2 new additions to Serendipity Farm (aka home of waifs and strays)

Hi All

We had a really good day today totally ignoring studies because we figure that we are doing well and by the next time that we see sensei Nick, we should have completed everything that we need to give him to finalise our diploma. We got up later than usual, we went to Beaconsfield and walked the boys and when we got back home, we decided to head over to Georgetown and walk the boys. While we were in Georgetown I went to the Salvation Army op shop over there because it’s a great little shop and I can usually pick up a few toys for the boys to dismember and often they have interesting things there as well. I have admitted to being a magpie, and as such op shops are an amazing resource. I am very anti-consumerism. I think that we spend too much money on ‘new’ everything. I have a problem with everything having a built in ‘use-by’ date these days simply to protect the manufacturer’s profit margin. Back when my mother was buying her household white goods etc. your fridge lasted you 20 years. The same with your television, and if they weren’t in black and white, they would still be going today because back then products were made to last. My anti-consumerism runs to me frequenting op shops with pride. I think that we can all take heart shopping in these sorts of places. We are doing the world a favour whilst at the same time helping out our fellow man/woman. I just love finding things that you can’t get any more. I love finding books especially. I once picked up some old gardening books and took home $70 that fell out of them, so never underestimate the value of thrift shop finds! I am an avid collector of books, cook books especially and I love to rootle around in the kitchenalia section. I went through a phase where I made mobiles out of old forks, knives and spoons that I found in op shops. I very rarely buy new clothes. It’s not because I am tight (although Steve is breathing a sigh of relief because he married an anti-consumerism wife), it’s because I value recycling and apart from that, who wants to spend $100 on a pair of jeans when you can pay $5 for a pair in the op shop? It just doesn’t make fiscal sense to me!

I got some bargains today including a really nice deep oval white baking dish, a huge cup and saucer (always a bonus for me because I am a HUGE tea drinker/addict) and a nice deep bowl that I can use for salads when it gets a bit warmer. It all came to $4.20 and I got 2 fish toys thrown in for the boys for free. Where else can you get bargains like that with character? That’s what I love…character. I think that’s what attracted me to Steve; you just KNOW that they broke the mould when he was born. Same goes for everyone that I find interesting, they are all unusual, strange, demented and eccentric and I prize every single one of you (you KNOW who you are :o). I am also into giving things to people when I no longer need them. It was a bit hard for Steve to do this at first. He comes from Liverpool and anyone knowing Liverpudlian’s knows that they are not the type of people to give anything away for free. I think that being generous is something that rewards you 100 fold. Not financially, but deep inside where it matters. Steve is now just as generous as I am (my daughters are falling over laughing at the moment…); he lets me be generous when I want to be. He tries as hard as he can to not ‘twitch’ when I am bums up in the op shop and hunting through gumtree and trading post as he now knows just how beneficial it can be (and cheap….never forget Steve’s favourite word “cheap”). We bought a leather lounge suite from a lady who was leaving the country and who had to sell it. It was practically brand new and we paid less than half the price of new for it. It makes me satisfied to be frugal and I guess that’s part of why I love to do/make things for myself. I hunt out sites online and there are a huge amount of people out there ‘making do’ rather than buying ad hoc. It’s spiritually satisfying to do so and it’s good for the environment. We can all do our bit if we try, but make sure to leave some bargains for me!

Steve and I are conifer nuts. We have a passion that isn’t going to end. Both of us like different species, my favourites are Abies and Picea with Araucaria thrown in and Steve is into the Pinus and Juniperus species. We have great appreciation for using these amazingly coloured and structured trees in our garden. When we started certificate 2 in Horticulture which was back in 2009, we didn’t have any plants at all apart from what was already in our garden. We had some veggie gardens because my father wanted us to grow him tomatoes and spring onions, and we stuck some bits of lavender and daisy into the ground (I was remembering what my mother and Grandmother had told me) and they struck but that was pretty much the extent of what I knew and Steve didn’t know much of anything apart from some trees are green. We worked our way through the certificate 2 course and slowly started to gain some confidence in the course. By the time that we got to the end of certificate 2 and were in our break between cert 2 and cert 3, I went down to Hobart with my sister who had come to visit from Western Australia and while we were down there, Steve wanted me to check out a nursery called “Jubilee” (which is no longer in existence) that specialised in maples as he had just caught the maple bug. I got my sister to drive me out to the nursery in her hire car and we went to Jubilee nursery where I bought several lovely structured conifers and a maple (they are VERY expensive down there!). I spent a large amount of money and brought them back not knowing if Steve would like them or not, but I liked them so I figured that if he didn’t, I could have them. I also bought him a Lion’s mane maple (Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’) which we still have to this day. These initial conifers are what started us off in our passionate love affair with all things conifer. I think that there is probably a conifer for everyone. You want structure…bucket loads of them give structure…colour, ditto…something that pays you back with edible rewards? Many of the pinus species give edible seeds (think pine nuts), you want yellow? Try the Tsuga’s; you want something to grow in your wet…dry…polluted area? Try a conifer. They are severely underrated these days.

We threw ourselves totally into conifers and discovered many like-minded people out there. Andrew from Red Dragon Nursery has some amazing rare specimens. We share our passion with him. We met Louella from “Osmaston Pines” who’s now deceased partner bred all sorts of conifers right here in Tasmania from sports that he collected from the sideling near Scottsdale. Once you get into conifers, you find a secret society of people all dedicated to growing and propagating them. We did our final work prac in Certificate 3 with Andrew from Red Dragon and after proving our worth and mettle (he always makes sure that people who come to the nursery do their fair share of hard graft before letting you into the ‘inner sanctum’), he allowed us to graft conifers with him. He has amazingly high standards but then again, so do we so we learned an incredible amount from him and every time that Andrew has a sale out at Red Dragon, you should go, because he sells his amazing quality plants for a pittance. I think that he is in it for the love of it. You will find people all over the place that will share with you, either knowledge, cuttings or plants if you share your love of plants with them. Steve and I volunteered out at the rose gardens doing some work a while ago, and we met Arthur and his wife who were volunteering as well. They were working on the climbing roses, pruning them back and tending them with love. Arthur asked if anyone wanted some iris tubers and I put up my hand (my magpie instincts again :o). He told us where he lived in Longford and we turned up after our shift at the Rose gardens to find the most delightful garden that was only a year old. This couple had some amazing plants and were more than ready to share with us. Arthur gave us a guided tour and all the time was picking off seed heads, pulling up seedlings and taking cuttings to give us. We left with armloads of plants, plus the iris tubers feeling overawed at the generosity of this man and his wife. They urged us to join the Longford Horticultural Society but we are not really people that grow flowers, annuals or many perennials. Our loves are all shrubby, tree like things and so we probably won’t be taking advantage of joining these groups. We also found the generosity of people at the Launceston horticultural society’s shows amazing. If you show interest in plants, there are people tumbling out of the woodwork to share their love with you and their generosity of spirit to give you one of their precious babies. We are the same. It’s infectious and people who garden are special people.

Heres some of our conifers…

So many conifers to choose from…so little time to collect them all!

This is our Sciadopitys verticillata (Japanese Umbrella Pine) that we bought from Andrew at Red Dragon as a wee stump. Its getting a lot of new growth on it this year and has grown from a single “umble” to all of these “umbles”…

Here we have a lovely Sequoia sempervirens ‘Adpressa’. We got this little fellow, plus another one when moving its parent plant from a well structured landscape architect designed garden up in Wellman Street in Launceston. This is a case of where you have to do a bit of research about a plant before you just go by the tag. This plant is a dwarf Sequoia….a dwarf that grows to 30 metres high….Thats a dwarf to the adult to be sure, but in a tiny suburban back yard its instant dismisal, so out this specimen went. We managed to take a few cuttings from some of the material that needed to be removed from this small tree and 2 of the cuttings struck. You can see the lovely golden tips to the new foliage

Heres one of our grafted conifers. This one is called Cedrus libani ‘Hedgehog’. You can see why. I tend to like weird and wonderful plants. Things that are spiky, spiny, crazy, eccentric and anything from Madagascar.

These 2 little fellows are Pinus elloti (slash pine) that are destined, along with their fellow elloti’s that we managed to grow from seed, to be the rootstock for a very special incredibly rare pine from China called Cathaya argyrophylla. We know where to get some scion for it, but needed the rootstock to go through with this endeavour…we have missed propagating, grafting etc as we have been throwing ourselves into renovating this property and working on our Diploma. We can’t wait to get back into growing things!

As you can see we are inundated with conifers (and all sorts of other things that we have collected). We really REALLY need to get these babies into the ground sometime soon

Heres some more of our conifers (and other things)…

And here is a golden grafted Metasequoia glyptostroboises called ‘gold rush’. It got a little burned out in the full sun but should make a full recovery once we can find a shady space to put it in and in front of it is a taxodium. We have all sorts here and we love them all.

We have a lot of work to do out here on our property. We have been tackling it slowly while we have been studying but I must admit, it’s taken a back seat to our diploma work. When we finish our diploma (hopefully next week) we are going to throw ourselves head first into renovating our garden. We are initially going to take heed from our previous lecturer the great “James Huggett” master of certificate 3 now, and start with the “D’s”…dead, dying, diseased, decayed, distorted and anything else “D” that applies. We always work to Shigo’s principals wherever possible (we sound professional there don’t we? :o) and we are going to have a fantastic time renovating and cleaning out this garden over the summer holidays. We plan on renovating first, and then planting in autumn to give us the benefit of the free rain and less stress on the plants. Most of our babies are deciduous (apart from our conifer army) and will go to sleep in their pots and wake up the next season in the ground ready to take off in spring. I have a lot of research to do regarding xeriscape plantings and we will be using lots of lavenders, rosemary, olives, santolina, salvias etc. to perfume our gardens. We have a need to install a multipurpose usage of plants. We want them to be water wise, give us something more than just ‘be pretty’, feed the bees and native wildlife, feed us preferably and integrate with everything around them to make a haven for both us, and everything that lives on this property. I am interested in bee keeping despite Steve’s dislike for honey. We make wine at the moment and have made beer in the past. I want to make beer using wort, and our friend Martin who lives in Kerula, can show us how to make it from scratch as that’s how he does it. I love meeting like-minded people. They are usually fringe dwellers and self-sufficient. It’s easy to get all glassy eyed and rose tinted when you think about “self-sufficiency” but the truth of it is that it’s not an easy lifestyle. It’s a bums up, heads down hands in the muck, up early, to bed early, selfless job and no-one should enter into it unless they are willing to throw away their idealistic vision of it, and looking a bit deeper to how soul satisfying it is to live in tune with the earth.

Here’s a few pictures of what we have to work with at the moment…

This is where we had to remove a lot of trees that had just ‘grown’ in the old orchard. We still have to prune some of these trees but it seemed wrong to do it this year as the poor things had not seen the sun and were spindly and sad so they can have free reign this year and will get a good pruning from Nat next year :o)

Heres a bit more of the old orchard area and to the lower right you have a driveway full to the brim of dead, soon to be burned, diosma that we removed from the garden to the right of this area. We have so much debris to burn that we have heaps and heaps of it all over the place. I have a lot more photos to show you and will put them into future posts so that you can see what we are working with

Pingu has learned to eat on his own and is making up for lost time. Every time that we look at him now, he is bums up, beak down in his food bowl. I get the feeling that he is a rooster, and that one day he is going to be the most massive Plymouth Rock rooster that anyone ever saw. We know that anything “Plymouth rock” that we end up with is pure bred because his dad is a stud Plymouth Rock rooster and so is his mum. Every other chick that we have (apart from Pingu’s 5 Plymouth Rock brothers and sisters that we ended up with) is a cross breed. We love our multicultural chooks. Steve found the mostly dead chicken who we managed to save and put back in the pen with the others, outside the enclosure today. I would imagine that this chick is also a rooster. Its pure white and as feisty as anything! It keeps trying to escape to the outside world. I guess it’s stared death in the face and has no fear of the other side now! I hope it’s not a rooster as otherwise we are in trouble with its attitude.  I just got off the phone to my good friend (note the sarcasm) “Natalie” who has just coerced us into taking 2 ducklings into our fold. Lord knows where we are going to keep them but I guess the old saying “one in, all in” is quite pertinent here. We always try to give strays a home and now Steve is just going to have to dig them a pond. We have another broody hen that is hoarding eggs and we might get some turkey eggs as well to put under her. By the way Nat, you owe us!
What do ducks eat? Where are they going to sleep? How big are month old ducks? No idea! Oh well, off to the internet to find out….have a great evening everyone :o)


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. zooinmyhouse
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 22:07:32

    You really shouldn’t get ducks without having everything planned Fronk!

    Ours sleep on the ground undeer the chook-castle, dry and windproof. For four large ducks in our yard, we have two kiddie-wading pool sized ponds. Don’t feed them avacado, they will die. All food we feed is soaked before feeding, stuff like lupins, laying pellets, some organic bread (sometimes) and vegies. They’ll chew up bugs and stuff happily too.

    Good luck.


  2. narf77
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 22:16:31

    I am going to need luck! We were given the 2 ducks tonight as a friends husbands daughter can’t keep them in town and was desperate to find a good home for them. We have a big old concrete trough that we are going to sink into the ground. I think that avocado kills just about everything apart from humans and apart from that, thems human foods NOT grub for critters! (do you like my ability to learn Hillbillies so that we fit in with the natives? :o) anyway, we will just have to research on our good old friend ‘internet’ and see what we can do. We can’t say no to waifs and strays (apart from the band the waifs…NO NO NO NO TO YOU! :o)


  3. mum.
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 22:34:04

    Ducks scoop up their grain, like wheat Pen, so put wheat in a bowl they can get a beakful from. Anything a bit sloppy they like, & they will dip their bread bits in water to soften. They will get rid of snails & the like too. They like grazing on grass as you will see, just keep an eye on them & you’ll find what they’ll eat okay, they forage!


  4. nat
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 09:16:22

    I think bubble and squek ( i think these are lovely names) will be very happy living a life of luxury at serendipity. And i know i owe you biiiiiiiiiiiiiggggggggggg time.


  5. Kreebard
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 11:05:48

    You’ve got it all wrong, ma!
    If a Liverpudlian wants to give something away, they don’t seek someone out to give it to. They just leave it outside!
    It’ll be gone by morning.


  6. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 05:39:11

    Good karma finding the money in the book. I’m also a big tea drinker. I always tell Chris how lucky he is that I’m not into jewelry or shoes like most women. Sometimes I have buyer’s remorse over something I think I’ve spent too much money on like a piece of clothing, and then I think of all the money over the years I didn’t spend on jewelry or clothing or beauty parlors, etc. I will spend on a good pair of hiking shoes – they are essential. Chris is out replanting a tree right now – I’ll be surprised if it makes it. The other day he planted a bunch of white pines that the conservation office were giving away. I want to start filling in the East field for a new hiking path. It’s all hilly, as is most of our land.


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