“How’s the Serenity?”

Hi All,

To anyone unfamiliar with the wonderfully quirky Aussie movie “The Castle” (and let’s face it, if you live outside Australia, what are the odds you WOULD be familiar with it…) have been missing out on a peek inside our Aussie ethos. If you can find a copy of this movie, watch it with a beer in one hand and a sense of humour ready and willing to go…you won’t be disappointed :o). If you can’t find it, check out this trailer for one of the most quintessentially optimistic “Aussie” views on life that has ever been documented and you can get a fly on the wall look at the “Aussie” condition. A sort of David and Goliath tale with an undertow of antipodean joy…


We are starting to feel a bit guilty about still having our Christmas tree fully decorated in the lounge room but are using the excuse that we only put it up late in the season to our advantage…Earl is doing his best to shred our decorative pine cones all over the floor to give me the dual happiness of exercise and compost dry carbon material and will most probably start on the actual decorations if we don’t pack them up ready for Christmas 2013. We started a new compost heap…although “heap” seems a somewhat glorious word for a ring of weldmesh plonked over a pole to prevent the wallabies and possums from log rolling it down to the front gate. We have to put weldmesh over the top of it as well or the possums climb down into the compost and hand out the good stuff to their mates on the outside. Australian possums are like U.S. racoons…all that is missing are the masks (and Earl wears that form them). They are truly gregarious little creatures but their joy at our obvious stupidity can wear seriously thin at times…we lost an entire nectarine tree full of white nectarines thanks to forgetting to protect it with netting this year. It’s our own fault and the possums took great delight in taking a bite from each unripe fruit. It’s a game of cat and mouse here on Serendipity Farm and the closest thing that we have to mice, now that the ferals eat everything small and furry, are the bandicoots that thump around and dig little divots out of the area between the house and the veggie garden that are just big enough to stop the wheelbarrow short in its tracks and render your lower portions bruised and your temper flared. Living with nature and the local wildlife is like a waltz in black…you know you are going to have to do it but you put it off till the last moment. We had to throw a heavy sheet of weldmesh (for once I thank you for your need to hoard dad…) over the top of our bean crop as the possums had not only trampolined their way across the protective bird netting over the top of them, but were using their little grubby hands to reach into the top of the netting and pinch everything green (including the tips of the bean plants) within their questing digits reach. I can’t say that I can really blame them…our veggie garden is a little oasis of tastiness that they can probably sniff out for a mile but its “OURS” you guys…we work hard to grow it and we are going to work hard to keep it! The weldmesh stops the possums from climbing up and stealing with impunity although when I was watering yesterday I noticed that one of the tassels from the top of one of our corn plants had been snapped off…possum frustration knows no bounds! Fran 1, possums nil! 😉


If you look really hard you can see the little eggplant flowers on my eggplants


Remember Bert, the straighlaced pigeon fancier straight man to Sesame Streets Ernie? This photo is a “Where’s Bert” moment…


Note the large section of weldmesh over the bean plants…the things we have to do to stop our little ambidextrous native mates!


Here’s the reason why we had to put the weldmesh on top of the bean bed…note the lovely lush beany leaves on the left…note the distinct lack of beany greenness on the right…sigh…

Steve is out floating around on the river actually catching fish! How do I know that? Because he phoned me up and told me! This time he took his binoculars out with him and is having just as much fun looking at things as he is fishing. Bezial and Earl will get fish for their tea, the ferals can fight over the gizzards and Steve can have that U.K. special “fish supper” that he lusts after…all is well on Serendipity Farm :o). It’s gone from a heatwave to rain today. Yesterday we sweat our way through 30+ and today it’s grey and a bit cold. I don’t mind, today we walk in Exeter, we post off all of the spoons that Steve made recently to their intended recipients and we get to go to the Exeter thrift shop to see if there is anything new. A series of possibilities will eventuate…possible photo futures, possible shoulder dislocation (Earl didn’t get a walk yesterday and today’s walk is somewhat late thanks to Steve pootling/floating about in his “tinny” with his thermos of coffee and his cheese “sarnies” catching fish for all his is worth and probably not coming in till they stop biting…), possible thrifty frugal purchases and possible happiness that those spoons are FINALLY on their way. I love possibilities. I have been hurling blogs out of my rss feed reader and filling the gaps that they left instantly with other blogs. I seem to be choosing more and more unusual and eccentric blogs as I do…I tossed a Polish cooking blog (in Polish) in today…they make amazing things out of cake and biscuits and Google Translate is my new bestest friend…I found a couple who have a sustainable living blog who showed me how to cover my fridge in blackboard paint and make it my own personal shopping list (if they can tell me how to remember to put the things that I NEED on my shopping list on the board then I will be a happy little alternative camper…), I also found a scrumptiously creative geeky blog from the U.K. where they showed me how to make a set of random event invention die. Yes…just like I said it “random event invention die”…I throw them in the air and suddenly I become creative to the max! I no longer procrastinate around in my kitchen looking into the fridge for creative solutions to my hunger and ending up holding a bag of uncooked rice in my hot little hand and due to my lack of creative nonce, finding myself eating said raw rice out of the bag rather than do anything with it…possibilities folks…and plenty of them…you just have to go hunting and there they are


Steve has been chatting to seasoned fisherfolk out on the river and was put onto these little babies (most probably they took pity on him for trying to bait up with sweetcorn!)…


Add a few more customised river boat fishing accoutraments and suddenly the possibility of fish catching increase exponentially…


22 fish! Steve had fish for tea, Bezial had fish for tea, Earl had meat for tea (he decided that he doesn’t like fish…) and I…I get to see my feet from my head! What more could a girl want eh? 😉


Not fish, but linked in a round-about way…these are muscat grape vines that struck and are going to be cossetted for a bit to get them happy and then they will be planted out with the eventuality of producing some grapes…then wine…and then Steve can have wine with his fish! A bit of a convaluted pathway but we got there in the end 🙂

I planted a bag full of garlic that had sprouted out into the veggie garden and we heavily fortified the bean crop to stop the possums reaching their greedy little (almost opposable) thumbs in to grasp handfuls of bean foliage as far down as their questing little digits could go. We also stretched out the bird netting that we used to fortify the veggie garden in the first place as tight as a drum so that the wallabies can’t hurl themselves at it bodily taking little wallaby sized mouthfuls of the tender greens that inevitably protrude…what with the possums bouncing about like Olympic trampolinists on the top of the veggie gardens and the wallabies going all “strong-arm tactics” on the sides the poor veggie garden was starting to suffer. Steve did our usual fortnightly shopping yesterday and on the way home he dropped in to check out some craft wood that had been listed for sale up on a local noticeboard. He picked up some lovely pieces of timber and will be making some amazing spoons soon (when he has finished catching his weights worth of fish that is)…he had been getting tired of catching “bugger all” (a fishing term that means …”bugger all”…) and decided to get tricky. He prized my fingers from the mouse and took over the P.C. to do a bit of research about “rigs” and “river fishing” and all things “catch fish – eat fish”. He then picked up all sorts of accoutrements from the nearest K-Mart and a boat rod from the local large fishing/boating shop and some special scented lures that are practically guaranteed to catch you fish and you know what? It worked! “Bugger all” turned into “15!” by 7am this morning.


A Cornus capitata tree on Serendipity Farm with its own little occupant. We didn’t know what this tree was until we saw this flower…horticulture pays off!


Our little Stapelia gigantea that we smuggled back from the Melbourne Flower Show in 2010 as a bare rooted cutting has finally decided to flower!


An interesting conundrum…this little hand powered paper shredder cost $4 from K-Mart…we purchased it so that we can finely shred paper to put into our compost heaps (that are springing up exponentially all over Serendipity Farm like hives on an allergy sufferer…) however the irony didn’t escape me that I was purchasing something in order to allow me to recycle things…$4 well spent? I don’t know for sure yet but it certainly gives paper a run for it’s money, it gives my right arm a bit of a workout and it is a lot of fun 🙂

Steve and I were sitting on the side of the deck looking through the railings looking at the river at sunset last night (as you do) and talking about how glad we were that we moved to Tasmania. We could have been still living in Albany Western Australia but for Steve’s decision to “go for it!” when dad asked us if we would like to move here. I would have stayed in W.A. in a heartbeat if Steve had decided that he didn’t want to move. Sometimes taking a bit of a risk (even for 2 worry-warted hippies like us) is absolutely, positively worth it. I HATE change…I am a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to forging ahead and blazing trails. I like to wander about a bit and familiarise myself with a concept before I commit and jumping in with both feet before I have Googled it isn’t my ethos. “Slow and steady wins the race”…”Slowly slowly catchy monkey”… not “Last one in is a…” curiously Steve isn’t one for racing off waving his arms about like windmills either. We both have a degree of restraint when it comes to making instant decisions. We are list makers, weighter uppers’ and careful considers and Steve’s quick decision to move here was obviously out of the ether and most definitely side left to his usual mental mechanics. Our lives wouldn’t have been as rich, as meaningful or as colourful as they are now. I have learned so very much by having to live a frugal and sustainable life out in the sticks that I can’t imagine that I would recognise my West Australian self should I meet her in an alternate universe (let’s not talk about the quantum physics of that statement or rips in the time/space continuum…). I have really learned that happiness comes from the processes that you choose to take part in, rather than your material circumstances.


Check out some of our tomato futures


A little bit closer to future enjoyment…


“Tonight we dine!” :o)


We aren’t the only ones dining…


The little sods have been pruning the tips of our tomato plants for us in the night!

I am going a bit cross-eyed here…I have one eye on my typing and one on the word count. I have been trying to deliver shorter more succinct posts and have been falling woefully short. I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions this year but choose to be a “Doer” and I am learning and applying Pilates to my life, I am propagating edibles on a mass scale to really get that edible food forest going, I will be planting out last year’s edibles en masse and I will continue to learn, Learn LEARN everything that I can and share it here. I had a bit of a think about where I want this blog to go and decided that I am most happy with my dear constant readers and anyone who wants to come along for the ride. I don’t want to compete with statistics no matter how competitive my nature is (DOWN FRAN!) and I want to deliver concise and poignant posts with the positivity of good humour. No resolutions but a bucket-load of possibilities folks and hopefully you will all want to stay along for the ride…Happy hump day and see you all Saturday :o)


I have added a couple of tyres that have now been planted out with garlic that had sprouted…”Waste not, want not”…I hear you Grandma! 🙂


The things that we have to do to prevent the wallabies from eating our garlic…they adore anything allium and will munch them all down to ground level if they are not protected.


Some of the beautiful wood that Steve picked up cheaply from a fellow wood lover who is moving. There might be a future spoon draw in some of this!

Just a quick little aside…I have decided to accompany Somer from the wonderful blog site http://vedgedout.com/ in her green smoothie week for the beginning of the year along with and a throng of veganauts from across the globe …nothing like a bit of a clean out, both external AND internal to make you feel all brand new for the New Year. She has a PDF free to download on her site with the green smoothie recipes and accompanying soup and salad meals. To be honest, the “allowed” food in this 1 week program is more than what “I” eat in a day and I eat a LOT so aside from a few kilos and a nice squeaky clean intestinal tract…what have you got to lose? Come and join us (does that sound creepy or WHAT! 😉 ) and give your gizzards a bit of a spring clean for the New Year. I might just share what I have been eating on Saturday because most of it is coming from the veggie garden and I like to share :o)

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chica Andaluza
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 09:25:01

    Another cracker! Am impressed with the results of the fishing spree 🙂 Shame Earl doesn´t like fish – maybe he wanted a fish supper too! The garden is lookinging lovely and the veggies are doing great…fingers crossed the beastoes don´t get to enjoy them before you do 😉


    • narf77
      Jan 10, 2013 @ 11:28:56

      Earl liked the fish after I crumbed it and fried it but not raw like Bezial does. Dad used to get us the odd salmon from the fish farm around the corner when he was alive and had a (nudge, nudge, wink, wink say no more!) mate that worked there and Bezial would get the salmon trimmings and developed a fish habit from there. Lucky Steve likes to fish eh? 😉 We are batoning down the hatches to stop the beasties…I will be patrolling like dad’s army at night time with earl when the harvest really starts to ripen…just call me Jonesy 😉


  2. Pinky
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 09:59:20

    “How’s the serenity”? Pretty cranky is all I can say! So miffed that fruit fly invaded my trees without me knowing what the hell they were till it was too late. Have lost all the apricots and most of the nectarines. Grrrrrr i’m so angry with myself for not realizing what they were. These are the times I would have loved to have had Mum over my shoulder telling me I ought to be doing something about baiting for fruit fly! Bloody things, didn’t have a problem with them last year but this year it was all looking like a bountiful crop and they struck. Didn’t help that we’ve had a heap of hot and moist weather that also made a lot of fruit go mouldy on the tree too. Feeling like ripping them all out right about now. Oh well, I’ll be better prepared next time as i’m going to go nuclear on their arses and use whatever I can find to ensure I get some fruit. Bugger ecological principles. If any of you have a guaranteed killer of all things fruit fly let me know, i’ll take all suggestions chemical and non-chemical that you can give me that have been proven to work.


    • narf77
      Jan 10, 2013 @ 11:26:27

      You can buy fruit fly traps in the gardening shops Pinky, or you can pee in a bottle ;)…the best way to stop fruitfly is to move to Tasmania, but that’s a bit extreme! Sorry you lost them all…I know how sucky that feels…you lost yours to fruit fly and we lost ours to maurauding possums…we thought that we had a bit of time till we had to net them off as they were green but as soon as they got a tiny bit of red on them the sodding possums guzzled the lot! The only thing that they don’t seem to like are pears (until they ripen most probably). We have been having to be amazingly inventive to stop the little buggers from stealing all of our veggies…I can see them at night time, the wallabies circling the perimeter pushing the netting trying to coax tasty green things through and the possums bouncing around all over the netting on the top and putting their hands in as far as they can get them and pinching anything that finds its way into their questing little digits…sigh…if its not fruit flies its possums…my theory is, you have to plant your entire yard full to the back teeth with fruit, nuts, passionfruit, vegetables, strawberries etc. and the little swines will guzzle themselves to death…fruit fly sucks 😦


  3. littlesundog
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 14:30:24

    Nice post! You know, I have never had good luck with the wildlife netting. I have had to rescue many birds from getting tangled in the webbing. I don’t use it anymore… instead, I put in more plants, hoping if I share, perhaps they’ll leave a few fruits and vegetables for me!


    • narf77
      Jan 10, 2013 @ 14:54:27

      Our birds don’t seem to care about our netting and we haven’t had any land on it, let alone get caught in it BUT this is only temporary. We have some ex-fish farm netting that is made of a thin rope and that we are going to build a large enclosed structure (with a door) to keep our food from being raided by the natives ;). We are in the process of propagating all kinds of edibles (nut trees, grape vines, carob trees and a whole lot more) to plant an edible food forest all over our 4 acres. Its a pretty industrious thing to do for 2 penniless hippies but we figure that the more food around the more available for us all 🙂


  4. christiok
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 16:46:55

    The Castle is now on our Netflix list…it looks charming.:) My second favorite movie of all time is Strictly Ballroom, an Australian hilarity that is extremely quotable. (My first fav movie is Moonstruck:) lol

    Deer and slugs are the predators here. But insects (fruit flies) are a tough one. Pestilence! Very frustrating. Makes your quote “happiness comes from the processes you chose to take part in”, a very wise observation, even more poignant. I say make a deal with the garden gods, offering a tithe of 10 percent….see what they say. 🙂 But keep the nets up!


    • narf77
      Jan 11, 2013 @ 05:11:01

      I think that you will like The Castle…it’s a kind of Aussie David and Goliath and gives you a real look at a quintessential “Aussie” family, albeit a bit of a crazy one ;). I also loved Moonstruck and Strictly Ballroom was fun. Did you ever see Murial’s Wedding? That’s another Aussie movie worth watching but we don’t make a lot of good movies because the movie industry takes itself extremely seriously now and that means that our movies tend to be very posed and contrived so if I see “Aussie movie” I tend not to watch (a bit sad really…). We don’t have deer on the property although they are wild in Tasmania (lots of hunters soon see to their population though…) and slugs are of the HUGE variety and most of them are leopard slugs that are carnivorous! Our veggie garden is home to some little skink lizards who seem to be doing a sterling job eating anything that gets into the garden and the little birds eat everything attempting to get in (aside from the possums and wallabies 😉 ). We don’t have fruitfly here in Tassie (at the moment) but my poor sister had transplanted my mums fruit trees and was about to get a bumper harvest this year and the fruitflies stung all of them :(. In the Jackie French (Aussie amazing organic gardener and quite mad with it 😉 ) book “The Wilderness Garden” she says exactly the same thing…she says 10% of all your produce will go to the native animals but for their food they will protect your crops and you won’t have to pay for pest control. She also wore hats made of vegetables onto television programs back in the 80’s ;). The nets are staying up till we are able to get that big structure built all round the gardens. We are working on it :). I found your blog back when Keith built the hoop house. I was looking for pictures to illustrate what I wanted to do here for Steve and found the photos of your blog post online. After heading over there I said “THAT is what I want to do!”…and a friendship was forged over the ether :). Funny where processes take you isn’t it? 🙂 I hope your Pancho Villa is still plodding along on his donkey behind you ready to catch you when you fall off your horse :). Have a great day in Olalla 🙂


  5. Roz Takes
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 17:35:01

    Good for Steve, a great catch of fish, well worth the effort. We used to use pollard (you know the chook feed supplement) mixed with a little water as burley.
    Possums are supposed to hate garlic, so maybe a garlic spray might help. Also blood and bone is supposed to be a repellant.
    I wonder if strings with shiny Alfoil tied on every metre or so would help. Keeps the birds away. But that would only show up on a moonlit night lol. 🙂
    How about tins with pebbles in them tied to the corners so they rattled when the possums jumped on the netting.
    So glad that the fire has gone out.


    • narf77
      Jan 11, 2013 @ 05:17:59

      We did the same Roz, dad was always mixing up pollard and whale oil back then! How times change…I bet I could pick up some pollard from the stock food shop and I dare say that they make a fish luring stinky oily stuff still…might get Steve to look into it but those lures come scented and you get a little bottle of fish lurey oily stuff in the packet and they seem to work a treat. He only used 1 lure (albeit a bit tattered now) for all of those fish and didn’t have to even carry bait on his trip. I might have to invest in some blood and bone because both you and mum have mentioned it now. I have garlic growing in tyres around the veggie garden now. The problem is that the possums might hate it but the wallabies ADORE it and will come from miles to eat any onions, chives, leeks or garlics down to the ground. I might make a spray with chilli and garlic and see how the little buggers (possums) like it! They are doing the most damage as they are able to climb on top of the enclosure and bounce for their supper. Its raining today so that should put out any last embers (at least here in the North). Good idea about the pebbles in cans. I might actually try that one and will let you know how it goes :). I wish I could share my veggies because we have so many. I just picked my first 3 cucumbers yesterday and they are going mental. Lucky Madeline LOVES cucumbers and will eat all of my excess :). Have a great day over there and look out for your spoon, should be there today or Monday. As you are in Perth you might get yours today 🙂


  6. Anthropogen
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:13:31

    Hey, what’s the word on the wildfires in Tasmania? I heard about big fires and thought of you guys. I hope they are quelled quickly and far from you.

    All the best,


    • narf77
      Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:01:29

      The fires were mostly down south in Hobart way, we are right at the top of Tassie. If you look at the map there is a little river (The Tamar River) and we are just around the corner from Bass Strait so we get some decent winds straight down the river that tend to blow anything away from us. Did you see that they had to invent a new colour for our weather maps?! Some poor Aussies on the mainland had to swelter through 50C heat (thats 122F!!!)…and they say that there is no such thing as global warming…pfffft!


  7. Allotment adventures with Jean
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 09:26:20

    I love your determination to beat these critters Fran. Keeps you on your mettle.
    Great photo of your tomatoes. I am envious as I, like Pinky, have the dreaded fruit fly and I’ve given up even trying to grow tomatoes.


    • narf77
      Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:03:20

      Don’t worry Jean, I dare say the slugs or snails will scarf a goodly amount of them ;)…Roz had a really great idea to stop the possums (little buggers!) by putting tin cans of rocks on the sides of the enclosure… I am going to go one better and hang cans of rocks inside the enclosure so that whenever the possums head out to be nefarious the rocks make a lot of noise and scare the little thieving gits off! 😉


  8. lyndellmaree
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 08:37:59

    pesky possums – I haven’t had parsley since I moved to our new house. It is like it gets mown every night!


    • narf77
      Jan 13, 2013 @ 11:03:44

      possums or wallabies? The wallabies have the lower 50cm run of our entire 4 acres and the possums take it from there up…the potoroos take the soil divets so that when you are out yelling at the possums who are fighting loudly over who gets to scarf the last pear on the tree in the middle of the night you fall over in one of their little holes and land in a pile of possum dung…I swear they are all in it together! 😉


  9. thinkingcowgirl
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 05:53:45

    I’m full of admiration for your perseverance in the face of all those creatures which want to get into your produce! The tomatoes are gorgeous and all this talk of veggies almost makes me feel like getting off my toast and butter diet… 😉


    • narf77
      Jan 15, 2013 @ 06:06:47

      Believe me…if I could hop on the toast and butter bandwagon I would be numero uno in the race! My favourite foods are tea, potatoes, bread and butter in that order and the only one that I couldn’t give up for my weed of green smoothie cleansing was the tea! I like taking a bit of an hiatus and exiting my regular routine stage left occasionally to shake myself up and get out of my food rut…if I was left to my druthers I would live on a diet of chip butties made from thickly cut fresh white bread, slathered in butter and liberally sprinkled with salt and a bucket of tea. Simple really, and the reason why I couldn’t fit through a door sideways a few years ago ;). These veggies are my way of allowing complete strangers a chance to exit stage left through the doorway alongside me 😉


  10. Kym
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 17:03:27

    Cow bells would make a great sound (racket), maybe you can find some in the op shop?? Chip butties yum! Have you tried green tea. My son loves it, but I am yet to delve in its liquid goodyness 🙂


    • narf77
      Jan 19, 2013 @ 17:13:04

      I tried to drink green tea but it tastes like fish to me ;). I am just sticking with my 1 cup a day and it seems to be a happy medium. I LOVE chip butties and would eat them exclusively should I be given the choice but alas, I already have a chip buttie bum that needs reducing and thus I am going to have to beg off them for a while :(. Cow bells would be great but I haven’t ever seen any in the local op shop…I might try Roz’s idea with the tin cans with stones in them but now we have heavily fortified the garden lets just see if the little bollocks get in! 😉


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