I found YOU on the road to Serendipity…


Hi All,


(Me?) “YEAH YOU!” You thought you were just skulking around in the background, hovering in the ether where no-one could see you but I know where you are and I am one of you. I spend most of my days hovering around the ether in various states of mental and physical undress. I can be found wearing ugg boots, knickers and a t-shirt at 3am and by 5am I am in the human equivalent of a cocoon of clothing. I wander the highways and byways of the internet searching out things that make me go “SQUEE”! That make me pause and think, that touch me so deeply I dissolve in tears, that anger me (a LOT of anger me’s…) and that infuse me with the delicious possibilities of hope. I love being an ether surfer and in my travels I found YOU. Yes I did…you thought that “you” found “me” right? Well I cast out my lure and reeled you in and you are now my wonderful trophies, free to come and go at your own free will (like Sting said “set them free and if they come back they are yours :)”…) but each and every one of you has their own peg on the Serendipity Farm wall where you can hang your hat and coat and shuck off your boots (sorry about that chicken manure…) and can sit down at the kitchen table with a hot mug of the beverage of your choice (except yerba mate… I don’t have any of that yet…or Bovril…if you drink Bovril you most probably won’t like Serendipity Farm much…”move along…nothing to see here!”…) and a biscuit/cookie (see, I cater for everyone!) or a calzone…matters not to me, we all float down here…


I found YOU on the road to Serendipity

See I found this lovely card or whatever it is. Someone has a lovely Etsy type store (Behappy.me) and is selling this lovely sentiment along with a t-shirt that I may or may not be tempted to dig out the moth eaten sock under the bed in order to wear at 3am in my knickers and ugg boots. This lovely stranger has voiced my sentiments exactly. They have NO idea what this says about me, my life, and who and what I am but it sums this all up perfectly…our serendipitous relationship, you and I. I have NO idea who most of you are but I know you like sisters and brothers. I would probably walk straight past most of you on the street (and you would yell out “Hi Narf!” as you have seen me…) without knowing you but we share a connection and a small part of the universe through our serendipitous meeting and communal sharing and tasting platter. Isn’t life a wonderful thing where strangers, from the other side of the world, can meet up in real time, sharing their lives, their deepest innermost emotions and their support and knowledge whilst wearing undies, a t-shirt and their ugg boots and NO-ONE WENT BLIND! That is a miracle in and of itself 🙂


Note to self…”when stoking the fire there is a right and a wrong way to grab the poker…you selected the WRONG way…try again…”


Someone appears to not have a care in the world…when they say “it’s a dogs life” they aren’t fibbing!

One of the things about having “lovely” wooden floors is that you have to sweep all of the time. Maybe if you don’t have dogs and a husband who was born in a barn you might get away with every second day or so but not narf of Upper Serendipity on the Mer. I just swept the equivalent of a tiny narf in long hairs from the floor. I sweep at least 3 times a day and every single time I am amazed at how much hair we shed. Earl and I are by far the most prolific producers of hirsuitedness on the floor but that’s only because Bezials hairs are black and tend to want to stay stuck to his thick hide. For some reason Earl sheds hair constantly. I think he is part seal and that part of him is constantly trying to return to its hair-free genetic potential. I have very long hair now, due more to the fact that I am a tightwad and absolutely POSITIVELY refuse to pay some ditzy hairdresser $50 every 6 weeks in order to remain able to wander freely amongst the “normal” people without them pointing and whispering (more than they already do…). Stevie-boy trims the back of it whenever the split ends rise up and attempt to take over the masses but aside from that, narf7 and hairdressers are like vampires and garlic NADA!


I snuck off a couple of shots at my daughters house in the city when I was staying there on Friday night…as you can see it is obviously not our house as this stack of stationary (and that most tasty looking Earth Worm Jim encased light) would have been ingested LONG ago by Earl


Lots of books…good to see that my kids all love to read…my job here is almost done…


My daughters have a fascination for all things early 20th Century when it comes to movies. Apparently the best actors tend to hae hovered around the 40’s and 50’s and most of them were horror actors

I had a lovely stay at my daughter’s house in the city on Friday night and we shopped together on Saturday. Next time we have decided communally that we will organise a stop-over on a non-shopping week (we shop once a fortnight) and will make it a 2 night sleep-over so that we can get the most out of my visit. We had amazing nacho’s on Friday night and I arrived back home exhausted after our full day shopping. I got to go to Tsing Wah, my daughter’s Asian grocery store and bought some excellent brown rice pasta, black sesame seeds and other interesting Asian ingredients for me to muck around with and keep myself amused with my bouche. I also picked up a lovely purple sweet potato. It is white on the skin but the flesh is purple. I am going to use this little sweetie to attempt to grow more purple goodness sweet potatoes from. I might not be able to grow taro here in Tassie but I can sure adapt and purple sweet potato comes a close second in both taste and novelty value


This would be 50 bananas…well…my interpretation of them. You can click on this image to make it bigger so that you can see that dirty mark on the lower left hand side where Earl decided to jump on the kitchen table and onto my work whereby I did the narf7 equivalent of meltdown…after sweeping Earl physically from the table and with my hand on my brow lamenting the loss of my creative genius I sat back down…steadied myself and kept going…the sign of true artistic genius (well that’s MY story and I am sticking to it! 😉 )

Stevie-boy and I decided to get all of our studies completed and up to date the other day and we sat down and drew 50 bananas each. That’s 100 bananas on Chez Serendipity and that might be 99 more than is needed to be honest. We had practice last year drawing pumpkins but this year it was harder. I will see if I can manage to share the scan that Steve took (for our lecturer…EVERYONE wants proof these days! Pffft! 😉 ) of my bananaesque results and aside from giving you a good laugh you can start to get an idea of how desperate a poor non-talented-in-the-drawing-capacity student can get when faced with having to get creative in reproducing their idea of 50 bananas. The first 10 – 15 is easy, anyone can think of that many but after that you have to really start to think…to process “what the heck do banana’s actually MEAN to me?!” and that’s when you start getting all existential on bananas…you pull out your Fraud (easy to do when you are talking bananas 😉 ) and your Kafka and you start questioning the existence of bananas…your own existence…the meaning of the universe and all things yellow. By the end of it you are heading to the internet and stealing other people’s work with impunity…Steve pinched Mr J Lennons self portrait and reproduced it in bananas, I pinched Mr Bingo of the Banana Splits fame and if I had more space I would have stolen Mr Warhol’s banana with gusto. All in all it certainly filled our brains with the yellow tasty sweet fruit for a good couple of hours


Steve took this photo of one of our resident Black cockatoos. This one appears to be female as it hasn’t got red eyes. They live and breed on the property and we feel especially privileged to be able to watch them go about their daily routines around us


Sorry about the terrible photo but those are MY hands holding that roasted rooster skin so we all know who is to blame! 😉 Seriously though, can you see the boys drooling?


Steve might not like rooster skin but he certainly likes rooster pies…

We are learning about typeface now and we watched a really interesting program on studio the other day about the typeface called “Helvetica” and how it has shaped our culture. You wouldn’t believe that a single typeface would be able to conquer the world but it has! Helvetica has been used by so many global companies that you wouldn’t even know you were looking at it anymore, it is so widespread and prevalent in our culture. It has been the single most utilised font of the later part of the 20th Century and it goes to show that the written word AND how it looks are most definitely a way to a consumers heart, and more importantly their wallets


I headed up to the veggie garden to get a few photos for you as I haven’t shared anything about the (neglected) veggie garden of late


And saw THIS! Some bollocking bollocks has been scoffing my precious pumpkins!

Brunhilda is crackling away and enjoying her fresh baked logs. We had a bit of a problem with some of the bark being damp on some of the wood that we were burning so we had the bright idea to put logs into the warming ovens (as they don’t get used much) and dry them out prior to stoking Brunhilda with their delicious dry tastiness. She appreciates dehydrated wood immensely and is crackling away at her latest instalment with glee. I made scrumptious rooster pies last night. I made scrumptious rich rooster stock the day before. I have 2kg of rich lean rooster mince in my freezer and I am NOT going to tell you what Stevie-boy and I did on Sunday aside from to say it was them or us according to Frank…


This looks like bush rat nibblings to me and that tells me that we are feeding the feral cats too much!


Despite the nibbles I am harvesting these pumpkins and will cut out the nibbled bit and use them. At least I got something from the garden this year!

I am getting my mushroom groove back…my mushie mojo. They are everywhere at the moment. Glorious amanita’s, amazing coloured toadstools, gravity defying tall slender slimy topped beauties, small white alluring mushrooms that I am NOT ALLOWED TO EAT! And all loveliness in between. I am going to take my camera on my morning (drag) walk with Earl to see if I can’t get you some (blurry out of focus pictures of a large wet dogs nose snuffling and squashing on the objects of my desire…) lovely photos of some of the gorgeous specimens that we have been seeing lately thanks to this unseasonal early rain that we have been having. NO complaints about the rain from this little black duck but a bit of a grumble under my breath because we STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN THAT RAINWATER TANK INSTALLED! Err…when I say “under my breath” I meant that metaphorically not literally 😉


I managed to collect these pumpkins and those potatoes from my visit to the veggie garden today. No more pumpkin for YOU bush rats!


This is what yacon looks like. I rootled around under the plants and found this little baby and when I dug a bit deeper I felt bigger tubers. Looks like my yacon DID produce some tubers this year and now I just need to work out when to pull them up and shove them into some soil ready for replanting next year. Yacon produce energy storage tubers and rhizomes. The tubers are what we use and the rhizomes are to be planted out again (from what I can gather). Looks like it is time for me to go hunting on my old mate Google to see what I am supposed to be doing with this plant that did well on Serendipity Farm

I must say I don’t know what all of you Northerners were complaining about when you were going on… and on…and on…and ON about the cold. I am LOVING IT! It might be just because the cold is still a delicious novelty to me but I don’t think so. I think that I just love it. I love how I can come in out of it and get warm, how I can wear lovely homemade things (Jess, I am sporting those blue camo knit trousers and LOVING THEM!) with impunity and I can use the rain as an excuse to get out of walking the dog every single day! Earl and winter…not so much…but me and winter…BLISS! 😉


As I was wandering around looking for “photo opportunities” for you all I noticed this little silverbeet seedling growing in a flat seedling tray and thought that it was the perfect example of how nature never wants to give in or up. I decided to come back to take a photo for you all to get that rush of happiness that seeing an underdog fight its way to survival brings…


However a giant decided to squash him in his tracks…sigh…

I have to get some photos for this blog post. I seem to have forgotten to photograph much this week and what I did take photo’s of was blurry and out of focus but not artistically so. My daughters took a trip to Melbourne last week and the first I knew about it was an email saying “you might want to check this out through the day…” and a link to their Instagram page where I found images of them eating pancakes for breakfast, snacking on delicious frozen green tea yoghurt with lychees and tapioca pearls and wandering the streets of Melbourne with impunity. I must admit to being a little green (YOU DIDN’T INVITE ME?!!!) but they were so clever to keep it a secret that I must admit to having more admiration for their stealth than angst at being left out of the equation. Steve said that he would send me to Korea to incite envy in them both but that would be missing the point, I just love spending time with my daughters, they are great fun to be around and to be with and I think that is the ultimate in your kids attaining adulthood, being able to measure out their good company and swapping all of that “being a parent” for just “being mum”. They get to make their own mistakes, pay their own bills, do their own shopping and I just get to enjoy their excellent company and their amazing senses of humour (and their wonderful cooking skills…don’t forget that!).


This is Earl’s equivalent of “are we there yet?”


I love how some mushrooms almost appear to have a liquid coating on top of them. I realise that most of you don’t share my rapture at fungi but it takes all sorts to make a world 😉


A pristine little toadstool that the chooks haven’t managed to find or scratch up yet…give it time!

I then headed out with the dogs to try to find “all of those toadstools!” that Stevie-boy had alluded to while he was driving up the driveway the other day and looking out of his side window…I hurried down (well, Earl MADE me hurry down) all the while looking for this mass stash of mushies and by the time I got to the bottom of the driveway I started to realise that either something had eaten all of the fungal fecundity OR Stevie-boy had best lay off the peyote when he is driving…either way it wasn’t going to be easy to find mushroom photos to share with you and so I headed further afield…


The Jerusalem artichokes that I found (pinched) growing on the side of the road on one of our walks and shoved into this compost bed have all died back which means it is time to harvest them


I really love the taste of Jerusalem artichokes and don’t care about their reputation as being able to induce flatulance at 100 paces. That’s what having dogs is for…blame the dog! These tubers are large, very clean and are going to be inducing flatulance in … err…”Earl”…tonight 😉


All of these different shapes and sizes of leaf came from the old Japanese maple next to the deck. This photo was taken as we were walking back up to the deck from our walk

I have just extracted a most determined leech from a very distressed dog. SO distressed that he won’t eat his dinner now. Poor Bezial is now sitting out on the deck and Earl keeps poking me with his nose as if to say “if fatty doesn’t want his dinner, can I have it?” The life of a country mouse! I think that might be all for today folks. I have spaghetti bolognaise to make for Stevie-boy and I found some delicious sweet potato starch noodles when I shopped at the Asian Supermarket and am going to make a veggie and shiitake stir-fry to go with some of them for my tea. I saved Bezial’s dinner for later on when he calms down a bit and stops hyperventilating about the alien tiny most insistent vampire that was attempting to extract his blood…Woody Allen and all of his neurotic ways have NOTHING on this dog! See you next week folks when hopefully Bezial will be eating again and we can all settle down for another communal international fringe festival of Serendipitous joy whatever our circumstances, the weather and our neurotic pets are up to…See you then 🙂


This is what narf7 looks like when she has been dragged through shrubs, trees, spiderwebs and pumpkin vines. Note the wild hair




Where narf learns the value of hard work, gentle days, and is elevated to tribal wise woman and healer in a single week…

Hi Folks,

It’s full on summer here on Serendipity Farm but in a distinctly Tasmanian way. That means that yesterday I was wearing a sarong and thinking about Pina coladas and today I am wearing a jumper and thinking about swapping it for an even bigger one.  I have been learning more about nature thanks to me diving in with both feet…I learned that nature blends herself to adapt…native species live in harmony with Mediterranean species that are almost as hardy and drought tolerant banding together to help Serendipity Farm weather the long hot summers.  Back when Serendipity Farm had the ubiquitous name of “Highfield Gardens” it had been planted out with water loving tree ferns as an homage to an English garden. There are watering systems everywhere that are starting to atrophy and decompose but back in its heyday, when water was free in Tasmania (like it still is in parts of New Zealand you LUCKY BUGGERS!) this property was well irrigated by an automatic watering system. Now the automatic watering system is narf7 and there is a considerable decline in the degree and extent of watering that goes on at any given time.


Newly periwinkle denuded area but they are tenacious little buggers and will be back with friends


Part of the whipper snipped driveway. Note some of the plants that we planted out last year survived! This year they should be able to handle the harsh summer a bit better because they have had time to put down roots and get used to their place in the ground (and I have been putting mulch and rocks around the bottom of them just to make sure they do)

The property was left to its own devices when Tasmania implemented paying for water and those water hungry specimens promptly up and died. There are still relics to that luxurious past in the form of tree fern stumps dotted through the property that hardier more drought tolerant species have used to their effect. What remained on “Highfield Gardens” when we moved here was an overgrown tangle of adventitious vines and the hardier more resilient specimens that had been planted and I discovered this excellent site that guides you through choosing waterwise and drought tolerant plants for your garden whilst still being able to have a garden to make you smug with paternal joy. I am having a wonderful time learning about arid/drought hardy plants thanks to a French site…who’d  a thunk that Serendipity Farm had ANYTHING to do with France but apparently it does…same meridians…same climate. Check out http://www.mediterraneangardensociety.org/index.html if you live in a climate where you get very little rain over your summer months…that’s us to a tee. If you don’t think that you can have a lovely garden using waterwise plants then think again.


One of our “invasive species” in full flight. Here you can see honeysuckle engulfing a rosemary plant. We have a similar problem with blackberries and jasmine


Not sure if this is invasive but it is certainly putting on a good show this year whatever it is


This little peach tree grew in the debris from the recently fallen tree and the resulting squashed shrub that must have been towering over it preventing it from getting light. Reminds me of the Paul Kelly song “From little things, big things grow”


A most useful and happy Mediterranean plant that seems to like living here on Serendipity Farm. I got this small fig tree as a rooted cutting last year and overwintered it in its pot before planting it out in spring. It has 3 friends that are in close proximity. I learned that figs are pollinated by a small wasp and figure I want to give that little wasp the best possible chance of finding ALL of the figs on Serendipity Farm 😉

When I first started typing this post I was having a “Gentle Day”. I had been full on whipper snipping, carting wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of homemade compost from where we had dumped it into the veggie garden by the narf7 equivalent of a Rube Goldberg Machine…a contraption designed to allow access to what is effectively an inaccessible area. I used a combination of boards and planks in order to make the job easier but what eventuated was narf7 learning to skateboard indirectly (or I fell off the teetering boards) so I guess aside from learning how many barrow loads of compost you get in a metre square of homemade compost (27 if you are interested…) and learning that singing “X” barrows of compost to go…”X” barrows to go…” does a whole lot to keeping you motivated to push a heavy barrow up a steep incline on a hot day I am now able to hold my own at the skate park. Enter the “Gentle Day”. A day where narf7 sits here welded to the computer chair clicking “like” to Pinterest and smiling benignly to herself in a most appreciative way. Couple the gentle day with as many cups of tea as I feel like quaffing and you have a recipe for recovery that hospitals worldwide would kill for.


Once every 4 years these cicada’s emerge en mass and serenade the heat of summer in one long drawn out  “CLICK”


Steve’s liberated bird of paradise plant flowering like crazy and covered in cicada husks, much like everything else around here that doesn’t move around much


I thought this tree was dead…apparently not.

“So what is all this about “wise woman” and “healer” narf?” I wondered how long it would take you to get around to asking me…well Steve and I have an acquaintance that is either a prophet or doo-lally…and my money is on the latter to be honest. Methinks the combination of being Californian and imbibing heavily in the green weeds of happiness (and I am NOT talking Scotch thistles there folks 😉 ) has enabled him to put 2 and 2 together and make 14. On a good day he is a bit manic and likes to share with anyone who will listen (or won’t…makes no difference to him…) about how the aliens are shaping our world. On a bad day he becomes almost messianic with the need to spread “the good word” which in his case is always on the fringe borderland of sanity…teetering on the edge.


What I am reading (or have just finished) at the moment. I just finished Clarissa Dickson Wrights tomb about her amazing life, the Organic Gardening book is mine but I haven’t ever read it (and I have had it for 4 years) and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was a recommendation by Jo of “All the Blue Day”. I have just started it and am enjoying sitting out on the deck in the sunshine with a big glass of Kombucha feeding body and soul at the same time


No sooner do we discover a nest than the bolshie hens abandon it and move further into difficult territory. The last nest that Earl and I found was nestled amongst forget-me-nots and hidden deep in a blackberry bush. I emerged triumphant with eggs held aloft but with my eyelids sticking to my eyebrows…time to invent a long handled egg plucker methinks!


Does anyone know what this is? I am SO used to not seeing these that I am confused when confronted with one. The local possums are still suspiciously conspicuous by their absence. I have been able to harvest ripe fruit from the native cherries and I am gearing up for a possum zombie apocalypse as we speak…

After having several visitations with him over the last week I got a little tired of listening most politely about aliens. I needed to push some heavy barrows up a steep hill in what was becoming the equivalent of the sun being the magnifying glass and narf7 taking the part of an ant. I had to think quick about where I was heading or I might have been holed up for hours so I pressed a few litres of kombucha into his hand and told him to go home and drink it for his health. The next day he was back…empty bottle in hand and I had suddenly been elevated from “woman who irritated him by talking when he was in full rant status to “wise woman of his tribe”…” Not entirely sure that I WANT to be the wise woman of his tribe but the next day he was back (with another empty bottle) and I had been elevated to healer and not only was I now officially sanctioned by the nursing union, but he has decided to put the aliens on ice for a bit and take up healing the world. I wonder if this lonely man is adapting himself to people that he sees as his community? Steve and I give him our time because he hasn’t got anyone else. He is bright, interesting but has some seriously whacked out ideas about the world but haven’t we all got some off the wall secrets? Michael just chooses to share his.


I refuse to salivate over this peach. I know that as soon as I start to contemplate the delicious juicy morsel it will disappear. I consider it collateral damage


Another job I did was to sort through the potted plants and move them all around under our watering system to make summer watering more efficient and easier to accomplish. These are Steve’s bonsai specimens that he works on sporadically when the mood hits him. They have been separated from the rest of the plants as he doesn’t mind pottering around watering them each day.


Here’s the rest of the potted plants all bundled together to make sure that they get watered by that overhead watering system that Steve rigged up. The empty stand was once where Steve’s bonsai babies lived. It will be dismantled and removed when we get around to it (so expect it to be still there come winter 😉 )

After taking more kombucha he headed off informing me that he would be back…sigh…he brought back a container of borax, some literature (to go with the other literature in the bag of literature in the spare room for when we get a budgie…) and a 1960’s wind up alarm clock that plays “some enchanted evening” as an alarm. It didn’t take him long to explain himself and apparently we all need to be turning off the electricity at the fuse box to make sure that we don’t get cancer and repressed… the clock was to ensure that we woke up in the mornings but as Steve so dryly put it when he headed off on his aging wheezing motorbike…”that dial is luminous…that paint is radioactive!” He seems to have found something else to do over the last few days (most probably making something to cure the world) so Serendipity Farm is back to the quiet hermitage that we know and love so well 🙂


The 60’s wind-up clock with Michaels new batch of Kombucha in the background and all the “literature” I can face at this moment in time

The voodoo lilies are out in force this year. They have been steadily building up numbers and the rain we had helped this year’s incarnation to be a particularly glorious and most foetid one. I was whipper snipping the driveway the other day and thought I could smell a dead possum or 5…turns out the voodoo lilies were in fine form that day. We even smelled them wafting through the door leading out to the deck and they are quite a way down the driveway. There is always a ferryman to be paid and in the voodoo lily case, the ferryman trod in something!


Steve took this image on his mobile. It looks like something in Transylvania to me. You would expect that sort of exotica someplace where things howl maniacally at the moon (like Serendipity Farm 😉 )

13120013 A closer view (as close as my olfactory senses would let me get…) of the amazing flower on the voodoo lilies. The “scent” (far too mild a word for what emanates from them) is a blend of aged road kill, Roquefort cheese and Steve’s feet after a hard days work and comes from that darker stamen.

It is around about this time of year that our local council sends out notices to people to get their firebreaks mowed or face a fine. Stevie-boy (the tight) and narfypants (the equally as tight) don’t like to pay fines so it was up to the back block to wade through the metre tall poa grass in order to cut a 15 metre swath through the undergrowth. The good thing about the back block is that we rarely go there. Our least favourite neighbours live up here…the neighbours that conned our house sitter into clearing a large swathe of trees from the back block in order for them to get more of a view and a better price for their house sale (not sold yet 😉 ). I spent a lot of time being VERY careful to whipper snip gently around the outside of the small black wattle and sheok trees that have sprung up assisted by our wet winter…nature appears to be wanting her property back and I, for one am NOT going to argue with her 😉


One of natures first lines of demarcation in the war against bare earth…the ground cover. This particular ground cover is Acaena nova-zelandiae aka “Buzzies”. Its hard to believe that someone would want to buy this groundcover for their garden but on the mainland it is a nursery specimen. Why do I have a problem with buzzies?


Sigh…here’s why. Buzzies hitching a lift on narf7 to a new home (which most vindictively appears to be a concrete gutter…bad luck this time buzzies! 😉 )

I have been taking cuttings furiously and have added Artemisia and lavender to the mix. Both of these shrubs are incredibly hardy and water wise and should love living here on Serendipity Farm. I have been joyously hurling compost hand over fist onto our large pile of composted garden soil. Its full of worms and I figure the best way to keep it that way till I can get it made into more garden beds. Remember that thing about paying the ferryman? Well it’s really swings and roundabouts to be honest…you do have to pay the ferryman but you also get good stuff in return. Our “interesting” Californian friend might require a fair bit of patience and time but he offered to give me some of his old railway sleepers he has been hoarding to help build our garden. He also permanently loaned us that small rainwater tank. Friends come in all shapes, sizes and mental dispositions… we don’t discriminate here and karma has a way of giving back what you pass out to the universe…sounding a bit “woo-woo” there folks? I will give you 20 minutes with Michael and then you can tell me that my theories are woo-woo 😉 .


This is a small bowl of gumnuts that come from Eucalyptus globulus more commonly known as the Tasmanian blue gum. I collected them from underneath a huge specimen today on my walk with Earl. The heat brings out the smell of eucalypts and I had the most vivid memory of spending Christmas Day at my Grandmothers and heading out to laze away an overstuffed afternoon underneath the branches of a huge blue gum that was on her property. Right next to this specimen was an English broom in full bloom and the combination of scents made me smile.


I am well aware that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to Christmas Trees. For one, it is only vaguely reminiscent of a “tree”. It was made out of driftwood collected from the riverbank at the front of our property. It appears to have been decorated by a blind lunatic (that would be “moi”) and someone forgot when to stop when it came to putting decorations on it. Steve LOVES chaotic Christmas trees. I usually put the reigns on him and tell him that we have to be tasteful and the results are aesthetically pleasing and usually quite sterile. This year I decided to stop being the Grinch and let Steve have his Christmas Tree HIS way. This is the end result. What would happen if Pirates bothered to celebrate Christmas but Stevie-boy is happy and my sense of style shrunk 3 sizes in the process 😉

I have been thinking about ways to be more sustainable I read several wonderful Aussie blogs that spur me on to want to try harder. Jess/Rabid of “Rabid little Hippy”, Jo of “All the blue day”, Linda of “Greenhaven” and Bev of “Foodnstuff” all motivate me to find even more ways to live simply and minimise our carbon footprint. The other day I was pondering how to keep water up to the arid garden under the deck. I have been mass planting it in order to keep as much moisture in the soil as possible but I know it is going to have a tough time when the sun comes out and stays out for the next few months. One way to water it would be to tap into the grey water that runs from the kitchen sink into the septic. This would require some plumbing skills that neither of us is willing to contemplate at the moment so I figured out the next best thing was to put a large plastic bowl in the kitchen sink and whenever it gets full I will take it out onto the deck and pour it onto the parched plants below. In the first couple of days of using this system I am amazed at how much water I flushed down into the septic tank on a daily basis. I feel positively virtuous and am managing to kill 2 birds with one stone, my favourite game :). Another idea involves a bucket, the end results of my cups of tea and our compost heap…still contemplating that one but again, 2 birds with 1 stone and a healthy dose of nitrogen thrown into the mix


My thrifted plastic tub ready for action


And what, pray tell is this?! This, my dear constant readers, is what happens when you are trying to cook bulk quantities of healthy vegetable soup and wonder what would happen if you threw some of your new most favourite seed (buckwheat) into the mix. This is a solid chunk of soup. About 8 solid portions. Puts a whole new slant on a “solid meal” 😉

I hauled 9 bags of mushroom compost into the enclosed veggie garden and noticed that one of them had large mushrooms in it that had gone over to the dark side. I decided to see if we couldn’t get some sort of benefit out of this situation and tipped the mushroom compost onto the surface of the large pile of compost I had just barrowed in and placed the squishy fungal matter spore side down onto the compost. I am thinking that the spores might infect the media and we might be onto a mushroomy winner but only time will tell.


Some of the 9 bags of mushroom compost that are waiting for me to tip them onto the pile of compost that I barrowed in and am guarding carefully


This doesn’t look like much. I tried to take a shot from various angles to give you the best idea of how much homemade compost lives in this worm sodden heap but you are just going to have to believe me…27 barrow loads doesn’t lie! I keep the netting over it so that I can keep it soaked and the heap nice and moist in order to keep my wormy mates happy. Mono-a-mono those worms and I. We have an understanding 🙂


I wasn’t entirely sure if these root cuttings of various mint varieties and what I think is a bergamot plant (the tall one) would survive the trip back from where I found them but they seem to be very happy in the veggie garden and are growing nicely.

I was sitting here on Monday at 3am when I suddenly heard what I thought was the sound of Christmas tree decorations falling onto the ground. A sort of “pop” sound. We had just put up the Christmas tree so it was a highly likely eventuality and I snuck into the lounge room expecting to see the floor littered with Christmas debris but was bemused to find that none of the decorations had fallen off. I returned to my seat where for the next 2 hours I heard this sound on a regular basis…I thought it might have been Earl sneezing on our bed (I had checked Bezial who gets up with me to keep me company) but he was out like a light and completely sneeze free. The noise kept coming until I headed off to make Steve his first cup of coffee and I heard the noise closer and on looking around discovered that my kefir…that I keep in a lidded bottle…was escaping. It had been forcing its fizzy way out of the screw top of the bottle…I judged (somewhat prudently it turns out) that the bottle might be under a degree of pressurisation and carefully opened the lid whereby the most curious thing happened…all of my kefir grains quite literally “Popped” out of the neck of the bottle and were deposited on the wooden bread board alongside the bottle. A nice neat collective of fermentation doing what it does best. Consider me warned that the warmer weather is going to require a revision of the fermentation schedule!


As you can see, everything is starting to take off in the wonderful humid conditions of the enclosed veggie garden…especially the weeds! I know what I will be doing tomorrow…sigh…


More exponential growth of “stuff”


Pumpkins and potatoes are most rewarding with the amount of growth that they put on in a week.

Finally I would like to share a most wonderful blog post with you all today. Feel free to read it or not. I think that should you choose to read it, you will arrive at the other side enriched and satiated and most probably with another blog tucked into your “must read” Rss Feed Reader (or equivalent). Did you ever wonder about the REAL Father Christmas? Turns out someone wrote a marvellous book about him and this post is redolent of a time, last century, when the world had just finished tearing itself apart and Santa was living a careful, simple and most austere life. Good to know that my superhero is adaptable :). By the way folks…next Wednesday just so happens to be Christmas. I will be posting as usual, most probably about the delightful communal celebrations we had the day before so feel free to check it out if you find yourself at a loose end. By the way…in the spirit of adventurous Christmas repasts future, I have chosen to institute a new Christmas food tradition for myself. From this day forward, December 25th shall be “Christmas Nacho Day”! “OLE!”


I just found this Youtube link to a wonderful animation voiced by the late actor Mel Smith illustrated by Raymond Briggs (the author of Father Christmas) if any of you would like to watch it…




Look what just turned up in the mail… 🙂

The saga of the factotum and the printer

Hi All,

Steve and I have finally started our online course in web design! We headed over to check out what we had to do and ended up signing up for a new WordPress blog each (part of the course requirements) and doing the equivalent of an online introduction. Reading the other participants intro’s was a bit like waving at the other inmates from your cell when the other inmates are from a different planet to you and you hope to goodness that you never have to come out of your cell and mingle any day soon… Did anyone see “School of Rock”? I did…lots of times. I love “School of Rock” and if those of you who did watch School of Rock cast your mind back to the part where Ned Schneebly (don’t ask me to spell that correctly, it AIN’T gonna happen folks! 😉 ) first comes up against “Summer”…the class “Factotum”. We have our own Summer. She has not only done everything on the list that we are supposed to do, but she has completed the first assessment (only an hour after it was posted) that is due next Monday. We also have an anti-social member of the class whose only threat, as outlined in his S.W.A.T. was that he didn’t want to invade Russia in the winter. This person bears a distinct similarity to my daughters in his view of the world and our class in general and if I didn’t know better, I would say that one of them has decided to crash the class. After reading the credentials of the remainder of the class, my natural instinct is to run screaming but if you ignore the other class members (not too hard to do when you are studying from home) the course content is very interesting. If you play your cards right, you might get lucky and get to see some of our work 😉


An early morning picking for my daughters in the city


Earl bagses the eggplant…


Steve’s tea last night…homemade sourdough bruschetta liberally slathered with garlic butter and with home grown tomatoes, some bought avocados, spring onions and chilli topping. It was DELICIOUS (apparently) and the sourdough had a gorgeous crunchy crust :). Audry is now part of our Serendipity Farm family forever 🙂 (just don’t turn orange Audrey…orange is the blue screen of death for sourdough starters! 😉 )


Free white nectarines from Roxie and blackberries from the hedgerows on our walk with the dogs this morning. The seeds will be planted and the tomatoes were also from Roxie. The tomatoes behind the fruit are the beginning of our tomato harvest and are left over from last nights bruschetta feast


Aren’t these blackberries in the height of ripeness (and heady sweetness) gorgeous? I froze the tray with the chopped white nectarines and these blackberries to use in my breakfast green smoothies

Jessie a.k.a. “Rabid” of http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/  sent me instructions for how to knit a dishcloth out of cotton. She made me a lovely black one from some organic cotton that she had and I had mentioned that I had some bright yellow (almost mustard to be honest) cotton that I had picked up from the Beaconsfield op-shop a while ago and thus began our discourse regarding knitting and its foibles. I must admit at this stage, I am NO knitter. I can knit a scarf…bits of a jumper (no cuffs, no collar and DEFINITELY no cable!) and generic squares and after perusing the pattern I decided to hide my knitting needles and go back into my comfort zone and crochet a dishcloth. The progress is slow because I have to work between the hours where Earl is active (approximately 7am to 6pm) and nightfall (at the moment about 9pm). Earl is unpredictable and can suddenly launch into action when an interesting mustard yellow ball rolls past his nose where it just dislodged itself from my knee and aside from being unpredictable, he is quick. He is a master of the grab and run attack because if you grab and “stay” whatever interesting thing you have appropriated tends to get taken off you so running is your best bet. At least you get to chew whatever it is a bit before your humans (arms waving and yelling) catch you and retrieve said item. I have crocheted half of a dishcloth and Earl has been eyeballing me out of the corner of his eyes as I crochet…he is waiting for me to drop off to sleep (highly likely) and he will be on my cotton like a tick on a dog!


I had to race out with the camera last night because the sky was the weirdest colour! I didn’t think I would catch the weird lighting but I sort of did.


This was taken a few moments later and you can see a rainbow over the river…Steve has pinpointed where it was pointing as that is his leprachaun pot of fish 😉


A nice thick layer of free mulch has made the garden under the deck a MUCH happier place to reside for our poor long suffering parched plants


One of the large enclosed compost heaps that I planted potatoes in and a single sweet potato that is growing! The white patch is a species of fungus known as a “dogs vomit” fungus…it is harmless but as you can imagine, it isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing 😉


Another one of the large enclosed compost heaps full of pumpkins and a few potatoes that the slugs haven’t managed to scarf (yet)

I have been inundated with kefir. I have at least a litre of it in the fridge and am scratching my head how to use it. I have decided to bake a chocolate sourdough cake with kefir and a large tray bake spice cake with kefir to replace the milk. I am also going to make the kefired equivalent of labneh so that I can make small balls of extra thick kefired labneh and preserve them in herbed olive oil with chillies. Our jalapeno chillies are doing amazingly well and it looks like we might have a bumper crop of them this year along with the small fingerling eggplants. I am so glad that we decided to go with the smaller eggplants to make sure that they had the best chance of ripening fully before the cold season sets in. The excess kefir grains (that are growing exponentially on plain old “ordinary milk” Jessie 😉 ) are going to be given to customers who would like some at our local health food shop. I believe in sharing excesses and David can pass them on to interested customers. I have also offered him the same deal with excess sourdough if he gets customers asking about it. I am starting to get into the flow of feeding and working with my small batch of homely cultures. Now I need to find a kombucha Scoby and some water kefir grains and after that the sky is the limit! I will be spending a lot of time reading my fermentation books this winter and learning all about just what I can, and can’t culture here on Serendipity Farm.


Not sure if we can use this photos but I liked it. Nice and clean and isn’t that sky a gorgeous colour?


This old ramshackle building is right in the middle of the city. It has stood, unthreatened, for years and is situated between a boutique pub and our local Centrelink office. Considered an eyesore for years, developers have just obtained permission to remove it. I just wanted to remember it in a photo and I quite liked how this one turned out


These buildings all belong to Boag’s brewery (including the grain silo’s in the background) and are part of the inner city industrial area. I love how they have restored the older buildings and made this a really attractive part of the city

I noticed some unusual small black pods on the side of a tiger lily in the side garden. It has ceased flowering a long time ago and has seed pods on top of it. I know that they form bulbs that spread under the ground but on closer inspection, the little pod-like thingo’s had small leaves growing out of them…I headed inside to check out my good friend “Google” and discovered that these pods are called bulbils and not all lilies produce them. Tiger lilies are well known for producing them and they are another form of plant division. Each little black bulbil is an entire new little lily. After a while, the bulbils will form leaves (as mine are currently doing) and will eventually form roots and will push themselves off the stem of the spent lily flower and will drop onto the ground where they will take root and start growing. After 3 years they will start flowering and you have a plethora of new lilies for free to either plant out or give to your friends. Aren’t plants the bomb? :o). I will need to collect all of the little wandering bulbils to pot them up so that I can find them in spring when they start growing again but for now I will let them cling tenaciously to their mum for as long as they see fit. I also discovered that lilies are extremely hardy belying their delicate appearance. Many plants that we might think are tender or delicate are actually incredibly hardy and I am in the process of compiling a list of incredibly hardy plants for Serendipity Farm. A friend from down the road (Boof’s owner) gave me a bag of fragrant ripe white nectarines and tomatoes today as we walked past her house when we were walking the dogs this morning. She also gave me a bag of curly leafed parsley seed to plant out. We swap all sorts of things and have a really good bartering system going. Roxy is a very resilient lady and knows a whole lot about growing vegetables, keeping goat’s etc. and how to do just about everything herself. I love sharing knowledge and “stuff” with her because it is a win-win situation for us all. We are just about to give her one of our feral roosters as she doesn’t have a rooster and is tired of having to ask for fertile eggs from friends. This way she will have all of the fertile eggs that she likes to put under her clucky chooks and can have lots of hens to sell her excess eggs from the roadside. The value of community and individual knowledge when combined with others is priceless…the resilience of a community is only as strong as the individual members that group together to share. I love forging community here in Sidmouth :o)


My gorgeous chooky potmits that are WAY too nice to use with Brunhilda 🙂


These are cuttings of Tagetes lucida, Mexican marigold or Texas tarragon were sourced from a local plant and are apparently easy to grow so I am letting them get legs in this mug of water.


This long suffering philodendron had been almost on the brink of extinction for years before we inherited him and decided to release him out into the wild. He had bright yellow leaves and only had 1 leaf and now he is happy in his new environment


A nice new stem on a lovely orchid that we inherited that dad only watered with beer. He said that the beer made it flower and maybe he was right because it hasn’t flowered this year on its new regime of water…might be time to reintroduce that vitamin B quotient to make it happy 🙂


Look what the wallabies did to my Loquat japonica’s :(. They had been growing completely untouched for months and suddenly the wallabies decided to eat all of their leaves. They are incredibly hardy small trees and will grow more leaves but the wallabies are skating on very VERY thin ice! It just goes to show that you can’t take it for granted that ANYTHING is safe on Serendipity Farm


This little fig tree has some figs on this year. We grew it from a cutting and this year it just might keep those figs to full term 🙂

We had to go to Launceston this morning because as we were reading up about our course and our very first assignment we realised that we were going to need printer ink and our printer was out of ink. We had already walked the dogs and I had already watered the veggie garden and released the baying hens so we hurled the eager dogs into the car and set off for an adventure to buy printer ink. We checked out what we needed to accomplish for our second assignment (technically “Assignment 3” but it’s the second one that we have to hand in…already they are trying to trick us! Not WE wily black ducks! 😉 ) and realised that we needed photos of billboards, advertising signs and road signs and we threw the camera into my bag so that we could take as many artistic shots as we could. We hadn’t read up on what we actually needed but we took all kinds of photos so hopefully we can use some of them for our assignment. We then headed off to pick up some printer ink, only to find that the shop that sold us the printer had just superseded it and were no longer stocking the ink! They recommended K-Mart but Steve knows that K-Mart don’t sell the ink either so we looked at each other and decided to buy a new printer. We managed to buy a printer with ink for less than we were going to have to pay for the ink alone on our old all-in-one printer. I can’t believe that this sort of equipment is so “throw-away” these days! How can they justify selling something if they are not going to stock the peripherals for any length of time? We have 2 of the printers that we can’t get ink for…one was ours and one we inherited from my dad when he died…what to do with them? I am NOT going to throw them into landfill and am going to be spending some ingenious time finding ways to use them rather than disposing of them. Perhaps I need to cram them full of cacti and succulents and sell them at the market? ;). We got back to discover that my bestie, Kymmy from Norseman Western Australia had sent me 2 absolutely gorgeous pot holders that she had quilted. What a doll! Kymmy, you are so talented! I am refusing to use them till you get here and we can cook up a storm on Brunhilda because they are too pretty to use and get grotty :o). I might even have to frame them and put them on the wall as I can’t bear the thought of Brunhilda and her messy ways turning them into sad representations of the lovely things that they are today :o). Your gooseberry seed is drying nicely and will be ready to send to you soon…bartering is SO sweet :o)… oh, and Bev from http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ has offered to send me some leaf AND seed amaranth! I love you guys! Along with Jessie and a plethora of people I have yet to meet and barter/swap with in various seed swap meets etc. this bartering thing is absolutely ripe with mutual possibilities :o).


Bulbils! Note the leaves growing out of the bulbils…each one of these dark coloured “pods” has the propensity to become a new lily


A native hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii) flower on a crown lifted tree that is much happier since we started giving it a helping hand


Finally I get a cornflower! The wallabies have been snipping the tops off them as they protrude from the top of the ex-fish farm netting but this one escaped to flower 🙂


This Aquilegia vulgaris (Grannies bonnet) grew right next to the back door…note the dandelion…I would have normally removed it but now that I know how amazing they are (and how much Bernard and Manny our Java Finches LOVE them) I leave them to carry on regardless 🙂

I think that might be all for tonight folks…I have to race out waving my arms around now to find you some photos to decorate this post and I will be starting with the bulbil’s so that you can see what I am talking about. Tomorrow we will be juggling with the new course and tap-dancing on unfamiliar territory all over again. I can’t count the amount of times that we have gone back to kindergarten with new areas of study and it’s all in the processes…my favourite place of all! :o)

Adapting, endurance and a healthy dose of optimism

Hi All,

It’s only somewhat late in the human cycle of natural selection that we have turned into creatures removed from our own survival. As I wade through my rss feed reader and read many of the sustainable blogs that have been placed there for posterity I realise that many of them have resorted to doom saying to get their point across. I have to say that whenever I start reading something where the first line tells me that I may as well stay in bed today because the world is stuffed I tend to stop reading. I am not sticking my head in the sand. I am a very pragmatic person and tend to deal up front with anything that negatively rears its ugly head up on Serendipity Farm BUT when you read these fear filled posts full of doom and gloom the natural response is to stay in bed, pull up the covers and hope that it all just goes away. What the heck can WE do about anything these days? I have stopped worrying about global warming, peak oil and various other horrifying inevitabilities and have started living a proactive life centred on living sustainably and simply. I stopped thinking about things and started doing things. I decided to give up worrying about doomsday and follow Bon Jovie’s creed and Live while I am alive and sleep when I am dead. It’s our right to vote in the change makers. It’s our right, privilege and requirement to give a damn about our world and our communities and it’s our damned well right to be able to live with a degree of positive optimism rather than entrenched depressing negativity! I WON’T be staying in bed today because I read a blog that made me think that nothing that I do makes any difference…I WON’T be taking medication today because the whole world thing just made me feel so impotent that my limbs feel like I am working my way through pea soup just to get off my chair…nope…no-one is going to tell THIS little black duck that she can’t make a difference at least to her own little back yard. If more little black ducks stopped looking at the big picture and started to work on their own back yards there wouldn’t BE a problem. Humanity started this debacle and humanity can halt it. We might be going down the drain but at least we can sink swimming! No-one is EVER going to be able to say that I didn’t try.

This is the view 100metres down the road from the front gate on Serendipity Farm. If you look REALLY carefully (or are clever enough to click on this photo and make it bigger…) you might just be able to see the cheeky seaplane that skated underneath the Batman bridge (yes… it’s called “Batman” 😉 ). Steve LOVES the cheeky seaplane and envies his loopy ducking and diving ways. Steve has a bit of phobia about going out onto the river in the aluminium dinghy that dad left him. He worries that the outboard motor might not start and he will be left to fend for himself against the monster tides that occur twice a day and that come out of no-where forming large whirlpools out in the river. He envies the seaplane its ability to rise, like the phoenix, out of dangers way. No Steve…you are NOT getting a seaplane! 😉

Again…another gorgeous morning at Devils Elbow on the Tamar River and Steve still has seaplane envy as that cheeky seaplan pilot just skated under the bridge AND has started his ascent in this photo…click on it if you want to have even a vague chance of seeing the seaplane but if you are like most of us and are pretending not to need glasses…just look at the pretty view 🙂

This blog is never going to panic the masses (not that many of the masses come here often 😉 ) with doom saying. I want both my life and this blog to read like a positive series of self-help posts designed to get you all to think about your life, your place where you are at and how you can make your life happier, healthier and wiser. Not much to ask really…just think about things and see where you fit in the world and do what you can to make it a better place. Give someone a smile. It costs you nothing and even if it isn’t returned, it sent out a beacon of hope for a fleeting moment. You never know where your kindness will go. Communities are not born, they are forged. Hardship and endurance bring out the best in us. When the chips are down and all that…we have to stop focussing on fear and start acting like we CAN do something. The world is more resilient than humanity is. Long after we are gone it will be slowly moving ahead and striving to achieve equilibrium. It’s up to us to be reasonable human beings. I won’t say “good” because I know that I am not “good”. I try…but my natural questing mind, sense of outrageous indignation, bad temper and natural cynicism won’t let me be mindlessly “good”. It pays to ask questions folks…that’s how you keep your worldly goods ;). What I mean is that we all have a duty to each other. Without community, we humans can’t function. We need each other and the peculiar talents that each one of us was born with to forge these amazing relationships that can change the world. So we have screwed it over a bit too much of late…that doesn’t mean that we can’t reverse some of the damage and limit the fall out. Let’s all be positive here! Nothing much ever came out of being negative aside from massive profits to the pharmaceutical companies. We all have a place in this. No matter how big or small we are we are here for a reason and whatever that reason we should take delight in our part. Sure society might be heading for a meltdown…sure we might have to rely on smaller communities more than our enormous overblown infrastructures that have us so far removed from our base needs that our kids think that milk comes from cartons and that money grows on trees. One day we might need to discuss that credit also grows on trees…at least it does here in Tasmania! 😉

Last year I belittled the council workers who “ruined” a series of mop top robinias only to see them bounce back splendidly over the summer to form enormous lollypop canopies much to my chagrin. I muttered appologies under my breath all summer long but not THIS year…don’t say this little black duck doesn’t learn her lessons 😉

WOOT! We are rich!

One of the discarded iris rhizomes that one of the volunteers at the National Rose Gardens didn’t want any more and gave to us. Cheers mate! This one is lovely 🙂

This lovely Yucca was once dead…well obviously not completely dead…just mostly dead. It was languishing inside in a pot and had given up the ghost. Steve had killed a Yucca once before when he was living in the U.K. and so he refused to give up on it. Giving it the garden equivalent of mouth to mouth he planted it out into the garden to at least let it die free and it suddenly decided that it had something to live for and took off. We overwinter it in the glasshouse and its time for it to move back outside. We are thinking that we might plant it out somewhere sheltered this year. Might plant that Monstera out as well. What the heck…lets pretend Serendipity Farm is tropical! 😉

On Serendipity Farm we have a chance to do our bit for the world. We are trying to affect our own little biosphere of hope. Both Steve and I are happier, healthier and hippier than we have ever been. Living simply and close to the ground has opened up a world of possibilities for us. Far from feeling poor (although we are so far below minimum wage that it is laughable…) we feel positively rich in our abilities to do so many things for ourselves that we have a buffer zone of hope. Spring time operates on a different timeframe to the rest of the seasons. Everything goes faster. Steve and I have just spent a few days working on our Sustainable Landscape final designs to hand in next week to our lecturer and suddenly it’s time to post this post…it’s time to cook the Chinese feast that I have been promising Steve since the beansprouts I tossed in with our planting beans in the automatic sprouter went viral and I still have a whole lot of work to do tonight in my job specification. I wonder if the rest of the world thinks that we Aussies are so laid back because while the northern hemisphere is all ramped up on Spring fever we are actually settling in for hibernation. When you are all toasty and warm and rugged up in holiday mode for Christmas we have to hack a chunk out of our most productive time to make way for Christmas in the heat. We will be up to our armpits in food and dishes this Christmas. We talked to the lady who is organising the local free Christmas meal event and she said that they are expecting a lot more people than usual thanks to the state of the economy in Tasmania. They are predicting over 100 people for this tiny little backwater town and so every extra set of hands are going to be welcome. The boys will have to stay here and defend the fortress (and the Christmas grub) from marauding onslaught’s…good luck marauders…the only thing that the boys like less than burglars is burglars trying to make off with their special Christmas grub!

This rose reminds me of mum. It’s what she called a Bourbon rose and it has the most delectable scent. Whatever it is, it’s a survivor and every year it gets hammered by the possums and wallabies and springs back to life to flower on in spring. I love your tenacity little rose… just like mum 🙂

Minty stick legs all covered in roots! Soon to make their way outside into the garden to render me speechless at how exponential they go viral on my unsuspecting garden 😉

A tiny sprinkle of mung beans becomes this monstrous pile of sprouts if you give them the right conditions folks!

A little fig that we grew from cuttings taken from a tree that no longer exists. At least it lives on in this little hardy fellow who will soon be planted out with his brethren on Serendipity Farm

I am trotting back and forth between the keyboard and the chopping board…the keyboard now smells of garlic and celery and I am hoping that nothing nefarious has travelled to the chopping board. I am making Steve some steamed dumplings to go with his fried rice and stir-fried vege’s tonight. He also gets Chinese style omelette sliced up with his meal and I decided to try some of the black wood-ear fungus that we bought a while back. I love cloud-ear fungus but as the black fungus takes so long to soak and I tend to lose track of the day at the best of times…tea time arrives and the fungus is still in its packet…not today it isn’t! Today I got it out early, I soaked it for AGES and its waving at me like seaweed in the Baltic sea…sorry…I just waved back…Steve has a glass of his experimental skeeter pee that he added extra sugar to before he bottled it. It has completely changed and has a character like champagne! No lemon flavour at all…no sourness…just a myriad of bubbles and a definite champagne taste. I think we just invented Serendipity Farm Dom Perignon. I have been mincing chicken and mushrooms and adding various sauces for Steve’s steamed dumplings. I have yet to form them but that’s the quick part. I then pop them into the steamer for a bit to accompany the rest of his meal. We used to make “feasts” on a regular basis but since we moved out here and became a much smaller unit of humanity, we tend not to cook so much. I think it’s time to bring back feast day.

This has got to be the worlds most dwarf Ballerina apple in history! It stands at about 20cm tall and was grafted onto a low root stock as an experiment. As you can see it has flowered copiously this year! Should even 1 fruit set, we are going to have to put some ballast on the bottom of this sturdy little trouper or it will tip over with the slightest breeze!

As you can see…our tomatoes might be in prison but they are thriving!

Some of the 22 walnut futures that we grew from seed that we collected earlier this year. I LOVE food futures! 🙂

You don’t have to look very hard at all to see the adventitious oak tree that grew from oak leaf mulch under this Rhododendron. They seem to be quite happily living together at the moment so we are letting them share this space

Steve has been sent out to take photos to save me some time. We discovered that one of the feral cats got a bit clever today and decided to take a sniff at the boy’s meat that was defrosting. The bag was torn open and a large chunk of meat was missing! The dogs are NOT happy and Earl headed out to give the remaining ferals who were not taking advantage of the free grub fest a good barking to. As the weather warms up the mornings are lighter and brighter when we walk the dogs. It’s lovely to get out there and smell the fresh salty air and hear the crisp crunch of the gravel underfoot as we perambulate with purpose. Pretty soon when our studies are finished for the year we will have plenty of time to do whatever we want and take nice leisurely strolls but at the moment we are like field mice, scurrying back to our holes and trying to accomplish everything that we need to do to satisfy our lecturer. Sometimes AutoCAD decides that it doesn’t want to do what we want it to do and gives us little heart attacks in a box with statements like “Fatal error”…when you have been working on a design for 2 days solid and AutoCAD refuses to process your simple request and gives you a fatal error it tends to make you twitch a bit. We got over the hurdles and should be able to deliver what we said that we could deliver to Nick when we next see him. It’s Earl’s birthday on November 26th. He will be 2 years old. Bezial still doesn’t adore him to the max but he is learning to put up with him and Earl, to his credit, is starting to behave a lot better and actually think before he acts. It’s hard to believe that we have had Earl almost 2 years! I remember him as a gangly pup with enormous eyes and now we have a large heifer with Chinese eyes. I get the feeling that one of the people that we used to regularly meet up with on our dog walking forays out into the real world has decided that her pup was too much for her. No-one has seen her walking Tilly and we think that she may have found her a new home. I was thinking about this as I walked Earl myself the other day. Steve was working on his AutoCAD drawings and I couldn’t use the computer so I volunteered to walk Earl and headed up the hill towards Tilly’s home. If I had bought Earl and lived alone, I don’t think that I could have kept him either. He is a handful of a dog and despite being the most loving little man; he is like a tank on steroids when he gets hyped up. Steve was the only one that could manage him when he was younger and he only did that through sheer brute force. Earl is a different dog now. He walks well, he looks to us for cues and he can be walked past other dogs by simply using a treat to distract him. It makes me wonder how much we miss out on because we give up because it’s too hard. Earl WAS too hard folks! He was the kind of dog that your mother warns you about…a bandit…a thief…a soccer hooligan and a bully to boot BUT he changed into a wonderfully loyal dog who adores us. I am trying to say that we shouldn’t give up on things/people/dogs because they are hard. Often the most precious things come from a hard slog or a period of persistence against the odds. I love Earl. I wouldn’t have the life I have now without him. He is my boofy little mate and he snuggles up to me at night and gives me seal eyes if I try to stay on the computer when it’s time to head in to watch television. He takes
treats gently, he trots like a thoroughbred and he loves us unconditionally. It certainly makes me think about taking the road less travelled.

This is a native Tasmanian Richea dracophylla commonly known as a Dragon leaf Richea. It grows into a most impressive looking tall shrub and as you can see, it pushes its last years leaves out to form a flower spike underneath. We planted this little fellow out rather than see him hit summer for another time and he loves it where we planted him and is massed with flowers

This little baby is a Fagus sylvatica pendula “Aureum”. We paid an INCREDIBLE amount of money for this tiny little yellow leaved small tree but we love him and he got planted out underneath the deck steps where he has leafed up and is enjoying his nice shady position. Anything with yellow or white leaves tends to get sunburn very easily and if we learned nothing more from our horticultural studies, it was to take note of where you are going to plant things that you had to hock your children for!

Some of our bean futures (in this case Borlotti’s) taking up space on Steve’s Triton workstation. He is too busy studying to have fun messing about with anything in his shed so he doesn’t mind too much. When they get big enough to transplant they will be moved to the bean bed that we made last week

One of the very few remaining cacti on Serendipity Farm. Ducky seems to be giving this one a wide berth…cant for the life of me work out why? 😉

Ok, you get a slightly smaller post today because I am skating on thin ice regarding the Chinese feast…Steve is hungry and my stomach is protesting and I figure you won’t mind a smaller post thanks to springtime savings. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend and if something difficult presents itself…don’t take the easy way out…just try it for once and see if you don’t gain something precious in the process :o)

Transition towns on Serendipity Farm

Hi All

I think that contentment with your lot is an entirely underrated concept. I decided to take it from concept mode and apply it to my real life. No longer is contentment shelved with the occasional mental dalliance with Brad Pitt or George Clooney, but it’s out here in the open being given a long overdue airing. I think that my much mulled over purchase of Brunhilda our enormous wood burning stove has had something to do with this. Since we moved to Serendipity Farm we have been choosing to live more frugally and more simply. It’s not of necessity and is more to do with making a conscious choice to live with less. We had an opportunity to totally change our lives and we decided to go with it. Sometimes you can’t afford to just carry on regardless and this was one of those times, however our road less travelled is a pilgrimage to understanding more about who we are and where we fit into this unusual landscape we call life. I didn’t realise that something as fundamental as food, warmth and the early morning predawn sight of a firebox full of flames would give me so much satisfaction. Aside from the flames I can now cook whatever I want pretty much whenever I want. I can cook a cake in one oven, a meal in another and be defrosting something in the coolest oven whilst proving my bread, setting my yoghurt, making breadcrumbs or dehydrating (fruit, veggies AND the occasional shoe) in the other. I can set my cup of tea on one of her covers and it will stay hot for as long as it sits there. I can boil a kettle of cold water in a few moments and it will sit on its own little rectangle of warmth ready to be reactivated, bubbling and singing its heart out in a moment’s notice…always a bonus when you are as addicted to tea and coffee as Steve and I are. It’s the elixir of thought in my case, and a channel of direction for Steve’s nervous energy. Just making very small changes to our lives has opened up a whole lot of possibilities. Swapping milk from a carton for home-made almond milk has given me back some choices and allowed me more control over what I am consuming. The purchase of 2 more almond trees will give me more control over my ability to continue using almond milk in my tea. The more you think about your ability to sustain your lifestyle using your own hands, a degree of thought and problem solving and what you have around you the more exciting the possibilities get.

Literally “The road to Serendipity…” 🙂

There is so much doom and gloom around at the moment in the environmental movement. Why would anyone want to bother trying to do anything positive about changing their environmental footprint when we are hit by barrage after barrage of negative information, hopeless outcomes and doomsday prophesies that appear to take more than a small degree of delight in mankind’s ultimate demise…I choose not to listen to them. I choose to actively try to change my own personal footprint and life so that what I am doing isn’t going to make it worse and might just make it better. I have always tried to be a glass half full person. That doesn’t mean that I stick my head in the sand or never stress about anything, this is my year of living honestly and sometimes I can be positively vibrating with stress. The last few years have taught me how much stress someone can actually live with and how detrimental to your health that stress can be. I don’t want to heap unnecessary stress on top of the stuff I can’t choose and worrying about the end of the world won’t do anyone any good. I guess the environmentalists are trying to push these changes through by using a blunt approach. That’s what the Australian government are trying to do with cigarette packaging…it doesn’t work because you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink and if someone doesn’t want to change their thought processes and actions then nothing that you say or do is going to get them to. I decided long ago not to preach to people. It’s not worth it and they could care less. I just do what I can to live within the parameters of my own ethos and ideology and hopefully people can see that a simple life is more conducive to being a happy one.

The Aurora Australis heading back down the Tamar River to the sea. It makes a deep throbbing noise as it chugs its way down the river that you can hear for miles and Steve had advanced warning that a “photo opportunity” was approaching today

Part of the reason that I would love to study mushrooms and immerse myself in mycology is that fungi play such a fundamental part in our day to day lives and we need their activities for so many things. Here’s to you little branching fungus… live long and prosper!

I can’t stand people who jump on a cause because it might just earn them some popularity. I have made some sustained lifestyle choices and NONE of them were for the popularity points. I don’t labour the point with a vegan lifestyle because it’s what I choose to do and nothing to do with anyone else out there. I am not going to picket my friends’ houses because they choose to eat meat. Get a bit of a grip people…you end up looking like idealistic gits and most certainly don’t show anyone the benefits of living the way you choose if you are too busy trying to elevate yourself above everyone else with your trendy lifestyle choice. No tattoos for me…no shaven sides of my head…no husband with a soul patch…”How will anyone KNOW that I am vegan?”…you know what…I don’t actually CARE if anyone knows that I am vegan. I am content to just “be” vegan and know that it ticks one of my own personal happiness quotient boxes and be done with it. This segues me back to today’s meeting. I won’t be talking about it in this post because it’s in the future and I may still be ruminating over what I have heard today so you can expect a full critique along with photos on Wednesday. I can’t promise that I won’t have taken the odd surreptitious photo of the back of a felt hatters head (felt had firmly in place and most probably blocking someone behind thems view of the proceedings)…I can’t promise that I won’t have had the odd comment to make to a grandstanding felt hatter who turned up to “have their say” but who couldn’t be bothered to actually get up on stage and put the effort in to attempt to show people how to do something and I can’t promise that I won’t get a bit overexcited about something that I learned. You know me well now dear constant readers and excitement is my middle name! I am really looking forwards to attending the garden visit with my friend from the witness protection program. I will be taking copious photos of Steve Solomon’s personal veggie garden along with the odd photo of my friend’s shoe. He wrote the book “Growing Vegetables South of Australia” a most detailed scientific approach to growing veggies in my local environment. Steve lives about 15 minutes away from Serendipity Farm and as such, what he is talking about is quite pertinent to my own requirements. He is also an old hippy, a hermit and is into trying to live a simple sustainable life. He is also an expat American who has developed a range of seeds for our local climate that he sells through the Exeter nursery. It will be very interesting to attend this lecture and find out what Steve does with his own garden. You can learn more about someone from their personal actions than you can from a million of their words…


There is something very invigorating about being in a room full of people who want to facilitate change in their local environment.

Here’s part of the knowledge base of Serendipity Farm. Note the large monitor that allows me the vanity of thinking that I don’t need glasses AND the ability to switch between computer, television AND Wii. My own personal little entertainment unit that allows Steve the run of the loungeroom at night and the freedom to watch trashy tv and the Olympics without my derogatory comments.

The transition town lecture has me inspired. We are such a fragmented society now. Technology has given us the ability to be distanced from the earth and to purchase our wants and needs from middle men and from overseas. I am not saying that it’s not fantastic to have the range of goods and services that we have but I am saying that a fair few of them we don’t actually need and we are soon going to have to renegotiate what we can and can’t live without. I would rather have a washing machine than an I-pod. I would rather install a wind turbine than continue to watch as our electricity prices skyrocket out of all proportion to what is being delivered. We DO have choices and we can exercise our ability to head on over to where the choices fit our ethos and Transition towns fit right smack bang in the middle of my own personal utopian ideal. Our civilisation was able to exist long before anyone thought of using oil to grease the chains of capitalism and so long as we haven’t stuffed up our environment too much, we will be able to exist long into the future. I CHOOSE to see the bright side because I don’t want to live in perpetual fear and depression. Our fragmented society has done nothing for families, for the once esteemed position of the elderly and it’s a rare person who is actually content with their lot. Communities are a thing of the past apart from in Third World countries where they will feel the loss of oil somewhat less than we will. I am not talking about survivalists when I talk about Transition towns. There are always going to be people who want to succeed from the human race (usually with guns and traps and water purifiers). To be honest, I wouldn’t want to live in a post-apocalyptic world where your choice was selfishness or to eliminate the competition. That brings me back to transitions. Change is always a very difficult thing for me. I like to know what is going on and where I fit into it and as such, I tend to make sure that I am well aware of my local environment. The truth about peak oil is that change is something inevitable and the sooner we see where we fit into this change the better. I can see a lot of benefits. I see the loss of supermarket giants hold in our communities due to the skyrocketing price of fuel. That means that we will get our bakers, our butchers, and our local store on the corner back. We will lose our ability to instantly access goods from overseas, BUT we will be able to take full advantage of what is local and seasonal and we may all end up healthier for this. No more Monsanto! We will have to learn how to manage our pests naturally…no more monocrops. Far be it from fearing this, we should be learning how to grow food within our communities to sustain us locally. In other words…it would be back to the hamlets…small towns and communities that naturally formed before the rise of oil consuming machinery. It wasn’t that long ago folks…only last century people didn’t have cars and that’s only a collective blink in the history of the world. The stranglehold of capitalism based on oil has been rapidly depleting our environment of its beauty and resources to our detriment. We CAN live on after peak oil…we just need to learn how to do it and not to fear the changes. I guess transitioning can be summed up in a sentence…” Remove “ME” from its elevated position of envy and put “US” up there in sustainable lights”.

The “blurb” about the event that I attended today

The lady standing coordinates the Tamar sustainable living group. She is living the life that I want to emulate here on Serendipity Farm and has an incredible amount of knowledge about living sustainably and will be coordinating the next sustainable food choices event that I will attend in a fortnights time. Can you see a couple of felt hatters? 😉

We were asked to get into groups and brainstorm some ideas about what we wanted to achieve within our local communities. This was my little group and we had some great ideas

Ok, enough transitioning for me! I need to head off to the shower, pack some fruit for my lunch (it might be transition towns but I bet they still forget to cater for the vegetarians (let alone the vegans 😉 ) and take my trusty camera to see if I can’t take a few shots for you today of what this is all about. I like being a lens for learning. I guess I should probably have stayed at my studies when I was at teachers college but looking at some of the harried teachers and lecturers around me makes me believe that the world did me a favour when it removed me forcibly from a career in “sharing”. I guess you can see that I am very excited about this month and the possibilities of sustainable living and transition towns. I hope that you will stick around to read about my interpretation of what it’s all about because that’s what I am all about at this phase of my life…love me…love my transition town ;). Today it’s Kelsey, my son Stewart’s partner’s birthday. “Happy Birthday Kelsey” and welcome to our strange family! It’s my own birthday tomorrow. I will be spending the day being spoiled and cossetted by the man that I love. He is going to throw himself out on a limb and bake me a vegan cake and we are having veggie burgers and home-made chips for tea (my own personal request). I am sure that the dogs will be entirely unimpressed with our meal but take heart Steve…at least they won’t be begging from your plate tonight! Have a great weekend dear constant readers and remember that we all have choices, it’s just up to us how we decide to exercise those choices :o).

Dog 1 and how enthusiastic he is going to be tomorrow night with the food choices available to the average scrounging dog…

Dog 2 after being told by dog 1 what is going to be on offer at the table for my vegan birthday feast. Bad luck doggies…its my night! 😉

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

Hi All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas in July the first “NO Earl!”…

Hi All

The first “NO EARL!” was probably around about this time last year (mid-July) which would have been very closely followed by the second “NO EARL!” and we are probably approaching our 175 000 “NO EARL!” about now. The angels didn’t sing…in fact the only thing “singing” (if you could call it that…) were the dulcet fisher wife tones of yours truly echoing obtrusively throughout otherwise quiet valley of Sidmouth, fighting its way aggressively out to Bass Strait to terrorise an unsuspecting penguin colony somewhere. I am going about this post upside down today…nothing to do with traction and everything to do with today…Wednesday being effectively “Wrong”. I can’t tell you what, exactly, is wrong with today but it started with a headache and no feral cats meowing under the deck for something to eat, chickens that didn’t want to eat bread…dogs that didn’t want to eat meat and Bezial getting sick in the car for no apparently reason (other than extreme anxiety brought on by a total of 3 walks. An unheard of reason to barf with excitement…). We didn’t want to work on our latest AutoCAD plan today because being what it is, it would have ended up not working for whatever reason and I might have had a prospective future meltdown. We decided to let today be wrong. If it wants to gyrate itself into oblivion sideways it’s not our business and we are just going with the flow for the remainder of this unusual day and so posting the end of the post first seemed somehow most fitting.

This photo just goes to show you how “Wrong” today is. I would normally not show you our back yard (or more to the point…the dogs back yard) as its not very aesthetically pleasing due to Earl’s plant eating habits

Who wouldn’t like to live in a lovely house like this with a beautiful garden leading out to the driveway…

It’s nice isn’t it? Well this is the front facade and a most manicured facade at that. We walked the dogs around the back of this house today and the back yard is littered with bicycles, the garden is a shambles of overgrown trees and shrubs and you wouldn’t be able to match the front facade to the back if you were asked to “match the front to the back yard”…sometimes what you see isn’t all that you get!

It’s a wise person who takes stock of what they have in their lives and who they are and are able to not only come to an amicable agreement with themselves to accept this, but actively enjoy their lives. As penniless hippy students we exist on the breadline. We are happy with our lot and enjoy our way of life incredibly; however we don’t have a lot of leeway with the ability to purchase whatever we want. We have a list an arm long of what we want to get for Serendipity Farm and a moth eaten sock with a few coins in it under the bed that we are loathe to raid for even the smallest purchase. We are proud of how we are debt free and able to live on a shoestring, but it makes it all the more important that we are able to access information online about how to make our shoestring stretch exponentially. I have found some amazing websites and blogs that share all sorts of hints and tips and am eternally grateful to everyone out there who shares what they know and how they do it for free. We can learn how to upholster a chair, how to recover a book, how to make strange and wonderful ferments and recipes to use them in. We can learn how to do simple home renovations and get comparisons of various articles before we pull that long suffering sock out from under the bed to spend our precious savings. It’s not easy living on next to nothing but there is a stoic satisfaction in being able to not only make do, and save as well, but enjoying the process is the most satisfying thing of all. It’s all too easy to get scared about the world around us and all of the changes that are slowly starting to happen. Peak oil, G.M.O. crops and all sorts of large headlines in the papers making us wonder if our homes and lives are safe but economies rise and economies fall and always in the background are the people living day to day…adapting and changing and learning and rising and falling and living around the outskirts of the headlines and the war and the famine and the fear…communities working together to share and foster hope and I can’t help but feel that we humans are probably due for a bit of a shakeup within our consumerist fragmented society. It might not be so bad if we have to live with our parents…it would certainly be cheaper and returning to some of our past community ways can only be a good thing. Ensuring that the elderly are treated with respect as the keepers of the ways of the past and seeing life and death up close and personal can only be good for our children. Forget shielding them from the world, they are only going to get hurled out into it eventually so they should be able to see reality and ask questions and get valid and caring answers. Life is tough but it is also beautiful and humanity as a whole barely live their lives any more in the pursuit of the elusive consumer “happiness” bird.

Autumn demolition of the side garden has resulted in this decidedly underwhelming vista but as you can see, the little Luculia that we planted out is beaming from its new position in the earth and to this day, still hasn’t dropped a flower. It is an example of how being grateful for what you get is a beautiful thing

This is Beauty Point in the middle of winter and the greyness is echoed all around our local environment

Another grey picture showing you where we walked today. Despite the colour scheme being pretty monochromatic, there is a dignity and a sense of place that comes with winter that gives it an austere beauty all of its own

“What’s she on about now!”…well…my son just got back from America and Ireland with his new partner Kelsey and he is just about to head over to visit us on Serendipity Farm. Steve and I met online when he was in the U.K. and I was in Western Australia. Life online is a fantasy and pictures that we post on blogs shield reality. Who wants to post pictures of dog chewed rugs and piles of decomposing branches in the top paddock? Who wants to share that they sweep the floors at least 5 times a day to ensure that you can actually see wooden floor under all that dog hair and who wants to admit that they haven’t got a clue how to go about washing that wooden floor that they so thoughtfully decided to wax rather than polish with high gloss chemicals…not I! Reality has a way of pushing its way to the fore and giving you a shove. Earl is real…he has a way of pushing you with his nose and letting you know that something isn’t right in the state of Kansas. I don’t want our reality to be something that Kelsey isn’t comfortable with. We choose to live frugally and simply and are incredibly happy with our lot and can only hope that she will see that and realise that happiness isn’t always wrapped up in expensive wrapping paper and tied with a credit debt bow. One day Serendipity Farm is going to be Stewart’s and perhaps Kelsey might be right there with him when he moves in and I want them to see hope and prospective happiness and a life close to the ground and the ability to choose their own destiny that is tied up with owning your own home. We are incredibly thankful and grateful for that chance and hopefully they will be too. Does this smack of a bit of self-flagellation? I think its more fear of the unknown. I am a quintessential magpie AND a bit of a control freak. I don’t like the unknown precisely because it is just that…”unknown” and I can’t plan for it. Just come and visit us Kelsey and don’t have any preconceived ideas…we can make some bread together…we can go for a walk with the dogs and have a chat about life, the universe and everything…we can roast one of our chooks and you can have as many free range eggs as your heart desires (here’s hoping that Kelsey loves eggs!) and in the process of unwinding, I hope that you will slowly look around you and think…”I could do something here…”…that’s all I ask :o)

You may remember Pingu, our little hen who started life out on the wrong foot. No-one wanted her and we found her almost dead on her own in the chicken compound. We put her in a basket on top of Brunhilda (before you call the R.S.P.C.A. we had the plate covers down!) and Earl has tried to dispatch her twice now but she keeps coming back. She will never be a normal chicken but again, whoever is normal on Serendipity Farm doesn’t belong here! We take waifs and strays and the fringe dwellers here and Pingu has earned her place here especially as she lays a lovely brown egg every two days :o)

Pingu submitting to human interaction for the sake of her continued breakfast each day of bread and butter…

The indignities that a poor long suffering hen has to go through to live in the shed on a large flowerpot and get fed a mangy bit of bread and butter in the mornings!

You often hear about a lonely cuckoo singing in a tree somewhere that sets the tone and the mood in books…we have cuckoo shrikes here. They are about as far from a real cuckoo as you can get and spend their lives looking in my kitchen window and yelling out on the deck for us to deliver small cubes of cheese into their gaping maws. The insects have apparently gone into hibernation or hiding to escape the hens rabid beaks and the cuckoo shrikes have stripped as much bark from the eucalypts as they dare and there are apparently not enough insects to go around. Dad used to feed them mince but mince is not an option for us and so they get small cubes of tasty cheese. They LOVE it! I had some spare mince a while back, and feeling magnanimous and content with my lot on that day, I put some out for the cuckoo shrikes for old time’s sake. They picked it up…they carried some off and they came back and completely ignored it! “We want the cheese…bring us the cheese!”… oh well…they only come like this in winter when times get tough and in summer we rarely see them aside from the odd shredding of eucalyptus bark and the odd squeak in the distance. They raise their young, they bring them to the deck to learn the “ways of the cheese” and they head off to have more babies and there are generations of cuckoo shrikes that have lived like this…a symbiotic relationship with the humans and we are hoping to carry on this tradition along with planting out lots of habitat and food plants for the local birds for many years to come.

Here is the little female Cuckoo Shrike who usually sits on Steve’s hand but this is the only picture that I could take of her that turned out as she is WAY too fast for my slow fingers to click

There’s a bit of chicken jealousy going on between the coop dwelling chickens and Pingu. They have heard about her shed and her daily breakfast and have decided to move in on her territory (and Steve’s) even more than I have with my strawberry pots while I am trying for the life of me to work out where to put them to protect them from the hungry possums. I have a vertical garden idea that I am ruminating on at the moment and will keep you posted

When we were researching ideal shrubs and small trees to use for our water wise sustainable garden plan that were a combination of incredibly hardy, able to grow just about anywhere in any situation, that offered habitat for birds, protection for them along with food we discovered, quite by accident the genus Elaegnus. I had heard of this genus and after a small bit of research realised that it included Russian Olives, a most desirable tree. This genus is amazing! It contains some of the most water-wise, hardy, adaptable edible plants known to man and the entire front garden of our plan is cram packed full of them now. I just did a spell check as word didn’t recognise the word “Elaegnus” (and let’s face it anyone not involved in horticulture most probably wouldn’t!)…and it wanted me to swap “Elaegnus” for “Eloigns”…EH?! Now THERE is a word that makes more sense and that we all know and love right? NOT! Apparently the word Eloigns means (and I quote from the Free Merriam-Webster online dictionary…)

“Definition of ELOIGN. transitive verb. 1. archaic: to take (oneself) far away. 2. archaic: to remove to a distant or unknown place: conceal …”

Now I know that Elaegnus is a genus that usually consist of more thorns than leaves and I know that you might wish to remove yourself from the close proximity (read “in the middle of”) of any Elaegnus that you may have innocently fallen into the middle of post haste but Eloign doesn’t really cut the mustard to describe this genus, Word, so keep to what you know best (irritating grammatically erratic bad spellers like me) and leave horticulture to the gardeners! My own personal interpretation of the word Eloign is “once bitten twice shy”! I will commit this new word to memory to be used in conversation around the water cooler should I ever be lucky enough to fall victim to getting myself a regular job in the near future and feel the need to ensure that everyone else around the water cooler knows that I am an unmitigated nob.

Here is the boys dinner for tonight slowly defrosting in Brunhilda’s slowest warming oven. The temperature is perfect for slow defrosting as well as for dehydrating an added boon that I didn’t think of when we were contemplating our justification for Brunhilda’s initial cost and a massive help on cold winters days

Doesn’t this photo of Paper Beach make you feel wistfull? Well it does me!

We have bone wars going on at Serendipity Farm. The only thing that we have any problems with our 2 male dogs with is bones. When we first got Earl we used to give both dogs bones as they are the best thing for their teeth (cleaning) and for their digestion and healthy bowels. Bezial has always been a bit mean with bones and Qi learned early on not to even THINK of having a personal bone and that the odd nibble when Bezial was laying upside down inside was the best that she was ever going to get on the bone front. Earl isn’t like Qi and soon learned to stand up for his bone rights. We didn’t want any problems between the boys so we stopped buying them bones but today we thought of a possible solution to our problem and bought 2 large beef thigh bones. Earl is shut on the deck and Bezial gets his bone out the back door…never the twain shall meet and silence and happiness shall reign on Serendipity Farm…that would be the situation in an ideal world but Serendipity Farm is NEVER ideal and Bezial ONLY eats rancid bones that have been lying about undisturbed for weeks. Earl can’t be kept on the deck for the 2 – 3 weeks that it takes for Bezials bone to get to the desired level of putrescence and so we are back to square 1. Bezial lying next to Brunhilda with one ear up listening for if Earl makes any surreptitious moves towards the back door and Earl hurriedly eating his bone so that he can start on Bezials…the grass is apparently greener (and so is the rancid bone…) on the other side of the gate…sigh…back to the drawing board!

“Lassie came home!”…well Della did…she has had puppies and has gone from being Bezial’s mate to being a barking mother much to Bezial’s consternation… it’s tough being a clueless male. She was trying to catch the plovers that were flying shrieking around her attacking her in this photo and it was hilarious to watch her snapping at them as they bombed her from on high.

These are some of the glass houses at the Polytechnic department of Horticulture and go part way to showing you how bleak winter can be in Launceston Tasmania in July

Although winter is upon us and its cold, grey and a bit depressing I wanted to share this photo with you that Steve took yesterday when we went to Paper Beach to walk the boys. Love is eternal and so is optimism! “Hurry up Spring I am cold!”

Well it’s time to start preparing food for the various creatures that inhabit Serendipity Farm (ourselves included) and another few days have headed into the abyss of time. At least when I am old and have time for reflection (should the day ever come when I DO get to reflect!) I will have these posts to look back on and wonder what we ever did to deserve this! 😉

Forget “Seize the Day”…SEE the day is a good start…

Hi All,

It’s Sunday early evening and we are just about to dispatch another couple of roosters. We have been putting it off for a while because apart from being softies at heart, killing animals doesn’t give us any sort of satisfaction. The roosters have forced our hands this time as they are starting to crow at strange times of night and right through the day and our neighbours are starting to twitch. Steve has been working on turning an old heavy wire crate into a cat trap for catching Felix and then some of the other ferals. Felix is first because she is showing signs of being pregnant again. This would have been her 4th litter and again, our hands are being forced because we can’t let the cat population explode exponentially and so we have to sort the problem now. Well…its Monday morning and I will spare you the gory details, but needless to say, Frank had 2 less roosters crowing over his early morning mutterings and we have 4.5kg of dressed chicken in our fridge waiting to be turned into mince (to ensure its tenderness).

“I am invisible…you can’t see me…”

It would appear that the desire to lick the wooden spoon is not purely a human tendency…

Steve’s amazing spongecake made with our own homemade caster (well…icing) sugar

I realised that living in the country, especially if you get up early enough to see the sun rise (even if it IS only in your enormous monitor reflected from the window behind you ;)) is very different to living in an urban environment. When I used to live 4km from the city centre I would get up…put on the kettle…look outside my kitchen window at the neighbour’s yard and think to myself “Hmmm…I wonder if Margaret is going to use ALL of those oranges?”… Then I would return to my head and start planning out my day. Now I get up before the sun rises. Not because I have to milk any mental cows mind you…country living isn’t THAT different to my previous urban/e existence…now I CHOOSE to get up early because we have the luxury of being able to enjoy our time rather than cram it full of all sorts of side issues. I get up…I turn on the light…I head to the lounge room and feel for the black dog in the dark who is wagging his tail to direct me to him…we share a few private moments of interspecies happiness where he gets his ears scratched away from the prying eyes of Earl and I get to feel the joy of being someone who is wholly and totally loved by something who could care less whether I have wrinkles or have a spare tyre I could balance a cup of tea on. I must admit that he then sloops off the couch…pitty-pats his way into our bedroom where he jumps straight into the warm patch that I just left, lays his big black boofy head on my pillow and luxuriates in my exit.  I slip on my slippers…bought for me by my son and aside from a few early nibbling’s when Earl was a pup, have survived admirably to do what their name would suggest that they do. I can walk to the kitchen in the dark…I pride myself on knowing exactly where everything is and aside from the odd dog toy left on the ground as a reminder that pride comes before a (literal) fall…I can manoeuvre around Serendipity Farms interior in pitch darkness surprisingly well. The reason I mentioned that was because my traverse from the lounge room to the kitchen is usually done with my eyes shut yawning. I head over to the fire where I can tell simply by resting my hand on the firebox door whether or not I am going to be able to get it to go without the aid of my grandads patented method of fire ignition…

1. Get yourself some sticks. Some of them will need to be bigger than others…

2. Get yourself a good fire lighter (Grandad would have used something more organic but we cheat and use a patented block…we are working on our own sustainable variety but for now it come from Chicken Feed…to the felt hatted poncho wearing brigade “Wachagonnadoaboudit eh?!”… 3. Lay 4 of the thickest sticks (substantial enough to ignite without going up in a “POOF” of smoke and lending a flamey base to the proceedings) in a square on the base of the firebox

4. Next, lay 4 more sticks slightly inside the perimeter of the base 4 sticks…we want to make a sort of Scottish/Australian grandad stick pyramid here…carry on until you have created a stick pyramid to be proud of

5. Drop your firelighter of choice (I think Grandad would have used a ball of newspaper with a bit of kero or metho on it…don’t quote me on that!) into the centre

6. Take a moment to survey your tower of sticks…may as well enjoy the process…

7. Light your incendiary of choice (I tend to use matches but feel free to rub 2 sticks together et al…) and drop it directly onto your fire starter (feel free at this point to drop it onto Keith Flint of the Prodigy should he be hovering near by…I NEVER liked that man much! “I’ll show you bloody firestarter sonny…)

8. Watch as your precision built grandad tower slowly ignites and gives you the satisfaction of hundreds of thousands of years of primal human existence thanks to the glory of fire…

It’s no wonder there are so many pyromaniacs!

Now, once the fire is crackling and I have filled the kettle up just enough for my first cup of tea of the day. Depending on whether the fire was still hot or not I put the kettle on to hum on the stove top or on our little gas stovetop (prospective problem solving 101) …I sit down here and after checking my now sad inboxes (everything goes to rss feed reader now) for the odd Telstra bill I settle down to just on an hour of uninterrupted interaction with my brain and some very interesting and clever people out there. I owe Rhianna so much for putting me onto reading my favourite web pages via rss feed reader. It’s like being handed the key to the online cities of the world. Whenever I find a delicious website…I whack it into my feed and suddenly it’s like Christmas with a new jewel in my crown. Some websites don’t have rss feed readers…I have to whack their site addresses into my patented “favourites” word document where I can head to whenever I want to find some of my more obscure (read “conspiracy theory” and “plain mental”) blogs where technology is to be feared and put under a degree of suspicion, but by and large most websites are coming to the party with rss feed.

Can you guess what the weather is going to be like today?

As the sun rises slowly and is up enough to give me an idea of just what the day holds (weather wise at least…) I realised that I no longer wonder how long Margaret is going to wait before she pays the boy next door to mow her back lawn…I don’t have to think about my neighbour (apart from Frank who might be planning a night time raid on the bastions of Little Red to make him “disappear” before he starts his 5am crowing in earnest). I get to look out over the river and really see it…allow it to bleed and blend into me and form the beginning of my new day. I have never had that luxury before. Now I can delight my soul with sunshine, I can feel the weight of the grey day and I can adjust my sensibilities accordingly because what is happening outside is extremely pertinent to what I am going to do with my day. I can’t just phase it out as I hurriedly cram a bit of toast into my mouth “bugger! Butter on the floor…never mind the dog will eat it!”… as I race out the door and into the car with my mind full of what I have to do and driving while under the influence of heavy thought. Now I can feel my day…I am totally aware of the weather, the colour and timbre of my mornings and most poignantly, I am really starting to understand how important it is that we are able to soak up and absorb, indeed submerge, ourselves in the real, natural world out there because we have removed ourselves so very far from what is real that modern society is like an ants nest built in an apartment building…it’s out of place and totally wrong. It’s no wonder so very many of us get up and feel like we are out of sync. It’s also no wonder that we have distanced ourselves from nature and have allowed big business to desecrate our environment in the name of “progress”. We can’t all move to the country and have Narf77 epiphanies on a regular basis, but we can stop what we are doing and turn our minds inwards and slowly start our days actually thinking about what matters rather than what routine and society has lead us to believe is normal.

Here is an interesting situation…these bales of cardboard used to be picked up by a man who the IGA paid to remove their waste…now, some bright spark has decided that they don’t want to pay for this removal any more…that they might even be able to make some money and these bales of cardboard are for sale to anyone willing to part with $20 a bale…this fenceline used to be clear of bales of cardboard…I think that the economy in Beaconsfield might just be echoing the economy in Spain and Italy!

A lovely sight to a horticulturalist…a nice big steaming pile of fresh woodchips in the local nursery.

Earl listening most intently to Steve’s new ring tone “Bad to the Bone”…


There is some sick dark part of me that keeps doing this to Bezial, just because I can…

That sick dark part of me has to remain latent whenever dealing with Earl because where “I can” with Bezial…”I most definately CAN’T” with Earl…

How could you be scared of this rambunctious little tyke? Well for some reason, he and his big brother terrified the electricity meter reader today…must admit to not caring much! Sorry dude…you want kudos, go get yourself a better job! 😉

Today’s post is somewhat experimental. Nothing unusual in the content but we are posting it to both of our blogs. We want to transition “The Road to Serendipity” to “The Odo Life” smoothly and with minimum hassle to you all. I would love you all to come with us over to BlogSpot where we are setting down roots towards a greener and happier future. The writing has been on the wall at WordPress for quite some time now and they finally pushed too many of my buttons at once and much like Mary Poppins, I have packed my suitcase and I am off. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that free blogging will one day be something that we remember wistfully along with free internet but until the day that the noose closes on our current freedom, I will be taking full advantage of the ability to hunt, find and share information on these amazing world-wide highways of knowledge.

This is an egg. Nothing special about eggs you might say…but this one IS special. You see this egg is the very first egg that our little rescue chook Pingu has laid us. We know she laid it for us because it was laid on her own personal heat bed in the shed where she sleeps at night (she can’t be doing with “chooks”…they scare her). Thank you Pingu. You might not be going to ever be completely normal as a chicken, but we don’t care. None of us can lay claim to normality and you fit on Serendipity Farm like a hand in a glove 🙂

The new blog will be a bit more eclectic than this one. I wanted to be able to share all sorts of things with you and along with my rambling posts; I would love to be able to share recipes with you. Not Master Chef type recipes for food snobs, but foundation recipes for various items that you might not think possible to be made at home. Sharing knowledge is an incredible way to learn more than you could ever think possible. I don’t have time for selfish people. I love to share and I love to find out how to make and do things. My most prized websites are places where people share their ideas freely and close behind them are my weird and wonderful sites where I get to see things that I might otherwise never see. We have a pot of stock slowly bubbling on the stovetop…we made it with 2 of our rooster carcasses that we dispatched last night. We got the recipe from someone kind enough to share it with us online. Steve made a tiny little magnetic planter out of an expired driver’s license. He planted a tiny succulent in it and has it on the filing cabinet in his music room. We found out how to do it from someone online. Sharing makes everyone’s lives richer and it’s about time it made a comeback in our societal desires. The 80’s were a decade of “ME” and “Greed is good”. Who could forget Gordon Gecko? Since then we have had to absorb certain truths about our human footprint on the earth. No-one likes to have unpleasant things happen to them and we have to take our heads out of the sand and deal with these environmental issues before they come back to bite us. In saying that, we are trying our hardest to find ways to simplify our lives and minimise our carbon footprint. We may have downsized our desires in the process but we have come out of is curiously lighter and even more curiously happier. We occasionally feel like we are dancing on the edge of some fundamental majestic truth when we are working with the earth rather than fighting it. These moments are few and far between to be honest. The more we transition Serendipity Farm to a sustainable environment the happier we get. Needless to say, the more we clear out the dense overgrowth of weeds the happier we get. It really doesn’t take much to make us happy these days!

It is amazing what a bit of regular rain will do to a vista…only a month ago this area was dry earth and from “somewhere” the grass has appeared. If you look closely you will see a Tree Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis) an herbaceous perennial that we almost removed without knowing that the dead bamboo like stick that remained after we removed all of the debris around those 5 tree trunks would ever grow back. There is something to be said for “We will pull that stick out another day” sometimes when you don’t know what you are dealing with! 😉

Again, this area looks much MUCH nicer since the rain softened the hard bare earth and gave everything a lovely hint of verdant green. I love watching the seasons take the palette of Serendipity Farm and change the hues, textures and colours accordingly

I managed to take these 3 photos in the space of 20 minutes in between grey rainy showers. The area with the 2 bird baths is where Steve is itching to get into and plant some of his weeping maples. Every time he heads for the door the rain starts again. Oh well…at least when he DOES get out there the soil will be nice and damp and easy to dig…if he can get through all of the rocks that is! Might be time to use our problem solving, lateral thinking skills and use some of the prodigious amount of rocks all over the place to mound up this area…import some good topsoil from Exeter Landscape Supplies and give the maples the free draining soil that they want…at least we learned SOMETHING in our past 3 years worth of horticultural adventures! 🙂

Part of living with nature rather than fighting it is that we are much more aware of our place in the world. The weather has been changing rapidly and it already feels like winter here in Tasmania. We have had our wood fire ticking over for about 2 weeks now and are finally starting to learn its intricacies. Steve made a heavenly light sponge cake on Sunday that we baked in the wood stove. When we first had the stove installed it was very different to baking in a “normal” stove. The stove reacts to wood being added more slowly than turning a dial to a temperature…once it builds up it quickly overshoots your desired temperature if you are not monitoring it carefully and what was previously ideal for cake baking, can soon turn into a blackened burnt sugary smouldering mass that even the possums reject as inedible. Last year we had all sorts of problems with the ovens being too hot. This year we have learned how to trickle the heat and keep the stove in a lower heating range, saving on fuel as well as rendering the house a nice ambient temperature rather than hotter than the Sahara on a mid-summers day. The benefit is that a lower temperature enables us to cook pretty much anything that we want to.  Steve’s sponge cake is a perfect example of that. They are notoriously hard to get right and his example was (dare I say it) as close to perfect as I have seen. The cake made a delicious “Whoosh” sound when it was cut as all of the air escaped from the millions of tiny bubbles and both Steve and the dogs appreciated a large slice of creamy jam filled heaven. I didn’t have any caster sugar for the cake and decided to make my own. I have talked previously about my “you beaut” $1200 blender that I bought in a richer time. I must admit that aside from being appalled that I spent so much on an electrical appliance this blender is a stayer and was probably worth the price I paid for it. It turned regular sugar into icing sugar in 5 seconds flat. We decided to use the icing sugar as caster sugar and the sponge cake of incredible lightness became a reality. I guess that is how new recipes are made and people get to try new things. When someone is willing to take a risk that something that they are just about to attempt might go horribly wrong. I took that risk…I learned

1. 2 seconds is enough in my Vitamix blender to turn regular sugar to caster sugar

2. 5 seconds gives me icing sugar so I no longer have to buy icing or caster sugar only the cheaper regular cane sugar

3. $1200 might be a HECK of a lot to spend on a blender but sometimes when you want something that is going to last, AND be consistently reliable, you might just have to dig a bit deeper into your pocket

4. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You might just get some fantastic results and at worst, you learn a good life lesson

5. Share what you find out with everyone else. Your success might be someone else’s salvation

There you go…Narf77’s secrets of success…or Fran’s ramblings…your choice :o). BlogSpot is very different to WordPress…the jury is still out as to which format I am going to stay with/go to. I love the sharing on WordPress even though it seems to be going to the dogs and BlogSpot is still the great unknown and doesn’t appear to have much in the way of allowing people to find your blog…I assure you that I will let you know well in advance if we decide to abandon this blog and head over to the bright side at The Odo Life. See you all on Serendipity Farm on Saturday night. We will be watching Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows with popcorn, our feet up and our pyjamas on. Hopefully Saturday will find you as happy as we will be. See you then :o)

Finally you get a short post!

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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