Exploits of Earl

Hi All,

It’s actually Monday and I am starting Wednesday’s post somewhat early because tomorrow (that would be Tuesday for those of you who can’t be bothered to think about menial things like that at this time of day), which is one of the first days allocated for study…in fact it was the very 1st day allocated for study this year and it has been hijacked by the Polytechnic. Steve and I completed our Diploma in Horticulture last year. We are suitably proud of ourselves for this achievement but in saying that, we don’t need to bask in anyone’s admiration to make ourselves feel good. We were not intending on going to the awards ceremony at the Tailrace Centre (just down the road from the girls place in town) because that simply “isn’t our thing”. Steve won a scholarship thanks to the Launceston Horticultural Society which is amazing because it is effectively $500 off the cost of studying for Steve for the next year and perhaps the year after that (depending on what he decides to study next year) and no-one is more proud of Steve than I am (apart from his mum most probably…). Steve was informed by our lecturer the other day that he must attend the awards ceremony (and wear the dreaded “gown”) as a condition of his award/scholarship. That made things a bit hairy because Bezial can be left for days on end without any severe problems apart from him sulking for a week. Earl is a different kettle of fish…think the difference between a kettle of goldfish (Bezial) and a kettle of Piranha’s (Earl) and you are just about there…the only thing wrong with that analogy is that the piranhas’ probably do less damage when left to their own devices. Earl is a typical pup on steroids. He wants to chew everything, he wants to put things in his mouth and feel the texture…he loves different textures and wants to sample them all…especially the texture of plastic and anything made of plastic. I can’t count the amount of plastic that has passed through Earl’s digestive system and his deposits are easily located out back when I pick them up due to their brightly coloured nature and their composition of more than 50% plastic. We can’t leave Earl on his own for a long period of time because despite doing our level best to minimise our carbon footprint, the truth is we have a nice mostly plastic work desk…holding a delicious plastic keyboard, hard drive, enormous plastic television/monitor and numerous tasty plastic accompaniments to pick his teeth with after he guzzles each and every cord, cable and plug. I shudder to think how much damage a single medium dog could do in the space of a few hours. We would get back to Bezial huddled and looking most frazzled on the lounge room floor and Earl looking like Vivian from the Young Ones fame when he ate the television from the episode with the television detector van and the unpaid television license (yup…you have to pay to watch the telly in the U.K.!) Needless to say I have to stay here while Steve goes to the awards ceremony on his own.


My name is Earl…I am 15 months old and I am an eating machine. (Bezial would like it to be known that his name is actually “Dumbass”…)


This is me with Steve…he would like to think of himself as head of our pack and I let him keep his delusional ideas because I am magnanimous like that (bet you didn’t think a dog would know a word like that did you?)


We had best let old Fatty get into the pictures or he will sulk for a week…


While Steve is off collecting his award, doing the fortnightly shopping and dropping off Florida’s newest additions to her princess confraternity (hens) I will be sitting here with 2 most depressed dogs. Steve isn’t likely to get back until about 10pm tomorrow night and by that stage there will be 2 uneaten bowls of dog food and 2 very sulky pups who will launch themselves at Steve as soon as he drags his poor tired derrière through the door laden with groceries. At least I can do something productive tomorrow to lighten Steve’s load by studying and sifting through all of the work that we did this morning regarding “What is sustainable landscape design?” It’s a most interesting concept and a whole lot more complicated than it might appear at first glance. We are enjoying putting what we have discovered about sustainability in our personal research into our studies. It is always great when you are actually interested in what you are studying because you get so much more out of it and you put a lot more effort in because it is pertinent to your own situation. Now that the weather is starting to cool down and the soil is starting to get regular bouts of sky born water again (it’s like Macbeth…you can’t say the name or it won’t happen!) and this is the perfect time to get out into the garden and work hard. In cooler weather we can sustain our efforts for a much longer period. No problem with the sun giving us heat stroke and sweating profusely so having to stop for regular drinks and breaks. We can get stuck in without worrying about the soil losing all of its moisture and we can plant knowing that the sky born water is going to render regular liquid results over the coming season. It’s surreal hearing and watching news reports about how most of New South Wales is under water and that the flood waters are starting to threaten Victorian properties on the border when we are in the state that is supposed to get lots of water and we are dry. Queensland (thanks to information gleaned from Annie of The Micro Gardener) is deluged but this is just coming in to their good weather when everyone from Tasmania does the equivalent of running to the hills to get away from winter and flock/migrate to Queensland for the winter. I am starting to amass a fair bit of information about permaculture solutions to our problems here on Serendipity Farm. I am trying to be extremely positive in thinking that “Problems are just solutions waiting to happen” but some of our “solutions” are proving to be a pain in the neck. Our massive percentage of rock to soil is a real bugbear. It is very difficult to plant anything around here unless you form raised beds. We are monetarily challenged and with such a large area to clear up and replant it is easy to put it in the too hard basket but “Faint heart never won fair maiden” so we are just going to have to get stuck into it in small doses and slowly…slowly…we may just catch that monkey!


I love to listen to Steve play guitar. So long as it’s loud I am there


Sometimes I need to sort out the sound though…



I look like I have tiny little feet but what I really have is a big fat head


“Hmmm…which bit should I eat first?”


I love the cooler weather that we are starting to get. Yesterday was unseasonably hot and made everyone lethargic and feel a bit under the weather. I have had a sinus type headache for the last 3 days and it is starting to wear a bit thin to say the least. The D.J. on the radio this morning was saying that she had hay fever…hopefully I am not being subjected to a bout of hay fever because I have never suffered from it before. To all you regular hay fever sufferers out there I feel for you! If this is what you have to put up with on a regular basis you deserve medals. I am hoping that this is just a head cold or something like that because I am heartily over feeling like my eye is going to pop out of my head and that I have pressure building up in my head and it just might burst…I guess the positive side there is that you won’t have to wade through acres of posts for a while! We are getting very frustrated with the possums having fun with our potted plants outside. We had to move them all out to get them out of Earl’s way (the eatinator) and the possums are not eating the leaves, just climbing up and down the plants and stripping the leaves off. We know that because the leaves are left lying all around the base of the plant. We caught 2 of the little “blighters” (one of my nanas words who was a pledge taker and who never drank smoked or swore that was the equivalent of being right up there with some of our strongest swear words!) last night raiding the compost bin when we were out furtively bagging some hens. Before you raise your eyebrows at our nocturnal chicken rustling activities, they were our own hens and 4 of them were chosen to be rehoused at Florida’s “Chicken Holiday Camp” out in the delightful town of Westbury. We bought our Wyandotte girls from a Westbury couple (who were nefarious scoundrels who sold us old hens for top dollar noting that we were new to the game…) so it is only fitting that some of their babies will be gracing the green pastures of Westbury for future generations. We are hoping that they are all hens. We have given Florida a selection of age groups to ensure a staggered range of ages in her coop for extended egg laying. Her princesses are all getting on now for Isa Browns. Her new girls are all breeds equally good for eggs and meat production and that don’t lay an egg a day, but will live a lot longer. If Florida does end up with a rooster (highly doubtful but look at Yin…) we will retrieve it from her and will deposit a nice new hen. You can’t ask for more than that with your local chicken provider can you? We are very happy that 4 of our girls are moving on up in society. I must admit, the oldest girl (about 14 months old) is highly unimpressed at being stuck in a rabbit hutch with 3 underlings…She is used to being top dog around here and running with Yin as his number 2 girl. We are only giving her to Florida (she is one of our very few reliable egg layers) because she is Yins sister and we don’t want to interbreed. I dare say after her ruffled feathers settle when she is situated in her new home and she has told EVERYONE that she is just like Hyacinth Bucket and is “She who must be obeyed” she will settle down and do her absolute best to defoliate all of the weed population in Florida’s garden. Along with her 4 cohorts they will add colour and hopefully many eggs to Florida and Mile’s life.


“Watcha got there?”…”Can I eat it?”…


“Mmmm cat food…much better than hazelnuts”


“I wasn’t touching anything…see I am half asleep!”


“Man I LOVE driving the car!”


Does anyone else flit back and forwards with things that they are doing? It’s been about 30 minutes since I typed that last sentence and in that time Steve got home from walking the dogs, we have fed the hens, had a brewed coffee, taken the dogs meat from the freezer and worked out that they are getting eggs with their dinner tonight, we have talked about how relationships change when kids leave the picture and when you spend 24/7 together. We don’t want to end up not being able to stand the sight of each other…that would totally waste a 3 year period of time where we had to sustain and nurture our relationship from opposite sides of the world. What a waste of time that would have been! When something is worth it, you fight for it and whether or not your partner is a man and is thus totally NOT inclined to “talk about things” and would rather you talked it all out with your friends, came back and carried on regardless if you care about what you have you most definitely don’t want to lose it to boredom and a slow descent into abject apathy. I never want to become a partnership of tolerance rather than a partnership of shared involvement. It is so very easy to head off in separate directions and after a time work your way back to find that you have absolutely nothing in common and can’t even remember why you got together in the first place. That is NOT going to happen to us! We are suffering under a period of stagnation here. We haven’t done much in the garden (it has been unseasonably too hot), we have minimised our time spent anywhere other than Serendipity Farm and are a bit stir crazy and we have toned down our activity to the equivalent of sleeping in human metabolic rates. What we need is a good shake up and this cooler weather is going to allow us to drag our sorry derrières back out and reclaim our turf from the hens. At the moment Serendipity Farm is ruled by hens (No. 1); the feral cats (No. 2); the sparrows (No. 3); the possums (No. 3); the cuckoo shrikes (No. 4) and the various other animals that drift through Serendipity Farm on a semi regular basis including the young female small kangaroo who has a joey and who comes most nights to eat grain from the floor. She just ate 2 of my heucherella plants so has joined the possums on my “Dirty” list. Motivation is the chief thing that we need at the moment. I think that 8 weeks off is too long over Christmas and think that Tasmania joining the rest of Australia in having 4 school terms is a really good idea. More breaks through the year (for lecturers to get a break more than anything) and a shorter period over the summer to stagnate and become mosquito fodder. I guess we are just going to have to get stuck in to solving our problems here and using the information that I have been researching over the summer period to do so.

Steve is wandering about twitching before he has to head off today (Tuesday…remember I type these out a little bit in advance…) to firstly drop off 4 hens to Florida at a Bunning’s drop off. As Florida said, it is making her friends laugh because it is more like a drug drop than a hen drop in a well-lit car park out on the fringes of the city. It is actually half way for both of them and easier for Florida to grab the chickens and head back home as well as for Steve who needs to kill a bit of time and where better than Bunning’s for a man to waste a bit of time shelf hopping? After that he has our fortnightly shopping to do and then it’s a bit more time wasting before he has to go to the award ceremony. This award ceremony is not sitting well with Steve. As previously mentioned we are not attention hogs when it comes to this sort of thing and standing up there on his own is probably like being forced to walk over hot coals to Steve, but for a $500 scholarship, it is worth the pain. We are sorting out putting hens in cardboard boxes; Steve is washing his hair for tonight and getting ready to find something to do in Launceston for the hours he has to wait. When you live in town you really don’t mind popping in because it is just a short trip home and a quick visit into town is the norm. Now that we are a 100km round trip from Launceston we can’t just pop in anywhere. The girls are both at Polytechnic now and so we can’t just pop in for a visit whenever we are in town. Steve will most probably head around to do a bit of window shopping. He has a really good idea to make it possible to watch “normal” television in the lounge room. We have full service Austar in the lounge room but out here you need an aerial to get even normal television and the Austar aerial just doesn’t pick it up. It’s somewhat ironic that we pay handsomely for a service that can’t even get us free to air television but Steve, being the inventive and handy little chap that he is, has a plan… a “cunning plan” in fact. Dad got a very good and most expensive aerial installed not too long before he died. He had the aerial situated over in the far corner of the kitchen/living area where he spent most of his time sitting at either his little square table reading endless quantities of books or sitting in his armchair (usually fast asleep) watching the A.B.C. or S.B.S. television. Dad didn’t use the lounge room area and so when we got Austar put into the lounge room the aerial for free to air television was still situated in the kitchen/living area. That was a bit of a conundrum because we were getting the wood burning stove situated right next to where the aerial outlet was and so we had to think about it a bit. Did we want to spend lots of money to pay someone to come out here and relocate the aerial connection to somewhere closer to where we might have a television? Bollocks we did! If we can do it ourselves, we do. Steve got up into the roof and had a bit of a look and decided that the cable (that stretched from way over the other side of the house near our bedroom and the lounge room ironically… to the kitchen/living area) could be relocated against the wall where we wanted our computer desk to sit. We have a great work station now that we relocated our previous “big flat screen LCD telly” to act as a monitor and once Steve did his magic and relocated (pulled up from where it was situated on the brick wall, removed and patched the outlet and resituated it next to the work station) the aerial we can now use the big telly as a monitor for the computer as well as being able to watch free to air TV. The problem is that Steve would like to watch free to air in the lounge room as well…how do you solve this? You go online and you check out aerial splitter boxes and coaxial cable and you do a bit of research and you do it yourself so I can watch it in the kitchen/living area and Steve can also watch it in the lounge room. Where there is a will there is usually a way and that is how we do it here on Serendipity Farm! (Said like “Cake Boss” maestro Buddy Valestro). Time to cook eggs for Steve so that he can head off to the madding crowd to do his best Academy award winning speech along the lines of Patsy Stone when made to go on the television “Cheers…you can never have enough hats…gloves and shoes”…that’s about the extent of Steve’s speech tonight!


Here is the man of the moment with his award certificate, his “bit of paper” in his pocket his scarf and gown (they made him wear them) and a sense of pride that he most definitely deserves to have because he worked really hard for this


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Pinky
    Mar 08, 2012 @ 11:56:53

    Great photo of Steve in his graduation garb Fronkii. Why didn’t you go in too and leave the dogs at Maddy and Beths? Even if they wern’t there, you could have locked them in the back yard for a bit.


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