Where do I start…

Hi All

This week has been a study in restraint for me. I have been holed up planning everything that I am going to do to those fecund, exponentially explosive blackberry bushes out there waving at me every time I walk out onto the deck. I have SUCH nefarious plans that I can’t even talk about them here in case those clever buggers have learned to read and find a way to hook into my internet connection to find out what I am up to. I SWEAR I killed them all last year…I swear often to my shame, but they must be made of sterner stuff because they are all back and twice as prickly. I am doing my best to minimise them by eating their tender, black, juicy babies but to no avail…they think they have me bested but not THIS little black duck. Come the cooler weather when I won’t wilt into a puddle of blackberry coloured narf, I am going to systematically remove all of the blackberries from Serendipity Farm. It’s not a wistful want…it is a driven need! Oh “Its ON” blackberries!

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“What have we here? A snoring troubadour if I am not mistaken!”

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“Yup”…he is fast asleep and still ready to spring into action as soon as he wakes…now THAT is a true musician 😉

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We had to make a quick trip into town recently when one of the second hand games that Steve had bought recently refused to work and he had only a couple of days left on his warrantee and we noticed an Indian grocery shop on the way and being me, Steve (without a word being spoken…I have trained him well 😉 ) stopped the car, handed me the wallet and got out to let some breeze into the car as it was a particularly hot day and we had the dogs with us. Look at all of this deliciousness! There was SO much more but I felt too guilty to peruse the shelves for too long as the dogs were hot. I am going to have to return ASAP but this time sans Steve and dogs 😉

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Sometimes Steve can make me snort wine out of my nose. Here is one of his nefarious ways to turn my nose into a wine tap (would that make me a cask? 😉 ). This recently purchased “interesting” packet of the Indian equivalent of Asian prawn crackers (except containing no prawn) is, according to Steve, Crash Bandicoot’s Indian Cousin…”Far Far” It took me a few seconds but as soon as I got it the wine started to flow…copiously! 😉

I received a post bag in the mail yesterday (Monday) and when I flipped it over and had a look at the sender I had a little “SQUEE!” moment. To everyone out there who hasn’t been infected by Jess/rabidlittlehippies amazing word that signifies and documents that precise moment where you think your head is going to explode with joy closely followed by your heart thanks to a delicious and most precious discovery/thing that has just happened to you…”SQUEE!” say the word…test it, roll those vowels around in your mouth and couple them with those expletive consonants and “SQUEE!” like a girl in a shop full of 90% off designer shoes ALL IN YOUR SIZE! Yeah I KNOW you know how to “SQUEE!” now! 😉

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“Earl…its hot…start the car!”

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You can actually see the point at which Earl realises he doesn’t have opposable thumbs…by the way NO comments about how dirty our car is. We are currently living in a dust bowl where whenever you set foot outside the house you raise a small puff of dust as you walk.

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I need this…I need this NOW! An old round trampoline base turned into a stringy magic carpet 🙂

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I reckon it might be time to plant these cuttings out don’t you? 😉

My mad “SQUEEING” that brought the boys racing up the deck thinking that one of the chooks had turned feral and was pecking me to death (got to protect your interests you know…Steve isn’t the one that feeds them 😉 ) was due to seeing that the parcel was from one Ms Pauline, one of my wonderful and most deliciously artistic followers. I have NO idea what I did to deserve Pauline following my blog. I started off our blogging correspondence by roundly insulting her. She kept coming back for more! What can I say; the girl LOVES a challenge obviously 😉 Seriously though, Pauline makes the most beautiful, insightful comments on every single blog that she follows. You know when Pauline has gifted you her wonderful sense of humour and her delightfully lyrical use of the vernacular because you feel right royally hugged by butterflies.

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My camera doesn’t do justice to these delightful hand painted tiny little works of whimsical art. They are all gorgeous and Pauline is the cleverest thing since sliced bread and twice as talented 🙂

Pauline created some cards for me to remind me of just how very lucky I am. She and I share a beady-eyed magpie desire to collect and adore shiny things and each and every one of the cards that she made for me were bright, blissfully coloured and shiny out the wazoo! It was all I could do to not lick them Pauline, I wanted to ingest all of that gorgeousness…they are now OFFICIALLY my preciouses…good luck to anyone or anything that would like to liberate them from me. I am off on a studious hunt for gorgeous frames to frame them all in and will be mounting them on the wall above my enormous desktop monitor along with my sacred “Biscuit of Loveliness” card sent to me by the gorgeous thinkingcowgirl all the way over the seas in old Blighty where they actually get precipitation coming from the sky folks…I know! It really does happen in some places in the world 🙂

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This mornings breakfast of cooked buckwheat porridge (fresh ground from whole grain), a chopped red apple, some date paste and some homemade sesame milk. It was delicious 🙂

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I now realise why people who post about brownies rarely have good images. Do you KNOW how hard it is to take a good photo of a brownie?! This is the best shot I could get. These are vegan brownies that contain a hefty 2 cups of grated zucchini (something that Steve swears he is allergic to 😉 )and instead of the walnuts (that Steve doesn’t like) I added the equivalent amount of chopped dates that gave these delicious brownies some incredible body and texture. For a man that doesn’t like zucchini he certainly woofed down more than his fair share of these babies. They are dense and gooey and I am SUCH a good narf7 that I am going to share the recipe here with you 🙂

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zucchini-brownies/

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Here’s an image of the 2 mixes ready to be gently folded together. I used raw sugar but the zucchini melted it nicely

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This is the point at which you would fold in the walnuts…feel free to sub them with anything you like…dates, chocolate chips, dried or glace fruit, squid, jars of vegemite (aHA so you were reading it eh? Just testing 😉 )

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Here is what the mix looked like spread into a buttered and floured cake pan. It rose nicely and was entirely delightfully easy to cook although we did have a bit of crusticular caramelisation occur due to it being baked in a covered bbq. Easy fix, cut off the “caramelisation” 😉

Aside from the cards that are now stamped on my heart, Pauline most generously sent me 3 of her gorgeous printed cards (all destined to be framed and mounted), a splendiferous and most beautifully written (you have lovely handwriting Pauline 🙂 ) card with an image of King Orlando on the front of it and 2 of her gorgeous prototype hippy bo-ho bracelets that I am going to wear shamelessly until they fall off me ragged and sweaty and full of narf7 skin cells most probably someplace in the veggie garden where the beads will turn up embedded in a scarlet runner bean pod at some day in the future where I need me a “shiny thing” moment. Pauline you floored me with your generosity and your talent. All I sent you was a wooden spoon…I didn’t even send you a card! I actually forgot your kefir grains! All will be remedied this week 🙂

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I purchased this packet of brown rice pasta when I was staying at my girls and heading to Hobart last. I decided that I might use it to make something delicious out of some leftovers…

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Cooked pasta at the back, a pan with butter and plain flour on the left ready for me to cook and add milk to form a roux sauce (which I then tossed cubed feta cheese and an indecent amount of grated cheddar cheese into to make rich and thick cheese sauce) and the leftover component of the recipe, some Bolognese meat sauce from spag bol 2 days before

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Tip the bolognaise sauce into the pasta and shovel copiously into a tagine that has NEVER been used to make a tagine

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Ladle on vats of rich cheese sauce and then cook in your oven of choice (ours is a covered bbq at the moment) until the top crisps and browns most deliciously. Steve could have cared less that he was ingesting brown rice pasta. He woofed down most of that large tagine full of this creation so I call this re-use of leftovers a success!

Pauline has a delicious blog where you can drool over her gorgeous artwork BUT I need to make this clear…no matter how gorgeous her artwork looks on her blog…don’t be fooled. It is 10 times lovelier in the flesh! Pauline has a delightful Etsy store where she sells her gorgeous things and where everyone can take advantage of Pauline’s amazing ability to take colour and splosh it about and end up with magic…pure shiny magic. As Molly Meldrum, an old Aussie music show host once said…”Do yourselves a favour and race out and buy these”!

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Taken just up from our driveway at 6am on my early morning walk with Earl

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As you can see it was pretty dark…

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A long stretch of road where Earl gets to sniff the delicious smell of fresh warm cows. I wonder if that is the doggy equivalent of fresh coffee and bread to us?

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This is the point at which we normally turn around and head back down this hill but today…we didn’t!

I have been walking Earl at sunrise lately. I have been enjoying heading out before the day heats up and we have been catching up with Jan and Mica most days and having a lovely “pack walk”. We were even joined by Bezial a couple of days last week when his dicky leg was up to it but the group frolic after party at Micas house might have just been a bit too much for him. All that frolicking and jumping and racing around left him hobbling around the next day so we are giving him a few days of “light walking duties” before setting out on a longer walk again. Bezial might not need long walks but Earl is the king of long walks. We set off on Sunday morning in order to burn off some of Earls excess energy and we walked our usual beat and when we arrived at our usual turning point to head home, I looked at Earl and said “let’s go a bit further eh?” He seemed up for it so we headed off up the hill and down the road to Bonnie Beach. Once we got to Bonnie Beach we decided (mutually) to keep going around to the end of Camm’s road (just so that anyone reading this who would like to stalk our walk on Google Earth or Google Maps can get a reference 😉 ) where we had a brief sniff of the gate of Rebecca Gibney’s of “Packed to the Rafters” fames gate before heading back home.

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We kept going and saw this old fellow on the way…

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A sunrise shot of Bonnie Beach where I asked Earl if he would like to keep going…you can probably guess his answer to that 😉

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Around the corner from Bonnie Beach and I just wanted to share this image of a “Dead Tree Walking” 😦 That branching fungus fruit there spells the end of this tree. Its a real pity as this is a most magnificent tree in a lovely place. Earl gave it the 3 legged salute to show his solidarity and we moved on…

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This embankment completely parted way with the road (that I am standing on) in last years incessant rain and so come clever thinking was put into action resulting in this gabion retaining wall. Most attractive and functional at the same time 🙂

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When you are walking 8km and you have to stop every 50 metres for “someone” to have a sniff it certainly makes a long walk turn into a L…O…N…G… walk!

We got almost home when Earl pricked up his ears and the familiar rumble of our little 4 x 4 came hurtling around the corner driven by a worried looking Stevie-boy and one most energetically prancing Bezial “sitting” in the front passenger seat. Apparently Earl and I had been gone for 3 hours…3 hours! And Steve and Bezial had gone for a walk and not been able to find us so they mutually decided to get out the “rescue van” to hunt further afield. Earl and I think that we were taken by aliens because it most certainly didn’t feel like 3 hours’ worth of trundling.  Earl was officially knackered but I was not! Obviously, I was being carried by all of my little microscopic kefir and kombucha inhabitants. I reckon I could have walked a few more kilometres quite happily. We worked out that we walked 8km and I think I might make that our “Sunday walk” from now on

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One rodent that I wouldn’t mind communing with 🙂

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Almost to the halfway point of our walk!

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Earl checking out the fortification on the jetty at the end of our first leg

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Lots and LOTS of oysters but you can’t eat them (even if you aren’t vegan!) because they contain 4 times the level of heavy metals considered to be a safe dose…cheers industry!

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On our way back and I couldn’t resist taking a shot of this gorgeous Corymbia ficifolia eucalypt. You can see how dry it has been around here by looking at this lovely “lawn” and this is a green one!

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It looks like Woolworths and Coles have successfully fooled nature with their nefarious desire to put Easter eggs into shops the day after Christmas…the Easter lilies are here!

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This would have to be the loudest beagle on the Pecos in full “BAAAOOOOO” 😉

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Heading back home and this shows where we are in relation to where we live. Those buildings are (from left to right respectively) Franks house, The Auld Kirk Church and we are somewhere in the midst of that pile of dark green there to the left of that small island 😉 still quite a while to go but unaware that the rescue wagon is on its way! 😉

I took a lot of pictures along the way and am using them predominately to decorate this post. I am more than aware that most of my dear constant readers don’t “read” my posts and I am down to a select core of stalwarts who are as mental and type A as I am who read the paragraphs between the images. The images are to satiate my followers for whom my aberrant and eccentric use of the vernacular isn’t appreciated (“PLEBIENS”! 😉 )

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Now we get to the ubiquitous shots of the veggie garden. Here you can see narf7’s patented (well it should be!) door closing device.

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I have stopped trying to achieve order in the garden and am just letting it go feral to its hearts content. Its heart is VERY content!

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More feral

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Both recent rescue figs are alive along with another adventitious compost tomato plant

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If you water them…they will come!

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Don’t ask me why this corn is so far away from its brethren…it “vants to be alone”?! No idea! I must have dropped a seed out of my pocket or gumboot (if I had one) or something but here it stands, the tallest of the corns and most majestic in its stately happiness. Are you starting to get an idea about how much planning I put into planting out this garden? 😉

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These are garlic chives. Are they meant to be this tall?!

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Remember that baseball sized pumpkin from last week? Well it is now basketball sized and has a baseball sized brother

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The pumpkins have decided that there isn’t enough room in this crowded spot to grow horizontal so they are growing vertically

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There is an experimental compost heap under this lot

Does anyone know what a Nutritarian is?!!! I am hazarding a guess that it is someone who is desperately attempting to make themselves appear to be a whole lot more interesting than they really are. Is it just me, or has there been an explosion of “crazy” when it comes to what people eat these days? It used to be that you ate “food” and some people were a bit more restricted than others due to true allergies, religion or personal choice but these days there are new “arians” coming out of the woodwork on a weekly basis! Someone even has a “Nutritarian” page on Pinterest. As far as I can gather by a quick perusal of the page, a “nutritarian” eats food. Go figure eh?

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We cut this sheoak down but it appears to want to come back. Who am I to argue? I might just keep it coppiced or whatever the equivalent is of allowing it to live and look like cousin IT in my veggie garden

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Kale that has been growing for almost a year now and is finally starting to look like kale!

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I have my suspicions that these aren’t pattypan squash. When they are “pattypan” sized they are bright green…they grow to football size before they turn yellow…

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“Oh what a tangled lot we weave when first we practice to get lazy and plant everything out wherever…”

It keeps threatening to rain here today but is holding it in and is making me cranky…”Just RAIN already!” I was guaranteed of a 95% chance of rain today and I had better not be disappointed weather men or I am going to start a campaign to save a WHOLE lot of money and have you all fired. The best way to tell if it is going to rain or not is to stand outside for a bit. If you come back in wet, it most probably rained. Some people get paid an exorbitant amount of money to translate that bit of wisdom 😉

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My bottle find that made me happy today. I guess it is natural selection at its finest. I am learning about Permaculture thus it is changing my way of thinking. I no longer see this bottle as “rubbish” I see it for all of the possibilities it contains. SO many possibilities! You just have to head to Pinterest to see what you can do with a humble glass bottle to get excited. I then pick up the bottle from where it had been thrown and take it home with me, thus removing the problem of litter and creating a nice clean patch of soil for someone else to throw out another bottle…Perpetual Permaculture 😉

I am starting to think that there might be something a bit strange going on with me lately. Does anyone else find bottles on the ground and hoot with glee? I was walking Earl over the Batman Bridge this morning and discovered a most delightful bottle sans cap that I found not too far from its bottle and I picked them both up (cap for my bottle cap wind chime) and carried them home along with a pair of twin bottles made by the same company. Here in Australia we do some fine boutique spirits but our old stalwart booze comes in the form of rum made in the sugar cane refinery rich state of Queensland. Distilling your own spirits is illegal in Australia where in New Zealand it is entirely legal (another reason for me to pack my bags and wing it over the Tasman…). The bottle that I found this morning appears to be new on the market for Bundaberg Rum and I was most interested to see a combination of Creaming soda and red rum! Sounds like a kiddies party drink to me but I am assured that it was 4.5% alcohol by volume and the 500ml bottle that I found, when full, could have rendered a child paralytic methinks.  My joy comes from collecting another bottle towards my stockpile that I am going to start using in interesting ways soon. Watch this space…

I have a lot of images to share with you in this post so I might just stop with DSCF7131

Take one packet of organic tofu…

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Combine these ingredients any which way you like and then pour them over the tofu that you cubed in between images

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Cubed tofu marinating in deliciousness

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Sprinkle furitake on top and serve to a husband who could care less that there is no meat in here…”it’s ALL good” 😉

the verbosity about now. I add comments to my images and even a few words add up to an exponentially long post when I use a lot of images. As our hot weather starts to (hopefully) cool down a bit I am hoping a swing in weather occurs for you northerners who could probably do with a bit of sunshine on your pasty snow covered countenances. We brown Aussies will be MOST glad to surrender it to you at your nearest convenience. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your weekend enough so you remember it with hazy joy and see you next hump day when I will have most probably done something but I am not promising anything! 😉

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Green Tea, Chainsaws, Moonshine and Redneck Rock down on the farm…

Hi All,

A terrifying thing has just happened…I headed to my “Blog” folder on my PC to look for the beginnings of a blog post. I usually have one or two ideas stuffed up my collective sleeve (I collect things in my sleeves so I am allowed to abuse the vernacular, mostly dirt and dog hair but whatchagonnado when you live on 4 acres out in the bush?) but today I found nada. Nada isn’t a good start folks…nada…zip…zilch…whatever you want to call it means that narf7 has to pull her finger out and get cracking with something for her dear constant readers to pore over with a microscope (you don’t? I am assured many do! 😉 ) for a Wednesday. Hump day arrives and narf7 has responded by being in recovery from her complete and utter addiction to Pinterest last week and by actually doing some work for once. Yesterday I spent the day removing rope and sundry “things” from a massive length of ex-fish-farm netting. The sundry things consisted of a huge amount of sludgy green algae (I removed it with that collective sleeve I mentioned earlier…), assorted chook manure that I kept finding thanks to the chooks being out now and most curious about what I was doing, several white plastic rings that I have NO idea what they were meant for but that made Steve excited to be the new owner of (for “own” read “throw in shed to make more mess…) along with so much thick nylon rope people are going to start talking about us unless I decide to find a tutorial for how to make a hammock that has a half-life.

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Here’s the view from the deck looking over the water at 7.30am on Monday morning and Steve just caught the sun coming up…

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And this is exactly the same spot the last image was taken but at 7am on Tuesday morning…it doesn’t look like the same place does it?! Anyone else think that we are in for a bit of rain in the near future? ;). Note, neither of these images have been Photo shopped.

We have been busy collecting wood and waiting for rain. We have various piles of debris on Serendipity Farm that we would like to imagine that we left there for the specific purpose of allowing the leaves to fall from the branches and mulch the denuded soil, harvesting smaller branches for a hugelkultur base for our soon to be realised ENORMOUS fully enclosed veggie garden (typing that just made me tired…) and for harvesting the larger portions for making Brunhilda the equivalent of a tasting platter. In reality we just piled them up whilst doing the metaphorical equivalent of putting our fingers in our ears and yelling “I CAN’T HEAR YOU” loudly…over and over again. Now we have to deal with our metaphoricals in a more physical way and after poring over ideas to make me look like I am a clever and savvy horticulturalist, environmentalist and permaculturist (all the “ists”) I came up with the idea to use the big bits for firewood. It’s amazing how much wood you actually get out of piles of ex shrubs. Steve and I know…we have been harvesting it all week.

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Ferals enjoying the autumn leaves

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The maple tree has finally started dropping it’s lovely red leaves

The weather for our winter so far (all 5 days of it) has been that glorious mix of crispy squeaky cold mornings and lovely sunny days. I love weather like this. It makes you feel clear headed and full of purpose (even when you aren’t and are just dragging along behind an overexcited dog hell bent on urinating on every shrub he sees). Today we cut more ex-fish farm netting and we collect more firewood. It might not sound interesting but when it all comes together it is both productive and delicious. I have been cooking a lot lately. Lots of wholesome soups and delicious Stromboli’s and my mind is starting to turn to food adventures. I am considering making a sweet Stromboli. How does adding some more sweetener to the dough and some kind of dried fruit and sweet spice sound? How about when I flatten it out (easiest dough to work with folks…) I spread over some grated apple and cinnamon sugar or grated chocolate and orange zest or jam and more sultanas, but this time they have been soaked in rum? Then I roll it all up, tuck in the ends and bake it for the sake of a happy man. I could call it “Stromboli Poly” and could serve it with custard and thick pouring cream. I reckon it’s a date!

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As you can see, we aren’t short of a few leaves here on Serendipity Farm. Do you like where we chose to put the craypot we got for $5 from the progressive garage sale?

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A close up of a vegans nightmare 😉

I got up at 2am this morning. I don’t know if it was the pressing need to write a blog post or just that my mind is a bit twitchy today. I am off to my daughters this weekend and my brain has gone into planning overload. I want to bake up a storm. On the phone yesterday my youngest daughter Bethany told me that they had bought me a tray of friand pans and had also bought me some Matcha green tea powder. They couldn’t find me any locally so they imported it from China! The food miles are prohibitive but apparently I have a certificate with my bag of fluffy green powder to assure me that it is “Genuine Green Tea”. I can only begin to imagine why they would feel the need to issue a certificate with their green tea…I don’t want to imagine it any more…all roads lead to adultered milk powder with stirred in spirulina ;). We are going to have a great time this weekend and I am taking the ingredients for making waffles over with me. I am also going to take the ingredients for friand. Apparently “Friand” is a peculiarly Aussie word for the French “Financier”. They are one and the same thing but we Aussies love to take something and make it our own (just ask the New Zealanders, they have been saying that we pilfered lamingtons, pavlovas and goodness only knows what else from them for years! 😉 ). I have been lusting after friand pans for a while now and whilst I can’t justify buying a set of pans for a single use, I CAN accept them as a gift 😉

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Steve has had Stromboli’s on a regular basis ever since we trialled them for The Virtual Vegan Potluck last month. As an Omni, he has smoked csabai and bacon and feta on his Stromboli’s along with grated cheddar cheese which I hadn’t grated on yet in this picture. This is the Stromboli pre-roll…

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And here it is post roll. You get a good look at our kitchen in the background. That board resting on the floor was designed to fit snuggly over the gas cooktop on that section of cupboards to the left at the rear of this image so that we can use it for extra preparation space. We don’t use this cooktop much in winter as Brunhilda is on pretty much 24/7 so it’s a good idea to utilise the wasted space when we need it the most, when we are up to our armpits in bread dough etc. over the cold winter months.

I have to report to you that Steve will be my guest poster on Saturday. I was twitching about having to get this post AND Saturdays post done yesterday and Steve gallantly came to the rescue. Steve is an attention hog folks…don’t let his mild mannered beatific smile lure you into any false pretences that this man is a benign sideliner…no sooner is my back turned then he has plans for this space. Apparently he is going to give you a history lesson for Tasmania “Steve style”. I just wanted to mention here that I can’t be held responsible for any content that my wonderful quirky Aquarius husband inserts here on Saturday…just hold onto your rollercoaster seat and get ready for a decidedly “side left” experience! I have given him free range so long as he doesn’t go on about religion and politics. He seemed a bit crestfallen there as just about everything going on in Tasmania at the moment has something to do with both and that is where he got the idea about history…you can’t go wrong with historical events…they have already been and Wikipedia has more than enough of them for the average bear. He didn’t really like what Wikipedia said. It bored him. He is easily bored so he is going to rectify that by adding in his own interpretation on events. Good luck…make SURE to affix your safety belts and don’t tell me you weren’t warned when I get back here on Wednesday 😉

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Glad allowed us to take a few shots of her driveway when we were talking to her the other day. See all of those leaves? That’s about 1/8th of the leaves to be raked and claimed by yours truly :). I love it when helping your neighbour is also helping yourself :). The road you can see at the end of Glad’s driveway drops off straight into the river on the other side.

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Aren’t these oaks lovely? The minister for the Auld Kirk church next door to us was buried in Glad’s garden somewhere as her home used to be the church manse. I wonder if Glad knows where he is?

I’m back. Did you miss me? I have been outside collecting wood and cutting net while the sun shone which wasn’t all that long to be honest but at least we were able to get some of what we wanted done. Steve has been wrestling with his chainsaws which have both apparently gone on strike. I decided to retreat to the safety of the house to protect my delicate ears from the ensuing stream of profanity and decided to finish off this post. I have fed Audrey and she is ruminating nicely on the kitchen bench. I like to give her a little bit of time out in the warmth of the kitchen to make up for the fact that she pretty much lives in the fridge. I have also transferred my milk kefir grains from their twice weekly dunking in “real” milk to a container of homemade soy milk made from organic beans and date paste. The grains LOVE date paste. I have been watching them closely to see if there was going to be any negative connotations with putting them into non-dairy milk on a long term basis but haven’t seen anything yet. If anything, they appear to grow faster when they live like this. I guess they know that they are going to have a nice holiday in regular milk every couple of days and have decided to make the best of it. I get the feeling that certain sections of the yeast/bacteria symbiosis that forms the complex relationship we know as kefir grains love nothing more than fruit sugar. I had read that you can double ferment kefir by adding fruit to the finished result for the kefir grains to continue to feed on. I use date paste because they seem to like it a lot. They actively feed on it whenever they are added to the date sweetened soymilk and I have started to get adventurous with my combinations

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I was talking to Roxy, our friend who lives down the road on the way past her home yesterday and as she volunteers in the local Beaconsfield thrift shop I asked her to keep her eyes open for any hand knitted jumpers that I could buy and unpick for the wool. She said “hang on a minute” and came out with a bag of wool. This bag contains 5 balls of a lovely khaki green wool. Not sure what I am going to make with it but I think I might make Steve some fingerless gauntlets

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She also gave me a large bag of hand spun wool that she had spun herself. I will be making myself some gauntlets out of this gorgeousness. I love sharing. We gave Roxy and Guy a whole lot of potted plants to plant out on their property and Roxy, in turn has been very generous back with veggies and this lovely wool. Developing community allows one mans trash to become another mans treasure. Roxy said that she had knitted herself enough beanies, gloves and scarves to last her a lifetime and I was welcome to the rest of the wool. I will try my hardest to do it justice. Any suggestions for patterns (pointing me in the right direction online) would be most gratefully listened to 🙂

I am not all that sure that my adventurousness is being rewarded. I have combined the finished kefir with some homemade coconut milk that I made a while ago (from fresh coconut meat not dried) and promptly put into the cold part of the fridge and promptly forgot all about. I found it the other day when I was hunting for cheese for a sandwich for Steve. I opened the top and it didn’t smell “bad” so I decided to throw it into the kefir mix. Not so sure it was a good move…it tastes nice but it seems to have added something explosive to my kefir mix. The kefir has started to bulge alarmingly in its 3 litre plastic milk container. I opened it this morning and the lid blew off! It is über fizzy, tastes lovely and as I have been adding more date paste to keep the mixture fermenting it is certainly using what I give it. I figure that I have made a sort of date, coconut and soy hooch. I tossed in a bit of leftover almond and oat milk this morning and the kefir assimilated it like the Borg. I don’t know what I have created but I feel like Dr Frankenstein once he lost control of his creation…it may yet go over to the dark side and need euthanising but for now, it’s great fun and so long as I remember to release the gasses from the finished kefir every time I go to the fridge, I shouldn’t have to clean up an almighty mess any day soon. (Note to self…remember to use it all BEFORE you go away for the weekend… 😉 )

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This is what “real eggs” look like folks. Those feathered Somalian pirates do have some benefits. The problem is, it is getting increasingly harder to find where the crafty minxes are laying!

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Remember that tree that rotted and dropped and is being propped up by another tree right next to the house? Well it’s still there…sigh…

The chainsaw just started and kept going so I figure that means “SUCCESS!” and it might be safe to step outside and check if the bit of drizzle that we have had so far is adding anything to our rainwater quotient. Steve now sounds like he is trying to play “The Chainsaw Song” by Jackyl (a band from the 80’s folks…I hadn’t heard of them either…) on one of his long suffering chainsaws. To illustrate what I am talking about here is a link to the song…watch it, and then you will understand what I mean…incidentally…I would like to apologise for the 30 seconds of “Kardashians” that you will be forced to watch before the actual video commences…please feel free to get a bucket in readiness for the inevitable vomit response that will highly likely occur…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A52p9jc-gOo

Now let’s get something straight from the get-go…Steve and I both LOVE this song. We are apparently both Sidmouth Rednecks in the making but manage to stifle it most of the time. You can be sure that we are both jumping around the kitchen for the duration of the song (and I dare you to remain seated…its catchy folks 😉 )…aside from that you might be forgiven for thinking that Bon Scott from ACDC has somehow taken possession of the lead singer of Jackyl…he hasn’t. The man’s name is “Jessie James Dupree” (somehow incredibly fitting) and aside from being a pretty good and most athletic singer in a redneck band, you may have seen him in the heinous approximation of a television show called “Full Throttle Saloon”. Much like Mr David Lee Roth who is also an athletic and very good singer, Mr Dupree seems to be squandering his talents. At least Mr Lee Roth is driving an ambulance…Mr Dupree seems hell bent on getting Mr Lee Roth as much work as he can handle.

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This is an Osteospermum daisy. It is my nemesis. I decided to share this photo with you because they do look pretty but they aren’t welcome here along with their Vinca major mates!

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Since we cleared out all of the competing undergrowth from around this lovely Protea it hasn’t stopped flowering. It’s probably the happiest plant on Serendipity Farm

Steve appears to have a desire to become an aging redneck. His hero is a now deceased man called Popcorn Sutton. Popcorn Sutton made the best moonshine in the U.S. Steve is in awe of the mention of his name. He has an uncanny ability to dance just like Popcorn Sutton and wants me to video him doing his hillbilly shuffle so that we can rotoscope him for posterity. Should this strange (and somewhat disturbing) video ever eventuate, I promise to share it with you all here on The Road to Serendipity, cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye folks! By the way…what is it about half naked men with long hair that appeals to me girls? Give me an 80’s Pearl Jam clip and I am gone! ;).

Here is a “Doodied up” version of Popcorn Sutton dancing…marvel at those moves folks and know that Steve has been studying them intently and can replicate them in minutiae…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E575kEtKRBs

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Finally we see fungus! Anyone who has been hanging around Serendipity Farm and this blog for long enough will know of my undying love and respect for my fungal companions here on planet Earth. I have NO idea what this fungus is, all I know is that they tend to grow on tree stumps and rotting wood in large clumps like this.

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Isn’t this pretty? My love for fungi knows no bounds 🙂

I might make this a slightly shorter post than usual and leave it here folks. It is starting to get late and it’s already almost dark at 2.45 in the afternoon! I have my evening routines to start at 3 when we feed the dogs and everything flows from there till about 7pm when we get to both sit down (after racing around after animals all over the place) and have a well-earned rest. We think Frank and his wife have headed off to Canada as they have been strangely quiet on the Western Front. We did see a good friend who used to work at the Alanvale Polytechnic when we attended horticulture lectures there for 2 years (Hi Nat :o) ) who used to be the head groundskeeper. He wasn’t ANYTHING like Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons and was more like Mr MacGyver (Mr Smarty-pants fix it with string…) from the hit television series of the same name that back in 1985. Corey could fix ANYTHING and was/is the most laid back person I have ever met. Today we saw him driving a truck load of gravel for a new house being built right next door to Frank’s house.  So we have impunity to see just how many roosters we can populate Serendipity Farm with in the 6 months that Frank will be absent without leave. Let’s take some bets on how many shall we? The winner takes them all! 😉

It rained on our parade…

Hi All,

Buggery bollocks the net’s gone down. My apologies to anyone sensitive reading this post but I have intentionally limited my angst to that initial sentence so it’s hopefully all uphill from here. It’s 4.46am and I have just written an entire post, I have resized 15 images for last Wednesdays post and am starting on today’s post last Wednesday. I like to make the most of my time but this is ridiculous! Last Wednesday I was typing Saturday’s post about Peak Oil. Who knows what has happened in the last week? I am guessing that Steve and I have done “something” regarding our proposed large fully enclosed vegetable garden. I am hoping that we did or this post is going to be an epitaph to our laziness or to how much rain Tasmania can spawn in a single week. I am going to turn our modem back on now after an hours rest. If it decides that it is going to play ball and connect us to the net this is going to be a very short paragraph and I will be off surfing the ether for recipes, processes and my addiction to knowledge. If it doesn’t…you might have to suffer a post spawned by the frustrations of a knowledge addict.

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This is what happens when you get up at 3am and forget that you didn’t put a screw cap on the container with your homemade non-dairy milk…sigh…

We are seeing a lot more grey herons hanging around the shoreline at the moment. It must be nesting season

We are seeing a lot more grey herons hanging around the shoreline at the moment. It must be nesting season

Sigh…the net is incommunicado and narf7 has been relegated to typing. Brunhilda has been sparking away since I got up at 3am this morning. We both slid back into our morning processes with consummate ease and now that I get up so freakin’ early, she barely has time to settle down into slumber before I am prodding her with the poker and asking her to boil my kettle for another day. “Chicken” and “Stock” are both loudly progressing themselves even closer to the dinner table as I sit here typing and my second kettle of the day is just about to boil. I am going to sit it on the edge of the cooktop where it can gently tick away. My grandmother taught me to put a smooth well boiled pebble into my kettle so that you know when it is about to boil (and so you can catch it before it starts to scream at the top of its lungs…a good thing when the rest of the household is fast asleep and entirely uninterested in how many cups of tea you want to cram into your early morning sessions…) and it’s a little tip that keeps grandma around in a small way. I think of her when that little stone starts to tap and as it keeps the beat slowly throughout my day.

A little bit later on and the sun is just starting to come up on a gorgeous chilly autumn morning

A little bit later on and the sun is just starting to come up on a gorgeous chilly autumn morning

Our neighbourhood has suddenly started showing off

Our neighbourhood has suddenly started showing off

Last Tuesday we visited our friend in the witness protection. She gave me carrot; broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds and she also gave me some seeds that look like round emerald green pearlescent cake sprinkles. She has no idea what they are…”I” have no idea what they are. I have my suspicions that they ARE cake sprinkles but I am going to try them in a pot and see what grows. She also gave me some seed from a plant she purchased at the nursery where she works. It’s called a “Rocoto Tree Chilli” and promises to be a perennial tree that produces chilli’s that grows in temperate climates in full sun in a wide range of soil types. Its botanical name is “Capsicum pubescens” and apparently the fruit it produces is hot. Aside from the usability of the fruit, the plant is apparently hardy and there are stories about a man “living down south” who has one 8 metres high and 2 metres wide…I get the feeling that this plant is something akin to our own Cape Gooseberry that lives happily on Serendipity Farm and I figure it might self-seed all over the place but I have NO problem with an edible condiment that wants to keep on keeping on with very little input…some might offer up the word “weed” but we don’t call things weeds here on Serendipity Farm (not since we learned that constant weeding is NOT something that we wish to do for the rest of our lives) and choose to see as many benefits in our fast growing botanical cell mates as we can.

The solitary artichoke that didn't get munched to the ground by the wallabies with cat for size comparison

The solitary artichoke that didn’t get munched to the ground by the wallabies with cat for size comparison

I love this little house and it's for sale folks! Anyone want to move to Sidmouth and be narf7's neighbour?

I love this little house and it’s for sale folks! Anyone want to move to Sidmouth and be narf7’s neighbour?

Our friend in the witness protection and I huddled over Peppino shrubs and her exponentially increasing Tree Chilli plant and her cuttings that she took recently and we gravitated to her veggie garden and over to her unprotected garden where the neighbours cows and bull decided to crush half of her hard work in planting out conifers over the last year…curiously, they only crushed the half that were growing…the half that the possums and wallabies and rabbits decided weren’t palatable enough to predate and strip and so her garden is suffering a bit at the moment but her garden is like our friend…resilient, stubborn and optimistic and we are going back yesterday (remembering I am typing this last Wednesday and am projecting into the future…) to take lots of cuttings of hardy pentstemon’s, tree chillies, peppinos, and collect a tray of young leeks that she grew for us. We will be giving her chives and PDF’s and a barrel of biscuits that won’t even go halfway to repaying her kindness or the load of wood that she told Steve to get while we are visiting.

Steve insists that these are "my fishnets"...who thinks he would make a good Frankenfurter?

Steve insists that these are “my fishnets”…who thinks he would make a good Frankenfurter?

We discussed my fear of Earl and Bezial bowling over my high school bestie Kym who is going to visit from Western Australia for a week to celebrate us both mutually hitting the grand old age of 50. We even considered sending our friends partner off to stay with Steve and the dogs for a week and pretending that our friends house was ours just so that we could circumvent the badly behaved larger dog problem in the first place but hopefully Kym is made of sterner stuff and can understand that our 2 dogs might be badly behaved…they might have as much training as our chooks do and they might pay attention to us about as much as my children do BUT after about an hour they will settle down and ignore you like they did with my mum when she visited. If you AREN’T made of sterner stuff and you don’t think you can handle an hour of dog slobber and jumping Kymmy we might have to go back to plan A! 😉

1 roll of fish netting off to be cut up for our garden

1 roll of fish netting off to be cut up for our garden

After we headed into town we took some photos to illustrate the HDR function in Photoshop. What is the HDR function in Photoshop? Beats me folks, but it involves setting up a tripod, taking a “normal”, an “underexposed” and an “overexposed” photo all of the very same thing, all without moving the camera in the least and using the HDR function in Photoshop to blend the photos to arrive at something that looks like a black and white or sepia photo that has been hand coloured. I think I showed you some of them last Wednesday… (See how I cleverly pretended that I am actually here rather than back there typing this out last Wednesday? 😉 ) and they remind me of Victorian hand coloured photographs that my nana used to have in frames. I quite like them and the dogs behaved while Steve took the photos and I held them both. Their combined weight now exceeds mine quite significantly and should they have suddenly become aware of the presence of a cat per-se, I think Steve might have been able to take some entirely hilarious photos that he could have sold to the local newspaper. Thank goodness the feline population of Launceston decided not to make an appearance.

"I SWEAR I can smell fish!"

“I SWEAR I can smell fish!”

After we took our photos we picked up another bottle of hot sauce (my latest addiction) and headed home where Steve spent the afternoon manufacturing a new dog door for the back door and devising a way to make it unavailable to nefarious enterers when we are not here. Just a small aside folks…if anyone IS considering waiting till we head out and attempting to crawl in through the dog door I think I owe it to you to admit that we often leave our dogs behind when we head out. They like being warm and laying on the floor in front of Brunhilda and Earl loves to run at top speed out the dog door. Should anyone be foolish enough to want to crawl through a large dog door that hasn’t been secured at the back…they might ask themselves “why haven’t the home owners secured this dog door and why am I able to enter this establishment via said dog door so easily?” they might be able to get this thought out before Earl crashes headlong into them at 100+kph and they get to meet both Earl AND Bezial…I just thought I would give you a sporting chance 😉

Free steel poles to be concreted into the ground as part of the new veggie garden

Free steel poles to be concreted into the ground as part of the new veggie garden

It’s now 5.35am last Wednesday. “Chicken” and “Stock” are getting nearer to meeting their maker and I am starting to think about what I can do for the next hour and a half before I wake Steve up and we start our day. We have big plans for today (for “today” insert “last Wednesday”) and will be cutting sheoaks down, collecting large steel poles from a friend’s house, digging holes and humping stones from one place to another to be used in building the keyhole gardens and spiral gardens that are going to be created inside this large fully enclosed garden. Our friend in the witness protection is giving me lots of raspberry canes to grow. She is also giving me a “Youngberry”. Not too sure what a “Youngberry” is but it has very large berries on it and everything in the whole wide world wants to eat it because it is so delicious so I figure I might tack myself onto the end of that tasting conga line and graciously accepted her offer of a sucker. She is also giving me lots of perennial plants that have grown in her lawn over the long hot summer that we just had and that just elevated themselves into “must have!” status on Serendipity Farm. If they didn’t get eaten on our friend’s property, they are magic and are plants to be treasured at all costs. Sometimes you have to outthink your enemy. If we want a garden full of flowers we have to plant things that “the enemy” can’t stand. “Fool me once!”

Steve's maples still have a few leaves left by the possums to start putting on a lovely show

Steve’s maples still have a few leaves left by the possums to start putting on a lovely show

Steve and I are going to attempt to cut our way through about a kilometre of ex fish farm netting today. We have to circumnavigate our 175m2 fully enclosed veggie gardens with something that seals and dolphins can’t bite through. We figure if aquatic mammals can’t beak their way into it, possums and wallabies have NO chance! The weather has been perfect here lately. It’s lovely and cool and bracing outside but the sun is shining and the skies are blue and it’s easy, and a pleasure, to work for hours out of doors. We have even been having the odd rain shower but rain in Tassie works on Tassie time. It rains at night and on the weekends and rarely before 10am (when most native Tasmanian’s like to get out and about as a rule ;)) so we can have the dogs walked before it starts drizzling for the day.

On fire under the deck

On fire under the deck

It’s very exciting to be underway on the veggie garden…exciting and daunting. I now have to figure out how to fill these garden beds cheaply. We are going to use hugelkultur principals by using up the branch wood and sticks that we cut from the trees that we had to remove from the new garden area (after chopping them up to facilitate faster breaking down) as the basis for our garden beds. It worked really well in our other garden beds as most of them have chopped up chunks of wood in the base before we topped them with the wonderful black gold locally produced compost as our growing media of choice. Hay and straw are readily available, I just have to source reasonably priced versions of the two and now that autumn is definitely up and running, there will be lots and lots of autumn leaves to take advantage of. Lucky I LOVE to rake and collect them :o).

Franks 37 tonne behemoth in the river in front of our properties

Franks 37 tonne behemoth in the river in front of our properties

The next few weeks are going to be filled up with the logistics of building the veggie garden and planting out our food forest. I am just about to use Google Earth to map our first paddock to find out the area that we have to use for our initial food forest. After I do that, I can plot it into AutoCAD and can use it to start really planning where our trees and shrubs are going to be planted. Being a penniless student hippy is certainly teaching me more about patience than life up to now. When you are forced to wait for what you want and need there are life lessons contained in every step. Nature and a moth eaten sock under the bed don’t care if you have a temper tantrum because you don’t have what you want or need…they just ignore you thrashing on the floor and it’s quite humbling to arrive at the other side of a good “whinge” to realise that life doesn’t revolve around “YOU” like you thought it did 😉

Franks boat and the Batman Bridge in the background

Franks boat and the Batman Bridge in the background

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Sigh…like vegan narf7 is going to eat muscles and oysters!

I guess that might be all for today folks. I know I have been thrashing your eyeballs with large posts lately and don’t want to alienate my dear constant readers. I love you all for staying with Serendipity Farm even when it becomes a 2 cup of tea matter to read a post. I hope the new, smaller paragraph; format is helping somewhat with the reading. Have a great “rest of the week” and see you on the weekend where hopefully some progress has been made on our netting cutting and we might be ready to start digging holes. We have to see our friend Jenny (SO liberating to not have to type “Friend in the witness protection” now 😉 ) soon to get a load of firewood and some cuttings including; pineapple sage, Chilli tree (Capsicum pubescens), Peppino (Solanum muricatum), a new mint that I don’t have and some Young berry which I found out is a strain created by crossing the Austin-Mayes dewberry with a blackberry and raspberry hybrid known as the Phenomenal, and it has since been given the botanical name Rubus cecaesius.

3 narfs on a sofa. One of our media tasks

3 narfs on a sofa. One of our media tasks

"Excuse me...could you see your way clear to showing me how to make this thing work?"

“Excuse me…could you see your way clear to showing me how to make this thing work?”

In return I will be baking some batches of home-made biscuits and will be giving Jenny a large clump of chives. Jenny was a class mate when Steve and I studied certificates 2 and 3 in horticulture on campus in Launceston. We became great friends and share a love of plants that all 3 of us didn’t realise we had until we started our courses. We support each other whenever the possums and wallabies eat away at our inspiration and our hope and set each other back on track and ignite our horticultural passion over a cup of tea and a good chat. See you Saturday folks :o)

What a Mingy Comumbus a.k.a. “Oh COCK!”

Hi All,

To find out what the title of today’s post means you either have to find Series 2, episode 4 of James May’s “Man Lab” or you need to get your fingers googling. No laziness here folks…this blog is all about educating the masses and how are you EVER going to get ejamicated without a bit of work from your side eh? Steve actually prefers his version (well…the version that he was hunting for this morning online and curiously finding nothing at ALL to do with it…) the “Mumbly Comumbus”. Steve loved this SO much he has renamed “The Tubby Piggins” to “The Mumbly Comumbus”…A fitting name for his little aluminium coracle…go look it up! I KNOW it is driving you crazy! ;). I had a Mingy Comumbus of a day on Monday. I went to town with Steve and the dogs to do the fortnightly shopping on a hot day when the dogs and I spent most of the time in the car because I can’t hold both excited boys myself and we were forced to endure extended periods in a hot car. I KNOW that dogs die in hot cars but so do middle aged women! We had the windows down and doors open (well my door was open, Earls door was decidedly NOT! 😉 ) but that doesn’t make up for having to sit in the sun while Steve dashed in and out of various shops hindered by an exponentially grouchy wife and 2 panting pups. I completely forgot half of what I wanted to buy in town because I was feeling so twitchy, I have lost my city legs and was swaying from side to side mentally the whole time I was in the city. We got home and Steve had to race out to go and pick up some more craft wood from a man who is moving away from the area but Steve teed up to buy some more delicious varieties of wood from so he had to be there for 2pm. I hurriedly opened the kitchen window to give the insistent cuckoo shrike some cheese cubes and in the process hit our knife sharpener that caused a chain reaction that knocked a little blue and white flowerpot that had been on mums windowsill in her tiny little unit over. The pot didn’t break but every single one of my lovely blue and white ceramic jam spoons that it contained flew out all over the place and shattered into smithereens…”OH COCK!” as James May would say…the day was just “one of those” days…we all have to bear them…it wasn’t particularly fundamentally “bad” but it wasn’t one that I would have chosen and we all need days like this to show us how good our normal days really are. Update: not all of my ceramic spoons are broken! I found one in the cutlery draw…Steve must have put it there and for once, I am glad of his absentmindedness about where he puts things after he washes up :o)

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Earl bagsed top bunk…

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“Is this how you drive? Why isn’t it going?”

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“I prefer to be chauffered…”

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“Any fish in here?”

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Tilly, Nat’s dog enjoying one of the dogs treats

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“So you won’t get up for me to sit down eh?”…

I don’t watch a lot of television but I do LISTEN to a lot. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen/living room because that is where my base station is. Our desktop P.C. is the centre of my day and I have invisible threads that allow me to head out and do everything that I do in my day but I inevitably end up back checking something, researching something that I thought of while I was bum’s up in the garden or making sure that I didn’t forget to do something. I was doing the dishes the other day when I heard that Tasmania is going to have the driest January on record. We have a very lean 3 months in Northern Tasmania over the summer period as it is and rather than see this as an imminent threat, I prefer to see it as a challenge. Enter my arid food growing guru Bev from the wonderfully informative blog http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ she is my kind of problem solver. She uses a variety of permaculture principals on her property and reading about her exploits is both interesting and informative. I especially love her water wicked containers. In her latest post she shows how she has grown salad veggies in one of her wicked boxes and in arid conditions where water is likely to be limited these wicked boxes give you a whole lot of control over your food supply. I found a tutorial on how to make self watering raised veggie boxes here… http://www.josho.com/gardening.htm But I have to say that Bev had an equally excellent tutorial on her website that you can check out here… http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/preparing-a-wicking-box/  . Bev is also an incredibly generous gardener with sharing her hints, tips and spare seed. I am eagerly awaiting some parsnip seed that she managed to grow in copious quantities…no parsnips but plenty of seed and when life hands you parsnipless seeds, you pass them on! Lesson learned…no snips BUT a plethora of new interstate friends who love to collect seed and share as well. I am still ruminating the Aussie seed swap. I think it’s a fantastic idea and just because I have had to go back to horticultural kindergarten with my sideline into vegetable gardening

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One of Steve’s finds whilst pootling around on the river the other day…isn’t this place lovely?

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Part of the lovely house in the last photo and we think that they might be walnut trees

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Walking down the driveway to check the mail…

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And walking back up again…it’s no wonder Steve has skinny legs 😉

I have just realised why I am willing to be kicked out of bed at 3.50am by the dog and head out into the dark early morning to read blogs through my rss feed reader…it enlivens and invigorates my mind. I LOVE learning…I love the cut and thrust of replying to comments and sharing my opinion and I love that I can do it from the comparative safety of my own little kitchen miles away from the coalface of the original idea. I can wander through a list of amazing personally selected blogs that feed my mind and act as jumper leads to my day. I flick from amazing food blogs…lots of innovative vegan blogs and gorgeous foodie blogs with amazing recipes to cutting edge fermentation sites and sites where I learn how to make just about everything. Then I have my environmental sites. I hate depressing doom and gloom sites and refuse to frequent them. I love positivity in the face of insurmountable odds and that’s the sort of blogs I frequent…”the world is going to hell in a hand basket but we will be bullocked if we are going down without a fight…” that sort of site. I had best clear up now that I don’t frequent crazy stockpiling hillbilly “shoot the neighbour Brandeen…they are stealin’ our food stores!” sites that sort of site can make you crazier than you already are! I might occasionally veer side left to pinch a plan for a rocket stove or wood fired oven plan but I cover my eyes because I KNOW they are probably taking on other forms! ;). I have blogs in my rss feed readers that defy classification…one such blog I actually hoard. It’s called “23 Thorns” and if this man puts out a book I am buying it. I don’t care if I have to work down t’ coal mines for a month to do so, his writing is that entertaining. Check it out if you want to end up on the floor laughing…this man is the bomb! This link takes you to his series of “The Lowveld Posts” an absolutely hilarious look at the wildlife that inhabits his local area. You should go there merely to read about these amazing creatures in Africa and woven through his amazing posts that are incredibly well written (the man is a wordsmith) is a background of Africa warts and all…

http://23thorns.wordpress.com/category/the-lowveld-posts/

One day when I have more time available to me when I won’t feel guilty for taking perhaps an entire tea fuelled week, I am going to wade through every single one of this bloggers posts. He is the Patch Adams of blogs and I, for one, prefer 23 Thorns to chocolate! There…I said it :o). I urge you all to at least have a look at these wonderful posts that will hopefully bring a smile to your day :o)

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Steve got a shock when this seal shot out of the water right next to his boat the other day

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A visitor to Serendipity Farm hunting for insects (or maybe a drink of water?) on his way through

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Our friend in the witness protections front garden (well a bit of it) to show you how dry it is in our region at the moment

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Our friend in the witness protections all enclosed veggie garden doing as well as ours is. That compost is pure gold!

Today we are heading back into town. We need to get some fruit (for my daily green smoothie habit) and chia seed that I completely and utterly forgot on my “diem horribilis” on Monday. We are also going to visit our friend in the witness protection ostensibly to “visit” but really, for me to have a good perve at her fully enclosed garden and see how her partner Glen made it. Her veggies are also going great guns and she has runaway snow peas going crazy all over the enclosure. We can only assume that because of our widely varying soil conditions, our joint success has come from the rich organic compost that we purchased by the trailer load from Exeter Landscaping. I don’t think that they are going to benefit from my free plug there because their office receptionist, although eminently pleasant and approachable, is completely unable to navigate her way around their new website and completely bypasses it should anyone make a web enquiry…sigh…(and they wonder why Tasmania is lagging behind the rest of the world?). We have some young junipers and other hardy conifers that we don’t intend on planting out on Serendipity Farm that we are going to give her to plant out on her 40 acre property. She needs drought tolerant species that don’t mind getting their feet wet in the winter. Her property goes from arid desert in summer to swamp in winter and is festooned with possums and wallabies and rabbits at night time, all wanting to completely consume everything that she plants as soon as the sun goes down. Despite these drawbacks she is surprisingly willing to keep trying and her horticultural persistence is starting to pay off. I will take some photos of her garden unless it is starting to look like Serendipity Farm, dry, arid and like a 70’s Instagram version of its modern self all turned up corners and orange hued where I will allow her a degree of anonymity. We are also going to walk the dogs in the city again and also on Jenny’s property. They are going to have a ball! I have to say “Hi” and “Welcome back” to Nat, one of my best mates and a dear constant reader of this humble blog. She is back at Polytechnic working as a horticultural lecturer for another year which allows her to occasionally take a brief foray into the world of Serendipity Farm and keep her on the cutting edge of insanity on a regular basis. I do my bit girl… I do my bit! 😉

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Our friend in the witness protection gave me this enormous sack of silverbeet, carrots and snow peas…Earl had a bit of a sniff but found them all wanting

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My fruit haul including 7kg of bananas @ .90c a kilo, 5 enormous mangoes @ $1.00 each and some nectarines and apricots @ $4.99kg. I have enough fruit for green smoothies to last me a month!

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The bananas have already been frozen and just the mangoes and sundry fruit to go 🙂

It’s now 5.23. Bezial threw me out of bed at 3.50am and the young rooster that lives under the deck is tentatively crowing the new day in. Another series of processes is just about to begin and as they weave their way into our psyche let’s just hope that today isn’t a repeat of Monday and to make sure, I am going to hide that one remaining ceramic jam spoon! See you all on Saturday and remember to tell us if you would like to win the spoon that Earl will draw on Saturday morning. EVERYONE can enter. We don’t care if you live on the moon…we love sharing with you all and please don’t think that you can’t enter the draw because you live in Timbuktu…so do we! We know what it is like to live in the sticks and feel out of the loop and we love to share with fellow out of the loopers all over the world. Secretly, Steve wants his spoons to be represented in every single continent so I am going to have to work hard to market this blog to several underrepresented countries (Africa…”who wants a spoon!”…same goes for India, Russia, China, Korea, Japan…sigh…)… you have to be in it to win it folks 😉

Serendipity Farm is an Octopus Free Zone!

Hi All,

What’s going on here! We have just hit the spring equinox in Australia and I am acting more like the grasshopper than the octopus…remember the old story as told by Fry from Futurama? The one about the grasshopper doing all of the work and the octopus that mooched off his girlfriend and the grasshopper died as a direct result of the hard work leaving the octopus to take advantage of his hard yakka AND to rub salt into the wound he also found the money to buy a sports car…the message is DON’T think that spring is time to hoard your nuts…or is it? When you live close to the earth like homesteaders you need to be thinking ahead. Even G.M. monocrop farmers think ahead. Its part and parcel of living on the land and it involves all sorts of economics and futures and all sorts of things that make my brain spin BUT at its core, where I like to live in my simple mentality, it means “make hay while the sun shines bucko or sit out winter on an empty belly!”…that’s my take on it. You might get lucky. You might just be able to mooch off your girlfriend for the summer…driving around in her Volkswagen beetle and drinking beer on the beach while she works hard at the diner to pay the bills and your friend, who works in I.T. or Apple or somewhere profitable, squirrels away his money because he is a nerd and hasn’t got even a vague chance of acquiring a girlfriend UNLESS he goes on Beauty and the Geek…but that is another story! So enter your geeky I.T. I-phone 5 toting mate who talks in binary code and who bores the pants off you BUT makes you look amazing when he is standing next to you at parties and who earns a fortune that he foolishly spends on war hammer figurines and Dr Who merchandise from Think Geek who when your girlfriend wises up to your loser habits and tosses your lazy arse to the curb is probably good to mooch off minus the obvious side benefits. The grasshopperss of the world tend to be the workers and the octopi take…Take…TAKE!

Check out our rubber egg! It was found in the hen house after our early evening rooster wrangling event. Methinks that the poor hen that laid it was scared rubbery!

I wouldn’t recognise these 2 good dogs if it wasn’t for the hippy standing with them. It’s amazing what a pocket full of dog treats will do for a dogs behaviour isn’t it! 😉

Rubber egg number 2! Obviously the fear goes on…

This might look like a hillbillies back yard but its a Hill Williams back yard thank you VERY much! This covered heap is our dung futures heap and just up from that tree trunk is where we are putting our poly tunnels

Our constant companion whenever we head out to do any gardening…you just never know what delicious bugs are going to turn up when you follow those humans around!

Ok, so consider that my lesson on consumerism and elitism and how unfair the world is these days with the 1% rich getting richer and the 99% of us a.k.a. poor people propping up their sports car ventures. Here on Serendipity Farm we don’t have any octopi. It’s too far out of the city, we live on a river with no beach or surf AND we drive a sad little 4 x 4 and even though you can take the top off it, the dog hairs are so thick on the seats that it looks like we have flocked seat covers. In other words we are an octopus free zone here! To get what we want we have to work. We have to plan ahead. We use our God given brains to facilitate our futures and we think laterally about where we are going to get things that we need and always try to make do.  Reuse, recycle and repurpose are our creeds here on Serendipity Farm. Spring is a chance for us to plan for winter. We can plan what we need to store up for the cold weather and we can make our polytunnels to give us an extended harvest. We don’t get frost here much and so polytunnels should allow us to grow most of what we need for the whole year. Our chooks are old breeds and may not lay eggs every day but we have enough of them to produce copiously and with a side benefit that our predominately Wyandotte population lay right through winter so we don’t lose out on the egg front. We have all the acorns that we can squirrel away but no real use for them, however, I have learned from my online hunts that acorns can be made into flour that can be used to bake breads albeit of the flat kind. A good tip should the need ever arise. Always work with what you have lots of because you are pretty much guaranteed that you won’t run out of it. Acorns…you are our friends.

The corner where we planted out some of our maples and other tasty treats (can you hear the sarcasm dripping from my acidic tongue?… bloody possums!)

One of the clivea flowers that has just started to open. We found these clivea underneath a mound of blackberries and overgrown grass. It’s lucky I am known for my “careful weeding” and it wasn’t Steve and his whipper snipper that discovered them or there might not be this lovely display for us to admire!

This maple is called “Lockington’s Big Red”. It was developed by Don Dosser, a wonderful man who is better known for developing all sorts of Rhododendron’s than maples but we are honoured to have a Tassie bred maple on Serendipity Farm 🙂

Those straight trunks belong to Brachychitons that have been on Serendipity Farm for many years. They are not native to Tasmania and have been doing it tough for a while. Steve planted out 3 more Brachychitons of different species in this area to see if they grow. We grew them all from seed and hopefully they will like living on Serendipity Farm. We also planted out several different kinds of maples in this area as well

Instead of thinking about the long hot summer that we are being promised in Tasmania and planning what we are going to do for the summer holidays on the one beach in Tasmania that has actual sand rather than pebbles and oysters we are thinking about work. We are building polytunnels, a gravity fed chook run, planting out our potted babies, thinking about building a worm farm, changing our composting from a sad anaerobic system (too lazy to get out there in winter and turn it regularly) to an aerobic system (by pulling the roof off the duck enclosure that backs onto the compost bin and shovelling the compost from one side to the other). We have so many plans on the burner that we are going to be the leanest of squirrels by the time we get to the other side. Forget “why did the chicken cross the road?” here on Serendipity Farm they do what they want and you don’t question them…just ask the feral cats who are totally intimidated by them! We have “why did the squirrel not need Jenny Craig?” Remember my theory of living in the processes? You can’t get more alive than when you are up to your armpits in hot compost or knee deep in horse dung futures. You sleep better, you earn your evening meal and you feel like you have accomplished something deep and primal at the end of the day. Life takes on a new vibrancy when each day seems to be working towards the next. You start to feel as alive as the microbe teeming soil that you are trying to help along. All of your processes might initially be out of whack but after a while, using permaculture as your core, everything starts to cycle in a most pleasingly congruent way. One day we should be able to manage this place on our own without having to hide under the bed covers in fear of “Where the heck do we start today?!” as our creed.

This is where we put the maples and a cornus

Here’s a Miscanthus that will hopefully get to its full height of 1.5 – 2 metres

This is a dwarf bamboo that we have been told will spread. The person telling us was looking aghast at us for purchasing not one, not two but three of these “invaders”…I will tell you what Rog…you have less than a quarter acre of garden and we have 4 acres. I think that the spreading dwarf bamboo can have a bit of room to spread in don’t you? Besides…if it can squash out the forget-me-nots, I will buy 100 more!

Can you hear my teeth grinding as I type this? This poor little maple USED to have a lot more leaves than this. It’s the only maple (so far) that the possums have decided to sample more than a few leaves from. They did perform trapese acts on one of Steve’s larger maples and ripped of a large chunk but we think that whoever did it landed hard and has been avoiding a repeat performance. This goes to show that sometimes you never can tell what possums will go for!

Today we plant. We figure that the thermal mass of the soil and the high clay content is going to give our poor long suffering potted babies a better chance over summer. Once we get those mooching chooks into their gravity fed chook run we should be able to get our gardens mulched and ready for the long hot summer ahead. Thermal mass works with bulk planting as well. The more plants you have in any given area (especially ground covers) the more moisture you can retain in the soil. I am on the hunt for ground covers and am not averse to bending down and liberating a little bit from the edge of the footpath should the opportunity arise. Consider me a guerrilla squirrel. I will throw seed bombs into the nature strips and I shall take advantage of harvests unharvested. Squirrel, thy name is Fran!

Two snakebark maples that have been languishing in pots since we bought them a few years ago are stretching out their leaves and roots and breathing a grateful sigh of relief

A couple of low vibernums and a couple of slow growing taxus

Steve’s ducky friend following him around. It wouldn’t have anything to do with ducky being the recipient of all of the snails and slugs and slaters that our lifted pots revealed? 😉

I am excited about this one…ALMOND FUTURES! 🙂

This large broom shrub has a very interesting scented flower. Whenever we walk past it the smell is reminiscent of crushed peppery nasturtium leaves

Steve set the alarm clock for 5.30 yesterday but forgot to tell me. He hasn’t decided to be my personal boot camp sergeant, he did it because I asked him to because the dreaded Daylight Savings is rapidly approaching and this year I REFUSE to be the bleary eyed zombie that I am every year when I have to get up an hour earlier…to everyone out there just about to correct me and tell me that “it’s not actually an hour earlier it’s a better use of the day” BOLLOCKS! Daylight savings and I have a bad history and to this day I can’t for the life of me see any other reason for it than commercial gain. I won’t give you my tirade here for the day because I don’t have time. I have to cram in my rss feed read before Steve gets up and we head off into our day whipper snipping forget-me-nots and me hand pulling them in the hard to get places or where Steve’s maniacal “style” might just eliminate something precious. We also have to get stuck in to planting out more of our potted plants. We have just about gotten to the end of the easy stuff…the small pots and the things that had a definite place to go and now we are down to the pines that get to 120ft tall, the things that Earl ate the tag from and we don’t really remember what they are called or how big they get and the stuff that we aren’t sure if we want to keep yet. Tomorrow I am going to get Steve to set the alarm clock to 5am. I am going to revel in my 2 hours of rss feed reading time for about a week. I might even get a few things done in the mornings (but I doubt it) and I am going to be ready for you daylight savings…BRING IT ON!

This dwarf nandina is SO happy that we unhooked it from its blackberry overlords that it has turned the most lovely shade of red. I planted a little struggling camellia in the gap to the right of this little fellow.

This old flat serving spoon was found when we were walking in Exeter where some excavation work was going on. Its a lovely old French spoon and so I brought it home and stuck it in this cut off blue glass bottle with a couple of shiny mates to keep it company

I left the camera out in the shed last night when I took a few photos of what we had done, the clivea flowers and our dung future pile that we have covered up and rendered chook and duck proof much to their chagrin. I collected some eggs from the remaining chooks who are not clucky (not very many of them at the moment) and I got sucked into pulling out a section of forget-me-nots and promptly forgot. How ironic eh? As today is posting day I will be trundling around attempting to take some post worthy photos. I will be grappling with the recalcitrant “macro” and “super macro” to attempt to get the camera to not take extreme close-ups of the background leaving the desired object out of focus and almost unrecognisable. The camera and I have a somewhat strained relationship and like most things on Serendipity Farm it has an attitude. Some days it will take great photos without effort and the next, it is on strike. I admire people who can take good photos like I admire people who are naturally artistic and who are natural green thumbs. I guess I don’t mind being mediocre as long as I can get what I am trying to share out with people. Cheers to Kym for keeping her eye open for a rainwater tank on her holidays in Bali. That is one dedicated friend! Try to get one where they are offering to pay for the postage Kym…I am sure that there are HEAPS of vendors like that in Bali! ;). I doubt that even Kym’s amazing bargaining powers could affect that kind of deal ;). When I lived in Western Australia I never quite managed to take advantage of Bali being “Little Australia” and just off the top end of W.A. I remember when you could head over to Bali for a week for $500 and that included your flights and your accommodation! Unlike “The Rest of the World”…Australia is miles away from EVERYTHING and any kind of travel hurts us in the hip pocket. I read with envy about people jetting off to France, Italy, and Russia for the weekend and it costing pennies where if we were to do the same thing we wouldn’t BE there in a weekend let alone get time to set foot off a plane before we had to start our flight back home. My idea of a tropical getaway is heading up to Queensland to eat my weight’s worth of tropical fruit…it’s also something on my bucket list so I might have to think about that someday soon. If I can combine that bucket list item with another bucket list item to do a permaculture residential course in Queensland I might just be able to justify it all in my mind, “multitasking babe…I am just multitasking!”

I know this isn’t the greatest picture in the world but my camera was having a Primadonna moment and point blank REFUSED to use the flash. After having words with it, this is the best I could get. Does anyone know what it might be? It has square minty type stems and I think it might be a salvia. I got it from somewhere hot and arid and dry and am hoping that it might do what mints do best and send out roots in a glass of water

Gunns went tits up yesterday. A completely fitting epitaph as I used to liken the company to a bull with teets…completely useless! That doesn’t automatically mean that we won’t get a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley BUT anyone buying the permit is going to have a handful of problems aside from the obvious angry ravening hoards of locals, the high Aussie dollar and the high cost of labour in Australia we have the low price of wood chips and pulp and the ever decreasing call for white bleached paper for newspapers etc. as a lot of content recedes to online these days. Our corrupt state government are steadfastly refusing to give up this pulp mill BUT that is what got gunns bankrupt and in receivership in the first place…completely disregarding what the people want. I would like to say goodbye to our sad excuse for a premier at this point because she will be lucky to make it to the next elections as our state leader. I can’t for the life of me understand why every woman politician in a position of power in Australia seems to have a need to over enunciate their words making every speech a chore to have to listen to and a reminder of when childless adults talk to small children and all of us talk to deaf people, loudly and slowly. The Tasmanian populace might be somewhat lacking in the educational stakes BUT we are NOT…ALL…NUMPTIES…LARA…and you don’t have to speak so slowly to us all because we are mindless vacuous creatures who can’t comprehend big words. Our corrupt political parties and gunns didn’t realise who they were messing with when they took on the hippies. Tasmanian natives are an easily herded bovine lot who don’t prize education and could care less about anything other than footy and weekends as a rule. They go where they are directed and tend not to rock the boat and are easily hornswoggled and intimidated by weasely politicians and the sheer force of anything that appears to have a degree of power. When the hippies started moving over here from the mainland the nepotistic relationship between our politicians and gunns started to become glaringly obvious to these newcomers and for once in their relationship someone actually started to care what they were up to! The bully boy tactics didn’t work when you tried to dam the Franklin and you didn’t learn. Northern Tasmania has been a logging stronghold and gunns ran the show from go to whoa. They were loath to concede anything at all and held on to the flagship pulp mill with a stubborn refusal to give up until it changed into the figurehead of their ship and was the first thing to sink under the water when the whole shebang went down. Lesson to be learned to old school Tasmanian politicians, corporations, nepotistic industry and bully boys…most hippies are clever creatures who went to university and completed doctorates in law, commerce etc. and you can’t hoodwink them, talk down to them, negate them or bypass them.  Ignore us at your peril! Goodbye gunns. You lost your battle to steamroll your will over the people of Tasmania and you learned, too late, that paying politicians to get your way doesn’t always get you what you want. So long and thanks for nothing!

Here’s a good shot of one of the compound leaves of that plant. Definately a type of salvia I would imagine and I am hoping that one of you might know what it is. If I can’t get it to grow from a water cutting, I will get a bit of the root and give it a shot that way! 🙂

In saying what I just said I have a deep sense of sympathy for all of the 320 people who are going to lose their jobs thanks to gunns demise. Tasmania is not an easy place to gain employment and most of us are out of work. The official jobless rate doesn’t even begin to show the true picture because most of us are hidden from the statistics by being syphoned off into education, job training and working for the dole. We are a state of Centrelink employees and our leaders keep grasping at straws and taking reckless bets to try to keep themselves in power rather than getting together and actually facing up to the monumental task ahead of them to try to set Tasmania back on track. Stop having quorums, setting up committees, paying experts and grasping at straws and just face up to the fact that Tasmania is going to have to have a different business model to the rest of the mainland. What is so wrong with growing amazing food and crops? What is wrong with having a fantastic wilderness that people can visit? What is wrong with making Tasmania a truly clean, green state where people would want to flock to live and that implements green technology and uses all of this restless un and underemployed population to positive effect? It’s all too hard and we are going to have to get rid of a generation of politicians who are clinging to the old model tenaciously and stubbornly refusing to even consider life in Tasmania without the forest industry. Stop selling us off to anyone with a dollar in their pockets. Stop flogging our beautiful pristine precious rainforests off to open cut mines because it might give you someone else to do back room deals with and keep yourself in power a bit longer. WE CAN SEE YOU YOU KNOW! It’s all eminently depressing to be honest and I think that for change to happen in Tasmania it is going to have to rise up through the ranks and topple the tyrants. If the world could get rid of Sadam and Gadhafi, it can certainly prize loose our entrenched parasitic politicians! I am thinking of hiring out my rants to any leftist magazine that will take me…heck I will give them to you for free! Sorry dear constant readers, my frothing mouth needs to be wiped and my tirade here is done!

Bollocks! Not only have I had a delicious tirade in my post today, I have overshot my small post mark! Oh well…let’s be honest folks…It really couldn’t have lasted for long. Anyone out there having problems writing posts let me know. I have more words than I can cope with. I am juggling about 14 muses who are all blabbermouths and none of them have the silent disdainful composure that I am lead to believe muses effect. Mine are all collaborating and yelling in my ear at once and are all as overexcited about life as I am. Quiet you lot I am trying to condense! Sigh…oh well, at least I am consistent! I had best stop there and let you all get back to your lives and the real world. With a bit of hope, nothing politically exciting will occur in the next few days and your next post will be pristine and full of happy joy joy. See you all on Saturday…remember life IS great, hurl yourself into it and ride it like you stole it! 😉

Sunny side up please we are Rebels with a distinct cause!

Hi All

We rumbled you Yin! We have gotten tired of waiting for the hens to come to their senses and start laying in the nesting boxes again although after finding a couple of suspicious eggs in the corner under the hay yesterday (and disposing of them somewhat gingerly…) one of the first golden laced Wyandotte girls that we initially bought decided that after she laid her egg today that she would take advantage of the nice new scented hay and go clucky! After picking her up…liberating the egg and releasing her into the main body of the coop she trotted over to the communal food bowl and spent about 5 minutes eating and THEN came out and lamented the loss of her egg much to Yin’s chagrin. Yin is incredibly suspicious of Steve and I now. We spent the morning cutting back and removing the old tendrils of the clematis that covers the side of the deck in spring and summer and then dies back to look tatty in winter. Earl and Bezial love their new view from the deck and can keep an eye on the feral cats and the chickens. After we dumped the pile of dead tendrils over the deck and swept it, I headed out with a trusty wheelbarrow and secateurs to snip up the tendrils to throw back under the clematis as mulch. I dare say Pingu will spread it all over the place but at least I am trying to do the right thing for the garden. While we were outside, me with the clematis and Steve cleaning out his shed and evicting its new chicken residents, Big Yin was strutting around watching us. We discovered 2 nests today loaded with eggs that he had made away from the coop and will be keeping our ears open for that tell-tale “I laid an egg” song that all of the girls sing once they have deposited their egg in Yin’s latest camouflaged nest. Once we hear them we can at least isolate where on Serendipity Farm they are in from the deck and we can head out to find them. They stop clucking as soon as they see us but by then it’s too late! We know where they are so we know in what proximity the nest is and Big Yin is WELL aware of this. No doubt today’s nests will be abandoned tomorrow and we will have to listen very carefully for the new egg laying calls. Yin was trying to stop his girls clucking today and it was quite amazing to see the lengths that he was going to, to distract us from heading over and checking the nests for eggs. Steve had eggs on toast for breakfast today and Bezial and Earl had a large omelette of some of the older eggs.

This is to show you all what our soil is comprised of…clay and rocks. As you can see this eroded bit on the side of the road is being held together by a most tenacious tree and you can see why it’s hanging on so tightly…if YOU had to dig through all of that you would demand the right to stay put too!

Just off to the right of this dirt road (a.k.a. Auld Kirk Road, just up the way from our home…) there is a massive drop down to the Tamar River. Steve would like it to be known that he has called this area “Dead mans gulch”…why? NO idea.

True love is sharing your pair of fingerless gloves when its 0C and there’s a wind chill factor. The only hand that needs a glove is the one holding the lead 😉

I just made a “Date luncheon” from an old Australian staple cookbook The C.W.A. Cookbook.  It was a tossup between the “luncheon” and a “meltaway”. I am unsure what either of those descriptions brings to the party but a date slice is the end result. The C.W.A. is a group of women who get together to form community in their small Australian towns and give each other support and solidarity. It stands for “Country Women’s Association” and thanks to our small population and the massive distances between some of these tiny little outback towns, this group of women may have been the backbone of many a “do” in Australia and are still doing their bit (albeit sometimes from a backseat position nowadays) to help their towns and communities. A “do” is when most of the town get together for some sort of communal event that involves “bringing a plate” (each family brings some form of food on a plate to share…I think the American word for it is Potluck?) and there is usually music, dancing, eating, drinking and hangovers the next day). It was an Australian woman’s right of passage to get one of these cookbooks given to her by her mother or close woman family member back when I was younger. If you couldn’t find a recipe in the C.W.A. cookbook there was something wrong! The book that I have was my dad’s partner Val’s with no daughters to pass it onto I would like to think that at least it is being used again and not languishing in a tip shop somewhere. By obvious deduction because of the inscription it was given to her by her mother, as was my copy that I have since given to my daughters. This one is actually from back when ladies (women were actually called “ladies” back then…) used to submit recipes to be added to the book and it comes from Western Australia where I hail from. It’s somewhat nostalgic to open its well-thumbed pages and see a recipe from “Barbara of Merredin” and feel an instant camaraderie with her. I know where she was (as no doubt Barbara may no longer be with us due to the age of the cookbook and the average age of C.W.A. members) and I know how hot her summers were and how dry it was. I know that the blowflies were almost as bit as the sheep in summer and that they clung to the screen doors in droves waiting for you to head off running to get the washing off the line before it crisped like overdone toast in the heat. I know how precious that tiny little patch of grass and usually mint growing underneath the tap near the tank stand was to Barbara’s psyche. Nothing like a Western Australian summer to teach mint where to grow and where NOT to grow. I KNOW that place. I have been there and I have had its dust on my feet and I have wondered way down in my heart just what makes people want to stay in places like this…but stay they do and I have had to live in places like this on more than one occasion in a past life. The modern copies are more generic and give you less of a sense of place than these old ones but there are still all sorts of useful hints and tips and it gave me my recipe for mum’s “Date sloice” and for that I will be eternally grateful.

When we were in Launceston on monday Steve spotted these old appliances in an electrical retail shop and ran across 4 lanes of traffic for your entertainment so please at least pretend that you are interested in them…

Imagine how excited someone once was to get this amazing contraption to help them do one of the most mundane tasks that would have taken most of the day to accomplish pre-washing machine.

This was the deluxe version and who wouldn’t want this amazing piece of last century technology gracing their laundry!

Last but certainly not least, this fridge would have probably cost a small fortune back in the day. I bet it still goes though! No built in obsolescence at the turn of last century.

The sun is coming up on another Tuesday on Serendipity Farm. I see most mornings settle in these days but the sun is starting to come up earlier. It’s now peeking over the windowsill at 6.30 rather than the respectable hour of 7 which is causing me some consternation. Sometime soon it’s going to get up before me and I will miss that magical time sitting here with the light on peering myopically at the enormous computer screen in front of me (“I DON’T need glasses!” 😉 ) and pondering the meaning of life, the universe and everything on my own while I slowly wake up with my first bucket cup of tea. It will slither under the door jamb before I wake up and the chickens will be restless in their coop at 4.30am in the middle of summer. Good luck to them getting me out of bed at that time of the morning to let them out! Crow away Yin, I AIN’T coming! I have been contemplating giving Big Yin lessons in how to open the coop door himself to make life easier around here but I can’t help picturing in my mind (and you won’t believe how pictorial my mind can be at times!) a midnight out breaking of chickens who then head off with kerchiefs full of grain tied to sticks (no shortage of them around here) to greener pastures. Or in layman’s terms…they will all head over to Glad’s place and move in! We haven’t had the heart to head down to Glad’s place to tell her that our chickens find her place more attractive than ours at the moment. It’s a bit of a sore point as we give them the best grain, the freshest bedding hay and constantly toss goodies over the deck rail for them. I am trying to reconcile it in my head and have come valiantly up with the fact that they have most probably eaten every insect on our property and hers is humming with them, but it’s more a matter of “the grass is greener for ingrate chickens” if the truth be known and we have to wrangle their protesting fluffed up feathery bodies back over a sagging fence with numerous holes underneath that the wallabies keep making despite us shoving rocks into each hole as soon as we find them. The wallabies want in which facilitates our chickens breaking out! Perhaps they are laying eggs at Glads place? If so she is welcome to the eggs and I can negotiate that around my guilt at being bad chicken herders as payment for the odd deposit left in a tell-tale place on her side of the fence.

The sun is coming up on another Tuesday on Serendipity Farm. I see most mornings settle in these days but the sun is starting to come up earlier. It’s now peeking over the windowsill at 6.30 rather than the respectable hour of 7 which is causing me some consternation. Sometime soon it’s going to get up before me and I will miss that magical time sitting here with the light on peering myopically at the enormous computer screen in front of me (“I DON’T need glasses!” 😉 ) and pondering the meaning of life, the universe and everything on my own while I slowly wake up with my first bucket cup of tea. It will slither under the door jamb before I wake up and the chickens will be restless in their coop at 4.30am in the middle of summer. Good luck to them getting me out of bed at that time of the morning to let them out! Crow away Yin, I AIN’T coming! I have been contemplating giving Big Yin lessons in how to open the coop door himself to make life easier around here but I can’t help picturing in my mind (and you won’t believe how pictorial my mind can be at times!) a midnight out breaking of chickens who then head off with kerchiefs full of grain tied to sticks (no shortage of them around here) to greener pastures. Or in layman’s terms…they will all head over to Glad’s place and move in! We haven’t had the heart to head down to Glad’s place to tell her that our chickens find her place more attractive than ours at the moment. It’s a bit of a sore point as we give them the best grain, the freshest bedding hay and constantly toss goodies over the deck rail for them. I am trying to reconcile it in my head and have come valiantly up with the fact that they have most probably eaten every insect on our property and hers is humming with them, but it’s more a matter of “the grass is greener for ingrate chickens” if the truth be known and we have to wrangle their protesting fluffed up feathery bodies back over a sagging fence with numerous holes underneath that the wallabies keep making despite us shoving rocks into each hole as soon as we find them. The wallabies want in which facilitates our chickens breaking out! Perhaps they are laying eggs at Glads place? If so she is welcome to the eggs and I can negotiate that around my guilt at being bad chicken herders as payment for the odd deposit left in a tell-tale place on her side of the fence.

One of the pretty little streets that we walked down the other day with our overexcited dogs in Launceston

When life hands you lemons…head off to the internet to find out what the heck to do with them all! I now know how to make lemon furniture polish…lemon curd… lemon syrup…lemon barley water and something called “Skeeter Pee” that I will share with you all in a future post…

Aren’t these 2 little pony’s cute? No doubt the next time we walk around Kayena, Steve will have hidden a couple of apples cut up for them. People must think that Steve has some sort of allure with animals as they tend to come running whenever they see him…I know why 🙂

Well another post comes to a close and I still haven’t explained the “Rebel” in the title. Well, today is Tuesday. Most people work on Tuesday. Today Steve and I are NOT going to work. We are being rebels. We are going to head out and enjoy our day doing whatever we please as yesterday we had to put our plans on hold and head into town to get another car battery as ours was threatening to boycott Serendipity Farm completely and we need a reliable car out here in the sticks. We spent the day pounding the pavement, drinking white mocha’s (Steve) and soy chai lattes (me) with the boys and doing our bit to educate the public about how loving they can be. We didn’t get back till late and we decided that we wanted a day off today and as such we are rebelling against our indentured study slavetude. Sorry Nick…we usually work like Trojans but today is OURS! See you all on Saturday when I will be able to share a day spent in town submerged in a series of Tamar NRMA sustainable living lectures (the first of a series of them this month that I will be attending and sharing with you all) and hopefully some photos to boot. Wish me luck battling the felt hatted brigade who will be out in force and hope beyond hope that the valve that keeps my trap firmly shut whenever I am confronted by people speaking bollocks is able to withstand the welling tide of retribution that floods up demanding to be heard! 😉

We invented this pie last night when Steve decided that he wanted a “Cheese, potato and spinach pie with fetta and ricotta made with home made butter shortcrust”…doesn’t look bad if we say so ourselves 🙂

Nothing puts fear into Bezial faster than the removal of furniture from a hitherto fully furnished house and today we emptied the kitchen living area due to an impromptu bout of wooden floor mopping…

Bezial forgave us for removing the table and chairs (that’s Earls recliner in the shot) because he could bask in sunbeams.

Serendipity Faux Farm

Hi All,

Calling this place Serendipity Farm is a bit of a stretch. The closest Steve or I have ever gotten to farming was in my childhood where I lived on a family farm and occasionally watched my dad or uncle feed the cows (that didn’t belong to us). Steve remembers his grandad’s glasshouse with tomatoes in it and that’s about the extent of our “Farming” experience! In saying that, we have 3 years of horticultural experience each and a massive will to learn and apply what we have learned to this place. Where do we go to when we are flummoxed? (And “flummox” is a really GOOD word for our day to day collisions with homesteading to say the least!)…we head to amazing and informative websites like Anthropogen and Milkwood farm. Here we can sit in the comfort of our computer chairs and discover the alien world of farming, agriculture, agroforestry, permaculture and through following these invaluable sources of precious free information, we are able to facilitate the changes that we want to make whilst at the same time being able to navigate and avoid the “Green Horn” (for want of a better word) mistakes that others have made before us. I discovered a lady called Harriet Fasenfest. What a delightful name for a barmaid! No disrespect dear Harriet, you look like the sort of lady that I would idolise and would listen to every silken word that drops from your amazingly literate tongue, however imagine trying to say “Harriet Fasenfest” after several pints and you can see where my skewed sense of humour just took me…

I didn’t have any photos to share with you today so I headed off around Serendipity Farm to herald in the seasons with you. First, on all walks around Serendipity Farm you have to shackle the oppressed. As you can see…”The oppressed” was trying his best “I’ll be good” eyes as he watched his older and much MUCH wiser compatriot head out the gate unshackled and wandering free straight past the chickens as if he hadn’t seen them…all good journeys start with a degree of oppression Earl and I guess you are “IT” for today…

The brown building at the rear of the photo is our wood shed. To the left of the photo are a few trees that we cleared the weed species out from underneath. These trees were NOT happy with their lot. The small stunted one in the middle is a Brachychiton populneus and has recovered admirably from its oppression (learn a lesson from this Earl!) however the taller tree, also a Brachychiton but as yet remains an unidentified species is less happy. It has apparently suffered some borer damage and is leaking a very sticky gum and has been for some time. I am under no misapprehensions that this tree is going to live but at least it will be free to enjoy the sun, a relatively weed free existance and all the chicken dung it can soak up until it decides to shuffle off this mortal coil where it will be turned into some sort of interesting wooden article to celebrate it’s life. Steve is already thinking “Totem Pole” so watch this spot…

Here is the trunk of the unidentified Brachychiton tree with some of the gummy substance in situ. You can see the enormous cordyline australis in the canopy above this tree. We have some reasonably advanced tree and shrub specimens that have managed to eke out an existance here despite their abject neglect and we are enjoying uncovering them

And here is what I thought was some sort of terrifying chicken disease when I first spotted it all over the ground in this area. I had visions of the entire flock suddenly sucumbing to a mysterious disease until I looked up at the brachychiton and realised that this was rain melted puddles of gum! Disgusting indeed but nothing to be phoning the vet about (yet…)

This lady wrote a few articles that blew me away with their forthright delivery of “A University of Grandmothers” knowledge about their past. The one phrase that knocked me over was “We knew how to be poor”…I just requested that our library buy a copy of her book “A Householders Guide to the Universe”…enough of a title to get me to take it out of the library even if I wasn’t aware of the absolute wealth of information contained within. I might even go so far as buying this book myself and that is saying something. A book has to be amazing before I will part with money to keep it close to my heart. I discovered recently (a slight aside I promise!) that The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition is now back in print! I typed this entire book out and now I might just have to buy it because it is a precious resource that I will turn strange colours and make it smell unusual (to say the least) as it will be used over and over again and handed down as the precious fermentation manual that it is. If you want to get a copy yourself, head to the following place…

http://www.tagari.com/store/12

I absolutely love the way that Harriet Fasenfest writes and I wholeheartedly absorb everything that she talks about. She is a passionate exponent of reintroducing home economics and teaching people how to live off the land. This woman is singing my song! Not only that, but she started out running a café (food) and headed up Habitat for Humanity, a not for profit organisation that gets people out volunteering to build cheap housing minimising the cost of the house and making it affordable for everyone. Check out this link to see more about this amazing premise…note that this is the Australian leg of this amazing principal put into action.

http://www.habitat.org.au/

Friday 25th May is the anniversary of the Glorious Revolution on Treacle Road in the most honourable book Night watch by Terry Pratchett. I think that this was the very first of the Discworld books that allowed me to see that Terry Pratchett was not only an amazing story teller, but that he had a real handle on our human condition. I loved this book. I cried reading it. There is something about an Englishman writing comedy that brings out the best in it. I dare say its comedy born of centuries of fighting, living next door to “me mam” and learning to get along with “the natives” all over the world as they slowly yielded to that stiff British upper lip. Basil Fawlty wouldn’t be Basil Fawlty if he didn’t contain a quintessential Englishman bearing humour and pathos in the same well brylcreamed head. We don’t need our humour sanitised and turned into the equivalent of Sesame Street after Jim Henson died…we don’t need to shield our children’s eyes from the truth…we need to deliver it with dignity and a large dose of good humour. We are all going to die one day, however we can be dragged kicking and screaming denying every second or we can take something precious from each and every moment that leads us from where we are right here and now to where we will one day be deposited wide eyed and ready to start again. I am not a believer in death being contained in a mouldering body or a puff of wind borne ashes. I believe in the movement of spirits wherever they go. As such, I would rather face my own mortality with dignity and with a degree of acceptance and understanding than with a bright smudge of red lipstick, some terrifying surgery and a back catalogue of beauty products that cost more than a small third world countries national debt. This book gave me a deep and most poignant reminder about mortality and like most of the Discworld series gave me some really deep thought about my own human condition. I was hunting for a set of instructions for making my own crochet hook out of wood yesterday. I need a very large oversized crochet hook that would no doubt cost me the arm and leg that it would almost be the length of and being the wily homesteader that I am (previously wild spendthrift…) I decided to use some of the sticks laying around on the ground waiting to be gathered up for “Mornings wood” (my dad’s name for kindling derived from small sticks) to give me my desired object for sweet bugger all. I LOVE “sweet bugger all”. It is the means to many of my ends and allows me (after hunting the internet like a hawk for some most generous and amazing instructions that is…) to do many things on Serendipity Farm that we might otherwise not be able to do if I was waiting for the money fairy to leave her wares under my pillow. I found a really great site showing me not only how to make an enormous crochet hook, but finding out that this hook can be used not only for oversized crocheting (my desired outcome) but also for something called “Tunisian” or “Afghan” crocheting. I then headed off (like Billy Connelly savouring the meat in one of his long winded and most delightful stories) on a tangent to hunt down information about Afghan crocheting. You might be getting an idea about how frustrating it is to be working with me when I am researching. I start off with all of the best intentions of finding out the information needed to complete my task at hand…I inevitably discover something of interest on the sites that I click and end up needing to save information, sites, Authors etc. in sticky notes, in word documents and in various other formats (all catalogued and stuck in various “boxes” and folders right through my PC presence and bleeding over into scraps of paper and the local library in the physical world). I am frustrating…infuriating and boring to work with. “I work best alone” is what probably comes to mind and poor Steve, who has negative patience when it comes to waiting for someone to find something ends up twiddling his thumbs and then heading off “I will be back in a minute…” for the next hour until I return from where my mind has taken me back to the task at hand. I found a site where I got instructions for a most enormous crochet hook as well as instructions for how to go about crocheting in the Tunisian/Afghan way. What I wasn’t expecting to find was a most poignant and insightful story about the woman who’s blog I was raiding and her relationship with her grandmother and how it changed her outlook on life (see…segued back nicely there ;)). She said (and I quote)…

‘Someone once said that procrastination is the thief of time, but since time is what life is made up of, procrastination is therefore the thief of life, and what I have learned from my dear grandmother the most is to enjoy the simple things, and not waste any day.’

And that is what I would say to you all today… don’t lose sight of what is really important here. We all share a common condition…we faced death the moment that we were born and we need…NEED to embrace the life that we are given with everything that we have. Life has a way of picking us up young and hopeful, racing us through relationships, children, mortgages, money stress, careers, responsibilities and spitting us out at retirement confused and wondering where the hell the last 50 years went! Society is running a frenetic race to the finish line…I don’t particularly want to be running to my own personal finish line. I would like to walk the road less travelled. I would like to consider the roses (those that the possums haven’t yet consumed that is…), I would like to hug a dog, watch a small child delight in discovering their world around them…I (to Quote a most snivel inducing Aerosmith song) “don’t want to miss a thing”. Good and bad…whatever it brings, its mine and it’s all I really have. Thankyou lady in a blog somewhere in Australia who I don’t know and most probably never will for reminding me to slow down and smell my life before it’s just a whisper in the ether. Another most important thing to remember about life is that your children will be the ones to choose your nursing home so keep that bit of information safely tucked in the back of your mind before you do anything rash from the point where they are able to start rationalising you in one!

Heres the view down the driveway towards the gate. We have been tidying up this area and clearing it out of debris, weeds and crown lifting the trees. Its starting to look clearer and despite several large piles of debris that need to be dealt with (example stage left…) we are starting to get on top of it.

Here you can see a VERY happy rhododendron. This rhododendron is happy because prior to a month ago it was totally covered in blackberrie vines and was unrecognisable as a shrub, let alone a rhododendron. After some severe blackberry removal and a period of warm sun and some good earth soaking rain this little fellow is truly starting to return to the land of the living. I love being able to give plants back what they need to grow. It gives me a degree of pleasure far in excess to the act of clearing them out.

This is part of a cluster of Nerine bowdenii in a garden close to the house. They are in full flower now but curiously, their red cousins Nerine sarniensis have long since finished flowering and are putting on leaf matter at a huge rate of knots. We don’t have any white nerines but I wonder if they have a different flowering time?

This little Podocarpus lawrencei (Mountain Plum Pine) along with many of its brothers and sisters (Podocarpus lawrencei being a dioecious species of conifer having both male and female plants and needing both for reproduction of the species) has been enjoying stretching their feet out in the rock gardens surrounding the house. We are hoping that they will join up in a draped carpet over most of the rockeries producing edible fruit for native animals and birds in the future.

It would have been my father’s 79th birthday tomorrow. My father and I had a difficult relationship to say the least! My mum once said “I don’t think your father should have had kids”…I would hope that she meant that he wasn’t born to be a father rather than her own personal thought about us as children 😉 but I would tend to agree with her on that one. I loved him dearly but the man was an utter conundrum. Perhaps the fact that he was born a Gemini would go part of the way to understanding how one man could have so much festering and brewing in total and abject opposition to each other at the one time. I am still trying to make sense of how he lived, who he was and what he left behind him and as of yet, despite thinking of myself as a somewhat rational, philosophical human being I can’t for the life of me see ANYTHING that I can understand in my father’s ethos, life or legacy. I do, however, get a very strong feeling that our only true legacy is the memories that we leave behind us. My mum died in January this year and already the pain of thinking about her has transposed into nostalgia and memories with wholesome fuzzy outlines. If I am honest (and this IS after all my year of living honestly), I didn’t feel that bitter loss when my father died. He was one of those men who you never quite knew what would set him off…and I am starting to think it might have been “me”. I mentioned that it was also the 25th of May that heralded the Glorious Revolution on Treacle Road in the Discworld book “Night Watch”. I personally think that dad would have fit in well with the men at the Night Watch. They strike me as being the bread and butter workers endemic in every establishment where blue collar is the name of the game and this was where my dad lived, breathed and navigated himself through life until he “fell on his feet” and inherited his partners not inconsiderable effects and chattels and tried “A bludgers Life” for a change. They say that with age comes wisdom, but I am not so sure…I think that when your parents die, its meant to be a little warning…”Don’t mess about with what you have left of your life…LIVE IT!”. Consider me told, informed and actively embracing this sentiment!

This is one of the areas of the garden that we recently planted out. As you can see, the specimens that we planted out appear to be loving their newfound release from potted slavetude and some have put on some good growth. The strappy blue/green leaves here are the Nerine sarniensis (Red Nerine) that I talked about previously. As you can see they have put some good growth into their now cleared leaves and are really enjoying being free of all of the weeds that were previously surrounding and covering them

The garden that we planted out with our dward conifers and some grasses last month is also very happy. We are still working out what to do with all of the potted specimens in the foreground, but our money is on a conifer arboretum in the paddock behind the house.

This is the area that we cleared out last week. you can now see straight through to the rear of the house and this area is going to be planted out with my cold climate shrubs, many Chilean species that I have a particulare interest in and that are particularly suited to our Tasmanian climate and conditions.

Now that we have cleared out this area it is starting to show us lots of possibilities. Its just really REALLY lucky that we are starting to get an idea of just how to go about making this garden something special and what to remove and what to leave in situ.

This is the previous scene taken from halfway up the steps (visible in the last shot) showing the side garden and lawn. This “lawn” was brown and extinct up until the first rains that we had about 3 weeks ago. It now looks delightful! It’s amazing how nice a garden can look in photographs. We can’t for the life of us see this picture when we walk through our garden!

I can hear the bells at the beginning of the ACDC standard that rebirthed the band to glory and international fame after the death of Bon Scott and the induction of Mr Brian Johnson into the new incarnation of Aussie Rock legend and history…”Hells Bells” was the very first song that I heard from the Phoenix out of the ashes album “Back in Black” and aside from being the third best-selling album of all time…it’s Aussie for crying out loud! (this colloquialism has been used and inserted into this post with the express understanding that it is in honour of my late father and his long list of Aussie colloquialisms… consider it a tribute dad wherever it is that you are currently residing…my belief is you are muttering the daylights out of some poor crow who is waiting in the garden for his wodge of dripping…), it leads me nicely (again segue…I am getting slowly better at this and am using less words to get there! There is hope for me yet dear constant readers ;)) back to the sound of the bells. Last year’s introduction to progressive garage saling, gave me both the $2 hand crafted throne that I sit on when I type my posts or use the computer and…a lesser known treasure…an enormous cast iron frying pan that looked like something you would pan gold in with a handle. I don’t know why I bought it. It was rusty, old and most probably called to my garden arty brain. I stuck it on the deck…I hung it on a nail…I forgot about it…it was removed from the nail in a fit of pique by a man who had banged his head on it one too many times and now resides on another nail up against the wall directly adjacent to the kitchen window. Tasmania is a windy place and lately, with the onset of winter and wind of greater velocity than usual, I have been starting to hear something akin to deep Church bell sounds emitting from the deck. I went hunting to find that my lovely garden art cast iron frying pan is acting as a wind generated bell up against the bricks of the house. Aside from sounding EXACTLY like the bell tolling at the beginning of the ACDC classic (which for me is reason enough to leave it there!), it is a really lovely sound reminiscent of a Buddhist gong. Steve and I both smile whenever it gongs and know that wild weather is on its way…forget my trick knee…I have my own personal ACDC Freedom bell to herald in a storm…

Remember my poor half dead remaining succulents and cacti that the ducks had rejected because they were too spiky (or poisonous) to eat? They are starting to recover nicely now and at least I have some of them left to cater to my need for symetrical and orderly plant matter!

Heres my other pot of them. I had so many more and a most delightful rose succulent that the ducks took a particular delight in scoffing… a fitting (albeit ironic) end to its life considering it was taken from one of Nat’s pots as a pup and it was the ducks that Nat inadvertently gave us that ate it…oh well…easy come…easy go!

We had a lovely crisp clean day today, the sun was shining, and we had lovely blue skies and my shiny things were shining so I thought that I would share them with you…(I am not considered a quintessential magpie for nothing you know and literary and informative shiny things are not my only passion…)

Lastly, here are my little articulated fish and our enourmous hot water tank. Anyone else want to come and have showers here because the 2 of us can’t for the life of us use all the hot water that our wood burning stove and this massive behemoth delivers! It keeps boiling over and threatening to turn any chickens under the deck to instant stock…

Steve is back from his shopping “Event” for the fortnight. Shopping has gone from being something that we could do all day every day to being something that we have to plan most carefully to ensure that we don’t waste fuel and money having to drive to our nearest town to buy something we forgot.  It’s a marathon shop now and he comes home tired but we very rarely run out of anything these days. We have learned to plan well. It’s Saturday night and we finally managed to dispatch Little Red. I thought that it would be easier to remove him from the flock because he has always been feral and lived in the conifer out the front of the house but when push came to shove it was actually harder and I felt guiltier than the others because unlike them, he was free. The things we do to satisfy the neighbours! Oh well…again, it’s important to feel compassion for the animals that you kill and to appreciate them fully for the part that they play in our lives. No supermarket packet meat for us and so we have to be faced with taking lives. We have dispatched 6 roosters now and despite being much better at being fast at doing the deed, it hasn’t gotten any easier. We have stock on to boil, the dogs have some chicken skin crisping up in the oven, the feral cats got the insides and now wait at the garage whenever we come out at night time for their spoils. Steve gets another chicken meal and we don’t allow a life to go to waste. I am proud that we use everything that we can and don’t waste anything. Tomorrow I am going to make some crochet hooks from sticks. I have been baking all sorts of interesting things and cooking lots of delicious meals of late because I want to celebrate life and remember just how precious every day that we get is. Who knows when someone is going to pull you out of your conifer and dispatch you cleanly? I, for one, am going to make the most of my clucking time! See you all Wednesday with some more “muckin abaut” (cockney spelling intended…)…

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