4 Seasons in 24 hours

Hi All

It’s now Monday and you are reading my post before heading off to work, and we are having a most well deserved rest at the end of our study year. Sorry Nat if you are stuck there reading this at work, but you will be off work soon and will be able to spend lots of time redesigning your garden and donating all your unwanted plants to your best friend penniless student hippies :o) (that was shameless wasn’t it? :o). You all now know that I type this post the day before so I will pretend that it’s Monday and will type in the past tense so that you all feel like you haven’t been jipped (or gypped depending on which continent you live on) so here goes… yesterday (;o) was an amazing day. It rained from 4am on Saturday morning till just on 5am Sunday morning and we decided to have a sleep in and by the time that we eventually got out of bed at 8.30am, it was a most delightful, sunny and warm day. Everything is green, soggy, happy and warm today. It feels more like rainforest in Queensland than it does Northern Tasmania. With global warming, who knows? By the time you get this place Stewart there might be bananas and mangoes growing in our food forest! There is something to look forwards to :o).

I don’t have a lot of photos to give you today and I know how much you all like something to break up the text. Once my initial excitement about blogging slows a bit, you will get less text, but at the moment I am on a roll so sorry to all my readers but for now, your stuck with years of frustrated pent up words backed up and pouring out. Hopefully you will forgive me :o) I decided to hunt my folder called “Photo’s from the crypt”. It’s full of all sorts of older photo’s that I have been saving to put here because they can be used in separate posts or because they might be of interest to you. I started off just liking ‘plants’ and then suddenly specific plant genus started to pique my interest. As you know I am an avid magpie and so collecting is the obvious next step to initial interest and I got interested in succulents and cacti. We were in the process of problem solving having our next door neighbours driveway and garage right next to the kitchen window. It wasn’t so much that we didn’t want to see our neighbour, it was more that we wanted to spare her our early morning faces and our strange familial customs, so how do you do something like that without taking away all of the light? Hmmm… we had just renovated our kitchen areas (we have 2…don’t ask…) and they will be the subject of another post. I can’t help my pride in Steve’s abilities. I ask him for something, he can usually do it, build it or source it. Between us we can make just about anything and we have plans for a wind turbine using parts that you can find at the tip (thanks to Instructables) and we just might give it a go…until then, here are some photos of how we solved the problem of a neighbour way too close to a family of 4 night people who were NOT  a pretty sight in the mornings…

This is directly after the renovation. We had installed a sort of wooden sill and you can see the beginnings of my cactus and succulent collection here. You can also see my avid love for teracotta that I collected mainy from markets and garage sales.

 Here is how we combatted the neighbours and our own lack of privacy. We put up shelves over the window :o). Not only did it give us a bit more privacy, but I was able to put lots of cacti and succulents in various interesting pots and give our kitchen a more interesting feel to it.

We took the opportunity to do the same on the other window in the kitchen as well because this one was visible to our problematic neighbour in the unit out the back.

The result of our shelving efforts was an interesting look with added matchstick blind protection from the neighbour out the back. Steve also installed a ceiling rack for me to hang pots and pans on. The house in town is quite small and every usable surface needed to be utilised and we started to go vertical as you can see. Here are a few more close up photos of how we used plants and books to stop our neighbour out the back from watching us through our kitchen window. All of this was only possible because Steve is amazing at physically realising my mental wishes

and finally

We took the boys over to Beaconsfield for a walk and it seems like some land developer has taken a liking to Beaconsfield as most of the properties for sale have sold. That’s what Tasmanians do…they put their houses on the market in spring and summer in the hope that someone holidaying here will fall in love with them and buy them. I think most of the houses being sold here are being bought by ‘investors’ who want to rent them out and take advantage of the locals not being able to afford their own homes, even though houses here are cheap as chips, and having to pay exorbitant rentals. I know that dad used to say that when he first moved out here to Sidmouth, that he and his partner Val could have bought the entire town of Beaconsfield for a song. The mine was closed at that point and no-one wanted to buy property there. One of the 3 pubs servicing the town has just sold. It’s a massive great edifice with numerous rooms, nice architecture and it would have sold for about $450 000. You couldn’t buy a toilet block in Sydney for that but here; you can get yourself something amazing.

Steve is being industrious out in the shed again. We are starting to relax after what was a most stressful year and a half and we are hoping that this year will give us a sense of belonging and peace that we so desperately need now. We are going to throw ourselves into making Serendipity Farm somewhere where we can talk solace from the world and where we can simply be ourselves. You could quite easily become a happy hermit out in the sticks. There is nothing more lovely than a warm spring day after a decent down pouring of rain where the garden is lush and verdant. The sky is blue, the sea is blue/green and everything seems right with the world in our neck of the woods. We will probably move the remaining potted plants around to the other side of the house today. The plants that we moved last week are all very happy in the semi shaded area and seem to be losing less water because they are not in glaring direct sunlight enhanced by the blue-metal on the driveway.

The possums must have had a taste of my citrus and found it wanting because apart from a few nibbles on a leaf, the other pots remain unchewed. They did, however, push the pots over in a fit of pique. I had a great day hunting out all sorts of blogs and websites on Saturday. Its amazing how many people out there give so much of themselves to blogging and to maintaining excellent quality websites. I think that it’s a way that those of us who love to share our ‘words’ are able to do so for free. I found some particularly good websites that interested me. I like eco design sites because apart from getting some really good ideas for Steve to replicate, you can also catch up with all of the new things coming out of Europe etc. I also love inventive sites and sites that tell you how to do things. By the way…I never found a plan for making a Door harp! I think that someone has attempted to corner the market and the strange dearth of information on how to make one seems somewhat suspicious to me. They are predominately made in the U.S.A. which tells me that the manufacturers have probably colluded a bit and decided to corner the market. They don’t appear to be too hard to make and Steve and his dad used to put guitars together so it won’t be at all hard for him to replicate them. They are lovely things when made using natural woods and after using natural oils and waxes to finish them. We want to make one for the door and don’t be surprised (family and friends) if once we work out how to do them well, if we don’t start making them for gifts. They are basically a sound box made of wood with a hole in the front (like a mini guitar body) that can be made from any shape that you like with strings on the front that are struck by wooden beads mounted on the neck of the box. They are usually mounted on doors and make a lovely musical sound when you open or close the door. Here’s a site where you can see what one looks like if you are interested…

http://www.thevermontgiftshop.com/ArtistsArtisans/Wood/BobWeaverDebSalzarulo/ProductPages/DoorHarpWalnutwithCherry.html

I found other sites when I was looking for things for Steve to use up his left over wood bits in the shed including the following site that makes ‘interesting’ Christmas decorations…

http://www.cscharms.com/thechristmascircus.htm From here, you can order the following Christmas tree decorations: • Cthulhu • Dr Who (daleks, K-9 and the tardis) • A periodic table of the elements Christmas tree ornaments • Bacon • And last but not least zombies

I also found some blogs that I actually subscribed to because they were so very interesting including the following

http://anthrome.wordpress.com/

This blog is an amazing conglomeration of interesting plants from all over the world. The young man (26 I think) who’s blog this is, is one of life’s adventurers who has thrown himself wholeheartedly into discovering everything that he can about these jungles and forests that he visits. I found this site while researching PDF’s of forest gardens and was so impressed with his amazing site that I subscribed to it. Here’s an amazing article garnered from this site about how Africans are starting to grow their own native fruit trees to provide an income for the farmers as well as interesting new fruit crops for the world. As a person interested in horticulture, I also discovered a technique that I didn’t know about before called “Marcotting” where entire branches of fruiting (or other) trees or large shrubs are treated to get root growth while the branch is still on the tree/shrub. Apparently it results in a dwarfed tree with fruiting properties much sooner than the same tree grown from seed. Thats why I love hunting things out because I learn so much in the process…

http://www.ihavenet.com/Africa-Wild-Fruits-of-Africa-Potent-Weapon-Against-Malnutrition.html

You can find hundreds of articles with similar liens on this blog and if you are interested in agroforestry, you might be interested in subscribing to this blog and getting regular updates on this young man’s work and more importantly, the collection of other sites that he has amassed for us all to hunt through

I loved this chicken coop when I was searching for “small wooden boxes” and got this result…

http://www.alternativeconsumer.com/2011/08/17/urban-farming-reclaimed-cedar-chicken-coop/

So this site got put in my word document for ‘favourites’. I used to clog up our computer by having thousands of favourites in the ‘favourites’ section but now I just put them all into a word doc so that I can find them easily and they don’t cause problems. I am, after all, a quintessential magpie who can’t help herself when it comes to hoarding information.

I have acres/hectares of information pertaining to the courses that we have been studying. I seriously doubt that our lecturer would understand my need to collate all sorts of relevant information and documents. I save them on our poor overstuffed PC and Steve does his best to remove them to various external hard drives on a regular basis so as not to render the poor computer obese with my incessant need to hunt things out and cram it to the hilt with my garnered information.

The good thing about encouraging wildlife, especially birds, to our garden is that they do an amazing job of eating insects. The sparrows hang about on the deck (when the boys are not out there lazing in the sun) and are constantly looking for insects in all of the nooks and crannies in the eaves etc. We have the cuckoo shrikes coming for cheese (and mince on Saturday) on a regular basis and on Saturday we noticed that a honey eater bird flew up onto our wind-fish pole when the cuckoo shrike appeared on one of its cheese hunts. The honey eater sat there and we were concerned that it had hurt itself as they don’t usually hang about close to us when we get near them. We fed the shrike and as soon as the shrike had eaten enough to satisfy its needs and flew away, the honey eater took off after it. I would imagine the shrikes have a nest somewhere close to the honey eater’s nest and that he took offense.

We are getting to know the bird calls around here and when the Willy wagtails start carrying on, we know that there is a cat somewhere out there. It happens every day at about 4pm and you can count on them following the cat around the property wherever the cat is, warning all of the other birds as they go. On Saturday we were a bit late getting the feral cat’s food out to them as it was pouring down constantly and often they don’t even come for their food when it’s raining that bad, but Steve was greeted by a most bedraggled Felix who even meowed to him as if to say “about time!” We have our own little cycle of nature going on here and whenever you put yourself out to work ‘with’ nature, rather than against it, you get an enormous amount of mental, spiritual and physical reward. I can really see why dad loved being here. I can also see why we thought that he was turning into a hermit as he never wanted to stay long in town and gave the most pathetic excuses to head off home as early as he could. This place weaves something into whoever lives here. Have any of you read the book “The Tommyknockers” by Steven King? Hopefully we are not being assimilated into Serendipity Farms alien clutches… (I need to get out more…)

Is it just me, or are the blowflies this year twice the size that they were last year? I really don’t like blowflies. I know that they have some sort of useful purpose somewhere (or they wouldn’t be here) but for the life of me I can’t see what! They are the most annoying creatures around and I spend at least 15 minutes a day hurling them out the window before we go to bed to stop the incessant buzzing. I actually encourage spiders into our home to deal with these critters and had a most interesting time trying to work out where the buzzing of an obviously trapped blowfly was coming from. We never did find out where it was…it seemed to be coming from inside the wall…oh well, hermits from the sticks find the most unusual things interesting. I guess that is part of melding our minds with the local wildlife. I have found one thing interesting and that is that we seem to be more ‘aware’ of nature’s cycles without thinking about them. Steve accidentally erased Effel Doocarks “due date” from our PC desktop reminder that we downloaded. Now that we live out in the country and have to actually think about and plan our day to day comings and goings, it is an invaluable resource for us to use apart from when we accidentally erase something that is…she has been sitting on her eggs for about 3 weeks now and today, out of the blue, I had the distinct impression that Effel is going to hatch out some babies any day now. Nature is starting to hone my instincts. Perhaps it can hone my common sense instincts? Or perhaps my “stay on a diet” instincts? Maybe even my “stop nagging and be a good wife instincts?”…who knows…one day I might just be a better person thanks to nature (good luck with that nature! :o)

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mum
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 11:23:03

    All this ECO business they talk about now, is what we have always gone by Pen. Just another “suprior” way of the people these days. For those who care, it was & still is, our way of life, don’t throw away anything, if it can be used for something else. It’s a good rule to live by. Money was pretty tight after the war,& we had to live within our means, as it would do a lot of people today who want everything handed to them right now. If more young ones realised this,& stuck with it, they would get an enormous sense of satisfaction in finally attaining it, wouldn’t they? All that has gone by the board now, when they can just go spend & buy, regardless if they have the means to or not !
    Sounds like Felix has discovered she gets fed there,& you may now have another house cat ! Steve, you can make those wind harps, & also tune them in. I can see you now, working out different styles, & it will be an interesting hobbly. Have different tones too. They look great, so have a go, I look forward to your start.After a couple of days in the mid 30’s, with fires all around, the weekend here was COLD ! Bliss, but had to put a fleece on yesterday. I call it nuclear weather when it does that. Must be windy down the south pole!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Nov 28, 2011 @ 12:36:24

      I have just been reading the latest Grass Roots magazine that Steve very kindly bought me the other day. I really love it and must start subscribing to it soon before I forget. It’s full of all sorts of ingenious ways to solve problems and most of them are for minimal cost using recycled things or articles bought on the cheap. I love reading it because it reminds me that there are so many more of us living out there and it gives me hope that society has an undercurrent of people willing and able to do things for themselves.

      Reply

  2. Pinky
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 11:51:54

    The good old Aussie blowie is useful in that it lays egg on dead (usually) carrion and the maggots eat away and help break it down and assimilate it? into the soil. Maggot therapy has been used to help treat patients wounds that wont heal. They are placed on the infected dead tissue, the limb or area is covered gently with gauze and the maggots do their thing. Everything has a purpose and a reason for existing under heaven. I use the vaccuum cleaner to suck the buggers up when they get into the house though. I wont use fly-sprays because of the birds and the spiders and the humans who also suck in the air of the house.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Nov 28, 2011 @ 12:30:27

      Obviously living in Albany for so long has addled your brain…are you seriously playing Devil’s advocate for blowflies Pinky!!!! Sigh…I think that you need to get out more! Earl is our resident “fly-spray”. The mentally incompetant and lame blowflies that seek solace in our cool environment have no idea what is about to hit them, play with them, nibble them and ultimately spit them. Earl is a 1 dog ethnic cleansing station for blowflies. I know about their uses and you forgot to add one… cadaver research in the USA where they use various fly species to learn about how long it takes for them to break down cadavers and in so doing, what season someone might have been killed in to narrow down dates. Interesting but GROSS! Come back to the real world Pinky…you can stop thinking all things medical and start agreeing with your sister that blowflies are more bane, then they are blessing!

      Reply

  3. Kym
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 14:42:48

    Snoopy loves to catch the flies in our house too, only he is very low to the ground so his catch is limited by what hight the flies are 🙂 He tries hard though. By the way what is the difference between a pullet and a chook???

    Reply

    • narf77
      Nov 28, 2011 @ 14:50:29

      A pullet is an inbetween chicken/chook. If you are getting pullets, make SURE that they are not roosters! We got 8 guaranteed hens and 1 of them is now called Big Yin and has never laid an egg and crows on a regular basis. If you get them as pullets they are probably not laying eggs yet but then again, when they do, you will get more egg production time out of them then older girls. Tell the person that you are buying/getting them from that you only want hens and if one turns out to be a rooster, you want your money back and they have to take it back. That should stop them shafting you with all their old roosters as we have found out that a lot of sellers are very unscrupulous when they realise that you are new to the game. Good luck with your pullets :o)

      Reply

  4. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 19, 2013 @ 06:28:02

    I love clay pots, and really love those long planters.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Apr 19, 2013 @ 06:40:16

      They were very cheap to buy here as they are from Vietnam. I think they were $4.95 if I am not mistaken from a local hardware shop.

      Reply

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