More Serendipitous Photo post padders

Hi Folks,

I actually had a blog post all done and dusted on Monday morning before Steve tumbled out of bed and we headed wearily out to the great monolith of a vegetable garden so you might be wondering why I am offering you another image post…well I took so many images that it seems a shame to cull them for words. I have also been very busy today and completely forgot about posting till late so the post can wait and you get lots of photos of what we have been up to this week. Let the images commence…

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We managed to get the 3 remaining fig “cuttings” (really root layers but we won’t quibble) out into the ground and in the background you can just about see where I have put the portable compost bin. What you might not be able to see is the chooks circling around it like Indians circling a cowboy caravan. What the chooks don’t pull through the possums climb over and sift through but at the end of a month the soil should be nice and moist and ready to plant another tree, probably an olive.

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The pot at the front has samosa mix and the pot at the back is a spicy homemade dipping sauce for the samosas

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The process of forming the samosa’s proper shape commences…

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Leftover samosas. I was brave and made my own pastry for them.

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Secondary fermentation of this weeks Kombucha. You can see the bubbles collecting on the side of the containers. By the time I put it in the fridge and then drink it it’s bubbly

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One of the many aquilegia’s that have sprung up all over the garden. If you look closely (click on the image) you can see a little ant. He is most probably carrying an aphid buddy to infest it 😉

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Another aquilegia, one of the more common “Granny’s bonnet” variety that grows so well in hot dry conditions

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Most of these potted plants will be given away as soon as we can work out which ones we want to keep and can assemble them all into one spot

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This might look like a jungle but it’s another potted plant area that appears to be going over to the pink side

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Eggs and sugar being whisked together…

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Custard being gently heated to make white chocolate ice-cream that will join some milk chocolate mocha ice-cream we made the day before.

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Some women like flowers, some like chocolates but Steve knows exactly what makes my heart sing and gifted me a large tub of Korean miso seasoning 🙂

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Narf7 gets artistic in a dusty shed

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It might look like a gypsy’s tent but it’s actually a partially covered glasshouse just about to get some much needed relief from the hot sun

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A small Chinese woman working on the fully enclosed veggie garden (or is it… 😉 )

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No, I should be so lucky! 😉

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The glasshouse with it’s “double skin” of netting that makes it nice and warm and humid inside minus the blazing heat thanks to the layering effect. It should be more useful to us for propagation over summer now and is actually part of the veggie complex now

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Steve figuring out how to mount an old screen door on the side of the old wood shed

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A well earned beer after a hard days work

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Since I swapped to making sesame milk for my tea I end up with pulp that I now ferment using non-dairy kefir. The results are very tasty and quite “cheesy” and I am going to experiment to see if I can’t make a kind of probiotic rich cheese out of them…waste not want not

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Another attempt at an artistic shot looking down from the deck at one of Steve’s lovely weeping maples below

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More aquilegias, lucky I love them 🙂

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It might be time to weed this table of potted plants methinks, however the weeds are actually vetch, a nitrogen fixer so for the moment it can stay 🙂

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One of the garden beds that we cleared out last year must have had these lovely iris’s tangled up inside it. We never noticed them before but this year they are flowering beautifully. Another reward for all of this hard work 🙂

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We still haven’t found time to cut up that felled tree but it would appear nature is our ally and is attempting to cover over the evidence for us

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It might be time to plant out that grape vine that appears to want to climb up the freezer…so much to do!

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My daughter Madeline has discovered horticulture and found these honeydew and rockmelon seeds and some red capsicum seed growing in their compost heap and asked me if I would like some…”Yes please!” :).

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We have had to resort to buying seedlings again but next year we will be well placed to produce all of the seedlings that we need from seed.

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I couldn’t resist…more seedlings

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Various transplants languishing in seasol and water and recovering from their various trauma’s nicely

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2 very healthy yacon plants champing at the bit to be planted out into the new veggie garden

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Steve’s and my garden creation kit, the hole in the hat is for airflow 😉

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Some of the kilometres of rope that we have been cutting from the ex fish-farm netting that we used to make our fully enclosed veggie garden

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Cherry seed and lemon seeds along with some other seeds that I can’t even remember what they are (but they are “food”) ready to be planted out

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NOT an aquilegia

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Using our automatic sprouter last year gave us beans that were ready to plant much quicker than planting them directly into seed raising mix. These are purple king beans after 3 days in the sprouter

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These borlotti beans came from our own bean cube harvest that the possums allowed us to collect last year

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We collected these yin-yang beans from our garden last year as well and as you can see, 3 days has given them a great head start

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Even the scarlet runner beans are sprouting! We are on to a winner 🙂

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I bought this wrought iron single bed head at the progressive garage sale much earlier in the year for $2 thinking “I could do something with that in the garden…” I am going to integrate it into the new veggie garden

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The fixings for my standard warm season breakfast, a healthy probiotic rich smoothie. On any given day they contain at least sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, both kefir and Kombucha, organic vanilla, ginger, soaked buckwheat, carob or cocoa and sometimes some non-dairy protein powder to add a bit of oomph

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The only way I can force myself to drink “water” on warm days. I load it up with sliced fruit (in this case a fresh lemon from a neighbour) and work my way through it in the day. It works.

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Last but by no means least the dogs now have a “new” rug to lay on out on the deck. We remembered we had some old rugs in the shed and decided to give the boys something nice to lay on when they are basking in the sun.

I hope you all enjoyed a pictorial post of what we have been up to on Serendipity Farm over the last week. Hopefully normal service will resume by next week. See you all then when I will (hopefully) have created new garden beds and will have planted out all of those new babies you saw in this post (along with some “old” babies that have just been waiting for this moment 🙂 )

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A rooster is just a set of bagpipes with feathers

Hi All,

I just finished my last Saturday’s post where I waffled about sushi and gloves. I must be getting officially “old”…if you read the post; you are obviously getting officially old as well ;). Misery LOVES company…would you like a rooster? I have 2 that love to crow under the deck at crazy hours. The sun isn’t going to be anywhere NEAR up till about 7am today and they are already crowing great guns under the deck at a place that approximates the direct area underneath my feet as I sit here typing at 4.21am. I just finished telling you about Sarah’s amazing gift of a wonderful pair of hand knitted wrist warming finger and thumbless mitts and I am wearing the mitts as I type. They are akin to when your teenager insists on you buying them a specific jumper/jacket and then proceed to cut a hole in said (very expensive) jumper/jacket about 2 ½ inches (or 5cm for we enlightened folk) from the cuff just so they can stick their thumb through it and wear their jumper/jacket as a glove as well as a coat. I love them FAR beyond their physical presence because these gloves are giving me the impetus to get knitting again where there wasn’t even an inkling of a desire to knit prior to their arrival

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You can almost hear the roosters crowing in the background can’t you? 😉

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Early morning on Serendipity Farm with the obvious chance of precipitation 😉

Earl needs a coat. Earl is an amazing creation of muscle and scars and bones that all combine to create something that nature surely couldn’t produce without worrying about the result as soon as she stood back to take a look at her creation. Earl also has a curious lack of hair. He comes from South Australia and to anyone who isn’t an Aussie that means he comes from the equivalent of the Gobi Desert. It’s hot there folks…hot for an extended period of the year…hot and dry and perhaps dogs are starting to go through a form of natural selection that allows them to live their lives with less hair to keep them cooler. The problem is when you move a South Australian dog that has little hair and lots of body mass down to the Australian equivalent of the South Pole and winter hits… Earl loves to walk. He would walk all day if you let him. The problem is that Earl not only has very little hair, but the hair that he does have sheds. He must grow hair like sharks grow teeth, constantly, because I spend my days sweeping our wooden floors and rugs and get the equivalent of a small red and white mammal worth of hair from these rugs courtesy of Earl each day.

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Steve tapping in one of the poles for the fully enclosed vegetable garden

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This shot shows you the area that we are currently working in to build our fully enclosed vegetable garden. You can see the wood shed and the glass house and the existing vegetable gardens in the shot along with lots and LOTS of rocks and the trees that we had to cut down to ensure the garden gets enough sunshine

We can’t not walk Earl…we do so at our peril because when Earl gets bored, he eats the furniture. We have been warned! Knowing almost everyone in your neighbourhood has its perils as well. When you walk daily you become part of other people’s routines. Through the week we walk at roughly the same time every day. We pass the same people on their same journeys to work and school and these people have claimed us as part of their routine…they wave at us now. We have NO idea who these people are, but we are kindred spirits on that early morning journey to and from life. We are peripherals to other people’s routines and lives and as such they think that they own us. We get stopped a lot and called to from balconies and we chat and Earl sits shivering beside us looking up at us imploring us to “MOVE!”. Earl needs a coat. I was tempted to take my newfound desire to knit and render it Earl shaped…I could use up all of my leftover bits and pieces of wool and make Earl his own coat of many colours…Earl would like that. It would last for the first couple of kilometres until Earl found a bit to chew and by the end of the walk, Earl would have unravelled most of it and there would be a long trail of evidence leading from wherever we just walked all the way to our front gate! ”Busted sunshine!”…sigh…

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We are (in our minds) cleverly going to use these 2 eucalyptus trees as a basis for our gating system for our large fully enclosed garden. Here you can see Steve working on another pole and can get a bit of scale regarding the area

I won’t be knitting Earl a jumper any day soon. I am not (despite what I might seem) a stupid woman. We will pay some middle man (most probably from Korea where dogs are prized for more than their ability to guard a house 😉 ) to deliver a waterproof, cotton lined equivalent of a flak jacket made from sensible oilcloth that will lend Earl a sophisticated “Gentleman about town” look. Bezial won’t be needing a coat “thank you VERY much”. He has thick black fur that covers him entirely, courtesy of that small portion of him that shrieks “LABRADOR”. He might look like an American Staffordshire terrier…he might act like an American Staffordshire terrier, but that tiny little bit of Labrador is reflected in his fur, his appetite and his overwhelming desire to seek out water and delight in its comeliness at all times. Forget the coat; Bezial is on Labrador time…

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All of the poles had been hammered into the ground here and this shot is to try to give you a bit of perspective on where the garden is going to go. The existing veggie gardens take up approximately one quarter of the area that the large new garden will give us and are situated inside the parameters of the new garden area

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One of Steve’s newly concreted in poles. The branches from the felled trees are going to become a hugelkultur base for the new garden beds and the wood will be stored for next years firewood…nothing gets wasted on Serendipity Farm if we can possibly help it.

We got 3 days of rain last week and we are making hay while the sun shines and for once, Mr Jamie Oliver’s overuse of and entirely inappropriate use of the vernacular “literally” is quite honestly a reasonable word to use for our current situation. I started attempting to add porridge oats back into my morning routine now that I have hit my magic “ideal weight” but have discovered that oats give me a headache. I was wondering why I kept getting headaches. I stopped getting them when I reintroduced my morning green smoothies and they started again when I reintroduced porridge. It was the ONLY explanation and as an oat and porridge lover from way back I feel cheated. What could I eat that could take the place of the ubiquitous stomach filling long lasting humble (cheap) oat? I had to take to the internet to find out. I arrived at a few of the more exotic grains that I really didn’t want to imbibe on a regular basis (read expensive…) and bypassed them quickly. What I arrived at can be grown here on Serendipity Farm as a cover crop and loves our temperate climate… “Buckwheat”…the humble soul food of pancake creations made its über healthy self both obvious and noticeable.

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Spot the little wren with an insect she found in the hole that Steve dug

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I stood back to try to get you an idea of the scope of this garden but at the end of the day its just HUGE… 🙂 About the size of a standard tennis court.

Buckwheat? Who eats buckwheat! I don’t really know who eats is apart from the Russians and Canadians but now narf7 eats it as well. I decided to try making it like porridge. I got some raw groats (that’s what they are called folks) that I had in a container in our middle room pantry shelf and I ground them into buckwheat flour in my Vitamix. I then added a teaspoon of dried ginger because ginger makes EVERYTHING better for narf7. I added a couple of generous scoops of cocoa powder because choc-ginger makes a suspicious food a whole lot more tempting and hopefully the combination of flavours might just cover up any strange flavours that buckwheat might offer into the mix. I then tipped this floury brown mix into a saucepan and used some date syrup (the mix that results from the leftover date paste in the bottom of my Vitamix that I am
too lazy to scrape out and just whizz up with the date soaking water to make a thinner sweet syrupy date mix) to sweeten the mix. Date paste and syrup are nowhere near as sweet as sugar but add a subtle hint of sweetness to whatever you add them to along with a big hit of fibre and nutrition (especially iron). I started to stir the floury mix into the syrupy mix and become somewhat alarmed at the resulting gloopy looking mix. After smoothing out the lumps it had a decided slimy sort of texture…not promising folks!

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We are still trying to work out what to do with that little ride on lawn mower behind the trunk of the tree on the left hand side of this shot…any ideas? Using it for it’s original intention isn’t an option due to the steep gradients and rock infested tundra on Serendipity Farm

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You can tell that Steve has done this before…

I suspiciously put the pan onto the hob and stirred it all together with a wooden spoon. I figured it would react like oats do and would thicken…I was right! Buckwheat might be slimy when it is in its unheated form but as soon as the temperature reaches the equivalent of 88 miles per hour (do yourselves a favour if you don’t know what I am talking about there and watch the “Back to the Future” trilogy, thank me later…) it suddenly seizes and turns into cement. My absent minded stirring suddenly turned into a wrestling match between the buckwheat and I for possession of the spoon and I am ashamed to admit, the buckwheat won! What grain is this that can best a well-honed human bicep in an arm wrestling match and claim the spoon eh? Now I was afraid! I was just about to put this creature into my intestinal tract to see if it could tango!

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In a past life Steve used to be very proficient with concrete…a skill that has come in handy more than once since we moved to Serendipity Farm

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Left over concrete mix that we then decided to use to try to fill in some of the worst holes in our driveway (see Kym, we DO think of you 😉 )

I scraped the resulting “porridge” (for want of a better word), still containing my wooden spoon, into a bowl. It sat there stiffly with the spoon poking out of it at a jaunty angle and I eyeballed it closely. It seemed innocuous enough, and after pulling my spoon out of its thick mass with a primordial “schlepp” I considered how I was going to tackle this mound of buckwheat, ginger and cocoa. I decided to eat it plain, without non-dairy milk or kefir so that I could get a true representation of its “flavour”. Flavour isn’t an issue with me by the way folks, I sometimes eat strange things simply because they are good for me as a vegan and I was prepared for “strange” and willing to wear it for the sake of something that would stick to my ribs and last for half a day. I stuck a dessert spoon into the mound and got the distinct impression of when an arrow goes into a dartboard and just “stops”. I had just been warned…

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We got these metal poles for free so Steve cleverly made a stanchion with some offcuts to brace this corner pole and make it a whole lot stronger. We want this fully enclosed vegetable garden to last!

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Earl on patrol

I forced my way into the mass of buckwheat and started to eat. Buckwheat has a nice mild nutty flavour that is quite pleasant and after researching it prior to eating it I know it is cram packed with gluten free nutrition. I ate spoon after spoon of this dense creation with increasing enjoyment when suddenly I hit the equivalent of a runners “wall” or a career forgers “glass ceiling”…half a bowl in and buckwheat made itself known to my stomach in no uncertain terms. It told my stomach “you are now full…do NOT eat any more buckwheat…proceed to go/work and do not collect $200 because you are not going to need it, you are officially FULL WOMAN”. I don’t “fill” easily. I find it difficult to believe that half a bowl of buckwheat was going to fill me up. I foolishly carried on to finish the bowl… the equivalent bowl of porridge oats would have satiated me nicely until lunch time. This bowl of buckwheat spent the rest of the day reminding me that I should have stopped at half the bowl and that buckwheat porridge is the equivalent of eating house bricks in powdered form. I only regained “hunger” at 6pm that evening! I have learned my lesson…I will eat buckwheat porridge on a regular basis but half the amount I ate the other day. “You have bested me again buckwheat! You are a true master of seeds; I bow and concede to your superiority”

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The two grey areas on our driveway were, prior to this photo, very large holes. We are attempting to try to fix the deep furrows on our driveway so that Kym can actually drive up in August, rather than park at the church and walk 😉

Every Saturday, without fail, I inflict Armageddon on the localised population of spiders that live indoors on Serendipity Farm. I guess “Armageddon” might be too stiff a word for it and a more appropriate explanation might be the end results of a very strong storm when it relocates houses and flotsam and jetsam from where they were located before, to a new location. In my case I vacuum and clean on a Saturday. I am particularly careful not to vacuum up spiders. I don’t like killing things because you just never know…reincarnation might just be part of our life cycle and I might have just hoovered up someone’s uncle Ernie. If you were a bit of a deadbeat in your past life you might end up in Serendipity Farms spider population…you weren’t bad, just a lazy person who didn’t pull their weight and who just wasted their life bumming around but because you didn’t actually affect anyone aside from yourself and your long suffering mother (especially if she was Jewish and REALLY wanted a lawyer-doctor-specialist-insert other high paying career here… for a son/daughter), you are allowed to live someplace where you are considered to be part of the ethos and given some kind of “rights”.

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These 2 seedpods have made me VERY happy. This brachychiton tree was on it’s last legs a few years ago but it seems to have recovered now and had flowers for the first time in years this year and it has produced seed pods! Steve and I can now harvest these seed pods and grow some more brachychitons that are especially hardy for our local area

Bad people get reincarnated at my sister’s house. If you cheated, you lied, you broke people’s hearts and you were generally a bit of a nasty piece of work you might find yourself waking up in an arachnid’s body in the home of an arachnophobe. My sister could care less about spiders but her partner hates them…with a passion…any spider stumbling into his pathway is likely to have a VERY short reincarnation adjustment period and will return to be reprogrammed as something equally as insidious quick smart on the flat side of an enormous flip-flop (we call them “thongs” here in Australia BUT knowing that “thongs” also have another connotation elsewhere in the world I wouldn’t want ANYONE thinking that Jason wears men’s string underpants and likes to sit on spiders…kinky stuff Jase…kinky stuff ;)…most probably as a cockroach on Serendipity Farm where narf7 will reveal that cockroaches are one of the ONLY things that she hates with a passion and you will get fed to ducky quick smart…you might want to start mending your ways as after me it gets worse!

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Isn’t our Japanese maple putting on a lovely show this year? Another sign that our trees think we are living in Canada and that it is going to be VERY cold this year

Anyhoo…I vacuum and I tidy and I clean once a week in earnest. Most other days I give a few rudimentary sweeps to stop Earls rapidly shed hair from accumulating too much and forming into a small rodent that might or might not predate my stocks of seed in my pantry but on Saturday I get stuck in and put the boot into the dirt population on Serendipity Farm. I have to lock the doors as Earl hates the vacuum cleaner and tries to kill it if given the chance…only when it is actually on and only when the vacuum cleaner head is off and he can grab the hose and bite it. A specific vacuum cleaner serial killer is our Earl…I have to lure him (cleverly) from room to room and then shut doors and make sure he can’t get in. Earl is clever; he can push doors open with his paws and his nose so we have little latches everywhere so that we can vacuum in peace rather than pieces.

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Steve took this awesome motion blur shot with his new camera and without the aid of a tripod…apparently it’s VERY hard to take a shot like this without a tripod but when you forgot it, and you are 50km away from home, you do what you have to do 😉

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Steve took this lovely autumnal shot when we were in Beauty Point taking some photos for our final Digital Imaging assessment earlier in the week and walking the dogs at the same time. I think it goes to show just how pretty the area that we live in actually is. Tassie…you might be broke, but you are easy on the eye! 😉

If I had the equivalent of hurricane Katrina hit me where it hurts and remove my house and my possessions I would head off to someplace where there were NO hurricanes, no cyclones, no earthquakes, no anything really…the Ozarks perchance…I would head for the hills and I wouldn’t come back because I have a rudimentary brain stem and I can learn things and “FOOL ME ONCE NATURE!”. Apparently spiders are either missing that rudimentary brain stem that allows them a degree of memory and thus choice, or they really ARE lazy buggers from another life who just wait for me to finish and start spinning again…”whew Bruce…that was a close one wasn’t it? She got pretty close to me today…I saw you standing up to her…you’re a HERO mate! Remind me to shout you a fly next time I catch one…” and the cycle goes on…suck down their empire on Saturday and by Sunday they are working on a new one

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Steve put my new craypot (from the progressive garage sale) on the deck rail. We are still waiting for crayfish…none yet…

Steve is digging holes for Queen and country. He needs to dig 8 holes today and has been dreading it for weeks. Hopefully someone up there takes pity on him and makes the soil where he chooses to dig nice and soft and rock free and he returns at lunch time in triumph with his spade over his shoulder feeling pretty good about himself. The sad truth is that he is likely to be still working on hole 4 at 5.30pm when the sun is almost gone and his back and spirit are almost broken. I, in return for him kindly not expecting me to help him dig holes, am doing all the cleaning myself. I am baking him biscuits (cookies to you Americans), I am keeping the fire going and I am going to make him his new favourite Stromboli for his dinner tonight. I have just taken a brief hiatus to type out this final paragraph here because I formulated the second half of this post while I was vacuuming around spiders…it’s a funny world isn’t it folks! Have a great rest of your week and remember, if you suddenly find yourself waking up after being unexpectedly hit by a bus and you didn’t really do very much wrong in your life but you weren’t a shining example of humanity either, you might just find yourself a spider on the wall on Serendipity Farm ;)…I guess there are worse things to be…aren’t there Jason! 😉

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The last of the liquidambar leaves just about to head south for the winter…

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 😉

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 😉

A little reminder of winter in the middle of summer …

Hi All,

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

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

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The vine we picked the passionfruit from

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another beautiful castle bird feeder complete with copper turret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ah the elastic band spine of youth! 😉

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

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

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

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

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

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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