Stewart and the Kong

Hi All,

Today we pick up Stewart from town. I dare say he has had a good time with his sisters. They all have the same weird sense of humour and are all intellectual and no doubt they will be sharing various favourite websites, comics and will be playing computer and PlayStation games and Stewart will hopefully be rested and relaxed. I dare say he will be well fed as the girls are both good cooks and like to experiment with gourmet items so at least he will get something nice to eat. We will bring Qi back with Stewart so that she can have a day with her “brothers” and chaos will ensue on Serendipity Farm. Qi loves to visit us here but is always on the lookout to advance herself up the social ladder. She does this because she is the only female in the bunch and because that is what females do. Bezial allows her to do this but Earl doesn’t. Qi is very clever and has worked out that if she has Earl on “her side” she can do whatever she wants and so she spends hours playing with him and ripping up the boys toys and generally having a great time bossing everyone (including us) around while she is here. A big thank you to my daughters for letting her have the odd holiday here with “Grandma and Grandpa” because she really does enjoy herself. Stewart can help us walk them all (that will make him very glad that he is heading off to Melbourne) and can generally do what he wants, take a walk around the property and will most probably end up playing Mario Kart with Steve. I hope that the 3 days that he is here will give him a degree of separation between leaving Albany and heading over to his new life in Melbourne. There is nothing like spending some time with your immediate family to ground you. No-one is telling you how great you are…in fact; your immediate family is usually telling you the opposite! We will drop Stewart at the airport on Sunday to head off to Melbourne and to go apartment hunting with real estate agents and then will head off to Evandale markets as they are just up the road from the airport and as we are in the area anyway…we may as well take a look. I will take the camera and will share the markets with you all. I wonder if the bee lady will be there. She takes a Perspex hive of bees with her to show people how honey is made (as well as selling amazing honey)…I wonder if the little coffee cart will be there? It’s very decorative and sells good coffee. Evandale is generally cold in the mornings and a nice hot cup of coffee is a prerequisite to wandering around bargain hunting first thing. It wakes you up and it speeds up your cold addled brain so that you can recognise bargains when you see them (it’s only a pity that it also wakes Steve up and makes him think about how much money he could save if his wife wasn’t hell bent on finding bargains…). There are regular stall holders and there are fly by night stallholders who come and go. We like a stall holder that goes by the name of “Bluey” (because he has red hair…to the rest of the world…I don’t know why we Australian’s call people with red hair bluey, but you call them bloodnuts so you are not much better! :o) who sells all sorts of well-priced fruit trees and nut trees. We have bought quite a lot of trees from him over the years that we have lived in Tasmania. I particularly like the stalls that sell second-hand goods. I love books and pottery and weird and wonderful terracotta “stuff” and glassware and all sorts of unusual and eclectic “stuff”. Are you starting to see why Steve twitches whenever I walk into a market place? I am the same when I head into grocery stores that sell unusual ethnic grocery lines and health food shops. Steve would rather hand over the wallet (sighing heavily as he does…) than set foot in one of these sorts of shops with me. I am really looking forwards to the markets as we haven’t been in so long.

Most of Tasmania is covered in these at the moment. Should you want to take advantage of this amazing bumper crop of the biggest blackberries that I have ever seen, feel free. There are plenty of them to go around!

This is what most of our blackberries that I am slowly harvesting as they ripen are going to become. I may even go blackberry scrumping out on the road verges and make double the amount as this was excellent and most quaffable wine…

Earl and Bezial are now a whole lot easier to walk thanks incredibly to the people at Black Dog head halters (and accessories). We got our halters yesterday and after fitting them to each individual dog, Earl and his black head halter (black because you may as well start out as you mean to finish off!) and Bezial and his purple head halter (for the regal hound that he is) had a bit of a perambulate around the house and Earl had a walk amongst the chickens. The house remains unscathed and more to the point…so do the chickens! “Hoc factum” (or so I am lead to believe by my online Latin translator…meaning “IT WORKS!”) and a pair of most satisfied people and 2 dogs who are not all that phased by their new nose adjustor head halters but our walk today will be the test. Incidentally, should any of you more learned or interested constant readers ever wish to translate your modern everyday English language to Latin (and appear to be a total wanker in the process :o) here is the site that I used. I make NO claims that this site is accurate in any way. Should you say something to a Hells Angel (or any other rough type) in the future derived from this site and have your face rearranged in an entirely unpleasant way I accept NO liability for sharing this site with you (but I will bring you a bunch of grapes in hospital :o).

Back to my infectious joy regarding these Black Dog head halters. I went on and on about Caesar Millans collars right up to actually attempting to walk the dogs in them and discovering that they really don’t work. These collars worked instantly. Previous to fitting Earl with his, if we had taken him out into the big wide world full of delicious and most enticing chickens running madly about clucking we would have been dragged from one side of Serendipity Farm to the other by a most excited mutt. Now, we have Earl standing still and trying to work out how to get the head halter off because he has chicken wrangling to do. The head halter applies no pressure whatsoever to the dogs nose (unlike the old version that we had for Bezial) UNTIL they start to pull. Pulling causes the head halter to increase pressure over the bridge of the nose. Bezials old head halter used to pull at the side of his mouth causing his eye to be also pulled up and some of his fur was rubbed off. This old halter worked but this new incarnation of halter will hopefully give us a much greater gift, the ability to walk with our dogs in the morning without arriving back home totally exhausted and frazzled to the bone. When I was in W.A. I bought Earl a Kong. If you don’t own a dog, you might not even be aware of the clever person who invented this item. Earl can be a bit of a handfull (and a milder word for Earl was NEVER heard!) at times and sometimes he gets a bit bored, even though we walk him within an inch of his life. He spends his life in perpetual motion, even when he is asleep and chasing bears. A Kong allows us to settle him down for a while and give him something to put that clever little brain to work for (besides working out how to get the chickens and feral cats). Its essentially a bit of hollow moulded rubber in the shape of an old fashioned bee hive. The idea is that you stuff it with edible things that are difficult for the dog to extract and it takes them some time to work out how to get them out. It’s a bit along the lines of giving chimpanzee’s sticks to get termites out of termite mounds (or people’s houses if you are a clever entrepeneur and only want to pay your workers peanuts…literally!) and Earl loves his Kong. We stuff it with all sorts of Earl treats and set him off with it. Bezial has gone from being a bit jealous to treasuring those moments when Earl is too busy with his Kong to use Bezial as his own personal squeaky toy. Earl is probably the equivalent of a boisterous A.D.A.H.D. child with too much stimulation and not enough to relieve his condition. Anyone wanting to spend a few hours walking, running, cycling (desperation allows me to contemplate that “strange bedfellow” request there…) or flat out pelting around on a horse with Earl on his lead pelting out in front of you (he is VERY fast…) please let us know and we will be very happy to oblige. Never let it be said that we would deny any one of our dear constant readers from the adrenaline rush commonly known as Earl…

Talking about Earl (how was THAT for a segue! :o) we come to a picture that is sort of between a rock and a hard place. When this rose was inside the compound and at the mercy of Earl, it got pruned very severely. It is a red Pierre de Ronsard and a most lovely thing it is when it is allowed to flower. Earl + red Pierre de Ronsard = sad panda. It has been moved out of the compound and is now starting to take off again which brings me to the conundrum here…this rose no longer has that flower…it doesnt have those leaves…it is a stick. The possums love roses and reduce all of my lovely Delbard and David Austin roses to ugly stalks. Which is worse? A pruned rose (with a few scraggly leaves) or a denuded rose with only stalks? If you can figure that out…let me know.

This is one plant that has definately benefitted from us moving to Serendipity Farm. Before we moved here I always wondered what the purple stalk was with the single leaf. It persisted long after it should have given up the ghost and now that it is situated right next to the overhead watering system and it hasn’t stopped raining after we installed it AND we cleaned out this entire area allowing this poor (normally indoor) plectranthus to see the light and take advantage of a bit of rain it is taking off and rewarded us with this pretty flower. The lord only knows who planted this poor house plant outside under a large conifer and then forgot all about it. It is a survivor and I prize that in anything so it will always be allowed it’s space here on Serendipity Farm…

Steve was most proud of this creation the other day. Steve occasionally likes to delve into creative cooking for himself. I let him (I don’t have to cook that night…I am NOT a fool :o) and this was the result of his desire for a “Potato pie”. I actually made the shortcrust pastry on this one and it turned out really well. I think that the powers that be thought that Steve had made it. That is why it worked out so well…

Here’s the inside of that potato pie with mashed spud, lots of cheese, chilli and American mustard (Steve LOVES American mustard and we buy it all of the time) and lots of black pepper. It is slowly being worked through in the fridge and makes a great lunch or snack on the run. I think you can make this one again Steve :o)

We have been using our wood stove lately due to the extended rainy and cooler conditions that we have been having lately. I love this sort of weather. It is lovely to cook your food and heat your water at the same time using good old fashioned wood. I don’t care about all of the politically correct people out there holding their silk hankies over their noses and protesting loudly about “wood smoke” because those self-same politically correct people have failed to do a darned thing about the pulp mill that looks like it is just about to start being built (thanks to Gunn’s finding themselves someone even more corrupt than they are to back their mill. This man has links to the Russian mafia and was thrown out of Geneva for being a money launderer and now both sides of government are lauding this “saviour” as the next best thing since sliced bread…I give in!) And once the pulp mill goes in, we will be burning our tyres as we don’t want to pay the $5 fee to take them to the tip. Bollocks to anyone from any sort of environmental protection agency from that point onwards! Sorry about that mini spleen venting event but it is very hard to ignore the ever increasing risk of this pulp mill being built just around the corner of Serendipity Farm. Our corrupt state government (both labour and liberal) should be thrown in jail for what they are doing but there is no-one to stand up to them and most Tasmanian’s are too numpty to be able to see what is being done to them. Forget welfare state…forget “clean and green” we are just about to become toxic Tasmania and no-one can stop this from happening. The worst bit is that Gunn’s (the prospective and likely builders of this mill) have managed to get themselves indemnified for 2 years from ANY form of legal action resulting from anything that happens to do with the pulp mill…how did they do that unless our state governments are both on the payroll? I feel another bout of head banging on the wall coming on so I had best have a cup of tea and play some Animal Crossing to sooth my inner “savage beast”. My savage beast seems to be living very close to the surface these days. I think we need to start on our new Diploma course to give us some focus again. This year has been somewhat stressful to say the least and we need something to centre us and give us a goal to accomplish. Serendipity Farm isn’t helping much at the moment. What with our overrunning population of both chickens and cats and our difficulty in being able to isolate a space to heap up our ever burgeoning piles of debris until we are able to deal with it accordingly our little oasis of calm appears to have dried up along with everything else affected by the extended period of hot, dry weather.

We found another hidey hole for eggs. I hope we find all of them soon as otherwise we are going to be either overrun by feral chicks or up to our armpits in rotting, exploding and most foetid eggs…

We are doing our best to do what we can on the property and now that the weather has started to cool down, it is most conducive to working out in the garden. I have a personal quest to eliminate all of the blackberries that are growing in various shrubs lining the driveway. It’s not a hard task and I can do it in a couple of hours armed with my long sleeved welding gloves, my secateurs, a pair of loppers and the trailer and 4 x 4. I actually really enjoy pottering around removing blackberries it gives me an amazing sense of achievement because they are such bollocks of plants (apart from their tasty fruit that is :o) and they fight back. We are just about to take our whipper snippers down to the teatree garden again and give the forget-me-nots and periwinkle another thrashing. I think that we might be winning the battle there because this time last year (not too long after we moved in) the forget-me-nots and vinca covered the entire area and were a dense carpet of foliage and bright blue flowers and sticky seeds to a height of 40cm. The forget-me-nots are suffering from repeated removal of their leaves and stems down to the base. We have been removing the flowers (via whipper snipper) whenever we see them and so we are minimising the seed bank in the soil. The periwinkle is a harder plant to kill. We will be whipper snipping them for many years to come but we fully intend on ensuring that they never gain a foothold again on Serendipity Farm. Autumn is going to be all go on Serendipity Farm. Our certificate 2 and 3 in horticulture lecturer told us that autumn planting is ideal and we are going to actually listen to and implement something that you told us James! The cooler weather also allows us to head off into the wild undergrowth and hack away steadily without losing most of our body fluids through sweat in 10 minutes. Tasmania is right underneath the massive great hole in the ozone layer. Everything that the industrial world has done to the ozone layer, we are paying for and the sun can give you a heat stroke in less than 10 minutes on a particularly warm day. We have to be more than careful when working in the garden between 10 and 3 (and often 8 – 5 in the height of summer). We are determined to hack our way through to the cleared areas around the perimeter of Serendipity Farm’s 1 acre of once landscaped garden. I don’t care if it looks like a cyclone has gone through the place, we need to deal with this tangled mess as soon as possible and Steve and I are just the people to thrash it into submission. I might be slow to get stuck into something (starting is the hardest bit for me…) but once I start, I am most determined. I am especially determined if something tries to fight back (read blackberries…). I have a blackberry waiting for me to render it harmless up near a small shed up near Steve’s boat shed. I was finding things to take to the rubbish tip along with a load of rubbish that we needed to get rid of and this blackberry not only grabbed me, but bit hard with its thorns. I have a pair of secateurs with that blackberries name on them and the next time that I am out in the area (tomorrow…it’s out near our potted plants) that blackberry shall be no more…

I think I might finish this post there. It’s actually Friday and I wanted a post sorted and ready to go so that we can spend the day that we have with Stewart without stressing to get a post sorted out. I know that you will understand and I will share anything interesting with you in a future post. Most likely Stewart spent the day playing Mario Kart with Steve, wandering around Serendipity Farm (and the accompanying river bank) and playing with the dogs who will no doubt love him. There is something about Stewart that dogs love. I have no idea why because his father has the opposite effect and dogs hate him. Bezial adores him, having met him on his previous visits to Tasmania and I dare say Earl will be just as enamoured of him. Qi has been sleeping on his bed in town and he mentioned his “Qi hot water bottle” when I last chatted to him. We will probably have the wood stove on to heat the house, cook something nice for tea and heat enough water for him to have a long shower before he heads off to Melbourne to find himself someplace to live. I think he is being very brave. Braver than I would ever contemplate being. I would need to have everything planned to the last degree before I even thought about moving somewhere but he said that he decided by tossing a coin. I hope that he finds happiness and fulfilment in Melbourne. What more can you hope for your children? Sometimes you have to be willing to pull up your tent and head off into greener and more remote pastures and Stewart is forging his way into new territory indeed. See you all tomorrow :o)


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 11:06:41

    Hi Fran, hope you have had a wonderful day with your son. Maybe one day I will get to meet my godson again, only this time I won’t need to change his nappy 🙂 I think Earl does sound like he has ADHD, and I’m glad that the kong and the halty work. When Ben, my goldie , was alive, that halty was terrific. It has been most decidedly humid here and I am starting to consider a move “down south.” but I don’t think I will go back to Albany as there appears to be a flu like lurgy down there lol. We, on the other hand, have not had any cases of it in Perth…. Mind you if this humid weather continues there may be a massive wave of tetchyness! I have a three day camp, starting Monday. It is the first time my autistic boy has been away from his mum, so we are both hoping all goes well. I will be staying in a separate dorm with the other female staff. One of whom has an acid tongue, so if this weather continues and she gets up my nose you may well read about a teacher losing her face, literally lol. Anyway, hope you have some fun time ajj together. See (read?) you tomorrow x


  2. Roz Takes
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 18:51:33

    Hi Fran
    Was wondering is Qi pronounced chi and named after the chinese lifeforce? Or maybe you just enjoyed the program Qi. I prefer the former as you put a lot of thought into naming Bezial.
    So glad the halties are working out.


    • narf77
      Feb 11, 2012 @ 19:12:02

      Good guess Roz :o). Qi pronounced “chi” was what we wanted to call her and Madeline loves the program Q.I. and so she got called Qi. She is a very wise little girl and has a weird thing that she does…if anyone sneezes, she kisses them. We read up about sneezing and it was apparently thought that whenever you sneezed, your soul was left unprotected and Qi is a quintessential little protector. I think she has been here before :o). We thought a lot about Bezials name…a lot about Qi’s name but we liked “My Name is Earl” and so that is how he was named. It’s funny how he suits that name! The halties are fantastic and Australian to boot. Steve took both boys for a walk this morning while I was vacuuming ready for Stewart’s arrival and he said that they were like lambs…normally they are like rampaging wilderbeeste so that is a HUGE step up from normal. I am actually looking forwards to walking them in Evandale tomorrow. I would normally be cringing at the thought but this will most definately be a good test of how good the “Infin8” Black Dog head halties are…(wish us luck :o)


  3. Kym
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 21:14:26

    Luck x


    • narf77
      Feb 12, 2012 @ 06:20:35

      Hopefully we won’t need luck but it never hurts to hedge your bets :o)


    • narf77
      Feb 12, 2012 @ 11:38:24

      We didn’t need that luck Kymmy…both boys (after initially trying to rub the nose bits off the head halties and looking hilarious as they dragged their noses sideways along the grass in the park in unison) were amazing! Bezial was a little bit more crafty as he remembered head halters of old. This new improved version of his old head halter means that all of the control is in the gentle correction of the owner and you don’t have to pull like blazes to get them to even budge. I know that they worked amazingly well as Earl met his nemisis, a big angry great dane in a little fluffy dogs body who proceeded to hurl itself at Earl in a most menacing way. Normally I would have been dragged down the footpath towards the little fluffy dog but today, Earl had to do what I wanted and despite hurling himself onto the footpath with his legs in the air, the dreaded head halty wouldn’t release him to teach little white fluffy a lesson. In the end he trotted off down the road glancing back at fluffy in a most bemused way. The halters are amazing, well worth the money and the absolute answer to people with large dogs who know that they are stronger than their owners. I might even take Earl for another walk this afternoon to see if I can sift a bit of extra bum and one of my hips…


  4. Pinky
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 10:00:30

    Hi Fronkii,
    WE MISS STEWGOR!!!!!!! Slowly coming to terms with not having him here. Hope he has recovered from his flu. Nothing worse than being on your own in some strange place and feeling like poo. Whatever happened to the following post? I’ve got a weird heading that says temporary post used for theme detection, this is a temporary post that was not deleted! Is it porn? Have you insulted the powers that be in Sidmouth or has Earl chewed up the computer keyboard because you made him wear a halty? Please let us know! lol.


    • narf77
      Feb 12, 2012 @ 11:33:05

      After feeling a bit crappy for a day or so Stewart is feeling a whole lot better and set off this morning (Sunday) to Melbourne. He is inner city appartment hunting tomorrow but for today he is staying in a hotel near where some of the prospective appartments are situated (right on Collins Street!) and is going to scope out the place today. If he does manage to get one of these appartments he will be about 100m from where he is going to work. Stewart is heading out to see the big wide world and after he gets over this cold (that I still have as well…) it is going to be great fun hunting around, finding supermarkets, being able to go to Lygon Street whenever he likes (within walking distance from his prospectived appartments), finding all of those amazing specialty shops and places that make inner city living such fun. He can’t say that he will be bored in the near future, that is for sure! :o) That post was Steve doing some work integrating this WordPress blog with Window’s live which allows you to type your posts in Word and publish them straight from your word doc. Much easier, a whole lot less phaffing about but we had to sign up and that was the little post. We can’t even see it here so it must be something that Window’s live did to promote iteself. People in Sidmouth are too lazy to do learn how to use computers so we are pretty safe doing whatever we damned well please regarding Sidmouth and surrounds. I was able to walk BOTH dogs this morning with ease. Those Black Dog head halters are amazing. We shared our love for them with a poor lady being dragged around by a large pup and she is going to buy one today (online). Such an amazing change from being dragged around to being able to walk with the dogs. I might start walking in the afternoon/early evening with Earl to see if I can’t shift a bit of well earned lard (and wear Earl out a bit more…win-win situation :o). Sorry you lost your Stewgor…He is happy, healthy, looking better than I have seen him do so in ages and about to embark on a massive great adventure. Bonne chance Stewart :o)


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