First start with what you see…

 

Hi All

 

Here we all are again assembled and accounted for. I have nestled a few more blogs into my RSS Feed Reader on my never ending journey towards morphing my online reading habits into my real life interests of this moment in time. I am reading Ruby Wax’s book “Sane New World”. I read her autobiography and when a book can take you from deep soul searching to squirting your mouthful of booch (I am also attempting to drink my way through 12 litres of kombucha in my fridge as we need the space!) over the rug as you half choke on something hilarious it’s well worth a read in my opinion. I like to multi-task. Sane New World is an amazing survival story. Ruby has had several mental breakdowns and suffers from depression. Rather than take her meds like a good little Jewish girl she has decided to find out just what makes the brain tick and despite the humour that keeps this book ticking along nicely (still more booch to clean up off the wall…) blends seamlessly into this amazing woman’s search that took her from lying on a psychiatrists couch (while he ate a corned beef and mustard sandwich behind her and mumbled “Hmmm?”) to enrolling in Oxford university to study the science of the brain in order to tame her own. What a woman! And to think I just thought that she was funny…

The world is domed Michael Leunig

OH how I love Mr Michael Leunig. I hope he translates to the wider world as he is one of our Aussie gems that is well worth sharing. I hope that he isn’t in a mind to sue me for sharing his images with the wider community. I hope that should he ever stumble across humble little broke Serendipity Farm that he will take pity on the poor mindless adoring fool that pinched his image without permission but who couldn’t help herself because no-one out there says it like Mr Leunig :)

It’s now Wednesday and I am racing against time to pull a blog post out of the air. The air is decidedly cooler here today and if Bezial wasn’t sprawled upside down on the deck I would actually shut the sliding door. I love this crisp cool air because it lets you think clearly. I am thinking that I need to get my crochet hook into some wool soon and get started on the slipper boots that The Snail of Happiness  shared with me recently. I have plenty of wool, now I just need to find the time. Isn’t it always the case that when you have sufficient of one part of the equation, you don’t have enough of the other?

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This is what my precious babies looked like prior to Steve forgetting to shut the shed door…sigh…

This summer has seen Steve helping a friends mum move into her house and has seen narf7 home alone. Much like Macaulay Calkin, narf7 home alone is not a good thing. For one I am slightly stir crazy and for two I can’t do a whole lot without Stevie-boy when it comes to the great outdoors. Our summer was long and dry and the garden suffered tremendously but now that the temperature has cooled down somewhat we are on the case and are knocking out some of the chores that need to be accomplished before winter hits home. We NEED that water tank up and collecting rain ASAP and we need the trailer that it is now residing in to collect leaf mould from the bottom of the property horse manure from a farm down the road and seaweed from a beach for the garden. I need to pull out all of the summer crops and make way for the winter crops including garlic and potato onions that are champing at the bit to be in the ground

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Here are the large “Christmas decorations” that herald the entry into Serendipity Farm. They are kind of a statement and a warning at the same time “Your not in Kansas any more Dorothy…”

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This is the delicious and most splendiferous load of wood that killed the moth eaten sock under the bed. We gave it a decent burial and then it was right back to working out how on EARTH we are going to transport all of these logs back to the house from the front of the property…looks like Stevie-boys Easter weekend might be all booked methinks…

Steve and I have been a little overwhelmed by the scope of the job at hand. It would seem that if you leave something for long enough it thinks it owns the place and takes possession. The blackberries and spear thistles are a point in case. They are everywhere…again…we had a few pressing inside jobs to do and once we had cleared out the spare room (isn’t it funny how they seem to magnetically attract “stuff”?) and Steve’s music room (another “stuff” gatherer) and we liberated the wood box from its big black house spider inhabitants and several pairs of my shoes from their big black house spider inhabitants (“Eek!”) we started to feel a bit better about it all. I think it’s the starting that is the hardest bit. It’s not hard to keep going, just start

Lumberjack Stevie-boy

I couldn’t resist sharing this “Lumberjack” image with you all and if you have 10 seconds to spare here’s the song itself…Steve and I? I will leave you to make up your own minds on that one ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL7n5mEmXJo

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Another gratuitous woody shot with our resident parkour expert Bezial taking full advantage of this delicious and delightful pile

Steve will be helping his friends mum fill and plant out an amazing series of large water wicked garden beds that he designed for use on her rooftop garden. He has been taking images of the process so that I can share a blog post with you all once the job is complete. So far the beds have been made and the plumbing installed. It isn’t like ordinary wicked garden beds where you have an overflow that bleeds out onto the soil below because there ISN’T any soil below and so a complex drainage system was cooked up between Steve and the plumber and an effective “fix” for this problem was achieved. It’s quite an exciting idea and very water wise. I will keep you informed about it as it starts to come together

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Getting the wood box ready for a steady stream of wood that will grace it’s hallowed circumference over the next 6 or so months. Note Steve has a trusty helper and is wearing a belt. The belt is because he obliterated his top button on his trousers thanks to (in his own words folks) “too much beer and too many potatoes”

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The helper extracts his payment…

Steve has a saying now “First start with what you see”. Apparently it was something from one of the Hannibal Lector movies. I am not entirely sure whether to be alarmed or not by his thought pool but have decided to go along with this idea anyway as I am not exactly brimming over with idea’s myself. I have decided to have my eyes surgically removed. Steve is on a jag. He has decided that we are going to clean up/fix up what we can see surrounding our house. Steve can apparently see a whole LOT surrounding our house! Without eyes I will see relatively little…it’s an idea born of desperation and the knowledge that Steve on a cleaning jag is a terrifying creature.

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“Yes? Can I help you?”
DSCF7700“I didn’t think so…zzzzzz”

I have started reading “Zero Waste Home” a most interesting concept. I love the idea of minimising our waste out the wazoo. I love it so much I follow blogs about it. I trawl the web to find interesting ideas for how to reduce and remove packaging. I love it so much it makes me smile whenever I find another way to do something myself that doesn’t involve packaging or anything that needs to be thrown out in any form. The book highlights the divide between the haves and have nots however. It is very hard to get someone who has very little money to stop using coupons to save money and to stop accepting those little free shampoos and conditioners at hotels. The reason being that a lack of money tends to foster a need to hoard. I often wrestle my inner desire to snaffle up the little shampoos (and I usually lose). It is much easier in a country like Australia where you just don’t have coupons. I watched a few television programs about people who clip coupons for a living and couldn’t believe how complex it was…it was like undertaking brain surgery or teaching an astro physics class except the brains were cauliflowers and you bought 75 of them in order to get them for free. I still can’t get my head around it but then it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t because we don’t have coupon’s to clip

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Bezial balancing precariously on his sofa that Earl redecorated by eating half of the other sofa cushion. Bezial doesn’t like Earls design. He does however like the nice red dog cotton filled dog blanket that I picked up from the thrift shop on my last visit.

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Sticky the stick insect who is refusing to yield his pots to the greater good

I think it is within everyones realm to be able to reduce their impact on the environment. Even baking the odd loaf of bread and choosing to buy a paper bag of lentils from the health food shop rather than throw a plastic bag of them into your trolley at the supermarket. The family in the book apparently only produce a “quart” (4 litres to us metricamacated folk) of refuse a year and that’s all recycling. The family downsized, got rid of their lawn, only buy things in containers that they provide, buy their meat from the butchers in mason jars (I can only begin to wonder what “Nige” would do if I headed in to his shop and said “can you fill this with sausages please…” ;) ) but kudos to them, they decided to minimise their consumption and waste down as low as they could go. It’s possible. So is living for 5 years without having a shower but at the end of that time you might not want to have anything to do with the triumphant creature that emerged. I think it’s all about balance. I buy my flour and potatoes in bulk in 10kg brown paper bags. I reuse those bags as recycling bags until they are in tatters and then I snip them up and add them to the compost bin.

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We get boats chugging up and down the river as it is the only way to get to Launceston by water

We buy 14 loaves of white supermarket bread a fortnight. Not for ourselves but to feed to our chooks. We are in the process of working out what to do with all of those chooks because they are costing us $163 a month to feed and that is only seed. If you add the $14 a fortnight for the bread and $3 a fortnight for the butter it’s a grand total of $197 a month for boobity boo chickens (NO idea how many we have but I recently counted 43 little baby chicks along…) and only 1 of them is laying eggs at the moment. She does her best but our grand total of eggs at the end of the fortnight tends to be around the dozen mark (if we are lucky) so that means that we are paying $98.50c per dozen. Now it doesn’t take me too long to work out that this amount might be a tad high and I don’t even eat eggs! Something has to give. If we reduce the chook population we reduce the price of the food as well. We only need about 8 chooks to do what we want around here and the rest are superfluous. I am considering offering our excess to the local Permaculture group. We have some very pretty chooks and I know that they will appreciate them. I will keep you posted. What I was trying to illustrate was that sometimes mindless habits take on lives of their own and you end up paying a HUGE amount for something that you are pouring a lot of work into for very little return.

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“So Steve is going to head into town to go shopping and leave me here eh? Well I might just have to show him my displeasure…”

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“I will just steal this piece of driftwood in order to exact my revenge…”

I just took a break to make some homemade pasties for Steve’s dinner tonight. I try to cook as much as I can from scratch because that’s a good way to reduce packaging and get better quality food cheaper. I added some cheese to the pastry that we buy in big blocks. I am wondering if anyone local knows where to buy cheese unwrapped. I know that you used to be able to buy it from the supermarkets but I don’t do the shopping and I doubt that Steve would stand still enough (especially if there was a line) to ask the deli person about it. I am going to have to wait until I go in myself. I have a large bag full of plastic bags etc. that I need to get turned into plarn. I don’t know what I will do with the plarn but I am leaning towards making crocheted shopping bags out of it. I have 3 large crochet hooks and only really needed the smallest for my latest project but it was more economical to buy 3 than it was to buy a single crochet hook. If anyone can explain that to me I will be grateful as I can’t for the life of me work out why it costs more for a single plain crochet hook than it does for 3 metal pastel ones. I keep meaning to start making them and then suddenly the time disappears somewhere and I can’t crochet or read or lay on the floor on my back twiddling my thumbs like Pooh bear any more.

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AND he didn’t clean it up! ;)

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We took the dogs down to have a look at the enormous wood pile and Earl is more interested in the fact that the gate is open and he might get a walk

I am sure that I am not the only one who hits 3pm running as a steady crescendo of “creation” occurs. By 6.30 when dinner is all served and is being munched contentedly I am starting to feel pretty tired after my long day and it is the norm to find me fast asleep on the couch by 7.30 which is a shame because the only television program that I actually like, Master chef U.K. is on then and I usually miss the end because I have to drag my sorry tired derrière off to bed. The other day I took possession of a wonderful red cast iron casserole dish with a lid as well as a cast iron frypan from Jan who I walk with in the morning. She most generously gifted me the pair as she had just purchased some new cookware that she was happier with and I was the lucky recipient of these lovely cooking implements. The casserole dish is wide and not too deep and will be perfect for cooking in Brunhilda when she is up and running again. It seems like all things point towards this being a winter where narf7 gets cooking bigtime. I have to animate El Camino my lovely white sourdough starter that the wonderful Chica Andaluza  sent to me and I am also going to experiment with my homemade kefir as a leavener. I have some very interesting experiments on the cards involving breads made with vegetables, cakes made from strange and interesting ingredients and all kinds of vegan experiments courtesy of all of the recipes that I have been collecting via the blogs that I have been following avidly and Pinterest where I won’t admit to how many boards or pins I have needless to say its “a lot”.

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The lovely cast iron casserole dish and cast iron frypan that Jan gave us and 6 cauliflowers. Don’t ask. That’s what happens when you are vegan and eat by the season and cauliflowers are $1 each and when you get them home you realise that there is no room in the fridge…sigh… the apples in the cava fruit bowl are strange and wondrous. I haven’t ever eaten them before and they are an interesting meaty textured apple with very little juice but they are sweet at the same time. Not quite cooking apple but not really something that you would wax lyrical about so I am grating them into my breakfast buckwheat porridge and for that purpose they are just “perfick” :)

Well I think that might be all for today folks. I can’t seem to just “stop” at 600 words like blog posts are supposed to settle at. I don’t know who thought up this magic quotient but they didn’t have 5000 muses all babbling for airtime in their brain like I do and I would like to keep my sanity for at least another week. Have a great week folks and here’s to sunshine for you northern lot and blissful rain for us southerners :)

 

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Do you think Mr Leunig would mind if I shared another most worthy example of why I love this man to bits? I hope not…oh well, “In for a penny, in for a pound!” as my old gran would have said! ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs

Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs a book about unusual edible plants and the people that grow them by Emma Cooper

If I was ever going to review a book it would have to have a name like this…

What is it that turns normal everyday people into mad plant fanciers? You know the kind…they know every botanical name for everything that they grow and their eyes glow like zealots whenever anyone asks them about their passion. Up until 2009 I was completely oblivious to the world of plant passion. I could have cared less about cuttings and propagation and grafting and was like most people, completely unaware of the underground movement of horticulture that surrounds and engulfs us in minutiae and grandiose heights that are outside our sphere of thought.

 

Student horticulturalists at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

2 junior horticulturist’s mad with passion about all things “plant” at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in 2009

In 2009 Steve and I decided to study horticulture for a year and a half, predominately in order to take a bit of a break and try to work out what we were going to do with ourselves when we moved to Tasmania. Within 3 weeks of commencing the course we were hooked like salmon on brightly coloured flies and within 6 months we had attended our first international plant show in Melbourne AND started collecting strange and unusual plants in earnest. We now “get it” we are pawns of our botanical overlords. There is no hope for us now but you might just be able to save yourselves if you choose not to read the following review…

 

Passionate plant lover at the Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

A very VERY sick narf7 who with her equally sick husband Steve had just driven a couple of kids to Hobart who needed a lift and who despite feeling like death warmed up couldn’t resist stopping at the Botanical Gardens…

Too late, I warned you! You now belong to the plants :)

 

Emma Cooper author horticulturalist and ethnobotanist UK

Emma Cooper eccentric fellow student of horticulture, ethnobotanist, author extraordinaire and fellow plant slave.

When Emma decided to write a book I immediately jumped at the chance to review it. I hadn’t even read the book but I just knew it would be something to tuck into the gap between my ears where the wild things are. Emma has a stellar but completely quirky and highly addictive blog called most benignly “Emma the Gardener” but it is anything but benign. This girl is plant possessed and she glows with the ephemeral light of one who has set out on a personal horticultural adventure and discovered that there be dragons… Emma talks about Sir Joseph Banks and surely he is as close to a six degrees of separation character as is possible in the horticultural world. We all have our own Joseph Banks stories. I hugged an enormous conifer given to the then Governor of Tasmania as a tiny seed by his friend Mr Joseph Banks when I had the privilege of working on the property that is now privately owned and often wondered how many of the mature trees that surrounded me were gifted as tiny seeds by the venerable Mr Banks.

Large conifer in Longford Tasmania rumoured to have been gifted to the property owner by Joseph Banks

Student horticulturist standing next to a conifer the seed of which is rumoured to have been gifted to the property owner by Joseph banks

 

Tree hugging horticultural hippy

Student horticulturist overtaken by love of this magnificent tree and showing it her appreciation

Gardening books tend to fall into two camps, large coffee table volumes of unattainable images or dry pithy tomes that the average person on the street would need degrees in both horticulture and science to even start to fathom out. For the purposes of this review we are going to have to reclassify Emma’s book because it fits neither genre and needs a class of its own.

 

Stapelia hirsuta

Stapelia hirsuta a most beautiful but incredible “aromatic” (stinky) plant that proves our slavetude to our plant overlords because it rules our glasshouse

From the outset we are led through an interesting history of the whys and wherefores of plant collecting as well as a growing awareness of the environmental impact/toll that intensive agriculture has taken on the planet. Emma’s book has a decided lean towards the care and preservation of plants using natural methods which makes this book all the more impressive and important in my opinion. She shares the stories of plant collectors all over the world. Some well-known, others simple gardeners, who have many and varied reasons for importing and growing unusual edibles from being homesick for flavours in a new country and a desire to live more self-sufficiently through to growing them simply because they can. These stories take the form of interviews and the reader feels like they are participating in the conversation.

Yacon - Smallanthus sonchifolius

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) that we imported from the Australian mainland and decided to grow in our vegetable garden just because we could (isn’t that how this all starts?!)

Each story comes complete with a list of recommended books, gardens, hints and tips for sourcing unusual edibles making it both interesting and useful for those new to plant collecting. My personal favourite amongst the collectors is Owen Smith, who may have an oversubscribed surname but whose sense of humour and obvious eccentric passion for perennial edibles echoes my own and whose blog “Radix” is both educational and entertaining at the same time. After the series of interviews Emma produces an extensive list of edibles with an interesting explanation about how to cultivate and use each one. I love how Emma weaves each tale with a juicy selection of blogs, websites, books and links that take the reader much further than a single book could go. You just know that a book is going to be well-thumbed (or scrolled) when you are eagerly writing down the names of plants and collectors to find out more about after you have finished reading. Emma’s book has me very excited about adding some of the more unusual plants mentioned to the long list of Serendipitous edibles that I want to plant here.

 

Garden pea grown for Northern Tasmanian conditions

Pea purchased from the little Exeter nursery and bred for our local conditions. Note how healthy it is and I can vouch for how delicious it was

And so we have scratched below that surface dirt and found purest green. It’s like knowing that secret handshake and being allowed into the inner sanctum of plant passion to start to talk the talk with a fellow plant lover and collector. An example of this passion is a small local nursery that acts as the money-making 9 to 5 for the true passion of the owner which is to develop and grow unusual edibles that will grow best in our climate and conditions. Once you delve into the realms of unusual edibles there may be no turning back and the warmth and generosity of plant collectors is part of what makes this pastime so addictive.

 

Wordle image of the words contained within the book Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs

Wordle image created from the words in Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs

I would just like to thank Emma for allowing me to review her wonderful book. She gave me a draft copy for this review but I would have paid to have the chance to read it anyway. It is brim full of interesting and useful information. The only negative that I can see is that it deals predominately with Northern collectors and suppliers and as such, the extensive list of seed savers, seed banks and plant specialists mentioned may not be accessible to us Southern gardeners who have been bitten by the unusual edible bug. In saying that, many of the plants listed in the book were familiar to me and as soon as I click “publish” I am off to do some research to find sources for those that aren’t.

 

Wordle image created for this blog post consisting of the words that form the post

Wordle of this post

The e-book will be available from Smashwords where anyone interested in purchasing a copy can read a preview prior to purchase for the princely sum of $2.99 USD. Less than a mediocre cup of coffee folks!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/414476

 

Study sucked all of my time

Hi All

 

Well another Wednesday just appeared out of the ethereal fog of study and I just realised that I haven’t chiselled a blog post out of the possibilities between my ears. It’s 5.22am and I am on the mental prowl for some choice narf7 tid-bits for you all to marvel at and wonder what you did prior to learning but you know what? My head is full of bampf! Last week it was OH&S where we were able to use a bit of what we did last year (but not much) to satisfy the requirements but this week it is hard slog and nose to the grindstone and all of those painful things that require you to spend hours online trying to remember how to type in a useful query that will garner you the best results. As of this moment in time I SUCK at useful queries even though we learned about them only a few weeks ago

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We had to go hunting for an image stored on a hard drive the other day and we found a few images of Bezial back when he was numero uno dog all on his own. This is Bezial in town when he was a year old

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Bezial in his favourite position on the back of the sofa in a sunbeam :)

I have been wandering lonely as a cloud in the early mornings that have just been padded out by an hour thanks to daylight savings going back to the hole that it crawls out of in October every year and my brain being crammed full of study thoughts…a walk with Earl is a dangerous thing when you are fully conscious of where you are stepping and what you are being dragged into but when you are preoccupied and thinking about other things you don’t notice the rabbit warrens or the rocks or the fact that you have suddenly veered off the beaten track and are being dragged backwards through woodlands of sheoak’s that really REALLY want to eat your hair. Earl is very good at sniffing out those kinds of woods

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Bezial casting his vote on just how delicious Madeline’s amazing white chocolate vegan mud cake (for her sisters birthday) was… I think he gave it 9 out of 10. It would have been 10 out of 10 if it was about 10cm closer to the edge of the counter…

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My experiment in kefir and buckwheat, a wonderful study in how to make prize hooch without doing much at all. The layer on top of this amalgamated mass is pure alcohol. Not entirely sure what I am going to do with this but for now, it’s a fun experiment. Might toss it out for the possums to fight over…now THAT would be fun! ;)

 

Instead of dealing on a daily basis with my RSS Feed Reader (that now contains 123 unread posts …”EEK”!) I am spending my early mornings wading through research so that Steve and I can formulate what I have found into some semblance of notes in order to answer the questions we have been asked. Most of our classmates are lamenting this part of the course but they don’t realise that we have the lament x 2 and then boosted on steroids because we have to come up with twice the examples that they do and twice the research because there are two of us. Thems the breaks I guess but sometimes it feels like I have cotton wool between my ears and I spend my days in a kind of fuggish haze. Today we have an online class where we have to share what we have found out about the questions that we have to answer. Forgive me for being a little cynical but if I have just spent the best part of 24 hours of my life slaving away researching and compiling I am somewhat loath to share all of my information. I am not being mingy or mean, I am just wondering why we have to share this information prior to it being submitted whereby other class members who may have been watching dvd’s, listening to music with their feet up, playing video games etc. for the first part of the week can sit around their PC with a pen and paper and take notes on everyone else’s hard slog and then hand those answers in… there is collaboration and there is blatant lazily riding home on someone else’s coat tails. I will leave you to make up your own minds about that

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The app that Steve downloaded for his Nokia the other day (Pic Sketch Free) can do some pretty impressive things

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Taken this morning when I was attempting to wake Steve up…Earl was NOT amused by the flash

Enough about the studies! My life seems to be taken over by them and I have planted out babies that are actually starting to sprout! Tiny little brassicas that are waving at the sunlight and making me happy. I have most cleverly labelled most of them but I have a tray of “Misc. and boobity boo” that are all mixed in together. I like a mixed bag. There is something good about getting what you are given and something tells me that because I didn’t carefully label each row and I have NO idea what is going to come up in this tray that this tray is going to grow the best ;)

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Can anyone explain to me how these “cactus thing-a-ma-hoozits” are surviving on nothing but air? We dug them up when we were building the veggie enclosure last year!

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The ubiquitous “Pie, mash and liquor”

I have also been attempting to reduce the amount of tinny packetty things that Steve likes to call “food”. Being from the U.K. he is predisposed to eating things out of tins and packets. Fresh fruit and veggies are much more expensive over there and when we visited in 2006 we practically lived on cheap frozen foods from large frozen food chains where you can buy a 10kg bag of chips (French fries) for 2 pounds. Well you could back then! We ate frozen burgers and pies and cakes and roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and when we were out and about sightseeing we ate pub lunches where you had “buy 1 meal, get 1 free”. There were 5 of us so we paid for 3 meals, not bad but it left my daughters with a complete disdain for “chips” of any kind. I, on the other hand could eat chips for every single meal and NEVER grow tired of that but then I am a freak of nature ;).

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Can you guess there are at least 2 of us that are VERY keen to get out of the front gate?

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It has been a grey old drizzly day today but I won’t be complaining about the weather for at least a couple of months yet…

Steve is from Northern England and as such he has his regional preferences when it comes to food. They eat a meal called “Pie, mash and liquor” which he likes to make healthier by adding frozen peas into the mix (SO proud of you babe ;) ). It comprises a couple of pies from a packet, some mashed potatoes (would have been “Smash” a proprietary brand of dehydrated potato flakes in the U.K.) and a packet of purest green masquerading as “parsley sauce”. Much like having a good old U.K. fry up occasionally, he is prone to wanting this sort of thing on enough of a regular basis for me to want to tinker with it a bit and render it “safe”. I can’t completely change everything at once. That would be MADNESS! So I have sneaked in good mashed potato first. He didn’t mind that. He likes that. Next thing was the pies. I can make a good homemade meat pie but at the moment I doubt that I am going to liberate Steve from his shop bought pies any day soon so it’s back to the drawing board and that leaves us with the “liquor” quotient. When I mentioned to Steve that I was going to have a go at making “liquor” for his meal I got those eyes…you know “those eyes”. The eyes that tell you “O…K… you are going to expect me to actually eat this?” Those eyes…

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We took a slightly (higher) route for our walk this morning going up a steep hill which eventuated in this magnificent view.

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This was taken on Steve’s phone at the same time as my image on my little old Fuji.

So I cooked and mashed the spuds, Steve cooked the pies on the bbq (a maestro on the bbq with a shop bought pie…) and I set about making a good roux which I then turned into a delicious white sauce and added lots of fresh chopped parsley from the garden. I checked online and compiled a list of flavour requirements for “liquor” and ended up using a recipe from BBC Food, a more sterling U.K. food endorsement you couldn’t get unless it was from Delia Smith herself! They suggested adding a little white wine vinegar to the sauce to get that peculiar “liquor” quotient so I added a touch and after serving it up to Mr suspicious and having him prod it a bit and then give it a tiny taste he pronounced it “delicious!” Good-O it looks like another packet can be relegated into the “do not buy” basket :) 1 for narf7 and nil to the ubiquitous “liquor” middle man!

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Taken on the way home. This image shows an approximation of where our property is. That big oak tree behind that interesting (and still working) light house is just on the other side of our fence. You can see how close the river is to our driveway

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Another shot of Glad’s front “garden” and that overgrown mass of trees is our place :)

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Glad’s place was the old church manse (ministers home) and is MUCH neater and tidier than our place even though Glad is 92 this year and we are not :(

I recently bought some wool in order to make a pair of slipper boots. A wonderful fellow blogger who goes under the delightful moniker of “The Snail of Happiness” made me a very happy narf7 camper by sharing this free pattern. Head on over and grovel a bit and she might share it with you too. Her site is well worth visiting and she is a dead set U.K. legend when it comes to promoting hand crafts, permaculture and living sustainably. I am now following The Snail of Happiness. Thank goodness snails are slow buggers because her blog starts with a “T” and as Pauline will tell you, it can take me a while to get to “T” in my RSS Feed Read especially when I am otherwise occupied ;). Anyhoo, I have the wool. I have 3 new nice shiny pastel coloured crochet hooks in big…Bigger…and BIGGEST! Goodness only knows what I am going to crochet with the biggest one but the packet of 3 was cheaper than buying a single hook so far be it from me to snaffle a bargain when I saw one, 3 I bought. I haven’t had time to put hook to magic circle yet (let alone learn how to make a magic circle in the first place) and there are a few abbreviations I am going to have to Google as my crochet tends to be of the simple and long lasting (unless Earl finds it first) kind whereby I sit…I pick up my wool and hook and I watch television and crochet. Repeat this exponentially and that’s what crochet is to me. I rarely finish anything, it is a lovely repetitive action that soothes my inner savage beast (I have a narf7 “Earl” living inside me ;) ) and allows me to just mindlessly create something whilst preventing me becoming a statistic on a government health list

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I bought this little pot of chocolate mint for $2 from Di’s little plant stall at the top of the hill because I finally have somewhere to plant it that the wallabies can’t scarf it in! Also because I deserved SOMETHING for walking up that hill!

Autumn has brought blessed relief from the heat but in saying that, it has also brought dogs to bed. Dogs that were content to lounge around on the cool wooden floor are now feeling that early morning coolness and are migrating to those nice warm lumps of meat in their feather and down doona that you can snuggle up to and freeload from their radiant heat. I don’t mind sharing the bed aside for 2 component’s of the bed sharing arrangement (when I say “arrangement” I mean all one way!)

  1. Earl jumping on and off and on and off and on and off the bed all night in order to check various noises, to patrol his territory (there be cats!) and to urinate on a regular basis on the stoic aquilegia that is still growing at the back door despite getting “watered” at least 10 times a day by Earl. I am now a heavy sleeper so the getting off the bed doesn’t bother me, the problem comes when Earl gets back ON the bed and has to jump on my stomach every single time! I might be a heavy sleeper but I challenge even the heaviest sleeper to not wake up when a 33kg American Staffordshire terrier has performed a jump worthy of the Olympic trampoline team fair and square in the middle of your solar plexus
  2. Earl radiates his own heat. He is like a little hot water bottle and when you are snug as a bug in a rug in your feathery down doona you have enough heat. Once Earl starts cuddling up you start to think that you are radiating more heat than a coal fire furnace and you need to remove the doona from your person…problem is, once you do that you get cold again so for the rest of the night, while your canine “friend” is snuggled up to you, you are intermittently getting hot, hurling the doona off your person and then, getting cold and pulling it back on you again…all…night…long!

Bezial doesn’t snuggle up to you, Bezial doesn’t radiate heat, and Bezial isn’t the dog that insists on sleeping on our bed, sigh…

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I think “someone” stole a squash!

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And ran away with it…dropping it on his way around the corner…

Well looky here! I managed to make it to just on 2000 words through sheer complaining! There has to be an award out there someplace for bloggers who are able to complain their way through an entire blog post?! Steve is still fast asleep, so are the dogs, so are the birds for that matter. There might be some possums outside with stomach aches from attempting to eat the diabetes inducing date and chocolate blondies that I made the other day that the bbq decided to turn into rocks and despite Steve’s best (kindest) efforts to consume remained stoically tough and inedible to the end and that I may or may not have tossed over the balcony in a fit of pique (there was 250g of butter in those blondies!) to the chooks below who couldn’t even manage to peck their way into them. Pretty soon my day is going to begin. I haven’t read a single post in my RSS Feed Reader but I did finish off the last of my own learning tasks which frees Steve up to do his while I am off walking Earl this morning. He can then upload all of our work to the various places that we have to upload it to (another bugbear…why do we have to upload all of our work to 3 different places?!) where I employ the sanity instilling mode of “ours not to reason why, outs but to do or die!” when it comes to comprehending why we are required to do anything that I don’t comprehend as logical or essential.

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“You want the squash? Come and get it!”

After that we have to sit down and compile a watered down list of answers to the questions that we have been asked. A sort of chef’s shared version where you just KNOW they left out the most important ingredient of their prized recipe…that sort of share ;) we then have to take part in the online discussion which will involve Steve and I hopping the computer chair and making each other cups of tea (me) and coffee (Steve) and attempting to look like we are vaguely interested (which neither of us are). We then get the afternoon to work on our assessment tasks for this unit and we should be able to knock them out by late afternoon and then we can start on our negative space/white space unit to hand in for Monday. I don’t know how people who work are able to accomplish the amount of work needed for these courses but most of the people in the course with us work full time. SO glad we are penniless student hippies and can give this course everything that we have got…just not entirely sure I WANT to give it everything I have ;)

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“Oops! When I said “come and get it” I didn’t mean NOW! better pick it back up again and run for my life!”

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“My squash slid off the deck at about 60kph and landed on the ground…I almost “squashed” the chooks!” sigh…Earl and his thieving ways! ;)

Have a great week folks. I made it to just on 2500 words. Aren’t you glad? I might just give you one of those Wordles of today’s post that I shared a while back. I think they are pretty and it’s one less photo that I have to attempt to take on my walk with Earl the terrible this morning ;)

Wordle 4

Doughnut forsake me oh my darlings…

 

Hi All

 

Yeah I completely deserve to be forsook for that one! I was perusing Pinterest (as you do) and found myself wondering about why things “trend”. I put that in inverted commas for a reason. Trending is trendy folks. Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon where the hipsters and their plugs and checked shirts and mutton chops and tats are hanging out. Everyone wants a taste of the latest greatest before it becomes so much “meh” and everyone wants to bask in that bliss that is “new” and “unusual” (more inverted commas…) and apparently trending is the way to do it. I could care less about trending. I am the LEAST trendy creature on this earth. I don’t have mutton chops or tats or even plugs (apart from one particularly annoying pop type one in our bathroom vanity that is driving me NUTS! But I digress…) and I certainly prefer to stay on the side of tried and true in order to make the most of what we have.

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I have been flat out studying lately and due to a severe dearth of photographic opportunities I find myself on a Wednesday with buggery bollocks all images to share with you. I got this wonderful Leunig artwork in a Facebook feed and would like to share it with you. I love how Mr Leunig views the world

I can, however, see the complete value in a community of people test driving a recipe…honing it, twisting it, customising it out the wazoo and allowing everyone to have a taste. As someone with a somewhat limited food palette (completely by choice, not by any allergies etc.) I fully appreciate the efforts of the trending hipsters to find new and interesting ways to elevate humble natural foods and make them interesting and inventive in the process. The only problem with this process is that what was once humble AND cheap becomes trendy and somewhat more expensive. This is wonderful for the producers but not so good for penniless student hippies. I find myself on the cusp of having to trend my own humble ingredients in order to create delicious, wholesome and nutritious meals and snacks etc. and most ironically find myself back at the coalface of “trending” in order to pilfer their techniques and ideas to apply them to my own fandangling…OH the ignominy!

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Steve must have taken this sometime last week when he was messing about with his phone camera. A completely unadultered “honest” shot of me and my (messy) home environment. Unstaged and unposed (and not too bad or you wouldn’t be seeing it here today ;) )

I am sitting here at 6.22am eating a bowl of hot vegetable soup and contemplating my day ahead. I am alive and vibrant at this time of day. I have been up since misc.-and-boobity-boo (about tree fiddy) which has allowed me to wander around the blogosphere seeking and finding amazing recipes, answers to questions and generally immersing myself in the world that I choose to inhabit. I get this amazing quality time almost completely to myself. Occasionally I get the odd tippity tap of Earls little pointy toes as he heads in to give me a scotch on the way out the back door to do his rounds. When he returns he gives me a beak (nose press) to remind me to walk with him back to bed and cover him up with a nice soft blanket as it is now cold…Bezial usually trots off to bed at this time as well from his lofty position on the couch in the lounge room leaving me here on my own with time on my hands. I read, I think, I Pin, I think some more. My early morning world is cram packed full of possibilities where 7pm finds me peering myopically with a head crammed full of the day and ready for bed

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Steve downloaded a photo filter app called PicSketch Free today and messed about with a couple of photos that he had taken on his phone recently. Here’s how the river in front of our house turned out…

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And here is a middle aged woman ferrying a protesting clucky chook back to the coop in order to save her from quoll consumption (ungrateful creature pecked “her”! ;) ) It renders your photos into hand sketched lookalikes.

It’s almost time to reignite Brunhilda. I can’t wait! I can almost hear her gentle crackling and the smell of the small eucalyptus twigs as I feed them slowly to wake her up after her long sleep overnight. She slumbers in embers and as soon as the door is open again I can see her interest…”sticks? For moi? Why I don’t mind if I do!” and it is back to crackling and providing latent heat for all of our wintery needs. I will be reanimating Chica’s white sourdough starter once it becomes apparent that winter is truly upon us. The little brassica seeds that my Aunt Tilly sent to me are going to be planted into some good quality seed raising mix later on today. I am off to visit a friend bearing Brachychitons and care. Her little dog Tilly was put to sleep yesterday and she is broken. I don’t even want to contemplate that eventuality for our 2 beautiful boys but I know it is there…hovering around in the background and one day it will be an issue. For now I can offer trees and comfort to my grieving friend

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My friend gave me some of her beetroots knowing that I LOVE beetroot

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I also eat the leaves of the beetroot as they taste like Swiss Chard/Silverbeet

It’s raining! Of COURSE it is raining…what a dolt I am. I left the enormous woolly blankets from the dogs chairs on the line overnight…why on earth wouldn’t it rain? ;) It would appear that Mother Nature is as bolshie as I am and twice as reprobated. You apparently just have to use reverse psychology on her “NO I DON’T WANT IT TO RAIN”! (Hear that Mother Nature…you fell for it! ;) ). I am also heading into Launceston to do the fortnightly shopping today so again, pretty much odds on that it was going to rain. I don’t mind, less lunatics on the road for me to worry about as they all stay at home in their snow boots with their heat pumps on 11 ;). I like shopping because I get to look at things that I don’t usually see. Steve races around “shopping” like a bull in a china shop. He looks at the list (sometimes) and hurls things into the trolley. Several times he has picked up the wrong ingredient like last fortnights prune incident (that he will NEVER live down ;) ) where he threw 8 bags of prunes into the trolley rather than the 8 bags of dates that were on the list. He blames people putting things in the wrong place. I blame a complete lack of attention ;)

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Not a bad panorama taken from Steve’s new phone camera

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Real harvest! Spuds galore :)

I am going to wander around looking at shops that Steve could care less about. I probably won’t even buy anything from them. I just want to look and see what is available etc. I like the process of window shopping but only in shops that I am interested in. Forget clothes and shoes I am a food window shopper and a kitchen equipment window shopper. Only last Saturday we were wandering the streets of Launceston with the dogs towing us behind them like little Mack trucks when I spotted Jamie Oliver’s latest creation, an extra wide pasta maker. I am in need of a new pasta maker after I made it “GRONK!” once too often and it decided to permanently pop a cog. I don’t use them for making pasta much but do like the possibilities of being able to make my own soba noodles from buckwheat and lasagne noodles with home grown veggies to colour and flavour the pasta. With mother’s day coming up soon I may just have found my communal kids gift for mum :)

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I LOVE this image. It was another Facebook share. I love how they are androgynous with age and love that has stood the test of time and are reduced down to the true beauty and power that age can bring to a couple who have weathered many storms together :) Plus I also note that Steve may one day have breasts as saggy as mine…I live for that day sir! ;)

 

It is important to rain just enough to wet the blankets but not nearly enough for the vegetable garden so I have to water…that’s the fun of 101 pissing off penniless student hippies apparently. Even better if you can imbue some of those possums with superhuman brain stems and they are able to work a rubric’s cube with one hand whilst invading my own personal Poland with the other. I am WATCHING you Mother Nature…you are on notice!

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Here’s another Facebook share. This lady (we are told) is 92 years “young” and if I was to do what she is doing with her foot there I would need assistance to extricate me from that position let alone get INTO that position in the first place. Kudos ma’am. You are a true inspiration :)

I decided to crack most of the walnuts that I showed you last post and store the kernels in the freezer so that I could use them as and when I saw fit. I like the idea of stored food. I read a lot of blog posts about preserving the harvest. I would be knocking myself out too preserving the harvest if we actually “had” much of a harvest but thank goodness this year was predominately an experiment with seedlings gifted to me by my friend Jenny, as otherwise I might be heartbroken about the results. On the good side of the equation, I have potatoes! I doubt that I will fill a 10kg bag but I got beautiful round sweet tasting potatoes and Steve hoovered the first of them down the other night and pronounced them “delicious” along with a few carrots. I hoovered down my meagre beetroot harvest along with some that my friend gave me when I visited her recently and am enjoying the leaves, steamed, as well. Getting “something” from the garden is better than getting nothing in my books and if all that I got this year was a sterling education in what NOT to do, then that is a season well spent

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Not a very good photo but some of the walnuts that we have been picking from our own tree on the left with a size comparison to some of the walnuts that we have been picking from the tree in town on the right. As you can see our tree delivers monsters!

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Hazelnuts and walnuts from last season that I decided to either stratify (the biggest) or crack and freeze (everything else)

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The hazelnutty results. I feel some homemade healthy nutella coming on!

I will be stratifying some hazelnuts and walnuts again this year. Jenny gave me a great idea to use up some of the alarmingly HUGE collection of wine and beer bottles that has settled in our small shed. Aside from shaming us every time we add a chook feed bag of them to our collection I have had to reconsider what I am going to do with them because it just isn’t feasible to dig them into the soil and use them as garden edging (cheers rocks…) I was talking “recycling” with a manic look in my eyes when she said “you know how you are talking about using tyres to stop the wallabies and possums from eating your fruit/nut/perennial veggies? Why not create something out of bottles?” She even mentioned a form of bottle gabion that got me excited…bottle gabions? We have rocks and bottles galore here. I am less inclined to disinter the rocks from their current subsoil home than I am to empty out the small shed (and “shed” the guilt…) and use that mighty stashy monument to alcoholism for a good purpose.

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Check out this impressive stand of Jerusalem artichokes. These people obviously don’t have wallabies devouring their pumpkins and artichokes like we have

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They obviously DO, however, have a possum problem ;). Isn’t this an awesome veggie garden? I would have dug over the soil inside to make the most of this space but the people who constructed this veggie garden are (by the look of their house and this enclosure) quite wealthy and can afford to use minimal space. Kudos on their inventiveness :)

How to go about getting what I want from those bottles? Well how about I create panels of bottles using cheap chicken wire? I could create rectangular gabions that I anchored in place using a wooden frame created with treated pine and after planting out our “edibles” (just about anything that WE plant is apparently edible to the natives…) they could be set up like alcoholic Lego around the outside of the planting. The results would be both aesthetically pleasing (where tyres were going to make me twitch), difficult for the wallabies to reach over to graze and would allow us to anchor hoops of cheap black piping and put more chicken wire over the frame to protect the plants from possum predation. Another score for permaculture and a perfect reuse for those bottles. I will keep you posted on our progress. Well we got 2 bottles to stick together using liquid nails so next step is to see if we can get 49 of them to stick together to form a cohesive rectangle that can be used as one side of a bottle fortress around my poor long suffering plants.

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This is my “apple” calendar. I don’t use an apple mac but I do eat apples. I stick the stickers on my desk calendar and can at least kid myself that I am eating healthily ;)

I am MOST excited to be reviewing Emma Cooper from Emma the Gardener’s wonderful blog. Emma is an ethnobotanist, a writer and a podcaster and specialises in the history behind the food that we eat, specifically the food that we grow. She most generously allowed me to read a copy of her book “The Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs” which is a delightful and most eclectic mix of unusual edibles grown by an even more eccentric bunch of “gardeners” for want of a better word. Emma’s book is wonderful and I will be writing a review for it and publishing a blog post about it on Thursday April 10th. I hope that you can all find the time to read the review and hopefully through narf eyes, get a bit of insight into just what makes some of these incredible adventurous keepers of the vegetative matter tick.

http://emmacooper.org/blog/the-jade-pearls-and-alien-eyeballs-tour?commented=0#txpCommentInputForm

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The plumber and his sidekick finding out why our bathroom sink drained so slowly. It would appear that someone (who shall remain anonymous) has very long hair and the combination of bad design for the combined plug and sink mechanism and this long hair may have had something to do with the problem. (I am leaning towards the bad sink design personally… ;) )

I find myself being gently nudged by the powers that be more and more towards gardening these days. I once immersed myself in recipes and now find my passion running to the production of the main ingredients for those recipes. A natural progression methinks but still a most interesting state of being for someone who has spent so very long on documenting entire hard-drives worth of recipes for posterity. I love that gardening blogs are starting to pop up and that my radar is firmly tuned to “dirt”. I tend to steer towards permaculture blogs but there are so many other wonderful gardening blogs and websites out there and all wanting to share everything from the basics to the most difficult techniques and premises and the best bit is that as gardeners, most of them offer this information for free. There are books…there are tours…there are products for sale but under the sales pitch there is also a most impressive array of free information just waiting to be plundered. I feel a new hard-drive may just be in order…”STEEEEEVE!” ;)

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Look what that sugar fairy has been up to. Not content with eating Steve’s chocolate éclairs, she has started on his wine and if I am not mistaken (by that cap) his beer! It MUST be the sugar fairy because I found all of these items in the lounge room just scattered around Steve’s chair and he KNOWS how much it makes me cranky so it obviously wasn’t Steve…

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The desperate act of a dog who hasn’t had his walk yet thanks to steady rain and who has sunk SO low as to shake one of his humans hands in a sad attempt to get them to get off their chairs and walk him in the rain. Earl is over Winter already and it hasn’t even begun!

Hokay folks, I think I have driven your minds and ridden them like sea biscuit enough today. I will hand them back to you now and you can all rest assured that they have had their quotient of exercise for today. Feel free to watch some mindless TV or listen to commercial radio or read a fluffy romance novel and not challenge them with anything too strenuous because narf7, your brains personal trainer, has taken them around the block a few times and put them through their routines. Don’t forget that next week I will be posting a regular blog post on Wednesday AND a review post for Emma’s delightful book on Thursday. I know that life is hectic and that it’s hard to find the time these days to read 1 of my long-winded posts let alone 2 in a row but I would really appreciate it if you could take the time to check in on Thursday and I promise to keep it short, but ever so sweet. See you then :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, so long and thanks for all the fish

Hi All,

 

It is with a heavy heart that I have decided that I am going to stop posting on The Road to Serendipity. Steve and I have been very busy with our studies and life in the real world has completely taken over and I can’t give this wonderful space the time that it deserves. I have loved being part of your lives and adore every single one of you…I wish you all an amazing and most fantastic life

 

 

 

By the way…if you believe this…I have a lovely bridge to sell you… April fools ;)

Grey Shrike Thrush Life Coach

Hi All,

 

Who needs to pay someone to “coach” you to a better life? The better life is right here inside us and Mr Grey Shrike Thrush just shows us how living simply and getting “enough” is really the best life indeed :). We get Grey Shrike Thrushes visit us on a daily basis. I reckon I am going to view them as my life coaches from now on :) Please note that the image below was taken from my Facebook feed and originated from the original artwork of Mr Michael Leunig, the human version of the Grey Shrike Thrush :)

 

The Grey Shrike Thrush Life Coaching Session by Leunig

Au contraire…

 

Hi All

 

I have been doing that thing where you use your brain a lot for things other than the objects of your interest and desire…(what’s that called again?) “Study”. Cramming swathes of information into your head. Some of which sticks because it is directly related to what you are interested in (like making e-books) or is hovering around the peripherals of what you are interested in (like forming community with like-minded people) but aside from that, anything external to where my brain wants to be sitting at any given time spills out of my ears and into the ether most probably never to be seen (or retrieved) again

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The lengths that I go to in order to maintain my artistic integrity…here you see one of my kitchen knives that I was using in order to replicate a knife in one of my assessment tasks. The pile of pencil shavings was thanks to me having to draw things over…and over…and over again and these sheets of paper are my draft drawings prior to the finished result. We had to use the letters of our names to represent a profession or a theme.

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Here’s what I came up with (if I have ANY Drag queens reading this post please don’t spam me! ;) )

Have you noticed that? Have you noticed how if you are interested in something you can spend hours poring over books, searching the net and wandering around with a book in your hands while you furtively attempt to stir the air at the side of a simmering pot? I think that the secret to being a really good teacher/lecturer, is first of all learning to read your students (after all, “students” per-se are a motley crew at best and at worst can be the stuff that nightmares can only aspire to being) and then finding what it is that they are interested in and pitching your lessons in that direction. I realise that classroom situations can’t give teachers the ability to tailor lessons to individual students but if you find a student who just isn’t getting it…who (like Steve) is asleep on their desk…who keeps interrupting your class by acting “the giddy goat” (LOVE that saying nana :) ) then it’s time to pull out the old “personalise and pique their interest” bullet…load it into your teaching gun and “FIRE!”

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Ugg boots! Well…not really “Ugg” boots as they cost a small fortune and would probably sue me for even thinking about using their name, but cheap imports that are keeping my feet almost as warm for the princely sum of $8. Coupled with some thermal socks and narf7 is ready to tackle winter feet first!

DSCF7549The sum total of tomatoes produced in my garden this year that are red. I have about seventy quintillion green ones…note the hairy strawberry (they hit puberty early on Serendipity Farm. This one is so old he has a comb over…) 

I have been noticing meme’s on Facebook (back there…sort of…as our classmates set up a FB page and we check into it on a daily basis) that echo a similar theme. The theme revolves around how happiness is elusive. How we can’t expect to be “happy” all of the time and how we need to embrace the “sad”. Whilst understanding fully that the only way that “happy” tastes like ice cream and feels like a massage after going 10 rounds with Mike Tyson is to balance it out and to contrast it with the knowledge and personal experience of sadness but to say that you can’t taste happiness most of the time…Au contraire, I beg to differ. I think that happiness is a state of mind. It isn’t something that is elusive or to be sought after, it’s right here inside us. It’s that pure crystal clear moment when we realise that were we are, what we have, how we live right here…right NOW is “right” for us and we learn to feel a primal contentment in those moments. That is happiness. Well it is to narf7 Anyhoo…

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Steve’s secret walnut stash in a car park in the city. No-one collects the nuts and as you can see they are being squished by cars

DSCF7558Narf7′s not so secret stash/box of collected walnuts from the city car park :) 

So here I am, haggard but happy with the crisp fresh cold (only just remembering what “cold” actually is…) mornings that we have been having lately and my thoughts are with autumn plantings and winter baking. I have been cultivating a roaringly gorgeous online friendship with the spunky Joanna from Zebbakes  and the much closer Celia from Fig jam and lime cordial Throw in some spectacular Cityhippyfarmgirl action and narf7 is going to go to the sourdough ball this year. None of it will be at all possible without a starter however and my new hero is Tanya of Chica Andaluza  fame who has sent me some dehydrated starter from her own prized batch. Spanish starter on Serendipity Farm. Sounds like some kind of cookbook to me! I can only hope that our customs officials are as kind as the Spanish ones were and let the sourdough through. The Spanish version passed Serendipity Farm kefir grains to Tanya without batting an eyelid (maybe they were having a Manana moment? ;) ). Fingers crossed that the tenacious starter arrives on the doorstep and this winter turns my humble and simple little kitchen into a bread baking alchemists dream, full of possibilities and potions. I just crammed “Tartine 3” into my library cart. Why start of easy is my way of thinking. Throw yourself in at the deep (experimental) end and tread water for a bit till something sticks (probably all of those unctuous cultures riding to the other side on the top of my drowning cranium ;) )

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We headed into the city in order to swap 8 bags of prunes for 8 bags of dates. Steve picked up the prunes on his last whirlwind shopping trip and as I am NOT a fan of “prune syrup” we returned them and swapped them for dates. While we were there we took the opportunity to walk the dogs around the city and take a couple of photos. This is another one of those lovely traffic signal boxes. I love how bright and vibrant this one is :)

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This is a great idea. Filtered water that you can drink from a fountain or use to fill up your water bottle in an attempt to reduce the use of bottled water. The dogs were certainly appreciative of this on what was probably one of our last warm days for the year

As the weather cools down I start to rev up. I want to hear and smell Brunhilda as she crackles back into life. I went to sleep last night with the sound of persistent rain on the roof. It was absolutely and most primally delicious. My breakfast buckwheat porridge is now “right” and I have taken to wearing ugg slippers all over again. Enter the game. Narf7 1, Earl nil (for now…) The dogs are starting to need a blanky at night-time now. We keep lecturing them about how lucky they are. How some dogs have to live outside and eat tinned dog food (shock HORROR!) and wouldn’t know what a bed even looked like, let alone got to spend most of their days languishing in luxury on top of one. Couches, fridges, leftovers, begging for hot pasty ends, bacon rinds, caches of shoes…all completely foreign to the average shmo dog but do you think they pay attention? Nope…you can almost sense Bezial looking for “more” and Earls eyes slithering around looking for unattended foot coverings as you prosthelise

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Steve ate most of these last night and said that they were delicious. Even the green possum sucked ones didn’t go to waste. They got tucked into the compost bin to hopefully grow at their leisure over the winter

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I knew that European paper wasps had 2 phases, a sugar phase where they predate any and everything sugary and later in the breeding season they have a meat phase where they go for anything vaguely meaty but I never realised that they also had a cheese phase…here is the evidence!

We have plans in the immediate future to create a dog nook next to Brunhilda. Sort of one of those Bohemian floor setups for dogs so that they can take advantage of pillows and warmth and Brunhilda and overnight heat regulation. “Some dogs live outside in kennels you know you two!”… (Eyes just swivelled alarmingly reminiscent of my children’s eyes swivelling when I was telling them that there were starving children in Ethiopia…) and we have plans for all sorts of crafty adventures but we need to knuckle down and get some of these immediate studies out of the way. Sarah, our wonderful lecturer, has been very sporting about it all and has given us all of our work up front. I love you Sarah. You are a true friend! She knows how a student brains works because she IS a student. She is studying at university as she teaches and so that need to satisfy in the bare minimum is part and parcel of her world. You can reason with a fellow student and Sarah is eminently reasonable. This course is a world apart from last year. Last year I could feel our lecturer losing his sense of humour as the year progressed and our fellow students dropped like bored flies. The moment something a bit difficult arose they were like rats leaving a sinking ship but this year’s motley crew are all interesting, fantastically talented and most importantly focussed on taking part and completing this course. They all seem to have their eyes firmly on the finish line which makes this a much more exciting direction to be facing. Rather than working alone, we have lots of brains to bounce off and that makes it a much more entertaining environment to learn in

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A man and his machine against the mighty intestinal fortitude of a cross fibred wattle tree

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A man and his dogs

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A man who appears to be threatening me but who assures me is “Mr Log Splitter Extraordinaire”…

Ms TeddyTottie of “Teddy and Tottie” blogging fame posted a link to this excellent commercial to highlight ceasing battery hen/egg farming by some of our most noted comedians. I would like to share it with you all as well. I realise that some of you already follow this blog so feel free to skip the ad.

http://www.animalsaustralia.org/no-way-to-treat-a-lady

 

I find myself at 3.13pm on Wednesday and just remembered that I have to post a blog post…EEK! I have been studying all day and finding more holes where the possums have been weaselling into our veggie garden (SWINES!) that I promptly mended (narf7 1 possums about 7000 :( ) and helping Steve to split some logs using a log splitter that we borrowed from a friend. All in all I am going to have to put this blog post to bed and hope that it isn’t too half cut and that the first bit was good enough to carry this last (most pathetic) effort home ;). I need to thank Tanya (Chica Andaluza) and Jessie (rabidlittlehippy) for sending me Spanish sourdough starter “Ole!” and for dealing with my aging Aunt Tilly who keeps sending me seeds. Jess has been a pillar of the community and has bent over backwards to attempt to educate Aunt Tilly but she appears to be almost as bolshie as I am. Cheers for your help anyway Jess.  You can both be sure that I am going to have a wonderful time messing around in the realms of sourdough possibilities and back propagating where I am happiest . I luv’s ya both :)

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Not only did Tanya/Chica send me some of her precious dehydrated sourdough starter for me to have a go at making true Spanish sourdough on Serendipity Farm, but she sent me a packet of lovely wildflower seeds to sprinkle around the place. I am wholeheartedly in agreement with the cover of the lovely card that she sent…I will just swap the (undrinkable) gin for vodka and after a few of those lemony moments I will completely “forgedaboudit!” ;)  Now I have to think up a sufficiently sexy Spanish name for my new starter…

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Dear Aunt Tilly…she keeps sending me seeds and I keep telling her “No Aunt Tilly!” but what are you going to do when your Aunty just wants to share? ;) Cheers Jess for attempting to talk some sense into Aunt Tilly. For your kindness to Aunt Tilly I am sending you something special :)

Ok folks, sorry to love you and leave you but sometimes the small terrier that is life gets hold of your ratty little carcass and gives you a hefty shake which results in a bit of a brain rattle and a whole lot of having to get your bearings back. I should have them back and be a LOT more organised by next week but I can’t promise anything ;). I hope you all have a happy and most productive week. See you all next Wednesday :)

Today’s post has been brought to you by the letters A.W.O.L

Hi All

Yeah, that’s right…at the moment I am beavering away studying and am not typing this email at ALL. I thought that I would give you all an easy read today and so I have decided to just shoot a few photos around the property and share where Serendipity Farm is at right here…right now

First up…could you please all load and play the Youtube link below and just click “repeat” ok? We need some music for this post…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJkxFhFRFDA\

(Elevator music “tick”…proceed…)

Firstly my A.W.O.L. self would like to share a link with you that might give you a bit of a laugh. As we were searching the internet for how to search the Internet (got to be some kind of irony there…) we were required to follow a set of instructions that was so hopelessly out of date most of what we were required to do wasn’t possible any more. There was one interesting exercise that involved going to the site below and adding website links to tell you how the website ranked. It also has a most interesting feature (amongst lots of other interesting features I need to add…) whereby you can see what a site is “worth”. Now I am guessing this is its bankability rather than its intrinsic worth (spoken like someone who checked and whose sight is worth about tree fiddy…) but if you are like me, and you could care less about honing your site to the bone in order to make it an amazing you beaut money spinner to send your kids through college (SO lucky my kids are all adults! ;) ) then check it out…

http://www.page-rank-calculator.com/

Velociraptor chooks

Someone once told me that chickens were descended from velociraptors… I would have been inclined to agree up until yesterday when I kept hearing a very loud commotion out in the outdoor enclosure and headed out (visions of quolls dancing in my head!) to find this…

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“I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with…BOLLOCKS!” That white goshawk is back!

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Not only was he back, but by the look of that stomach he had been pick-and-mixing himself a few of our poor long suffering orphaned chicks! I am starting to get the feeling that our chooks are living in a kind of Final Destination movie…

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By the way, this is our chooks view of the Tamar River. Some high end real estate for our girls, no expenses spared ;)

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I found out why spear thistles are able to grow like topsy just about anywhere in the world…I almost sat on this!

Living with Earl and Bezial has its challenges. I shared a video with you yesterday that showed a dog that was remarkably like Earl. He is a complete loveable larrikin and if I was to think of someone that reminded me of Earl it would have to be…

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He even has the same hangdog expression as Earl! If Earl could have tats he would ;)

Then we have Bezial who unlike Earl is NOT sociable in the least. He would rather be alone and asleep or be fed copious quantities of treats and shuns “the media” (that would be me…) in order to maintain anonymity and for the sake of a quiet life. If I was to choose someone that epitomised Bezial it would have to be…

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Yeah I “Pity the fool” who tries to get Bezial to do something that he doesn’t want to!

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I know what these marks are for! I KNOW! I actually learned something already from my printing course! :) (If you want to know what these marks are for you can head off and do a bit of research…it’s good for you! ;) )

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Earl cam…2 of the younger chooks who make a break for the outside world every morning

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Earl partaking of an egg that I tossed onto the ground to check if it was past its use by date…according to Earl it wasn’t

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This is a pile of rocks. This is what most of Serendipity Farm looks like except some kind previous owner hasn’t piled them up. By the way Stewart and Kelsey “you are on your own!” ;)

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Lots of piles of rocks. Not entirely sure what we are going to do with them but for now, they can stay where they are

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Those posts are the gateway to the back (bush) block and that’s my veggie garden :)

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This is a native hibiscus. For all of you horticultural genii out there, it’s a “Idontcare whatidis”

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This is closely related to that flower above in that it’s botanical name is something that I really am not interested in at the moment but it is a bit of a weedy species but it is one of the only trees that has done really well on the property. Might be time to reclassify “weed” ;)

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Another example following on from last weeks post of things that survive long hot dry conditions and things that don’t. That lonicera (yes…I care about that one ;) ) is growing well where that brown thing used to be a hebe.

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The view from the front gates of Serendipity Farm. Directly over that road is the river

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I wonder where little red riding hood is? It would appear a big bad wolf is roaming in the forest!

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Ok…so this is little red eh? I don’t think she has anything to worry about ;). Note the squint, “its too bright outside!” he is angling for some designer shades…

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More of the tea tree garden

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Stopping at their favourite tap for a drink…this wandering around Serendipity Farm to take photos is thirsty work!

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Almost time to battle the possums and the rats for a few of these

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This fallen tree knows that its days are numbered so it is growing again from the root. Isn’t nature amazing?

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Nerines are just starting to flower…that means autumn is really here!

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Our crude attempt to prevent the wallabies from inhaling Steve’s weeping maple collection. That worked but we still haven’t worked out how to stop them losing their leaves due to heat stress :(

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We walked the boys around Bonnie Beach early on Sunday and Steve took a few photos with his phone camera

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A tiny woman being dragged by a small dog

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She is still being dragged but at least she is smiling ;)

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Another drought survivor…pelargoniums and their close relatives geraniums are idea for anywhere that is going to be subject to very little water and no frost

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Foraged acorns (from Glads enormous trees next door) and damsons (just up the road) that I am going to attempt to grow and that pink flower is a Belladonna lily aka “Easter Lily”

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This was a “SQUEE” moment on what was otherwise a sad day…the day that we voted the Liberals in to govern Tasmania :(. I didn’t vote Labour this time like I have ever since I signed up to vote when I was 18. I voted for Clive Palmer because ANYONE had to be better than the rest! He didn’t get in BUT while I was voting I noticed a little plants stall out the front of the local hall and they were selling potato onions for $2 a bag…look what lucky narf7 got! :)

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This is rich yeasted dough

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This is a raw beesting cake

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This is a cooked beesting cake

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This is a cooked beesting cake filled with crème patisserie and whipped cream. It was just about to wend it’s way down the road to Jan and her brother Peter’s house in order to be appreciated by happy Germans who adore good cake. I am glad to say it went down well :)

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Poor Serendipity Farm is looking a bit the worse for wear at the moment but hopefully a bit more rain might give her a bit more character

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At least the deck steps look good ;)

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Leftover spaghetti bolognaise mixed with pasta which then got covered in a rich three cheese sauce and cooked…sort of Pastasagne. Whatever it was Steve loved it :)

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Steve found and foraged these walnuts when he was in town the other day. I have taught him well!

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And last but by NO means least, this was what Steve had for his tea last night (only they were cooked when he ate them…) 2 large Cornish pasties made with homemade cheesy shortcrust pastry.

That’s all for today folks. Not a lot of words but plenty of photos. Have a great week and like my old mate Simon Townsend (television presenter) used to say “The world really is wonderful” :)

 

Quick mid week chuckle for you all

Hi All,

A friend just shared this on my Facebook page and it is HILARIOUS! She shared it because it reminded her of Earl and she is right, this is SO Earl! Enjoy…

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=534753739978502

Have a great day whatever you are doing today :)

Possums ahoy!

Hi All,

Well it has been an interesting week on Serendipity Farm that has seen my RSS Feed read of posts swell to 467 and I am not even breaking out in a cold sweat over it…looks like my need to control is if not broken, at least severely bent. It’s 4.17am and so far this morning I have answered a few emails, commented on last week’s post and spent some time pinning “green” things…I need to regularly head over to Pinterest in order to know what holidays are on the go at any given time and apparently it is almost St. Patricks Day? Not that I celebrate it in any way, shape or form but it’s a good excuse to pin Avocado recipes ;)

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All that’s left of a large bag of nashi pears from an orchard around the corner from Serendipity Farm (lucky I have another one in the fridge…)

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Manfood art…

water

A photo that Steve took with his new camera phone. Not bad but when you start out with 40 megapixels the odds are you are going to get a nice clear image ;)

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One of Earl’s guilty little pleasures…walnut munching. First he cracks the shell and then he chews out the meat and eats it.

So what’s narf been up to then? Well it’s more of the 3 steps forwards and 2 steps back when it comes to our running battle with the natives. The quoll appears to have been somewhat sedated by our concerted efforts to make our presence felt in its chosen area of slaughter. After last week’s mass slaughter of mums (a total of 4 :( ) we set out to ensure that the quoll knew that there were bigger, more aggressive carnivores than it could have possibly imagined. Watching an episode of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s magnificent “River Cottage” where in order to dissuade foxes from eating his hens he urinated on all of his fence posts, we figured it was worth a shot and took Earl and Bezial down to the second garden area where we haven’t been in a while (thus the quoll felt safe in her activities) and let them go hog wild on every plant that was silly enough to be tall enough to be noticed…Steve even joined in on the action (with more enthusiasm than was called for to be honest) and has been “decorating” strategic poles and posts all around the garden. I would like to think he was being environmentally aware in his endeavours to use less water flushing the loo but I just think he is revelling in his feral alter ego and is enjoying urinating on everything and allowing his inner child some serious freedom…

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In the spirit of complete transparency (and a complete lack of any “nice” images to share with you) I show you what Serendipity Farm has descended into…I call this image “jungle with roosters”

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This is looking up at the bamboo and one of the large palms that flourish down in the jungle area of Serendipity Farm where I had to venture today to see what the (stupid) escapee roosters were having a fit about. Never did find out but I decided to take some photos for you while I was incarcerated amongst the blackberries. Note the lovely enormous wild rose

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This is the “down” view of that last image facing to the left. You can still see that enormous wild rose but you can also see a large dracaena and 2 very dead tree fern stumps

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A bit more walking and you get to this lovely (dry and arid) vista. Dotted amongst the native trees are lots of camellias and other European exotic shrubs but if it is surviving down here, it is tough!

After doing a bit of research even I am in on the game. I have been collecting my own urine and watering it down and using it on the veggie garden. Why on EARTH are we flushing it down the loo?! A huge waste of water and all of that precious nitrogen being flushed out into our waterways to pollute our rivers and cause algal blooms when we should be treating it like the precious material that it is. The only problem is “collecting it”… it has been a most interesting week learning the best way to collect it and when to head out to the garden with it. I take 2 trips a day…one about midday up to the veggie garden with my precious cargo and the other at the end of the day after my final trip for the evening that benefits the side garden (too dark for that trip up to the veggies ;) ). I realise that to some people reading this it might make them a bit squeamish to be thinking about peeing in a bucket and spreading it around the garden but you would be amazed how much living in the country and wrangling with nature on a regular basis can change you. I thought that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall was a bit extreme peeing on his fence posts but if it works DO IT! Using diluted urine in your garden is a win-win situation. We use worm wee…why not human? Hopefully I won’t be reporting back in a few weeks to tell you that I killed off my entire garden en mass. I am very enthusiastic about this venture ;)

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An example of how some things do extremely well in our climate and some…not so well. The tall sapling at the front of this photo is a Brachychiton discolor that Steve and I grew from a seed that we bought on EBay from the Australian mainland. Every single one of these Brachychitons that we planted out earlier in the season has survived and flourished despite a complete and utter lack of care or water of any kind. The Japanese maple in the background (the one with the crispy beige leaves) didn’t fare so well. It is still alive and will probably go on to live long and prosper but it got hit quite badly with a complete lack of watering all summer long.

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Both of these species are supposed to be tough and water wise. The half dead cornus at the front isn’t very happy but the taxus behind it is going great guns. It just goes to show that you just never know how something is going to behave until you plant it. You can get a good idea though by checking out what is growing well and flourishing in other gardens in your local area

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Although this might not look like a very big shrub Steve can stand up underneath it. I took this image from the deck and this large cornus is usually a ground cover. This one has delusions of grandeur. It has housed feral chooks, feral cats, quolls and anything else that wants to hide up close and personal to the house. The tree next to it we call the lollypop tree. We had to crown lift the branches that were all dead and rather than remove the tree we decided to make it a large topiary of sorts

It finally rained! Not much more than to make the soil damp but it IS rain. There is more forecast for next weekend. I don’t believe the weather man anymore because he is a big fibber but I DO believe the claret ash at the end of our road that is turning an amazing shade of purple/scarlet and I do know that all of those green tomatoes on my poor tumbledown tomato bushes can’t POSSIBLY be allowed to ripen so rain/autumn here you come!

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A prime example of enormous green tomatoes…one of many…

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Carrots used in Steve’s evening meal last night. Apparently they were delish

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More honest photos. The state of our side lawn (yup…we STILL haven’t cleared up the branches of that tree…). Isn’t that a magnificent weed? I have NO idea what they are but they have a very tall spike of small yellow flowers on them. I quite like it so it can stay :)

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I decided to keep this little Cordyline australis that must have grown from a seed in this pot (the spiky thing)

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Sorry about how dark this image is but notice that tall palm like thing in the background? That’s it’s mum ;)

I think I finally found where that pumpkin munching swine of a possum is getting in to my (almost) fully enclosed veggie garden. I headed up yesterday to water as I do every second day now and discovered MORE pumpkins chewed down to the stem…he/she selectively targets pumpkins growing on the perimeter of the patch and works their way inwards. Possums don’t really like walking around on the ground unless they are HUGE possums (which we have a few of) that can walk wherever they damned well please with impunity because NOTHING (short of an escaped Earl…) is going to touch them…they would rather leap from tree to tree and climb all over things like my wonderful puzzle of a veggie garden. Not only did I make them a garden full of delicious lush tasty things, but I gave them a fun play park as well! They spend their nights jumping up and down snapping off sunflowers, corn, yacon and chewing/snapping off any pumpkins that were foolish enough to think that they could climb. What they don’t jump on and snap, they urinate on so some days watering my veggie garden is a highly scented event. I was getting somewhat discouraged (to say the least) watering silverbeet stalks (obviously possums LOVE silverbeet…) and watching my promising pumpkin harvest get gnawed and guzzled bit by bit so yesterday, when I noticed that they had started on my squash, I was galvanised into some serious action.

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Reasons why I am not keen on possums. This is what used to be a container of grape vines waiting to be planted out…

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And this was a bed full of silverbeet…

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This was a squash…

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This was a pumpkin…

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And they don’t confine themselves to a single specimen :(

Using my possum knowledge (1. They are SWINES and 2. They like to climb and don’t like to be on the ground) I decided that I would head off around the perimeter of the veggie garden and would check for places where they could have forced their way into the enclosure. We have used several live trees in the construction of our veggie garden and these places are a natural weak spot for possum entry so I wandered around the perimeter checking out the trees and just around from the glasshouse area where we don’t tend to go I found, what I believe to be, the possum portal! It was big enough for a large fat hairy behemoth of a possum to fit nicely through…it had obviously been recently squeezed through as you could see possum grease (they are oily little critters) marking the netting and it was obviously well used (by the stretch marks) so Steve and I set about nailing it shut and making sure that if the possums do, indeed, get in again tonight, they are going to have to work hard to do so! “One step forward for narf7…queen to king, checkmate methinks possum!” (But I doubt we have seen the last of Mr oily possum…)

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“Take THAT Mr Oily Possum!”

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And this for good measure!

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This is what he did to my yacon

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But I am not so grumpy because the bit you eat is on the other end and that is buried in the ground

My wonderful sister Pinky (the keeper of our history) has been wading through boxes of “stuff” that my mum had kept including most of what my grandmother had collected over her lifetime and came across grans knitting needles. Pinky doesn’t knit and so she decided to package them up and send them to me along with several books on herbs and how to grow them and a couple of books on how to make fruit and “other” unusual wines. I know that mum used one of the little wine books a lot and made all kinds of homemade wines. Some of them will go down in posterity as “interesting” batches (including her potato wine ;) ) but some were pure heaven like her rose petal wine. I unrolled my gran’s homemade knitting needle holder and as I tucked my own collection in next to her motley crew I felt a distinct connection to the past…a continuance that comes from lessons passed down and time spent learning and watching… gran despaired of my strange crocheting and how I held/hold my knitting needles. I guess it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day so long as you arrive at a point where you get “something” worthwhile (to you) for your efforts and I will use grans knitting needles with all the love and deference that they deserve :) Thankyou Pinky!

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A lovely slobbery dog fest for you all

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Mica and Earl mentally discussing just who is going to take possession of that rubber bone

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Earl rumbled with this large zucchini that I am going to give to Jan on Friday

Steve was given a most interesting electrical cable thingo yesterday. It was going to be thrown out but Steve being the clever clogs that he is, decided to kill 2 birds with one stone

1 bird – give Fran a gift that costs nothing but that will make her “SQUEE!” so bonus (cheap) points to Stevie-boy…

2 bird – recognise that this item could possibly be turned into a knitting loom, something that Fran has been hassling Stevie-boy to make her for quite some time now

This electrical cable thingo has a lot of possibilities but using the French knitting technique that knitting looms employ I recon I could make tube socks with this baby! All I need is to get hold of some nails to nail into the top of it and get French knitting…stay tuned…you just never know what I am going to make out of this recycling score…

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How excellent is this? That hole in the centre is amazingly about the same size as a narf7 ankle so methinks I might be able to fluke making some tube socks with this baby (or it might end up in my failed crafts cupboard ;) )

I actually managed to grow celery this year and I have carrots as well! Cheers to Jenny for forcing me to plant them all out in the first place or the garden would have consisted of tomatoes, potatoes and pumpkins that grew from the compost heap ;) I am going to harvest a bunch of celery and a bunch of carrot thinning’s to make soup tonight. I will also bake some chilli cheese bread for Steve and will use my mashed potato idea to make sure it has a lovely moist crumb. I used some Dutch Cream spuds that The Garden Chook dug up just prior to her being rehoused in the chicken coop and a couple of carrot thinning’s from the garden yesterday in Steve’s evening meal last night. It is incredibly satisfying to actually be able to use something from the garden that you grew. As I mentioned, my silverbeet hasn’t been usable this year (apart from acting as a decoy to stop the possums from venturing further into the garden jungle and finding more pumpkins to scoff…) and I didn’t plant any spinach but over the next few weeks I am going to take a leaf out of Jess from rabidlittlehippy’s  book and am going to start planting out garlic. I am going to give red onions a go this year and leeks and am going to attempt to grow kale again along with any other winter crops that take my fancy.

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You know that song “One green bottle…”? Well this is “One green pear” (and there won’t be ANYTHING accidental about it falling I can tell you now! Mr Oily Possum is going to be mighty grouchy now that he can’t get into the enclosure any more and I reckon this pear has a very limited lifespan)

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My pumpkin vines seem to think that it is absolutely fine to keep producing flowers and fruit. That’s AOK by me

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One of about 10 pods that I actually found amongst the garden jungle and got to eat. They were delicious!

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Just so you get an idea of how big these pumpkin vines actually are. Here’s a leaf…

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And here’s a few more

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This corn was grown from seed and did a whole lot better than last years corn seedlings

My yacon experiment has been a success in as much as the plants managed to stay alive. NO idea what is going on under that soil apart from noticing that my initial 2 stalks/plants have now spread to 7 stalks and are showing no signs of stopping there…the thing about experiments is that you just never know how they are going to work out. Jess and I have been ruminating about using straw bales inside glasshouses to insulate them over our colder winters. We don’t get frost here but Jess does in her home town of Ballan and using straw bales in glasshouses/greenhouses is a good way to insulate them thermally. Another great idea is to plant into the straw bales and we found a really good tutorial on planting out sweet potatoes into straw bales on Pinterest. I have a hankering to mess about with some rooty crops this year and want to try peanuts like Sarah the Gardener  and yams. I realise that we aren’t tropical here in Tassie but we do have a long dry summer and so long as I can keep water up to the yams I can’t see why they wouldn’t at least give us ground cover to keep the moisture in the soil. Apparently Taro is an amazing plant and every part of the plant can be eaten…might be somewhere to start. Even if it doesn’t work out, it is a most interesting lesson to have a crack at :)

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A gratuitous garden shot for Linne

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One gratuitous garden shot deserves another…

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I am starting to wonder if the early slime bombs that formed on my green zucchini vines were actually a result of blossom end rot because being the lazy narf7 that I am, I left the trimmed plants in the ground and they have been producing actual fruit now…don’t ask me why, I am only a novice veggie gardener

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Every time I take an image of the garden I have to move further back. I am just about on the back wall of the enclosure to take this one

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These flowers are going to provide me with seeds for what ended up being an ENORMOUS lettuce that spanned almost a metre once it went to seed

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Turmeric happily ensconced in the glasshouse along with avocados and a banana

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Those fig cuttings that I took a little while ago along with a tomato plant

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The possum obviously doesn’t like green beans because he didn’t touch these scarlet runner beans that were in the silverbeet bed. His loss!

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Another flower…it hasn’t stopped flowering all year!

Well it’s just on 5am and today I head off with Earl to meet Mica and Jan and walk around Sidmouth. Ever since we have been walking with Mica and Jan, Earl has settled down and has become a much more placid boy. Prior to expending his racing energy on hurtling around Jan’s enormous lawn with Mica in tow, he would have to expend his energy elsewhere like on our shoes and on poor long suffering Bezial, but now we get in and he gives Bezial a lick and lays down for the rest of the day in a sunbeam. After we get back in its breakfast time and after a bowl of fortifying buckwheat, date paste and sesame milk I have to get stuck into studies again. At the moment we are wading through acres of “research questions”. Research questions are the online lecturer’s way to ensure that we have at least been exposed to concepts. Whether we decide to learn anything or not from them is besides the by, we can’t say we didn’t get the opportunity to learn from them ;)

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Another honest image. Note the colour of the “lawn” in the background and the lovely in situ dried flower arrangement that used to be a live hydrangea

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The brown and crispy shrub in the front of this image didn’t make it over summer but that lovely bright green sapling is a Pistachio chinensis and the grass behind it is looking amazing. Guess who will be planting out lots of grasses next year?

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The sheoak that we had to cut down inside the veggie enclosure has been growing a totally rad and gnarly hairdo dudes

The problem with answering research questions is that it takes SO long to find information that is accurate and pertinent. Most of what you find is sales material or outdated or completely biased and you have to try to find something worthwhile and usable in the enormous mountain of “words” that constitutes the internet. Occasionally I will strike a site that is pure gold. It has so much information that it spills into other questions that I need to answer and I do a narf7 happy dance around the kitchen. The biggest problem that Steve and I have with online studies is that it takes us twice as long as the average student to amass what we need because there are 2 of us. We need to turn in individual answers and so we need double the references, double the sources of information and double the searching through the rubble to find the golden nuggets of pure precious information. It also takes us twice as long to post our information, we have to keep logging in and out of blogs, school sites etc. in order to post/log in our information/assessments etc. and as we work from the same computer whenever we are instructed to “title your word document “X”” we have to get creative because we can’t sore 2 x “X” on one computer! I guess most people don’t attempt to complete online or even physical study courses with their spouses and having 2 of us plough our way through a course isn’t an average event.

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That spiky plant in this image is an Araucaria bidwillii. We grew it from a seed and he has 2 brothers elsewhere in this cluster of plants. We are going to plant it out on Serendipity Farm in this Autumns planting venture

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Another Brachychiton plant that Steve and I grew from a seed. This time it is a Brachychiton rupestris or a Queensland bottle tree. They develop a very large trunk and look amazing. It seems to be quite happy in Tasmania for a tree designed for Queensland conditions

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Our remaining potted babies. They actually fared really well this year thanks to us paring them down and being able to keep watering them easily. By next year this selection should be halved (at least) and most of what is here should be out in the ground. Whether it survives or not, at least it will get it’s chance to put its roots down in the soil

This year’s students are an interesting bunch. Most of us are older and most of the class are very artistic. Steve and I stand out like sore thumbs but we are less inclined to freak out this time thanks to knowing that if you persist, you will eventually succeed, even if you are not naturally talented in a particular area. Last year we were completely overwhelmed by everyone at the start of the course. Most of them waffled and waxed lyrical about how proficient they were in “X” and “Y” and left us feeling completely out of place and like we didn’t fit in…by the end of the course most of the lyrical waxers had dropped out of the course leaving Stevie-boy and narf7 the clueless persistent little middle aged stubborn hippies to plod our tortoise like selves over the finish line. We learned a valuable lesson and this year we are NOT panicking about our lack of prowess in Graphic Design…we will pick up what we need as we go along.

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Another honest image. This is a hebe. Hebe’s are tough as nails. This one died this year. that should tell you something about how difficult it has been to survive the conditions that we Tasmanian’s have had to put up with this year. Note the green asparagus waving from the top of the hebe

I have met and really like this year’s lecturer. Sarah is very friendly, vibrant and passionate about what she does. When I met her she was taking photos of her desk and surrounds. No doubt as part of some Graphic montage she was creating for our future lessons and she said “take LOTS of photos. Create things, look at things from all kinds of angles” I get the feeling like we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto…

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I really didn’t expect this small tree to live and I planted it out early in the season and it hasn’t had any supplemental watering but it seems to like where it was planted (right in front of that large pile of debris ;) )

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I won’t ever have to trust the weather men again when it comes to them telling me that it is about to start cooling down and the rainy season is about to hit…I will just have to head out and take a look at mums little memorial scarlet ash :)

Well I have managed to fandangle my way up to a somewhat large post folks. I reckon I will stop ear bashing you now and will let you meander off and do what only you can do best in your neck of the woods. I hope that all of my northern readers are starting to get those sunny days that they so crave to give their pasty white skins a bit of colour and that we southerners keep getting regular sprinkles from our sky bling (clouds) over the coming few weeks. See you next week…let’s just see if we didn’t halt that possum in its tracks…want to lay odds? ;)

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