Spontaneous renovations on Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

Firstly, check out this video link in a newsletter that I was sent today about how the local people of Meghalaya India have coaxed the roots of a local strangler fig (most probably Ficus benghalenhsis) to grow across the river to form a living bridge. This is a fantastic example of people working smarter rather than harder. Working with nature and with what is available has enabled these people who live in the wettest area in the world (they hold the record for the highest rainfall in a year 25 metres!) to traverse raging rivers in the monsoonal wet season (summer) and the bridge is totally renewable, sustainable and regrowable at no cost to the people apart from a bit of time maintaining it. I was really impressed with this and felt a sense of community with these people that are using their brains to work with nature at minimal cost. That’s our ethos here on Serendipity Farm. Don’t wait around for someone else to come up with the readies to solve problems, use nature and what you have (especially your brain!) to sort it out yourself.


Today we decided to remove the carpet from the lounge room. Having 2 medium sized dogs with big dog attitudes means that what was once outside tends to come inside on a regular basis and a nice woollen cream carpet doesn’t stay that way for long. We had originally decided on leaving the carpet in the lounge room but after having to vacuum and sweep just about every day and it still looked pretty sad, we decided to make the lounge room match the rest of the house and go back to the wooden floors. The only problem that we have is that whoever did the extension decided for whatever reason that they wouldn’t use Tas oak hardwood floor boards on the floor in the extension and so we need to keep a bit of carpet (like we have in our bedroom for the same reason) which doesn’t look odd, just ‘different’. The luxury that we have is that we can do whatever we like, whenever we like to this house so we are able to take our time in between. Being penniless hippie’s means that we have all the time in the world but very few monetary resources and we tend to have to think on our feet and use our brains more because we have less of the folding readies. Steve has turned out to be very resourceful and capable and has some very good ideas and skills and what he doesn’t know, we use the internet to find out. We are very happy with the results of what we have done in renovating this place so far and the carpet removal in the lounge room promises to solve the problem of the carpet and give us continuity throughout the house that we didn’t have before. The dogs will be happy to lay in the lounge room on hot days on the wooden floor and I will be happy to not have to use the vacuum cleaner much anymore and simply use the broom whenever it is needed. Earl loves it when we remove carpet. He is the first one to volunteer to help us rip up carpet and underlay. We could hire him out as a carpet removal system and make some of the money back that he has dissolved through his wandering mandibles…

The dogs have some marrow bones that we bought to keep them busy while we removed the carpet. Where Earl loves to help, Bezial goes into a deep blue funk whenever we do anything vaguely to do with renovation. Bezial hates change. He wanders about getting in the way in a vain attempt to stop whoever is ruining his happy home and when it becomes obvious that chaos is going to ensue, he heads to bed and won’t eat his tea tonight in protest. Earl will eat both his AND Bezials tea so it isn’t a problem. Bezial thinks that Earl is one of his major problems especially when he is trying to manipulate us and Earl ruins everything… Steve is scrubbing the floor now to get rid of the remnants of underlay that with age start to dissolve and leave a sticky residue on the floor. We went to town yesterday and bought some pine to make a divider between the carpet and the wooden floor. Steve has to head to the shed and shape it so that it forms a slight angle between the levels and doesn’t pose a trip hazard. It is hard to envisage what you are going to have to learn and do when you undertake home renovation yourself. It is much easier to get someone else to do it (more expensive, but easier) but when you do it yourself, you get a sense of pride and accomplishment AND a new set of skills. I am all for learning as much as you can about everything and becoming multi skilled and able to do as much as you can yourself. Society is becoming more and more specialised these days and people seem to spend an inordinate amount of money paying other people to do what they could do themselves. I guess being penniless hippies sort of takes the option of paying someone else to do it out of the equation full stop, but despite having to constantly think on our feet and use the internet for all sorts of unforseen problems we have come out the other side a lot more confident about our abilities and just how resourceful we can be when faced with a problem that needs to be sorted out. Now all we need to learn is how to be our own mechanics, how to empty the septic tank without expiring and how to make our own photovoltaic cells or wind turbine so that we can minimise our electricity usage and we will be fine! Oh…I forgot how to stop procrastinating and get stuck into making a veggie garden and planting out our poor long suffering potted plants. I was sifting through photos to put on a post a few days ago when I didn’t have many photos for the day and found lots of photos of how our plants used to look. My succulent collection was lovely and now it is half dead and the ducks have scoffed most of my big pots of succulents. When you take on country living, you have to leave behind some of your urban sensibilities. That is why the carpet went, the floor is wood and we bought a king sized bed to encapsulate all of us. We also learned to stop being so precious about a bit of sand on the floor because if you had a tanty whenever you saw sand here you would most probably die of apoplexy by the end of the week. It’s all about adapting to your situation and learning to modify what your expectations are. I am not talking about reverting back to cave man dwelling with all the encompassing mess and chaos, but you have to let go a little bit of your urban preciousness when you move away from mainstream society. I guess the word I am looking for is “mellow out man”.

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Whether you like wooden floors or wood in general or not, you have to admit that removing that bit of carpet has tied the lounge room in better with the rest of the house. We like it, and I guess that is all that really matters! :o)

We are thinking about removing the carpet entirely and tiling the remainder of the lounge room. It would echo what we have had to do throughout the house. We had to tile a bit of the wooden floor in the kitchen because of the wood stove. We had to tile a bit of the bathroom because of dad using liquid nails to lay the bathroom floor tiles and making it impossible to remove the tiles from the hardwood. We had to leave some carpet in our bedroom thanks to the same builder doing the lounge room extension and making 1/3rd of our bedroom concrete floor. You have to roll with the punches sometimes and after discovering all of the amazing “fixes” that this bodgy builder did to maximise his profit margin on this job we were left somewhat punch drunk at his ‘inventiveness’ and this ‘inventiveness’ seems to be becoming a theme whenever we have had to renovate anywhere in Tasmania. I dare say there are some prize builders out there who do a fantastic job; it’s just anything that my dad had anything to do with seems to have been built by cowboy builders for the lowest possible price. I guess we are no longer surprised when we discover these little secrets and quick fixes and they are sometimes even amusing, but it just adds to the cost of having to redo things that should have been done properly in the first place. We want Serendipity Farm to be comfortable, easy care and our own little respite from the world and everything that we have done to this point has echoed these desires. I dare say we will do a lot more to the house over the next few years. The only thing stopping us is the cost and as we save up a bit, we can then make a few more changes. We don’t bother with credit cards. Neither of us wants to be in debt ever again and we are in the enviable position of being debt free home owning penniless student hippies with very low overheads. Should we ever need some money we have many learned and acquired skills that should help us to earn what we need when we need it but for now we are happy living simply and frugally and learning more skills to give us a better chance at becoming employable or starting our own business in the future.

The poultry section of Serendipity Farm is in a constant state of flux. We have hens getting clucky and then not clucky. 2 of our golden laced Wyandotte’s are both clucky and sitting on nothing. It was one of the golden and the silver yesterday but the silver laced Wyandotte is today out with her gal pals having fun and the remaining golden Wyandotte (apart from the clucky one who is intent on remaining that way even after a day in the pokey) has taken up arms in solidarity with her golden laced sister and refuses to budge. It would appear they are both bound for a day in the outside compound away from the nesting boxes tomorrow. We don’t want any more babies here at the moment so we have to utilise strongarm tactics with the offending hens. We wouldn’t mind per-se but when we bought the Wyandotte’s we were told that they would most likely never go clucky because they were not the “clucky type”. So far 4 of the 5 have gone clucky and the other one is geriatric and doesn’t lay eggs any more so methinks that apart from selling us an old girl, the people that sold us these birds were somewhat ignorant of their ways. The ducks were checking out the outside communal nesting area yesterday and today no one has laid eggs in there. I dare say the ducks will lay someday soon as I checked them out and as best I can ascertain they are both girls. I think that they are Rouen ducks by methods of elimination and a day’s internet researching. I love being able to use Google images to isolate and eliminate things. I use it a lot with specimens of plant leaves, flowers and fruit that I find and every time that I use this function of Google, I am able to find keys, websites and all manner of valuable information to assist me in the future. Rouen ducks are supposed to be better eating than laying but we are not going to eat them any day soon and any eggs that they lay will be most gratefully received and utilised in cakes.

A recent television report said that there are certain jobs that are being denigrated by their internet counterparts. Retail and the travel industry were 2 of the jobs mentioned as no longer being safe options should you want to enter the industry. I would like to think that there are certain other jobs on the wane. One of them should be weather reporting. If you get paid to do a job where you give people information and the information that you are giving is consistently wrong, why are you still being paid?! Very rarely do our weather reports give us an accurate account of what the weather is going to be like. I am not fussy. I don’t need to know the exact temperature, humidity and barometric pressure but it would be nice if the forecast of 24C and overcast was something like the 28C and sunny wouldn’t it? “The weather is rapidly cooling down and will be in the low 20’s for the rest of the week” when the actuality is that the weather is as hot as the day before and seems to show no signs of changing any day soon would be a direct flop to me. I was looking forwards to a cooler change. I had hung my hat on that baby in fact. I had plans that involved lighting wood stoves, making miniature pork pies and sitting next to the fire reading a good book. I find myself somewhat cheated by the weather reports. I really think that we should be paying someone from each district to just stick their head out of the window every morning and say “yep…sunny” or “nope…raining” and we would get a better result. Sorry to all of you Northerners who are doing it tough with rain, cold weather and snow as I type this but at least you know what sort of weather you are having! We got thunder and lightning this morning and now it’s hot again. Oh well…I guess one day it will cool down…I think that my general malaise regarding the weather is simply because Christmas is over, New Year’s day has come and gone and now it’s business as usual and when it’s hot, business as usual has to be tempered somewhat to allow for the heat. We have to get up earlier to do what we want to do and we end up tired at the end of the day at a ridiculous time and I am still getting used to being a night time person having to wake up at 5am. Steve doesn’t seem to have been as affected as me and is buzzing about all over the place doing things while I seem to be dragging around feeling displaced. I guess this feeling will go soon, but for the moment I feel very adrift from everything. I might be internally sulking because neither Nige nor the Guernsey Potato Peel books were in for me to pick up today. I ordered “Under the Tuscan Sun” this morning as I figured that I was on a bit of a roll with some good books on the way. I have no idea whether or not Under the Tuscan Sun is a good book. I wanted to watch the movie but Steve conveniently kept “forgetting” to record it (he hates chick flicks) and so I have had to resort to the book. I have very little faith in books recommended to me. I got a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love” and only read the French “Eat” part before I got heartily tired of the whole thing. There is only so much self-indulgence that I can take in a book and this one left me feeling hollow. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone apart from someone who wanted to skip out on their responsibilities and live selfishly. To all of the women out there who told me it was a “must read” book, I would warn their husbands that they are just about to trade you in boys! I have a semi read copy available to give away with the Matthew Evens D.V.D’s that I have been trying to palm off to anyone who will take them. I might have to donate them to the library as part payment for that book that Earl ate that is on its 3rd and final 3 weeks before I have to face the music and pay up. Do you think that will work? I might try the “magnanimous gesture of generosity” just before I hand the book in to be checked by the higher beings that apparently have to see whether or not it can be salvaged. I know it can’t be salvaged. I have the book in my house and I have seen what Earl did to it. I might have hidden it in the spare room but even when I close my eyes I can’t block out what Earl did to it…I know that we are going to have to pay for it. Perhaps I should just get the book out of hiding, read it whilst waiting for Nige and the Potato Peelers and Tuscany to come and then head out into the garden and start planting out our pot plants? That’s an amazing idea. Something both productive and useful to do with my time and after I have a cup of tea to fortify me, I might just do that. See you all tomorrow and hopefully it will be a little bit cooler than it is today.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pinky
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 10:52:44

    Love your work in the lounge room Fronkii and Stavros! The floor boards look amazing but you have to wonder why the bit next to the windows/decking was concrete dont you. Surely it would have been easier to put boards down all over the room? Maybe he ran out of wood? Is that a new lounge sneakily hidden under the blankets too? I love it and the colour goes brilliantly with the walls and wooden floor. Nice to see you’ve filled those shelves near the fireplace with books too. I love stuffed book shelves and will never be one of those people who eschew the paper pages of a real book for the iPad or Kindle e-book. Dont care how non-green that may be. Paper is a natural product that dosn’t ned a battery to use, only finger power to turn the pages. Oohh I may have to buy shares in the paper pulp mill up the river from you! SORRY!!!!! Dont hurt me!!!!!! Joking only!!!!!!


  2. Mum
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 10:59:45

    I did it again, had a whole lot typed up & it’s gone blast it ! That living bridge was ingenious eh? Makes you think about a flying fox from the house down to where you’re working in the garden, to take stuff down for you. The front room looks great with the wooden floors too. What ever made the carpenter use cement for add ons? Did you collect a lot from the town shed yesterday? I might see about sending the clarinet today Steve, so look for it in a week or two. The weather is rather breezy this morning, after a very humid night. Had the fan on low all night,& at 4.30 am, it was 19 deg at Albany airport! In the wheatbelt they have had storms & hail as big asd golf balls! The weather seems to be going from Albany over to Btremner & further. It looks like it may rain a bit, but I waterered everything early.Wash the blood & bone I sprinkled around yesterday, thinking the rain would wash it in, but the rain stopped didn’t it ? Dees cat (not the kittens) had caught a huge bush rat & left it on the lawn yesterday with it’s toes all turned up. Larry got rid of it thankfully. YUK ! Still haven’t heard about the mulcher yet, might give a ring & see. All fruit trees that have finished fruiting should be pruned now, to get into shape for next season. The poor apples will be sadly depleted this year, owing to being burnt so badly with the heat last week. They cooked ! Yesterday, I pruned off most of the tree fern fronds & chopped under them,as they were crispy, but new fronds are on the way.Looks a bit bare at the moment though.I’m starting to think framework put all around the back yard, & growing wisteria all over it for shade! It gets warm out back, even in winter now. Ah well, to read the paper for a bit, till time to go down the street & brave the madding crowds of terrorists!


  3. Kym
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 12:26:40

    Yep love the wood floor too! What a bugger about the cement bit, but the carpet looks just fine. I think the decking around one of your trees would look great, like the one in BH&G. I love books too, but must admit I used the iPad while in Bali to read a book and it was great.


    • narf77
      Jan 06, 2012 @ 14:02:37

      I am a bit anti-Apple to be honest as I think that they are trying to make the internet no longer free (paying for aps before you can access sites etc.) but can see how much fun they would be (especially touch pads…) I will stick to my hard copies for now but reserve my womanly right to change my mind :o)


  4. Kym
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 20:51:57

    Actually there are quite a few books for free! I know surprising eh. Yes you do pay for lots of apps but again lots are free too, wonders never cease lol….


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