Evolving…

Hi All,

What’s this? Didn’t narf just say “I won’t be regularly blogging for a while, and here she is blogging?” well yes, indeed, I am. You see I just had a little epiphany. I have been reading and digesting your comments about my rather hastily conceived blogging hiatus that I dumped on you last Wednesday. Life last week was past hectic and into crazyville and I was pruning away like mad to find a little bit of something normal to hang onto. We spent the weekend planning and prepping. We have lots of meals in the freezer, we have organised ourselves well, we are on top of it all and this morning I read a blog post by the always chic, ever interesting and often thought provoking Ms Cityhippfarmgirl who was the instigator of my blogging epiphany. She has been blogging for 5 years now (not much more than I have) and threw a word into the arena that gave me great pause for thought…

The other day I was feverishly crocheting a cover for a tablet that we purchased to support our latest study load. Stevie-boys twitchy fingertips had been all over it and if the FBI had have wanted a sample of his DNA they could have easily swiped it and had more than their fill. I was considering how to protect it from the bumps and knocks that seem to follow our chaotic life around at the same time as find an instant way to slither away those finger marks (no Stevie-boy DNA for YOU FBI! 😉 ) and came up with the idea for a  crocheted cover (mainly because I can’t sew for toffeenuts…) Once it was finished I had to work out how to close it. I have NO idea how to put zips into things and even if I did, I didn’t have a zip, so that was out of the question. I ended up thinking “buttons” but all I had were some teeny tiny ones that would have required a shrew like sequence of them and nimble fingers to keep the cover closed and knowing how impatient Stevie-boy is I could see them being left undone and the tablet slipping out in transit or worse still, when the cover was held aloft like excalibar. What was a girl to do? “Hmmm…”

In the midst of my feverish musing I suddenly remembered a Pinterest pin that I had shuffled into my ‘Crafty Bollocks’ board and I went hunting. I finally found it and gleefully started hooking. The pattern was for lovely eccentric crocheted buttons. As the wool that I had used to make the tablet cover was so very thick and chunky (double insulation for life’s bumps and knocks) the buttons ended up HUGE but who cares, they served a purpose and put a narfish seal of approval on the final result. I would love to share a photo of the cover with you all but it is 3.50am and Stevie-boy has sequestered both tablet and cover away somewhere and I don’t want to wake up the dogs and pique their early morning interest so you are just going to have to believe me that it is a. eccentric and b. serves the purpose. When I was making the buttons I immediately knew that I wanted to share the pattern. I wanted to tell everyone how to make them and how much fun it was to customise your own buttons and then suddenly I remembered “I am having a rest”…but you see I didn’t WANT to have a rest, I just wanted a bit of freedom to blog about what delighted me and what would be fun to share and THAT was my epiphany…

So I won’t be stopping blogging my dear constant readers. My knee-jerk reaction to almost drowning in C.H.A.N.G.E. which has always been my bugbear (what a magnificent word) and sticking point was to throw caution and all of my sheets to the wind and run around howling just before I sequestered myself under the bed with Earl at arms reach. I took all of your wonderful and most caring suggestions on board and my posts will be shorter and more to the point. When I have something that makes me “SQUEE!” with delight, I will share it. I can’t share my nectarines with you as they went in my mouth and I ate them but everything else you can consider fair game.

I want to thank Ms Cityhippyfarmgirl for giving me the most splendid and thoughtful epiphany. My word for this year is “Evolve”. And evolve, I shall! See you soon when I will most probably have something to get excited about and at least one photo to brighten it up a bit.

If you would like to have a go at making your own Squeealicious crochet covered buttons here is a very easy tutorial. There are many more out there but lazy old me just went with numero uno as it was a doddle.

http://www.annettepetavy.com/pages/en/newsletter/2012/10.html

 

UPDATE –

Stevie-boy is up now so I took a photo of the cover with the button sewn on it. I am imagining that your buttons will be a whole lot better than mine. I left the benchmark pretty low. I like people to feel good about themselves 😉

"Ta-DAH!" :)

“Ta-DAH!” 🙂

 

The sparrows are back and they brought a friend…General disarray…

Hi All,

 

Last year there was a bit of a sparrow problem. They were dropping dead all over the place and I thought that our small population must have croaked as well because they suddenly stopped coming. I forgot that we are upside down here in Tassie and so the sparrows had buggered off on holiday up North for the summer and are now back down south here for the duration of the colder months. That means that they are primed, ready and raring to go for cheese pinching. We put cheese out for the grey shrike thrushes and this is the object of their desire. Short of buying an extra kilo of tasty cheddar cheese a fortnight for the sparrows we have to spend our days thwarting their efforts which isn’t easy because as anyone who has had anything to do with sparrows (rats, squirrels, cockroaches…) knows, they are clever little bollocks.

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Talking about cockroaches, here is the Serendipity Farm equivalent having just been released by Stevie-boy to wreak their havoc and breed exponentially for another day…

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A wise move Stevie-boy, that very fetching plastic bowl should prevent the chooks from hijacking your brain and making you their mindless puppet slave…but then again it might not!

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This should be a quiche…it isn’t. It is a potato bake. If we HAD some eggs it might be a quiche…those cockroaches are living on borrowed time!

It is around about this time of year that an uncertain malaise tends to settle on narf7’s generally happy demeanor. I just headed up to the veggie garden where I was greeted with a mass uprising of white flies, some half dead pumpkins, the scene of some pumpkin carnage (some are still OK but a fair few of them have been reduced to a few seed husks 😦 ) and the overwhelming and frankly terrifying prospect that I am going to have to “do something”  out there. Good LORD where do I start? The possums have managed to trampoline the top of the enclosure, breaking the thin ropes that we stretched across to prevent them from accessing Poland (at least through the netting) and they pretty much have squished the garden down to about 3ft high in some areas. My poor yacon is still thriving but is also 3 feet high thanks to possums tap-dancing on it. The pumpkins are showing no signs of slowing down despite some obvious frost damage to the outer perimeter and there are tomato plants still producing tomatoes. Fear and a sense of “Where the heck do I start?!” is crippling me at the moment. I am holed up inside with a nice hot cup of tea where it is safe from sparrows, possums and actually having to be proactive about my immediate problem…”move over under that bed Earl…make room for a new tenant!”

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I was going to show you a photo of the garden but I don’t think that you are ready for that yet…so here is a photo of what the kitchen looks like at 6.30 in the morning. Check out the view…

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And this was Monday when it poured down for the whole day…

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And this was yesterday where the river was covered in mist. The view never looks the same way twice out of my kitchen window

You know how they talk about “putting on hats” to change situations? Well remember my post about reality a couple of weeks ago? I recently bought one of those Nepalese style ear flap beanie type hats (complete with a bobble on top). It has been pretty cold here lately and as someone who has a lot of earrings I can attest to how cold your ears get when all of that metal starts to chill down and this hat promised to be my ears winter saviour. I picked it out because it was bright and easily visible (so the drivers might avoid the rest of the lesser spotted early morning narf being dragged along behind Earl if they could at least see the head portion…) and as Mr Billy Connelly once said “This’ll do ME!” I bought it, brought it home and headed to my reality mirror (stupidly) and placed the hat on my head. It is amazing how many things can go through your head at the same time when you can usually only process one thing at a time like “make a cup of tea”…”drink the cup of tea”…

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I think I am part squirrel. I have this incessant need to collect seeds and store them. Unlike the common garden squirrel I don’t use hollow tree trunks…not THIS little black duck! No other squirrel is going to nick MY stash…I store them all in containers on my kitchen window where I can see them and gloat over them…might be about time to plant a few of them out so that I can free up a bit of space to start collecting some more methinks!

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The view out the kitchen window today. -1C on Serendipity Farm and again I give thanks for Brunhilda 🙂

I recently converted to complete honesty in my year of living honestly back in 2011. It wasn’t an easy conversion mind you as some things are harder than others to be honest about (like how many chocolate biscuits you can REALLY pack, hamster style, into your mouth in one go…) but it was an entirely cathartic experience and cleaned out my back passages of dusty self-delusion that had been festering away for many years. I realised how very honest I had become when I posted a photo of myself wearing the hat of terror (as it shall be known from now on) on my brothers Facebook page for the whole world to see (for indeed, my brother appears to have friended “the entire world” on his Facebook page). I thought it was only fair as I had shared a picture of him in my last blog post. Not only did I bare my crazy Nepalese hat wearing moniker to my brothers doting public but I allowed Stevie-boy to then go on and Photoshop me further. There is a degree of honesty that is dignified and then there is just getting silly and I think that I might have veered straight out of dignity and into that wild world of “silly”…

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Here’s that picture. “Crazy is as crazy does my mamma used to say…”

 

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The only way I could stop Earl from attempting to eat my hat was to let him wear it

Early morning is a great leveler. You have nothing to distract you (aside from forty squillion roosters who are hell bent on squawking in the new day but that’s another story…) and you can really focus on what is real and what isn’t. Real is narf7 before her first cup of tea where she is lucid but not very nice. I have had my first cup of tea so I can now discuss Plato with impunity AND I can tell you that I learned something new and exciting this morning. I realised that if I can post a MOST unflattering picture of myself, on my brothers Facebook page where all of his (crazy) friends can see me in all my twitchy glory, I can do anything. Outing yourself is liberating. Being unafraid of your aging and slightly terrifying countenance is taking liberating to a whole new dimension. I just realised that I don’t care what people think of me…how liberating is that! I just realised that if I want to wear my chalupi hat of great ear warmth I will. I just realised that people are going to be judging you no matter what you do and whether you slap a tonne of makeup in order to blend in with the natives or just go al fresco and wear your crazy chalupi hat isn’t going to make a lot of difference. Ok, so maybe you might get pointed at and laughed at a bit more but let’s be honest, there are worse things than causing a bit of jocularity in the native populace and if I can bring a smile to someone’s dial, far-be-it from me to deprive my people of that joy

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Looks like I might have to lay off of the carrots again and Stevie-boy is toting his woolly Russian hat from last year as this year is just that bit colder than last year so he can wear it

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Earl demanding equal time again…

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Can’t be playing favourites now can we?

OK, I am off for my early morning walk with Early (surely that sentence is something… a palindrome? Alliteration? Why oh WHY didn’t I pay ANY ATTENTION in English class?!!) Wish me luck, we are walking with Jan’s brother Peter and Mieka today as Jan is AWOL driving a camper van back to a terminal as a (very clever) cheap way to get from point “A” to point “B”. Remind me to tell you about how clever Jan is some day when I am not contemplating just how much drag coefficient Earl is going to subject me to in my immediate future…

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I stole this with impunity…I liked it when I saw it. Feel free to steal it from me with impunity if you see fit

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After managing to get Bezial to wear a hat, Steve suddenly got visions of starting a website and taking daily shots of Bezial with strange things on his head…I am glad to say that he forgot about that idea almost as fast as he thought of it but NO-WHERE near as glad as Bezial was 😉

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When they say “seedless dates” on the packet, don’t believe them. Just sayin’…

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A wonderful friend just gave me some figs. I LERVE figs. I decided that to eke them out I would cook them with some dates into a compote so that I could have them in my morning buckwheat porridge

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Not pretty…but DELICIOUS 🙂

I just got kicked out of bed by Bezial on my sleep in day! I don’t really mind because that meant that I remembered the dream that I was just having as he started pressing me with his nose to remind me that I was an hour overdue to get up (lazy sack that I am who needs reminding…). I was dreaming that I saw Mr Robert Downey Jr. and asked him for his autograph. Not a strange connection as I have been talking about him and sharing him with the most delectable Pauline and Ms Lori from Oklahoma so entirely reasonable that I should dream about Mr (delicious) Robert Downey Jr. BUT the bit of paper that Mr Junior handed to me had a most interesting symbol drawn on it. It was the mathematical symbol for zero. I am not a mathematical genius. I am not even a mathematical dunce and can only dream of aspiring to dunce one day but the other day (Mother’s Day to be precise) My mathematically minded son told me that the symbol for zero has a line through it. OK, good o…but what does this have to do with Mr Junior? Well apparently, early on in his career he made a movie with the word “Zero” in the title. I know this because I have forgone my long suffering RSS Feed Reader this morning to hunt down all things Mr Junior to see if I can make some sense of my dream. Seems that movie won him critical acclaim and was almost a parody of what his life was to become…

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Stevie-boy obviously delighted to have me take a photo of him but I needed it for comparison…

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As you can see, Mr Junior has taken to dying his hair blond in order to look like Steve and is it a coincedence that he has a beard>?! I rest my case…

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Well look at you Mr Junior! Anyone who can be swayed into wearing a pair of lederhosen and still look rather fetching is AOK by moi! He looks like he is thinking “How many times can I do something stupid like this before they stop letting me make movies…” 😉

Maybe I was channeling Mr Junior? Maybe he hitched a ride in my sleeping brain (dangerous waters Mr Junior…) and sent a little sentiment out to the universe that my sleeping brain reached out to in its somnolent state…whatever the reason if you are reading this blog post Mr Junior (and indeed, why wouldn’t he be?) I have a message for you from narf7…THE narf7 of Serendipity Farm. “Sir, you have risen from the ashes like a phoenix (a sweet and most delicious phoenix) and are currently listed as one of the “A” list in Hollywood. You made more money last year than most of us can even begin to contemplate and I think it’s time that you used your wealth to go find yourself some happiness outside of Hollywood. Go sit on a rock (a very expensive one) someplace out in the desert and find yourself. You are worth it Mr Junior. We are ALL worth that much. I owed you that bit of precious advice for you giving me your autograph…now if I can only find it under my pillow…

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Steve first thing in the morning…

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Steve first thing in the morning AFTER  a cup of coffee…

Well this brings me to the end of another blog post. The terror of the sheer effort needed by me to just return the veggie garden to a semblance of order is starting to recede (a little). It has been joined by a nagging in the back of my head reminding me that I “really should get back out into the rest of the garden and plant out trees, shrubs, source some perennial veggies…blah blah…” yeah my inside brain is a whole LOT more organised than my outside skin! I am going to head out in a moment and rake up the pile of horse manure that Stevie-boy got us last week before the car decided to put its 2c worth in (off to the mechanics tomorrow with YOU young  fellow-me-lad!) I am doing this because I NEED to feel like I am doing something productive. I might even have a go at learning how to crochet this afghan that I have nailed to my PC desktop…

http://www.allfreecrochetafghanpatterns.com/Mile-A-Minute/Make-it-Quick-Afghan/ml/1/?utm_source=ppl-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=allfreecrochetafghanpatterns20140516#yOZjUpFIVoxf5dhU.99

They assure me it is fast, reasonably easy to make and reliable and at the moment on Serendipity Farm, I NEED me something to take my mind off all of that “other” stuff that is clamouring in the wings just waiting for me to attend to it

 

Oh what a crafty minx I am!

Hi All

Yes…I did it! I actually finished off my gauntlet/mitts for both Steve and I AND I sewed them up! I also made a pair of slipper socks in a couple of hours out of extra Über thick wool that the girls recently bought me for my birthday. I was so impressed with the knit time and how quick the project was finished that I am planning to make some t-shirt material out of some old long sleeved “T’s” that I was too lazy to drop off at the thrift shop and that can now be repurposed into fun slipper socks for all of the days of the week. I still have a lot of wool and as I am waking up at 4am now rather than the 2.30am that I used to wake up, I am able to stay up till 8.30pm most nights which gives me a bit of crafty minx time on the sofa…that is…unless Earl sees me… then it’s a battle of wills and his usually wins.

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Steve took this image. I think he was still under the influence of all of that wine that he drank while Kym was here ;). These are the gauntlets that I made out of the wool spun by our friend Roxy. They are warm, they are delicious and they are ready just in time for the start of our spring…sigh…

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Can you tell that the clear headed wine deprived narf7 took this shot? This is Steve wearing the gauntlets that I made for him. In the background you can see some of the eggs that we are currently being snowed under with and my trusty Vitamix that allows me to puree everything from seeds, through nut milks and I am assured I can puree a stick if I see fit. I haven’t felt the need to do so to quite yet…

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These are my knitted slipper/socks. I LOVE THEM! They are springy, they are light, they are deliciously coloured, I can make more out of homemade t-shirt material and Earl adores them. What’s not to like folks?

This week has seen life return to normal (whatever that is around here) after Kym headed back to W.A. I dare say she is embracing her own comfort zone with zeal and extra Aussie rules to boot ;). We have had to really knock into studies as 9 days off is a long time when your lecturer is hell bent on dumping 2 months’ worth of studies on you and insisting that you get it completed in 3 weeks. Never let it be said that narf7 and Stevie the wonder boy will shirk their duties (unless something vaguely better comes along and then “you’re on your own lecturer!” 😉 ). As I mentioned in my last post this unit finds us dabbling in the art of “Creative Thinking” to be closely followed by “Creative Writing”…all I have to say about that is “LIES!” There is nothing creative about this unit. It is a bollocking great pile of wading through tracts of cyber bampf that is threatening to back up my internal bulldust monitor and send it into overload. I am doing my best not to blow but I can’t promise anything. We have a couple of stressful weeks where we are going to have to do the equivalent of complex online taxes every day but we were given a bit of a reprieve as our lecturer sent us an email saying that the TAFE has decided to move to another server and we can’t send anything in to him till next Thursday…”WOOT!”. We were a little behind the 8 ball and now we are able to catch up in style. Our next foray into bampf involves designing “Fishing” and “Shooting” questions to ask potential clients regarding a mock business that we have to create. After that we have to bodge another 10 questions (each) to create a “Persona” for a website. Sounds about as much fun as having bamboo slivers shoved under your fingernails doesn’t it? Sigh…

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Here is a picture that Kym took under the influence…note the surreal fuzzy nature of the shot and you can start to get an idea of the surreal fuzzy nature of the 9 days that we spent together 😉

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Still fuzzy girl!

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Fuzzy is contagious! This time Steve must have had a wine glass in his hand when taking this shot 😉

Now that was a long paragraph. Are there any of you remaining who remember how I used to write my blog posts? If not, go look back at last year’s posts and wonder at the tenacity of those fallen ones who would wade into my unbroken posts with ENORMOUS paragraphs and no respite for the wicked. I am a mere sliver of the poster that I once was ;). I like the system of posting at NDIN (Not Dabbling in Normal) as it involves putting my 2c in on a combined post where I only have to add a couple of photos and a few words (my kind of post 😉 ) and then the day after I write a post about the Topic that everyone wrote about on Sunday…easy peasy! I even have the post written, image crammed (a slideshow for anyone who cares) and scheduled ready to post on Monday. I love it when efficiency meets a deadline. I also have to send kudos to Xan and to Emily who seem to be the backbone of NDIN. They are the most sincerely dedicated and organised girls that I know and I take my anal retentive hat off to you both for how smoothly and well-oiled NDIN runs. Just so you know, TRTS (very much like “tarts” or “trots” methinks 😉 ) isn’t going to be anywhere near as well-oiled as I never know from post to post what I am going to do. I like to maintain a creative edge (some might say a “lazy edge” but then some are a bit rude aren’t they? 😉 ).

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I pinched a couple of images from Kym’s camera before she headed home if only to show that in the morning, before the effect of wine took over, she could take a good photo 😉

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Lovely smooth pebbles form the majority of “beach” here in Tassie

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What this lovely image doesn’t reveal is how cold, windy and absolutely sodden this path was that we all decided to walk down with the dogs.

I am typing this post on Saturday and I have just caught up with my cleaning from a couple of weeks ago. The dust behind Brunhilda was terrifying. Forget dust bunnies, I could have made a small dust cow out of it all! Luckily I had decided to empty the vacuum cleaner in preparation for my marathon cleaning event because at the end of the “suck” it was full again! I still haven’t caught up on my RSS Feed Reader but I was reminded (yet again) by the powers that be that sometimes what you are dreading simply isn’t there. Steve loaded it up and I hid behind the sofa where I felt somewhat underwhelmed by the eventual total…just over 500 posts are lying in wait for narf7 to sift through and I have donated my Sunday to catching up with you all and tying up all of the loose ends that I have been dangling around for the last fortnight. I managed to keep on top of my kefir although to be honest it spent the entire fortnight wading luxuriously in real milk and is suffering a bit of culture shock to be dunked back into soymilk after thinking it had climbed out of the mire and “made it”. I am just about to feed Audrey and next week I plan on taking a wonderful simple recipe from Cityhippyfarmgirl as my first step into serious sourdough production. Here’s a link to “It’s all about the bread” a compilation of all of her bready posts isolated into one delicious looking fragrant morsel…

http://cityhippyfarmgirl.com/category/its-all-about-the-bread/

After I feed up Audrey and get her primed and aimed in the right direction I have lots of other things on the back burner that have had to remain on pilot light for quite some time now. I counted 15 Brachychiton discolour saplings in pots in the side garden. Every single one of them is going to be planted out on Serendipity Farm over the next few weeks. Steve and I are both going to plant “a plant a day” so that’s technically “2 plants a day” so they should get a good foothold in the soil before our dry summer hits home. Brachychitons love hot dry conditions. The 3 that we planted out as trial plants last summer managed to survive and thrive in the water free zone that we planted them into. Admittedly, they had a bit of shade which might have given them an edge but far from wilting and dying, they grew like topsy. That tells me that they are going to love living here and aside from the Brachychitons (that we grew from seed we purchased on eBay 3 years ago and that are now over 5ft (152.4cm for those of you who insist on metric 😉 ) we have a plethora of plants that are desperate to get out into the soil. We lost quite a few pines and conifers that we planted out last spring/summer and will be replacing them with hardy shrubs and trees that can handle a bit of heat and dry conditions. No sense trying to plant something that is water hungry around here and there are a wealth of plants that love hot dry conditions, we just have to narrow down the ones that we want to grow here

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Another lovely shot that Kym took of a Tasmannia lanceolata or Native Pepper berry. You can see the ripening pepper berries here. I “borrowed” some to bring home and attempt to grow.

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Kym looking teeny tiny in front of the Low Point lighthouse on a very VERY cold blustery day

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Me trying awfully hard not to look too worried about the sign that mentioned asbestos…

I was fast asleep in bed last night and out of the corner of my mind I heard Earl slither off the bed. I tend not to notice him getting off the bed (aside from when he jumps on me…) and go back to sleep quite quickly but last night I had just dozed back off to sleep when we heard a crazed commotion out on the deck. I sat up in bed and saw Bezial peering out of the vertical blinds in the lounge room at “something” on the deck. Steve and I headed over to see what was happening and saw Earl with a possum in his mouth! I hurriedly opened the sliding door to the lounge room and raced out and Earl had released the possum and it was running back and forth along the deck railing looking terrified. Earl didn’t seem overly interested in catching it again and was looking at it as if to say “go on then…get running so I can chase you!” I made him sit while the poor possum ran down the deck railing and escaped into the bushes. I doubt that he will be coming back any day soon to pinch the cheese cubes that we put out for the cuckoo thrushes and blue wrens and I dare say it will take him a few days to get over earl frolicking with him in the middle of the night.

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Bezial in full tug mode…Steve trying to do his best “thug” impersonation (and failing terribly…”socks and trackies tucked into shoes doth NOT make a good thug Stevie boy 😉 )…earl taking keen note of what Bezial is sniffing and me just being the fat anchor that Earl needs to stop him trotting off where his desires take him 😉

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Earl showing that he doesn’t need Bezial to sniff things for him first, he is perfectly capable of isolating a delightful and most interesting scent all by himself!

We haven’t seen any house sparrows around lately. Apparently there is a disease that is killing them all circulating around Tasmania at the moment. Roxie, our friend down the road told us that she had found 2 dead in her yard and we haven’t seen the motley crew that usually predate the cheese cubes throughout the day and that live in the eaves at the Auld Kirk Church. As much of a pest as house sparrows can be and as much as I muttered about them lining up to scoff the grain that I put out for the chooks I would seriously miss them if they all disappeared.  It would appear that a strain of Salmonella may be taking them out but hopefully it is just a brief hiatus. House sparrows are a resilient bunch of feathered reprobates and I have a bit of a soft spot for them. This happened back in 2009 as well so I am wondering if it is a cyclical thing or if it was just particularly hot back in 2009 and water baths (apparently how the disease is being spread) were more important to the sparrows that spread the disease amongst their peers. I guess we are just going to have to wait and see.

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This is about the only time that these 2 reprobates didn’t attempt to jump on Kym…you can’t see it but she has a handful of doggie treats 😉

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Kym’s king sized birthday cake (and candle…note it is slightly skewed to the side…a bit like Kym and I 😉 ) that took Steve and Kym 3 days to finish.

I just swept the deck clean of desiccated leaves. At this time of year we get a lot of wind and rain in Tasmania (“really?” 😉 ) and I like to keep the deck clear of leaves so that they don’t constitute a slip hazard. Slipping off our deck would be tantamount to base jumping so it’s probably best that we don’t start now. I noticed that the ruin of a side garden that we hacked back to within an inch of it’s life last summer has grown back nicely and isn’t sporting a crew-cut anymore. I have also noticed that some of the shrubs that we liberated in spring last year are starting to look happy about their liberation. The problem with liberating shrubs and gardens from their old weed infested ways is that you end up with something that looks bereft, denuded and terrible and you really wonder if it might not have been best to just leave it the way that it was. The answer to that is nope. Hack away, do your worst and then hope that something that you learned about horticulture managed to guide your hacking hands and that the wasteland you just clear-felled is going to look lovely in another couple of seasons. I had no faith and now I am pleasantly surprised to see that the liberated are blooming and rewarding us with healthy happy green joy. That is good because otherwise I might just have left the rest of it the way that it was! It’s not easy liberating a few shrubs from a jungle folks…

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Look what I found growing amongst my spinach that I raided last night whilst making Steve’s enormous and most delicious quiche. These beetroots had failed to produce roots for whatever reason and I was just farming their tender greens at the end of summer and into autumn. I had completely forgotten about them and almost all of them grew beety roots! Happy days :). Narf7 dines on beetroot tonight 🙂

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Our little Lazarus self pollinating almond tree in flower after surviving one of the worst summers that Tasmania has ever had and proving that almonds are tough water wise trees

I am just about to head off and abandon you for a bit. You wouldn’t have known about it apart from me taking a year of living honestly as a 101 life course last year and feeling the need to spill the beans on a regular basis…cathartic actually but it makes for long posts…My abandonment is entirely necessary because tonight I bake. Studies and housework aren’t the only things that got neglected while Kym was visiting…we didn’t bother looking for eggs either and after Kym headed back we set out in earnest to see how many eggs we could find (we don’t like smelly surprises in our summer whipper snipper ventures into the garden). We have almost an entire shelf of Serendipity Farm eggs and no-one to eat them. Steve will eat an egg or two every now and then on toast but isn’t a great egg imbiber. I, as a consecrated vegan, tend to remain celibate on the egg front and aside from 2 gaping dog mouths that would eat every egg that we offered them we think that the hard laid offerings from our furiously scratching chooks should be at least eaten by something that savours them and doesn’t mainline them like Earl does. One day I am going to keep feeding Earl eggs. I am fascinated to know just how many eggs he could eat till he was egg satiated. I have a sneaking suspicion that I would run out of them before he had his fill. I am going to send 2 cartons (along with half a dozen duck eggs) along to the girls when Steve next heads in to do our fortnightly shop in Launceston but that still leaves us with a plethora of eggs that remind us of our good fortune every time we open the fridge. What’s a girl to do? Make quiche!

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“What do you mean you don’t need to put a photo of me in this post for Littlesundog from Day by Day the Farm Girl Way eh? She NEEDS her Earl fix!”

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Earl hiding under our bed to escape the wrath that he thinks he is due after attempting to scratch his way to China through our bedclothes…

The abandonment is so that I can rustle up a batch of butter based shortcrust pastry to rest in the fridge and I am going to make a quiche with 20 eggs in it… a large baking dish of a quiche that Steve can eat for his evening meal tonight and can then snack on over the next few days. I have most of a small tub of sour cream left over from a chilli night that we had when Kym was visiting. Some of it got dolloped onto the remainder of the meaty chilli in the form of nacho’s that Steve enjoyed for his evening meal last night but there is still a considerable amount left and what better to use it in than quiche. I mistook a picture that Kym sent me of a plate of eggs, bacon and toast and beans from a breakfast prior to when she visited as her regular fare and we bought an extra kilo of bacon specifically to allow her to breakfast in familiar territory. When she arrived she told me that her wonderful husband Bruce had spoiled her that day by making her breakfast and that she really only ate a couple of eggs. Eggs we could do in style but what to do with all that extra bacon? “Quiche!”…are you starting to get a picture? Kym also bought Steve some Gloucestershire cheese offcuts from Ashgrove cheese factory (that’s twice I have mentioned you in a positive light Ashgrove, I expect to be renumerated with some of your most DELICIOUS cheese post haste! 😉 ) and despite eating almost all of them in various snacking events and meals (including last night’s nachos) Steve has graciously allowed me to use the remainder in tonight’s massive quiche along with a chunk of ricotta that I bought in the shopping last Monday and some Danish feta (apparently too mild to be used as “real” feta…) that was on special so tonight’s quiche is going to be a celebration of taste, enormous size, gourmet deliciousness and frugality that will allow us to use up excesses AND consume them in style. “Happy Days” as me old mucka Jamie Oliver would have said before he abandoned his sensibilities and headed over to the good old U.S of A and became an honorary American in his last television series.

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A story of unrequited love and learning to live with rejection aka “A Duck’s Tale”

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This is a “Where’s Wally” flower

Steve and I have been timing ourselves and we think that we have a chance of a medal in the World ruined driveway gate opening championships. A bit more rain and we are going to end up the undisputed champions. We can open the gate that leads from the compound surrounding the house (that allows the world to sleep safe in the knowledge that Earl is contained and defused), Steve can lift Earl into the car, we can rustle a wayfaring sniffing Bezial into the back of the car (Earl has taken up residence in the front by now…”whatchagonnado!”) and we can both jump in the front seat, zoom off down what remains of our driveway, avoiding the abyss, the canyons, the rapids (still flowing and showing no sign of stopping any day soon) and the mushy spots where the soil has just stopped trying to repel the water and has decided to become officially “swamp”. When we arrive at the front gate the speed at which Steve can pass me the keys (the gate key is on our car keys) and I can be out of the car door and have the gate open is alarming. As soon as I have the gates open enough Steve puts the car into gear and lets it roll whilst holding his hand out of his window to get the keys from me, starting the car mid roll while I am closing the gates on the run (well as close as I am ever going to get to a run anyway…) and am leaping into the car and we are off! I know that we are in with a chance…we are contenders folks! As soon as I can find where the championships are being held I will send in our entry. For now, we will just have to keep practicing and negotiating those potholes because the rain isn’t apparently going anywhere anytime soon and we aren’t stupid enough to start mending the morass mid rainy season.

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Is THAT where you keep those delicious dog treats eh?

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Now I know…I can go straight to the source! 😉

Bugger…this post appears to be a long one. I don’t know how that happened! I guess I have been skimping lately and my natural brain quotient hasn’t been reached and my brain is doing the equivalent of eating the furniture…best let me post a long one every now and then folks or your furniture might not be safe either! See you all next Wednesday or you could check out my latest post on NDIN for yourself and see how I managed to find enough flowers to start my own Botanical Gardens on a wet, sodden, end of winter Serendipity Farm :o).

Serendipity Faux Farm

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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