A little reminder of winter in the middle of summer …

Hi All,

There is beauty in a rainy, grey day folks. When you look outside and the whole garden resonates and shimmers in heat stress and you can see the leaves curling up in an attempt to save that life giving sap a day of cloud crying is a blessing. I am sitting here listening to the rain fall on the tin roof. It’s a glorious sound and I can almost hear the garden singing Vivaldi’s 4 seasons (all of them!) as it steadily pounds the roof…”Keep it up chaps…you are all doing very well!”…funny how the rain brings out the old Blighty in me ;).  I love rainy weather. You won’t find me complaining about it (aside from how the leeches suddenly reconstitute from their benign one dimensional stasis and turn into 3 dimensional sluggy vampires…). I have my wonderful winter rituals carefully tucked away, wrapped in mental tissue paper because these precious processes sustain me through the cold winter months. I love waking up nice and early in the dark…to be honest it doesn’t get light till quite late in winter so this could be accomplished even if I slept in, but there is something magical about getting up hours before the rest of the household…special time to yourself and most precious to me now. Soon, I won’t have to spend this time alone. Brunhilda, who is currently semi naked and being painted and primped ready for her coming 10 months of solid hard work, will be my constant companion. I missed her. I missed waking up and throwing a few sticks onto the slumbering behemoth that is “fire” on Serendipity Farm. I totally “get” why cavemen were so enamoured of it…fire is the bomb people! That early morning crackle of the first few tinder dry twigs as Brunhilda has her breakfast and rev’s up for the day. We learned how to feed her slowly and regularly last year. In our first year she suffered indigestion thanks to our constant stuffing and her constant overheating…last year we honed our relationship with Brunhilda and we know how to keep her lean, mean and keen… I can’t wait till that crackling companionship returns. This morning it is dark, raining and cold and I feel the lack of crackle keenly. I get to keep the kettle on the side of the stove…I fill it up at night before I go to bed (I LOVE processes 😉 ) and just move the already warm kettle to the flame and suddenly that first and only cup of tea becomes part of the process of awakening and lends my winters days a real sense of being grateful for my lot. Our water heats through the back of Brunhilda…we don’t have to worry about gas bottles…she does it gratis. She will allow me to dry things out and keep things warm in her lower ovens…she is a most gracious friend. She never once let me down last year…she never once refused any of my requests…she may have added her personal touch of a bit of “caramelisation” but to her credit, I should have read her better…we share a mutual relationship together…Brunhilda and I are mano-a-mano, kindred spirits and our symbiosis is what makes winter on Serendipity Farm a privilege rather than something to be endured…that’s Steve’s job…”winter endurance”…well SOMEONE has to chop the wood! 😉

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A weedy Passiflora caerulea (Blue Passion Flower) that we found recently on a long walk…the fruit is juicy and sweet but quite bland

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The vine we picked the passionfruit from

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Our friend in the witness protection gave me a large bag full of snow peas from her enclosed veggie garden. Some of them had gone over to the dark side and I decided to keep them for seed to grow next year. The stapler and tape are most probably what Steve has come up with to graft my poor jam spoons 😦

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A nice bright hippy shop…our friend in the witness protection and I (and Steve for that matter) are all old hippies and this sort of shop attracted us in like moth’s to a flame…

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A lovely little street display to lure passers by into a small garden shop

Steve’s birthday (Sunday) was spent doing what he wanted to do including alternating between playing his guitar whilst watching television and wandering out to the shed to make teaspoons out of wood. He is truly addicted to making wooden things and has plans for all sorts of creations. He recently saw a gardening dibbler and wants to make them now. I, for one, am not complaining. I tend to get the prototypes as part and parcel of his efforts and have some pretty interesting things that his most creative mind has come up with including a wonderful enormous teaspoon with a carved bowl on one end and a spike on the other for negotiating my VitaMix blender. He is working on making me another long teaspoon but this one will have a small bladed scraper on the other end to allow me to get the little bits out from underneath the blade (that take so long to remove)…it is positively blissful having a talented husband who can make things :o). Steve also spent yesterday dictating what he wanted for his birthday tea…”I want fried rice…and I want curry…like in the fish and chip shops in the U.K…and I want sticky date pudding for dessert…” Expat’s tend to get teary eyed at things that they used to buy from the local “chippies”. We get fish, and chips and the odd dim sim and potato cake from our local fish and chip shops but in the U.K. they had pickled eggs, pickled onions, curry sauce to go with their chips and all sorts of odd things! Never one to shirk my duties we fired up Brunhilda and made the lot! Steve had a great day and will most probably have a hard time getting out of bed as he had as much red wine as a teetotal wine lover could imbibe without falling over sideways…birthdays are barleys apparently! 😉

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This Asian beauty was parked out the front of a small country shop that we passed on the way to Wychwood…the locals are certainly “characters” ;)…Rose Porteous anyone? It would appear to be her shoes…

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A little leaf hopper that fell in love with my finger when we stopped to admire some gorgeous Rugosa roses in a small park…

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Isn’t this a glorious garden bird feeder? I fell in love with the garden art placed strategically and most tastefully around Wychwood

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Another beautiful castle bird feeder complete with copper turret

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The small kitchen garden at Wychwood which was a mix of traditional and interesting veggies along with lots of beneficial attracting plants and flowers

It’s raining in Queensland and they are drowning in the results. I read a few Queensland blogs and it seems so ironic that on Saturday they were bone dry and one blogger was about to sell her cows and suddenly it’s time to build an ark. Australia isn’t an easy country to farm in. You can try to find a property where the conditions are somewhat even but then something happens…drought, flood, fire and you lose everything. Farmers have to be the most optimistic people alive. They keep on keeping on long after the ever ready bunny batteries have run out and they deserve more than what they get because they truly are the backbone of our world. It is a bitter irony that people are so removed from their food supply and have no idea that the plethora of items available on their supermarket shelves once started life as an ingredients list of humble primary produced items (unless they are aimed at children and then they are usually 100% man-made from artificial chemicals and glow in the dark…) Today I did it. Yes…”IT”. I actually managed to get through my rss feed read blogs nice and early with time to spare to tap away at this post in advance. How did I do it? I woke up at 4am! I am already considering continuing on with waking up at what will be 4am in April when the clocks go back. I find myself scrambling to get through my rss feed reader blogs, answer the comments for the blog and write lucid and relevant comments for particularly beneficial posts on the blogs that I follow and 4am seems to be the magical number that keeps recurring…4am isn’t for chumps…it is for dedicated maniacs who are addicted to lists and doing things the right way…I have to blame the latent German in my genes. It has been watered down with good old Blighty tempering and a smattering of Scottish blood but the German is strong in this specimen young padawan and my list making, tidy, clean line desires cannot be denied. “You put that back in the cupboard wrong!…Why oh WHY did you leave that there?…no…you have to do “X” before “Y”…” sigh…I love order and I hate chaos and often my order collides with Steve’s need for chaos and the inevitable result is explosive (on my side) and a visit to the shed (on Steve’s side)…no wonder he has started making wooden things! 😉

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A most interesting grass maze located near Mole Creek at the outer edge of Wychwood

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I purchased some organic turmeric from a local health food shop and FINALLY it is starting to grow!

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My little Moringa oleifera looking decidedly happy with it’s lot in the heat of the glasshouse

Steve and I spend our lives together pretty much 24/7. We have been living like this since he moved here from the U.K. We are both reclusive hermits and obviously reasonably well suited or we would have killed each other by now. No retirement problems for us…our friend in the witness protection has been having some pretty spectacular fights with her partner but when talking about them on our recent road trip she made an interesting correlation…”I just noticed (she said)…that all of our big fights just so happen to coincide with Glen being home for an extended period of time!”… Is it any wonder that so many people end up divorced when they retire? Steve and I are learning to accept that we are complete polar opposites. I can’t even begin to fathom how his brain works, but work it does and he seems to be able to navigate some pretty choppy water with that brain whether I can understand the processes or not so I am willing to concede that there are other ways of doing things than the way that my mind takes me when I process my information and churn out the results. The problem is that we both think that our process is the best…we spend a lot of time trying to push our idea and in the process completely miss out on the opportunity to join together to form a formidable self-contained yin/yang idea that would knock the socks off the project that we are making. One day we will learn, but for now, we are still in “work together” kindergarten and making very VERY slow progress 😉

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Nothing gets wasted on Serendipity Farm and that includes avocado seeds. These 3 small trees are all the result of previous avocado consumption and go to show just how easy it is to grow them. We have quite a few home grown avocado plants that we will plant out in Autumn

Hathen

I found this picture on a blog that I follow…After I got up off the floor from rolling around there in hysterics I asked if I could use this photo in my blog…guess whose chooks are going to be wearing beanies in the latest fall colours this year…

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Ah the elastic band spine of youth! 😉

I have a cure for all you insomniac’s out there…get up at 5am, walk all over the place and go to bed after 9pm. Simple really. If you think that 5am is NO place for a civilised hipster like yourself to be inhabiting you are where I was a few years ago. I didn’t surface till 8am when I expected a cup of tea in bed, about 30 minutes “eye time” (our expression for lazy bollocks that doesn’t want to get up yet) and the pained expression of dogs who know that a walk is just around the corner but who have to be a little bit polite as otherwise those morning dog treats might dry up and blow away… now I not only get up and have 2 hours to myself…2 precious hours where I can read whatever I like when my mind is active and raring to go…but I fill that mind with all sorts of possibilities…I have my morning processes sorted out before I deliver Steve’s morning coffee after 7am and am raring to go…I even beat the dogs to the punch line! We walk the dogs for at least 1 1/2 hours a day and where I used to be a “STEEEEEVE…can you take these to the shed? Can you get me “such and such” can you put this compost in the compost bin?” Now I walk there myself. Steve doesn’t need the exercise, he has spindle shanks that will never see an ounce of fat but my legs need double the attention being my chief fat storage areas and stubborn fat releasers at that…so I walk to the compost bin up next to the veggie garden…I walk out to the shed, several times because I am always forgetting to bring something from or take something to the chest freezer out there, I walk down the driveway with Earl who needs more than a single walk or he eats furniture (or at least threatens to…whoever said that dogs are stupid…doesn’t have a dog!)…I walk back up the driveway (2 times up our driveway in a day is enough to make anyone knackered!)…I sometimes just go out for a walk around the place just for fun! I don’t even wait to go to bed before I am asleep…”Wake up Fran!”…that’s Steve’s Hue and Cry these days before I stagger off to sleepily brush my teeth (too tired to even consider looking for wrinkles in the mirror BONUS!), head to the foot of the bed (Bezial has already stolen my pillow at the top of the bed and no point arguing with a 40kg Amstaff who is sulking for the queen…too tired!) where you have left a pillow (happens a lot…sigh…) and flop into bed…Wait for Earl to trot in 2 seconds later and you might or might not remember Steve giving you a kiss goodnight but within 3 minutes you are out like a light…Insomnia…you used to be shackled to me…you ran roughshod over my nights where you pounded me with my secret fears (December 2012…old age…death…) but I don’t have time to lay awake contemplating my aging lack of a navel (don’t ask…just believe me…I have NO belly button 😉 ), I am out like a light…and not only do I not need sedatives, but falling into bed and blissful sleep is delicious! Truly folks, if you have exhausted your body and given it more than enough food for thought at 5am it rewards you with the most amazing sense of blissful achievement coupled with the heady beauty of “rest”. Cheers old books, whoever coined the phrase “Early to bed and Early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” was giving truly sage advice…(aside from “a man” and “wealthy” I totally agree!)

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Serendipity Farm cucumbers…99% water…1% purest “Green”…

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Steve found a recipe for making lightly pickled cucumbers and this is the result…they are really tasty and well worth donating a percentage of our purest green to

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Steve has taken a left turn at Albuquerque and has headed off into teaspoons and spice spoons and has visions of plant dibblers, tatting shuttles, earings, pendants and some amazing wooden guitar picks…he gets bored easily 😉

Well it’s a nice early post from me and it’s chilly outside and Brunhilda is lit and everything is right in our world (for the time being…) so I might try to hold my eyelids open and read a Patricia Cornwell or Ruth Rendell book…I have both, taken out of the library on a wistful whim that I might have time to read them and both calling me from their lofty position in the spare room. Reading is good for your soul…about time I did more of it :o). See you on Saturday when I will share the lengths at which 2 penniless hippies will go to in order to stop a small battalion of most determined chickens from escaping from Alcatraz…

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The Al Pacino Chook

Hi All,

It’s 5am and I am peering myopically at the monitor on a sort of manic sleep deprived bender. I am not quite sure who I am, where I am or where I am going and to be honest, I’m not all that sure about you either! What has happened to bring about this alarming transformation? Was my grandad right about aliens preferring to hover around inlets (of which I conveniently live right next to one) and take sleeping bloggers on midnight joy rides? Possibly, but that’s another story and not entirely in the same direction as today’s post. The reason why I am a spaced out twitching early riser is simple…it’s daylight savings again. “But!” I hear you say…”But…didn’t she say that she was getting up an hour earlier a day for the past fortnight to ward off the dreaded daylight savings?”…well…yes indeed I did say that. I said it and I meant it and I adhered to my earlier rising and you know what? I liked having 2 hours all to myself and today my brain told me to wake up at 5am…only recently 4am and read my rss feed reader till my brain caught up with the day. That took a good 3 hours and despite feeling entirely elated (a very short lived feeling thanks to having to then walk an irascible pair of enthusiastic driven dogs) I was floating in a sort of Mr Burns like state in the episode of the Simpsons where they thought that they saw aliens in the woods. It was really Mr Burns spaced out on his drugs but I digress…that’s what I was like this morning and will be like for the next few days till I get used to waking up at the equivalent of 4am in old school (real) time. For a non-morning person I think I am doing pretty well.

The beginnings of our spring roll Chinese aniversary feast…note the madonna cone of noodles gracing the top. We figured you only live once!

One of the Clematis montana climbers on the deck just starting to flower

What happens when your camera decides to overexpose a shot AND what happens when you are too busy to keep an eye on your asparagus futures…they turn into extra big futures that may self seed and provide MORE futures…there are no losers in this story 😉

It’s Monday and today we spent our remaining sunny day this week (as promised by the weather men) sorting through our plants and being ruthless with separating those that we want to keep from those that we wanted to give away. We loaded up our trailer after tidying up the area and minimising our potted babies and shortening the overhead watering system that we had to use last year by half and took the plants that we didn’t want to keep down to a friend’s place to give them a bit of work to do on their property. They had only just finished planting out the last (much smaller) few pots that we gave them and today they got about 50 pots containing everything from Mock Orange (Philadelphus) to apple trees (no good here, the possums hoover the leaves from the trees before they grow!) through to several types of large conifer that we had dug up from under their parents 3 years ago when we were horticulturally “young” and everything green and plant-like was fair game for our trusty trowels. It’s just lucky that our friends are trying to line their creek with trees as we gave them a golden willow that will love living knee deep in a creek. We also have a black willow that they might get in the next trip. Not enough water here to make willows happy chappies so we may as well bite the bullet and give generously. Our friends were overjoyed and very happy with their haul and we were equally happy because we know that these plants that we have tended for the last 2 – 3 years are going to a loving home.

It might just be wishful thinking but these poor possum munched maples do seem to have more leaves since we erected our pseudofence around them

My little string leaved maple that got hit really hard by the marauders…yeh…I know…a horticulturalist should know the botanical name of her plant but whatchagonnadoeh?

Peaches and cream and the 5 leaves that the possums left on this gorgeous maple

Brunhilda lives! The amazing thing is that despite being damped down last night and us not bothering to fire her up all day she is still ready to burst into flame at a moment’s notice and apparently just did. Talk about a loyal kitchen appliance! I read a wonderful blog called “Baking Stuff, Mostly Averagely” (how could you possibly not love a blog called that, especially when she lies and is actually much more than an average baker) who is an expat Aussie living in Old Blighty with a fantastic sense of the vernacular and who has retained her sardonic Aussie wit. This is one of those blogs that I really don’t want to share. I want to keep it all to myself and await new posts eagerly because bursting out into spontaneous laughter at 5.30am doesn’t come naturally to me and anyone who can generate a belly laugh in someone who swore off mornings years ago is a blog to be treasured. I only give you her blog site now because I know she reads my blog and she will take me to task if I omit to share it with you all…don’t be greedy…just 1 suck you guys…the rest is mine! 😉 I mention it because her resident oven is called “Shit oven”. Brunhilda is the polar opposite of shit oven and shall be called “Saint Oven” or as my sister wants to call her when she steals her and ships her over to Western Australia “Black Betty”. Seriously, for a moment, check out this website if you are up for a laugh, a good recipe and a feel good moment to grace your day :o)

http://averagebaker.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/lamb-shanked/

Doesn’t the archway between the first and second gardens look pretty when the choisya ternata comes out. Pretty soon it will be joined by the snowball tree above it and the whole archway will be white

The flowering quince in fine fettle this year

Lots of maples and a few podophyllum

It’s been a weird old week so far. Warm and busy on Monday we planted out all sorts of things, Tuesday brought the ubiquitous return to study and brain melting mathematics as did today. We costed out our entire job and arrived at an unholy sum of $52723.60 and a whole lot of sustainable gardening including water wicking garden beds, a completely water free xeriscape garden planted for habitat and food for native animals and birds, food gardens complete with water tanks to water a xeriscape potager mixed in with some xeriscape perennials to attract beneficials and provide habitat for them. A massive project with an earthbag construction (a bench) alongside a wood fired pizza oven and we could have added MUCH more but a $50 000 budget doesn’t really go all that far when you factor in labour and materials for over half an acre of solid gardening! Mainstream sustainable ISN’T cheap. We are learning so much about planning and what it takes to create and stay in budget. There are 2 sides to every coin and as usual, Steve and I represent both of them. I tend to be the side of the coin that deals with the processes and Steve is the creative side and together we managed to slide through keyholes and out the other side into the secret gardens behind. We now have a unit on drainage to complete and a unit involving each of us creating our own show garden. We are going completely different pathways and Steve’s idea is very different to mine. I am excited that we are going to be able to use what we have learned coupled with our ideals and creative natures to arrive at a garden with a theme. Who knows, one day we might do something like this but I severely doubt it. I can’t see the point of exhibiting yourself when you could be bum’s up in the garden actually effecting change. I did some hunting yesterday and found a pdf about water wicking garden beds that excited me so much that after I had a very impassioned chat with Steve (who knows better than to play devil’s advocate when I am on a roll…) we are going to retrospectively work some water wicking garden beds alongside our fruit trees and into our poly tunnels and outside garden beds. A 50% saving in water is a mighty fine goal to aim for and water wicking promises to cut the cost of water AND give a better result. What’s not to like?

I liked this little design window so much I decided to share another aspect of it with you 🙂

Steve pruned this little Ceanothus last year and it is rewarding him with lots of flowers this year

Pots of redcurrants to plant out along the fencline as lures to the possums to bribe them away from our more precious foodstuffs. I intend on planting LOTS of lures to keep the possums content and fighting for their territory

I just stumbled around the garden taking some photos for you so that my rhetoric has some colour to it. Spring has most definitely sprung on Serendipity Farm and is dragging us kicking and screaming behind it. Earl and Bezial have started laying on the deck in the sunshine with intermittent stints of indoor cooling off before heading out again to bask like seals in the sunshine. Bezial, particularly, loves basking and all through summer he will lay upside down like a beached whale sunning his black belly and then trotting inside and flopping down with his head on the tiles to cool down before his next stint. Earl is a bit more cautious and as a dog with a semi pink nose, he needs to be. We have a tube of flesh coloured zinc that we apply to his pink little snout so that he doesn’t get it sunburned. Last year we also applied it to his pink little nether regions but as they are probably going to be leaving him sometime soon, it probably doesn’t matter too much if they swing about in the sunshine and breeze…let them enjoy themselves, for much like the roosters on Serendipity Farm…their days are numbered!

Earls nose stick and nether region stick when he lays on the deck too long…

The Al Pacino Chook! “Are you looking at me?…”

Talking about Earl, it’s his birthday next month and he will be 2 years old. He is settling down nicely and is actually starting to pay attention especially when I am yelling and my arms are cartwheeling. He has learned that this doesn’t necessarily mean “Game ON!” any more and that there might be bad consequences to these actions. He loves to play a game called “hunt the tiny shard of bone that you are NOT allowed to have in the house but love to bring in anyway as someone is usually going to chase you”. It’s a fun game until they catch you and hurl that shard of bone out onto the deck where you promptly trot outside, find it again and play the fun game all over again. The other night the fun wore off after about 5 times and Earl made a conscious decision NOT to bring the bone back into the house and got treats to reward him for actually using his brain rather than overriding his thought processes and just frolicking about regardless. Earl will get the standard birthday meal on Serendipity Farm. Homemade hamburgers with the lot including bacon, eggs, cheese and enormous burger patties on toast with lots of butter as the bread quotient is not really appreciated if it’s not toasted and slathered with butter. After that, he will get a large layered spongecake covered in cream and usually a few bags of toys to rip up and the odd balloon which in Earl’s case doesn’t last very long at all. 2 in dog years = 14…no WONDER you act the way that you do Earl! I am surprised that you haven’t pinched the car keys and driven off into the sunset with the 4 x 4. It’s also no wonder why Bezial would rather eat his own feet than romp around with Earl…on today’s equations (that might be somewhat off kilter thanks to a day spent mathematically ruminating…) that makes Bezial 35! He would rather be sitting on the couch with a beer watching the footy than running around trying to rid the world of cats.

A white lilac in bloom and a depleted stock of plants that still need to be planted out

One of Steve’s bonsai azaleas

Steve and Bezial are having a bonding day on Friday. Earl and I will be bonding but not by choice, more by necessity. If Steve and Bezial are gone, I had BETTER want to bond with Earl because otherwise he will eat my shoes in boredom. Bezial (apparently completely undirected by Steve) wants to go to the pub and have a beer. He also wants to have a hamburger of his own and go for a long walk in town. Steve has to have a haircut to stop him looking like a scruffy hippy and so it’s a good time for him to spend some quality one on one time with Bezial who has never stopped resenting the fact that he isn’t still numero uno and that we bought first Qi, and now Earl. If he was an only dog, he would get ALL the treats. He would be able to lay, unhindered, upside down on the deck whenever he liked without someone biting his fat belly or chewing his feet when he wasn’t expecting it (please note we are talking about Earl being the antagonist here not us!). He would not have to be shackled with oppression and would be allowed free reign on Serendipity Farm to come and go as he wanted because unlike another dog that shall remain nameless, he is completely trustworthy and doesn’t eat chooks, cats, wallabies, rabbits or anything else that he might sniff out. He is a GOOD DOG and he lets us know that we let him down badly by purchasing other dogs every single day. Seal eyes have nothing on Bezial. I think he was a martyr in a past life…a saint perhaps or someone used to the finer things in life. Aside from a good roll in swamp water, he is a very upper class dog with fine tastes that run to fussiness and manipulation. He refuses to be reminded of his wall eating, gear stick eating, window sill eating, power cord scarfing, and plant nibbling cat chasing ways. He says we are lying to try to bring him down to Earl’s level and that we are NOT to be believed. The day he caught a sparrow and ran around the garden with it sticking its terrified head out of his mouth eventually being caught and disenfranchised of his toy that was not only still alive, but that ran away soggy to the bone under our gas bottles is NEVER to be mentioned. He was merely a callow youth feeling his oats and entertaining a little light banter with the native creatures. No animals were hurt in his romp and he most CERTAINLY didn’t break his head halter and run maniacally after the neighbour’s pesky cat that stared at him incredibly cheekily from his own window. Telling you that he leapt out of our car and frolicked with a teeny little white fluffy dog and almost gave its owners a heart attack would be shameless and typical of the humans that this poor upstanding dog has to live with…time to go out on the deck and spend the rest of the afternoon sighing and remembering how life was before we lost our minds and bought Earl.

A Japanese star azalea just about to bloom en mass and all sorts of little pots of things coming waking up, stretching and coming to life after a long cold winter

My pots of native raspberries that I rescued from the garden under the deck before we replanted it…only thing is…they are all growing back under the deck as well! Oh well…more possum lures!

For the life of me I can’t remember the name of this weed but its prettier than the bare glasshous. We use a product called La Blanche to cover our glasshouse in summer to cut the glare from the bare glass and it cools the glasshouse significantly. Must get some more!

I want to get this post posted early tonight mainly because everything is earlier now that I wake up at 5am. I am hungry for my evening meal at 4pm and I start yawning at 7. I must admit to having more energy than I have had in years at the moment but that might just be the natural frolicking results of it being early spring and all of those little lamb vibes may just be assisting me to stride with purpose on our cold early morning walks. I like getting up earlier and I love being happy and looking forwards to our mornings walks with the dogs. I am not quite so happy by the time that we get home but I am hoping that those strange vitamins that I found in the back of the cupboard haven’t got a half-life and are actually assisting my newfound happy demeanour. Happy birthday to my niece Sabrina who is the baby of our immediate family. She moved to Perth and is working as a lab tech in one of the large hospitals up there. That makes you officially OLD now Pinky…Pinky is my sister who lives in Western Australia. We are only allowed to get together on rare occasions because the time space continuum couldn’t stand the pressure of our craziness. My daughters are creating Halloween costumes this year that require the use of a soldering iron so I might have some interesting photos to share with you someday soon! Till next post, I hope that your passions burn brightly and you spend your days doing something that feeds your mind. Too many of us forget our minds and they get left behind us in the rush to get through our days. Mine melted on Tuesday but I packed it back in and it seems to be holding (for now). See you on Saturday 😉

Listening to…

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlUKcNNmywk

Penniless hippies of the world unite for we are many!

Hi All,

After walking the boys on a decidedly grey day and taking some lovely photos of wildflowers in our neck of the woods to share with you lucky people who have exotic beauties rampaging through your woods we arrived home feeling a bit seedy today. None of this overenthusiastic imbibing for us, we appear to have caught the dreaded lurgy thanks to one of the speakers at the recent soil symposium that our friend in the witness protection and I attended sitting in between us and coughing violently in a most determined fashion all afternoon…oh well…at least we are miserable together! Steve was grumbling about having to unload the trailer that he had to load with firewood that he collected from our friend in the witness protection’s property on Tuesday as we have just found a source of free spent horse hay bedding laced with nitrogenous deposits in large quantities just as we were scratching our heads wondering how to fill the proposed raised beds inside our (also proposed but veering into the “probable” camp at an alarming rate…) new polytunnels. Suddenly we are to be buried in horse dookie and we couldn’t be happier! I say “we” but it’s really me that’s overjoyed as poor Steve has to take his newly emptied trailer over to meet the man with the excess of spent straw and shovel for the queen. I have been left to mind the dogs and make Eccles cakes and as he has been such a sweetie and hasn’t complained too much, I am going to lace the Eccles cakes with chocolate.

“Chicken” and “Stock” tonight to actual chicken stock. They have assaulted their last hen!

Some of our mushroom futures from the 6 bags of mushroom compost that we were given for delivering 20 bags to a friend

Egg futures! So many egg futures that we don’t know what to do with them (do you think you can dehydrate egg? ECH! ;))

A firework/rocket that we found on one of our walks with the boys

There are only so many fingers that a fork can give you before they become a little bit rude! 4Q, Steve’s new fork enterprise has begun!

When the son and heir and Kelsey, his Texan sweetie rocked up on our doorstep the other day they brought with them all sorts of things. Booze for Steve (anything that you have ever done to Steve has just been forgiven Stewart ;)), cocktail frankfurters for roasting over an open fire apparently… but now safely frozen for future use (next time you come you can take them from their cryogenic chamber and imbibe liberally Kelsey! ;)) and a bottle of Pumpkin Ale for Steve to try. The “Man in the bottle shop” (for “man” read shyster…) had assured Stewart that this was traditional fare for American’s. Kelsey was sceptical, I was sceptical…even Steve, bordering on alcoholic and known to drink things that others would shun just by sniffing them, was bordering on the sceptical and so it was with great trepidation that we opened the bottle and all had a quaff…a very BRIEF quaff…quickly associated with spitting out, loud exclamations of “Good Lord man what is that taste?!”. Firstly I need to assure all American readers that this brew was constructed in Australia…Western Australia in fact, my old stomping grounds so I have to admit that the hideous sweet fizzy tar that briefly touched our lips wasn’t a slight on your brewing heritage, indeed ANYTHING that you could brew would have to be pretty bad before it could descend down the imbibing ladder as rapidly as this pumpkin ale fell…Steve, always the booze trouper, gave it one last swig before he capped it and placed it at the back of the fridge. Why didn’t we toss it into the drain? Well firstly folks, we are very aware of what we throw into our drains because our drains go straight down into the Tamar River and there is NO way that I am going to get the blame for the mutations that this stuff would cause… think the Simpsons episode with the 3 headed fish and that would be tame compared to this stuff and secondly, I decided to give it one last chance to shine. Always looking for a way to not waste anything, I found a recipe for a chocolate beer cake (stout to be more precise and stout tastes like old jock straps after a season of hard play so surely this hideous pumpkin blend might be a worthy substitute?) and am going to make it today. I might even make it a spiced chocolate ale cake just to be on the safe side…spices cover a wealth of evils 😉

My personalised prescription for fixing our soils nutrient problems from Steve Solomon himself. The only problem is that I am having a little bit of trouble working out what he has written…

Bron?…Byron?…whatever it is I need 10% of it!

GYPSY’S! Possums? Ely Possum?

Its VERY lucky that I got Mr. Solomon to translate BEFORE I headed out the door isn’t it otherwise I might be hunting in some inocuous health food shop for some pretty weird things! 😉

Steve should be shovelling nitrogenous masses as I type this now. I have the fruity, chocolaty filling prepared for the eccles cakes and am just waiting for the mix to cool and the pastry to thaw enough to combine the 2, weld them together with egg white and sugar, hurl them into Brunhilda at whatever temperature Brunhilda feels like exhibiting at any given time (we gave up trying to regulate her…everything seems to work out great in her so we let her have free reign!) and hopefully (if I remember to take them out in time) he will have something tasty for morning tea when he gets back. It’s a baking day today on Serendipity Farm. Tomorrow is Bezials 5th birthday. Qi (a.k.a. Princess Pickens) who lives in town with our daughters now, will be 3 on exactly the same day (a decided “woo-woo” moment when we found out!). Earl has to wait till November for his birthday but he doesn’t mind sharing Bezials for the moment. Bezial has asked for homemade bacon, egg and cheese covered beef burgers for his birthday tea accompanied by one of Steve’s spongecakes liberally doused with cream. Always willing to accommodate we will be preparing everything today and tomorrow he and Earl get to shred 2 whole bags of soft toys that we bought earlier in the week to their little hearts content. I figured that as I was baking up dog delicacies anyway, I may as well mess about with the pumpkin ale and reward Steve’s hard slog at the same time. I have a small bottle of prune juice in the fridge that the son and heir had purchased and didn’t want that I am also going to use in baking…might even make some muffins. So as you can see, it might be grey and threatening an imminent downpour on Serendipity Farm, but we are still as busy as the bleary eyed slow bees that are just starting to emerge from their winter hidey holes.

Chocolate Eccles cakes taste a WHOLE lot better than they look

The birthday boy waiting for his birthday toys and spread to be laid before him

Yet another fine spongecake produced for Bezial’s birthday and filled with cream, topped with cream and caramel and white chocolate chunks and heartily devoured before I remembered to take a photo along with the beef burgers with bacon, eggs and cheese that the boys got for their tea. The toys got shredded and I didn’t want to show you the evidence in case any small children ever read these posts!

The title of today’s post wasn’t designed to overexcite the large percentage of the world’s population that live on the fringes of poverty to riot, it was designed to elevate anyone sitting at home wondering how the heck they are going to do ANYTHING with their humble lot. Consider us your humble equals…so humble in fact that we are full of possibilities and the moth eaten sock under the bed is on its last threads. We don’t care. I used to be twitchy about the future and about trying to find ways to make money until I became educated and realised that money is “the man’s” way to keep us subservient (I TOLD you I was a radical hippy didn’t I? ;)). If we sat around waiting for the folding green we would be waiting for a very long time. It’s up to us to find ways to get what we want when we need it without having to resort to cash unless we absolutely positively HAVE to. Some things need money spent on them and some things need good money spent on them. You just have to be clever enough to know what is worth saving and spending on and what can be found for free or for some sort of exchange out there in the big wide world. Our recent introduction to the gentleman with the spent horse bedding material is just such a situation. He has a problem in that he needs to get rid of this stuff…he could care less about the cation exchange rate involved with straw and organic matter in the soil, all he wants is a heap free existence. Along come the crazy hermit hippies from up the road with their trusty trailer and remove his problem. Does he want money? No he doesn’t! He is happy to get rid of the eyesore and overjoyed that he didn’t have to do anything to get what he wanted. He is more than happy to allow us to take what we want for as long as we want and in so doing, we are now able to use this precious soil amendment to our advantage. One man’s horse dookie is another mans (and woman’s) treasure!

I almost missed a photo opportunity! Here are some of the mushroom futures that we ended up drying because we had so many of them that we ran out of things to do with them! 6 bags of mushroom compost have kept us in mushrooms for weeks now AND we have dehydrated mushies to use in stock, soups and chinese food…whats that on the dehydrator sheet with the mushrooms eh Steve?

A nice big round glass jar FULL of dehydrated mushroom futures. I might get out my vitamix and process some down into powder to use in flavoured stocks…the possiblities are endless

Aha! That’s what Steve had tossed onto the dehydrator tray! These are 2 year old thin dehydrated orange slices that I use to decorate our Christmas tree with at Christmas time along with all sorts of other things like star anise pods and home made orange and lemon pomanders. I love Old School Christmas 🙂

We also found out on the grapevine that the local salmon farm just around the corner from Serendipity Farm were offloading their old fish netting for free…lovely thick ropey stuff in large rolls for nothing! Never one to look some gift netting in the mouth we said “Yes Please” to our friend who we had just given some free plants to (again, a good mutual arrangement) in exchange for the plants. Never let it be said that I never learned anything from my sustainability guru Hugh Fearnley-whatsizname (I loved it AND stole it Bev ;)) in thinking outside the box to get what you want. We might be penniless student hippies BUT we are knowledgeable penniless student hippies with qualifications. We can draw you some plans…you can give us some tomatoes…we can help you work out how to landscape your garden sustainably, you can help us in OUR garden when we have a permablitz…so many ways to make ends meet and so many of them don’t have to involve the elusive cash! I have been finding more and more delicious blogs to cram my rss feed reader with. I found a fantastic one through someone else the other day called fixies shelf. This quirky blog is full of whimsical art, sustainable hard work and a wonderful “Can Do” attitude. I got highly excited when I found it because this stuff is right up my alley! Feel free to take my word for it or head on over and have a peek at this delightful marionette filled Aussie blog site…

http://fixiefoo.typepad.com/fixies_shelf/

Dreadies, marionettes, whimsical art, home-made greenhouses and all with an amazing vitality and zest for life that bleeds out onto every post. Consider me hooked!

A nice trailer load of dung futures

Dung futures up close and stinky just how we like them! 😉

The dung futures have arrived! A trailer load for now, soon to be followed up by another trailer load of more dung and a promise of more to come. For now this is good enough for us! We can make a start on our polytunnels (hoop houses) without having to worry about what we are going to plant our veggies into when we finish. Steve is out making my little terracotta butter dish a wooden lid. I don’t like the idea of critters wading through the butter en mass at night when we turn out the light and if they are anything like us when it comes to butter, they will be doing the backstroke in bliss! Anything worth it needs to be protected and butter is right up there in our precious stakes so lidding needs to commence. I bought this little rectangle terracotta pot ages ago and it got absorbed into the “stuff” in Steve’s shed. I re-liberated it and decided that it would make a good butter dish and have been using it as such with the flimsy protection of cling film over the precious golden fat source. I can see it now…out goes the light and the nocturnal insectivorous and verminous wildlife seize their cue to start scrounging around for something to eat. They would obviously start in the dog’s food bowls, not much aside from a few crumbs of buttered oat…butter you say! I know… lets head up to that tasty smelling pot up there and liberate ourselves a HUGE wodge of it to take back to our lair and scarf at our leisure!…all I can see as I contemplate these poor little hungry critters is a motley collection of them all lying prostrate on a thin membrane of cling wrap…the odd one bouncing slightly and peering myopically at the golden headily scented bliss below and wondering just what it would take to find a way through this meniscus of invisibility to that heaven below…sorry guys, I might be a bit of a pushover when it comes to nature and her inhabitants but insects tend to be excluded from the hierarchy of command thanks to their inability to give me seal eyes in any sort of manner that would make me want to give them anything.

Steve’s clever idea for a lid for my little teracotta butter dish with a handle recycled from our old kitchen cupboards

Eco wood oil, our bestest friend in the woody kitchen and many bottles of this unctious orange scented stuff were needed to waterproof and protect our lovely thick bamboo countertops in our new kitchen. This little bit helped us give food grade protection to our new butter dish lid

Oiled and ready to go…maybe a bit of false advertising on the butter dish BUT at least it directs you to what you are about to put it on 😉

I think that there might be something wrong with the new weather notifier at Riverside. Either that or Riverside has gone through a temporal loop and come out the other side a bit ruffled. We drove past the board wearing our winter warming coats and noted the 32C temperature on one side and the 18C on the other…hmmmm…whilst still debating the reason for the anomaly we drove past the Tailrace centre to see “Celebrate Father’s Day here!”…I could have sworn that father’s day was a few weeks ago?! Maybe the fact that my daughters live in Riverside may have contributed to the weirdness wafting around? Who would know, but if it was 32C the other day in Riverside I would HATE to see what it is when it warms up a bit! It’s Friday and it’s raining. It’s not the sort of rain that drizzles a bit and then stops, it’s been going steadily all night and shows no sign of stopping. I love rain and have no problem with it raining for a week if it feels like it BUT it is a constant reminder that we don’t have a water tank. A large rainwater tank is one of those items that can’t be negotiated around and most times you can’t barter your way into one. On the radio yesterday they were talking about Tasmania having a hotter and drier summer than usual…some bampf about “El Nino” and I am starting to think that El Nino is another word for The Boogieman! EVERYTHING is blamed on El Nino. It’s easy to point a finger at a scapegoat rather than on our own actions but for now, that’s the buzz word with the weather men, those self-same weather men who can’t get it right from one day to the next! Maybe El Nino is actually more like “Gremlins”? 😉 Whatever the reason it makes me twitch that we can’t negotiate our way around getting a rainwater tank and that the moth eaten sock under the bed is going to have to put on a lot of weight before we can even consider buying one.

Posts are like caterpillars…they are cute, innocuous and they sneak up on you when you least expect them! This one has been meandering all over the place and has suddenly stopped to nibble on a metaphorical cabbage leaf so it can have its natural hiatus and I am going to call it a day for today. If anyone out there knows how to get a rainwater tank sans cash that doesn’t involve public humiliation or ritual dismemberment PLEASE let us know! See you all next hump day 🙂

The Day that the Underpants Gnomes invaded Sidmouth

Hi All,

The nefarious Underpants Gnomes wallowing in a pile of pilfered underpants

I think that the underpants gnomes have invaded Serendipity Farm. There I said it! If you are not aware of the underpants gnomes (and that’s EXACTLY what they want you to be…) here’s a bit of background information about what they do…

We don’t just have ordinary underpants gnomes here (is ANYTHING normal on Serendipity Farm?!), we have the kind that sabotages your underpants to ensure that you are effectively nobbled. How do I know this? Because my underpants have suddenly all sprung their elastic and spend their time avoiding the task that they were designed to perform and avoiding my ample hips and choosing to attempt to cover my knees. Some of them are now a collection of holes being held together by a bit of cloth. I have 2 options at this point…I can start wearing Steve’s boxers OR I can use some of the bits of string in the back of the cupboard that I used to wear in a past life that were perpetually heading on an expedition to find my appendix that are waiting in solitary confinement to be used to tie up the tomatoes this summer. Neither solution appeals to me so I am going to have to bite the bullet and go underpants shopping because underpants and socks are NOT something that I will buy from a thrift shop. At least I am in the “normal” underpants range now and can have a bit of a choice other than enormous cotton nana knickers that go up to my armpits. I just want some serviceable underpants that stay up (preferably). I don’t need Hello Kitty represented on my nether regions and am more than happy to wear plain undies.  Does this say anything about me? I hope so!

Working on our model that we have FINALLY finished! You can see me measuring the place that we have to drill holes to nail in 1/5th scale nails that are TEENY!

Photo’s being taken of us having to use a punch to enable us to hammer (yes…that small silver thing is a hammer!) in the miniscule nails that we needed to use to achieve a true 1/5th scale. (Note to self…best get that bleach out pretty soon…)

The finished pergola…”Noice”! Seeing as this was a 1/5th scale model and it took us 6 weeks to complete (3 fortnightly visits)…if anyone wants us to build a full scale pergola it should take us approximately 3 years to complete…but it will be FANTASTIC! 😉

I discovered today, while Steve and I were looking for which saints were born on our birthdays (As you do…Steve has several and I have NONE!)…that there have been some semi famous people born on the day that I came into the world. The most famous of which was Neil Armstrong who professed to walk on the moon but many people would deny that. It’s all downhill after that…here’s the list…

  1. Neil Armstrong
  2. Marcia from the Brady Bunch
  3. The guy who wrote Hulk Hogan’s theme tune
  4. Pete Burns from Dead or Alive (we share a birthday AND???!!!)
  5. Evil Jared Hasselhoff from the band The Bloodhound Gang (Google it…apparently the roof is on fire…)
  6. Funkmaster Flex…

And last, but by no means least, someone who has 184 years to go till he is born…

Kevin Thomas Riley from Tarsus IV (Star Trek)

Now wasn’t that a good way to waste some of the time that I have left here on earth? I don’t THINK so! I shared this with you to show you that normal people are NOT born on the day that I was born… something happens in the time space continuum on this day every year to ensure that normality isn’t going to be an issue. (Pete Burns…REALLY?!!!). One of my dearest constant readers is also having her birthday soon. Kym has been one of my closest friends and was my best friend in high school. She shared her passion of Linda Ronstadt and John Denver with me and I shared my participation in drama class with her. We drifted away when we both headed to our capital city and headed off into different directions but met again not so long ago and now we have started back where we left off. Have a fantastic birthday Kymmy

This must be quite an old fashioned greeny/butter yellow grevillea because it was planted more than 20 years ago on Serendipity Farm. It must also be a very hardy grevillea because it has survived a total lack of water aside from natural rainfall along with a tree falling across it…not bad you tough little Aussie battler you and despite me not liking Australian natives much…this one gets to stay right where it is for as long as it wants to stay here.

As sad and slippy and ruinous as the gardens look at the moment there are little touches of colour and small waftings of heady scent drifting about in random corners of Serendipity Farm. This little patch of jonquils has decided to grow in the middle of the small second lawned area surrounded by overgrown hedges and the untamed heart of the garden. It’s hopeful little plants like this that keep me hurling myself into what is rapidly descending into a silty mire of mangled looking plants.

I am in love with kimchi. I made some the other day and placed it reverently on my bread proofing rack above Brunhilda and with the addition of miso and heat the fermentation process was speedier than usual and resulted in a nice quick kimchi with amazing flavour. I had some with rice tonight for my tea and I feel suitably chuffed with myself to add another skill to my bow. As you all know I LOVE being able to make things for myself and aside from my kimchi having quite a strong smell (it has a LOT of garlic in it…) I have a large jar of it in the fridge ready to consume at my every whim. Apparently a great way to speed up the process the next time I want to make it is to add a little of the old kimchi to the new batch (much like I added the miso knowing that it is cultured also). When looking for recipes to utilise my newfound kimchi wealth I found a recipe for Korean plain rice cakes that are actually little tubes of cooked rice flour that are used somewhat like noodles with kimchi. I have an interesting machine in the top of my pantry that was purchased years ago on one of my health kicks to make cold pressed juice. I call the machine “Little Pig” and to date it has made 1 batch of fruit mince, 1 batch of vegetarian sausages and about 1/16th of a glass of carrot juice and about 2 Supermarket bags worth of pulp in the process. This machine would be amazing for making these rice cakes. My daughters are way ahead of me with Korean food. They have been frequenting a little Korean grocery shop in Mowbray and are well versed in the delights of Korean food. I have limited myself to Korean red chilli paste and their amazing miso pastes that are delicious and I use like stock pastes. It’s about time I headed back and perused this amazing shop again. I have learned not to bother much with trying to work out what is contained inside these packages with Korean writing only and to head to the counter and show the Korean gentleman who shakes his head or smiles and nods as he knows that I am a vegetarian and don’t eat meat. He doesn’t understand much English and I don’t understand much Korean but we seem to have a good system going and I will continue to shop at this man’s shop because of the amazing array of products that pique my interest.

This protea is one of the shrubs that has survived on Serendipity Farm that seems to constantly flower throughout the year. Even the spent flowers are somewhat attractive, which is lucky because they are in NO hurry to evacuate their position on the shrub any day soon. They make lovely cut flowers if you are that way inclined but I would rather that they spent their days on their parent shrub feeling the sun and the rain on their upturned petals.

A small azalea that was, prior to a manic stint of vicious weeding, covered in blackberries and overgrown by ivy geraniums appears to be quite happy with its newfound ability to wave in the breeze

It’s now Saturday and I am sitting here wondering why anyone would pay for a weather service that doesn’t actually accurately predict the weather? A lot of taxpayer money goes to funding weather bureau’s and if you want an accurate idea of what the weather is going to be…in my opinion, it’s probably a good idea to stick your head out of the window. The weather report (last night) said “frosty mornings and 0C over night with fine weather for the next 3 – 4 days”…”All RIGHTY then!” says I and heads to the washing machine this morning before we set our on our walk with the dogs. 2 loads of washing later and all hung up nice and neatly on the line waiting for the sunshine and immediately after I put the last load of washing on to wash I headed out to try and get a little bit of early spring happening on Serendipity Farm for your voyeuristic enjoyment and what did I spy meandering down the river in a slow sprinkling deluge? RAIN! Not enough to totally saturate my washing but enough to set itself in, stop me from mucking out the chicken yard like I intended and too much to give me time race back and get the washing off the line…IF I paid tax I would be sorely tempted to contact the weather department and ask them for my money back! I raced my bale of hay into Steve’s shed in a wheelbarrow and could at least take some comfort that it remains snug and dry and ready to spread into the chook run after I remove the last nitrogen sodden tenant from its position under the perches. Yin is starting to spread out into some of the lower and upper regions of Serendipity Farm in search of human proof nesting sites. We found a nice little hen shaped nest tunnelled into a wild patch of Erigeron glaucus (seaside daisy) and upon closer inspection discovered a tell-tale white feather. Good try Yin…we are onto this one! I didn’t realise that seaside daisy’s other name was seaside fleabane? Perhaps that is why our dogs haven’t ever had a single flea since we moved here? Not that Bezial has EVER had a flea but if someone was going to pick up a nefarious hopper it would be Earl and he hasn’t ever had them either.

This little clump of Helleborus x hybridus (Winter Rose) has grown back most stubbornly amongst a pile of sticks that were left behind after a session in the garden. The same is happening all over Serendipity Farm as bulbs start to send their leaves up to the light and are having to detour around piles of debris and other things that weren’t there when they died back last year. I have to give them points for their persistence

Here’s a close up of these hardy little stayers that keep on coming back for more punishment

This lovely perennial goes by the name of “Stinking Hellebore”…I can’t for the life of me work out why because as far as my nose goes…and it’s a very well honed nose…it has no scent at all. Its one of the most hardy plants that I have seen around the property and will grow in places that look about as close to “Desert” as Tasmania can produce. I can only imagine that it likes the cold as otherwise it would run rampant everywhere it is so hardy.

Aside from being hardy and having striking leaves, Helleborus foetidus has very interesting flowers and is well worth growing in your garden if you want to ensure a year round supply of these attractive flowers

The tall tree-like Buddleia that I talked about wanting to identify in a past post is covered in flowers. I still don’t know what species it is but at least I can share a couple of photos with you. It has the most intense perfume somewhat like a Daphne odora but more citrusy. The wattle birds and other nectar feeders are all over it fighting for its fragrant elixir and I also discovered a Lonicera fragrantissima (lovely shrub honeysuckle) that has the most amazing scent growing in one of the lower gardens. I took some photos to share with you but mainly to remind myself that this sodden mass of broken twigs, mangled undergrowth and hacked vegetation has some promise for the future. I guess the saying “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette” is there to remind me that it’s got to get worse before it gets better. The tiny little camellia that had been languishing underneath a pile of blackberries and a long dead tree that had fallen into the middle of it has finally flowered. I tried to take cuttings from this tiny little camellia when I was staying here a long time ago when dad was alive. I felt so sorry for this poor little plant that was surely on its last legs and it is certainly repaying me for its liberation from blackberry hell with its ongoing survival and it’s lovely flowers. We walked the dogs along the highway today for a bit of a change and headed down a side road and found a stall selling apples and Beurre Bosc pears. The pears were on special and after we got back to the car we headed back and picked up 2kg for $2. I love Beurre Bosc pears and these are particularly fragrant and taste like honey. I think I might make some pear muffins so that Steve can enjoy the flavour as he doesn’t generally eat fruit unless it is heavily disguised as “cake”. He doesn’t mind strawberries, however, which is just as well because almost every single tip rescued strawberry plant has grown. I was very surprised at how the tiny little budded bits have taken off but I must have found them at exactly the right time and now they are happily putting all of their energy into growing. I noticed that the 2 small pots of Australian native dendrobium orchids have both got flower spikes on this year. One of them, dad claimed to have climbed up a rock on an island in New South Wales and removed and transported to Tasmania. He said that it had a small blue flower so I will take some photos if it manages to produce a flower. The other one could be anything and was picked up from a small nursery in the states north for $2.

This Buddleia is situated in the middle of the untamed part of the lower garden. I know that it isn’t a regular Davidii and would love to know what it actually is. I think it might be an alternifolia. Let me know if you know what it is as it will definately make me a happy camper

Aside from being most happy to grow and flower in this tangled bit of wasteland in the middle of the garden this species is HUGE for a shrub. You can see the tops of the Eucalyptus in the background that should give you an idea that this is more tree than shrub

These little Bergenia’s are situated all over Serendipity Farm and a hardier little flowering ground cover would be difficult to find. The leaves are like cabbages and until I knew their botanical name I called them “The Cabbage Plant”…how horticultural eh? 🙂

A most hardy specimen of an unusual bush honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) that has a most delicious scent reminiscent of Daphne odora and well worth getting hold of for your garden

One of the small camellia’s that are starting to emerge in various parts of the garden all around Serendipity Farm

The little camellia that I had previously tried to take cuttings from that appears to be not only alive, but happy now that it has been liberated from its weedy prison

The little camellia in the previous photo has a lovely weeping habit and is certainly rewarding us with lots of flowers. 2 other small standard weeping camellias that I found under a large conifer are just about to start flowering and it will be interesting to see what their flowers are like.

I have been hunting out some recipes in which to use the kimchi that I made last week. Steve is NOT a fan of the product or the delightful garlicky scent that has started to emanate from the fridge whenever he heads there but I love it. I discovered that Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of the book that I found the recipe for my kimchi has 2 other books and have added all 3 books to my birthday list. The first of his books is more mainstream and talks about harnessing cultures to use in making bread, cheese, beer and wine. The second is the “Wild Fermentation” book that I have from the library and this one delves slightly more into the world of weird fermentation. His latest book called “The Art of Fermentation” heads all over the place and doesn’t actually give recipes but more guidelines to using ferments to create and experiment with. I think that where you live can often have a direct impact on how successful your ferments are. If you live in San Francisco, you can pretty much guarantee that you are going to grow yourself a hearty and most delicious sourdough starter whereas you may not have all of the luck in the world in Antarctica. Sometimes you have to find a source of your desired culturing agent like kefir grains or a kombucha Scoby (mother) but occasionally you can just rely on the wild yeasts and bacteria that are just floating around adventitiously waiting to predate your unsuspecting foodstuff if you give them the right conditions.  One problem with using cultures to change raw foodstuffs into fermented goodies is that they tend to get very happy with their new environmental conditions and start to breed their numbers up. You only need a certain amount of sourdough, kombucha and kefir (for example) and once you get more you either give it to someone else who wants it or you throw it away. I hate wasting things and Sandor has given those of us frugal magpies out here an out. He has shown how to turn Scoby mothers (kombucha) into the equivalent of glace fruit! What an interesting idea? Not only do you not have to drop your faithful servant into the toilet and give them a nautical funeral whilst feeling as guilty as heck as you flush, BUT you are able to repurpose it into something that is not only good for you, but that you can add into cakes. The end result looks a whole lot like glace mango and apparently tastes like lemony apple pie. You can’t go wrong with that! When I get my books I will be concocting all sorts of interesting ferments. I want to make some beer from wort and make good use of cheap fruit and vegetables in the coming productive seasons and turn them into all sorts of fermented goodies and wine.

It’s 2.30pm and Bezial is barking furiously at me to make his dinner. The day that you get your dinner at 2.30 is the day that I become a mindless dog zombie servant and that day isn’t approaching any time soon meladdy! The trouble with having dogs that are used to living the high life is that they tend to keep pushing their boundaries. Earl has a problem staying in the back seat of the car and can be relied upon to inch his way slowly further and further into the front in his excitement to plank like a hood ornament on the bonnet of the car…Bezial has a similar mentality when it comes to food and will push his luck if he thinks that he can. Steve is constantly subject to seal eyes whenever he starts to eat anything. They tend to leave me alone as parsnip soup and steamed veggies don’t seem to have the same appeal as cheese sandwiches and chicken pies so vegetarians have SOMETHING going for them ;). I just finished hanging up my washing on the washing line and the rain has started again. I don’t really mind as I know that my washing will smell lovely when it does eventually dry. I haven’t played Zelda for 2 days (I sound like a recovering alcoholic!) now and am planning on going on a Zelda bender later on tonight (yup…game-aholic alright 😉 ). Steve has been messing about with his new phone and has discovered that aside from taking a halfway decent photograph, it can do some funky things whilst taking said halfway decent photograph. I will leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend (some of you have more of it left than the rest of us…) with a few of Steve’s experimentations with his phone…

It would seem that an American African woman has stolen our dogs! A photo of yours truly in negative…not too sure…I might actually prefer myself in negative…

The entrance way to the Alanvale Polytechnic Block G (Horticulture) taken in “Solarise” mode

A similar photo taken in the same area using “negative” showing that even mobile phones can take a pretty interesting photo…at least it kept Steve from dying of boredom in the 5 minutes that it took our lecturer to get to our early morning lecture.