Wa today

Hi All,

This is the second post that I had up my sleeve in advance before mum died. I am quite a methodical person and like to plan for most eventualities. I usually have at least 1 post in advance squirrelled away for a rainy day and thank goodness I had 3 because I have to give you enough posts for the 7 days that I am away plus one on either side for travel. Thank you for being patient with me, and for allowing me to meander my way through these posts. I am sure that I will have some really interesting pictures and stories to tell you when I return. Until then, here is my second offering of the week…

Steve has decided to finish off the 1st paddock directly behind the house today. It was starting to resemble Oklahoma in that “The grass was as high as an elephant’s eye” and it did look like it was almost up to the sky, but without the “Oh what a beautiful morning” sung in a pleasant tenor by our own Hugh Jackman.  That was just to show you that I am not the uncultured troglodyte that you might have been under the impression that I was. I have some peripheral awareness of music, theatre and art, I just tend to ignore it and apply these principals to what matters on Serendipity Farm and musical theatre tends not to be much of a help around here. I do sing a lot and quite loudly. When we have a few beers and Queen is playing loudly on the C.D. player and we get to Bohemian Rhapsody I am afraid the word “singing” might not be quite where I am at, but at least I am enjoying myself (unlike poor Frank  who is probably glad for his ear protectors right about then). That is the one time when the principal of “Life is too short for…” doesn’t enter into it. No matter how terrible you sing, life is never too short to sing your heart out if you feel passionate enough about it. Just make sure that you consider anyone else in close proximity and perhaps sing in your car and in the shower to protect the neighbourhood. It’s cooler today! It’s finally down to 23C in Launceston so we should be about 21C here on the tail end of the river. The Tamar River is salty at this end and fresh water at the other end so if you are a fisherman, you can get in your dinghy in Launceston, float downstream (pick the right time or you will float down a heck of a lot faster with the outgoing tide and no fish will be able to catch you!) catching eels and various other freshwater fish till you get to Rosevears where you will start to catch saltier fish like flathead and the ubiquitous “snotties” or Blue Warehou , a member of the Trevalla family which we caught lots of in a past fishing expedition only to be told that they were not worth eating. We did eat them but the flesh tended to fall apart and I think that they would be best for something like fishcakes or perhaps a fish pie. If you want to see what they are, here’s a website that will show you…


Steve inherited a dinghy from dad when dad died. He has been out in said dinghy twice now in a year and a half. Steve is a city boy and when confronted with tides that can drag you halfway to Launceston (50km from here) in about 20 minutes that occur twice a day, he has developed a somewhat dubious notion about boating on the Tamar. The last time that we went out in the dinghy we only had Bezial. Bezial loves the water, don’t get me wrong! So long as he can stand on the sand up to his chest he will bound around, put his head under the water for various interesting things and will be the happiest dog alive but should you take Bezial out of his comfort zone, you can forget about a nice boating trip and also about ever getting Bezial to get into a dinghy again! He jumped in happily enough first up (I had more trouble getting in then he did) and as soon as Steve started the outboard Bezial started to look a bit worried. Bezial hates change and this was rocking, swaying, and noisy change on a pretty large scale. When you put that together with the weather which was overcast and very windy, you get a dinghy with a loudly howling dog that point blank refused to get off the bottom of the boat for anything. We headed under the Batman Bridge where the jellyfish were schooling all the while accompanied by “WOOOOooooo…WOOOOO!”  The wind was blowing the salty spray into our hair and faces and it was one of those days where you just feel really alive, however the enjoyment was somewhat dampened by Bezials pitiful eyes looking up at us complaining most loudly for the entire trip. We got around to where Rebecca Gibney (a well-known Australian actress) has a house on the river (that she is currently trying to sell) and decided to take pity on Bezial who had almost lost his voice by this stage. We got back to shore and before we had landed on the jetty, Bezial was out of the boat and running flat tack to the car. Bezial had, to this point, been somewhat slow to get into the car, taking his time and making sure that we knew that he was only getting in because he actually wanted to, not because we were making him. On this day he was scratching at the door to be let in and as soon as the door opened he jumped into the back seat and lay down looking at us as if to say “don’t you EVER do that to me again!” We had to carry him out of the car when we got home because he absolutely POSITIVELY didn’t want to get back into that dinghy that we were towing… I bet Earl will love going out in the dinghy. I bet he will jump around, barking at everything as happy as Larry. I bet he will get tangled in the fishing rods, fall overboard and be more of a nuisance than Bezial was with his howling, so I doubt that he will have an extensive boating career either. Despite neither of us being particularly enamoured of boating or fishing, we are loath to get rid of the dinghy. It conjures up romantic visions of sitting out in the moonlight on a hot summer’s night fishing for flathead, or wending our way down the river with a picnic and stopping off at one of the pontoons on the way to enjoy ourselves. We can also get places in the dinghy that we can’t get by car or by walking and so we will keep the dinghy registered and sea worthy should we ever plan on going floundering or prawning on the other side of the Batman Bridge near Hillwood, or simply want to take a day off and head into Launceston and back. It’s always good to keep your options open, because if we sold the dinghy our lives as River siders would lose half of their potential to enrich us should we ever see fit to want to take advantage of this segment of River living.

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I love living on the River. I often wander down to the front of the property where only the road separates us from the river. I head down over the rocks and hunt for driftwood and old shards of pottery and other things that have been discarded and washed up by the relentless tides. Steve and I were both born and raised next to water of various kinds. As a child I used to play in salty water, fish, boat and generally live next to it and it has become a very important part of my ethos. Steve was born in Liverpool in the U.K. and as such was never far away from the sea. His family moved to the South of England when he was young and as a young adult he moved to South End on Sea and you can guess where it was situated by the name. You don’t realise how much living near the water plays a part in your life until you no longer live next to the water. I was married before and my previous husband moved around a lot to improve his career prospects. With each move we seemed to get further and further away from the coast. The final move that we made was to a tiny inland town surrounded by a sea of grain. It was dry, arid and dusty. I remember walking early in the morning and thinking about how alien it felt to live under these conditions. My ex was born and raised in a wheat-belt town and as such, it was normal to him but for me, it never felt right and I was never happier than when we would head down to the coast to see relatives. I think what we grow up with forms part of us. Our childhood tends to be the most important part of our lives as it forms who we are and if we live next to water, it gets into our veins and no matter how far you go, you have a strong need to return on a regular basis to get your fix of the sea.

I just moved all of our smaller potted plants that we had previously housed on metal shelving along the side of the house prior to Earl discovering them and slowly minimising their population. They are now housed by the side of the shed in partial shade. A lot of these babies are colder climate conifers and plants that don’t mind a bit of shade and hopefully they will be left alone by the hens that have been knocking them over where we moved them temporarily in the quest to get under the deck and into the cool. I used a wheelbarrow to ferry the plants around to their new home and had the dubious task of deciding what was dead and what wasn’t. It is sad when your plants croak it and even sadder when they were previously cossetted and cared for and due to your new situation, they have been pushed back further and further in your immediate affections. A few of Steve’s earlier bonsai attempts were most definitely dead. You have to tend them carefully and they have been stuck in with the rest of the madding crowd and suffered the ultimate fate as a result. Old nana doocark is most probably soon to follow these plants but unlike the plants, she has not been neglected. We bought her from some very unscrupulous sellers and paid top dollar for her as a breeding hen. We had no idea of how old she was and once we found out about her, we decided to allow her to live her life happily here on Serendipity Farm. She has been a real character and helped Effel to raise her now 1 remaining baby lending us to believe that she might be Effel’s mum or grandmother. Of late she has taken to standing in a warm spot with her eyes closed. After moving the pots today she lay down in on the cool damp earth, much to the consternation of the other hens who wanted to fossick the soil around and catch the hopping springtails that live under the damp pots. She is as light as a feather and spends her days standing or laying around. I find it interesting to note that nothing bothers her. The cats, kittens and other hens simply leave her alone and she is allowed to wander about unhindered and without attack. One day Nana doocark will simply cease to be and when that day happens, we will bury her beneath the mulberry tree and allow her to become part of Serendipity Farm permanently. Until that day she is welcome to all the food she can eat, water she can drink and sunny spots that she can sit in to her avian hearts content.

Steve is going great guns out in the 1st Paddock. He no longer has any guilt hold over me (although he has attempted to manipulate the situation to his benefit regarding me doing the plant watering, Christmas tree removal, cooking tea and washing up) because I just discovered that he actually loves whipper snipping. I did that by taking him up a nice cold drink because he is directly behind the house as I type this post and while he drank it and had a rest I continued on whipper snipping for him. I volunteered to do some while he had a rest as I like to whipper snip too, but he declined my offer and that was when I realised that despite his protestations and manipulations, he actually likes to do it. Things like whipper snipping cease to be a task when you are doing it on a lovely cool summer’s day under the trees and you are making a wonderful difference to your property. He can turn around and immediately see a result. How many of us when we get to the end of our working day can lay claim to being more than aware that we have done something that day? Not many. I guess that is where getting stuck into working around here pays you back exponentially. First in the amazing feeling of simply stopping what you have been doing after a decent bout of hard physical labour. Next you get a most well deserved cold drink (usually beer unless we have to drive somewhere after it) and you get to stand/sit back and take in everything that you have accomplished. Because nothing has been done here for ages, whenever we do ANYTHING we get this sense of accomplishment. After that you get to look out and see what you did, reinforcing that pride and sense of achievement and accomplishment and lastly, you make a change to your circumstances that affect your immediate way of living. If we put in a veggie garden, that changes our lives. If we build a wood fired pizza oven that enhances our quality of living. It’s as simple as that for us. We are both suffering slightly from our hard work the other day with sore muscles and stiff joints. The more we work, the fewer symptoms we will get and the fitter, healthier and more content we will become, thus nature positively reinforces the benefits of hard graft in our minds. It’s a bit like getting into the habit of eating healthily. It takes about a month to get back into the habit, and if you can last that long you should be right after that. We have been a bit “soft” this year and it is taking us a little longer to get back into the swing of things. We don’t want to end up like someone back the first day after a year off at the gym going full pelt and ending up unable to move for a week. We are just about to head off to Exeter. Steve did 4 hours in the paddock and is back now enjoying a well-deserved beer. I have volunteered (most selflessly I might add…) to drive to Exeter today. It got a bit too hot out in the direct sun to carry on. Again, we have the great luxury of not having to accomplish all of our home projects on weekends and in our spare time and we can take breaks whenever we see fit. When we get back from walking the boys in Exeter and picking up the pork that we couldn’t get yesterday (they were out of belly pork) for Steve’s individual pork pies, Steve is going to head to the shed and spend the afternoon tinkering around with making a tiny little door out of sheok. We found mouse hole doors that were designed to cover up power points and thought that they were amazing fun so we might just have a go at making some.


Who knows…we might sell fairy doors and mouse holes at the Deviot markets along with our spoons etc. See you all tomorrow


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