Peace and quiet makes Fran a happy tippo

Hi All,

Well, not ‘quite’ a Tippo yet, but my recent month of inactivity thanks to my dicky knee has not helped my weight loss program at all. Neither did Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki who I heard on an early morning ABC breakfast show saying that dieting is worse for weight loss than exercise. He went on to say something (I was half asleep) about how dieting actually makes you end up being comprised of more fat than muscle! I guess that makes me 1/100 muscle and 99/100 Tippo. At least I am a happy tippo :o). Living out on Serendipity Farm has made me a lot happier. I think it’s because I am very quick to react to anything that inflates my ‘outrageous indignation’ valve and just about everything that happens in town does that to me. Someone doesn’t indicate going around the roundabout (or indicates incorrectly…) BAM a push of the button. Someone rides their pushbike over a crosswalk or rides when the lights are red or rides more than single file with their mates or just bloody well RIDES drives my button to distraction. People who are rude and try to push in when other people are queuing BAM…people who think that they are better than other people and are allowed to break the rules (especially with little fluffy dogs ARRGGHH!) BAM! Are you starting to get the picture? I have no idea why I am like this but it seems to be getting worse as I get older. Living out here allows me to breath in some fresh air, look out over the beautiful Tamar River and mellow out. It’s amazing how fast that outrageous indignation comes back the closer we get to town though…

Steve is in town today delivering eggs to anyone who will take them frankly. We are getting 7 a day and rising and can’t begin to imagine what to do with them all. I know that most of you will have some ideas for us but when you are drowning in eggs you are looking at the eggs as more of a problem than a blessing. There are only so many omelettes, pancakes, fried eggs and mashed egg sandwiches that you can handle before you start to twitch when faced with another egg. It’s a bit like late summer zucchinis. We are  more than happy to share them around with our friends and family but can we please have a few egg cartons guys or you are going to be getting ‘handful’s’ of eggs rather than cartons :o) We are back in the swing of ‘doing things’ on Serendipity Farm. Tomorrow we head down the driveway and crown lift all of the hakeas and remove all of their old dead branches. We have dead shrubs to remove, blackberries to remove and shrubs to prune and at the end of it we can put up our new sign (after painting the pole dark green to match). Steve did a great job whipper snipping the lower garden and is setting himself up to tackle the job of the 1st paddock by himself. He is going to cut a fire break around the top paddock to stop us getting an infringement notice but it’s a very big paddock and as I am out of action at the moment with anything to do with hills, potoroo holes and uneven surfaces, it’s too big a job for him to tackle alone. We are making moves to join both the “Land for Wildlife” and “Garden for Wildlife” schemes. The Land for Wildlife scheme requires us to have more than 2 acres of land (we have 3) dedicated bushland for habitat and we have to write a submission including why we want to use our land for this purpose and what we are hoping to achieve. We are not planning on doing much up the back of the house and so it would be perfect for keeping the bushland there for wildlife. At some time in the future we might add some plants to this habitat, but they will be natives and fruit/nut trees so that will only help the wildlife in the area. The Garden for Wildlife scheme is what interests us the most. We are creating a garden specifically to feed us and the local wildlife. One day the possums won’t be able to move for food and there will STILL be food left over for the birds, the chooks and for us. With both schemes you get information and help in establishing the areas that you plan to reforest and all sorts of advice. The Land for Wildlife scheme is free and the Garden for Wildlife scheme costs only $16.50. Anyone interested in Tasmania can go to the following websites to get the information that you need. Most states have these schemes and even if you live in the middle of the city with a tiny balcony, you can still garden for wildlife :o). I can’t think of anything better than working with nature to facilitate an amazing garden. Allowing the wildlife, plants and insects to work together to implement a cycle of life specifically for Serendipity Farm. Idealistic, possibly, possible? Definitely!

We have been putting small cubes of cheese out for the cuckoo shrikes to take. I don’t think that they feed their babies with it; I think it is more of an energy snack for them as they spend their days hunting insects to feed their ravenous hoards. The sparrows learned early on that there was free high energy food going and a pair of them has tag teamed up with the cuckoo shrikes to get cheese. The relationship has gone as far as the cuckoo shrike actually waiting for more cheese so that their sparrow mates can have it! We also have lots of little wren’s who are insect eaters coming up onto the window ledge in search of the free cheese. Wren’s weigh about 20g and so a nice bit of high energy cheese would keep them going for a while. They might be tiny in stature but I have seen wren’s taking on the cats when the cats get too close to their nest. They are very brave and plucky little birds and most deserving of the odd morsel of cheese.

We are still to find a tree to decorate with our leftover decorations. We want to put it somewhere visible where passing cars can see it and we don’t want the poor tree to suffer because some numpty decided that it was perfect to cut down and take home so we need to pick a manky wattle or something similar. We have 3 enormous opaque orbs that we got from a skip at Polytechnic when they were cleaning out the rooms underneath one of the main buildings. These rooms had been used for storage and all sorts of amazing things were being thrown out including office chairs, desks, white boards etc. We didn’t have a trailer at that time and so we just got 3 of these massive great opaque orbs. No idea what we were going to do with them apart from a vague idea that they could be buried and used with a gurgling fountain at some time in the future…that never eventuated and they moved out here with us and have been sitting in Steve’s small shed awaiting their fate. We have decided that we are going to paint smiley faces on them and deposit them strategically over fence posts. The world needs mysteries and we are just the people to facilitate them! Now that you all know about our plans, you are considered accomplices and as such need to remain shtum ok? I love random little acts of unusual behaviour. I loved that person that initially pinched a garden gnome and went on an around the world holiday with it, sending pictures of where it had been with the gnome enjoying itself back to its bewildered owner and returning back home unscathed at the end of it. That person deserves kudos and should be our prime minister rather than the person that we have because at least that person has a sense of humour and the means to implement it! Harmless fun is contagious and good for people so that they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s good to challenge people’s minds occasionally. When you get stuck in the daily grind, isn’t it refreshing to see something different and unusual? Most people have no time and are too worried about the consequences to do unusual things. I am not talking ‘artistic’ here (or I would have to divorce myself from this process :o), I am talking inventive, unusual and out of the ordinary and anyone can do that. What about sneaking into the park and planting something outrageous to be tended faithfully by the town gardeners and watered religiously only to become something spectacular. I am thinking about our Dragon’s arum here :o). How about taking all of those old children’s DVD’s that your teenaged kids are not vaguely interested in, or some other DVD’s that you no longer want and popping one into the odd neighbourhood letter box on one of your walks? What about doing the same with books? Just don’t make them anything that could be construed as a threat or your neighbours might think that you are out to get them! I remember reading about Bill Mollison and his Urban Revegetation where he took fruit seeds and other productive seeds and planted them in wasteland, parks etc. Grow some pots of marigolds and once they are flowering, leave some just inside the gates of people who have no gardens. Life is too short for bad wine AND boredom. A little intrigue is good for us and very good for society as a whole.

Serendipity Farm has a new resident. As Steve was driving up the driveway on his way back from town, I spotted an echidna bumbling down the pathway. Steve got to the house and then headed back down the pathway to see him disappearing into the drain under the driveway so perhaps he lives in there. He seemed quite at home and has his own armour against the ferals so should make an entertaining member of Serendipity Farm. If we see him again we will take some photos for you. Steve has just taken some eggs down to our neighbour Glad. She gives us tomatoes, we give her eggs and help her whipper snip the front verge and when the back area of her house gets too overgrown with native grass, we give that a bit of a workout as well. She has tried to pay us for this but we don’t believe in taking money for being good neighbours. Besides that, I think that my departed dad would make a special Christmas visitation to scare me to death should I ever think of doing something like that. We are almost out of egg cartons and Steve is working on a prototype to make egg boxes. We will be using ply but the prototype was made of a fence paling. I took a picture of the eggs nestled in some hay in the box. If we ever decided to sell some eggs at the Deviot market, we would package them up in little boxes for sale rather than in cartons and would sell 12 eggs + the box for just enough to cover the cost of the wood. If we were ever to make more fancy boxes, or wood burn “Eggs” into them or put a specific effort in to making them special we might sell them for a little bit more, but the main reason that we chose to make boxes in the first place is the dearth of egg carton’s to be had and the boxes are a solution to that problem. I am working on egg boxes made from twigs at the moment. Eggs are pretty large things and a couple of holes would be fine so long as they were small. Steve just had a great idea. When we were going to our certificate 3 course in Horticulture we had to produce some specialised plant specimens. We had a fair bit of free choice, so long as it exhibited some form of horticultural doctoring to get to the end result and we had to illustrate how we got from point A to point B. I chose a hanging basket and made my own basket using golden willow canes that I pilfered from behind the BWS at Riverside. It turned out nice and I made a few other things with willow and weaving and then stopped. I could make egg baskets out of willow canes. That way it would be totally free to us and we wouldn’t have to add much onto the price of the eggs. I am going to have to collect some canes now…

I love being creative. I am not very artistic and next year’s design course is going to be a challenge for me. I might have to ask for a bit of help from my good friend Nat who is extremely gifted artistically and who can just ‘see’ how something should look. We can’t all be good at everything and maths and art are my 2 blind spots. I am sure that there are lots more, but I can’t be bothered to list them. I have signed up with the basket makers of Tasmania to do their next basket making course. I love seeing what creative things people make out of woven textiles and various reeds and willow. They have an event every year that they call the willow café where you can get a coffee and see all of the amazing furniture that they concoct on one of their workshops. I can’t wait to get stuck in as this is one thing that really interests and excites me. I have been deleting emails from one of our email accounts and unsubscribing to some newsletters. I love getting sent information that I am actually interested in but have started to notice that many of my newsletters are full of self-promotion of their products and very little (if any) information about anything. I just dumped Donna Hay (felt good she is way too pretentious and I got nothing whatsoever from her newsletters). I dumped a couple of others that I was lured into ‘liking’ on Facebook and there are some others that are teetering on the brink and depending on what the content is of their next few newsletters, it might be curtains for them as well. While I was checking out the latest amuse bouche from Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini blog and downloading her lovely monthly desktop calendar I noticed a little article about a website dedicated to food cartoons. It looks like fun so take a look if you like…

And while you are at it, check out Clotilde as her website is a delight and well worth a monthly visit to your email account

We are experimenting with our food at the moment. Last night Steve had a most interesting pie using pastry for the base, a filling of Thai green chicken curry with home-made Thai green curry paste and with sliced steamed potato on top rather than pastry as that is what Steve felt like. I was running low on vegetables (which I wouldn’t be doing if I had organised myself out of the enormous paper bag that I think that I am being held prisoner in and had gotten those vegetable beds going yet…) so I used some pastry and made up a mix of cheesy ‘beans’. Sounds Yuk doesn’t it? It wasn’t. I used white beans, chick peas, a tin of “Manwich” that my son sent me in a tongue in cheek food hamper from American Foods which was surprisingly tasty and comprised a saucy mix of tomatoes, chillies and capsicums (it said ‘peppers’ but they are CAPSICUMS :o) and spices and made my cheesy beans a much more interesting proposition than they might otherwise have been. Earl didn’t like it but Earl is a critic! Because Earl turned up his nose I decided to not even bother with Bezial… tonight Steve is going to be having an interesting rendition of Scotch eggs. We made some mini Scotch eggs the other day that seemed to hit the spot. He was missing his Christmas mini Scotch eggs that he used to get in the U.K. so we decided to try to approximate them and apparently it was quite successful. Successful enough for Steve to want to experiment tonight with some minced chicken breasts and the same mix that we used inside the mini eggs which was a mix of mashed egg and salad cream, salt and pepper. Who knows what it is going to taste like, but it is certainly different! I will be having hummus, guacamole and celery sticks in honour of the warm weather that we have had lately. Are you having anything interesting tonight? Go on…splash out! Eat something that you would otherwise not have or at least put a bit of parsley on it and eat the parsley :o) see you tomorrow. Just a little note…those chicken Scotch eggs were pronounced “absolutely lovely” and a step up from his once wistfully desired from afar mini Scotch eggs. Steve was planning on saving some to try cold but couldn’t help himself and scoffed the lot.

Before I go I would like to leave you with a series of photos describing what happened when I offered some of our eggs to our neighbour Glad and we had no egg cartons left…this is the progression of what happened next…

Here is Steve’s idea of a prototype egg box. We have since moved on so this is not only a prototype, but also a one of a kind egg box. As such it was only fitting that we should give Glad her eggs in said one of a kind box, because Glad, who is 88 and mows the lawns, gets out and grows vegetables, walks all around her block is also one of a kind…

Here is a photo of the big jars that Nat recycled from her dads cupboard and very kindly decided to give to me :o) Thanks Nat (but it still doesn’t get you off having to prune our fruit trees next year :o) I tried VERY hard to disguise the beer cans on the sink (to the left) but they really REALLY wanted to get into the picture so you now know what fuels Steve and I in our horticultural ventures…beer

It appears a local tramp has decided to steal Glad’s eggs! “STOP THIEF”…but wait a minute? The dogs are not barking?…its Steve! I guess I shouldn’t fill his bum with buckshot then? (one day I will get to use that gun…)

“What’s in the box eh?”…

“Yeh…whats in the box?”

“Is that all?! I gave up my sunny spot for that sunshine! You had better give me one of them now!”

Glad loved the eggs and gave Steve a 6 pack of beer for whipper snipping the grass. Steve is now going to have to pour a bottle of that beer over dads grave to stop him haunting us for ‘charging’ Glad for good neighbourly behaviour. She also gave Steve an old Echo whipper snipper that still goes. Its smaller and as a vintage machine, its only fitting that this old broad gets to use it around the place :o) I will show you some pictures of it possibly tomorrow when I am showing you what I am doing today…(you will have to wait to find out won’t you now? :o)


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mum
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 12:24:11

    That was entertaining like all your blogs love. I do like the egg box Steve made,& nice & rustic too. I am sending a page over from one of my Womens Weekly cook books on another idea for eggs Pen, something to have a go at for all sorts of stuff. Don’t forget, there are many recipes that take eggs & cakes, you can freeze as well. You may have started something with the mini scotch eggs there too, I do like the sound of them. Some you could add chilli to & call devils eggs? They were good photo’s of the boys investigating the egg box. Now, to do the daily crossword to try & calm me down for a while!


  2. Kym
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 10:36:57

    Hello Fran,
    You can make a really nice face mask from egg whites and honey. It leaves your skin nice and soft and clean. It’s very gentle too. You are sounding a bit “doggist” about those “little fluffy dogs”. I have two, Pout Pout. Lol. Also a friend from work is cycling around Tasmania with her husband, over xmas,( I have no idea why but there you go), and would ask that you don’t attempt to run them over or blow your horn and scare the ?&*^% out of them. Thanks 🙂


    • narf77
      Dec 09, 2011 @ 12:14:15

      Hey Kymmy, you had best warn your friend about a woman driving around in a little white 4 x 4 with her face dripping in egg and honey, swatting the ants that are after the honey along with the wasps and bees away from her welted face whilst yelling out the window, honking the horn and should that not work, a gentle nudge on the mudflaps always works! I have a select small group of little fluffy dogs that I actually love. 2 of them are the boys mates and they all have a lovely bark through the fence and get along well. Your 2 can be included as honorary members of this tiny select group even though I haven’t met them. Tell your friend that if she rides single file and doesnt wear more lycra than Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France she should be safe. :o)


  3. Kym
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 19:06:38

    You are meant to recline peacefully,preferably in a bath, with the mask on and a glass of wine in your hand. Not roar around the countryside with it on lol. My friend doesn’t wear lycra, but her husband does have a bike trailer so not sure if that rates on your bam o meter lol. My dogs gave you a very waggy tail thank you too x


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