No Sticks today, the sticks have gone away…

Hi All

Well maybe there is room for one special guest stick from the lovely Nat at Polytechnic…she would like it to be known that this is a self-stickature  and that she is amazing at growing flowers (and apparently teaching Horticulture at the Alanvale Polytechnic is a hair raising experience!…;) ).

With the last few sunny days I can feel the earth waking up on Serendipity Farm. I can feel it yawning and stretching and basking in the new warmth and light and everything is starting to turn green and burst into leaf and flower. The birds are pairing up and we get a little scraggy blue wren and his partner on our kitchen window looking for cheese along with the cuckoo shrikes and sparrows. Our chickens are determined to go clucky and Bezial discovered a nest with 26 eggs in it yesterday when I was out pulling the nodding blue forget-me-nots out of the garden and reminding myself about how I had left a stand of them in the lawn where my dad couldn’t see them when I mowed the lawn for him a few years ago because “they are so pretty”…talk about make your bed and at a later day having to lay there covered in sticky forget-me-not seeds! Consider lesson learned God…I won’t be making that mistake again! ;). Steve and I have been venturing out into the garden and tentatively touching things, looking at things and feeling our way back into the outside world of Serendipity Farm. Glad and her daughter Wendy next door have spent most of winter burning off their debris and yesterday, when we were out raking, they were burning off the long grass before it becomes a fire risk and we had a chat over the fence. It’s nice knowing and liking your neighbours.

Things are starting to green up in the side garden…sort of Armageddon with hope

After we removed all the sticks from the lawn, raked all of the leaves up and Steve whipper snipped

We also did the small grassed area in front of this side garden

AND the garden in front of the deck…

Aside from the stair rails needing a bit of TLC, the garden area is starting to look pretty good

We spent the day raking the lawns to remove the sticks dropped from the large eucalyptus trees above. We collected them all and burned them on a small fire site next to the house. I pulled out forget-me-nots while Steve whipper snipped the Vinca major that has had too long ruling the garden and whose days are numbered. We took stock of where our efforts from earlier in the year had left us and took up where we left off. I can honestly say that there is no more solid sleep than that which comes from a hard day’s work where you get your hands immersed in the warm soil. I slept like a log last night. Today we are going to burn off a pile of dead blackberries and some debris left over from an earlier wood collection run that litters the second smaller garden down from the house. It’s not visible from the house so it’s easy to just forgedaboudit BUT should someone venture down into the second garden they would see carnage.  Why are we tidying up like maniacs? Because the son and heir is bringing his new partner back to Serendipity Farm to meet us. Someday this will all be his and perhaps hers.  I want them to see beyond the piles of their parent’s debris and see the wonderful possibilities that Serendipity Farm holds and I want them to love this little piece of land stuck out in the boondocks on a river somewhere at the end of the earth like we do.

(I wish Steve had been out in the boat and caught some fish BEFORE he smoked it…)

Just a little whipper snip and everything starts to look a whole lot tidier

Some of the greenery that we uncovered in our recent assault on the side garden

Where we pulled all of the weeds out and replanted with dwarf conifers, grasses etc. is starting to look lovely, mostly thanks to the arrival of a host of spring bulbs

The Japanese maple above the steps is just starting to come into leaf. All we have to do now is find a way to stop the possums from scarfing the tender new leaves and everything will be fine!

The Blackwood trees are all out in bloom and there is a stark difference between their hard toughness and their soft fluffy lemon yellow blooms. It’s almost as if God gave them something soft to balance out their hardness. The more I look at nature the more I see these patterns of balance and the more I learn about life in general. One of the trees that we cleared out underneath has apparently succumbed to the chickens nefarious scratching’s and endless dust bathing under its canopy and is starting to die. We will remove it and store it for next year’s firewood and will plant something a bit more water and chook wise in its place.  The chickens don’t know it yet but their reign of terror over Serendipity Farm may soon be a twinkle in Big Yins memory. We have plans for a deep litter chook pen based on this wonderful idea at Milkwood Permaculture my “go to” place for all things regarding applicable permaculture that can be used on Serendipity Farm. This set up got my brain churning and the fact that it relies on a sloped site and the chickens doing the work to fertilise straw for future composting really struck a chord with me. They called it a “Gravity Chicken Run” and as gravity is always trying to grab whatever it can on its swift decent down to the gate at the bottom of Serendipity Farm I figure why not get it to work for us?

Bezial allowed me to take this shot so long as I included telling you that he is the rightful dog on Serendipitiy Farm and that all other canine creatures are facimilies rather than having any claim to the throne.

The third pile of blackberries that we threw onto day 2’s fire BEFORE I realised that I was wasting photo opportunities and raced to grab it

The second small lawned area down from the house. As you can see we may have left some of this debris here for a little while…

This was after we removed the three loads of blackberries so imagine this heap about 3 times bigger and you can start to get a picture of why we procrastinated about dealing with the second lawn

Ok, I am starting to twitch!

I get very excited whenever I go to and I end up spending ages there. It’s my own private permaculture porn site where I can fantasise my brains out about how we can change our land to give it the best possible chance of surviving and flourishing into the future. This post has been pinched. Don’t bother to sue me Nick and Kirsten as penniless student hippies have nothing that you want. Just be happy in the knowledge that what you put out there into the ether is taking root down south and growing. We have decided to use the 9 old railway sleepers that we were given by a fellow penniless hippy in exchange for a bit of work that we did for him to make ourselves a polytunnel up next to where we are going to build our gravity fed chook run. The only thing stopping us from doing what we want is a severe lack of the folding green stuff but my last month and a half of sustainable learning (thanks to the free lectures from Tamar NRM) has given me all sorts of ideas for how to deal with a lack of money by using our smarts to give us what we need. No seeds…go to the seed swap day and swap some of those plants that you no longer have a use for…no materials? Do some work for fellow penniless hippies and suddenly “stuff” may just be a possibility. We are taking up Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s creed and bartering our services for “stuff”.

The garden might be a bit chaotic but that lawn is starting to look alright…

That dead looking tree actually has a path leading down to it that will have to be cleared out in the coming weeks

Looking back towards the house…we might grow some kiwifruit over this arch in the near future

This pathway leads down to a pond that we are going to resurrect and use as part of our edible food forest. We have some blue bamboo that needs to be planted in water and this might be just the place to put it. As you can see we have some serious clearing and replanting to do on Serendipity Farm but this year might just be the turning point (I certainly hope so!)

This is a Serendipity Farm “Where’s Wally”…find a chicken, a duck and a cat

I sent off a missive to the dear Amanda, the unseen, unthanked backbone of the Tamar NRM team who intercepts the emails, caters for the “do’s” and hovers about in the background just waiting for someone to ask for something. She once sent an email saying “I sleep here in the office and I never go home” and I am starting to think that might not be too far from the truth! My missive was effusive, ecstatic and most generous in thanking the Tamar NRM for the amazing series of free lectures and wonderfully catered lunches that I have just attended and I felt that she deserved some of the credit for the smooth progression from one event to the next. She sent back her own missive asking me to write an article for the next Tamar NRM newsletter so stay tuned folks…narf7 is going postal!

It doesn’t take our hoards long to find a patch that was previously occupied by debris, currently occupied by thin air and scuttling, startled insectivourous life

Duckies new best mate Yin who has had to adapt to being tailed by Ducky or suffer the quacks of outrageous fortune

A rare case of afternoon sunshine on Serendipity Farm

One thing that we can’t swap is our weather here on Serendipity Farm. We are situated in a zone where rainfall tends to be somewhat sparse. We need to get rainwater tanks from somewhere but rainwater tanks are one of those things that need to be put into the “future” basket because the moth eaten sock won’t run to rain water tanks. Neither will it run to the small personal wind turbine that wants to be built here either and as serious as I am about doing things myself, the instructable that I downloaded for how to build your own wind turbine may as well be written in Japanese because my technical ability runs to zilch and none. Who knows where the future will take us but one thing is for sure…we are at least taking hold of the reigns and trying to direct the workhorse in the direction that we want to go.

“Anyone for a Melaleuca Chuppa Chup?”

Henny Penny is NOT amused! “Put me down you blighter!” How ungrateful after Steve just saved you from the lusty intentions of “Chicken” or “Stock”!

I am in the process of learning to write smaller posts. I am a naturally generous person and cutting my posts down feels like not giving you bang for your mental buck but I realise that most people don’t have an hour to read a post and that my posts are definitely off the chart when it comes to average post lengths.  After all of these years of mangling the English vernacular I have decided to attempt to harness my verbosity and like Serendipity Farm, direct it where I want it to go. I can’t promise you that I won’t fall back into my large post ways especially when I have a lot to share with you. Enthusiasm…thy name is Fran! BUT I can promise you that my posts will be pared down a bit. I can nibble off the bampf and I can actually read them and edit them a bit and see if that enthusiasm can be channelled into some sort of directional flow. I am looking at the word count at the bottom of the page and it says 1343. That’s roughly half that of my usual posts. My brain is champing at the bit to flow where it will like a meandering stream but I am going to nip it in the bud today. I think I will give you all a hug (we all need a hug when we break bad habits) and love you and leave you there! I know! I did it! See you on Saturday when Stewart and Kelsey are rocking up to Serendipity Farm and I may be allowed to take some photos to share with you…then again…I might not 😉 Keep your fingers crossed that the son and heir is feeling magnanimous about the world and willing to allow me to snap him for posterity. Wish me luck! (He hates his photo being taken so I am certainly going to need it ;))

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Katie Glenn
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 01:08:20

    Haha, shorter posts?! What will I read on my lunch breaks now?? I adore your enthusiasm. 🙂

    And I never heard the term “whipper snipping” but it makes total sense! We’ve always called it “weed whacking”! Cheers to fun new terms from other corners of the world.


    • narf77
      Sep 13, 2012 @ 06:44:37

      Hi Katie, As I said in my post, it was highly unlikely that I would be sticking to my “shorter post” protestations. It’s very hard for me to pare them down and the main reason that they have been a bit short of late is because number 1 son and his new partner from the U.S. are coming to visit…EEEK! So we have been beavering away outside so that we have a lovely facade to greet them when they arrive. After a winters hibernation our penniless student hippy bodies are white, pasty and our muscles are loath to return in full force so as you could probably imagine, we are as whacked as our weeds are at the end of the day and as I post at the end of the day, my last few posts have been reflective of that whacking ;). They turn up on Saturday and so that may be the last of the shorter posts for a bit but at least my new followers won’t know what hit them till a gargantuan post arrives in their inbox lol! 😉


  2. foodnstuff
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 12:16:37

    The garden is looking great! Keep at it.
    I agree Milkwood is permaculture porn…lovely description, I’m sure Kirsten & Nick would be rapt.
    I love the idea of a duck following a chook around; my three would probably chase it.
    I’ve left the best till last…Barbara pumpkin has some babies, ie her seed has germinated, and so has the Black Salsify you sent. Waiting for warmer weather to sow the Tepary beans.


    • narf77
      Sep 13, 2012 @ 15:06:25

      Wonderful! I can’t wait to see how Barbara goes and hopefully the salsify does what it says it will do and presents you with an “interesting and very tasty” vegetable. I have something here that I think that you might like. I have been waiting till I went to town to send it and will send it Monday on my way back at the post office. I hope you like it 🙂


  3. bakermom
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 13:25:18

    I loved the flow of your words in this “little” post. It is more concentrated Fran writing. I love seeing your chook pics. My oldest finally made it back from Peru (it was nip and tuck for a while, what with a dead body on the plane and a surprise landing in Guadalajara, yikes) He wasnt home 2 days before he had the chicken run torn apart to rebuild and brought home 4 chicks, because ‘Lana’ is broody. Tonight he is ‘;planting them’ under Lanas butt and we will see if she accepts them. I need to go take pics now. I can finally get a more visual feel of both Tasmania and Serendipity farm, thanks.


    • narf77
      Sep 13, 2012 @ 15:14:57

      It will be great to hear about Lana. Our chooks are all maniacally broody here and we found one of the first time egg layers sitting on her very first egg! The rooster gave her away, she had hunkered down in a pile of debris (plenty of debris to choose from on Serendipity Farm! ;)) and the rooster was standing next to her having a nap and we caught them red handed! Egg into the fridge and another feral chook averted! We have to dispatch “Chicken” and “Stock” tomorrow night as they are working a tag team lust run on just about every hen on the property and Big Yin is NOT amused. He has been running from one side of the property to the other to try to stop them appropriating (thats a “nice” word for it! ;)) his girls and as they have started crowing loudly in the morning, Chicken and Stock are not long for this world. Tomorrow night it’s cleavers at 20 paces for the pair of them! I have nicknamed them “The Dalton Boys” as they are too clever for their own good! The pictures of the second lawned area show you how neglected this poor property was when I inherited it. My dad was NOT a gardener…hermit more like! But he left us this lovely place and we have fallen in love with it and we made it a promise that we would use our horticultural savvy to give it back some pride and order and now its spring…”I’ts On!” 🙂 Good luck with Lana and welcome back from the body drop to your wanderlust son. My prodigal son is coming back this weekend to visit with his new partner that he appropriated from Texas. I wonder if they have missed her yet? ;). If you see next wednesdays post (they won’t be here till sunday) I may just have gotten a shot of them both (or I might be 6 foot under. He HATES his photo being taken ;)).


  4. christiok
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 15:36:07

    I love your long posts, Fran. I’m so glad you have a nice neighbor in Glad, and I like seeing the smoke at Glad’s in the 2nd picture. Your place is a marvel, a fantasy land on a hillside with enormous trees and a water view! I also love that you call it whipper-snipping. We call it weed-whacking, too, like Katie does. I love the connection you make with soil and sleep. I’m digging potatoes and onions tomorrow and know I’ll sleep well…if my restless legs don’t kick me awake. Finally, I LOVE the Gravity Chicken yard idea and we will definitely use it, too. We have the hill ready to go! lol


    • narf77
      Sep 13, 2012 @ 16:53:37

      We lust after growing our own potatoes Christi. We have a couple growing in the sad soil that we must have missed digging up last year from our pathetic attempts at growing spuds and we are going to leave them and see what happens. I am a potato addict. If I was asked what food I would need on a desert island it would be spuds (potatoes in Australise ;)). I adore them! There isn’t anything that you can’t make with potatoes cakes, wallpaper paste even home made yeast (don’t laugh, I found a recipe for it in my grandmothers cookbook!) and they are hallowed in this happy vegans annuls of cookbook fame. Glad was sitting on a box surrounded by flaming grass as happy as larry with a cup of tea while she was telling us that “I love a good bonfire!”. She is going to ADORE the bonfire that we are about to light on the weekend! We have a massive great pile of branches and sticks and you might even be able to see it from Olalla! Nothing like a good bonfire to get to know someone new (and a couple of bottles of wine…that always helps! ;)) and hopefully Kelsey won’t be consumed by leeches lol! We have a massive great pile of debris that we have stacked up in the teatree garden that looks like it is ready for a wicker man (have you seen that old 70’s movie with Christopher Lee?). We were thinking about telling Stewart that we had become pagans and that we were waiting for their arrival to set it alight and dance naked around it but I don’t think that he is at the point in his new relationship where he can reveal his parents crazy ways and we are to be on our “best behaviour”…(well I am…I don’t think that Steve HAS a best behaviour…especially when he is told to be on it! ;)). Wish us luck for Sunday…we will have some photos for wednesday but might refrain for common decencies sake from posting the naked pagan shots. I will save them for Brian’s blog. I am sure he will appreciate them! 😉


      • christiok
        Sep 14, 2012 @ 01:02:22

        LOL about naked pagan pictures for Brian…and I agree, right up his alley. And I’m so excited about Stewart and Kelsey visiting this weekend!! I’ll be thinking of you and anticipating the photos. As a former Houstonian, I can assure you that Kelsey the Texan will be blown away by the beauty of Serendipity Farm. I’ll have to check into the Christopher Lee movie…Keith might have seen it, or we can get it through Netflix. To tell you the truth, I just don’t watch TV or movies, not because I’m a purist or whatever, but I just don’t like sitting there watching. I haven’t for decades! It’s my nervous system.:) I try to watch one movie a year, and usually it’s a Harry Potter. So I’m very movie illiterate. lol I love bonfires, too, but there’s a burn ban in effect here until the rain starts. Believe it or not, we’ve had a real stretch of dry weather — something like 45 days! And I love pototoes, too. Next year I’m getting some blue seed potatoes…have you seen those? They are so pretty, and tasty, too. Here’s to our mutual love of spuds! 🙂

      • narf77
        Sep 14, 2012 @ 06:48:58

        Not sure about the blue seed potatoes BUT we did plant purple congo’s that we ended up getting about 4 spuds from that were all the size of my fingernail… sigh…we need to add a whole lot of things to our denuded river soil before we will be able to crop anything. That is why we are going with raised garden beds and now our new polytunnel idea. Our winter has been particularly dry this year. Its just lucky that just about everything on Serendipity Farm has been dormant. Our native trees are taking a bit of a whack from the conditions and a specific species is starting to die. Our lecturer told us that they are used to much more rainfall than they are getting lately and they are starting to succumb to fungal disease and every single one on our property is dying. The problem is that they are all massive big trees! Oh well…firewood for a few years! I had best get planting those xeriscape (waterwise) trees in their place. With global warming, Tasmania may just become the new tropics lol! 😉

  5. Sincerely, Emily
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 09:23:41

    Hi – I know I started reading this post last week when you commented on NDIN or SE (can’t remember which) and here I am again – FINALLY COMMENTING! When I saw a few of your photos, I immediately thoughts Tasmania and I don’t know why, but I did. You have put in a lot of work. Clean up and clear up work is endless, but I can see from your burning piles how much has been done. Job well done to you all.


    • narf77
      Sep 18, 2012 @ 18:36:24

      Thanks for your kind words…as horticulturalists we are well aware of how much more needs to be done but this spring/summer period has our names written all over it and shall be our biotch ;). In the next few weeks we will be embarking on the manufacture of a gravity fed Chook run and several poly tunnels (hoop houses) to increase our growing season and allow us to grow and ripen tomatoes, chili’s and capsicums (peppers). The remaining debris isn’t going to be wasted either and we are going to build hugelkulture garden beds using charred wood and branches in an attempt to recreate terra preta on our humble soil. Some future generation will thank us! ;). Again, cheers for your kind words and on recognising Tassie from the photos 🙂


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