Transition towns on Serendipity Farm

Hi All

I think that contentment with your lot is an entirely underrated concept. I decided to take it from concept mode and apply it to my real life. No longer is contentment shelved with the occasional mental dalliance with Brad Pitt or George Clooney, but it’s out here in the open being given a long overdue airing. I think that my much mulled over purchase of Brunhilda our enormous wood burning stove has had something to do with this. Since we moved to Serendipity Farm we have been choosing to live more frugally and more simply. It’s not of necessity and is more to do with making a conscious choice to live with less. We had an opportunity to totally change our lives and we decided to go with it. Sometimes you can’t afford to just carry on regardless and this was one of those times, however our road less travelled is a pilgrimage to understanding more about who we are and where we fit into this unusual landscape we call life. I didn’t realise that something as fundamental as food, warmth and the early morning predawn sight of a firebox full of flames would give me so much satisfaction. Aside from the flames I can now cook whatever I want pretty much whenever I want. I can cook a cake in one oven, a meal in another and be defrosting something in the coolest oven whilst proving my bread, setting my yoghurt, making breadcrumbs or dehydrating (fruit, veggies AND the occasional shoe) in the other. I can set my cup of tea on one of her covers and it will stay hot for as long as it sits there. I can boil a kettle of cold water in a few moments and it will sit on its own little rectangle of warmth ready to be reactivated, bubbling and singing its heart out in a moment’s notice…always a bonus when you are as addicted to tea and coffee as Steve and I are. It’s the elixir of thought in my case, and a channel of direction for Steve’s nervous energy. Just making very small changes to our lives has opened up a whole lot of possibilities. Swapping milk from a carton for home-made almond milk has given me back some choices and allowed me more control over what I am consuming. The purchase of 2 more almond trees will give me more control over my ability to continue using almond milk in my tea. The more you think about your ability to sustain your lifestyle using your own hands, a degree of thought and problem solving and what you have around you the more exciting the possibilities get.

Literally “The road to Serendipity…” 🙂

There is so much doom and gloom around at the moment in the environmental movement. Why would anyone want to bother trying to do anything positive about changing their environmental footprint when we are hit by barrage after barrage of negative information, hopeless outcomes and doomsday prophesies that appear to take more than a small degree of delight in mankind’s ultimate demise…I choose not to listen to them. I choose to actively try to change my own personal footprint and life so that what I am doing isn’t going to make it worse and might just make it better. I have always tried to be a glass half full person. That doesn’t mean that I stick my head in the sand or never stress about anything, this is my year of living honestly and sometimes I can be positively vibrating with stress. The last few years have taught me how much stress someone can actually live with and how detrimental to your health that stress can be. I don’t want to heap unnecessary stress on top of the stuff I can’t choose and worrying about the end of the world won’t do anyone any good. I guess the environmentalists are trying to push these changes through by using a blunt approach. That’s what the Australian government are trying to do with cigarette packaging…it doesn’t work because you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink and if someone doesn’t want to change their thought processes and actions then nothing that you say or do is going to get them to. I decided long ago not to preach to people. It’s not worth it and they could care less. I just do what I can to live within the parameters of my own ethos and ideology and hopefully people can see that a simple life is more conducive to being a happy one.

The Aurora Australis heading back down the Tamar River to the sea. It makes a deep throbbing noise as it chugs its way down the river that you can hear for miles and Steve had advanced warning that a “photo opportunity” was approaching today

Part of the reason that I would love to study mushrooms and immerse myself in mycology is that fungi play such a fundamental part in our day to day lives and we need their activities for so many things. Here’s to you little branching fungus… live long and prosper!

I can’t stand people who jump on a cause because it might just earn them some popularity. I have made some sustained lifestyle choices and NONE of them were for the popularity points. I don’t labour the point with a vegan lifestyle because it’s what I choose to do and nothing to do with anyone else out there. I am not going to picket my friends’ houses because they choose to eat meat. Get a bit of a grip people…you end up looking like idealistic gits and most certainly don’t show anyone the benefits of living the way you choose if you are too busy trying to elevate yourself above everyone else with your trendy lifestyle choice. No tattoos for me…no shaven sides of my head…no husband with a soul patch…”How will anyone KNOW that I am vegan?”…you know what…I don’t actually CARE if anyone knows that I am vegan. I am content to just “be” vegan and know that it ticks one of my own personal happiness quotient boxes and be done with it. This segues me back to today’s meeting. I won’t be talking about it in this post because it’s in the future and I may still be ruminating over what I have heard today so you can expect a full critique along with photos on Wednesday. I can’t promise that I won’t have taken the odd surreptitious photo of the back of a felt hatters head (felt had firmly in place and most probably blocking someone behind thems view of the proceedings)…I can’t promise that I won’t have had the odd comment to make to a grandstanding felt hatter who turned up to “have their say” but who couldn’t be bothered to actually get up on stage and put the effort in to attempt to show people how to do something and I can’t promise that I won’t get a bit overexcited about something that I learned. You know me well now dear constant readers and excitement is my middle name! I am really looking forwards to attending the garden visit with my friend from the witness protection program. I will be taking copious photos of Steve Solomon’s personal veggie garden along with the odd photo of my friend’s shoe. He wrote the book “Growing Vegetables South of Australia” a most detailed scientific approach to growing veggies in my local environment. Steve lives about 15 minutes away from Serendipity Farm and as such, what he is talking about is quite pertinent to my own requirements. He is also an old hippy, a hermit and is into trying to live a simple sustainable life. He is also an expat American who has developed a range of seeds for our local climate that he sells through the Exeter nursery. It will be very interesting to attend this lecture and find out what Steve does with his own garden. You can learn more about someone from their personal actions than you can from a million of their words…’sfolder/05aboutmeindex.html

There is something very invigorating about being in a room full of people who want to facilitate change in their local environment.

Here’s part of the knowledge base of Serendipity Farm. Note the large monitor that allows me the vanity of thinking that I don’t need glasses AND the ability to switch between computer, television AND Wii. My own personal little entertainment unit that allows Steve the run of the loungeroom at night and the freedom to watch trashy tv and the Olympics without my derogatory comments.

The transition town lecture has me inspired. We are such a fragmented society now. Technology has given us the ability to be distanced from the earth and to purchase our wants and needs from middle men and from overseas. I am not saying that it’s not fantastic to have the range of goods and services that we have but I am saying that a fair few of them we don’t actually need and we are soon going to have to renegotiate what we can and can’t live without. I would rather have a washing machine than an I-pod. I would rather install a wind turbine than continue to watch as our electricity prices skyrocket out of all proportion to what is being delivered. We DO have choices and we can exercise our ability to head on over to where the choices fit our ethos and Transition towns fit right smack bang in the middle of my own personal utopian ideal. Our civilisation was able to exist long before anyone thought of using oil to grease the chains of capitalism and so long as we haven’t stuffed up our environment too much, we will be able to exist long into the future. I CHOOSE to see the bright side because I don’t want to live in perpetual fear and depression. Our fragmented society has done nothing for families, for the once esteemed position of the elderly and it’s a rare person who is actually content with their lot. Communities are a thing of the past apart from in Third World countries where they will feel the loss of oil somewhat less than we will. I am not talking about survivalists when I talk about Transition towns. There are always going to be people who want to succeed from the human race (usually with guns and traps and water purifiers). To be honest, I wouldn’t want to live in a post-apocalyptic world where your choice was selfishness or to eliminate the competition. That brings me back to transitions. Change is always a very difficult thing for me. I like to know what is going on and where I fit into it and as such, I tend to make sure that I am well aware of my local environment. The truth about peak oil is that change is something inevitable and the sooner we see where we fit into this change the better. I can see a lot of benefits. I see the loss of supermarket giants hold in our communities due to the skyrocketing price of fuel. That means that we will get our bakers, our butchers, and our local store on the corner back. We will lose our ability to instantly access goods from overseas, BUT we will be able to take full advantage of what is local and seasonal and we may all end up healthier for this. No more Monsanto! We will have to learn how to manage our pests naturally…no more monocrops. Far be it from fearing this, we should be learning how to grow food within our communities to sustain us locally. In other words…it would be back to the hamlets…small towns and communities that naturally formed before the rise of oil consuming machinery. It wasn’t that long ago folks…only last century people didn’t have cars and that’s only a collective blink in the history of the world. The stranglehold of capitalism based on oil has been rapidly depleting our environment of its beauty and resources to our detriment. We CAN live on after peak oil…we just need to learn how to do it and not to fear the changes. I guess transitioning can be summed up in a sentence…” Remove “ME” from its elevated position of envy and put “US” up there in sustainable lights”.

The “blurb” about the event that I attended today

The lady standing coordinates the Tamar sustainable living group. She is living the life that I want to emulate here on Serendipity Farm and has an incredible amount of knowledge about living sustainably and will be coordinating the next sustainable food choices event that I will attend in a fortnights time. Can you see a couple of felt hatters? 😉

We were asked to get into groups and brainstorm some ideas about what we wanted to achieve within our local communities. This was my little group and we had some great ideas

Ok, enough transitioning for me! I need to head off to the shower, pack some fruit for my lunch (it might be transition towns but I bet they still forget to cater for the vegetarians (let alone the vegans 😉 ) and take my trusty camera to see if I can’t take a few shots for you today of what this is all about. I like being a lens for learning. I guess I should probably have stayed at my studies when I was at teachers college but looking at some of the harried teachers and lecturers around me makes me believe that the world did me a favour when it removed me forcibly from a career in “sharing”. I guess you can see that I am very excited about this month and the possibilities of sustainable living and transition towns. I hope that you will stick around to read about my interpretation of what it’s all about because that’s what I am all about at this phase of my life…love me…love my transition town ;). Today it’s Kelsey, my son Stewart’s partner’s birthday. “Happy Birthday Kelsey” and welcome to our strange family! It’s my own birthday tomorrow. I will be spending the day being spoiled and cossetted by the man that I love. He is going to throw himself out on a limb and bake me a vegan cake and we are having veggie burgers and home-made chips for tea (my own personal request). I am sure that the dogs will be entirely unimpressed with our meal but take heart Steve…at least they won’t be begging from your plate tonight! Have a great weekend dear constant readers and remember that we all have choices, it’s just up to us how we decide to exercise those choices :o).

Dog 1 and how enthusiastic he is going to be tomorrow night with the food choices available to the average scrounging dog…

Dog 2 after being told by dog 1 what is going to be on offer at the table for my vegan birthday feast. Bad luck doggies…its my night! 😉

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rhianna
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 19:23:50

    “Why would anyone want to bother trying to do anything positive about changing their environmental footprint when we are hit by barrage after barrage of negative information, hopeless outcomes and doomsday prophesies that appear to take more than a small degree of delight in mankind’s ultimate demise…I choose not to listen to them.”

    One of the things you learn at university is how to be objective with the material that you get bombarded with. Its vital that we don’t ignore it – ignoring information, positive or negative means we lack possible vital education. Rather we need to learn how to sort the oats from the chaff.

    My suggestion is to read widely,and don’t be scared to ask the big questions. Access journals and scientists where you can to become informed on the issues. My door is always open to on topic questions.


    • narf77
      Aug 05, 2012 @ 18:23:27

      Cheers Rhianna…I think that you might have mistaken that comment as I was trying to explain why other people don’t want to listen. I am listening BIGTIME and bad or good I am learning. I love reading your posts about the environment and sustainability and am enjoying learning more thanks to people like you who share so freely. I will knock on your bloggy door any time that I have questions 🙂


  2. christiok
    Aug 05, 2012 @ 01:12:57

    Happy Birthday, Fran! These meetings and the whole group are so exciting, I agree. I wish I could attend them with you! I am looking forward to your further posts about this. And Steve Solomon is a homeboy to us! Looks like he has dug lots of soil in our neck of the big woods…we are west of the Cascades. I’ve certainly heard of his book with Sasquatch, and after my frustrating experience this year (so dang cold), I’m going to check into getting a copy.

    Also, I’m a bit embarrassed to ask, but what exactly is the felt hat brigade? I looked it up on Google and only find military references. From context, I get that they are not doers, but I suspect their is more to their moniker than that they block the view of persons behind them. lol Hugs from west of the Cascades…


    • narf77
      Aug 05, 2012 @ 18:31:49

      Thats a good analogy regarding the “felt hat” brigade. They are older ladies who attend various meetings because they haven’t got anyone to boss around at home. They tend to “poo-poo” anyone who tries to say anything positive and know EVERYTHING better than anyone else. They hog question time with inconsequential small talk that only concerns them and basically they are environmental know it alls who are only being environmental because they have bugger all else to do with their lives. There were LOTS of them at the meeting and its curious how their heads tend to get bigger (or perhaps its the hair? 😉 ) the older they get! It’s hard to get to the point in anything because the felt hatters have their own agenda that WILL be heard! They don’t share well and don’t be embarassed as I just made up the name to describe these irritating nana’s who look down their noses at anyone other than their fellow felt hatters. I had one of them dominate the table the other day and demand that we spend our time discussing how to ensure that elderly people got access to an electric 12 seater bus when we were SUPPOSED to be talking about food waste and how to stop it! They refuse to listen to anyone, they monopolise the floor at questino time, they are obscure and obsequious and I just plain out don’t like them! They don’t share well 🙂

      Steve says that he loves watching shows about Sasquatch’s and if you have them on your property he wants a photo lol 😉 He says that the Sasquatch’s favourite food is corn and he thinks that they are eating yours…(sigh…I married this man! 😉 ) big hugs right back at you from freezing rainy Sidmouth and my post on Wednesday will be full of information about Steve Solomon. I am off now to enjoy my birthday feast that is making me drool it looks so delicious! Steve has done so well as he is right out of his depth cooking vegan food and its amazing how a bit of effort can make something delicious (can you tell that I am hungry? ;))


  3. Pinky
    Aug 05, 2012 @ 10:15:43

    I swear you let your dogs party hard all night Fronkii 😛 Earl looks like he has the hangover from hell…. hahahahahahaha. Are any of the felt hatters called Felicity by any chance? I do hope the veggies burgers and chippies taste divine and that STeve cooks them in nothing but an apron for you!!!!!!! Must post that photo! Love what your doing Fronkii. I hope you get as much knowledge out of these meetings as your poor head will hold and dont be put off by people who only want their opinions heard. Has old man Pete the gardener off Gardening Australia put an appearance in at all?


    • narf77
      Aug 05, 2012 @ 18:36:50

      Yes Pinky…they are ALL called Felicity by default lol ;). Earl and Bezial were sulking BIGTIME and as Earl spends most of his nights jumping on and off the bed in search of possums its no wonder he has red eyes…I ALSO have red eyes and curiously, its also because Earl jumps on and off the bed all night in search of possums! We are going to put some holes in a post bag and send him over so you can give him a bit of a run on your new treadmill. I am sure that Squeak would love it :). Steve has more respect for his tackle than to cook in the nude! Earl and Bezial BOTH love sausages and nude cooking could end up in more than tears! ;). I just saw Pete on an old “The Cook and the Chef” episode. He hovers about around environmental causes but tends to gravitate towards Hobart more than Launceston. If given the choice I would probably do the same. All of the younger (more intelligent) people head to Hobart and they are closely followed by the hippies. We are like intelligent fish out of hippy water here! ;). Cheers for the birthday felicitations and I will enjoy my tea immensely (I am drooling at the smell as I type this 😉 )


  4. foodnstuff
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 12:48:03

    Late catching up and missed saying Happy Birthday, so here it is now.
    Great post (long as usual 😉 ) but some good thoughts.
    Keep up the good living!


    • narf77
      Aug 07, 2012 @ 22:03:30

      Cheers Bev…keep up the posts as I need inspiration as winter seems to be dragging on eternally here. The only sign that spring is just about to spring is that Big Yin is trying to repopulate the earth with every female chicken that goes near him! Sigh… I can see a spring and summer of “hunt the chicken” in our future…


  5. Chica Andaluza
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 23:41:36

    I really enjoyed taking some time out and reading this well written and interesting post. Love the sound of your wood burner and belated Birthday greeting to you!


    • narf77
      Aug 08, 2012 @ 07:20:20

      August is an interesting month here on Serendipity Farm. A whole lot of education in the right direction and I think I might just have sourced an affordable source of Permaculture education as well! A lady at the Transition Towns lecture (also called Frances 😉 ) is a certified Permaculture trainer and is willing to do workshops at a reasonable price so Serendipity Farm should soon be benefitting from more than hit and miss net searches and more specific and specialised applications. We are also getting our soil tested here to work out exactly what we need to be integrating/ameliorating and what we don’t (which is often just as important). Cheers for the wishes and keep up the good work in old Blighty! 🙂


  6. bakermom
    Aug 30, 2012 @ 01:28:56

    hello, also a belated happy birthday. Talk about a different world! I love reading your posts I have to set aside a block of time to do it of course and early morning is best, at least until school starts and I have to run my teenager to school. I am imagining, in my minds eye, that you are my alternate universe me, doing all the things I would be doing if I could and wasn’t living in southern California. (after all, we both picked the same wordpress theme!) Out of my 3 children I have 1 who is very much like me and I will be sending him your links too. (He is in Peru at the moment. But he spent 3 or 4 months in NZ WOOFing and loved it. Oh, and 4 months in Scotland, but thats another story). He wants to do probably pretty much what you are doing, trying to get the farm up and running and talks about relocating to NZ with a wife someday to do just that. Both my adult children are travelers yet neither one made it to Tasmania. One came close while visiting Aus. but it got cancelled. In the meantime, Phil and I wag our heads at our little chicken coop that needs rebuilding and consult each other on the tomato garden in our little corner of the metropolis we live in. I think I could spend a lot of time just catching up on your lengthy posts and learning more about your beautiful world. Thank you for sharing.


    • narf77
      Aug 30, 2012 @ 06:54:50

      I have to say that I owe you MORE than you could ever hope to gleen from these humble pages in that you saved Herman, Ethel Merman AND Miff from a most untimely death flushed down the toilet. It was your blog that gave me the wonderful recipe and your blog that showed me that I didn’t need 100% hydration and your blog that I am enjoying immensely hunting through the archives and laughing out loud at the exploits of you, your family and your brave little dog. I too felt an instant kindred with someone who would pick this lovely theme (there aren’t many of us out there you know! 😉 ) and your sense of humour echo’s mine. We tumbled into this property just on a year and a half ago, full of expectations and “knowledge” from our recent adventures into the big wide world of horticulture and got here to towering weeds, overgrown secret gardens and a rapidly developing sense of terror that knew no bounds! After some back breaking hours in the garden and turning several areas of the garden into something resembling Apocolpypse Now to our bewilderment (clearing doesn’t mean beautiful!) we decided to work WITH nature rather than against it. You want to throw nettles in my veggie garden? Go right ahead Maam! Feel free to decorate the place with leaves, chook poo (sort of my fault ;)) and anything else that we penniless student hippies can use to effect change down here on Serendipity Farm. We are working blind, we are feeling our way day by day but we have never been happier (or healthier!) and the reason why I started this blog was to document what we are doing so that when the towering weeds, tumbling trees, exponentially increasing chooks and yard full of feral and wild animals all decided to rush the place at once I can sit inside in the comfort of my kitchen and look at how far we have come ;). Welcome to Serendipity Farm and please feel free to make yourself a cuppa whenever you decide to spend a while here. Heck…we are almost family now! Feel free to get the biscuit (translation “cookie” ;)) tin down and you can even have a tim-tam! (there are NO American translations for this heavenly Aussie chocolate biscuit…you just have to add them to your bucket list ;). See you soon 🙂


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