A week of contemplation before resolution

Hi All,

It’s back to business as usual here on Serendipity Farm. Christmas came and went…boxing day was spent basking in the heat of Tasmanian summer which although we don’t get high temperatures, the humidity that accompanies these temperatures makes it feel a lot hotter. Tasmania has a relatively high rainfall compared to the rest of Australia and has a lot of green vegetation that contributes to the humidity on a hot summer’s day. Mum has realised that Tasmania is NOT the cool place that she thought it was. She has been staying with our daughters in town for a couple of days and now she is back visiting for a couple of days before she jets off home again. Christmas buzzed by in a bit of a blur and the preparations leading up to Christmas meant that I spent most of Christmas day yawning and overstuffed. We have a fridge groaning at the seams with food and are not at all certain what to do with it all but I am sure that we will think of something. We are not taking part in the Boxing Day sales madness. I think that people get caught up in ‘sales’ and don’t notice that what they are buying isn’t really worth it. I can’t stand crowds of people rifling through looking for bargains. When I get my bargains, I like to hunt alone! Now we have just on a week to think about the consequences of our actions and work out a suitable plan to pay penance for said ‘actions’ in the new year otherwise known as ‘New Year’s Resolutions”. Even the guilt of New Year’s Resolutions has come under the watchful eye of people wanting to make a dollar out of people’s wants and desires. I dare say that gym membership that you bought last year and used twice (if that) as part of your New Year’s Resolution was pushed on television on the lead up to New Year’s day. The same goes for weight loss programs. They most certainly know when to advertise to make the most money. This year my resolutions are most probably going to be to do with taking stock of our new lives out here on Serendipity Farm and formulating a plan to implement what we want to achieve this year. I need to lose a few kilos, but that is nothing new so that isn’t going to factor in my resolutions, that is more like a day to day struggle that I need to master.

Here are the amazing Dreamfarm products that my son bought for me for Christmas. Isn’t it nice to get something that you actually love and will use?

The same goes for my gorgeous Italian jewel coloured glasses that my daughters bought for me. Well done kids, you did good this year :o)

We seem to be slothing our way through the past few days after Christmas. It’s been really enjoyable just catching up with mum and spending some time with her. My son gave me an amazing gift of Dreamfarm cooking utensils. I hate clutter and love to simplify my space and these tools promise to allow me to clear out my utensil holders and give me back some of my bench top space. They are Australian, have won design awards and are sustainable and care for the environment. What’s not to like? Check the site out here and while you are looking at the site, I will be away fondling and taking immense joy in my new kitchen tools. Weird…yes…happy…definitely! :o)

http://dreamfarm.com.au/products/

I got the Chopula; Supoon; Teafu and smood from the product list. Most of the products can be clicked on and you get to watch a little video showing you how very versatile these products are. They are amazing and I find myself occasionally wandering over to the bench where they are laying and picking them up and playing with them. I can’t wait to cook something and use them. Thank you so very much Stewart, I am in love with my utensils :o) my daughters bought me some amazing Italian jewel coloured glasses. I have been using them non-stop since they gave them to me on Christmas day and they have become my favourites, especially the glorious purple one. My children know me well and never disappoint me with my gifts. Thanks kids, you are still in the will :o)

Here are a few of the plants that we are growing at the moment. They have been ticking over since we grew them or bought them 2 years ago. Last year we did very little involving plants apart from studying them. This year we will be growing everything that we need for our edible food forest and more for sale.

This Pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine) has a great history. It was imported from America by a local conifer legend who has since died. He got into conifers by accident and what happened to him happened to us, we got hooked. This man grafted conifers, took sports from ancient conifers in the wild and developed his own strains of conifer. Because conifers can’t be imported into Tasmania, this thunbergii is the parent of most of the black pines in Tasmania. It has had a pretty hard life but once we find a suitable place to plant this grand dame, she will reign magestically over some of the rocky terrain that we call home

Here is one of Steve’s Queensland bottle trees or Brachychiton rupestris. They aren’t supposed to grow here in Tasmania but Steve grew lots from seed imported from Queensland. These babies currently reside in our glasshouse and are doing well, but they will take temperatures down below 0C and we don’t get temperatures that low here on Serendipity Farm so they should do well. They have a propensity to go deciduous in cooler climates and so we might have to put up with naked bottle trees, but we love anything unusual, spiky, eccentric and weird in the plant world and so these babies have a place here on Serendipity Farm.

It’s so hot that Bezial and Earl have hardly moved all day. They are lying intermittently in the hallway and lounge room where the cool breeze flows directly through and out on the deck where they bask in the hot sun for about 5 minutes. It’s like watching migrating lemmings (without the carnage), back and forth, get up, lay down, too hot, get up lay down, need heat, get up, lay down in an endless cycle until it starts to cool down a bit and they slowly wake up and regain their energy. That’s when we have to be careful because there is nothing like a day’s slothing to give you a strong desire to start playing and running around the house maniacally. We have a massive big chunk of beef rump left over from our Christmas bbq that we are going to cook tonight with goose fat roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and all of the trimmings. We wanted to fire up the oven so that mum could see how good it is but if it remains this hot, we might have to rethink our meal. The oven isn’t overly hot and once you close down the doors it doesn’t contribute much to the heat of the room but today is one of those days that any increase in room temperature is not to be welcomed so we will see what happens about the roast. It might turn into grilled Panini yet! It’s cooled right down so we are going to run with the roast beef idea and we are going to make bread as well. I guess it’s like the old saying “make hay while the sun shines” but we are making bread while it’s cool. We store it in the freezer and once frozen you can’t tell the difference from fresh bread (unlike commercial bread). We just took the dogs for a walk this morning and liberated 3 little Eriobotrya japonica seedlings from a dry embankment. Apart from knowing that they would wither and die once summer gets going and everything heats up, I want some for the property. A peculiar thing about Northern Tasmania is the lack of rainfall over the summer months. Plants that grow here need to be hardy and happy with little to no rainfall for at least a 2 month period. Coupled with our steep rocky property we need to keep our minds and eyes open for plants that will tolerate these conditions if they are going to do well on Serendipity Farm. Eriobotrya japonicas are also known as loquats. Most Tasmanian’s have told me that they are poisonous and are amazed at my ability to not only eat these fruits and survive, but actually enjoy them. I come from Western Australia where loquats were introduced back when the Italians decided to migrate to Australia and found W.A. to be most like Italy in climate. Having a Mediterranean climate and sandy soils the Italians did what they do best and got stuck into building homes and growing amazing gardens. Loquats formed one of the backbones of their gardens because they grow quickly, in pretty much any type of soil and endure through drought, rain, hail anything. They are one of the most useful plants to add to an edible food garden in our local area because they will take a heavy frost and extended periods of heat and drought and the seed is too big for our endemic birds to carry too far so the plant shouldn’t become a weed to anyone not wanting it in their gardens locally. I will be harvesting more of these little survivors in the near future and will pot them up and they can share in the spoils here at Serendipity Farm.

Another most useful plant in the Australian garden with many uses is the common Lilly pilly. Once Lilly pillies were all known as Eugenia’s. In recent years botanists have divided them into several genera, including Acmena, Syzygium and Waterhousea. Again, a way to keep themselves employed! The Lilly Pilly provides dappled shade, will grow in harsh climates and under harsh conditions and produces edible fruit. We have an avenue of them planted at some time in the past that we crown lifted. I got quite excited yesterday when I got a newsletter from a permaculture website with a video link to someone talking about ways to conserve water and harvest it on your property. Serendipity Farm is situated on a steep hill. The top of the property is much steeper and it’s all downhill to the road at the front of the property. When it rains the water cascades down the hill and down to the storm water drain at the front of the property. Apart from a few natural swales that have formed down in the teatree forest area, no one has thought to try to direct the water flow to other areas of the garden (most probably because the terrain is so rocky and hard to cultivate) and we are in the process of investigating how to maintain and store the water that falls freely over the autumn, winter and spring periods for the summer when we get very little rainfall. There is so much to learn and we want to do everything yesterday so it is going to be very interesting here on Serendipity Farm for the coming year. I have a vision of sharing what we learn with our fellow students at the local Polytechnic. I would love to develop PowerPoint presentations to show what we are doing and trying to do here and perhaps having classes visit our ‘work in progress’. That’s something for the future, but ultimately sharing is high on my list of future projects. I will leave this post now as it is threatening to become a tomb. See you all tomorrow when mum heads back to Western Australia, refreshed and suitably merry (we have been sharing lots of red wine). Today we are baking and she will be elbow deep in flour and dough and in “mum heaven”. Have a lovely week off to most of you and if you are already back at work, at least you can drop in for a cuppa and a chat here at Serendipity Farm whenever you want :o)

All you have to do is come up the driveway…around this corner…

and up the driveway and your here! Of course, you have to get past Bezial and Earl…but after that you are home and hosed and ready for a cuppa, a beer (after the sun goes over the yard arm that is, we are civilised hillbillies here you know!) and a chat.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pinky
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 11:57:05

    Hi Fronkii,
    We had a most delicious loin of pork that was mostly cooked on the little webber style barbecue that Andy got me for christmas last night. I only moved it to the inside oven for about half an hour to crisp up the pork crackle and it was superb! Gonna be using that little beauty of a barby for a lot of things at least until I can afford a bigger Q style one for bigger roasts. I’m going to try a whole baked big fishy or a few littlies soon. Glad you’ve had a wonderful family christmas too Fronkii.
    We were going to drive up today and stay the night and pick mum up tomorrow and drive home but have decided to head up early tomorrow, meet a couple of friends for a long lazy lunch and then head out to pick mum up. We can drive back straight away or, especially if Mum is sick of sitting down, we can stay the night and drive home first thing. We’ll see how she pulls up off the plane. It’s nice and coolish down here but, as the cicadas or crickets are singing/clicking away it’ll no doubt heat up. The easterlies have come in early though so it’ll be cooler in Albany.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Dec 27, 2011 @ 12:35:05

      We used our bbq on Christmas day to keep the house cool and before Christmas to prepare my roast veggie salad. I roasted about 15 whole heads of garlic for that salad and no one is coming near me at the moment…Mum would most probably be very amenable to staying overnight in Perth should you offer her the choice. She wouldn’t want you blowing the budget, but if you are driving up that day, surely it would be best to stay overnight, get up nice and fresh the next morning and head back in the cool of the day plus you will both be tired after driving up that day and having a glass or two at lunch with your friends? Anyway, it’s your choice :o). We are in the process of baking bread at the moment and then it’s on to the full roast dinner. We have some amazing French imported goose fat that we are going to roast the potatoes in and the yorkshire puddings. I had best head off now and add the rest of the flour to the sponge and then knead it, and put it back on the proving rack to prove before we start the fire. We will then knock it back and shape it. We will be making some nice multigrain rolls to make roast beef and roast pork rolls to take on Jetstar for her lunch (we checked…you can…:o) she says “see you tomorrow”

      Reply

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