Serendipity Farm is all tied up with string

Hi All,

I overran my last blog post and I am still full of words so I am bleeding them into Saturdays post and its still Monday morning! After a delicious relaxing few luxurious hours of winding my way through other people’s blog posts and pinching their wonderful shiny results like the quintessential magpie that I am, I decided to vacuum the lounge room. Bernard and Manny, our two Javanese Finches, live in a luxury high rise condo that we bought for them last year to allow them to be as free as two movie loving television addicted small birds can be. They can fly around…they can swim in their drinking water (and often do) as well as fly over with their wet little feathers and roll in their seed to make small flying seed covered morsels to torment Earl. In the process of their day to day eating marathons these two little birds that would weigh all of about 70g each managed to dislodge an incredible amount of spent and unspent seed all over the carpet that spreads everywhere. I am able to ignore it for only so long and every Saturday I vacuum it up. I forgot to vacuum it on Saturday and so decided to do it today. Vacuuming isn’t an easy thing to do on Serendipity Farm. I tend not to vacuum much and rarely pull out the vacuum cleaner unless it’s my regular Saturday seed cleaning event or someone is coming to visit and our dust bunnies are almost up to our armpits. I tend to use our good stiff broom to sweep up the detritus that hovers around the house attempting to drown us in dog hair and carpet fluff and dump it into the compost bucket to be removed when filled with vegetable scraps and carpet detritus. It’s a cycle that repeats itself and is becoming something that I don’t mind doing. I get exercise from the sweeping and I do it throughout the day so it could be considered “regular exercise” on the surveys that I occasionally get paid to do online. It’s amazing how you can manipulate “the man” and his survey companies 😉

“What HAVE we here eh?”…

“That would be prime dog steaks!”

Take some of that prime dog steak and slice it thin and then dehydrate it for a few hours on “Jerky” setting in your you-beaut 9 tray dehydrator that you rarely use

5kg of dog steak turns into a large container of dog treats that make our boys happy and we know exactly what’s in them

Aside from not wanting to spend money for electricity to vacuum, we have a resident vacuum cleaner hater. Earl considers Mr Vacuum Cleaner to be his arch nemesis. For anyone not in the know… a nemesis is your enemy…an arch nemesis is a mortal enemy. Earl HATES Mr Vacuum Cleaner and tries to kill him on any occasion that he sets foot in Earl’s peripheral vision. Too many times we have had to extract Earl’s determined jaws from the end of Mr Vacuum Cleaner and the head is permanently covered in dog bites. If you take off the head bit and attempt to suck in corners with the hose it drives him even wilder! Steve is over re-bending the hose back into a circular hose shape able to fit the head back onto it rather than the oval shape that Earl would have it. Again. We could lift Earl off the ground with the determination that he puts into his hatred for Mr Vacuum cleaner much to the bemusement of Bezial who hovers around waiting for a game of “suck me- suck you” accompanied by the odd bark or two just so that the vacuum cleaner knows who is the boss. I think it knows who the boss is as it bears the scars of its tangles with Earl. Earl bit the plug off the cord (don’t say HE doesn’t know how to kill something!), Earl ate one of the hose fittings…Earl is dogged in his determination to eliminate Mr Vacuum Cleaner from Serendipity Farm and so vacuuming is an event to be planned and not something that you want to undertake spontaneously like I did this morning. You need 2 people to vacuum. One to vacuum and the other one to distract Earl from scratching the varnish off the doors that you have to shut when you vacuum. Have you ever seen videos of guard dogs slavering in mortal rage at something? Well that’s what Earl does to the space under the door when you shut it and stop him from dealing with his mortal enemy. I swear the resulting spit could be marketed to the U.S. military as some kind of biological weapon it contains that much venom! I was clever. I shut all of the doors while Earl was out lazing about in the sun on the deck. I snuck Mr Vacuum Cleaner from his hidey hole in the middle spare room to the lounge room and still Earl basked…I plugged it in and I started vacuuming and totally ignored Earls barking and scratching at the door and Bezial even got to feel superior as I let him in the side door while Earl was doing his best to scratch his way into the lounge room under the door and Bezial lay on the floor watching me vacuum clean until I finished where this very clever dog got up, walked over to the side door and in no uncertain terms asked me to let him out. I curiously let him out and packed away the vacuum cleaner, let Earl in whilst carrying Mr Vacuum Cleaner into the middle room again as Earl hunted for his nemesis (he could care less about Mr Vacuum Cleaner in his latent non-sucking form) and then looked out of the side door at Bezial facing the river and promptly forgot that he had heard Bezial in the lounge with me and rather than making Bezial pay for his cheeky ignoring that Earl is the supreme ruling dog, he headed out and gave Bezial a quick slobber on his nose and they both set off hunting for the enemy. I will NEVER underestimate Bezials cleverness again! That dog can think! Earl…you are a clever boy but your impulsiveness leaves you open to stupidity!

We have started making our own drinking chocolate mix and we get this bowl full for the same price as that container. I think we win!

A pumpkin spice bundt soaking up a whole lot of Mayan spice drizzle consisting of brown sugar, water, nutmeg, cinnamon and chilli powder. No pictures of the final cake with chocolate glaze because it curiously all disappeared! 😉

A small leaved azalea that has just decided to flower

The outdoor cliveas putting on a lovely show

The things we do! I have just been sitting here for the best part of an hour to try to identify a lovely small tree that we have in our garden. I knew that it was an Australian native but then had to go hunting for a key somewhere to try to identify it. This small tree was on the chopping block last year but I just liked it and decided to crown lift it and tidy it up a bit and leave it. It is rewarding my clemency by flowering magnificently this year and it has put on quite a bit of growth. I just found out (fanfares here folks…fanfares for the common man!) that it is a Nematolepis squamea or a Satinwood. It has a lovely shape and is massed with small white flowers at the moment. I love it when I manage to find something that I am trying to identify. I can be most stubborn at times but the stubborn comes with a bad temper and a large vocabulary of words that should NOT be spoken in pleasant company so after an hour of researching I tend to be a bit of a coiled spring. I remembered to look this plant up today because we were out in the garden effecting change. The type of change that makes the possums unhappy but the native birds and us VERY happy. We put a temporary fence around Steve’s weeping maples because despite their best and most vigorous efforts to grow exponentially, the equally determined possums are harvesting them nightly for their tender leaves and making Steve’s vocabulary bluer than mine (and that is saying something!). Despite it looking and feeling like it is about to snow outside, we decided to stop the decimation of the maples and bollocks to the rain/snow/hail whatever nature wants to throw at us. Within 5 minutes of erecting the barrier the native birds bombarded the water baths inside because they suddenly realised that the cats couldn’t creep up on them either! We might even make a small (more attractive) permanent fence around the maples if it makes everyone who matters happy. The chooks won’t be happy either but as creatures that have far too much free reign on Serendipity Farm that’s just TOO BAD and they can get used to not being able to rootle around the base of Steve’s maples.

The lengths that maple lovers will go to to protect their precious babies.

Satinwood flowers

Nematolepis squamea in full flower and something that I am very glad I spared last year when it was half this size and spindly

Acer palmatum “Atropurpureum” planted out last week and obviously happy to be in the ground

A large Eucalyptus viminalis absolutely covered in Pandora pandorana, a native climber, looking magnificent

I have noticed that the blogs that I am following on my rss feed reader are starting to become more active. There is a direct correlation between the northern hemisphere cooling down and blog activity. Not only are they becoming more active, but they are also posting more delicious recipes. After getting up at 5am (tomorrow 6am…go figure daylight savings!) this morning to read today’s posts I couldn’t help but become tantalised by all of the wonderful recipes for pumpkins, apples, pizzas, calzones and all things cooler and autumn. Now just to stop my northern readers in their tracks BEFORE I get corrected…we call it autumn here. We like the name. It suits Australia because unless you live down here in Tasmania or somewhere high up in a mountain, most of our plant species are most definitely lacking in the “fall” of their leaves. We don’t have a lot of native deciduous trees, in fact, here in Tasmania, one of the coldest states; we only have 1 native deciduous tree Nothofagus gunii. You can keep your abject theft of English classic recipes (renamed most confusingly to annoy us) and in return, you will let us call autumn autumn ok? Cheers :o). Back to the blogs. I found some amazing recipes this morning and at 5.30am when the sun is just starting to rise and you are wide open to sleepy suggestion an rss feed reader full of recipes tends to send your mind in specific directions. I want to bake. I want to crank Brunhilda up and bake. She has been having a bit of a hiatus of late and was just getting used to napping all day when it’s gone cold again and we are calling her back into the fray. Steve is going to have sausage rolls tonight. I wanted to make calzone’s but Steve is a man who likes what he likes and sometimes my ideas for his degustatory delight are not HIS ideas for something that will titillate his tastebuds. I am an adventurous cook. If I had my way we would live like bohemian’s eating all sorts of weird and wonderful things and sitting around talking late into the night about all things intellectual. Steve could care less about bohemians and intellectuals and so I have to harbour my latent bohemian urges indefinitely.

The beautifully coloured new growth on a small pieris on the side of the driveway

A banksia that was on its last legs last year before we cleared around it and pruned it

One of the wilderness Camellia trees down in the jungle garden portion of Serendipity Farm

A native cyclamen (Cyclamen repandum) growing down in the wild part of Serendipity Farm

Steve is off taking me some pictures of “stuff” for the blog tonight. I dare say said “stuff” is going to be dark. It hasn’t rained today but it has been cold and dark and threatening and a great day to hang about inside. Steve read the last bit of my post while I was in the loo and decided that he would check out what a calzone actually was. To his amazement, it was something that he thought that he might actually like and so I am now charged with making him calzones for tea tonight. That means that I have to stop typing and head off to make some calzone dough.

Thank GOODNESS that Brunhilda is on because dough proves so much better on the proving rack situated above Brunhilda’s beatific warm wafting heat layers and so calzones started at 3pm are something that fits within the realms of possibility rather than vain hope. I need to head off down the deck stairs to harvest some of our mushrooms and remove some frozen sopressa that has been sitting in cryogenic isolation since the son and heir and Kelsey’s visit along with some frozen bacon. Add some Italian mixed herbs, some grated cheese, some onion and garlic and some left over salad leaves and I think we have a meal in the making!  Steve has requested wedges with his meal so I will rustle up some Carlingford potatoes to grace his plate in large chunky well-seasoned splendour.  There isn’t much difference between having fussy kids and a fussy husband…they both need coaxing and a degree of creative bargaining to get them to try new things 😉

Some of the plants that we planted out recently looking as pleased as punch with their new situation

The first three hatchlings of the spring on Serendipity Farm

Mummy feral showing her 3 babies where to hide whenever the terrible humans make an appearance

Pear futures

Tomorrow is our anniversary. It is also Steve’s mum’s birthday. It’s entirely coincidental that our anniversary is on Pat’s birthday but Happy Birthday Pat! Thank you for being Steve’s mum :o). Without you, this whole crazy adventure wouldn’t have happened. I hope you have a fantastic birthday and that you know that we are thinking of you from the other side of the world. Everything about Steve and I is unconventional. We met online, we were able to maintain a long distance relationship for 2 long years and if you looked for the opposite of textbook marriage you would find us. We eloped quietly and with purpose after a year of living together to make certain that this was what we both wanted. After we married (in the church behind the house that we were living in at the time) we headed off to do battle with the immigration department but it was more of a “hand over some cash and wait a bit till we get around to your case…” than anything stressful. Steve and I had done our homework. We made sure of every scenario before we applied for Steve’s residency and bypassed a whole lot of problems that other people trying to do the same thing were encountering. Two years after Steve applied for residency in Australia (almost to the day) he got a letter saying “Cheers for the money, you can stay”. We didn’t have any dramas, any problems or any hassles. We were some of the very lucky ones and I suggest that anyone trying to duplicate our success, looks into every single eventuality with discipline and determination and covers their bases at all times. It worked for us! Steve has been here 13 years now and its anniversary number 12. They suggest that your 12th anniversary should be linen or silk. It’s quite a long time on the wedding stakes so you could be going one of two ways…silk for a well-honed and well kindled relationship or linen for your shroud! I choose silky linen as nothing is perfect in this life. There might be moments when I would cheerfully throttle him but I dare say he has had to stifle his natural instincts to euthanise me more than once and so I am going to call it even. A clean slate and a springboard into the next 12 years.

This atmospheric shot shows what todays weather was like taken when Steve was upside down taking photos of the cherry blossom futures

Steve’s calzone and crispy homemade potato wedges…Steve approves! 🙂

Skeeter pee futures!

This beautiful Zelkova serata is my bet on tonights possum degustation event to spite us for preventing mass guzzling on Steve’s weeping maples…sigh…

We are going to have a delicious Asian feast for our anniversary meal. We will need to take a drive to Exeter for some more booze because we had fun working our way through our anniversary booze and the cupboard is sadly bare. I might even make a delicious vegan cake that was nestled in my rss feed reader this morning. It looks heavenly and no-one would complain about having an enormous slice of it placed reverently before them on a special occasion. It’s one of those transcendental moments when vegan shmegan “I want that cake!” I love finding vegan recipes that make Omni’s squeal with delight. This is one of those moments. Savour it my vegan friends, it won’t happen often!

I am creeping up to meeting my regular post size and might just nip it in the bud for today. It’s after 3 and I should be getting that calzone dough made. It takes time to be a creative genius and I need to meditate a little to reach Nirvana before I attempt the perfect calzone. Tonight I am going to read. I will sit, basking in Brunhilda’s warmth after shoving Bezial to one side of his couch and ignoring the “evils” that he will be radiating at me. No doubt I will be fast asleep when you read this post, nodding off to la-la land to sleep perchance to dream but my dream will be peppered more with foreboding terror than kittens and bunnies because I am reading Gillian Flynn’s first book. I read her last one and am sampling the beginning of her career…let’s see if she has grown any? I also have Water for Chocolate and might even curtail my horror/suspense for a day and read this slim volume that approximates a chick flick in paper form. Wish us luck with our possum defences. We are certainly going to need it and I hope that you all have a wonderful next few days till we settle down to share some time together once again :o)

Just before I go I am going to start adding what I am listening to when I post my posts. I am blatantly stealing the idea from Green Giraffe who is an Aussie vegan food blogger that I admire immensely. I am sure that she won’t mind me pinching her idea as my soundtracks are NEVER going to be as retro and funky as hers 😉

Today I was listening to The Best of Bowie and rocking with Steve to some old school androgenous rock…one rock to rule them all! (As I post I must admit I am listening to Back in Black ;))

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brymnsons
    Oct 06, 2012 @ 23:12:02

    Well another pretty post, the flowers are lovely. Happy Anniversary you two. I hope you enjoy your 12th anniversary and bask in the knowledge that you have come a long way together. I hope the possoms haven’t eaten everything in sight! Do they hate pepper or chilli, go on I can just see you two running around “peppering” all your precious futures lol. Have a lovely day x


    • narf77
      Oct 07, 2012 @ 18:13:18

      I wouldn’t waste good pepper on them Kymmy! 😉 I will just buy 30 metres of uber strong metal chain (welded link) and stake Earl out there for a couple of nights…we won’t have to feed him! 😉 Thank you for your congratulations about our aniversary 🙂 We are in the process of making our aniversary evening meal and I can’t wait! It looks scrumptious 🙂 Have a great rest of your weekend (not that there is much left, but its the thought that counts ;))


  2. christiok
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 04:34:42

    Happy Anniversary! Your story is so romantic.:):) And Happy Birthday to Pat Pimblett in the U.K. I love your flower pictures and marvel at the blossoming going on as we have our AUTUMN die off. Autumn is a very fine word indeed. I love the story of Bezial working Earl. They know each other well. Our cat Garfield is the vacuum cleaner hater and wakes from a deep sleep when I even touch its handle. Then he leaps out the nearest open door or upstairs to escape the monstrous noise. We’re going to have our first fire in the stove tonight! It’s supposed to get to 3 degrees Celsius (I just checked my handy conversion chart). While you’ve got Brunhilda going and pumpkin to use up, here’s a recipe we love — Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.
    I’m making some today in honor of your anniversary. Love from Olalla!


    • narf77
      Oct 07, 2012 @ 18:18:08

      I LOVE pumpkin. After potatoes, it’s my very favourite food. We don’t tend to use it in many sweet things in Australia, we use it as a savoury ingredient but saying that, I made a delicious pumpkin spice bundt that was delicious. Think of me when you eat your muffin (does that sound right?!!!) no euphamisms intended! 😉 I will make that delicious looking recipe and while you will be having them with a hot drink, we will be partaking with something a bit colder 🙂 Cheers from Sidmouth Tasmania for your heartfeld and wonderful felicitations and 3C is about what we had last night as well. It would seem that our meridians are still aligned 🙂


  3. Sincerely, Emily
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 08:48:38

    Happy Anniversary. Love the banksia photo – completely reminds me of Tassie. I brought a tea towel home with me that had banksia on it. Just retired it, but can’t seem to part with it (it’s 29 years old) and the photo of camellia – oh, my host family had beauties. Nice to make your own drinking chocolate – it is sure am amazing cost savings when you make it yourself. I make so many things and it saves us tons of $. Your doggies look happy happy to see more dog treats appearing, as if out of nowhere.


    • narf77
      Oct 07, 2012 @ 18:20:56

      Bezial is a polite doggy. He wouldn’t be seen dead with his beak stuck on a piece of meat like Earl. Earl is a reprobate and an attention hog and loves posing for photos where Bezial will slink away. Cheers for the congratulations. I am glad I can help bring back a few Tassie memories. Let me know if you want another one of those banksia teatowels, I will hunt one out for you 🙂 That drinking chocolate tastes delicious (apparently, it’s Steve’s not mine) and the good thing about making your own is that you can customise it to your own taste. Add whatever you like its yours! Have a great rest of the weekend 🙂


  4. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 13:20:18

    Oh, the hatchlings! Those little babies are melting my heart. I have no hands-on experiences with chickens, but it reminds of the ducklings that lived outside of my grandparent’s old house. I was only 5 or 6 at the time, but I loved to see them grow fluffier and stronger by the day. So cute!


    • narf77
      Oct 09, 2012 @ 05:09:43

      The 6 that have hatched out are just the beginning. We are noticing a distinct decrease in egg production and lots of sly hens skulking around the place looking sideways as they run from their hiding places to the food and water bowls. We would love to have ducklings as well but we don’t have a big enough water source for them and we only have 1 duck now. Might be something to think about in the future when we are fixing up the pond in the lower garden? We have 3 little chicks with their mum out in the garden doing a wonderful job to protect them and we have Effel Dookark…a somewhat dimwitted hen who can’t quite understand that there is danger out in the big wide world (namely kookaburras and cats!) and often leads her babies straight into the lion’s mouth by accident so we picked her up and put her into the outside chook enclosure to give her 3 little ones the best chance at survival. We won’t let them out till they are a LOT bigger and the cats won’t see them as fluffy snacks.


  5. brymnsons
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 19:06:00

    We went to a plantation in Bali where, amongst other things, they grow cocoa. We bought some of the chocolate they made. I should have sent some cocoa beans your way 🙂


    • narf77
      Oct 09, 2012 @ 05:10:29

      YUM! I didn’t know that they grew chocolate in Bali? Sounds like Steve and I are definately going to have to save up and go now! 😉


  6. Katie Glenn
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 04:02:19

    Happy Anniversary! The baby chicks are so cute. 🙂

    Your story about the Satinwood tree reminds me of a peach tree that has become famous in our family. My great-grandmother had a peach tree in her front yard and year after year the thing grew pitifully and never produced a single peach. Then one year as my great-grandparents stood in the yard, next to the tree, my great-grandfather told her that if the thing didn’t produce something next year he was going to cut it down because every year that it didn’t grow a peach, it made my great-grandmother sad. The following year, the thing practically sprang out of the ground, almost doubling in size and it produced so many peaches that the branches were bowed down to the ground from the weight of them. Every year after that, it always bloomed and provided peaches. 🙂


    • narf77
      Oct 09, 2012 @ 05:14:40

      That is one SMART peach tree! Did the peaches taste nice? Our peaches may or may not taste nice… along with our nectarines, our pears and our cherries. The only way that we would know is if we were able to catch one of the nocturnal fluffly little menaces that we call brushtailed possums and shake the little menace until he squealed! We are going to have to fence off our small orchard to see if we can sample any of the fruit. We also have a small mulberry tree but they don’t seem to be partial to them so we occasionally get one 😉 Cheers for sharing that story because I thought I was the only one with a lazarus tree lol 😉


  7. brymnsons
    Oct 09, 2012 @ 17:11:11

    Do you remember the nectarine trees at our house in Albany, Fran. The one nearest the back door would always produce the biggest and juiciest nectarines, which always surprised us because we fed both trees the same. One day dad met up with the bloke who use to live in the house originally. Dad asked about the nectarine trees. The bloke said he and his wife had planted one each. The one nearest the door was his. So dad asked why did he think his had the better fruit. The bloke said that he use to shoot the feral cats around the area, it was all bush then, and he would put them under his tree, but his wife didn’t like the idea so none went under hers! Maybe a solution to your cat problem Fran???


    • narf77
      Oct 09, 2012 @ 17:35:45

      …blink…blink…shoot? Neither of us would know which end of a gun to shoot Kymmy and we are big softies. I guess we could find someone who would shoot them pretty easily around here BUT would it be humane? I dare say not :(. We are going to have to “bite the bullet” (no pun intended) and use traps to catch them. We NEED to catch the females but the males will need to be sorted out soon also. I don’t even want to think about it and get mad when I do because we didn’t ask for this and we certainly shouldn’t have to be financially responsible for someone elses lack of responsibility. As it is, we are going to have to pay for them to be euthenased and we have been paying for their rudimentary food (to stop them eating the birds but they are still eating some birds) for a while now. It is all a HUGE pain in the bum but we are going to have to get our act together or we are going to be buried in cats with no birds or other wildlife 😦


  8. brymnsons
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 16:05:38

    It’s a lose lose situation Fran. Sad you have to be in that situation. I would be the same as you guys as far as shooting goes. I don’t think mum ate the nectarines off the “cat” tree after hearing that story. Can the ranger help out with the traps?


    • narf77
      Oct 11, 2012 @ 05:20:13

      Nope…we are all alone as no-one seems to want to help us out. We are going to try to get Tamar NRM to give us a hand as they hand out heaps of feral cat info and might have a trap that we could borrow. Everyone else wants you to pay for the trap and we would need it for weeks. I will let you know how we go


  9. brymnsons
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 21:47:02

    Good luck 🙂


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