The barometer is on the rise…

Hi All,

It’s now Saturday February 4th and hasn’t the year bolted! I guess having the beginning of the year hijacked by circumstances beyond our control hasn’t helped but now I am back on Serendipity Farm I am going to stay put for a while (please?!) Steve got a lovely surprise in the mail yesterday. He has won a scholarship to study his Diploma in Landscape Design this year! I am so very proud of him because studying doesn’t come naturally to him and he has spent the last 3 years working at a manic pace despite all sorts of odds to go from knowing sweet bugger all about plants to being somewhat of an expert on certain aspects of horticulture. This has boosted his morale no end and has been a real payback for all of the hard slog that he has had to put in to pull his brain out of the mire of a public school system in the U.K. that didn’t cater for students who don’t learn in the classic way. Steve is an example of someone who fell through the cracks and should any of the “brothers” that taught him ever find this blog they would be most surprised to see that he has carried on studying with such aplomb. He is very bright, is able to problem solve and should he ever choose to leave for any reason whatsoever, I will be unable to watch television and generally do ANYTHING technical whatsoever around Serendipity Farm. He learns by his wits and by applying his ideas to practical use. He HATES researching (unless he is incredibly interested personally in what he is researching) and slowly working through books and study plans bores him to tears. He deserves every ounce of kudos for this award because he has steadfastly refused to give up or in and has a solid pathway of what he wants to achieve educationally in his sights. After this diploma he is going to become an Australian citizen for the purposes of going to university. Congratulations Steve, you totally deserve your award and I am sure that anyone who knows you will be almost as chuffed as I am that you won :o)

I thought that I might share a few more photos that I took in W.A. with you today. It is absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that I forgot to take the camera with me when I went to Beauty Point to walk the dogs ok? Here is my brother (you will note “shoeless”) doing what he does best, wandering around the wilderness with the grace and ease of a native. I was hobbling along barefoot hopping from foot to foot where once my feet were tough like old cow hide, now they are soft and pathetic and where Jamie was leaping from rock to rock, I was tenderly placing my feet and hoping that there were no twigs or rocks…sad and most pathetic but waddayagunnadoaboudit eh?

I used to love walking through the native bushland when I was a child in Denmark. Where I lived there were less eucalypts and more sheoks so the floor carpeting of leaves was somewhat different but the flowers were all the same. This is a more coastal scene where I lived on Wilsons Inlet and it’s accompanying flora. Please don’t ask me to name these little wildflowers. I might have spent my entire childhood in this area but only discovered the naming of plants when I moved here to Tasmania and took up horticulture. Before that they were just “pretty”. So that is what all of these wildflowers are today…this one is “Pretty 1”

Look…its “Pretty 2”!

Closely followed by “Pretty 3″…this is so much easier then having to remember what plant names are! Why don’t they just give them a “Pretty + number”. You could use “Pretty”; “Spiky”; “Green”…all sorts of easy classifications forget Latin, bollocks to genus and species…all Pretty (I am starting to sound like Golem…”My Precious!”…)

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.

Tennessee Williams

How very true! This is another one of the little sayings that we blog writers get waved in front of us to try to coerce us to write more posts. At the moment I don’t need any coercing to write. I am having a great time sharing who we are and what we do with you all each day. I get some most interesting newsletters delivered into our email box each day and one of them comes from a very interesting and informative blog site with all sorts of resources regarding Agroforestry and in particular, how small farmers are living sustainably and finding new markets for their crops by thinking laterally rather than in a straight line. One of the latest posts that greeted me when I got home was this one…

How could you watch this small film and not be predominately affected by it. Our food is being threatened by massive profit based businesses that do not have our best interests at heart. Growing our own food and preserving these heritage varieties of seed give us back our choice and our freedom of choice. Our government may be selling off our choice farming land to multinational conglomerates but we have the ability, no matter how small our available space, to grow some of our own food and take our health, happiness and inevitably our own survival back into our own hands. Here is a prime example of why we can’t be blasé about this sort of thing. If you don’t use it, you will lose it! This short film shares how smallholders all over the world are attempting to share heritage seed and in so doing take back the control from these huge companies. Food is something that we can’t take for granted. We lose it we die. If someone else controls the flow of our food, they ultimately control us. If they can find a way to genetically modify it to do what they want whenever they want then they can control the world. It’s scary stuff that flies over the top of most of our radars as we trundle, head down, through our day to day lives but up there in the stratosphere of government dealings, we are losing our individual rights to choose. Our minds are being made up by massive lobby groups who demand genetic modification of food to protect their profits and guarantee their rights. The chemical producers have a massive vested interest in helping these companies produce monocrops because farming a single crop gives pests and disease a massive stronghold and who is going to benefit from mono cropping? The chemical companies! If you can sterilise seeds and ensure that people have to buy them from year to year you can ensure future profits. It really is up to us to pull our heads out of the sand and take up our hoes and spades against this army of terrifying consequences. We are losing our ability to choose what we eat. There are people trying to remove all sorts of things from our diets. A scientist in the U.K. wants to remove butter (funny how he is being sponsored by a margarine company…) from production. In America they are actually stopping people from being able to access raw dairy products. Not because they are protecting these people from contaminants, but because massive great lobby groups are crushing small producers. It is in their best interests to keep people eating pasteurised, sanitised and homogenised products to maintain their profit base. We are being fed genetically modified foods in many prepared foods. Unless you know what you are looking for you are unlikely to even realise that you are eating these products. Isn’t it funny how once there is a public backlash against something that is being produced by a huge company they don’t have to tell us when it is being used in our products? They will sue people giving away heritage seeds, they will close down farms and put people in jail for selling people raw milk products but they can do what they want with impunity simply because they are so incredibly huge and powerful that they own entire governments. Really REALLY scary stuff people and something that we can’t keep putting in the too hard basket.

Wouldn’t you like this to be your little driveway? It actually leads down to a beautiful private small lake that my brother takes his canoe to and takes amazing photos of the native wildlife and plants as well as some stunning landscape pictures. What a life…

Now I am in a conundrum…this tiny little fern growing in an old fallen Karri or Jarrah log (come on folks…I might be studying horticulture but knowing the difference in fallen trees is a bit much to expect of me! Perhaps I should go to university and study “Tree forensics”?) My conundrum is…is this a “Pretty” or is it a “Green”?…

I am not sure whether or not I have shown you this photo before. It is a little baby cuckoo shrike (slightly different to the cuckoo shrikes that we get here but I bet it would still eat cheese!) that my brother found sitting in a shrub. I envy my brother his glorious little stone and wood hut and his sense of place out in the bush. He works part time and has the freedom to choose what he does and when he does it. There are always trade off’s to whatever lifestyle you choose but this one seems close to paradise to me…

I had to take this photo. This big fat labrador barked his way through town (I could hear him coming) and is obviously the king of all that he sees. My brother had pulled over at a service station to get us a couple of drinks (as you can see by the “shimmering” it was bloody hot!) after we had been sorting through mums stuff on the way back to his place. This dog reminded me of our boys and made me smile. The day that Bezial gets Steve to ride him around like King Canute on the back of a pushbike is the day that hell freezes over, but he can live in hope…

This magnificent chair belonged to my grandmother. This magnificent cat belongs to my sister. It is only fitting that the magnificent cat and the magnificent chair should meet and develop a strong bond…

As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time researching all sorts of topics I found this little sippet of information provided by one of the blogs that I follow to be priceless. I am forever spending hours hunting for various plants that I have found and that I want to identify. It is quite difficult unless you know how to go about hunting for these things and islolating the information that you actually want to find rather than a whole pile of useless garbage that usually has nothing to do with what you are looking for. This promises to make my job a whole lot easier! I find it easier to hunt for pictures of what I am looking for because you can at least get an idea of what family it belongs to and from there you are able to isolate it down by various other searches. This is going to give me a most valuable tool to find what I am looking for…

Check it out if like me, you love to learn about things and find things out…

Steve walked Earl while I was away and on one particularly long walk, in a vain effort to tire him out and have an afternoons peace and quiet, he made it to Deviot and found himself chatting to a man delivering the Deviot News. We don’t get this small community newspaper because we live on the wrong side of the bridge. The good news is that we can have the newsletter sent to us via email and we can choose to integrate ourselves with the Deviot community. After reading the newsletter that Steve brought back I am infused with a strong desire to affiliate myself with this community. I have mentioned in previous posts about how the people in the tiny community of Deviot all rally together and affect change. They have done so very much for their community, accessing community grants, getting a children’s playground for the hall. Working together to build a deck and fixing up the tennis courts as well as installing a heritage apple and pear orchard with surrounding vegetable and herb gardens for everyone to take avail of. Small communities can do so very much when they rally together and I want to be part of a community like this. There is something incredibly satisfying about working hard with a group of veritable strangers to affect change. Once you all work together and make a difference something happens to the dynamics of the group and you get a much deeper sense of fulfilment and happiness when you work together for a community than when you are only working for yourself. The difference is that everyone benefits and the end results can be staggering. I have a real affinity for Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall and his incredible passion about people taking back their own lives into their own hands via growing food, raising small animals (hens, rabbits etc.) and encouraging people back onto the land with a promise of them being able to live sustainably and happily with less. I have a bumper sticker that we found in one of the local environmental centres that really struck a chord with me and we bought it and have it displayed on the back door of our car. It says “Live simply so others may simply live”. How very true that is. It is up to us to be happier with less and the way to do that is to first realise just how lucky we are to be who we are, where we are, and secondly to take stock of what life has given us and be thankful for our lot. It is all too easy to feel sorry for ourselves when life doesn’t go the way that we planned it, but if you are grateful and thankful for your lot, you have a strong base to work with and a safe haven to retreat to lick your wounds when life gives you a shove. I sometimes despair of people telling me how hard/bad their lives are. We all need to be more aware of the constant struggle that some people have simply to live. Watch a few documentaries about people making a living by sifting through rubbish tips. People forced to work in sweat shops to survive, selling their children into slavery and having to exist in incredibly poverty where we have so very much to be both grateful and thankful about. There is something predominately wrong with a society whose sole focus is on beauty, wealth and power and where the general population have a constant niggling feeling that they are simply not good enough and most probably never will be. Living an alternative lifestyle to the norm is what Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall is trying to instil in us all. There is happiness in small gains. There are ways to earn a living that don’t involve damaging or pillaging the precious earth that we live on and we can all work together to affect change. His positive message is like a beacon to we individuals who feel totally out of touch with how society seems to be hurtling us towards a most uncertain future. We can take back our lives, we can gain a modicum of control over what we eat, how we live and what we do and we can find all sorts of people to do this with. They are everywhere just waiting to find a little community and a few strong people willing to facilitate change. See you all tomorrow :o)

I took this photo of a Dragon boat in action (most probably training) while I was standing in the door of the local market building down on the Albany foreshore

I wanted to give you a juxposition between the replica of the Duyfken in the background and the spanky new speedboat in the foreground.

Most likely a Xanthorrhoea preissii (native to W.A.) and just a hop-step and a jump from my sisters front door

This is a picture of my sisters pruning and her neighbours reversing abilities. I don’t know which is worse! :o)


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Harvey
    Feb 04, 2012 @ 14:23:43

    Congratulations Steve, that is fantastic news!! Can’t wait to get back to college in a couple of weeks. I hear u guy have an excess of chooks, Nat told me yesterday. If so can you give me a call would love to get three! I am hopefully sourcing a coop this arvo in Exeter. Harvey 0477000701.


    • narf77
      Feb 04, 2012 @ 15:27:23

      Hi Harvey,

      Of course you can have some hens. I am just about to post some pictures for you to have a look at and for everyone else to enjoy. Have a look and let us know which 3 you would be interested in. If you are looking Florida, we have so many hens here we would need 10 houses to rehouse them all :o)


  2. Pinky
    Feb 04, 2012 @ 14:35:40

    Dear Numpty Fronkii,
    That aint the Duyfkin, it’s the Endeavor sailing ship and, my pruning abilities are not to be questioned!!!!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha…..
    I had to cut this diseased Peppy bush back as it was flailing away at the ONLY power source that attaches? to our house like a veritable Trifid. I just take a long time to remove the mostly dead and ant riddled stumps.


    • narf77
      Feb 04, 2012 @ 15:24:31

      I had a 50:50 chance of getting it right :o) and you can splain away your pruning any way you like but if you don’t want me to comment on it, you will have to hide all evidence of it away from my prying eyes in the future! :o)


  3. Pinky
    Feb 04, 2012 @ 20:20:22

    Hahahahahaha! I’m going to move that Cecily Brunner rose of Mums around to the back of the house next to the newly recovered shed and it can grow as wild as it likes for the rest of its days. The poor thing is just not in the right place where it is now. Hopefully it’ll cope ok with the move. I think the mango has carked it as well. I think the poor little bugger was fried before we lifted it from Mums back desert. Oh well, chop it up and put it in the compost tumbler.


    • narf77
      Feb 04, 2012 @ 20:24:54

      Yeh, that poor little mango looked a bit fried but you need to give it a bit of time. Often plants will defoliate when they are stressed (like shutting down over winter) and that poor little sod has been most definately stressed! I would pour a bit of seasol and plant starter (you can get both of them from Bunnings) on it and give it a bit of time. If it has croaked, into the compost tumbler with it! (You do realise you are starting to sound like Don Burke the lazy gardener? :o)


  4. Pinky
    Feb 05, 2012 @ 09:43:31

    YES! The lazy gardener II. I may even be growing the beard 😛
    Will Seasol still work if all the leaves (I think it has 2 left) have turned brown?


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