Serendipity Farm is an Octopus Free Zone!

Hi All,

What’s going on here! We have just hit the spring equinox in Australia and I am acting more like the grasshopper than the octopus…remember the old story as told by Fry from Futurama? The one about the grasshopper doing all of the work and the octopus that mooched off his girlfriend and the grasshopper died as a direct result of the hard work leaving the octopus to take advantage of his hard yakka AND to rub salt into the wound he also found the money to buy a sports car…the message is DON’T think that spring is time to hoard your nuts…or is it? When you live close to the earth like homesteaders you need to be thinking ahead. Even G.M. monocrop farmers think ahead. Its part and parcel of living on the land and it involves all sorts of economics and futures and all sorts of things that make my brain spin BUT at its core, where I like to live in my simple mentality, it means “make hay while the sun shines bucko or sit out winter on an empty belly!”…that’s my take on it. You might get lucky. You might just be able to mooch off your girlfriend for the summer…driving around in her Volkswagen beetle and drinking beer on the beach while she works hard at the diner to pay the bills and your friend, who works in I.T. or Apple or somewhere profitable, squirrels away his money because he is a nerd and hasn’t got even a vague chance of acquiring a girlfriend UNLESS he goes on Beauty and the Geek…but that is another story! So enter your geeky I.T. I-phone 5 toting mate who talks in binary code and who bores the pants off you BUT makes you look amazing when he is standing next to you at parties and who earns a fortune that he foolishly spends on war hammer figurines and Dr Who merchandise from Think Geek who when your girlfriend wises up to your loser habits and tosses your lazy arse to the curb is probably good to mooch off minus the obvious side benefits. The grasshopperss of the world tend to be the workers and the octopi take…Take…TAKE!

Check out our rubber egg! It was found in the hen house after our early evening rooster wrangling event. Methinks that the poor hen that laid it was scared rubbery!

I wouldn’t recognise these 2 good dogs if it wasn’t for the hippy standing with them. It’s amazing what a pocket full of dog treats will do for a dogs behaviour isn’t it! 😉

Rubber egg number 2! Obviously the fear goes on…

This might look like a hillbillies back yard but its a Hill Williams back yard thank you VERY much! This covered heap is our dung futures heap and just up from that tree trunk is where we are putting our poly tunnels

Our constant companion whenever we head out to do any gardening…you just never know what delicious bugs are going to turn up when you follow those humans around!

Ok, so consider that my lesson on consumerism and elitism and how unfair the world is these days with the 1% rich getting richer and the 99% of us a.k.a. poor people propping up their sports car ventures. Here on Serendipity Farm we don’t have any octopi. It’s too far out of the city, we live on a river with no beach or surf AND we drive a sad little 4 x 4 and even though you can take the top off it, the dog hairs are so thick on the seats that it looks like we have flocked seat covers. In other words we are an octopus free zone here! To get what we want we have to work. We have to plan ahead. We use our God given brains to facilitate our futures and we think laterally about where we are going to get things that we need and always try to make do.  Reuse, recycle and repurpose are our creeds here on Serendipity Farm. Spring is a chance for us to plan for winter. We can plan what we need to store up for the cold weather and we can make our polytunnels to give us an extended harvest. We don’t get frost here much and so polytunnels should allow us to grow most of what we need for the whole year. Our chooks are old breeds and may not lay eggs every day but we have enough of them to produce copiously and with a side benefit that our predominately Wyandotte population lay right through winter so we don’t lose out on the egg front. We have all the acorns that we can squirrel away but no real use for them, however, I have learned from my online hunts that acorns can be made into flour that can be used to bake breads albeit of the flat kind. A good tip should the need ever arise. Always work with what you have lots of because you are pretty much guaranteed that you won’t run out of it. Acorns…you are our friends.

The corner where we planted out some of our maples and other tasty treats (can you hear the sarcasm dripping from my acidic tongue?… bloody possums!)

One of the clivea flowers that has just started to open. We found these clivea underneath a mound of blackberries and overgrown grass. It’s lucky I am known for my “careful weeding” and it wasn’t Steve and his whipper snipper that discovered them or there might not be this lovely display for us to admire!

This maple is called “Lockington’s Big Red”. It was developed by Don Dosser, a wonderful man who is better known for developing all sorts of Rhododendron’s than maples but we are honoured to have a Tassie bred maple on Serendipity Farm 🙂

Those straight trunks belong to Brachychitons that have been on Serendipity Farm for many years. They are not native to Tasmania and have been doing it tough for a while. Steve planted out 3 more Brachychitons of different species in this area to see if they grow. We grew them all from seed and hopefully they will like living on Serendipity Farm. We also planted out several different kinds of maples in this area as well

Instead of thinking about the long hot summer that we are being promised in Tasmania and planning what we are going to do for the summer holidays on the one beach in Tasmania that has actual sand rather than pebbles and oysters we are thinking about work. We are building polytunnels, a gravity fed chook run, planting out our potted babies, thinking about building a worm farm, changing our composting from a sad anaerobic system (too lazy to get out there in winter and turn it regularly) to an aerobic system (by pulling the roof off the duck enclosure that backs onto the compost bin and shovelling the compost from one side to the other). We have so many plans on the burner that we are going to be the leanest of squirrels by the time we get to the other side. Forget “why did the chicken cross the road?” here on Serendipity Farm they do what they want and you don’t question them…just ask the feral cats who are totally intimidated by them! We have “why did the squirrel not need Jenny Craig?” Remember my theory of living in the processes? You can’t get more alive than when you are up to your armpits in hot compost or knee deep in horse dung futures. You sleep better, you earn your evening meal and you feel like you have accomplished something deep and primal at the end of the day. Life takes on a new vibrancy when each day seems to be working towards the next. You start to feel as alive as the microbe teeming soil that you are trying to help along. All of your processes might initially be out of whack but after a while, using permaculture as your core, everything starts to cycle in a most pleasingly congruent way. One day we should be able to manage this place on our own without having to hide under the bed covers in fear of “Where the heck do we start today?!” as our creed.

This is where we put the maples and a cornus

Here’s a Miscanthus that will hopefully get to its full height of 1.5 – 2 metres

This is a dwarf bamboo that we have been told will spread. The person telling us was looking aghast at us for purchasing not one, not two but three of these “invaders”…I will tell you what Rog…you have less than a quarter acre of garden and we have 4 acres. I think that the spreading dwarf bamboo can have a bit of room to spread in don’t you? Besides…if it can squash out the forget-me-nots, I will buy 100 more!

Can you hear my teeth grinding as I type this? This poor little maple USED to have a lot more leaves than this. It’s the only maple (so far) that the possums have decided to sample more than a few leaves from. They did perform trapese acts on one of Steve’s larger maples and ripped of a large chunk but we think that whoever did it landed hard and has been avoiding a repeat performance. This goes to show that sometimes you never can tell what possums will go for!

Today we plant. We figure that the thermal mass of the soil and the high clay content is going to give our poor long suffering potted babies a better chance over summer. Once we get those mooching chooks into their gravity fed chook run we should be able to get our gardens mulched and ready for the long hot summer ahead. Thermal mass works with bulk planting as well. The more plants you have in any given area (especially ground covers) the more moisture you can retain in the soil. I am on the hunt for ground covers and am not averse to bending down and liberating a little bit from the edge of the footpath should the opportunity arise. Consider me a guerrilla squirrel. I will throw seed bombs into the nature strips and I shall take advantage of harvests unharvested. Squirrel, thy name is Fran!

Two snakebark maples that have been languishing in pots since we bought them a few years ago are stretching out their leaves and roots and breathing a grateful sigh of relief

A couple of low vibernums and a couple of slow growing taxus

Steve’s ducky friend following him around. It wouldn’t have anything to do with ducky being the recipient of all of the snails and slugs and slaters that our lifted pots revealed? 😉

I am excited about this one…ALMOND FUTURES! 🙂

This large broom shrub has a very interesting scented flower. Whenever we walk past it the smell is reminiscent of crushed peppery nasturtium leaves

Steve set the alarm clock for 5.30 yesterday but forgot to tell me. He hasn’t decided to be my personal boot camp sergeant, he did it because I asked him to because the dreaded Daylight Savings is rapidly approaching and this year I REFUSE to be the bleary eyed zombie that I am every year when I have to get up an hour earlier…to everyone out there just about to correct me and tell me that “it’s not actually an hour earlier it’s a better use of the day” BOLLOCKS! Daylight savings and I have a bad history and to this day I can’t for the life of me see any other reason for it than commercial gain. I won’t give you my tirade here for the day because I don’t have time. I have to cram in my rss feed read before Steve gets up and we head off into our day whipper snipping forget-me-nots and me hand pulling them in the hard to get places or where Steve’s maniacal “style” might just eliminate something precious. We also have to get stuck in to planting out more of our potted plants. We have just about gotten to the end of the easy stuff…the small pots and the things that had a definite place to go and now we are down to the pines that get to 120ft tall, the things that Earl ate the tag from and we don’t really remember what they are called or how big they get and the stuff that we aren’t sure if we want to keep yet. Tomorrow I am going to get Steve to set the alarm clock to 5am. I am going to revel in my 2 hours of rss feed reading time for about a week. I might even get a few things done in the mornings (but I doubt it) and I am going to be ready for you daylight savings…BRING IT ON!

This dwarf nandina is SO happy that we unhooked it from its blackberry overlords that it has turned the most lovely shade of red. I planted a little struggling camellia in the gap to the right of this little fellow.

This old flat serving spoon was found when we were walking in Exeter where some excavation work was going on. Its a lovely old French spoon and so I brought it home and stuck it in this cut off blue glass bottle with a couple of shiny mates to keep it company

I left the camera out in the shed last night when I took a few photos of what we had done, the clivea flowers and our dung future pile that we have covered up and rendered chook and duck proof much to their chagrin. I collected some eggs from the remaining chooks who are not clucky (not very many of them at the moment) and I got sucked into pulling out a section of forget-me-nots and promptly forgot. How ironic eh? As today is posting day I will be trundling around attempting to take some post worthy photos. I will be grappling with the recalcitrant “macro” and “super macro” to attempt to get the camera to not take extreme close-ups of the background leaving the desired object out of focus and almost unrecognisable. The camera and I have a somewhat strained relationship and like most things on Serendipity Farm it has an attitude. Some days it will take great photos without effort and the next, it is on strike. I admire people who can take good photos like I admire people who are naturally artistic and who are natural green thumbs. I guess I don’t mind being mediocre as long as I can get what I am trying to share out with people. Cheers to Kym for keeping her eye open for a rainwater tank on her holidays in Bali. That is one dedicated friend! Try to get one where they are offering to pay for the postage Kym…I am sure that there are HEAPS of vendors like that in Bali! ;). I doubt that even Kym’s amazing bargaining powers could affect that kind of deal ;). When I lived in Western Australia I never quite managed to take advantage of Bali being “Little Australia” and just off the top end of W.A. I remember when you could head over to Bali for a week for $500 and that included your flights and your accommodation! Unlike “The Rest of the World”…Australia is miles away from EVERYTHING and any kind of travel hurts us in the hip pocket. I read with envy about people jetting off to France, Italy, and Russia for the weekend and it costing pennies where if we were to do the same thing we wouldn’t BE there in a weekend let alone get time to set foot off a plane before we had to start our flight back home. My idea of a tropical getaway is heading up to Queensland to eat my weight’s worth of tropical fruit…it’s also something on my bucket list so I might have to think about that someday soon. If I can combine that bucket list item with another bucket list item to do a permaculture residential course in Queensland I might just be able to justify it all in my mind, “multitasking babe…I am just multitasking!”

I know this isn’t the greatest picture in the world but my camera was having a Primadonna moment and point blank REFUSED to use the flash. After having words with it, this is the best I could get. Does anyone know what it might be? It has square minty type stems and I think it might be a salvia. I got it from somewhere hot and arid and dry and am hoping that it might do what mints do best and send out roots in a glass of water

Gunns went tits up yesterday. A completely fitting epitaph as I used to liken the company to a bull with teets…completely useless! That doesn’t automatically mean that we won’t get a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley BUT anyone buying the permit is going to have a handful of problems aside from the obvious angry ravening hoards of locals, the high Aussie dollar and the high cost of labour in Australia we have the low price of wood chips and pulp and the ever decreasing call for white bleached paper for newspapers etc. as a lot of content recedes to online these days. Our corrupt state government are steadfastly refusing to give up this pulp mill BUT that is what got gunns bankrupt and in receivership in the first place…completely disregarding what the people want. I would like to say goodbye to our sad excuse for a premier at this point because she will be lucky to make it to the next elections as our state leader. I can’t for the life of me understand why every woman politician in a position of power in Australia seems to have a need to over enunciate their words making every speech a chore to have to listen to and a reminder of when childless adults talk to small children and all of us talk to deaf people, loudly and slowly. The Tasmanian populace might be somewhat lacking in the educational stakes BUT we are NOT…ALL…NUMPTIES…LARA…and you don’t have to speak so slowly to us all because we are mindless vacuous creatures who can’t comprehend big words. Our corrupt political parties and gunns didn’t realise who they were messing with when they took on the hippies. Tasmanian natives are an easily herded bovine lot who don’t prize education and could care less about anything other than footy and weekends as a rule. They go where they are directed and tend not to rock the boat and are easily hornswoggled and intimidated by weasely politicians and the sheer force of anything that appears to have a degree of power. When the hippies started moving over here from the mainland the nepotistic relationship between our politicians and gunns started to become glaringly obvious to these newcomers and for once in their relationship someone actually started to care what they were up to! The bully boy tactics didn’t work when you tried to dam the Franklin and you didn’t learn. Northern Tasmania has been a logging stronghold and gunns ran the show from go to whoa. They were loath to concede anything at all and held on to the flagship pulp mill with a stubborn refusal to give up until it changed into the figurehead of their ship and was the first thing to sink under the water when the whole shebang went down. Lesson to be learned to old school Tasmanian politicians, corporations, nepotistic industry and bully boys…most hippies are clever creatures who went to university and completed doctorates in law, commerce etc. and you can’t hoodwink them, talk down to them, negate them or bypass them.  Ignore us at your peril! Goodbye gunns. You lost your battle to steamroll your will over the people of Tasmania and you learned, too late, that paying politicians to get your way doesn’t always get you what you want. So long and thanks for nothing!

Here’s a good shot of one of the compound leaves of that plant. Definately a type of salvia I would imagine and I am hoping that one of you might know what it is. If I can’t get it to grow from a water cutting, I will get a bit of the root and give it a shot that way! 🙂

In saying what I just said I have a deep sense of sympathy for all of the 320 people who are going to lose their jobs thanks to gunns demise. Tasmania is not an easy place to gain employment and most of us are out of work. The official jobless rate doesn’t even begin to show the true picture because most of us are hidden from the statistics by being syphoned off into education, job training and working for the dole. We are a state of Centrelink employees and our leaders keep grasping at straws and taking reckless bets to try to keep themselves in power rather than getting together and actually facing up to the monumental task ahead of them to try to set Tasmania back on track. Stop having quorums, setting up committees, paying experts and grasping at straws and just face up to the fact that Tasmania is going to have to have a different business model to the rest of the mainland. What is so wrong with growing amazing food and crops? What is wrong with having a fantastic wilderness that people can visit? What is wrong with making Tasmania a truly clean, green state where people would want to flock to live and that implements green technology and uses all of this restless un and underemployed population to positive effect? It’s all too hard and we are going to have to get rid of a generation of politicians who are clinging to the old model tenaciously and stubbornly refusing to even consider life in Tasmania without the forest industry. Stop selling us off to anyone with a dollar in their pockets. Stop flogging our beautiful pristine precious rainforests off to open cut mines because it might give you someone else to do back room deals with and keep yourself in power a bit longer. WE CAN SEE YOU YOU KNOW! It’s all eminently depressing to be honest and I think that for change to happen in Tasmania it is going to have to rise up through the ranks and topple the tyrants. If the world could get rid of Sadam and Gadhafi, it can certainly prize loose our entrenched parasitic politicians! I am thinking of hiring out my rants to any leftist magazine that will take me…heck I will give them to you for free! Sorry dear constant readers, my frothing mouth needs to be wiped and my tirade here is done!

Bollocks! Not only have I had a delicious tirade in my post today, I have overshot my small post mark! Oh well…let’s be honest folks…It really couldn’t have lasted for long. Anyone out there having problems writing posts let me know. I have more words than I can cope with. I am juggling about 14 muses who are all blabbermouths and none of them have the silent disdainful composure that I am lead to believe muses effect. Mine are all collaborating and yelling in my ear at once and are all as overexcited about life as I am. Quiet you lot I am trying to condense! Sigh…oh well, at least I am consistent! I had best stop there and let you all get back to your lives and the real world. With a bit of hope, nothing politically exciting will occur in the next few days and your next post will be pristine and full of happy joy joy. See you all on Saturday…remember life IS great, hurl yourself into it and ride it like you stole it! 😉

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anthropogen
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 20:45:37

    Sometimes rubber-eggs can be an indication that your chickens aren’t getting enough calcium. You can hang a cuddle-fish bone in the chicken abode and the chicken will peck at it for its requisite calcium. We also crush up oyster shells for the same reason.

    I concur that your new mystery plant is a some sage species. Very square stems, and when it flowers the flowers are very sage-like. I have it growing in California where it does very well. Grows easy from cuttings and is very drought tolerant. Smells good too. I’ll let you know if I find an ID.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 27, 2012 @ 05:27:55

      Cheers for that Spencer. I got it from an old American hippy friend and it is living in very tough conditions and thriving. I figure if it lives right down on the water in unamended silty soil it should do amazingly well on Serendipity Farm :). Not sure about the calcium as we fortify the girls food with it. We have a lot of point of lay girls at the moment (Effel Dookarks 5) and I think that one of them is just a bit calcium deficient perhaps as her eggs form? That salvia has a VERY strong scent. Our hippy friend is fond of other kinds of salvia and we figure he likes this one because aside from being legit 😉 it has similar compound leaves lol 😉

      Reply

    • Florida
      Sep 28, 2012 @ 17:12:23

      Hi all at Serendipity, back from the Northern ‘sphere, and have missed all the goings on, et al.For some reason I wasn’t able to find you whilst there, so now have to go back to early August to catch up. Should take a week or more. Love t you both.
      Florida

      Reply

      • narf77
        Sep 29, 2012 @ 05:27:06

        Welkom terug! I just posted a photo on Facebook yesterday of the tulip fields in the Netherlands and thought of you :). I hope you had an absolute ball and enjoyed yourself to the max. Serendipity Farm is getting a bit of a planty makeover at the moment and we are going great guns in getting as many of our poor potted babies out into the ground. We have Pingu as our constant shadow and when we were planting out a poor pot bound artichoke the other day she got the most massive wood borer grub that I have ever seen…it took her a few gulps to get it down but she has been most determined in her desire to follow us ever since! 😉 Have a great Saturday. You got back just in time for daylight savings! 😉

  2. christiok
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 01:18:50

    Congratulations on your first rubber eggs! We had one and haven’t had one since. Our feed has calcium. We laid our rubber egg onto a cougar in the area.

    “Life takes on a new vibrancy when each day seems to be working toward the next.” Yes. Permaculture, cycles, ending the rein of weasely politicians. I’m with you. Will our election here in the corrupt U.S.A. ever arrive?? What a circus.

    Serendipity Farm looks gorgeous in the sunrays! Love to you and Steve and the hounds.:)

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 27, 2012 @ 05:30:54

      Hi Christi! Life for both of us is on the cusp with the changing seasons. Our politicians here are easily bought but are now being scrutinised so can’t get away with what they used to without a fight. I keep looking at photos of Serendipity Farm that I wander around and take and saying to Steve “that isn’t what it looks like!”. If you break it down into small areas and segments it looks pretty. If you take one big panoramic sweeping view it renders us terrified! I think it might be because we have more than a good idea how much work we are going to have to do to get it how we want it and perhaps at times like this, ignorance is bliss? 😉 Have a fantastic day and great to hear from you my friend 🙂

      Reply

  3. Allotment adventures with Jean
    Sep 28, 2012 @ 08:02:03

    An interesting post Fran, covering so many subjects. You and Steve are the only people I know who have grown a tree from a seed! I think that is rather wonderful. And I love your Clivia discovered due to your ‘careful weeding’.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 28, 2012 @ 08:15:51

      Steve (way back in certificate 2 in horticulture in 2009) bunged a seed in the ground in the hope of growing a tree to bonsai. You would think that the mix would CONTAIN trees suitable to bonsai as it was called “bonsai tree mix” wouldn’t you? I have NEVER seen a bonsai Sequoia giganteum…it would be sacrilage! So this little fellow is going to be planted right next to the entrance gate on Serendipity Farm with his own plaque and a stern warning to the son-and-heir NOT to ever remove him from the property no matter how big he grows! I would love him to be the biggest tree in Sidmouth! 😉

      Reply

  4. Chica Andaluza
    Sep 28, 2012 @ 20:49:53

    Phew – that was a good post! We get the odd rubber egg too. They´re rare, and I´m not convinced it´s due to a deficiency as all my hens eat the same. Weird though. Love your clivia – my mum has loads of them in pots in her house in London, she seems to have “the touch”. I had one which died 😦 Ah yes, no octopi here either!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 29, 2012 @ 05:34:55

      Well done on the dearth of octopi…they are a waste of time and energy! Imagine having to prop one up exponentially! The thought of it is making me weak. These cliveas have kept on keeping on for 20 years underneath a massive clutch of blackberries. Our friend in the witness protection gave us some pots of Hippeastrum that she didn’t want to look after and I have to research whether or not they could go into the ground somewhere. I don’t like things in pots. It smacks of communism and formal gardening and although I don’t like rampant chaos (had enough of that to last a lifetime with clearing out this wild patch!), I need a degree of natures way and lots of green to make me smile :). The first rubber egg was a result of abject terror as I was collecting roosters merrily for slaughter. One of their poor point of lay sisters deposited it on the floor as I took their brothers! I felt bad and we got one more after that (poor stressed little girl!) but none since then. Much like stress balls…these eggs were fun to wibble. I guess stress has its odd advantages?! Have a great Saturday and I am starting to get the feeling that you guys are going to become professional home renovators! You are doing a fantastic job by the way. Ever thought of renting yourselves out as “renovators to go?”…you could travel the world for free 😉

      Reply

      • Chica Andaluza
        Sep 30, 2012 @ 17:57:25

        I´m not so keen on pots either – more from the point that they need so much watering! Poor little hen, am sure she´s recovered. And who knows – Big Man and Chica´s Worldwide Home Renovations … could be a hit 😉

  5. The Squishy Monster
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 01:21:07

    I had no idea that rubber eggs could be a thing–thanks for enlightening me !! =D

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 29, 2012 @ 05:36:27

      I haven’t had any before now but Christi of “Farmlet” blogging fame talked about one not so long back. She got lots of miles out of hers with visitors and neighbours but we are quintessential hermits so I just had to share it online 😉

      Reply

  6. Sincerely, Emily
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 10:05:33

    I like seeing all the trees that are there and what you have planted. Also love the little duck following Steve around. Glad you have something to keep your snail population sort of under control. I hope your miscanthus will do well. I am working towards adding some ornamental grasses in our front to reduce more lawn. Also, neat spoon you found. What fun.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Oct 01, 2012 @ 17:30:13

      Cheers Emily, ornamental grasses are a great design feature and really add texture to your garden as well as starving out other grasses (aside from the creeping kind!). Miscanthus are hard to kill! They should do well here on Serendipity Farm ;). Chicks are starting to hatch out here and we have 3 so far. Hopefully the feral cats don’t eat them all 😦

      Reply

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