Where there’s muck, there’s brass

Hi All,

Have you ever listened to roosters till the novelty wears off? I do it on a daily basis. I have come to the conclusion that roosters are just like bagpipes. The similarities are actually quite startling. They are both bags that when inflated and squeezed (the pipes are man squeezed, the roosters are self-motivated…) they make a noise. The “noise” that emits from them could, initially, by some romantic person living 3 blocks away, be seen as entertaining for approximately 5 minutes before the novelty wears off and the repeated inhales and exhales punctuated by a raucous droning sound become unbearable. I have the dubious luxury of being situated directly above where our 2 feral roosters roost at night. We know that they roost there because aside from the loud inhales and exhales that can start anywhere from 1am onwards, we have discovered a large pile of nitrogenous fertiliser on a tall pile of firewood under the deck that coincides with the rough approximation about 2 metres above said pile of fertiliser that narf7 sits above as she taps away here to her dear constant readers…that would be you!

 DSCF2180

Here we have the two feral roosters that I talk about in this post. I have officially named them “Ralph” and “Hewie”. Their female counterpart who tends to hide a lot has been named “Elvira”. That interesting metal thing to the left of Ralph (the dark rooster with the rose comb) is my prospective still/rocket stove. I have yet to work out how to make it but for now, prospective is good enough for me!

DSCF2287

This is not a rooster. It is a duck. You would think that a duck wouldn’t have the bagpipe lungs of a rooster but you would be wrong. A duck can use her lungs to great advantage when she wants to and this one wants to every 10 minutes.

Roosters are windbags. They are solely there to make a lot of noise and to repopulate the earth with mindless hens. The hens are mindless BUT they have enough primal cunning built in to allow them to hunker down and stay shtum once they spot more than 3 eggs in a nest…they remain hunkered for 3 weeks when they emerge triumphant leading a bewildered and bedraggled selection of fluff balls out of hiding and straight into the jaws of the starving feral cats…roosters are SUPPOSED to be protectors of the flock. In our experience, they are the first to run and hide up a tree and crow from a nice safe distance once they have covered their own furry derrières. If a mindless hen spots ANYTHING out of the ordinary…say a human standing in an area that they weren’t standing in 10 minutes ago…they will send out an alarm cluck…this cluck will be passed on with exponentially increasing degrees of alarm and clucking, much like the ubiquitous Chinese Whispers game, until all roosters are crowing maniacally, all hens are clucking in unison and the alarmee is supposed to flee in mortal terror at the sheer amount of noise going on.

DSCF2286

If you look carefully you will see the quack-bag herself hiding behind this snapdragon that self seeds every year from goodness only knows where.

DSCF2247

Myrtus communis…a Mediterranean fruit that tastes somewhat foul on it’s own but that enterprising Greeks have managed to turn into some form of potent (lethal) alcohol that they imbibe on a regular basis…you have to love the Greeks…they certainly know how to take a difficult situation and make it rock!

I read a lot of blogs folks…a LOT of blogs. Some of them deal with life on farms and smallholdings and no matter how many times you read about the keeping of hens, and what a pain in the derrière they can actually be, there is a propensity for “regular folk” (that’s you lot, living in cities and big towns) to wear rose coloured glasses whenever you think about fluffy bottomed chooks clucking quietly and pecking delicately around your back yards in a romantic countrified way. The reality is that chooks are the equivalent of Somalian pirates. They rob from the rich (supposedly “us”) and they give to themselves. They navigate Serendipity Farm with stealth and cunning that leaves us alarmed, bewildered and afraid for our lives. We managed to coral them into an enclosure for 5 months and the resulting garden happiness was directly correlated to a decided lack of the ovarian orbs that make keeping chooks worth it. We might not have had chicks popping out from all over the place but we also didn’t have any eggs. What’s a smart person to do? Give in to the pirates that’s what!

DSCF2236

One of the “things” that have been keeping us busy on Serendipity Farm. Our crazy hippy friend down the road wants us to drink rainwater…we don’t have a say in it apparently, we HAVE to be drinking rainwater so he has given us a permanent loan of this 600 litre rainwater tank…I wonder if he will let us paint it blue to match the gas hot water heater (that is full of spiders as it gets turned off for most of the year while Brunhilda is pumping out her delicious heat…)

DSCF2172

Another one of the things that has been keeping us busy for the last few days. Steve headed out bush to get a load of wood with a mate on Sunday and this is the resulting haul. He will be heading out again for more wood sometime soon so thanks to his wonderful mum Kaye, whose property they are plundering for firewood, narf7 and Stevie-boy should make it through winter without turning into human popsicles

We are already finding nests in far flung well hidden places. I can only image how this is going to end and I have a VERY good imagination. When we bought our initial 8 chooks from an unscrupulous (read desperate) woman at a local market she insisted that they were all hens. I now know that this poor woman was desperate to offload at least one of her windbag roosters to some poor newbies with rose coloured glasses and visions of gorgeous fluffies assisting them with their permaculture ideals. I have since discovered that this poor woman’s flock have gone over to the dark side. No longer working FOR her, they have taken over her entire property and are festering malcontent all over the place. She has no control over them anymore. They live out of the lovely high-rise coop that her husband made for her back when she was a wide eyed newbie (not all that long before I myself came into the picture…) and they live in the trees and on the surrounding neighbour’s properties. There are so many roosters that have gone feral that there is no chance of stopping this maniacal hen invasion and the only option is to plead insanity…Allison…I no longer hold you responsible for your actions when you slipped Big Yin into my initial 8. I would do exactly the same thing. Desperation breeds craziness…a yard full of chook poo, no eggs, 40 000 chicks and 20 feral roosters all crowing directly under your window at 2am is going to render you somewhat crazy no matter how stoic and resilient you are. And still my dear constant readers will smile knowingly and will muse internally about the delights of keeping chooks. That’s how they get you folks…be afraid…be VERY afraid…

IMG_0767

I have been given permission to share a few of Steve’s more creative endeavours with you…

round

I like to call this one “Serendipity Farm as a Christmas Bauble”…

I have been invited up to a neighbours for “morning tea”. I am a hermit. I have forgotten the niceties of social graces. I eat cake with my hands and tea from the ceramic equivalent of a bucket. I don’t have to worry about slurping or where my pinkie finger ends up or how to make small talk because Steve could care less about any of it. We talk about what our lecturer is going to do when he sees some of our “creative” photography and how we are going to be able to amend our creativity once he does. We talk about rain, and we talk about digging holes and how to deal with feral cats. I have NO idea how to talk to real people. These people, an older couple from Western Australia, my home state, are very nice. They live in a lovely old homestead with a gorgeous cottage garden in a completely walled property with gorgeous deciduous trees and three lovely miniature schnauzers. The only thing that we have in common with them is a love of gardens and a propensity to visit the husband’s place of work, he manages a bottle shop.

DSCF2219

I bought this ice-cream maker years ago from a market stall at the Evandale Markets. I paid $10 for it and have hardly ever used it. I would like to draw your attention TO the delicious chocolate ice-cream that is being churned in the ice-cream maker and AWAY from the dribbled chocolate creamy custard that narf7 dribbled onto the ice-cream maker and that Steve wouldn’t let me clear off before the shot was taken because I might melt the ice in the machine…sigh…

DSCF2227

Aside from the chocolate deliciousness in the ice-cream we chopped up some Cadbury’s dream finger biscuits and an entire crunchy bar to add. Steve is hovering around the freezer just waiting till he has eaten tonight’s Cornish pasty and spicy homemade oven wedges till he can serve himself a HUGE bowl of it. There are a lot of benefits to having a vegan wife…consider this as being one of them ;).

By the way, if anyone would like to try the truly innovative recipe for homemade chocolate ice-cream that doesn’t require eggs and is loosely based on David Lebowitz’s recipe, you can go to my food porn heaven site at Food 52 and find it here… http://food52.com/recipes/5872-naked-chocolate-ice-cream-for-lovers

Being “me” I have tried to think about the angles of this “visit”. Steve has been let off the hook (the lucky bollocks) because someone has to stay here because today is the day when the electricity metre reading man turns up and we had to promise to be here and contain our dogs because he took one look at them 5 months ago and refused to read the meter even though they were completely enclosed at least 10 metres away from where he would be reading said metre. We now have the honour of being able to read our own metre 3 times in a row and only having to lock up our dogs once every 4 months for a day till the metre reader has been. Today IS that day so Steve is off the hook. I, however, am not. A social butterfly I am not. A bewildered narf7 I am! I made a cake. I made it last night out of whatever I could cobble together that I figured would taste good and that I could eat a thin sliver of. I made it vegan and I made it chocolate and I made it with tofu and I used this recipe…

http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/cakes/r/veganchoccake.htm

I then decided to top it with a couple of jars of homemade coconut oil (that I almost blew my food processor motor out on trying to make), some date puree and some cinnamon to replicate a caramel topping. I ended up with something more akin to a caramel marzipan but it tasted delicious so I went with it. I formed it into a round on top of the cake and patted it neatly into a disc that fit the top of the cake nicely. I used a bit of Christi’s Farmlet jam, the BEST JAM IN THE WORLD to put in the centre of the cake and the end result looked both presentable and tasty, who could ask for more?

DSCF2209

Today is Bezial’s day on the blog. He is tired of Earl getting the centre stage and told me in NO uncertain terms that it will be a dog day afternoon if I don’t do something to redress the imbalance so here is a profile picture of Bezial (showing his good side apparently…)

DSCF2208

He will magnanimously allow this shot of Earl and would like to point out that battle scar that he, personally, inflicted on Earl making him the superior beast on the block. He doesn’t want me to tell you that this wound was inflicted while they were both rolling around playing on the floor…that would NEVER do 😉

I will hold this cake aloft like Excalibur along with a bottle of my non-dairy milk. I would hate for anyone to feel put out by my personal choice to exclude animal products from my diet. I hate a fuss being made and as I am already at a social disadvantage, I don’t want to add “crazy health nut lady” to my exponentially growing list of “crazies”. Steve and I keep to ourselves. We have, on occasion, visited with Glad next door. Glad is lovely. She is 90 years old, tough as old nails, calls a spade a spade and is ANYTHING but “old”. She also could care less what we wear and seems to like us. Frank and Adrian, our long suffering neighbours to the left seem to have gotten used to living next door to ferals. Feral cats, feral roosters, feral chooks and feral neighbours…they sigh but seem resigned to their fate. We never see Noel, our ex pilot neighbour who lives behind Frank and we don’t talk about our neighbours directly to the rear but needless to say, if “feudin’” were to be part of life on Serendipity Farm, we would pick these neighbours to start with…

DSCF2175

Here you see yet ANOTHER reason why we have been busier than beavers around here on Serendipity Farm. We saw a note stuck in our gate latch the other day saying “ring this number to get some more horse manure”…we phoned and were told that we could have a mountain of aged horse manure from a gentleman’s property because the person who was supposed to be taking it, didn’t so it was now free for the taking…we took! Here you can see 3 trailer loads. We ended up with 6 so even after our feathered buccaneers did their best to level the heap you can imagine the size of the mountain of manure that we can use in our new fully enclosed veggie garden 🙂

DSCF2216

Bezial laying next to a pile of spent hay that the chooks have done their best to redistribute all over Sidmouth. I am thinking of hiring them out as earth  movers…sigh…

The people that I will be visiting today (Tuesday) live directly opposite the neighbours directly to the rear of us. I will be heading up through the back of our property, cake aloft, plastic beer bottle full of non-dairy milk aloft and will gingerly attempt to step over the barbed wire fence between our properties where there is a council enforced “no-man’s-land” that was once mooted to be a road before they realised that lesser Sidmouth was NEVER going to be a teaming metropolis and shelved the plans to fester, along with neighbourly coveting of this area of non-road. We could care less about this small stretch of prospective road but Frank has already claimed his bit. He let us know in NO uncertain terms that should his bit of ex-road become available, he had kept it cleared for the past 10 years and had first dibs. Fair do’s Frank, you have earned it!

DSCF2196

Steve insisted that I put this photo of me actually doing some work on the blog. Here I am…narf7…willing and able to be the stunt double of the lead singer of Aphex Twin 😉

IMG_0759

Someone MUCH more handsome to look at. Isn’t he lovely? He actually smiled in town the other day and Steve got this lovely shot of him where Bezial has an uncanny knack of being able to avoid being photographed 🙂

I am not so sure that I would be as accommodating with the ex-road at the rear of our property…our neighbours to the rear are the same folk that duped our house sitter into cutting down trees on our back block so that they could attempt to gain more of a view to sell their house for more. No-one is willing to pay the ridiculous amount of money that they are asking for their modest home and so they are resorting to telling fibs to try to increase their chances of a sale. These self-same people sold my dad a dud of a car that he then gifted to my eldest daughter for her 21st birthday. He paid enough for it to have bought a sensible small modern car but a massive great automatic Mercedes Benz from the 70’s is NOT an ideal first car for a girl to learn in. When it stopped doing what cars are supposed to do…”Go”…she managed to sell it for $200 and is well shot of it. She catches buses along with her sister and living 4km from the city centre is an added bonus. No need of a petrol guzzling, road tax requiring car when you practically live in the middle of Launceston. It’s this ex-road that I will be navigating to get to my morning tea date today. Wish me luck folks and hopefully our neighbours to the rear don’t choose today, when my hands are both full, to decide to take a pot-shot of your own dear narf7!

DSCF2154

Here is Steve wearing his Canadian Club hat that keeps his ears warm…

DSCF2153

And here is Steve “Acting the Giddy Goat” as my nana would say. I doubt that he thinks I am going to put this picture in today’s blog post…but you know what Steve? You would be wrong! HA!!! He just told me he doesn’t care because this Canadian hat has been superseded by his new Russian hat that you will have to wait till my next post to see…

Bollocks…a week has passed since this post and I am tossing up whether or not to hurl it into the ether but I only have a day till I need to post again and narf7 needs something under her belt (aside from a stiff vodka) to get her through the day. It’s all things go here on Serendipity Farm. On Sunday Steve was fast asleep in bed and I was pootling around buttering bread to throw to feral chooks (it’s a tough life here on Serendipity Farm…) when the phone rang. I picked it up in shocked confusion hoping that my daughters hadn’t managed to get the dog stuck in the blender…again…and was pleasantly surprised to hear the dulcet tones of our friend who lives down the road asking for Steve. I carried the phone reverently in to Steve who was now awake and a detour for his day was on the cards. Our friend Guy was off to collect wood on his mum’s farm and had invited Steve to go with him “someday”. Apparently Sunday was “someday” and Steve was up for it. He jumped out of bed (another Jamie Oliver “literally” moment…) and hooked up the trailer and was off in a space of 15 minutes (had to have a coffee as well). That left the boys and I twiddling our thumbs and doing sweet nothing which gave me the time to eradicate my RSS Feed Reader and actually do something else on my Sunday

428680_10200319129794970_355358312_n

Here’s a blended photo of Earl and Bezial. We had 2 photos. One where Bezial looked good and one where Earl looked good but the other dog (in each shot) was looking away so Steve used a Photoshop blending tool to blend the images. This is his first attempt but if you look closely at Earls little pink nose, you will notice it looks a little bit strange…

934652_10200319088273932_403277307_n

With a bit of blending and a bit of cropping Steve turned less than great images into 1 wonderful image…Photoshop is the bomb! 🙂

I chose to take some gorgeous brightly coloured knitted sock boots that my wonderful son had bought for me previously. I had removed the red fleece insert prior to Earl nibbling 2 holes in each one and they had been languishing in the cupboard as I was loath to hurl them out. It’s lucky I didn’t hurl them out, even though they have the equivalent of a small airplane of a moth bite in each one, I can unpick them and use them for my next knitting project. My last knitting project, if I can remember back that far, was when I lived in Western Australia and attempted to make my ex-husband a jumper. It got as far as the front and back portion and the 2 sleeves and when it came time to put needle to collar and cuffs that was all she wrote folks! I have been married to Steve for 13 years this year so you can work out for yourselves how long it has been since I knit anything. I am going to take this gloriously and most raucously dyed (supposedly) Tibetan wool (it is certainly rustic enough in texture to be nomadic…) and after wrangling it out of its booty shape, which takes HOURS and is punctuated with moments of arm waving and Earl restraining as he is reminded of just how tasty nomadic Tibetan woollen boots are, rolling it up into ball shape and then actually knitting gauntlets using a pattern that I found through Ravelry, a most wonderful and magical place where furtive knitters and crocheters can go to satisfy their textile lust in packs. You can get some amazing patterns for free if you hunt and cheers to Linnie for sharing it with me…

http://www.ravelry.com/

248074_10200847244878803_2114303742_n

Here is a random stolen image from my brothers Facebook page of the beach where I come from in Western Australia. Check it out folks…it’s paradise :). It took a fair bit for us to consider leaving this wonderful part of the world and relocating down to the hole in the ozone layer but the lure of 4 acres of self sufficiency was strong young padawans and here we are…but I do miss those beaches…and Steve misses the fishing…by the way sorry for pinching your image Jim (no I’m not…you never read my blog posts anyway! HA!) 😉

480024_10200097146245520_1408432995_n

I designed this shirt. I WANT this shirt. Steve Photoshopped it for me and I am going to just have to head in to a printers somewhere and get myself this shirt.

On Monday I got addicted to Pinterest. That’s all I really need to say about that. On Sunday I looked down at anyone who used Pinterest as “sad” and “pathetic” creatures who didn’t have a life. On Monday Steve left me alone to go shopping and by 11am I was hopelessly addicted with the fervour of a heroin addict on a crack high.  I have been a Pinterest “member” since foreverty-boo and just ignored it ever since. I like the fact that I had to go through a waiting period to be admitted (and they say that clever marketing doesn’t work!) which shows that I fit exactly smack bang into the middle of their ideal demographic and niche market… the person (usually female) who has NO control over her life but who has a tragic desire to put EVERYTHING in labelled boxes and create order in her chaotic (read “real”) life. It’s food porn folks, food, and health, and travel, and photographic and just about everything else “ic” that you can think of and I am now officially addicted beyond hope thanks to Steve going shopping and my RSS Feed Reader emptying out nice and early in the day. I spent an entire morning cramming my Pinterest fluffy cloud with as many foodie things as I could find and I can find a HUGE amount folks, that’s what narf7’s are for…finding things. Steve returned with a carload of stuff and I had 154 Pinterest pages open on my poor groaning browser and couldn’t do ANYTHING till I had clicked “follow” on every single one. I learned (quick smart) how to make other pages on my page and now have so much food porn I won’t ever have to cook anything myself ever again to be able to satisfy that “perfect shot”. Don’t you love the fantasy of the interweb? 😉

DSCF2149aaa

Steve and I FINALLY finished our media studies for this term. We finished nice and early to give ourselves 3 weeks off to get our veggie garden built. We needed to produce a slideshow of 11 photographs that we took ourselves that mirrored the 11 rules of photography for our final assessment. The only real stipulation was that we had to link them with the common theme of a colour. Steve chose green and this photo is a portrait shot…

DSCF2120aaa

This was my submission…I chose blue…I didn’t get away with it. I had to repost another image that was less photogenic where Earl and I were both looking most intently over the deck rail but a girl has her pride you know and I liked THIS shot! It might not give a very good representation of portrait but who cares…for once I am happy to post an image of myself to the blog so here it is…happy days! 🙂

So there you have it…another big mutha post and I haven’t even caught up with what we are doing! I guess that means I have plenty for Saturdays post already so I might just start it off so that when I am laying somewhat comatose at 3pm because of all of the hard work that I have undertaken for the last week and am unable to lift my feeble fingers to keyboard to share it all with you, I will at least have something to offer you, my dear constant readers. See you then and whatever you do…DON’T go to http://pinterest.com/ …don’t say I didn’t warn you folks! 😉

A rooster is just a set of bagpipes with feathers

Hi All,

I just finished my last Saturday’s post where I waffled about sushi and gloves. I must be getting officially “old”…if you read the post; you are obviously getting officially old as well ;). Misery LOVES company…would you like a rooster? I have 2 that love to crow under the deck at crazy hours. The sun isn’t going to be anywhere NEAR up till about 7am today and they are already crowing great guns under the deck at a place that approximates the direct area underneath my feet as I sit here typing at 4.21am. I just finished telling you about Sarah’s amazing gift of a wonderful pair of hand knitted wrist warming finger and thumbless mitts and I am wearing the mitts as I type. They are akin to when your teenager insists on you buying them a specific jumper/jacket and then proceed to cut a hole in said (very expensive) jumper/jacket about 2 ½ inches (or 5cm for we enlightened folk) from the cuff just so they can stick their thumb through it and wear their jumper/jacket as a glove as well as a coat. I love them FAR beyond their physical presence because these gloves are giving me the impetus to get knitting again where there wasn’t even an inkling of a desire to knit prior to their arrival

DSCF2030

You can almost hear the roosters crowing in the background can’t you? 😉

DSCF2037

Early morning on Serendipity Farm with the obvious chance of precipitation 😉

Earl needs a coat. Earl is an amazing creation of muscle and scars and bones that all combine to create something that nature surely couldn’t produce without worrying about the result as soon as she stood back to take a look at her creation. Earl also has a curious lack of hair. He comes from South Australia and to anyone who isn’t an Aussie that means he comes from the equivalent of the Gobi Desert. It’s hot there folks…hot for an extended period of the year…hot and dry and perhaps dogs are starting to go through a form of natural selection that allows them to live their lives with less hair to keep them cooler. The problem is when you move a South Australian dog that has little hair and lots of body mass down to the Australian equivalent of the South Pole and winter hits… Earl loves to walk. He would walk all day if you let him. The problem is that Earl not only has very little hair, but the hair that he does have sheds. He must grow hair like sharks grow teeth, constantly, because I spend my days sweeping our wooden floors and rugs and get the equivalent of a small red and white mammal worth of hair from these rugs courtesy of Earl each day.

DSCF2001

Steve tapping in one of the poles for the fully enclosed vegetable garden

DSCF2002

This shot shows you the area that we are currently working in to build our fully enclosed vegetable garden. You can see the wood shed and the glass house and the existing vegetable gardens in the shot along with lots and LOTS of rocks and the trees that we had to cut down to ensure the garden gets enough sunshine

We can’t not walk Earl…we do so at our peril because when Earl gets bored, he eats the furniture. We have been warned! Knowing almost everyone in your neighbourhood has its perils as well. When you walk daily you become part of other people’s routines. Through the week we walk at roughly the same time every day. We pass the same people on their same journeys to work and school and these people have claimed us as part of their routine…they wave at us now. We have NO idea who these people are, but we are kindred spirits on that early morning journey to and from life. We are peripherals to other people’s routines and lives and as such they think that they own us. We get stopped a lot and called to from balconies and we chat and Earl sits shivering beside us looking up at us imploring us to “MOVE!”. Earl needs a coat. I was tempted to take my newfound desire to knit and render it Earl shaped…I could use up all of my leftover bits and pieces of wool and make Earl his own coat of many colours…Earl would like that. It would last for the first couple of kilometres until Earl found a bit to chew and by the end of the walk, Earl would have unravelled most of it and there would be a long trail of evidence leading from wherever we just walked all the way to our front gate! ”Busted sunshine!”…sigh…

DSCF2003

We are (in our minds) cleverly going to use these 2 eucalyptus trees as a basis for our gating system for our large fully enclosed garden. Here you can see Steve working on another pole and can get a bit of scale regarding the area

I won’t be knitting Earl a jumper any day soon. I am not (despite what I might seem) a stupid woman. We will pay some middle man (most probably from Korea where dogs are prized for more than their ability to guard a house 😉 ) to deliver a waterproof, cotton lined equivalent of a flak jacket made from sensible oilcloth that will lend Earl a sophisticated “Gentleman about town” look. Bezial won’t be needing a coat “thank you VERY much”. He has thick black fur that covers him entirely, courtesy of that small portion of him that shrieks “LABRADOR”. He might look like an American Staffordshire terrier…he might act like an American Staffordshire terrier, but that tiny little bit of Labrador is reflected in his fur, his appetite and his overwhelming desire to seek out water and delight in its comeliness at all times. Forget the coat; Bezial is on Labrador time…

DSCF2006

All of the poles had been hammered into the ground here and this shot is to try to give you a bit of perspective on where the garden is going to go. The existing veggie gardens take up approximately one quarter of the area that the large new garden will give us and are situated inside the parameters of the new garden area

DSCF2008

One of Steve’s newly concreted in poles. The branches from the felled trees are going to become a hugelkultur base for the new garden beds and the wood will be stored for next years firewood…nothing gets wasted on Serendipity Farm if we can possibly help it.

We got 3 days of rain last week and we are making hay while the sun shines and for once, Mr Jamie Oliver’s overuse of and entirely inappropriate use of the vernacular “literally” is quite honestly a reasonable word to use for our current situation. I started attempting to add porridge oats back into my morning routine now that I have hit my magic “ideal weight” but have discovered that oats give me a headache. I was wondering why I kept getting headaches. I stopped getting them when I reintroduced my morning green smoothies and they started again when I reintroduced porridge. It was the ONLY explanation and as an oat and porridge lover from way back I feel cheated. What could I eat that could take the place of the ubiquitous stomach filling long lasting humble (cheap) oat? I had to take to the internet to find out. I arrived at a few of the more exotic grains that I really didn’t want to imbibe on a regular basis (read expensive…) and bypassed them quickly. What I arrived at can be grown here on Serendipity Farm as a cover crop and loves our temperate climate… “Buckwheat”…the humble soul food of pancake creations made its über healthy self both obvious and noticeable.

DSCF2011

Spot the little wren with an insect she found in the hole that Steve dug

DSCF2013

I stood back to try to get you an idea of the scope of this garden but at the end of the day its just HUGE… 🙂 About the size of a standard tennis court.

Buckwheat? Who eats buckwheat! I don’t really know who eats is apart from the Russians and Canadians but now narf7 eats it as well. I decided to try making it like porridge. I got some raw groats (that’s what they are called folks) that I had in a container in our middle room pantry shelf and I ground them into buckwheat flour in my Vitamix. I then added a teaspoon of dried ginger because ginger makes EVERYTHING better for narf7. I added a couple of generous scoops of cocoa powder because choc-ginger makes a suspicious food a whole lot more tempting and hopefully the combination of flavours might just cover up any strange flavours that buckwheat might offer into the mix. I then tipped this floury brown mix into a saucepan and used some date syrup (the mix that results from the leftover date paste in the bottom of my Vitamix that I am
too lazy to scrape out and just whizz up with the date soaking water to make a thinner sweet syrupy date mix) to sweeten the mix. Date paste and syrup are nowhere near as sweet as sugar but add a subtle hint of sweetness to whatever you add them to along with a big hit of fibre and nutrition (especially iron). I started to stir the floury mix into the syrupy mix and become somewhat alarmed at the resulting gloopy looking mix. After smoothing out the lumps it had a decided slimy sort of texture…not promising folks!

DSCF2014

We are still trying to work out what to do with that little ride on lawn mower behind the trunk of the tree on the left hand side of this shot…any ideas? Using it for it’s original intention isn’t an option due to the steep gradients and rock infested tundra on Serendipity Farm

DSCF2017

You can tell that Steve has done this before…

I suspiciously put the pan onto the hob and stirred it all together with a wooden spoon. I figured it would react like oats do and would thicken…I was right! Buckwheat might be slimy when it is in its unheated form but as soon as the temperature reaches the equivalent of 88 miles per hour (do yourselves a favour if you don’t know what I am talking about there and watch the “Back to the Future” trilogy, thank me later…) it suddenly seizes and turns into cement. My absent minded stirring suddenly turned into a wrestling match between the buckwheat and I for possession of the spoon and I am ashamed to admit, the buckwheat won! What grain is this that can best a well-honed human bicep in an arm wrestling match and claim the spoon eh? Now I was afraid! I was just about to put this creature into my intestinal tract to see if it could tango!

DSCF2018

In a past life Steve used to be very proficient with concrete…a skill that has come in handy more than once since we moved to Serendipity Farm

DSCF2019

Left over concrete mix that we then decided to use to try to fill in some of the worst holes in our driveway (see Kym, we DO think of you 😉 )

I scraped the resulting “porridge” (for want of a better word), still containing my wooden spoon, into a bowl. It sat there stiffly with the spoon poking out of it at a jaunty angle and I eyeballed it closely. It seemed innocuous enough, and after pulling my spoon out of its thick mass with a primordial “schlepp” I considered how I was going to tackle this mound of buckwheat, ginger and cocoa. I decided to eat it plain, without non-dairy milk or kefir so that I could get a true representation of its “flavour”. Flavour isn’t an issue with me by the way folks, I sometimes eat strange things simply because they are good for me as a vegan and I was prepared for “strange” and willing to wear it for the sake of something that would stick to my ribs and last for half a day. I stuck a dessert spoon into the mound and got the distinct impression of when an arrow goes into a dartboard and just “stops”. I had just been warned…

DSCF2097

We got these metal poles for free so Steve cleverly made a stanchion with some offcuts to brace this corner pole and make it a whole lot stronger. We want this fully enclosed vegetable garden to last!

DSCF2100

Earl on patrol

I forced my way into the mass of buckwheat and started to eat. Buckwheat has a nice mild nutty flavour that is quite pleasant and after researching it prior to eating it I know it is cram packed with gluten free nutrition. I ate spoon after spoon of this dense creation with increasing enjoyment when suddenly I hit the equivalent of a runners “wall” or a career forgers “glass ceiling”…half a bowl in and buckwheat made itself known to my stomach in no uncertain terms. It told my stomach “you are now full…do NOT eat any more buckwheat…proceed to go/work and do not collect $200 because you are not going to need it, you are officially FULL WOMAN”. I don’t “fill” easily. I find it difficult to believe that half a bowl of buckwheat was going to fill me up. I foolishly carried on to finish the bowl… the equivalent bowl of porridge oats would have satiated me nicely until lunch time. This bowl of buckwheat spent the rest of the day reminding me that I should have stopped at half the bowl and that buckwheat porridge is the equivalent of eating house bricks in powdered form. I only regained “hunger” at 6pm that evening! I have learned my lesson…I will eat buckwheat porridge on a regular basis but half the amount I ate the other day. “You have bested me again buckwheat! You are a true master of seeds; I bow and concede to your superiority”

DSCF2092

The two grey areas on our driveway were, prior to this photo, very large holes. We are attempting to try to fix the deep furrows on our driveway so that Kym can actually drive up in August, rather than park at the church and walk 😉

Every Saturday, without fail, I inflict Armageddon on the localised population of spiders that live indoors on Serendipity Farm. I guess “Armageddon” might be too stiff a word for it and a more appropriate explanation might be the end results of a very strong storm when it relocates houses and flotsam and jetsam from where they were located before, to a new location. In my case I vacuum and clean on a Saturday. I am particularly careful not to vacuum up spiders. I don’t like killing things because you just never know…reincarnation might just be part of our life cycle and I might have just hoovered up someone’s uncle Ernie. If you were a bit of a deadbeat in your past life you might end up in Serendipity Farms spider population…you weren’t bad, just a lazy person who didn’t pull their weight and who just wasted their life bumming around but because you didn’t actually affect anyone aside from yourself and your long suffering mother (especially if she was Jewish and REALLY wanted a lawyer-doctor-specialist-insert other high paying career here… for a son/daughter), you are allowed to live someplace where you are considered to be part of the ethos and given some kind of “rights”.

DSCF2094

These 2 seedpods have made me VERY happy. This brachychiton tree was on it’s last legs a few years ago but it seems to have recovered now and had flowers for the first time in years this year and it has produced seed pods! Steve and I can now harvest these seed pods and grow some more brachychitons that are especially hardy for our local area

Bad people get reincarnated at my sister’s house. If you cheated, you lied, you broke people’s hearts and you were generally a bit of a nasty piece of work you might find yourself waking up in an arachnid’s body in the home of an arachnophobe. My sister could care less about spiders but her partner hates them…with a passion…any spider stumbling into his pathway is likely to have a VERY short reincarnation adjustment period and will return to be reprogrammed as something equally as insidious quick smart on the flat side of an enormous flip-flop (we call them “thongs” here in Australia BUT knowing that “thongs” also have another connotation elsewhere in the world I wouldn’t want ANYONE thinking that Jason wears men’s string underpants and likes to sit on spiders…kinky stuff Jase…kinky stuff ;)…most probably as a cockroach on Serendipity Farm where narf7 will reveal that cockroaches are one of the ONLY things that she hates with a passion and you will get fed to ducky quick smart…you might want to start mending your ways as after me it gets worse!

DSCF2089

Isn’t our Japanese maple putting on a lovely show this year? Another sign that our trees think we are living in Canada and that it is going to be VERY cold this year

Anyhoo…I vacuum and I tidy and I clean once a week in earnest. Most other days I give a few rudimentary sweeps to stop Earls rapidly shed hair from accumulating too much and forming into a small rodent that might or might not predate my stocks of seed in my pantry but on Saturday I get stuck in and put the boot into the dirt population on Serendipity Farm. I have to lock the doors as Earl hates the vacuum cleaner and tries to kill it if given the chance…only when it is actually on and only when the vacuum cleaner head is off and he can grab the hose and bite it. A specific vacuum cleaner serial killer is our Earl…I have to lure him (cleverly) from room to room and then shut doors and make sure he can’t get in. Earl is clever; he can push doors open with his paws and his nose so we have little latches everywhere so that we can vacuum in peace rather than pieces.

water1S

Steve took this awesome motion blur shot with his new camera and without the aid of a tripod…apparently it’s VERY hard to take a shot like this without a tripod but when you forgot it, and you are 50km away from home, you do what you have to do 😉

IMG_2077

Steve took this lovely autumnal shot when we were in Beauty Point taking some photos for our final Digital Imaging assessment earlier in the week and walking the dogs at the same time. I think it goes to show just how pretty the area that we live in actually is. Tassie…you might be broke, but you are easy on the eye! 😉

If I had the equivalent of hurricane Katrina hit me where it hurts and remove my house and my possessions I would head off to someplace where there were NO hurricanes, no cyclones, no earthquakes, no anything really…the Ozarks perchance…I would head for the hills and I wouldn’t come back because I have a rudimentary brain stem and I can learn things and “FOOL ME ONCE NATURE!”. Apparently spiders are either missing that rudimentary brain stem that allows them a degree of memory and thus choice, or they really ARE lazy buggers from another life who just wait for me to finish and start spinning again…”whew Bruce…that was a close one wasn’t it? She got pretty close to me today…I saw you standing up to her…you’re a HERO mate! Remind me to shout you a fly next time I catch one…” and the cycle goes on…suck down their empire on Saturday and by Sunday they are working on a new one

DSCF2091

Steve put my new craypot (from the progressive garage sale) on the deck rail. We are still waiting for crayfish…none yet…

Steve is digging holes for Queen and country. He needs to dig 8 holes today and has been dreading it for weeks. Hopefully someone up there takes pity on him and makes the soil where he chooses to dig nice and soft and rock free and he returns at lunch time in triumph with his spade over his shoulder feeling pretty good about himself. The sad truth is that he is likely to be still working on hole 4 at 5.30pm when the sun is almost gone and his back and spirit are almost broken. I, in return for him kindly not expecting me to help him dig holes, am doing all the cleaning myself. I am baking him biscuits (cookies to you Americans), I am keeping the fire going and I am going to make him his new favourite Stromboli for his dinner tonight. I have just taken a brief hiatus to type out this final paragraph here because I formulated the second half of this post while I was vacuuming around spiders…it’s a funny world isn’t it folks! Have a great rest of your week and remember, if you suddenly find yourself waking up after being unexpectedly hit by a bus and you didn’t really do very much wrong in your life but you weren’t a shining example of humanity either, you might just find yourself a spider on the wall on Serendipity Farm ;)…I guess there are worse things to be…aren’t there Jason! 😉

DSCF2096

The last of the liquidambar leaves just about to head south for the winter…