Cock a doodle DON’T!

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to reuse, recycle and repurpose just about everything!

Hello Possums,

I just read a book about a 91 year old Tasmanian icon called Marjory Bligh. She has been rumoured to have spawned Dame Edna and Barry Humphrey’s always buys some of her books whenever she releases them. I used to subscribe to Grass Roots magazine, which to those of you living anywhere other than Australia is a 70’s alternative lifestyle and homesteading/smallholding magazine, and remember reading letters to the hints and tips and questions and answers page from Marjory. Like me, she is a last century woman but her experience of last century is MUCH more extensive than mine. The book was about Marjory and wasn’t all that interesting to be honest. What got me excited were the hints and tips that littered the pages and I typed most of them out and saved them. Marjory is the doyen of knitting and crocheting things out of bread wrappers, supermarket plastic bags etc. She came from the depression years and as such learned that everything has a value. You might not be able to see that value when staring straight at the item in question, but it’s there. Much like blowflies and mosquitoes…something somewhere out there loves them! So I decided that my shame that I currently feel whenever I have to throw out plastic bags is going to be quelled. I have started to collect them and go hunting for not only repurposing ideas but repurposing ideas that actually result in something desirable. That’s the secret folks…anyone can crochet a bathmat/hat out of a bread wrapper but it takes artistic flair to make something that people covet. THAT is my ultimate aim and so off to Instructables to hunt for a few patterns. Again…I LOVE this site. I love it so much I subscribe to it on my rss feed reader and look forward to seeing just how inventive some people are able to be and take magpie delight in collecting the shiny results of their hard thought out labour. I collected a home-made kayak the other day…well…the instructable for how to make one from start to finish…I also got to read the comments that enlightened me as to how to make this even better. I was also able to isolate a most interesting series of Instructables about laminating plastic bags to get a thicker plastic product that you can use for making more durable items…now THAT is a skill that a repurposing magpie might just like to learn!

I can get lost in that site! Here are a few examples of why…

First up…who wouldn’t want to make a purse/wallet out of an old juice or milk carton?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Recycled-coin-purse/

And after we have spent the day slashing and hacking at our honeysuckle problem, we can sit down to a glass of our ultimate revenge!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Honeysuckle-Infused-Vodka/

Try this one…”You too can make yourself a torch out of a coke can and a box of cornflakes…

http://www.instructables.com/id/Torch-made-from-coke-can-and-cereal-box/

Here is another example of total irony…a rubbish bin made out of rubbish! Gotta have one of those…

http://www.instructables.com/id/Trash-can-made-of-plastic-bottles/

We had a visit from our friend who must remain anonymous and she brought us some firewood and came to see what we have been up to on Serendipity Farm. She brought some photos with her to share with us of her adventures since we last saw her. In this photo we get to see Glen her partner. He is not in the witness protection programme and as such is quite happy to share his delightful countenance with us all here. In this photo we can see Glen and a friends little dog who apparently not only loves him, but looks remarkably like him…

I wanted to share a photo that made it to the paper of our friend and some fish that she caught in Strahan on the West Coast when fishing. I had to maintain her anonymity and so allowed Steve to head over to Photoshop and attempt to give her a new identity…hmmm not too sure whether Marilyn would have appreciated fishy fingers Steve…methinks its back to the old drawing board

Looking exactly like your partner is somewhat kinky and not to be encouraged in any way shape or form!…(imagine the kids!!)

This is getting warmer and the pixelated look is somewhat better than looking like your old man but we decided on the next one with our friends approval…

WONDERFUL! I dare say our friend will be probably heading off to her plastic surgeon in the morning to effect these changes…well done Steve, you have a career in plastic surgery design! (the lord only knows…it pays more than landscape design…sigh…)

I could go on forever here (and those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I am NOT exaggerating there 😉 ) but if you want to get as excited about reusing and repurposing as I do and feel sufficiently happy that you are doing everything in your means to helping ease congestion at the tip whilst creating something new and unique, check out the “Green” section on Instructables. And for any new readers who are not aware of Instructables…here is their address…

http://www.instructables.com/

Steve and I decided to start a new blog using Google’s alternative to WordPress. It would appear that Google is on the brink of taking over the internet highway and always the thinking person’s magpie; I am going to ride the crest of that ever encroaching technological wave until it flattens WordPress into a mangled disassembled heap. Do you think I might be a little bit angry at WordPress…DO YOU THINK?! I can’t believe how WordPress have hurled their non-paying bloggers into the ether totally unprotected by anything…we are free falling and those who are not willing to grab hold of someplace else are about to land in a painful heap. I lost half of the blogs that I follow and half of my subscribed readers thanks to their new updates. They didn’t warn anyone…they didn’t test these updates…they have also cast all non-paying bloggers off from being able to ask any questions about blogging apart from the forum where long suffering volunteers have to field the angry protestations of exponentially angry bloggers. I started to get 100+ comments from blogs that I follow thanks to Word Press’s new “you must untick the box underneath the comment that you make or you will get every single other post posted to that article”…we were not told that…we just had to work it out ourselves folks…I guess it would take up too much bandwidth to tell all of the free bloggers out there so to heck with them…let em’ work it out themselves! Ok WordPress…I have given you a fair bit of my mental blood sweat and tears since last October when I started blogging. I have NO idea how hard this must be for everyone who has been with you for years but consider me a big hairy magpie rat that is leaving your sinking ship… We are off to BlogSpot.

I decided to take the easy way out and share a few of my friends (the one who must remain anonymous…I don’t think I have any normal friends!)  photos with you today. I will save more of Serendipity Farm and what we have been doing for Saturday. For now enjoy these lovely squid. Aren’t they beautiful?

This water is stunning! Almost as lovely as the red squid…

We have worked our way most carefully through the minefield known as Adobe Illustrator cs4 to create a picture for our new blog. We wanted to be “clever” and call it “The Odd Life” as juxtaposition with the wonderfully wry and truthful 70’s U.K. television sitcom “The Good Life” where Barbara and Tom turn their ¼ acre house and garden into a sustainable plot along with utilising the methane from their livestock to heat their home and generate power. I loved that show…EVERYONE loved that show. It was hilarious…it was ground breaking…it was (like many good U.K. television programs before and since) WAY ahead of its time and apart from that it launched Felicity Kendal as rear of the year and the countryman’s idea of a “good sort”. We tried all variants of “The Odd Life” until we arrived at what we thought was a witty alternative involving both the “Odd” desirable quotient combined with our newfound skills as landscape designers who occasionally have to turn to the use of Theodolites. So together they became “The Odo Life”…I am NOT going to spell it out folks! 😉 Anyway…at a day in the not too distant future (when I overcome my laziness and get my act together to do a first post and share the new blog with you all…) we will head on over to Google without a passing glance back at the WordPress titanic that attempted to swallow us into its sea of ineptitude. I am not ungrateful for the 8 months of use I got from their site. I never once complained to them about how infuriating their site was when posting regarding photos going missing…entire posts disappearing and having to be posted again…all sorts of irritating things that I would have to jump through Word Press’s hoops to attain and all because it was free. I have discovered that WordPress isn’t the only free fish in the sea and have decided to attach myself remora like underneath the good ship Google…”Long may she sail”! Goodness only knows I am too lazy to have to swap blogs more than once!

Here are a couple of photos that Jenny took for me to show to my mum over the school holidays. It had become a bit of a running joke that mum collected weird and wonderful pictures of toilets and Jenny captured this toilet in Strahan while on holiday in January. My mum died before she could see these pictures and Jenny hadn’t the heart to share them with me before now. These are for you if you are still reading the blog wherever you are mum…I am sure that you would have loved them for your collection :). This one shows the way to the toilet…

And here is the ancient Thunderbox itself. Thunderbox is an Aussie word for outdoor long drop toilet. This one was the sole toilet for all of the fishing boats in Strahan for many years! As most fisherman love to imbibe liberally whilst out on the briny sea can you only imagine how many of them didn’t quite make it to the toilet and how many of them found themselves sobering up VERY quickly in the cold Tasmanian sea? 🙂

I have been using Facebook again sporadically for a few weeks now. I love how I can find all sorts of interesting things that I couldn’t otherwise find via social media sites. I can share websites and interesting articles with friends and family that I might not bother to share otherwise thanks to the ability to “click” and share…sometimes I dare say my friends and family would rather that I didn’t just “click and share” but you know what? Learning is good for you…it keeps your brain mobile and active and when your brain is active and alive, the rest of you tends to follow. That’s my theory and I am sticking to it! I am now adding interesting sites to my Google reader via RSS feeds and it’s so much easier to head on over to Google Reader and read what I want, when I want rather than be bombarded by emails informing me about posts. It took a little bit of getting used to but I now prefer it. It does, however, make my inbox a bit of a sad place now as most of my family and friends are not regular communicators and if I didn’t occasionally head over to Facebook I dare say I wouldn’t hear from them. I guess living 3870km away from most of your family makes it possible to allow them to sink into the distance quite easily. Social media has allowed us to rediscover our family and distant friends that we had lost touch with. I met Steve’s friend and flatmate Tony’s wife Pim who Tony met on a worldwide trip in Thailand 20 odd years ago and who have now been married for 20 years. I would never have had the chance to meet her and share a most refreshing friendship if not for Facebook and other social media making the world a much smaller place. It would have been MUCH easier for Steve and me to communicate. We met online back in 1997 when the U.K. was still a HUGE distance away media wise and had to put up with massively expensive sporadic phone calls and using a slow dial up network that often dropped out and with tremendous lag times just to keep in touch. Now you just hook up to Google Chat for free and buy yourself a nice cheap webcam and you can talk to whoever you like wherever you like for free with almost instantaneous speeds. The world is a much smaller place thanks to social media and for that I am thankful. We can also find out about all sorts of events and happenings that we might otherwise never hear about. What was once something endemic is now capable of becoming viral if it holds enough interest to the average Joe. I can head on over to Project Gutenberg whenever I want to check out a free eBook. With over 36 000 of them available both fiction and non-fiction I can surely find SOMETHING that interests me. I can find out pretty much anything that I want to so long as someone else has been kind enough to share the information. A last century magpie like me who has point blank REFUSED to learn how to use the Austar remote could be forgiven for ignoring the information highway completely but I love it. I love learning things and am amassing a small fortune of information pertaining to our interests and what we are trying to do here on Serendipity Farm. Life is constantly evolving and our ever changing world is constantly updating. I love that I too can constantly update along with it and can choose…the word “Choose” being the operative word here (at the moment) what I do and don’t want to learn. Here’s hoping that we can keep the net free, open and honest and that the powers that be (including my new massive mother ship zeppelin of choice Google…) remain stymied in their endeavours to make it the biggest cash in opportunity of the millennium. Knowledge is power and choice is the weapon that delivers it to our waiting ears. We need to make sure that this ability to learn what we choose is not taken from us in the name of exponential profit growth.

This is a small cruise boat that you can take a tour around Strahan and that runs rings around the little boat that takes tours up the Tamar…

Isn’t Strahan pretty? We might have to head over there one day when we get a few spare minutes.

Lastly, this is a photo taken directly in front of our house. The little lighthouse is in Glads (our 88 year old next door neighbour) front verge and we are directly to the left (in the photo) of there. You can’t really see us but you can…if you peer…see the top of our house. This photo was taken on our friend and Glens boat on a trip up the Tamar River. Ok, thats your bloomin lot for today folks…

I wonder if any writers out there would like to buy some of my never ending supply of words? Anyone wanting to take advantage of this constant stream of concepts…ideas…crazy adventitious sharing…I am open to offers. I prefer to barter so if you have something of interest let me know. I could probably part with about 50% of them and STILL have enough to tide me over for the next 50 years. After that I doubt that anyone would want to listen to me anymore anyway so it would be a bit like a 99 year lease where (in this case) the words revert to the state. Good luck with making sense out of them “The State”…my muse appears to be a little psychotic at times and tends to channel the more mentally alternative members of the afterlife so you might be buying in to a little more than you bargain for but what price words when you are stuck with writers block eh? I sometimes feel like a human sponge…I sit down with an enormous cup of tea (can’t be having to get up halfway through…) to my newfound rss feed reader (in this case Google) and wade through all of the exciting word porn that gets delivered right to my waiting mind. It’s like allowing a small child into one of those enormous pick-and-mix sections in one of the larger more upmarket department stores where the sweets are less likely to make them glow in the dark with a 20 litre bucket…a large scoop and free rein for a day. Not only would the child eat more than the 20 litre bucket that they would no doubt fill to the maximum, but the resulting illness from overindulgence would last a week. The headiness of me being able to read all of my favourite blogs and web pages (aside from a few of the really crazy ones that don’t have rss feed because the government or aliens might get track of where they are that is…) has rendered me somewhat static. The dogs hate it…Earl Sits at my elbow nibbling the oversized jumper that I am wearing trying to get me to take him for a walk. Steve sits in the lounge room a happy man because he can watch whatever he likes with impunity because I am not there offering verbal insults to his favourite obese American Redneck populated Alligator, hog and storage shed hunting television programs and Bezial can bask in front of the fire knowing that at least one family member is here in bodily form albeit mentally no longer in the building. Knowledge is more than power for me. It’s like mental food. It feeds my mind and when I occasionally find the mental equivalent to that never ending free upper class pick and mix buffet for my inner child it delights me for days. I am a cheap date. Give me a bowl of good home-made soup, an enormous screen and the ability to hunt for my mental stimulation and I am yours. Steve says that “You might not want the results”…I think that is his way of saying he still wants me around…that’s love for you :o)

Again my posts escape and run amok…it’s a bit like being taken by aliens…you suddenly arrive at the spot where you were only minutes before feeling somewhat abused but not quite knowing how or why…I get to this point in my posts knowing that I have posted but no idea how I managed to get to 2500 words so quickly. I just love sharing with you all. I think we are just about to start taking some hard wood cuttings this week. Steve wants to get some scion material from a heritage listed weeping elm in town and a small weeping birch in one of the malls to graft onto his rootstocks. I will be taking some cuttings from a wonderful cold climate shrub that I fell in love with hanging over a garden fence in Beaconsfield called Stachyurus praecox. We are also going to take some Washington Hawthorn cuttings now that they have lost their leaves and are ready for hard wood cuttings. We haven’t had the inclination or time to actively pursue our previous horticultural zeal for plant propagation but we are slowly getting back some time to want to grow plants again. “Break out the heat bed and make some room in the glasshouse Steve…Fran’s green thumb is back!”Stachyurus praecoxStachyurus praecox I just have to leave you with this little Green Instructable that tickled my inner irony button. I love how re-using saves the planet AND your wallet and this little Instructable might do more to protect you from the credit crunch than you might immediately think 😉 See you all on Saturday and until we get to share some mental space again…remember to use your mind…like everything else that we are given in life, it needs exercise or it ends up sluggish and overweight and the LAST thing you want to be known as is “Fathead” now isn’t it? :o).

http://www.instructables.com/id/Credit-Card-Flower-Box-Fridge-Magnet/

Finally you get a short post!

Hi All,

I woke up in a deep blue funk this morning. I think it was a combination of WordPress messing about with my posts and with its format in general and having to cancel following all of the blogs that I followed due to a massive increase in comments flooding my inbox from other people commenting on posts where I had commented on other people’s blogs and reading too many “Doom and Gloom” environmental posts in the last week. It’s not hard to get downhearted when life seems to be gloomy and grey wintery days do nothing to make you cheer up in a hurry. Steve was on a roll and as usual, when one of us is down, the other one is on the way up and he decided that we were going to tidy up around the house today. I would rather have gone back to bed but being the good wife that I am I headed out to shake off the blues. It was the best thing that I could have done because not only did it make me feel like I was doing something positive, but I remembered something that my mother, who died earlier this year, had told me about gardens that made my day. She had told me many things and back when she was alive I was guilty of listening with my ears shut like most of us are prone to do when our parents instruct. This little pearl of wisdom came back to enlighten and delight me when I had resorted to using secateurs and a pair of loppers to reduce a mass of vegetation down to wheelbarrow loads of smaller bits. I hadn’t gone mad…I had just given up on trying to get our mulcher to cooperate with my wishes. Anyone want a mulcher? It’s free! She told me that when you make raised beds, you could start with a thick layer of chopped up garden waste. I had an enormous pile of chopped up garden waste and suddenly realised that what had been causing me a headache would actually become a solution to some of our problems.

I got Steve to take a photo of the jungle vista off the side of the house near our bedroom window. As you can see its a teensy tiny bit overgrown…

We had removed a bit of debris previously that you can see in the foreground to clear a way through to our potted plants from the front of the house but what remained had to be dealt with and so we decided to tackle it…

This is the point at which we stopped for a mornings cup of tea/coffee and Effel and the babies “Doocark” set about tackling the newly exposed damp earth with rank abandon

This is to show you a few of the piles of green waste generated as we hacked, heaved and pulled out the years of overgrown plants and weeds. There are some nice plants under all of this rubbish, the poor things are somewhat shell shocked…

It’s just gone 7pm on Saturday…Saturday is the day that I post. This is as far as I have gotten on my Saturday post that needs to have been posted about…an hour ago! It looks like you might actually get a shorter post today. I have just spent an hour and a half making an Indian meal consisting of sweet potato and black bean patties, Bombay spicy potatoes and a nice veggie curry with coconut cream. I cooked brown rice to go with it and tomorrow we will make brown rice fried rice for our tea. I used the last of our 10kg bag of potatoes and as I was tipping out the remaining dark red topsoil into my compost bin I realised how far I have come with recycling, reusing and making do. When you live in the country you have to be careful that you plan your shopping trips well. Petrol isn’t cheap and the difference between petrol in Launceston and petrol in Beaconsfield is just over 10c a litre so you really don’t want to be having to put more fuel in at Beaconsfield. We have learned to make do and after a particularly disastrous start to the year where our savings plummeted to zero, we have been living more carefully than usual to regain a savings base. In the process we have eliminated a lot of waste…we have given up drinking and have both lost a significant amount of weight. We have learned to be happy with less and to enjoy saving our money for a rainy day. We have been inventive about what we are eating, buying less meat and less processed food and substituting fruit, vegetables and a large proportion of vegetarian meals. I read a blog post the other day about people going into debt to maintain their standard of living. I think that we all need to be aware that there are other options to going into debt and one of them is learning to live within our means. Power bills are going up and water prices are going up. How can we manage to save when it seems like there is always some sort of official hand stretched out waiting for any spare change that we get? We need to think smarter, not harder and that includes occasionally thinking about eating less expensively, only using hot water when it’s really needed, walk or cycle instead of drive (if you don’t live 50km away from the city that is!). We walk the dogs all around Sidmouth and they enjoy their morning walks. We noticed that our hot water cylinder was overflowing today. We have gotten so used to minimising our use of hot water that we haven’t been using all of the “free” hot water that our wood stove has been delivering into our enormous storage unit. It doesn’t take long to change bad habits and it doesn’t take long to get used to living sustainably or at least a bit more carefully. Grow some veggies in containers or make a garden. Make some of your own biscuits, find a recipe for some of the basic items that you purchase on a regular basis and apart from saving money, you just might get a sense of satisfaction out of living carefully and frugally that you wouldn’t have thought possible.

Here is the view of what we had done at the end of day 1. By this stage we no longer had any strength in our arms and were tired of small chickens taking up residence on our boots whenever we stood still for any length of time

We moved out of the garden (after finding a bench and a frying pan) and the chooks moved in to take over …

As you can see we removed a large amount of overgrown jungle and ended up with a hacked barren wasteland…I guess that gives us all the more room to plant out our potted babies

Heres the new view from our bedroom window. The wrens and blackbirds are most possessive about the newly exposed area and are hunting for insects all through the bark. The possums are as shell shocked as the remaining plants and the feral cats no longer have cover to hunt for the native birds. Now we need to whipper snip the area to reduce the Osteospermum daisies to mush and we can start preparing the ground for our plants. We can now see right through to our glasshous, to Glad’s property and to the driveway.

We spent the last 3 days in various stages of reducing the side garden to looking like a bomb went off in the vicinity. It’s very difficult for someone who loves plants to hack away at them mercilessly. To chop perfectly good shrubs off at the base and to completely remove what were once beautiful roses because of 20 years of complete neglect. I don’t think that my father and his partner realised what it means to take on a large garden and assumed that it would look after itself. It has to a degree. The falling leaves, bark and debris have formed a thick layer of mulch that has managed to sustain the garden through the hot summer months where rain is very infrequent and the thick coverage of banana passionfruit, blackberries and other weeds and dense infestation of boneseed, cotoneaster and pittosporum have kept the moisture in the soil. We waded in with our welders gloves and tackled the lot in one fell swoop. We have more piles of debris than you would imagine could have been taken from the area that we have dealt with. Some will be burnt. Some will be returned to the soil as mulch and some will be carted off to the green waste station at the tip because of its nefarious ability to grow from small pieces of debris. As we were pruning some of the shell-shocked remaining plants we heard our neighbours daughter Wendy calling out to us. She gave us an enormous box full of Muscari botryoides (Grape hyacinths) that I am going to install underneath the stairs around the large Japanese maple and an even larger box of red Fuji apples from her small tree. We in return handed her a dozen eggs and a bunch of proteas cut from a newly liberated large shrub. Sharing is one of those things that make living in the country a very satisfying and rewarding experience. I love bartering and sharing. We brought the boxes back and after installing the Grape hyacinths in a large heap under the stairs we brought the apples in and I promptly forgot about them. Later on in the day when we had finished the garden work I was hungry and decided to try an apple. I don’t, as a rule, like apples much. They are not one of my favourite fruits but the box was sitting there, I was hungry and I was too lazy to head off and make myself anything to eat so an apple it was! I cut it into small slices and absently tried a piece as I was sitting looking at the computer screen and couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I have never tried an apple like it. It was incredibly sweet and fragrant and almost bordered on a ripe pear in flavour. Bernard and Manny, our Javanese finches, started fighting over the 2 pieces that I gave them as soon as I put them into their cage. I am an apple convert! So long as I can eat Wendy’s Fuji apples, I will eat apples happily all day long.

Here you can see the selective nature of possums. The lush green mass of vegetation is a very happy and healthy clematis. The green sticks are what used to be a lovely yellow banksia rose. Possums LOVE roses. Every single rose that we exposed in the side garden has been savaged by the possums. I am starting to think that roses and Serendipity Farm are NOT conducive to happiness…

All thats left of a large English holly (Ilex aquifolium) that was growing alongside the driveway and that vindictively scratched the car every time we drove past it. Finally it has berries!

“First chew yourself a nice comfortable hole in the blanket…next insert head…now sleep…zzzzzzzZZZZZZZZ”

The Indian feast is consumed and now I have to work out what I am going to do with my evening. I could sit in one of the armchairs near the wood fire and read…I have a book about organic and sustainable farming that I could read or another one of the Mary Anne Schaffer bucket list…Or I could watch television with Steve. He has lots of television programs taped for us to watch together. I could sit here and play a game of Hammer Heads…a most disturbing computer game where the object is to hit garden gnomes on the head and collect money. I could start crocheting something with the luminous yellow cotton that I picked up at a local thrift shop for $1 for 7 balls. I have NO idea what I am going to do with it but that doesn’t matter. With me, it is the act of crocheting that allows me to relax in the evening rather than the eventual item I have crocheted that is my reason for crocheting. Steve said that I could make him some socks…Steve has NO idea how hard it is to knit socks! I have NO idea how to crochet them and so that idea has been shoved into the “Too Hard” basket. I am ruminating about joining some community gardening groups…perhaps volunteering in some form or other…I get restless when I don’t think that I am helping or doing anything really productive towards my local community and have rash fits of joining things quickly that I later live to regret. Bezial is sitting here giving me seal eyes because he wants me to give him a piece of date brownie (made without cocoa so it is technically a “blondie”). He and Earl LOVE it. I doubt that their undying love has anything to do with the dates, the flour or the sugar involved and has more to do with the large amount of butter that is in the recipe. Either way, Bezial spends most of his days following me around or pushing his nose onto my arm to make me look into his seal eyes. Occasionally they work, so he is clever enough to realise that there is a chance that seal eyes might work again so he wears them permanently. I can’t handle the seal eyes for much longer so I may just leave this post here now. Have a great evening, morning or what is left of your weekend. I might have some more to tell you about our prospective move from our blog here at WordPress to our new blog over at Google. For the moment we will remain here but prepare yourselves for a move to the dark side people… wish us luck!

Cher stampedes my early morning brain

Hi All,

I am starting to get the feeling that Earl is one of those dogs that is prone to falling prey to his instincts. Earl likes to taste things. He likes to sample…savour…chew (especially chew) and masticate just about anything that he lays his eyes on. He has settled down a lot lately and we have been getting somewhat complacent about the damage that used to occur on a daily basis. Steve headed in to the lounge room today to vacuum the floor. He plugged in the vacuum cleaner and got most of the way through vacuuming when the vacuum cleaner stopped. He assumed it had pulled out of the wall because the lead doesn’t reach all of the way into the lounge room. He turned back to plug it in again…and noticed the smoke coming out of the cord…THE CORD!!! Sigh…Earl…(the little darling) had been allowed into the middle (spare) room where Mr Vacuum Cleaner (his arch nemesis) lived about 3 months ago and in the tiny space of time that it took for him to wander into the room and be ushered out, he had nibbled the vacuum cleaner cord. Dyson vacuum cleaners are NOT cheap Earl…sigh… In saying that…I wouldn’t swap Earl for anything. He is starting to turn into a really great dog and one day, much like his big black well behaved kennel mate Bezial, he will earn our complete trust. Bezial is allowed outside the gate on his own amongst the chickens…the feral cats etc. He is completely trustworthy and lies down in the sun whenever he is allowed outside. Earl is on high alert for ANYTHING that he can hunt. Bezial used to be like this and we often found dead (curiously unmarked) baby blackbirds on the back step when we lived in town. We know it was Bezial because we watched him lay on the back step and suddenly launch himself onto an unsuspecting sparrow and catch it. We chased him around the back yard with his squeaky toy and if we weren’t so concerned to get the sparrow off him we would have been laughing because the very much unhurt sparrow was watching our efforts with his head out from between Bezials tightly clenched canine teeth. We eventually managed to catch him and release the unharmed sparrow from him where it promptly took off soggy on foot underneath a large gas bottle to hide and elude further capture. Bezial was quick, he was accurate and he was worse than Earl because he KNEW what he was doing was naughty!

Here’s the dog himself. Do you see why poor Mr Vacuum Cleaner didn’t stand a chance?

We took Qi for a walk in town…she had a great time and posed nicely for me only once. For the rest of the walk she was too busy to pose and this is the only shot of her standing still

I was once told by our horticulture lecturer that Serendipity Farm must have its own little microclimate because we were able to grow things here that couldn’t be grown in most other places in Tasmania…curiously we had the same little microclimate factor when we lived in town…I am starting to suspect that the combination of Steve and I as a whole create our own microclimate and perhaps even our own little micro world! Nothing that we live with for any amount of time or that chooses to live with us ever manages to act or react in any sort of logical way. Our chickens are the masters of the farm (after Earl that is…he is the Grand High Master of the lodge and they had best not forget it!) and hold supreme pecking order in their complex little society of hens. When most other people are lamenting the dearth of eggs…our chickens have just started to lay copious quantities of eggs…most of the way through autumn and almost into winter and (fingers crossed) show no sign of stopping any day soon. Last night, Steve, who shuts the hens in at night and checks the 2 nests (that we know about) that we pepper with 2 eggs each day to ensure that the hens don’t think that we are onto their hiding spots, discovered one of our newly laying white hens has decided to go clucky…CLUCKY…right on winter! We just had our Silver Laced Wyandotte hen hatch out 3 babies and a Golden Laced Wyandotte hen go clucky on no eggs at all. They ended up sharing the parenting of the 3 babies of which all 3 babies got eaten by feral cats…2 mothers and 3 babies and they STILL couldn’t manage to look after them. Wyandotte hens are big girls and tiny little Houdini the feral chook mum was able to hatch out 2 clutches of 5 and then 7 babies and all 12 are still alive thanks to her tenacious ability to attack ANYTHING that threatened her babies. It just goes to show that you can’t judge a hen by its size or breed. Effel doocark is a terrible mum…she is a Blue Laced Wyandotte…are we starting to get a picture in our minds about the parenting habits of Wyandotte hens? All in all, any sane…normal chicken is off the lay and prepared to sit on a perch contemplating her chicken alternative to a navel all winter. Not ours…they appear to have other plans. Perhaps world domination? Who would know…whatever they are planning they had best remember who brings home the sacks of seed that feed them

Here are some of those chickens skulking around as we had just chopped some firewood and they were allowed to hunt through it to find all of the insects. We had just tidied up the area and apart from being a grey day with more rain on the way at least the yard looks tidy now

Doesn’t this look like I was messing about with black and white photography? That would be crediting me with some sort of photographic comprehension. This is the result of attempting to share with you just how foggy it gets around here with the fog rolling up the river early (like it is here) and back down the river later on

Again…this looks pretty shmick…”what a clever photographer…” nah…sheer fluke. Black and white bleeds into a bright blue sky all painted by God and sweet nothing to do with me!

I started the fire this morning on my own. There is something primal and ancient about starting your own fire. It harkens back to when a fire meant the difference between survival and death and lighting my own little fire this morning kindled (yeh I know…I am HILARIOUS ;o) something inside me that rewarded me with much more than the act of fire lighting. I don’t think it ignited (I am on a roll here…) any latent pyromaniac tendencies in me, but I feel more satisfaction than the simple fire starting act should give me. I am not going to take off all of my clothes and do a celebration dance around the kitchen because aside from requiring more effort than I am willing to put in at this time of day, Bezial has to cope with my irrational outbursts and crazy antics on a daily basis…he is just making it through to the end of the day somewhat sane. He spends his days with one eye open watching for any elevation in my naturally semi manic state from which he is ready to spring into action and race over to sooth my inner savage beast (the actual quote is “breast” but that would just be weird folks so I am going with the bastardised version for the sake of the flow…). Bezial is a very clever dog…he now knows that to stop Earl from careening around the lounge room in a state of mental bliss after his evening meal all he has to do is bring him a toy to stop him bouncing from one lounge chair to the other. It works…he soothed the savage (in this case) beast and he tries to do the very same thing with me. I don’t know whether I am flattered by his attention or slightly disturbed that my dog thinks I need soothing on a regular basis and lumps me in with Earl in the “CRAZY” basket but it’s nice to know that someone is willing to mellow me out when I am raging. He doesn’t deserve me prancing about in the nude first thing in the morning though. I don’t think his fragile dog psyche could take that much fear and we might be up for paying for a good dog psychologist.

Here’s a few photos from Steve’s new mobile phone. I am starting to think I might toss the camera into the river and use the phone! It makes our view looks stunning!

Isn’t this lovely? Steve took it walking along the river when we were walking the dogs one morning (again, with his phone…)

This is a really lovely shot. The sun has just come up, we are walking along the side of the river and it just goes to show what a beautiful place we live in. Its like the sky is bleeding into the river…again…a phone shot

I keep fighting against my natural inner geek. I don’t know why I am fighting so hard apart from the fact that I am married to a naturally cool man. He plays lead guitar…he used to be a guitar teacher… when I first laid eyes on him he looked like Justin and Dan Hawkins’s from the band “The Darkness”  big brother. He was a punk in the U.K. in the 80’s. He loves Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and followed cutting edge musical genres as natural progression in his musical development. I feel like a super nerd sometimes when we go to youtube and check out our “old favourites”. He is watching David Bowie and The Pogues and I am pretending that I was in a coma through the late 70’s and early 80’s because ABBA and The Bay City Rollers were about as uncool as you could get. I guess it really is true when they say that complete opposites attract because that’s exactly what Steve and I are…exactly opposite. We have birthdays 6 months apart…we come from opposite sides of the world, we have temperament’s on complete opposites of the spectrum and we often find ourselves with no-one to back us up when trying to explain what it is that is going on inside our heads. We are like Felix Unger (me) and Oscar Madison (Steve) in “The Odd Couple” and despite everything going against us, it works. Why did I mention this? Because I am cursed with having one of the songs in the first stanza of songs played on the clock radio by our local FM radio station in the morning becoming wedged inside my skull and repeated on an eternal loop for the rest of the day…sometimes for the rest of the week if it was a particularly annoying song. Today I had a choice. I could have gone with Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks”. Not particularly “my thing” but not a bad song…not uncool…definitely my period of music (I was young once you know…this little interjection is for the benefit of my daughters who now read these posts and can be summarily ignored by anyone else). Then we had “Sultan’s of Swing”. I know which song is going to be stuck in Steve’s head all day…if songs do indeed get stuck in his head that is. His dad was a major fan of Dire Straits. His dad also played lead guitar… in a band…in the 1950’s…in pubs and clubs and his dad was a friend (wait for it…this is a big one) of Ringo Starr of the Beatles fame! Steve comes from musical royalty and it appears it has bled through to the present day. So we had “Young Turks”…we had “Sultan’s of Swing” and 1 other song… I am cursed to spend my day yodelling at the top of my lungs (because that is how you sing it…) “Jessie James” by Cher. Yes…I rest my case…I am a TOTAL NERD GEEK and I have the children to prove it. All of my latent nerdiness bled into my highly intelligent children and revealed itself as a most obvious truth and you know what? I am coming to appreciate my natural lien towards the nerd side. It’s now cool to be a geek (or Hip to be a Square…Mr Huey Lewis and the News was years ahead of his time) and I can “come out” blazing (or in flames)…”just like Jessie James”…sigh…

This is a Fly Agaric mushroom. It is the quintessential toadstool that fairies choose to sit on. For once I am glad that Steve won’t let me eat the mushrooms that I find! This one lets you turn blue and see God

I love that weeds can find just about anywhere to settle down to grow. This little fellow has chosen a very lofty position of power. Who knows? Perhaps he will grow up one day and “Rab-o-bank”! (Oh come ON you lot…do NONE of you have a sense of humour? 😉

This is the Polytechnic in Launceston. Steve and I attended this Polytechnic where we studied business and small business. Its a really lovely old building and my youngest daughter went to Launceston College for year 12 just over the road

Its two and a half months since I started my “No Diet” approach to getting healthier. I haven’t felt deprived; I haven’t yielded to temptation because I haven’t felt tempted. I eat when I am hungry and the only “rule” if there is one, is that I just don’t eat anything that isn’t nutritious any more. I eat as much as I want to eat and although I am losing weight slower than on a strict diet, I am losing weight consistently and without any effort at all. I think I have found the answer to my lifelong weight problem. I fully expected to lose very little weight. I wasn’t aiming for weight loss, I was aiming to make myself healthier and to hopefully minimise the damage that being overweight for most of my life has done to my joints. I walk with Steve and the dogs for a minimum of 4km a day and no longer shirk a bit of hard work. In the 2 ½ months that I started eating this way I have lost 11kg. Not bad for not even trying and if I was following one of my old strict diet plans I would have fallen off the wagon by now, tempted beyond belief and feeling completely resentful and weak. Stop dieting people, it doesn’t work.  I used to have very little energy but now have more than enough to help Steve around the property and spent the day today helping him drop dead trees, cut them up and lug them into the trailer, and then out of the trailer and into the wood shed. It’s a vicious circle being on a diet. I should know…I think I have been on just about all of them. I once fasted for 21 days and have subjected myself to some pretty crazy schemes in the search for eternal thinness. I don’t care if I don’t reach my “ideal weight” I would like to know who it is that decides what someone’s ideal weight should be. I get the feeling that they are being paid by the diet industry to make it incredibly difficult to attain and I could care less about the dieting industry now. I am going to plod along doing what I am doing now. I am going to see if my body reaches a place where it is happy to move around easily and settles in to stay at that point. Life is too short to spend your life fantasising about food and I plan on spending what I have left of it living. I will keep you posted with my experiment on minimising the waist in my life (ha-HA :o).

Isn’t Launceston pretty? This road leads out of town. It leads to the West Tamar Highway and we used to live 3km from this spot on this road. I sometimes miss being able to duck into the City at any given time. I liked being able to walk the dogs in the city centre early on a Sunday morning when no-one was up and the only sound came from the street sweeper that we used to wave to. At least I appreciate it whenever I walk in town now and the dogs LOVE it 🙂

We spent the day logging and lugging yesterday and while we were hauling some kindling to add to the wood in our trailer for our girls in town we decided that rather than Steve take the wood in next Monday on his regular shopping day event, we might just be a bit adventurous and head in today (Tuesday) with the load, walk the dogs in town and spend half a day in the big smoke. I was reminiscing on Sunday about how we took for granted the ability to just head into town to do all sorts of things before we moved out here. I guess I am feeling a bit stir crazy at the moment. Part of it is because I have run out of wool and have thus eliminated one of my stress relief crafts and the book that I am reading at the moment is less than satisfying. It’s “Ok”… but apart from dealing with turning a barren wasteland into a productive vibrant organic farm it feels like another planet away from what we are doing here. Being an American book, the forests, the land, the entire ecosystem is completely different and the feeling of united horticulturalists leading the way appears to have left me dragging behind and feeling somewhat dissatisfied…oh well…NEXT BOOK PLEASE. I have ordered 3 more from the Mary Anne Schaffer bucket list of books. I would have to say that I have enjoyed immensely about half of the books that I have read so far. The other half has been mostly enjoyable but are not my particular sort of book that delights my soul. I am reading my way through them all (the ones that I can get from the library that is…2 have not been able to be obtained) as a sort of homage to doing things properly. So many times the voice of my grandmother peels back the layers of my psyche with her forthright comments…”start out as you mean to finish off”…”clean up as you go along”…”do it properly the first time and you won’t have to do it again”… cheers gran. I identify with my grandmother who was YEARS ahead of her time. After my mother’s death we discovered all sorts of things about my grandmother by proxy and it was quite interesting to see just where our family came from and what sort of ethos they held sacred. My grandmother was a pioneer. She left a family of women after her parents divorced (unheard of back then) and headed out to forge a new life for herself in Australia from her Northern England home town. She was brave, strong and taught her daughters and granddaughters that women were naturally strong and that men had to be looked after. Not too sure if that ethos rings true today gran, the world has changed a bit, but the combination of our genes coupled with the strong German genes inherited from our father have indeed resulted in strong women. I inherited a strong face. I inherited a strong personality and a strong desire to affect equality from somewhere. I spend most of my days trying to soften myself because it’s very hard for a man to be married happily to a strong woman. Sorry Steve…forgive me for occasionally taking over…I was taught to do so and it runs like molasses through  my veins and it’s just as hard to stop once it gets flowing. My grandma taught me tenacity…to never give in…never give up…I have passed on my need for perfection that I inherited from her, her inventive spirit, her lateral problem solving skills and for that I thank you gran. You and I didn’t always see eye to eye… when you raise them strong you are making a rod for your own back…but you live on in my heart, my mind and my actions and whenever I am utterly pissing Steve off by saying “don’t do that job by halves…may as well do it properly the first time” it’s actually you that he is pissed off with ;o)

Well looky here…Urban agriculture! Apparently someone is growing City Millet…I wonder how long this is going to last when the blackbirds and sparrows realise that there is a veritable feast right on their inner city doorsteps!

We just got a text message to tell us that we are rich! We won 750 000 pounds! How very fortuitous on the day that we are going to town…all we have to do is give them our bank details…our names… our address…a deposit to get the money put into our bank account…why let’s set about doing this forthwith Steve!…sigh…will these people EVER give up trying to scam us? I can’t count the amount of times someone from an obviously foreign country has told us “you have a virus on your computer” and attempted to get us to turn over control of our PC to their “windows service” department. Steve actually strung one of them along for about 30 minutes till he told them to shove it in no uncertain terms once. They are vermin…right up there with most lawyers and patent and copyright trolls. They just didn’t get a fish today…no doubt they will be trying harder in the future although I dare say they will change the bait…Well look at that! If I have any followers left on this blog (cheers WordPress… you appear to have eliminated most of my followers along with your latest update and your stupid comments coming thick and fast from anyone other than my followers) I hope you have a really great day and week ahead. I know it’s getting tough right through the world. I read that cafes and restaurants are going broke all over the U.S.A. whilst McDonalds is flourishing…a sign of the times? We just have to learn to think laterally…think smarter people…don’t see things negatively, the baby boomer generation screwed us up just see this lot as challenges that our generation were born to solve. Or…you can stay in bed for the day with a cup of tea and a good book and “FORGEDABOUDIT”…your choice 😉

Chicken whispering with an axe

Hi All,

It suddenly turned into Saturday afternoon and this is the first time I have sat down to post since Wednesday so let’s just see how verbose I can be in a couple of hours…my guess is my inner manic muse won’t let me down and before you know it I will be teetering on the edge of 3000 words trying to think of bits to leave out. This week the weather has finally decided to reflect the fact that we are now most of the way through autumn and I am only just thinking about putting on jumpers. It’s not because I have become accustomed to colder weather, it’s because we have had unseasonably warm weather…some might call it an Indian Summer which leads me to believe that this winter is going to be VERY cold. I don’t mind. We have been gathering acorns while the sun shines…translated (from manic inner muse to “normal” human terms) that means we have been collecting wood like crazy in an effort to have enough for winter. I love cold weather especially when you don’t have to be cold and you get to sit next to a lovely warm fire crackling away, cooking your meals and heating your water. I need to keep feeling grateful about all of this because it will be several years before I am able to feel guilt free for spending the better part of the price of a cheap small car on a static heat source.

“Would you like fries with that? Please drive through…”

I was hunting for fungi the other day (it’s best not to ask…) and found this pretty specimen that had grown over a clover leaf.

Yin has been hollowing out dead trunk bases again to try to lure his girls away from the nests that I know about…one day Yin…ONE DAY!.. sigh…

We had a meeting with our lecturer this week and spent the day learning how to measure elevations with a theodolite. A theodolite for those of you not in the know…and let’s face it…before I did this course I would have been right up there with you… is a piece of equipment that takes horizontal and vertical readings (after you spend most of the day setting it up accurately that is…) so that you can get someone to pay you for this information translated into some form of plans involving the great outdoors. Architects and draftsmen use them…builder’s use them…landscape designers and contractors use them and now, so do we! Apart from looking suspiciously like Cybermen (Dr Who people…get with the programme!) they are most useful things that allow the person using them to find out all sorts of information that then allows them to fill out sheets using trigonometry to arrive at angles, minutes and seconds. If you are confused, don’t worry, you are not the only one! Mathematics and I are NOT friends. I realised the other day when I was banging my head on the table over Cos, Sin and Tan, that something must have happened to me at some time in the past for me to have completely bypassed understanding maths at all. I decided to head back into the ether… back… WAY back to where I would have been learning my 6 times table (because that is about where maths and I parted company). I discovered that year 5 at school is approximately where you learn you’re 6 times table and you start to get familiar with simple fractions (the beginning of my mathematical mental breakdowns). I played around in my mind with what was going on when I was in year 5. In Western Australia, you are about 10 when you get to year 5…

I always thought that it would be nice to have a dress the colour of the sky when it was just about to drop a massive deluge of rain on the earth. Even when I was a child I was a mental hippy ;o)

Here is a midden of oyster shells. The good folk of Paper Beach have decided to eradicate these oysters (apparently “introduced pests”…not sure most people would think of oysters as pests but it takes all kinds to make up a world…) from their pristine chunk of riverbank and have erected a sign asking everyone who takes a stroll up the beach to take one of the buckets (conveniently located on nails sticking out of a pole in the ground) and fill it up with oysters. I get the sneaking suspicion that most of the locals like the odd free oyster or 2 (on months with or without “ber” on the end of them…or is it the other way around?) and that this enterprising idea will meet with a lukewarm welcome. I think I might start bringing buckets of these oyster shells home to crush up and use as  slug/snail/duck deterants around my succulents…

3 little sage plants and a healthy little chive plant picked up last week on the progressive garage sale

I thought more about any events that may have affected me and had one of those “Epiphany” moments. My parents split up when I was in year 5! We then proceeded to go through a pretty traumatic time being bundled from relative to relative until mum could find a place to live and despite me not having any bad memories about that time it obviously affected me more than I was aware. I didn’t think that I was too traumatised by this event and had a bit more of a think about my past and realised that year 5 was the year that I was taught by Mr Pages-Oliver…a thin dour man who spent his life frowning and sneaking up on unsuspecting students and slamming a metre ruler down on the desk to startle them. Mr Pages-Oliver who terrified the living daylights out of me, coupled with my parents’ marriage dissolving when no-one else’s parents were separated let alone divorced, must have had an educationally disastrous effect on my 10 year old virginal maths (and spelling) mind. You really don’t realise how important it is to have teachers who want to teach. I can count on one hand the teachers that I know who are passionate about teaching students the subject that they are employed to teach. Most of them see it as a job…you do it, you get paid, and you have more holidays than the average person. I can’t blame them. I was going to be a teacher and circumstances saved me from becoming the jaded, world weary English teacher that I could have become. As much as I love sharing knowledge with people, the school system is not set up to enable teachers to teach. It’s not only students that fall through the cracks…it’s a rare teacher who survives to long service still in possession of their early passion to teach. Mr Pages-Oliver couldn’t even lay claim to that long term loss of hope because he was a first year out Teacher! What possessed this young man who obviously hated doing what he did to take up teaching is beyond me. Perhaps the saying “those who can…do…those who can’t…teach” was true of Mr Pages-Oliver…all I know is that the rest of my school life was spent unable to comprehend all sorts of very important concepts because of the interruption to that most formative of years. I thought I hated maths when I am actually well suited to it! Now that I am grasping concepts that should have been taught to me more years than I would like to admit here ago, I am actually enjoying the mental processes that trigonometry and working through mathematical formulas is giving me. You owe me Mr Pages-Oliver!! (You also owe my year 12 Maths and Economics teachers who probably had nervous breakdowns after trying to get me to understand what they were telling me!)

The spent hay that I am just about to remove from the chicken coop.

Mucking out the chicken shed might not be my favourite way to spend a morning but the resulting nitrogen rich hay makes amazing compost and fills up 3 lasagne beds so it tempers the job and makes it a lot easier to get stuck in when you are getting fertiliser for free!

The rear of the chicken coop along with what we used to use to feed them (before the great population explosion of 2012). Steve found plans online for how to make a gravity fed chook feeder and it worked really well until we ended up with too many chickens to use it. Now it just sits there doing nothing but act as a night time perch for one of the fatter less agile chickens at night

Tonight we decided to allow Effel to go into the main roost with her fellow adult chickens. She has been perching in here every night for the last week and Steve has been having to grab her and toss her into the outside area where we erected a covered area for Effel and her babies to ensure at least some of them grew to adulthood (remembering she had 12 when we first put her in there and the reputation of being a TERRIBLE mother…). We put this lower perch up for the babies as Effel leaves them huddled on the floor. Steve just reported that Effel and her favourite baby are up on one of the high perches and the remaining babies are on the ground…oh well…back to the drawing board :o)

On the way home from our lecture we dropping in to pick up a jar of sourdough starter that a lady I met in the library in Exeter gave me. She wasn’t home and left us a message to pick up the starter and a bucket of globe artichokes which we dutifully did. We had a little look around her garden and it inspired me to get going with lasagne gardening in earnest. I have been putting off starting the process of growing vegetables for ages, mainly because there are so many factors up against us doing so it is frankly logistically terrifying to contemplate. We need to find some way to stop the hens, possums and wallabies from scoffing our efforts. We need to create irrigation systems for the garden beds because vegetables are very water intensive. We need to do all of this on less than a shoestring budget and using our ability to think laterally and problem solve and use what we have available to us here on site. The more I delve into permaculture online, the more excited I get because apart from lauding recycling and reusing, these sites actually share with you how to effect these changes cheaply, because penniless hippies are highly proportional in the permaculture community. Thank goodness that penniless hippies like to share because otherwise Serendipity Farm would be a barren wasteland forever! The lady that gave me the sourdough starter had made an amazing difference to her small property using hay bales, lasagne gardening techniques, no digging, and all a work in progress that looked fantastic. My kind of garden! Quirky, plants everywhere, veggies in the flower garden, a pond in the middle, a small pen of suspicious chickens and rocket and other herbs growing in every crack in the home laid paving. It all melded together to give a truly homespun and thoroughly delightful garden that I now realise is totally feasible for Serendipity Farm. This lady, who lives on her own, has just “started” and keeps going. Steve and I are rank amateurs when it comes to vegetable gardens and living in the country and I could procrastinate for the queen (Gold medal procrastination 101). Monica showed us that gardening is more about getting started and finding your feet from there than it is about creating an instant oasis of beauty. Again, the process is where you learn the most so I guess we are just going to have to get started with solving the problem of how to keep everything out of our veggie gardens and how to afford to fill our raised veggie garden beds and somewhere along the way we will discover that we have actually accomplished what we set out to do! We walked the dogs this morning in Beaconsfield in the misty crisp part of the day where walking is actually enjoyable. It warms you up and makes you feel glad to be alive. The past few weeks of rain have allowed the grass to turn green again and gardens to start looking like they might contain something other than hay. I needed to pick up some organic spelt flour to feed the sourdough starter that I had been given and so we dropped in to the café that doubles as a tiny health food shop to see if we couldn’t pick some up. I was very surprised to be able to buy spelt flour in Beaconsfield but the population is starting to change from mine workers to younger families moving away from the city because housing is much more affordable in Beaconsfield and surrounding districts. I remember my dad once saying to me that he and his partner could have bought just about every house in Beaconsfield when they first moved to the district. The Beaconsfield mine was silent and had been for many years. The town was limping along wearily and house prices were ridiculous. The company that took a chance on using modern technology to allow them to extract more gold from the mine were able to make it last for 20 years but in June this year the Beaconsfield mine is going to close again and the main source of income for the locals will be gone. It’s easy for corrupt state government officials to hold up the bell bay pulp mill as being the answer to Tasmania’s unemployment problems but this is simply a fabrication. The truth of the matter is that this mill will employ skilled workers that will be imported from elsewhere. Tasmanians are not known for their educational prowess and most Tasmanian’s work in blue collar jobs. Rather than retrain these people and have to face up to years of woeful educational outcomes, our state government would rather lie to them about the future of forestry, pulp production and mining in this state. We can’t afford to keep going the way that we have been in this state for the past 100 years. We need to be able to find employment in sustainable opportunities rather than exploiting our dwindling natural resources to our own detriment. In Tasmania we are just treading water but selling us down the river to the highest bidder (or most corrupt business) isn’t going to solve anything. It is just going to relieve the ‘heat’ from our state politicians and allow them a bit of breathing space to weasel out of the problems that bad governance has tumbled them into over years of negligent and nepotism in this state.

Steve has just spent the afternoon removing and disabling programs to make our laptop work faster. We had the misfortune of buying it loaded with Vista (sigh) and we are just about to take it to have XP installed because Vista righteously SUCKS! It is now running heaps faster and until we can remove Vista from the face of Serendipity Farm, we can live with it…

In keeping with our “work with what you have” ethos accompanying our “recycle/reuse” ethos here are some of our avocado plants overwintering in the glasshouse. I have NO idea what the possums and wallabies will make of avocados but fully intend on kitting them out for jousting on the joyous day that we plant them out in their “Full metal jackets” (Bring it on possums!)

Heres a lovely little Banksia serrata that Steve was going to turn into a bonsai after seeing a particularly magnificent specimen at the Launceston Bonsai Centre. I think it would look lovely growing in the garden but need to argue the point with Steve who is still tossing up whether or not to give it a good hair (and root) cut

Bollocks to food miles…we will just grow our own! This is a coffee plant…yes…we know that Tasmania is not known for its tropical clime but we are ever optimistic and one day we might be hotter and wetter than we are now and our little coffee plant will be given pride of place where it can grow and give us coffee berries to be roasted (hopefully not after being passed through Earl…) and ground on site making Steve’s morning brew carbon neutral!

I picked this little Camellia sinensis (or tea plant) up from a little nursery up north for $3. I will be heading back to see if I can’t buy some more as I drink a whole lot more tea than Steve drinks coffee ;o)

I had to laugh this morning when I checked my Facebook page and noticed one of the pages that I like had listed “Joe Walsh” as against alternative thinking people. I had a think about that and couldn’t for the life of me work out how someone who had imbibed more than his fair share of nefarious substances and who was right up there with Ozzie Osborne in the shambling mumbling living dead stakes could string together a coherent sentence about alternative lifestylers let alone use so many large words!  To show you what I mean, check out this evidence that Joe Walsh is on another planet to the rest of us (please forgive the bad quality but it’s the only video I could find of this to share with you)… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1mG0feiEc0 I rest my case! I went hunting to see what had riled this ex Eagles guitarist/singer up so much that he would start spouting politics as his new mantra and discovered that he isn’t the only famous “Joe Walsh” and that there is an American congressman called Joe Walsh as well. It shows how small our world has become now and how social media, especially Facebook, has allowed us to become privy to all sorts of worldly events that a few short years ago we would have had no knowledge about at all. I can only imagine how entertaining Joe Walsh and Ozzie Osborne would be should the American public ever get desperate enough to elect them to congress. I think that a jaded American public could do much worse than have to watch backbiting self-serving congressmen stabbing their way up the political landscape replaced by the amusing antics of the Joe and Ozzie show. I might start a campaign on Facebook for them :o)

I just spent the better part of ¾ of an hour maniacally wielding a block splitter alternating with a small sharp hatchet. I wasn’t re-enacting Jack Nicholson’s part in “The Shining”, I was doing something much more philanthropic. First…does the word “philanthropic” pertain only to selfless acts for humans? I hope not because I don’t know the equivalent word for selfless acts for chickens. We collected some wood from a dead tree that Steve felled the other day to use on the fire tonight. It was a little damp and the centre was rotten and Steve chopped the larger rings into smaller wedges while the chickens raced around in between his legs catching the various grubs and termites that flew from the wood. I had cleaned out the chicken coop bedding (hay) and thrown all of the hay into the compost heap and the 3 unused veggie beds that we are in the process of making and forgot to collect my jumper from the shovel that I had left it on. I decided that I would head to collect the jumper and ever the entrepreneur, collect a barrow load of wood at the same time. The wood was still a bit damp and after I loaded it into the barrow I noticed a particularly damp bit of wood and proceeded to chop it with the block splitter. Effel and her babies were hanging about. Ever since our adventures in removing the dead tree from the boundary fenceline Effel has suddenly materialised every time I set foot outside the gate and today was no different. Shadowed by her 7 babies she watched me cut the chunk of wood and as I cut it, it released a spray of termites onto the ground. Effel and the babies were delighted. I then rendered most of the firewood into kindling to enable Effel and her babies (and any other chicken brave enough to take Effel on for termite rights) to consume their weight in apparently delicious termites. The babies got less and less scared of me as they settled into their feeding frenzy and I had small chickens sitting on my feet, my hands as I was trying to chop the wood and Effel kept putting her head on the block of wood as I was attempting to chop it! I am NOT the best axeman in the world and so it is only sheer flukish good luck that Effel is still pecking around Serendipity Farm as I type this.  Night is falling; all of the animals have been fed and are heading off to wherever it is that they spend the night and I am set for a night of typing out recipes and hunting the internet for recipes to use up my future cups of left over starter. We will be burning off debris tomorrow and clearing out the side garden so that we can plant out more of our potted babies before the wallabies eliminate them all. Have a great weekend and see you all on Wednesday rested, relaxed and hopefully ready for another instalment of Life on Serendipity Farm.

To bee or not 2 bee gnat is the question

Hi All,

Ok, so that was lame…VERY lame…but it got you looking at my post didn’t it so it worked 🙂 The post also has a little bit about insects in it and a bit about jellyfish so while you are here to chastise me about my lame pun filled post, you may as well have a look at the post over a cup of mental tea on Serendipity Farm. You never know you just might like it here and want to stay…

Lets start our photographic evidence (some might say forensic looking at this…) about what we have been up to on Serendipity Farm this week. We had these bamboo screens plastered all over the 3 metre high wall that we put up in town to minimise our forced cohabitation with the troll when my dad was alive. Our daughters are now living in the house in town (with no troll in sight) and asked us to take down the Berlin Wall so we had these screens left over and so we decided to put them to good use. The garden in front of these screens is sad. It is full of Cape gooseberries, tiny native raspberries and some azaleas that are proving incredibly hard to kill. Forget delicate things, azaleas are survivors people. After being hacked to death they are all growing back and some of them are flowering.

All this week I have been expanding my mind and attempting to redress a few years of stagnation in body and soul. It’s really easy to sit back and let life lead you where it will but you run the risk of not having much of a life at all and in being perpetually scared because being reactive is being out of control and being proactive gives you a modicum of choice. Along with that choice you also get the chance to shuffle people out of their ruts. If someone does something unexpected or reacts in a way that is different to the norm it isn’t only the “Doer” that has to think and thus starts a most interesting chain of events. I doubt that first sentence is going to rival Moby Dick any day soon but it was where my mind was settling on Sunday last week. Steve was in his shed cleaning it up which apparently gives him a great degree of joy and so it is now understandable why he makes such an awful mess every time he uses his shed. I can hear him howling outside and doing extreme injustice to some band on LAFM. Thank goodness for Chilli FM by the way. It has taken all of the crap music from LAFM and left us with “all of the best music from the 70’s’ 80’s’ 90’s and today” meaning everything that wasn’t manufactured on some countries form of “Idol” or spliced by a DJ. I am not going to run every DJ down because there are some very clever people out there making some amazing music but the problem is…most of them don’t make it to the airwaves and we get some watered down hash of 80’s pop spliced together with any recognisable riff that they can pilfer and BAM! Just like the Spice Weasel, we have a cloud of dust that delivers no flavour to our musical palate and that leaves us jaded and world weary.

Here’s the reason that it is always wise to call before you rock up to Serendipity Farm. Should we not be here…the boys will be and as you can see they take their job “watching” very seriously…

We also have killer chickens roaming all over Serendipity Farm. This one is particularly dangeous. She has taken out 4 Jehovah’s Witnesses, an encyclopedia salesman and a morman and that was in the space of a week…enter at your own risk.

It’s now Wednesday and we have really been making a difference this week on Serendipity Farm. Last week I gave up sitting on the PC and it seems like a lifetime ago (and several leech bites) since I sat here safely tapping away living an entirely surreal mental life over the school holidays. We are back at Polytechnic now and armed with our work and as we work from home, our lives can be planned around when we study. We have a month off before our next meeting with our lecturer that encompasses his trip to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and Easter and so we figured we had a bit of time up our collective sleeves before we needed to get stuck into completing our latest task (with the aid of Google Earth and a well labelled copy of the plans to the block to assist us) and so with my newfound desire to effect change on Serendipity Farm we decided to throw ourselves into reducing and removing the various piles of debris that we created over summer and couldn’t burn. We are very mindful of how wasteful burning is. We have spent the last 3 days working our way through these piles of debris and removing all of the limb wood, logs, kindling sized wood and allowing the leaves to remain in situ (as mulch) and the brushwood is going to be burned and the resulting ashes and embers will not be wasted either. We plan on baking potatoes in foil in the ashes and the feral cats will savour the warmth from the fire like they have on previous debris removal attempts. We almost removed Houdini with our last fire because she was hunkered down with her latest lot of ferals in a shrub that got scorched when the flames went up. She steadfastly refused to give up her hiding spot and is a most formidable mother despite being the smallest of our hens. We have piles of logs and limb wood all over the place now as we have steadily worked our way down from the house paddock around to the front of the house. We have heaped up the brushwood to enable us to collect it all and take it around to our metre squared fire site (so that we can get a permit to burn) and render it ashes.

Never let it be said that we don’t take advantage of natures bounty. These hazelnuts were selected from a large quantity of hazelnuts given to us by our neighbour Glad’s daughter Wendy. Wendy has several trees and very generously donated some to us. I ate most of them over a period of a few weeks and these select few remain to be stratified along with these Juglans regia (English walnuts) that we found on one of our walks popping out of their little husks and begging to be collected and stratified

I think this is what is colloquially called an “Ark”. I think it is several cubits long and quite a few wide and whoever made it appears to be heading down the Tamar River to higher ground…

When we were clearing the blackberries out of this poor long suffering rhododendron we discovered this leprechaun nest. We have spotted several of them darting around Serendipity Farm and now that we have isolated them down to this communal nest we should be able to wait them out and collect their pot of gold the next time that we get a rainbow

I can’t say that I can even remember working as hard as this, getting as dirty as this or being on the go quite so long as this in a long time. Steve and I are hauling logs, hoisting brushwood on the end of long poles, have a newfound angst at all things “wattle” and “cotoneaster” because whenever they are culled (the New Zealand word for killed…) they remain stubborn and difficult to deal with right up to the bitter end. I am covered in scratches and had some of my precious life fluids removed by stealth when in a shaded area of the garden yesterday. We had to stop cutting up logs because “a man” appeared on the driveway and we had to stop and find out what said “man” wanted. It turned out he was from the water board and was trying to isolate our water meter so that he could change it over to a new meter. It’s just lucky that we were home because our water meter is nowhere near the front of the house where any sane person would think that it would be. The poor man would NEVER have found it all the way up the back paddock and halfway along the fenceline where some bright spark decided to put it. When we were looking at our block plans the other day (and raising a silent prayer up to God for giving us Degrees, Minutes and Second readings for the entire site CHEERS GOD!) we noticed that all around our property were roads where there are currently none. We know that there is an easement between our property and Frank’s next door because Frank has already called “dibs” on it should council ever release it to the land owners. There is also apparently an easement just behind the house at the rear of the property for the very same purpose but our nasty neighbour at the back obviously assumes that we are too numpty and red necked to even know about anything as technical as an “easement” and has decided to simply assimilate it into his property without prior permission…are you starting to see why we don’t like him? We directed the poor water board worker, who had himself been bitten by a leech the day before whilst being kind to some neighbourhood chickens that had materialised when he and his workmate were eating their lunch. His bite site was a rather embarrassing one as the leech had slithered down the back of his pants and situated itself between his buttock cheeks (always honest at Serendipity Farm is my motto…spare not the sensibilities of my readers as that is everyone else’s job) and I was most relieved when my 2 leeches had the decorum to situate themselves on my lower back and leave a representation of a walrus gone Dracula on my person.

Not too long ago this white hen would have been taking her life into her own hands walking into the “Lion’s Den” like this. This conifer houses most of the feral cat population on Serendipity Farm on and off throughout the day. With the burgeoning population  of poultry exploding all over Serendipity Farm the feral cats are now significantly under represented and have had to take a back seat to the hens. It is a common site to note hens stealing cheese right out of the mouths of the cats. Nature is a most interesting master and the hens now rule this roost!

The price of operating our house phone has increased to a ridiculous amount and so we have decided to use a more sustainable method to contact friends and relatives. We did a bit of research online and discovered a site where we learned to use smoke signals to make up messages and Telstra can bite us now because we can bypass their robbing asses!

This is a bunny plant (Oryctolagus cuniculus). I grew it specifically  for easter. As you can see the 2 green leaves truly represent a rabbits ears and this amazing plant produces easter eggs that ripen on easter morning. I have NO idea how it is able to ascertain when Easter occurs each year as I am clueless about it’s whereabouts until someone reminds me that it is on its way. The small trees behind the bunny plant are money trees. They take a really long time to grow and most probably we will be in our dotage by the time they start to produce the coins that precede the notes that these trees are held in high esteem for. At least the kids will get something from all of our efforts. Maybe we can graft some note scion onto our coin rootstock?

Hard physical slog and making sure that I eat my evening meal mid-afternoon has ensured that I am now sleeping like a baby. I haven’t got time to miss sitting about here wasting time because we are doing things and making a difference. Steve is taking full advantage of this because he knows me of old and thinks that all of this activity is going to be stuck in the “failed crafts closet” along with the lead lighting and the manufacture of kefir in the not too distant future and he is trying to save himself some solitary man hours by using my new found desire to get “stuck in” to the max before it recedes, dwindles and dies for the year. I am ever a cyclic person (something about women and the moon and water or something…that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!). I can’t blame him for thinking like this but I am here to stay this time. Not only am I feeling satisfied and content at the end of my day (some might call it knackered out) but my previous gym training has decided to allow my muscles to recover and take on forms other than “flabby” my least favoured muscle form of all and I am starting to understand what keeps people working hard in the first place. Forget bungie jumping and base jumping, this is as close to adrenalin as this woman is going to get! We are walking the dogs first up as we have to leave them on the deck while we work around the house. We found some Juglans regia (English walnuts) falling out of their husks and collected 8 of them (roadside benefits of walking the dogs) to stratify along with the biggest and juiciest looking of the hazelnuts that I shared with you in a previous post and they are now settled nicely in their potting media waiting for springtime and new life. If anyone out there can smuggle me some Juglans sieboldiana var. cordiformis (Heart nuts, a relative of the walnut and pecan) I will be eternally grateful to you and would give you my first born child but he has told me to stop offering him for slave labour on the open market because he is too busy at work to mow lawns, make people’s dinner and generally wave large feather fans and peel grapes (party pooper!) so I will have to find some other way to recompense you 🙂

European wasps have 2 phases. A sugar phase and a meat phase…can you tell which phase this little fellow is in? He is attempting to eat the boys dinner and he is VERY lucky that he is situated on the bbq out of the reach of Earl because Earl takes pilfering of his dinner to heart.

When we were walking the dogs the other day we decided to go to Bonnie Beach, a very pretty walk around the old gardens at Kayena. There are some lovely old trees in this area but for once we were more interested in what was drifting off the pontoon than what was growing in the earth. We decided to walk the dogs out onto the pontoon because the tide was low and the oysters were exposed. We have a plethora of oysters on our local river bed and at certain times of the day it is very unwise to walk out to the water unless you want your shoes shredded and to get an instant infection. Bezial is part water dog and you can see the gleam in his eyes and his faraway expression whenever he gets anywhere near water and as the oysters were beckoning, we decided to allow him to get closer to the water on the pontoon. When we started walking out we noticed lots of the big white jellyfish slowly manoeuvring their way through the water. They are really quite graceful and despite thinking that they were just prisoners of the tide I watched one that had gotten too close to the rocks do the equivalent of what people in small boats with outboard motors do and “whack it in reverse” and head back out into the free flowing water. The jellyfish themselves were most interesting but what really interested us was how little fish that appeared to be leather jackets were swimming out from the rocks and swimming right next to the jellyfish hunting for any excess food that they might be finished stinging and scoffing. What a clever symbiotic relationship! The jellyfish are called “Jelly Blubber” or Catostylus mosaicus and are apparently very delicate. If you want to learn more about them check here…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jelly_Blubber

We also saw schools of tiny little fish and much larger fish that we thought might be cocky salmon. Cocky salmon are the young version of the ubiquitous Australian Salmon. This fish is nothing like its European counterpart but is an excellent sports fish and is good eating if it is bled as soon as it is caught which confuses a lot of tourists on our local beaches in salmon season when they see fishermen with large fish stuck upside down in the sand. It’s just gone 7am on Thursday morning and we have a big day ahead of us. We have been working our way through tasks that we have been unable to do and some that we have been putting off. Yesterday we cleared a large stand of ancient blackberries that had been clinging against the side of the wood shed and that were threatening to move in. We removed an old ramshackle fence between the house and the area of property behind the house and opened up the area to make it easier to walk around the property. We want to get on top of Serendipity Farm and need to finish off the clear up before we can get stuck into making it really ours and effecting the changes that we want to make here so we have a few solid weeks of hard slog before we can start planning and planting out. We also have some serious pruning to do to open up the jungle down in the second garden but we are dropping a tree in that area and so we will be forced to work there after the apocalypse. Nothing like dropping a tree in an area to effect change!

Here is a load of wood being carted up from the front gates to dry out this year to be used for next years fires. We had to remove these mostly dead hakeas from the driveway and their death won’t be in vain as they will be used in all sorts of ways as well as being used for our wood fired stove. We have some plans for using up some of the spindly tea trees that we have to remove from the teatree garden in order to allow the remaining trees to grow properly. We are going to use them to make possum barriers around our vegetable gardens. Stay tuned for our prototype in the coming weeks

Here is another one of those killer hens. Note it has made itself a den where it can drag its unsuspecting prey back to dismember it in peace and quiet. Note the graveyard right next to the hens den. These hens cost us a lot of money but what price security?

Here is our newly tidied up (no piles of messy debris thanks to our fire off to the left…) first garden. See those 2 giant mushrooms that grew after the last rain? Being someone who loves mushrooms I am proud to have these Guiness World Record Largest mushrooms growing right here on Serendipity Farm.

Did you notice the blog roll in the right hand margin today? I got the idea from a few blogs that I had been to and handed over the “discovery reins” to the techno maestro Steve to deliver me a blog roll to share my favourite blogs with you all. Hopefully I can run that sucker for miles because I am FULL of fantastic blogs to share. I am being decidedly picky and making sure that all of my dear constant readers will be able to get at least something out of at least one of the wonderful blogs listed. I have always been interested in nature and how things are interrelated and work. I like to pare back everything to get to the simple natural essence of things and I am most interested in fungi being the predominate species on earth and insects. I like to take a leaf from Annie from The Micro Gardener and see “Pests” and “Weeds” as prospective mates that I haven’t yet learned how to harness for the benefit of Serendipity Farm. Everything has its good and bad sides and we tend to focus on the bad when it comes to pests, diseases, weeds etc. Where would we be without penicillin? Where would be without lactobacillus? 2 prime examples of humans being curious and adventurous enough to mess about with some natural processes and make them their own. Weeds are fantastic things. We should all yearn for the ability to not only grow, but thrive, in harsh environmental conditions. Forget trying to eradicate them, we should be trying to isolate just what it is that gives them their tenacity. They are pains in the neck but they are also indicators of our soil conditions and just what is missing or in overabundance in our soil. Like weeds, pests are just adventitious little insectivorous wanderers who are taking advantage of good conditions. It’s up to us to find ways to use these little babies to our advantage. My hens are currently making short shift of a mini plague of small grasshoppers. They are all over the place but here on Serendipity Farm they are hen food. Some bright spark in the warmer areas of Australia has harnessed the native honey bee and is selling hives to people who want to farm their own native extra sweet honey. We can’t have them here in Tasmania but we do have bumble bees and various other bees that all come for a visit. I found this interesting specimen when we were walking the dogs the other day. I have NO idea what it is. It’s either a bee, a fly or a wasp (see…I am destined for a career in entomology obviously!) and it is most decisively deceased. The closest I got to working out the identity of this little fellow was an Amegilla dawsoni which are the largest bees around. Weird and freaky they are typical W.A. specimens (I come from W.A. I rest my case) and are otherwise known as Dawson’s Burrowing Bees. As we are in Tasmania and quite a long way away from W.A. I figure my detective work may have led me down the path to taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque somewhere, but these bees can regularly be found trying to get out of the windows of our home. No idea why they come in, but they most definitely want to go out once they get in. Perhaps they don’t like dogs… check out all about our endemic Aussie bees here…

http://www.aussiebee.com.au/beesinyourarea.html

I think it’s time to post this post now. It’s a bit higgledy piggledy today and hopefully it has something of interest for you. I made bread and fishcakes today along with some cauliflower cheese. While the oven is on I try to make sure that we use it to its full potential to take advantage of all of the heat generated. The bread is just about due to come out of the oven and will be duly stuffed into the gaping maws of various creatures waiting under the deck for their regular titbits. Steve will get a bit and the dogs will also share some toast in the morning (along with the fishcakes that they just shared with Steve). Life is good albeit tiring on Serendipity Farm and it’s been great to share this week with you. See you all next week and to all of the wonderful blogs that I subscribe to…keep those great posts coming! By the way… I haven’t gone stark raving mad…It’s April fools day somewhere around you reading this post so I am taking a little creative license with the timing as it’s also the end of daylight savings and we are entering the realms of mathematics here so you are just going to have to work with me on this one and accept that you are all April Fools! 😉

Gravity is my Bitch

Hi All,

Did you miss me in your inbox every day? This post is going to be long!  I must admit to enjoying the freedom to add little bits to posts whenever something interesting happens rather than having to think up things to say. I also like the freedom to take photos of interesting things rather than having to take them for the sake of a daily post. This week where I have abstained from posting has most certainly revealed a few things about me to myself. The very first thing that it has revealed is that I used the computer too much. I would spend hours here researching, posting, hunting for things and was spending more time online than I was out there in the great outdoors. We have collected an enormous amount of dry firewood from the property and have saved ourselves a fortune in the process. All of you constant readers will know that we are doing another Diploma this year in landscape design. I am saying “sustainable landscape design” because that is where my heart is. I could care less about standard gardening and commonplace ideas and would rather scrape by sustainably than live a life of mass consumption. Steve and I have been noticing all sorts of ways to save money, reuse and recycle things around Serendipity Farm and are starting to notice that our attempts are paying off. As we are penniless hippies living on the breadline we need to ensure that our ‘income’ (such as it is…) not only stretches to paying our bills but that it allows us to do what we want to do on Serendipity Farm. We have some future wants including large and small rainwater collecting tanks and we want to buy a wind turbine because Serendipity Farm is one of the windiest places that we have ever lived and it makes sense to use what is available. We were spending about $80 on booze a fortnight and decided to give it up for our savings and our health. I decided to give up a lifelong bad habit of dieting and simply learn how to eat what my body needed. Paired with at least an hour of walking the dogs a day and I have managed to lose 5kg (yes Nat…I got out those scales!) without even noticing that I was even doing so. I feel better, my poor long suffering knees are feeling great (despite my determination to get them to give way at every available moment) and I am starting to discover what it is to have actual available energy when you want and need it thanks to not starving myself and feeding my poor long suffering body what it needs to function.

A little  Philadelphus to mark the felling of a large tree in the first garden and the subsequent squishing of most of the tangled overgrown Philadelphus (Mock Orange) and a fair percentage of blackberries in the process. You win some…you lose some…

The early morning breakfast board. The bread is for the 5 older feral chooks and Houdini and her 7 mid sized baby chooks and the cheese is for the feral cats. We have added a small bowl of tiny cheese bits for Effel and her babies. Please don’t tell me that “Cheese isn’t good for cats” because these are feral and you know what? Dead bits of frog, mumified possum and bin scrapings are probably not good for cats either but I dare say this lot would jump at them in an instant so a little bit of daily cheese is the least of their worries

This is a  Carpobrotus acinaciformis or Pigface as it is commonly called around here. It is usually found on the shoreline of sandy beaches and dunes and is a most interesting salt tolerant (just about everything tolerant if the truth be known) succulent.

Usually they have red or pink flowers but this one appears to have a sort of apricot colour.

Here you can see the base of the flower and this is where it starts to get interesting…

Here is what happens when the flower drops and a fruit forms. The fruit is entirely edible and Australian Aboriginals eat them. We have this plant growing on Serendipity Farm and as mentioned, it is almost indestructable. You can walk over it, it has lovely bright shiny  mesembryanthemum flowers and will grow in just about any soil type. All that plus it is a native and I figure that this great ground cover is going to feature in more than one place on Serendipity Farm

I am, however, a little bit miffed. Steve…who no-one would call “fat” has just lost 6kg by doing nothing other than giving up booze. Men have it all over we women (especially we women who are of a ‘certain age’ and who nature and gravity are conspiring to bring down to earth with a massive bump…) when it comes to metabolism and Steve had a head start thanks to genetics. I am pleased to announce my new “diet”. Eat more food in the morning and lunch time than you do at night…add lots of veggies and cooked beans to your diet (stop pulling faces…it works!), buy a dog and walk it and get your ass off the computer and out into the great wild outdoors with your poor long suffering husband who usually has to do everything himself because his dearly beloved is sitting on the P.C. engrossed and you are too polite to get a crowbar and evict her. This week, after realising just how much time I spent on the computer, I decided to check my emails in the morning and nothing else. I have stuck to that apart from study where we had to do a bit of typing, and in place of messing about accomplishing little online, I have crocheted, I have read copious quantities of books, I have wandered about outside sucking delicious fresh air into my previously “cooped up” lungs, I have helped Steve as he lumberjacked, chainsawed and lugged wood from all sorts of areas over Serendipity Farm and have discovered that gravity is not just something that you learn about in science and that it CAN be my friend. When you have finished huffing and puffing your way up a very steep slope (like the steep slope that can be found all over Serendipity Farm…) to a large pile of chainsawed logs, you can use gravity to your advantage to throw those round logs down the hill and once they stop rolling (say by hitting the fence for instance…) you can then load them into the trailer that you can actually get to this bit of the property (because the rest of the property is overpopulated with rocks) and then transport them to the wood shed. I never knew how satisfying it could be to really get stuck into hard slog and then stand back and look at your mounting pile of firewood, knowing that you haven’t had to pay anything for it other than a little bit of fuel and chain bar oil for the chainsaw and a bit of petrol to get the car and trailer up to the top paddock. I have a new found respect for Steve and his amazing capacity to move around, lug heavy things and keep going and by sourcing our firewood from our own property we have reduced the amount of fuel and energy that we have to use and the garden is much tidier after our efforts.

We passed this most interesting of gates on one of our walks this week. The little dog was barking his head off and I could hear his owner telling him to be quiet and asked her if I could take a photo of her interesting planter box. She was more than willing for me to do so

Ecclectic sustainable artistic gardening and xeriscape (water wise) to boot! Good on you attractive young hippy lady with a small child on your hip. Cheers for letting me share your wonderful repurposed gate and this pretty windowbox

I don’t know if there is anything sustainable about this wonderful house boat but the elderly couple that allowed me to take this photo seem to be leading a most interesting life on the tideline in their rustic home. I wonder if the fishing is good?

Isn’t this a really lovely dry stone wall?

This picture was going to be a nice long line of delightful artisanal craftwork for you to enjoy but fatty refused to budge from rubbing his nose on the lawn so you are stuck with Bezial in the shot

We walked the dogs a whole lot and we have spent time relocating Effel and her 4 squintillion babies all over the place. They started down the driveway in a large clump of agapanthus but with bad weather on the way and our advanced knowledge of Effel and her terrible mothering skills, AND the fact that most of these little sweet fluffballs are actually blue Wyandotte’s and might be worth $20 each in a few months we decided to try to keep as many of them alive as possible and relocated them to Steve’s shed in Pingu’s old cage. It only took us 2 days to realise that Effel was NOT going to be happy cooped up inside a tiny little hay filled cage and that we were going to have to think about a slightly longer term solution for Effel and her babies. Knowing that they needed to be isolated from the other hens made it somewhat hard as we had removed the chicken wire in the chook roost when our hens started to reproduce exponentially and they started to fill the small bit of the roost where we had previously thrown our clucky hens whenever they wanted to hatch out a clutch of eggs alarmingly and so we had to confine Effel to the outside enclosed area of the coop. We decided to reuse (LOVE that word and it’s application :o) Pingu’s cage that Effel and her fluffballs had been living in for 2 days and cut a door into the front. After cutting half of the wire from the front of the domed cage we then covered it with 2 tarpaulins to make sure that it was weatherproof and we stuffed it full of hay to keep the little darlings dry and warm. We didn’t want the hay getting wet should it rain so we mounted 2 old wooden louvered doors from an old pantry cupboard that had completely disintegrated but we kept the doors for just such a purpose as this, on some treated pine logs and then put the new fluffball home on top. That evening, when we were making sure that Effel got her babies into their new luxury pad we noticed Effel sitting on 2 babies and the rest huddled in the cold in a corner…soon after a most frustrating (for us) but hilarious (to anyone watching) bout of running around chasing tiny chickens who have an incredible turn of speed and who were most determined to hide UNDER their new cage rather than in with their mum we managed to rake the babies out of their hiding places (yes RAKE!) and hurl (sorry place gently) them in with Effel all the time muttering under our breath about how we were going to decapitate Effel at the next sign of cluckiness. The next day we removed the tin, we took Hebel blocks and placed them all around the outside of the cage to stop the chicks from hiding underneath the cage and mounted a nice new longer (less of an angle to get up into the cage) wooden gangplank for the babies to climb up inside their new home. It seems like we have spent the whole week fussing over Effel and moving her all over the place but finally it seems like we might have sorted out the problems and everyone is still alive and we assume, happy.

This is a Rosa rubiginosa L. (Wild briar rose) that has become a bit of an environmental weed here in Tasmania. I am going to take advantage of its apparent glee for spreading all over our local area and am going to harvest the hips (fruit) to use in making wine, jam and syrup. Why waste one of the best sources of vitamin C when it is just going to waste?

This is the sole walnut that we were able to isolate from our Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) tree. It is quite a large tree and the rats have been taking advantage of its bumper crop of walnuts this year. I am thinking about tethering Earl to the walnut tree to see what the rats think of him

This is what a fresh walnut looks like. It was white and sweet and nothing like a regular dried walnut kernel. I savoured it slowly and will be tethering Earl ealy next season and awaiting a rat pelt jacket…we cant waste anything around here you know!

The temptation to “just have a little go” on the computer has slowly given way to an uneasy feeling that I have been wasting a whole lot of time online and that I have to do something to make up for it. The lugging of the wood was in part due to this feeling. Steve is very happy that I am actively starting to “do” physical things around the place. I regularly do a MAX music survey where I am asked my opinion of some short bursts of music. I do this, because I need to address the obvious bias of the young towards total crap music and ensure that the rest of us (not young) are able to turn on radios and hear something that won’t make us cry, vomit or pull our hair out in frustration. Let’s get one thing straight…I HATE manufactured garbage American/Australian/U.K Idol “music”. It’s NOT music people…it is carefully crafted phaff that garners bits and pieces from anything that has made it big and the people that “sing” it are primped, stuffed, anorexic people who are there because they look or sound like someone who has managed to make it big. Real music is born of passion and talent, not of a mishmash of platinum selling hits bound together with well-known riffs and sung by plastic ken and Barbie dolls on steroids. Thus it is my duty to ensure that all of the easily led mass consuming children of today are balanced out by an aging penniless hippy hell bent on promoting real music. I vote up groups that are original and that actually sing and I vote down crap and Beyoncé (can’t stand the bird). In saying that…after the last survey where I promoted Gotye and bucketed Katie Perry I was asked what my favourite song of the month was. I chose “somebody I used to know” (Gotye) and then my explanation was that I really…really…really…really…really loved it. I won a C.D. Great you might say, but it was a C.D. of crap music! AARRGGHH! I just did a quick phone around and palmed it off before I have even taken receipt of it to one of my daughters who dabbles in “crap” music on a regular basis. It’s even going to her house rather than here so that I don’t even have to be offended by touching it.

One of our trailer loads of nice dry wood that we have been collecting this week

This little Astroloma humifusum or Native cranberry is a Tasmanian native groundcover and apart from the small red flowers (that took me on a merry dance when I was trying to find out what this plant was because they look like heath flowers) it has an edible fruit. Another thing that is growing all over Serendipity Farm that is most welcome to stay

This skewed photo (reminiscent of old Batman episodes) shows the new home of Stretch. Stretch is a horrifying mix of plastic, beans and stretchiness that has taken on the form of a rubber chicken. Stretch was purchased many years ago when we lived in Albany on the lower South coast of Western Australia from the $2 shop for (coincedentally) $2. When we moved to Tasmania 5 years ago, I gave Stretch to mum to look after as she couldn’t bear to see him get thrown out. When I went back to Albany for my mum’s funeral and travelled to her little unit with my sister to help her sort out some of the contents I found Stretch in one of her cupboards. I decided that Stretch had been languishing in W.A. for too long and that his fame (or infamy more likely) should spread to Tasmania.

Don’t let his flacid stretchy naked body fool you…beneath that benign rubber surface lies the cold hard eyes of a killer! Look deep into the eyes of Stretch and be afraid…be VERY afraid…

I also decided that with some of my new found spare time that I would take a few extra books out of the library. I ended up with a very eclectic pile of books garnered from the few meek mild mannered shelves at the Exeter Library. I have never perused the shelves there before because, to be honest, there aren’t all that many of them. I was surprised at the range that I discovered and selected a book about Terry Pratchett (my favourite author), a book by Bodger from Scrapheap challenge all about living sustainably and minimising your carbon footprint, a book on “hot plants for cold climates” full of delightful tropical looking plants for winter wonderlands like ours, a book about “down to earth garden design” that isn’t really what I thought that it would be but is interesting reading anyway and last, but by no means least a book called “Bust D.I.Y. guide to life”. I didn’t really look at it in the library but saw D.I.Y. and decided to give it a go. It turns out that “Bust” is a magazine founded by women for women and aimed at “real women” rather than the hopeless, consumerist, neurotic anorexics that “womankind” is becoming thanks to the best efforts of the media and gay fashion designers. I have never heard of this magazine before but this book was a real eye opener! Forget all about “cucumber packs” for your eyes…this book tells you how to repair relationships, bury your dead and make your own sex toys! Now I don’t know about you, but any book that is going to tell you how to make your own sustainable sex toys is alright by me! I don’t think that I will be making many sex toys but I will be making some of the woven bracelets made out of embroidery thread and there are some interesting printing projects for fabric and wallpaper that amused me along with home-made shower curtains and some most interesting recipes. This book is great fun and everyone should take it out of the library or buy it to support women like this who are trying to tear down the stereotypes of what makes a good women’s magazine. If I can find this magazine, I am going to subscribe to it.

“Well looky what little Early has found here eh?”…a nice stash of bottles ready for the taking…

An action shot of the descent from the table of a dog who knows that he really shouldn’t be on the table sourcing his own supply of plastic bottles before they are offered but who could care less about being told off or the opinion of his protesting owners

I have some very interesting people reading my humble little blog now from all over the globe. I have no idea why they are reading my posts because when I have gone to their blogs to have a stickybeak at their lives I am totally in awe of these amazing people and how they are living and what they are doing. Fantastic photographers with great senses of humour, amazing sustainable blogs, people travelling the world and sharing their horticultural, sustainable lives with us in daily posts and some amazing people sharing all sorts of fantastic plans and knowledge. I love you all! I don’t know you personally, but thank you so much for sharing your blogs with me, let alone reading this whacked out little attempt at communication with the rest of the world. I promise you that I am getting so much more from you than you are getting from me, but should you ever find yourself lost and scared in Northern Tasmania (not hard to do…) please feel free to drop in on Serendipity Farm where you will get a warm welcome, a nice hot cup of tea and we will even be good enough to point you in the direction of the nearest airport where you can safely hightail it out of Australia’s equivalent of the Ozarks. The only thing missing is the alligator’s and to be honest, global warming is most probably going to deliver them into our waiting laps in no time flat. I have been letting my hair grow longer and after brushing it after my shower this morning, and after scaring the dogs with my howling whilst removing all of the knots, I realised that should I be that way inclined…you know… really REALLY sustainable, that I could most probably weave something out of my own hair. I just read that book that Florida recommended to me “Lambs of God” and a fair bit of human hair weaving went on inside the covers. I wouldn’t want to wear a human hair jumper as I would imagine it would be right up there with a horse hair couch, but I dare say you could use it in some form of artistic expressionism involving textiles. Do you see what I have been reduced (or elevated) to? I am starting to think of all sorts of weird and wonderful things because my brain has been freed from the relative security (your security, not mine) of confinement online to creative expression out there in the big wide world. Apart from the study days that have harnessed my thoughts and prevented me from making human hair underpants, there hasn’t been a whole lot to keep me safely out of the way of the rest of humanity. We have walked the streets of Sidmouth, Rowella, Beaconsfield, Exeter, Launceston, Georgetown and Kayena and I have been spotted collecting discarded soft drink and water bottles on these walks. I dare say the bus driver that waved to me this morning was lauding my community spirit to the kids on the bus as he noted my arm full of these bottles. I would love to be smug about my rubbish collection but I can’t. It is my year of living honestly and I have an ulterior motive. I am typing this on Thursday and we are off to town tomorrow (or yesterday as you are reading this on Saturday night/Sunday morning depending on where in the world you are) and apart from wheeling our computer and study workstation (desk) into the spare room and closing our door to stop Earl from removing all of the stuffing from our nice new king sized bed mattress (he started nibbling it last week) we have to leave our house to the mercy of Earl. I collected all of these water bottles, coke bottles, iced tea bottles and even a 2 litre juice bottle from the roadside verges so that I can put them all around the house in the vain hope that Earl will eat the bottles rather than anything else that he decides to lay eyes on. I promise that I will insert the remaining mangled shards of plastic into the recycling bin so in a way, Earl is helping us to recycle and clean up Australia, but I don’t have a lot of faith that everything will be fully intact by the time that we get home from our meeting with our lecturer. Steve has a lot more faith than I do in Earl. After our last meeting Earl hadn’t eaten anything. The next day, after a lovely long hour and a half walk he started eating the mattress. We don’t really know how to explain Earls desire to eat things as it transcends all of the literature written about “why dogs run amok”. “Day are bored” say’s Cesar Milan…Earl is NOT bored…we just walked him for 2 hours all around the neighbourhood…he peed on every single light pole, tree and several rubbish bins, he sniffed up a lawn full of grass, he rolled on the gravel verge 77 times, he ran, he jumped, he saw cows, he saw goats, sheep and chickens…he even saw a goose…HE IS NOT BORED! Why is he eating our house? Because he likes to. That is what we have decided. Now we didn’t have to pay $500 for Cesar’s C.D. course or do dog psychology 101 to find that out, we just had to see how happy he was when he was eating the bed…the bottles…the toys…Pingu…pieces of wood out of the wood box etc. Earl just likes how things feel in his mouth. One day he will stop doing that and we will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Until then, we have to take evasive action and should we forget and leave something out we have really no one to blame but ourselves so its bottle scattering on Friday for me…

This photo was taken over the water at Georgetown when we were walking the dogs yesterday. As you can see the weather has adapted to it being autumn now with a passion and we only just missed the downpour that those clouds were holding in our honour before we got back to the car.

Much as I don’t like being in photos SOMEONE had to hold those leads as otherwise carnage would ensue. I am looking a bit like Richard David James of Aphex Twin fame…sigh…oh well…I guess that’s better than some of the people that I could look like! In case anyone out there is admiring my sense of style (HA!) and would like to drop in to their local clothing purveyor to copy my look you can’t!  I am proud to anounce that my entire ensemble was sourced from various thrift shops and that the thrift shopping in Tasmania is brilliant. I am most proud of recycling classic clothes rather than buying into the need to consume precious resources to follow fashion which is nothing more than a marketing ploy to sell more clothes. I am constantly amazed by the range and extent of clothing that you can pick up in thrift shops and even my Doc Martin’s were sourced from a Thrift shop for $1. Cheers to everyone that donates so that both Charity and our precious world resources (and my bank account) can be spared their respective denudations (is that a word?!)

I am going to leave it there for today. I dare say I will be able to add a bit here about our meeting with our lecturer and Earl’s behaviour for tomorrow. I am really enjoying my time out in the real world. I guess what I thought was my control base was really a bit of a prison. The real world is fun too. I am just going to have to develop a bit of a balance between the two. Oh MAN am I tired! It is mid-afternoon Saturday and it’s the beginning of a personal epiphany. Steve got up this morning at 6am as he wanted to take both dogs for a walk in the dark. They love spotting wallabies and possums and rabbits and the excitement factor makes up for walking their usual route. We are trying to save petrol and Earl wouldn’t care where we walked but Bezial is a walk snob and expects to be given a different vista each and every day or he balks and refuses to walk. It is difficult to get a 40kg dog to move when he is stubbornly digging in his heels and dragging 40kg of stubborn dog up hills is no fun. We learned to give Bezial his different walks and he will allow us to do the same route approximately once a fortnight. We have to pay an exorbitant price for fuel (10c a litre more than Launceston) out here so we try to make sure that we don’t have to put any extra fuel in when we don’t have to and so we have taken to subterfuge and trickery to lure Bezial into walking the same way twice in a fortnight. It worked and the dogs got back home and tumbled through the dog door to greet me and slobber all over me just as I had gotten out of bed and had the kettle on ready for my morning libation. I had spent 30 minutes lying in bed thinking about life. As mentioned previously in this post there are some amazing bloggers reading my blog and exponentially more whose amazing blogs I am reading. I have developed a deep thirst for good quality information especially regarding the environment, the truth and sustainability (with a few closet sittings of food porn thrown in for good measure). I tend to be quite introspective and think a lot about things and have done so most of my life. After my divorce, I promised myself to always simplify my life and be honest and up front with even the most challenging of concepts and events. I have discovered that this might hurt bitterly at first but is always the quickest and cleanest way to deal with things. Whilst lying in bed this morning I was thinking about Serendipity Farm and just how much work needed to be done around here. We have plenty of conundrums going on including feral cats, chicken population explosions and various piles of debris growing exponentially every time we start to clear out the undergrowth. My epiphany came when listening to U2 singing “it’s a beautiful day” on the radio closely followed by David Bowie and “Changes”…I listened to the words and discovered that I really DID want to get stuck in and do something here. I wanted to stop procrastinating and start “Doing”. I got up, told Steve about my idea and together we just spent 5 ½ hours working to remove the usable wood from the piles of debris that we generated in the heat of summer where council gave us the perfect excuse to ignore the mountains of wood and branches by posting a “Fire Ban” sign at the end of the road…we have been faithfully observing this fire ban with secret glee because it has been stopping us from having to do much and today we took the bull by the horns and reduced 3 of the piles down to nothing, stacked wood up for the winter, cut up kindling wood and removed a weed tree and reduced it to compost sized bits. Steve chainsawed up logs, I collected them and lugged them to their resting place and the hens clucked and got highly excited at the prospect of insects spraying out with the sawdust from the back of the chainsaw. I am absolutely knackered but I am also feeling serene and complete. You are witnessing a woman who has decided to “get stuck in” and over the next few weeks, with the perfect conditions of autumn under our belt I will share how we are going to tackle the tangled mass of Buddleia globosa, Hebe’s, Abutilon, Philadelphus and acres of blackberries at the front of the house. I am most determined to clear this area out and plant out some of our potted plants. It’s so much easier to work for hours on end when the weather is nice and cold and you can relax in front of a warm fire at night time and soothe your aching body whilst feeling content about your accomplishments.

I think I might finish up there folks. I have noticed that this post seems to be almost as big as 7 regular posts…I am almost over my need to turn on the computer every time I walk past it. I am reading Frances Mayes “Under the Tuscan Sun” and am about to attempt some of the weird and wacky crafts (not a euphemism for ‘sex toys’ by the way 😉 in The Bust DIY guide to life (by Laurie Henzel and Debbie Stoller should you want to take it out for your own personal use…to read the articles of course!) and I am feeling more centred and happy than I have since mum died. The temperature is apparently going down to 4C tonight and we are now able to wake up to LAFM rather than the ABC. The old clock radio would only allow us to play ABC on it and it was dad’s old radio… this new radio (installed since Earl ate the cord of the old one) will allow us to play everything EXCEPT the ABC! How incredibly ironic. Well folks, this is it…your weekly post just about to be posted hot off the press. Hopefully it was worth your wait and your weekly fix feeds you for the rest of the week. Thank you and welcome to all of my new blog readers and despite being in awe at how amazing your blogs are, it made me smile to see so many of you signing up to get regular posts. I love being able to read all of your posts and now that posting daily is off limits, I sip my morning elixir as I sit reading these gems and know how it feels to look forward to someone posting. See you all next week and to my newfound blog posters, Cheers for my early morning wake up call.

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