A Tale of 2 Sourdough’s

Hi All,

Barter is a beautiful thing. I recently swapped 2 of Steve’s lovely handmade spoons for a new sourdough starter and some kefir grains. It’s great sticking it to “The Man” and no “man” deserves sticking it to more than our supermarkets folks! How do penniless student hippies get the extra’s that they want? They barter for them! Aside from being a means to an end, bartering is fun, sustainable and bolshie, all of my favourite things rolled into 1. I know that supermarkets don’t sell sourdough starter and kefir grains but they do sell white crappy bread at $1 a loaf that lures people with reduced incomes to their doom and drags farmers down with them. Milk and other dairy products are also heavily discounted, to dairy farmer’s detriment, and intensive dairy farming with minimal returns result in cost cutting farmers and something’s got to give.  My first sourdough effort resulted in something orange and funky that needed to be flushed down the loo A.S.A.P! I got given Herman’s grandfather by a fellow blogger and after coaxing him back to life from his long journey from N.S.W. he rewarded me by 2 months of slavetude and vinegar bricks. Herman had the misfortune of being fed only once a day and was teaming with lactobacilli, the bacterial quotient of the symbiotic relationship that results in a good sourdough. Thanks to being lactobacilli heavy, he was concurrently yeast challenged. It’s a bit like a seesaw relationship, too much of one means not enough of the other and you have to make sure you juggle your sourdough bacilli with yeast initially until your starter stabilises and becomes strong enough to develop its own robust personality. Herman was sour. Herman was past sour, he was positively vinegary! He couldn’t raise the skin off a rice pudding either and so Herman is in stasis on my pantry shelf in a vacuum sealed bag. I don’t blame Herman, I blame myself. I didn’t realise that a balance needed to be established and Herman was the result.

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My cinnamon muffin mise en place with the glass of cultured kefir and my breakfast smoothie spinach

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A closeup of the cultured kefir which is a lot like yoghurt. The difference between yoghurt and kefir is that yoghurts culture is eaten along with the yoghurt, kefir grains are fished out and reused over and over again and can be used to culture just about every kind of milk aside from UHT milk (what does THAT tell you? 😉 ), goat, sheep and non dairy milks as well.

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Here’s the fermented starter, flour, milk and rolled oats for the cinnamon muffins. You can see that the mix has bubbled up and looks somewhat like pikelet batter

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The resulting muffins looking and feeling more like cake than robust sourdough muffins

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A closeup of the fine texture that the fermented sourdough gave to these muffins

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The miracle chocolate cake…once separated oily ropey gunge, now combined and smelling amazing! Sourdough magic 😉

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As dear old Mr M Loaf once sang…”2 out of 3 aint bad”…and he was right 🙂

Now that everyone knows that I am unbalanced…lets proceed! Herman in stasis and me swearing to never dabble in the sour arts ever EVER again lasted about as long as a first time mothers pledge to never EVER have another child…the memory softens and gets a sepia tone to it and suddenly you are pregnant all over again or in my case, begging for sourdough starter from Jessie, a.k.a. “Rabid” from the wonderfully sustainable blog http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ and a chunk of her brains. Well, little white brain like kefir grains to be more specific ;). Not only did Jessie send me a lovely hand knitted black organic cotton dishcloth (that is too nice to use 😉 ), she sent me the daughter of Bertha that she split with another lucky recipient and some kefir grains. The kefir grains have decided to band together in a mass and spend their days backstroking around a glass of milk until it sets where they call out to me telepathically and I change their milk for fresh milk. I used the cultured milk to make icing yesterday and apparently it tastes lovely. I will give them a week of happy backstroking before I introduce a new medium into the equation and let them take a float in some home-made coconut milk. Variety is the spice of life kefir and life on Serendipity Farm is about as spicy as you can get! I had fed Audrey twice a day for 2 days before I decided to actually use some of the discarded sourdough and following recipes closely I mixed together the flour, milk and starter for a batch of cinnamon muffins, a chocolate cake and a batch of English muffins. The remaining starter was fed a cup of rye and white flour mixed a cup of water and after it rose up in her jar she was put into the fridge. I am going to rename “Audrey”. She deserves to have a much more favourable name because when she was initially named I envisaged a hungry tyrant who would lead me to baking’s dark side and it would ultimately end in tears…to the contrary, this new starter is malleable, compliant and most charmingly willing to please!

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Bezial was hot and bothered on our walk on thursday so we let him off his lead for a swim and here he is fishing, a much happier and cooler dog 🙂

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We found this poor tawny frogmouth in the road on our walk. Steve thought that it was dead but when I went over to investigate it was still alive.

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We took the poor thing in to Launceston to the vet who told us that he was too far gone to recover and he was euthanised. I was in 2 minds whether or not to share these 2 photos with you but decided that he deserved to get his 15 seconds of fame. R.I.P. Mopoke 😦

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We took this photo at a little park in Launceston where we stopped to give the dogs a drink of water and a bit of a walk after taking the Mopoke to the vet’s. This shop specialises in high quality fake flowers and Christmas decorations…very specialised but they must sell enough because they are still there.

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This is the bark of a gorgeous old Pinus pinea (Italian Stone Pine) in the same small park. We have several small ones that we grew from seed collected from another specimen. These trees produce cones that contain the edible nuts sold as “pine nuts”.

I got up yesterday morning and had a little peak and the separate bowls of fermenting milk, flour and starter to find that the ensuing mass had indeed risen and was rippled with bubbles and smelled yeasty and only slightly tangy. If I had used Herman the whole lot would be curdled, it would smell like malt vinegar and would take your breath away and it would be flat as a tack! We were already ahead! We headed out to walk the dogs and when we got back I started to bake. Steve headed out to the shed to make a spoon when he was interrupted by a local calling out to him from over the gate and he headed down to have a chat and was offered several trailer loads of spent horse bedding hay for our garden beds. All we had to do was go and pick it up. Sorry Steve…I am too busy, it’s going to have to be you ;). Steve does all of the cooking in our covered bbq and is quite proficient with it. I have never cooked anything in this bbq and was to be left alone with it to cook my sourdough creations so if something was going to go wrong, it would go SPECTACULARLY wrong! The bbq was behaving itself and I was able to mix up the cinnamon muffins and after 20 minutes (turning halfway) the muffins were ready. They smelled amazing! They had a light and fluffy texture that I wouldn’t have thought possible from sourdough products and in addition to their flour, milk and starter overnight ferment they had rolled oats. After a night the rolled oats had virtually disappeared and the resulting muffins were more like a light spongecake than a robust muffin. That would be a “tick” for recipe 1…I pulled down the homogenous mass waiting to be made into chocolate cake. I mixed the chocolate part and stirred it into the homogenous fermented mass and dubiously poured it into a baking tray (it is a big cake). It had started to separate, had greasy blobs all around it and generally looked like a failure waiting to happen. Being the stalwart that I am, I decided to bake it anyway and after 15 minutes cooking I headed out with dread to check it. Feeling sure that it would have bubbled over and set the bbq on fire I was pleasantly surprised to find a “chocolate cake” doing the right thing under the cover. After 35 minutes of low heat the chocolate cake was finished and set out to cool on a wire rack…that would be tick number 2

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I found this “thing” on my walk with Earl yesterday. We took a bit of a detour down the Batman Highway to check out a source of Foeniculum vulgare (Weedy fennel) seed but it was still in full flower and no seed yet but we DID find this. Steve thinks it looks like it came from an irrigation system. No idea but it is huge…it is metal…and it is mine! It looks steampunk enough to carry one of my more spiky succulents or cacti 🙂

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We went through the overflow pantry cupboard in our middle spare room on thursday and ended up finding several ancient containers of goodness only knows what. One smelled of garlic and was riddled with weevil tunnels…(Italian weevils are a problem on Serendipity Farm 😉 ), another contained Macca powder that had suffered the same weevil infestation albeit a long LONG time ago. These weevils are the equivalent of biblical humanity to their modern day weevil equivalents. The white stuff is some sort of African processed cereal product made from maize that I bought and tried once only. Maybe African’s actually like the flavour of wallpaper paste? The darker brown is from some forgotten (also weevil infested) zaatar and there was a jar of ancient breadcrumbs that joined the throng. I poured a kettle and a half of boiling water over this mass and served it up to the chooks for breakfast. At least SOMEONE enjoyed that garlic, macca, zaatar flavoured wallpaper paste!

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This is the lush foliage of one of the cape gooseberry plants on Serendipity Farm. You can see the green fruit capsules hanging like lanterns from this perennial plant. The offer is still open to anyone (aside from Kym who has already taken me up on the offer 😉 ) who would like some of the seed to grow in their gardens. It produces edible berries that can be eaten raw or cooked and it will grow in the Gobi desert it is so hardy 🙂

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The fruit is inside the husk

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1 of our transplanted artichokes (showing signs of predation) that might just make it. The rest of them have disappeared 1 by 1 into various chicken, possum and wallaby craws

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I found this little fellow in amongst the carrots that our friend gave us recently. I couldn’t bring myself to chop him up. He is currently sunbathing in the lid of my recent coconut conquest 😉

I then attempted to make the English muffins. It has now become apparent that you need to make a somewhat stiffer dough for the muffins and Jessie has given me some hints and tips for making them next time. This time they were more like pikelets or flatbread and although Steve ate a couple of them with some butter I know he was doing so because he was hungry after hauling all of that hay rather than a genuine desire to eat the results. I just processed up the cold remainders to put into the dehydrator to dry out and make breadcrumbs. No waste here :o). At the end of the day I was completely enamoured of my new starter. She is currently hibernating in the fridge where Jessie told me she can wait it out for 4 days before needing to be fed again. She deserves a place of honour for her efforts and my recent bartering has opened up a world of yeasty possibilities, hours of happy researching and a plethora of recipes and experiences waiting to be discovered thanks to a mutual swap. Life doesn’t have to be tough and there are many ways to skin a cat. We need to be able to step back and think about other ways to get what we want if the folding green stuff is remote or completely absent.

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This trailer load of old horse bedding hay got forked into the chook yard for the hens and Yin to fossick through to their hearts content.

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The rest got dumped next to the existing vegetable garden beds

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Garden bed futures…I just realised that our veggie garden area is looking a bit “Tip Like”…time to get on top of that pile of junk Steve! It is all metal and apparently in demand. We owe some of it to our friend in the witness protection’s welder partner and we will use some of it in future ventures but for now we are going to stack it up nice and neat so that we might look like we are growing illicity crops BUT at least they will be neat! 😉

It has been exceptionally windy on Serendipity Farm for the last few days which has reinforced my desire to one day install a small wind turbine to harness the power of the wind. Tasmania is prone to windy gusts and this phenomenon has been given a name, “The roaring 40’s”, which is also the name of a large wind farm in the states north east. I am really interested in alternative energy and as the technology becomes more and more mainstream the prices of sustainable and renewable energy should reduce. We are waiting for a reduction in price before we jump onto the bandwagon. We don’t want to be lumbered with a substandard solar hot water system because of unscrupulous producers racing to take advantage of the windfall that government subsidies dropped into their laps. Many Tasmanians’ raced to sign up and are only now finding out solar powers limitations in our state where summer tends to be peppered with cloudy days. You need to tailor your requirements and make sure that you aren’t hoodwinked by savvy salesmen and green wash hype. Do your homework. Our friend in the witness protection is a case in point. Her home is completely off grid. They rely on water from tanks, mobile phones and a large shipping container bank of solar panels to power their home. The solar panels can’t generate enough power for the requirements of her family and her partner, a welder, has had to put a water jacket in the back of their solid fuel heater to ensure they have enough hot water for their needs. I downloaded tutorials for how to make your own wind turbine but wanting your own wind turbine is a far FAR cry from being able to build one. I know my limitations and electronics and I are not good bedfellows. It’s another one of those “wait” opportunities to learn patience…it’s a pity that patience and I are not good bedfellows either!

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Bev from the wonderful permaculture in practice blog Foodnstuff http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ has asked Steve to make her a sugar spoon. He decided to try something new and this lovely rounded celery top pine spoon is the result

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This is the back of the spoon

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The angle of the handle and bowl detail. Steve is really enjoying where making spoons is taking him and has been developing lots of ideas for spoons for his website that we will be creating this year. You will be the very first people to see our website designs. Stay tuned folks, it is going to be a most interesting year! 🙂

That brings us to the end of today’s post. I have lots of photos to share with you and they should have finished uploading into my blog by now. Time to tack this post into the appropriate space and dust it all off for you to read tonight (or yesterday if you are in the Northern Hemisphere 😉 ). Have a lovely Sunday and see you all again on Wednesday :o)

Forget “Seize the Day”…SEE the day is a good start…

Hi All,

It’s Sunday early evening and we are just about to dispatch another couple of roosters. We have been putting it off for a while because apart from being softies at heart, killing animals doesn’t give us any sort of satisfaction. The roosters have forced our hands this time as they are starting to crow at strange times of night and right through the day and our neighbours are starting to twitch. Steve has been working on turning an old heavy wire crate into a cat trap for catching Felix and then some of the other ferals. Felix is first because she is showing signs of being pregnant again. This would have been her 4th litter and again, our hands are being forced because we can’t let the cat population explode exponentially and so we have to sort the problem now. Well…its Monday morning and I will spare you the gory details, but needless to say, Frank had 2 less roosters crowing over his early morning mutterings and we have 4.5kg of dressed chicken in our fridge waiting to be turned into mince (to ensure its tenderness).

“I am invisible…you can’t see me…”

It would appear that the desire to lick the wooden spoon is not purely a human tendency…

Steve’s amazing spongecake made with our own homemade caster (well…icing) sugar

I realised that living in the country, especially if you get up early enough to see the sun rise (even if it IS only in your enormous monitor reflected from the window behind you ;)) is very different to living in an urban environment. When I used to live 4km from the city centre I would get up…put on the kettle…look outside my kitchen window at the neighbour’s yard and think to myself “Hmmm…I wonder if Margaret is going to use ALL of those oranges?”… Then I would return to my head and start planning out my day. Now I get up before the sun rises. Not because I have to milk any mental cows mind you…country living isn’t THAT different to my previous urban/e existence…now I CHOOSE to get up early because we have the luxury of being able to enjoy our time rather than cram it full of all sorts of side issues. I get up…I turn on the light…I head to the lounge room and feel for the black dog in the dark who is wagging his tail to direct me to him…we share a few private moments of interspecies happiness where he gets his ears scratched away from the prying eyes of Earl and I get to feel the joy of being someone who is wholly and totally loved by something who could care less whether I have wrinkles or have a spare tyre I could balance a cup of tea on. I must admit that he then sloops off the couch…pitty-pats his way into our bedroom where he jumps straight into the warm patch that I just left, lays his big black boofy head on my pillow and luxuriates in my exit.  I slip on my slippers…bought for me by my son and aside from a few early nibbling’s when Earl was a pup, have survived admirably to do what their name would suggest that they do. I can walk to the kitchen in the dark…I pride myself on knowing exactly where everything is and aside from the odd dog toy left on the ground as a reminder that pride comes before a (literal) fall…I can manoeuvre around Serendipity Farms interior in pitch darkness surprisingly well. The reason I mentioned that was because my traverse from the lounge room to the kitchen is usually done with my eyes shut yawning. I head over to the fire where I can tell simply by resting my hand on the firebox door whether or not I am going to be able to get it to go without the aid of my grandads patented method of fire ignition…

1. Get yourself some sticks. Some of them will need to be bigger than others…

2. Get yourself a good fire lighter (Grandad would have used something more organic but we cheat and use a patented block…we are working on our own sustainable variety but for now it come from Chicken Feed…to the felt hatted poncho wearing brigade “Wachagonnadoaboudit eh?!”… 3. Lay 4 of the thickest sticks (substantial enough to ignite without going up in a “POOF” of smoke and lending a flamey base to the proceedings) in a square on the base of the firebox

4. Next, lay 4 more sticks slightly inside the perimeter of the base 4 sticks…we want to make a sort of Scottish/Australian grandad stick pyramid here…carry on until you have created a stick pyramid to be proud of

5. Drop your firelighter of choice (I think Grandad would have used a ball of newspaper with a bit of kero or metho on it…don’t quote me on that!) into the centre

6. Take a moment to survey your tower of sticks…may as well enjoy the process…

7. Light your incendiary of choice (I tend to use matches but feel free to rub 2 sticks together et al…) and drop it directly onto your fire starter (feel free at this point to drop it onto Keith Flint of the Prodigy should he be hovering near by…I NEVER liked that man much! “I’ll show you bloody firestarter sonny…)

8. Watch as your precision built grandad tower slowly ignites and gives you the satisfaction of hundreds of thousands of years of primal human existence thanks to the glory of fire…

It’s no wonder there are so many pyromaniacs!

Now, once the fire is crackling and I have filled the kettle up just enough for my first cup of tea of the day. Depending on whether the fire was still hot or not I put the kettle on to hum on the stove top or on our little gas stovetop (prospective problem solving 101) …I sit down here and after checking my now sad inboxes (everything goes to rss feed reader now) for the odd Telstra bill I settle down to just on an hour of uninterrupted interaction with my brain and some very interesting and clever people out there. I owe Rhianna so much for putting me onto reading my favourite web pages via rss feed reader. It’s like being handed the key to the online cities of the world. Whenever I find a delicious website…I whack it into my feed and suddenly it’s like Christmas with a new jewel in my crown. Some websites don’t have rss feed readers…I have to whack their site addresses into my patented “favourites” word document where I can head to whenever I want to find some of my more obscure (read “conspiracy theory” and “plain mental”) blogs where technology is to be feared and put under a degree of suspicion, but by and large most websites are coming to the party with rss feed.

Can you guess what the weather is going to be like today?

As the sun rises slowly and is up enough to give me an idea of just what the day holds (weather wise at least…) I realised that I no longer wonder how long Margaret is going to wait before she pays the boy next door to mow her back lawn…I don’t have to think about my neighbour (apart from Frank who might be planning a night time raid on the bastions of Little Red to make him “disappear” before he starts his 5am crowing in earnest). I get to look out over the river and really see it…allow it to bleed and blend into me and form the beginning of my new day. I have never had that luxury before. Now I can delight my soul with sunshine, I can feel the weight of the grey day and I can adjust my sensibilities accordingly because what is happening outside is extremely pertinent to what I am going to do with my day. I can’t just phase it out as I hurriedly cram a bit of toast into my mouth “bugger! Butter on the floor…never mind the dog will eat it!”… as I race out the door and into the car with my mind full of what I have to do and driving while under the influence of heavy thought. Now I can feel my day…I am totally aware of the weather, the colour and timbre of my mornings and most poignantly, I am really starting to understand how important it is that we are able to soak up and absorb, indeed submerge, ourselves in the real, natural world out there because we have removed ourselves so very far from what is real that modern society is like an ants nest built in an apartment building…it’s out of place and totally wrong. It’s no wonder so very many of us get up and feel like we are out of sync. It’s also no wonder that we have distanced ourselves from nature and have allowed big business to desecrate our environment in the name of “progress”. We can’t all move to the country and have Narf77 epiphanies on a regular basis, but we can stop what we are doing and turn our minds inwards and slowly start our days actually thinking about what matters rather than what routine and society has lead us to believe is normal.

Here is an interesting situation…these bales of cardboard used to be picked up by a man who the IGA paid to remove their waste…now, some bright spark has decided that they don’t want to pay for this removal any more…that they might even be able to make some money and these bales of cardboard are for sale to anyone willing to part with $20 a bale…this fenceline used to be clear of bales of cardboard…I think that the economy in Beaconsfield might just be echoing the economy in Spain and Italy!

A lovely sight to a horticulturalist…a nice big steaming pile of fresh woodchips in the local nursery.

Earl listening most intently to Steve’s new ring tone “Bad to the Bone”…

 

There is some sick dark part of me that keeps doing this to Bezial, just because I can…

That sick dark part of me has to remain latent whenever dealing with Earl because where “I can” with Bezial…”I most definately CAN’T” with Earl…

How could you be scared of this rambunctious little tyke? Well for some reason, he and his big brother terrified the electricity meter reader today…must admit to not caring much! Sorry dude…you want kudos, go get yourself a better job! 😉

Today’s post is somewhat experimental. Nothing unusual in the content but we are posting it to both of our blogs. We want to transition “The Road to Serendipity” to “The Odo Life” smoothly and with minimum hassle to you all. I would love you all to come with us over to BlogSpot where we are setting down roots towards a greener and happier future. The writing has been on the wall at WordPress for quite some time now and they finally pushed too many of my buttons at once and much like Mary Poppins, I have packed my suitcase and I am off. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that free blogging will one day be something that we remember wistfully along with free internet but until the day that the noose closes on our current freedom, I will be taking full advantage of the ability to hunt, find and share information on these amazing world-wide highways of knowledge.

This is an egg. Nothing special about eggs you might say…but this one IS special. You see this egg is the very first egg that our little rescue chook Pingu has laid us. We know she laid it for us because it was laid on her own personal heat bed in the shed where she sleeps at night (she can’t be doing with “chooks”…they scare her). Thank you Pingu. You might not be going to ever be completely normal as a chicken, but we don’t care. None of us can lay claim to normality and you fit on Serendipity Farm like a hand in a glove 🙂

The new blog will be a bit more eclectic than this one. I wanted to be able to share all sorts of things with you and along with my rambling posts; I would love to be able to share recipes with you. Not Master Chef type recipes for food snobs, but foundation recipes for various items that you might not think possible to be made at home. Sharing knowledge is an incredible way to learn more than you could ever think possible. I don’t have time for selfish people. I love to share and I love to find out how to make and do things. My most prized websites are places where people share their ideas freely and close behind them are my weird and wonderful sites where I get to see things that I might otherwise never see. We have a pot of stock slowly bubbling on the stovetop…we made it with 2 of our rooster carcasses that we dispatched last night. We got the recipe from someone kind enough to share it with us online. Steve made a tiny little magnetic planter out of an expired driver’s license. He planted a tiny succulent in it and has it on the filing cabinet in his music room. We found out how to do it from someone online. Sharing makes everyone’s lives richer and it’s about time it made a comeback in our societal desires. The 80’s were a decade of “ME” and “Greed is good”. Who could forget Gordon Gecko? Since then we have had to absorb certain truths about our human footprint on the earth. No-one likes to have unpleasant things happen to them and we have to take our heads out of the sand and deal with these environmental issues before they come back to bite us. In saying that, we are trying our hardest to find ways to simplify our lives and minimise our carbon footprint. We may have downsized our desires in the process but we have come out of is curiously lighter and even more curiously happier. We occasionally feel like we are dancing on the edge of some fundamental majestic truth when we are working with the earth rather than fighting it. These moments are few and far between to be honest. The more we transition Serendipity Farm to a sustainable environment the happier we get. Needless to say, the more we clear out the dense overgrowth of weeds the happier we get. It really doesn’t take much to make us happy these days!

It is amazing what a bit of regular rain will do to a vista…only a month ago this area was dry earth and from “somewhere” the grass has appeared. If you look closely you will see a Tree Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis) an herbaceous perennial that we almost removed without knowing that the dead bamboo like stick that remained after we removed all of the debris around those 5 tree trunks would ever grow back. There is something to be said for “We will pull that stick out another day” sometimes when you don’t know what you are dealing with! 😉

Again, this area looks much MUCH nicer since the rain softened the hard bare earth and gave everything a lovely hint of verdant green. I love watching the seasons take the palette of Serendipity Farm and change the hues, textures and colours accordingly

I managed to take these 3 photos in the space of 20 minutes in between grey rainy showers. The area with the 2 bird baths is where Steve is itching to get into and plant some of his weeping maples. Every time he heads for the door the rain starts again. Oh well…at least when he DOES get out there the soil will be nice and damp and easy to dig…if he can get through all of the rocks that is! Might be time to use our problem solving, lateral thinking skills and use some of the prodigious amount of rocks all over the place to mound up this area…import some good topsoil from Exeter Landscape Supplies and give the maples the free draining soil that they want…at least we learned SOMETHING in our past 3 years worth of horticultural adventures! 🙂

Part of living with nature rather than fighting it is that we are much more aware of our place in the world. The weather has been changing rapidly and it already feels like winter here in Tasmania. We have had our wood fire ticking over for about 2 weeks now and are finally starting to learn its intricacies. Steve made a heavenly light sponge cake on Sunday that we baked in the wood stove. When we first had the stove installed it was very different to baking in a “normal” stove. The stove reacts to wood being added more slowly than turning a dial to a temperature…once it builds up it quickly overshoots your desired temperature if you are not monitoring it carefully and what was previously ideal for cake baking, can soon turn into a blackened burnt sugary smouldering mass that even the possums reject as inedible. Last year we had all sorts of problems with the ovens being too hot. This year we have learned how to trickle the heat and keep the stove in a lower heating range, saving on fuel as well as rendering the house a nice ambient temperature rather than hotter than the Sahara on a mid-summers day. The benefit is that a lower temperature enables us to cook pretty much anything that we want to.  Steve’s sponge cake is a perfect example of that. They are notoriously hard to get right and his example was (dare I say it) as close to perfect as I have seen. The cake made a delicious “Whoosh” sound when it was cut as all of the air escaped from the millions of tiny bubbles and both Steve and the dogs appreciated a large slice of creamy jam filled heaven. I didn’t have any caster sugar for the cake and decided to make my own. I have talked previously about my “you beaut” $1200 blender that I bought in a richer time. I must admit that aside from being appalled that I spent so much on an electrical appliance this blender is a stayer and was probably worth the price I paid for it. It turned regular sugar into icing sugar in 5 seconds flat. We decided to use the icing sugar as caster sugar and the sponge cake of incredible lightness became a reality. I guess that is how new recipes are made and people get to try new things. When someone is willing to take a risk that something that they are just about to attempt might go horribly wrong. I took that risk…I learned

1. 2 seconds is enough in my Vitamix blender to turn regular sugar to caster sugar

2. 5 seconds gives me icing sugar so I no longer have to buy icing or caster sugar only the cheaper regular cane sugar

3. $1200 might be a HECK of a lot to spend on a blender but sometimes when you want something that is going to last, AND be consistently reliable, you might just have to dig a bit deeper into your pocket

4. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You might just get some fantastic results and at worst, you learn a good life lesson

5. Share what you find out with everyone else. Your success might be someone else’s salvation

There you go…Narf77’s secrets of success…or Fran’s ramblings…your choice :o). BlogSpot is very different to WordPress…the jury is still out as to which format I am going to stay with/go to. I love the sharing on WordPress even though it seems to be going to the dogs and BlogSpot is still the great unknown and doesn’t appear to have much in the way of allowing people to find your blog…I assure you that I will let you know well in advance if we decide to abandon this blog and head over to the bright side at The Odo Life. See you all on Serendipity Farm on Saturday night. We will be watching Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows with popcorn, our feet up and our pyjamas on. Hopefully Saturday will find you as happy as we will be. See you then :o)