His name is Herman, he’s just moved in here…

Hi All,

Firstly, that title is set to Copacabana by Barry Manilow should you be at ALL interested…Secondly meet Herman…

Isn’t he lovely?

Herman appears to have been living the good life as he is quite plump and looks very sleek and healthy

At this stage he wasn’t aware that Steve was taking photos of him through the archway between the first and second gardens…

Here Herman appears to have found something particularly tasty that he needed to probe the lawn for

Here is where Herman rumbled Steve taking photos of him and hightailed it off the lawn into the dense undergrowth

Herman has been spotted twice now on Serendipity Farm. The first sighting was of Herman hanging about the drain that runs underneath the driveway down to the teatree forest. We got a brief glimpse of him looking down the avenue of Lilly Pilly trees and by the time that Steve grabbed the camera and hot footed it down the pathway to take a photo and by the time that he got to where we saw Herman, he was gone. Today Steve got back from dropping mum off and shopping and we were standing out on the deck in the sun and Steve noticed something moving about through the archway leading to the second garden. We had a closer look and saw Herman rootling around in the lawn hunting for whatever it is that echidnas eat and Steve snuck down and took those photos before Herman realised that he was being watched and hightailed it into the undergrowth to freedom. Until he realised that he was rumbled, Herman was decidedly at home wandering around the second garden like he knew it intimately which leads me to believe that Herman has decided to call Serendipity Farm his home. We are happy and proud to welcome Herman the echidna to our humble but mental property and hope that his stay here is not infested with fleas, ticks, leeches, hens or cats of any kind and that he enjoys his stay here for as long as he sees fit.

Tasmania seems to be hitting a few high temperatures this weekend. I am not too sure as to what we are going to be doing while this heat wave is wafting over us, but the odds are, not very much.Effel just lost another one of her babies. I would be angry at the cats apart from the fact that Effel constantly takes her babies over to the lion’s den where the cats all live and pushes her luck every day. Today she pushed her luck too far and her favourite baby that stayed with her constantly got taken. I dare say it was the kittens that took it because they are large enough to be bored with staying in the conifer all day while mum hunts sparrows. Felix will no doubt give them the equivalent of a hissy fit when she gets back and sees what they have done because she knows that she isn’t allowed to touch the chicks and hasn’t taken any yet. I think the chick that they took was a rooster so in a way I am not too angry but that poor little chick didn’t deserve to be taken in the first place because his dumb cluck of a mother kept putting him in dangers way. I suppose it’s the survival of the fittest and Effel only has 1 of her original 3 babies left now. Houdini has all 5 of her babies with her still and as feral as they are, they are the most likely to survive and pass on their genetic material to a future generation. I have been reading Jackie French’s “Chook book” that mum gave me for Christmas. It’s a veritable wealth of good common sense information about raising healthy and happy chooks naturally in Australian conditions. Jackie French is an Aussie institution. I remember her, larger than life (she is a lot thinner now) and eccentric bordering on insane with her natural remedies about everything and her sustainable ways long before it was fashionable to care about the environment. She is no nonsense and very intelligent and her website is a wealth of information about everything. She is also a prolific author now and no doubt her books are as interesting as she is. Here is the garden section of her website to give you a glimpse at what she does with her spare time…


I remember seeing Jackie on Mike Walsh’s daytime television show. That was so long ago that it can only be seen through wisps in the ether (and on YouTube…) and anyone younger than 40 probably won’t remember it.  It was the precursor to many of our television shows since and was a very entertaining watch for many years. Jackie French had a regular spot on the show and had incredible enthusiasm and passion for everything that she talked about and did. She used to wear weird and wonderful hats and was a consummate spinster and suddenly one day she got married and had a tribe of children. I love to see people like her prosper because she was a plain large eccentric lady who got her 15 minutes of fame and who has a real place in our Aussie echelons of fame for what she taught us all way back when the world was all about greed and no one cared about sustainability. Thank you for your tireless work back then and for showing us a little light under a massive great corporate bushel Jackie and you deserve all of the success with your books and your life that you are now enjoying.

I have a problem with my teabags. I usually have 1 enormous cup of tea a day now because I would like to give up tea but I can’t bear the thought of the 3+ days of caffeine headache that will take over my life and make me miserable until it bleeds out of my system where it has been safely ensconced since I was 2 years old. I have found that I am fine so long as my body gets that 1 cup of tea in the morning. I have 3 teabags in my cup, nice and strong and a good kick-start to the day. My problem is that tea leeches up the string of the teabag and drips down onto the desk next to where I am sitting leaving a little puddle of tea on the desk. Why does this happen? It’s obviously some sort of wicking thing. I have been researching water wicking in garden beds and it’s a very interesting premise for using grey water in an enclosed gardening system as well as minimising water usage and plant roots do your work for you. It is based on the principal of capillary action in soil and plant roots action on water and the direction that it takes in the soil. I am not going to bore you with the details of water wicking here but if you are interested, it’s really a great idea for Australian growing conditions and you can check out more about it here where you can download PDF’s that show you how to implement water wicking in your own gardening situation…


After that aside, let’s get back to the problem at hand…my teabags leaking all over the desk and wasting some of my precious only cup of tea I allow myself in a day. Short of licking the desk (which is gross and probably would result in me getting some sort of dusk allergy going internally…) I needed a way to stop me having to wipe up wayfaring liquid every time I had a cup of tea. Enter the Teafu. Teafu is an amazing creation by Dreamfarm and part of my Christmas gift from my son this year. I have mentioned this most innovative of companies before but they are worth your patronage should you be in the market for some shmick multi-purposing kitchen gadgetry that will save you time and money. The teafu is a most interesting contraption that consists of a teaspoon shaped set of 2 silicone (red in my case but you get a choice of colours) halves that you put loose leaf tea into one side, close them together and sit them into your cup/mug and pour over your boiling water. The silicone is both attractively coloured (you can choose from lots of eye-catching colours) and practical as you can squeeze the sides of the teafu together to extract every drop of your precious elixir out of its contents and then you can stand it on the bench top until you want to open up the handles and dump the contents into your waiting compost bin. I had purchased one earlier in the year that was purple, but now that I have a few items that are all red, I gave my purple teafu to mum and she can have her green tea, her lemon verbena or whatever else she wants now in it. I have very large mugs, usually exceeding 600ml and so I need to use a bit of my lateral thinking ability to ensure that the teafu doesn’t end up submerged in my mug. I use a metal skewer slid through the handle to dangle it over the boiling liquid, thus saving my fingers (and anyone in close proximities ears) from having to fish it out of said boiling liquid. It is an ingenious idea and I found a good recipe for making your own Chai tea on the Instructables site and will be buying and mixing my own soon and that is where teafu will come in extremely handy.

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Steve has just finished removing a massively overgrown stringy Westringia fruticosa (Coastal rosemary) from where Effel’s baby got snaffled this morning. We are removing the cats hiding places so that they can’t leap out of the undergrowth and grab unsuspecting (and somewhat stupid) hen’s babies without a degree of warning so that they at least have a chance to run. Over the course of the next year Steve and I are going to take back Serendipity Farm from the blackberries, jasmine, honeysuckle and banana passionfruit and pare it back to its bare bones. We have lots of potted plants just waiting for us to install some brown dripper hose irrigation and plant them out in the raised garden bed under the deck and in the side garden. I am constantly amazed by how our past choices fit in with what we have to do on Serendipity Farm now. We almost didn’t sign up for the horticulture course when it fitted in with our schedule. It was a toss-up between horticulture and a diploma of small business. I was pushing for small business, but Steve wanted to have a go at horticulture and thank goodness we did because no diploma of small business on earth would have set us up with the knowledge and practical ability to steer Serendipity Farm on the right sustainable course. It’s important to note that what we see as something terrible in our lives is not always the case. Steve was forced to move from his flat in South End in the U.K. back home to his parents place in Liverpool. No one wants to have to move back in with their parents, it is admitting defeat and adult children are most definitely a thorn in their parent’s social lives and living conditions. If Steve hadn’t  moved back to live with his parents, I would never have met him. Sometimes the calamities and catastrophes that life hurls at us are to set the wheels in motion for something wonderful in the future. We are all part of this machine that we call humanity and each one of us is a vital cog in what happens with our world. We might feel insignificant and like no one cares and that we don’t matter but everything happens for a reason and what we do and our choices that we make each and every day form a specific part of where the world is heading to. I am glad that I haven’t had an amazingly easy life and that I wasn’t born beautiful and privileged because I have learned so much on my pathway so far and plan on expanding that knowledge exponentially for as long as I live. It’s true that with age comes wisdom. It’s just sad that some people choose to remain dumb isn’t it? :o) See you all tomorrow when it’s heating up Serendipity Farm and we all head towards the countdown to 2012.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 12:02:23

    I so love that Jackie French web page! What an amazing place eh. Would love to stay in the guest house, maybe if we asked nicely she would let us stay for a little while. How cute is Herman, great photos by the way. I have been using a “tea ball” for years. I usually have one cup of tea a day, but in a tea cup. If I’m at work then I have one at morning tea. I don’t usually have any after lunch as it keeps me awake. Actually one of my dreams is to own a tea shop and sell all sorts of teas and anything to do with tea, like teapots, which I love. I could collect them if I let myself but just have to keep that passion in check. I also collect chokes and roosters, but have also put that on hold too. My lovely friends gave me a lovely one for my birthday, can’t give it back, so sorry Bruce just had to fit it in lol. I think they would go well in a tea shop… Another passion is patchwork, so I would have to incorporate that somehow too. I went to Sassafras, isn’t that a great name, in the Dandenongs and they had a fabulous tea shop. They also had the best toy shop ever. The shepherds pie was a hit. Still have two pieces left over, because my son is still away. Going to a friends place for new years. By the way Fran you are one of the most beautiful people i know 🙂 x


    • narf77
      Dec 30, 2011 @ 13:20:58

      So if I was to send you a box of various kinds of chooks, roosters, teapots and tea Bruce couldn’t say anything? :o) I am guessing that the “Beautiful people” comment is about my insides as I am sure as heck NOT one of the beautiful people on the outside! :o)


  2. Kym
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 12:03:49

    Lol chooks not chokes, stupid auto correct!


  3. Pinky
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 14:07:59

    Love Herman the echidna. Dad used to talk about him or another one all the time Fronkii. I’ve just been watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the ABC. Love his style and his whole ethos of paying respect to the whole beastie you’ve killed by using all of it to eat. There was an interesting show on the ABC last night about an Aussie guy making a 5 course dinner up from dumpster diving in Woolies and Coles bins. He’s setting up a “peoples supermarket” from what I could gather by watching the tail end of the show.
    It’s nicely cooler in Albany today though very steamy with total cloud cover. Letting Sabrina and Andy take the RAV4 to Perth for New Years tomorrow!! I think we feel safer that she’s surrounded by a bit more metal than her little buzzbox though it has travelled to Perth plenty of times. We’ll have the pleasure of her little car to drive for a couple of days.


    • narf77
      Dec 30, 2011 @ 16:56:41

      We will be in bed WAY before 12 after eating our weights worth of home made subway sandwiches (an enormous French stick each and all the toppings) and as much New Years cheer as we can quaff. Bollocks to staying up till late, we have to get up at 5.30am to walk the boys out of the heat so we are NOT going to stay up to 12 to listen to the local eejits let off the flares from their yachts. We will be tucked up snoring by then :o) Happy New Years to you all and remind Jason that he DID say that he actually wanted a Steampunk Mr. Potato head… ;o)


  4. Mum.
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 22:45:22

    I love Herman Pen! I bet he has lived there for a long time. I’ve pinched the photo’s too by the way.Jackie French’s house & garden looks exactly what I’d love.She has deserved every bit of it too. He sounds like he is quite at home. They love worms too, opart of their diet,& whatever else takes their fancy. OOER,thunder! It has been raining-delicious.Still very humid though. I have half a dozen mini scotch eggs cooking at the moment. They look & smell delicious too. I’ll try Stewart on a couple.Poor little chick, gone in a cats innards. Effel probably won’t care if the other one gets taken either, cow. Must send a few photo’s over I took too. Hell, I just lifted off the chair with a big crack of thunder. I’m off!


  5. Pinky
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 22:46:20

    And where is said Steamboat Potato Head pray tell Fronkii? Hahahahaha! I barbecued the lamb shoulders plus some corn on the cob in their husks and it was scrumptious! Nicely charred in all the right places. Plus I made some Dauphinois? potatoes as well. Yumbo!


    • narf77
      Dec 31, 2011 @ 08:54:19

      ROTFL! You make me laugh Pinky…you have to get “Hip with the jive speak” of the younger people today…”Steamboat” is like Steam boat willie (Mickey Mouses very first movie back in the 1930’s) and Steampunk is where you mix the industrial look of pipes, copper and metals with fashion from the Jules Verne era. Ask Jason, Stewart and the girls are into it and love it. Modern technology tricked up like Sherlock Holmes. I will send you a picture of said “Steampunk Mr Potato Head” so that you can see what I mean I am still laughing!…


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