Life, death and the endless progression of OH&S in between…

Hi All

There has to be a degree of irony in me, hunched over…floppy spined, myopically peering at my monitor with terrible lighting and trying to show the world how enlightened I am about office OH&S…does ANYBODY listen to or care about this stuff?!!! Come to think of it, does anyone ever stop eating peanut butter because some rake thin anorexic plastic “expert” in the health field tells them to? If we were ever vaguely inclined to follow “expert” advice we would have dangled on our parents every word…we would have learned to “fly right and steer straight” immediately as we were told and we would have made something of ourselves rather than arriving at 50, dazed and confused with only “windswept and interesting” as our chief saleable asset.

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The young rooster on the right of this image died this week. He was never a “normal” rooster and spent his days sitting in this coop with his sisters keeping them company. He wasn’t prone to leaping on hens or crowing. He was gentle, beautiful and like so many of his Byron reading compatriots, he died too soon. R.I.P Little Boy Blue. In saying that, there are chicks hatching out all over the place on Serendipity Farm. The same day that Little Boy Blue died, another hen emerged triumphant and bedazzled with fluffy chicks…the poultry cycle of life goes on…

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When all else fails eat fruit!

That brings me to today’s post… I have managed to tear myself away from OH&S for a whole blissful day. It doesn’t even bother me that it’s grey, dreary and raining outside because I didn’t have to try to wrap my poor addled brain around another “Act”; “Award” or “Industry Standard” when it couldn’t comprehend the first Act, let alone the last that I tried to stuff into the one remaining brain cell that appears to be on the ball. Today I got to sit here and type out interesting and sustainable hints, tips and anecdotes about how to live better with less. Steve and I have almost finished our websites that we have to create from scratch for our final assessment. Mine is called “Sustainability on a Shoestring” and despite it being entirely fictional, not available to the naked eye (apart from our lecturers …) and just something that we had to knock up at the last minute I have developed a motherly sort of fondness for it and am driving Steve nuts by my need to make it look good and function well. “No-one can see it!” is his mantra…”I can see it” is mine 😉

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This shower door is about to be changed to a clear glass door that doesn’t get stuck when you are trying to open it with shampoo in your eyes because you forgot to get the bottle of conditioner that is over on the window ledge…Steve was given the shower door by a friends mum who is renovating and who didn’t need it. I doubt she realises how happy she has made me with her generous gift. Now I can open the door blinded by shampoo and not worry about having to call Steve to free me when the door sticks when I am halfway out of it…

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My container of bread ties (still haven’t worked out what to do with them but I will!) and some of the bottle tops I am collecting on my early morning walks with Earl. If anyone out there drinks anything other than Boag’s beer and would like to send me a few bottle tops please feel free to let me know 😉

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What happens when you discover some “fresh” pineapple that you juiced, put in a bowl in the fridge and promptly forgot about that when you rediscovered it and gave it a sniff (as you do) and realised that it was halfway to being pineapple vodka and you cleverly decide to pour it into the top of a bottle of second fermented Kombucha erupts like Krakatoa …”VESUVIUS”…that’s what happens

I have just finished off the last of the text for the various side panels, spry tabs etc. that we are required to show our lecturer to satisfy this unit. We are using Dreamweaver to create our sites making it a much easier process than having to write the HTML ourselves but I am still clueless about what most of it does but can see it has great possibilities. The best bit is that we got to buy the Student version of the Adobe suite at a significant discount because students = poor (damned RIGHT they do!) and educational institutions don’t want to force us into becoming shoplifters in order to satisfy their requirements. Lucky really because I suck at pinching things, unless they are cuttings when I am able to abrogate my guilt long enough to snip off a stray tendril and call it urban guerrilla gardening 😉

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“I know what will make all of this study better…a litre bottle of homemade Kombucha…”

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And another one…

I spend a lot of my life in the dark. It’s my choice, getting up at 3am seals the deal but if I want to get some quality “me” time to study, to read the blogs that I follow and to research the things that I am interested in I have to find an alternative to daylight hours where we tend to be studying or working in the garden. I now love getting up early and am firing on all cylinders by the time I wake Steve with a coffee at 7am after indulging my brain to the max with a wealth of fantastic possibilities that I have just waded through for the last 4 hours. Fennec foxes have enormous ears and narf7 has small ears…fennec foxes manage to navigate their way around in the dark with ease and agility where narf7 has bruises on her legs and hip where she bumbles hopelessly into furniture and walls…coincidence? I think not!

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“What say we have another one?” I reckon I am starting to feel a bit like Keith Richards in that photo about now…

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I am stuck inside the house when outside it looks like this…

One interesting thing that I have noticed about the dark is that you can see your brain sending messages to your eyes. Seriously…if you are sitting in the pitch dark and close your eyes you can see little chains of light where your brain is communicating with your eyes…in my case it is saying “watch out she is just about to bump into another table!” but as my eyes are officially closed (or I can’t see the synapses…) it’s too late…”OUCH!” I can, however, manage to find the correct place to spray the air freshener in the toilet in complete darkness…maybe there is a chance for future employment opportunities for my amazing newfound skill?

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And this…

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and this!

Earl is almost 3 and is just starting to “get it”. I must be a late bloomer because here I am at 50 and I still haven’t “got it”. One of life’s mysteries is that we only start to make sense of all of these lessons that life throws at us on a regular basis when we are past the point of impetuous youthdom and it leaves you wondering “surely it would have been so much better to have learned these lessons BEFORE all of those stupid mistakes we made?” I am left to believe that maybe we need to have made lots of stupid mistakes to “get” the life lessons in the first place…my head is starting to hurt with that conundrum so I might just leave it there for now folks as I have to keep a few functioning brain cells in reserve in order to complete our studies before next Thursday when the last of our units is due in.

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Some of us are enjoying the lovely weather

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Note the lack of a care in the world and the amazing growth in that garden bed under the deck that we only planted out in April this year

I have been busy fermenting potions in between doing the hard yards with study and am learning how versatile cultures can be. My last batch of kombucha was flavoured with ginger and rosewater and turned out to be really delicious. It takes the mother SCOBY 7 days to culture a batch of black tea with sugar in it. I choose to double ferment the mix by adding a litre of juice to the results and fermenting it for another couple of days before putting it in the fridge. The results are fizzy and delicious and with summer promising to be long and hot I think a large quantity of kombucha in the fridge will be a definite asset. I have also been using my non-dairy kefir that I now make with homemade sesame milk (rather than the organic homemade soymilk that I used to make it with) to culture the sesame pulp left behind after making the milk. I use the resulting fermented  mix to make hummus that I ferment for a day at room temperature. One very interesting thing about fermenting hummus is that it rises up alarmingly in its bowl a bit like sourdough starter does. I guess that means that the culture really likes beans. Whatever it means the results are really delicious and I am enjoying seeing what else I can ferment

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Fermented sesame seed pulp and some leftover cooked dried chickpeas and borlotti beans that I have been using from the freezer

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The hummus before it decided to rise up out of the bowl and threaten to take over Serendipity Farm unless I took it to Cuba

I have been having porridge in the morning made from finely ground buckwheat flour and sunflower seeds that I add a bit of date paste to and cook. I then top it with sesame milk with a bit more date paste in it and a dash of rosewater. Now that the weather has started to warm up I might be able to start drinking my green smoothies again but if today is anything to go by, winter hasn’t quite given up yet. By next Thursday our course will officially be over. Steve and I are working as hard as we can to knock these final units on the head but they can’t be finished soon enough in our minds. We are really going to enjoy the free time that we get in between this course and the start of our next course and  hopefully we will get lots of time out in the garden in the coming month to make up for all of the time that we have spent chained to the PC.

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The view out of my kitchen window this morning. Note the Grey Cuckoo Thrush sitting on the deck rail waiting for her early morning cheese cubes to be put out on the window ledge and note also how grey and rainy it is because I am not chained to the PC being forced to study OH&S until my brain melts…Murphy is a bollocks!

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Its still grey out there but at least the grey cuckoo shrike has her cheese and I have a cup of tea and suddenly, after a few sips… all is right with the world again 🙂

Christmas is getting very close. I know it is because all of the advertisement’s on the television keep telling me it is. Is anyone else incredibly jaded by the mass push towards commercialisation this year? It started back in October and suddenly we are lighting Christmas trees mid-November and come mid-December we will be implored to buy next year’s Easter Eggs… what should be a time for people to get together with their families and friends to see out the old year and be thankful for our lot has been hijacked by the need for massive pre-Christmas profits. The spirit and the message of Christmas were born of humble circumstances and I think the still quiet message is slowly being drowned by all of the Christmas sales. Has anyone else worked out what they are going to do for Christmas this year? Neither have we! We were going to have a very quiet Christmas like we did last year but now Stewart and Kelsey are here we might all get together at my daughter’s home on Christmas morning and have Christmas breakfast together…or we might not…whatever we do it will be in the spirit of Christmas and nothing to do with how much we spent on food, drink and presents. Steve’s one stipulation is a bottle of brandy so that he can make the brandy and chocolate milk that he remembers from a long ago holiday spent falling over in Greece. Sounds like a plan Stevie-boy! 😉

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A little Cassia fistula growing amongst the forget-me-nots. Cassia pods are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine so this little guy is welcome on Serendipity Farm

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From one gorgeous thing to another…These marvellous track pants were inherited from my daughter Madeline who was about to throw them away because they were torn on the bottom. I decided to cut them (mainly to stop me falling over the frayed bits) and what you can’t see here is that one side is at least 10cm longer than the other even though I SWEAR I measured them! I mention this so that all of you wonderfully crafty folk out there realise that some of us are not as gifted in the crafty stakes as you are…but we are doing you a HUGE service by suffering the slings of craftless arrows that rain down on us whenever we pick up needles, hooks, material or dare to sit down at a sewing machine…we bow before your creative genius but some of you were born for craft greatness, some (like me) just have to satisfy ourselves with being born fashionistas…The jumper is warm. Narf7 cares not for fashion folks and its darned lucky that she doesn’t because if I EVER went out wearing this ensemble, I would be committed. The black socks that I am wearing in this picture were stolen from Steve’s side of the wardrobe by “moi” and were subsequently eaten by Earl when they were abandoned (foolishly) on one of my outdoor forays. Socks are not safe on Serendipity Farm…they are an endangered species

I think I might love you all and leave you there for today. I fear I am probably not at my best after a week of brain numbing rehashing of boring statistics. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible on Serendipity Farm but for now, this pays the bills so rehash we must! See you all next Wednesday when I will probably be giddy with happiness thanks to it being the final day before we are set free from our shackles of oppression…can you tell I’m a bit over this? ;). Have a great week folks and enjoy what you are doing wherever you are doing it 🙂

A week in pictures…

Hi All,

I have a post ready for today but at the last minute, when I was hunting through the images that we have accumulated over the past week I decided that I might tell the story of the week that was in pictures. They say that a change is as good as a holiday and with Steve’s guest post last week you have had a fortnight off ;). Are you ready to wander through Serendipity Farm? Here we go…

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Having never made homemade thick syrup before I had no idea how to go about making some but never one to back down from a challenge I forged ahead…without a recipe…and without most of the ingredients that you would be inclined to use to make a heavy syrup. It consists of raw sugar and floral green tea reduced. I had a vague recollection about having to test a drop on a saucer of cold water but wasn’t entirely sure what consistency it had to reach. I realised that it wasn’t going to be a thick syrup and had jumped straight to green tea toffee but to be honest,  It’s amazing it managed to get to this stage but after pouring it onto a teflex sheet to set hard…it didn’t. I ended up with a bendy semi-set toffee…what to do?

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Refusing to give up on my vague recollections as fact, I remembered how you can turn semi-set toffee into “taffy” by pulling it. I buttered up my hands and got stuck in to pulling it. Despite liberally buttering my hands this stuff stuck. It didn’t turn to taffy, it didn’t do anything aside from stick to anything that it touched. It is languishing in the fridge in a bowl thinking about it’s actions. I figure we will melt it over homemade ice-cream…and in the words of Jason Nesmith of Galaxy Quest fame “never give in, never surrender!”

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You see before you another selection of half-assed food preservation. The yellow jars are lemon curd/butter. The dark jars are citrus marmalade that was also made with raw sugar and the lighter jars are 6 jars of date and apple paste. I didn’t want to waste some apples that were a bit floury, a huge stash of lemons and Steve just wanted marmalade so what’s a girl to do? These 10 jars of preserves are 8 more than I have made in my 50 years prior to this. This preserving lark is eminently satisfactory 🙂

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What happens when your husband is thinking about something else while he is putting the kettle on to boil 😉

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Time for tea…

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Homemade Asian stuffed buns (for Steve) and the top level of the steamer holds a rich chocolate steamed sponge that he had with homemade custard for dessert

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The buns and stir fried veggie accompaniment but I forgot to take any pictures of the dessert

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“A real sunbeam!”

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It pays to keep your eyes open when you are perambulating around your local neighbourhood. Steve and I found this beauty floating just over the road from our driveway…how convenient! A pity I had to wade out  in the freezing cold water to get it but them’s the breaks and this baby has been earmarked for water storage inside our new veggie garden 🙂

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Decanting the results of a week of Kombucha fermentation mixed with a litre of juice into bottles for secondary fermentation. I am mixing glasses of delicious Kombucha and non-dairy kefir and the results are delicious. Even Steve is drinking the Kombucha because it is really tasty and eminently customisable. My next batch is going to be fermented with some fresh ginger and apple juice.

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Another tea. That pile of riced red potatoes covers a good old fashioned shepard’s pie with some grated cheese on top. Steve proclaimed it “delicious”

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One of multitudes of babies hatching out all over the place

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I have been throwing harvested perennial seeds all over the place in the side garden and finally some of them are starting to grow… those osteospermum daisies days are numbered though!

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We still haven’t finished cutting up the tree that fell into the side garden thanks to the incessant rain but the sun is finally starting to win out and even though the side garden is full of tree, it’s looking quite pretty at the moment

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More tree and more garden

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Still more tree but the other end of the garden

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At least you can see we have at least been TRYING to cut up that tree 😉

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Cutting foraged steel poles to be sunk into the ground and concreted in to stabilise the netting over the top of our huge fully enclosed veggie garden

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Drilling holes

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Holes are needed to string wire through to prevent mass invasion from above by possums

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Another tree that fell needed to be cut so that we could get our wheelbarrows full of concrete through to the veggie garden

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You can see how damp the weather has been by looking at that sky. We were racing against the clock to hammer the poles in and then concrete them in before the rains came

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In the foreground you can see the roots of the tree that fell down and the proximity to the new veggie garden along with the exposed old veggie gardens that have been completely predated by chooks since we uncovered them

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But not before I harvested all of the spinach!

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Jerusalem artichokes that I found growing on the side of the road and rehomed on Serendipity Farm and a wild lettuce that just decided to keep them company

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Steve was gifted an old empty beer keg not so long ago and aside from vague (and vain) aspirations of turning it into a still (HA!) he had to rethink his gifted keg and thought that he might make it into a rustic coffee table. After realising that we don’t need a coffee table he rethought again (all of that thinking 😉 ) and came up with turning it into a stool for his music room. Here you see the remnants of the old leather jacket that I used to cover a stool a few months ago being used again to cover a section of plywood that Steve cut into a circle. The old pillow gave us the padding material and with some rudimentary tools we turned this pile of “stuff” into this

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A padded leather covered keg topper for a musicians derrière

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“Can I have it?”

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Sorry…No, but you CAN pretend you are D.J. Earl…will that make it better?

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He’s all soul 😉

Lastly, here’s a nice composite picture that Steve made using some new software that he recently got called “Snapseed”. It’s much easier to use than Photoshop and great fun to boot. The flower is in the side garden and if you look VERY carefully on the left hand side you can STILL see that tree ;). All in all a good way to say “seeyalateralligator” for today and wish you all a great week ahead…

prewtty

The Goodies visit Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

This post has been on the back burner for ages. I had a brainstorm about 3 months ago (I did say “ages” there!) when I remembered an episode of a kids show that I used to watch back last century, when I was…a kid. As someone who had their formative years in the early 70’s I grew up with the remnants of the swinging 60’s and the peacenik 70’s emergence. I wore flared trousers and grew my hair long and as an Aussie kid I only had 2 television channels to watch. A commercial channel that on the school holidays usually had extended cricket games that seemed to go for weeks and the ABC. Our antipodean version of the BBC and we shared most of our television programs as well. We shipped off Rolf Harris (good idea on hindsight 😉 ) and neighbours and you gave us The Goodies. Everything is forgiven U.K. for The Goodies.

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I loved The Goodies. Even though the ABC must have really wanted to get their money’s worth as they aired it constantly. One series would end to be replaced with the next. A constant stream of Goodies and now part of my early childhood patchwork of memories. The Goodies was a show about 3 men who hired themselves out for work. Their claim to fame was that they did “Anything, Anytime” and they rode around on a 3 seater tandem bike. Not sure if that is even a real thing but they did so it was for the purposes of this post. At the time we all laughed and enjoyed the program but when I was reminiscing about it with Steve (who strangely didn’t watch it), I realised that The Goodies was a show WAY ahead of its time. Much like “The Good Life” the show about a couple who dropped out of living commercially and turned their suburban home into a self-sufficient block with good humour, gentle satire and the ability to completely engage an audience as only a good U.K. sitcom can do.

Despite Earl's best intentions, this aquilegia keeps coming back from the brink of damp ruin

Despite Earl’s best intentions, this aquilegia keeps coming back from the brink of damp ruin

Although poles apart, The Good Life and The Goodies both had the same message. The world in the 70’s was just starting to realise that over commercialisation was hurting the environment, our hip pocket and our chances of surviving as a species. Both programs highlighted a current of people wanting to get back to the land and live wholesome lives. Where The Good Life was hands-on, The Goodies aired issues of the time in a crazy and zany way. Painting issues with good humour is like Mary Poppins and her spoon full of sugar, it certainly makes the medicine go down in a most delightful way.

Telopea oreades a native Tasmanian waratah along the walking route that we took today in Beaconsfield

Telopea oreades a native Tasmanian waratah along the walking route that we took today in Beaconsfield

I remembered a particular episode of The Goodies where Tim, Bill and Graham went to visit Tim’s uncle’s farm to see how “real” food was produced and were shocked to discover that the farm was catering to public demand for “fast food” in hilarious forms. The episode dealt with the serious issues of genetic modification, our food being incredibly unhealthy and bad for us because of public demand for it (supply and demand) and cruelty in industrially farmed animals WAY before PETA was even thought about. As a small aside, I just checked when PETA was formed and found out it was 1980 9 years after The Goodies “Farm Fresh Food” went to air. As usual the boys were able to make these serious issues hilarious and light heartedly bumbled their way through the episode blowing up “battery hens” along with the hens that were fed directly from the mains ;).

See girls...I DO wear the shirt that you gave me ;)

See girls…I DO wear the shirt that you gave me 😉

At the end of the episode, Tim’s uncle refuses to feed the animals to the boys because, like most people buying generic “meat”, “eggs” and “milk” from the supermarket shelves, he never put 2 and 2 together when it came to animal cruelty and mass food production. I am not preaching veganism here folks, I am preaching sustainable and healthy farm production where the animals that you eat are produced in a healthy, entirely natural way without having to pump them full of hormones, antibiotics and goodness only knows what else just to get them onto the supermarket shelves A.S.A.P. at the smallest production cost to the farmer and the true culprit of all of this, my dreaded middle-man – “The Supermarkets!” Can we cue some danger music folks!

The final episode of head banging on Serendipity Farm...for now...

The final episode of head banging on Serendipity Farm…for now…

I wanted to illustrate this post with images that I sourced online. I couldn’t find any! This episode seems to have been one of the more obscure episodes and as such the diehard fans haven’t been spreading the love but the other day one of my wonderful blog mates Tanya from the exotic yet entirely sumptuously wholesome blog http://chicaandaluza.com/sent me a link to this very episode! I mean…what are the odds?! I would more likely win the lotto than get my hot little hands on this episode of The Goodies but here it was, right in front of me…30 minutes of memories and the entire contents of this post all wrapped up in someone on the other side of the world’s memories also.

One of three glass cases we bought for an extremely cheap price at Bunning's for "something". Still in the cupboards gathering dust. This one is going to live with Stewart and Kelsey and will become a Wardian Case (look it up folks ;) )

One of three glass cases we bought for an extremely cheap price at Bunning’s for “something”. Still in the cupboards gathering dust. This one is going to live with Stewart and Kelsey and will become a Wardian Case (look it up folks 😉 )

The U.K. in the 70’s was a hotbed of change. Maggie Thatcher and her heavyweight political thugs were setting up what was to be a bloodbath of the common man, tearing apart the unions and sending wage and industrial relations back to the dark ages, something that the U.K. is still reeling from today. The Goodies were a mix of middle of the road conservatism (Tim), scientific inventive know-how (Graham) and crazed way out sherbet sucking hippy (Bill) that melded together to expose and solve (in their own indubitably hilarious fashion) many of the problems that Britain was going through where in reality, the situation seemed dire.  If you have ever seen the punk episode where Tim wants to go to the punk ball you will know what I am talking about. Who saw THAT ending coming eh?

Still raining...sigh...

Still raining…sigh…

Aside from hilarious chronological and political story telling the music was wonderful, the dialogue was hilarious and full of double entendre that kept our parents snorting with glee where we had NO idea what was being alluded to. We last century kids got hefty doses of realism thrown in with our humour. No-one felt the need to shelter us from reality and indeed Sesame Street was a FAR different place when my children were watching it than it is today. NO sanitary wiped, germ free, everyone lives forever nonsense, they even integrated an episode where one of the main characters, Mr. Hooper (or “Looper” as Big Bird called him) actually died and decided to share it with the children watching. Everyone was genuinely sad but it was real folks. Kids NEED real, not being wrapped in cling wrap and stuck in the fridge till they mature like so much artisanal cheese.

Earl vs Steve. Earl 1, Steve nil

Earl vs Steve. Earl 1, Steve nil

I also remember an episode where chemical toxic waste was being served as tomato soup in drums and it turned everyone into clowns. Another double entendre and a very clever one at that. Dealing with the heavyweight issues of environmentalism and cutting edge humour wouldn’t have been an easy task but The Goodies were up for it and the results are still hilarious today. The Goodies were one of my favourite childhood television shows and thanks to ABC “thrift”, one of my children’s favourite television shows as well. We could do with less Telly Tubbies and a whole lot more Goodies when it comes to educating our kids about the real world and allowing them to develop a good sense of humour at the same time.

A man and his dog

A man and his dog

I think that might be all about The Goodies. I was going to ramble on for an entire post but I just fizzled out. You can all breathe a sigh of relief but do yourselves a favour and head off to Youtube where the BBC has actually released a fair few Goodies episodes for us all to enjoy. If you haven’t ever heard of The Goodies before you can settle down with a hot mug of whatever takes your fancy and a bit of cake (yes, you have permission for cake!) and have a good old fashioned last century politically incorrect chuckle at the antics of a few crazed Englishmen…go on…you KNOW you want to ;)…

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGoodiesBBC?feature=watch

It’s been wet-wet-WET on Serendipity Farm and I don’t mean that 80’s Scottish band who crooned “Love is all around” by the way, I am talking about precipitation and specifically, the kind that has been digging more of the twin canyons in our driveway out making negotiation of said driveway an “extreme sport” to say the least. I have had a bung knee thanks to an attempt at being somewhat fashionable and wearing something with a small heel to my last shopping adventure resulting in a decidedly unfashionable knee swelling event. Steve has been braving the mornings with Earl and an umbrella. He foolishly took both dogs yesterday and on the way back home in the pouring rain (sans umbrella, he only has 2 hands folks!) he let Bezial off his lead on the walk back up the driveway who promptly steamrolled him over into one of the gaping driveway canyons resulting in language that can’t be reproduced here in polite conversation.

The new bbq in situ with its Earl Free Protection Zone constructed around to minimise dampness

The new bbq in situ with its Earl Free Protection Zone constructed around to minimise dampness

We have been cooking, plotting the downfall of the possums and various weed populations and arranging and re-arranging the furniture and most importantly we have been waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop and for a chance to get out into that garden that has erupted into a crazed growth spike thanks to endless rain and elevated temperature. I have been racing out in between rain showers and raking the driveway and lawns to get fallen branches to put on our ornamental gardens to foil the chooks from scratching all of the mulch from the soil. I WILL beat the chooks…you had better believe it! One “chook” in particular is living on borrowed time. We allowed one of our white chooks who had been clucky for the better part of 6 months to hatch out a single egg. She managed to prevent the feral cats from consuming this baby until it turned into a rooster…sigh…a rooster that is now turning its randy eye onto any and everything. Poor ducky has taken to not going back into the roost as this rooster finds her particularly attractive. Tonight, it is going to become an ex-rooster and a delicious pot of chook stock. Problem SOLVED!

Steve's statement about my "help" to construct the bbq...

Steve’s statement about my “help” to construct the bbq…

I think the same white chook is sitting on about 7 eggs hidden over in the side garden where the tree fell down. She is just about due to hatch them out and unless we get to her and her chicks first and throw them into the communal enclosed outside area that now houses a wonky rooster that survived being set upon by his dad and his brother, a hen with 1 largish chick and a hen with 3 babies, the feral cats will think that they are fair game. It’s dog eat dog here on Serendipity Farm and Bezial is worried! Steve has headed into town to brave the Launceston locals and to do our fortnightly shopping. We are buying another copy of Kaspersky, our Russian hit man anti-virus software who has been protecting us to the max since we bought it from Office works. There are many other anti-virus software packages but what we can get here in Tasmania, let alone from Office Works, is severely restricted so Kaspersky, our proven saviour, is IT. We will load it onto our newly liberated Windows 7 rich laptop so that yours truly can surf Pinterest with impunity on the sofa till I fall asleep at 7.30pm and Steve can then use it to find guitar tab to play while he watches his horror movies

Dog love :)

Dog love 🙂

Some time on Friday or Saturday, my arch nemesis will return. D.S. I don’t even WANT to type the rest of it will rob all of we Eastern border dwellers of an hour of our sleep. That’s not 1 hour folks, that’s an hour a day! Call me a mathematical plebian but even I know that when you add it up that makes approximately 182 hours of robbed sleep in time. It’s bad enough for the people that have to get up an hour earlier to go get ready to go to work but think of we magpies…we hopeless RSS Feed Reader and Pinterest addicts who need to get up before the blackbirds sing to satiate our wanton desires and you can start to see why I ABHORE D.S. I only realised that it was the dreaded D.S. when I read a post from Sarah at the holistically wholesome and sustainably engaging quirky New Zealand love fest that is http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ . Sarah alerted me because N.Z. just commenced their own D.S. Sarah, unlike me, didn’t whinge or complain even once about it. I would imagine that was because Sarah (again…unlike me) is a natural morning person. Narf7 isn’t a natural morning person. I am a natural night-time person who endures mornings to get what I want. D.S. is like inserting bamboo skewers under my twitching early morning eyelids folks and I can only thank goodness that Steve and the dogs aren’t up to see me before that first elixir of mellowness known as “tea” soaks into my grouchy internal organs and seeps outwards to lend me an air of somewhat contented bewilderment

That big jar next to my Vitamix contains "Hilda the Booch" my new Kombucha scoby

That big jar next to my Vitamix contains “Hilda the Booch” my new Kombucha scoby

Here's a closer view of Hilda. The glass isn't really grotty, it was painted once and the bits in the line are all that remain. I got the scoby from David at Wholesome House, our favourite health food shop.

Here’s a closer view of Hilda. The glass isn’t really grotty, it was painted once and the bits in the line are all that remain. I got the scoby from David at Wholesome House, our favourite health food shop.

I foolishly got Steve to set the alarm for today. I have a bolshie desire to foil myself being forced into waking up an hour earlier and giving any powers that be a degree of satisfaction in this little black ducks lack of preparedness for this annual fleecing of hours. I stumbled out of bed with one eye glued to the other wearing only a pair of Steve’s boxer shorts (I DID tell you it hasn’t stopped raining here…) and a sports bra (probably backwards…it no longer matters 😉 ) and turned on the P.C. to see that it was 2.45am. 2.45am?!!! The temptation to head over to my saucepan collection and select 2 particularly loud specimens complete with lids to walk around the house banging together but I figured that it was my own fault for not setting the alarm myself and decided to get dressed instead… Bezial had suffered enough!

It's Steve's and my 13th wedding anniversary on October 7th...we plan on celebrating redneck style. Check out the moonshine glasses that Steve found in town. We will be sipping our port in style!

It’s Steve’s and my 13th wedding anniversary on October 7th…we plan on celebrating redneck style. Check out the moonshine glasses that Steve found in town. We will be sipping our port in style!

So Wednesday finds us somewhat sunny but deep in study again. That’s the thing about living the life that we do…it’s not all beer and skittles you know. We have to pay the ferry man for our lifestyle choices and so study we must. We have to put our veggie garden on the back burner and get stuck in to our final unit of this course where we learn to put everything that we have been learning together and make a website… technically we have to make 2 websites…one each, but let’s not nit-pick, at the end of the day we get to turn out a real and proper website! This has excited Steve and I to the possibilities of making more. We might make one for Earl and Bezial… it would probably get more hits than mine. People love dogs ;).

Our attempt to prevent the wallabies from scarfing the tender new weeping maple leaves. I am pleased to say it works! So far...

Our attempt to prevent the wallabies from scarfing the tender new weeping maple leaves. I am pleased to say it works! So far…

Before I bugger off and let you all get your lives back after tumbling you around the brain of narf7 and hopefully not damaging your psyche’s too much in the process, I want to share an amazing vegan food blog with you all. Don’t roll your eyes; this one would make the most discerning gourmet twitch with delight. I found this blog through the annual Vegan M.O.F.O where crazed vegan food bloggers decide to beat themselves over the head daily and post a food post a day on a particular theme. If I was ever to be crazy enough to join them I would choose Stromboli because Steve would eat every single one of them and STILL want more at the end of the month but I digress…back to http://thevegankitchenofdrcaligari.wordpress.com/ .

Have you ever seen a jasmine tea "flower"?

Have you ever seen a jasmine tea “flower”?

Neither had I till our friend Roxy gave me one

Neither had I till our friend Roxy gave me one

After pouring boiling water gently over the tea "flower" it started to open...

After pouring boiling water gently over the tea “flower” it started to open…

This vegan food blogger took a month worth of “cupcakes” and ran with it. When you think of cupcakes, you think of little sweet cakes with some form of icing (frosting to you Northerners) on top and perhaps a few sprinkles or a cherry to grace the top if you are feeling particularly adventurous on the day…well NO MORE folks! Dr Cal has deconstructed the average cupcake, found it wanting and knocked it right out of the ballpark! In his amazingly innovative way, he has undertaken a Frankenstein approach to cupcakes and every single cupcake that has rolled off the production line this MOFO has been an eye opening scintillating creation that boggles the mind. Think sweet cupcakes that take you all over the place with decidedly unusual ingredients and then forgedaboudit folks and think savoury cupcakes…savoury? Why not! Gorgeous little cupcakes that would be fantastic served at a pot luck or picnic and that would be an instant conversation starter at any “bring-a-plate” event anywhere. Dr Cal (forgive me sir, I don’t know your real name 😉 ) is as eclectic as his cupcakes and every single recipe on his blog is amazing. Do yourselves a Molly Meldrum favour and head straight over there…do NOT pass go and forget about your $200, you are going to need it to buy all of the crazy ingredients that you need to make every single batch of these heavenly delightful cupcakes and just make them and mainline them. Who needs drugs when you have cupcakes like this to free your mind from the oppression of everyday hum-drum life? Kudos Dr Cal and here’s to a lifetime of educating we jaded and oppressed vegans back into the folds of creative invention I salute you sir!

The tea "flower" almost fully opened

The tea “flower” almost fully opened

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

It was like a beautiful anemone at the bottom of the pot and the tea tasted lovely as well :)

It was like a beautiful anemone at the bottom of the pot and the tea tasted lovely as well 🙂

That brings us to the end of this post. About time, it is just about to hit 3000 words but you know how it is…needs must when your muses prompt. What are you still doing here by the way…you should be marveling and “Oohing and Ahing” at Dr Cal’s gorgeous creations! See you on Wednesday when narf7 may or may not be able to fit through the door after making and eating almost all of the months MOFO cupcake creations 😉

Today's Word Cloud picture

Today’s Word Cloud picture

I’m just doing the do…how about you?

Hi All

September appears to be a month of change on Serendipity Farm. Last week we found out that the son-and-heir was moving down to Tasmania with his Texan sweetie Kelsey and suddenly all of the piles and boxes of debris and memories that we had left languishing in the unit at the rear of our daughter’s home in the city needed to be removed, revisited and revised. The 3 “R’s” of the apocalypse folks and it has seen us moving a lot of things around in the process and getting rid of lots of “stuff” that we simply don’t have the space for and will never need.  We inherited a lot of cut glass that had lived in a glass cabinet in the spare room until last week when we decided that we would offer Stewart and Kelsey the queen sized bed it contained and would swap it for our old bed that Steve made for me about 10 years ago. Steve and I headed into town and cleared out a lot of boxes and bags of “stuff” and brought them home with us and at that point we merely thought it would be a case of “open a cupboard and stuff them in”…

Steve's "emo" respray on a little bedside set of draws

Steve’s “emo” respray on a little bedside set of draws

Still trying to make the internet his minion...

Still trying to make the internet his minion…

Nope…it wasn’t. We ended up going through the boxes of old papers, bits-and-bobs and “stuff” and have spent the better part of a week working out whether or not we want it, will need it, or have anywhere to actually put it. Most of the old papers had been kept by my father and just need to be burned so methinks a baked potato bonfire complete with roasted marshmallows is in our immediate future, however there were lots of nick-knacks etc. that hold no sentimental value to us (or anyone else still alive) so what do we do with them? They aren’t technically “worth” anything and aside from sticking them back into the glass cabinet that we liberated what should we do with them? So we found ourselves in a bit of a quandary and what made it worse was that we had our OWN “stuff” that we had been hoarding and carting around from pillar to post to deal with as well so as you can imagine, we have had piles of rubbish all over the place and Earl has been seen at regular intervals sneaking away with various articles in his beak

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

We found this teeny "faeries" egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We found this teeny “faeries” egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We erected the 4 poster bed that Steve made for us back when we lived in W.A. in the small middle bedroom and were amazed at how tiny the room now looks. We have decided to put our interior design skills to work and paint the whole bed white to minimise its impact. It’s a sort of stained jarrah at the moment which makes it look huge and oppressive. Aside from being a hulking great thing, nothing that was in the bedroom before fits there now so we had to take a look at the furniture in the room and move it “elsewhere”. In the process we ended up moving bedroom furniture, furniture from the lounge room (twice), things moved back and forwards and in the end we found a happy medium that took us all day Sunday to accomplish. We still have that pile of cut glass so if anyone knows what we should do with it, feel free to let us know

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli...note to self... don't use spaghetti in the oven

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli…note to self… don’t use spaghetti in the oven

How much more character could I want?! ;)

How much more character could I want?! 😉

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Steve decided to tidy up his music room and go hunting for a camera charger that he needed and took all day to find it and when he did, it was in one of the boxes that he first looked in. You know those moments where you are BURSTING to say something but think better of it because of the sake of world peace? Well I had a moment like that. If I am being honest, I had about 10 moments like that all in a row and aside from having to stifle the urge to bang my head on the computer desk in front of me I am completely unable to get it through Steve’s head that if you insist on “man checks” you are going to spend a LONG time looking for anything. Couple that with a chaotic organisational system that involves “putting things away” but in no particular order or place and you can only imagine what it is like here sometimes when “something” needs to be found…sigh…

The grapes are alive!

The grapes are alive!

So are the avocado's and the hazelnuts...stick some seeds in the ground folks...whatchagottalose?

So are the avocado’s and the hazelnuts…stick some seeds in the ground folks…whatchagottalose?

The weather has been typically spring weather of late. Lots of drizzly rain and I certainly am not going to be the first one to complain about it. I want it to rain for as long as it can because the alternative is hard baked clay and blow-away silt to contend with and the longer it stays wet…the longer it stays in place and is easy to dig. The trees that we planted out are all still alive so that’s a bonus and we have decided to take a day and pull all of our potted plants out and go through them and sort them into a pile of keepers that we can justify keeping and that we actually have an area put aside to plant them out into and a pile to give away to someone. Steve wants to put them on gumtree as “free trees pick up only” and while I am all for giving them away, after our last attempt to give things away via gumtree I am not so sure that I want to engage with the natives who usually want you to drive 200km and deliver…sigh…Anyone with any good ideas about what we can do with the wealth of free trees that are going to come out of our ruthless cull please, again, let us know.

Remember that tree that wouldn't fall down?

Remember that tree that wouldn’t fall down?

It fell down

It fell down

It’s Wednesday again! How come 2013 has flown away so fast? Suddenly we are on the cusp of both hotter weather and Christmas and I am prepared for neither. I woke up at 2.30am to a loud clap of thunder and we had a small electrical storm with pelting rain that has passed now. SO glad I didn’t end up doing the washing like I was lamenting yesterday evening ;). Steve and I are starting our final course unit and have been working on a list of questions to prepare us for entering the world of Web Publishing and “Dreamweaver”. We had a problem with a link that we needed to access to complete the questions and after sending off a missive to our lecturer we decided to head off to the Beaconsfield tip and take some old bed bases that someone might get some use out of complete with headboards. I like the Beaconsfield tip, it has a really great tip shop and depending on the day that you visit, you get great bargains. The weekend lady is a tough nut. She wants profit at all costs. The weekday lady is a friend and you get your bargains extra cheap. After poring through old books and other peoples discarded treasures I ended up finding a very large baking tray that fits perfectly on Brunhilda’s over-large shelves, a complete walk through book of a game that my daughter owns and loves, a small sturdy round Huon pine cutting board, a book on recipes and crafts for fetes with lots of great cake and toffee recipes and under a heap of old books we found a book on how to use Dreamweaver! BONUS! It’s an older version but most programs don’t change all that much so we at least have something to use if we get really stuck and we can start working through how to use this complex program over the holidays

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It might be older but at 20c I figure it is worth it’s age in gold

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

Have you ever thought of developing your own website? I know that I watch how much of my WordPress blog I have used up so far and am mindful of keeping my image size low so that I don’t run out of space too fast. I have been blogging about Serendipity Farm for over 2 years now and have used up 42% of my space. For the first year I blogged daily so I don’t think I am doing too bad but the time is coming when I am going to have to pay up or ship out. The course that Steve and I are currently doing was a sort of “gap year” thing. I let Steve pick a course to do because we can’t go to university until Steve becomes an Aussie citizen (and takes the dreaded citizenship test…). Well… technically we CAN go to university but Steve would have to pay up front, something that we just can’t find a way to do so until he gets his act together and learns the inside scoop on what our past Prime Ministers ate for breakfast and what size their underpants were (in chronological order…) we have been learning about Web Design.

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! "WOOT!" :)

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! “WOOT!” 🙂

Aren't these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

Aren’t these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

The course might have been a gap year thing but it has opened up a wealth of possibilities to us. We have learned that with a bit of effort and a desire to learn how to get our hands a bit dirty in the world of simple code etc. we could start our own website and this blog could gain a much greater degree of security than it currently has. The more we look at it, the more interesting it becomes and with Steve the wonder techy behind us (more stubborn refusal to give in than technological genius really 😉 ) and the son-and-heir who is also technologically minded I figure we could bumble our way through the stages required to design and bring and new website to life. Whenever I see a blog that I follow mentioning “moving to a new site” I start to twitch. It usually means that we are just about to be inundated with advertisements’ and posts full of product placement. I am not blogging for fame or fortune folks. I am blogging to release the pressure of my muse’s constant undercurrent hum of “sound” so you can be assured that when we do move, it will be to nice clean unadvertised premises with a decided middle aged hippy flavour.

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I love bulbs :)

I love bulbs 🙂

Steve picked up our new bbq the other day and it has been languishing inside its massive cardboard box in the shed ever since. It’s not because we don’t want to tear open the box and assemble it. Steve and I both have that gene that wants to assemble, I think it is called the Scalextric, Airfix or Lego gene and requires you to mindlessly put things together…if glue is a part of the equation, all the better! It’s like knitting in front of the television…a semi-conscious pastime that feeds something inside you and leaves you replete. The problem that we also have is that Steve has a “hurry UP!” gene and I have a “Slow and steady wins the race” (and doesn’t arrive at the finish line with a hand full of nuts and bolts that probably, really, SHOULD be on that assembled item…sigh…) gene and the two genes are incompatible. You know how like poles on magnets repel? So do Steve’s and my working genes.  It’s not just the fact that assembling a simple bbq is going to probably result in our own revisitation of the battle of Britain…we have an added problem in the form of Earl.

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial's birthday

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial’s birthday

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live...for now...

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live…for now…

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

Earl has a BIG problem with anything setting foot on his deck. He is fine with Steve, Bezial and me but anything else is an invader and needs to be repelled. He spends his days in an endless cycle of snoring upside down on the couch, begging for walks and parading around the perimeter of the fence that keeps Earl inside (much to the world’s relief) and the invaders out. Earl has more than his fair share of foreign invaders including feral cats and possums that invade in the night to steal the cheese that we put on our kitchen window ledge for the birds in the day, the birds that come for the cheese are included on the invader list apparently…butterflies, ants, wasps, bees ANYTHING that dares to come onto Earls deck is fair game for his displeasure…included in the process of “repelling all boarders”, is the process of making sure that the invaders KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that this is “Earl’s turf”. To do that, Earl needs to spend an inordinate amount of time peeing on anything that he feels is especially “his”.

The large arty pot prior to Earl's stamp of ownership

The large arty pot prior to Earl’s stamp of ownership

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don't buy milk, I make it.

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don’t buy milk, I make it.

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

We brought home a large unusual arty pot that we inherited when dad died and that has been languishing in the unit out the back of our daughter’s home in the city since we moved to Serendipity Farm almost 3 years ago. It’s most unusual, most impractical and highly visible and when we decided to place it on the deck because we had NO idea where to put it otherwise, Earl immediately homed in on it and put his tag on it. Steve noted this and headed out with a kettle of boiling water to de-mark the afflicted item and was bemused to note as he was coming back in with the empty kettle…Earl casually strolling up to the pot and re-marking it! We can only imagine the joy that Earl is going to feel when we are talking to each other again after the assembly of the bbq and we haul this shiny black behemoth of a “possession” onto the deck for summer gustatory delights and in the name of keeping the house cool in the coming hot months. I can only begin to imagine how many water bowls are going to be emptied through Earl onto our new bbq and that’s why it is still in its box and awaiting the Pimblett version of W.W.3 to rise like the phoenix from the shreds of cardboard and become the mainstay of our summer (albeit urine tinted) cooking space.

Here's what happened to narf7's veggie garden over winter...

Here’s what happened to narf7’s veggie garden over winter…

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Its 4.39am and I am just about to pat this post on the head and send it off to the blogging version of “the printers”. I know it’s a bit less entertaining than usual and indeed, so am I. It’s the cusp of the damp and cooler weather and unlike most Northerners who are already starting to sulk about the impending rain and cold, I am sad to see our cooler, wetter weather go. I really don’t like hot weather. I am not a fan of sweat or sleepless nights bathed in the stuff. I don’t like trying to walk grumpy hot dogs on hot days or mosquitoes or the smell of the river when the oysters dry up (ECH!). I love spring and its possibilities but the long hot dry months of summer leave me restless and twitchy. I am a Northerner living in a Southerners body. I also have a vegetable garden that is NOWHERE near ready for planting out with new summer veggies. I headed up (most bravely) yesterday and waded through the mud to see that the spinach that has been the mainstay of the garden for the past year has finally decided to go to seed and is now up to my chest. I am not short. I cut some for tonight’s evening meal whilst trying to simultaneously shield my eyes from the sow thistles doing their damnedest to get into the Guinness World Book of Records for having the thickest stems.

Clivea flowers

Clivea flowers

Clivea seeds from last season's flowers

Clivea seeds from last season’s flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

It’s time to haul ass and get out of winter “inside” mode and back into summer “outside” mode and I am scared. Steve and I have 2 weeks of holidays coming up and we will be outside pouring concrete, setting the final poles into the ground for our big outside enclosed veggie garden. I have plans to make a garden bed out of the various coloured wine bottles that we have been storing in the small shed that I was going to make a bottle wall out of but that I am now going to turn into a lovely raised garden (thanks to Pinterest for the idea 😉 ). The rest of the garden beds will be assembled from existing enormous wooden beams that are in situ inside the perimeter (thank goodness!) and lots and lots and lots and lots of rocks. We can spare the odd rock. Serendipity Farm is predominately made up of rocks ;). Well that’s all for today folks. Narf7 is entering “doing” territory and that’s my least explored territory of all. I am great at planning…implementing isn’t my forte but as this is my “year of doing” I had best get my act together and at least “DO” something! ;). See you next week when I should technically have some photos of lots of hard work and misery loves company so feel free to get out into your own gardens so that we will meet next Wednesday as the confraternity of hobbling, tired, scratched and maimed gardeners ;).

If Steve ever suggests that you "just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it's SUCH a lovely day..." best you pretend you didn't hear ;)

If Steve ever suggests that you “just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it’s SUCH a lovely day…” best you pretend you didn’t hear 😉

Today's word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left ;)

Today’s word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left 😉

Bezial kissed a cow and he liked it…

Hi All,

I’m back! I learned a couple of things from my trip to my daughters. When you live inland in a cold climate it gets cold. You can put a lead on a dog but you CAN’T make it walk. Parrots like aniseed “people” sunflower seeds and rats are a whole lot cleverer than I thought. I also learned that Vista was an operating system from hades and we are getting our Vista infested laptop exorsised as soon as we can raise the funds. Aside from gorging itself on as many Windows updates as it could (and we haven’t ever used it online so you can only BEGIN to imagine the gustatory spread that it felt the need to guzzle…sigh…) it took 20 seconds to open a new blank word document, 5 minutes to load a Pinterest board and it kept crashing and telling me that Internet Explorer was using WAY too much memory when it wasn’t. Time to get reformatted and be done with it. What I am trying to tell you is that I got bugger all done in town :o(. I hardly even dipped my toes into the massive tidal flow that is my Pinterest board problem and I didn’t even open my RSS Feed Reader (if a word document takes 20 seconds I could only IMAGINE how long it would take it to load my RSS Feed Reader!). I was forced to twiddle my thumbs and knit. Not bad because in between gnashing my teeth at the laptop refusing to do anything but update itself I managed to almost knit a pair of gauntlets out of that wool that our friend Roxy had spun herself. I haven’t knitted in years and was a bit worried that I wouldn’t remember how but I had obviously done a fair bit of it before I ceased because it came back to me like riding a bike…all natural like. I was smug in my ability to knit myself a pair of gauntlets as I even remembered how to rib! I got to the end of the first gauntlet and suddenly realised that I had NO idea how to cast off!  I am most pathetically going to have to check how to do it online…sigh…

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Earl sniffed out the culprit who was sitting and staying shtum on this clutch of prospective feral cat fodder earlier this week. He got a reward of some raw eggs to reinforce his egg hunting (well…to be honest…chook hunting) abilities. Now if we can just get him to do our studies…

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Check out this glass of my non-dairy kefir. It’s thick like kefir even though the original soymilk (organic and homemade) I made it out of was thin and watery. It is bubbly, fizzy and tastes a lot like yoghurt. I add extra date puree to the mix so that it has something to keep snarfling in the tundra of the fridge and it seems to love it. I have been freezing it to add to smoothie futures and drink it by the glassful. No idea if it is doing me any good but I now have a great probiotic live substitute for dairy yoghurt that doesn’t involve me having to choke down that insipid sweet mush that they sell as “yoghurt” in Australian shops. “Score!” 🙂

I am letting the P.C. download my massive RSS Feed Reader quotient for the weekend. All I can do is hope that all of you are outside making daisy chains and having gorgeous picnics in some green lush wooded areas to bother with such trivialities as posting blog posts and that most of the Northern hemisphere is joining you. Note that I am studiously avoiding checking the feed by pretending that I absolutely positively HAVE to make a start on this blog post for Wednesday ;). I had a lot of time to just “think” while I was house-sitting over the weekend. I didn’t bother using the remotes even though the girls gave me lessons before they headed out. I just didn’t feel like watching anything and as I go to bed so early there wasn’t much point. I took some music in with me on a memory stick and after downloading it to my daughters desktop P.C. (they don’t use it online) I looped it and played it in the background all day. I wrestled with the laptop and spent a lot of time thinking and patting and playing with the dog. It’s amazing how your mind will fill in the blanks if you allow it to :o). My rapidly (galloping) approaching 50th birthday has its sights on my thoughts and even though I might have wanted to completely forgedaboudit and deal with it in good stead, other people think it’s an important enough milestone to celebrate so celebrate narf7 will do!

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Beggars can’t be choosers when they get to 6pm on the day of their post and realise that they forgot to take lots of pictures for their dear constant readers… these are raw potatoes. They turned into some delicious cooked potatoes but Steve ate them before I was able to take a photo

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Here are some raw sausage rolls. You remember those potatoes? Same result…snarfled before I could snap.

While I was away one of our friends who live locally decided to test out his tractor and head up to Serendipity Farm and pull down that pesky tree that has been dangling in another tree precariously. So long as we don’t walk underneath it, it doesn’t appear to hold any sort of danger to us but if we manage to get it down we can cut it up for firewood. Guy turned up with his tractor and after Steve hooked a strong rope around the trunk of the semi-fallen tree Guy set forth in his tractor to pull the tree down…except…the tree had other ideas about that. The tractor lurched forwards and shot a spark plug straight into the air causing both Steve and Guy to hit the deck and the tractor to stop working. After spending the rest of the afternoon “tinkering” (as men do when they really don’t know what they are looking at but feel the need to at least look like they do) they had to admit defeat. We now have a large tractor as garden art up next to our defoliated liquidambar tree. Earl has claimed it by urinating on it at least twice and Bezial has detected possum activity in the immediate vicinity. Hopefully it gets sorted out soon and doesn’t become a permanent fixture on Serendipity Farm but at least it is in an unobtrusive place for now. We are assured that when the sparkplug gets mended it will go like gangbusters but for now it is showing its age and having a nap under a blanket.

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I probably should have warned the more sensitive of you (you are still reading this blog?) that I was going to show you a photo of one of the fork/hooks that Steve added to this sliver of Tasmanian Blackwood. Please be reassured that Steve hasn’t felt the need to revisit his punk past and he would like it to be known by all and sundry that this is NOT a rude fork…it is a “Peace fork”.

As a person who doesn’t naturally gravitate towards food early in the morning I have been struggling with “breakfast” as a concept. I know that it is important to eat breakfast. I know that it starts your metabolism and your day off right. I know that BUT that doesn’t make it any easier for me to eat it. I started off with the grainy porridge types of cereals but they made me feel lethargic and heavy for most of the day till they wore off. I dare say they were sustaining me but I would rather be springy and active than in need of a nap at 10am. My daughters gave me a really good idea when they shared some “Juk” with me when I stayed with them recently. Juk is the Korean version of Congee, a thin gruel made from rice. Ostensibly it’s eaten for breakfast and by the elderly and the sick and tends to be seen as comfort food. I see it as the perfect thing to eat for breakfast, especially the pumpkin variety. I have my eyes on a variety that involves black sesame seed but for now am happy with the pumpkin kind. I throw in black beans to fortify the mix and although it might be somewhat unconventional, it’s filling, tasty and it hits the spot and allows me to keep going through my day without feeling like I am weighed down. Now I just need to work out how to throw lunch into the mix and I am set!

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Yeah…I know…”YUM!” ;). Seriously though, this is delicious. I forgot to put the rice in and just ended up with pumpkin and beans cooked with date syrup and water and it was absolutely delicious.

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This is a 2 litre wine bottle. It smacks of the desperation I find myself in that I should stoop to using this image in my post. I am going to try to segue it by saying that Steve used this in his recent animation but he shelved that animation because it was too hard…(maybe I should have used the coffee cup that he eventually used?)…just know that we did, indeed, drink this entire bottle of wine and it wasn’t bad!

I may or may not be still addicted to Pinterest (spoken like a true addict). You know how people who are addicted to porn magazines tell you that they are reading them for the articles? Well I am learning a whole lot from pins that I have pinned to my boards. Just this morning I found this most interesting blog post about how to make your own recycled newspaper yarn. I love the idea of taking something that you either throw into the recycle bin or use to line a garden bed (or start the fire) and make something you can actually crochet or knit or weave with. The end results are quite beautiful…just call them a study in greyscale. Check out the tutorial here…

http://greenupgrader.com/2138/handspun-recycled-newspaper-yarn/

I don’t think I will be making an all-weather hat any day soon but there are some very interesting practical indoor uses for something made from recycled newspaper yarn, think baskets and bags. I found a tutorial on how to cast off! I can now finish off my first gauntlet and get going on the second one. I also managed to untangle an almighty mess of wool that my youngest daughter had stuffed into a supermarket bag and stashed in her wardrobe. She had no use for it and I asked her if I could have it. It’s that fluffy/fuzzy stuff that is a bugger to knit but I am going to practice making granny squares out of it. You can never have enough bags, shoes or granny squares girls! I really enjoyed picking up a pair of knitting needles again after a long hiatus.

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This is the wool that I inherited from my daughter…supposed to be round the other way I know…the daughter should inherit from the mum BUT she didn’t want it any more and I did so lets just call it a role reversal of fortune. I had to untangle the entire mess. You can see I managed to get 1 ball untangled before taking this image

Aside from being assured by my daughters that I was just showing my age, I am getting a great deal of satisfaction out of making something functional. I have some dark sage green wool (khaki?) that I am going to make Steve a pair of long gauntlets out of to walk the dog with. It’s cold in the mornings and that’s the best time to walk the dogs. We rug up well but fingerless gloves don’t come down far enough to keep the breeze off your wrists. I got the great idea from those lovely mitts that Sarah from thinkingcowgirl sent to me a while ago. I have been tumbling them around in my mind to see if I couldn’t customise them to make them slightly more robust. I didn’t want to wear the mitts that Sarah sent me outdoors as “dirt” lives outdoors. It lurks…it waits and it usually adheres itself to Earl whenever he races out the dog door. It is insidious stuff, dirt… no matter how much I sweep or wipe things over it comes back to do the dusty equivalent of a Mexican Wave to me every time I reveal my Italian soul and start waving my arms around all over the place. What’s a girl to do when she is surrounded by male counterparts who could care less about dirt and its nefarious ways? I have to get canny and surreptitiously pretend not to be sweeping but when you have 2 dogs that lie right in front of the broom (they have obviously made some kind of deal with the dust) it’s difficult to say the least.

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Here I was most pathetically trying to gain your sympathy with the size of the pile of wool that I needed to untangle and how matted it was…did I succeed? I didn’t think so…

Steve has been dabbling in time-lapse photography and had some fun the other day taking some long exposure images of stars. We recently became aware (thanks to one of our fellow students in our course that we have been chatting online with) that Tassie is being bathed in the gorgeousness of the Aurora Australis most nights. We live on the wrong side of the hill to see it but I am sure I saw it out of the corner of my eye when I was waiting to pick up my daughters on Sunday night. The sky was too red for a winter’s day and after checking a Facebook page that we were directed to that hosts lots of photos of the spectacular I realised that my right eye might just have seen something that the rest of me hasn’t. Steve also did a bit of light painting with his torch down in the graveyard. I can only hope that Frank and Adrian weren’t standing on their deck at the time to see him waving his torch all over the place in the graveyard and aiming at headstones. Grave robbing isn’t viewed with the same understanding these days as it once was! 😉

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Yeah…a few balls done here and only a small pile of temper tantrum wool that was too knotted to be allowed to fraternise with the rest. This wool might be a pain to knit but good luck spotting the joins…swings and roundabouts folks! 😉

When we were walking this morning we walked past a heard of young steer (male cows castrated and raised for beef) that immediately took an interest in Bezial. It might have been because he was small and black like they are, it might have been because he was on a lead but it’s more likely because every few metres he was stopping to eat grass. Both of our dogs love to eat grass and if we were to allow them cart blanch in the mornings we would be out for hours while they munched their way through most of the road verge in Sidmouth. We aren’t that patient and Steve was in the process of dragging Bezial away from a particularly green and lush patch of grass when they were both approached by a most determined young steer on the other side of the fence. He put his head down and stared at Bezial who completely ignored him. Earl jumped up in the air, did a mid-air pirouette and had to be taken to the other side of the road in disgrace (the story of Earls life) but the steer kept staring at Bezial and so Steve decided to allow Bezial to meet the steer. I just need to point out here that where Earl is completely untrustworthy when it comes to any form of animal aside from human beings, Bezial is the most trustworthy hound on earth. He accompanies me to the hen house in the mornings and watches excitedly as I feed them. He follows Pingu and sniffs her nether regions with glee because she is “his”. They bonded when she lived in Steve’s music room as a small chick who had only just escaped death and she is the only chook who isn’t afraid of him. He walks through the throng of feral cats and completely ignores them. The only time he chases a chook is when I urge him to run over and stop one of the feral roosters having his wicked way with one of Yins girls and Bezial obliges by pelting over and scaring it off while the hen ruffles her feathers indignantly.

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My natural desire to organise things has been outed :(. After untangling the balls from each other I lined them up before untangling the balls from themselves. Talk about double handling! 😉

Bezial can be trusted…Earl can’t. To anyone who has watched the U.K. television program “Black Books” it is the same situation as when Bernard and Manny were left in control of Bernard’s friends wine cellar and drank the very expensive bottle of wine that he was going to give to the Pope. You don’t make the mistake of forgetting which dog you allow out the gate without a collar and lead on… you only make that mistake once. The steer seemed to really want to get close to check Bezial out and by this time, Bezial was interested in the big black fuzzy thing directly in front of him. They both had a really good sniff of each other and then the steer licked Bezial’s muzzle and Bezial licked the steer back. I wish we had a camera because it was a really excellent photo…”American Staffordshire Terrier kisses cow” He might never live it down. He has been telling Earl that he was just tenderising it but Earl doesn’t believe him for a moment! We all know that Bezial is a cow lover now 😉

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Woo-hoo! I did it!!! 🙂 Now I have some fluffy/fuzzy wool to use for “something” in the future. By the way Bethany “no you CAN’T have it back now!” 😉

I have a nice mug of mint and ginger tea sitting in front of me. I have a huge pot of homemade Soup Dragon (Steve) made soup on Brunhilda bubbling away and tonight it contains lots of barley. I have the beginnings of a cold slithering around in my bones and 2 enormous bags of oranges that are my way of hedging my bets. Steve and I have been beavering away at our studies and have managed to create 2 passable animations that hopefully have our lecturer patting us on the head and saying “good students” and tomorrow we animate windmills…well…we “attempt” to animate windmills. If you live anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere you are most probably going to be able to hear us yelling tomorrow. Just ignore us; we stop after a while, like the roosters ;). Have a great rest of your week folks. Here in Tassie it’s finally raining! Now that it is, it’s grey and wet and muddy and I suddenly remember why people get S.A.D. in winter. Enjoy your sunshine you Northerners and cheers for finally sending the rain our way :o)

The great sushi carousel of life…

Hi All,

I come up with some wonderful ideas while I am walking Earl. I don’t know whether it’s the wonderful early morning fresh air or the constant jerking around, back and forth, sometimes being dragged, sometimes dragging, all the time on edge and ready for action that jogs my brain around enough to get it back on track and actively thinking again but thoughts randomly appear and usually nothing to do with what Steve and I might be talking about at the time. I was talking about studying and suddenly the thought that life was like an ethereal sushi carousel came to me. We sit down at the bar and we watch little plates of experience pass us by. We eyeball them suspiciously (the older we get the more suspicious we get 😉 ) and we tentatively pick up plates we deem “suitable” and leave those plates that tend to be something we are suspicious or afraid of. Most of us are fine with the Californian roll. Nothing to worry about there folks! The salmon and avocado? “Don’t mind if I do!” How about a nice inside out sushi roll? “Yup, reachin’ over for that one RIGHT now…” but then you get something indistinguishable…something plain out “weird”. “What the heck is that?!” It has fish eggs or something bright orange and glow-in-the-darky and flaky brown bits on it…not sure but if I don’t grab that plate, it is going to head straight past me in a most determined sped up sushi carousel sort of way and it might not come around another time…someone else might snap up that weird creation and I might never get to taste it… then you have to factor in the cost at the end of your meal. We all arrive at the end one day folks and what we have ingested in our own little personal sushi bar of life is going to dictate how we pay at the end. I guess walking Earl does have its benefits. If it can jog my mind into crazy analogies at least these early morning wrangling events that have me completely knackered at the end are worth a few paragraphs of blog fodder 😉

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This is NOT sushi…this is Bezial, shamelessly luxuriating in the warm spot that I just left to go to the loo at 2.30am…no point trying to wake him up now as he is OBVIOUSLY fast asleep…sigh…looks like an early morning for narf7! 😉

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Bezial in his rightful place in the bed…if you look a bit closer you will see the accusatory eyes that are telling me “turn off that bloody light don’t you know its 2.30am!”…sigh…

That was a long paragraph…sorry about that folks. I am learning to break up my words so that you don’t need to come up for air in the middle but that paragraph needed to be kept together for posterity. An artist can’t be destroying her creation now! ;). Not sure when I am going to post this post. I have The Virtual Vegan Potluck post this Saturday…then next Wednesday I have a post all about the progressive garage sale that also occurs on Saturday. Luckily I already have my VVP post done and dusted (well I will by the day 😉 ) and all of the tinker-doohickie stuff that we had to learn to put linky buttons to link my post to the post before me, and after me in the list of more than 150 blogs that are taking part was a major blogging lesson. It turns out it’s very easy to put a linky to a picture to take you somewhere else in a blog. It’s also easy to schedule your post to post itself! You learn something every day. Tonight’s post is already done and so this poor post most probably won’t see the light of day till the Saturday after next!

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I would get you to cast your minds back to the episode of “Black Adder” where Black Adder is trying to teach Baldrick to count…I quote “What do you get when you have 2 beans, and you add 2 more beans?”…and Baldrick answers “A small casserole”. Behold…a small casserole.

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I was amazed to get this amount of dried beans from the small bean cube of vegetation that the possums couldn’t reach with their questing extended little hairy arms. I have enough to grow lots of beans next Spring and to share with friends.

I guess them’s the breaks when you have a sushi carousel moment of clarity that you want to share. Whenever you get this post I hope you will think about occasionally taking a little bit of a risk with your “sushi”. This is a single carousel line folks…we only get one chance to sample that sushi and the older we get; the more cautious we tend to be. Life has handed us sea urchin roe before and we are MOST wary of putting that disgusting stuff in our mouths again and so we tend to look harder, taste slower and get ready to spit in a moment’s notice. In the process we often lose that chance to sample truly magnificent things because we let our fear of that disgusting sea urchin (yes…I HAVE tried it :o( ) ruin our future gustatory enjoyment of life. Taste it slowly, savour it and if necessary spit it out, but at least give it a go :o) (apart from the sea urchin roe…you have my permission to let that one glide right on past 😉 )

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Steve took me a few shots of The Gorge, a heritage area very close to Launceston. As you can see the deciduous trees are in full colour. Gorgeous isn’t it? Why aren’t I taking these shots? Because right in front of the car is a sign saying “No Dogs”…sigh…I waited with Earl and Bezial in the car while Steve knocked himself out taking photos 😉

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Another glorious shot of The Gorge

I love sharing the love. I consider myself to be a collector of life’s detritus and someone who was born to pass things on. Generosity comes naturally to me and I have a sneaking suspicion that is solely because we didn’t have a lot of money when I was a child and so living comfortably without it is where I feel most secure. Would you like a book? Take one from the bookshelf, I probably haven’t read it for ages…how about something from the garden? Let’s get the secateurs and go hunt. I have so many potted plants out there I could probably populate your front garden and we STILL wouldn’t notice the plants I gave you missing. I am not the only one who realised the value of sharing the love. On Thursday, Steve and I headed down the driveway (who am I kidding…Steve skidded down behind an overexcited Earl and Bezial ran circles around them delighting in his free state and I trundled down picking Easter lily seeds and tossing them into areas of the garden where I want Easter lilies in the future…) for our daily walk with the dogs. Nothing unusual there but Steve checked the mail box on a whim. I don’t know what he is waiting for…HE doesn’t know what he is waiting for but he always has to check the mailbox whenever we go past it 😉

DSCF1759Incidentally, this isn’t a small casserole…it’s a large quiche made with eggs that our hens have now remembered how to lay after a 5 month hiatus…funny how a few weeks out foraging in the garden can jog your egg laying parts isn’t it girls? 😉

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The suspense is palpable…

Today his checking was rewarded. A small and most discrete parcel rested on the rusty bottom of our mailbox. An address in the U.K. showed that it came from my blog pal Thinking Cowgirl and after we got back from our walk (drag) I tucked the parcel under my jacket (it was raining) and wondered at what she had sent to me. The weather has turned decidedly feral here in Tassie. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! It’s cold and we had 3 solid days rain this week which made my soul smile. Forget superficial rain love, this runs deep and primal and ancient inside me and echoes the dusty sighs of those trees outside that were clinging tenaciously to the tiny bit of moisture that they could suck from deep down in the soil. Dry was an understatement for the horrific season we just had. “Arid” is a more appropriate word. I knew that we would get a very tough winter after that summer. It seemed somewhat inevitable and as we head into the last month of autumn we are getting temperatures less than 10C. Only last month we were hitting 28C. It’s a bit of a culture shock and I have the chilblains to prove it!

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Hens in their “Happy Place”…invading the garden en masse

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My kind of card 🙂

What was in my parcel you (nosy buggers) say? I got inside and lay the parcel down on the kitchen table with reverence. I headed off to let out the chooks (hell hath no fury (or lack of eggs) like 8 furious chooks that have to wait inside their pen to be let out!) and sweep the mats (something I have to do on a regular basis or they end up hairier than Earl…) and put the kettle onto Brunhilda after feeding her up with her woody rations and then I sat down to ponder the parcel. It was very light and came in a wonderful recycled paper bag. I carefully opened it to find a card and beautifully wrapped tissue paper gift inside…I opened my card first and instantly fell in love with the message. “The Biscuit of Loveliness” Underneath, a hand drawn illustration of said biscuit in all of its comeliness radiating out its gorgeousness and a simple prayer underneath…

A Prayer

Shine down upon us with your

Golden RADIANCE.

Make us glow and sparkle

Like HAPPY children in the

Glorious dance of LIFE

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The Gorge is beautiful at this time of year…you might almost think that we were in Canada

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Lovely moss covered rocks.

Amen sister! You nailed it Sarah :o). There is NOTHING more satisfying than a simple well-cooked crunchy homemade biscuit of loveliness to accompany your beverage of choice (I no longer have a choice, if I don’t drink tea I cease to exist…) and the simple ritual of imbibing that biscuit is the secret to happiness…it’s all in the small stuff folks! That’s where happiness lives…it resides in those humble oat biscuits that your mum made you and sent you as rations because otherwise she just KNOWS you are going to starve…that cup of tea that you knock together when you have just come in out of the cold that tastes like the pure distilled elixir of heaven and that manages to warm body, soul and spirit all in one…those simple little moments of gold that we are being taught to ignore for the sake of someone else’s profit margin and new Mercedes are the real reason that we are here. That biscuit of loveliness might just save someone’s life, might just be the reason that someone gives it another day here on this glorious battered planet revolving around the sun.

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The steps leading up to the car park at The Gorge

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Some of these shots are going to make it into Steve’s final assessment

So what did Sarah send me? Aside from some seriously gorgeous tissue paper that I most carefully folded and saved for “later”, she sent me a horticulturalists winter happiness folks! Sarah is a fellow horticulturalist. In fact, if we are being honest here, Sarah is a REAL horticulturalist. Steve and I might have thrown ourselves in at the deep end and might have collected more seed and grown more seedlings than a small African nation since we started studying horticulture but Sarah has worked in the industry. Sarah speaks from years of experience and Sarah knows what a horticulturalist needs in life. Copious quantities of beverage of your choice. Great bickies to carry you through your day. Throw bags and bags of them into the car all you aspiring horticulturalists because when you are out there bums up in someone else’s garden, in the wilderness 100km away from the nearest shops, that thermos and a bag of out of code biscuits that you find under the seat are going to be all the food that you get out here! Forget sandwiches and picnics on the lawn, that’s for people without horse manure under their nails…a biscuit is calorie dense, satisfying, quick to eat and you can throw half of it back into the bag and leave it for another year and it will STILL be good! Perfect food for an horticulturalist…

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You can’t have enough shots of that beautiful staircase…(well maybe you can but Steve took them for you all so you can just sit back and enjoy them 😉 )

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Isn’t this little old rotunda pretty? It’s about 150 years old and still looks beautiful today.

Sarah has been bums up creating someone else’s dream more times than she might care to remember. When you are at the coal face of creativity where it meets active participation and fundamental action you learn quick smart what really matters in horticulture. You don’t need all of the whizz bang “stuff” that they try to sell you when you start. Bypass all of that expensive bampf and do yourself a favour. Spend up big on the best pair of secateurs you can find. Get some decent steel cap boots that you can wear comfortably and after wearing them in, you can’t feel them anymore…extensions of your feet is what you need folks with the added benefit of saving your toes when you are exhausted after 9 hours digging trenches and forget that your foot isn’t part of the ground… some sturdy clothes that are going to take the punishment you are about to inflict on them. Forget those gorgeous Laura Ashley printed “frocks” that you see in gardening magazines, head down to your nearest workman’s store and pick up whatever you like from the colour range, blue or khaki…them’s your choices folks!

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I couldn’t resist sharing this little family of common house sparrows with you. I hadn’t ever seen a sparrow living in Western Australia because they are actively destroyed should any of them be discovered anywhere near the border. We also didn’t have starlings or blackbirds or bumble bees but here in Tassie we have all of them. These little guys seem to think that no-one can see them and perhaps no-one can…maybe it takes someone who delights in them to be able to take the time out of their busy day to enjoy them enough to see them 🙂

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Inner city Launceston…a very pretty city indeed and this sort of view goes a long way towards making me less homesick for Western Australia 🙂

After that you can throw in a few gardening tools but don’t go fancy, you just need something to reliably dig, something smaller to weed and if you are feeling particularly adventurous, something to hoe with. The K.I.S.S. principle is most important here because horticulturalists are like Gypsies, they are transient folk. Mohammad has to move with the mountain on a constant journey from place to place, garden to garden, compost heap to green waste site at the local council (although clever horticulturalists make use of other people’s green waste to their own profit 😉 ) a constant cycle of moving back and forth that starts with dragging your tired derrière out of bed and ends with dropping it right back into bed to sleep the sleep of the dead and awake again to another round. Horticulture isn’t an easy career choice folks but it is rewarding.

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“BEHOLD the mitts of eternal happiness!” 🙂

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Gloves that are shamelessly never taken off pointing at the biscuit of loveliness now ensconced over my monitor so that I can remind myself to glow and sparkle on a regular basis 🙂

Back to that parcel you say? I had to fill you in on the reality of horticulture before the precious nature of what Sarah had sent to me, a gift from someone who recognised my passion from her own echoed passion deep within her. Once plants get hold of you they don’t let go. You can take an hiatus from them…they will allow you that, but like fungus, their underground network has infested you, you belong to THEM now and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You signed an ancient primal waver when you started to dig the soil and you planted that first plant. They count you as ally and you count them as master. Sarah has been “on hold” of late…dabbling…but reading between the lines the fungus is restless…it has been tweaking at her peripherals and Sarah has been gardening again folks…for other people. Sarah knows what horticulturalists really need. She “knows”. Sarah sent me a pair of hand knitted fingerless, but more importantly “thumbless” gloves. I put them on instantly and knew that I wouldn’t be taking them off much for the rest of our cold season. From one horticulturalist to another…our fundamental slavetude unites us…the plants might call us but we are still able to communicate with the outside world (for now) and my gratitude is deeper than those plant roots :o).

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Frozen hands holding a mug (bucket) of tea immediately after returning from a sub zero dog walk and finding these most welcome fingerless mitts in the mail 🙂

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Chickens thinking about invading the vegetable garden while I am watching them but biding their time till I am out of sight…

Sarah, you are a true friend :o) I will wear these amazing gloves until they fall apart. I have plans to knit more. I suck at knitting but these gloves are so amazing I can’t be without them in our cold season for the rest of my life. I will perfect my ribbing simply so that my newfound best wrist friends will always be close at hand like those biscuits in the car…several rolled up pairs will be stashed in the glove box, the boot, in various voluminous winter coat pockets and in Steve’s tool kit to be found out in the forest when I realise that it is -5C and I forgot to bring a pair. I will knit Steve pairs of them…My knitting will improve exponentially simply because I can’t be without these mitts EVER. I will probably learn to cable now. I will learn how to weave ends in because I am going to NEED to do these babies in rainbow colours. It all started from one horticulturalist to another who recognised on some fundamental level that a need had to be met…the plants whispered it to Sarah…Sarah listened…the plants have spoken. And I have a gorgeous pair of mitts that I adore with a passion that is at once both enormous and pathetic in its glory…I am in love and that’s all that I need to say apart from “Thankyou Sarah from the bottom of my heart…for my biscuit that now lives over my P.C. monitor and for my long suffering wrists that now reside in ambient comfort…you are a true friend and you have my eternal horticultural gratitude :o)”

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This Cordyline australis makes this sunset on Serendipity Farm look somewhat tropical. One might even be forgiven for thinking we were someplace warm…can you see where the possums have been scratching away at the bark on this poor specimen?

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And a final shot of sunset on Serendipity…a lovely cold evening with the promise of many more to come…just how narf7 loves it! 😉

Steve and I have been studying for a week. We have been honing our Photoshop skills to satisfy said studies and are really learning about how to manipulate images. I never thought I would enjoy this course anywhere near as much as I am but it is certainly taking a lot of our time. Today is the first day that it hasn’t rained and we have a weekend of sunshine…frigid sunshine to get stuck into digging our holes and concreting in our poles to get our new fully enclosed garden started. And thus it begins folks…like mice we scurry from studies to garden and back again…we were in Launceston for the entire day yesterday taking photos for our final Photoshop assessment. Our next adventure in our course is going to take us both into foreign territory involving parts of the Adobe CS6 suite that we have never heard of, let alone used. It’s going to be an interesting journey indeed! But for now we are busy beyond belief and so I am going to have to hug you and leave you all there folks. Have a fantastic week till we meet again for our L.A. meeting (Life Anonymous…) and confess our sins for another day :o) Don’t forget to take that plate of squidgy lumpy grey sushi by the way… you might not eat it today, but it might just be the seasoning that makes your life bearable tomorrow…

Wednesday wanderings and last posts

Hi All,

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

I get a little chuckle sometimes when I get the little witticism that WordPress gives me, most graciously, whenever I post a post. I shared it with you last post and this one made me smile so I am going to share it with you again. Do you Blogspotters get that? If not…time to rise up against Google’s oppression! Sorry…my bolshie self-overpowered my well behaved beginning of post self and snuck out there for a moment…please disregard that last sentence ;).  It’s Sunday and I found myself up and typing at 2.30am. It would seem that misery LOVES Company and Bezial is taking his own degree of schadenfreude from his personal refusal to eat his tea last night (for whatever reason… Bezial is a complex conundrum at the best of times and at the worst of times he is a neurotic bundle of self-appointed restraint processes…) to avail me of an early rising time so that I can listen to him drinking water after being forced to eat DOG BISCUITS to prevent himself from starving to death…and expecting me to shepherd him back to my side of the bed…to my nice warm pillow where he will rest his head until approximately 6.30 where he will get out of bed and lay staring at me until I go to the cupboard and retrieve some form of treat to fill his nagging stomach… dogs are children for life people…CHILDREN FOR LIFE!

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Our current “children” after an impromptu walk and swim at Swan Point yesterday

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A hound and his rock

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Not to be outdone, Earl on HIS rock

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Bezial walking on water…”You WIN Bezial” 😉

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How we get our “children” to listen to us and do what we want

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of something or somewhere we really don’t want to be. It might be right off the beaten track and all we can see is the moment and how stuck we are BUT sometimes we need to be dragged away from our comfort zone so that we can find something new. I guess what I am trying to say in my usual convoluted word paths are that every cloud has a silver lining and that where you are at the moment might just be the pathway needed to get you to someplace better. This experience that you are going through right now might be important for some prospective future happiness and we just don’t know it now. I am in the process of trying to not sweat the small stuff and learn to find “something” positive in every situation. It makes me cringe to type that because murphy’s law dictates that someone who is cocky enough to type something like that is going to take a tumble post haste and have to ruminate on the true meaning of their words but there comes a time when you have to start honing your behaviour and your responses to what life hands you so that you can get the best out of every situation. What’s the point sitting in a pile of ashes and lamenting your lot when you could rise up like the phoenix and make something beautiful out of what life has handed you? There is our true strength of character…the ability to keep getting up and facing what we are gifted and making the most out of it. That all came from me finding a recipe that wasn’t particularly what I was interested in this morning but that had links at the bottom of it to some really great recipes. If I hadn’t clicked on this recipe, thinking that it was worthwhile (it wasn’t…) I wouldn’t have found the other recipes. We have to step out in faith that we are going to make it, that we are going to make a difference to our lives and knowing that in being brave enough to face what life hands us and deal with it, that we are going to live a more honest and productive and “real” life in the process.

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A Serendipity Sunset moment

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The pretty pebble beach at Swan Point

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The only shot of about 70 that I took that has something even VAGUELY looking like the wasps that live in this hole in the photo. They were exiting in a steady stream totally ignoring me with the camera perched up close and personal to their exit hole. The wasps and I are mano-a-mano 😉

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A lovely Pinus radiata right on the edge of the pebble beach

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A closeup of the pines root system showing how they grow right into the river

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This little section of beach reminds me of Victorian England for some reason

Now that the philosophy is out of the way I can talk about a few more processes that take you from A to B. It’s just on 6am on Monday morning. Once a fortnight Steve joins me on my early morning wake-up session not quite at 4am but I deliver a cup of strong coffee (his last till 11am when he gets back home) just before 6am and he gets up, puts the shopping list on his phone and heads out the door armed with veggies for our daughters in the city, the ubiquitous gas bottle that needs filling over summer and anything else that needs to be done on the day to take advantage of the $40 of fuel used to do this trip. Today Steve has a doozy of a “doing” day. Last night we had to head into the chook run to catch as many young chooks as we could. We are giving some to the woman that we buy our dog meat from as her husband’s hens are getting a bit long in the tooth and are no longer producing eggs. I had NO idea if we were choosing roosters or hens because it’s dark by the time that we are able to go into the run or all of the chooks would turn into a seething mass of squawking flapping chaotic feathers and we would stress them out unduly so after dark we sneak quietly into the coop armed with Steve’s trusty L.E.D. torch and try to work out what we want to catch and what we don’t. Steve went first to check where the younger chooks (ascertained by their size) were roosting on the perches and came back armed with one of them…BONUS! Only 4 – 5 to go! Next I headed in and grabbed 2 from a perch that Steve had directed me to with his torch. We got out to the shed where we had a larger cage with hay in it to hold them overnight until we could put them into boxes for their trip to the city. When we got to the shed we realised that one of the chooks we had nabbed was Pingu!!! So back to the shed she went protesting all the way and was put back onto a perch and we spent the next 15 minutes trying to find young chooks whilst not retrieving older hens. We managed to get 5 and I have the strong feeling that at least 3 of them are roosters but I am NOT feeling guilty about it anymore because the rendezvous that Steve set up with our dog food lady that she was supposed to turn up to resulted in him waiting around for her to turn up and it being a non-event. He had to drop the boxed chooks off at our daughter’s house and they have to stay in boxes till 9am till he can take them to her shop and drop them off. He is NOT a happy camper to say the least! When someone puts a LOT of effort into giving you chooks for free, you at least bother to turn up to get them!!!

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Apparently this is where Thomas the Tank Engine resides in the day time…

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A closeup of the Batman Bridge in the distance from Swan Point

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I love the way that the conifers grow right into the river

Next on Steve’s long and winding list is heading to our daughters home. He put the chooks in the shed where Qi, the girl’s little staffy dog, will be MOST interested in the blucking contents of those boxes.  After spending ages rolling around on the floor in the unit out the back of our daughters home with Qi, Steve went through a few stored old boxes and found where he had stashed the tripod to his camera ages ago and some large containers of Spirulina, some protein powder and some other useful products that we may as well use as leave sitting in the unit. Madeline picked him some pears while he fossicked around and he delivered the eggplants, tomatoes a couple of corn cobs, some cucumbers and a few zucchini to them. After that he had to head off to Polytechnic over the other side of the river (Launceston sits at the mouth of the Tamar River) and get some student I.D. (photo library card) to prove that he is, indeed, studying so that we can get our student copy of Adobe CS6. He also needs to print out some A3 pages from our course so that we can draw 50 Pumpkins (badly) for task number 7. We are up to task 14 at the moment and have studiously avoided the pumpkin drawing efforts but as the due date is racing towards us we figure we had best bit the bullet (almost literally!) and get scrawling. We also have 3 pages of instructions for David, the owner of our local health food shop for how to look after and use Kefir and Sourdough Starter. I gave him lots of links so that he shouldn’t have any problems with it. Jessie from http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ most generously swapped some real sourdough starter and milk kefir grains with me a while ago and both of them are doing extremely well. Audrey produced a sterling child to send off to David and Kid Creole waved a fond goodbye to most of his coconuts in the same transaction. Next I will be getting some water kefir and I even found a recipe for kombucha SCOBY manufacture by using only purchased kombucha. I am going to have to see if any of our local health food shops sell it. I don’t think David does and here in conservative Launceston where people who eat only vegetables are seen as mutants from outside space, it might be best not to advertise that said “mutant” is trying to breed colonies of strange growing fungi and bacterial relationships… you never know where something like that could end!

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The mist on the water was really pretty this morning

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There is something very romantic about mist on the water and yachts

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I am ONLY allowed to use this photo if I call it “Reflections on rock 1” apparently…

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closely followed by “Reflections on Rock 2″…(sigh…)

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Now that Steve has given up his Yoko Ono phase in photography for today here is another pretty shot taken while we were walking the dogs

After getting the printing done at the Polytechnic library where we only JUST found out that your first $5 worth of printing is free… (After 4 years of Polytechnic you would think that SOMEONE would have told us that by now?!!!) Steve will head back into Mowbray to do some veggie shopping because finally some of the shops he wants to shop in are opening. He has already picked up the 2 x 18kg sacks of free range chook food at the stock feed place on the way to our daughters home and done most of the shopping at Woolworths in Legana but he likes to check out Coles as well and Mowbray has the best Coles shop in Launceston and is conveniently right next to David’s shop and our grocers store. Steve then has to head back to our daughters on the other side of the river to pick up the poor long suffering chooks in boxes to take to Suzie’s and drop them off. He is going to make sure that they are not going to be left in her car till after work or he is going to bring them back home! She is going to guarantee him that she will take them straight home or he won’t leave them. After picking up our $80 dog steak order for the fortnight Steve will head over to Bunning’s about 15 minutes away from Suzie’s shop and pick up 2 gas bottles and anything else on the list that is “hardware” based and by that stage he should be well and truly ready to come home. He will drive back the West Tamar way and will drop off my library books that are due back today whilst picking up at least 1 book that has been languishing there for ages waiting for both us to go to Exeter and the library to be open (not easy when it’s only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday and last Wednesday it was closed for a horserace!) I sometimes don’t “get” Tasmanian mentality but that might be a good thing ;). Steve will get back home laden with “stuff” that will need to be put into fridges, onto pantry shelves and batched up and frozen and whether he is tired or not it all has to be done pretty much immediately and all whilst fending off excited dogs who miss him like crazy when he goes. Do you wonder why I don’t volunteer to do the shopping? ;). Seriously though, Steve loves the cut and thrust of a crazy shopping day. He lived in cities all of his life and he just doesn’t process the bampf like I do. I get UBER stressed out when hurled into a day spent handing over the readies and driving back and forth all over the city in ever decreasing circles of frustration so it’s VERY lucky that he doesn’t mind doing it. We can’t afford the bail money if I am let loose on an unsuspecting Launceston all on my own 😉

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Bezial furtively hunting for fish and the mist has almost cleared

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It’s hard to feel anything other than blessed when you get to walk someplace like this any day you like 🙂

I am researching vegan cheeses yet again. I am now able to add a few extras into my new eating habits and the odd bit of something reminiscent of cheese would be a “tick” on my part. I found a great site called http://www.veganwiz.com/ on my early morning travels and have been trawling their cheezy back posts and found something called “Vegrino”…not wanting to miss out on something that looked frankly amazing, I headed off to Google the recipe after being unable to find it on the site. There were plenty of references to it with variations but not the original recipe. I ended up finding a recipe for it on the Italian sister site to Veganwiz “Veganblog.it” http://www.veganblog.it/ and have added this to my rss feed reader as well because nothing stops me from a good recipe! Google translate has given me a means to an end when it comes to seeing something scrumptious and being hampered by a lack of comprehension (on my part) for the language being used to explain it. After spending 30 minutes translating various explanations for what Vegrino was (and initially having to find the site through Pinterest…) I managed to find a translatable and understandable (not always the same thing! 😉 ) recipe to follow. From what I can see it is the vegan equivalent of labna and is a soft mild soy yoghurt cheeze. Was it worth an hour of my time to find it? I don’t know to be honest but you can be sure that when I try it, you will be the first to know :o). I have taken to rinsing things out in the sink and taking the rinse water out and tipping it over the deck rail into the garden below. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this idea but finally I found a way to stop feeling guilty about running water down our sink. Steve has an idea for how to irrigate the garden with our grey water from the sink and when he sorts it out I will share it with you. I will be checking Bev’s ideas from Foodnstuff as she is ingenious when it comes to irrigating using waste water and run-off water. I also have an idea to turn the pantry in the kitchen into a little nook for me along the lines of this beauty…

Lovely book nook from a cupboard

I don’t know who owns this photo but please don’t sue me! I am giving you acres of kudos for this amazing cosy nook and aside from shamelessly stealing your idea the kudos is ALL yours!

Now I am off to finish off my Rss Feed reader for the day then I will be hunting out an interesting font that I like. I need to do an exercise using the font of my choice to construct a typeface box of glory. Steve has finished his…Steve is a girly swat. I haven’t finished mine. I am a procrastinating sloth. Now that I have said it, there is nothing for it but to head off and hunt! Shopping I suck at, hunting is where I excel so long as it stays in the mental realm :o). Ok you lot, we have spent enough time writing and reading this post of randomness. Hopefully your minds are now cram packed with interesting facts and wonder and you are eager to head off into your day/night and make the best of the fantastic information that I just gave you… OR you could just go and watch telly and “forgedaboudit”… see you on Saturday guys, enjoy your telly watching 😉

Trade offs

Hi All,

“What are you willing to trade for the life that you want to lead?” That seems to be the common thread running through my life. This morning I headed out to water the strawberries…a few handfuls of deliciousness for all that water…I watered the poor long suffering maple trees that we grew from seed about 3 years ago that are stunted in their pots and that are likely to still be stunted in their pots in a years’ time (those that are still alive that is…) because of a trade-off…veggie gardening and food production is more important than the cost of the potting mix required to repot these now, unnecessary, trees. After watering the “unnecessary” I headed up to the veggie garden and noticed that something has chewed my kale leaves off again…sigh…I know it wasn’t possums because they were too busy laying on the bird netting on the top of the bean bed reaching their hairy little arms through to pinch whatever vegetation they could manage to grasp…the trade-off here is that I don’t like using poison on my garden and the enormous slug that is apparently the reason behind my now skeletonised kale can be taken in triumph out to the henhouse where the duck will dispatch it with loud squishy joy (a degree of personal human joy can be obtained from said “squish!” so double bonus there!) and I cling steadfastly to my city dude attitude that one day we are going to be able to live with our native brethren in harmony because Serendipity Farm will be so cram packed FULL of food that neither of us is going to make a massive dent in its productivity. The trade-off is trampolining possums with rope burn on their arms and wallabies that are brave enough to circle the “unnecessary” bed and are picky enough to only eat the newly emerging leaves of what they grazed down prior to this present buffet style munching episode.

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Firstly I have to say “THANK YOU; THANK YOU; THANK YOU!” to Jessie from the wonderful “Good life” blog http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/an-update-and-things-coming-together/ Jessie sent me some of her sourdough starter that she makes her gorgeous loaves with along with some kefir grains. I was over the moon that they only took a day to get here and I plonked the kefir grains straight into some milk and Steve headed over on a mercy dash to buy some organic rye flour from Beaconsfield. Jessie also made that lovely black dishcloth that you can see underneath the jar of milk and happy little kefir grains doing the backstroke. I got it this morning (hence the green smoothie behind…note the spoon that Steve made me for my smoothies, extra long and has a pointy end to liberate “bits” from my vitamix). Take careful note of the 3 almonds in front of “Audrey” (my new sourdough’s name because she is going to want me to “FEED HER SEYMOUR” ASAP…). They are the result of a very caring man who decided that they looked like they were “on the turn” and that he would save them from dying…sigh…it looks like Jessie’s children aren’t the only ones prone to picking unripe almonds from trees 😦

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After the mercy dash we have 2kg of rye flour to feed Audrey…

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Audrey ensconsed in Herman’s old pot after being fed and watered. She is VERY happy by the way Rabid! It is a warm day here today and she has crept right up to the top of Herman’s old pot! I am going to feed her twice a day as a precaution against vinegar bricks…I now know that it wasn’t Herman’s fault…it was MINE! I should have been feeding him twice a day to encourage yeast growth, once a day encourages lactobacilli that make your bread sour and they must have been inhibiting the yeast as my bread didn’t rise enough…result…vinegar bricks. Maybe Audrey will be able to give me something that Herman couldn’t…an edible loaf of bread ;). Steve said “I don’t even want to look at it ok?” He has bad memories of us both being enslaved to Herman and his kin…around the clock nurturing that took over our lives! Now I have Audrey and the information that I need to ensure “I” don’t stuff it up, lets see if this little black duck can’t turn out something resembling “edible” :). I am over the moon Jessie! You just made my day, my week and my month and I don’t even care that I am going to be Audrey’s indentured slave until I can wean her off her rye and get her back into the fridge where she belongs…she has earned her warm spot and her fast raise for the next few days 🙂

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I don’t know where our local grocer gets these Mainland mangoes from but for $1 each, and supporting an Aussie farmer I am there!

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This is what they look like after cutting away the seed and freezing them ready to be added to my breakfast green smoothies. The seeds have all been put into the compost heaps all over Serendipity Farm as an interesting experiment. I figure that if mangoes fell from trees, they would do so in hot and humid conditions not all that different to my compost heap so lets just see what happens…at the worst, the seeds will rot down into the compost, at best I get a mango tree…a win/win situation!

At the bottom of this philosophical ethos, I guess what I am trying to say is that I have chosen to live like a penniless student hippy and the trade-off is that I can live how I please. I can experiment with my vegetable garden and I can take the time to “feel” this space and work out what I want and where. I can research long into the night and I can get up early and do the same thing until lunchtime if I wish. I temper my efforts to learn everything that I can about our world and everything that is pertinent to what we are doing with studying to advance our “worth” to society. I am able to spend the time working out which plants are going to be right for our situation and our requirements. I can download PDF’s and head off on as many tangents as I like to find what I am after and to me, that ability is worth our “penniless” label. Money is pretty overrated. I can hear the son and heir scoffing now. He is a money man…he deals in it and his job pretty much revolves around the acquisition and hoarding of it. If you choose to live simply and think laterally you would be very surprised at how little green folding stuff you actually need. Rabid, my erstwhile idealistic heroine of Ballan who has more energy than the Eveready bunny and would give my chin out mum a run for her money with her stubborn refusal to give in, has recently opened my eyes to the power of bartering. Bartering has been used for millennia as a way for we proletariat peasants to access the goods and services that we need without the requirement of ready cash. Rabid likes Steve’s spoons… Rabid lusts after a little spoon of her own…Rabid sends sourdough to a lustful Narf7 and suddenly a world of possibilities opens up… I love sharing. I really do. I don’t know why, but it is part and parcel of “me” and Steve is learning how much happiness can be gleaned from generosity. By the way, does anyone out there want any Cape gooseberry seed? This plant is a marvel for drought ridden areas and will grow just about anywhere. The chooks love to eat its large leaves and adore the fruit. I love the fruit and it is related to tomatoes and tomatillo’s but if you let it ripen it is sweet and tasty. You can even make jam and chutney out of them and they grow like weeds. I love how they keep popping up everywhere courtesy of the chooks and their past pilfering of the lower fruit on one ancient perennial shrub that has been here metastasising since dad was alive. Let me know if you want some (anyone in Australia that is) and I will start drying some. I have them growing in the garden and the compost and can spare a few seed ;).

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Not only are the cape gooseberries in the main garden, they grew all through the compost that we used to make the first set of garden beds and you can see one growing maniacally on the left of this shot…does this garden/jungle have any sort of order?! Not really…this is the result of 2 people hell bent on preventing the possums and wallabies from scarfing their produce…so hell bent that they have made it a virtually impenetrable fortress…and that includes for themselves! ;). The lettuce has gone to seed but I am going to collect it for lettuce futures and you can see the clover growing, I just left it because it is nitrogenous. I love how the veggie beds are evolving and doing their own thing (because that means that I don’t have to become a middle aged contortionist and slither sideways into them to correct anything that has gone wrong! 😉 )

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The trade-off for having a maniacal rocket plant is that it is rocket in the bank. I get to save the seed, the rocket keeps the soil covered and moist and NOTHING eats this bitter plant when it has gone over to the dark and seedy side The rainbow chard are also doing well and I will share some more garden shots with you on Saturday

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This is a teeny little compost heap. Well fortified and apparently of no interest to the possums because it didn’t have anything pinched from it last night. I have decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and make lots of little compost heaps all over the place where we want to plant trees. I figure that they will soften the soil, attract worms and add nutrients to the soil where we are going to plant in autumn. I think I am starting to learn a few things!

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The lengths we have to go to just to keep compost inside our compost bays but as you can see, “things” are growing in them. This was the last half 10kg sack of spuds that had gone stringy and are just starting to grow through the layer of leaves. I have also planted mango seeds (you never know…) and adventitious pumpkins are sprouting all over the place. The other large compost bin full of potatoes has been hit hard by the slugs but they are soldiering on regardless. I “found” some jerusalem artichokes out on the nature strip (and some comfrey but that is for another walk with the dogs 😉 ) and brought a couple of them home and put them in the centre of the big compost heap…again… you never know!

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Here is one of the culprits who are eating leafy things in the veggie garden…this one made a most satisfying noise as it slid down duckies happy beak!

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Some of the veggies that we harvested this morning…thank GOODNESS I have a recipe to make “Zucchini Cream” out of that monster zuke!

Compost is another one of my trade-offs. I spend the time making round wire mesh compost bays and I spend the time putting my fruit and vegetable scraps into a bucket in my pantry and supplement them with the vacuum cleaner emptying’s and paper and cardboard snipped up as it becomes available. I cut up all of my cardboard boxes and use the little $4 paper shredder to shred all of the newspaper etc. that we are able to find. I have been known to pinch extra I.G.A. catalogues when we are in Beaconsfield as they are made with thick newspapery paper that is great for the compost heap. 1 ½ years ago I could have cared LESS about composting…composting was something that mum nagged me to do and thus went straight into the “NUP” basket. Now I lust after leaves in the park underneath big deciduous trees, I twitch when I see people carting green waste branches to the tip, I can’t even begin to imagine throwing paper and scraps into the bin where once it was something I did without thinking about it. The trade-off for this vigilance is that I get amazing compost to put into my gardens and to feed this poor dry ancient topsoil. Swings and roundabouts folks, there is always an up, and a down and it’s our place to find the best balance between the 2 that we can whether that involves learning to suck it up when you find yourself with a bean cube rather than a mass of foliage and knowing that if you take that problem and find a prospective solution, next year you will be triumphant. Learning and constantly finding new solutions, not only keeps your brain active but fills you with possibilities beyond what you thought possible. If you aren’t a materialistic person you might just find that living with less and going lateral feeds your soul. It has certainly opened up some incredible doors for me :o)

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An ENORMOUS pile of ex-fish farm netting 🙂

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A photo that Steve took from next to the veggie gardens…can anyone…ANYONE tell me how photo’s make things look so much better than they really do?!

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This is a $2.50 “drinking coconut”. Back in the day I would have consumed the juice, eaten the meat and tossed the rest into the bin…not any more!

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The liquid and the meat go into my morning green smoothie…

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I also get this empty shell, that  I dried out completely, that I can make a bird house out of or a simple coconut bowl…either way, this valuable resource won’t be wasted…

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Even the white fibre on the outside of the coconut was chipped away and will go into the compost to enrich it’s suite of organisms… where once $2.50 wasn’t worth all that much, It most certainly is worth MUCH more in the sum of its parts now 🙂

I am starting to think about seed swapping again. Saving seed and swapping seed must be one of the most fundamentally fulfilling things that we can do. Not only are we “Sticking it to the man”, one of my favourite bolshie pastime, but we are feeding a tradition that goes back to our very human roots… survival through spreading the love (and load) around. Diversification is the means to survival. Monocrops are not the answer to our food problems. I would have thought that the great potato famine would have stood as testament to that. Back in biblical times there was famine and we need to learn from those lessons and not rely on single crops to be our saving grace. Monocrop’s are designed to line the pockets of the über rich and nothing to do with producing nutritious food for humanity. We need to diversify and work with what will grow best in our own little neck of the woods and learn to be satisfied with our lot, something that in the artificial world that humanity now manages to inhabit is an entirely foreign concept to mainstream thought processes…we are taught that we can have ANYTHING so long as we work hard enough…no we can’t folks. We can manipulate our environment just so much before it goes on the blink and refuses to do what we ask it to do any more. We need to work “with” rather than just take and that’s what we need to be learning now, how to solve the industrial sized problems that humanity has been forcing the world to live with for the last century. We CAN do this; it just involves that awful word that so many of our children would rather eat their left food than do…”work”. I, myself am not ashamed to admit to being incredibly lazy. I was one of those people contemplating the benefits of life without a left foot but I changed and if I can change, so can anyone. Again, all it took was a good hard honest look at how I was living and a strong desire to do something positive. I am NOT of the school of thought that “we are going to hell in a hand basket, let’s just group together and moan about “the end days” with sackcloth on our heads”…not THIS little black duck! If I am going out…I am doing it whilst trying to do something positive. If you can’t pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again it’s pretty much game over and I plan on living this life to my full potential for as long as I can and as happily as I can. I want to leave a positive legacy, led by example, for my children of just how important it is to keep going and learn to live within your means and be satisfied with your lot. In saying that, I am not talking about being stagnant. I am talking about exploring the parameters of the life that you have been handed and doing everything that you can with it…go as far to the left and right as you can and put miles on that life before you have to hand it over to be checked in.

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Before ANY of my facebook friends do a double take and say “I SWEAR I have seen these last few photo’s before?”…yes you have and yes I AM going to use them here in the blog…whatchagonnadoeh? ;)… I found these empty water bottles on a walk and decided to title this photo “EPIC fail”…

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If you haven’t already got them, you should get these babies soon Jessie :). I LOVE bartering! Bring it on! 🙂

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“1 more photo…just ONE more photo and I SWEAR…”…

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Everything except for the cheese came from Serendipity Farm :).

I suppose it is all about that precious thing that makes humanity such a wild card…our ability to choose our own pathways. Our choices can change the world. Whether we know it or not, every action has an equal and opposite reaction and what we do DOES matter. I am talking science here folks, not hippy mumbo jumbo…call it “the butterfly effect” if you like. We are all here for a reason and it’s up to us how we choose to live. Steve just phoned and told me that David, the owner of “Wholesome House” our wholefood establishment of choice asked him about his wooden spoons! Steve is starting to see that his hobby could actually pay off. David is interested in stocking Steve’s spoons! We will take a selection of them in for him to see and we will see what happens from there. I guess you just have to be willing to explore those parameters and be brave enough to occasionally go out on one of those limbs on the boundaries. I have been thinking more and more about community. About developing all different kinds of communities, online, through the blog, locally and globally. Forging relationships with other people isn’t hard. Keeping relationships with other people is much more difficult. We aren’t taught how to negotiate, to listen and to suck it up these days and dealing mano-a-mano with other people isn’t as easy as it once was. Back in the day (say a century ago before industrialisation…) you HAD to get along with the other people in your community. You might not have liked them but each and every one had a place and a job within that community. You learned to live with each other because you HAD to and that is an incredibly valuable lesson and part of the reason why humanity survived and metastasised into what we are today, our adaptability. Industrialisation allowed us to play God. It gave us a false sense of our superiority and we ran amok. The problems that we are all having to face up to are a direct result of corporate greed and our insatiable desire to elevate ourselves above the rest and we are going to have to learn to live with less and accept the consequences of our actions BUT we can learn to do this with grace and hope and we can leave a better world for our children and their children. We just have to be willing to accept the trade-offs.

5 Go mad in Sidmouth

Hi All,

Enid Blyton was one of my favourite authors when I was a small child. I got endless entertainment reading about whatever the “5” were up to on any given jolly set of hol’s. Enid was fond of a good mystery and we had ourselves a very Blytonesque mystery on our hands on Monday. We headed out to open the doors of the hen house to allow the hens into the enclosed area that they now live in. We lock the doors because of quolls, a native animal somewhat like a cat, that loves nothing more than a tasty fat docile hen added to its menu for the day and they hunt at night when the hens are at their most docile and compliant. We have the luxury of a cement floored hen house that was once a woodshed and even the most determined quoll is going to come up chookless when faced with 500ml of cement to have to tunnel through. We made small hen sized doors and a ramp down to the enclosed outer area and the hens go into the hen house at night and are ensconced safely till we let them out the next morning. We recently discovered one of the late great Effel Doocark’s daughters who had decided to head WAY down to the front of the property to lay a few eggs and go clucky and after waiting for the feral cats to eat her babies and then herd her into the enclosure along with her other sisters we discovered that unlike Effel, her daughters are EXCELLENT mothers. This hen managed to situate her chick’s right up close and personal in the feral cat’s domain and only lost 1 chick to them. We noticed her near the gate of the enclosure and with some careful manoeuvring; we were able to get them all into the enclosure…WIN! The only problem with enclosing feral chooks, as indeed this hen’s babies were, is that they have a taste for the outdoors and are rarely content to stay put. The chicks have grown somewhat and their mother has taken to going into the hen house at night to be with the rest of the flock but her babies are steadfastly refusing to go into the hen house and on Monday they escaped. Steve and I heard tell-tale “peeping” outside the enclosure and on further investigation we found them frolicking around in the leaves under the blackwood acacia trees and herded them back in. 6 more escapes later and we started to lose our cool! We had inspected the netting for holes…these chicks are not big and so could easily have slipped through a larger hole in the ex-fish farm netting that makes up the bulk of the enclosure.

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The Moscow State Circus comes to Serendipity Farm…

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2 ferals

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A little crab that we found in the middle of the road as we were walking back dripping from a recent walk in the rain with the dogs

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I had a little chat to Mr Crab and we decided that even though he might have thought that he wanted to make like a chicken and get to the other side, his life as a crustacean would be much more fullfilling (and long) if he would just learn to be satisfied to stay in the river

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We are finding more and more of these little reminders discarded on the side of the road that prove that cyclists are full of something other than the “clean green” image that they would like us all to believe that they represent …it’s not only Lance Armstrong that is shaming the world of cycling…

We decided that the chicks were escaping by flying over the top of the enclosure. This confused us a bit because none of the other chooks (including a couple of erstwhile ferals that we had herded in after we dispatched their brothers) had managed to fly over but there is a small mandarin tree situated inside the enclosure and we did notice the chicks all roosting in this small tree…after cutting several lengths of extra ex-fish farm netting we started tacking pieces into the trees that border the chook enclosure and the whole shebang started to look like the Moscow State Circus. STILL the chicks got out! We figured that perhaps they were climbing up onto some blackberries in the enclosure (left to try to encourage the chook to feel safe about laying their eggs outside) and cut back all tendrils…STILL they got out! We put another large piece of netting all along the side of the enclosure where the blackberries and agapanthus hiding spots were and STILL they got out. It was getting beyond a joke and so this time we cut the flight feathers of each of their rotten little wings and smugly headed inside to make a warm drink…when we headed out to smile smugly at the captured prisoners 30 minutes later they were out! “WHAT?!!! HOW???” We took turns to sit incredibly still outside the hen house watching for several hours when the chicks did absolutely nothing aside from lay with their mother and dust bath but as the day started to heat up and the shade disappeared so did we…and they got out…sigh…I had a really good look and decided that their might just be a weak point in the defences and we put ANOTHER bit of ex-fish farm netting up so that we were totally covered. Sure that we had fixed the problem we headed back inside…after checking a little white later they were still in the enclosure and we were ecstatic…”WE WON!”… An hour later 3 of them were out… Again we put up some more netting  and this time we had the whole circus represented…all we needed was a ringmaster and a lion…a lion would most certainly have sorted out our chicken problem! This time there was no WAY that they could escape…we had over engineered the enclosure and Houdini himself would have been flummoxed. When Steve went to close the doors at 8.30pm they were out… Now you can only BEGIN to imagine how bad tempered I was by this stage! I was to the point of leaving them out to their fate with the quolls…

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Steve is starting to branch out with his spoons now

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Mid summer acorns

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A little wallaby next to his blackberry and bracken fern home

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A most innovative name for a vessel that pootles…

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Summer twinkling on the river

We both ruminated about how the heck they were getting out because there was pretty much no way to escape from the top of the enclosure and we both decided that they MUST be escaping from lower down…We both headed off in different directions around the enclosure and inspected the lower part of the run with a fine toothed comb…after 20 minutes of painstaking inspection I heard Steve say “I found it!”…I headed inside the enclosure to where Steve was standing next to one of the poles used to anchor the netting to. What he had discovered was a teeny tiny space between 2 rocks that these miniature Houdini’s were tunnelling through to get out to the other side. They had to squeeze themselves between the rocks, up through a tunnel of netting and then take a hard right turn and squeeze out underneath another couple of rocks to escape! Kudos to them and I will NEVER underestimate the brain of a determined feral chook again! They haven’t escaped again and peace has returned to the Moscow State Circus and Serendipity Farm. I am thinking of writing a children’s book called “5 go wild in Sidmouth” or “The Great Escape 5” in the tradition of a good Enid Blyton sleuth. I might throw a chance meeting in with Justin Bieber and Harry Potter and a guest appearance by the wiggles and Elmo and I should get a book deal with ease 😉

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This grey protrusion is a basking seal. This photo was taken about 200metres from our front gate from Steve’s boat this morning

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Flippy pretending to be a shark…”you won’t fool Steve THAT easily Flippy!” 😉

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A huge sea eagles nest on the river bank. This nest is very old and is constantly in use and is approximately 2 metres across

We just took delivery of 4 more large rolls of Ex-fish farm netting with the promise of as much as we can handle to come. I have visions of Serendipity Farm partitioned off into undercover bliss including an entirely enclosed orchard area that is currently battered and bruised after years of possums being allowed to run amok amongst the trees and our enormous edifice full of protected vegetables. We have smaller projects including compost heap construction and protection of various small garden beds but the luxury of being able to take what the fish farm sees as waste and turning it into our treasure makes me even happier.  Steve has just headed out to see what the river might yield in the Mumbley cumumbus. He is ostensibly “fishing” but in reality he is trawling around like Huck Finn on the river with his straw hat and his fishing line tied to his toe while he eats his cheese sarnies (1 with Brit Piccalilli…Crosse and Blackwell no less, and the other with some of his delicious home preserved ultra-thin cucumber pickles) in ex-pat heaven. It’s a really lovely day here, nice and cool but with the sun shining brightly and packed full of possibilities. Earl and Bezial are hoping for fishing futures and I am hoping for some photos that I can put in today’s post but aside from that Steve is Scott free and able to bob around on the waves in comparative solitude. That’s one of the benefits of being a penniless student and the shining beacon in our gratitude quotient. Sometimes it is difficult when we would rather have the money to instantly gratify our wants. It’s not like we want the moon…a water tank would be nice, a few solar panels to hook up to the water heater when Brunhilda is in hiatus and a mulcher to mulch all of the debris that we are generating via our sporadic concerted vegetative ethnic cleansing episodes…I could care less about fame and fortune, give me a $15.95 copy of Jackie French’s “The Wilderness Garden” and I feel like I just won lotto. I consider myself to be a very lucky woman. I am completely content with my lot and the possibilities in our lives and I am constantly excited and invigorated by simple things. In the eyes of society we are unimpressive and easily dismissed and that’s how we like it :o)

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One side of Redwood Island (Steve’s prime fishing haunt)…

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The other side of Redwood Island…All of our photos are taken with our 7 year old totally outdated FinePix Fujifilm camera. No lenses, no special whistles and bells…we are lucky if it zoom’s when we ask it to but it does take a lovely photo.

Its 5.44am Wednesday and Steve just headed off with his boat in the dark. He has just finished scrying his crystal ball (http://tides.willyweather.com.au/tas/northern/sidmouth.html ) and found the timing is right for a morning’s fishing/pootling in the river. It might be dark but I can’t hear the wind chime’s gentle melody so there isn’t any wind to chill the early morning air further…I love the hint of chill that is starting to creep in before dawn. I love that we have had Brunhilda on 3 times this week. I also love the free hot water and the ability to cook our meals on her as well as cook pots of legumes, have the kettle gently simmering ready for a drink and keep things warm in her lower ovens…my autumnal (sorry my American friends, “autumnal” is a MUCH more lyrical word than “fall” 😉 ) processes are waking up and it’s still summer. I know that New Zealand is enjoying our customary weather (hot without rain…peculiar for them at this time of year thanks to the recent cyclone that has tumbled our weather around) and we have theirs. Cheers for the swapsy guys…any time! I don’t mind the last gasps of summer in February because we have had this little rain fuelled interlude that has soothed the savage beast and eased the crustiness of Serendipity Farm…the garden is happy, I might even get some germination of the free roadside seed that I have been collecting over the summer and broadcasting in the side garden.

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Mandolin + home grown cucumber = very finely sliced cucumbers…

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What we choose to call Steve’s “Never ending refrigerator pickles” 😉

I just found a fellow Tasmanian’s blog…she is about my age and shares my ethos and has a lovely enthusiastic gardening blog like mine. If you want to check out Kate’s blog, head on down south to Cygnet and have a look at her world…

http://vegetablevagabond.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/time-to-sow-and-reap.html

Aside from her delightful blog, she has some really good Tasmanian links that I will be spending some time this morning checking out. Most of Tasmania’s “Hippies” live down south and there are so many seed swapping groups, transition towns and all kinds of sharing going on and I am envious. I wish we had something as vital as that up here but our local groups are not as active and tend to be a bit “closed shop”. There are some very active members but I am going to have to dig a bit deeper to find relevance to our ethos here on Serendipity Farm…oh well…I can admire from a distance :o)

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This last series of photos are an homage to an old video game hero of mine…I thought that this little beetroot (one of our recent harvest) looked remarkably like one “Earthworm Jim”…knowing that I can’t claim to have replicated him (on pain of being sued blue and black) I shall call my little creation “Beetroot Nemotode James” 😉

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Here he is nestled amongst his brethren waiting for his fate…

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“Well what do we have here?”…

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Surely this is the end of our erstwhile hero James! How could anything survive a scalding stream of fragrant pickling liquor! Stay tuned to find out what happens next in the continuing story of our hero…

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I don’t know what you think but he certainly looks like he is happy enough with his lot (ignore the colour, that’s what happens when you let Steve take the photo and he doesn’t want to use macro 😉 ) “Off to the fridge with you young nematode!”…

Have you noticed that I have been cutting my posts down a bit lately? I am trying to ensure that I don’t write marathon posts and make it difficult for you all to get through them in one bite. My muses are both enthusiastic and prolific and there isn’t much I can do about that BUT I can harness them and make them work in the direction that “I” want to pull… February is here and summer is almost over and autumn is just about to crest and that means W.O.R.K. on Serendipity Farm. Aside from turning piles of woody debris into Hugelkultur gardens and biochar (and tidying Serendipity Farm up considerably in the process), we will be planting out as many of our chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts as we can along with 4 loquats, 3 figs, 5 avocado plants (well sheltered) and will be situating a length of perforated drainage coil at the base of each root ball so that we can give them supplemental watering next summer…this summer hasn’t gone yet and we are already plotting for next summer! Does that make us “real” farmers? 😉 I don’t think so! Steve wants to get as many of his Brachychitons into the ground along with as many pines as he can fit. We love them with a passion and all of their in-ground brethren are going gangbusters so we figure “what the heck!” I know that my son rarely reads these posts so the words “Not in our lifetime” are not going to make him twitch ;). Most of these pines yield edible seeds so perhaps by the time Stewart and Kelsey inherit this property they may be able to harvest pine nuts along with everything else that we are setting up here for them…any grandchildren (now he is REALLY twitching if he has stumbled onto this post! 😉 ) will be able to graze freely (along with the native wildlife) from the food forest that we are in the process of setting up. I have no idea what I am meant to be doing with my life…so far I have just surfed along the crest of it hoping that I didn’t wipe out too badly but since we moved to Serendipity Farm, everything that has happened in my past seems to be knitting together to form a purpose. I think I was born to do this and the happiness that this simple life is bringing me gives me a sense of real purpose that mainstream worldly success couldn’t. I think I am going to have to put the plug in on my muses…they want to wax lyrical for a few more pages but I need to put some photo’s into this post guys…”SHHHH!” See you all on Wednesday and I hope that the rest of this week flows smoothly…if it doesn’t, remember “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”…best I can do with all these muses yelling in my head 😉

Wychwood and a heartwood spoon

Hi All,

I am officially in love…I am UTTERLY in love. Yesterday my friend in the witness protection and I had a horticultural road trip to visit the utterly bewitching Wychwood gardens before Karen and Peter are able to sell this most magical of gardens to some lucky person with both the money and the eye to be able to appreciate this gem of a property. After my “dei horribilis” on Monday, closely followed by her own dei horribilis on Wednesday when we dropped in to deposit some of our wayward junipers on her doorstep. We both decided that we needed to head off into the horticultural wilderness and Wychwood was the sirens song that lured us out of bed early and pointed in a direction that neither of us points very much. I met her at Exeter, midway between our properties and we continued on in her 4 x 4 which is much more reliable than “ole Bessie” our little workhorse. We took our time enjoying all of the quaint little towns festooned with unusual murals, topiaries; wooden sculptures ANYTHING to drag the tourist dollar up from Hobart and the south where all tourists are avidly pointed by the powers that be. Up north we have some gorgeous country and some really pretty places to visit and I have NO idea why people would go down to the South apart from trekking the last vestiges of gorgeousness in the wet wilderness traced by the Gordon river. Oh… and Mt. Wellington is a bit of alright as well ;). If you want to see real Tasmanians, come up north! They certainly lay it on thick up here…wine, potatoes, onions, hippies (yup…LOTS of hippies…), more potatoes…did I mention potatoes? ;). We trundled around upsetting people driving at breakneck speed in search of a traffic accident while we just sat in the left hand lane doing the equivalent of Steve pootling up the river. We didn’t stay on the highway long because highways are for chumps (and for big trucks and angry road rage ridden drivers…) so we ducked over and wended our merry way on the side roads less travelled and enjoyed the heck out of our trip. We stopped in Deloraine, a mecca for hippies and antiques and after a veggie sausage roll, our friend in the witness protection was ready to continue driving to Mole creek and beyond. Steve had hurriedly scratched down some driving instructions but what use have 2 chattering middle aged women in a large 4 x 4 doing 80km/hour and paying NO attention to the road signs, for instructions? We did what men DON’T do, and we stopped at Mole Creek to ask at the local Information centre (that’s what it’s there for folks! 😉 ) where Wychwood was and were given instructions how to get there by a very nice lady who didn’t mind at ALL that we were lost with no idea where we were…in fact, we kept her in a job in a job stressed market for another day…

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I took a million, squillion and 7 photos of Wychwood so I have had to limit today’s post to a few as we have to put Earl’s walnut draw for the Valentine’s Day spoon in as well so this photo is of the lovely little nursery at Wychwood, full of all sorts of healthy and unusual stock all grown as excess on Wychwood soil for lucky patron’s to purchase and take home to pretend that their gardens are some day going to look like Wychwood 😉

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A really nice idea. Karen and Peter like to pick a selection of the plants in flower and fruit in the garden on any given day, an herbarium for the punters

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As Edina from “Absolutely Fabulous” would say about the Wychwood shop…”Lots of gorgeousness sweetie…lots of little gorgeous things…”

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The garden had splashes of colour all over the place. Nothing gaudy and over the top because Peter told us that he prefers foliage and texture. My sentiments exactly!

After we learned that we only had to go up the road a little ways before finding our destination we trundled off again and suddenly there it was…unmistakable amongst bare fields full of sheep, an oasis of treed greenness that silently beckoned us into its folds. I have to mention here to anyone who has been shirking their “Dear constant reader” duties and not keeping up to speed on Serendipity Farm posts that visiting Wychwood has been a dream of mine for some time now. I have stalked Peter and Karen from afar for years…I follow Karen’s wonderful Wychwood posts on “Garden Drum” a most informative collection of expert writers that document their garden journeys and adventures and I follow her on Facebook as well. To explain Wychwood isn’t easy. In a nutshell it is 2 peoples idyll and passion that bled into a sheep paddock out in the middle of woop-woop miles away from the madding crowd that evolved over a period of almost 20 years to be somewhere that any garden gnome or fairy would lust after calling “home”. 2 ½ acres of gorgeousness to the max and every turn has something special…we were lucky enough to arrive on a less than promising day…no sunny blue skies and lots of prospect of rain and even though we were there for hours (I think I must have been abducted by aliens because it felt like 5 minutes…) only 1 other couple turned up while we were there and left long before we did. We are both horticulturalists so you can only begin to imagine the “Oohing and AHing” that went on. We were up to our armpits in precious things and everywhere we turned there was something to delight our horticultural senses. So many beautiful things and a mind full of possibilities…round buxus balls festooned their merry bumbling way across a lawned area reminding me of hedgehogs on their way to a saucer of water…Our friend got VERY excited…”I have just plonked buxus down in the sand! One day, when I have filled in the gaps it might look like this!”…delight, excitement, overwhelming prospects of reward at the end of the tunnel and we were gone…wandering aimlessly taking photo after photo and being constantly reminded of the possibilities that result from someone’s willingness to “Have a bash” and get stuck in and effect change on this sort of scale. These people are collectors…I was amused when I asked Peter what a certain species of Viburnum was that he had in the garden and he told me that it was called Viburnum rhytidophyllum. I then proceeded to tell him that I had found this very viburnum deep in the undergrowth of the jungle that we call Serendipity Farm. He was suddenly very interested and asked me where this plant had been sourced. I told him that the elderly lady, who had owned this property, prior to my father, had planted all sorts of things and some of them were still alive. He told me to ask her where she had bought this shrub from because by the sounds of it, it isn’t a very common shrub in Tasmania. Ida… you were indeed a plants woman :o)

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With the shop over to the left of this photo the exit into the garden has this lovely staged border of colour, texture and foliage height

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Borders are the name of the day on Wychwood as are the use of grasses and medium shrubs and trees to give interest to each garden bed. Note the Gunnera manicata’s HUGE leaves looking for all the world like enormous rhubarb

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To the left note the clever use of Rugosa roses acting as a hedge between one garden area and another and more massed planting and staggered borders to the right

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The garden is full of little pathways like this, leading you around corners in search of the elusive secret garden behind those shrubs

Karen and Peter have made the most of this amazing space and have carefully and lovingly created a slow evolutionary march of vegetation from their initial deciduous tree plantings, lots of birches, an interesting beech, Linden and various maples to the inbetweeners…the cornus and the well placed Sambucus in all of their glorious varieties and forms providing shade, flowers and fruit for the birds, bees and butterflies that were staggering lustily whilst twittering, buzzing and flittering around respectively. A most scrumptious ornamental Japanese grape vine (Vitis coignetiae) meandered all over the small but well stocked nursery a study in gorgeous green that we were assured by Peter, was not only difficult to propagate but that rewarded the autumn spectator with a show of vibrant red magnificence. There was a chook yard with hens protesting their incarceration along with a high hedged orchard that contained a single short fat pair of gorgeous ducks and a “Cranky Goose” signposted and warned and no indemnity taken…I am used to geese. My mother once kept a flock of 50 of them and I know what geese are like. This one was timid compared to mum’s geese and our friend in the witness protection wouldn’t even go near it and stayed outside the lovely wrought iron gate with her mobile camera switched on in hope that the goose would attack thus giving her fodder to amuse her friends…I gracefully emerged unscathed (to her disappointment I might add…) but well aware that the “Hissing” behind me was indeed a warning of beak-to-pants action should I overstay my welcome…I understand gooseanese implicitly! I will share more of Wychwood in the photos that I add to this post but I am still in a daze of happiness about yesterday and am cram packed full of possibilities. Our friend and I have plans…inscrutable plans for propagating masses of perennials between us so that we can mass plant the back end out of our properties. She is still in the “sheep paddock” stage but we have the benefit of there being some strong plant foundations here on Serendipity Farm but having to pare back the layers of debris and weeds built up over 20 years of neglect to reveal the poor long suffering survivors underneath. We did learn some interesting things from Peter who told us that he never fertilises anything…”nature doesn’t fertilise anything other than dropping leaves on itself so why should we?” He mulches with pea straw etc. for humus but although the soil on the property was sandy and infertile this garden towers majestically out of the hillsides and plonked down on Mole Creek like a little piece of heaven. Wychwood is for sale by the way… Peter said it wouldn’t hurt to mention it in my blog…obviously free publicity with the way that I have been gushing over the place but it truly is a magical garden full of enticing and exciting possibilities. If anyone you know would like to live in “Clean Green” Tasmania, nestled in a basin between 3 mountain ranges with a creek on the side of the property and a garden to die for, do a bit of Google searching and I am sure that you will find a real estate agent that will be more than happy to guide you through the processes of signing your life away…but in the process, gaining a little piece of paradise that I know you won’t find anywhere else :). We exited and drove off twittering with possibilities…

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Occasionally you would see something in the middle of the lawn like this large grass or a series of round topiary buxus like hedgehogs following their mum into the long grass…it was a clever way to separate garden areas and minimise turf, which is incredibly water hungry and prone to insect predation

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The drop dead gorgeous enormous leaves of Vitis coignetiae a Japanese ornamental grape vine with a hint of the colour that the entire vine takes on in autumn. One of the reasons why our friend in the witness protection and I are heading back up mid April this year

We decided on heading up further north to check out a nursery that we had been to a few times over the last few years. Big Pot nursery isn’t a patch on Wychwood nursery but it has 2 things going for it. 1. It is cheap as chips and 2. It has a whole lot more “stuff” than Wychwood. We had purchased some “pretties” from Wychwood. I bought “Rudbeckia triloba”; “Ajuga reptans ‘Jungle Beauty’ and “Monarda didyama” from Wychwood and considered $18 well spent. For an upmarket garden with a twinkle of gorgeousness that would lead a body to believe that there might also be a twinkle of expense involved with their nursery stock the prices were very reasonable and I know that the plants are healthy and vital. Heading over to Big Pot and the stock is somewhat less reliable and more higgledy piggledy in nature but from $2 – $3 for perennials and extremely reasonable prices for deciduous trees (most of the smaller stock was $6) Big Pot nursery is well worth a trip to budget mindful penniless student hippies and the sign saying “Liliums $2 each” had our friend twitching with excitement. I didn’t even look sideways at the gorgeous floral tributes because they do grow on Serendipity Farm…and they are eaten on Serendipity Farm before they are able to thrust out those gorgeous blowsy flowers so lilums and I are not mano-a-mano if you know what I mean. I trundled over and found…”Sophora microphylla (N.Z. Kowhai) a lovely small tree that has lacy leaves (that promise nitrogenous advantages to the soil surrounding its roots); Salvia corrugata with scrumptious deep blue flower spikes; Sisyrinchium striatum (a lovely hardy member of the iris family that has tiny butter yellow stalks of flowers and that is very hardy); Salvia elegans or Pineapple sage with its heady scented leaves and wonderful spikes of red flowers and Eryngium alpinum, a member of the sea holly family that I am going to carpet Serendipity Farm with variations of because it has stood defiant against the advancing hoards and they have found it wanting! A most perfect plant for Serendipity Farm ;). Our friend in the witness protection also broke a piece from her pot of Ajuga reptans ‘Catlins Giant’ that was heading off in another direction and that had adventitious roots and gave it to me to pot up and coax into fruition for our garden. We will both be collecting fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) and Queen Anne’s lace seed (Daucus carota) from weedy specimens in ditches over the coming few weeks as the seed heads ripen and will be interspersing the resulting plants with garlic…Wychwood had a lovely patch of mixed fennel and garlic just outside their vegetable garden as a beneficial attractant and a pest deterrent. There is so MUCH to learn about gardening and luckily, the best way to do it is free…watch your garden (such as it is…) wander around it at all times of the day (hint: use a torch at night time…just sayin’…) and just “look”…watch what insects are bumbling around…are there any birds? Lizards? Frogs? Over the coming season watch how the conditions in your garden change as the seasons change and check for windy spots, hot spots, dry spots and shady spots. Learn where the sun is at any given time of the day and learn how much sunlight the objects of your horticultural desire need…just watch, listen and learn from your garden. It has so many lessons to teach you if you will only stop bumbling about yelling and listen to it! (in saying that…I am still in the bumbling stages and most definitely in the yelling stages so perhaps it’s best to do as I say, not as I do for the purposes of this lesson O.K? 😉 )

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 I truely abhor photographs of “me” but in order for you to see this amazing edifice to fatherly love in the form of a kids cubby house that not only has this beautiful garden surrounding it, but it has sleeping accomodation inside and has 2 stories!, I had to post me too.  I appear to have lost one of my eyes and grown the teeth of a donkey in this shot…I scolded our friend in the witness protection for her lack of photographic skills but then I saw the photos that I took of her standing here on her phone and decided not to say anything about her lack of talent 😉 …

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One side of this pathway leads off to a wonderful grass maze that I will share with you in future posts and the right hand side leads off to an orchard…an orchard that apparently contained a very cranky goose…we were warned…but hey? When have I EVER listened to warnings eh?

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2 occupants of the orchard…cranky geese? I think not! These 2 ducks were quite small but incredibly stocky making them emminently squeezable…they obviously knew how cute they were and had suffered several squeezes in the past because as soon as I entered the rusted wrought iron gate into the orchard they hightailed it away from me as fast as those tiny waddling legs would toddle

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“SPOTTED!”…time to make a hasty retreat to the safety of the area directly behind the rusted wrought iron gate and our friend in the witness protection with her camera phone at the ready just in case the goose decided to attack…I had to sternly remind her that “Youtube is a fickle mistress”…

Bugger! I got so excited I put too many words in this post…I hope you are still here with me as I tap out these last few stanzas and tie up the string section for that last great “Huzzah!” Well here we are at the end of the post and most of you could care less about the gardening bit and want to know who won the beautiful Valentine’s Day spoon? Well (drum roll…..) Earl picked…

Congratulations to …..

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The Valentine’s Day spoon is going to Oklahoma :o)

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So to all of you dear constant readers who missed out, it will soon be “Mother’s Day” (well here in Australia it will!) so you will get another chance then :o). Till Wednesday, here is a photo of the spoons to choose from…

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If Little sundog wants to choose which spoon she wants and let me know in the comments section we can tee up how you are going to get your spoon. See you all on Wednesday 🙂

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