Finally you get a short post!

Hi All,

I woke up in a deep blue funk this morning. I think it was a combination of WordPress messing about with my posts and with its format in general and having to cancel following all of the blogs that I followed due to a massive increase in comments flooding my inbox from other people commenting on posts where I had commented on other people’s blogs and reading too many “Doom and Gloom” environmental posts in the last week. It’s not hard to get downhearted when life seems to be gloomy and grey wintery days do nothing to make you cheer up in a hurry. Steve was on a roll and as usual, when one of us is down, the other one is on the way up and he decided that we were going to tidy up around the house today. I would rather have gone back to bed but being the good wife that I am I headed out to shake off the blues. It was the best thing that I could have done because not only did it make me feel like I was doing something positive, but I remembered something that my mother, who died earlier this year, had told me about gardens that made my day. She had told me many things and back when she was alive I was guilty of listening with my ears shut like most of us are prone to do when our parents instruct. This little pearl of wisdom came back to enlighten and delight me when I had resorted to using secateurs and a pair of loppers to reduce a mass of vegetation down to wheelbarrow loads of smaller bits. I hadn’t gone mad…I had just given up on trying to get our mulcher to cooperate with my wishes. Anyone want a mulcher? It’s free! She told me that when you make raised beds, you could start with a thick layer of chopped up garden waste. I had an enormous pile of chopped up garden waste and suddenly realised that what had been causing me a headache would actually become a solution to some of our problems.

I got Steve to take a photo of the jungle vista off the side of the house near our bedroom window. As you can see its a teensy tiny bit overgrown…

We had removed a bit of debris previously that you can see in the foreground to clear a way through to our potted plants from the front of the house but what remained had to be dealt with and so we decided to tackle it…

This is the point at which we stopped for a mornings cup of tea/coffee and Effel and the babies “Doocark” set about tackling the newly exposed damp earth with rank abandon

This is to show you a few of the piles of green waste generated as we hacked, heaved and pulled out the years of overgrown plants and weeds. There are some nice plants under all of this rubbish, the poor things are somewhat shell shocked…

It’s just gone 7pm on Saturday…Saturday is the day that I post. This is as far as I have gotten on my Saturday post that needs to have been posted about…an hour ago! It looks like you might actually get a shorter post today. I have just spent an hour and a half making an Indian meal consisting of sweet potato and black bean patties, Bombay spicy potatoes and a nice veggie curry with coconut cream. I cooked brown rice to go with it and tomorrow we will make brown rice fried rice for our tea. I used the last of our 10kg bag of potatoes and as I was tipping out the remaining dark red topsoil into my compost bin I realised how far I have come with recycling, reusing and making do. When you live in the country you have to be careful that you plan your shopping trips well. Petrol isn’t cheap and the difference between petrol in Launceston and petrol in Beaconsfield is just over 10c a litre so you really don’t want to be having to put more fuel in at Beaconsfield. We have learned to make do and after a particularly disastrous start to the year where our savings plummeted to zero, we have been living more carefully than usual to regain a savings base. In the process we have eliminated a lot of waste…we have given up drinking and have both lost a significant amount of weight. We have learned to be happy with less and to enjoy saving our money for a rainy day. We have been inventive about what we are eating, buying less meat and less processed food and substituting fruit, vegetables and a large proportion of vegetarian meals. I read a blog post the other day about people going into debt to maintain their standard of living. I think that we all need to be aware that there are other options to going into debt and one of them is learning to live within our means. Power bills are going up and water prices are going up. How can we manage to save when it seems like there is always some sort of official hand stretched out waiting for any spare change that we get? We need to think smarter, not harder and that includes occasionally thinking about eating less expensively, only using hot water when it’s really needed, walk or cycle instead of drive (if you don’t live 50km away from the city that is!). We walk the dogs all around Sidmouth and they enjoy their morning walks. We noticed that our hot water cylinder was overflowing today. We have gotten so used to minimising our use of hot water that we haven’t been using all of the “free” hot water that our wood stove has been delivering into our enormous storage unit. It doesn’t take long to change bad habits and it doesn’t take long to get used to living sustainably or at least a bit more carefully. Grow some veggies in containers or make a garden. Make some of your own biscuits, find a recipe for some of the basic items that you purchase on a regular basis and apart from saving money, you just might get a sense of satisfaction out of living carefully and frugally that you wouldn’t have thought possible.

Here is the view of what we had done at the end of day 1. By this stage we no longer had any strength in our arms and were tired of small chickens taking up residence on our boots whenever we stood still for any length of time

We moved out of the garden (after finding a bench and a frying pan) and the chooks moved in to take over …

As you can see we removed a large amount of overgrown jungle and ended up with a hacked barren wasteland…I guess that gives us all the more room to plant out our potted babies

Heres the new view from our bedroom window. The wrens and blackbirds are most possessive about the newly exposed area and are hunting for insects all through the bark. The possums are as shell shocked as the remaining plants and the feral cats no longer have cover to hunt for the native birds. Now we need to whipper snip the area to reduce the Osteospermum daisies to mush and we can start preparing the ground for our plants. We can now see right through to our glasshous, to Glad’s property and to the driveway.

We spent the last 3 days in various stages of reducing the side garden to looking like a bomb went off in the vicinity. It’s very difficult for someone who loves plants to hack away at them mercilessly. To chop perfectly good shrubs off at the base and to completely remove what were once beautiful roses because of 20 years of complete neglect. I don’t think that my father and his partner realised what it means to take on a large garden and assumed that it would look after itself. It has to a degree. The falling leaves, bark and debris have formed a thick layer of mulch that has managed to sustain the garden through the hot summer months where rain is very infrequent and the thick coverage of banana passionfruit, blackberries and other weeds and dense infestation of boneseed, cotoneaster and pittosporum have kept the moisture in the soil. We waded in with our welders gloves and tackled the lot in one fell swoop. We have more piles of debris than you would imagine could have been taken from the area that we have dealt with. Some will be burnt. Some will be returned to the soil as mulch and some will be carted off to the green waste station at the tip because of its nefarious ability to grow from small pieces of debris. As we were pruning some of the shell-shocked remaining plants we heard our neighbours daughter Wendy calling out to us. She gave us an enormous box full of Muscari botryoides (Grape hyacinths) that I am going to install underneath the stairs around the large Japanese maple and an even larger box of red Fuji apples from her small tree. We in return handed her a dozen eggs and a bunch of proteas cut from a newly liberated large shrub. Sharing is one of those things that make living in the country a very satisfying and rewarding experience. I love bartering and sharing. We brought the boxes back and after installing the Grape hyacinths in a large heap under the stairs we brought the apples in and I promptly forgot about them. Later on in the day when we had finished the garden work I was hungry and decided to try an apple. I don’t, as a rule, like apples much. They are not one of my favourite fruits but the box was sitting there, I was hungry and I was too lazy to head off and make myself anything to eat so an apple it was! I cut it into small slices and absently tried a piece as I was sitting looking at the computer screen and couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I have never tried an apple like it. It was incredibly sweet and fragrant and almost bordered on a ripe pear in flavour. Bernard and Manny, our Javanese finches, started fighting over the 2 pieces that I gave them as soon as I put them into their cage. I am an apple convert! So long as I can eat Wendy’s Fuji apples, I will eat apples happily all day long.

Here you can see the selective nature of possums. The lush green mass of vegetation is a very happy and healthy clematis. The green sticks are what used to be a lovely yellow banksia rose. Possums LOVE roses. Every single rose that we exposed in the side garden has been savaged by the possums. I am starting to think that roses and Serendipity Farm are NOT conducive to happiness…

All thats left of a large English holly (Ilex aquifolium) that was growing alongside the driveway and that vindictively scratched the car every time we drove past it. Finally it has berries!

“First chew yourself a nice comfortable hole in the blanket…next insert head…now sleep…zzzzzzzZZZZZZZZ”

The Indian feast is consumed and now I have to work out what I am going to do with my evening. I could sit in one of the armchairs near the wood fire and read…I have a book about organic and sustainable farming that I could read or another one of the Mary Anne Schaffer bucket list…Or I could watch television with Steve. He has lots of television programs taped for us to watch together. I could sit here and play a game of Hammer Heads…a most disturbing computer game where the object is to hit garden gnomes on the head and collect money. I could start crocheting something with the luminous yellow cotton that I picked up at a local thrift shop for $1 for 7 balls. I have NO idea what I am going to do with it but that doesn’t matter. With me, it is the act of crocheting that allows me to relax in the evening rather than the eventual item I have crocheted that is my reason for crocheting. Steve said that I could make him some socks…Steve has NO idea how hard it is to knit socks! I have NO idea how to crochet them and so that idea has been shoved into the “Too Hard” basket. I am ruminating about joining some community gardening groups…perhaps volunteering in some form or other…I get restless when I don’t think that I am helping or doing anything really productive towards my local community and have rash fits of joining things quickly that I later live to regret. Bezial is sitting here giving me seal eyes because he wants me to give him a piece of date brownie (made without cocoa so it is technically a “blondie”). He and Earl LOVE it. I doubt that their undying love has anything to do with the dates, the flour or the sugar involved and has more to do with the large amount of butter that is in the recipe. Either way, Bezial spends most of his days following me around or pushing his nose onto my arm to make me look into his seal eyes. Occasionally they work, so he is clever enough to realise that there is a chance that seal eyes might work again so he wears them permanently. I can’t handle the seal eyes for much longer so I may just leave this post here now. Have a great evening, morning or what is left of your weekend. I might have some more to tell you about our prospective move from our blog here at WordPress to our new blog over at Google. For the moment we will remain here but prepare yourselves for a move to the dark side people… wish us luck!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    May 12, 2012 @ 23:06:44

    Dogs are good at making you feel guilty. They know which side their bread is buttered lol and who to torture. I just made little outfits for mine. We going on the Million Dollar Paws Walk next Sunday. My friend has a Dockers top for hers so I made Eagles tops for mine. I’m hoping it won’t rain. I made cannelloni for the first time last night and it was yum, will make that one again. The boys loved it. Mine have developed some taste buds now so I can cook curries and more lol. Today was lovely but there is rain on the horizon for tomorrow. Are your girls coming to see you for Mothers Day? We are going out for some lunch, Bruce will cook me some yummy eggs for breaky, so I will have a nice day. I hope yours is a good one too, maybe put those feet of yours up and read a good book.


    • narf77
      May 13, 2012 @ 06:42:44

      I think I might be sitting next to the wood fire in an armchair with my feet up reading that good book Kymmy. Have a great mothers day and enjoy your eggs on toast. I would love to see your boys in their little outfits. You could post it to your facebook page? Have a great walk on the million paws walk. We took Bezial and Qi twice. The first time they had a great time, I couldn’t go the second time and Bezial was on the news that night looking in at a cat that was being interviewed. They called him a “Wag”…he said he was jipped and that they should have let the cat out! The girls might remember to ring me but we won’t get a visit (they don’t drive). Perhaps the dogs will cook me eggs in bed? I don’t think I would want them though! 😉


  2. Kym
    May 13, 2012 @ 13:28:22

    Yeah slobber eggs, yuk! I will be taking photos and put them on fb. Last year we ended up on 94.5’s fb page sitting on the big couch. I so want that couch lol. I’m sure they will all ring you, now if you had skype….. I do nag lol. Have a great day x


    • narf77
      May 13, 2012 @ 14:21:39

      Just talked to Stewart who has just ditched skype and told me not to use it. He now uses google chat as it doesn’t drop out, its totally free and you get much better reception and google is everywhere. You can also use video chat (if you have a webcam obviously) so its better than skype. I guess I won’t be skyping it up any day soon! 😉


  3. Kym
    May 13, 2012 @ 23:27:59

    Oh well just thought it would be nice to have a chat, never mind…..


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