Brunhilda feeds tonight…

Hi All,

You can’t stop a behemoth. By its sheer solidity of purpose it has a primal desire to flow from one state to another and good luck stopping it. Brunhilda is one such behemoth. She affects a type of reverse hibernation where she sleeps all through the bustling summer months when everything else is up, procreating and turning green. Brunhilda settles down into her long slumber in mid-October when the frosts officially cease but I have my suspicions that it might be slightly later this year. The berries on the cotoneaster and the hollies are both copious and incredibly bright red so I think we might be in for a long winter. Brunhilda rises to the call of the cold. She opens her door and yawns for the first taste of kindling and the behemoth awakes. From that first flickering flame Brunhilda is constantly in a state of fire. She “ticks over” or she burns like a funeral pyre and in between she gives us something that money just can’t buy, she makes our cold winter house a home. Brunhilda has been going since early May and aside from a few hairy moments when one or other of us forgot to add her fuel of choice and she threatened to go on strike she hasn’t gone out. After you set a behemoth on its way you have to step back and let it do its thing. We put in the fuel and she walks her primal pathway. We reap so long as we pay. It’s a pure case of symbiosis and I love it!

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I am not the only one that has complete and utter adoration for Brunhilda and all that she stands for…meet her humble servant Bezial…

Brunhilda prefers nice dry wood. She is a creature of comfort, much like Bezial who prefers steak and butter and like Bezial we have to temper her desires and she gets her version of broccoli in wood that might not be completely dry. We know that so long as we mix the slightly damp wood with lots of dry we won’t have any problems and it is amazing to see Brunhilda and her tongue of flames turn something that was a tree last year into ashes. You learn a lot about life if you observe its cycles and fire is no exception. I love my winter cycles. They seem so much more real because the cold hones your perception and forces you to focus. We collect our wood like squirrels and we stack it in well-ordered piles on the deck and we slowly feed it into Brunhilda as she works her way through the pile. When we bought this particular model of Aussie made oven I wasn’t sure whether we had done the right thing. Aside from being very expensive (although nowhere NEAR as expensive as her imported brethren) we were going out on a limb to try and support an Aussie business and there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there about their range. It would seem that people like imported Aga’s and Rayburn’s. Brunhilda is not related and where her imported cousins can be colour coordinated with your kitchen there is a degree of bolshiness about her little black attire that reminds you that a stove is supposed to heat, cook and maybe heat your water if you thought about it in advance and decided to spring for the hot water jacket…

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Steve bought these 2 filters and 3 in that little wallet underneath the box at the rear for $15 total. No postage and they got here in just over a week from Hong Kong. Steve has been buying online camera equipment now for a couple of months and so far everything that he has purchased has been a lot cheaper and a lot better than he would have imagined.

From the moment we lit Brunhilda she has been reliable and frugal with her appetite. We feed her, she burns. Because of the unique firebox position in the middle of the 4 ovens, the heat gets retained better and so long as Steve stokes her up before he goes to bed she is waiting for me to give her breakfast when I get up at 3am and open her up. We don’t need firelighters, she just keeps going and my first cup of tea is in line with the first cuppa’s that our pioneering women drew their daily strength from in the past. When you bypass the instantaneous ability to flick a switch or click a gas jet you take on a role in the processes that requires you to keep up your end of the bargain or the cycles stop. You can’t be lazy and take a holiday from hauling wood or stoking Brunhilda because you won’t be able to heat the house and fuel yourself with those soul warming cups of tea and so we become part of the cycle and the process and there is a wonderful degree of fulfilment that comes with stepping in and taking up that yoke.

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I think I might just have to buy this book. It is excellent. James Wong shows us all how to grow some pretty amazing edibles and 3 weeks worth of reading has made me want to own this book.

Yesterday we put up 2 more nets around our huge enclosed garden. We can see the scope of the area that we chose now and I am getting really excited about the possibilities. Where before it was all in my mind, now my idea is coming into fruition. It might not be pretty but it will stop the native wildlife from scarfing our precious food crops and what price that? Again we come back to cycles and our part in those cycles. How can we appreciate what we get if we haven’t had to take part in the process? Handing over a few dollars for a whisk from Shiploads (our equivalent to Wal-Mart apparently…) doesn’t give us the satisfaction of being part of the process. Some poor worker slaved on a factory line in China to make that whisk and its $1.97 price is completely unrepresentative of the true cost of its manufacture. I didn’t just pull “whisk” out of the atmospheric dictionary dear constant readers, I just bought one. I know…”SHAME ON YOU NARF7!”. I supported slave trade… I consumed… I did a bad thing…did it count that I thought about what I was doing?

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This book was in the car ready to be taken back to the library (unread…we have been VERY busy…) when I had to wait in the car for Steve to pick up some plumbing gear from the Beaconsfield hardware shop and so I started to read it and decided to take it out again. It’s a very interesting subject…not sure I would be willing to leave my body to Mr Bass when I die after reading what they do to human remains but kudos to the people that do, a lot of crimes have been solved thanks to the research and macabre generosity of people with their earthly remains after they no longer inhabit them…

While I was twitching that whisk around in a bowl of homemade soymilk and some homemade date paste that I was turning into food for my kefir I was thinking about how we really don’t appreciate the things that are available to us because we really don’t know what cost they truly represent to us. The up-front $1.97 is just a fraction of what any of us earns. Even penniless student hippies that get paid by the state to pretend that they are not actually unemployed, but are productive members of society get more than enough money to justify paying out $1.97 for a whisk but behind that heavily subsidised miniscule price there is an incredible price to pay for the ability to stir some soymilk. Raw resources are being taken from the ground in alarming rates so that we can have whisks, plastic funnels for $1.76 (a set of 2 folks…who WOULDN’T want them…), 3 sieves that fit neatly inside each other for a bargain $1.52 and more…who cares that they are flimsy and will fall apart…just throw them into the rubbish bin and buy another one! That’s the cycle of consumption folks and narf7 doesn’t want to support it. That’s why we spend our days lugging wood and feeding it into Brunhilda. For our part of the equation/cycle we get so much more than a heated house, 8 months of free hot water on tap, 4 ovens to cook just about anything we want to at the same time and our knickers dried in front of the fire, we get the exercise of cutting the firewood and carting it from its resting place to Brunhilda. We get the incomparable joy of waking up knowing that all we have to do to make our home cosy is to take our place in the cycle again and there is something truly primally satisfying in taking up that yoke

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See that “pile” just behind those white poles there? That’s narf7’s hard slog from 8.30am till 1pm. As you can see it’s a large pile of horse dung and it was in mid compost when I hauled it to it’s new residence (inside the structure). Note we have covered it with some ex fish farm netting in a vain attempt to stop the chooks from moving the entire pile back outside the fence perimeter. Lets just say that I wouldn’t be pleased if they did!

Today I take on another process. This one will give me more exercise than I could hope to get in a single day but I am less inclined to yoke myself to this process than I am to stuffing some wood into Brunhilda’s gaping maw. Today I shovel 6 trailer loads of composted horse poo from one pile to another pile 2 metres away. I need to do this so that when we put up our final net wall for our fully enclosed garden the enormous pile of dung won’t need to be manually barrowed all the way around to the other side of the enclosure where the gate is going to be situated. There are benefits to shovelling dung. Exercise is the predominate benefit (although 2 days later when I am aching from my efforts and my lats are reminding me of my impending 50ness I won’t be so chipper about the whole thing) closely followed by job satisfaction and the equal satisfaction that I am going to get from stopping the chooks from spreading the 6 trailer loads of manure to the 4 winds. They have taken their task most seriously and the pile has been somewhat levelled by their determination. Once inside the enclosure the chooks will have to stand around outside and look in as wistfully as I hope the possums will be looking in come spring.

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This is a native Tasmanian Grey Shrike Thrush. He decided to check Steve out when he was testing his new filters on the deck. This particular Shrike Thrush comes on a regular basis for small cubes of cheese that we leave out for the wrens and Shrike Thrushes. The sparrows weren’t invited but gate crash on a regular basis

After shovelling the dung I have another mammoth task that needs to be taken on before I can start creating the garden beds that will give us a huge degree of food choice this growing season. I have to chop up the branches and leaves from the sheoak and wattle trees that we had to remove to create the garden. Trees are clever things folks. Never let it be said that they are just “vegetables” in disguise. They have a primal need much like Brunhilda does and if you allow them to coexist with your vegetable garden they are going to take as much advantage of your tender loving care for your vegetables as they can. You are going to water your veggies and the surrounding trees are going to respond like ferals and send all of their available roots over to freeload. Fertilising your garden? “Cheers!” say the trees and promptly pinch your soil ameliorations before they get a chance to settle. Trees are most adventitious at surviving against the odds and if you turn the odds in their favour they are going to take whatever you give them. I am all for the trees. I love trees and Steve and I plan on populating Serendipity Farm with a plethora of them BUT to get the productive and useful trees that we want we are going to have to sacrifice some of the hardier foundation trees that have sprung up on Serendipity Farm

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This is our back block. It was cleared back when Ida owned the property and all of the trees that you see here have grown over the last 20 years. Most of them are wattles and sheoaks with the odd young eucalyptus

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Here’s where some trees have decided to die in the back block and are being harvested for their tasty firewood…Brunhilda approves

When I say foundation tree I am talking about seral behaviour. “Seral” is like viral folks. They just take off running and when we humans do our thing and clear huge tracts of land the seral community starts right back in where we left off and the earth tries to heal itself. Have you ever wondered why all of those pesky weeds spring up whenever there is a bare patch of earth or why your outdoor fire patch seems to grow the best weeds? Nature hates bare earth. It is foreign to survival and needs to be covered and so she allows those little freeloading weeds to get active for a season. What makes them pests is also what allows quick ground cover and their short lived vigour (thanks to huge amounts of available sunlight caused by a sudden lack of trees) allows some of the smaller shrub species to get a foothold in the soil amongst them. Once the shrubs start to grow some of the trees on the periphery of the area can shed some seed inside the weedy vacant lot. Once a few small trees start to populate the area nature is back on track to regaining control of her cycles. We just don’t see that these “weeds”, those ugly native shrubs, that prickly ground cover and those boring sheoak’s that shed their needles on anything that walks past them are doing an amazing job at keeping the moisture in the soil, nitrogenising the soil (sheoak’s and fast growing wattles are all nitrogen fixers) and are doing it extremely tough so that those tender useful species that we humans so covet for their ability to feed us can survive in the cycle of events.

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The branches you can see on the ground are part of Steve’s latest barrow load of wood. Today has been particularly lovely. Sunny with gorgeous blue skies but nice and cool, perfect for a shovelling narf. The lovely manicured lawn with the pretty orange coloured tree in the rear of the shot is our neighbours to the back. They would like us to clear our entire back block so that they have a better view of the water. We would like for the back block to not slide down the steep slope in the next rains so we tend to ignore them much to their disgust. It must be difficult to have awful penniless student hippies living in front of your prospective perfect view… 😉

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These little shrooms were sheltering underneath this spiders web underneath where Steve was chainsawing tonight’s firewood and they managed to survive the onslaught…kudos shrooms!

I love to learn. Shovelling horse poo and manually cutting up entire trees to line raised garden beds might not be everyone’s idea of a school room but to narf7 it is a precious opportunity to learn at the coalface. Yesterday while we were hauling ex fish farm netting from where we had stored it under the deck after cutting it in half for our purposes I noticed that the ground was unusually damp next to our glasshouse. It might be winter here in Tasmania but we haven’t had much rain over the last few days and this was more than dew…it was positively squishy. I mentioned it in passing to Steve on our first trip up and he muttered something about a tap and we didn’t think any more of it. On our second trip up to the garden hauling a larger net we were going slower and Steve looked down at the tap that he had been muttering about and was somewhat alarmed to notice that the large piece of white polypipe that surrounded it was half full of water and I was positively duck like in my squishing around the area and suddenly Steve had one of those forced life lessons that no-one really wants to take hold of…it was time to dig up the pipes.

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Check out Steve’s fixing job with assistance from some wayfaring plumbers. He hasn’t filled the assembly back in yet as we are waiting to see if it leaks…fool us once!

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Here is my choko. If you check the end it is starting to sprout and after some research that took us to permies.com (one of my go-to places to find “stuff” out) we found out that after it shoots we can plant it out. We will have to protect it from the marauding possums (remember the top of the fully enclosed gardens won’t be put on till spring) by covering it with some ex fish farm netting but this little baby is going to love climbing up and going nuts. Lets see if we can keep the choko cycle going 🙂

Serendipity Farm has been home to 3 “families”. None of them has had children living with them. The first family was an elderly couple who bought the land from their friends (Glad and her deceased husband Ted) and who lived in a caravan in the shed until the house was built. They are the creators of the gardens here and apparently the gardens were something to see back when they owned the place. The husband sadly died a month after the house was built but Ida lived here for many years and it was her love of interesting plants that forged the remnants of garden that Steve and I spend our days trying to find. Next came my father and his partner Val. They fell in love with the property and bought it from Ida and promptly realised that gardening was NOT their forte. By the time Steve and I inherited Serendipity Farm, the once delightful terraced gardens were jungles of overgrown struggling survivors and adventitious weeds.

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In my last post I talked about dehydrating kefir grains. I have way too many to keep using and don’t want to euthanise them so I decided to dry them (according to Dom’s instructions here… http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/sharing-kefir-grains.htm ) and I just wanted to show you how my experiment went. Wendy, you will get your grains soon. We went to Beaconsfield yesterday with the duel purpose to post your grains and return my library books but in the rush to get out of the door I completely forgot to bring the grains! The very next time we are someplace with a post office we will post your grains 🙂

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The image above and this image show what the excess grains looked like after washing them carefully in rainwater (I actually HAD rainwater… “Squee!” 😉 ). I decided to put a bit of baking paper onto the mesh screen from my dehydrator as the grains were still wet and dripping. In the end I didn’t even use my dehydrator I just dried them out on the bread proofing rack above Brunhilda

The property is littered with taps. I have NEVER seen anything like it. Ida must have never wanted to be more than 20 metres away from a tap because for some reason, the entire property has been dug up and black irrigation pipe laid down in the past. The problem is that around about now, that pipe is rapidly starting to degrade. If the pipe had degraded when my well-heeled fathers partner Val was still alive, it might have been replaced but once we penniless student hippies inherited, we suddenly became the keepers of the pipes. Steve has already had to do some serious digging to fix a pipe that decided to explode down in the garden in front of the house. Aside from being somewhat annoying (more so for Steve who actually had to do all of the digging and fixing bit) we were able to fix it quite quickly. The problem comes from the fact that the water mains is right up at the top of the property, up a steep hill and at least an acre and a half away from the house…a heck of a long walk to turn the tap off…then back on…and then off…and then back on again and just that bit too far away for anyone to hear what the other person is yelling to them. It is one of the ONLY times that I am glad we have a mobile phone!

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You can see that the smaller grains have dried out quicker than the bigger grains. As the grains dried out I put them into a small bowl that contains some organic milk powder that I purchased a while ago and keep in the fridge.

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A closer shot to show you how the grains look as they dry out. They get very yellow and start to smell vinegary

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Most of the grains had dried out enough to be put into the milk powder by this stage. Only a few of the larger grains were still slightly soft and needed a bit more dehydrating. You can see how much smaller the grains are now that they have shed their moisture

Today I shovel poo…yesterday Steve had to mend a pipe. We took my overdue library books back to Beaconsfield and we paid out for overpriced plumbing equipment from the local hardware store. We might have paid more than we would have at the large hardware behemoth (my word of the week… you aren’t the only one who has Wednesday words Linnie! 😉 ) Bunning’s that we Aussies are completely and utterly addicted to BUT we supported a small business and while Steve was wandering aimlessly up and down the plumbing resources section with his out-dated tap assembly in hand he met up with 2 plumbers collecting a few doodads and doohickies that they needed for a local job. They noticed his furrowed brow and his damp appearance and decided to help a poor (obviously clueless) hippy. After asking Steve what he was after they quickly ascertained what he needed with a few questions and set about assembling the puzzle of components that Steve needed for his job. Within 5 minutes the 2 of them did what would have taken Steve about 30 minutes of frustration to do and he is eternally grateful to them. That small section of tangled pipes and brass and pressure valves is now safe and updated but there are thousands of metres of aging pipe that still remain and we are afraid…we are VERY afraid…

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Here’s the finished kefir grains in stasis in their milk powder. Wendy will get most of these and if anyone else is curious about kefir or would like to try some please let me know. From now on my excess grains will be “free to a good home” anywhere in the world 🙂

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This last photo for my post is to show you my 5kg sack of “juicing apples”. Can you see anything wrong with them? Neither can I! I have eaten quite a few already and still nothing to show me why they were separated for different treatment aside from them being somewhat smaller than what you would expect. For $5 for 5kg I will take small thankyou! You can also see the kefir grains and my enormous glass jar that I was given by a previous employer along with many more. I worked in a deli and they got lots of huge glass jars containing antipasto ingredients and didn’t want them. I got a lot of lovely big jars and still have some to this day. I can’t remember what was in this jar but pretty soon it will be full to the brim with 2 enormous cabbages and 1.5kg of shredded carrots worth of kimchi. The folded blanket to the rear was a gift from my wonderful daughters. I wrap it around me every morning while I am waiting for Brunhilda to heat up the kitchen after her overnight slumber. It is MOST appreciated and Bezial says that if I put it down anywhere lower than the table he is going to steal it 😉

Bezial just got up and decided to take advantage of his sofa in the prime position right next to Brunhilda. Her balmy warmth is his until Earl decides to brave the day and shoves him from his lofty position. Today I shovel poo and I make kimchi in a huge jar that I forgot I owned till I went hunting in the empty granny flat behind our daughters home that is littered with leftover “stuff” from our moving here and our emptying out dads “stuff”. I carried the jar reverently home and pulled my precious cup of remaining kimchi out of the fridge ready to inoculate my new batch. I have to chop up 2 large cabbages, about 1 ½ kilos of carrots need to be shredded and a whole lot of garlic needs to be crushed to be added with lots of chilli and ginger to form the basis for what is going to ferment and bubble away in Steve’s shed for the next few months. Steve won’t let me keep my kimchi in the house after I added sea vegetables (for added nutrition) to my first batch and it smelled like a dead fish on a hot tin roof. Sadly it will fester away in the shed but I am happy in the knowledge that no matter where it rests, it will do its thing and I will someday take my place in the process and reap the benefits of being part of another small cycle of life. See you all Saturday when that pile of hard work will be merely a muscle memory and where my kimchi will already be starting to “BLOOP” its first fermented sea scented burps of life…aren’t cycles wonderful? :o)

Finally here is Steve’s latest animation complete with sound. We have certainly come a long way with Flash ;). Hopefully you can all see this, Steve is rightfully very proud of his little project 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocA6y8O3Dlg&feature=youtu.be

 

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35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jo
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 17:47:40

    Totally agree with you re buying cheap stuff of suspicious origin that doesn’t last… but it is SO convenient, isn’t it?
    I love your heating/cooking heart of the house. There is nothing like a wood fire for perfect ambient heat. We have an open fireplace in our living room which makes our winter weekend evenings so pleasant.
    Your vegie garden is going to be amazing. All that hard work will feed you forever..

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 02:19:49

      That’s just the start of it Jo! We have another veggie garden just as big planned for next year. We are also going to fully enclose our small orchard (2 pears a peach and a nectarine) as well as another white nectarine that we discovered cowering in the massive overgrowth 2 years ago when we cleared out the side area and made a chook pen there. The possums are terrifying things when it comes to fruit trees. Aside from stripping the trees bare of any and all fruit they strip the leaves from the tree as well and as they are heavy (after all that fruit!) they tend to snap half of the branches as well. These poor fruit trees have done it tough for years and deserve to be treated with respect (and a lack of possum posteriors 😉 ). I want to grow a huge amount of food on Serendipity Farm. I want to grow it in keyhole gardens with lots of vertical planting and I want to integrate companion planting, mass planting and mass confusion (permaculture principals) to fool the pests. I am going to use every single trick in the book to get this garden up and going and functioning how I want it to. I even have a special soil mix of fertilisers required by our specific soil (all organic) by Steve Solomon, an organic soil specialist who tested our soil recently. I can’t wait to share the results, literally and figuratively :). Can you tell I am excited about the prospects? And that’s after shovelling those 6 trailer loads of horse poo yesterday! 🙂

      Reply

  2. gardeningkiwi
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 19:02:06

    Hi Fran. Gosh you guys have achieved so much. Maybe you could think of all those pipes as a kind of drip irrigation system and that way you don’t need to look to the skies for rain as that will just hamper your amazing efforts. Enjoy your sunny winter days.
    Cheers Sarah : o )

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 02:21:34

      I can only imagine the water bill Sarah, we have to pay for water here :). These pipes go all through the gardens and should one explode down in the lower garden where we rarely go (too overgrown) it would take us ages to realise it…we might have to be proactive about this but it is going to take an enormous amount of time, energy and money to replace it all but maybe I could remove some of those taps! We must have about 30 taps on the property!

      Reply

  3. Chica Andaluza
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 19:04:00

    It’s a tricky one about buying the cheap stuff – I do try and buy better quality because it lasts longer and I don’t feel so guilty about the poor folk working in terrible conditions – but then again, big corporations and all they do…don’t know enough about it to comment intelligently, but I guess everyone must do as they see fit. Anyway…poo, pipes and kefir….you really know how to keep us entertaiend with a variety of topics!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 02:28:14

      I needed a whisk…the op shop didn’t have one (suitable)…I ended up buying one. I figure the cheap one (stainless steel apparently well made) was pretty much made by the same people that made the expensive ones and so I wasn’t committing any sin that I wouldn’t have committed by going to a department store and paying 20 times as much for some chef’s name to be stuck on a cardboard label BUT we tend to take things for granted if we get them that cheap. Its the throw-away mentality that I was trying to share and most of us have it. We just buy another one. Steve and I were talking to a neighbour the other day who just bought 3 printers. He said it was cheaper to buy a new printer whenever he needed ink as the cartridges were so expensive it made the purchase of a new printer with ink cheaper. He said he is just going to throw the printers away when they are exhausted. For $35 a printer with ink it brings them into the “throw-away” category but how much landfill is that going to create and what a heck of a waste of resources! Surely we should be paying a bit more for a quality printer and less for the ink? We need to be shown the true price of what we are buying because otherwise we are never going to give a stuff about where it came from, who made it and what they used to produce it. Was that enough of a rant? ;). Most of my dear constant readers (you included) are very savvy about the environment, frugality and being careful to make good solid choices but occasionally “someone else” foolishly gets attracted by a tag I put into a post and reads a post and I would like to think that they might not have thought about the issue before. Anyway, at least I have a whisk to whisk my kefir and date paste now and if it breaks I will make garden art out of it! 🙂

      Reply

  4. Littlesundog
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 01:02:54

    Gee, I love hearing about Brunhilda almost as much as I love hearing about Earl! LOL

    I am with you about purchasing local and in-country as much as possible. It does take more time to research. I’m also becoming more vocal about stating what I refuse to buy from local businesses that indulge in selling imported goods from companies that support the slave trade industry. Like so much that is marketed these days in order to lure us or pull the wool over our eyes, we must be proactive and do our own research, spreading the word, in order to stop the insanity.

    Great post, Fran! So much to comment about… I love it all!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 02:30:08

      I love your comments Lori, they always make me smile :). Earl says that he NEEDS to be in Saturdays post. He loves his picture being taken and Bezial has had enough of being in the spotlight. Get ready for an extravaganza of “Earl” 😉

      Reply

  5. quarteracrelifestyle
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 04:55:49

    A great post here Fran, you have such alot to do. Great that you have a stock of firewood in your extended yard, imagine if you had to buy it all to feed your gluttonous creature! Thanks for the grains, absolutely no rush, just whenever…:)

    We did the horse poo thing last year but then had a horrific explosion of weeds so I’m guessing we won’t be going there again! but everything grew fantastically with it. You guys are doing great. And sometimes, life just call for whiskers and such like!!

    Made your sisters soup yesterday, oh, so good!! Truly good, thanks for that 🙂

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 05:01:14

      You are welcome. That soup is food for the soul :). We are off to Exeter this morning so I can probably post the grains today (so long as I remember them!). I even wrote a note to remind me. I will mail you when I send them today to let you know :). Brunhilda is surprisingly easy on the fuel. I expected to be a slave to feeding her but we only have to stoke her (even when she is in full burn mode to heat the oven) about once every hour and a half. Not bad for a behemoth eh? ;). I remember talking to the old Italian gardeners about gardening. They ALL told me to get as much horse poo as I could for my garden. That was their secret. Makes sense really as it’s full of hay and grass and that’s what makes perfect soil. I agree with you about the weeds but I just turned my weeds over and the pile is so huge it is still composting. The steam that was coming out of the middle was mildly alarming…If I had the energy to react that was…by the time I was almost finished a bunyip could have jumped out of the middle of what was left and I could have cared less 😉 I slept REALLY well and then Bezial got me out of bed at 1.45…oh well…more time for me to research (and 2 cups of tea!) see…you gotta look at the bright side 😉

      Reply

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Jun 20, 2013 @ 05:10:13

        It’s certainly great for the garden, I think ours was too fresh that’s all – if yours is burning up the seeds that’s great. we got massive broccoli and beetroot etc after the addition of that. We are really lucky to live just 10 minutes from a very seaweedy beach so get heaps of that.
        You sound like me, I can go to town 4 times before I finally remember to take the bag of library books that has been sitting by the door to remind me…then have to pay a fortune for overdue fees 🙂 I am very absent minded!!
        I woke up at 1.30 yesterday morning and went to bed at 6 pm because I was falling asleep on the couch, not usual for me at all.
        Wish I had a range like that, I cook soups and roasts on top of the woodburner though lol.

      • narf77
        Jun 20, 2013 @ 05:14:59

        Yeah, Brunhilda is the bomb! It was a not inconsequential outlay though but at the time we had been left a small bit of money and decided to renovate the house to suit us. On a budget we did it ourselves but Brunhilda was my smartest decision. She makes this house a home and I get 4 ovens to cook and dry things out in :). The Italians swore by horse poo for their tomatoes. My horse poo (I shovelled it…it’s MINE 😉 ) has mycellium all through it and has been hot composting all summer long. There were a few little adventitious weeds that grew on the top but after I turned them back into the heap they should get a nice hot shock treatment. lets hope we are burning the seed bank but I can handle a few weeds for all of that fertility :). I would forget my head if it wasn’t stuck on. I have SO many things in my mind at any given time most of them leak out :(. At least I have my lists…if I can remember where I put them and to look at them that is! 😉

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Jun 20, 2013 @ 06:28:14

        Yes…lol, I make lists to lose too.

        We intend to get a range one day, but yep, the expense puts us off….it will be a good secondhand one but even that will cost alot. They just add such alot of charm ay and awesome for cooking.

      • narf77
        Jun 20, 2013 @ 06:48:18

        and don’t forget the fine ash…something that I spend all day trying to eliminate for the whole time Brunhilda is awake 😉

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Jun 20, 2013 @ 07:00:37

        Lol, we have the same with our fire, drives me crazy

  6. christiok
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 06:16:25

    Candles and the woodstove are the way I deal with the ever-cloudy skies of this cold marine climate…I swear they have some of the same energy as the sun. My condolences to you and Steve on your plumbing problem, and good for him and the wayfaring plumbers for getting it fixed so fast. We’ve had our own plumbing issues this year…one of my least favorite subjects. The other one is insurance. How interesting to know the full history of your house! We know ours now…but I haven’t known it for any of my other residences. The history makes it more of a “place”, at least to me. You have sooooo many kefir grains!! OMG. I have a fraction of that. I keep finding people to give them to. 🙂 Pretty soon, I’ll run out of friends, though. Then to the dehydrator! Great animation, Steve. 🙂 Love from Olalla.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 06:19:28

      Those grains were just my spare ones…I have almost as many working double time making my non-dairy morning tipple :). Hugs right back atcha 🙂

      Reply

  7. cathyandchucky
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 11:07:56

    Hey Fronkii, could you get the water peoples to move your water meter next to your house? I’m sure they’d do it. Would be easier than constantly marching from the top to the bottom of the hill like the Grand Old Duke of York. I remember living on the first farm (Corackerup Farming) in Ongerup when we got all the Pig Poo we could shovel for our gardens. It was fantastic, decomposed stinky stuff that grew anything when mixed into the soil. I was horrfied by the living conditions of the poor pigs though and never got used to the dark cramped sow stalls and the stench. It permeated every part of you. Jim bought Jason and I in another lovely load of wood at allmost great expense after he jacknifed the trailer on Lights Beach Road. I gave him a dozen Raspberry and White choc muffins plus some dosh for his labours 😀 We’re following The Fast Diet and are coping admirably well so far with the 2 fast (500cals for me, 600cals for him) days. I made Emilys Cauliflower, Broccoli and Parsnip soup yesterday and its 220cals for 500mls and is surprisingly tasty with lots of cracked black pepper and Jason is even eating it! I have 5 Rice and Corn thins (98cals) with a sliced tomato (22cals) on top with salt for breakfast these past two days and they are delicious. Wish us luck. Read my blog too! 😉 Hahahaha!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 13:06:04

      You wrote another post? Bloody RSS Feed Reader! It isn’t updating me :(. I think I am going to have to actually “follow” your blog which will have your posts sent straight to my email inbox and I won’t miss them…mutter…mutter! That soup sounds yummy by the way. Quarteracrelifestyle made your soup and said that it was to die for she loved it that much and actually reblogged your post for all of her followers to see 🙂 You are spreading around like wildfire girl :). What is the Fast Diet? Is it something to do with running about all over the place? I am not sure I could do that (not today after all that horse dookie yesterday 😉 ). Steve just got me another trailer load and I wish I had some of that stinky piggy dung to mix in but I have been told that I can phone up a farmer up the road and collect some cow pats from his property when I want them…might take him up on it and his wife wanted us to haul off her horse poo pile as well. Might have to go into business ;). At least we will have a great garden. The Italian gardeners that I used to talk to in Albany always said “get horse manure”. It was their first port of call when improving the soil. My guess is because it’s full of hay and grass and hay increases the cation exchange in the soil so that nutrients stick to the soil molecules. Those Italians certainly knew their stuff! Good luck with the diet. I don’t do diets any more, I just eat weird things now and they seem to be doing the trick ;).

      Reply

      • cathyandchucky
        Jun 21, 2013 @ 11:53:54

        Hahaha! I agree on the horse manure as it smells so much better than piggy poo.The fast diet isn’t really a diet. You just only eat 500cals on two consecutive days 😀 for women and 600 cals for men. It’s up to you what you choose to eat on those two days. It went off just fine. Our tummys rumbled and complained for a day and a bit but had shrunk enough by last night for us to feel fine. Hoping it helps our long term diabetic control. xox

      • narf77
        Jun 22, 2013 @ 03:00:21

        They say it is good for you to fast a day a week so let me know how it goes Pinky, I hope it gives you what you want :). I remember back when I was living in Broomhill and 600 calories was my daily allowance. I was amazingly good at filling myself up on that. I used to eat a HUGE bowl of raw bran and strawberries with a bit of cinnamon for breakfast, then I had some rice-cakes and those skinny cheese slices for lunch and a baked spud and lots of steamed veggies for my tea. It’s amazing what you can actually eat for so few calories. Soup is a real Godsend when you are looking to lower your calories :). We have a trailer load of less mature horse poo that Shorty sourced for us yesterday to offload today on the mountain of dung. We can get a trailer load a fortnight from this new source (the other 6 trailer loads were a backlog from someone else because someone else was supposed to take it and didn’t) so I am thinking of creating a massive mountain of poo and having tourists come to visit ;). Have a great weekend Pinky, I hope your weather over there isn’t anywhere near as frigid as it is here 🙂

      • cathyandchucky
        Jun 22, 2013 @ 18:41:50

        The two days I “fasted” went really well. I felt cleansed. I have 5 normal eating days now and then I can fast again. This is good, this is something I can achieve 😀

      • narf77
        Jun 23, 2013 @ 02:47:08

        That’s what you have to find Pinky, that place where you can slot yourself into something and not only be happy living with it, but be able to do it long term 🙂

  8. Allotment adventures with Jean
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 04:07:05

    Dear Fran this is such an absolutely fascinating post. How do you fit so much into your day.I love to hear about Brunhilda, a living breathing member of the family. I got very excited when I saw your sprouting choko. When you get that choko vine growing, I’ve got plenty of heritage recipes (Nana recipes) people have passed on to me.
    Tell Steve, I’m impressed with his animation. Very clever.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 21, 2013 @ 06:11:57

      Cheers Jean 🙂 That choko is precious and I most certainly wouldn’t have bothered with it unless I got excited by your blog post. Consider me a choko convert. I can almost feel mum beaming down at me 🙂 Steve will be chuffed as I don’t think anyone else has even looked at the animation aside from you 🙂 Hugs from Steve 🙂

      Reply

  9. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 11:27:08

    You weren’t kidding, that is an incredible stockpile of kefir grains! I had never thought of dehydrating them, but now that you’ve suggested it, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to use them as an ingredient, too… It makes me think of a vegan parmesan sprinkle, what with their fermented/cheesy flavor. Oh, how I wish I hadn’t killed all of my kefir so that I could experiment with that concept!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jun 21, 2013 @ 11:39:29

      I must admit they certainly ended up with a vinegary smell to them. Perhaps they could be ground up and used as the probiotic rich equivalent of vinegar powder to be used on homemade Salt and Vinegar crisps? I might have to experiment for you Hannah :). All I know is that I used up my very first pile of excess (almost 1 1/2 cups full) in a green smoothie. I almost can’t bring myself to describe the texture of the smoothie. If you think of what happens to okra when you stew it for a long time, or perhaps those slime eels that can produce copious quantities of slime when threatened or just imagine what the texture of 1 1/2 cups of slugs blended up in your vitamix would be you would be pretty much there. I drank it all because I owed my poor fallen kefir grains that much but I will NEVER repeat that experiment! I have at least that many kefir (fresh) grains left that I am using to culture my non-dairy homemade soymilk made from organic beans. It’s a very strange mix but it’s great fun to mess about with. Only last night I decided to put my homemade fizzing burbling non-dairy kefir into a bowl with some rolled oats. I thought it might make an interesting overnight oats and it most certainly was! I added some extra date paste, some cinnamon and some ground ginger to the mix and the results were strange but addictive. I am having a great time seeing what kefir will, and won’t do. I dare say it wouldn’t be hard to get hold of some more kefir grains. Christi (who lives in Olalla Washington State) has kefir and is one of my most dear constant readers. She sent some excess grains to another one of my dear constant readers Linne who is now using them in Canada to make milk kefir. Would you like me to ask her to send you some grains? Let me know 🙂 I am sure she wouldn’t mind 🙂

      Reply

      • Linne
        Jun 24, 2013 @ 13:15:11

        Hi, Narfie7! No time left to comment, but I would happily send grains to anyone who wants them. In Canada, I won’t bother trying to dehydrate; just send ’em ‘wet’ as Christi did for me. Delicious Delilah is still going strong; I eat a bit of her every day and she responds by growing well!! ~ Linne

        Hannah, send me your address at maelinne@hotmail.com

        I’ll post some as soon as possible. ~ Linne

      • narf77
        Jun 24, 2013 @ 15:48:28

        Hannah lives in Florida if I am not mistaken Linnie, that’s why I thought of Christ as although she could walk to your house quicker than fly to Florida, she is at least over the border 😉

      • Linne
        Jul 02, 2013 @ 04:55:38

        I misunderstood the last couple of sentences and thought Hannah was in Canada and you were asking me . . . I just asked Christi to send some to my sister in New Mexico for the same reasons. Thanks for straightening me out . . . and I have a lot of other kinks, if you have the time 😉

  10. rabidlittlehippy
    Jun 30, 2013 @ 20:23:53

    I’ve been taking a self imposed break from FeedDemon and it’s only now that I sit down and attempt to catch up on the 316 blog posts I have awaiting my perusal.
    Cycles, the all important cycles. I think the entire essence of life is, or should be as governed by them as what we plant. We humans, in our technological advances have extracted ourselves to sit above all these cycles, attempting to control them. We have climate controlled transport or growing locations, lights to “encourage” eggs out of season, hormones to lenghten production times and so much more, yet the cycles are there for a reason. Encouraging a hen to lay more eggs with artificial lights disrupts other cycles, the poor hen burning out and reaching menopause after 2 years of laying rather than 4-5 with a gentle decline. Even the cycle of hens taking a break during the colder months (only 1 of our 6 hens is laying at the moment and our 3 pekins, now with Lynda D are also on strike) is for their own health. Better the energy be spent keeping the poor birds warm rather than in providing eggs.
    I love you’re retuing and entering back into those cycles, something we too attempt to do.
    Your veggie gardens are looking excitingly good. I must admit, our own non-enclosed ones are enough hard work that there are times I wonder about the worth of it all (oh it is well worthy but the exhaustion speaks as loudly as the complaining muscles 😉 ) but with all the extra work you are forced to do, well, I totally admire your dedication and tenacity. 🙂

    Your kefir looks amazing. I have no large or even identifiable grains to be honest but I am also the master of the over ferment so am unable to distinguish the curds from the grains and I just lump some of the solids back in for the next ferment. It’s just one more thing that I love to do and believe in that gets lost in the rest of my insanely busy days. 🙂

    Sending hardwood thoughts to Ms Brunhilda from Miss Ignisa who is currently sending out an oragey red glow from her maw. We are starting to get the hang ve feeding time at the firewood zoo and balancing our kindling against our ever so slightly damp and rather large hardwoods. Martin is the fire man! I’m just the uh-hu uh-hu who follows orders and sort of gets it right. 😉 May she enjoy that wonderful ultra hot sheoak very much.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 01, 2013 @ 03:27:05

      Hi Jess, I am decidedly behind the 8 ball at the moment. Having this impromptu visit to the girls house has thrown me back and studies have also been eating into our time that we could be spending out in the garden. When I was at my daughters home I had to head out and brave the unit out the back (stuffed to the back gills with all of dad’s stuff that we had to drag over there when his home (now Serendipity Farm) was burgled after he died (lowlife scum) and that we haven’t bothered to deal with. Steve wanted a small book on photography that he brought out with him from the U.K. 15 years ago and I did find it, but only in the very last bag I looked in (how’s that for murphy’s law? 😉 ). I was wading through photos that dad had taken and found some when he and his partner moved in. The place was stunning! A lovely driveway (now a potholed torture zone for cars), the shrubs and trees were all small and manageable, the garden was a delight and well delineated from the lawn (there was a lawn!) and everything was really lovely. Steve and I are starting to despair of ever finding a Nirvana out there in the freezing tundra’s and with my friend Kym coming in a month and my sister Pinky and my son and his partner Kelsey all rocking up round about the same time I am starting to slightly panic about how we are going to have to go into overdrive to tidy up around here and make it presentable for “real people” who don’t understand that those piles of debris are just there because we need to work out the most sustainable thing to do with them…sigh…I think I am going to be rake out this morning…raking, burning heaps of debris and trying to get the lawn to behave. A hilarious aside, Steves friend Guy from down the road brought his tractor up to deal with that tree that has most stubbornly refused to fall down at the side of the house. They hooked the tree up to the tractor, he started to rev it up (it’s a full sized big tractor not a trev…) and as soon as he started to pull the tree decided to go bolshie and a sparkplug flew out of the tractor (stripped the thread) and now the tractor won’t go. When the plug blew it scared 9 months growth out of both Steve and Guy and now we have a tractor gracing the driveway up near my liquidambar tree ;). No idea when it is going to be mended or removed as it can’t operate on 3 cylinders apparently so we might have a nice tractor here for a few months till Guy can get his mechanic out here. It’s freezing cold here as well but not quite -7 on the river as the body of water moderates the heat exchange and keeps us relatively balmy down here but in town and up on the mountains it’s a different story! They are forecasting an amazing snow season this year on Ben Lomand 😉 I am scared to even look at my RSS Feed reader this morning. The laptop was slow as a wet weak and I didn’t even manage to deal with my Pinterest account let alone read my RSS Feed Blog posts so I am back where I started, miles behind and treading water fast! Oh well… who needs time…I hear it is much overrated 😉

      Reply

  11. Hilda
    Oct 23, 2015 @ 14:03:10

    I was wondering if you’ve ever tried keeping this stove burning during the summer just for cooking the food, or does it make the house too hot? I’m trying to figure out which stove to get and it helps that you have written so much about it from Tasmania : ) Thanks.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Oct 23, 2015 @ 19:16:50

      Pretty hot over here in Summer, even in Tasmania. I know that there are people who keep their woodfires going but we just cook on a gas bbq and it suits us fine. I am in the process of coercing Stevie-boy to make me a wood fired pizza oven and have managed to extract a “maybe” so I see that as a step towards wood fired cooking year round :). Thank you for your comment by the way. I love your blog 🙂

      Reply

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