The Al Pacino Chook

Hi All,

It’s 5am and I am peering myopically at the monitor on a sort of manic sleep deprived bender. I am not quite sure who I am, where I am or where I am going and to be honest, I’m not all that sure about you either! What has happened to bring about this alarming transformation? Was my grandad right about aliens preferring to hover around inlets (of which I conveniently live right next to one) and take sleeping bloggers on midnight joy rides? Possibly, but that’s another story and not entirely in the same direction as today’s post. The reason why I am a spaced out twitching early riser is simple…it’s daylight savings again. “But!” I hear you say…”But…didn’t she say that she was getting up an hour earlier a day for the past fortnight to ward off the dreaded daylight savings?”…well…yes indeed I did say that. I said it and I meant it and I adhered to my earlier rising and you know what? I liked having 2 hours all to myself and today my brain told me to wake up at 5am…only recently 4am and read my rss feed reader till my brain caught up with the day. That took a good 3 hours and despite feeling entirely elated (a very short lived feeling thanks to having to then walk an irascible pair of enthusiastic driven dogs) I was floating in a sort of Mr Burns like state in the episode of the Simpsons where they thought that they saw aliens in the woods. It was really Mr Burns spaced out on his drugs but I digress…that’s what I was like this morning and will be like for the next few days till I get used to waking up at the equivalent of 4am in old school (real) time. For a non-morning person I think I am doing pretty well.

The beginnings of our spring roll Chinese aniversary feast…note the madonna cone of noodles gracing the top. We figured you only live once!

One of the Clematis montana climbers on the deck just starting to flower

What happens when your camera decides to overexpose a shot AND what happens when you are too busy to keep an eye on your asparagus futures…they turn into extra big futures that may self seed and provide MORE futures…there are no losers in this story 😉

It’s Monday and today we spent our remaining sunny day this week (as promised by the weather men) sorting through our plants and being ruthless with separating those that we want to keep from those that we wanted to give away. We loaded up our trailer after tidying up the area and minimising our potted babies and shortening the overhead watering system that we had to use last year by half and took the plants that we didn’t want to keep down to a friend’s place to give them a bit of work to do on their property. They had only just finished planting out the last (much smaller) few pots that we gave them and today they got about 50 pots containing everything from Mock Orange (Philadelphus) to apple trees (no good here, the possums hoover the leaves from the trees before they grow!) through to several types of large conifer that we had dug up from under their parents 3 years ago when we were horticulturally “young” and everything green and plant-like was fair game for our trusty trowels. It’s just lucky that our friends are trying to line their creek with trees as we gave them a golden willow that will love living knee deep in a creek. We also have a black willow that they might get in the next trip. Not enough water here to make willows happy chappies so we may as well bite the bullet and give generously. Our friends were overjoyed and very happy with their haul and we were equally happy because we know that these plants that we have tended for the last 2 – 3 years are going to a loving home.

It might just be wishful thinking but these poor possum munched maples do seem to have more leaves since we erected our pseudofence around them

My little string leaved maple that got hit really hard by the marauders…yeh…I know…a horticulturalist should know the botanical name of her plant but whatchagonnadoeh?

Peaches and cream and the 5 leaves that the possums left on this gorgeous maple

Brunhilda lives! The amazing thing is that despite being damped down last night and us not bothering to fire her up all day she is still ready to burst into flame at a moment’s notice and apparently just did. Talk about a loyal kitchen appliance! I read a wonderful blog called “Baking Stuff, Mostly Averagely” (how could you possibly not love a blog called that, especially when she lies and is actually much more than an average baker) who is an expat Aussie living in Old Blighty with a fantastic sense of the vernacular and who has retained her sardonic Aussie wit. This is one of those blogs that I really don’t want to share. I want to keep it all to myself and await new posts eagerly because bursting out into spontaneous laughter at 5.30am doesn’t come naturally to me and anyone who can generate a belly laugh in someone who swore off mornings years ago is a blog to be treasured. I only give you her blog site now because I know she reads my blog and she will take me to task if I omit to share it with you all…don’t be greedy…just 1 suck you guys…the rest is mine! 😉 I mention it because her resident oven is called “Shit oven”. Brunhilda is the polar opposite of shit oven and shall be called “Saint Oven” or as my sister wants to call her when she steals her and ships her over to Western Australia “Black Betty”. Seriously, for a moment, check out this website if you are up for a laugh, a good recipe and a feel good moment to grace your day :o)

http://averagebaker.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/lamb-shanked/

Doesn’t the archway between the first and second gardens look pretty when the choisya ternata comes out. Pretty soon it will be joined by the snowball tree above it and the whole archway will be white

The flowering quince in fine fettle this year

Lots of maples and a few podophyllum

It’s been a weird old week so far. Warm and busy on Monday we planted out all sorts of things, Tuesday brought the ubiquitous return to study and brain melting mathematics as did today. We costed out our entire job and arrived at an unholy sum of $52723.60 and a whole lot of sustainable gardening including water wicking garden beds, a completely water free xeriscape garden planted for habitat and food for native animals and birds, food gardens complete with water tanks to water a xeriscape potager mixed in with some xeriscape perennials to attract beneficials and provide habitat for them. A massive project with an earthbag construction (a bench) alongside a wood fired pizza oven and we could have added MUCH more but a $50 000 budget doesn’t really go all that far when you factor in labour and materials for over half an acre of solid gardening! Mainstream sustainable ISN’T cheap. We are learning so much about planning and what it takes to create and stay in budget. There are 2 sides to every coin and as usual, Steve and I represent both of them. I tend to be the side of the coin that deals with the processes and Steve is the creative side and together we managed to slide through keyholes and out the other side into the secret gardens behind. We now have a unit on drainage to complete and a unit involving each of us creating our own show garden. We are going completely different pathways and Steve’s idea is very different to mine. I am excited that we are going to be able to use what we have learned coupled with our ideals and creative natures to arrive at a garden with a theme. Who knows, one day we might do something like this but I severely doubt it. I can’t see the point of exhibiting yourself when you could be bum’s up in the garden actually effecting change. I did some hunting yesterday and found a pdf about water wicking garden beds that excited me so much that after I had a very impassioned chat with Steve (who knows better than to play devil’s advocate when I am on a roll…) we are going to retrospectively work some water wicking garden beds alongside our fruit trees and into our poly tunnels and outside garden beds. A 50% saving in water is a mighty fine goal to aim for and water wicking promises to cut the cost of water AND give a better result. What’s not to like?

I liked this little design window so much I decided to share another aspect of it with you 🙂

Steve pruned this little Ceanothus last year and it is rewarding him with lots of flowers this year

Pots of redcurrants to plant out along the fencline as lures to the possums to bribe them away from our more precious foodstuffs. I intend on planting LOTS of lures to keep the possums content and fighting for their territory

I just stumbled around the garden taking some photos for you so that my rhetoric has some colour to it. Spring has most definitely sprung on Serendipity Farm and is dragging us kicking and screaming behind it. Earl and Bezial have started laying on the deck in the sunshine with intermittent stints of indoor cooling off before heading out again to bask like seals in the sunshine. Bezial, particularly, loves basking and all through summer he will lay upside down like a beached whale sunning his black belly and then trotting inside and flopping down with his head on the tiles to cool down before his next stint. Earl is a bit more cautious and as a dog with a semi pink nose, he needs to be. We have a tube of flesh coloured zinc that we apply to his pink little snout so that he doesn’t get it sunburned. Last year we also applied it to his pink little nether regions but as they are probably going to be leaving him sometime soon, it probably doesn’t matter too much if they swing about in the sunshine and breeze…let them enjoy themselves, for much like the roosters on Serendipity Farm…their days are numbered!

Earls nose stick and nether region stick when he lays on the deck too long…

The Al Pacino Chook! “Are you looking at me?…”

Talking about Earl, it’s his birthday next month and he will be 2 years old. He is settling down nicely and is actually starting to pay attention especially when I am yelling and my arms are cartwheeling. He has learned that this doesn’t necessarily mean “Game ON!” any more and that there might be bad consequences to these actions. He loves to play a game called “hunt the tiny shard of bone that you are NOT allowed to have in the house but love to bring in anyway as someone is usually going to chase you”. It’s a fun game until they catch you and hurl that shard of bone out onto the deck where you promptly trot outside, find it again and play the fun game all over again. The other night the fun wore off after about 5 times and Earl made a conscious decision NOT to bring the bone back into the house and got treats to reward him for actually using his brain rather than overriding his thought processes and just frolicking about regardless. Earl will get the standard birthday meal on Serendipity Farm. Homemade hamburgers with the lot including bacon, eggs, cheese and enormous burger patties on toast with lots of butter as the bread quotient is not really appreciated if it’s not toasted and slathered with butter. After that, he will get a large layered spongecake covered in cream and usually a few bags of toys to rip up and the odd balloon which in Earl’s case doesn’t last very long at all. 2 in dog years = 14…no WONDER you act the way that you do Earl! I am surprised that you haven’t pinched the car keys and driven off into the sunset with the 4 x 4. It’s also no wonder why Bezial would rather eat his own feet than romp around with Earl…on today’s equations (that might be somewhat off kilter thanks to a day spent mathematically ruminating…) that makes Bezial 35! He would rather be sitting on the couch with a beer watching the footy than running around trying to rid the world of cats.

A white lilac in bloom and a depleted stock of plants that still need to be planted out

One of Steve’s bonsai azaleas

Steve and Bezial are having a bonding day on Friday. Earl and I will be bonding but not by choice, more by necessity. If Steve and Bezial are gone, I had BETTER want to bond with Earl because otherwise he will eat my shoes in boredom. Bezial (apparently completely undirected by Steve) wants to go to the pub and have a beer. He also wants to have a hamburger of his own and go for a long walk in town. Steve has to have a haircut to stop him looking like a scruffy hippy and so it’s a good time for him to spend some quality one on one time with Bezial who has never stopped resenting the fact that he isn’t still numero uno and that we bought first Qi, and now Earl. If he was an only dog, he would get ALL the treats. He would be able to lay, unhindered, upside down on the deck whenever he liked without someone biting his fat belly or chewing his feet when he wasn’t expecting it (please note we are talking about Earl being the antagonist here not us!). He would not have to be shackled with oppression and would be allowed free reign on Serendipity Farm to come and go as he wanted because unlike another dog that shall remain nameless, he is completely trustworthy and doesn’t eat chooks, cats, wallabies, rabbits or anything else that he might sniff out. He is a GOOD DOG and he lets us know that we let him down badly by purchasing other dogs every single day. Seal eyes have nothing on Bezial. I think he was a martyr in a past life…a saint perhaps or someone used to the finer things in life. Aside from a good roll in swamp water, he is a very upper class dog with fine tastes that run to fussiness and manipulation. He refuses to be reminded of his wall eating, gear stick eating, window sill eating, power cord scarfing, and plant nibbling cat chasing ways. He says we are lying to try to bring him down to Earl’s level and that we are NOT to be believed. The day he caught a sparrow and ran around the garden with it sticking its terrified head out of his mouth eventually being caught and disenfranchised of his toy that was not only still alive, but that ran away soggy to the bone under our gas bottles is NEVER to be mentioned. He was merely a callow youth feeling his oats and entertaining a little light banter with the native creatures. No animals were hurt in his romp and he most CERTAINLY didn’t break his head halter and run maniacally after the neighbour’s pesky cat that stared at him incredibly cheekily from his own window. Telling you that he leapt out of our car and frolicked with a teeny little white fluffy dog and almost gave its owners a heart attack would be shameless and typical of the humans that this poor upstanding dog has to live with…time to go out on the deck and spend the rest of the afternoon sighing and remembering how life was before we lost our minds and bought Earl.

A Japanese star azalea just about to bloom en mass and all sorts of little pots of things coming waking up, stretching and coming to life after a long cold winter

My pots of native raspberries that I rescued from the garden under the deck before we replanted it…only thing is…they are all growing back under the deck as well! Oh well…more possum lures!

For the life of me I can’t remember the name of this weed but its prettier than the bare glasshous. We use a product called La Blanche to cover our glasshouse in summer to cut the glare from the bare glass and it cools the glasshouse significantly. Must get some more!

I want to get this post posted early tonight mainly because everything is earlier now that I wake up at 5am. I am hungry for my evening meal at 4pm and I start yawning at 7. I must admit to having more energy than I have had in years at the moment but that might just be the natural frolicking results of it being early spring and all of those little lamb vibes may just be assisting me to stride with purpose on our cold early morning walks. I like getting up earlier and I love being happy and looking forwards to our mornings walks with the dogs. I am not quite so happy by the time that we get home but I am hoping that those strange vitamins that I found in the back of the cupboard haven’t got a half-life and are actually assisting my newfound happy demeanour. Happy birthday to my niece Sabrina who is the baby of our immediate family. She moved to Perth and is working as a lab tech in one of the large hospitals up there. That makes you officially OLD now Pinky…Pinky is my sister who lives in Western Australia. We are only allowed to get together on rare occasions because the time space continuum couldn’t stand the pressure of our craziness. My daughters are creating Halloween costumes this year that require the use of a soldering iron so I might have some interesting photos to share with you someday soon! Till next post, I hope that your passions burn brightly and you spend your days doing something that feeds your mind. Too many of us forget our minds and they get left behind us in the rush to get through our days. Mine melted on Tuesday but I packed it back in and it seems to be holding (for now). See you on Saturday 😉

Listening to…

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlUKcNNmywk

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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. b-kom
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 20:00:45

    Too kind!

    Reply

  2. Anthropogen
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 18:53:29

    I thought of my friends at serendipity farms when I saw this… http://permaculturenews.org/2012/10/11/food-from-perennialising-plants-in-temperate-climate-australia-for-september-2012/
    You probably already read this site, but if you haven’t seen the above article, have a look…

    Reply

    • narf77
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 05:06:45

      I subscribe to this site through my rss feed reader but I missed this article somewhere along the line. Cheers for the link, I just so happen to have the morning off from studies today so will be nose deep in this article 🙂 I have currants ready to go into the ground and 3 Loquat trees to plant out. I have 4 figs trees for further up on the block and an old Californial hippy friend who lives just up the road from us has kiwifruit vines that we are going to predate for cuttings later on in summer. I LOVE being able to propagate and grow what we need for free. It is very liberating 🙂 Cheers, again, for the quality stuff and thank you for thinking of us and sharing we really do appreciate it 🙂

      Reply

      • Anthropogen
        Oct 13, 2012 @ 20:24:32

        I’m always happy to send something your way that I think might be relevant to your Tasmanian horticultural undertakings. As a quick note, if your loquat trees are seedlings, it is a very forgiving fruit tree species to graft. If you know anyone with an exceptionally good variety you could try it out.

      • narf77
        Oct 14, 2012 @ 11:20:56

        I know where to get some scion in town (near my daughters house) from trees that are extremely heavy croppers. Might have to ask them if I can take some (time to check out when to graft Loquat japonica ;)). We are eternally grateful to you for sending sippets of info our way. It isn’t that it’s too hard to find the info, but there is so much to sift through and no-one has that much time to dedicate to research when they NEED to get into the garden. Again, we both want to thank you for everything that you have shared with us 🙂

  3. brymnsons
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 22:49:42

    Love the chook 🙂 It’s looking pretty on Serendipity Farm

    Reply

    • narf77
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 05:09:33

      The chook is Pingu our crazy half human fledgeling that Steve saved from certain death. She bosses everything around on Serendipity Farm and is my constant companion whenever I get out in the garden as she waits for grubs and anything else that I turn up. She was eyeballing me for grubs in a most bossy way so I thought that I would take a photo of her and show you all what I have to deal with out in the garden 😉 Its starting to dry out and I am using whatever I have to hand to mulch as much as I can. I am trying to work out how to use water wicking techniques to use in raised beds and alongside existing plants. It is certainly going to be interesting trying to work it all out! 🙂

      Reply

  4. christiok
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 04:20:57

    A wonderful Wednesday, humpday blog that I’m just responding to on Thursday…oh well, Hump de Bump! That song has lots of pots and pans in the background, seems to me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqpHPrrM
    lol Our son Austin loves the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I therefore have listened to many of their songs AND read Scar Tissue, Kiedis’s autobiography which I really enjoyed.
    Love the Biggus Asparagus. And Bezial, the Good Dog. And all your glorious pottings out. You guys really are pros. 🙂

    Reply

    • narf77
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 05:14:47

      We are terrified amateurs when it comes to putting everything that we know into practice Christi! My daughter Beth was a major Chilli Peppers fan for quite some time and I didn’t read Scar Tissue because she told me I had to…therefore I bucked! 😉 There is something refreshing about reversing your behaviours sometimes ;). I love the Chilli Peppers too along with so much more. I think that music is most definately the spicy componant of life that makes it a whole lot deeper and more interesting 🙂 I loved your post this week by the way 🙂 I am thinking of sending Pingu over to you to boss your chooks into ordered submission 😉

      Reply

  5. christiok
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 04:24:58

    Ooops. That RHCP youtube link didn’t work. Hopefully this one will!

    Reply

  6. bakermom
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 05:18:52

    Wow, as I am reading about your spring and your waking brain, we are getting our first rain and my brain is begging to be tucked back in bed, in spite it being 11 in the morning. I suspect I am solar powered which works most of the time here. Its kind of early for us to get rain, but it is officially autumn. We usually plan whatever we want, then get bent out of shape when real weather actually interferes with our plans. It’s more of a “wha?? Rain?Us? Thats stuff other people get.” But we were supposed to take friends out for a fishing expedition in our little tub and now it has been postponed to an indefinite future.
    I don’t suppose possum traps would do any good? Probably too many of them? Besides which I have never heard of possum traps, but was just wondering.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 05:34:24

      Its possum traps all round here BUT we have to find some. As penniless hippies we don’t want to pay for them so are in the process of trying to borrow some from somewhere. You are starting to feel how I feel most of the time reading you Northerners blogs! I feel inside out sometimes as you are all talking about pumpkins and warming things and I am looking at salads and avocados! Everything is blossoming and growing exponentially and I have this incredible sense of urgency to get everything into the ground before it gets too hot and I spend my days basking on the bathroom tiles with the dogs. Steve inherited a “tinny” (aluminium dinghy) from my dad when he died and has used it twice in 2 years. We live right on the river with a boat ramp less than a kilometer away from us and there are flathead and sharks out in that bay at the gateway! Steve is a city slicker and was imported from a large U.K. city and a lot of this country living has not come naturally to him to say the least. The last time we set foot in the boat we took our dog Bezial (so it must have been more than 2 years ago as Earl is 2 soon and we didn’t have him then!) out with us and he howled for the whole trip till he lost his voice and when we got close enough to the shore for him to leap out he did, and swam to shore and ran to the car and sat there looking terrified! Earl would love the boat BUT he would jump around everywhere, eat the bait, tip the boat up and would try to sit in Steve’s lap while he was fishing…not a good idea! I have always lived near water and need to be able to see it to feel complete. Just the smell of the salty air feeds my soul and I don’t know how people can live away from it. My dad had a yacht that just mouldered away out in the bay because he never used it. When he died my brother inherited it and sold it. It made me a bit sad because it really should have been sailed and loved and used and experienced. Hopefully someone out there is sailing the high seas with the wind in their hair doing that thing from the titanic with their partner lol ;). Glad to share my spring with you and whenever you get rained out you can think about us bums up in the garden pulling weeds…that should make you feel better about sitting indoors with your feet up in the warmth 🙂

      Reply

  7. brymnsons
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 12:31:46

    In the latest That’s Life! magazine it recommended you put the little plastic containers used for berries on top of your plants to save them from possums. I had a giggle thinking of you guys with plastic containers on top of trees 😀 It might work for little plants but not for long eh. Maybe you could find giant berries??

    Reply

    • narf77
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 13:06:21

      LOL! 🙂 I have a better idea…what about if I PLANT lots of berries all over the place and the possums eat them instead of the plants that I love? Then I won’t need plastic containers at all ;). I am in the process of planting out lots of red currant bushes that I got for nothing around the place and am thinking about growing cherry plums of all different kinds along the front of the property. Aside from looking amazing when they flower, the possums could gorge themselves on the fruit and I could sneak the fruit that WE want under their fat little bellied radars while they were laying upside down stuffed to the back gills with stolen (unwanted) fruit! If they left any I could even make jam and wine out of them! A win-win situation for the Serendipity Farm Slaves (a.k.a. us ;))

      Reply

  8. Katie Glenn
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 04:38:13

    You guys are the coolest friends ever! Just giving plants away! Is the US too far for that sort of exchange. 😉

    Going to check out the Baking Stuff site you so willingly (hahaha) shared with us!

    Reply

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