The Pimbletts go to town…

Hi All,

Today I am posting a few days earlier because we will be in town most of the day. I sometimes feel like Wild West pioneers when we go to town now. We have to really think about doing everything that we can while we are there so that we don’t have to take the 100km round trip the next day due to forgetting something. Our daughters are getting 3 dozen eggs tomorrow. Too bad if they can’t use 3 dozen eggs, I am sure that they can use some of their Truffle oil from Perigord France that they got in their amazing gourmet hamper from their most thoughtful of brothers for Christmas and a dozen of those free range golden yolked eggs along with some thin sliced smoked salmon to make themselves some delicious gourmet scrambled eggs. The other 2 dozen will come in handy as my daughters are excellent cooks and are very good at using what comes their way vis-à-vis foodstuffs. We might pick up some more “stuff” from the shed in town. We have to remember to get two 18kg bags of chook food or a riot will break loose and it will be every chook for themselves and it won’t be pretty. I have to drop off 1 copy of the River Cottage Handbook 3 (Bread) and pick up 1 copy of The River Cottage Handbook 9 (Fruits) from the Exeter Library. We have to coordinate our trips to town like a carefully choreographed ballet sometimes as the library is only open on odd days and at odd times. I use the library as the precious resource that it is with great gusto and as many times as I can. I have ordered all manner of books and other media from this amazing free source of information and constantly feel like I have won lotto when I manage to isolate yet another precious tomb that I can’t buy (due to it being out of print or my penniless nature, it’s always one or the other :o)) or some promising piece of prose that postulates itself on my peripherals (that was fun! :o)). I am waiting for a copy of “Toast: the story of a boy’s hunger” by Nigel Slater. I love Nigel and his comforting nana-ness. He wraps you up in his recipes and feeds you chicken soup when you might otherwise be feeling a bad case of human malaise. His television shows are a blend of homespun chic and slow easy grace that is tied up with brown string and wholesome goodness. I want to read more about Nigel and find out what makes him who he is. My copy is in transit and I foresee a few days of comfortable introspective pleasure just Nige and me and a big cup of tea and a piece of mum’s home-made Christmas cake.

The River Cottage Handbooks that I have in my possession at the moment. On closer inspection, those of you pedantic sods (Madeline, you KNOW you are :o) will pick that I have 2 copies of the River Cottage Preserves Handbook. One is the original and the other I was hoping would have updates in it, but alas, my cleverness exceeded the truth this time so I will only need to type out the best recipes out of 1 of them. I took back the bread book but am requesting it again today so in about 2 months, when it gets back to me in the line again, I will have to time to dedicate to typing out what I want from it at my leisure. These are really good books by the way and are a must get for anyone wanting to head into the smallholding sector

Steve took this nice shot of 4 yachts slowly meandering up the Tamar for a day’s boating.

I am also waiting for a copy of “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer. I had an incredible juxtaposed situation where I was woken before 6am (we have to walk the dogs before it gets too hot) and lying in bed with my ears back waiting for ANYTHING to allow me to offload my resentment for my current predicament and highly indignant because the usual morning D.J. hadn’t started her show yet so I was forced to listen to the final minutes of the “overnight show”. I lay there listening to the last vestiges of my delicious rest melting into the oblivion of the hard work that lay ahead and suddenly they started to play an aural reading of a small portion of this book. It was a continuation of previous readings and apparently we people that wake up after 6am miss out! It’s a travesty I say! The juxtaposition was my outrageous resentment and indignation at being forced to wake up early smack bang up against my instant and growing delight at the lilting and uplifting tones of this book. The premise (from what I have gleaned from my newfound interest for waking up before 6am) is as follows (the website from which this review was taken is supplied after the review…)

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends — and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society — born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island — boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humour as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.”

http://www.readinggroupguides.com/guides_g/guernsey_literary_pie_society1.asp

I HAD to read this book. When I read a good book it takes me over. It gets deep inside me and for the duration of the reading (and if it is a particularly good book, for some time afterwards…) this book becomes part of me. They say that you are what you eat, and I truly believe that we are what we absorb. What we see, what we choose to immerse ourselves in, we take it in and it melds to us and a good book can give you something that nothing else can. I couldn’t believe that both books are in transit! I will get Nige to cuddle up to and give me a tasty hug, and this gem of a novel to give me some home spun happiness and remind me that through all situations there is survival. It’s just how you choose to survive that is up to you. I don’t read nearly as much as I should. Apart from my falling asleep affliction that seems to have hit me of late whenever I pick up any form of literary expression, I am a quintessential sook and should anything sad, distressing or emotional in any way wend itself into my unprotected psyche (when I am reading I am wide open like those people that allow hypnotists to probe their brains…) I am likely to spend the rest of the day bursting into uncontrollable tears and rendering Steve hopeless. The poor man should know by now to simply leave me alone, but he has a good heart and like most men, hasn’t got any idea why someone dying in a novel can make me snivel for a week. I am the same with good movies. Nige would understand…

I was trying to get a picture of the ducks invading Poland. They have decimated my succulent pots that were once amazing lush green pots of happiness for me. Now the pots are denuded of foliage and they have started on my other pots in search of the elusive slug population that are also attempting to reduce the plant population. Nature is always attempting to redress the imbalances and the ducks are currently at the top of the food chain in this little microcosm but should you keep eating my succulent pots, vegatarian or not, I might suddenly assume this most illustrious of positions ducks…you have been warned!

Meet hen 3 in the egg laying chain for the communal nest. You can’t see the nest but it’s in behind the plant pots on the embankment surrounded by wild roses and blackberries. Hen 1 has laid her egg and departed, hen 2 is on the nest laying her egg and hen 3 is waiting patiently for her turn to deposit her little protein bundle. The ducks might be thinking about adding to the protein content as they were investigating the nest and trying it on for size yesterday which meant that none of the hens would lay there and we got all of our eggs from the nesting boxes.

Here you can see the sad state of my cactus and succulent collection. Once cossetted and allowed to live indoors on special shelves, today they languish above the ducks favourite bucket of water, nibbled and mostly desicated. Life is hard sometimes on Serendipity Farm and the succulents and cacti had to weather a winter outside this year rendering a lot of them cactus themselves…

Here is one of the “babies” that hatched out under their surrogate mums here on Serendipity Farm. That was back when we were over protective parents and panicked about everything. We think it is a girl and we think it’s a buff or dark Brahma cross. We know that it has a Dark barred Plymouth Rock for a dad, and it is obviously a Brahma, but it doesn’t have furry feet. We have another elusive Brahma who is more typical of her lot. She is a lovely lacy golden creature with feathery flares on her feet and a very pretty specimen. The babies are all turning into pretty adults. We know we have 2 roosters (one of which hurt his leg yesterday but he is coming good now) at least but who would know with the rest of them…we just have to wait to see what crows…

Apart from the promise of not only the River Cottage Fruit book and perhaps one of the “In Transit” novels making an appearance, we have to drop in to the West Tamar Council…home of official rules and regulations. It’s not like we have to take a special trip as the council is just over the road from our house in town so after dropping of the seventy squillion eggs, we will just stroll over and do what we have to do. We are getting used to officialdom and stupid regulations. I am more than aware that most of them are designed to keep the bulk of the public sector employed and when I am voted Queen…”OFF WITH THEIR HEADS” I say. Until that day I will stand waiting and muttering under my breath at the counter all prepared for their next pearl of local government wisdom that most probably involves all sorts of forms that need to be signed, sealed and sent and all sorts of compounding “fees” that need to be paid (to keep the public service twitching on its merry way). I am attempting to help my sister who lives 5000km away from Tasmania and who finds herself in a property predicament the size of the Grand Canyon. Any way that I can help her I will, even to the point of giving the West Tamar Council officious gits a sponge cake and a dozen eggs. I sent them a funny Christmas email related to officialdom just before Christmas but I doubt that anyone found it funny to be honest. To work for extended periods of time in the public service you have to shelve any sense of humour that you might be prone to and take up your mantle of grump. It’s the only way to survive your ordeal. Don’t worry, dear sister of mine, I am on the case (on the soap box if it helps…)

We will also be walking the dogs in town, perhaps buying a coffee while we walk (nothing like a hot cup of java sploshing up your nose when one of the dogs decides to take a wrong turn at Albuquerque to wake you up in the morning). We can’t go to Carba-tec so that Steve can indulge his creative bone because they are closed this week but we can go to Bunning’s and wander around. We will buy fresh vegetables and a sack of super white bread making flour so that we can make mile high fibre rich loaves that even when frozen and thawed have a crisp crust and make you drool right into the freezer bag. Don’t give me that! If you drool first, you get the whole loaf! We might restock our beer pile. It is getting significantly low thanks to the latest spate of hot weather and various stints of hard work in the garden. That will depend on the price of beer at the moment. Methinks we will be making our own sometime soon…I have a note in front of me written in bright pink highlighter so I simply can’t make it disappear. It says “Clean the fridge”. It was written last night after the light had been turned out and I had every intention of doing this task today. What you intend to do when there is no immediate need to respond to your idea is a whole lot more than what you end up doing when the pressing task needs to be performed. My daughter Madeline once collected some snails in a little green plastic lunch box. She added lettuce from the fridge to that equation and then put them under the bed and promptly forgot about them. The results, after 2 months, were somewhat similar to what is starting to happen to some of the “Fresh” vegetables in the crisper. You know how it is…Christmas comes…who wants plain celery, carrots and cauliflower when you can have sundried tomatoes, rainbow olives and marinated baby artichokes? So the more humble and commonplace vegetables languish in their crisper prison and hatch plans to upset the apple cart by “Showing her who is boring!” by speeding up their rate of decomposition and causing me consternation at just how liquid the contents of the crisper have become. It’s my own fault. I should never forget my old faithful vegetable friends. I deserve the crisper slime and once again, a life lesson has come up and bitten me where it hurts (my lazy bone). Will I learn from this? Will I remember not to buy too many “boring” vegetables next Christmas? Probably not. Next Christmas is more than a week away and I tend not to store anything mental (apart from useless trivial information that is) for more than a week at a time. What do you cook when it’s too hot to cook? Last night I made a salad. Tonight Steve is machinating about making potato wedges to go with “something”. We are using the covered bbq again to cook over summer. When we get off our lazy bums and get the bricks stacked in a pile waiting for us to pick them up in town and make our wood fired pizza oven we will be able to cook in that. For now it’s the bbq or something raw for tea. I don’t know that I can be bothered to cook wedges let alone eat them in this heat. I ate the salad last night and now it’s either the soup that my crisper is becoming (not an option believe me!) or “something else”. When it’s hot who wants to think about “something else”? It’s all too hard. We are too far away to make takeaway an option and too lazy to rustle up a curry. Heat makes me slothful and as sloth is my usual state of being, heat induced sloth is tragic and results in much lying about doing sweet bugger all and being too hot to even make up good excuses as to why I have sat in the same chair all day and only gotten up to go to the loo and even then I thought long and hard about that option, considering wheeling myself there on the office chair to save precious energy and the possible heat stroke that might eventuate from any form of effort…We usually lose power on days like this. Tasmanian’s are very precious about their tolerance (or lack therein) of cold and heat. They seem to need a median range of about 20 – 25C at all times and every house has a heat pump in constant use pumping out alternate hot and cold air right through the year. When it’s especially hot or cold the demand for a boost of power hits hard and we get power spikes and lord help us that the people in the city might miss out on 5 seconds of heat/cool so those of us in the country have to put up with a few hours of no power. I remember dad complaining about it now that I am here. We very rarely got power cuts in town but they seem to be predictable here. So predictable, in fact, that I find myself regularly hitting the “Save” button at the top of Word just in case of imminent power outages (or “brown-outs” what the hell is that? Enough power loss to turn off your computer, your modem, your clock radio and various other annoying things that need to be set all over again but that only take about a second to happen…) who am I kidding, its Control S to conserve energy! A pox on this heat!

Here are a few more random happenings on Serendipity Farm. The silver laced wyandotte and the very first mini yinny are hanging out with dad. Yin is an excellent rooster and here you can see what is left of his tail after Earl selectively plucked out his nether regions. The bit of corregated roofing iron that you can see is actually a small shelter for the cat’s bowls.

I managed to get a shot of all of the ferals together. Their mum is an “indeterminate” breed. We think that she might be Rhode Island red but the babies are a cross. The 2 darker ones on the left in the picture are golden laced wyandottes. The 3 on the right are whatever their mum is, crossed with Yin, a wyandotte. Yin is drinking out of the cat’s water bowl. Nothing is sacred on Serendipity Farm, we all share around here…

Here is a better photo of the ferals. They are not little fluffballs any more and they are only a few days older than Effels remaining baby. The bigger they get, the safer they are around the cats. This morning I heard some hens making their alarm sound. They usually do this in the mornings when they lay eggs and it was up in the 1st paddock behind the house so I raced out on a mission to find where they are hiding their eggs. Yin is aiding and abetting them in their nepharious egg hiding activities and I just KNOW that there is a large communal nest, brimming with eggs in various stages of rancidity, but I just can’t find it. I thought that I had caught them this morning but it turned out to be genuine alarm at finding Felix in the 1st paddock, hunting lizards, small birds and taking a break cleaning herself in a most nonchalant unconcerned way surrounded by alarmed chickens. Oh well…I will just have to be more vigilant and find that nest…

I say that knowing that this won’t last. Pretty soon we will be knee deep in mud, shivering whenever we have to venture outside and feeding our wood stove with all the sheok that it can scoff. It has actually cooled down a lot and is now overcast and Steve got a few raindrops when he was watering the potted plants. It is showing all the signs of cooling down (a Tasmanian specialty) and I am not even going to whinge anymore because I just heard what temperatures poor Victorians and South Australian’s have been sweltering under for the last few days and actually feel guilty about whinging at all. It’s raining now…enough to make that rain on a hot tin roof sound and it’s starting to make cooking tea tonight more of an option. I am sure that Steve will be happy about that as the alternative was leftover Christmas sweets and a cold can of baked beans. Steve is somewhat ambiguous about cooking in the bbq when it is raining as that is what he had to do right through winter last year (still getting used to calling 2011 “last year”…who am I kidding…I am still getting used to calling 2010 last year!). This year will be different. We have a home now, rather than the bare bones of a neglected place of residence. Our house echo’s all of the possibilities that we keep seeking and finding for ourselves. I think that the house likes us. I know that should the original owner, who died rather tragically one month after moving in when the house was built, decide to drop in from the ether that he would most probably like what we have done. From what we have seen in the past, they loved wood in every shape and form as do we. They had polished wooden floors that my dad and his partner promptly carpeted and covered in white floor tiles (no one to this day has been able to tell me why someone with dogs would actually CHOOSE to put white floor tiles all through a house out in the country…). They loved the garden and carefully reticulated every square inch so that the beautiful trees and shrubs that they planted had every chance of not only surviving, but thriving. I would like to think that he was happy with our choices to simplify and live as naturally as we can. I have no idea what my dad would say, but judging by the bullocking that I got from the dun-ya-dough crow when it flew over yesterday after we were sweating up a storm in the garden, he was NOT amused.  As I sit here typing this last paragraph for this post I can smell rain on hot parched earth. Another silver lining to living in Australia. That smell is heaven sent and heaven scent :o). See you all tomorrow when I will most probably be complaining about something or other. I can’t actually think of anything to complain about right now, but then I haven’t been to see the automatons at the West Tamar Council yet so leave this space blank…

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pinky
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 11:43:10

    I owe you and Steve Fronkii. I’ll repay you somehow and I appreciate everything you are helping me out with. I’ve really gotten into my long service leave now and had a man called Garry in to advise me on landscaping this place. He didn’t say one word about Japanese landscaping and seems to know his plants and suitability for places and he supports local plant growers and garden suppliers over Bunnings. He is also growing bananas and pawpaws in his own garden and getting fruit from them! You can tell how weird Albanys weather can be hearing that. He just wants a bit of a yard plan with some measurements so if your interested in one of your first jobbies as horticuluturalists and want to use Autocad? how’d you like to do me a plan up Fronkii? Its supposed to be 27 hear today but I dont think its risen over 16 yet and is spitting a bit of rain from the heavens at us.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jan 05, 2012 @ 13:48:34

      Steve here… ok we can do a plan but you would have to measure the area and do a rough drawing of what you want. We would also need some house measurements and measurements to the high garden wall around your place so that we could use AutoCAD because it works on measurements. I can knock up a rough sketch to show you what we mean and will send it to you later on today.

      Reply

  2. Mum
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 13:13:18

    I love your blogs Pen,They are so entertaining! The sun is trying to appear & is enough to start Little Weed nodding happily again! The rain is most welcome too. I saw something on TV a few months ago, that was all about that Gurnsey episode, so I know what you meant. The people of Gurnsey didn’t let a bunch of Germans stop what they wanted to do either ! Can’t remember the name of the programne. I have pinched Steves photo of the 4 yachts too, it looks so serene,& it makes me feel I can be there on the deck watching. I hope all went well with the council visit? I bet they all got a laugh regardless from your christmas email too. They can sometimes forget themselves, & show they do have a sense of humour! I am thinking about reticulating the back yard sometime in the future too, & putting a timer on.If we keep having this filthy hot weather each summer, at least things will get watered. Still waiting for the reticulation to be turned on these units. Might give them a tickle to remind them it’s about time they did. They put in landscaping, but left us to water.Some big strappy leaved plants I am thinking of getting rid of, as they look to be dying,& I can think of many nicer shrubs to put in their place ! I trust you both enjoyed your day in town love,& didn’t get too emotional with the council!

    Reply

  3. Pinky
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 10:56:13

    Thanks Steve! Still no idea what i’m doing but it’s a start.

    Reply

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