Expectations and where they come from

Hi All,

Today (Monday) is apparently a public holiday in Tasmania. It’s been given the dubious moniker “8 hour day” which aligns it with labour day in other Australian states…I don’t know why various states have holidays on different days…may as well just clump them all together and have national holidays but apparently there is no fun in that so separate strangely named days are our predilection. I had just gotten up from my 2 hour morning rss feed read marathon and was buttering bread for the chooks and the dogs morning snack, making Steve’s morning cup of coffee in bed, getting ready to cut tiny cubes of tasty cheese for the cuckoo shrikes and wrens and I suddenly got to thinking about how these things became expected of me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing these things, I was just wondering how they became institutionalised on Serendipity Farm. These little occasional treats have become regular “expected” events that need to be kept up for the sake of the peace. As I was buttering the slices of shop bought bread that we don’t eat and only buy for the animals, I thought about how our own expectations of what life is meant to be have arisen. We “expect” that we will be able to go about our business safely and with rights but where did those expectations come from? Someone in the past had to fight for all of the expected normalcies that we take for granted and whenever there is a cause and a fight, there is someone fighting just as hard to keep the status quo. We expect choice in our shops. We expect to be able to find a job, to buy a house, to get credit on our purchases. We don’t even think about these things…they just “are”.  The more people “get” in their lives, the more they tend to expect. It’s a bit like getting a promotion at work with a good pay rise attached…after a while your lifestyle absorbs the pay rise and you are back where you started from…we have a habit of upping the ante whenever we get a run of good fortune and becoming blasé about how well off we actually are. In deliberately choosing to live a simpler life we all get to choose to be grateful for what life has handed us all over again. I, for one, am extremely grateful for the plate that I have been handed :o)

The ubiquitous repurposed automatic sprouter has done itself proud! Here you can see the scarlet runner beans sprouting

Here are the borlotti beans that apparently loved the conditions in the automatic sprouter. They, along with all of the other beans, have now been planted in seed trays and once they get big enough they will be planted out into our new bean garden

Here are the sprouting Yin Yang beans. If our summer is as long and hot as they say it is going to be these little babies should do well

I love meeting like-minded people through blog hunting. I recently found a wonderful Aussie blog with the delightful moniker of “Rabid Little Hippy”. Go and have a look for yourself…this blog is a frenetic blast of positive sustainable energy all rolled into a jumble of kids, a tiny tractor driving husband and a weekly commute between an old and a new life eagerly anticipated…


How could you resist a name like that? Aside from the name, the blog is a wonderful blend of homesteading, sustainable living and a zest for life that is positively infectious. I have never met anyone with so much energy and I just realised that although I follow each one of this wonderful bloggers posts I have NO idea what her name is! For the purposes of this post she shall be known as “rabid”… I have had great fun conversing with “rabid” via the comments section of her blog and after a recent post we discussed a swap event that she had been to. I assumed that it was a seed swap but apparently, it involved people taking things that they no longer used/needed and that they had made/grown etc. to barter for other goods. In Tasmania times are tough. There are very few jobs to be had and most jobs tend to be part time or transient. If any state needed a boost of positive sustainable energy it’s our humble little full stop at the bottom of the wealth generation of Australia. After listening with growing excitement as “rabid” told me about where she had been and what she had swapped my nose was twitching like Tabitha from Bewitched and I had formulated a plan to head in to the next Sustainable Living group at the Tamar NRM (Natural Resources Management) centre and postulate this wonderful idea for a chance for the locals to barter their excess or unwanted goods for other excess and unwanted goods. What a fantastic idea! “Rabid”, you may have just made some Tasmanians almost as happy as your faithful reader narf7 by telling me about this fantastic way to effect change whilst cycling goods in an incredibly sustainable way to everyone’s benefit.

Here are the punnets of mixed zucchini and rainbow chard that we have since planted out into the vegetable garden. The orange punnet at the front contains some of the Cavolo Nero that we will plant in the veggie garden and after that, out in the main garden

Who could resist dinosaur kale? It has lots of names including Cavolo Nero but I am going to call it “Sideshow Bob” kale

Bev from the wonderfully informative blog with truly useful information sent me a copy of The Weed Foragers Handbook. I am over the moon! I was going to buy this little tomb but now I don’t have to :). Thank you for that wonderful gift Bev along with the purple king bean seeds that you can see here in the automated sprouter along with the moringa oleifera seed that I am optimistically attempting to sprout 🙂

Some of our past experiences with purchasing seed online have been less than triumphant to say the least. We have paid quite large sums of money for seed that refused point blank to germinate and that was most probably too old and had been sold on at a profit from other sellers. We learned the hard way and so seed swapping with locals with seed that has local provenance is truly the best way to go about purchasing/gaining seed. We really want some Moringa oleifera seed to grow this amazing tree on Serendipity Farm. We previously purchased several batches of seed in an attempt to grow it with no luck. I retained some of the seed in a fit of pique whilst muttering about the seller’s dubious parentage under my breath and promptly forgodaboudit. We found the seed the other day and after the bean seeds grew so well in the sprouter, I decided to see if the Moringa oleifera would sprout. Nothing has happened yet but if I can manage to get the seed to sprout I will be a very happy camper. The beans that we sprouted recently are now planted out into flat trays to grow on until they are big enough to plant out in their bean garden home. There is something very addictive about propagating from seed. We have grown all sorts of plants from seed but most of them were ornamental shrubs or trees and growing our own food from seed adds an entirely new dimension to the fun. Today we removed 4 loquat saplings that we dug up from the side of the road as tiny little seedlings. We stashed them in the glasshouse in pots over winter and now they are ready to harden off before we plant them out. We also brought 3 more fig trees out of the glasshouse. We planted out one little fig tree to see how it went and it is going great guns so we figure 4 fig trees are better than 1. We have more walnut and hazelnut seedlings than we could shake a sustainable stick at and none of them cost us a cent. Sometimes you have to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. Three of the fig trees had ground layered on an old overgrown fig tree at a local school where we walk our dogs and we grew one from a now removed tree in Launceston city central. We collected the walnuts from a tree on the side of the road and we were given the hazelnuts from Glad’s daughter Wendy. There is a degree of primal delight to be had from helping nature to furnish your larder and growing edible plants from seed goes even deeper than that. Here is a link to show you why I am really eager to get some Moringa oleifera growing and thriving on Serendipity Farm…


The little loquats that we rescued from the side of the road last year are hardening off prior to planting out

2 of the figs either side of the loquats and in the background you can see our little Gingko biloba that we planted out into the side garden

Another $2 roadside stall find…this time its garlic chives

Steve found this in the shed not so long ago…he promises me that with sharp blades it will be just as good as the petrol mower…for the sake of our sustainable future I certainly hope so! 😉

Steve and I took the boys for a small walk up the road this afternoon and noticed that Glad and Wendy next door had been mowing. We had a chat to them over the fence and Steve headed down to drop off some eggs and asked them what they were going to do with the pile of lawn clippings and oak leaves…”burn them” was the reply! He then asked if they would mind if we had them and they were overjoyed. Wendy pointed out another large pile of lawn clippings and leaves at the top of the property and asked him if we wanted those as well? “Darned RIGHT” we do! Now we can make a large compost heap near our vegetable garden area that will help us in the future…another example of how one mans trash/problem is another mans treasure. Whenever they mow they are going to give us their unwanted clippings and as Glad has 6 acres that amounts to a whole lot of clippings. It also highlights how proactive being part of a community can be. I was wondering where to get more compost ingredients from and the answer was right next to us all the time 🙂

I am twitching with excitement! It’s nothing to do with the $100 million lotto draw that apparently half of the Australian population has bought tickets in (not me!) and everything to do with farinaceous goods. I have been a rampant voyeur over the last month of all things Vegan and have found all sorts of amazing food blogs thanks to Annie at the fantastic blog An Unrefined Vegan. Here’s one of her delectable posts should you ever want to make heavenly peanut shortbready biscuits whilst learning some skills in the process.


Annie, along with some equally amazing vegan food blogging friends, spent a whole month coordinating Vegan Mofo…a chance for anyone with a vegan food blog to shine with as many recipes as they could post in 31 days. I followed avidly and spent every morning from 5am – 7am in a vain effort to keep up with these amazing posts, save them for future degustory delight and comment on as many as I could. At the end of the month quite a few of them got together to have a Vegan Potluck virtual meal online and again, my rss feed reader runeth over. As I pored over what was on offer I felt a distinct desire to cook and share that went as far as hinting that I might like to participate in next year’s Vegan Potluck. That gives me a year to think up some splendiferous idea to knock my peer’s socks off…an enormous vegan spongecake with multi layers filled with delicious spreads and topped with homemade vegan truffles? How about a scrumptious vegan pie? Homemade vegan lasagne? Whatever I choose to do, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be practicing it for a while and that it will be scrumptious…why would you want to share something with your peers if they had made it before? Time to get thinking…

One of the little hazelnuts that we potted up this week after checking the bags of stratifying seeds in our overwintering esky

A wheelbarrow full of free nut trees. Most of these are hazelnuts which seemed to germinate later than the walnuts that are in the glasshouse. I LOVE free edible plants 🙂

We need a gate at the side of the dog compound. We don’t want to spend much on the gate. Steve is a clever little vegemite and has worked out a way to turn this metal gate into a perfect gate in the compound. Stay tuned to see what he does with it

Steve and I have been dabbling in the farinaceous arts as I mentioned earlier (before I veered off to the left and got mentally lost…). We are on a quest to live as simply as we can whilst at the same time living as well as we can. Life is too short for bad wine and Steve has been blending his own peculiar bad wine with his good wine to render it all drinkable. I decided to use some of the various pieces of kitchen equipment that I have stashed in the top of the pantry out of sheer guilt for having paid so much for some of it many years ago. We had a go at making our own pasta as a way to use up some of our egg futures. We decided to mess about with a spinach pasta recipe that we found online and it was a really good recipe. If you want to try it yourself here it is…


Little Pig 🙂

The home made lasagne that we made from scratch

We then made a really delicious lasagne from scratch by making our own pasta, pasta sauce, meat sauce and béchamel. Steve really enjoyed it and the amount of pasta that we made was WAY too much for our lasagne needs and so we had to come up with some ideas of what to do with the left over pasta. Steve had some tonight in a bowl of homemade Asian noodle soup and pronounced the noodles delicious. I segued nicely back to why I was so excited earlier in the post…to make the noodles I remembered “Little Pig” in the top of my pantry cupboard. Little Pig is a non-centrifugal juicer that I bought many years ago when I was on a bit of a health kick. I have used Little Pig to make fruit mince, juice a few carrots and that’s about it. I remember reading that the juicer could be used to make Korean rice cake noodles but as I didn’t have a recipe for them I didn’t attempt to try to make them. Today I remembered that Little Pig had various nozzles that extruded dough’s into different shapes and after I got Steve to heft Little Pig down from the top shelf we put the remaining wrapped spinach pasta dough out on the bench top to reach room temperature while we made some Asian chicken broth and prepared vegetables to add to it. Once we got the soup on to simmer we turned back to attempt to make a spinach pasta version of udon noodles to go into Steve’s soup. Having never tried extruding pasta or any kind of dough through Little Pig I was a little dubious about it’s ability to perform but I shouldn’t have worried because after fitting the noodle nozzle and feeding the pasta dough into the top of the machine it made perfect round green noodles that were delicious in the soup. We have a large serving of noodles left that we are attempting to dehydrate as I type this to see if we can make our own dried pasta to store for later use. The speed and ease of making pasta this way got me twitching (FINALLY she got around to why she was twitching! 😉 ). I have visions of all sorts of pasta made from all sorts of grains, legumes, and seeds with different nuts, pesto’s, herbs and spices in a wide range of natural colours. The extruding process through Little Pig means that I should be able to intertwine various colours of dough and get amazing looking rainbow noodles in all sorts of shapes. I can make Korean rice cake noodles thanks to an amazing Korean online recipe site and I get to use up some of our excess eggs in the process. If our dehydration of the remaining pasta works, we will be able to mess about with all different kinds of pasta and dehydrate them for future use.  My excited twitching comes from the realisation that we won’t ever have to buy pasta or noodles again! I feel an amazing rainbow pasta recipe coming on for the Vegan Potluck next year :o)

We decided to sprout some mung beans at the same time as sprouting our beans and we will be using these babies in a stirfry tomorrow

The only potato doing anything other than sitting in the pantry on Serendipity Farm. Our soil is predominately comprised of rocks which sadly, are not conducive to the growing of potatoes…the compost heap appears to be an option…

The little mulberry is leafing up and the garlic growing underneath it was planted by my brother when he visited my dad many years ago. You can see some overbown asparagus in the foreground and in the background we have a lovely little mandarin tree

Here you can see “Possum Damage”. This is why Australians who live rurally spend a lot of time tearing out their hair or spending a fortune protecting their precious edible specimens from these furry little larrikin hooligans. This poor little mandarin tree suffers horendously every single year while its sibling sits not further than 10 metres away from it completely untouched. I will NEVER understand the mental processes of possums!

We are almost at the end of our studies and are finalising our sustainable landscape designs. We have yet to hear if we got an interview in our chosen courses for next year but should we miss out, we can always find something else relevant to study till Steve gets his Australian citizenship and we head off to university in 2014. We might even study drafting as we already have a good handle on AutoCAD…I love the possibilities that have opened up for us since we took a leap of faith and decided to live like penniless student hippies in order to pave the way for further learning opportunities. I have no doubt at all that our lives have been made much richer in the process and that our abilities have been honed to fine pointy tips and have allowed us to make amazingly good use of what life has thrown in our direction. The quest for “Happiness” is apparently on the rise…people have discovered that money isn’t the answer to this elusive state and curiously, people want to live in a constant state of happiness not realising that happiness only gains its beauty after periods of contrasting emotions. Happiness is inside every single one of us. We all have it within our reach and it has much more to do with being grateful and thankful for our roll of the dice than it has to do with any external forces. Life has a natural balance about it and as we seesaw our way up and down through a gamut of emotions we need to remind ourselves of Newton’s law of motion… “For every action…there is an equal, and opposite reaction”…a constant striving for equilibrium and whilst we might be down at any given time…it won’t be long until we are up again. Have a great week folks and count your blessings because sometimes what we are expecting overshadows how very lucky we already are :o)

If any of you are feeling a bit down this song is bound to make you feel better…get a saucepan and a wooden spoon and do a bit of tub-thumping yourself! 😉 Or Steve says…”even better…you drink the whisky drink…you drink the lager drink…you drink the cider drink…and after that you won’t CARE” 😉


And if you aren’t laughing yet…check out Homer singing his version of tub thumping…


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rabidlittlehippy
    Nov 07, 2012 @ 19:12:38

    Bahahahahahaha. Ahhhhhahahahahahahah. I was thinking JUST the same thing! I follow your blog avidly yet it took me a good run of comment trawls to find what I think is your name. I do want to ask though what the 77 is reflective of. Cos I’m having some serious words if it’s your year of birth!
    The swap that I go to is run by the Ballarat Permaculture Guild of which I am NOT a member… yet. I was a liker of the Facebook page though which is how I discovered the swap. The BPG was recommended by the Kyneton Transition Hub who also blog through WordPress and I found out about them by mentioning wicking beds to a dear friend who blogs under the name Homesteadingonaonedollardream.wordpress.com and she mentioned that the KTH was running a wicking bed workshop. It’s all about following those like minded links and conversations hey. 😀 And now you can probably see I’m as loquatious and quirky as you are (read wordy and nutty if you’d prefer but either way it’s a compliment).
    VERY envious of your loquats. I love loquat fruit, and the fact it’s a mild sedative has nothing to do with it (although feeding it to my 3 rabid little kids some days… 😉 )
    As for the pasta dehydration, I will be watching for a detailed follow up post comparing it in all ways to shop bought pasta. If it’s worth my while I will be having a big pasta making day for sure.
    BTW, if you are STILL wondering what my name is… You might need to be trawling comments. 😛


    • narf77
      Nov 08, 2012 @ 04:51:57

      lol if I was born in 77 that would make my 30 year old son something of a miracle I would imagine! 77 is because I like the number 7 and I used to use narf (Fran backwards) and 7 as my username but someone pipped me to the post on WordPress (can you believe that there are 2 of us out there?!) so I had to run with 77. The pasta was absolutely fantastic but when we dehydrated it it went a little bit crumbly. It might be because I put a fair bit of flour on it to stop it sticking together but we are going to keep experimenting. I dare say that the pasta will be great dehydrated its just our “worms” were quite thick and very long so the odds that they would stay fat and long were against us. Cheers on the heads up to all of those wonderful blogs! My rss feed reader is aching at the seams (which is like splitting but not quite there yet 😉 ). I will trawl the comments but for the purposes of post posterity…you will be forever known as “Rabid” in my last post 😉


      • rabidlittlehippy
        Nov 08, 2012 @ 09:24:16

        After reading your “middle aged hippies” reference and seeing 77 I was wondering if I was indeed actually middle aged as I was born ’78!

      • narf77
        Nov 08, 2012 @ 09:43:48

        lol you are a baby! The son and heir was born in 82! I have just discovered the secret to the fountain of youth…don’t stop learning 🙂 (Pity my middle aged body isn’t listening to my brain 😉 )

      • rabidlittlehippy
        Nov 08, 2012 @ 13:35:12

        I’m gonna bite back the cheeky and obvious reply here and just say thanks there hippy mum! 😉 P.S. My little brother was ’81!

  2. Trackback: Learn Vegetable Garden Mulching The Right Way - How to Vegetable Garden · How to Vegetable Garden
  3. Allotment adventures with Jean
    Nov 07, 2012 @ 22:02:16

    Hi Fran. This is a lovely post, and lengthy of course which we have learned to expect and love. You have got to be the only person I know who grows TREES from seed and I think it’s wonderful. How very exciting to build up trees for your future. And I think planting an area with such a good selection of beans is brilliant. And especially for a vegan diet as it sounds like it will produce a large portion of your protein.


    • narf77
      Nov 08, 2012 @ 04:56:12

      I have to admit that sometimes I am a busy lazy vegan who lives for days on end on Steamed veg and gravy :(. After getting immersed in the amazing range of vegan foods and recipes out there for the last month I got a decided guilt shock and started to mess about with red lentils and beans. I have freezer full that I cooked in the winter for future degustation and so I am going to start working my way through. Vegan doesn’t equal tasteless and some of these recipes had me drooling from my 5am seat! Trees are actually easier to grow than other seeds because all of that vitality is packed into a small seed. They realy want to grow! We grew heaps of different kinds of maples, conifers (including stonepines which are the parents of pine nuts 🙂 ) and heaps of other things. We have only come to veggie gardening of late because of our lien towards permaculture and sustainability. I can’t believe I snubbed the veggie garden at our Polytechnic and headed off to graft and layer when everyone else was bums up and heads down pulling weeds…oh well…I will just have to learn all over again 🙂


  4. brymnsons
    Nov 07, 2012 @ 23:41:12

    Your plethora of plants is amazing! You won’t be going hungry if all of that grows and produces, that’s for sure. I had one of those push along mowers. I bought it for $5 at a garage sale and Bruce sharpened the blades for me. It was a great little mower. Good luck with yours. The pasta making is a great little saver. I will have to look into a pasta maker thingy, and see how much it is. The other problem is space, I don’t know where to store anything more lol. You will have to post the recipe. Daniel makes terrific pizza from scratch. He has been working in pizza stores for a long time so he should know how to do it by now eh. I’m sure you could find a drying recipe for pasta on an Italian food site or something. Hopefully it would be in English! Have a great week and catch you on Saturday, or sooner x


    • narf77
      Nov 08, 2012 @ 04:59:02

      Google translate makes things a whole lot easier when you find a site not in english…and a whole lot funnier sometimes…you should try it :). The mower is probably going to stay right there in the garden till the weeds grow up it. Make sure to get a reasonable pasta maker as ours cost $20 from a local Albany kitchen shop and didn’t work right from the start…the pasta making event the other day was its demise! It gronked and squealed and threw a cog so we ended up having to roll out our pasta by hand BUT we are keeping it because the pasta shaping bit at the top is still alive! Otherwise it would have been hurled over the deck and into the jungle bit of Serendipity Farm for the monkeys to fight over! 😉


  5. christiok
    Nov 08, 2012 @ 04:14:07

    Wonderful meditation on the conundrum of “expected treats”, my nose-twitching friend! And I love your push mower! We have one, too, and it is great exercise. You have to keep the grass mowed, though, because it’s hard/impossible to push it if the grass is 6 inches long. Also, in my slow progress toward less meat in my cooking, which you prod twice a week, I made a salad with quinoa this past weekend! It was good.:) Finally, I agree with Allotment Jean — growing trees from seeds is wonderful and REALLY thinking ahead.:)


    • narf77
      Nov 08, 2012 @ 05:03:10

      lol I would say, some of our tree growing is incredibly optimistic Christi as most of them we will never see grow. We grew some Dragons blood trees that are like tiny yuccas and it takes them hundreds of years to get that amazing shape that they have BUT someone in the future will see them :). I call it optimistic gardening :). We have 2 tiny little stone pines like those ancient stone pines in the US that are incredibly old…these little guys are rare in Australia and we found them one day and decided that we wanted to plant them on Serendipity Farm. Our childrens childrens children might just see them get tall enough to be considered “trees” BUT the optimism is there that the world will still be around for that event :). Again, trees are the easy thing! They LOVE to grow. Nothing hard about it and Steve’s very first seed that he planted in our certificate 2 back in 2009 was a giant sequoia (not that he knew it was…it was from a packet of “mixed bonsai seed”…) that we are going to plant out at the front gate…MORE optimistic gardening methinks ;).


  6. Katie Glenn
    Nov 08, 2012 @ 10:39:35

    That was a lovely post, Fran. Much of what you mentioned about expectations was on my mind recently with the election happening and my need to make a choice between candidates at all levels of government. Really well put.

    And the lasagna! mmmmm 🙂


  7. Sincerely, Emily
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 05:23:34

    HI Fran, I keep reading your posts. Correction, I always start reading your post and then get sidetracked and realize I never finished it. I seem to be fidgety lately and don’t sit in one place to long (Or at least not long enough to finish reading your post! ha) I love lacinato kale. You could add that to your lasagna next time – I like adding it to all things Italian like pasta sauces and lasagna. Pizza and soups. Your loquat rescues look like they are doing great. I can grow loquat but we are a bit too cold in my area and they don’t seem to fruit, but if I go into town, 20 miles south of me they flourish and I picked fruit this year from some and will do the same next year.

    I am giggling at the first comment. I started an email to you a few days ago and it still sits in my draft folder. I only knew your name from other commenters and only recently realized the “narf” thing is Fran backwards.


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