First start with what you see…

 

Hi All

 

Here we all are again assembled and accounted for. I have nestled a few more blogs into my RSS Feed Reader on my never ending journey towards morphing my online reading habits into my real life interests of this moment in time. I am reading Ruby Wax’s book “Sane New World”. I read her autobiography and when a book can take you from deep soul searching to squirting your mouthful of booch (I am also attempting to drink my way through 12 litres of kombucha in my fridge as we need the space!) over the rug as you half choke on something hilarious it’s well worth a read in my opinion. I like to multi-task. Sane New World is an amazing survival story. Ruby has had several mental breakdowns and suffers from depression. Rather than take her meds like a good little Jewish girl she has decided to find out just what makes the brain tick and despite the humour that keeps this book ticking along nicely (still more booch to clean up off the wall…) blends seamlessly into this amazing woman’s search that took her from lying on a psychiatrists couch (while he ate a corned beef and mustard sandwich behind her and mumbled “Hmmm?”) to enrolling in Oxford university to study the science of the brain in order to tame her own. What a woman! And to think I just thought that she was funny…

The world is domed Michael Leunig

OH how I love Mr Michael Leunig. I hope he translates to the wider world as he is one of our Aussie gems that is well worth sharing. I hope that he isn’t in a mind to sue me for sharing his images with the wider community. I hope that should he ever stumble across humble little broke Serendipity Farm that he will take pity on the poor mindless adoring fool that pinched his image without permission but who couldn’t help herself because no-one out there says it like Mr Leunig 🙂

It’s now Wednesday and I am racing against time to pull a blog post out of the air. The air is decidedly cooler here today and if Bezial wasn’t sprawled upside down on the deck I would actually shut the sliding door. I love this crisp cool air because it lets you think clearly. I am thinking that I need to get my crochet hook into some wool soon and get started on the slipper boots that The Snail of Happiness  shared with me recently. I have plenty of wool, now I just need to find the time. Isn’t it always the case that when you have sufficient of one part of the equation, you don’t have enough of the other?

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This is what my precious babies looked like prior to Steve forgetting to shut the shed door…sigh…

This summer has seen Steve helping a friends mum move into her house and has seen narf7 home alone. Much like Macaulay Calkin, narf7 home alone is not a good thing. For one I am slightly stir crazy and for two I can’t do a whole lot without Stevie-boy when it comes to the great outdoors. Our summer was long and dry and the garden suffered tremendously but now that the temperature has cooled down somewhat we are on the case and are knocking out some of the chores that need to be accomplished before winter hits home. We NEED that water tank up and collecting rain ASAP and we need the trailer that it is now residing in to collect leaf mould from the bottom of the property horse manure from a farm down the road and seaweed from a beach for the garden. I need to pull out all of the summer crops and make way for the winter crops including garlic and potato onions that are champing at the bit to be in the ground

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Here are the large “Christmas decorations” that herald the entry into Serendipity Farm. They are kind of a statement and a warning at the same time “Your not in Kansas any more Dorothy…”

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This is the delicious and most splendiferous load of wood that killed the moth eaten sock under the bed. We gave it a decent burial and then it was right back to working out how on EARTH we are going to transport all of these logs back to the house from the front of the property…looks like Stevie-boys Easter weekend might be all booked methinks…

Steve and I have been a little overwhelmed by the scope of the job at hand. It would seem that if you leave something for long enough it thinks it owns the place and takes possession. The blackberries and spear thistles are a point in case. They are everywhere…again…we had a few pressing inside jobs to do and once we had cleared out the spare room (isn’t it funny how they seem to magnetically attract “stuff”?) and Steve’s music room (another “stuff” gatherer) and we liberated the wood box from its big black house spider inhabitants and several pairs of my shoes from their big black house spider inhabitants (“Eek!”) we started to feel a bit better about it all. I think it’s the starting that is the hardest bit. It’s not hard to keep going, just start

Lumberjack Stevie-boy

I couldn’t resist sharing this “Lumberjack” image with you all and if you have 10 seconds to spare here’s the song itself…Steve and I? I will leave you to make up your own minds on that one 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL7n5mEmXJo

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Another gratuitous woody shot with our resident parkour expert Bezial taking full advantage of this delicious and delightful pile

Steve will be helping his friends mum fill and plant out an amazing series of large water wicked garden beds that he designed for use on her rooftop garden. He has been taking images of the process so that I can share a blog post with you all once the job is complete. So far the beds have been made and the plumbing installed. It isn’t like ordinary wicked garden beds where you have an overflow that bleeds out onto the soil below because there ISN’T any soil below and so a complex drainage system was cooked up between Steve and the plumber and an effective “fix” for this problem was achieved. It’s quite an exciting idea and very water wise. I will keep you informed about it as it starts to come together

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Getting the wood box ready for a steady stream of wood that will grace it’s hallowed circumference over the next 6 or so months. Note Steve has a trusty helper and is wearing a belt. The belt is because he obliterated his top button on his trousers thanks to (in his own words folks) “too much beer and too many potatoes”

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The helper extracts his payment…

Steve has a saying now “First start with what you see”. Apparently it was something from one of the Hannibal Lector movies. I am not entirely sure whether to be alarmed or not by his thought pool but have decided to go along with this idea anyway as I am not exactly brimming over with idea’s myself. I have decided to have my eyes surgically removed. Steve is on a jag. He has decided that we are going to clean up/fix up what we can see surrounding our house. Steve can apparently see a whole LOT surrounding our house! Without eyes I will see relatively little…it’s an idea born of desperation and the knowledge that Steve on a cleaning jag is a terrifying creature.

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“Yes? Can I help you?”
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I have started reading “Zero Waste Home” a most interesting concept. I love the idea of minimising our waste out the wazoo. I love it so much I follow blogs about it. I trawl the web to find interesting ideas for how to reduce and remove packaging. I love it so much it makes me smile whenever I find another way to do something myself that doesn’t involve packaging or anything that needs to be thrown out in any form. The book highlights the divide between the haves and have nots however. It is very hard to get someone who has very little money to stop using coupons to save money and to stop accepting those little free shampoos and conditioners at hotels. The reason being that a lack of money tends to foster a need to hoard. I often wrestle my inner desire to snaffle up the little shampoos (and I usually lose). It is much easier in a country like Australia where you just don’t have coupons. I watched a few television programs about people who clip coupons for a living and couldn’t believe how complex it was…it was like undertaking brain surgery or teaching an astro physics class except the brains were cauliflowers and you bought 75 of them in order to get them for free. I still can’t get my head around it but then it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t because we don’t have coupon’s to clip

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Bezial balancing precariously on his sofa that Earl redecorated by eating half of the other sofa cushion. Bezial doesn’t like Earls design. He does however like the nice red dog cotton filled dog blanket that I picked up from the thrift shop on my last visit.

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Sticky the stick insect who is refusing to yield his pots to the greater good

I think it is within everyones realm to be able to reduce their impact on the environment. Even baking the odd loaf of bread and choosing to buy a paper bag of lentils from the health food shop rather than throw a plastic bag of them into your trolley at the supermarket. The family in the book apparently only produce a “quart” (4 litres to us metricamacated folk) of refuse a year and that’s all recycling. The family downsized, got rid of their lawn, only buy things in containers that they provide, buy their meat from the butchers in mason jars (I can only begin to wonder what “Nige” would do if I headed in to his shop and said “can you fill this with sausages please…” 😉 ) but kudos to them, they decided to minimise their consumption and waste down as low as they could go. It’s possible. So is living for 5 years without having a shower but at the end of that time you might not want to have anything to do with the triumphant creature that emerged. I think it’s all about balance. I buy my flour and potatoes in bulk in 10kg brown paper bags. I reuse those bags as recycling bags until they are in tatters and then I snip them up and add them to the compost bin.

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We get boats chugging up and down the river as it is the only way to get to Launceston by water

We buy 14 loaves of white supermarket bread a fortnight. Not for ourselves but to feed to our chooks. We are in the process of working out what to do with all of those chooks because they are costing us $163 a month to feed and that is only seed. If you add the $14 a fortnight for the bread and $3 a fortnight for the butter it’s a grand total of $197 a month for boobity boo chickens (NO idea how many we have but I recently counted 43 little baby chicks along…) and only 1 of them is laying eggs at the moment. She does her best but our grand total of eggs at the end of the fortnight tends to be around the dozen mark (if we are lucky) so that means that we are paying $98.50c per dozen. Now it doesn’t take me too long to work out that this amount might be a tad high and I don’t even eat eggs! Something has to give. If we reduce the chook population we reduce the price of the food as well. We only need about 8 chooks to do what we want around here and the rest are superfluous. I am considering offering our excess to the local Permaculture group. We have some very pretty chooks and I know that they will appreciate them. I will keep you posted. What I was trying to illustrate was that sometimes mindless habits take on lives of their own and you end up paying a HUGE amount for something that you are pouring a lot of work into for very little return.

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“So Steve is going to head into town to go shopping and leave me here eh? Well I might just have to show him my displeasure…”

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“I will just steal this piece of driftwood in order to exact my revenge…”

I just took a break to make some homemade pasties for Steve’s dinner tonight. I try to cook as much as I can from scratch because that’s a good way to reduce packaging and get better quality food cheaper. I added some cheese to the pastry that we buy in big blocks. I am wondering if anyone local knows where to buy cheese unwrapped. I know that you used to be able to buy it from the supermarkets but I don’t do the shopping and I doubt that Steve would stand still enough (especially if there was a line) to ask the deli person about it. I am going to have to wait until I go in myself. I have a large bag full of plastic bags etc. that I need to get turned into plarn. I don’t know what I will do with the plarn but I am leaning towards making crocheted shopping bags out of it. I have 3 large crochet hooks and only really needed the smallest for my latest project but it was more economical to buy 3 than it was to buy a single crochet hook. If anyone can explain that to me I will be grateful as I can’t for the life of me work out why it costs more for a single plain crochet hook than it does for 3 metal pastel ones. I keep meaning to start making them and then suddenly the time disappears somewhere and I can’t crochet or read or lay on the floor on my back twiddling my thumbs like Pooh bear any more.

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AND he didn’t clean it up! 😉

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We took the dogs down to have a look at the enormous wood pile and Earl is more interested in the fact that the gate is open and he might get a walk

I am sure that I am not the only one who hits 3pm running as a steady crescendo of “creation” occurs. By 6.30 when dinner is all served and is being munched contentedly I am starting to feel pretty tired after my long day and it is the norm to find me fast asleep on the couch by 7.30 which is a shame because the only television program that I actually like, Master chef U.K. is on then and I usually miss the end because I have to drag my sorry tired derrière off to bed. The other day I took possession of a wonderful red cast iron casserole dish with a lid as well as a cast iron frypan from Jan who I walk with in the morning. She most generously gifted me the pair as she had just purchased some new cookware that she was happier with and I was the lucky recipient of these lovely cooking implements. The casserole dish is wide and not too deep and will be perfect for cooking in Brunhilda when she is up and running again. It seems like all things point towards this being a winter where narf7 gets cooking bigtime. I have to animate El Camino my lovely white sourdough starter that the wonderful Chica Andaluza  sent to me and I am also going to experiment with my homemade kefir as a leavener. I have some very interesting experiments on the cards involving breads made with vegetables, cakes made from strange and interesting ingredients and all kinds of vegan experiments courtesy of all of the recipes that I have been collecting via the blogs that I have been following avidly and Pinterest where I won’t admit to how many boards or pins I have needless to say its “a lot”.

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The lovely cast iron casserole dish and cast iron frypan that Jan gave us and 6 cauliflowers. Don’t ask. That’s what happens when you are vegan and eat by the season and cauliflowers are $1 each and when you get them home you realise that there is no room in the fridge…sigh… the apples in the cava fruit bowl are strange and wondrous. I haven’t ever eaten them before and they are an interesting meaty textured apple with very little juice but they are sweet at the same time. Not quite cooking apple but not really something that you would wax lyrical about so I am grating them into my breakfast buckwheat porridge and for that purpose they are just “perfick” 🙂

Well I think that might be all for today folks. I can’t seem to just “stop” at 600 words like blog posts are supposed to settle at. I don’t know who thought up this magic quotient but they didn’t have 5000 muses all babbling for airtime in their brain like I do and I would like to keep my sanity for at least another week. Have a great week folks and here’s to sunshine for you northern lot and blissful rain for us southerners 🙂

 

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Do you think Mr Leunig would mind if I shared another most worthy example of why I love this man to bits? I hope not…oh well, “In for a penny, in for a pound!” as my old gran would have said! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Study sucked all of my time

Hi All

 

Well another Wednesday just appeared out of the ethereal fog of study and I just realised that I haven’t chiselled a blog post out of the possibilities between my ears. It’s 5.22am and I am on the mental prowl for some choice narf7 tid-bits for you all to marvel at and wonder what you did prior to learning but you know what? My head is full of bampf! Last week it was OH&S where we were able to use a bit of what we did last year (but not much) to satisfy the requirements but this week it is hard slog and nose to the grindstone and all of those painful things that require you to spend hours online trying to remember how to type in a useful query that will garner you the best results. As of this moment in time I SUCK at useful queries even though we learned about them only a few weeks ago

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We had to go hunting for an image stored on a hard drive the other day and we found a few images of Bezial back when he was numero uno dog all on his own. This is Bezial in town when he was a year old

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Bezial in his favourite position on the back of the sofa in a sunbeam 🙂

I have been wandering lonely as a cloud in the early mornings that have just been padded out by an hour thanks to daylight savings going back to the hole that it crawls out of in October every year and my brain being crammed full of study thoughts…a walk with Earl is a dangerous thing when you are fully conscious of where you are stepping and what you are being dragged into but when you are preoccupied and thinking about other things you don’t notice the rabbit warrens or the rocks or the fact that you have suddenly veered off the beaten track and are being dragged backwards through woodlands of sheoak’s that really REALLY want to eat your hair. Earl is very good at sniffing out those kinds of woods

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Bezial casting his vote on just how delicious Madeline’s amazing white chocolate vegan mud cake (for her sisters birthday) was… I think he gave it 9 out of 10. It would have been 10 out of 10 if it was about 10cm closer to the edge of the counter…

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My experiment in kefir and buckwheat, a wonderful study in how to make prize hooch without doing much at all. The layer on top of this amalgamated mass is pure alcohol. Not entirely sure what I am going to do with this but for now, it’s a fun experiment. Might toss it out for the possums to fight over…now THAT would be fun! 😉

 

Instead of dealing on a daily basis with my RSS Feed Reader (that now contains 123 unread posts …”EEK”!) I am spending my early mornings wading through research so that Steve and I can formulate what I have found into some semblance of notes in order to answer the questions we have been asked. Most of our classmates are lamenting this part of the course but they don’t realise that we have the lament x 2 and then boosted on steroids because we have to come up with twice the examples that they do and twice the research because there are two of us. Thems the breaks I guess but sometimes it feels like I have cotton wool between my ears and I spend my days in a kind of fuggish haze. Today we have an online class where we have to share what we have found out about the questions that we have to answer. Forgive me for being a little cynical but if I have just spent the best part of 24 hours of my life slaving away researching and compiling I am somewhat loath to share all of my information. I am not being mingy or mean, I am just wondering why we have to share this information prior to it being submitted whereby other class members who may have been watching dvd’s, listening to music with their feet up, playing video games etc. for the first part of the week can sit around their PC with a pen and paper and take notes on everyone else’s hard slog and then hand those answers in… there is collaboration and there is blatant lazily riding home on someone else’s coat tails. I will leave you to make up your own minds about that

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The app that Steve downloaded for his Nokia the other day (Pic Sketch Free) can do some pretty impressive things

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Taken this morning when I was attempting to wake Steve up…Earl was NOT amused by the flash

Enough about the studies! My life seems to be taken over by them and I have planted out babies that are actually starting to sprout! Tiny little brassicas that are waving at the sunlight and making me happy. I have most cleverly labelled most of them but I have a tray of “Misc. and boobity boo” that are all mixed in together. I like a mixed bag. There is something good about getting what you are given and something tells me that because I didn’t carefully label each row and I have NO idea what is going to come up in this tray that this tray is going to grow the best 😉

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Can anyone explain to me how these “cactus thing-a-ma-hoozits” are surviving on nothing but air? We dug them up when we were building the veggie enclosure last year!

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The ubiquitous “Pie, mash and liquor”

I have also been attempting to reduce the amount of tinny packetty things that Steve likes to call “food”. Being from the U.K. he is predisposed to eating things out of tins and packets. Fresh fruit and veggies are much more expensive over there and when we visited in 2006 we practically lived on cheap frozen foods from large frozen food chains where you can buy a 10kg bag of chips (French fries) for 2 pounds. Well you could back then! We ate frozen burgers and pies and cakes and roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and when we were out and about sightseeing we ate pub lunches where you had “buy 1 meal, get 1 free”. There were 5 of us so we paid for 3 meals, not bad but it left my daughters with a complete disdain for “chips” of any kind. I, on the other hand could eat chips for every single meal and NEVER grow tired of that but then I am a freak of nature ;).

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Can you guess there are at least 2 of us that are VERY keen to get out of the front gate?

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It has been a grey old drizzly day today but I won’t be complaining about the weather for at least a couple of months yet…

Steve is from Northern England and as such he has his regional preferences when it comes to food. They eat a meal called “Pie, mash and liquor” which he likes to make healthier by adding frozen peas into the mix (SO proud of you babe 😉 ). It comprises a couple of pies from a packet, some mashed potatoes (would have been “Smash” a proprietary brand of dehydrated potato flakes in the U.K.) and a packet of purest green masquerading as “parsley sauce”. Much like having a good old U.K. fry up occasionally, he is prone to wanting this sort of thing on enough of a regular basis for me to want to tinker with it a bit and render it “safe”. I can’t completely change everything at once. That would be MADNESS! So I have sneaked in good mashed potato first. He didn’t mind that. He likes that. Next thing was the pies. I can make a good homemade meat pie but at the moment I doubt that I am going to liberate Steve from his shop bought pies any day soon so it’s back to the drawing board and that leaves us with the “liquor” quotient. When I mentioned to Steve that I was going to have a go at making “liquor” for his meal I got those eyes…you know “those eyes”. The eyes that tell you “O…K… you are going to expect me to actually eat this?” Those eyes…

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We took a slightly (higher) route for our walk this morning going up a steep hill which eventuated in this magnificent view.

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This was taken on Steve’s phone at the same time as my image on my little old Fuji.

So I cooked and mashed the spuds, Steve cooked the pies on the bbq (a maestro on the bbq with a shop bought pie…) and I set about making a good roux which I then turned into a delicious white sauce and added lots of fresh chopped parsley from the garden. I checked online and compiled a list of flavour requirements for “liquor” and ended up using a recipe from BBC Food, a more sterling U.K. food endorsement you couldn’t get unless it was from Delia Smith herself! They suggested adding a little white wine vinegar to the sauce to get that peculiar “liquor” quotient so I added a touch and after serving it up to Mr suspicious and having him prod it a bit and then give it a tiny taste he pronounced it “delicious!” Good-O it looks like another packet can be relegated into the “do not buy” basket 🙂 1 for narf7 and nil to the ubiquitous “liquor” middle man!

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Taken on the way home. This image shows an approximation of where our property is. That big oak tree behind that interesting (and still working) light house is just on the other side of our fence. You can see how close the river is to our driveway

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Another shot of Glad’s front “garden” and that overgrown mass of trees is our place 🙂

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Glad’s place was the old church manse (ministers home) and is MUCH neater and tidier than our place even though Glad is 92 this year and we are not 😦

I recently bought some wool in order to make a pair of slipper boots. A wonderful fellow blogger who goes under the delightful moniker of “The Snail of Happiness” made me a very happy narf7 camper by sharing this free pattern. Head on over and grovel a bit and she might share it with you too. Her site is well worth visiting and she is a dead set U.K. legend when it comes to promoting hand crafts, permaculture and living sustainably. I am now following The Snail of Happiness. Thank goodness snails are slow buggers because her blog starts with a “T” and as Pauline will tell you, it can take me a while to get to “T” in my RSS Feed Read especially when I am otherwise occupied ;). Anyhoo, I have the wool. I have 3 new nice shiny pastel coloured crochet hooks in big…Bigger…and BIGGEST! Goodness only knows what I am going to crochet with the biggest one but the packet of 3 was cheaper than buying a single hook so far be it from me to snaffle a bargain when I saw one, 3 I bought. I haven’t had time to put hook to magic circle yet (let alone learn how to make a magic circle in the first place) and there are a few abbreviations I am going to have to Google as my crochet tends to be of the simple and long lasting (unless Earl finds it first) kind whereby I sit…I pick up my wool and hook and I watch television and crochet. Repeat this exponentially and that’s what crochet is to me. I rarely finish anything, it is a lovely repetitive action that soothes my inner savage beast (I have a narf7 “Earl” living inside me 😉 ) and allows me to just mindlessly create something whilst preventing me becoming a statistic on a government health list

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I bought this little pot of chocolate mint for $2 from Di’s little plant stall at the top of the hill because I finally have somewhere to plant it that the wallabies can’t scarf it in! Also because I deserved SOMETHING for walking up that hill!

Autumn has brought blessed relief from the heat but in saying that, it has also brought dogs to bed. Dogs that were content to lounge around on the cool wooden floor are now feeling that early morning coolness and are migrating to those nice warm lumps of meat in their feather and down doona that you can snuggle up to and freeload from their radiant heat. I don’t mind sharing the bed aside for 2 component’s of the bed sharing arrangement (when I say “arrangement” I mean all one way!)

  1. Earl jumping on and off and on and off and on and off the bed all night in order to check various noises, to patrol his territory (there be cats!) and to urinate on a regular basis on the stoic aquilegia that is still growing at the back door despite getting “watered” at least 10 times a day by Earl. I am now a heavy sleeper so the getting off the bed doesn’t bother me, the problem comes when Earl gets back ON the bed and has to jump on my stomach every single time! I might be a heavy sleeper but I challenge even the heaviest sleeper to not wake up when a 33kg American Staffordshire terrier has performed a jump worthy of the Olympic trampoline team fair and square in the middle of your solar plexus
  2. Earl radiates his own heat. He is like a little hot water bottle and when you are snug as a bug in a rug in your feathery down doona you have enough heat. Once Earl starts cuddling up you start to think that you are radiating more heat than a coal fire furnace and you need to remove the doona from your person…problem is, once you do that you get cold again so for the rest of the night, while your canine “friend” is snuggled up to you, you are intermittently getting hot, hurling the doona off your person and then, getting cold and pulling it back on you again…all…night…long!

Bezial doesn’t snuggle up to you, Bezial doesn’t radiate heat, and Bezial isn’t the dog that insists on sleeping on our bed, sigh…

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I think “someone” stole a squash!

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And ran away with it…dropping it on his way around the corner…

Well looky here! I managed to make it to just on 2000 words through sheer complaining! There has to be an award out there someplace for bloggers who are able to complain their way through an entire blog post?! Steve is still fast asleep, so are the dogs, so are the birds for that matter. There might be some possums outside with stomach aches from attempting to eat the diabetes inducing date and chocolate blondies that I made the other day that the bbq decided to turn into rocks and despite Steve’s best (kindest) efforts to consume remained stoically tough and inedible to the end and that I may or may not have tossed over the balcony in a fit of pique (there was 250g of butter in those blondies!) to the chooks below who couldn’t even manage to peck their way into them. Pretty soon my day is going to begin. I haven’t read a single post in my RSS Feed Reader but I did finish off the last of my own learning tasks which frees Steve up to do his while I am off walking Earl this morning. He can then upload all of our work to the various places that we have to upload it to (another bugbear…why do we have to upload all of our work to 3 different places?!) where I employ the sanity instilling mode of “ours not to reason why, outs but to do or die!” when it comes to comprehending why we are required to do anything that I don’t comprehend as logical or essential.

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“You want the squash? Come and get it!”

After that we have to sit down and compile a watered down list of answers to the questions that we have been asked. A sort of chef’s shared version where you just KNOW they left out the most important ingredient of their prized recipe…that sort of share 😉 we then have to take part in the online discussion which will involve Steve and I hopping the computer chair and making each other cups of tea (me) and coffee (Steve) and attempting to look like we are vaguely interested (which neither of us are). We then get the afternoon to work on our assessment tasks for this unit and we should be able to knock them out by late afternoon and then we can start on our negative space/white space unit to hand in for Monday. I don’t know how people who work are able to accomplish the amount of work needed for these courses but most of the people in the course with us work full time. SO glad we are penniless student hippies and can give this course everything that we have got…just not entirely sure I WANT to give it everything I have 😉

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“Oops! When I said “come and get it” I didn’t mean NOW! better pick it back up again and run for my life!”

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“My squash slid off the deck at about 60kph and landed on the ground…I almost “squashed” the chooks!” sigh…Earl and his thieving ways! 😉

Have a great week folks. I made it to just on 2500 words. Aren’t you glad? I might just give you one of those Wordles of today’s post that I shared a while back. I think they are pretty and it’s one less photo that I have to attempt to take on my walk with Earl the terrible this morning 😉

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Narf7 loves bread

Hi All,

It’s 3.41am on a Sunday and I just made myself some chocolate pudding. I think I need to clarify something here…the intention wasn’t to deliver myself a bowl of breakfast but a drink. I opened the fridge up this morning and took out my non-dairy milk to make myself my first cup of tea. I opened the cap and took a sniff (a wise thing to do when you make your own milks with a much shorter shelf life) and realised that my non-dairy milk was starting to head for the dark side…not in a serious way, but in enough of a “way” to make my tea curdle. Tea is my early morning institution, it’s like some folk consider their bacon and eggs…their morning toast, their newspaper…it is sacred to me and to have it curdle on me wasn’t an option. I would save my first cup of tea till later in the day when I could make a LOT of noise using my Vitamix.

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Another lovely autumn sunrise on Serendipity Farm. You can see how chilly it is these days but isn’t it pretty?

What to do with my slightly sour scented almond and oat milk that remained? Turn it into a nice big mug of hot carob! I had a container of carob that was interlaced with a bit of raw cacao that the lady in the health food shop had managed to fandangle me into buying (never shop on an empty stomach folks!) and I figured I would just apply the cocoa techniques to the carob/cacao mix. Easy peasy! I tipped 2 tbsp. of carob/cacao mix into my smallest saucepan and I crushed it to a fine powder. I then added an equal amount of the non-dairy milk and I whisked the mix till it was smooth (who likes lumpy cocoa?!) and slowly added the rest of the non-dairy milk and a few scoops of whole date paste (my sweetener of choice) until the mix was nice and smooth and put it on top of the newly ignited Brunhilda and stirred. After about 5 minutes of stirring (Brunhilda stays slowly slumbering overnight ready to wake up at a moment’s notice) I had a pot of brown unctuousness ready to pour into a large mug and enjoy.

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Steve attempting to teach Earl to “stay”…doing good Earl…doing good!

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Bezial “pointing” to a wasp

I was smug! I managed to use up something that wasn’t all that good for much and turned it into a win! That was till I started to pour it into my mug and realised that when you use “almond and OAT” milk to make a drink, and you put it on the stove you end up with chocolate porridge. Don’t get me wrong folks…I am NOT going to waste it! I have a silky smooth form of breakfast oats that I never would have tried before that tastes pretty good but a morning “cuppa” it is not. Oh well…looks like Sunday is going to be an interesting day today! I look forward to exploring its eccentricities but for now I had best get me a spoon and eat my “cocoa”…

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We were getting tired of the possums using this bench to climb up, eat our plants, knock them over and steal the wren and cuckoo shrikes cheese while we slept so we rearranged the area. So far so good…there was still cheese on the window sill this morning!

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Earl teaching me a very valuable lesson…”when we go out…make sure to remember to use the head halter or you aren’t going to be able to walk with Earl and you are going to have to ski down the driveway”…consider this little black duck taught! 😉 In this shot, Earl’s lead is wrapped around the tree in the background so that I didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of being dragged down our steep driveway upside down to Steve’s feet at the bottom of the driveway…I don’t think I would have EVER lived that down! 😉 (and he had his new camera with him so you can bet he would have “documented it for posterity” 😉 )

My “cocoa” was such a success that I have started adding it to my regular breakfast line-up. I throw a handful of rolled oats, a few whole almonds (might get round to soaking them someday but for now they are just out of the freezer in their dry state) and a scoop or two of carob mixed with some raw cacao into my Vitamix and process them for a minute till they are like a fine flour. After that, I put them into a saucepan along with a couple of scoops of homemade date paste and start adding water slowly mixing to ensure I don’t have any lumps. After simmering and constantly stirring on the stove I end up with chocolate pudding porridge that appeals to the need for speed, nutrition hunting, comfort food seeking part of me and satisfies all three with great aplomb.

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Maples starting to really colour up and these brachychitons that were almost dead last year appear to be getting a new lease on life after we cleared out the weeds and debris underneath them

The title of today’s post is most fitting because bread was one of my soul foods back in the day. I could eat a whole loaf of fresh white bread slathered with butter, toasted and slathered with butter, made into toasted sandwiches slathered with butter…you get my drift ;). Today I don’t eat bread. I haven’t eaten bread since January when I started using green smoothies to mainline my nutrients and I haven’t ever felt better. Narf7 might love bread but I fear she can’t eat that fluffy white nutritionally defunct version of it anymore. So what can I eat? I can eat homemade good quality whole-wheat or multigrain bread and that’s where Audrey comes into the picture

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A shot of the terrible state of our driveway. It’s VERY lucky that we own a 4 x 4 because I dare say we would have to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk up if we had anything less!

I got Audrey from Jess of Rabid Little Hippy blogging fame. I have faithfully maintained Audrey, even though of late, she has only been out of the fridge for her 4 day feeding events (that seem to have stretched to weekly feeding events without much protest on her behalf). She has been incredibly faithful in her efforts and whenever I am ready to bake, she wakes up and rises (literally 😉 ) to the occasion. I have a mission. I have been stalking a most wonderful conglomerate of amazing bakers who get together to share the amazing bread that they have been baking called Yeast spotting. If you would like to check it out for yourself and are at all interested in the yeasty path of righteous baking, here’s a linky…

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2013/05/05/yeastspotting-5-5-13/

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Steve took this “shroom’s eye view” shot of the Auld Kirk Church yesterday…just thought you might like to see it from a shroom’s point of view 😉

Each one of those 3 classifications of bread links will open up a plethora of passionate bread makers who are willing to share their magnificent creations with us all. I fell instantly in love with this blog and have been following a few of the bakers that regularly post. Ian, of the wonderful blog Mookie loves Bread, bakes some of the most amazing bread that I have ever seen. Aside from the amazing bread he loves cats and he finds the time to give his amazing bread the most fantabulous names. Who couldn’t love a blog like that? I have been ruminating about wanting to start baking “real bread” for a while now. I decided that as Brunhilda is going to be pretty much on the go 24/7 for our coming 6 – 7 months of Ice age (CHEERS LINNIE! 😉 ) that I may as well use this opportunity of constantly “on” ovens to learn to bake really good loaves of bread. I have been commenting on Ian’s blog for a while now as I drool over the endless line of gorgeousness that he produces on a regular basis and he has kindly offered to assist me with my baking processes should I run into any problems…who am I kidding! I am GOING to run into problems! 😉 Why start with the basic stuff? If you are narf7, you have a built in perfection valve and Ian appears to have that very same perfection valve because his recipes leave no room for omissions. A great place to start for a beginner and so I have decided to throw myself in at the deep end and attempt to make Ian’s amazing “Kamut-Turkey Whole Wheat Spelt Tomato Sour Dough Bread” as my very first proper loaf of bread. Here’s the link if you would like to check it out…

http://mookielovesbread.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/kamut-turkey-whole-wheat-spelt-tomato-sour-dough-bread/

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“Is it for me? is it? Please? Pretty Please?…”

I started preparing this loaf of bread 2 days ago. As someone who isn’t naturally patient (I can hear my children laughing out loud there 😉 ), this 3 day process to churn out a loaf of bread, certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I think next year I am going to take up the word “patience” and run with it (or maybe “walk slowly with it” is more to the point 😉 ) but for now, good old impatient narf7 is going to have to muster up the serenity to go slow. I have the mashed potato ready for this recipe. I am raring to go and I can’t wait to see if I can bake anything like the gorgeous loaf that Ian made in this tutorial. I am prepared for disaster but my optimistic side says “go for it narf7!” so I am :o). Wish me luck folks. Today…I bake!

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Steve’s new paramour and accoutrements 😉

While I was rabidly hoarding recipes from the Yeast spotting site I came across another amazing blog. Zita, from Baking Badly does anything BUT bake badly. This young guy is a most amazing baker and his site is a study in list making, perfection and appealed to my inner experimental baker and my inner list maker at the very same time. How could you resist bread called “Pregels” a cross between pretzels and bagels…and not only does he show us how to make them, he perfects his recipe over 3 posts! Here’s the first pregel recipe should you want to drool all over your computer screen…

http://bakingbadly.com/2013/03/31/spiced-sourdough-pregels-pretzels-bagels/

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Steve’s “Old School” cameras and his new baby

The next 2 posts after this one are both about the pregel perfection process although if I could turn out pregels as amazing looking as Zita’s very first batch I would be entirely satisfied and would be baking them for the entire neighbourhood all puffed up with baking pride ;). After initially thinking that Zita was a girl and commenting as such, he forgave me my stupidity and has decided to help me through my sourdough stumbling’s anyway. Cheers Zita, you are a truly kind blogger to be sharing your amazing talent with us all. I think my next sourdough journey is going to be a nice big batch of pregels :o)

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Steve’s speed camera. He plans on raising some valuable (elusive) funds on Serendipity Farm by accepting bribe money from upset speedsters 😉

I am a camera widow. Since we started our new course Steve has been making rumblings about cameras. He is a camera buff from WAY back and it would seem our little Fuji S5700 wasn’t giving up the goods enough for Stevie-Boy. We recently got given a pittance by the government in a vain attempt to encourage us to vote for our current prime minister. Note the distinct lack of capital letters for such an esteemed position. I did that on purpose…sigh…I don’t even want to THINK about voting in 3 elections over the coming year and will probably be registering my very first ever donkey vote in my voting history because there just isn’t any candidate worthy of my vote :o(. The dribble of bribe money did, however, allow us to start a small side saving venture that we have been adding to each fortnight. Steve has been avidly studying camera review websites in an effort to isolate the very best entry level SLR camera possible for our purposes and last week stumbled over an amazing deal from Harvey Normans. I am not going to promote this shop here in my post or blog aside from this singular mention. Gerry Harvey is a racists, a bigot, and a consumerist money monger who I would rather drown than promote BUT his online shop managed to make Steve “SQUEE” last week and our carefully hoarded camera savings were able to get us a new Canon EoS 1100D a lot quicker than we thought that they would.

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One of Steve’s first photo’s taken with his new camera…note the tree in the background that STILL hasn’t fallen down!

The new baby arrived on our doorstep yesterday. Delivered by a courier, not a stalk, and the poor man stood there bewildered whilst Steve signed his bit of paper and the dogs gave him a magnificent rendition of the Halleluiah chorus from above on the deck all in barks.  After the poor man drove his van back down our approximation of a driveway (runnels included for free) Steve raced inside and fondled the large box that the camera came in. I could see that faraway look that men get when they get a new toy and knew instantly that Steve had left the building. I dare say he won’t be back for the next week. He disappeared outside with his new baby as soon as the battery charged and even read an online manual (the real one had writing that was too small…glasses time methinks Stevie-Boy!) so that should tell all of my female dear constant readers how serious this new love really is and he even found out where the “Q” button was…I have NO idea why he would think I could care less where the “Q” button was but it was apparently a small triumph…

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Steve’s new camera adds a whole new dimension to our exploration of photography. We haven’t got the foggiest idea about how to use it but you can be sure that Steve is on the case as I type this. By the end of the month it will be putty in his hands 😉

Watching a 48 year old man springing off into the vestigial jungle of Serendipity Farm with a large camera around his neck is like waving goodbye to your last child as they head out of the house…FREEDOM! I know that I can do whatever I like for the next week…Steve won’t care. He will pretend to care; he will mutter vaguely positive things whenever I ask him about anything but he is gone…away with the camera pixies in photographic heaven for the duration of time that it takes to absorb this new toy in its entirety. That might take some time folks. This one does all different kinds of things. It beeps and takes 4 or more photos a second (you get to choose) and will perform sequences of actions seamlessly and can be programmed. This camera is his new best mate and he was holding it tenderly on the sofa last night. I headed off to bed and I swear he was talking to it…should I be alarmed? Nope. I know he will be back when the novelty wears off 😉

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The new camera took this photo of our fairy grotto in these alarming colours today. Steve didn’t fiddle with it, it was on automatic and who knows why it decided to add these vibrant greens to what is actually somewhat dull at the moment. Who cares…doesn’t it look pretty? We are enjoying pretending that we actually live in Ireland 😉

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This is the actual colouring on Serendipity Farm at the moment. That large brush pile in the background is just that…a large brush pile waiting for a Guy. The collection of wood in the foreground on the right hand side is some of my driftwood that I have found just opposite this area on the riverbank

So in the throes of baking, kefiring, making various non-dairy milks and working through our latest tangled mass of studies I might love you and leave you there folks. I have so much to do today that I am sacrilegiously thinking of only half reading my RSS Feed Reader today and just blasting straight into the “Doing” bit of my day early…” sacre bleu!” I haven’t even filled my allotted 2800 words! This Saturday I will be posting my entry into The Virtual Vegan Potluck. Hopefully you all stick around to see what culinary creation narf7 has decided to enter into the fray and my own little personal twist. Saturday is also the day of the enormous progressive garage sale and Steve and I will be off and hunting nice and early. We will take the dogs and will walk them at Paper beach. Steve will be tenderly clutching his new baby and I will have old faithful, now officially “mine” so expect a LOT of pictures of the event. I will post about it next Wednesday and you will be able to tell the photos that Steve took…not by the quality, but more by his desire to use as many of the inbuilt features in a single photo as possible. Pfft…Aquarius’s and their artistic liens! 😉 See you on Saturday folks or if you choose to bypass the Veganese, see you Wednesday, hopefully loaded up with bargains and a wonderful pictorial trail of our adventure :o)

It rained on our parade…

Hi All,

Buggery bollocks the net’s gone down. My apologies to anyone sensitive reading this post but I have intentionally limited my angst to that initial sentence so it’s hopefully all uphill from here. It’s 4.46am and I have just written an entire post, I have resized 15 images for last Wednesdays post and am starting on today’s post last Wednesday. I like to make the most of my time but this is ridiculous! Last Wednesday I was typing Saturday’s post about Peak Oil. Who knows what has happened in the last week? I am guessing that Steve and I have done “something” regarding our proposed large fully enclosed vegetable garden. I am hoping that we did or this post is going to be an epitaph to our laziness or to how much rain Tasmania can spawn in a single week. I am going to turn our modem back on now after an hours rest. If it decides that it is going to play ball and connect us to the net this is going to be a very short paragraph and I will be off surfing the ether for recipes, processes and my addiction to knowledge. If it doesn’t…you might have to suffer a post spawned by the frustrations of a knowledge addict.

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This is what happens when you get up at 3am and forget that you didn’t put a screw cap on the container with your homemade non-dairy milk…sigh…

We are seeing a lot more grey herons hanging around the shoreline at the moment. It must be nesting season

We are seeing a lot more grey herons hanging around the shoreline at the moment. It must be nesting season

Sigh…the net is incommunicado and narf7 has been relegated to typing. Brunhilda has been sparking away since I got up at 3am this morning. We both slid back into our morning processes with consummate ease and now that I get up so freakin’ early, she barely has time to settle down into slumber before I am prodding her with the poker and asking her to boil my kettle for another day. “Chicken” and “Stock” are both loudly progressing themselves even closer to the dinner table as I sit here typing and my second kettle of the day is just about to boil. I am going to sit it on the edge of the cooktop where it can gently tick away. My grandmother taught me to put a smooth well boiled pebble into my kettle so that you know when it is about to boil (and so you can catch it before it starts to scream at the top of its lungs…a good thing when the rest of the household is fast asleep and entirely uninterested in how many cups of tea you want to cram into your early morning sessions…) and it’s a little tip that keeps grandma around in a small way. I think of her when that little stone starts to tap and as it keeps the beat slowly throughout my day.

A little bit later on and the sun is just starting to come up on a gorgeous chilly autumn morning

A little bit later on and the sun is just starting to come up on a gorgeous chilly autumn morning

Our neighbourhood has suddenly started showing off

Our neighbourhood has suddenly started showing off

Last Tuesday we visited our friend in the witness protection. She gave me carrot; broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds and she also gave me some seeds that look like round emerald green pearlescent cake sprinkles. She has no idea what they are…”I” have no idea what they are. I have my suspicions that they ARE cake sprinkles but I am going to try them in a pot and see what grows. She also gave me some seed from a plant she purchased at the nursery where she works. It’s called a “Rocoto Tree Chilli” and promises to be a perennial tree that produces chilli’s that grows in temperate climates in full sun in a wide range of soil types. Its botanical name is “Capsicum pubescens” and apparently the fruit it produces is hot. Aside from the usability of the fruit, the plant is apparently hardy and there are stories about a man “living down south” who has one 8 metres high and 2 metres wide…I get the feeling that this plant is something akin to our own Cape Gooseberry that lives happily on Serendipity Farm and I figure it might self-seed all over the place but I have NO problem with an edible condiment that wants to keep on keeping on with very little input…some might offer up the word “weed” but we don’t call things weeds here on Serendipity Farm (not since we learned that constant weeding is NOT something that we wish to do for the rest of our lives) and choose to see as many benefits in our fast growing botanical cell mates as we can.

The solitary artichoke that didn't get munched to the ground by the wallabies with cat for size comparison

The solitary artichoke that didn’t get munched to the ground by the wallabies with cat for size comparison

I love this little house and it's for sale folks! Anyone want to move to Sidmouth and be narf7's neighbour?

I love this little house and it’s for sale folks! Anyone want to move to Sidmouth and be narf7’s neighbour?

Our friend in the witness protection and I huddled over Peppino shrubs and her exponentially increasing Tree Chilli plant and her cuttings that she took recently and we gravitated to her veggie garden and over to her unprotected garden where the neighbours cows and bull decided to crush half of her hard work in planting out conifers over the last year…curiously, they only crushed the half that were growing…the half that the possums and wallabies and rabbits decided weren’t palatable enough to predate and strip and so her garden is suffering a bit at the moment but her garden is like our friend…resilient, stubborn and optimistic and we are going back yesterday (remembering I am typing this last Wednesday and am projecting into the future…) to take lots of cuttings of hardy pentstemon’s, tree chillies, peppinos, and collect a tray of young leeks that she grew for us. We will be giving her chives and PDF’s and a barrel of biscuits that won’t even go halfway to repaying her kindness or the load of wood that she told Steve to get while we are visiting.

Steve insists that these are "my fishnets"...who thinks he would make a good Frankenfurter?

Steve insists that these are “my fishnets”…who thinks he would make a good Frankenfurter?

We discussed my fear of Earl and Bezial bowling over my high school bestie Kym who is going to visit from Western Australia for a week to celebrate us both mutually hitting the grand old age of 50. We even considered sending our friends partner off to stay with Steve and the dogs for a week and pretending that our friends house was ours just so that we could circumvent the badly behaved larger dog problem in the first place but hopefully Kym is made of sterner stuff and can understand that our 2 dogs might be badly behaved…they might have as much training as our chooks do and they might pay attention to us about as much as my children do BUT after about an hour they will settle down and ignore you like they did with my mum when she visited. If you AREN’T made of sterner stuff and you don’t think you can handle an hour of dog slobber and jumping Kymmy we might have to go back to plan A! 😉

1 roll of fish netting off to be cut up for our garden

1 roll of fish netting off to be cut up for our garden

After we headed into town we took some photos to illustrate the HDR function in Photoshop. What is the HDR function in Photoshop? Beats me folks, but it involves setting up a tripod, taking a “normal”, an “underexposed” and an “overexposed” photo all of the very same thing, all without moving the camera in the least and using the HDR function in Photoshop to blend the photos to arrive at something that looks like a black and white or sepia photo that has been hand coloured. I think I showed you some of them last Wednesday… (See how I cleverly pretended that I am actually here rather than back there typing this out last Wednesday? 😉 ) and they remind me of Victorian hand coloured photographs that my nana used to have in frames. I quite like them and the dogs behaved while Steve took the photos and I held them both. Their combined weight now exceeds mine quite significantly and should they have suddenly become aware of the presence of a cat per-se, I think Steve might have been able to take some entirely hilarious photos that he could have sold to the local newspaper. Thank goodness the feline population of Launceston decided not to make an appearance.

"I SWEAR I can smell fish!"

“I SWEAR I can smell fish!”

After we took our photos we picked up another bottle of hot sauce (my latest addiction) and headed home where Steve spent the afternoon manufacturing a new dog door for the back door and devising a way to make it unavailable to nefarious enterers when we are not here. Just a small aside folks…if anyone IS considering waiting till we head out and attempting to crawl in through the dog door I think I owe it to you to admit that we often leave our dogs behind when we head out. They like being warm and laying on the floor in front of Brunhilda and Earl loves to run at top speed out the dog door. Should anyone be foolish enough to want to crawl through a large dog door that hasn’t been secured at the back…they might ask themselves “why haven’t the home owners secured this dog door and why am I able to enter this establishment via said dog door so easily?” they might be able to get this thought out before Earl crashes headlong into them at 100+kph and they get to meet both Earl AND Bezial…I just thought I would give you a sporting chance 😉

Free steel poles to be concreted into the ground as part of the new veggie garden

Free steel poles to be concreted into the ground as part of the new veggie garden

It’s now 5.35am last Wednesday. “Chicken” and “Stock” are getting nearer to meeting their maker and I am starting to think about what I can do for the next hour and a half before I wake Steve up and we start our day. We have big plans for today (for “today” insert “last Wednesday”) and will be cutting sheoaks down, collecting large steel poles from a friend’s house, digging holes and humping stones from one place to another to be used in building the keyhole gardens and spiral gardens that are going to be created inside this large fully enclosed garden. Our friend in the witness protection is giving me lots of raspberry canes to grow. She is also giving me a “Youngberry”. Not too sure what a “Youngberry” is but it has very large berries on it and everything in the whole wide world wants to eat it because it is so delicious so I figure I might tack myself onto the end of that tasting conga line and graciously accepted her offer of a sucker. She is also giving me lots of perennial plants that have grown in her lawn over the long hot summer that we just had and that just elevated themselves into “must have!” status on Serendipity Farm. If they didn’t get eaten on our friend’s property, they are magic and are plants to be treasured at all costs. Sometimes you have to outthink your enemy. If we want a garden full of flowers we have to plant things that “the enemy” can’t stand. “Fool me once!”

Steve's maples still have a few leaves left by the possums to start putting on a lovely show

Steve’s maples still have a few leaves left by the possums to start putting on a lovely show

Steve and I are going to attempt to cut our way through about a kilometre of ex fish farm netting today. We have to circumnavigate our 175m2 fully enclosed veggie gardens with something that seals and dolphins can’t bite through. We figure if aquatic mammals can’t beak their way into it, possums and wallabies have NO chance! The weather has been perfect here lately. It’s lovely and cool and bracing outside but the sun is shining and the skies are blue and it’s easy, and a pleasure, to work for hours out of doors. We have even been having the odd rain shower but rain in Tassie works on Tassie time. It rains at night and on the weekends and rarely before 10am (when most native Tasmanian’s like to get out and about as a rule ;)) so we can have the dogs walked before it starts drizzling for the day.

On fire under the deck

On fire under the deck

It’s very exciting to be underway on the veggie garden…exciting and daunting. I now have to figure out how to fill these garden beds cheaply. We are going to use hugelkultur principals by using up the branch wood and sticks that we cut from the trees that we had to remove from the new garden area (after chopping them up to facilitate faster breaking down) as the basis for our garden beds. It worked really well in our other garden beds as most of them have chopped up chunks of wood in the base before we topped them with the wonderful black gold locally produced compost as our growing media of choice. Hay and straw are readily available, I just have to source reasonably priced versions of the two and now that autumn is definitely up and running, there will be lots and lots of autumn leaves to take advantage of. Lucky I LOVE to rake and collect them :o).

Franks 37 tonne behemoth in the river in front of our properties

Franks 37 tonne behemoth in the river in front of our properties

The next few weeks are going to be filled up with the logistics of building the veggie garden and planting out our food forest. I am just about to use Google Earth to map our first paddock to find out the area that we have to use for our initial food forest. After I do that, I can plot it into AutoCAD and can use it to start really planning where our trees and shrubs are going to be planted. Being a penniless student hippy is certainly teaching me more about patience than life up to now. When you are forced to wait for what you want and need there are life lessons contained in every step. Nature and a moth eaten sock under the bed don’t care if you have a temper tantrum because you don’t have what you want or need…they just ignore you thrashing on the floor and it’s quite humbling to arrive at the other side of a good “whinge” to realise that life doesn’t revolve around “YOU” like you thought it did 😉

Franks boat and the Batman Bridge in the background

Franks boat and the Batman Bridge in the background

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Sigh…like vegan narf7 is going to eat muscles and oysters!

I guess that might be all for today folks. I know I have been thrashing your eyeballs with large posts lately and don’t want to alienate my dear constant readers. I love you all for staying with Serendipity Farm even when it becomes a 2 cup of tea matter to read a post. I hope the new, smaller paragraph; format is helping somewhat with the reading. Have a great “rest of the week” and see you on the weekend where hopefully some progress has been made on our netting cutting and we might be ready to start digging holes. We have to see our friend Jenny (SO liberating to not have to type “Friend in the witness protection” now 😉 ) soon to get a load of firewood and some cuttings including; pineapple sage, Chilli tree (Capsicum pubescens), Peppino (Solanum muricatum), a new mint that I don’t have and some Young berry which I found out is a strain created by crossing the Austin-Mayes dewberry with a blackberry and raspberry hybrid known as the Phenomenal, and it has since been given the botanical name Rubus cecaesius.

3 narfs on a sofa. One of our media tasks

3 narfs on a sofa. One of our media tasks

"Excuse me...could you see your way clear to showing me how to make this thing work?"

“Excuse me…could you see your way clear to showing me how to make this thing work?”

In return I will be baking some batches of home-made biscuits and will be giving Jenny a large clump of chives. Jenny was a class mate when Steve and I studied certificates 2 and 3 in horticulture on campus in Launceston. We became great friends and share a love of plants that all 3 of us didn’t realise we had until we started our courses. We support each other whenever the possums and wallabies eat away at our inspiration and our hope and set each other back on track and ignite our horticultural passion over a cup of tea and a good chat. See you Saturday folks :o)

It’s Leonhard Euler’s birthday today!

Hi All,

I can hear you asking “who is Leonhard Euler?” Is he narf7’s neighbour? No, my dear constant readers, Leonhard Euler is someone that was born hundreds of years ago…back in 1707 on the 15th of April. He was one of our founding fathers of mathematics and was Swiss (it figures). Why do I care that Mr Leonhard Euler was born today? Well to be honest I don’t. Google told me to go and check it out. It put a most interesting header on its home page today that when I clicked on an atom in the middle of the design, it spun. That’s how you lead lemmings to their deaths folks…you let them spin an atom and suddenly they are up to their armpits in mathematics and equations and formulae and they are drowning in the stuff! As I now know, life is half science and half maths. The scientists and mathematicians told me so. I like to live on the fringes of both disciplines in the “dead zone” when neither venture and where both fear to tread. I live in the part where I do little experiments to see just how insane I can make scientists and mathematicians whilst still maintaining my ethical position. Mr Leonhard Euler kindly left behind his likeness in portraits. He must have liked his likeness a LOT because there are a lot of them on the right hand side of my Google search page and most of them look like David Spade with a strange tic. Maybe the Swiss revered people that look like thin mean weasels? Perchance I am seeing a 300+ year old “Botticelli” moment right here where skinny weasel men were found to be the height of gorgeousness itself? I guess maths and science generated a degree of awe back then that could have linked itself to the sexy train? It’s easier to believe when you take a look at the other scientists and mathematicians that Google wants you to spend WAY too much of your precious time left on earth checking out. People like Joseph Louis Lagrange (who bears a strange resemblance to Mr Bean), Carl Friedrich Gauss (that looks like Spike Milligan at the height of his manic depression…) and Pierre de Fermat (a florid and most obvious proponent of the “comb over” who may have even invented this wonderful saving grace of the older man). Then you get to the scientists that “look like Steve”. Curiously there are several of them! I once envisioned Rincewind of Discworld fame as having a very strong resemblance to Steve but then I saw portraits painted of Isaac Newton and realised that Steve has been here before. I just saw another scientist/mathematician (who would know Google…you thoughtlessly expect me to click on that portrait to spend MORE of my precious life moments finding out? You are sadly mistaken!) called Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (funny how you don’t want to correct THOSE names Spell check! 😉 ) that also bears a striking resemblance to Steve (and Isaac Newton at the same time)…I might have to ask Steve why he looks like these esteemed most learned gentlemen but why he could care less about science, mathematics and the general pursuit of research in any way shape or form…could it be another case of life trying to balance itself out? The enormous void of vacuous thought left in a permanent vacuum since these 2 esteemed learned gents passed away in a flash of blinding human inspiration has finally been allowed to reach equilibrium in one man born 300 years later…good on you Steve…you ARE doing your bit for science and mathematics after all! 😉

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Here is Bezial doing his very best to steal a ball of wool, run, and get away with it before I catch up with him…this is what you could call an “evidence” shot. Bezial swears black and blue that Earl is the most reprobated dog that was ever born…methinks history might be tapping at the window of that claim Bezial 😉

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One of Steve’s conquests from yesterdays Targa Tasmania photo opportunities. He was trying to take motion shots…not bad but I think Bezial was going faster in the previous photo 😉

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That’s more like it! Not a bad “motion” picture Steve 🙂

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That green hotel in the main street apparently does $5 pub meals on a Saturday night, 2 bottles of vodka for $30 or $1 pots of beer on the first and last Friday of the month…just sayin’ in case any of you find yourself in downtown Beaconsfield one night with $40 in your pocket…just a warning, you most probably won’t remember what you did the next day 😉

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This is the upmarket pub just over the road from the green pub. The meals are MUCH more expensive here…you can buy hot chocolate and expensive pastries and the clientele is MUCH more refined but $40 isn’t going to buy you much here…hot foot it over to the green pub and you can go home with some money in your pocket after most probably having a great deal more fun in the process 😉

Well that was your educational part of the post folks…it’s all downhill from here so hold onto your rollercoaster sea for a rapid descent into madness and scientific/mathematic deprivation. What has narf7 been up to since we last chatted eh? Well we submitted our assessments to our lecturer. It’s so much easier to push a button and hand in your work. You don’t have to see the expectant eyes of your lecturer and know that you dashed his hopes of ever making senior faculty member when he flicks through your work. As far as we can tell, our course, only going since late February, has seen a rate of attrition that is somewhat alarming. We keep seeing “new students” arriving and the online community that our lecturer steadfastly and quite frankly unrealistically expects we students who have never met and who are competing with each other to forge hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. We all seem to be circling each other in cyberspace trying to get a feel for the competition. We know that 2 media lecturers from Queensland are taking this course. Why? Who would know! We also know that all students are supposed to create a blog space so that our work can be posted and seen by our fellow classmates. There are apparently 20 people taking our course and only 6 of us have blogs. It IS good to see other students work. You think your own work is sad until you are able to measure it up and see that we are all sad together. It unites and gives allegiance to your endeavours and your unseen class when you can see that their work is at least as pathetic as your own. Most of our class have had a fair bit to do with digital art. Some are obviously artists and most of them are very comfortable with the platform. Steve and I are less familiar with digital art, although Steve has messed about with Photoshop a lot and is a whole lot more familiar with it than I am. I am really enjoying this course which I didn’t expect. Putting a bit of faith in Steve’s ability to choose a bridging course that would allow me to keep some of my hair this year was curiously a wise thing to do! My OCD tendencies to guide him to an area where I felt more at home (say brain surgery…) were cram packed down (with great difficulty I might add) because I might be OCD…I might be a “strong woman” (you can read that how you will 😉 ), I might have some very VERY strong opinions about things but I know that my way is only half of this journey that we are walking together. When I say “walking”…a fair bit of our journey has been running in the opposite direction of each other to be honest. We spend a lot of time tussling over things…trying to get our own way and being very childish but when we are able to work together on those rare occasions when someone forces us to behave, we are always amazed at the results and how they are SO much better than the sum of us :o).  This course is bringing out our creative sides and aside from showing me that being out of your comfort zone can, indeed, be a good thing, it is teaching me that I really don’t always know best. I am like a fish out of water here and Steve is the maestro genius and I am actually enjoying allowing him to take the rudder of the boat. “Keep steering Stevey boy…the first rock you hit I will be RIGHT HERE!” 😉

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Remember those soaking soybeans from my last post? Here is the reason why they were soaking. This is my handy dandy über schmick soy milk maker. I have had it for years and it has lived in a dusty fugue up in the cupboard until I decided that I may as well use it and have been making some very interesting non dairy milks in it of late

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After soaking the soybeans overnight I skin them. Then I put the beans into the filter container

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After heating, grinding, magic, alchemy and a little bit of fairy dust the milk ends up in the stainless steel container and the okara, or soybean lees remain in the filter container

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Here’s the home made hot soymilk after I added some date paste to sweeten it slightly and half a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt to balance the flavour out

I have been up for an hour and haven’t even looked at my RSS Feed Reader. I finally managed to clean it out on Saturday. Saturday was my son Stewarts 31st birthday. Just typing that probably made him wince in his sleep. I would imagine he had plans of world domination by the time he was 31. I know he wanted to be at least PART robotic by now. He inherited his mother’s OCD need to have everything “just so” but takes it to extremes that my OCD brain can only marvel at. Do any of you have your entire financial life planned out for the next 5 years? I am talking about EVERYTHING here folks… no? Well you can sit back and admire my son’s resolve. The funny thing about resolve is that there is always…ALWAYS something that comes along and stuffs it up. It’s like life, the universe and everything is just waiting to have a bit of fun at your expense. You plan to be married by 30…in the next 10 years you are going to have 2.5 kids (the way Monsanto is going, we can pretty much be guaranteed of that .5) and to be well on the way to owning our own homes, being financially secure and with a decent portfolio of stocks and shares to see us through to a rich and enviable old age. Does that sound like your life? Mine neither! I think what we humans want, and what we are supposed to be living like is so far apart that there is room in the middle to drive a comet through. How did we get so far away from our ideals? There isn’t anything wrong with ideals folks, it’s just when we choose to think that they are the ONLY way to arrive at the Pearly Gates having lived a rich and satisfying life that we hit problems and brick walls. Most of the depression that the pharmaceutical companies are milking for all they are worth is spawned of a completely unrealistic sense of entitlement that we are led to believe is “the norm”. If I remember right…”Norm” was Dame Edna’s husband with the enlarged prostate…he was also that little guy from the 70’s with the terry towelling hat on in the “Slip, Slop, Slap” commercials… do we REALLY want to be Norm?! I know I don’t! I am as prone to idealistic regrets as anyone. I spent a good proportion of my early adolescence up our backyard tree watching the neighbours and being completely envious of their lifestyle. I thought I was the ONLY one who was suffering by not being “normal”…I wrote dark poems and read dark books and spent too much time ruminating about how everything was so “UNFAIR”… If I had been motivated I could have been the figurehead of the soon to emerge Gothic revival but I didn’t have enough motivation to be anything really. I think a lot of people my age had this kind of drifting feeling back then. We had NO idea what we were going to do, where the world was going, how we were going to get anywhere and most of us are still drifting and goodness only knows what we did mentally to the children that we brought into the world to drift along with us. I would imagine that is why we are seeing a revival of homesteading. Of learning the ways of the natural world and of pragmatic fundamentalism…nature regaining equilibrium and trying to pull in the reigns. The older I get, the more I can see how it really does all work together. I guess that’s the benefit of age? You get to see it for yourself. You get to stick your finger into the wounds and you get to be able to say to yourself “yup…it’s dead”. Nothing like a healthy dose of observation over time to give you as much perspective and incentive you need to attempt to redress your own personal stuff ups and try to do what you can to share your newfound wisdom with your kids. The problem is, by the time nature gets around to teaching you all of this wisdom, your kids don’t want to listen to you any more…they are too busy “living” and your wisdom isn’t part of their ethos. I think that life, the universe and everything has a very VERY good sense of humour don’t you? 😉

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This is the contents of a bag of dried dates

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This is a bag of dried dates on their way to becoming date paste, my new sweetener of choice. Once I make the date paste I then add the soaking liquid (sweet in it’s own right) back into the Vitamix goblet and process the goblet clean whilst making “date syrup”…no waste here folks! 🙂

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Kid Creoles babies that seem quite happy to spend half of their time up to their eyeballs in date sweetened soymilk and even the equivalent of pureed chickpea porridge. Sounds gross BUT it tastes really good! I am enjoying experimenting with homemade non-dairy kefir equivalents

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From a conglomeration of tiny little kefir brains to this uncured walnut that also looks like a brain. The curious thing is that both kefir and walnuts are actually good FOR your brain…nature is more than colour coded 😉

Steve is off to do the fortnightly shopping today. I get to wend my way around the web should I choose to. I have a sourdough carrot cake to bake today and when Steve gets back with my organic chickpeas, my 2 bags of Aussie almonds and a few obscure articles (for Serendipity Farm they are obscure…at least till we can grow them ourselves 😉 ) like a jar of kalamata olives (we have 2 kalamata olive trees…), an avocado (we have 7 avocado trees to be planted out…), a rough approximation of ½ cup of raw cashew pieces (“err on slightly more Steve…DON’T BE TIGHT…I need them for tomorrow…), 500g of raw sesame seeds, a large red capsicum, a packet of dried mixed herbs, a lemon and some Himalayan pink mineral salt. Why the strange foodstuffs? Because narf7 is going to create folks…narf7 is going to work her alchemistic magic on these, and lots of other foodstuffs to create something magnificent for her coming debut in “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. Remember that OCD that I mentioned earlier? Well it is coming out en mass and it insists that I do a “good job”…forget “good job” who are we kidding? It is screaming at me to “KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF!”…sigh…almost 50 and I STILL can’t make that voice go away! Here’s the deal folks, I plan on making something that combines my vegan foodie predilections (good word that one…it might just be my word for the week 😉 ) with our ideals. I want to use as much of our own produce in the form of home grown tomatoes, eggplants, walnuts etc. combined with things that we have made with our home grown produce, dried mushrooms, dried herbs, sundried tomatoes etc. to show how we are trying to produce as much of the food that we eat as we can. I want to show the processes involved and the true cost of the food that we eat. No “Tofutti cream cheese” or “Daiya” vegan cheeze for this little black duck…this recipe is going to show its creation from go to whoa and all stages in between. By the end of the recipe I want to give people an overview of what permaculture can do for you and how to harness yourself to nature to arrive someplace that you both want to be. It’s one heck of a challenge and with my little Fujifilm point and click, I am going to try to take anyone curious enough to click on my link (or to be following the linkies through to the end) on a little journey of creation. At worse they might learn something before hurrying off to the next recipe. At best they might get a bit of a tour through the real price (monetarily AND physically) of the food that ends up on their plates. Either way, my narfy job will be done! Hopefully you will all want to come along for the journey with me to see just how OCD narf7 can be and how twitchy my perfection valve gets when I am honing my current point of interest ;). I just learned something. Daiya non-dairy cheeze has an Aussie website where you can go and sign a petition to get Daiya cheezes into our supermarkets! There are obviously more vegans in Australia than I initially thought ;).

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The chickens on day release from their prison and “Pig” one of the feral cat’s extremely interested in the proceedings…right up to the time when he found out that my old girls know how to deal with cats! Lets put it this way…Pig will think twice before he eyeballs a hen again 😉

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Something else that you can make with dates…the recipe for this one is on page 178 of the 15th edition of the C.W.A. cookbook (circa 1954). Don’t have it? Sorry ladies, it is worth more than my life to print it out here…those C.W.A. women are positively fatal when riled up! 😉

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I HAVE been busy! This is one of 8 eccles cakes that I made for Steve the other day. No dates here but lots of fruit macerated in sugar with spices and a bit of butter all wrapped up like the pentagon in some puff pastry…the pentagon bit was entirely unintentional you can be assured, it stemmed from a complete lack of ability to make a circle 😉

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This is some “Gouda Uncheeze” that I made as part of the recipe that I am making for The Vegan Virtual Potluck this year in May. It looks like cheese, it grates like cheese and even though it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, my Omni husband said “you can tell your blog readers that I LOVE cheese but I can’t stop eating this stuff!” that is kudos indeed folks! 😉

I have created my masterpiece! Can you see the lightning and hear the crazed sound of my assistant Stevgor as I harness the lightning to bring my creation to life? Well it wasn’t THAT impressive but I managed to create the ingredients that I needed, create my recipe from scratch and feed some of it to Steve (remembering how VERY fussy he is) and none of it came back out to decorate the walls and he actually said “that’s very tasty…apart from the olives…”. I forgot that Steve doesn’t like kalamata olives BUT he was caught nibbling the ends off my piece of grated homemade “cheeze” and said “you can use that in the recipe…your husband the cheese lover couldn’t stop eating this stuff”. There you go…my own endorsement!  We got our feedback back from our lecturer about our assessment and it was incredibly positive and full of “sandwich” praise. Our lecturer is a sandwich man. He likes to give you something positive…hit you in the solar plexus with a swift bit of criticism and suddenly back to a nice soft pillowy bit of super-white bread to cover up the negative and leave you feeling all fluffy.  We got a whole lot of bread and hardly any filling this time which made us both incredibly pleased. Not a lot to fix up which is also great and everything we need to fix is minor and cosmetic. Now we move into some serious Photoshop with the next unit. Steve headed off and took some great motion shots at Targa Tasmania. Our property backs onto a bit of a wild corner on a steep hill so the cars tend to be ramping up a bit of speed by the time they get to where my dear gnome like husband was perched with his trusty point and click, a whole new world of manual settings and a couple of tutorials about “how to take motion shots” under his belt. The whole road was sealed off and although there were lots of people standing at the junction of Auld Kirk Road (2 of them slept in their cars overnight…we know…when we walked the dogs we saw them there 😉 ) Steve had a completely uninterrupted and pesky human free view thanks to the back paddock and the rest of our neighbours being elderly and not caring two hoots about fast cars. We can use some of his shots for our Photoshop unit and are already working on our first part of it. It promises to be very interesting and I am surprised about how excited I am to be learning about digital photography. We are actually thinking of upgrading our point and click Fujifilm to the latest model. I get to keep Betsy, my old faithful (who tends to take more macro shots than anything else these days 😉 ) and Steve can have the new one. We just got paid some sort of unexpected one off government payment (election year…can anyone say “bribe”? 😉 ) that amounted to just over $150 between us so that seems like a worthy  cause for that windfall.

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“Well looky what I found in the pantry…”

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“How the HECK am I supposed to get into this thing!”

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Brunhilda wanted to get in on the photographic action…here she is doing what she does best nice and early in the morning 🙂

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Steve won this jam recently for correctly identifying what flick weed was with my twin in Olalla Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ fame. Christi is making a little pot of her absolutely AMAZING jam for every single one of the exponentially increasing guests at her beautiful daughters wedding. Christi, you deserve a medal! Not only does she deserve a medal but she deserves a hug…she just made Steve’s day :). Look what arrived in the mail today. A gorgeous jar of 4 berry jam that Steve is going to devour slowly and with great lip smacking on his morning toast till he scrapes the last sliver from the jar. Then he has plans for the jar as well…I naturally thought that I would be a winner as well because I would get the jar but NO! The jar is “my own personal trendy hipster jar that I can drink moonshine out of when I make moonshine”…how could you argue with that reasoning? ;).

It’s 3.52am… I have 14 hours till post time…we have a quarter tank of petrol in the Daihatsu, no cigarettes, it’s dark and my sunglasses are within reach…time to hustle folks! See you Saturday for another round of “let’s learn to tango with narf7” on Serendipity Farm :o)

A new pope is elected on Serendipity Farm and this one is for Bev…

Hi All,

This is going to be a first…more pictures than words! I decided that it was a lovely rainy day and that we would celebrate by taking photo’s of our morning and our processes to celebrate the very first lighting of Brunhilda this autumn…

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Saturday is cleaning day…you can see the dogs are delighted…

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Steve just cleaned the loungeroom and the boys just put their seal of approval (or is that disapproval?) on it…

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Steve putting the firebox door back on Brunhilda after oiling the catch

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Earl thinks that he isn’t getting his fair share of attention…

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Steve talking to Earl about dogs that demand attention…

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Earl thinking about what Steve just said to him whilst maintaining his position…

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And completely disregarding what he has just been told. Earl had to be physically removed from his new preferred spot (and yes, I will be washing that cake rack before I use it again 😉 )

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Steve feeding Brunhilda after her long hibernation

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Steve just about to close the firebox door on Brunhilda after giving her a degustation platter of treats to keep her happy

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The dogs have just realised that Steve is lighting the fire!!!

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The kettle goes on IMMEDIATELY and the dogs couches are all ready for their inhabitants for the next 8 or so months

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Proof that it has actually been raining and I am not just fibbing

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Every year this Clematis vitalba grows back from a large old stump that I think I have hacked to death the previous year and has gorgeously scented flowers that are perfect for the bees

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According to Brunhilda the new pope has been elected…Pope Frances the first… I RULE! 😉

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What happens when possums are robbed of their stolen nightly bird cheese by the wrens having a late evening snack…revenge is terrible 😦

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Brunhilda’s food of choice

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Various jars of “flours” that I have made after making almond, coconut and soy milk and dehydrating the pulp. I make my soymilk with organic Aussie beans and will be growing my own next year. I have 1 cup of tea a day with soymilk in and don’t consume it at any other time so I figure it won’t be something that I have to worry about 😉

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The lower portion of one of our pantries. The noodles were an added bonus (along with 2litres of whole milk) when Steve got home and unpacked the groceries and found them. He didn’t buy them so I guess someone left them behind and we were not going to take them on a 100km round trip back to the city. We have lost groceries before, I guess this time was our bonus but neither of us want to eat those noodles!

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The shelf groaning with grub…better than being empty I say! 😉

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My soymilk maker, lots of empty jars and herbs in the spare pantry in the middle room and all of those paper bags are packed to the gills with dried seeds ready for next springs planting events

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Dehydrated okara in the foreground and on the left Kid Creole and on the right, his coconuts getting used to homemade coconut milk and doing a very good job now that they understand that they won’t be getting cows milk any more 😉

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A Grey Shrike Thrush waiting for me to move away from the window with the camera to come and get some tiny cheese cubes from the windowsill

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The view out my kitchen window and the only safe place that I could put my shoes away from the weather and Earl, twin problems for shoes on Serendipity Farm 😉

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Earl attempting to play ball. For a dog, he is considerably unco!

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I swear I saw Brigadoon!

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More proof of rain and don’t the trees look happy 🙂

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The tree that fell down reasonably close to the house in the wind and rain on Thursday. Now we just have to work out how to get it safely onto the ground!

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Bezial showing his appreciation to Steve for lighting the fire for his basking pleasure 😉

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Pretty much where you are going to find the dogs for the next 8 months 😉

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Steve says “there’s no use crying over spilt milk”…

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Fair enough…but this is kefir! 😦

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Draining kefir to make it as thick as Greek yoghurt to use in recipes

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Still raining…the feral cats live underneath that large conifer

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A bit more rain (that last nude rain dance that I did at midnight appears to have done the trick 😉 ) and the nerines are loving it although Steve is muttering about having to bail out The Mumbley Cumumbus tomorrow 😉

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Steve and I are officially genius’s now. We took this panoramic shot with a camera that doesn’t take panorama’s. We are learning so much about photoshop and pretty soon will be selling our own BigFoot, Alien sighting and Tasmanian Tiger photographs…autographed for the tourists ;). Let us know if you want any terrible photos doctored, we HAVE THE POWER! 😉

Well that’s it, that’s all folks…not quite wordless but for me, it’s a miracle. Enjoy your weekend and see you on Wednesday when words will return (sorry Bev 😉 )

Cock a doodle DON’T!

Hi All,

As you can most probably tell by the title of this post…our growing rooster population has reached climax and needs to be dealt with post haste. Our neighbours appear to be avoiding us and with a house situated closer to the hen coop than ours is, I dare say I would be making night time raids with my strangling hands on if I were Frank…it’s time to get brave again and wield the hatchet of doom. A couple of the roosters will be no problem to dispatch. They are greedy, nasty and have started to mistreat the hens and so they will be dispatched, minced and turned into dog food. Earl will get to eat them one way or another! Big Yin will remain…sorry Frank but 1 rooster can hardly be construed as a flock…little red who lives somewhere in a giant conifer with his 4 non-conforming sisters will need to be dealt with very soon as he has started to make his voice heard before 5am. It only gets light here around 7am so you are holding your own sword of Damocles above your head little Red! After we dispatch our 2 greedy guzzling rapist roosters and little red we will have to consider Big Red. He is a lovely rooster…appears to have his head screwed on straight (unlike the majority of rooster kind who appear to be born with only a rudimentary brain stem that constantly signals EAT EAT EAT much like a European mother…), is respectful (at the moment) of Yin and doesn’t show any signs of being a rapist. Like dealing with the feral cats…that makes it SO much harder when you are dealing with a reasonable creature rather than something unlikeable. I guess that is what it means to live in the country. Sometimes you have to act and react in ways that your urban cousins might find irksome…you yourself might find irksome…but the word “irksome” is in and of itself a terribly urban word! Death is something that you have to get used to when you decide to live with animals and death by your own hand is right up there with some of the tougher decisions that you have to make.

This pile of debris has been sitting on our “Fire Site” (aren’t we lucky? We get a small patch of earth dedicated to setting things on fire…) for about a month. Its very satisfying to set fire to a heap of nasty blackberries and old rose canes

Nothing like a nice big blaze to get the fire plane out having a bit of a look…

The fire was starting to die down in this photo and we have since removed all of that banana passionfruit from that poor long suffering shrub. It’s a hebe!

this is to show all of you planning on planting out Pittosporums just what happens when a fire is almost out and you throw a freshly cut Pittosporum sapling onto the dying embers…I would never have thought that anything could go up like Pittosporums can. There are so many people planting them out all around their houses and this should show you why that is a very VERY bad idea!

We are off into the garden again today. Yesterday we removed a patch of Osteospermum daisies. My father would be turning in his grave…”what did you pull them out for…they were bloody flowers you stupid woman! And you call yourself a horticulturalist…” Osteospermum daisies, when allowed to run rampant for 20 years are a terrifying thing. Some of them were over 2 metres long and had covered vast areas. Now that we have removed them we now need to ensure that the large areas of uncovered earth are covered as quickly as possible. We are thinking about using a green crop to add some much needed nitrogen to the soil and allowing it to reseed as it sees fit. Some native grass seed might also be a good idea. Unlike the side garden that we demolished last week, this area of the garden has been totally untouched for a very long time. It has tree cover (large Eucalypts) and undercover trees (mainly Syzygium luehmannii /Lilly pillies and some overgrown Pittosporum) with very little shrubby growth because of a lack of light. We have been opening the area up to light, now we have cleared the soil of weedy overgrowth we are going to get a massive influx of weed species, notably forget-me-nots (OH what a fitting name!) unless we act now to ensure that we get groundcover and grassy species that we want in the area. We are intending on opening this area up to planting with edible plants of all sizes. We have been researching species that will cope with our conditions. We have an extended dry period over summer that can last for up to 3 months and in winter we get plenty of rain. We are lucky because we live on a steep rocky slope and directly next to a large water source which keeps the temperature on site from delivering us frosts so we can grow things here that people slightly inland from us can’t. We keep coming up against problems associated with our lifestyle choice. Penniless hippies can’t just head out to the local nurseries and buy up big on edible plant species and so we have to grow our own or find a cheap source (read “barter”). Some of the more interesting and international species we are going to have to source but anything easy to grow we will be doing it ourselves. We have collected walnuts (Juglans regia) from 2 local sources and some of them have started to sprout so we should get at least some walnuts to plant out in a couple of years. We already have some chestnut trees, some hazelnut trees (with more stratifying) and 4 loquat japonica that we sourced from seedlings growing on an embankment. We always have our eyes open for sources of seed and cutting material for our edible food forest, preferably those that have had hard lives and that will find living on Serendipity Farm heaven (much like the animals that move in…). Having been in horticulture for quite some time now we are under NO false apprehensions that this is going to be an easy job. We just know that it is something that we should be doing. Food security is definitely something that all of us should be thinking about. If we can plant some olives, some nut trees, some fruit and a good vegetable, herb and spice selection then we can minimise future shortage problems and can free up the system for those people who can’t grow their own food. Idealism doesn’t enter into it. Next on the agenda is minimising our reliance on fossil fuels. My next goal is to save up for a wind turbine for the property. Tasmania is a very windy island. Some of it is to do with our politicians and their overinflated egos but most of it comes from us being an island on its way to Antarctica girt completely by sea and as we spend most of our year under cloud cover, solar is NOT the way to go. I shake my head whenever I see people installing solar panels in Tasmania. Our friend (who must remain anonymous) is completely off the grid. Not because she wants to be, but because at only 15 minutes inland of Launceston city, power, phone and water infrastructure are simply not available to her and so she relies on a mobile phone, an enormous tank (for rain water collection), 2 dams (for garden and animal water) and solar panels with a massive bank of batteries. She told us that solar energy is very overrated when it comes to a place like Tasmania. Her house is completely free of vegetative cover and a check on Google Earth shows it’s pretty much free of vegetation for about 2 acres around her house. You would think that a large bank of solar panels would deliver consistent power but Glen (her partner) has had to retrofit their wood fire to heat water because there simply isn’t enough power generated to allow them the luxury of hot water. Even in summer the system doesn’t deliver all of the family’s needs. Wind turbines are most DEFINITELY the way that Tasmanian’s should be aiming to deliver their future power.  I found this wonderful creation and can’t wait till power generation can be delivered consistently and reliably by artistically balanced systems like these…

http://www.treehugger.com/wind-technology/enessere-wind-turbine-sleek-works-any-direction.html

How beautiful is that? One day we will be given a choice with how we power our houses and we will be able to choose to go off grid and save the government billions in infrastructure costs. Until then, we are going to have to do what we can to minimise the costs as they appear to be growing exponentially! I might even have to make my own! Hey…I have instructions you know…

http://www.instructables.com/pages/search/search.jsp?cx=partner-pub-1783560022203827%3Anpr2q7v5m6t&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=wind+turbine

Good old Instructables…not only do they tell me how to make a rubbish bin out of coke bottles, how to knit myself a pair of slippers and how to make cheese but they tell me how to use quantum physics to make myself a wind turbine…man I LOVE that site :o)… (Now I just need an Instructable to explain quantum physics to me and I will be A-OK!)

This is the view from the pathway behind the garden on the side of the house. Everything that goes dormant is losing its leaves and the grass has turned from a dull brown to green again. This garden was full of the most overgrown Diosma plants that I have ever seen. Steve and I took 2 days to remove them. We have just cleared out this garden so that we can start planting out my cold climate shrubs (some of which are in the photo off to the right)

This photo was taken from the same position but looking back the other way. We have been doing some serious removal of vegetation of late and it is starting to pay off

The garden over to the right of this photo is the garden we just cleared out so that we can plant. Hopefully the rain refrains until we can plant out my poor long suffering cold climate shrubs.

Looking down from the deck over the lawn and garden towards where I took the first of the “garden photos”. Isn’t that maple lovely?

Same spot but facing the other direction towards the river…I think this maple is paying us back for saving it from a massive overgrowth of jasmine when we first moved here 2 years ago. It was totally engulfed by it and we didn’t know if it was going to live it was so bare of leaves.

Its Saturday already…where is autumn going?! I was going to have just about everything planted out by the end of autumn and at this rate I had best work 24/7 to do it. We spent the morning sorting through all of our potted plants, separating them into piles of “maples for the front garden”…”Fran’s cold climate deciduous shrubs etc.” for the side garden and those plants that will have to be repotted and hang about in a pod until we can sort out what to do with them. Some of them will be planted out in the 1st paddock area behind the house. We have plants to extend the dogs run up into this area and where dogs are concerned…the more trees the better! We bought some Larix decidua a couple of years ago…40 to be exact. What on EARTH would anyone want with 40 Larix decidua (larches) you might ask? Well…we were going to graft them. We had a source of some very nice scion wood at the time and were assured that we could use Larix decidua as rootstocks but on closer inspection the union would only be short lived at the best…we no longer pay much attention to our “source”! Needless to say, we have a fair pile of Larix decidua wanting to stretch their feet despite giving a Larix away to every visitor that we get…”Here Jehovah’s Witnesses…we don’t want your pamphlets but we would like to give you one of these fine Larix decidua’s…could you please tell the Mormons to head on up and take a couple as well?”…sigh… so we are going to take our Larix decidua’s that life handed to us and make Larixade. More accurately, a Larix grove. We have some amazing conifers in our collection and most of them will find their way onto the property somewhere. We will have that amazing conifer vista one way or another Christi ;).

Heres where my mass planting of shrubs will be most prevalent. The chickens are doing their bit to soften up the earth ready for planting. Now I just have to hope that the rock problem that is all over the property doesn’t manifest itself in this bit!

This next set of photos is to act as proof that we actually are studying our Diploma of Landscape Design…Here you can see the theodolite, the staffs and the tripod used to house the theodolite needed to take horizontal and vertical levels. What you DON’T see is the amount of algebra and trigonometry that I had to learn to facilitate understanding all about triangles etc…truly terrifying!

Here you can see Nick our lecturer (with his permission) and Steve setting up the tripod ready for the theodolite to be set up so that we can take some levels. We are in the process of learning about vertical levelling because we already learned about horizontal levels in our last Diploma. The area that you can see here is adjacent to the Polytechnic where we occasionally have a lecture. We study from home and wouldn’t have it any other way!

You can count yourselves as VERY lucky to see this picture. I HATE having my picture taken let alone showing anyone else so this is one of the very VERY few online photos of me. Again, its just here to prove that I actually am doing what I say I am doing…now I just have to convince Nick that I am doing what I am doing and I am half way there! You can also see that autumn has hit home hard here and I was the only one dressed warmly enough to be out in the field.

After lugging pots back and forth, weeding the pots, pruning off any dead bits and thinking about them all (by far the hardest part of the equation…) we managed to reduce our potted specimens by half. Now all we have to do is set aside a day to pot out the lovely weeping maple collection that we amassed 3 years ago and get stuck in digging mole holes all over the side garden to plant out all of my gorgeous cold climate shrubs that have been just hanging on for this day. I want to ensure that this area is mass planted to give it the best chance of surviving and becoming relatively self-sufficient. We found plants that we didn’t remember we had as well as some that we had given up for dead that have returned to the land of the living. I just know that once I plant out everything in my cold climate section (which is a terrifying event that will take at least 3 days) I am going to want more. Andrew of Red Dragon nursery fame got me addicted to cold climate shrubs. Now I have something that is going to make the side garden something quite special. Lots of beautiful scented flowering shrubs to perfume the air and no doubt they will be ecstatic to get their feet out of their pots and into the earth. Once we plant out the maples (I need to agree to doing this first as to be honest…its really Steve digging the holes and so I need to humour him by letting him get his babies into the ground first…) and all of the shrubs, ground covers, bamboos, bulbs and perennials in the side garden we will be left with quite a substantial amount of pots left to work out what we want to do with them. Earlier on in our horticultural career we both went a bit mental about collecting. Steve has several Chinese elms that we have NO idea what we are going to do with. We have a really big collection of conifers that will need to be planted or given away. We are trying to reduce our potted plants down as far as we can to minimise excessive summer watering. We have done really well to reduce our electricity reliance (and bill…) and minimise water usage but potted plants tend to die if you don’t keep them hydrated. We had a long hot summer that was also very dry. Very little rain (we were starting to wonder what rain was for a while there) and it became very apparent that we were using too much precious water on our potted plants. When plants are mass planted in the ground they are more able to survive extended periods of water stress. Potted plants can die in a matter of hours depending on how lush their leaves are. We no longer want anything that is going to become possum or wallaby fodder in our garden. When it comes to edibles, we are going to get creative. If the possums want to scoff garden plants then it’s bad luck to the garden plant. It needs to be able to survive here to stay here.

Here is the building where we study in Launceston. It has the dubious honour of being called “G Block”…we spent the first year and a half of our horticultural career sitting in the classroom on the right before we were able to study from home. I LOVE studying from home :). Its the very best way to study so long as you are disciplined enough to make sure that you do what is required of you. I think being mature aged students has given Steve and I an edge for the discipline needed to put the time in each day to make sure we study what we need to for our meetings. I hated sitting in a classroom with other students because everyone learns at their own pace and if you can pace yourself, you are not wasting your, or anyone elses time.

Steve took this photo this morning. It was dead still outside and the smoke from our rekindled wood stove was drifting down the slope and into the garden…he titled it “smoke on the water” being the old rocker that he is but I know for a fact that it never made it to the water…it kind of hung about until it dissipated into the ether leaving  that amazing early morning smell of warm future possibilities that only wood fire smoke can do

This is a sweet potato thief. I was showing him my wonderful sweet potato and he lulled me into a false sense of security by being cute. I relaxed my grip on my sweet potato for 1 second…and he grabbed it and ran off! Steve was NO help whatsoever…he was laughing hysterically as Earl zoomed all over the place with me in hot pursuit…Bezial tried to help but as Earl only had a boring sweet potato his heart wasn’t in it and he soon stopped and returned to his nice warm seat near the fire leaving me to try to catch the canine equivalent of a racehorse on steroids… I got my sweet potato back after a long chase and a stint under the bed…it was full of doggy toothmarks and even though I scrubbed it really REALLY well…it still tasted suspicious when I steamed it…

I have been hunting for all sorts of plants (especially trees) that will serve as foundations for the garden as well as having edible or medicinal properties. This garden is going to be cram packed with edible specimens…so many that the possums and wallabies may even send themselves to an early grave in their efforts to consume a small proportion of its bounty! We have plans to remove a large hedge of Photinia x fraseri ‘Robusta’ that was allowed to engulf the fence between the church and our property. We will be planting grape vines, kiwifruit and various other edible low shrubs and vines along this fence to replace the hedge. Thank goodness that we chose to study horticulture before we inherited Serendipity Farm because otherwise we would have had no idea how to make all of this work. When problems arise, we know where to look to attempt to solve them. Apart from constantly being tired these days, we are gaining a degree of satisfaction that we hadn’t been able to gain before. I love country living. I just wish that Earl would settle down like Bezial did so that we could let both dogs out with us when we work in the garden. One day they will be able to walk freely around, but until Earl learns that chickens + teeth = “BAD DOG!!” it’s only going to be a pipe dream. Have a really great Sunday everyone. Enjoy yourself doing something that makes you happy and make sure that whatever you are doing is worth it. See you on Wednesday when we will have (probably) managed to get The Odo Life (our alternate blog) up and running with its first post and you can all check out what Serendipity Farm looks like from inside my head…if you are game that is! 😉

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