Hot to trot on Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

Firstly I have to say a big Aussie “hello :o)” to my new blog follower PhotoBotos. I have no idea how they happened upon our humble little blog all the way from America so after noting that they had clicked “Like” on one of my posts I headed over to their site to discover that it was amazing with fantastic photography and well-presented and designed content. Much like Annie of “The Micro Gardener”, the boys from PhotoBotos have found something that clicks down on Serendipity Farm. Again I am constantly amazed at how I can meet and share with people who I would never have had the opportunity to know due to their localities being so very far removed from our own. Thank you so much to both PhotoBotos and The Micro Gardener for allowing us to share our story with them. I can’t guarantee that I won’t occasionally rant (today is no exception) and should you have any problems with any of the colloquialisms that we use, please feel free to ask me what the hell I am talking about. Most people have trouble working out what the hell I am talking about so you are in good company :o). Anyone is welcome here at Serendipity Farm but for our new guests we will just have to dig deep and get out the good china…

Remember, these guys PROMISE to give you one AMAZING photo every day and dare us all to keep them honest by checking up every day. I do, you should as well. Some blogs deserve our patronage and this is one of them.

Here’s Annie’s blog and if you are a gardener or are even vaguely interested in gardening sustainably and organically, Annie will show you how with her amazingly detailed and information packed blog. You even get a fantastic free e-book when you sign up! How great is that? I can’t give you an e-book. I dare say it would be banned due to inappropriate content…sorry about that guys, you will just have to read the posts to get your daily fix :o)


Oops! I just noticed that Clareville of Sydney has also subscribed to my humble little blog! Thankyou so much to everyone who wants to share. My kettle is always on the stove for all of my friends, both old and new and should you wish to partake of anything stronger, we have last years peach wine and some very nice Italian glasses that my daughters gave me for Christmas….

It’s another hot day on Serendipity Farm and after waking up at 5am to walk the dogs out of the heat and then throwing ourselves into the garden to clear a pathway to the large fallen tree trunk we knocked off “work” at just on 9am. We threw the clucky silver laced wyandotte and her sister a nice golden laced wyandotte into the outside pen to cool off and to stop being clucky. No more babies for us this season! and we are tired of not getting many eggs because the clucky hens steal all of them and put the other hens off laying. As predicted, Felix has moved her kittens back down to the hedge between the 1st and 2nd gardens. She was obviously feeling very exposed and when I went to feed all of the cats last night she hissed at me. I know she was scared as Jacko was also after some grub at the time and she is worried about her kittens. We might have to start putting their food further afield and feeding Jacko at his newly claimed back sunning spot under the conifer. We have just given the cats a bit of leftover Christmas meat. The dogs got their fair share as well but are still miffed at us giving any food to the cats at all, let alone tasty Christmas meat that should belong solely in their bowls. Jacko got the last chunk of ham and Steve hurled the very last Scotch egg down through the archway for the kittens. One of the kittens decided to investigate the egg while it was flying through the air and took a direct hit leaving it standing looking at the egg in a most bewildered but cute way. Not long after the kitten headed down into the 2nd garden, along with his siblings and Steve saw them eating the Scotch egg. We don’t have leftovers any more. There is always something to eat what we can’t fit in or ultimately the compost bin takes the rest. We are yet to work out what to do with the feral cats’ or how to deal with them in the long term. It isn’t as easy as “catch them in a trap and take them to the R.S.P.C.A.” as they are not fooled that easily and should we manage to catch one in said trap, good luck getting the rest of them in the trap after that! I severely doubt that we will manage to catch the 6 ferals that are causing the problems. We would like to allow Jacko to live here as he is more like family then feral. As usual, it is never as easy as making a simple decision so as usual we have shoved it into the “too hard to think about at the moment” basket where it will stay until our hands are forced.

Steve has decided that he is going to expand his tool empire to encompass some carving tools. We have a shop in Launceston called CARBA-TEC that sells quality woodworking tools and woodworking machines and is most probably going to be covered in Steve drool the next time that he heads into town. We checked out their online site and there are some amazing tools to be had that will make his job a whole lot easier than using enormous chisels and a jigsaw with some sandpaper to make spoons etc. A few additional tools will allow him to scoop out the bowls of his spoons to make them smoother whilst still allowing him a degree of rustic flexibility. It’s great having the tools and the creativity to do what you want. I think that you should get the best quality tools that you can afford (or save up for them) because if you buy cheaper things, you get what you pay for. If you are serious about doing something, give it the best chance to be something that you can be proud of. It’s hard to be proud of something totally skewed because your tools were not calibrated and cut in a wonky fashion. All you need to do is hunt for the queries “how to make a wooden spoon” or “how to make a wooden ladle” to find all sorts of amazing sites. Once you have found some of these things, use an image search to look up “rustic wooden spoon” or something along that vein and you would be amazed at how creative some people have been and are. We have the idea of making some spoons, ladles, back scratchers etc. and selling them at the Deviot basket market on Saturdays. I could make some mini brioche or other gourmet breads to sell as well. Perhaps even some delicious cupcakes? Who knows, all I know is that it would be fun to see if anyone else would find Steve’s lovely creations worth buying. I think that he is very good at what he does and I am fussy and particular so if I like it, it’s probably worth buying. We shall see…

I am putting off typing out that River Cottage Handbook No. 3. It’s the Bread book and it’s got so much information that I am finding it difficult to isolate a few very good recipes to type out for future use and am ending up typing most of the text. It has 223 pages of extremely tiny text so the odds of me finishing typing it before January 4th when it has to be returned are extremely slim and next to none. I guess I am just going to have to really sift through the recipes and find those that I absolutely MUST try. I am a bit of an information hoarder. We all hoard things but information is my forte and I have files, folders and lots of CD’s and back up information hoarded for future use. I find it hard to leave bits out and typed out the entire copy of “The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition” in its entirety. This book is such a wealth of precious and no longer in print information that I just had to spend the 3 weeks’ worth of a couple of hours a night typing it out in total. I don’t regret a day of it even though my fingers didn’t work property for a few days after I had finished. This book can’t be bought online for any less than $360 from anywhere. I needed to have a copy and so I had to do what it took which was type the whole book out, recipes, information and sources of ferments, moulds and cultures. My family can’t fathom why I type out recipes when I can just as easy find them online. Who knows how much longer the internet is going to remain as free as it is? Now that everything starts with an “I” (thank you VERY much Apple…) and almost all aps to use these various apparatus come at some sort of a cost, it feels a whole lot to me like an enormous company is tentatively feeling the surface of what we are and are not willing to pay for in an attempt to bag us all and wrap us up in its silken talon’s much like a massive great spider luring us into its clutches where we will all work out (too late methinks) that what we got lured by is NOT good for us…

We are going to thrash the jungle tomorrow. Well, at least give it a bit of a spanking to make it think about its actions. We have decided to take chunks of wilderness and deal with them. I think we have decided to allow the cotoneaster to live for a while and clean out underneath it. It would be a crying shame to remove it and find out (too late) that we actually needed it to sustain a large area of the garden. I am not one to rush into things lightly (ask Steve, it’s a constant thorn in his hasty masculine side…) and so think that we should at least give this tree a chance. It does have fruit that feeds the birds and the flowers lure bees from kilometres around. It also offers protection to those plants growing under it and so perhaps we need to think a bit more about its position in our garden. I know that the birds scoff the berries and take them far and wide. I also know that there are worse weeds to be messing about with than the humble cotoneaster. They are pretty easy to deal with and don’t have thorns. We have more pressing things to get stuck into like halting the honeysuckles advancing forces from taking over more of the jungle then it already has. We also have to cut the banana passionfruit vines out of the big cotoneaster tree. I know that my mum is enamoured of both of these plants but like the forget-me-not and their close friend blackberries, they react in a different way over here in Tasmanian conditions then they do in Western Australia’s climate. Over there they can’t get a foothold because it gets too hot and they simply die off. Over here, they get milder conditions and once they get a foothold on your property they rampage like skinheads in the 80’s at a punk concert. All you are left with is a garden full of thorns. I know that we can harvest fruit from the blackberries, but their negatives outweigh their positives and we can harvest the fruit on any vacant road verge as they are in plague proportions where we live. We also have to deal with the boneseed problem. Boneseed is a member of the Asteraceae family more commonly known as daisies. Like most of our more problematic weeds it comes from South Africa and absolutely loves it here. Due to dad being told to remove said boneseed and his wilful stubborn need to be master of all he surveyed and bollocks to ANYONE that told him what he could and couldn’t have on his property, the boneseed had a party for 20 odd years on this property and we will be removing them for years to come thanks to their massive seed bank in the soil. This weed is a declared noxious weed in Tasmania and must be removed as soon as it is noted and so we have a duty of care to deal with it immediately and make sure that no one else be subjected to it. It is quite an attractive plant and has pretty yellow daisy flowers and we had to laugh on a walk with the dogs around our local area in Launceston when we lived in town when we saw someone actually pruning and maintaining a boneseed in their garden. Topiary boneseed would make my old lecturer at Polytechnic have instant apoplexy!

It’s obvious that beneath that manic expression (you would look like that to if you got up at 5am in the dark to walk 2 most ungrateful American Staffordshire Terriers who dragged you all over the place before you got your first cup of tea…) that their lurks the cold hard eyes of a (blackberry) killer! You only got this photo because I am being honest about myself and our lives now. No one likes to see themselves looking demented but I will allow you this chuckle to show you the extent of what we had to wade through to get this area cleared. We need to clear it to get back to the tree that fell into the garden and cut it up for this years winter wood for our stove. This tangle of honeysuckle and muehlenbeckia covers a mass of strangled dead shrubs that we have now removed and we finally got back to the trunk that needs cutting up!

Here’s an ancient blackbirds nest that we found in one of the deceased shrubs that had been suffocated by vines. The sphagnum moss in the nest actually grows prolifically down in the teatree gardens and we will be harvesting it whenever we need to perform some mystical aerial layering in the near future. I love sharing little things that we find here on Serendipity Farm and these little gifts are what make living out in the country such a rewarding experience.

Now it’s 2012 (I hadn’t gotten used to writing 2011 yet and now I have to adapt again!) I am taking stock of who and what I am. I guess it also has a fair bit to do with turning 49 this year. To all parents, parents in law and ex parents in law who are reading this post and suddenly realised how old they are sorry! It can’t be helped. I have been feeling the very strong need to make sure that I appreciate the life that I have and that we are living. I guess that is what happens when you hit half a century old and start thinking about your own mortality. I know that we only get one shot at this amazing; breath taking, emotional, passionate, creative, terrifying life and I don’t want to waste any more of it on doing things that are simply not going to help me in the long run. Why mess about hiding things about yourself when you are what you are? We are all unique members of an amazing procession of humanity that has been marching from the cradle to the grave for many thousands of years. Despite each one of us feeling like the world is our oyster as we live it through our own circumstances, it is just somewhere that we put some marks on while we are here and it’s up to us what those marks are when we leave this earth. Sorry if this post is a bit confrontational. I don’t believe in not facing things that are inevitable. The sooner we face them, the sooner we can learn to appreciate our precious lives and be constantly thankful for how lucky we are to simply be alive. I must be getting older. I have gone from thinking that I am immune to the weathering of time to hobbling about when I first get out of bed on a less than stellar pair of knees and falling asleep whenever I pick up a book to read. I also think that youth is so very wasted on the young and my daughters will take me to task when I next go to visit them, but it’s true! Why do we wait till we are 60 years old and retired to take up ‘fitness’ in a big way? Why do we buy and drive around in sports cars and discover the gym when we should be centring ourselves in our humanity. What happened that stoped people from being aware of their own mortality and start to think that by nipping, tucking, freezing and faking it that they would somehow be immune to the passage and ravages of time? There is a reason why we get wrinkles, why both sexes start to (most curiously) resemble each other after the age of 80 and why it’s wise to be friends with your partner should you wish to remain so when you are retired and spend all of your time with them. We no longer learn these life lessons and most people are hell bent on remaining “young” at all costs. The sad thing is that the young can’t wait till they get older and get those sports cars, money and power and so all of humanity is in various stages of “lust for life” (sorry Iggy, had to use that one…) when all they have to do is stop believing the media hype and start being honest with themselves.

I don’t care if people don’t like me because I don’t wear makeup and have wrinkles. I could care less if I was expected to be muscular, trim and tanned. Bollocks to anyone who tries to tell me that I am not doing my bit for the lie that is becoming old age. I am slightly scared at how terrifying my generation is going to be when they hit their 70’s, all saggy tattooed skin, pierced everything dropping into their soup and crazy smooth foreheads and buff implanted saggy boobs, bums and abs. The sooner we learn to accept the inevitable, the sooner we can get on with learning to love our lives and every precious day that we get to spend here with our friends and family. Stop worrying about tomorrow, it might not even be yours. Just live here today and appreciate everything that comes your way for the truly precious gift that it is. I figured that it was time to give you a good rant. I couldn’t be having you think that 2012 was going to be rant free now could I? I sometimes despair of how stupid so many people are becoming. Do they really believe the lies that the media tell us to get us to part with our money? Obviously they do because billions goes into undeserving coffers in the quest for eternal youth and the need to be desired and loved. If my husband can’t love me unless I get my forehead botoxed, my bum lifted and my boobs full of toxic silicone, he can bugger off. We chose to share this life together “come what may” and so aging is part of that. Every morning he has to look at my ‘interesting’ body before I cloth it and it hasn’t made him run away yet. Perhaps one day he will, but that is his choice. All we are born with is our soul and the clothing that God gives us to put around it and we can’t make anyone love us or stay with us if they don’t want to. I am comfortable in my skin (some might say a little TOO comfortable/snug at the moment) and should someone want to change me good luck to them. I haven’t got time to be scared of wrinkles. They are already there and I haven’t died from wrinkle poisoning yet so like boneseed, they just have to be accepted as part of life here on Serendipity Farm. Who knows what the future may bring? Most certainly not me and so every day I am going to give thanks for simply waking up. Thankyou God for this chance to be me and for letting me live my life how I want to. I have a very rare opportunity to do so and feel very privileged to be aware of my good fortune. At the moment I am knee deep in thought but pretty soon I will be knee deep in weeds so I guess this is a mild effort at postponing the inevitable? Good try Fran…now back to work…see you all tomorrow when I will be less philosophical and more tired :o)

I decided to put a few photos of where we are at in our clearing project. We have liberated the eucalyptus (that I note has 5 not 4 trunks like I had previously said) and you can see what is left of the trunks of the soft tree ferns in this picture. You can now clearly see the house from this area of the garden.

Forgive the sunshine playing havoc with this photo (neither of us profess to be anything other than rank amateurs when it comes to photography :o)) but this shot is to show you the cleared trunk of what is left of the tree that fell down into this area of the garden. We discovered that the tree hit a long dead suffocated tree which stopped it from crushing the bamboo next to the pond area. Either way, the long dead tree is now gone and tomorrow we will be logging what is left of this tree.

This cleared chaos most probably looks a whole lot like the chaos previous to anyone who doesn’t live here on Serendipity Farm but each picture catalogues a little triumph over the jungle of weeds and a little advantage and victory to we penniless horticultural hippies (we can add that now because we have our Diploma’s :o)) and as such they will be listed here for posterities sake and to remind us in future days just what we had to go through to get to our future goal. It’s always good to show processes because these difficult days tend to blend into the romantic ether of memory when you look back on them. I NEVER want to think that what we are currently going through was in any way, shape or form “romantic”. Its bloody hard work and every hard grasped inch of victory over these bloody bollocky weeds is going to remain clear and frank in my mind with the use of these photos. Thanks for humouring me but I need this lot!

This is looking back down into the chaos that is our garden. One day soon you will see a distinct difference and we need to catalogue this process to keep us sane…

This photo is to remind us of where the sun falls at 8.30am on a hot summers day for future prospective planting…methinks that some Primulas might be a nice touch in the shady bit and should the gastropods EVER decide to stop scoffing the hostas that we are hoarding in the glasshouse, they might be nice here as well. I have lots of heucharas for the sunny bit and this afternoon is going to be filled up with researching more shrubs and ground coveres to put here. Planting ground covers keeps the moisture in the soil and after the chooks scratch up all of the leaf litter and small twigs the soil is going to revert to dust unless we get stuck in…

Last but not least we have the poor long suffering sorbus (rowan) tree. We have actually cleared more around it now but we are going to have to carefully consider what we are going to do with this tree because of its current state.


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 14:25:09

    Phew that is a lot of weeds! I will never complain about mine again, or if I do I will look at your post to remind me that my little bit of suburbia is nothing much really. I think you are doing a great job Fran, the photos show that. By the way I think the photo that is sunshiny has an orb in it, probably your dad lol. I like the spoons that Steve has made. I think they would sell very well at the markets. Bruce has some of his granddads old carpenter tools, his dad is hopeless at anything “handy” so Bruce has them. He loves going into the tool shops too, also drools on everything lol. One of his family friends found a wood lathe on the kerb in one of those kerb pick ups. How lucky was that! Bruce was scouring the kerbs for months after that but no luck. What he did get, however, was a fridge/freezer which he converted into an ice chest. Works very well too, the ice lasts for days. He has put a jarrah surround on the bottom and attached a hose to allow the water to be drained out of it. We have used it for many parties and even loaned it out. He thought he might make a business out of it, so we ended up with a few more kerb fridges, but then decided that he didn’t really have the time. So next pick up we had a few fridges on our kerb they all went before pickup day too lol. I tried to send a picture of a twiggy pig through to you in an email but it just would not go the bugger! So I will have to scan the picture and send it to you via snail mail. When you get time can you email your address to me and I will dutifully send the pictures. I think you will love it, especially with your interest in making things out of cane. Well I will bid you goodbye as I have to go feed my face and get ready to go to the tennis. Have a good one and think of me sitting in the Burswood Dome cooking at 32 degrees with lots of other bodies squished in with me doing the same. Bye x


    • narf77
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 14:52:04

      Hopefully the bodies squashed next to yours all resemble Johnny depp, Brad Pitt and George Clooney…I got the twiggy pig word doc and have stashed it for future pig preparation when the willow canes are right to pluck (and the council workers are not watching…). What a lucky find to get a wood lathe! Don’t tell Steve or he will start his old skip diving habit all over again…I have only just got him out of it. Curious he will skip dive but he won’t take things left on verges! Scruples or afraid he might get seen :o). Has Bruce tried making an old fridge/freezer into a brewing system? I found instructions on that Instructable site that I inhabit but Steve won’t build one because electricity costs too much over here. I guess beer doesn’t? (go figure with how men think. If I ever work it out my mind will simply give up the will to live and go to alaska to live in the cool…). Have a great day smooching at the Hopman cup with the boys for me (if they don’t look like the hunky 3, imagine that they do :o)


  2. Mum
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:38:12

    That was a good rant for the start of the new year Pen. My monitor would not work all morning, but the power has been on & off since last night, just a few seconds at a time, but I think it sulked. Hey, wrinkles are laughter lines love, think of them that way! Once you hit 50, something gives,& you don’t really worry so much,so look forward to it! I can sure see a big difference since I was there only last week, where you have been clearing. It’s a lot different from when you first took up residence, so take heart both of you. that orb just could be your dad checking things out too! Who are we to say eh?Probably wishing he could tell youi what to do there ! Think of a few soft ferns to grow in the shady bits of the garden, as they add greenery & look nice & cool. Mop top the cotoneaster too, & you can grow things underneath it. That rowan will be a lovely specimen tree I reckon, with the lacy leaves & red berries in the cooler weather. Have you saved that birds nest? It looks well knitted together.I posted off two Handyman magazines this morning, I thought Steve & you might like to browse through.I also asked dave about sending the instruments,& as long as they are well wrapped, they go How do I wrap the violin with case? maybe tape it up all over? Who knows, as you clear each garden out, Felix might keep going further down till she takes her kids & vamooses. I think Jacko will stay where he is though. Took my mulcher, after a good clean out, down to Dennis Marshalls this morning, so I hope he can sharpen it, as I have numerous prunings to do & mulch. It will all go back around my plants every where too. It looks like the origano has gone to god too now. I’ll get another saturday.Now I am in for a short noddy in the chair.


    • narf77
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 17:36:33

      The cottoneaster is outta there now mum. We decided that its negatives outweigh its positives (we found hundreds of little baby ones all over the place down in the garden while we were clearing debris). The sorbus stays. As Kym said, you can put popped popcorn in the violin case to stop it moving around and then wrap the case in good old brown paper and sticky tape it well on all the joins and it will get here fine. Steve has a lovely classical guitar in the U.K. that he would love to have here but he would need to pay a fortune for an expensive hard case for it and even then it might not make the plane trip (they are prone to warping). Steve will be most appreciative to get them both by the way mum and they will take pride of place in his music room. Thanks for the handyman magazines as well :o)


  3. Kym
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:56:12

    Wow I’m so pleased you got that post, I really didn’t think it go through. It comes with instructions if you want me to photocopy them and send them over 🙂 Unfortunately I will be surrounded by middle aged women like me, good company and fun to be with but not drool worthy lol. By the way Fran’s mum, popcorn makes great packing material for delicate stiff. Cheap too.


    • narf77
      Jan 03, 2012 @ 17:32:46

      (he-he…) I would love the instructions for that piggy. It looks like it would make a very good statue for the garden so long as we could keep the 4 kittens from scaling it like Mt. Everest. By the way…(I have to ask…) what is a “delicate stiff”? :o)


  4. Mum
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 18:20:12

    Problem solved with that cotoneaster eh? Thank you Kym, I have a popcorn maker & will get cracking. The case is a light wood & not too big, plus the instrument is sitting well in shaped felt, so won’t need popcorn. It only weighs 2 kilos, where the clarinet is 2 1/2 ! The violin will need work if you fancy to do so Steve, but will get them on their way soon.Hope the post doesn’t think I’m sending a machine gun over ! If you two gals are middle aged, what the hell does that make me? An old fart ! Life begins at 50, you have less inhibitions I found, & you really do enjoy life better, so0 go for it with both hands !


  5. Kym
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 13:09:29

    Well it is meant to be stuff but the auto correct sometimes doesn’t recognize our slang and substitutes words, hence it thought stiff was the word to use. Although I am sure you could come up with something more exciting lol


    • narf77
      Jan 04, 2012 @ 15:21:57

      I once changed every underlined word (both spelling and grammar) that Word wanted me to change to its suggested alternatives and the result was hilarious. I have no idea why some of the suggestions are in there but it does make for something fun to do on a boring rainy day when you have nothing else to do :o).


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