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…
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
“STEEEEVE I THINK BEZIAL IS BROKEN…AGAIN…!”
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…