Bezial is begging again. He has a sore leg because of a spate of rainy cold weather that started yesterday and a desire to race around like a spring chicken when he is effectively a middle aged man (something like those sad 35+ year olds that carry their skateboards everywhere…). This means that he doesn’t walk today and it’s my day to stay home with him while Steve walks Earl. We can’t NOT walk Earl…our home is too precious to us and as penniless student hippies we can’t afford to replace what his overactive teeth tend to expend that excess energy on when he doesn’t get his regular quotient of exercise. Earl gone = Bezials free reign at trying to get me to open the treat cupboard and feed him till he bursts. You can’t blame him for trying though. He is part labrador…his entire digestive system is Labrador along with his desire to frolic maniacally in any form of water from the chooks water bowl to the sea. He “looks” like a lovely big black American Staffordshire terrier BUT in actuality he is channelling his inner labrador most of the time. Anyone who knows dogs well knows that Labrador’s come a very VERY close second to Beagles in the gutsy dog stakes. Bezial has always had a tendency to eat to excess (a bit like his female caretaker to be honest!) and we once gave him 2kg of prime dog steak to see if he could eat it all when he was a pup…he did! Earl, even though he appears to be a heifer, has trouble with eating too much food and will leave some at the end of most of his meals. He tends to be a lot pickier than Bezial about what he will and won’t eat but unlike Bezial, he doesn’t use food avoidance to get his point across! The dehydrated dog steak treats that we give our dogs are Bezials snack of choice. We forgot to turn off the dehydrator when drying out the last of the steak the other day which resulted in amazingly crisp and crunchy meaty goodness and Bezial has his mind firmly centred on getting as many of those crispy meaty treats into his ever expanding girth as those big brown puppy dog eyes will allow. I am a sucker for those eyes. I threw Earls leftover steak out to one of the feral cats last night because of big cat eyes…I am also a quintessential over-eater so I sympathise with Bezial…I, too, am channelling my inner labrador and so am able to allow him his space to sulk when I put the lid on the treats and put them up on the treat shelf.
Here’s a few gratuitous grub shots…veggies ready for roasting
Barley and lemons…what more could a girl want?
Barley combined with mushrooms, capsicum and onions being sauted ready to make barley risotto
Veggie stock added to the barley risotto…I can’t find a photo of the finished result but it tasted delicious 🙂
Did anyone else out there realise that it’s almost Christmas time?! One of the blogs that I follow reminded me of it when I was reading my rss feed reader the other day and I almost fell off my chair! No time to panic about the Mayan calendar…CHRISTMAS IT COMING! Incidentally…the native Mayan descendants are a bit pissed about it all to be honest. They say that the local governments in South America are making money out of crazy foreigners booking “end of the world” trips to South America to party hearty while they, themselves, are celebrating the end of the old calendar and the beginning of the new. No-one is sponsoring their own new beginnings parties because there isn’t any money in new beginnings…only wildly spending desperate people who think that they won’t have credit card debts in February 2013 (let alone Christmas debt) so they are willing to go out on an exponential limb and party like its 1999. Christmas WILL come folks and with it, the usual hype, overspending, overeating and credit card woes in February… it’s inevitable…or is it? We are bollocking Christmas off this year. Not the sentiment or the actual meaning, but the rubbish that goes with it. This year we are going to volunteer (already have in fact 😉 ) at a local community church event aimed at giving people alone at Christmas time some Christmas cheer. After we get home we are going to cobble together a delicious simple meal of our favourite things and share a bottle of something tipsy to allow us to really feel grateful for our lot. We have been so very fortunate to be given the chances that we have in our lives and we just want to share that around and pay back some of what we have been given in kind. Consumerism? “Forgedaboudit!”…not this year world! You aint gettin’ ANY of our hard grafted moola! We need to stuff our moth eaten sock for prospective bills and permaculture practices so there’s no room in the inn for your overinflated projections of what makes people happy…Christmas no longer makes people happy (aside from people who manufacture anything with an “I” in front of it…and most of them are on minimum wage in China somewhere and could care less about Christmas). Let’s all take back the real meaning of Christmas this year and get stuck into feeling grateful and thankful for our lot. We really are a lucky bunch you know…let’s start acting like we know it!
MORE gratuitious grub shots…this time of the beginnings of an amazing pasta sauce containing caramelised onions and heaps of garlic, capsicum and mushrooms
Here’s the middle of the delicious pasta sauce…
and here’s the end result! Thick, rich and delicious…much like many a boy band member! 😉
And lastly heres an action shot of an incredibly delicious dhal that I made earlier in the week
Talking about Christmas has me contemplating our next homemade Christmas tree and most probably the photographic content of a future post. We have gotten quite adventurous over the last few years with what construes a Christmas “tree” here on Serendipity Farm. As rabid hippy tree hugging horticulturalists we refuse to kill a tree in the name of a seasonal holiday. This smacks of pagan sacrifice to be honest! The borers ate last year’s tree. It would seem somewhat significant because it was also mum’s last year on earth and her final Christmas with us. She died not long after Christmas and I am contemplating burying our Christmas tree somewhere on Serendipity Farm to make a bit of a statement. Steve is contemplating having me committed because aside from wanting to bury a handful of borer eaten branches, Serendipity Farm is predominately comprised of 1 part soil to 9 parts rocks and there is NO way that he is going to dig a large hole for anything let alone some mouldering bits of twig. The alternative is to give our last year’s Christmas tree a full Viking funeral where we burn it on a pile and reinvest it into the soil rather than make a raft for it and send it out into the Tamar River which is tempting BUT we are too lazy and busy at the moment to go to that sort of an effort… What are we going to build this year? Not too sure. Maybe an homage to a Christmas tree in the form of a vertical gabion herb spiral with Christmas baubles on it? Probably not…that’s a little bit far gone for even me but who knows… 2013 might just be the year that I finally channel my inner hippy and go nuts and totally dispense with the traditional and usher in a radical new ethos…but I doubt it…that would mean actually building said edifice to herbs and that would mean that both Steve and I would have to meet in the middle of a project that requires more than a day or so of combined effort which inevitably results in one of us exploding (usually me) and the other one sulking (usually Steve). We certainly don’t have a shortage of rocks to donate to the project!
Here’s proof that you don’t need a shmicko camera and light box to take a good photo…I was attempting to take a photo of my garlic scissor hands for Halloween and noticed that this photo looks “FABULOUS” Darlings! I have decided to throw everything to the 4 winds and run off to become a famous French photographer…on second thoughts…I just can’t be quite bothered at the moment…I will just keep my latent amazing photography under my hat 😉
Earl sitting on one of the kitchen chairs waiting till I stop pointing that bloody thing at him till and turn back to the computer so that he can put his nose into that white bowl to the right and steal walnuts to his hearts content! He loves stealing walnuts and cracking them on the floor for unsuspecting bare footers to step on early in the morning…(you will notice that I have reverted back to my crappy photography but whatchagonna do eh? 😉 )
One of Earl’s stuffed toys fell off the deck when he was playing with it yesterday and Moustachio found it. He is mid destruction in this photo. Anyone who knows cat’s will know the position for destruction and those hind feet were going like pistons! You can see how he got his name in this shot
Steve says that he is instituting a new Boxing Day tradition on Serendipity Farm. He is going to tow the barely used aluminium tinny that dad left him down to the jetty and go fishing. No sports for him, unless he hooks a shark which isn’t an impossibility as we are just around the corner from the sea and Devil’s Elbow, the name of the little estuarine pocket of the Tamar River that we live on, which is a shark nursery and sanctuary. In that case he will be probably towed out to sea and will have to row his way back and that will be enough sports for him to last all year! The funny thing about spring is that time seems to go MUCH quicker than the rest of the year. I feel like I only just posted my last post and Steve reminded me that it’s time to post again tonight! We are doing a lot of work in the garden at the moment to stave off more work in the future. We have been dealing with the blackberries that are threatening to take off and are removing them systematically. We have a garden bed that needs to be totally cleared out and replanted along with a very large Cotoneaster tree that also needs removing. We are then going to renovate a pond, clear out the jungle part of Serendipity Farm and start planting out some of our precious trees. We have to irrigate the trees that we have planted out so far and we have to install a gate on the side of the house so that we can get out to the veggie garden beds and relocated compost heap more easily… oh yeah…we have to relocate the compost heap! Spring is a time of barely concealed blind panic where you spend your days trying to outrun the weeds (and usually lose).
Note the blackberry tangles in this area of the garden…
The darned chooks certainly did!
Here’s another one of their well camouflaged nests inundated with brambles
We were outside bums up and heads down hacking away at blackberries when we heard a chicken’s tell-tale egg song. We are more than aware that the hens have moved their regular nests “somewhere else” and so we decided to have a look-see to see if we couldn’t find where. We found one of their nests and heard another hen down in the jungle area and if they are nesting there good luck to them! We will be sorting out which hens we do and don’t want to keep soon and will be selling some of them off. After we do so, we will be making a large enclosed area for the hens and Yin to live in with a gravity fed deep litter run. We want to be able to mulch our garden beds and our hens are most determined that we won’t. This is one battle that I fully intend to win! I have noticed that since we cleared out the side garden all sorts of plants are starting to grow. Lots of aquilegias have emerged and as waterwise perennials you can’t do much better. I noticed that some of the tall blue salvia that used to grow down next to the bird baths has shown its face in the garden. I thought that I had lost it all but it would seem that it was there all along, just tangled up in blackberries and unable to shine. We need to ensure that the soil stays moist over the coming summer months. Northern Tasmania has an extended period of hot weather without much rain. We have been leaving debris and branches around the wilder areas so that the chooks won’t scratch the soil bare but until we contain and reduce their numbers we can’t stop them from doing what hens do best. After we reduce their numbers and contain them we can start using chook tractors to get the chooks to work where WE want them to work. No more eggs off in the wilderness! No more random ferals living in trees…no more chickens emerging from the shrubs to be hoovered up by the feral cats. In effect, we will be able to take back control of our chook population and contain them where we want. I am sure that there will be some rumbling protestations by the hens but too bad…they have had it all their way up until now and the humans are taking back the farm! 😉
Billbergia nutans (Queen’s Tears), an epiphytic bromeliad native from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina is a very hardy plant. I recently divided it in thirds and all 3 of them are flowering like crazy after being planted into the garden
Acer palmatum ‘Beni shidare’ one of Steve’s lovely dissectum weeping maples
Another showy maple…this one is called “Peaches and Cream”
Our veggies are happily growing and we bought 2 more punnets when we were last in town. We decided on some rainbow chard and a punnet of mixed zucchinis (yellow, regular green and some light green ones). We also bought a packet of Italian kale seed and found a site online that showed us how to make a seed block maker to make our own seed blocks for planting in using our own customised seed raising mix. Our dried beans that we put into my rarely used automatic sprouter have all started sprouting and we will be planting them into soil tomorrow. I am excited to see what we are able to grow and will be saving seed from this year for next year’s bean futures. Most of the punnets of seedlings that we bought are not heritage seed but we didn’t have much choice this year. Next year will be a very different situation and we will be buying heritage seed and planning out our garden beds much more carefully next year. You have to start somewhere and we have at least “started”. We just fed the dogs a dozen hard boiled eggs and they will get more tomorrow. We have too many eggs! The end result of the dogs degustory delight at being able to freely imbibe eggs on a regular basis leaves a LOT to be desired and we might have to think of something else to do with our excess eggs. Reducing the chook population is a good start but we are going to have to start thinking of ways to use up our egg surpluses to make the best use of our resources. Cake baking time methinks! It might even be Pavlova time!
Nectarine futures on Serendipity Farm!
Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’. Can you see why we love conifers?
“Get eating boys…we have 12 dozen to get through!” 😉
Time to wrap up another post and get it all packaged up and tied with a bow to send to your inboxes. I have a few interesting ideas up my sleeve regarding starting a seed pen-pal group to share heritage seed in Australia. I follow a Dutch blog that has done this most successfully and would love to do something similar here in Australia. We might not be able to receive certain types of vegetable seeds but most are fine so long as they come from Australia so I am contemplating how to go about starting something like this. It’s a sort of online seed swap that gives people a chance to share the genetic love around. I thought it was a brilliant idea when I read about it on the blog and think that we Aussies shouldn’t have to miss out because of our strict quarantine laws regarding the import of seed material. We have imported a lot of seeds from other countries but you never know how they are going to react and many imported seeds are unviable or unsuited to our climate. It would be amazing to swap seeds amongst like-minded people with minimal cost (aside from postage) involved. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea and if it could work and I might start thinking more strongly about it. See you all on Wednesday and enjoy the rest of your weekend :o)