Ho ho ho and a sack full of quinces

Hi All,


Did you know that there are only 203 days until Christmas? Just thought that you might like to know that. The past week has seen us throw ourselves into more studies here on Serendipity Farm. We are attempting the world study land speed record and are attempting to get our work into our lecturer as soon as she funnels it into Google Drive. The studies have been interesting and dare I say “fun?” Yes…I dare! We are familiarising ourselves with InDesign, a most useful program, which is the industry standard for creating e-pub books, brochures, posters etc. It feels completely familiar to us as last year we used Adobe Flash, Photoshop and Dreamweaver for our previous course in Media and InDesign takes little bits from all of these programs and is also very similar to Word. For once, when I opened up a new program I wasn’t completely out of my depth which is always good for me. My initial reaction to most new programs that when opened appear to have been created by alien technology, is to head straight under the bed where I suddenly realise how long it’s been since I swept under the bed…


Stevie-boy told me that we have a tool/function in Google + that allows us to turn a humble little (rat and possum chewed) pile of pumpkins into this…


Looks like something for Halloween doesn’t it? And he used it to turn an image he took yesterday into this…

urban deg

He calls it “Urban Degradation”. It was urban, and degraded, so technically he was absolutely spot on 🙂 We discovered this little old jetty on a walk that we took the dogs on to reduce their excitement at being allowed to come to the city (Steve wasn’t so easily able to get MY excitement out at being able to come to the city…that took a mop bucket, a new mop and 2 rugs to quell 😉 )

InDesign is functional, relatively easy to use and eminently practical and it isn’t often that I can see a lot of promise in a program but InDesign is one such exception to the rule. Last week we created a poster and a CD cover and yesterday we were asked to reproduce a poster from early last Century. Our lecturer had hinted about an interesting page on a site called “What the Font” whereby if you have a selection of text converted into an image, you can upload the image to this page and it will give you it’s best guess at the typeface used in the image. We uploaded a portion of the poster (What the Font deals with a maximum of 100 characters at a time) and found out that the font used in the poster wasn’t a free font and so the Sherlock and Watson hats went on. In this case Stevie-boy was Sherlock and went hunting. What we needed was a font that had a lot of character varieties (bold, italic etc. ) so that we could attempt to reproduce the various kinds of characters that the poster used and in the end we were pretty proud of what we managed to produce.


This is my brain with a list of what I am expecting to do today. I am under NO misapprehensions that my list will still be pretty much untouched by the end of the day but at least I will have crossed a few items off it. Those bits of grubby crumpled paper on the left hand side are notes that I scribble down when I am on my morning drag with Earl. It is amazing how many ideas pop into my head when my little legs are perambulating faster than they were designed to perambulate and if you can see the writing you will realise that narf scrawling on the trot takes me right back to grade 1 in the writing stakes 😉


More “to do’s” including test our soil, a paint swatch used for a recent design assignment that hasn’t made it back into storage, the latest free newsletter from Beaconsfield House and a pot of pink bluebell bulbs dug up when creating the enclosed veggie garden (should probably plant them out but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 )

The most important thing that I am taking from this exercise is don’t be afraid to fiddle around with these programs. I tend to just do what is asked of me when I start using a new program but Stevie-boy just launches himself in off the deep end and asks not what I can do for my program, but what my program can do for ME. He has a very different idea about how to use technology and usually he can be found up to his armpits in it pretty much as soon as he opens it up for the first time. I went out to lunch with a couple of local ladies on Sunday and while we were out Stevie-boy had discovered all kinds of things about InDesign and when I got back he was able to show me some amazing features and functions that we wouldn’t have known anything about unless he had said “I wonder what would happen if I did this…” I am not adventurous with technology. It is all about doing what I ask of it but Steve is another kettle of extremely jumpy and bright fish when technology enters the ballpark and can’t rest until he fandangles his way around it and gains a good understanding of what this baby will do


Cold, damp, frosty logs…


Hot toasty logs!


Hot toasty logs now cooled down enough to feed to Brunhilda who LOVES her new tasty treats

Aside from hurling ourselves into mastering InDesign we have been trotting around in between showers, walking the dogs, chopping lots of wood, stashing most of that wood in Brunhilda’s ovens whereby she creates her own favourite snack, “hot toasty wood”…yummO! When removed from the ovens the now tinderbox dry wood does smell amazing and we feel like clever clogs for thinking of the idea. I have been cooking lots of delicious comfort food and Brunhilda has been bubbling away vats of minced meat with all kinds of delicious herbs, spices and thickened with beurre manie, a one to one mix of softened butter and plain flour, and topped with cheesy potato scones, resulting in Stevie-boys favourite meal of the moment, “Mince Cobbler”.  I had never cooked this before but according to Steve it’s one of his favourite comfort foods so I set about trying to recreate it from his sketchy memories and what I could find online. He seems very happy with the results so another “tick” on the comfort food happy stakes to narf7


The ultimate in multi-tasking for someone who can only do one thing at a time…here you see the production line for hot toasty logs from cold frosty logs on the floor through to hot toasty logs that spent all night in the cooler oven being moved to that pile to the right. Earl and Bezial are being warmed (and thus sedated) and there are various items of clothing draped around various items of furniture in order to allow them to dry. On top of Brunhilda we have a pot with some minced beef and olive oil and an onion cooking nicely in order to do something with it as I only needed half of it and couldn’t re-freeze it so in order to be a clever clogs I cooked it up and will freeze the results ready for the start of a quick meal some day in the future. This is about as multi-tasked up as a narf can get before terror sets in



After my lunch with ladies on Sunday I dropped off some of my small stash of Jerusalem artichokes to one of the ladies that I had lunched with on one of our early morning walks. She and her husband are interested in growing them on their property and one thing about the humble Jerusalem artichoke is that it loves to grow! I could care less about it’s reputation of taking over. It’s food…it grows easily…it is drought tolerant…is good. That’s my motto when it comes to edible produce wanting to take over the planet (unless it is blackberries…that’s another kettle of thorns!) I also gave Jan a few to try (eating) so my stash is a bit dented now but I am going to plant out the rest and might even leave a note in the persons mailbox where I fandangled the couple of tubers (where they had escaped the garden and were growing on the verge) to see if I can’t buy a few more tubers off them. Having 4 acres allows us the luxury of being able to set areas aside to things that can take over. We already have boneseed, blackberries, spear thistles, periwinkle and the nefarious forget-me-nots running amok so why not add something useful to the manic plant population that we can actually eat and that has a pretty stalk full of sunflowers when it decides to announce itself to the bees?


“Hello little quince tree!” (That I was entirely too lazy to get close to and photographed from the comfort of the deck…)


A sack full of quince futures…some of them are about to be reduced down to pink perfection with some dates and some pumpkin but most of them are earmarked for quince wine


Well what do we have here? It would appear that some sort of “Quince pest” has invaded my nice big sack of ripe quinces!

I have managed to save 1 artichoke from extinction via chooks and wallabies/kangaroos and noticed that another one down in the garden has started to sprout back. I noticed that the other day and forgot to throw a few tyres over it so it might just be extinct again but today I will head down and if it is still alive I will toss a couple of tyres over it to protect it from its natural enemies. There is another one that may or may not have survived (they are tough little plants) in the side garden and I will check that one out for signs of life and will tyre it up as well. I am slowly learning that function sometimes has to be employed over form on Serendipity Farm. My natural desire to cringe away from the delightful form of the ubiquitous black tyre, has given way to a grudging admiration for its free nature and its ability to withstand wallaby, possum and chook onslaughts. It is my new-found best bud in the garden and as we are hermits and very few people make it through our front gate I feel the luxury of being able to ugly up our garden a bit in order to gain a bit of ground against the natives and the ever destructive chooks


Apples that will be added to the cooking vats on top of Brunhilda


Potato onions that will NOT be added to the cooking vats on top of Brunhilda (in this present incarnation anyway…) and that I have to get into the ground STAT!

Frank smiled at me the other morning. That means he is pleased with us again. I like to cultivate a good relationship with our neighbours. We might be penniless student hippy FREAKS but we are always amenable to getting along with our neighbours. It is sometimes hard when we have umpty-eleventy roosters all going off at 3am but now that we have dealt with them it’s like banging your head on a brick wall…when you stop, it is MARVELOUS what the culling of a few errant roosters can do for your neighbourly relationships. Talking about neighbourly relationships…I need to get my derrière down and rake the leaves from under the massive big oak tree that borders our property and Glad’s next door before she outsources the job to her gardener. Oak leaves make a fantastic leaf mould and if I can liberate them from her side over to my side of the fence and can get them mounded up and a bit of chook netting over the top to ensure that they don’t relocate into the Tamar River come the first puff of wind, I WIN. Now I just have to find the time, the energy and the motivation to get out there and rake…rake…RAKE for the queen


Looks like this small Jap/Kent pumpkin was a bit too alluring for some wayfaring possum


Here we have double pest action. The middle (older) damage is caused by bush rats and the big chomps are fat brush-tailed possums who will eat just about anything that stands still long enough

I love how going out to lunch can forge relationships and community in one fell swoop. I am not usually very good at multitasking and didn’t realise that by sharing lunch, a mug of coffee and a chat that community started to meld. I dropped off some Jerusalem artichokes to Kim’s house and yesterday her husband Gordon dropped off a HUGE 10kg sack of ripe quinces and a lovely quince tree in a large pot! I have been lusting after a quince tree for ages as aside from producing food, the native animals tend to shy away from them, they are hardy, they don’t mind drought and are from the Mediterranean which coincidentally, Northern Tasmania tends to resemble in climate in summer. Quinces, persimmons, olives etc. do magnificently here and now I have my very own little quince tree and I am going to plan where to plant it out today. I want it to have the best chance at survival and will ensure that it is planted somewhere I can water it for the coming season. Once it gets a foothold it should be right after that. I have loquat trees that need planting out this season as well as nut trees that should be planted out into the ground and now I just need to work out a sturdy way to protect them all from the natives…a never ending problem here on Serendipity Farm whereby they are both hungry and tenacious, a trick combination to defend against


This silverbeet just keeps on growing, and reproducing, and growing some more and I just got given some babies to put into my veggie garden. Here’s hoping that the possums can keep their thieving little teeth off them


Meet “Woosh woosh the first”. This is the oldest and most forward of the feral cats that we have left on the property. He looks very much like his dad “Pink” who occasionally comes back to Serendipity Farm for something to eat. As you can see he isn’t inclined to eat chooks (although that might not have been a clever thing to cultivate looking at our current overpopulation…) and tends to just sit and watch me. The cats are all called “Woosh woosh” (1, 2 and 3) because I feed them early in the morning and didn’t want to be calling out loudly “HERE KITTY KITTY!” and so just mutter “woosh woosh” under my breath and they come running

The fungi is growing thick and fast around the district. I really do love fungi :). People tend to use wood mulch around here and as it breaks down it feeds a plethora of fungi that are always eager to take advantage of some free grub. On a recent walk around Deviot I saw the most magnificent specimen of Amanita that was about the size of a large dinner plate, resplendent in it’s brilliant post box red coat with gorgeous creamy white spots apparently living off the roots of a large conifer. As a horticulturalist I can’t help but get excited about the relationships that plants form and how important those relationships are for our soil and the health of our planet. Fungi aren’t just the mushrooms/toadstools that we see in autumn, that’s just their fruit. Under the ground they form a tangled mass of mycelium that spread unseen and that feed off dead plant material. Fungi are the plant equivalent of crows…they pick off the dead stuff and breaking it down to feed off it. We need fungi as part of our natural ecological systems and whenever I see a toadstool or a mushroom I am happy knowing that there is a whole mass of enterprise going on under my feet in order to keep the soil happy


To think that Bezial used to be the one wrecking all of the cardboard tubes and shoes and plastic bottles…I guess you have to pass the baton some day Bezial but it looks like you might not be quite ready to hand over that torch…Note the new jute mats. They probably won’t stay this clean for long but we have plans to dye them when they get filthy (most likely by tomorrow)


Proof that the chooks are planning a coup…they have been massing at the top of the steps for quite some time now (judging by the number of deposits that they have been leaving). I reckon Big Yin (at the bottom of the steps) and Garden Chook (on the landing) are a delegation…they haven’t made their demands known yet but give it time…


I never thought that I would be the kind of person that would get completely and utterly enthusiastic about a mop bucket and a mop made from recycled fibres but I am. There…I said it…”I LOVE TO MOP”…sigh…

Remember that sack of quinces? Well I have a problem. My problem is that Stevie-boy doesn’t like the flavour of quinces. He has been known to be a fussy lad (part of the reason his mum threw a HUGE party when he moved over here to Australia…) and I have had to fandangle (my word of the week incidentally, that’s why it has featured in this post so many times 😉 ) my way around the dance floor in catering to his food “intolerance’s”. No rhubarb! No meat with bones…no suspicious new ingredients…no mashed potatoes with butter (yes…I KNOW…the man is mad…) and now, no quinces… so what is a girl with a 10kg sack of quinces to do eh? Well there is always something that Stevie-boy is going to take to with gusto that can be produced from just about anything with the addition of sugar, yeast and water that I am going to attempt with most of these delectable heavenly scented babies…wine. Quince wine, here I come!


Excuse the delightful yellow tint to this image and just pretend that I Instagrammed it OK? (We both know better but whatchagonnadoeh?) Jan gave me this lovely little book relevant to our local growing conditions and surprisingly packed full of all kinds of pertinent information about our local climate. Cheers Jan, I will keep growing and sharing our veggies 🙂


I forgot to share a mince and onions shot with you! How could I be so remiss? I know that you all hang on my every word and that the lack of a close-up mince shot may have damaged some of you to the core so hopefully this late addition will allow you some closure on the matter

Today I create food mania. I have a stack of pumpkins sitting on a folding table on the deck that I stopped the large bush rats munching on, but the possums now think I have set them a personal gustatory table and when we got back from our early morning shopping trip to check out the new Bunnings store (hardware heaven for all of you northerners who don’t know the Aussie delight of Bunnings…) situated in the centre of Launceston Steve headed out to get some wood out of the wheelbarrow load on the deck to load up Brunhilda and said “er…are these new munches on your pumpkin?” I headed out and immediately noticed that the “bites” were indeed fresh! We have been growling at Earl for the last few days as he has been racing out in the middle of the night barking. We figured he was woofing at cats, his very favourite of all pass-times (aside from plucking roosters but we won’t talk about that…) but it turns out he was protecting my pumpkin stash against foreign invaders! I need to process them and quickly before the possums eat what the rats didn’t manage to eat! I have my pride and need to get SOMETHING from this years veggie garden that I can stuck in a jar, roast and make into soup for the freezer.


More multi-tasking. This shelf is actually a bread proofer that Stevie-boy made to prove bread and as somewhere to keep my cultures alive over winter. It never really gets that cold inside now that Brunhilda is on the case so I just put the calzone dough up here to prove and as you can see the dogs meat is thawing in a tin and the rest of the space is used up as baking tray and bread tin storage. Those triangles were a free giveaway to go with Brunhilda (how very generous 😉 ) and are used to even out the heat distribution in pots on the stove but I rarely remember to use them


When you can’t go out, you go up. This is our version of a pot rack and Steve built it for me in order to keep some of my pots handy. As you can see there are quite a few pots “handy” 😉

We picked up some jute mats from K-Mart yesterday. My old red rug that we bought second hand from a garage sale when we lived in the city and that I loved to bits was one of the first casualties of “Earl” when he moved in with us back in 2011. He was a most voracious and excited pup and pretty much anything was fair game for his wandering mandibles. I noticed these rugs the other day when my eldest daughter Madeline and I were hunting for some form of fold away mattress as their cousin is coming to stay with them for a few days and they needed something comfortable for her to sleep on other than the couch that has seen better days. Madeline ended up buying one of those inflatable flocked single bed mattresses that will do the trick nicely. Her cousin Sabrina is stringy and tenacious, a gene that appears on the odd occasion in our familial melting pot but as a rule our family represents their Germanic heritage (in my children’s case, doubled with Danish heritage) and are “solid” (cheers nature…) My brother is of the stringy persuasion as well but as Sabrina is wiry and tenacious, a blow up flocked mattress should do her nicely. I really like the new mats that we bought and especially liked the $29 price tag. This way, if Earl decides that he is going to snack on one, we can afford to replace it. I must admit the first thing that Bezial did when we laid the mats was to sit down, stick his legs in the air and scoot his bottom along the surface so I guess that’s his way of saying “welcome to the fray rug!” 😉


Large containers of sesame seeds and dates to be used today to create all kinds of things ranging from homemade date and sesame milk for my kefir’s gustatory delight through to tahini, date and pumpkin butter and combined with some homemade coconut butter, to make delicious healthy fudge. It might be labour intensive to cook like this but I get the satisfaction of knowing that I can do it myself as well as knowing exactly what goes into the ingredients that I am using.


Meet “Bob”. He is a hawk. He is apparently fond of a chicken dinner and by the look of him he hasn’t been short on the odd chook meal in the past. He attempted to get himself another chicken dinner but one of their mums took offense at his close scrutiny of her (now largish) baby and  jumped up in the air and pecked him mid flight. He was somewhat unnerved at this display of chook aggression in something that elsewhere just accepts their fate…not here on Serendipity Farm. Things are different here for some reason. The time space continuum isn’t the same as it is everywhere else and if there is going to be a time travel wormhole open up somewhere you can just about BET it will be here. Not that I would be eager to see it…just it would be likely to be here is all I am saying. Mr hawk had to make do with whatever else he could find to snarf on this occasion as a most angry mother hen who is jumping around maniacally and clucking to the high heavens is enough to make a smallish hawk thing twice about swooping again…

Well another post has just spilled from my brain and hopefully you have gotten something out of it. I sometimes wonder at the mental disposition of my readers. I have a mental image of you as stoic, “never give in, never surrender!” type people who refuse to give up on something once you have found it. I am VERY glad that you keep on coming back here to read and comment on our crazy life because it would get a bit lonely around here without your little voices of reason in the wilderness. I love this community of like-mindedness around the globe that we are fostering here folks. I love that we can share and uplift and teach each other. I love the openness and the honesty that blogging can bring. I guess what I am trying to say is that I really do appreciate you all. I appreciate your candid responses, your enthusiasm and your honesty. Keep it coming folks, I need the motivation! See you next Wednesday…wish me luck with the raking, but I fear that I may have put it in the list with ironing and sweeping under the bed…





57 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cathyandchucky
    Jun 04, 2014 @ 17:37:44

    Love it Fronkiii! Your blogs make me so very happy 🙂 Sabrina will be just fine on the mattress. Quince wine/fizzy pop sounds delish!


    • narf77
      Jun 04, 2014 @ 18:18:16

      She will get the 4 poster here so she can be a lady of style and as she is a stick figure, she can have the big goose/feather down doona that will keep her toasty warm and I might even let her have a bit of pumpkin (if she is especially good 😉 )


  2. Roz Takes
    Jun 04, 2014 @ 18:18:50

    Much enjoyed reading again Fran! I always used to use apples with the Quinces to get lovely stewed apple sweets. I would love a quince tree and I’m afraid my loquat tree doesn’t seem to have survived our late summer. Strange it was struggling along with a leaf or two but when the rains finally came it has turned up its toes. I am slowly getting the garden together but at every turn you get a new problem. Seem to have overcome the caterpillars but now am invaded by grey aphids all over the brassicas. We now have teeny chokos on the vine, tomatoes,silverbeet, chilli and capsicum ready for picking. Have you had any luck growing parsnips?


    • narf77
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 03:02:51

      Sounds like you are going great guns in the garden Roz and a quince tree would love those hot dry conditions as they would grow on the roof in Greece they are that drought hardy. The quince tree that Gordon just gave me has been surviving in hardpan clay soil (dries like ceramic plates in summer) and our soil is FULL of rocks here…not just little gravel rocks…great…BIG…rocks that you need to blast out so things like Persimmons, quinces and olives (and figs) LOVE it here. They think that they are back in the old country and apparently they grow amazingly well in Perth as well. Sounds like your poor loquat just gave up the ghost as they don’t defoliate easily. Might be time to start a new one from seed? Haven’t tried growing parsnips yet and would have to put them into containers as our soil isn’t conducive to parsnips of any kind of substantial size. As soon as they hit any sort of soil obstruction they turn into octopii 😉


  3. The Snail of Happiness
    Jun 04, 2014 @ 18:54:27

    Watch out for that quince pest… they can be a real menace… we have a similar fury fiend that attacks potatoes (oh and garlic)!


    • narf77
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 03:05:29

      I KNOW! One minute I was peeking in the bag and the next “BAM” that furry pest emerged as if it owned the bag! I never got to use any quince in the pumpkin and date butter as after I counted them there were only 26 and I needed 25 for Steve’s quince wine. Only fair that he gets something fruity some of the time as he steers clear of the fruity goodness when it is raw ;). Making quince wine today (well grating that whole bag of them and combining them with sugar). Hopefully that furry quince pest won’t be too much trouble and will be magnanimous in quincy defeat 😉


  4. thecontentedcrafter
    Jun 04, 2014 @ 19:25:47

    Who said that? ‘Never give in, never surrender’……? Its from some wacky and highly enjoyable sci-fi comedy back in the 90’s or noughties…… Tim Allen?

    Any way – another long and involved post which has left me reeling at the amount of things you have done in a week. I have to admit, by the time I got to the end I had forgotten where you started from…… though it could just be puppy brain!

    I like the mats you picked up for $29 – great score! I myself may be in the market for new mats before too much longer.

    I like the photos of pots and kitchen makings and the maple tree is gorgeous! All my leaves have long gone and Siddy spends all his outside time gathering up the few remaining brown crackly things and herding them into little piles ….. so sweet!

    I am also impressed [of course!] with Stevieboys dexterity with technology – I would quite like to have a resident technological expert too. It would be very handy methinks! I have no clue with all this stuff you are learning about – but learning is good no matter what it is – well as long as it is law abiding and worth your while 🙂

    I haven’t tasted quinces for many years and my fuzzy memory is on the side of Stevieboy in this one – maybe alcohol is a worthy way to master them!

    I am very tired tonight but cannot go to bed as Orlando moved onto the bed a few hours ago and hasn’t woken yet. If I go to bed then Siddy comes too – Orlando will throw another fit and we will have to start all over again….. Oh lor’…….


    • narf77
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 03:17:34

      Too true on the Mr Allen :). I think you have puppy brain. That’s what gets me through my week…the dogs make me completely forget everything that I have done or have yet to do so I think I have hardly anything to do when really I have TONNES. As soon as I get that organiser I am going to realise just how much I have to cram into my day and I may have to sweep under the bed more as I think I will take up permanent residence…

      Check K-Mart if you have one near you as surely they would sell similar things? Mine were $29 each and so far Earl has resisted eating them (no small amount, most probably, because of Bezials scooting triumph 😉 ). I will have to send Siddy a box of our maple leaves. Here on the river we tend to get our leaves staying on the tree for much longer. In the city (50km away) the trees are pretty much bare apart from the HUGE liquidambar in the front garden at my girls house in town that holds it’s leaves for the longest time…pity it isn’t a gorgeous one and tends to have drab looking dark purple leaves but I guess that’s why it gets to hold them for longer…sort of a “nah, nah-nah, nah, nah to the other liquidambars that are now naked? 😉

      Having Stevie-boy as the head technological expert is wonderful. Saves me having to nut out some of the more technical things. I guess if I HAD to I might try but methinks the PC would have been thrown over the deck MANY times by now if I was sans Stevie-boy 😉

      I think the word for quinces is “floral”. If you don’t like heady scented things you probably won’t like them. I hear they are pretty good paired with Moroccan spicing and I made a lovely upside-down butter cake with cinnamon but its a step too far for Stevie-boy at this later stage of affairs to start running with the quinces methinks so wine is the way to go. I counted them yesterday (in between my pumpkin mania sessions) and there are 26 in that 10kg bag so Stevie-boy inadvertently gets them all for his wine. He brought home the 2 lemons, the 3kg of sugar (yeast has to eat SOMETHING to make all that booze) and a packet of raisins (yeast likes raisins?!) in order for me to spend my day today grating quinces…I wonder if you can make pumpkin wine as I haven’t even made a dent in the darned things with all that peeling and cutting and cooking! I ended up with a large tray of roasted pumpkin, a huge vat (20litre stockpot) of delicious pumpkin and veggie soup and 7 jars of pumpkin and date butter (1 of the jars was a litre) and I think I will make another 7 jars of it as it was delicious. I thought that the pumpkins wouldn’t taste like much but I was wrong. They are dense and delicious and I am very happy that I was able to grow pumpkins like that here on Serendipity farm 🙂 Next year will be the year of the pumpkin you can be sure and I am going to plant ALL kinds of weird and wonderful curcubits 🙂

      It’s like having another baby when you have a first child who is older. The son-and-heir was 6 when I had Madeline…I went through a similar experience as you except backwards. When I brought her home he was very happy…till he realised she was a “GIRL…EWWW!” and I have a hand drawn image of a trap that he was going to use to catch his sister in and get rid of her for GOOD… 😉 Here’s hoping Orlando isn’t quite so clever…


  5. rabidlittlehippy
    Jun 04, 2014 @ 22:24:04

    You’re sick! Mentioning Christmas this early in the year is proof that you my friend, are indeed INSANE! 😉

    I am beginning to think you have an unreasoning fear of blackberries too. In fact, you are downright prejudiced against them. Surely their delicious fruit is payment enough to cover for the damage done by their thorns when trying to acquire said berries. But then again, I’m a little less biased with not one, but 2 blackberry demolition machines gagging at the bit to munch their way through any blackberry stupid enough to attempt to survive within reach of their teeth. 😉

    Woosh woosh too cute! Even Martin agrees that is mega cute. And yes, he even used the word “cute”! 😀 and we are both in awe of your ninja hen too! Most impressed that life is so bloody tenacious on Serendipity. 🙂

    Get thee into the garden and plant those potato onions. The ones of mine the freaking magpies haven’t pulled up are all shooting green hair several inches into the air! And bung carrots in the spaces between, even if only baby carrots or bulbing ones. They’re good friends they are.

    If I can get up at 6am to rake leaves that are in a public place after a night out at a 50th birthday the night before then how come Glad’s leaves are still at Glad’s place? Hmmm? Hmmm? Wish I could just drive on over and help you rake but sadly they have that dirty big stretch of water in between our farms. Still and all, I could sit there on speaker phone offering verbal support if you like. 😉 What about mowing them and emptying the mower into a waiting wheel barrow or trailer. Then you get the nitrogen rich grass AND the carboniferous oak leaves. Win win right?

    Another fantastic post and once again inspiring. I’ve been inside knitting knitting knitting. Lots of bright colours to cheer up winter at least. 🙂 And thanks to your brilliant idea of toasting wood in the oven it is likely to be a warm winter here too. 🙂



    • narf77
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 03:25:54

      You haven’t seen how many blackberries we have here 😦 I (stupidly) decided to allow Earl and Bezial to come back up to the house via the jungle yesterday (just because it is winter and there was less vegetation so our chances of surviving and making it were significantly better than in summer…) and ended up scratched all over as Earl, the freight train, ran wildly through blackberries to his hearts content…sigh…goats are like gold here as our vegetation goes nuts and if you have a goat you are to be envied. They are also very pricey here so no chance of buying one in the immediate future.

      Woosh-woosh is assured of a place here for as long as he wants to stay as he is male… not sure about woosh-wooshes 2 and 3 though…their fate might not be so nice :(. The ninja hen is the stair climbing hen or the one that took on Bob (Hawk)? The Stair climbing hen is that STUPID hen that I put into Sanctuary to protect her from the quoll and she tunnel mined her way to China and the hawk tackling hen is Pong, Pingu’s sister who has 7 babies and who defends them strenuously. Earl had one of her (stupid) babies baled up inside the compound fence surrounding the house and she came into the compound to take him on! I managed to chase her off the deck and hurl the baby over the gate before it all ended in feathers…she is an amazing mum and jumping up to take on a hawk just goes to show that 🙂

      I am just going to have to pull my finger out (another one of dads colloquialisms 😉 ) and get raking. Yesterday I spent the whole day creating pumpkin EVERYTHING so today might be a good day to get down there raking (but then again, I might not whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 )

      I am crocheting, crocheting, crocheting and enjoying doing so. The wood toasting (HOT TOASTY WOOD!) in the oven is a bloody good idea. I thought of it as Brunhilda’s ovens are pretty much empty all day till we need them at night and I figured that dry wood = a happy and more easy burn and I was right. MUCH less ash and a much cleaner burn as the sap is dehydrated and the wood is nice and dry. Brunhilda loves it and when you open up the oven the smell of hot toasty wood is delicious 🙂 Hugs from frigid cold Sidmouth where narf7 is just about to succumb to the lurgy but is trying her hardest to fight it off


      • rabidlittlehippy
        Jun 05, 2014 @ 09:35:47

        I’ve just loaded the pine cones the kids collected into the oven with the door ajar so I anticipate a gorgeous odour to take over my house soon. And I will have dry kindling as opposed to soaking wet stuff. 🙂
        Ninja hen is the one who took on Bob and won. I too have stupid hens who climb the deck and stupider catys who run away from said hens. One keeps laying in our wood shed (Blackie and sometimes a white henny penny), one on the back deck inside an empty square and none too big terracotta pot and one on the kindling shelf of a cabinet we use to store wood for ‘Nisa. Eggs everywhere and rarely any in the nesting boxes! Ah well, sending kids out to find eggs is a favourite “get out of my hair kids” pass time of mine. 😉

        If you want Aunt Tilly to be nice to you ever again then GO RAKE THOSE LEAVES! The bolshie old bird is a right old slave driver and determined to see a happily ever Narf at the end of a rake and LARGE pile of oak leaves. 😉 She is offering bribes if it helps? 😉
        If only I could smuggle a goat or 3 in the post for you but somehow I think that customs might object or at least require financial placation. I wonder if the bribes would be more than the fines or charges. 😉
        Lots of Vit C for you my friend and show that lurgy who is boss!

      • narf77
        Jun 05, 2014 @ 10:38:46

        ((fingers in my ears…pushing them in harder…))

      • rabidlittlehippy
        Jun 05, 2014 @ 19:58:56

        You know I’m gonna keep nagging you. 😉 Or maybe I need to shame you in to action and show you what 3 kids raking leaves looks like or some such. 😛 Now how to bribe them to DO such a job AND manage to catch it on video! 🙂

      • narf77
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 03:54:12

        (fingers in ears “I CAN’T HEAR YOU I CAN’T HEAR YOU I CAN’T HEAR YOU”…) 😉

      • rabidlittlehippy
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 08:59:31

        Would you like some cotton wool to go with those fingers? 😉

      • narf77
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 09:56:01

        Yes please…but no funny business and no sudden moves ma’am! I am onto you! 😉

      • rabidlittlehippy
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 10:19:12

        And I am on to YOU! 😉 Organic fair trade cotton wool for your ears coming your way. Hope you know sign language! 😉

      • narf77
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 10:27:46

        sorry? Can’t hear you? 😉

  6. brymnsons
    Jun 04, 2014 @ 22:28:40

    Such a busy life you are having! Those pesky pests will eat you if you sit still too long eh. Mmmm I can smell all the lovely things eminating from your kitchen. It’s been cold here. Frost has set in, so we spent the weekend moving all my plants under the patio for protection. It’s lovely how one kind turn leads to another. Well done on your quinces, never tasted them so can’t side with either of you 🙂


    • narf77
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 03:27:49

      Quinces are sort of “floral” in flavour. Sort of a strong perfumed fruity taste if that makes any sense? I don’t mind them but Stevie-boy isn’t a fan so they are all being turned into wine if I can wrestle them from the furry quince pest that is…I might have to sacrifice one of them for the cause as I have to grate them all today, then cook them up for 30 minutes and then pour them over 3kg of sugar and a half kilo bag of raisins and all of that energy can’t help but activate that furry quince pest to the MAX 😉


  7. quarteracrelifestyle
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 07:21:22

    Your kitchen is so productive at the moment, I can’t raise any enthusiasm for cooking at all at the moment, I am only doing the necessities! I love the pot rack, he did a beautiful job.I am licking my lips at the sound of Quince Wine. Sarah also made some and I was going to but have only come across a small number of them.


    • narf77
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 03:40:47

      After an hour grating quinces (and my little finger) I threw the massive amount of gratings into a 20 litre stockpot and put it onto Brunhilda with 4 litres of water in it. She was just ticking over and it took it 2 hours to boil, then about 30 minutes later I poured the entire mass into one of those sock and underpants net bags (all I had, ran out of pillow cases I was willing to stain 😉 ) and let it drain and it took the rest of the day for it to cool down to squeeze and the results were about 6 – 7 litres of liquid…not a lot of yield for 26 quinces and a day of my life to be honest…it had better taste good! I am officially knackered (and sick of pumpkin) but I don’t want to let it go to waste and you have already done all of your cooking. You guys are a month ahead of us remember so where you were up to your armpits a month ago in cooking and preserving, it’s my turn now. That pot rack did turn out nicely didn’t it 🙂


      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 06:07:59

        🙂 Well I hope your month goes quick!!!! Honestly I have been knackered too and so over food – it was all I thought about and did for over 3 months. You know you can just chop pumpkin and freeze as is? It cooks very quickly but perfect for soups.

        I find quinces take alot of time and effort to do anything with too, I hope it does taste good and has been worth it.

      • narf77
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 09:53:44

        I didn’t know that about pumpkin and you may just have saved me an arvo of angst 🙂 Cheers for that 🙂

      • quarteracrelifestyle
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 12:17:56

        An easy solution 🙂

      • narf77
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 12:36:58

        Just gave them back my Pinteresting time for this afternoon so it is an easy and an EXCELLENT solution 🙂

  8. Chica Andaluza
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 07:36:03

    Spent ages writing a pithy and witty comment (or was that pity and withery?!) and then deleted it by accident. I think I have dirt (for dirt, read crumbs) in my keyboard and things keep doing what they shouldn’t. A bit like you missy mentioning Christmas…eeeeeeek! Quince wine eh – will have to give that a go this autumn (and at least I can find out how yours turns out and if you have any strange after effects 😉 So glad you put the mince and onions in – I was geting worried. And how about quince paste? It’s easy peasy…promise http://chicaandaluza.com/2011/11/14/dulce-de-membrillo-quince-jelly/


    • narf77
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 10:34:51

      Quince paste bites! A bit like Polenta…lucky I have a VERY long handled “Spadle” that Steve made me to deal with biting foodstuffs or I wouldn’t cook at all ;). I have done that…spent AGES on a great comment and lost the lot and it just takes the wind out of your sails and you end up delivering a “meh” comment and waving your fists at your monitor in childish angst at the internet and all of its wily foibles (well I do 😉 ). C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S! There…I said it AGAIN! 😉 Doesn’t frighten me this year as I am going to run away like Tom Sawyer and am going to float down the Tamar River on an old wooden door I found on the metal heap out the back (inherited from dad)… in the process of losing a bit of weight in order to redress a bit of an imbalance that threatens to topple my plans (well…topple ME) into the Tamar River but run away I SHALL! 🙂 I was thinking of you when I added that mince and onions photo. Steve asked me as soon as he walked in the door if I had cooked it…as you can see we lead a most scintillating life down here on the River 😉


      • Chica Andaluza
        Jun 05, 2014 @ 22:02:54

        Is there room for me on that door?!

      • narf77
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 03:55:27

        Yes…I am selling tickets. I reckon if I sell enough, by the time we get to Launceston central (the river flows all the way down to the city) we should be able to scrape up enough to pay someone ELSE to cook us Christmas lunch and be done with it! Might even have enough for a few crackers to pull on the drift back down the river to home and sanctuary 😉

      • Chica Andaluza
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 06:53:45

        Sign me up – I’ll bring champagne to launch us into the river 😉

      • narf77
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 09:57:03

        A great idea…bags I being the one to push out the raft (and drink the champers as it explodes everywhere and THEN being the navigator as I sink into that blissful state of Nirvana known as drunken lushdom 🙂 )

  9. Spy Garden
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 10:02:49

    Sooo cozy looking! And I love the spooky shot of the pumpkins; I hope ours do well this year. Great harvests! Keep your unbridled enthusiasm coming in life and in blog-world!


  10. teawithhazel
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 10:03:10

    i love the sound of the mince dish with the potato cheese scones fran..don’t love the sound of all the wild life you’re constantly having to deal with..it sure is a case of survival of the fittest down there on the farm..


    • narf77
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 10:42:55

      Steve loved the mince cobbler as well. I had never heard of it but it seems to be a Northern U.K. thing apparently. I ended up finding a potato and cheese scone recipe online and using it to top savoury mince that seems to make him happy…always good to make them happy :). I use a Beurre Manie to thicken my mince as it makes it lovely and creamy and rich and delicious (and fattening but we won’t mention that will we? 😉 ) and as comfort food goes this is right up there with shepherds pie and spag bol according to Mr Stevie-boy. I came home from my walk with Earl this morning and heard the chooks going mental and thought something was trying to eat them and realised that a very LARGE kangaroo was bouncing around among them in the garden…sigh…I give IN! 😉


  11. Littlesundog
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 10:49:01

    Ha ha ha!! Fran… 🙂 I truly adore you! I love your writing because it MAKES me sit down and concentrate on something other than my crazy self-made schedule. You MAKE me laugh and you ENTICE me with photos of that darned lovebug, Earl. There is so much to learn in your posts. Your readers may be stoic and they might be very Catholic (never giving up – and staying with until the bitter end), but I think we’re intrigued by you and your life. I look forward to each post… and I love, love, love your passion. You ROCK, girlfriend!

    It’s hard to believe you are having cool weather while we are in the middle of a giant heat wave. My veggies are just now ready to harvest the first batch… I’ll be heating up the kitchen making my own roasted tomato sauce, freezing fruits and berries, and drying my herbs. I was thankful to see Daisy deer eating large quantities of leaf lettuce in the gourmet lettuce patch today. I’ve been harvesting lettuce for weeks now and can’t seem to give it away to people. Who wouldn’t want free, organic lettuce??? Thankfully, too, the asparagus is about spent. I love asparagus but enough is enough!


    • narf77
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 03:45:48

      For once having “deer in the vegetable garden” is a good thing! ;). Earl sends hugs and is protesting about how I used up ALL of his precious quinces (he had plans for them…) in one fell swoop making quince wine yesterday. He might not eat the lettuce but he would certainly pee on it to make sure that all of the wildlife that WAS eating the lettuce knew that it had been claimed and protected by Sir Earl of old Sidmouth town. He pees on road guide posts every time he spots roadkill on the road as that means “hands OFF…this grub belongs to EARL!” apparently ;). I am glad that you get something out of my mad ramblings. I think it’s the fact that we are all “doing” things and what we read about in other peoples blogs validates and uplifts our own humble “doings” every time we see someone else doing it. It is much easier to get your act together and get growing veggies and harvesting, processing etc. if there is a world of other people out there doing it that you can ask questions of etc. Good to see your garden is going well and heat wave? Not here! I am SO glad we are in the throes of winter and am using lots of hot toasty logs in Brunhilda who is loving it and sending out wafting great hugs of heat in appreciation 🙂 Life is GOOD 🙂


  12. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 11:49:42

    I’m seriously loving your artistic photos here! I could easily see the pumpkin or jetty shot printed out, framed, and hung on a wall. The colors are great and the scenes are completely transportive. I feel like I’m right there with you… Kudos for understanding how to use InDesign, too. I’m strictly a Photoshop gal and can’t figure out any of the other programs in the Adobe suite (aside from Bridge, of course) even though I get all of them for free with my tuition. Ah, such a waste… I wish you could give me a few pointers there!


    • narf77
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 03:53:35

      I think its Stevie-boy that you want on your side when it comes to the Adobe suite. InDesign is amazing as it takes all of your hard work and helps you create posters, brochures, e-pub’s etc. yourself. It is a great way to self publish if you aren’t a famous and most amazing cookbook author already (which you ARE 🙂 ) We have to learn how to use InDesign as part of our course but are enjoying it along with learning how to use Illustrator and last year honing Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver, all wonderful programs. To be honest, Photoshop, and the plethora of free image processing tools around are giving people a false sense of their own abilities. Where you professionals head out with a head full of knowledge about how to take photographs well, we just bumble around blindly snapping away and occasionally we get it right but good luck reproducing that “right” that’s where you guys have it all over us BUT the problem is, everyone can afford a halfway decent camera and some imaging software so it is nibbling away at the edges of professional photography. Anyone can take a photo, but it takes someone with an eye for design, composure and a lot of natural talent to take a GOOD photo. I don’t take good photos, I just wing it but then I am not out there trying to sell them either. Too many amateurs are doing just that…thankyou for your kind words about our photos but we just tossed them into a program that we got free and it added a border and tidied them up for us. Steve is a MUCH better photographer than I am and messes around with photoshop but I am just content to point, click and hopefully get something that people can recognise for what it is in my blog posts 😉


  13. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 22:44:52

    I love those pictures. They are definitely framable. I so admire the way you live. You seem to have so much energy and get so much done. Our living off the land, even though we have plenty of it, is very minimal. I am so glad we are coming into summer, although this year is already going so fast. Winter for us lasted so long, and Christmas isn’t even on my radar.


    • narf77
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 03:57:54

      I wish we had more winter than what we do and more rain. Our summer seems to be getting longer and drier (think Californian dry) and our gardens just limp through each year. We are having to learn to be smarter when it comes to what we plant. I just got a quince tree and am sourcing mulberries, persimmons, olives and figs as they all do well in dry arid conditions. It is just a matter of adapting to your conditions. It might LOOK like I am flat out busy but you would be amazed at how little time I spend outside and actually doing things. That’s the magic of blog posts. They condense a whole week down into a few thousand words and make you look like superman ;). Seriously, I spend more time posting to FB and Pinterest than I do anything else these days 😉


  14. Robbie
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 12:59:42

    OH my goodness I can’t even think about Christmas:-). but that is too darn close!
    I have to ask this question…what are you both studying:-)?? It sounds like a creative class. I thought you were doing something with plants? Or maybe I got tha wrong. I do that often:-)
    When I read about your dogs it makes me feel like I am not alone with my children. They really are like little kids at times. I have grown children, but my dogs are like my little kids. I have to remember to take them outside, bathroom them,,feed them and make sure they are comfortable + safe! The one advantage.I don’t have them running around on their own as teenagers!
    A quince look interesting, what does it taste like?
    I am off to bed, I am so tired from weeding our beds…………I am already starting fall crops this month! Always growing and thinking ahead:-0


    • narf77
      Jun 06, 2014 @ 13:41:35

      Quinces are sort of a perfumed floral fruity dense pear crossed with an apple sort of thing. When you stew or roast them they turn the most glorious pink colour. We are currently studying Design but we did 4 years of horticulture and ended up with a diploma in both horticulture and landscape design. Earl could be considered a doggie teenager 😉 You are WAY ahead of me. I am new to this veggie growing things and my horticultural desire to mess around with strange and unusual things keeps getting in the way of being a real veggie gardener. I think I need to do a course in veggie growing!


      • Robbie
        Jun 06, 2014 @ 22:33:31

        lol..go where you passion is since that is what makes you happy:-) You eat healthy and cook healthy , so you won’t suffer-lol. It is the people that don’t eat healthy. It sounds like you grow enough and get the proper stuff you need..it is okay to follow your passion. I am working on that for myself, too. My passion has changed over the years:-)
        Actually I am trying to balance my interests,too. It is hard since I find it depends on the season:-) Right now my interests are outside because the weeds call me! lol. I find growing vegetables year round that are “happy” in your climate is the key to having a year round production system. Oh boy, you have enough space to feed an army-lol. I just am trying to learn how to do it on our lot. I keep weeding out some and including odd ones to create diversity on my lot.
        Quinces sound yum! How neat to have horticulture and landscape design! Today they have all kinds of neat stuff with plants for young people to major in, but in my college days there were only a few choices….now there is so much out there…
        To pursue another degree -amazing!!! I am done with my schooling from universities, I am “self-educating” myself now. I won’t pay the tuition here in USA .
        My son did show me a site ( MIT-I believe)where they have lectures which are online and FREE on plant genetics + other subjects…so may wander over there and check it out when the snow falls this winter!!!

      • narf77
        Jun 07, 2014 @ 04:36:52

        My son showed me a site where you can study for free as well…probably the same site 🙂 We were mature aged students when we undertook our diplomas (back in 2009) and I think it worked in our favour as we were 2 of 6 students that were left at the end of the course we initially took (Cert 2 and 3 in Horticulture) and 2 of the 4 that passed the course and we were the only ones studying our diploma’s but that was distance education from home with only meeting up with our lecturer (who became our friend by the end of the course…) once a fortnight. We love studying and how it keeps your synapses firing. Apparently, your brain keeps young by learning new things. We love to keep our synapses firing! 🙂

  15. Sugar and Cinnamon
    Jun 06, 2014 @ 14:07:50

    I only recently discovered quinces and absolutely love them! The smell is so amazing!


  16. Born To Organize
    Jun 08, 2014 @ 10:34:07

    I like the joy in your writing and your slice of life telling of your week. The gardens, chopped wood, kitty cats, pumpkins, all of it.


  17. Margaret Griffin
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 22:11:25

    Hi, There is something quite comforting about peaceful, snoring animals curled up on the furniture – Katie on a chair next to me, Belle, a cat, on a rug I am knitting and Arlo, another cat, on the bed. Serenity abounds.

    Hmmm, quinces – stewed quinces with custard – yum, yum. Quince trees are handsome as well as tough. I like their fresh green early spring leaves and simple pink flowers.


    • narf77
      Jun 10, 2014 @ 03:25:50

      I have yet to plant out my little windfall plant but am onto it STAT. Our quinces ended up bubbling away in a large bucket with sugar, raisins and wine yeast next to Brunhilda so hopefully quince wine will taste almost as yummy as stewed quinces with custard 🙂


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