The New Costa and the U.K. Beet

Hi All,

Isn’t Christmas getting close?! I must admit we are a bit up in the air at the moment because my brother is supposed to be coming over Christmas with a friend but hasn’t told us when and as quintessential planners it is driving us nuts! We are in the process of relocating our chooks into their new enclosure and tomorrow they will all be inside the fence rather than outside looking in. It isn’t going to be easy for them and no doubt we will have some escapees that are going to have one of their wings clipped but today I took advantage of knowing that one of the feral chooks that remains (we gave 4 away recently) was clucky and her exact location so after putting up with a serious hen talking to I picked her up and deposited her in the new enclosure. I figure if anyone can find a chink in its armour it’s a clucky feral chook with a nest that she wants to return to. We are tidying up our woodshed and getting it ready for next year’s wood futures. After tomorrow I can start mulching the garden with the certainty that it isn’t going to be dug up directly behind me as I work. I have a love/hate relationship with the chooks and they are the most stubborn creatures under the sun! If they want to dig a hole halfway to China and spread dust halfway to Oklahoma they will! They only stopped digging the other day when they hit a buried dog bone and decided that it was time to start a new hole. After a year of learning to quash my frustration as they chooks defoliated, ate, dug up, scratched around and generally defiled my poor long suffering plants I find it hard to believe that pretty soon I may just be able to plant something will stay in the ground! Steve is whipper snipping the honeysuckle out the back that keeps trying to take over the world. So many dictators on Serendipity Farm! I wish that one of them would take the front running Napoleonic seat so that we could at least focus our efforts on a single enemy.


Some gratuitous “flower” shots to remind everyone in the North that it IS summer somewhere in the world 😉


A lovely Callistemon at our back gate in full  bloom relishing its newly cleared out status


One of millions of Erigeron karvinskianus (Seaside Daisies) that call Serendipity Farm home


A Stylidium gramminifolium (Trigger plant) in full flower taken on one of our early morning walks with the dogs

We have noticed a bird flying around that looked like a swallow and it landed on the deck the other day and Steve got a good look at it. He raced inside to tell me that it had a blue beak…time to Google that little sucker! In the process of identifying our new feathered friend which turned out to be a Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus) I found a fantastic Tasmanian blog about Tasmanian birds compiled by Alan Fletcher, a local man with a penchant for taking breathtaking photos of our endemic birdlife. It was very simple to identify our new friend using Alan’s wonderful site and after sending him an email to ask him for permission to use a photo from his site he graciously allowed us to do so and in return I urge you to head to Alan’s beautiful site to see just how special our native birds are. You can find a link to Alans blog and from there to his photo gallery above his photo. I loved his blog so much I subscribed to it :o)


Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus)


Physalis peruviana (Ground Cherry or Chinese Gooseberry) with the lesser spotted “Earl” underneath


Aeonium arboreum Zwartkop recovering from duck attack nicely


A little cactus enjoying it’s sunny spot


And this explains why Melaleuca linariifolia is commonly known as “Snow in Summer”…not sure what these little beetles are but they also love roses and banging themselves senseless on our windows at night

I am slowly working my way through my rss blog reader and have been finding some incredible posts. People are so generous with their information! I was looking for a way to make home-made banners of substance and style and found this shining beacon of a site that I now subscribe to…

Disclaimer: Do NOT go to this blog if you are likely to collapse into a sobbing wreck of a human being when faced with gorgeousness beyond belief, creative majesty to only wonder at and a severe dearth of anything…ANYTHING resembling we mere mortals normal lives. I go to this blog to see how the other half lives…it’s beautiful, it’s incredibly organised, its Pinterest ready and it’s my secret lusting station but don’t say that I didn’t warn you! Halfway down into this perfect post and I find that this lady reads! She is planning on tackling some novels for the second time and says…”They sit full of promise on my bedside table, and the anticipation of losing myself in them again is half the pleasure” Oh what a lucky woman! I have to hide my books in the spare room out of sight, out of mind where Earl can’t render them “snow” along with the rest of the couch cushions that live (quaking in fear) in our bedroom wardrobe and the overwhelming luxury of a stack of amazingly anticipated literature right at my fingertips let alone on my bedside table will remain a wistful fantasy until Earl loses his desire to chew, or his teeth…if I am being honest (and it’s STILL my year of living honestly…) even if I WAS able to run my hands over a stack of soul food…I would leap into the realms of my imagination and would manage a paragraph or two before I woke up with a crick in my neck and a most carefully and gently shredded copy of my latest paramour laid reverently and soggily in my outstretch hands an undetermined amount of time later…no more than I deserve!


A Psaltoda moerens (Red Eye Cicada) newly emerged from it’s juvenile skin sitting on a large buddleia leaf outside our bedroom window


You can see why they are commonly known as Red Eyes. After a few days their exoskeletons turn a very dark greeny black and they head off to join the clicking throng of their brethren in the trees

In another blog post I found this…

“The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.” Said Diogenes, “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.”

― Anthony de Mello

I really like this reflection on an interaction from a bygone era…it fits with my ethos of learning to live frugally, simply and in so doing, empowering our lives and allowing others to do the same. It delivers a fundamental message about which ferryman you want to pay and how you want to live in the process. I choose the lentils even though I am not overly fond of them because in choosing lentils I choose a degree of freedom and internal satisfaction that feeds my soul. I can align myself with the rest of the world and I don’t have to feel guilty about my choices in life but most importantly, I am able to learn how to effect a positive change in my own lifetime and feel like I am really living my life. That is something to aim for folks!


We are still harvesting mushrooms from our veggie gardens courtesy of the mushroom compost mulch


Check out the beets we grew! Steve made these into some pickled beetroot U.K. style (all vinegar and spice and no sugar) to grace our Christmas table next week


Bezial giving our home grown spinach his own special “seal of approval”! (I hope you washed that before we made gnocci with it last night Steve!)


My own personal vegetable gnome I found in the veggie patch :o) He thinks that he has a chance at beating Costa Georgiadis to the top spot on Gardening Australia…good luck babe…you might be cute but that beard needs a bit more “OOMPH!” before you become a serious contender 😉

Well today is walnut day folks! We will identify your possible ownership of Steve’s handmade Blackwood spoon and associate your hopes and dreams with a numbered walnut. We are going to attempt to video Earl selecting his chosen nut and one of us (the bravest…) removing it from Earl’s gaping maw in an effort to identify the number that he has chosen (he can have it back then!). This is your last chance to enter the draw to anyone out there who would like to enter. There are no conditions, anyone from any country can apply and the winner will receive a lovely handmade spoon in the mail some-time after Christmas. Today’s post is going to be a shorter post again because I have spinach gnocchi to make for Steve’s tea tonight. We are combining our desire to use leftovers (homemade bolognaise sauce) with vegetables from our garden (spinach) and make the most of our food dollars. Steve is enjoying all sorts of different food and hasn’t complained about anything that he has been served so the vegetable garden must be delivering quality veg. I noticed a plethora of little snow peas on their vines when I was watering today and will pick some when I am up collecting the spinach for the gnocchi today and I might just redirect the cucumbers from their determined efforts to scale the zucchini’s to the poles that we installed specifically for them to grow up. The tomatoes are covered in flowers but will definitely not be on our Christmas table but on the bright side, we will be able to grace our table with our very own home grown lettuce and salad leaves which makes it all the more special this year. It is a very interesting experiment and very rewarding to grow veggies. I recommend it to anyone. We have even started a new compost heap up near the veggie gardens in anticipation of needing a whole lot more compost in the future. I have plans for making strawberry beds and broad bean beds and have been contemplating sourcing some Jerusalem artichokes to set loose on Serendipity Farm behind the new chook pen. Before anyone tells me how exponential they go, I already know and I love it! :o). Who wouldn’t love sunflowers in spring followed by delicious knobbly roots in the summer…and who cares about the resulting sunchoke gas…we are descending into feral heaven on Serendipity Farm and we love it! :o). Another post down on Serendipity Farm in the middle of summer in the pouring rain. We just keep on saying “it’s good for the garden”…and you know what? It is! :0)…See you Saturday and good luck to everyone who has entered the spoon draw…


Here are your walnuts folks! Check your nut against your number below and note there are still more walnuts…sad…lonely…unmarked walnuts that could be graced with your own personal number…

Spoon Draw
1. Rabid little hippy
2. Spencer
3. Little sundog
4. Kym
5. Christi
7. Bev from Foodnstuff
8. Pinkus
9. Jean
11.8 acre farm
12.Chica Andaluza
14. Thinking Cowgirl

In the (highly likely) event that Earl picks more than one walnut his actions  will immediately force a redraw…lets just hope that Earl doesn’t think that this is enormous fun or this draw might go down as the longest prize giveaway draw in history! 😉 and are you feeling lonely there Pinkus? That’s because you don’t have a blog! 😉

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. argylesock
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 21:15:27

    A friend of mine had a Hendini too, causing disruption! I hope yours calm down.


    • narf77
      Dec 19, 2012 @ 21:38:31

      Ours is now safely ensconsed in a new chook pen…here is hoping that she can’t find her way out as she is the cause of our feral chook population that lived anywhere BUT the chook house and that enticed the other chooks to lay their eggs in the most infuriating places (usually wherever they could find a blackberry bush…sigh…)


  2. christiok
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 07:28:16

    The flowers are exquisite and have brightened my mid-winter day! Knowing you are in summer, that summer still exists, makes me feel good. The picture of Steve is darling, and that makes me feel good, too, that you live with such handsomeness. Maybe the nuttiest nut win! Love from Olalla!


    • narf77
      Dec 20, 2012 @ 12:04:45

      Indeed! The nuttiest nut will be in Earl as soon as the draw is over…it will have served it’s country well and will be deposited into the compost bin with great aplomb! Steve is overwhelmed by his new fanclub from his vegetable “shoot”…he is thinking of auditioning for our local vegetable/gardening show but he needs to grow his beard a bit bigger before any of the nana’s that watch with avid interest will believe that he has the credentials to be their esteemed leader ;). At least he is eating the vegetables that we are growing! When he first came out from the U.K. he only ate carrots, garden peas and potatoes…thats it…thats ALL! Now he will give most things the old college try. I think it has a lot to do with how you prepare them and how fresh they are. In the U.K. they don’t eat a lot of fresh veggies or fruit as they are prohibitively expensive…Domino’s Pizza costs $30 for a large pizza in the U.K! Can you believe that?! It’s true! Good luck in the draw…I hope you win because then we can send all of the spoons in one go! 😉


  3. christiok
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 07:29:02

    Make that MAY the nuttiest…:)


  4. foodnstuff
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 12:56:22

    Go Earl!! Get #7 for me.

    Love your photos. Would love some seed of that bottlebrush and also the trigger plant. Much deeper colour than the one’s I grow.


    • narf77
      Dec 20, 2012 @ 15:20:34

      The bottlebrush seed won’t be hard as it’s right at the back gate but the trigger plant is a fair way away…I will attempt to get seed from it but I am going to need a lot of luck Good luck on Saturday by the way. Earl is primed up and keeps trying to steal walnuts from the spare room to “practice” 😉


  5. Finn Holding
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 03:13:14

    Your flowers sent me all wistful, longing for some sunshine! The weather here in the UK is foul, cold, rainy, grey, like dusk all day, but hey it’s Christmas so I can’t be ticked off with the weather 🙂

    I just checked out Alan Fletcher’s tassibirds.blogspot site and you’re dead right, the photographs there are top drawer and you have some exquisite birds in Tasmania. I’ll be diving back over ther after this to peruse the pictures. If I lived down there I’d never get any work done for running around with a camera.

    Good work on your veggies too, they look fantastic, and I bet they taste pretty good too. But how do you make sure the chickens leave enough for you?


    • narf77
      Dec 21, 2012 @ 05:37:14

      I am glad that you liked Alan’s site, I fell in love with it :). Our veggies are completely enclosed because even though we just contained all of our chooks (chickens) in a large enclosure to stop them from digging the garden up wholesale, the possums and the wallabies are the true terrorists and can strip an entire veggie garden in a night. The possums eat everything a foot off the ground and the wallabies eat the lower stuff. As it is, if any foliage manages to grow through the net covering (apart from zucchini leaves that have their own armour!…) it gets deftly nipped at the bud…I call it my native pruning force! ;). We are going to plant so many edible food species here that the possums and wallabies can’t possibly hope to eat them all and we should eventually reach a point of equilibrium. Call me idealistic, but when possums protect their home turf aggressively, and a family “owns” our property and repels all invaders and they are able to garner all the food that they need from carefully placed trees just for their predation (loquats, cherry plums, kiwifruit (that I am allergic to), etc…) surely the possums will do our work for us and will chase off interlopers? It’s a theory and it will be put into practice next year :). For now, the chooks are still a bit stunned after wandering around the boundary lines of their new enclosure but they have enough vegetation inside their pen, including lots of their favourite laying plant “agapanthus” to keep them happy and the rooster is overjoyed because he no longer has to run around constantly over approximately 2 acres (the back 2 acres are fenced off) trying to keep track of “his girls” so he is going to get fat and doesn’t need to crow any more so the neighbour should be happy as well! It’s a win-win situation! Now I just need to come to some sort of permaculture agreement with the slugs and the snails and everything should be (as Mr Bowie would say…) “Hunky Dory” :). You are right about Christmas, we spent Christmas 2006 with Steve’s family in Liverpool and then down in South End and it was amazing to have a cold Christmas…we even got to see snow for the very first time as there was a tiny snow flurry and I wouldn’t let my kids play in it as I wanted to take photos the next day and by the time we got up it was gone :(…the kids may now be adults and live in their own homes but they have NEVER forgiven me for that ;). Hot Christmas on the beach eating “shrimps from the barbie” might seem like something amazing to you Northeners but as Steve wistfully says “it’s just NOT Christmas like I know it and it just doesn’t feel right…” Christmas is the culmination of the year where everyone has their last final celebrations and the last big “Hurrah!” before it settles down into a period of hibernation until the sun returns and wakes everyone up…we have to take a brief hiatus from our most productive and busy time to whack Christmas in the middle of it and then its right back into full on summertime action…it’s not the same! AND our chestnuts are only ready in June! Roasting tomatoes/shrimp on an open fire is likely to get you overheated and deflated and decidedly lacking in Christmas spirit on a 30C+ Aussie Christmas day 😦 so don’t feel a loss at seeing our flowers…you guys win hands down with the Christmas thing


  6. thinkingcowgirl
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 07:10:09

    Oh I can just imagine the sun on my back, shoulders all relaxed, admiring all those wonderful flowers. If I was round yours I don’t think you’d find me much help in the garden…think sipping fruit cocktails and insect watching!

    Got my fingers crossed for the draw, it is a fine spoon.

    And those veggies are superb – positively bionic! Have you been singing to them? 😉


    • narf77
      Dec 21, 2012 @ 07:32:58

      If I had been singing to them they would have uprooted and absconded in the night! The bionic veggies are a result of a few years hard slog on the coal face of horticultural servitude coupled with some amazing compost we managed to source and a carefully chosen fully sunny (not easy to find in Tasmania) spot where they get all the sunshine, water and fresh air that they need (and most importantly they are fully enclosed so that the local ferals can’t inhale them as we sleep!)…those few shards of green come at a high cost to our sanity ;). As you can see by Steve’s beatific smile, they certainly are worth it! 🙂 I even jumped on the “Green Smoothie” bandwagon and had my breakfast in a glass yesterday with one of our beetroots and a mountain of fresh spinach and whilst I haven’t suddenly reverted to my youth overnight, I certainly feel healthier ;). The spoon is lovely and I have been tempted to put a few walnuts in with my own name on them but know that most of my dear constant readers are easily inflamed into an “angry mob” at the slightest provokation and decided against it :(…good luck and send positive vibes to Earl (if ANYTHING can get through that bony skull…) that he chooses your walnut on Saturday morning 🙂


  7. Pinky
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 09:48:33

    Hahahahaha yes I do feel a bit “neked!” in amongst that list of bloggers Fronkii 🙂 I’d love to write a blog but wouldn’t know where to start! I need help in the logistics and goodness knows what people could possibly find interesting in my mundane life. Who knows though? I’m going to go part time next year (week on, week off) in the laboratory so might have time then to start thinking about wordsmithing more.


    • narf77
      Dec 21, 2012 @ 11:12:23

      It certainly keeps you busy! 😉 I am glad to hear that you will be going a bit easier on yourself next year as you have certainly earned it! Maybe you could start a food blog for your wonderful cakes and creations along with Jason? It would be a great way for the two of you to share your particular talents in the kitchen? Its great fun and very interesting to see just who drops by to take a peek 🙂


  8. brymnsons
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 19:54:49

    Lovely photos again Fran. Don’t worry Pinky, my blog is nothing to speak of so I’m a bit of a claytons blogger. Can’t wait to see the pictures of the confused chooks in their enclosure. I don’t think your rooster will stop crowing though, if anything he will be even more chuffed with his new harem abode 🙂 I’m feeling envious of your lovely veges. They look great. I’m hoping to establish a nice vege patch in my ginormous yard in Norseman, and a chook run.


    • narf77
      Dec 22, 2012 @ 04:50:37

      You will have a wonderful chook run if Bruce has anything to do with it and what your chooks “produce” in the way of spent bedding hay loaded with nitrogen will enrich your wonderful new veggie garden…pretty soon you will get posting more Kymmy…just wait…moving to the country you get a bit more time and suddenly its fun to tell people about what you are doing with yourself. It is very rewarding and who knows? YOU might be the next W.A. Costa (just don’t grow that beard! 😉 )


  9. brymnsons
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 12:45:48

    Yes I’m looking forward to the country pace and way of life. I’m trying hard not to grow the beard 🙂


  10. rabidlittlehippy
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 16:14:07

    Love your gnome! 😉
    “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.” WOW! Absolutely. Damn the man in all ways as I say. I LOVE the idea of thumbing my nose at the establishment and the so-called rules as to what I have to eat. I am planning to dig long and deep into Nourishing Traditions for old world recipes made with real food and chockers with nutrients and goodness.
    Love the walnut and spoons picture too. I absolutely adore Steve’s spoons and reckon he is an incredibly talented individual. Surely there is a market for them. Etsy?
    Anyway, I have been reading your blogs on my phone, just not able to get ontot hat “like” button or the comments as it’s a pain from my phone.


    • narf77
      Jan 02, 2013 @ 16:29:23

      Glad you liked the posts…summer gives you so much fodder! Be sure to enter the next spoon draw coming soon…Earl is pining for the walnuts 😉


      • rabidlittlehippy
        Jan 02, 2013 @ 17:07:08

        Oh I am so entering!!! I am there with great big shiny bells on ringing loudly, holding out extra large fine cut pasture raised organic beef steaks to Earl too. Think I’m keen? 😉

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