50 Pumpkins and 2 sourdough cakes on Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

The title of my post today is, coincidentally, the source of a great degree of twitching on my behalf. Pumpkin, the great orange starch of choice of South American’s, African’s and we Aussies en masse could hardly be seen as anything other than benign. Slightly to very sweet, with dense flesh that can be roasted, steamed, mashed, made achingly sweet in the great American traditional pies or soothingly silky in a roasted pumpkin soup and all things in between. Versatile to a “T” BUT that’s when you are cooking with them. I personally LOVE pumpkin but the thought of wielding a pencil and drawing 50 of them makes me twitch. We just did a Google search and found some past students work and I don’t feel so bad any more…I am still going to practice drawing pumpkins and be innovative about what I draw but I no longer think I have to be artistically gifted after seeing what other students have cobbled together…the net is a great fear leveller ;).


What was left of the pumpkin vine on the large compost bin next to the chook shed after the possums decided that they might just eat those prickly pumpkin leaves as a remedy for starvation…


Something invaded Poland and scarfed all of the leaves off the potato plants…can’t blame the possums for this one (unless they breed them miniscule these days…) and my money is on slugs but those spuds needed to be dug up…


The MASSIVE haul of potatoes from the heap…I have to say with 10kg of potatoes going for as little as $6 a sack in Tasmania I am seriously asking myself if it is actually worth attempting to grow spuds on Serendipity Farm!!!


Trying to make them look more but any way you look at it, a bit of a mingy serving for 1 methinks! Back to the drawing board! 😉

Steve noticed something out of the corner of his eye in the side garden when we were hitching Earl up for his walk yesterday morning. Apparently it’s not only the wallabies and possums that have been evicted from their native bushland by the bushfires…3 large grey kangaroos hopped away and up into the first paddock where they stood watching us and waiting for the troublesome humans to head off before them came back for second helpings…I know its them that have been tag teaming my vegetable garden all summer and they have been working together to push in the netting and eat whatever lush green things protrude. I can’t be overly angry at them because times are tough at the end of summer in Sidmouth and we veggo’s have to stick together. We have noticed an increase in the amount of birds coming to drink and bath at our bird baths because the little fresh water creeks are all dried up and water is a precious commodity. We have water bowls on the ground for our 3 feral chooks…”Stock”, “Pot” and “Ermingtrude”. I would imagine the wildlife take advantage of the opportunity to avail themselves of some free water after they have been predating (doing their rounds) our helpless potted plants on the outside of Steve’s shed, selecting the tenderest leaves and shoots to eat first. I note that one of them has eaten the leaves off a small (only just regrown) rhubarb again and can only wonder at the cast iron stomach that could digest something so poisonous!  I read an article http://permaculturenews.org/2013/02/23/fernglade-farm-late-summer-2013-update-australia/ this morning about a fellow Aussie food forester who has had to get ingenious with how to keep his food forest alive over an extended long hot and VERY dry summer. Using permaculture principals and ideas he has managed to prevent 90% of his trees, shrubs and perennials from drying up and blowing away. It’s a most interesting read and there is a short video accompanying it.

Serendipity Farm in lights

If you would like to check out the article that I wrote for the latest Tamar N.R.M. newsletter…click the above link 🙂

I am in print folks! I wrote an article for the Tamar N.R.M. February Newsletter about my recent attendance at some of their free workshops, in particular, their sustainable living workshops and if anyone would like to read it, please head over using this link to read my very first “published” article ;). I have also been asked to review someone’s book. I follow a blog called “Active Happiness”…no surprises that I would be following a blog that actively encourages and fosters the act of happiness as a valid choice in life, but to have Lynda ask me to review her book was a real privilege. I love how her blog gives little daily pictorial wisdoms and the occasional article about promoting the act of happiness as a choice, rather than waiting for it to come to you. I have been SO busy this week that I haven’t been able to read the book yet but it’s not huge and I will be reading it today. I get to review it on Amazon and another website and if the book is anything like Lynda’s blog, it will be a runaway hit. Feel free to head over and explore her blog… if anything, it is refreshing to find a blog in pursuit of such a noble cause :o)… http://activehappiness.com/book/


Steve’s River Rats weather rope


They say that adding something unexpected into a post gives it more interest and weight…is this unexpected enough for you folks? I found it on one of my walks with Earl and thought that Steve would like it for his music room…the music of the seagull isn’t really something that would lull me to sleep but hey, the ditch was suffering from a lack of nightingale skulls the other day…what can I say! 😉


This is what our Aussie plain wrap ciggarette packets look like now. Steve and I don’t smoke so when I found this packet on the road I was most intregued. I realise that the government is worried about the aged population of smokers who started smoking back when smoking was hip and cool in the 50’s and 60’s and they also want to disuade the young women who take up smoking as an aid to weight loss…these packets are probably going to at least make their target audience uncomfortable whenever they flip the packet lid to light up BUT they just might be shooting themselves in the foot…sort of a 2 steps forward and 1 step back moment because every single 8 – 12 year old boy is going to want to collect every one of these packets…may as well take up smoking while they do! AND imagine the emo’s, steampunk alternative artists etc. who would not only be completely unfazed by these photos, but would get actively excited by them! Back to the drawing board Australian Government…you just robbed Peter to pay Paul!

Steve just made the equivalent of a “Redneck Weather Rope”.  He made it for our friend Guy who lives opposite the boat ramp just around the corner who rather than calling himself a hillbilly, would rather be known as a “River Rat”. He even has a flagpole with his own Triple R (River.Rats.Retreat.) Bar flag which is flying at half-mast today in honour of Roxy’s now defunct cat that was found dead in the gutter by Boofy yesterday a victim of a fast cornering car. The cat’s most dubious name was “Maggot Guts” and I haven’t ever asked why the poor thing had that awful moniker…some things just “are”. Roxy and Guy are good friends and most interesting people. Thinking about our little local community brings me back to an online conversation that I had yesterday with “Chica” (have I ever asked you your name Ms Andaluza?!!! 😉 ) the amazing Spanish dwelling frugalista of http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/ fame who said that where we live on Serendipity Farm in Sidmouth reminds her of her own small village. She has a resident transvestite and we have Michael, our resident aging Californian eccentric with “interesting” views of the world and self-claimed prophet of the rapidly approaching apocalypse. Where her tranny dresses up, Michael passes out conspiracy theory material to anyone who will foolishly take it. The further out of a city you get, the more eccentric and eclectic a mix of people you end up with. It’s funny that people who like to live in the country tend to be somewhat eccentric. It might just be that you don’t notice it in the city because the constraints of city life don’t give you the time to examine your neighbours with a microscope…in fact it might even be against some city ordinance to do so! Out in the country the rules are made to be broken and the officials who make those rules rarely visit (if ever) and so suddenly we country dwellers find ourselves on the fringes of civilisation with a very loose translation of the rule book in our hands and having to make it up as we go along. It certainly makes for a most interesting life! As a proponent of the elevation of Communities above the self-rule model, I think that we have a long way to go until we can feel comfortable with opening up our ethos to group sharing but those communities that do share, are the strongest.


Luminous over exposed tomatoes…”whatchagonnadoeh?!” 😉


Not so over exposed but definately over abundant…what the heck are we going to do with all of these!!!


The beginning of our tomato harvest and the end of our cucumber harvest…a somehow fitting photo

A while ago I was staying with my daughters and I overheard them commenting on a television advertisement “she is obviously a dancer…look at those calves!”… I, myself, am in possession of voortrekkers calves thanks to daily juggling between studiously resisting being pulled up the road and hauling protesting dogs back up the driveway when they have realised that we are on the home stretch  which just so happens to be complete with its own built in steep ascent where the act of dragging a 40kg dog certainly gives a body a set of biceps to be proud of and on the way down, the dogs are in full tractor pull mode which goes part way to revealing why we have worn heels on all of our shoes… Sturdy vorrtrekkers calves that will take me where I want to go…calves that won’t win any medals for elegance or shape but that give me an overall solidity that makes me hard to shove over. What my daughters had said got me to thinking about what we do to our bodies and how they respond. The musculature of a dancer and the biceps of a brickies labourer notwithstanding, how about the pallid, pasty white exterior of a computer programmer or the bespectacled visage of a librarian…we all fall prey to judging books by their cover but are we feeling badly about that for nothing? Certain types of people are drawn to certain types of employment and often a specific “look” is required for the position…read supermodel and weep folks! Are we being shallow and superficial when we put someone in a certain box? Perhaps in hindsight not! There are always exceptions to the rule but I have found that people in the mainstream are perfectly happy to be tarred with specific brushy genres so long as they are seen as “normal”. As a scruffy, middle aged, somewhat bolshie student hippy I can’t complain when someone judges us as such… that’s what we are…voortrekkers calves and all! 😉


A mix of sugar, olive oil, chopped dates, vanilla and eggs, soon to be wading in a sourdough pond


The above mass mixed into the waiting starter, flour and kefir mix and doesn’t it love it! You can see the starter mix feeding on the sweet date mix within a minute of stirring them together!


This is what the flour, kefir and sourdough starter pre-ferment looks like. It’s stirred together about 8 hours before you want to make your cake which predigests the flour making it more nutritious and easily digestable and it smells delightful. I decided to sub kefir for the milk called for in the recipe because I was drowning in the stuff! Kid Creole and his rapidly expanding “coconuts” adore living on Serendipity Farm and are reproducing en masse…anyone in Tassie who wants some Kefir grains let me know!


Stirring the cocoa, sugar, eggs, baking soda, vanilla and spoonful of coffee granules into the above sourdough starter mix to make a chocolate cake


Here’s the “fresh out of the bbq” sourdough spice cake next to Steve’s little handmade dragon cup


Spice cake + chocolate cake = happy Steve 🙂

Yesterday I separated out a batch of sourdough starter that I had been feeding at room temperature. I have been meaning to make cake for a few days now but haven’t managed to find the time and so it has been merrily bubbling away over a slumbering Brunhilda waiting for my attentions. Just after lunchtime I decided to get the ingredients for both a chocolate cake and a date spice cake together and separated the starter in two. I then added 2 cups of plain flour to each of 2 bowls, a cup and a half of kefir (in lieu of the designated milk) and a cup of starter then went into each bowl and after stirring, I covered the bowls with a dinner plate so that the mix had a teeny bit of oxygen and promptly forgot about it. The recipe states that you should leave this initial mix for 8 – 12 hours but does anyone out there think I am going to be getting up at 1am to make cakes? Not bleeding likely sunshine! So I just left them do their thing and today at 11am I started making cakes. The recipes for both of these cakes can be perused at the websites below. The chocolate cake recipe is the cake that I made recently but the spice cake is a new one to try. I also found a gorgeous looking sourdough carrot cake recipe at the King Arthur site along with lots of other scrumptious looking cakes, breads and other treats. Check them out if you want to drool!…



With the addition of a cup of chopped up dates, no cloves (Steve doesn’t like them) and an extra tsp of cinnamon, a shake of chilli flakes and using olive oil instead of the coconut oil or butter, the spice cake was the first one into the covered bbq. The cakes are incredibly forgiving and don’t mind you opening up the bbq to spin them around after 15 minutes or all of the prodding, poking, spiking and general fussing about that Steve and I tend to do to cakes. After the cake tested clean with a metal skewer we took it out, whacked the chocolate cake ingredients together and poured it into a greased and lined baking tray (these recipes make BIG cakes) and it is currently toasting its cocoa-y feet in the bbq as I type this. We are going to put orange icing on the chocolate cake and chocolate icing on the date spice cake after cutting the cakes into thirds and freezing 2/3rd of the results. Sourdough starter gives you a whole new world of possibilities. There isn’t much you can’t add a bit of sourdough to where it won’t give you improved flavour and better nutrition. If you mix the ingredients and allow it to work its magic for a matter of hours the results are always stellar. I love the smell of a baking sourdough cake. It has a rich yeasty tang to it that makes you instantly want a piece.


Bezial the great blowfish hunter. He almost fished a dead one out of the river that was floating past him the other day…puffer fish are deadly to dogs! Steve managed to grab him by the neck as the blowfish floated past on the tide that was taking it out to sea and Bezial hasn’t forgiven Steve yet…


The lengths a person has to go to to get a photo of a dog who spends at least 40% of his time in this position who rolls over the second he hears the camera start-up sound and gives me stink eye…guess what Bezial…Ma 1, Bezial nil! ;). Steve just told me that he would like it known that whenever Bezial is reclining in the sun like this he calls him “Upside Downey Juniour” 😉

Well that brings us to the end of today’s post. Steve and I have to get into studying again and giving up the complete free reign that we have had for the last few months to do whatever we want, whenever we want. It brings out the petulant child in me sometimes but as I am actually enjoying this course a whole lot more than I thought I would, that isn’t really a problem. I am off to read Lynda’s book and try to write a review that really reflects how noble a cause the pursuit of happiness really is and what a “good sort” she is for sharing her secrets with us all and giving it the old college try to extract our twitchy morose modern day ethos and insert a degree of gratefulness, thankfulness and happiness for our lives, no matter who or what we are. See you on Wednesday when I will be the world’s BEST pumpkin sketcher! 😉


45 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 18:14:07

    I just about fell of my chair laughing when I saw the article on Why I Like To Ride My Bike, before your wonderful article. I was thinking that had Fran been able to add a comment it would not have been publishable lol 😀 x


    • narf77
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 03:47:25

      I was frothing at the mouth and didn’t read all of it ;). It just goes to show that sometimes you HAVE to suck it up if you want to get into print LOL! 😉


  2. Sophie33
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 19:21:17

    What a lovely post this was! I enjoyed reading it all! I just sown cucumber seeds, pumpkin seeds, green courgettes & yellow courgette plants, etc,… It is still early here & very cold so I have sown them indoors! 🙂 Lovely looking tasty potatoes & tasty tomatoes & a whole lut of cucumbers too!


    • narf77
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 03:52:37

      Now I have to work out what to do with them all! My daughters live in the city and even though our eldest daughter would eat every single cucumber we have, it’s too far to just jump in the car and deliver them so we are going to have to work out how to preserve them. The tomatoes are a different prospect and I have so many things to do with them! There are heaps more on the bushes and our long, dry hot season seems to be hanging on so hopefully we get a lot more ripe tomatoes yet. I plan on dehydrating some of them and preserving the rest of them as pasta sauce with olive oil, onion, garlic and herbs ready for our coming winter. I have a lot of little finger eggplants all starting to ripen at once and its going to be fun working out how to use all of them as well. I love eggplants and will use lots of them to make delicious things with tomatoes and capsicums (peppers) and we even have a glut of jalapenos that when they ripen, I am going to try making my own chipotles with… kudos on your early start with your veggies, you won’t regret it. This was our first veggie garden on Serendipity Farm and even though the possums and wallabies did their best to scoff as much as they could and we only planted punnets of veggies (too late in the season for seed) we got an amazing return on just about everything that we planted and I now have the veggie growing bug BIGTIME ;). I can’t wait to read about your veggies when you plant them and how you use them 🙂


  3. Deb Cameron
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 23:40:01

    I can see loads of cucumber relish coming up.


  4. christiok
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 03:52:59

    So sorry to hear of Roxy’s cat’s demise, and I love Steve’s weather rope. We country people talk about the weather a lot.:) The link to your article didn’t work for me, so I’ll come back and try it later. 😦 Your cakes look so good, and I just bet your pumpkin drawings weren’t that bad. We had puny potatoes last year, too. I blamed it on to some scourge and am getting new seed potatoes this year. Blue and yellow and red potatoes, maybe even from Territorial Seed…whose creator is another one of your eccentric community members. Sounds like a great community. 🙂


    • narf77
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 04:11:48

      “Great community” is stretching it a bit ;). We have some “interesting” people living in our neighbourhood… our neighbours Frank and Adrian Frankenson (yes…Frank Frankenson 😉 ) have some friends up the road that live in a new you-beaut fully sustainable house that they build recently and we noticed them all standing around with a cage on our walk yesterday. They had caught a wallaby eating their fruit trees and had painted a white stripe on its back before they released it…John, the house owner (that Frank cheekily calles “The 7/11” behind his back) says that it is his 1 chance policy…you eat his plants you get 1 chance…if you come back your are toast! He can recognise them by the stripe on their back ;). Next door to John is Gordon…Gordon apparently knows EVERYTHING. When we first moved here everyone told us that Gordon was the go-to man in town and after we met him we realised that Gordon likes to be numero uno ;). He is good value and will swap seeds and has worked hard to turn his land from rocky slopes to fertile soil but he is a very strong personality that you need to take in very small bites ;). There are so many other people around here but most of them are older than us. We did meet Shelley and Todd at a Tamar NRM (Natural Resources Management) native seed collecting day last year and they are actually younger than us and share the same ethos. They are building a house not too far away from here and are into sustainable living and keep Old English Game Hens which to me are scrawnly little skinny things that you would need 15 of to make a meal but apparently they are wily little things and nothing can catch them. Not sure if hard to catch chooks that you need to keep 100 of just to feed your family are a good thing but obviously Shelley and Todd do! ;). Our potato harvest was almost as sad as the potato harvest that we actually planned. Steve will get a nice few mouthfulls but aside from that, I am going to stick to buying them from now on…false economy to grow them and I can use that additional space for some more interesting things like tomatillos or perilla :). If you can’t get that link I will send you the PDF in an email if you like? Let me know. It takes a while for the link to download so if you click and open it in another tab and just wait for a bit it will appear (Steve had to stop me closing the page down because I couldn’t see it either and said “just be patient woman!” 😉 ). It is certainly windy enough here to use a weather rope. It is drying out the ground worse than anything and no sign of any rain yet. I water the veggie garden every single morning and use a lot of water and by lunch time the soil is dry again :(. I hope the rains come soon! You guys will be hoping that they go away…send me some in an email ;). Have a lovely sunday and if it rains over there, splash about in it in your gumboots for me and know that I am living vicariously in your puddles 🙂


      • christiok
        Feb 24, 2013 @ 04:26:52

        I completely understand and sympathize with you about false economies. For me it’s tomatoes! And to some extent beans and cucs and almost any other hot weather veggies! I’m sticking to cabbage, broccoli, kale, peas, berries, rhubarb, squash this year…the stuff that grows here in the cold rain. It rained hard yesterday, and I thought of you and decided to appreciate it. 🙂 The weird thing about living rural is that we really do get to know people more the country than in the city. We are less concerned with our space and privacy maybe, since we have enough of it. Still, we have our Gordons and Johns on the road, too. We wave. 🙂 Anyway, I tried the link again and it just dies and will not load. I’d love to read it in a PDF…my email again is christiok@gmail.com. Sorry to require this extra coddling. 🙂

  5. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 09:56:54

    Absolutely drooling over your incredible harvest… We could never dream of reaping such bounty from our terrible little backyard garden! Squashes and cucumbers especially fail to thrive, rarely even making it beyond the flowering stage. We’re still giving it a try though, using up the last of some lemon cucumber seeds leftover from plantings past… We just started sprouting tomatoes and edamame as well, hoping that the end of winter is now in sight. I eat cucumbers by the handful, so having a whole big pile like that is beyond a dream come true. I really need to come and visit, and soon!


    • narf77
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 10:08:24

      Wish you lived closer, you could have the lot! (Cucumbers that is, I have plans for those over exposed tomatoes 😉 ). A secret that I just learned about cucumbers and pumpkins (squash) is that they have male and female flowers (apparently) and you need to get a cotton bud (Q-tip or whatever the translation is from Australese to Amerese 😉 ) and cross pollinate them if you want to be sure of a good fruit set. I didn’t know that and if you haven’t got a lot of bees/butterflies/wasps whatever it is that pollinates them, you won’t get any fruit. We got an amazing amount of cucumbers from 6 small plants and our tomatoes are going ballistic. Not bad for our very first veggie garden on Serendipity Farm 🙂


      • Linne
        Apr 04, 2013 @ 12:43:58

        Have you tried cold cucumber soup? There are vegan versions and you could use a dollop or three of thickened kefir to garnish . . . ~ Linne

      • narf77
        Apr 05, 2013 @ 04:42:01

        I think I might twitch eating any cold soup. Even in the middle of summer my soup has to be reiching hot. I think I am a bit of a puritan when it comes to soup. Cold is just a step too far for this humble little vegemite 😉

  6. Angela @ Canned Time
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 12:56:56

    Congrats on being published! And no wonder you have kangaroos in the garden with a dog like that, HHeeeee!
    Lovely cucs, they’d be $50+ for all that here. ….


    • narf77
      Feb 24, 2013 @ 14:21:07

      Bryanna (Clark Grogan) just gave me a few very interesting recipes to try making with them as I have NO idea what to do! I like a good cucumber as much as the next person but I don’t really want to be eating them for every meal till they are gone ;). I only had 6 little plants and that is the last of the harvest and we have been picking heaps. LOL! I will tell Bezial his nether regions have gone global, he will be highly put out 😉


      • Angela @ Canned Time
        Feb 24, 2013 @ 22:08:13

        Just an idea, I’ve put English Cucs into my soups this winter (first time to use them up) but they taste great. Much like Zucchini once they’re cooked. Don’t know if you’re a soup person cause it’s hot there, but it sure uses them up quickly and if you can or freeze the soup —- Just a thought. Good luck, wish I had them here !

      • narf77
        Feb 25, 2013 @ 04:07:36

        I have a slight problem with “cooked cucumber” thanks to my dear old nana who used to boil them with white sauce and call it a side dish…she also made a “stew” (for want of a better word for that cauldren of horror) that she would serve through winter on the wednesdays that all of our communal families would rock up to her house for our weekly get together. There were a lot of us there (usually between 15 and 20) and so she would boil a vat of celery, stewing beef and other vegetables (they weren’t recognisable by the time she had been boiling them for days…) and serve it up. It would take the better part of half a bottle of H.P. (brown) sauce to allow you to get it down your throat and I am NOT a fussy eater. I can’t, to this day, face the smell of H.P. sauce (and Steve LOVES the stuff! 😉 ). Bryanna gave me some really nice looking recipes that were Asian in origin and some lovely quick pickles from Thailand that had chilli and other veggies that really looked nice. Shredding them into soup would be another idea. I can’t get that rubberised sluglike texture out of my mind when I think of cooked cukes! Nana might be long gone but her cooking “legend” lives on! 😉
        I eat soup for every evening meal. It’s a great way to have something lighter for your digestion before you go to bed and I haven’t slept better for years so the cuke idea in soups is a great one for me :). I had thought about dehydrating some but then had to wonder what on earth I would use it for! ;). I will pickle some, make relish of some, grate some into tonights vat of soup and will give the remainder to my grateful daughter who would live on turnips, radishes and cucumbers if you gave her the chance 😉

  7. gardeningkiwi
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 20:24:54

    Well done Fran on your article. It’s awesome.
    We have an amazing local community, however most of our neighbours are actual ‘proper’ farmers, so I think on our wee plot, not doing the typical farmy-type thing, that makes us the eccentric ones! They do look at us and shake their heads in amusement from time to time!
    Cheers Sarah : o )


    • narf77
      Feb 25, 2013 @ 03:58:48

      I bet they always have a look as they go past though ;). Do you remember Footrot Flats? I was trying to explain it to my expat Brit husband Steve who never grew up eagerly awaiting the paper so that you could read what the dog and Jess and Major were up to :). I LOVED that comic strip and Murray Ball is forever in my heart for his amazingly touching and real exploration of N.Z. farm life. I hadn’t even thought about N.Z. before that! I think that Murray Ball single handedly made a whole lot of Aussies check out their neighbour across the waves. By the way my son LOVED N.Z. They got their year extension to Kelsey’s visa and enjoyed an amazing holiday on your gorgeous home soil :). Cheers for the kind words about the article. They asked me if I would do a few words on their series of free sustainable workshops (that I attended quite a few of) and that was the least I could do! They certainly opened my eyes up to a lot of possiblities on Serendipity Farm (including BioChar) and got me very excited about being able to do things myself and in being able to source a network of information that I wasn’t previously aware of. I LOVE information (especially when it is free 😉 )


  8. lyndellmaree
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 18:29:45

    How do you find time to blog! haha you are so busy
    Congrats on the published article 🙂 and the book review, sounds right up me alley too. I have this theory that if you keep thinking positive, you will develop positive pathways in your brain, the more you use them, the easier it is for you to think along that path until eventually it is just second nature to be positive 🙂


    • narf77
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 03:28:34

      I completely agree with you :). Positivity is a choice, not something that you are born with and the same goes for optimism. You choose your pathways and how you deal with what happens to you in life and if you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try to find something out of every experience, not just the good ones, then you are truly living. I loved your picture of Rosy by the way. I think you should enter it in competitions you would win hands down! It is an amazing shot 🙂


  9. Chica Andaluza
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 02:48:38

    Congratulations on the published article – how wonderful! The cakes look fantastic, as do the tomatoes and cucumbers. We grew potatoes one year. They did taste fantastic but we came to the conclusion that for the work and the space they needed compared to what we pay for a sack of potatoes that it wasn’t worth doing again.


    • narf77
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 03:41:24

      I agree…when you think that we get 10kg (about 22lb) for just on 4.6 euros why the heck would I bother? Tasmania grows lots of different kinds of spuds (unlike the rest of Australia) and they are very cheap so I think I might leave it to the experts next time ;). I am going to plant all kinds of weird and wonderful things next spring. I am just about to get some Leaf and Seed Amaranth from a good internet friend on the mainland and am in the process of starting a seed swap website for Tasmania and the mainland as well. We can’t get a lot of seed here in Tassie because of strict quarantine. We don’t have fruit flies, that terrible honey disease, termites etc. or a terrible native plant problem that is threatening to wipe out a lot of species (myrtle rust) and they want it to stay that way. We can’t get anything from the solanaceae family or gingers here but you would be amazed at what is tucked away in people’s gardens and what they are willing to share if you swap them something equally as “interesting”. I can see a really fun swappsy thingo going on in Tassie and taking people from mumbling about “not fair” to “Look what I got!” and seed saving and sharing all over the place. They just need someone willing to put in a concerted effort to coordinate it all…enter narf7! 🙂


  10. Chica Andaluza
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 02:51:17

    Sorry, hit return before I’d finished “speaking”. Tanya, that’s me…my dad always calls me chick and my pals call me Chica…but I respond to all names! Our village transvestite is a bit of an artist and he often wears frocks he has painted himself…all very eccentric but he is accepted and loved by all 🙂


    • narf77
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 03:45:49

      I would love to meet your tranny. We had one in Riverside (where our daughters still live in our house we were left in the city) and my artistic younger daughter used to talk to him on the buses. She is strongly affiliated with gay and transgender people and we have a very strong gay community here in Tassie. The natives aren’t all that conducive to happy relations with anyone artistic, gay or “different” so it can sometimes be a bit tought for them. Our resident Californian is a bit like Doc from Back to the Future and is decidedly oddball but Steve and I love him to bits. We do what we can for him because his chief pleasure in life comes from a mix of “special herbs” if you get my drift and I think he spends his whole life perfecting his gardening techniques ;). We don’t partake of his special herbs but appreciate his eccentricity and love him for it. One day we know we are going to get a visit from his other besties (the local constabulary) to check out our heavily fortified tomato garden BUT good luck to them finding anything other than heritage tomatoes LOL! 🙂 Tanya! I will try to remember but Chick suits you so well… “Chicky-babe” 🙂 It brings out the true Aussie in me 🙂


  11. teawithhazel
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 07:43:02

    your cucumber crop sounds a bit like mine..i picked 10 the other day..not the little ones..they’re those longer ones..i’ve had good harvests before but this is a tad overwhelming..and the beans and eggplant are just as prolific..now why aren’t the tomatoes doing the same? at least i could bottle those!

    i haven’t made a sourdough cake but you’ve inspired me to give it a go..any excuse to crank up my starter..x jane


    • narf77
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 09:38:18

      I have tomatoes coming out of every pore and lots more ripening. For Tassie it’s a miracle because we usually have trouble ripening ours and most of them end up as green tomato pickle. I chose cherry tomatoes and finger eggplants for that reason :). The chocolate sourdough cake is Steve’s favourite. He LOVES it and it goes beautifully with a cup of tea :). I have just got the bbq on (we use it over summer to keep the house cool) to cook up some sourdough cinnamon rolls that have been proving all night. I put caramel, cinnamon and chopped dates in them so lets see how they turn out :). We are bottling some tomato sauce up today (pasta sauce style) :). Now we just need to find something to do with all of those cucumbers!


  12. ChgoJohn
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 20:26:11

    Congrats on having your article published! This time of year, I’m always tempted to expand my garden, putting in raised beds to replace a little patch of grass. Then I see pics like yours of all of those cucumbers. Living alone, what would I do with them or anything else that produces like it should? Thanks for the reality check.
    Your cakes look fantastic! I’m a big fan of the King Arthur website’s recipes. If you do as instructed, you’ll get a great cake, lof of bread, or whatever.


    • narf77
      Feb 27, 2013 @ 04:11:18

      You should make yourself a garden (John? 🙂 ). Even a small patch and all you really need to plant are a few things that you like. The rewards of veggie gardening FAR outweigh the actual produce that you bring into the house and you can grow unusual things that you can’t find in the grocery stores. How about some really interesting variety of basil? I am aware of about 20 at the moment but I dare say in the U.S. there would be more. A few rocket plants for pesto and salad, a little row of lettuces and perhaps radichio, a few grafted tomato plants will keep you in tomatoes and you can just freeze them whole in bags and when you remove them from the freezer the skins come off easily and you can cook them from this stage. A few small garden beds could totally change your plate and your life :). Please don’t let me be the one that squashed your veggie garden asperations…Up until we put in our veggie garden beds we had been dragging our feet for years. Our soil is rocky and shallow with heavy clay underneath and so we went with raised garden beds which were much easier to organise. You could also share your produce with neighbours, friends, relatives (relatives are especially fond of your home produce 😉 ) and you might even be able to sell some out the front of your home if you wanted to. So many possibilities and all from a few cheap seeds 🙂


      • ChgoJohn
        Feb 27, 2013 @ 18:30:34

        My yard is quite small. I used a large portion of it to build a dog run. I do use a few containers to grow some herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. It isn’t much but it does give me a chance to get my hands in the dirt.
        You certainly didn’t squash my plans. Last Summer, I realized that my planters had sprung leaks – right in the middle of a heat wave. I pretty much lost my tomato plants after that. I debated through Fall whether to get new containers or install raised beds. I went with containers. If I still have an urge to expand my farm, I can always do it in a year or two. Thank you, though, for the encouragement. 🙂

      • narf77
        Feb 27, 2013 @ 19:36:09

        Hopefully we are at the tail end of our own summer long heatwave here in Tasmania. It has been very dry and we can count how many times it has rained on one hand. I feel for you losing your tomatoes…that would be a TERRIBLE thing for an Italian to lose! ;). We have quite a large dog run around our house as we own 2 dogs ourselves. What kind of dog do you have? Dogs give you so much entertainment and companionship and even if they eat the furniture (Earl…) or sulk for a living when they don’t get whatever they want (Bezial…) all is forgotten when they wag their tails and beam up at you with obvious love :). Any time for the encouragement by the way. I love to encourage people to give things a go 🙂

  13. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 02:20:34

    You must have loads of energy! Pickles out of the cucumbers? I have never attempted to make pickles, but maybe this year. We did do fairly well on potatoes last year, and my husband has some started to plant in a couple of weeks. I’ve been writing something on happiness so will head on over to your friend’s blog.


    • narf77
      Feb 27, 2013 @ 04:17:56

      The pickles were very easy and were what are called “Refrigerator Pickles” in the U.S. and you just cut up the cucumbers very thinly (I used a mandolin) and boil up a mix of vinegar, a little sugar and pickling spices (with dill in) and put the cucumbers in a large wide necked jar and poured over the liquor. You let them sit for 3 – 5 days at room temperature and then put them in the fridge. They are delicious! No potatoes here (as you saw our pathetic haul 😉 ). Steve ate them last night with some river caught fish, carrots and peas and said that they were delicious but our soil is simply not conducive to growing root vegetables of any kind (too many rocks). I will admire you spuds from afar :). Lynda’s site is inspiring and even though I can’t see her little inspirational thoughts from famous people every day when they are posted on my rss feed reader, I just click over to her site and see them that way. I get up at 4am so a good inspirational thought a the beginning of my online blog reading marathons is a good start 🙂


  14. thinkingcowgirl
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 10:32:07

    Yeah, I’ve never been sure about growing stuff that’s cheap and in super abundance locally – well of course this was when I was actually considering growing stuff before I had my burnout moment….I eventually came to the decision that I’d only grow things which were expensive and special – and salad stuff, which ALWAYS tastes better just out of the ground. We get potatoes growing in our compost too, but it was on the bit where the humanure was from the compost toilet – don’t think I’ll be eating those 😉

    Big congratulations on your article, it gave a good overall view of your project, and as entertaining as usual in your inimitable style, well done! I’ll be joining you in the published world soon, I just got a phonecall today to tell me that I came third in a nature writing competition for Resurgence/Ecologist magazine – VERY happy…particularly as it came after a day of bad news…soon to be revealed on the blog… 😦

    Love the rope sign.


    • narf77
      Feb 27, 2013 @ 14:56:30

      I hope your news isn’t too bad :(. EXCELLENT on the competition. I consider you a MUCH better writer than I am (much more disciplined for sure! 😉 ) My enthusiasm tends to get in the way of disciplined writing and bollocks, I don’t care! ;). I am excited for you and can’t wait to see it on the blog :). Again, sorry for whatever it was that handed you a sucky day 😦


  15. littlesundog
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 14:59:24

    You certainly had me salivating reading this post! Those taters look lovely!! And, what a wonderful find… the skull. I often find specimens like this in the woodlands, and what a treasure! Recently, FD discovered the skull of a wild hog. The teeth and 3 tusks were still intact.

    That spice cake and chocolate cake just about sent me over the edge. It’s nearly 10:00 at night and I can see I’m going to have to eat something to get past my sweet tooth!!! Thanks a LOT!!! LOL


    • narf77
      Feb 27, 2013 @ 15:07:55

      Steve has incredible envy of FD for his hog skull find! He says he will trade it for the bird lol! I don’t even eat the cake…it’s all Steve’s. He shuts it away in his music room as Earl loves to climb and would eat the whole lot! Not so good for dogs ;). Check out how tiny the potatoes actually were by looking at Steve’s tea in today’s post LOL! 😉 I am not going to grow them this year I consider it a total fail 😦


  16. farmer Liz
    Feb 28, 2013 @ 08:23:11

    wow that was a long post! phew! That cake looks great, and I see you cooked it in the BBQ too 🙂


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