Making sprinklers while the rain pours…

Hi All,

Our friend Jenny is coming to visit us on Serendipity Farm today. Who cares? WE DO! Jenny was just another person in our somewhat small class when we first started in Certificate 2 in horticulture. As the class members melted away over the initial 6 months and then started to alarmingly dissolve in Certificate 3 down to a steady stream of 6 of us, Jenny, Steve and I gravitated towards each other as being “mature aged students” and kindred spirits. Jenny and Glen, her partner, are most probably the most generous people that I have ever met. They are generous with their time as well as their possessions. I am, by nature, a generous person. It has come a little harder to Steve but he is coming along in leaps and bounds apart from the odd decent into tightness. I have no problem with giving things that I no longer need or want away. I think that the world needs generosity to balance out all of the meanness and selfish hoarding that goes on and practice it whenever I can (the generosity, not the selfishness :o) We haven’t seen much of Jenny over the school holidays as she is using her new found horticultural knowledge to work in the industry. Apart from her generosity, Jenny is one of the most easy going non-threatening people that I know and has a fantastic work ethic making her an ideal team member in a nursery. I have a streak of anal perfectionism that makes me a pain in the bum to other members of any team that I am forced to work in. I think it comes from being a stay at home mum and only venturing into the workforce after my divorce. Arriving at “work” as a concept at the age of 34 meant that work wasn’t just something that I did to get my daily bread, it was something that I wanted to excel at and as such I tried my hardest to do my best, which pissed off many of my “team mates” no end because if someone in your team is striving to achieve, that means you have to pick up your game. I don’t make a good “team member”. Not because I don’t want to join in, not because I don’t get along with my other team members, but simply because I try my hardest to do the best job that I can and in so doing I upset people (especially other women) that I work with and it never ends nicely. I should work, ideally, somewhere where I can research and catalogue my findings. I love following processes and ticking boxes. Stick me in a library somewhere cataloguing books under the Dewy decimal system and I would be in heaven. That might sound boring, but I was born to catalogue, research and document with a major in planning. Each to his/her own and that is my idea of the ideal job. It would also limit the amount of “normal” people that I would have to deal with thus limiting my need to compete with said “normal” people and piss them off. Honesty is so refreshing! Now you all know how anal I can be…how I need to do things properly (“if you can’t do things property, don’t do them at all!” instilled in me by my grandmother over many years along with “clean up as you go along…” both mantra’s that can’t be broken) and in due process (unless I figure out an easier and more streamlined way to arrive at the end of the process with the same results…another one of my abilities :o). I tend to piss people off (especially women). I talk too much (to cover up not knowing what to say and being naturally shy) and I am not very good at sharing empathy, gossip or at shopping with other women. I can’t see the point of spending hours on end window shopping. I like to go in…buy it… and get out! Unless it’s a kitchen shop or a shop that sells weird and wonderful ethnic grocery lines I am unable to stand for more than 10 minutes at a time without twitching. I must be part man…

It takes all sorts to make a world and Jenny is our “sort” of person. We all work together well. We were able to drag ourselves kicking and screaming through Certificate 3 in horticulture and we all passed. Jenny may have taken the path (that we at least have) less trodden and used her knowledge to gain lawful employment (where we are threatening to become old aged pensioner professional students…) but we maintain a great friendship and are always willing to help each other out should any of us need said help. Despite being terrified of our dogs (mainly King Earl), Jenny comes out to visit us and even if we do have to stand outside the perimeter fence and chat, she can have a look at how huge the chickens have grown, she can see exactly what we have (and haven’t) done on Serendipity Farm since she was last here and she can fill us in on all of the horticultural gossip that we miss out on living out in the sticks in the boondocks of Serendipity Farm. There will always be a cup of coffee (or beer should the arms of the clock be over the yard arm…) and a bickie for Jenny on Serendipity Farm :o)

That was a long first stanza! How am I going to match that? Perhaps with a shorter more manageable bite of paragraph? I tend to be verbose physically as well as mentally. I get incredibly excited about things and want to share them and my fingers trip over themselves in my efforts to get my thoughts down onto the online version of the page. I have had a few of you (lazier) constant readers pull me up on the length of my posts. Get a cup of coffee/tea (or even your alcoholic beverage of choice…who am I to tell you what to do? :o) and pull up a chair and spend a little bit of your day, wherever you are, here on Serendipity Farm with your good friends the Pimbletts. We might not actually physically know each other, but here on this blog, in this tiny little segment of the world we are good friends in spirit. I find out so many things through wandering around online. I usually start somewhere with a specific task/goal to achieve but end up finding all sorts of things off to the side of what I am actually looking for. I have an enormous word document where I store “interesting” and “must revisit” websites that I find on my travels sideways and upside down through the World Wide Web. I found a list (that I shared with you in an earlier post) of books that one “Mary Anne Schaffer” (of “The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society” book fame) loved to read. That makes them a must read for me. I have a follower on this blog called “Photobotos”. No idea who this person is, only that he is male, his brother is also male (funny that…your brother being male…) and that he and his brother take the most amazing photographs that I have ever seen. They are not just visual representations of the scenery and conditions at the time; they are small and most amazing windows to the soul. Through this person I have been able to see some incredible things that I would otherwise never have been able to see. This person/persons has found some way of hunting down blogs that amuse/interest them. I am a quintessential magpie and never let it be said that I can’t take advantage of someone else’s hard work and natural inquisitive talent to sniff out a good blog or two and pare down the multitudes of dross to find the nuggets of literary (and photographic) gold out there. Like his illustrious literary counterpart Ms Mary Anne Schaffer, I will be wading slowly through the list of people thanking him for liking various blog posts on their blogs. I want to visit these blogs because I have a more than sneaking suspicion that he is onto something…like gulls flocking to another gull bums up in the water emerging with a most delicious fish in his beak…I am the next cab in the rank to sample those delicious moments…thankyou Photobotos for your thumbs up to these blogs…they are next on my list to explore and you have saved me countless hours of energy wading through rubbish to find something special :o)

What a meandering path I am taking today! Sometimes my posts take a more physical lien like when I am talking about “actual events” or plants in our garden. Should something interesting happen down on Serendipity Farm (or halfway up the hill where I have to huff and puff to get up there to document it for you) you are always the first to know. Sometimes I just let my mind wander about where it will. Some of the less kind of you might be sniggering and saying “yeh…and it sure is obvious!” but my answer to that is “get back to your studies you lazy bollocks” (aimed at my 2 daughters who are the most likely candidates for that sort of a retort) and “talk to the hand!” to the rest of you. The hand is actively typing and could care less about what you are thinking at the moment. I can hear a mole cricket formulating his chirps out in the newly moist soil. I heard a little frog singing a chorus to heaven when I went out at dusk to see if the hens were in their roost ready for us to lock up (like fun they were!). Like my brothers little wood and stone cottage out in the bush, Serendipity Farm has a degree of removal from the outside world allowing us to see and hear things that we might otherwise not be aware of. I love the way that these little creatures wander through, across, over and around Serendipity Farm. We have lizards in the house hunting for flies. We have a few large huntsman spiders wandering about sampling the mosquitos that home in on Steve in the night. We have all sorts of little birds in various stages of life that interact with each other and with us on a regular basis. We can watch the seasons unfold and the life cycles rotate. It brings us closer to God (much like the 9 inch nails song “Closer”…by the way…if you are of a serene disposition or over the age of 30 please DON’T go hunting for the lyrics to that song…I warned you! :o) isn’t it amazing that we can all find ourselves functioning and living our day to day lives amongst all of this apparently chaotic life teeming around us…plants…animals…insects and everything else not represented by these genres working together to keep this world running exactly as it has for millennia. I can hear Steve driving up the driveway and the boys are whining and singing out to him. There is no doubt whatsoever when Steve gets back (or anyone else for that matter) as the dogs herald his return with gusto.

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What can I say about this slideshow of the process involved in taking some of the grouchiness out of first thing in the morning apart from somewhere in this slideshow, you get to see someone who appears to be sick of me taking photographs of him… We are very happy with our end results. DON’T show this to Nick Nat or we will be forced to kill you (and he will be forced to make us do a unit in irrigation all over again). Sometimes what you have learned needs to be tweaked by what you can afford :o)

We just set up the overhead watering system. It cost us just on $45 to build and it waters all of our potted plants around the side of the house. We are extremely happy with the results and with pairing our ideas, existing “stuff” and a few things that we had to buy new (sprinkler heads and fittings and some rope and a coil of black polypipe) and best of all IT WORKS! At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how pretty something is or how much it cost, if it works, it is just what the doctor ordered. Our system works and isn’t all that bad on the eye to be honest. We are enjoying knowing that we are not going to have to be out watering for an hour and a half every second day (and every day when it’s hot) and that we can pair the watering system with a timer that we bought when we were in town to water the garden nice and early so that the plants soak it up before it evaporates. I collected another instalment in the new blackberry wine ingredients list (some blackberries). That is the ONLY reason why most of the blackberries around Serendipity Farm are still alive and twitching, because right now I am harvesting them. They fruited early this year and most copiously. I think having a year or two of mild conditions and lots of rainfall followed by a nice hot long summer made them go mad. I don’t really mind as I get to harvest all of the nice ripe fruit early and we get a head start on our wine production for this year. Pretty soon PANTAS stone fruit orchard just up the road from us will offer peaches “$2/kilo pick your own” and we will get some more of them as well. Last year we made peach wine. It had a most “interesting” flavour and over the year turned from a weird tasting wine to a very strong weird tasting wine. Steve just finished the last of the barrel off last week and it was somewhat akin to paint thinner. We might combine the peaches with something else this year. We read that peaches make a watery thin wine with very little taste so we added lots more peaches and sugar and ended up with peach vodka. A small glass could render me legless and I am NOT a 1 pot screamer so that should tell you how strong it was. We have 2 hop vines in pots and should we EVER get around to getting our veggie garden area sorted, we will plant the 2 hop vines out and allow them to do what they do best, head to the sky. We will train them up some of the eucalyptus trees in the veggie garden area and we might even have a go at making our own beer wort this year. At least the hops won’t croak now that they are getting regular water. (Note to self… take the hops around to where they can get regular water…). We headed over to Exeter today to pick up a few more sprinkler heads for our system. We underestimated how many we would need because we increased the area of watering from 25 metres to 35 metres and needed to adjust the amount of sprinklers accordingly. While we were in Exeter we decided to check out the Thrift shop and I found a most wonderful old brass door knob. We are going to mount it on the door between the laundry and the hallway leading to the kitchen. I really love it. It is brass and ornamental and cost me the princely sum of $1. Tasmania might suck for all sorts of reasons, but bargain hunting is NOT one of them. You can get all sorts of amazing bargains if you are willing to get out of bed early on a Saturday (and sometimes a Sunday) morning. If you go to the Evandale markets you can often find people selling very interesting things at very low prices. We don’t get to go much these days as Evandale is now a long way away from where we live. Back when we lived in town we would make a weekly trip and then drop in at the Esk markets in Launceston occasionally on the way home. The Esk markets are not as good as the Evandale markets but it’s sometimes nice to check and see if anything is there. I miss going to the markets but we spend a whole lot less out here so I guess there are swings and roundabouts. We have been sifting through our plants to see what we could pot up to sell at the local Deviot Market. We might even book a stall at the Mad Hatters Market Day in March. We have lots of interesting plants, most of them we grew from seed or cuttings in Certificate 2 of horticulture. We learned where to buy our pots, our potting media etc. and BOY did we throw ourselves head first into propagation. Steve headed sideways into grafting and we both did a stint with bonsai and several other horticultural specialties. Hopefully we get a bit more time this year to mess about a bit and do some maple grafting. We have quite a few nice specimens now and lots and lots of regular Japanese maples that we grew from seed and collected from friend’s places and roadside verges. Should we get the impetus to do so, we will share the results with you all. Ok, I think it is time to head off into the blogging ether. Time to cook something for Steve’s tea. Last night we had some most delicious home-made spring rolls and tonight it might be something meaty and vegetably for Steve (he was a good boy and ate his green beans so he might get let off eating them tonight…). After I do that, I will plump some nice pillows under Steve in the lounge room and will head off into the kitchen to play Animal Crossing (I might be addicted…but I am nothing if not consistent!) see you all tomorrow :o)


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. microgardener
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:20:24

    Great to see progress happening Fran. 🙂


    • narf77
      Feb 08, 2012 @ 15:12:20

      Cheers Annie :o) this is just holding back the heat from killing our poor long suffering potted babies as we have to find some way to prepare the soil for them to be planted out. It’s all well and good putting shrubs into raised beds but we have some plants that need a bit more than a wheelbarrow load of compost to make them happy…


  2. Roz Takes
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 13:30:00

    Hi Fran,
    After re-reading some of your Blogs and laughing again at some of your rants and turn of phrase, I propose we institute a Numpty of the Year Award. This week I nominate the French.
    Do these people never check anything! Have a good Chuckle.


    • narf77
      Feb 08, 2012 @ 15:19:01

      Right there with you on the French Numpties Roz, but they should be put into the right category. Numpty they might be, but that is far outweighed by their arrogance and complete disregard for anyone other than themselves. We were stuck in a line in the airport in France that was heading out to Paris. We needed to get into another line so that we could transfer to the U.K. but every time we tried to move out of the line, a large burly (and very VERY rude) French security guard prodded us and told us to “get back in line and wait your turn”! I couldn’t get the stupid man to understand that we didn’t want to go out the door to Paris but he wasn’t even listening. In the end I approached a woman guard closer to the gate, ignoring him chasing me up to her and asked her where the line went. She said “Out to Paris” and I got back into the line (where we were being shoved by the idiot Frenchman) and as soon as he turned his back we bolted for the right line! I love French cheese…French bread and French pastries but I would rather be rogered by a red hot poker than ever set foot in the bloody place! (Italy is an entirely different matter :o). So the French win the “Arrogance and Rudeness” award of all time (forget 1 year, they are the perpetual trophy holders forever!). Bollocks to your bad manners…bollocks to your arrogance and should you EVER shove me into a line where I don’t want to be ever again, you had best have a gun because that red hot poker is tame compared to what I am going to do to you!


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