The return of the prodigal hen’s daughter

Hi All,

Effel Doocark died last week 😦 . She hadn’t been well for a few days and just suddenly passed away on what had been the hottest day so far this year. We buried her under mum’s memory tree so that in some way, she will keep going on in the cycle of things on Serendipity Farm. We had been trying to work out how to get one of Effel’s remaining two daughters and her 7 baby chicks safely past the hordes of feral cats and over to the new chook run where they would be safe. The hen was most determined in wanting to come up to the house, after all, it had been her home when she was chick free and she was darned well going to come back here come hell or high water! Unlike Effel, she is an excellent mum, as is her sister that we also kept. Her sister hatched out 14 babies in a shrub near the old chook coop before we added the new enclosure and was easily herded into the small enclosed area that we already had for the chooks and her chicks are 8 weeks old now and we recently gave 6 of them away to someone starting out again with chooks. We see them as we drive past their new home and they are happily scratching around in their new enclosure. Effels other daughter went further afield to hatch out her brood…for further afield read at the furthest corner of the property! She hatched her babies out under the massive big oak tree that borders Glad’s and our boundary line and stayed down there for 2 weeks till they got too big to live from the insects scratched from underneath the teatree area and that was when she marched on Jericho and decided to tear down the ferals walls of expectation. She did lose 2 babies in the process but when you see how many ferals are seething around you can only begin to imagine how determined this hen was to protect her babies. This morning when Steve was opening up the coop door for the hens to come out into the enclosure he noticed that she was standing over next to the door of the enclosure and called out for me to come and help him and we managed to coral them all through the door and into the relative safety of the enclosure! Now we have 2 roosters and a single young hen that roam free on Serendipity Farm. We just have to isolate where those early morning exploratory crows are coming from and we can catch them in the act and rehouse them. Simple things make you incredibly happy :o).

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This little Penstemon was grown by our friend in the witness protection from cuttings from some well established shrubs in her garden. If you want something that will keep on keeping on no matter how harsh and dry your conditions are enter the penstemon 🙂

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Buddleia globosa, just one of the buddleia’s that are thriving on Serendipity Farm after a good haircut. They are wonderful shrubs that will grow in extremely arid conditions, they attract butterflies and bees and have a lovely scent…what’s not to love?

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A white Buddleia davidii

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Anyone for puce?

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A different kind of cicada to the redeyes that have all but been eaten out of existance now. This one was lucky he was rescued from a very interested Earl who has been known to eat cicadas en masse…the only thing that saved him was he clicked and increased his “play factor” exponentially

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It’s a toss-up between Earl and these little guys as to who eats the most cicada’s. This little fellow has decided that this part of the deck is his and he can be regularly seen out sunning himself

Steve has just headed back out fishing for the afternoon. He is armed with several fishing rods, a new boat rod that he picked up for $30 from Tamar Marine (free plug because you are such great blokes! 😉 ) and all sorts of stinky lurey baity things that should dump a load of fish into his little tinny should he actually feel like fishing. Steve has fallen prey to pootling about in his metal coracle…he loves nothing more than perambulating his little marine craft gently over the river surface and going exploring. I, for one, am extremely happy :o). It’s good for people to get out on their own and do something that delights them. I have all sorts of things that make me happy…simple things like reading, writing blog posts, researching, reading my rss feed, learning things, gardening…are you getting the picture? Steve is a little more superficially manly than me. Aside from his newfound love of wood and it’s possibilities he has suddenly taken interest in repurposing things and is currently repurposing an old fridge that was in the unit out the back of the home where our daughters live that had died into a wonderful cupboard and recently made a very hand gadget for storing sauce bottles so that you can get the last dregs. We are even making our very first Instructable of it! Fishing has given Steve something to do with those questing hands and that ever twitching mind…the man needs to be constantly on the go and fishing is all the
“GO” that he needs. I love that he has found something that makes him incredibly happy and this afternoon he is sailing the high seas with his sandwiches and his sense of adventure. Whether he catches a fish or not is irrelevant. He found a portal to simple happiness and is exploring his world :o)

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A birds eye view of some home grown spinach and a gravity defying frozen banana in my vitamix blender

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A close up of a tbs of chia seed to be added to my green smoothie after it is blended

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The end result…”purest green!”

I am incredibly happy today. It might have something to do with my green smoothie cleanse that I have been undertaking since Wednesday. I feel great! I am also marvelling at how the garden is coping with “summer” and it even rained this morning. The dogs are lying on the deck in various degrees of slumber…once the sun heats them up enough they stagger, semi-comatose, inside where they flop down using the least amount of muscles into almost instant, albeit cooler, slumber. I have been out broadcasting chia seed as my last broadcasting event resulted in Nigella damascena (love-in-the-mist) growing all over the place! I am going to have to pick up some black cumin seed (Nigella sativa) to broadcast around if it grows that easily! The chia seed (Salvia hispanica) is apparently very easy to grow according to Spencer from Anthropogen

http://anthropogen.com/2012/05/26/lamiaceae-salvia-hispanica-chia/

Who gave me this reply to my query as to whether or not it might grow here in Tasmania…

“I think they’d do great in your climate. It originated in the western USA, all along the California coast to Mexico. It was a major staple food of indigenous groups in the area. Extremely nutritious. I tossed a few handfuls around on the hillside around my house in California on my last visit and they’re all growing now. Very drought tolerant when established….”

And that’s enough for me to hurl seed with gay abandon! I didn’t have a little basket to skip along with but I did broadcast the seed all over the place and it had just rained so you never know…some of the seed might make it. I love the serendipity of a garden and I love how if you let them, they evolve despite your best intentions. I have changed (some might say “devolved”…) from my initial desires to have “magnificent European style cottage gardens…a tangle of gorgeousness darling…” to “bloody hell those aggies (Agapanthus africanus) are great down the driveway Steve!”…I once HATED agapanthus; to my shame…I have changed from a plant snob through necessity. I consider myself chastened and flagellated. If it will grow luxuriously and it flowers beautifully year after year and it needs minimal ANYTHING and it doesn’t grow crazily so one minute you have space and the next it is full to the brim with said species…it is welcome on Serendipity Farm! My eyes have been opened to “real gardening”…no more pretty vs. productive…if it doesn’t have 2 uses and if it can’t survive on its own and it refuses to do what it is supposed to do without all kinds of cosseting and primping it is OUT. Enter the new chance to research annuals, perennials, ground covers, shrubs, climbers and trees that are water wise, drought tolerant and that will survive a bomb blast…my new best friends are slowly starting to amass around me…chia is in, because it is drought tolerant, has lovely flowers AND it gives you amazingly nutritious seeds…vegetable amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus), ditto…could even be considered a weed should I ever get stupid enough to not harvest it but what a weed! You can eat the leaves and the seed and it can be used medicinally as well. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) has beetroot, spinach, the weed fat hen and tumbleweeds as its relatives and that qualifies it as a hardy specimen if ever I heard of one. Again I am consummately in love with gardening and the possibilities it has given us. Sometimes all it takes is a good result, a little bit of success to keep you in love with a process. I just planted some elderberries that I had dried a while ago after finding some on a shrub when we last went to the Evandale markets. I found a lot more seed that I had collected at the time and headed out to throw it to the 4 winds to allow nature to do what she will with the seed. If it grows, good on it, if it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to. I got a new Milkwood permaculture post this morning giving a link to a wonderful free PDF about growing the right plants for our Aussie conditions to attract bees…the site is affiliated with the federal government and is called Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation. The website where you can download your own copy (remember to click “PDF Download”, the free option on the right hand side unless you want a $60 hard copy) is as follows…

https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/12-014

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Lots of previously “lost seed” now found, distributed or planted (depending on its relevance to what we are doing) and the envelopes have been shredded in my little hand turned shredder and thrown into the compost…I wonder if any of these seeds grow? It is always an adventure when you plant seeds to see just what might grow. All of these seeds are very hardy so at least some of them should germinate

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A lump of oak branch that had blown down in winter 2012 that must be 100+ years old. Steve has lots of plans for this piece of wood from Bonnie Beach

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The good ship “Tubby Piggins” out on the high seas in rough conditions…it is VERY lucky that I wasn’t there because I suffer from motion sickness…and would be “feeding the fishes” 😉

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Steve’s clever idea to stop the frustration of trying to get the last bit of sauce out of the bottle…hang them upside down! Great idea… we just need to remember to close the lids…don’t we Steve! 😉

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Steve made this lovely spoon today out of golden sassafrass (Atherosperma moschatum) a wonderful endemic timber. He is currently working out what he is going to make for the next Serendipity Farm spoon draw. It cost almost nothing to send Christi her spoons and I can’t imagine it would cost much more to send them anywhere else in the world so we are going to carry on with our spoon, spatuloon, spork…whatever floats Steve’s boat on the day giveaways…keep your eye open for your next chance to win a one of a kind Serendipity Wooden accoutrement

While I was out broadcasting chia (might head out with some quinoa and amaranth as well in a bit…) I noticed something interesting. When we hacked back the overgrowth in the side garden next to our bedroom I decided not to waste this green haul. I finely cut everything that I could up and returned it to the soil as a very meagre coating of mulch. Some of this mulch consisted of small chunks of Buddleia davidii that have taken root and grown into small shrubs! I realise that Buddleia davidii could be considered a bit weedy but again, if it lives in our conditions, indeed THRIVES in our conditions and can survive what this property can hurl at it, it is welcome to stay. We have butterflies all over the place thanks to the Buddleia’s and that can NEVER be a bad thing :o). Our friend in the witness protection gave us some cuttings that she struck from her Pentstemon’s. She gave them to us because these perennials put on a glorious show year after year no matter what Mother Nature throws at them. Now THAT is the sort of plant that we want on Serendipity Farm! Tough as old boots, drought tolerant, showy, pretty flowers and bee and butterfly attractant. I think I might ask her for some more cuttings so that I can grow some more and dot them all over the place. A Wikipedia search curiously omits to mention that it will be cockroaches and pentstemons left to repopulate the earth after the next great ice-age but I guess the writer was only interested in the “pretty” value and not the hardiness. I am going to have the best time hunting around finding all sorts of gorgeous hardy perennials, shrubs etc. to be planted here that will give Serendipity Farm its own personality. I can feel the love :o)

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We headed up the hill today for our daily walk with the boys and after checking this little plant stall for anything desirable, I decided to take a photo and share it with you all. I have purchased lots of plants for Serendipity Farm from this little wooden stand

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I was attempting to take photos of the flowers of this Coastal Tea-tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) and noticed this little fellow trying, vainly, to blend in with the background. Coastal Tea-trees are incredibly hardy and are endemic to our local area. When the seed sets I am going collecting and will be attempting to grow some of these hardy bee attracters for Serendipity Farm

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Its no WONDER that little shiny insect was laying low! This rather more alarming insect is on the hunt for fodder for its young…

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Not too sure what this leptospermum is but its on the property and it is incredibly happy that we liberated it from forget-me-nots last year. It is also well past “shrub” and is almost a small tree

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Our driveway on the way back up to Serendipity Farm from our walk…nothing like having to walk up a 30 degree slope after a long walk!

The veggie garden is still going great guns and I picked 3 delightful small Lebanese cucumbers whilst looking for snow peas…I think finding produce that you weren’t even looking for makes you doubly happy as there is that serendipitous element when you are cutting back zucchini leaves and you suddenly find cucumbers sheltering en masse under the canopy…they are tasty little creatures too! Steve and I just ate 2 of them. He has a curiously U.K. desire to put them on his cheese sandwiches and to slice them up and pickle them…I love them straight with hummus which is how I had them for my lunch today. I recently read something very interesting “In a crisis situation, it isn’t the strongest or the most intelligent that survive…it is those that are the most able to adapt”…how interesting! The problem solvers survive eh? I have been trying to release my natural need to be in total control of everything this year. Last year saw us with a potential cataclysmic problem thanks to nothing that we could have prevented and I learned that “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. You need to be that person who takes it on the chin, who gets up and who finds a way through to the other side and I am in the process of learning how to weather storms. You have to be that problem solver, the one that they don’t eat because they are so incredibly valuable! I think that I am past “good eatin’” and am somewhat safe in that department but the reality is we are living in a rapidly changing world. Those of us who work to effect positive change on all levels in their lives are going to be more resilient than those who put their heads in the sand. I guess that is Serendipity Farm in a nutshell…an oasis of possibility and a plank/tightrope to walk for our own personal change. And there, my dear constant readers, I am going to leave this post for today. A bright summers weekend of possibilities lies ahead of us and we have all sorts of things to choose to do. Have a great one folks and see you on Wednesday where we may, or may not, have done something worth blogging about 😉

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One of the little figs that we appropriated from under an overgrown unkempt fig in Beaconsfield whose branches had layered. We got 3 large fig cuttings and every single one of them survived the winter in the glasshouse and are loving living on Serendipity Farm…Fig futures!

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Potato futures in one of our compost heaps

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The first of our corn futures

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I guess you would call these cucumber presents?

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And last, but by no means the least (because they keep on growing…more and more of them…they NEVER STOP!)…Golden zucchini futures 🙂