Then you hit the fish that need a few mates in order to feel comfortable. They may or may not have complex patterns of relationships whereby they feel a strong need to travel a gazillion miles upstream in order to produce seed or tubers that are vital to their ongoing survival and quite a few things can go wrong in those processes that could result in these fish not getting the results they need. They are still pretty self-sufficient but they have various stages of development that might need a bit of close attention and actual intervention in order to keep them going. These are the “Perennial” fish folks…they keep on keeping on but they sometimes need a bit of work, the odd clump broken up, a bit of a cut back when they die back down (hibernate kiddies, don’t panic, “STOP CRYING!”  They aren’t dying just having a big long sleep for the winter…) and while it isn’t a lot of attention, it’s a whole lot more than the “Tree” fishes and the “Shrub” fishes need

Stevie-boy made this feast while I was AWOL at my daughters. He used Guinness to make his beer batter and it turned out really well. Looks like that beer batter translates internationally ;)

Stevie-boy made this feast while I was AWOL at my daughters. He used Guinness to make his beer batter and it turned out really well. Looks like that beer batter translates internationally ;)

I would like to point out here that while I am not aware of any young person’s reading this blog at the moment you just never know what the future may bring so I feel it necessary to occasionally address them personally in order to keep my audience fully satisfied. You are just going to have to deal with it my dear constant readers with the narf switching between the vernacular for my regular audience and the odd hip and happening smattering of kidenese that may just slip out…yeah baby, I am dead hip and happening…positively GROOVY baby! ;)

Isn't this a clever idea for a chair? It would be really easy to make and it is even solid enough to resist the avid attentions of one Mr E. Dog...love the room as well :)

Isn’t this a clever idea for a chair? It would be really easy to make and it is even solid enough to resist the avid attentions of one Mr E. Dog…love the room as well :)

Now we get to the fishies that make me twitch. I am already twitching. I have a facial tic going as I type this stressful line…we get to the “Annual” fishies. The little buggers that flock in huge swarms in order to survive…the ones that get picked off by all of the bigger fishies (or in our case, all of the swarming waiting native animals that would call them sustenance) and that panic and bolt and that are entirely unpredictable, needy, over-reactive and just plain pains in the derriere. You need to hold their hands to nurse them through and to make sure that all of their needs are met or BAM…dead. Yup…dead kiddies. Deceased. Sorry about the abrupt lesson in vegetable gardening doom but I am with you on being bewildered and befuddled. I am a kid when it comes to understanding the rites and passages of annual vegetable life and I can only stand on the bank of confusion watching the little buggers dart about in other people’s gardens. Some people (who shall remain anonymous because I am DEAD JEALOUS of them and I would have to type their names in green) have these little fishes all corralled. They have made little fishy farms and have herded them in with great aplomb. Their fishy farms have special gates and they feed their fishies all kinds of weird and wonderful things. They talk about “growing conditions” and “putting things in the soil/water” and making up strange unguents to feed the fishies and how they apply strange and wondrous spells that involve moon cycles and moon plantings and seaweed (see…it all ties in to fishies!) and permaculture massaging and all KINDS of strange and wonderful things that are entirely foreign to me. I watch from the bank getting more and more bewildered and spring is rising inside me and making me wild eyed and crazy…”I have to do something NOW!” but what the bloody hell am I supposed to be doing?!

Oh the SHAME! We were overtaken going up a hill by "this" today... :(

Oh the SHAME! We were overtaken going up a hill by “this” today… :(

Back under the bed…under the bed is safe (aside from Earl who is prone to licking you when you can’t move your arms…) to those people whose names shall remain anonymous and most decidedly green by both association and application I love you dearly. I admire you SO much I might start fan pages for you all but I just…don’t…get…it :( Could some of you write a book? A lovely thing that I could hold in my hand and carry up to Sanctuary and pretend that I am Dr Livingstone (and Stevie-boy is my willing helper chimp) and that I CAN conquer the strange and wonderfully terrifying new continent that is “Vegetable Gardening”…please?…Pretty please?

Steve found this to lure me off the computer... apparently there is a big wide world outside?! Whodathunkeh? ;)

Steve found this to lure me off the computer… apparently there is a big wide world outside?! Whodathunkeh? ;)

Well…looks like I am on my own for now folks. A terrifying proposition as those little fishies are swarming and seething and started earlier than usual this year and if I don’t coral a few of them they are going to disappear and my chance to harvest fishies this year will be all done and dusted. Might be time to take a few photos of Sanctuary, swallow my sad middle aged horticultural pride and send my “plans” (pathetic, sad and such as they are) off to one of my Greenest of the green online mates to give me a bit of a run-down of what I should be doing and when…oh how the mighty have fallen! Wish me luck folks…between the studies, the guilt and the lack of food (I am back on the healthy food wagon) I am a pathetic husk of a woman, but a most determined one. See you all next week when all being good, Stevie-boy, my helper chimp and narf the intrepid will have at least conquered the inner sanctum of Sanctuary and stopped the possum invading hordes from being able to invade and moral will have been restored considerably ;)

 

 

Vegan matcha, black sesame and rose drizzle cake

Hi All,

 

We survived our studies and they are all done and dusted now and we actually have the weekend off to do whatever we like (so long as it is watching television and laying around contemplating our navels ;) ). I promised you a cake and here it is. I made this one earlier and took it to my daughters where I promptly ate most of it all by myself it was that delicious. I altered the recipe to suit what I wanted from a most wonderful recipe on Holy Cow Vegan, a fantastic blog by Vaishali Honawar where I got the recipe that Stevie-boy used to make my most delicious orange and poppyseed drizzle cake. Vaishali’s recipe is for a lemon poppyseed bundt cake with lemon glaze but I fancied orange as I am not much of a lemon girl and so we adapted the recipe. I then made it minus the poppyseeds for a dinner party with friends and it was equally as delicious.

It was about then that I had the idea to use this incredibly versatile recipe to make a matcha, black sesame and rose drizzle cake. I liked the sound of the combined ingredients and was keen to give it a go. It’s a really easy recipe to make, it hasn’t failed me yet in the three times that I have baked it and it results in a gorgeous, light, moist sponge-like consistency that is a delight to eat. You could adapt this recipe in so many ways. You could use sweet red bean paste or chestnut puree to make a delicious filling, you could ice (frost) the cake however you liked and leave off the drizzle. You could flavour the cake with pretty much anything so long as you balance out the wet and dry ingredients in the suggested proportions and I, for one, am MOST glad that Ms Vaishali created this amazing recipe. We vegans can have our cake AND eat it :)

Vegan matcha and black sesame bundt cake with rose scented drizzle

For the cake:

2 2/3 cups of self-raising flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups of sugar (I used raw sugar)

1 3/4 cups almond or soy milk mixed with 2 tsp vinegar and set aside for five minutes to curdle

1/4 cup of black sesame seeds (I used 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons of matcha (green tea powder)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup of vegan margarine at room temperature

For the rose drizzle:

A few drops of rose water

1/4 cup water or almond or soy milk

3/4 cup icing (confectioner’s – powdered) sugar

Make the cake -

  1. Cream the sugar and margarine in a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with a whisk, until light and fluffy, about 2 – 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl a couple of times during the mixing
No pictures of the creaming but here are the ingredients assembled and ready to get going

No pictures of the creaming but here are the ingredients assembled and ready to get going

  1. Mix the vanilla extract with the curdled milk mix
Again, no picture of the curdled milk mix but I was listening to Mark Bolan on Pandora radio so I was probably dancing around too much to take a photo ;)

Again, no picture of the curdled milk mix but I was listening to Mark Bolan on Pandora radio so I was probably dancing around too much to take a photo ;)

  1. Sift the self-raising flour, salt and matcha (green tea powder) into a dry bowl
Finally! I have an image to match the recipe step ;)

Finally! I have an image to match the recipe step ;)

  1. Add the flour to the margarine and sugar mixture in three batches, alternating with the almond or soy milk and vanilla mix. Mix for 20 seconds after each addition, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is well mixed
  1. Add the black sesame seeds and mix with a spatula to disperse them evenly through the batter
A bit ahead of myself but here's the black sesame seeds going in...

A bit ahead of myself but here’s the black sesame seeds going in…

  1. Grease a bundt cake pan with margarine or oil and dust liberally with flour (knocking out the excess). Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake in a preheated 180C (350F) oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let the cake stand in the bundt pan on a rack for 10 minutes while you make the drizzle, then unmould. This cake unmoulds easily but if you are having trouble, run a knife lightly and carefully around the edges.

Make the rose drizzle -

1 With a whisk, mix the water (or almond or soy milk) and sugar with a few drops of rose water till it forms a syrupy drizzle.

The ingredients to make the drizzle. I made the icing (powdered) sugar out of raw sugar in my vitamix

The ingredients to make the drizzle. I made the icing (powdered) sugar out of raw sugar in my vitamix

Apply the drizzle to the cake -

Once you have turned the cake out of the bundt pan onto a cake cooling rack, place the rack over a baking tray or oven sheet and using a teaspoon, slowly pour the cold drizzle over the warm cake.

 

Moist, green tinged, packed with delicious black sesame seeds and fragrant with rose water this was a most delicious cake indeed!

Moist, green tinged, packed with delicious black sesame seeds and fragrant with rose water this was a most delicious cake indeed!

Eat…eat a lot…make more…eat that one as well…

 

The sky is the limit folks!

I would like to thank Vaishali Honawar for creating and sharing her original recipe for a lemon poppy seed bundt cake with a lemon glaze with us all. This cake is now my go-to vegan cake and I will be experimenting with flavours and ingredients for the foreseeable future. This cake is delightful, easy and most wonderful to eat.

 

 

See you all on Wednesday when normal service will be resumed (I hope!)

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible…

Hi all,

 

Well, the inevitable happened and Stevie-boy and I are snowed under with studies that are due in on Monday so what’s a pair of middle aged student hippies to do when there’s a blog post due and no post to post? Er…I guess they don’t post a post. I hope you will all forgive me for a lack of a post today. I have a delicious vegan matcha cake recipe post due that I will post on the weekend to make up for it. See you all next week when our studies should be well finished and we might be able to have 5 seconds to spare. Love you all, Ciao for now bambino’s

Girl from Impanema over and over and over again ;)

Girl from Impanema over and over and over again ;)

Life on the cusp of the seasons

Hi All,

 

So what’s all this “Serendipity Farm” stuff all about eh? Well you can be assured that we aren’t a real farm folks. Sorry to break the apple cart for a few of you but I just read a blog post about romance novels by the illustrious Mr 23Thorns of the erstwhile blog “23thorns” (I am NOT very imaginative when addressing my literary idols) and realised that narf7 is to Serendipity Farm what romance novel readers are to real, up-front romance…sort of a safe aside while you are thinking about other things. I thought that I should clarify this as I have been getting a few new followers lately and I would HATE for them to think that there was any degree of “E.I.E.I.O.” going on at any given time here. Most of the time you are going to get the daily trials and tribulations of a scared little weird wide eyed middle aged student hippy woman who spends most of her life online when she isn’t under the bed with her sometimes protector Earl protecting the sock under the bed from dying a slow starving death and simultaneously shoveling in ice cream because EVERYTHING is better with ice cream

Before I can even BEGIN to explain the next 2 photos, I need to give you some background on them…It was last Friday night. We may, or may not, have had a bottle of wine (or 2) and we were definitely watching this absolutely AMAZING YouTube vid of a fantastic Croatian pair of cellists who are extremely talented and most delicious at the same time. What Aussie could resist 2 hot guys playing cello’s dressed in period costume and covering Acadaca eh?! Here’s the video (watch it as otherwise you will have NO idea where this is going…)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT3SBzmDxGk

We watched it several times (as you do when you are sipping of the grape scented fluid of great happiness) and then Stevie-boy decided to share a few other classical musicians who made the cross-over to rock including Mr Nigel Kennedy and another man (who’s name escapes me now but Ms Pauline knows) who got Stevie-boy onto gypsy music. GYPSIES! Those quintessential scallywags who are prone to moving in, cashing up and then moving on to greener pastures…they are also, we are assured by Mr Borat, ever on the watch for your tears so Stevie-boy was most insistent that he should do some kind of dance to ward off the gypsy’s that we had OBVIOUSLY called forth by listening to gypsy music and that, my dear constant readers, is what brings me to these 2 images…remember, this is Stevie-boy preventing us from the gypsy’s stealing our tears and NOTHING to do with all of that red wine. Nothing at ALL ;)

If you are interested in protecting yourselves and your family from passing gypsy’s stealing your tears you may want to dance along. Here is the most tasty Mr David Garret ( I remembered his name! Ms Pauline will be MOST proud of me :) ) playing the Hungarian Dance No. 5 which just so happens to be Stevie-boys gypsy dance of choice in the photos below…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07WLB584I5Q

Not entirely sure why the trousers had to be rolled up but they DID...I am assured this is an authentic anti tear stealing dance

Not entirely sure why the trousers had to be rolled up but they DID…I am assured this is an authentic anti tear stealing dance

 

As you can see there are some serious moves going on here...you would be surprised how active you have to get to stop those gypsy's stealing your tears!

As you can see there are some serious moves going on here…you would be surprised how active you have to get to stop those gypsy’s stealing your tears!

Nature is telling me that we are going to have an early spring. I am telling nature that she is a bollocks and that she should surely be enjoying a nice, long, extended and most glorious sleep in for a bit longer. I am willing to deliver a cup of tea to her sleeping countenance just so that she doesn’t keep the fruit trees flowering, the jonquils and daffodils following suit and everything budding up. I am not completely averse to “spring” per-se, don’t get me wrong. I love little lambies frolicking as much as anyone else BUT I am not ready for spring. I haven’t even allowed my (poor addled) mind to think about it yet because spring heralds getting outside, getting physical, getting seeds started, getting Sanctuary up and running and ready to take the baton of vegetable growing that narf7 has lost someplace (probably under the bed hidden in that poor long suffering moth eaten sock!). I am just NOT READY YET alright?!

SPRING?!

SPRING?!

 

Bezial is happy about the new sunbeams gracing his deck

Bezial is happy about the new sunbeams gracing his deck

 

This is Honesty a perennial plant with the botanical name Lunaria annua.

This is Honesty a perennial plant with the botanical name Lunaria annua.

 

And THIS is honesty. Not a lot botanically going on but plenty of nasturtiums and lots of hard work needed...EEK

And THIS is honesty. Not a lot botanically going on but plenty of nasturtiums and lots of hard work needed…EEK

 

This is why I haven't done a lot over winter...I couldn't stop the possums from invading Poland :(. I have found a solution. Stay tuned for narf doing a happy dance twice as energetic as Stevie-boys (and documented) if it works :)

This is why I haven’t done a lot over winter…I couldn’t stop the possums from invading Poland :(. I have found a solution. Stay tuned for narf doing a happy dance twice as energetic as Stevie-boys (and documented) if it works :)

Besides my lack of readiness nature needs to know that the beginning of August simply isn’t spring. If we allow her to keep nibbling away at our months here and insinuating seasons willy-nilly we are going to end up with some mighty strange things going on. I know that people living in the tropics live with these mighty weird seasonal things…winter being summer and summer being HELLO torrential rain etc. is all well and good if you live in the tropics because you CHOOSE that kind of situation but I chose cold…and frost…and LONG winters and short summers (short as possible if the truth be known) and now nature is nibbling her way into my precious winter? There is NO justice! And there is no stopping mother nature when she has made up her mind. She is exactly like MY mother was…stubborn as a mule and not to be stopped…good luck…she is going to do what she wants to do and be DAMNED if “you” are going to stop her…sigh…hello spring. I am not all that happy about you strewing your bouquets and budding up my blueberries because said blueberries are knee deep in horse manure and are just about to go gangbusters in what can only be considered a most temporary housing arrangement that heralds a HUGE amount of hard slog for one narf7 of Serendipity “Farm”…

The red growth on these blueberries means that they love their new home up to their crowns in dung

The red growth on these blueberries means that they love their new home up to their crowns in dung

 

Another sign that spring is here...the grape vines are budding up. I will plant these cuttings out this year inside Sanctuary

Another sign that spring is here…the grape vines are budding up. I will plant these cuttings out this year inside Sanctuary

I have been walking Earl at 6am lately and it’s been very cold and frosty and dark. This morning we had a lovely almost full moon accompanying us most of the way. I wrote a little poem in my head about our new early morning friend…

The moon followed us today

A big golden puppy with old man eyes

It stayed behind the eucalyptus tree fence

We walked in silent contemplation

Until the sun threw a stick and it ran away

 

I am not often drawn into the unfathomable world of poetry but it was the only way that I could remember this amazing moon and how beautiful it was. Earl and I crunched our way down the road in the frost enjoying the beautiful sight.

This was taken when the sun came up. 2 new goats in Sidmouth that Earl was MOST interested in having a little chat to...

This was taken when the sun came up. 2 new goats in Sidmouth that Earl was MOST interested in having a little chat to…

 

Fungus and blackberries. Throw in forget-me-nots and periwinkle and you have the story of Serendipity Farm's life...

Fungus and blackberries. Throw in forget-me-nots and periwinkle and you have the story of Serendipity Farm’s life…

 

Big Yin (the last rooster... I am sure there is a movie title in that...) and his constant companion Duckie basking in the sun

Big Yin (the last rooster… I am sure there is a movie title in that…) and his constant companion Duckie basking in the sun

I just finished the unit on Sustainability! I haven’t been so glad to see the back of something since I last had to go to the doctors for one of those “women’s visits”. SO glad to say bid adieu to what was effectively a great big pile of green wash and bampf cemented together with torture and narf headaches.  Now we can focus on getting our next unit up and running. It’s good to be on track and the year is galloping away at a fast rate of knots so it’s really important to keep on top of things. I phoned up this morning to put an expression of interest in on our next prospective study course next year. Hopefully we get into the course, if not, I am sure that Mr Abbot has something tucked up his sleeve for penniless student hippies without the “student” shield to protect them :(

This was taken of the deck after the big blow that took out our phone line. Phone is back, sun is out, leaves are still there ;)

This was taken of the deck after the big blow that took out our phone line. Phone is back, sun is out, leaves are still there ;)

 

We get to see all of the boats pootling up and down the Tamar River. This is one of the tugs based at Beauty Point after towing a bigger boat in to the city

We get to see all of the boats pootling up and down the Tamar River. This is one of the tugs based at Beauty Point after towing a bigger boat in to the city

 

This isn't a fizhog of a photo, it's a palm leaf looking like the letter "b". Our next assignment involves us finding letters in nature. This was a lucky break and nice and close to the house ;)

This isn’t a fizhog of a photo, it’s a palm leaf looking like the letter “b”. Our next assignment involves us finding letters in nature. This was a lucky break and nice and close to the house ;)

Its Wednesday and you can strike the unhappiness at the rapid approach of spring…I have learned that if you can’t beat them, join them and so I have decided to embrace spring and all things daffodilly and jonquilly and growing like crazy (except the forget-me-nots…can’t embrace them…) so here I am after heading up to Sanctuary with the boys and releasing the hounds on its unsuspecting population of plants that have not only weathered but survived most admirably, the storm, frost and anything else that our unseasonably mild winter threw at them. Most of the area is covered in nasturtiums but I figure at least the soil has cover so let them grow. I noticed that dad’s yellow orchid is going great guns and has decided to flower most profusely in the next week or so (not now so I can’t get a photo but whatchagonnadoeh? Maybe next week…if I remember ;) ).

Happy chooks basking under the deck with no worries about being molested or herded by errant roosters

Happy chooks basking under the deck with no worries about being molested or herded by errant roosters

 

Check out the lean on this old dead tree. That pile of spent chook hay is to soften the blow when it falls. That's my story and I am sticking to it ;)

Check out the lean on this old dead tree. That pile of spent chook hay is to soften the blow when it falls. That’s my story and I am sticking to it ;)

 

I have all of four photos for today’s post and it’s already twelve o’clock and not only am I devoid of images but I have already roamed the property today with the dogs. I found out that a large Blackwood tree has fallen over but due to its extremely bowed trunk, it is still in the ground albeit in a newly formed hump with a few roots sticking out. I would leave it there aside from the fact that it fell down straight in the middle of my arbutus tree :( bollocks! I was wandering (who am I kidding…I was being dragged mercilessly behind a small determined brown and white tank!) through the jungle part of the garden and started to get the old familiar excitement that rises up whenever possibilities are afoot. I got it inside Sanctuary as well. I started to make plans for passion-fruit vine purchases, for hauling duckies boat into Sanctuary and using it as a raised bed for herbs and strawberries, for keyhole gardens and pathways around the outside to prevent determined wallabies and chooks from barreling into the sides of Sanctuary and reaching their “prey” easily…my motto is if they are going to steal it, I am going to make them work very hard to do so!

Some of the cuttings I took last year that have thrived despite being completely neglected. PERFECT for planting out on Serendipity Farm where the neglect runs like a river ;)

Some of the cuttings I took last year that have thrived despite being completely neglected. PERFECT for planting out on Serendipity Farm where the neglect runs like Usain Bolt on steroids ;)

 

More neglected plants. This time they are rewarding us for their neglect by flowering. I love orchids. They want so little and give so much :)

More neglected plants. This time they are rewarding us for their neglect by flowering. I love orchids. They want so little and give so much :)

Luckily I prepared a bit of this blog post earlier. I am at a bit of a loss for what to do today as I NEED to do some work on the gift that I am preparing for my eldest daughter Madeline in the near future or it simply isn’t going to happen. It is going to take lots of time and planning and I have done most of the planning but now I need to put in the time. My studies have had me glued to the computer but I have made a most determined push to the front and now I find myself with time on my hands and that means that I can get stuck into “the gift” as it shall be called right up to the time that I can reveal what it is/was after December 25th. I am guessing it will be the predominate part of my post come boxing day as I just checked and Christmas is on a Tuesday. I like to find out little snippets of information about Christmas…little bits that I cobble together in a sequence so that I don’t have to be terrified in one fell swoop.  Are you terrified of Christmas? Join the club! A bit closer to Christmas and I will be under the bed with a tub of good vegan ice cream (yes…there is such a thing ;) ) but at the moment I am deluding myself that it isn’t approaching at a rampaging gallop and that it is STILL winter and narf7 is just about to toast her hands by Brunhilda who hasn’t been out since late April. What a stellar performance you wonderful (SO much more than a) wood-stove :)

Nature reclaiming the lawn. This is a small blackwood tree growing in the side lawn. Right next to it there is another one. If we leave them there, they will grow quickly and the lawn will cease to be

Nature reclaiming the lawn. This is a small blackwood tree growing in the side lawn. Right next to it there is another one. If we leave them there, they will grow quickly and the lawn will cease to be

 

My danglers. I made all of these Ms Pauline :)

My danglers. I made all of these Ms Pauline :)

 

Our summer oven, our gas bbq. As you can see it also acts as a winter repository for boots

Our summer oven, our gas bbq. As you can see it also acts as a winter repository for boots. If you squint you can see a narf in the window

So here I am at the end again…I don’t even remember the beginning as I started it last week. I remember the poem and was of two minds to not put it in but I figure it is good for you all to see that I am multi-faceted, pretty amazing really…you are very lucky to be reading this blog you know ;). I hope that wherever you are your world is treating you well and that you can find something, even a teeny tiny something, each and every day to be thankful for because like Mr Simon Townsend used to say “The world really IS wonderful” :)

 

You didn't think we could go a week without Earl being in the post did you? Here he is for all of his loyal fans and he would like to say that he would send you all an email but for his lack of opposable thumbs. You will have to content yourself with adoring him from afar ;)

You didn’t think we could go a week without Earl being in the post did you? Here he is for all of his loyal fans and he would like to say that he would send you all an email but for his lack of opposable thumbs. You will have to content yourself with adoring him from afar ;)

 

Narfs triple bottom line

Hi All,

 

It’s 5.12am on a Friday. I should be up to my armpits in RSS Feed Reads, being furtively read whilst I tap out comments on a notepad blank page whilst contemplating how to answer those people who have kindly decided to maintain email communication with me even after finding out who I “really” am (I KNOW…amazing eh?) but I am not doing any of those things because yesterday we had the internet and telephone equivalent of The Weaselman visit Serendipity Farm. Mr Windy (for want of a better word) decided to wreak a bit of old school destruction on Serendipity Farm and trees fell over our phone line tearing it out of the pole which meant that we had no house phone. Curiously, for a while, we did have the internet! We had it right up to 4am this morning when it decided to fizzle out and die so after sitting blinking for a while I decided to think of something productive to do that didn’t involve the internet

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We headed into the city the other day and the whole city of Launceston was misty. Very cold, and misty. Steve took this photo of a spiders web

 

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Something else that we saw in the city, LOVE these little Croc men

Aren't the doors of our city Commonewealth bank lovely? Almost as lovely as this passing guard dog ;)

Aren’t the doors of our city Commonewealth bank lovely? Almost as lovely as this passing guard dog ;)

 

I would like to inform you that I have just worked out that I am officially seriously addicted to the internet. My whole life revolves around it. I didn’t realise how addicted I had become until we couldn’t access it yesterday and I was adrift. No email communication, not Facebook, no ability to research! Steve phoned up our lecturer and told her about the situation after a 45 minute ride over a cliff with an Indian lady who although assured by Stevie-boy that our phone line was indeed down and in hiding underneath a selection of Serendipity Farms finest greenery, insisted that he run through a series of “tests” that took the better part of 30 minutes to complete before she would even contemplate going any further. Next time we fib Stevie-boy, we pretend to do what she asks for and say “Nope, still doesn’t work” while standing still and doing bugger all…funny how we were supposed to get the opportunity to complete a survey on the phone about our “experience” with this most angst inspiring of ladies but she hung up on an obviously frustrated and twitchy Steve prior to putting him through to the “survey department”…bad luck ma’am, they sent us the survey in an email. Just before the net shuffled off, I saw it sitting there waiting for us when we finally get the net back on.

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Someone wasn’t all that impressed with the mist and the cold…

 

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We spotted this door in the mall in the city with a dog handle…maybe this is Earl’s inner city bachelor pad?

 

Talking about that…I have NO idea when that is going to happen because Ms Indian lady was more engaged in telling us how much we were going to have to pay the technician for a “false callout” than she was in giving us any kind of firm idea when said technician was going to bother to turn up. Wafting’s of “weeks” and “we will need to keep testing the line” were mumbled but nothing firm so goodness only knows how long we will be sans phone and sans net. It looks like we are going to have to reacquaint ourselves with the Beaconsfield online centre for the foreseeable future and that is how this blog post is going to get posted next week unless a miracle happens and a technician turns up in that time

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Earl is like one of those big hairy spiders…they look HUGE when they are stretched out on the wall but when they curl up they are tiny. Earl is all head and here is is doing his best to look small on Bezial’s couch

 

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Another lovely Grey day on Serendipity Farm but at least we didn’t end up with half of our house blown away in the recent wild storms like some poor people did

 

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“Someone”  decided to scratch up the covers that we have put over the sofa to protect it and when we heard him scratching away we headed into the lounge room and found “this”…it wasn’t moving but we figured out what had caused the problem…

 

So what is a narf to do while she is forcibly ejected from her chief source of contact with the outside world? Aside from going mad, I have decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into getting Sanctuary, my fully enclosed vegetable garden, up and running on all cylinders for our coming growing season. I have plans for a large bay of straw bales full of manure and compost etc. that is going to house my pumpkin community this year. I have plans for Stevie-boy to relocate a tap that is currently residing on the fence not too far away from Sanctuary down “to” Sanctuary where it will be easier to access water and I have plans to haul an enormous mountain of horse manure and oak leaves back up to Sanctuary to start forming gardens around the perimeter of the enclosure. I have mature blueberry bushes that need pruning and planting. I have grape vines that need planting. I have all kinds of trees that need planting but they will need a bit more thought as they will have to go outside Sanctuary and when anything is outside a protective zone, it is a sitting duck when it comes to possums and wallabies and anything else that feels like a snack.

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The son-and-heirs partner Kelsey turned 23 the day before my birthday and I wanted to make her a cake. Not easy because Kelsey is from Texas and as anyone who is anyone knows, everything is bigger and better in Texas. Here are two of the three cakes that I made

 

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A chocolate cake, a vanilla cake and a red velvet cake sandwiched together with jam and cream…

 

 

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The finished cake

 

 

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Kelsey’s quails

 

 

I seem to have allowed my addiction to the internet to have taken me away from the real world for quite some time now and this forced hiatus might just be the impetus I need to get me back into the real world and establishing some new habits involving the garden, exercise, planning, and the execution of those plans which tends to be my weak point. I am taking a lot of heart from the relentless efforts of Jessie of rabidlittlehippy fame. Although she had NO idea of what she was doing initially she has started to turn her half acre of urban normalcy into a permaculture paradise that might just go a long way to feeding her family over the coming year. I had aspirations of doing the same but somehow my addiction to the internet got in the way…no more. I don’t plan on sitting here twiddling my thumbs in angsty frustration until Dodo (yes…Dodo…I am not holding out any high hopes…) get around to sending out a technician to sort out our line. It’s time for narf7 to get proactive on her own derriere!

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Earl inspecting the workmanship in Steve’s gumboots…

 

 

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Some of my new bowl haul that I got for my birthday. I LOVE bowls :)

 

Steve headed off into the wilderness the other night to pick this up from a lady who had advertised it on Gumtree. A great bargain and it is currently filtering our tank water for us :)

Steve headed off into the wilderness the other night to pick this up from a lady who had advertised it on Gumtree. A great bargain and it is currently filtering our tank water for us :)

So what’s first old girl…well there are all of those poor long suffering potted babies languishing (most of them upside down after the gales yesterday) in the side garden that need dealing with. I NEED to give them away. I can’t feel guilty if I give them away. Time for some serious culling and if I want to keep it, I HAVE TO PLANT IT OUT. That’s a really good incentive to give most of them away because planting anything out on Serendipity Farm is hard work so if you are a local, you know me, you are likely to open your door some day in the future to a box full of potted plants courtesy of narf7. Be warned!

We wanted to thank Jan's brother Peter for walking with Bezial when Steve can't at the moment and so we bought him some chocolate and chips and made him this card

We wanted to thank Jan’s brother Peter for walking with Bezial when Steve can’t at the moment and so we bought him some chocolate and chips and made him this card

Earl multi-tasking, basking in a sunbeam whilst keeping those freeloading grey thrush shrikes away from the cheese

Earl multi-tasking, basking in a sunbeam whilst keeping those freeloading grey thrush shrikes away from the cheese

An early morning shot of Earl at the bottom of the driveway and ready to go on his walk as soon as the flash wears off and he can see again ;)

An early morning shot of Earl at the bottom of the driveway and ready to go on his walk as soon as the flash wears off and he can see again ;)

The Earl, in it's natural habitat...

The Earl, in it’s natural habitat…

Stevie-boy has been home all week and most happily home too. We have knocked a couple of units out of the ballpark over the past week and even though the material that we are working with could bore an accountant to tears (and we all know that accountants LOVE boring statistics ;) ) we are soldiering on through acres of stats and (were) researching our brains out and wading through government departments in order to try to find out what we are required to find for our assignments but sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack to be honest and as Stevie-boy and I study in completely different ways, this kind of frustrating slow pace isn’t conducive to peace on Serendipity Farm. I will give you an example of how we differ in our approaches…

Narf7: – “Ok, so what do we need for this task? Read the Word doc, read the supporting blurb, go to the websites that we have to go to in order to complete the task, read them, list down the bits that we need in a blank notepad and make sure that we have answered the question appropriately, and in triplicate…”

Stevie-boy: – “Have a brief glance at the question. Deem it not important to read the whole question and race off to the website where you also have a brief glance at the website and start answering the question with a few brief words so that you can get back out to your shed where the REAL action is taking place”…

Are you starting to get the picture that we are like chalk and cheese when it comes to studies? Now that we no longer have the “research” abilities that we had yesterday we are picking out the bits of assignments that we can do without research and they are few and far between. It would seem that we might be going to have to head to the online centre to study and in the process; we might have to learn to study together in a more “friendly” way lest we get ejected from the online centre forcibly and told “NEVER COME BACK!” Now this is going to be a challenge!

Birthday food time!

Birthday food time!

 

First, I got these slipper socks from a wonderful friend who also sent me some gorgeous handmade soaps and here I am attempting to desensitise Earl to their presence...

First, I got these slipper socks from a wonderful friend who also sent me some gorgeous handmade soaps and here I am attempting to desensitise Earl to their presence…

"Lets make vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake!"

“Lets make vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake!”

So today is the day after my 51st birthday. I don’t feel any older or wiser but I certainly am regretting eating so much of the gorgeous beer battered tempura veggies that we made for dinner last night or maybe it’s the combination of beer batter and vegan orange poppy seed drizzle cake accompanied by homemade vegan Brazil nut ice cream with peanut butter cookie dough chunks and when you are not used to eating anything that isn’t steamed or raw you end up with a bit of a food hangover. I will wear it because my birthday meal was delicious. The vegan orange poppy seed cake was something that we are going to make again and again. It was really delicious, didn’t use eggs or butter and was very light and moist thanks to an orange drizzle that was spooned over the top of the cake while it was still warm. Here’s the recipe if anyone would like to have a go of it…

http://holycowvegan.net/2011/12/lemon-poppy-seed-bundt-cake-with-lemon.html

Please note, I substituted orange for lemon as I am not a great lemon fan and the orange swap involved just substituting orange juice and zest for the lemon juice and zest

An action shot of Stevie-boy who is too masculine to bother with using a stand mixer to cream ingredients

An action shot of Stevie-boy who is too masculine to bother with using a stand mixer to cream ingredients

Here is what happens when you are too masculine to use a stand mixer to mix in flour (sigh...)

Here is what happens when you are too masculine to use a stand mixer to mix in flour (sigh…)

 

One hot and most glorious smelling vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake fresh out of the oven

One hot and most glorious smelling vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake fresh out of the oven

 

And here it is after it has had orange drizzle ladled over the top... " Bellisimo!" :)

And here it is after it has had orange drizzle ladled over the top… ” Bellisimo!” :)

I am going to head off now folks. Most of this email was prepared earlier due to the threat of us losing the net for the rest of the day as we are getting a visit from a Telstra lines man who needs to hook us up a new junction box after last week’s storms pulled our wires down. Turns out, in the process, that he discovered that “someone” (DAD!) had done their own rudimentary wire fix by twisting two wires together and duct taping them together…sounds like something that dad would have done to me! They need to be properly housed in a junction box so I am going to finish up here now and get this scheduled to post as otherwise I might lose the net and not be able to post today. Have a great week everyone. I haven’t had time to read my RSS Feed Reader properly for the last week or so because we have been working hard on relentless studies but hopefully, everything will be back to normal (or something approximating normal) on Serendipity Farm in a week or so.

 

 

Vegan peanut butter cookie dough mix chilled in the freezer and ready to cut up to add to vegan Brazil nut ice cream

Vegan peanut butter cookie dough mix chilled in the freezer and ready to cut up to add to vegan Brazil nut ice cream

The ingredients for making Japanese wakame (seaweed) salad

The ingredients for making Japanese wakame (seaweed) salad

It might look like something from the black lagoon, but wakame seaweed is delicious and makes a really wonderful addition to any Japanese meal

It might look like something from the black lagoon, but wakame seaweed is delicious and makes a really wonderful addition to any Japanese meal

Wakame salad (sans toasted sesame seeds) and pickled carrot salad. Both of these were needed to cut the HUGE amount of battered gorgeousness that we consumed with gusto :)

Wakame salad (sans toasted sesame seeds) and pickled carrot salad. Both of these were needed to cut the HUGE amount of battered gorgeousness that we consumed with gusto :)

Stage 1 of the production line to make tempura, bear battered veggies for a most happy narf's Japanese birthday feast :)

Stage 1 of the production line to make tempura, bear battered veggies for a most happy narf’s Japanese birthday feast :)

 

 

Steve's Japanese beef in the frypan and one of the trays of delicious beer battered happiness

Steve’s Japanese beef in the frypan and one of the trays of delicious beer battered happiness

A mix of battered sweet potato, whole spring onions (NOT chook feet ;) ) broccoli florets and mushrooms

A mix of battered sweet potato, whole spring onions (NOT chook feet ;) ) broccoli florets and mushrooms

The salads and more mushrooms...you can NEVER have enough battered mushrooms according to Stevie-boy ;)

The salads and more mushrooms…you can NEVER have enough battered mushrooms according to Stevie-boy ;)

The Weaselman Cometh…

Hi All,

 

So here we are again. I see you all decided to come back to visit Serendipity Farm this week so I guess my post with the photos at the end can’t have been all that bad. I am going to mix a few images through the post and put the majority at the end in a vain attempt to satisfy you all without polarising some of my dear constant (bolshie) readers in the process. It’s all about soothing you savage beasts these days and I am, as ever, your humble servant. Now that we have that obsequious and most belly scraping of introductory paragraphs out of the way, what have we been up to this week eh? (Actually, scrap that…due to the terrible weather conditions and the severe dearth of blog photos you are just going to have to live with them in the post today ;) )

 

This is a happy narf...read on to find out why and note the dirt on the side of my face after doing battle with Brunhilda...again...

This is a happy narf…read on to find out why and note the dirt on the side of my face after doing battle with Brunhilda…again…

Well it’s 4.48am and I decided that I would sacrifice my RSS Feed Reader to the great unknown this morning in order to bring you a little slice of Serendipity down South and in the close proximity to Antarctica. Most of the time we don’t think about Antarctica but come mid-winter and it tends to be right up there in our thoughts. I opened up my email this morning and whilst tossing things into the junk mail bin and sifting through the paltry pile of “good” stuff, I found an email from a permaculture maestro who lives in the U.S. that I had actually signed up to and decided to read it. Within 2 minutes I was very excited by a couple of the links that he had put in his email and had headed off and spent 10 minutes discovering new and exciting things. Have you ever heard of a “wofati” house? It’s a most interesting variation of an underground bunker without having to live underground. It takes care of the heating and cooling of your house by having a huge load of soil banked up against the rear of the house. Interesting but not as interesting as the little debris house that I saw. “Debris house narf?” yes…debris house.

Earl was very proud to have urinated this tree down last week but people have been poaching the trunk for their fires and he is displeased...

Earl was very proud to have urinated this tree down last week but people have been poaching the trunk for their fires and he is displeased…

Now before you reach for your phones to have me committed I need to tell you that I am not going to build myself a debris house to sit in and contemplate my navel for the foreseeable future any day soon. Why would I do that when I already have Serendipity Farm house for that purpose eh? The reason I got excited about them is that a debris house is something bolshie using something that no-one wants to create something that will serve a purpose in a most interesting and delightful way. Say you are out in the woods…yeah, you, couch potato that you are, “out in the woods” (for the sake of this experiment let’s just run with “you” in “the woods” no matter how laughable or impractical/impossible that idea is OK? ;) ) and say you got lost (highly likely if you live on the couch and don’t venture out into nature on a regular basis) and it was winter and you needed someplace to kip till they found you. Now I would rather be proactive about stacking up a little bush house of debris to wait out my time (complete with my own little debris couch) than just huddle under a shrub in the cold. I guess what I am saying is that things like this excite me because someone out there had a great idea to use what no-one else wanted to get something that they needed.

 

Narfs pretty new bowl and in the background a selection of mixing bowls designed to encourage me to make cake...

Narfs pretty new bowl and in the background a selection of mixing bowls designed to encourage me to make cake…

 

Testing the pretty new bowl with some delicious veggie soup

Testing the pretty new bowl with some delicious veggie soup

I guess what excites me most about these ideas is that they are entirely possible and sometimes we all need someone to dangle a carrot of possibility in front of our noses to get us galvanised for action. I have been the opposite of galvanised for some time now. I have been in active narfish hibernation inside the comfy confines of Chez Serendipity. I won’t tell a fib, I am entirely content with this situation and all talk of  “going outside”  is met with stern twitching, measured reasoning (“paper, rock, scissors I WIN…you go…”) and a degree of loin girding and dashing hither and thither that is completely unbecoming to a 50 year old woman. Yesterday our power went out and we took the 2 hour space of time before it came back on to zoom out and walk the dogs between rain squalls and wind gusts and I ladled my not inconsiderable derriere off the couch and trundled myself off to muck out my chook coop. “Pourquoi?” I hear you asking, when I have just admitted to being part wintery sloth? Well, the weasel man came you see…

 

Plastic coated wire clothesline destined to be used in "Sanctuary"  in a vain attempt to stop the rampaging possums

Plastic coated wire clothesline destined to be used in “Sanctuary” in a vain attempt to stop the rampaging possums

 

An indication of how low I sunk today hunting for blog photos...this is Brunhilda's hot toasty log stash and Steve's quince wine (red bucket) basking in her warmth

An indication of how low I sunk today hunting for blog photos…this is Brunhilda’s hot toasty log stash and Steve’s quince wine (red bucket) basking in her warmth

NOW I have your attention! “The Weaselman?!” yup…The Weaselman. Well, he isn’t really half man half weasel but I have my suspicions. Let me back up a bit and give you the back story so that you don’t have nightmares tonight OK? (Here you get those wavy lines that denote going back in time but that I can’t quite replicate all that well in words…)” In the beginning there was God”…err…maybe I went back a bit far, might fast forward a few millennia to a bit closer to my existence…how about “Saturday 26th July 2014”…sounds like a good day to visit Serendipity Farm…Well Stevie-boy and narf7 have been increasingly alarmed at the size of our chook population on Serendipity Farm. We saved about 40 baby chooks from the quoll a while back that killed their mothers and took quite a few of their brethren. They were raised (I would love to say “by wolves” here but that simply wouldn’t be true…) by a bolshie old nana hen we like to call “Goldy” who looked after them admirably and who cared for them like they were her own.

Stevie-boy loves his chips BIG and oven fried and that green stuff in that blue bowl is mushy peas...food of the old country

Stevie-boy loves his chips BIG and oven fried and that green stuff in that blue bowl is mushy peas…food of the old country

 

I call this "Still life with copper bowl, beer and fish". Steve calls this " Dinner"

I call this “Still life with copper bowl, beer and fish”. Steve calls this ” Dinner”

It started to become apparent about 3 weeks ago, that we had quite a few roosters in their midst. We already had about 5 larger roosters that Stevie-boy knew that he was going to have to “deal with” (don’t ask my vegan friends…don’t ask…) in the immediate future but in the groundswell of “The 40” (for want of a better word for the orphans) there was an alarming dichotomy between the population that signified an overrepresentation of roosters. It was both alarming and disheartening because we saved them from the quoll dammit! It would appear that the quoll may have been doing us a favour…

 

The end result of that bag of potatoes and that still life and the best darned batter I have ever made :)

The end result of that bag of potatoes and that still life and the best darned batter I have ever made :)

 

The only thing stopping Earl from sampling these wares is that fluorescent, lime green toxic concoction blocking his way to the tasty things...

The only thing stopping Earl from sampling these wares is that fluorescent, lime green toxic concoction blocking his way to the tasty things…

So what’s a narf and a Stevie-boy to do when faced with a growing population of roosters that were starting to eat them out of house and home? It turns out we were doing what we usually do which was a combination of being stoic (buying more food) and sticking our heads, ostrich like, into the sand. Stevie-boy has been doing a bit of work with a friend down the road and our friend phoned Steve up and asked him if another friend (lots of “friends” out in the country, like “aunties” and “uncles” when you are kids ;) ) could come up and have a look at our chooks as he was after a few more hens for his flock. We keep waving free chooks all over the place and haven’t had many takers yet because at the time we couldn’t be sure what was a hen and what was a rooster so our answer was “SURE…bring him up”.

 

Stevie-boy would like it to be known that he loves beer battered fish and chips night as he gets wine AND beer at the same time ;)

Stevie-boy would like it to be known that he loves beer battered fish and chips night as he gets wine AND beer at the same time ;)

It turns out our flock was too hybrid to be appealing to the “friend” but while he was wandering around insulting our flock and their lack of pedigree he said “you have a bit of a rooster problem here don’t you”…err, “YOU THINK?!” I guess that reinforced that he knew his roosters from his hens.

More still life except this one I call "Life at lunchtime". Those pumpkin seeds are this seasons prospective harvest, those apples are my snacks and that bowl has more delicious veggie soup in it

More still life except this one I call “Life at lunchtime”. Those pumpkin seeds are this seasons prospective harvest, those apples are my snacks and that bowl has more delicious veggie soup in it

 

A personal invitation from our local Greens member Mr Whish-Wilson (LOVE that name :) ) inviting us to a grub and gripe session at the Deviot Hall. Might even go if it means I can complain about our current Government...sigh...

A personal invitation from our local Greens member Mr Whish-Wilson (LOVE that name :) ) inviting us to a grub and gripe session at the Deviot Hall. Might even go if it means I can complain about our current Government…sigh…

After a bit more wandering around he said “tell you what, if you don’t want these roosters, leave them locked in the coop overnight, I will come back tomorrow with some crates and will take them away for you”. Turns out The Weaselman (yup, you were right! 10 points Sherlock!) was an expert chook man (as most weasels are) and had a large flock of his own, a pole with a hook on the end for rooster hooking and the ability to get a couple of large crates into our coop cram packed with bolshie and hungry chooks that were hell bent on being let out for the day.

The weather has been wet, wild and windy here in Northern Tasmania and this is what our deck looked like this morning in a brief moment of quiet respite from the storms

The weather has been wet, wild and windy here in Northern Tasmania and this is what our deck looked like this morning in a brief moment of quiet respite from the storms

Roll on Sunday and The Weaselman came promptly at 10am like he said he would. The chook coop was humming as I usually let them all out at 7am and their stomachs were starting to tell them that something was amiss. I stayed inside with the boys because The Weaselman had brought his wife AND his dog and our boys wanted to teach it all about the ways of Serendipity Farm and I don’t think the poor moth eaten sock under the bed could stand the litigation so I shovelled them baying and howling inside to wait out the rooster apocalypse (“chicken? Moi?!” …”bluck…”) It turns out The Weaselman is a true pro. I am SO in awe of his chook prowess! He is small and thin and slinky and not only managed to get himself and his large crates into a somewhat small coop with 60 angry, hungry chooks and one bolshie very LOUD duck, but he hooked 33 roosters in about 15 minutes with minimal fuss and hardly any noise at all. Stevie-boy came back inside and said “they are gone”. I couldn’t believe it! The man is both a true weasel and a pro.

Steve was most impressed with the insect activity on this bit of bark till he realised that it had blown off an old placard we had leaning on the shed saying "Stop the Pulp Mill!" It would seem that WE were the insects that decorated that ;)

Steve was most impressed with the insect activity on this bit of bark till he realised that it had blown off an old placard we had leaning on the shed saying “Stop the Pulp Mill!” It would seem that WE were the insects that decorated that ;)

Apparently, he managed to find 2 hens that met his criteria for “good enough”  in our humble mixed flock and Stevie-boy gave them to him gladly. I had already told him to take any hens that he wanted and the hens that he chose were pretty but airheaded so good luck to you Weaselman on that front. The best of my hens had refused point blank to go into the coop that day and was hunkered down and hiding out in the bush when The Weaselman came and escaped his eagle eyes. We only discovered her subterfuge when we noticed her wandering around outside the coop later on in the day looking at her 25 sisters and big yin and duckie and wondering how she could get her bolshie derriere into the coop to get herself some grain.

 

The new metal gutter guard that we decided to install to ensure a cleaner water supply in the tank

The new metal gutter guard that we decided to install to ensure a cleaner water supply in the tank

 

The big portion of roof that Steve just added to the tank equation (and just in time too!) with new gutter guard installed

The big portion of roof that Steve just added to the tank equation (and just in time too!) with new gutter guard installed

 

Gutter guard almost installed (patience was never one of my strong points ;) ) on the small extension roof

Gutter guard almost installed (patience was never one of my strong points ;) ) on the small extension roof

 

A better view of the gutter guard over the tank and the reason why we installed it in the first place look at those leaves!

A better view of the gutter guard over the tank and the reason why we installed it in the first place look at those leaves!

 

So Serendipity Farm is quiet. No chooks racing around, no roosters waiting to pounce, no rounding up, leaping on or molestation going on and a sweet peaceful calm has returned. The Weaselman had offered to give us back half of the roosters cleaned and ready for the pot (he is a man of many weasel like talents apparently) but after thinking it through between us, we decided to decline. He was doing us a HUGE favour and deserved to be rewarded accordingly and besides, it would have felt a bit like eating our neighbours…

 

LOVE this paint job :)

LOVE this paint job :)

What else have we done here on Serendipity Farm? Well we found a great recipe for batter that is naturally vegan that involves ¾ of a cup of Self raising (yes you people from the U.S. we Aussies call it “Self-raising” not “Self-rising” ;) ) flour and 150ml of fizzy beer. That’s it, that’s all. Mix the two together and dip whatever you want into the batter and fry in hot oil till crispy, crunchy, golden and heavenly delicious. I was going to have something elaborate for my rapidly approaching birthday but changed my mind. Stevie-boy is an excellent cook and makes my birthday meal every year including a most awesome cake (yes, I will take pictures…) and we had been wading through Escoffier looking for suitable delicacies when we both decided (after tasting a fried battered onion ring in this mix) to bollock off the elitist grub and go with the fried flow. We will be balancing it out with Japanese élan so you don’t have to worry about narf croaking from a heart attack on her 51st birthday and Stevie-boy is poring over Google searching out “Bento Box” recipes complete with delicious quick pickles, tempura veggies, lovely sticky rice and seaweed salad, a meal fit for a king but eaten by queen narf of Serendipity Farm with an awesome slice of vegan sticky dense cake for dessert. What a lucky narf I am!

Me up checking the level of water in the tank. You can also see the first flush diverter here and the delightful trousers that Ms Jessie made me that I wear with impunity everywhere :)

Me up checking the level of water in the tank. You can also see the first flush diverter here and the delightful trousers that Ms Jessie made me that I wear with impunity everywhere :)

So here we are again…at the end of a blog post and ready to wave goodbye to each other again over the miles. Have a great week everyone. Please make the most of what you have, where you have it. Don’t look at what other people have and feel “less than”. You likely have more than enough for you and your world and when we stop and look around us we suddenly realise that our lives are pretty wonderful just the way that they are. Who needs a yacht or a condo in the South of France or Escoffier on their birthday menu when you can have your family, your friends, your pets, your favourite fry up and an amazing sticky cake to end the day in a most fitting and satisfying way. Viva la vie folks…”VIVA LA VIE!” : )

(Although…that yacht is pretty sweet…) ;)

 

Guest Post: Something To Admire

narf77:

Wendy and Roger of http://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/ are my frugal heroes. They might not think so, but they are. Everything that they are doing makes me sit up and take notice. It “works” pure and simple and when they write their book on how they do all of this on a shoestring budget I am going to wring that moth eaten socks neck under the bed and put it out of its misery and will buy 10 copies as this precious stuff needs to be shared! Please go and read Wendy’s wonderful story. It will make you smile :)

Originally posted on Living Simply Free:

One of the best things about blogging are the things I get to learn.  Last week Wendy mentioned her friends from Vanuatu. I was curious what this island looked like, the above image is what I found.   Wendy’s mentioned her friends before but this time I felt a bit more brave and asked her if she would write a guest post and not only tell me more but allow me to share what she has received from knowing these particular friends.  Wendy was gracious enough to accept my request!  Wendy, for those of you who might not know, blogs at Quarter Acre Lifestyle and is such an inspiration to me.  Let me introduce Wendy now.
`

Thanks Lois for inviting me to do a guest post on your wonderful blog!

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