A walk in the black forest

Hi All


aka “Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt” (hee-hee 😉 )

Can’t tell you why I love this song, part of it is to do with the Pirate radio station episode of The Goodies where this is the only record that they have for their radio station and part of it might be my German ancestry (and the toilet humour I just discovered in the German translation) but maybe it just reminds me of my parents playing it way back when I was a little kid…who knows, but all I know is that I really love this song 🙂

No philosophy today, just a lot of wandering around and looking at possibilities on Serendipity Farm. As city slickers (well “town slickers” really…) Steve and I were able to take advantage of the low cost of education here in Tasmania to study horticulture however moving to Serendipity Farm added a whole new world to our horticultural endeavours up to this point. Suddenly our pots of trees and our choices of plants that gave us pleasure became more of a liability than an asset when we had to water and repot them on a regular basis and a new awareness of what the land actually needs started to rise up inside us. I knew that I wanted to use permaculture principles on Serendipity Farm. I wanted to energy cycle and plan with nature’s eyes and follow in the footsteps of Bill Mollison and his cohorts along with amazing visionaries like Masanobu Fukuoka who had a world vision that encompassed a complete overhaul of industrial practices and a return to agricultural practices that work in harmony with nature.


My custom pumpkin sling and my yacon that has sent out another 3 shoots and is threatening to take over Serendipity Farm


For those of my dear constant readers who like a veggie garden fix every week


And here is another one. The tall plant on the right is the yacon

I have been collating information like a crazy person. I have hard drives cram packed to the gills with word documents, PDF’s and all sorts of information but much like my cookbooks, I never look at them. So where is an ex-control freak going to start out on her journey to “find” the real epicentre and ethos of Serendipity Farm? She is going to head out and watch. And that’s what today’s post is about folks…heading out and seeing what Serendipity Farm actually “Is” at the moment and what nature appears to be doing all by herself to heal the problems.


This is what my experimental compost heap looks like now…what is that over in the corner?


AHA! That would be The Garden Chook! The whole time I was attempting to take her picture she was scooting up and down the perimeter wall and clucking and squawking like crazy…”there are worse things than narf7’s you stupid hen!”

Nature HATES bare earth and does her level best to cram pack it with anything to hand which usually eventuates as a whole lot of weed species and a few fast growing nitrogen fixers. This reforestation is called creating a Seral community. The most pressing thing is to cover up the soil thus the weeds are able to proliferate and seed en masse. Small nitrogenous shrubs and trees like wattles and sheoak’s grow in between the weeds and after a little while they provide enough shade for other shrubs and ground covers (usually native) to get a look in. The larger wattles and eucalypts are slowly growing amongst the mix and within a short space of time you are standing in another one of nature’s miracles…a forest. Once the trees start growing they shade out the ground below and the weed species tend to die out aside from the hardiest species but eventually it all evens out. Nature is a great leveller.


This hen was pining for her sister. I gave her sister to Kelsey (luck of the draw when you have 2 hens to catch and you are lazy and grab the first 2 that are sitting in front of you on the perch as you enter a dark chicken coop…) to join their small chook population and hopefully she is happy now


Isn’t nature clever? Here you see how nature naturally prunes a cutting back to a growing point. Above this bud the stem has died and eventually the top of this branch will drop off leaving this healthy growing point to take over. Clever isn’t it 🙂


Just a quick sunshiny image for all of my northern dear constant readers 🙂

Down in the lowest part of Serendipity Farm (we are on a steep slope that leads into the river at the bottom of our property) teatrees thrive where the excess water arrives down from the slopes and has time to soak into the ground. There is actually green grass (albeit sporadic thanks to the wallabies and kangaroos that live down there) growing here even though we haven’t had any proper rain since early December.  We are in the process of working out a series of swales that will contour our property and that will direct and slow the water flow and topsoil that it contains down our steep rocky slopes and that will allow the water to soak into the ground before moving on to the next opportunity to splash a bit of that precious moisture around. We are going to use the remains of the large piles of debris to create swales as well as chopping them up to form hugels that we are going to place around the boundary fence lines of the property and will seed with hawthorns for privacy and native bird and animal habitat. It hasn’t escaped my attention that the only really green and grassy areas on Serendipity Farm at the moment are beneath large piles of debris


One of the 2 cluckies that were guarding a small pod of delicious chicks that have since been rehoused to safer digs


All that was left of a mother hen who had 13 babies 😦

I mentioned that we had a quoll in last week’s post. Since we noticed a dead chook in the garden we have lost at least 5 more that we know of, mostly mothers with babies. We have 2 populations of small baby chicks that have been orphaned by quolls attacking their mothers and killing them and coming back to eat as many of the terrified babies as they can catch. It is quite disconcerting to find a tiny chicken head, wings and heart sans the rest of the chick and we have discovered more of them than we would like to even think about. I have had to contain the chooks inside the outside enclosure, herding them up at night and catching all of the orphaned babies and hurling them all into the chicken coop that has a concrete base in order to have at least some of my chickens still there in the morning. Remember that old saying “be careful what you wish for because it might come true?” well wanting less chooks and wondering how we were going to deal with the feral population is no longer a problem. We have mum quoll and a nest of babies polishing them off nicely for us…the only problem is that she isn’t going to head off anywhere until she has eliminated the entire population of chooks…NOT an acceptable option quoll!


This was taken back in January when there were significantly more pears on the tree but one of these pears is just about ripe and “I” bags it!


Part of the reason why narf7 hides under the bed and is contemplating a serious drinking habit…

We are on high alert here at the moment. Every time I hear native birds alarm calls I head out to make sure that the quolls aren’t on the move. I thought that they were nocturnal but apparently when they have babies the mother quolls and the babies can be seen during the day as well. I have had the usual escape hens making a quick exit from the outside enclosure as soon as I let them out in the morning but I kind of think if a quoll eats them it might be doing me a favour. Who wants chooks clever enough to get out and hide their eggs, hatch them out and then raise them out in the bush? NOT ME! A smart chook is just one step away from a velociraptor in my books


We helped our good friend Roxy to complete her online “Responsible Serving of Alcohol” course because she doesn’t have a computer of her own.


Note while Roxy is “driving” she is sticking with tea…Steve on the other hand is only a passenger and is completely able to drink and backseat drive 😉

I just raced out to see what all the commotion was about as there were hens making their alarm calls all over the place. I headed out prepared to do battle with the quoll, apparently with my bare hands as I didn’t take anything with me, and after wandering around amongst the escapees (2 roosters and a hen) I couldn’t see anything to be alarmed about and when I turned around to head back to the house I noticed that it wasn’t a quoll that had alarmed them, it was a white goshawk that occasionally visits Serendipity Farm. As these magnificent birds are quite rare and wanting to get a good photo of it as it sat in a eucalyptus quite close to the house I slowly slunk into the house and grabbed my trusty camera and headed back outside all the while looking at the tree it had been sitting in. It was gone…I backed up slowly watching the sky and stopped at the end of the deck only to realise that Bezial was getting up from his sunny spot next to me and that there was a nasty smell…bugger…I had trodden in something nefarious :(. I could still see the goshawk circling in the sky but wasn’t able to get a good image for you but I DID get a good shot of my remedy for dog poo on your deck…


That’s what lavender talcum powder is for isn’t it? 😉


In the spirit of laziness and complete transparency (well…”some” transparency 😉 ) I bring you narf7 trying to drown her sorrows after discovering a mass slaughter out in the driveway…note the lack of a glass…too depressed to wash up…

Earl and I have been walking with Jan and Mica for a few weeks now and it has certainly made a difference to both dogs. They are calmer and more relaxed and tend to pull us less on our walks now. After our walks together we head back to Jan’s house where the dogs can run around her enormous back yard to their hearts content and by the time I head back home with Earl he is completely and utterly knackered. Earl is a very social boy and loves meeting new dogs but he has a special place for Mica, Jan and now Peter, Jan’s brother. Earl LOVES Peter. I think that Earl would move in with Jan and Peter if he had half a chance but alas, you are stuck with the hillbilly Pimblett’s Earl, such is your lot 😉


Most of this lunch was grown by Roxy 🙂


Apparently having calzones for tea brings out Steve’s creative side

We had a tiny 15 minute thunderstorm this morning that was punctuated by a 5 minute rain event. I have been waiting for rain for SO long now it was a bit of an anticlimax but never let it be said that narf7 isn’t grateful. I would just like to be a whole lot MORE grateful is all. When Steve and I made the decision 3 nights ago to bundle up every chicken on Serendipity Farm in order to save their lives we didn’t realise what we were setting ourselves up for. We headed out with a torch and our determination. We had to wait till dusk because our feral community (like a seral community only less useful…) of chooks is very wary and we had to work under the cover of dark. One by one we found them, perched on various fences, structures and underneath shrubs and one by one we hauled their indignant squawking carcasses back to the chook coop and hurled them into safety. Each and every chick was hunted down and grabbed and tossed in to join the rest. The first 3 surviving chicks from the very first mother hen massacre that survived a second night where their 4 brothers and sisters were picked off and dismembered one by one were hiding under a blackberry shrub and Steve and I managed to grab them with blackberry thorns to remind us of our kindness


What happens when you mix nutritional yeast flakes, tahini, miso paste, a squirt of mustard, a slop of sweet chilli sauce, Massell chicken (vegan) style stock powder and a squirt of lemon juice with some fresh ground pepper and enough water to mix to a smooth paste?


You get vegan “cheeze” sauce, that’s what you get 🙂

The hardest to get were the roosters who were VERY wary and every time we grabbed one it made the most hideous noises. You would have thought that WE were the quolls the amount of noise that came out of them! We then headed off to grab the clucky chooks and the babies that had hatched out from under them. There were 2 cluckies sitting on one enormous clutch of eggs (cheers chooks… we could have had them!) and half of them had hatched out. With the quoll taking 2 mothers in 2 nights we didn’t want to run the risk of it taking out 2 of our prize layers in one fell swoop so we had to run the gamut of hen pecks to first grab all of the tiny fluffy babies out from under them. As we grabbed them we put them into a box, then Steve grabbed the older Wyandotte who had gone clucky and took her over to the roost and deposited her and then he came back for Pong, Pingus sister who was fiercely pecking me for all she was worth…I grabbed her and carried her to the shed where we had a cage set up ready with hay and food and water for her to stay in overnight with her babies and we placed her inside and released all of the babies into her (angry) care.


You can see the chicken coop (white door) and to the left of it the amorphous creation known as “The Outside Chook Enclosure” where our chickens are currently languishing while the quoll has free reign of the rest of the property (mutter…mutter…mutter)


I know I have been running my mouth off against Mr T. Abbot our liberal (what a misnomer of a word eh?) Prime Minister of late but a spy submarine? “REALLY?!” 😉


The same night I had my wine event, I decided to have an easy tea (easy for someone who is no longer steady on her feet to prepare 😉 )…this is what I ate for my evening meal with a packet of frozen Brussels sprouts and some frozen green beans (steamed) added to the mix. It was quite tasty actually but maybe that is just the wine talking 😉

By this time Steve and I were knackered! We had moved around in ways that middle aged hippies most probably shouldn’t move around in if they don’t want to wake up the next morning with all of the pain inflicted by the uninitiated whence undertaking the Karma Sutra without all of the fun! It was pitch dark when we arrived back inside but we were full of the joy of knowing that the quoll was going to go without its early morning breakfast of tasty plump chook.


A friends house plans and what Earl thinks of them…

I remembered at the last minute that there was still one hen (that we knew about at the time) that was up near our vegetable garden ensconced in the middle of a pile of dried branches…dried …spiky… painful branches… and so we headed up to save her like the heroes that we are. I managed to grab her but she flapped away and eventually I grabbed her by the legs and managed to calm her down enough to hold her but she was making some terrible noises and I didn’t want to alarm the chooks in the coop any more than they were already alarmed and so I decided to toss her into the veggie garden overnight. The next morning I headed up to water the garden and “The Garden Chook” was sitting in my possum decimated silverbeet bed and ran off squawking when she saw me. She raced off into the pumpkin patch and disappeared. She is being tolerated in the veggie garden until such time as she disgraces herself and digs something up. She has my laziness to thank for her degree of luxury and freedom


Steve’s new preciouses complete with Windows 8

Well here we are at the end of another post and I haven’t even told you that we have started our new course and that Steve has a new (preciouses) mobile phone to play with. I guess I really should keep something for next week when hopefully we will have contained the quoll and relocated it somewhere where it won’t be imbibing of Serendipity Farm chook flesh in the near future. Have a great week folks. I hope that it is starting to warm up for all of my northern readers and that is starts to cool down (and more importantly RAIN) for my southern friends as well.

63 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. quarteracrelifestyle
    Mar 05, 2014 @ 19:15:09

    I have never heard of a Quoll. You poor things…it’s one thing to want to minimise chook numbers it’s another to see them killed off by ugly creatures. No wonder the wine 😦 You have your share of problems of nature!!! I don’t even know what to say about that, I just feel gutted for you. xx
    Good luck with your study this year, more slog but will be worth it in the end.


    • narf77
      Mar 06, 2014 @ 04:06:53

      Aside from being an endangered species, quolls are actually very pretty. They are sort of like our native cats, but they are voracious killers and mine apparently has a den of babies that she is feeding. They got another chook yesterday. A stupid mother chook who abandoned her babies inside the safety of the enclosure and headed over the top and into battle…she lost :(. I sometimes wonder why we keep chooks to be honest! Might actually ruminate about that for a bit and might give them all away until the quoll buggers off or we might just start wading into the undergrowth down in the area where we suspect she is living and show her that she isn’t the only “carnivore” on Serendipity Farm 😉 At the moment the studies aren’t hard, just feeling our way through the new course and it is promising to be an interesting extension of media that we studied last year. This one is more creative which suits me just fine 🙂


      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 06:02:37

        Yes, it sounds like maybe it’s more trouble than they are worth 😦 That’s a shame but it seems to be alot of problems in having them – I would just despair over having something attacking my animals.

        Creative sounds good, I imagine you will enjoy that – certainly not tedious.

        Having our old dog Bob put down today, not an easy thing!

      • narf77
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 11:41:01

        😦 Poor Bob…Poor YOU 😦 I don’t even want to think about having to do that so you have my complete and utter sympathy today Wendy. HUGE hugs to both of you and to Bob 😦

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 13:37:40

        Thanks Fran. The third dog in 6 years, don’t think I can ever do that again 😦

      • narf77
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 14:23:39

        I wish I could give you a hug Wendy. I guess you have to be willing to have your heart broken in order to have something love you so unconditionally 😦

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 14:26:14

        Oh!… thank you Fran and yep, that is so true.

      • narf77
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 14:27:04

        I am so sad for you 😦 I am going to go hug Earl and Bezial now 😦

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 14:31:56

        Yep, you totally do that. I came home and held Bob for an hour, longest cuddle ever. They are such special companions….you never forget any one of them. Bob was my 7th dog, my first I got on my 2nd birthday. Precious beings 🙂

      • narf77
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 15:39:07

        I don’t think that you could go without one now. Just wait a bit and then think about it. It hurts like a bitch but then life wasn’t meant to be easy was it? It WAS meant to be felt though.

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 20:19:41

        Yep, agreed 🙂 Maybe one day 🙂

  2. brymnsons
    Mar 05, 2014 @ 19:53:19

    Well anyone who can quote a name like Masanobu Fukuoka (glad I’m not Mrs Fukuoka 🙂 ) is pretty damn amazing to me. Bloody hell life sure likes to throw in a spanner or two eh… hope you can solve the quoll problem.
    Nice phone Steve :), I look forward to seeing some photos you have taken with it. Oh yeah, talk about a small world. I was having my nails done in Esperance and a lady next to me was also getting her nails done, (stay with me, I’m getting there) and she was chatting away saying she was heading to Tassie for a holiday. I joined the conversation and found out the girl who was doing her nails is from Tassie, (ok getting there…) and her mum works in the tea shop we stopped at in Beaconsfield! Hows that for 3 degrees of separation 🙂 . As I said, small world eh. Have you dropped by my blog to see my tea cosy??


    • narf77
      Mar 06, 2014 @ 04:07:59

      Small world indeed! Oh bollocks! Haven’t made it to “W” yet in my RSS Feed Reader…I am going to start at “Z” today and work backwards! 😉


  3. rabidlittlehippy
    Mar 05, 2014 @ 23:04:17

    Snigger. German is a fantastic language. The German word for father is most approrpriate given the wind that ensues from my father (Vater – pron. farter). And Mother (mutter pron. Mooter (oo as in book)) is most appropriate as I have been known to mutter about her on more than one occasion. My personal favourite word in the German language though is Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung. What a BRILLIANT word for those moments of road rage when some toss-pot cuts you off and burns on up the road. Yep, Gesh-vin-dee-kites-be-greng-soong.

    Is the yacon on the left or right? Looks like the plant next to your pumpkin hammock I thought? Mine I hope has something to show when I dig them up. 😦 Nothing lush like you have.

    Great use for talc too. 😉

    Masanobu Fukuokawas an amazing man and so far ahead of his time it’s not funny. We could all learn more than a thing or two from his observations and more to the point about how he observed. I’ve read an interview given by him and it was simply amazing. And then with what Bill Mollison and David Holmgren have added on top we have everything we could possibly need to know about permaculture. We have the basics information and we have the skills and means to learn everythign else we need. learn to observe and you can tailor the basics to fit to your very own personal experience.

    We too saw precipitation today, more in the form of very light drizzle. Still and all, the leaves are ceared of dust and dirt if nothing else. Not too long now and we has be seeing more rain than we can shake a stick at. Well, in theory at least. Just no floods please Gaia.

    Good luck with the studies too. here’s hoping no more OH&S nightmare weeks.


    • narf77
      Mar 06, 2014 @ 04:14:10

      Don’t wish for lush! I have learned that “lush” foliage often means poor crop. I will just be stoked if I can get enough of those rhizomes forming so that I can plant them out again next season let alone tubers forming. I bet my spud harvest can be counted on one hand even though I have practically half an acre of foliage ;). The yacon is to the left of my pumpkin sling and is about 5 ft tall. The initial 2 stalks that I was sent have grown into approximately 7 stalks and it appears to be wanting to go feral so I am going to let it 😉

      At the root of permaculture is an incredibly simple premise “observe, learn, implement, grow, customise to fit your parameters, learn from your mistakes, move on” simples really…it just took these wise men to take note and write it down for the rest of us 🙂

      So many things are almost dead here on Serendipity Farm. Even the maples that will survive a nuclear bomb blast are dry and crunchy. SO over dust and no moisture but it seems like we are stuck with this for the immediate future. I agree…the last thing we need right now is a large downpour to wash all of the topsoil (such as it is) down into the Tamar River!


  4. cathyandchucky
    Mar 05, 2014 @ 23:49:32

    Fantastic blog Fronkiii. As much as you love all critters native, quolls are savage little munters and will kill as much as they can to feed themselves and their babies.


    • narf77
      Mar 06, 2014 @ 04:18:11

      I can only begin to imagine how fat this quoll and her babies are as they have culled at least 1 chook a day since they started making their nefarious activities noticeable. They have probably been taking the odd chook for a while now and to be honest I wouldn’t have noticed but finding dead babies scattered all over the driveway and a mum with no intestines is a bit like waking up in a “SAW” situation! It wouldn’t be so bad if the little swines weren’t arboreal! They can climb up and over our chook enclosure and apparently they aren’t just nocturnal (when they are hungry) so mum was out there stealing the reprobate chooks that flew out of the coop yesterday and took a mum that had left her babies inside the enclosure :(. You should have seen poor Steve and I last night trying to coral and herd (and grab and stuff) about 20 orphaned baby fluffy chicks into the chook coop in order for them not to be quoll snacks last night…the little buggers kept running into tiny gaps in the agapanthus and blackberries that are in the outside enclosure so poor me had to shove my hands in and feel around for “fluff”…sigh…the things we do and we aren’t even getting eggs any more!!!!!!


      • cathyandchucky
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 08:59:21

        Oh no! How sad 😦 poor little chicks. Poor you! Shame the quolls don’t eat possum and could negate those little buggers!

      • narf77
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 11:52:06

        The DO eat possums but ours are so HUGE and aggressive the quolls wouldn’t stand a chance against them…I am now in the process of feeding up the last 3 kittens in order to get them to take back Pelham 123! I can tell you I wasn’t thinking “poor little chicks” when I was up to my armpits in agapanthus and blackberry trying to extract their squeaky little derrières from where they had lodged them right in the middle (the most prickly part) in order to escape my questing hands which were trying to save them from nocturnal snacking by quoll!

  5. Joanna
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 02:24:12

    I am glad we don’t have quolls here – I think we have pine martens in old forest in Scotland and the odd ferret and stoats, they would be the nearest equivalent. There was a stoat at Dad’s place in the country who they called Samantha stoat, she would raid the bird table and woe betide any little chaffinch who was in her way. Thank you for the fix of that glorious view Narf! Hard to remember sometimes that there are wide open places and blue sky and clean air when you live in a polluted city xx


    • narf77
      Mar 06, 2014 @ 04:20:17

      You don’t have quolls and parched soil and possums and wallabies in a polluted city ;). I think our quolls are like pine martens. They are very pretty but deadly and obviously incredibly smart because as far as I can ascertain, the mother must have been watching me feed bread to the chooks (when we still had them outside) and waited till Earl and I had headed down the driveway to run out and kill the mother chook that was feeding…clever and deadly!


      • Joanna
        Mar 09, 2014 @ 05:36:20

        Went somewhere you might like today though, on the outskirts of our city, Feed Bristol, run by Avon Wild Life Trust, lots of talk of bees, pollinators, bats and badgers – it is a huge project serving all manner of community groups on 8 acres of good soil which was an old market garden. I was there dropping off some home saved seed at a seed swap and was so impressed by all the energy. Plus I scored some new tomato seeds to try 🙂

      • narf77
        Mar 09, 2014 @ 05:51:50

        Excellent! Can’t wait to read about those delicious tomatoes in a future post :). I love fossicking around in amazing gardens and finding bees, bats and badgers all in the same place? It must have been night time! ;). Glad you had an excellent day and were enthused by all that energy. I reckon that’s what gives me my energy, all of that buzz and energy from nature 🙂 (and the buckwheat helps 😉 )

  6. christiglover
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 02:35:57

    I feel your pain, Fran. Our weasel wipeout of June 29 — the day shall live in infamy — still stings. Quolls look very much like weasels, and sound just as ruthless, a bite to the neck, drain the blood, and leave the rest. Grrr.

    Permaculture is on our minds, too. Sernedipity and Small World karma going crazy!! Kalani, an eco-village place in Hawaii which practices and teaches permaculture and is right where we are planning to move, has attracted the eye of His Majesty — 23-year-old son looking to WWOOF and practice his yoga and he could end up coming with us! :):)

    I’m interested to read Masanobu Fukuoka and the others.

    It is pouring here and has been for days. We just get 60+ inches a year, but as Keith says, “It comes in an eyedropper, man!” It’s falling a little harder than that now, but ever-present drizzle is our trademark.

    I love the evolution of Serendipity Farm and you and Steve and the dogs.


    • narf77
      Mar 06, 2014 @ 04:29:04

      I now really know how you felt with your weasel attack 😦 Quolls are just spotty weasels but this one doesn’t take all the chooks at once, just picks them off when she has the opportunity. Now that I have enclosed them in the outdoor enclosure (no cover over the top) I hope that I haven’t just made them literally sitting ducks! 😦 His Majesty would probably adore living in Hawaii…he could be the next Ben Harper 😉 Where you are looking at moving to sounds like pure heaven :). I will start sending you a chook a day so that my poor embattled girls can live in paradise…I fear they would reach paradise before the postal system got them to you ;). I reckon you get a lot more rain than that in Hawaii and Keith will be complaining about it ;). HUGS from Serendipity Farm…by the way, I have put the bottle down now and am choosing a more proactive way to deal with the quolls…Earl…on a leash…in the garden…with urine! Sounds like a scenario out of Cluedo! 😉


  7. thecontentedcrafter
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 06:48:24

    First up – everyone of a certain age and over will recognise that bit of music instantly I’m sure – I haven’t heard it for years but knew what was coming next and my feet started tapping 🙂

    I love that you are going into a watch and wait and learn phase with your farmlet – leaving behind your impetuous townie ways and becoming one with the land.
    That’s a sign of real maturity, swigging on bottles of wine or not 🙂

    I am highly amused at the pictures in my head of you and Stevie the wonder-boy heading off into the night like stealth ninjas to save the lives of those wilful chooks!
    It appears to me that they really don’t mind if they become fodder for that alien looking meat-eating herbivore-looking creature that you call a tiger quoll.

    I have never heard of a tiger quoll before you mentioned it in last weeks post and I forgot to ask you wtf is that? Now I know – it looks quite like that other creature we abhor called a possum that strips our gardens bare, this one eats all the livestock that is left.
    Dear god, what a horrendous partnership. You know, I’m having second thoughts about packing up Orlando and coming to live in your shed – all those creatures that snuffle and sniffle and snarl in the night would scare the living … out of me!

    I am very happy to see that Steve has got a new toy – has he played angry birds yet?

    I’m quite admiring of your vegan cheese sauce recipe – and it reminded me to ask when are you going to get your recipe page set up? I don’t like to think of you having too much time to sit and gaze out the window at nature and as one of your dear constant readers am looking forward to emulating your prowess in the kitchen with my kefir [still awol as I write this] and my kombucha when I lay my hands on a scoby…..
    I have to get into your mans site yet, I spent too long wandering around in the American one and signing up for stuff – ran out of time to do anything else….it’s been a crazy week or so and I am still trying to get two porjects finished for the end of the month when I tootle off to Wellington for a week….

    And after a week of freezing cold weather complete with wild winds and hailstorms today the sun is shining and the birds are singing and I have to go and see if anything survived the premature onslaught of winter in my tiny garden… fortunately that will only take a few minutes!

    I tell you this so you don’t send rain to my part of the world 🙂

    Have a good week Fran, I’ll give you a shout out when the kefir arrives. Fingers crossed the man at customs hasn’t taken it home to his wife ….


    • narf77
      Mar 06, 2014 @ 11:49:33

      SSSSSSHHHHHHHHH!!! Don’t remind him about the Angry Birds! He only just stopped playing the last version on his old phone! 😉 The customs guys are probably waving it around and doing drug tests on the poor little babies as I type…I can only BEGIN to imagine what the Spanish customs officers are doing to Tanya’s! 😉 I really hope you get it. Wendy got hers no problems so fingers crossed it is just taking its time to get there. Good GRIEF woman you are persistent! I am starting to realise how Linne feels now that I am on the other side 😉 I will be getting to making that page (now that Steve remembered how to add a new page 😉 ) ASAP. Still have to find out about if you can dehydrate and then rehydrate a SCOBY but have been busy writing Amazon reviews for e-books. Soon ma’am…SOON! 😉


      • thecontentedcrafter
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 12:37:58

        🙂 I am nothing if not persistent! Especially when it comes to other people – for myself – not so much 🙂

        I think I can get a scoby from your man in Oz just haven’t quite got to him yet. I was busy studying up on what I have to do to get the kefir growing. I went out yesterday and purchased a strainer and a spatula specifically for said kefir so I am ready! Ready customs men, WAITING!!

        I know how to add a new page – I just never figured out how to add posts into that page. Maybe it’s not possible! Maybe you just add links in…..?? Please ask Steve if he knows the answer to that question sometime or other if you think of it, just being curious.

      • narf77
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 14:21:44

        If my man in Australia can send you a SCOBY then so can I!!! I will need to check out how to do so but will get onto it this weekend. I am working through studies at the moment 🙂 I will ask Steve about adding posts into the page but I think it is just like a long continuous page and you have to add things onto the end of your last post there if I remember correctly

      • thecontentedcrafter
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 14:30:16

        Re the page – yes, think so too – so don’t bother poor Steve. Re the SCOBY [must remember to capitalise!] GREAT!! 🙂

      • narf77
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 15:41:29

        It is only a SCOBY (because I am too lazy to write S.C.O.B.Y. as it is an acronym for “Symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast” 😉

      • thecontentedcrafter
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 19:00:20

        I knew that – I learned it from the nice lady on the links you sent me – see I am reading those lovely pdf’s you went to so much trouble to put together!

      • narf77
        Mar 07, 2014 @ 02:58:39

        Good girl! 🙂

      • thecontentedcrafter
        Mar 06, 2014 @ 19:03:24

        Plus I’d also like to point out that you are now two posts behind due to your odd habit of starting at ‘A’ every day – And don’t think I didn’t notice when you told someone – I forget who now – just as you were heading towards ‘T’ that you would skip to ‘z’ and go backwards…….. 🙂

      • narf77
        Mar 07, 2014 @ 03:01:04

        But I DID comment on your Facebook page…I would just like to point THAT out ;). I didn’t even get to read ANY of my RSS
        Feeds yesterday so am woefully behind and have 265 posts to get through! I also have to do some serious research about blogging platforms and what their pro’s and cons are along with “writing a visual story” using thin slivers of my life laid out on a printer scanner so I think I am going to have to leave “A” right through to “Z” yet again!

      • thecontentedcrafter
        Mar 07, 2014 @ 04:52:25

        Do you think you might be just the teeniest bit over committed? 265!! And I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with ten posts sitting in my email!

        Yes you did comment on my facebook page – my apologies! You commented twice! It was lovely 🙂

        I am very pleased, proud and happy with my Organiser – two people have asked for one already – which is really high praise – so I have to put my head down and finish all my half finished projects and get to the other side of four weeks so I can get on with producing a few Organisers for my Etsy Store 🙂 Might have to give up blog reading myself!!

      • narf77
        Mar 07, 2014 @ 04:54:21

        I really think you are onto a winner with those organisers Pauline. People love beautiful things that they touch base with on a daily basis and to be able to organise yourself in such a beautiful way/book would be amazing. Have you thought about making diaries as well? Might be a real money spinner 🙂

      • thecontentedcrafter
        Mar 07, 2014 @ 05:06:28

        That’s another vote of confidence, thanks Fran 🙂 I wouldn’t know where to start with diaries – but never say never!

      • narf77
        Mar 07, 2014 @ 05:08:35

        I guess you would just get empty journals and would create gorgeousness for covers and maybe you could make some scrumptious book marks as well?

      • thecontentedcrafter
        Mar 07, 2014 @ 05:10:09

        Oh! Why, yes that is exactly what I would do! 🙂

      • narf77
        Mar 07, 2014 @ 05:10:39


  8. Yelena
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 12:55:54

    Did I ever tell you that I have a dream to have a small farm and grow many fruit trees. The minute I have that I will buy a chickens-))) I LOVE chickens!!! I can imagine how wonderful it is to have a fresh eggs every day. I probably would buy a goat also-))) To make a cheese, of course-))




    • narf77
      Mar 06, 2014 @ 14:22:52

      I would love to give you all of my chickens (chooks) if it meant that they wouldn’t get eaten by the quolls. You will have your dream one day and I can imagine how amazing your cheese posts will be! Can’t wait 🙂 Also, imagine all of the amazing recipes you could make with all of those excess eggs!


  9. foodnstuff
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 18:14:59

    I would probably be rejoicing if I had a native quoll rather than an introduced fox, but then probably not…as the result (dead chooks) would be the same.

    Oh….is THAT what a SCOBY is. Live and learn (or read Fran’s blog and learn).


    • narf77
      Mar 07, 2014 @ 02:58:26

      We have a bit of a standoff situation at the moment…we are keeping our chooks inside an outdoor enclosure and not letting them free range and we are herding them all into the secure concrete based shed at night so no more chooks have lost their lives but there is a mother hen down in the tea tree garden with a little pod of babies that I am not holding out hope for being alive much longer :(. I learn from someone else, I pass it on…consider me a release valve 😉


  10. teawithhazel
    Mar 07, 2014 @ 08:10:28

    poor chooks..they are magnets for all sorts of carniverous beasts..i love that you went to so much trouble to protect them..it sounds like a huge mission..what are you and steve studying this semester?


    • narf77
      Mar 07, 2014 @ 11:17:51

      Print Pre-Press online 🙂 I had to laugh last night as we were heading out to attempt to get all of the orphaned babies into the protection of the fully enclosed coop and we noticed an old clucky who is so elderly that she doesn’t lay eggs any more (we don’t care 🙂 ) had adopted about 20 chicks in various stages of development. She had legs, wings and heads sticking out of her feathers all over! She looked like an horrific genetic science experiment gone wrong 😉


  11. Littlesundog
    Mar 07, 2014 @ 15:14:11

    Oh the poor chooks! I have never heard of these quolls, so I had to Google them and discover more about them. Always learning! I’m so glad you included that photo of Earl so I could have my weekly Earl fix. I am envious of your pear tree. All of the various fruit trees I have planted in the last 6 years, pears included, have been destroyed by young deer bucks that have rubbed their antlers on them. I planted the trees for both our use and to have extra fruit for Daisy and her friends, but alas, the bucks have ruined that. I will have to give up… some battles just can’t be fought!


  12. teawithhazel
    Mar 08, 2014 @ 08:20:43

    meant to say ‘what is pre print press on line?’


    • narf77
      Mar 09, 2014 @ 03:38:23

      Sorry Jane, its actually Graphic Pre-press online and is where we learn to use Adobe InDesign to create e-books and we learn to apply graphic design and typography to websites :). I don’t really make myself clear a lot of the time to be honest I don’t really KNOW much about what we are doing but Steve seems to so I figure we are halfway there 😉 I will share what we are doing online through the year so that you can all get an idea about what we are up to. I am excited that we should be able to make e-books so that I can shove a lot of this amazing stuff that I learn into them and share with the rest of the world (funnelled and channelled through Serendipity Farm so I don’t get sued! 😉 )


  13. Spy Garden
    Mar 09, 2014 @ 00:10:26

    Love the pumpkin sling and the submarine!


    • narf77
      Mar 09, 2014 @ 03:47:47

      Glad you liked them…I didn’t mention the drug spotting plane that fly’s VERY low over our enclosure and that we are expecting a visit from the feds any…day…now… 😉


  14. Linne
    Mar 10, 2014 @ 17:27:59

    I remember that song; I really liked it! Wouldn’t have remembered the name if I’d just heard it, though. Masanobu Fukuoka I first read about in The Mother Earth News and was SO impressed! I’ve recommended his writings and his gardening style to many people over the years. I’d love to take an acre of land, dig it up roughly (maybe with a horse and a tiller?), then sow seed randomly all over, water it and see what came up . . . more like nature than anything,, which is what attracts me, I suppose. Mmmm Garden photos . . . THANK YOU!! And now I know a new animal; the quoll! never read anything about them ’til now. Sound like relatives of our weasels. A weasel got many of our hens when we were in that big log house; hawks took the rest. Can’t blame ’em, though; for them, it’s like someone put out a sign “All You Can Eat Buffet – kids eat free!” 😉 Love your Garden Chook – too bad they are so ‘destructive’ in gardens, eh? Pears . . . mmmmm some more. And then poo . . . well, at least it’s now lavender-scented poo 🙂

    I’d be drinking out of the bottle by now, too! “Nature, red in tooth and claw” makes itself felt on Serendipity Farm. The downside of nature is . . . nature! I admire you both wholeheartedly for your devotion to saving those wee chooks, especially since some people might have been happy to have the quoll solve the feral chook problem. Blackberries, eh? I love ’em, but that’s one place I will likely never give up control; I want them corralled!

    That lunch looks so good; you might have listed the ingredients . . . (hint)

    Love Steve’s calzone; I used to make ‘landscapes’ out of veggies for picky kids (not mine; mine would eat whatever, especially if it came back to the next meal after being ignored at the first one LOL); broccoli trees, carrot strip log fences, it was fun!

    That Cheeze sauce . . . I’ve used nutritional yeast for almost my entire life. Have made note of this recipe, too. (BTW, when does the index upload?) Nice phone, Steve! I play games on mine, too, but not the frantic, flappy sort; I need games to calm me down, so it’s Sudoku and FreeCell and Blitz, which you would think was incitement to riot, but calms me anyway; go figure . . .


    • narf77
      Mar 11, 2014 @ 03:52:37

      Not sure when I am going to have time to start a recipe page but I am going to add a “search” button to the blog (just discovered that I could on the weekend after researching “blogs” for our new course 😉 ). No games for me…too busy!


  15. Angela @ Canned Time
    Mar 11, 2014 @ 09:03:23

    Oh my golly what a time you’ve had. That’s one of those ‘have to do it so just get over it’ tasks to save your chickens. I know I could have done it but I can’t imagine it either. What a kind heart you have and what nasty buggers those quolls must be. I had to look them up and it seems they’re your’s and your’s alone there in Tasmania. Good luck with them and hopefully they’ll find food elsewhere soon.


    • narf77
      Mar 11, 2014 @ 10:02:45

      I was considering allowing Earl to roam free for a bit to clear up the problem as he is the equivalent of the now extinct Tasmanian tiger that used to deal with the little voracious buggers but then I remember that they are actually on the endangered list and that Earl would just keep on hunting till he hit the city! Might be best not to inflict that on anyone 😉


  16. Sincerely, Emily
    Mar 11, 2014 @ 13:00:59

    Wonderful to see how your garden grows. Things looks so so very green even though you haven’t had rain. We are parched and dry (actually getting a nice slow soft rain today – very much needed.) No quoll, kangaroo, or wallabies here. Thankfully. Just deer that have, once again started jumping into our back yard. Pain in my tush they are! grrr. Lawn rats, very big lawn rats. I know if I had chickens I would need to be protecting them from other things that don’t seem to bother me ’cause we don’t have chooks. What a time you have had. They sound safe now. Job well done!


    • narf77
      Mar 12, 2014 @ 03:51:05

      Hi Emily 🙂 HUGE hugs from Sidmouth :). I think I finally found where that nocturnal possum has been finding its way into our veggie enclosure and taking his pick of our pumpkins as they grow. I would have had a very big harvest this year but for his sampling every pumpkin on the peripherals of the garden. I can’t get too grouchy as most of them sprouted from a pile of compost anyway. I will know better next year and am going to plant some exotic pumpkins like Turks head. Its no fun to be arid…I feel for you. Whenever you walk around here the dust/silty topsoil just puffs up off the ground. We got a teeny bit of rain last night, just enough to wet the soil but it smelled absolutely amazing…you could almost hear the eucalypts sighing with pleasure 🙂

      We seem to have every neighbourhood native stalking everything that we grow. The kangaroos and wallabies are here because our property is mostly bush and as we didn’t raze our grass to the ground like all of our neighbours they have something to eat but then they think to themselves “why stop here with grass? Lets progress on to those tasty exotics!” sigh…so they eat everything up to a metre off the ground where the possums then take over and eat everything that they fancy further up which is my veggie garden at the moment. If they can’t get inside (only 1 is smart enough at the moment but I just sorted that out 😉 ) they bounce up and down on top of the enclosure till they can reach the tallest veggies (corn, yacon, sunflowers, climbing pumpkin vines) and snap them off or chew them off :(. What with the long dry summer (only just getting rain now and have had NONE since early December prior to this) everything is really suffering in the garden. I did learn some valuable lessons though…Mediterranean plants LOVE these sort of conditions. Pistachio chinensis HAPPY (can graft Pistachio vera onto it if I can find some scion material), figs HAPPY, Olive trees HAPPY and so I am going to renegotiate my ideas about what I am going to plant (food species) and will be planting quinces, figs, olives, persimmons, might even try a couple of pecans, macadamias, etc… you just have to pick yourself up and learn what does and doesn’t like your conditions. No point fighting with nature, she ALWAYS wins 😉 a smart human will learn to work “with” her rather than persist in pushing their will on her. We have lots of orphaned fluff ball chicks at the moment which luckily we have a crazy old clucky hen who no longer lays eggs but thinks that they all belong to her now so they get to sleep warm at night (like some Frankenstein’s monster creation of a large fat hen with legs, wings, heads and feet sticking out all over her 😉 ) but she goes into the coop herself leaving them all huddled up in a corner of the outside coop and that’s where Steve and I have to head to just on dusk and start catching them and tossing them into the inside (safe from quolls) coop to race over to her…this country life isn’t easy is it?! 🙂 Have a great day and here’s hoping your rain persists enough to soak in and do some good 🙂


  17. cityhippyfarmgirl
    Mar 11, 2014 @ 13:44:38

    Oh Mama Quoll that’s just not plain nice. Not nice at all.
    Hope it rains soon for you, I saw some pics of Southern Tas recently, certainly not the lush green hills that I remember.


    • narf77
      Mar 12, 2014 @ 03:53:19

      Nope…more like the Gobi desert at the moment 😦 Mama quoll seems to have flown the coop since we started allowing Earl and Bezial to urinate down in the second garden area that we have been avoiding over summer…even Steve has been joining in on the action after seeing Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall urinating on fence posts in order to deter foxes ;). Just got a teeny bit of rain last night and more promise of it on the weekend. Not that I believe the weather man any more (FIBBER!) but I DO believe the claret ash down the road that is starting to turn a deep vibrant purple…nature doesn’t lie 😉


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