Au contraire…


Hi All


I have been doing that thing where you use your brain a lot for things other than the objects of your interest and desire…(what’s that called again?) “Study”. Cramming swathes of information into your head. Some of which sticks because it is directly related to what you are interested in (like making e-books) or is hovering around the peripherals of what you are interested in (like forming community with like-minded people) but aside from that, anything external to where my brain wants to be sitting at any given time spills out of my ears and into the ether most probably never to be seen (or retrieved) again


The lengths that I go to in order to maintain my artistic integrity…here you see one of my kitchen knives that I was using in order to replicate a knife in one of my assessment tasks. The pile of pencil shavings was thanks to me having to draw things over…and over…and over again and these sheets of paper are my draft drawings prior to the finished result. We had to use the letters of our names to represent a profession or a theme.

myname f1

Here’s what I came up with (if I have ANY Drag queens reading this post please don’t spam me! 😉 )

Have you noticed that? Have you noticed how if you are interested in something you can spend hours poring over books, searching the net and wandering around with a book in your hands while you furtively attempt to stir the air at the side of a simmering pot? I think that the secret to being a really good teacher/lecturer, is first of all learning to read your students (after all, “students” per-se are a motley crew at best and at worst can be the stuff that nightmares can only aspire to being) and then finding what it is that they are interested in and pitching your lessons in that direction. I realise that classroom situations can’t give teachers the ability to tailor lessons to individual students but if you find a student who just isn’t getting it…who (like Steve) is asleep on their desk…who keeps interrupting your class by acting “the giddy goat” (LOVE that saying nana 🙂 ) then it’s time to pull out the old “personalise and pique their interest” bullet…load it into your teaching gun and “FIRE!”


Ugg boots! Well…not really “Ugg” boots as they cost a small fortune and would probably sue me for even thinking about using their name, but cheap imports that are keeping my feet almost as warm for the princely sum of $8. Coupled with some thermal socks and narf7 is ready to tackle winter feet first!

DSCF7549The sum total of tomatoes produced in my garden this year that are red. I have about seventy quintillion green ones…note the hairy strawberry (they hit puberty early on Serendipity Farm. This one is so old he has a comb over…) 

I have been noticing meme’s on Facebook (back there…sort of…as our classmates set up a FB page and we check into it on a daily basis) that echo a similar theme. The theme revolves around how happiness is elusive. How we can’t expect to be “happy” all of the time and how we need to embrace the “sad”. Whilst understanding fully that the only way that “happy” tastes like ice cream and feels like a massage after going 10 rounds with Mike Tyson is to balance it out and to contrast it with the knowledge and personal experience of sadness but to say that you can’t taste happiness most of the time…Au contraire, I beg to differ. I think that happiness is a state of mind. It isn’t something that is elusive or to be sought after, it’s right here inside us. It’s that pure crystal clear moment when we realise that were we are, what we have, how we live right here…right NOW is “right” for us and we learn to feel a primal contentment in those moments. That is happiness. Well it is to narf7 Anyhoo…


Steve’s secret walnut stash in a car park in the city. No-one collects the nuts and as you can see they are being squished by cars

DSCF7558Narf7’s not so secret stash/box of collected walnuts from the city car park 🙂 

So here I am, haggard but happy with the crisp fresh cold (only just remembering what “cold” actually is…) mornings that we have been having lately and my thoughts are with autumn plantings and winter baking. I have been cultivating a roaringly gorgeous online friendship with the spunky Joanna from Zebbakes  and the much closer Celia from Fig jam and lime cordial Throw in some spectacular Cityhippyfarmgirl action and narf7 is going to go to the sourdough ball this year. None of it will be at all possible without a starter however and my new hero is Tanya of Chica Andaluza  fame who has sent me some dehydrated starter from her own prized batch. Spanish starter on Serendipity Farm. Sounds like some kind of cookbook to me! I can only hope that our customs officials are as kind as the Spanish ones were and let the sourdough through. The Spanish version passed Serendipity Farm kefir grains to Tanya without batting an eyelid (maybe they were having a Manana moment? 😉 ). Fingers crossed that the tenacious starter arrives on the doorstep and this winter turns my humble and simple little kitchen into a bread baking alchemists dream, full of possibilities and potions. I just crammed “Tartine 3” into my library cart. Why start of easy is my way of thinking. Throw yourself in at the deep (experimental) end and tread water for a bit till something sticks (probably all of those unctuous cultures riding to the other side on the top of my drowning cranium 😉 )


We headed into the city in order to swap 8 bags of prunes for 8 bags of dates. Steve picked up the prunes on his last whirlwind shopping trip and as I am NOT a fan of “prune syrup” we returned them and swapped them for dates. While we were there we took the opportunity to walk the dogs around the city and take a couple of photos. This is another one of those lovely traffic signal boxes. I love how bright and vibrant this one is 🙂


This is a great idea. Filtered water that you can drink from a fountain or use to fill up your water bottle in an attempt to reduce the use of bottled water. The dogs were certainly appreciative of this on what was probably one of our last warm days for the year

As the weather cools down I start to rev up. I want to hear and smell Brunhilda as she crackles back into life. I went to sleep last night with the sound of persistent rain on the roof. It was absolutely and most primally delicious. My breakfast buckwheat porridge is now “right” and I have taken to wearing ugg slippers all over again. Enter the game. Narf7 1, Earl nil (for now…) The dogs are starting to need a blanky at night-time now. We keep lecturing them about how lucky they are. How some dogs have to live outside and eat tinned dog food (shock HORROR!) and wouldn’t know what a bed even looked like, let alone got to spend most of their days languishing in luxury on top of one. Couches, fridges, leftovers, begging for hot pasty ends, bacon rinds, caches of shoes…all completely foreign to the average shmo dog but do you think they pay attention? Nope…you can almost sense Bezial looking for “more” and Earls eyes slithering around looking for unattended foot coverings as you prosthelise


Steve ate most of these last night and said that they were delicious. Even the green possum sucked ones didn’t go to waste. They got tucked into the compost bin to hopefully grow at their leisure over the winter


I knew that European paper wasps had 2 phases, a sugar phase where they predate any and everything sugary and later in the breeding season they have a meat phase where they go for anything vaguely meaty but I never realised that they also had a cheese phase…here is the evidence!

We have plans in the immediate future to create a dog nook next to Brunhilda. Sort of one of those Bohemian floor setups for dogs so that they can take advantage of pillows and warmth and Brunhilda and overnight heat regulation. “Some dogs live outside in kennels you know you two!”… (Eyes just swivelled alarmingly reminiscent of my children’s eyes swivelling when I was telling them that there were starving children in Ethiopia…) and we have plans for all sorts of crafty adventures but we need to knuckle down and get some of these immediate studies out of the way. Sarah, our wonderful lecturer, has been very sporting about it all and has given us all of our work up front. I love you Sarah. You are a true friend! She knows how a student brains works because she IS a student. She is studying at university as she teaches and so that need to satisfy in the bare minimum is part and parcel of her world. You can reason with a fellow student and Sarah is eminently reasonable. This course is a world apart from last year. Last year I could feel our lecturer losing his sense of humour as the year progressed and our fellow students dropped like bored flies. The moment something a bit difficult arose they were like rats leaving a sinking ship but this year’s motley crew are all interesting, fantastically talented and most importantly focussed on taking part and completing this course. They all seem to have their eyes firmly on the finish line which makes this a much more exciting direction to be facing. Rather than working alone, we have lots of brains to bounce off and that makes it a much more entertaining environment to learn in


A man and his machine against the mighty intestinal fortitude of a cross fibred wattle tree


A man and his dogs


A man who appears to be threatening me but who assures me is “Mr Log Splitter Extraordinaire”…

Ms TeddyTottie of “Teddy and Tottie” blogging fame posted a link to this excellent commercial to highlight ceasing battery hen/egg farming by some of our most noted comedians. I would like to share it with you all as well. I realise that some of you already follow this blog so feel free to skip the ad.


I find myself at 3.13pm on Wednesday and just remembered that I have to post a blog post…EEK! I have been studying all day and finding more holes where the possums have been weaselling into our veggie garden (SWINES!) that I promptly mended (narf7 1 possums about 7000 😦 ) and helping Steve to split some logs using a log splitter that we borrowed from a friend. All in all I am going to have to put this blog post to bed and hope that it isn’t too half cut and that the first bit was good enough to carry this last (most pathetic) effort home ;). I need to thank Tanya (Chica Andaluza) and Jessie (rabidlittlehippy) for sending me Spanish sourdough starter “Ole!” and for dealing with my aging Aunt Tilly who keeps sending me seeds. Jess has been a pillar of the community and has bent over backwards to attempt to educate Aunt Tilly but she appears to be almost as bolshie as I am. Cheers for your help anyway Jess.  You can both be sure that I am going to have a wonderful time messing around in the realms of sourdough possibilities and back propagating where I am happiest . I luv’s ya both 🙂


Not only did Tanya/Chica send me some of her precious dehydrated sourdough starter for me to have a go at making true Spanish sourdough on Serendipity Farm, but she sent me a packet of lovely wildflower seeds to sprinkle around the place. I am wholeheartedly in agreement with the cover of the lovely card that she sent…I will just swap the (undrinkable) gin for vodka and after a few of those lemony moments I will completely “forgedaboudit!” 😉  Now I have to think up a sufficiently sexy Spanish name for my new starter…


Dear Aunt Tilly…she keeps sending me seeds and I keep telling her “No Aunt Tilly!” but what are you going to do when your Aunty just wants to share? 😉 Cheers Jess for attempting to talk some sense into Aunt Tilly. For your kindness to Aunt Tilly I am sending you something special 🙂

Ok folks, sorry to love you and leave you but sometimes the small terrier that is life gets hold of your ratty little carcass and gives you a hefty shake which results in a bit of a brain rattle and a whole lot of having to get your bearings back. I should have them back and be a LOT more organised by next week but I can’t promise anything ;). I hope you all have a happy and most productive week. See you all next Wednesday 🙂


Hi All

Or as Mr Bowie may well have sung if it was at ALL easy to rhyme…”ex-ex-ex-ex-experiments”… which comes off sounding somewhat like “Com-pu-pu-pu-(add 10 more pu’s here…by the way I know  that there are 10 more “pu’s” because I counted them 😉 )-computer game” by the NZ band with the dubious name of “Mi-sex”. I say dubious because from what I have managed to glean from dealings with some of my New Zealand blogging confraternity, they are pretty cluey when it comes to spelling so my guess is that the members of the band Mi-Sex are just Aussies that swam the wrong way across the channel as everyone knows that Australian males could care less about spelling. Consider it a fair swap for Crowded House (and by the way, cheers for the pavlova and the lamingtons, they were delicious! 😉 ) . If you would like to count the amount of “pu’s” yourself or you are interested in seeing how computers used to look last century (before anyone was allowed to touch one or own one themselves) or if you are at all, even vaguely, interested in 1979 New Zealand rock feel free to watch the song here…


This tree has been a dead tree standing for a while now. It was quite close to our house so a friend came over and gave Steve a hand to chop it down on the weekend. It’s completely dead and most deliciously fire ready. Perfect for this coming season of feet up around Brunhilda and tussling for the chairs either side of her before the dogs become permanently welded to them for the next 6 months


Doesn’t look all that impressive but it’s over a cubic metre of uber dry firewood that we didn’t have to lug from the back block or pay for so “WOOT!” 🙂

I have been having a few “LEARN YOUR LIFE LESSONS NARF” moments here of late. I would like to share some of them with you for the sake of posterity…

  1. When you reduce your feral cat population significantly and are feeling self-righteous about what excellent neighbours and hail-fellow-well-met sterling examples of society you are, you may notice that suddenly your pumpkins are all scoffed by bush rats and the quolls move in and start snarfing your chooks…just sayin’
  2. When you set out to create a lush green oasis in the middle of a parched and arid landscape, every insect from this side of the Pecos is going to invade Poland
  3. When you focus on “lush and green” rather than any sort of thought process that might arrive at an increase in garden produce you get lush and green and not a whole lot to eat
  4. When you fall prey to the ideals of Permaculture and imagine your garden full of delightful helpful chickens who scratch delicately and eat all your pests you probably deserve to end up with no eggs and sixty quintillion baby chicks turning you every slowly more insane with their incessant cheeps
  5. If something tastes good, and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat. If something doesn’t taste good and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat
  6. When you give strawberries not enough water they refuse to fruit. When you give strawberries too much water you end up with mushy tasteless fruit…

I hope they can be of some assistance to those of you contemplating the delights of living in the arid wasteland formerly known as “Northern Tasmania” now, most accurately, an extension campus of the Gobi desert


Here’s some firewood that we prepared earlier. You can tell that we prepared it earlier because a) it is stacked, b) it is dry and c) nature appears to be attempting to take it back…most notably that bollocking blackberry!


Another one that nature prepared earlier. As you can see, this tree fell over our fence from Glad’s property next door. We cut up the wood that was blocking the driveway but the rest is going to be dealt with soon…not sure when soon actually is. Not even sure if it can be quantified. “Soon” on Serendipity Farm is like “Manana” to a Spaniard 😉


Here’s another stack of logs that we cut from the tree that fell over Glad’s fence. You can see the pile of debris next to it and I have plans for any debris that we generate from now on. Soon I am going to start a concerted hedge building effort involving striking as many hawthorn cuttings as I can and interplanting them on hugels formed of hacked up debris along the boundary fences on Serendipity Farm. Our neighbours are going to LOVE us but you know what? Bollocks to them. This is for nature, for Permaculture and to redress the loss of topsoil washed down our steep slopes in winter

Today’s post was brought to you by the letter “H”. In particular, the word “Honesty” I read Pauline’s revealing and excellent post about her life and how facing up to the problems and behaviours that were blocking her from her full potential and taking a first step on the road to recovery initially physically, but closely followed by mentally and I dare say spiritually as well led her to become the vibrant, vital and most awesome person that she is today. When you are healthy you see things differently. Life has extra colours, there is hope around every corner and you can’t help but get out of bed feeling like today is going to have some interesting possibilities come what may and you are perfectly able to deal with them. In the spirit of this post I got to thinking about my own journey and the blockages that prevent me from living my life more fully and one of my worst habits kept making itself obvious again and again and again…


Not a blockage per-se but this little fellow loves to live in our drainpipes and comes out to bumble around on the lawn where he hunts for insects


One good habit that I cultivated was eating breakfast. Here you see narf7’s breakfast. A large mug of tea (2 teabags) and a bowl of buckwheat porridge with chopped apple, date paste and sesame milk.

I have been having more than my fair share of moments lately where I am lucid AND aware and my synapses are all firing in a similar direction and thought has been the order of the day. I have decided to challenge my longstanding habits on a daily basis. Why would I do something as inherently foolish as that? Because I realised that if we stick with what is safe and what we know we never learn anything and we never move forward. I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately where people have soldiered on against the odds and have come out the other side older, wiser and with a greater understanding and appreciation for their lot than they went into this exchange with. I want to ensure that I am not clinging tenaciously to old habits that might just be inhibiting me in my day to day life. Here’s a few of them that might be on the chopping block in the immediate future

  1. I always want things done my way.
  2. I get stressed when things aren’t done my way
  3. I sulk when things aren’t done my way
  4. I protest vehemently and loudly (and often into the night) when things aren’t done my way
  5. When ANYTHING negative eventuates (I will be waiting for years for just such a gleeful occasion) with anyone else’s interpretation of how things should be done I rise, like the Phoenix in gleeful schadenfreude

Now in looking at this list you might not immediately be able to pick out any common denominators. I am a reasonably well balanced woman who has managed to make it to 50 without going to jail for strangling anyone but I am starting to get the picture that I might just be a teensy little bit of a control freak.

Control freak



noun: control freak; plural noun: control freaks

a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.

Oh Dear 😦


“Thank the Lord…we aren’t going to starve today!” Our amazing harvest for Monday… 😉


Dates soaking in boiling water to make them soft to whizz up in my vitamix blender to make date paste and we actually grew this celery! Never tried to grow it before. It always smacked of “too hard” and so this year it got planted. Delicious stuff and I cut the bases off leaving about an inch so that they can regrow


Mr Zuke is too cool for school but maybe not too cool to turn into 2 pans of zucchini brownies…

I have a lot of other habits that might need a bit of a tweak but this habit arose like the phoenix apparently in order to prevent me from needing to hyperventilate into a paper bag at least 100 times a day. People who are control freaks are afraid of being out of control. Knowing myself reasonably well (after having to live with “me” as an erratic flatmate inside my head who I might just be going to kick out if she doesn’t stop Pinning on Pinterest and get outside and do a bit of yard work in the immediate future!) I think that this might be a reasonable assumption to make. Throw me a curve ball and I start to twitch. I am not good at change and freely admit that anything out of the ordinary is viewed with suspicion first until it has proven to be anything other than nefarious where I may, or may not frolic in delight when proven wrong. Here’s a website for anyone else who thinks that they might be a control freak or be dealing with one.

I am sure that Steve would be most happy to have me attempt to deal with my incessant need to have my way because that would open the door and allow HIM to have his way all of the time. Steve and I are both control freaks but I am the more dominant (dominatrix?!) one and so I tend to manipulate things a little more than I should. I can’t stop Steve from turning into Napoléon but I CAN stop myself from limiting my enjoyment of life’s day to day experiences and for that, it will be worth unleashing Attila the Steve on society


This is what kefir grains look like when you feed them non-dairy milk exclusively. Mine revel in homemade sesame milk mixed liberally with homemade date paste. Here you see my little hard working grains sitting in some finished, cultured kefir


I lift them out of the finished kefir and plonk them straight into some nice new sesame milk/date paste mix ready for them to get cracking with turning it into finished kefir


This heinous and most unusual looking jellyfish creates cracking caffeine rich probiotic kombucha. The outside of this large container might leave a bit to be desired but the inside is pure deliciousness


One of the most interesting things about kombucha (booch) SCOBY’s is that they swell to fill the space that they are allotted. My container is square with ridges and so my booch SCOBY is square with ridges :). Here you can see her basking in some of her finished booch ready to be dunked into her next vat of cool sweet tea to feed for another 10 days before narf liberates her and places her reverently into some more…slave? “Moi?!”

Nature has conspired to assist me in my desire to relinquish my need for control. She has thwarted my ways most successfully of late and through gritted teeth I am “grateful”. Where I desired a fecund oasis of productive garden I have had to tackle a sagging enclosure roof that has allowed the possums to bounce their way to snapping off my sunflower heads and chomping the tallest tomatoes off at the stalk. I have discovered that you actually need to be proactive when it comes to potatoes and mound “something” up around their stalks because otherwise you get a lot of green and not a lot of “edible”.  When you think you have a handle on something horticultural because you spent the best part of 4 years studying horticulture and you really should know what you are doing you don’t. There are SO many life lessons that have been tapping me on the head with the duelling wooden spoons of nature and life that I think I might stop there. I am of the firm belief that life hands you life lessons for a reason. I am also of the firm belief that you keep getting those life lessons revisit you like the ghost of Christmas past, if you steadfastly refuse to acknowledge them and deal with them.


This box contains par of the solution to the problems that we have on Serendipity Farm. I discovered these day lily tubers languishing in a ditch on one of our walks…they have brothers…and sisters…and aunties…and uncles…and about a squillion cousins and I can collect a few surreptitiously each time I decide to ambulate up this road and soon I will be able to populate Serendipity Farm with Day Lilies out the wazoo!


Here they are having a nice relaxing spa and catching up on all the gossip with their kin


What my poor kitchen looks like at any given time. There is always something being soaked, or dried or cooling (those 2 bowls of buckwheat porridge) or ground (I have 2 mortar and pestles), or washed, or thrown (“EARL!”) and its just lucky that I designed an UBER simple kitchen in order to keep clutter to the minimum (note…I am NOT showing you a picture of my kitchen table 😉 )

It turns out that we have been tackling Serendipity Farm all wrong.  We have been trying to force our ideas and ideals on the land rather than spending time observing it. Our gung-ho attitude has seen us grow and plant out things that are completely unsuitable for our property and its climactic conditions and it’s time to relinquish control and watch nature at work. Over the coming autumnal period and the ensuing winter, I am going to go back to basics with how we are going to deal with our property and what our outcomes are. Serendipity Farm has a lot of problems but it also has a lot going for it and it’s up to us to work WITH nature to effect positive change rather than try to keep banging our heads on the brick wall that refusing to admit defeat when it comes to our own wants and desires has become. There are some compromises to be made and they aren’t going to be pretty. They might see me having to rethink some of my ideas and ideals and renegotiating exactly what I want for our property. Permaculture is the only answer but each situation is different and I can’t try to apply principles that work elsewhere to here…back to the drawing board…observe, note, THEN plan once we are armed with what we need to move forwards.


Our new lecturer (who is a darling by the way and who I adore already 🙂 ) told me to take pictures of all sorts of things, to get creative and to find design all over the place. I fear I may be stuck on our “50 pumpkins” task from our course last year. This year we get to design “50 bananas”…I am NOT going to tell you what Steve said…


Another random shot of my kitchen. This time I have 4 bottles ready for the sesame milk and date paste mix (sesame milk is already in that big bowl and the date paste is in the vitamix blender), the celery was waiting to be chopped along with those carrots for last nights most delicious soup (I have been taking lessons from The Soup Dragon and am now the apprentice Soup Dragon 🙂 ) . I had a delicious moment the other day when for some reason I decided to try and stick one of my spatulas to my magnetic strip…NO idea why I tried it but I found out that it is, indeed, metallic on the inside! That means I can stick my kefir spatula up with the knives away from my other “regular” spatula (also magnetic) so that it doesn’t get cross contaminated and I start culturing my cakes and more to the point, my sesame milk for everyday use

We signed up and paid for our course yesterday. We are now about to commence study in a field that is SO far off centre to what we are used to that my right eye is twitching as I type this. We dabbled with design last year but within strict parameters. This year we are given a lot more creative freedom and as a quintessential planner, releasing the muses is tantamount to sending in the hounds. I think I hide behind my lists. I think that under all of this collective of knowledge that I have been collating and stashing away is a little narf7 who is frankly terrified of being of little worth and who has assumed a hermitty crab shell of great control in order to assuage that fear and reassure myself that I am, indeed, “relevant”


The son and heir purchased this vacuum sealer for me as a gift WAY back when we lived in Western Australia. It has taken me all of this time to use one box of bags…I am hoping that they still sell them!


These are dehydrated kefir grains. The yellowish ones were purely fed on cows milk and the darker ones were fed dually on cows milk and non dairy milk with date paste added. The powder around the outside is just dried milk powder. Apparently it keeps them happy while they are in stasis in the fridge. When I fed my kefir on 2 days of non-dairy milk and 1 day of cows milk they grew considerably and I dried them as they produced new babies and the container became too full of them. Here you can see the results of all of that drying

Anyhoo…back to Mr Bowie and his ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and how they pertain to narf7 and Serendipity Farm as a whole. Well I have actively decided to change those habits that are supporting my need to be a control freak. I am going to recognise them for the fear mongers that they are and I am going to learn my life lessons as fast as I can because I am impatient and SUCK at waiting. Whilst working through what makes narf7 tic (not a spelling mistake…) I am going to see if I can’t initiate a few good habits to replace the bad ones. I am considering having a go at Pilates. I hear it’s like yoga with an eye patch…if so…”ARRGHH! Narf7 be ready for that kind of mellow jaunt across the high seas of life”. I am also going to read more, listen to good music more and explore my creative side without having to create “perfect” examples of anything and allowing myself to fail abysmally in the process. All life lessons…all good.


I used my vacuum sealer to bag up 2 selections of my dehydrated kefir to send to Pauline (The Contented Crafter) and Tanya (Chica Andaluza) so these little babies are winging their merry way to New Zealand and to Spain respectively. I am not sure if either of them will make it through customs let alone get dunked into fresh milk at the other end but at least we are trying girls 🙂


A close up of their little vacuum sealed bodies…still in stasis but one step closer to their goal of Serendipity Farm kefir grains taking over the world! (Oops…did I say that out loud? The masters will be angry! )

It looks like we have arrived at the end of this post. Sorry about the philosophy 101. I actually typed up an entirely different post earlier in the week that I decided to discard because it was too philosophical but it would appear that my muses are insisting on philosophy this week and you are stuck with my erstwhile attempts to find my navel where I don’t actually have one. I may, or may not have a chakra but navel…nada. It was removed in a past surgery so I guess that leaves me to attempt to find my third eye without going cross-eyed in the mirror.  Hopefully normal service will have resumed next week but I think part of this introspection is partly to do with the change of seasons. My brain is INSISTING on changing the seasons with the calendar month this year. I get the picture that nature will again insist otherwise…”nature is a control freak” 😉