Next book in the list coming up

Hi All,

I am just waiting for some photos to load in my last post (last night) and am contemplating whether or not to watch rubbish T.V. (the easy option) or read my book. Reading the book is hands down the best idea but there is no doubt in my mind that I will fall asleep within about 15 minutes of starting reading despite it being a fantastic story and I really don’t want to miss anything in a blurry world between sleep and awake. So what do I do? Do I watch “Pawn Stars” with Steve and numb my brain or do I chance falling asleep and missing the developing romance between Captain Corelli and Pelagia? Hmmmm I guess I could just sit here typing for the rest of the evening but tomorrow is a study day and we need to do some serious research to isolate plants that will grow well on Serendipity Farm and sustainable materials for our prospective Sustainable Landscape Design. Steve is going to try to drag some “Complex Access” out of his brain from 4 years ago when we completed 3 complex units in Certificate 4 in Business Administration…Complex Word documents; Complex Spread sheets (Excel) and the most pertinent one for tomorrows work, Complex Databases (Access). Steve has been checking out Access all over again and you know what? We have completely forgotten everything that we learned…Steve is going to tinker around with it tomorrow to see if anything comes back but if it doesn’t we might just be giving our lecturer a nice Word document in place of a database. We are going to drop another tree tomorrow down into the garden area. We were only thinking today that it is lucky that we hadn’t created our vegetable garden area in earnest because the 2 trees that we dropped today completely mangled the veggie garden area and it would have been very disheartening to have that happen with veggies growing (and wasteful). We are hoping that Effel doocark wasn’t mounted on top of her Guinness World Book of Records sized clutch of eggs down in that garden when the tree dropped…

Bezial is determined to hide from Earl on the bed

Earl loves being bounced up and down upside down on the bed…mental!

Tomorrow’s effort will fall into the jungle part of the garden and the blackberries should go part way to softening the blow. We are making sure to get enough firewood for our winter needs. We are going to get a few loads of limb wood from our friend she who must remain anonymous and a decent load of good wood in exchange for some old metal in the first paddock. Barter is sometimes the way to go when you live out in the country and don’t have a lot of money. It rained for queen and country last night and we had a decent amount of thunder and lightning to accompany me getting to the final chapters of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. This book is most definitely going on my favourite book list right up there with Mary Anne Schaffer’s quirky classic “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society”. It is almost the same book if you look at it with the eyes of a copyright troll but as both books are delightful I will suspend my sense of disbelief that Mary Anne might have borrowed a fair bit of her material for her book from her list…the more books you read from this list the more Mary Anne is revealed…I think that reading your way through someone’s favourite book list is like reading their diary. It is so very personal and what makes them feel deeply gives you a real and unclouded look at who they really are. It’s Friday and the skies are very dark outside as I type this. The dogs are both lying in bed with Steve which appears to have become a morning ritual over the last week. I like getting up and checking emails and spending a little time sitting here thinking about the day. Now that we are studying it takes a degree of order and planning to sort out just what we are doing and I keep finding all sorts of great information that keeps forcing me off track of my original query when I am hunting online. Anything great and anything free needs to be saved which slows down the hunt considerably. Steve and I have come up with some really amazing sites. One of them is an Australian site where you can narrow down native plant species that will flourish in your endemic area and you get the common names and botanical names so that you can head off and hunt for them in your local nursery. I would personally get stuck in to collecting some seed, not all…I have been to a seed collecting workshop with the local Tamar N.R.M.A and appreciate leaving some for plant diversity in the immediate vicinity. After collecting seed we will spend some time growing our own endemic plants to grace Serendipity Farm. I discovered a most enthusiastic lady permaculturalist in a series of videos yesterday whilst hunting for information pertaining to rocket stoves (another story). Her name is Rosina and she is like so many others out there who catch the permaculture bug and use it to change their lives. I don’t think that Annie from The Micro Gardener would mind me sharing the link to Rosina’s story on her blog Green Journey.

The main thing that I get from learning to live a sustainable life and using permaculture (and other sustainable) principles to guide your garden and your life is that far from feeling overwhelmed, it gives you a real sense of empowerment (what a wanky word!) over your immediate situation. Anyone can apply as little or as much permaculture process to their requirements. A small set of pots on a balcony (see The Micro Gardener for some amazing ways to do this) to a 50 acre property are all based on a series of zones and processes. Cycles of things that act with nature to facilitate good change. Working with nature stops all of that hard work trying to stop nature from doing what it does best so you are saving time in the process. The more I delve into permaculture the more I appreciate its fundamental truths. I am starting to sound like a permaculture zealot aren’t I! The good thing about falling in love with permaculture is that it doesn’t do anyone or anything any harm; it’s a way of giving you back a degree of choice and a direction for your life. In this day and age of hopelessness when we are all faced with the growing concern about Global economics and how they seem to be taking a turn for the worse on a daily basis, permaculture and its hope is a shining light through the gloom. Not only does it give you back your choice, but it also allows you to hook up with all sorts of people from all over the world and the sense of community that dealing with people that are trying to affect positive change can’t help but brighten your outlook. I have added some really good blogs to my “Follow” list and now eagerly await a new post from Milkwood permaculture after checking out the site and finding it a most valuable resource for those seeking information and a good story at the same time. If you are interested here is the link to the site

A friend gave us these quinces the other day with an assurance that I could have lots more in a week or so. Quince jelly…baked quinces, poached quinces and maybe even some quince paste but I need to find my welding gloves first as that stuff hurts!

I have no idea where we are going to walk the dogs today. It rained all night accompanied by thunder and lightning and apparently it is going to be a rainy day all day all over Tasmania. I love rain and despite having to wade through mud to give the boys a walk in winter I wish that we had discovered swales in our implementation phase last year at Serendipity Farm. No doubt all of that heavy steady rain washed most of our steep driveway away again and dumped a deluge of water down into the teatree gardens where it is least needed. We have plans to install a series of swales and perhaps collection ponds to ensure that the water stays on Serendipity Farm in the future. We have learned so much from hunting about researching for our studies and are eager to implement some of the ideas right here. The top paddock isn’t called the top paddock for nothing. It isn’t far from the lowest point of Serendipity farm (we are only 4 acres) but if you were forced to walk from the front gate straight up to the top of the property without a rest and you were as unfit as I am you might need to pretend to faint clean away about halfway up just so that you could have a rest. The top paddock is mostly native vegetation and consists of native tussock grass (Poa labillardierei) and Sheok trees (Allocasuarina duncanii) interspersed with a few blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) and a disproportionate quantity of rock. We have plans to use tough fruiting trees like olives and figs that don’t mind low water conditions at the top of the property in an area that had previously been cleared of large eucalyptus trees by the neighbour to the rear when we were not living on the property. I still can’t get over the cheek of this man and how he took advantage of us to get a view to attempt to affect the sale of his property. He had come to my father’s funeral and subsequent “wake” (for want of a better word) and had asked me if he could clear away some trees from the boundary fence. As you can imagine I wasn’t really all that concerned about trees on the boundary fence at that time and agreed that he could remove the trees on the fenceline. He then proceeded to remove all of the trees all of the way down to the gate on the second paddock and was attempting to try to persuade the man that we had caretaking our property while we were living in town finishing off our year of studies that we had assured him that he was allowed to clear fell all of the trees all of the way down to the house block. I am glad that the caretaker decided to balk at this brazen attempt to gain a view and that we now only have to deal with a back paddock that 1/3rd of the vegetation has been removed from. When we plant olive trees and fig trees that block this man’s view I am NOT going to feel at all remorseful. I might feel a twinge of guilt when we install pigs up there…but you know what? There is nothing like a large pig to dissuade someone from climbing over the fence in the night to poison your fruit trees…

I love how this old enormous conifer stump has spawned a young juniper…life goes on

Does anyone know what this tree is? I really liked it and noticed it on our walk. It has the look of a poplar.

This is a stand of the tree that I am trying to identify. Very nice shiny thick green leaves and a nice shaped tree to boot

We ended up taking the dogs to Beaconsfield and giving them a nice long walk. It is cool today and overcast and threatening to rain quite heavily. We are working on our project design brief for our lecturer for our course and are starting to wish that we hadn’t let things get in the way of us buying a whole pile of those big blue plastic barrels last year for $5 a barrel as I think that there are new Chinese people managing the orchard around the corner from us and they appear to have disposed of all of the barrels. The Chinese people come here for the picking season (cherries and peaches) and then disappear leaving a much neglected orchard over winter. No pruning has been done this year or weed removal around the peach trees. They don’t actually want to deal with the peaches and don’t export them because they are not big enough to satisfy their market requirements. Locals are able to buy them at a reasonable price and we bought some last year and made peach poison, the wine that knocked your socks off but that had a taste like some sort of oven cleaner. We drank it though… that is why we gave up drinking! When you are able to persuade yourself that something that smells like paint thinner is worth putting into your mouth you need to stand back and have a think about your motives. I just headed out to the shed to retrieve a load of dry limb wood that we stored there to save us having to go to the wood shed (previously the boat shed) to get wood for our next fire. With the weather at the moment our “next fire” is likely to be today so in between showers I raced out with the wheelbarrow to get the barrow load of wood. I stayed up till 12 last night/this morning (never quite sure what to call it when you put your book down on the stroke of midnight…) reading Captain Corelli’s Mandolin as mentioned previously in this post and Mr Lois de Berniѐres is a true craftsman when it comes to being honest in a story. I hate it when I am watching something on T.V. that has a bad plot line or that is heading somewhere and suddenly everything turns out A.O.K. and everyone goes home hand in hand with big smiles on their faces and they completely disregard the honesty of the situation to save the audience having to face some uncomfortable truth. This book is dealing, blow by blow, with the harsh realities of the invasion of Cephalonia in the war and isn’t sparing a moment to waste time pussy footing around how I, or any other reader, feel about how things pan out…it tells it like it is/was and there is a degree of truth to it all because it is based on a true story. I thought that this was an entirely fictitious story but on researching a bit there are many aspects of truth involved that give it a solid feel. I think I am going to spend the afternoon finishing off this wonderful book and then I have another one to start. How lucky am I? See you all tomorrow when we can talk about lumber jacking, tree felling and gathering wood (not nut’s…yet…) somewhat earlier than May.

A pod of happy kittens

Jacko’s hiding place on a cubic metre of potting mix next to the shed

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Mar 16, 2012 @ 21:31:16

    Happy lumber jacking Fran lol. Try youtube to see if they have a demo about excel. It has lots of good demos. I’m so pleased it’s Friday, a bit knackered today….
    Pussys look very healthy and happy too


    • narf77
      Mar 16, 2012 @ 21:54:51

      No problem with excel…Access is the one that makes me eat my toenails… have a great weekend…sounds like you earned it! Pussies got the boys tea from last night as they were attempting to teach us a lesson by not eating their tea and so we gave it to the cats this morning…in front of them…steak and eggs…cats absolutely purring with happiness and dogs decidedly disgruntled! Kitties 1, Dogs nil! Needless to say Bezial scoffed his tea down as soon as I put the bowl on the floor today. DON’T try to manipulate me sunshine…I have 3 kids!


  2. Kym
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 19:45:12

    Lol, Fran 1 dogs 0 🙂


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