Deconstructing the Christmas tree

Hi All,

I wrote the next 3 posts in better times. I had postponed posting them because mum died and I had to respond accordingly. I think that they are worthy of posting and as such would like to use them for the next 3 days as I am very sure that mum would have loved reading them. Here is number 1 of these posts…

There is something eminently sad about taking down the Christmas tree at the end of the festive season. It symbolifies the end of that decadent period of time where you can forget your diets, your cholesterol and your gout and get stuck in to reckless abandon. That’s why we do it, because life has become so structured and we are no longer allowed to enjoy anything because everything is “bad” for us. Whether you remove your decorations with tender loving care and wrap each one in tissue paper and store them carefully for next year or like me, have a hissy fit and tumble the tangled mass in a few supermarket bags to deal with at a later date, the deconstruction of the Christmas tree brings us back to reality with a thud. It’s back to work, back to school, back to the meat of the year where we are expected to regain control of our waistbands, our bank accounts and our sanity. It’s not called the “Silly Season” for nothing you know! To the person who selects the short straw and has to remove the last vestiges of Christmas spirit from the house, I commiserate with you. With each bauble and set of lights that you remove, your tree gets less and less interesting. You end up with a stark green plastic pile (if you are like the masses), a dead stick shedding needles at an incredible rate of knots (if you are a member of my family) or your woodworm infested tree threatens to drown the newly carpet less lounge room with fine sawdust and fall apart at a moment’s notice (if you are us). The tree, the base and the 2 bags of tangled mess are in the spare room now. I can close the door on Christmas that easily. The real reason for my sadness at saying goodbye to Christmas for another year is, if I am to be honest, the beginning of a whole lot of hard work both physically and mentally for us. Steve and I are students. We completed our Diploma of Horticulture last year and this year are starting a brand new Diploma course being offered “Diploma of Landscape Design”. It’s got a bit more of a ring to it. It sounds a bit more up-market and it might even give us an edge with prospective clients should we ever decide to start a business. Steve and I both undertook intensive studies in business and small business before we headed sideways into Horticulture. It enabled us to skip straight from a basic qualification in Horticulture to our Diploma without having to do all of the financial unity gumpf because we had done it all before. Our lecturer is most particular about what he expects and it has given us a challenge to rise above his expectations whenever we can. We don’t like people pigeon holing us; we are the enigma known as “Pimblett”. An older husband and wife team, previously “unskilled” and not to be expected to do anything much really but never underestimate anyone and don’t judge a book by its cover. Sometimes the most amazing novel is resting beneath the dustiest tattiest cover and you might miss out on something amazing if you don’t give it a go. I wouldn’t call us dusty and old, but we are not teenagers despite our outlook. I have 3 adult children and previous to my recent schooling, hadn’t done anything studious in years. Steve is the same but he didn’t even think that he would be capable of studying because he didn’t do very well at school. Steve has an incredible mind coupled with a fantastic ability to problem solve. I problem solve by untangling things (thus me getting the Christmas tree problem) slowly and surely. Usually with a bit more patience than I had this morning, but I am stubborn and will sift through, research, hunt for and find whatever it is that I am looking for. If you want someone dogged who won’t give up, it’s me. Steve is the same when it comes to technical or computer problems and most of our problems to do with mechanical things. He will keep going back to something that I would have long ago tossed into the Tamar River and ultimately triumphs. I can’t tell you how many times he has mended something that was totally ruined, saving us thousands of dollars in the process. Together we make a formidable team that simply refuse to give up. I think that our lecturer sees that in us. He gave us the opportunity to prove ourselves and prove “us” we will. That’s what this year has mapped out for us on the planned front. Along with sorting out Serendipity Farm, that is our goal for this year. Who knows what will happen along the way. Whenever “The Pimbletts” have to deal with things, all sorts of weird and wonderful conundrums start to appear and eventuate. We have no idea why, they just do. Whilst studying I guarantee that we will have all sorts of strange occurrence’s that no one has had happen to them before. Computer programs do very strange things when we touch them. Our lecturer must have wondered what we were doing with AutoCAD to make it do some of the strange things that it did whenever we got a problem with it. Don’t worry Nick, Steve will fix it :o)

We went to town yesterday (now the day before yesterday, but you get the picture :o) and I took lots of photos to show you where we went. We were intending to stay in the central area of Launceston for about 30 minutes. We had something to do and it shouldn’t have taken the extra hour but we had to wait so the boys got an amazingly long walk through town and despite it being pretty hot, they had a good time. Earl loves town. It’s like taking a boy from the Ozarks and dumping him in New York City in Times Square. His eyes were twice the size they normally are and he had to sniff (and ultimately pee) on just about everything. Bezial is the cool one when he goes to town. Bezial was king of urban chic back when we lived in town and we walked him all the time. He knows the back alleys of every street and will sit on the benches around town as if the world is his oyster. Earl takes away his street cred. Despite us having to make numerous stops on the way home in the heat, they were very good. We ended up stopping at the Deviot Yacht Club tiny beach on the way home so that they could both have a splash about and get nice and cool. We can see the Batman Bridge that is just around the corner from our place from this tiny little beach and we have walked from home to the beach a few times before. It’s a bit of a hike and my knee is slowly starting to come good so we might undertake a longer walk soon.

Steve is tackling the firebreak on the top paddock today. When I say that I drew the short straw having to take down the Christmas tree, I am underselling the tiny straw that Steve drew when he decided to tackle the paddocks with the whipper snipper. We can’t mow the paddocks because like all of the countryside around here, they are full of rocks. We could attempt to collect them all (as evidence shows someone has tried to do before by the piles of rocks in the 1st paddock close to the house) but then we would still have the enormous rocks sticking out of the ground and getting in the way to tackle. Short of making some home-made dynamite (you can find recipes for ANYTHING online…) to tackle them and give Frank the heart attack of his life, we figured that we might just have to come to terms with the hilly, rocky arid natures of these 2 paddocks. It’s nothing that the previous 2 owners haven’t had to come to terms with no matter how they tried to tame the terrain. Sometimes you have to work smarter, not harder and we intend to be the clever ones and use our brains. There are many trees that will grow in arid regions and in fact love a bit of dry and rocky hilly terrain. Olive trees were my first thought. They grow exceptionally well in Tasmania, especially in the North of the state and most vineyards around here also have olive trees. The Tamar Valley produces a lot of wine and we are surrounded by vineyards where we live. Brown Brothers winery (a very large conglomerate) owns the Tamar Ridge winery just around the corner from our home. We intend on growing a few grape vines to provide us with fruit and the raw materials for wine. The more I look into these wasted paddocks, the more I think about using them for exotic species of tree. Moringa oleifera is one such species that we want to grow on the property. It’s an amazing tree of which every part of the tree can be used. The leaves can be eaten like spinach, the young pods can be cooked and eaten like beans with an asparagus taste and once mature the peas can be used like dried legumes. An amazing oil that doesn’t go rancid can be skimmed from the top of mashed and boiled mature seeds. The tree grows incredibly quickly and the leaves, pods and seeds are all incredibly nutritious. This fantastic tree also survives in impossible places near the sea, in bad soil and dry areas. Seeds sprout readily in one or two weeks and it will grow readily from cuttings. It is the ideal tree for the top 2 paddocks and along with the neem tree will become a most useful addition to Serendipity Farm. We just have to source some now. The seeds that we bought previously failed to germinate and were obviously not viable. We tried with 2 different seed sources, both from Australia, but both times we had no luck. We tried various conditions to give the seeds the best chance at germinating and after reading about how readily they do germinate, we realised that our seed source was not a good one. We are going to try again in the next few weeks with a new seed source. I am very excited about the prospects of turning the back 3 acres of sheok trees and dry rocky hills into something productive and indeed beautiful. The Drumstick tree (Moringa oleifera) is a beautiful tree with attractive leaves and beautiful white flowers. I will keep you posted on how we go regarding germination and ultimately growing the plant on to the point of planting it out on Serendipity Farm.

I have just found some amazing information online about growing Moringa in Australia. It looks like we should be able to grow it here, despite our cooler temperate climate, thanks to our microclimate and our minimal frost. I knew that we would find something suitable for our back 3 acres and now I am quite excited to find that I should be able to get hold of some seed and be able to get some of these amazing trees growing. The tree has been extensively researched for use in Australia for food and biodiesel and is grown in Queensland and Northern Western Australia. Here is some information about this truly miraculous tree.

We had a great day in town the other day. I forgot to tell you about it and I took lots of photos as well. Steve emptied the photos from the camera as we had just on 900 images and figured that it wasn’t a bad idea to shuffle them off to one of our external hard drives and free up the camera for some more happy snapping. We did end up getting a coffee each and I took a few photos while I was waiting for our coffee after asking for permission. I don’t mind Gloria Jean’s coffee but my favourite coffee comes from Mojo. Steve prefers Gloria Jeans (and has a loyalty card that he gets stamped after every coffee to prove it), but I really love the atmosphere and friendly staff at Mojo’s and would go there every time if I had my druthers. Here’s mojo’s record and coffee shop so that you can see why I prefer this little hub of localised urban activity over a multinational conglomeration with so-so staff and service. I must admit, the Gloria Jeans in Kings Meadows has top notch service and should you ever find your way to Kings Meadows, drop in and get a great cup of java served by a great time of baristas.

I was walking past a local café and spotted a great idea for a wall and asked them if I could take a photo. Here it is. Don’t you think it’s a good idea? I also picked up a sesame milk bubble tea with lychee juice pearls. I love sesame milk and if it is made with unhulled sesame seeds, it has an incredibly high calcium content. If you make a smoothie with sesame milk and a little orange juice or blended blackberries you add vitamin C to the equation making it a whole lot easier to assimilate and for vegetarians who don’t use a lot of milk it’s a great way to get calcium without resorting to the beast that moo’s. Bubble tea comes in an amazing range of flavours and textures and is a taste sensation indeed and although Steve wasn’t too fussed about the sesame milk, he quite liked the little translucent balls of lychee flavoured juice that burst when you bit them. It staved off the heat for a while. I got the bubble tea from the only place in town that makes it, Chi-Chi café. The staff are very attentive and aside from the great product, it’s always good to get good service from a local business and it certainly makes you want to go back again. See you when we next go to town guys and thanks for the loyalty card :o)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I took lots of pictures around the place so that you could see what “town” looks like. It’s small but quite picturesque for an Australian city, with lots of older buildings and some nice contrasts between old and new. We especially love Princes square in the middle of town that is a lovely park with mature deciduous trees that you can sit under when the sun is particularly hot and watch the ornate water fountain. It makes you cool just sitting there watching the water and the dogs love looking for the goldfish that sometimes make an appearance. I am sure that Earl thinks that he is going to jump in and get himself a goldfish one day, but he will be in that little adventure himself and won’t be dragging me in with him any day soon.

We even took a photo of where we buy our chook food. It’s a local company that blends their own seed combinations and we now buy our 18kg bags from the source rather than pay an additional $5 a bag for the same thing from stock feed shops. I guess you just have to get out there and do a bit of hunting to find the best deals. Our hens used to get pellets as well as grain but hate pellets more than they hate Earl (which is saying something!). We were wasting pellets as they refused to eat them and the sparrows were getting fat from our regular pelletised hen offerings. We ended up feeling bad when we would take out their mixed food (grain and pellets) and they would run up to their food like they were starving and peck between the pellets to get every bit of grain that they could. The actuality is that they are spoiled and wilful hens who should be made to eat the pellets as they are a complete food and they are cheaper than the grains, but the reality is that we spoil everything around here and so if the hens want their grain, they can have it. It is a complete source of food for free ranging hens and our hens get out early every day and free range until they head back home at the end of the day at around 8.30pm (after they have hung about like bad smells trying to get the feral cats food and make our lives difficult).  Despite being somewhat silly creatures with tiny brains, our hens are wily beasts that keep evading us and foiling our efforts to hunt down and pinch their eggs. I know that they have another nest somewhere that they are laying in. I know it, because I hear them singing out their own praises at their amazing egg producing ability, but whenever I get near them (sneaking up doesn’t help), Big Yin gives a warning sound and they all immediately stop singing out to the world and go shtum. Yin obviously wants to repopulate the world with his mini yinny clones, but we would rather eat those protein bundles so we are locked in a battle of wits and I am very sorry to admit it but those tiny brained  chooks have outsmarted me so far. I don’t want anyone putting 2 and 2 together and questioning me about how something with a brain the size of a shrivelled walnut has managed to outsmart me so my wounded pride and stubborn need to find those eggs is causing me to do strange things that I would otherwise not even attempt. I have wandered the 1st paddock up behind the house with suspicious hens following me at a distance watching my every move. I have looked into piles of debris (too numerous to mention) and in long grass. I have checked out that hollow tree that they used to lay in to no avail. Steve is out hunting around for eggs now as we only got 2 today and having 11 hens that are all capable of laying at the moment, 2 eggs is a bit sad. I did find one nest with some eggs in it amongst the blackberries but the hen has discovered my efforts to gain access to her eggs (and indeed take them) and has stopped laying there. I would admit at this point that I am not too concerned that she abandoned her post. I was getting scratched all over for the sake of the odd egg and would rather get 1 less egg a day then have to go through that choreographed leg hopping blackberry wary dance that I was doing on a daily basis.

We are just off to make another bench for our small potted plants. They have been knocked over by foraging hens and ducks for the last time! Today we will take back Manhattan AND New York and the humans will win at least 1 battle of the poultry today! See you all tomorrow when hopefully we are still masters of all we survey on Serendipity Farm and the hens haven’t taken over. We have a secret weapon that rivals any nuclear device. His name is Earl…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. microgardener
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 15:04:26

    Hi Fran
    Seed companies outside of Tasmania won’t send live seedlings/trees to Tas or WA unfortunately but they will send seeds. One place I know of that you can get your Miracle Tree seeds from is (10 for $3) if you’re interested. They also sell in bulk (100 for $29 depending on how many you intend planting!)


  2. narf77
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 15:49:55

    Thanks Anne
    Steve here i will let Fran know that she will be interested in that as we tryed ages ago to propagate some.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: