No spam today, the spam has gone away…

Hi All,

It has been a very eventful few days since I got back from my daughter’s home culminating in us having to take a detour into Launceston today to hand our computer over to the P.C. MacGyver’s to detangle a nefarious viri from its intestinal tract.  We had planned on erecting the fence around our garden today. Yesterday it was cold and windy and rainy so we put off fencing the garden because the forecast was better today. Instead, we decided to finish off some of our studies to get ourselves a little bit ahead in advance. You would think that after being saturated in info about how viruses travel around in Flash that we would know better than to download a seemingly innocent little “free game” but we stupidly did and found ourselves in a world of hassle where our virus protectors weren’t all that much good. We pretty much shut the virus down as soon as we found it by unplugging our P.C. from the net and turning off our modem but a quick phone call in the last few moments before the computer shop shut had us booked in for today at shops opening and pacing the freezing cold wind ridden streets of Launceston with 2 very excited pooches who had a strong desire to tag all of Launceston with “We Woz Ere”. Paying someone $80 to free up our P.C. was the least painful part, we had to get back home and change ALL of our passwords…sigh… better safe than sorry I suppose. I have mixed old and new images to share with you today because what we could come up with ourselves from Serendipity Farm today was somewhat sad…enjoy the nostalgia 😉

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A rare patch of sunshine on wintery Serendipity Farm. As you can see, there are leaves everywhere, the grass is overgrown which is amusing because up until the end of April we didn’t HAVE anything but dead bone dry dirt and the eucalypts are shedding their bark (and in some cases, their branches) like crazy. Couple this with both of the humanic variants that live on Serendipity Farm wanting to stay inside near the fire and out of the cold and you have a recipe for guilty sloth 🙂

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A late winter/early spring picture taken at our house in town when we lived there about 4 years ago

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I probably should have put this photo in before the last one because this shot is of autumn. This leaf blower was doing great service as a leaf sucker on the day. I managed to suck up and mulch all of these leaves in one shot and used the results to mulch the garden 🙂

I have noticed a steep increase in spam comment content on the blog but as it still amuses the heck out of me I am not concerned. Today, a spammer tried to get me to indignantly reply to their comment by insulting my spelling. Anyone who knows me well knows that I accept that I spell atrociously but that as most spelling is automatically corrected these days, my spelling mistakes are my own. I have a chuckle at the spammers who promise me increased blog followers if I will just let them put some of their “special videos” in my posts. We then have the spammers who want to sell their Louis Vuitton bags but all in Japanese… some of the spam should be listed on engrish.com it is so hilarious and WordPress does a pretty good job of catching most of it before it gets around to me having to choose whether it is spam or not. I am well behind in reading my RSS Feed Reader thanks to a large pile of blogs that were waiting for me when I got home from my daughters that I still haven’t managed to get through and as I couldn’t use the P.C. on Friday morning the pile started to increase alarmingly. I am going to spend the weekend wading through posts and doing my level best to start next week off with a nice clean (and manageable) slate.

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This is “Tickle”. He was named after one of the moonshiners on a hillbilly television show that Steve likes to watch. In the show, Tickle is prone to bad luck. So is this kitten. Earl almost killed him when he managed to squeeze under the gate to attempt to get one of Earls meaty bones and it was by sheer luck that Steve was outside at the time and saved his life. Steve has a soft spot for him now.

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Another photo taken when we lived in town of a particularly bored Bezial. He still likes to lay in this chair affecting boredom, only the location has changed

Jenny, our previously “anon” friend who inadvertently outed herself recently by commenting on the blog using her name, allowed we pathetic, cold, computer-less creatures to visit her yesterday while we were waiting for our P.C. to be inoculated was telling us about how she had been planting pansies and stocks and that they had been disappearing. She had decided that the culprit was rats as there were small neat holes at the base of her missing plants…on closer inspection (and after talking to gardening friends) she realised that the holes were too perfect and after sharing her dilemma with her horticultural workmates they told her that the culprit was sure to be freshwater crayfish! Our good old Aussie yabby was crunching up her flowers! She had been planting leeks and potato onions etc. and none of the vegetables had been touched, only the flowers that she was planting to fool the pests. Now that it is winter the creek that flows through her property will refill and the ground is starting to get quite damp on her property and the yabbies have taken advantage of the newly softened ground to start tunnelling and pinching the tasty results of her hard work. I think it’s time to have a crawdad hunt with the kids this weekend and get some sweet tasty revenge on her flower pilferers!

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I am not all that sure what this plant is. All I know is that it is a tall shrub that manages to take the dry difficult summer conditions here on Serendipity Farm and bounces back in winter with these lovely flowers when just about everything else (except the azaleas that are still flowering like crazy) has given up the ghost.

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The Myrtus communis berries are finally ripe. They still taste acerbic (like unripe persimmons) but should we ever want to get experimental we could make a type of alcohol out of them that the Greeks prize.

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This is a winter iris…it’s winter…it’s flowering…

Jenny gave me some snow pea seeds to plant out in our new garden. Our milder conditions here allow us to grow things that might not be possible in other Tasmanian areas. We don’t often get a frost and so I am going to plant out some snow peas and see if they will grow for us in the new garden.  It’s Saturday morning and we started the garden! I am very excited about how quickly the rope and the netting went up on the first part of the garden. We have roped all of the poles and will be putting netting up over the next few days. We realised that our massive (6 trailer loads) pile of well composted horse manure is outside the perimeter of the garden and unless I want to barrow 6 trailer loads of manure around to where the gate is going to be situated, (conveniently on the other side of the garden to where the manure pile is now…sigh…) I should get shovelling BEFORE we put the netting up on that side of the garden. I have a couple of days to shovel it all as well as cut the branches from the sheoak and wattle trees that we had to remove when we created the perimeter of the garden. Both sheoak’s and wattles are nitrogenous so lets hope that’s not just their roots and that they add something back to the garden when they are used to line the base of the garden beds. We noticed that the huge winds that we had yesterday have stolen almost all of the leaves that were waiting to be raked over at Glad’s place next door. It’s a definite case of “fool me once” that has made fools out of us. Last year exactly the same thing happened! Next year I will be raking nice and early. We had decided to wait till all of the oak trees had lost their leaves and they were just about ready for us to harvest and now most of them are clogging up Glads little stream and I fear that yours truly is going to have to get down and dirty into the creek bed to shovel leaves out all over again. Consider me educated in the ways of Tassie winter now…I won’t be doing that again!

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Here is Steve the chameleon. That’s his natural hair colour by the way folks…we made this cake as a thankyou to a good friend at Polytechnic for all of his help.

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This is what it looked like inside and that was YEARS before those rainbow cakes became de rigor… we penniless student hippies are inadvertent trend setters 😉

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Another incarnation of Steve. His hair might naturally be black but it is also naturally curly (not that you are going to see it any day soon aside from here 😉 ). This photo was taken of us both when we were in Melbourne in 2010 at the Melbourne International Flower Show.

I am just about to dehydrate a large quantity of milk kefir grains. I figure it is the best way to preserve them for storage and if anyone wants any kefir grains I can send them to them. I will be using the instructions I found here http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/sharing-kefir-grains.htm Dom is the kefir king here in Australia and has been sending kefir worldwide for many years so I would imagine he knows his preservation technique stuff and has honed it to a fine art. I am first going to wash them in rainwater which we now have access to. Our little 600 litre rainwater tank is full to the brim. After the grains have been washed clean of milk curds clinging to them they get put on a dehydrator sheet lined with baking paper. I just need to ensure that the grains don’t get heated higher than 85F which is almost 30C until they are dried out and then I store them in milk powder. I have some organic milk powder that I store in the freezer that will give them the best chance of being viable once they are rehydrated. Managing ferments and cultures is a very interesting process and it’s good to know that you don’t have to just let your little helpers die if you have too many of them.

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You might initially think that this was a photo of some seaside daisies over some rocks…you would only be partially right there…

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Look a little bit closer and you will find a hidden stash…well I found the stash and I am starting to despair of finding the rest. The hens are getting crafty (the hens that aren’t currently clucky that is :(…)

bitches

Sigh…

I made some soy milk yesterday, heavily fortified with date paste and will be dunking my regular kefir grains back in non-dairy milk after a few days soaking in regular milk. I had left them in the fridge for the 5 days that I was away which slows their activity down and after 2 days refreshment they are back to the coalface culturing my non-dairy kefir for my morning green smoothies. I didn’t expire after consuming almost 3 litres of semi-explosive kefir (rather than wasting it) before I headed to my daughters so I figure that gives me impunity to mess around with my milks and see just what I can make. So long as I add date paste the kefir seems to be happy with my experimentation. There doesn’t appear to be much difference between the appearance of the regular milk kefir grains and my hybrid non-dairy milk grains aside from the non-dairy milk grains seem to grow faster. I am creating mutants! You can call me Dr Fronkenstein ;).

Another cake! This one was a rich coffee mud cake covered with chocolate ganache, white chocolate ganache and milk and dark chocolate covered coffee beans

This wonderful contraption was captured by Steve when he had volunteered to take our daughters to an arty festival in Launceston. That tent in the background had regular acts and there was a wonderful display of wicker art including furniture. This wonderful sculpture was towed around by this man for hours. The teapot on top went around and around and it was fully articulated. Kudos sir but next time you might want to find a few friends to help you tow 😉

I just sent Steve off armed with his camera to try to find something of worth to photograph to share in tonight’s post.  Winter tends to rob bloggers of photo opportunities and where we have no snow, rain or anything else noteworthy to report, we have had a lot of gusty wind over the last few days that has peeled the remaining loose bark from the trees, has stolen our leaves and has made a mess of any grassy surface so I need to rake up those valuable leaves before I take photos of the mess that the pesky wind has made. I haven’t made much of a dent in my RSS Feed Read but that is what Sundays are for. We have a really good head start on next terms studies (that start again on Monday) and so we figure that we should be able to get our garden sorted out next week and once we get the perimeter up, I can start creating my keyhole gardens. I am going to use the existing gardens (after pulling them apart) to start off the new gardens but then I have to get creative with what I am going to use to form the perimeters of the gardens. Rocks are abundant and free so I dare say they are going to figure predominately in the new garden structure. They also allow you to create more organic shapes and so I should be able to form my keyholes. Keyhole gardening is a more efficient way to use the space that you have available. I have space amounting to a double tennis court so I should be able to grow a considerable amount of our own food in spring. Here’s what keyhole gardening is all about… http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3726/

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Steve’s hand hammering the first “U” tack to hold the rope for our new fully enclosed veggie garden…

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The first piece of net going up. Please disregard the interesting debris littered landscape…I did 😉

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Over the next week this entire area will be fully enclosed. I have to shovel a tonne of horse poo before the final side goes up but at the moment, the possums are as intent on staying home as I am. Note the beans in the uncovered veggie garden that we left for the chooks and possums to clear out for us have kept growing…when they were covered up the possums couldn’t wait to scarf them…now that they are out in the open their natural bolshie suspicion must have kicked in and they are refusing to eat them…sigh…

I finally got around to putting the dried beans that have been languishing in egg cartons on the spare bedroom floor away. In doing this I had to also clean up the spare room. I have more seeds that I have been saving in various states of “dry” all over the place. I have a dormouse desire to collect seeds and stuff them everywhere and now I have finally made a place to put them all in the spare bedroom cupboard. The idea that I will be able to actually grow real beans this year and that they will be able to climb as tall as they want to with impunity (and no small furry tooth marks on them) is starting to make me excited. I scour gardening websites like other people scan expensive gardening magazines. My preferred sites all revolve around my own personal ethos and all of them give me hope that someday we will produce most of our food here on Serendipity Farm. Steve is under the influence of the photography bug at the moment and is taking alarming red images and converting them to smoky black and white shots that then become pastel coloured 1950’s style images. I keep expecting to see a Studebaker or a petticoat skirt in the pictures. He is having fun messing around with different filters and at least it is keeping him off the streets ;).

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Apparently carob trees and bay trees are persona-non-grata with possums and wallabies as these delicious young specimens have not been touched by the dreaded tag-team twosome. I am NOT going to be fooled by this apparently immunity. I will be protecting these babies when they get planted out after we finish the veggie garden…”Fool me once possums…FOOL ME ONCE!”

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This is Joanna Griggs. She is famous. She was once in the Aussie Olympic swim team and now presents Australia’s version of “Better Homes and Gardens” and she was posing for photos at the Melbourne International Flower Show when Steve got this wonderful shot of her. I really like Joanna but not because of her association with the bright lights. When the cameramen all went away and only a motley crowd remained behind a little girl with Down’s Syndrome ran up to Joanna and hugged her and she reached down, picked up the little girl and gave her a huge hug right back. Now THAT is my definition of a star 🙂

The dogs are careening around the house with a 3 litre milk container that I had to bribe Earl with when I was vacuuming the spare room. It’s getting close to their meal time and they are well aware of it. The level of noise increases exponentially as the time to be fed approaches. I think we could set our watches (if we wore them) by Bezial and his stomach ;). I have decided to use a few images from the past to pad out the poor sad efforts that we were able to take today. Steve did a montage of cats but as this post hasn’t got much to do with cats I will only use one of them. I have a sneaking suspicion that the cats were close to the house and he didn’t want to venture further afield into the cold afternoon and so took enough pictures for me to think he had put an effort in…it’s that kind of weather around here at the moment…the sort that makes you want to pull your head into your jumper and just snuggle up and do sweet nothing. The problem is that we have to get a fair bit accomplished here over the next few months. It will be interesting to see how we manage to motivate ourselves into doing it because not doing it isn’t an option.

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This lovely shot was taken at Hollybank, a nature reserve about 15 – 20km away from Launceston city. It’s a lovely place to visit and you can walk your dogs here as well. This is Earl and Bezial’s idea of heaven 🙂

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Another shot from Hollybank. We used to walk here a lot when we lived in Launceston. We haven’t been there for ages now but we are making plans to remedy that pretty soon

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Isn’t this pretty tea? A friend of ours gave it to me as we were walking the dogs the other day. Her partner had bought the wrong kind of tea accidentally and she is quite particular about what she does and doesn’t like. This wasn’t the right kind so I got a wonderful present. It’s very light and has a lovely fruity floral perfume and I just had a cup of it 🙂 Cheers Roxy, it’s lovely 🙂

I have given in to the sad puppy dog eyes and am going to feed the dogs. I might leave this rumpled post there for the day. Sometimes posts come easy and sometimes they don’t. Today was harder than usual but hopefully it contains enough to stop you, my dear constant readers, from feeling jipped. I am quite glad that this week has come to an end. Tomorrow I will clear out my RSS Feed Reader and will emerge triumphant at the end of the day with an empty post box and ready to face another week. I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. Somewhere in the ethos it is sunny, indeed it’s hot! Not here…here it’s lovely and cold and I am enjoying every single moment of it :o).

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“What’s the name of that garbage monster?”…

Hi All,

“Is it Elmo?”…”Oh THAT’S right…it was Oscar”. That’s what my dear Sesame Street deprived husband said to me on our walk with the dogs this morning. We were just about to pass a notorious dog house where said “Garbage monster” lived and dragged our two past an enormous hairy adolescent of a German shepherd with his voice breaking with excitement to see our boys. I hate to break it to you babe…Earl is the garbage monster! We then carried on our walk only to see a group of extremely tall and thin kids with their dog off the leash…sigh…we turned around and headed back the other way till we were just about to meet up with another Saturday dog walker and did another about face in the other direction and returned back to where we had started. On the way back to the car we met Buster…I can only begin to imagine the thought processes going through Steve’s strange mind that are going to give him his memory cue for that one! At least it gives me entertaining blog post titles to lure the unsuspecting in! 😉

As I just used Steve to shamelessly promote todays post so I had best give you an action shot of him making a mountain of wood futures

When I get out of bed in the morning my warm spot is immediately predated by a heat seeking missile

Earl contemplating a career as a prize fighter

On Wednesday I mentioned that we had berries on a Mahonia shrub in the jungle part of the garden and Spencer from Anthropogen, my go-to place for learning EVERYTHING about practical useful horticulture (in opposition to horticulture that is a bit of a waste of time and that results in things that you can’t use or eat) mentioned in his comment that you can make jam out of them. Always the sceptic I decided to head off and take a look…Mahonia aquifolium’s common name is Oregon grape and as the blackbirds are eagerly hovering around these bright blue berries I figured that I might harvest them and see if I can’t make a small pot of jam out of them. Here is a good website with a great recipe for jam/jelly and some hints about combining the fruit with milder carrier fruit to mellow its flavour…

http://s158336089.onlinehome.us/OregonGrapeJam/OregonGrapeJam.html

We have some Myrtus communis (common myrtle) shrubs on the property as well and aside from making jam from the fruit, it is apparently good for making a type of booze and anything booze is alright by me! Thinking about it…maybe Mahonia could be turned into an interestingly coloured wine? Anyone for blue wine? Talking about blue things, we have seen an influx of the dreaded huge blue ants which form the stuff that Steve’s nightmares are made of. He was once bitten on the foot whilst whipper snipping by one of these nasty critters and aside from being amazingly painful the bite took ages to go away. The ants are not actually ants but are wingless female flower wasps. Here is a website with a picture of one of these beautiful but painful insects to check out for yourself…

http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2010/11/21/blue-ant-from-tasmania-is-flightless-female-flower-wasp/

That’s my “something new I learned today”.  I dehydrated some bananas that I bought for 99c a kilogram the other day. The local grocer that we buy our fruit from doesn’t wait till the bananas go black before he puts them out cheap so they are great to eat immediately or to freeze or dehydrate for later use. I was thinking about how to use dehydrated bananas other than eating them and decided that I am going to partially dehydrate some bananas to the approximate texture of dried dates and then I will puree them and add them to some home-made nut butter. I am also thinking about adding some cocoa to the mix to see how that pans out. Today’s bunch got frozen after I skinned them. I then snipped the skin into fine chunks for our ravenous compost pile to consume. I say that the compost pile is ravenous, but really it’s the small handful of leaves and red wriggler worms that the owner of “Inspirations” nursery in Exeter gave to me. He must have given me about 20 worms and I laid them reverently in the compost bin, covering them with some dried oak leaves and a kitchen scrap bucket load of various choice scraps. I came out later to see the entire compost bin seething with chooks all pecking away like crazy and immediately lamented my 20 red wrigglers, writing their eulogy as I yelled at the chooks and did windmill things with my arms in a vain effort to dissuade them from eating every last one. I figured that the compost heap was now worm free aside from the odd huge native worm that bumbled its way into Nirvana. I was wrong! At least 1 worm must have survived and went exponential on our compost heap in a big way because all you have to do is life a little of the top layer of compost and you get to see a seething mass of worms in various stages of development from teeny little thin whipper-snappers to strapping red gyrating teens. The nursery owner did warn me that they breed exponentially and now I get to reap their composting rewards and they get my buckets of scraps to fight over with the chooks.

The ubiquitous worm laden compost heap complete with an entire dead lavender shrub disguising the baby pumpkins that are growing behind it until they get so big that the chooks can’t possibly hope to quell them

Wednesday’s Mahonia berries are Saturday’s empty stems

Unripe Mahonia berries that will be harvested BEFORE the birds predate them as soon as they are ripe

The extent of my haul of Mahonia berries 😦

I put the two plastic bags that the bananas had been languishing in into my plarn bag and noticed that it was now full of all kinds of plastic bags and ticked the “to do on Saturday” box in my head initiating a plarn manufacturing day in advance. Little did I know that the garbage monster had plans of his own and his plans were for earlier on in the week! Needless to say…never leave your dog’s alone with an unattended bag of plastic bags that you intend on recycling creatively because you may have to change your “plarns” (sorry, I couldn’t resist that ;)). Earl recycled most of my plarn bags into unusable shards and the rest of them are still waiting to be processed by Earl’s internal plastic recycling depot and I am NOT going to make plarn out of them! I read on a website that living sustainably starts a chain of events in your life that can completely change the way that you live and how you see things. I completely agree. All sorts of cycles start coming out of the woodwork and I am constantly amazed at how many ways to recycle, reuse and repurpose things there are. As a natural born skiller (again…sorry…I am full of them today! ;)), I have a driven urge that is apparently the fruit of generations of thriftiness that runs in my blood like ginger beer. Talking about ginger beer…I must get a plant on the go! I keep seeing opportunities to make and do things and I am finding it increasingly hard to just make it to the end of the day having followed my goals because I am always deviating out sideways after finding something new. I thinned out my rss feed reader and rather than making my life easier, it’s actually made it harder! I have so many great blogs that I am actually reading every single post and am commenting on them all because they are all amazing resource rich sources of information and I am always incredibly grateful to those bloggers who yield quality stuff. I am getting up at 5am and have 2 hours to wander lonely as a cloud to find that sea of daffodils BUT those daffodils side-track me like crazy. It’s not MY fault that those amazing vegan food blogs are just about all participating in Vegan Mofo and keep linking to other great vegan food blogs that I just HAVE to stuff into my rss feed reader (like the hoarding pack rat that I am…sigh…) and that the rest of the quirky crafty homesteading mix that I have padding out the vegan stuff is equally as prolific and productive with their amazingly useful posts. I am going to have to spend this entire weekend working slowly through the 840 (yes 840!) posts that are mounting up exponentially in my rss feed reader and I want to read every single one! I keep a word doc open and ready to filch the mouth-watering recipes and how to’s and precious gardening information and by the end of my 2 hours word is ready to go back to bed for the day. I hit 7am (Steve’s time to wake up) running and have started a new tradition of thinking of some amazing music for him to wake up to and heading on over to Youtube, finding the entire album and turning it on as I bring him his morning cup of eye opening java. I am usually a very happy camper to be full of hours of acquired knowledge and information and carefully cribbed amazing recipes and bounce into the bedroom with coffee, wonderful music and a bleary eyed husband and his 2 furry bed mates. I think I am becoming one of those dreaded morning people!

Bananas ready for the freezer

My compost bucket with snipped banana skins to allow them to decompose more quickly

More banana peels to snip and 2 plarn futures bags…well they WOULD have been plarn futures if Earl hadn’t decided to intercede… I love being able to find ways to reuse everything that comes from our purchases and am looking forwards to heading even further afield to find more interesting ways to reuse, repurpose and recycle as much as we can on Serendipity Farm

When I was dejectedly stumbled around the garden after finding the Mahonia stripped bare of all of the succulent blue fruit that I had just decided to harvest I noted the seed pods on an incredibly overgrown and tumble-down Cassia bicapsularis/Senna. The tree is apparently incredibly hardy and this one has seen MUCH better days. I decided to collect some of the seeds and grow some more for Serendipity Farm. Aside from flowering in the winter and being a lovely looking tree, Cassia’s are leguminous and fix nitrogen in the soil and this particular variety are somewhat fast growing so they can act as foundation trees to support other slower growing trees and because they grow faster they can be cut and used as mulch. We also discovered a Kowhai/Sophora tetraptera, another leguminous small tree by complete accident when Steve noticed it flowering. It has very distinctive shaped and coloured flowers. I wonder why many leguminous trees and shrubs have yellow flowers? Genista monspessulana/Canary broom and Cytisus scoparius/English broom that has developed a curious red centre on many of the self-seeded weeds in the area also have yellow flowers as does Ulex europaeus/Gorse. Thank goodness we don’t have gorse on Serendipity Farm! That’s one weed that we really don’t need! This garden is constantly revealing little parts of itself as it evolves. I got to peek into the jungle part of the garden by braving some menacing blackberries and by turning sideways and peering through the hugely overgrown Phoenix canariensis/Canary palm that prevents entry to this part of the garden. I noticed a most interesting looking vibernum and on doing a bit of research, I discovered that there are many viburnum’s that have edible berries and some have leaves that can be used to make teas. I think that the vibernum that I discovered was Vibernum rhytidophyllum from a bit more research.

The distinctive flower of the Kowhai a leguminous tree that we recently found in our garden thanks to this flower

After a while it gets easier to work out what is leguminous and what isn’t. The leaves on the Kowhai are a dead giveaway where the flower isn’t really all that pea shaped

The plant (taken with a zoom lens) that I suspect is Vibernum rhytidophyllum amongst the jungle down in the lower garden area

It looks like Tasmania has decided to shuffle in some last bastions of winter for a couple of days. I don’t mind because I like when the garden gets watered for free and Brunhilda gets to make an appearance for a while and I don’t have to turn on the gas hot water system for a few more days. Steve has been busy fixing the front gate that has been warped by a large tree growing against one of the gate poles. He also fixed the water pipe that we burst the other day when we were planting our maples. I am so very lucky to have a husband who is “handy”. He might want to run at his days like a bull at a gate but he certainly knows how to redeem himself :o). I need to mention here that I finished “Gone Girl”. I loved the book and the interesting premise of the book but the ending was a bit weird to say the least. I had to suspend my sense of disbelief a bit but aside from the strange ending Gillian Flynn has written 3 books that I thoroughly enjoyed and will be reading anything else that she chooses to publish. I still haven’t read Like Water for Chocolate but I dare say I will find 5 minutes to shove my nose into it someday soon. My main problem now is that getting up at 5am renders me zombified by 8pm and completely unable to read anything more than a few sentence’s before I find myself waking up with my chin on my chest. At least I now earn the drool on my shirt with spring giving us so many opportunities to work hard on Serendipity Farm

I just wanted to share a few photos with you of the jungle area of the garden…

The pink coloured tree in the background is a Circis siliquastrum/Judas tree that is struggling to be seen amongst this seething mass of impenetratable vegetation

My sideways, upside down on one leg squinting shot of the garden taken just before I was heartily yanked by a wayfaring blackberry and forced to retreat from the jungle garden post haste

The mushrooms have started to slow down now and I think that my days of free mushrooms are limited by whether or not we pick up some more mushroom compost when we next head into town. The spent compost will be used to top dress garden beds as mulch. I was reading a blog this morning that talked about how restaurants are lamenting how difficult it is to minimise food waste because companies that haul away their food waste for composting charge too much. I wonder why all of the restaurants in a suburb (or even a few suburbs) don’t get together and try to do something about the problem. If companies can make money out of hauling away someone else’s food waste, surely the restaurants could as well? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to start their own communal compost heap somewhere and pay someone themselves to haul away the waste, compost it and sell it on? Thinking about it a little more, perhaps they could supply community gardens and a percentage of the produce could be returned to the restaurateurs to be recycled into their profit margin? I wish I had more food waste to compost as one day my red wrigglers are going to start lining up at the back door demanding I open the fridge for them. I think I might start a real worm farm soon. The compost heap is almost ready to be plundered for its black gold and I am going to have to evict the worms en mass. Beaconsfield tip shop often have ceramic baths for $20 and I think it might be time to head on over for a tip run in the near future to see if we can’t get ourselves a nice pink (strangely most baths thrown out are pink!) prospective worm farm. Another cycle forming on Serendipity Farm to integrate with all of the other cycles. Steve watered the glasshouse with some Powerfeed and worm tea the other day and pretty soon we won’t have to buy our worm tea, we will be able to make it ourselves.  It’s this myriad of cycles that has me excited for the future and once we manage to tame these cycles we should be able to ride the waves of change on Serendipity Farm. Nothing like a bit of proactivity to give you back a sense of equilibrium :o)

One of the lily of the valley’s that have been sprouting up all over the place lately along with the Soloman’s seals

Steve’s weird choice of foodstuffs that comprised 2 spinach and herb wraps consisting of French onion dip spread, roast pork, fresh sliced tomato, baby cos lettuce, sliced tasty cheese, omelette chinese style and some dijonaise all wrapped up and consumed with happy expat gusto. Glad I can make you happy babe but please…NEVER expect me to eat them with you! 😉

“Yeh…I did it…what are you going to do about it eh?”…a lesson in how dogs amuse themselves if you don’t leave them enough plastic milk bottles to work on till you get back…”Goodbye plarn futures till I build you up again!”

It’s just about time to post this post and I am still sitting here tapping away. I have had my tea; I have watched Gok’s wonderful cooking show. Anyone apart from me think that Gok is the Asian equivalent of Nigel Slater? I am ready to trawl the net tonight to find all sorts of quality information and so I bid you adieu for now and wish you all a wonderful weekend and remind you not to forget to listen to some good music when you can, it adds a magnificent piquancy to life and can take you to those mental and emotional places that nothing else can. See you on Wednesday :o)

Cat Stevens is a never-ending cup of the purest unadulterated pleasure and this is what I played first thing this morning to wake Steve up and to fill my heart with simple clean pure joy

The very best of Cat Stevens the full album…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxD6faPrY1M

Zone 1 all wrapped up in plarn

Hi All,

Can anyone out there please explain to me how ANYONE has time to be bored these days? I read about bored unemployed people…I am (for the want of a job) “unemployed” but I would really appreciate it if these people could loan me a bit of their spare time that they can’t seem to fill up because my time is bursting its seams! Whenever I get spare time I have all sorts of things festering on the back burners. If I am really free of pressing things to do I can jump online and head off into the ether to read my backlog (at least 500 of them…) of backed up blogs that I absolutely POSITIVELY must keep in my rss feed reader. I add at least 10 new blogs to them every day and am showing no signs of slowing down. My poor reader is starting to strain a bit when I open it at 5am (it would seem that I am not the only one who isn’t fine-tuned for mornings ;)) and I spend some delicious time syphoning magpied recipes, sippets of precious gardening information and all things sustainable and therefore incredibly precious to this little black duck who chooses to simplify her life. I seem to end up heading up all sorts of alternate pathways as I reply to particularly good posts, click on links and wander off searching the globe for solutions for our tiny corner of the globe in the wider blogging and online community. I just spent an hour wading through raw food blogs to sift out some amazing raw dehydrator bread and wrap recipes that I am going to have a go at making soon. I have a huge 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator that I bought years ago when I lived in a hotter clime. I use it mainly to dehydrate the dogs thin beef strips to keep them doing what we want on long walks and to dehydrate any surpluses that we get (like our recent mushroom glut) for the future. I also found out that raw foodists seem to love sweet things more than savoury. I am the opposite and love savoury things with a passion. Give me a cheesy sour cream flavour over chocolate ANY day. Again Steve and I are complete opposites there. He loves sweet…I love savoury…he is measured with his food and I am an abject glutton (much like heifer is a “glutton” in Rocko’s modern life)

This is a prospective Larix decidua grove of tiny trees

A sea of forget-me-nots not being forgotten

If I get bored of surfing for information and I do at times…I always have a large stack of delicious library books (with more backing up on hold to pick up today) that are just waiting for me to curl up on Bezials sofa next to Brunhilda and slowly fall asleep to. Nothing like a book reading nap to remind you that you are no longer 20! Talking about Brunhilda…I got up today and realised that it was October 1st. “A pinch and a punch for the first of the month and NO RETURNS”…childish aren’t I? Last night I decided to end my long running battle with enormous food portions. I have always eaten “well” and when I changed my long standing bad habits earlier in the year and lost weight I hung on tenaciously to the size of my portions. I know that I should eat less, I just don’t want to! Now is the perfect time to cut a sliver off my portion sizes and lighten the night time load. I invented an Asian style soup last night with wakame, shaved orange and purple carrots, my heavenly Korean green miso and veggie paste, some Korean chilli paste (that I am almost out of so I get to go to the Asian food shop in the near future again…YAY!), Massell stock powder (all natural and the best thing that we Aussies came up with since free speech), fresh sliced thick mushrooms, minced fresh garlic and ginger and probably some more things that I have forgotten but it was delicious and it was light and I enjoyed it immensely. The best part about it was that because it was light soup, I couldn’t overindulge. I also woke up ready for my breakfast rather than still full after an oversized meal. Bad habits are hard to change but I figure that changing one of them at a time is good enough for me and this one is a lifelong habit…one of the doozies…so I am not going to hamper myself by trying to tackle anything else while I nail the coffin lid onto my overeating habits. Wish me luck…I am going to need it!

I thought you might like a game of “spot the chives”

Two elephant garlic plants that for some reason, the allium loving possums and wallabies have decided to spare

So I have my library books and my online information highway…I also have the supermarket bag full of plastic bags. I am not saving my bags to use for rubbish because I have ANOTHER bag of supermarket bags for that. This special bag contains all of the supermarket bags that have holes in the bottom…my empty oat packets, date packets. Frozen vegetable packets etc. All of the bread wrappers (again, I have a separate stash that I use for collecting the dogs deposits around the yard…) and in the near future I am going to reduce them all into plarn. Plarn is my new friend. I am going to use my crocheting skills (such as they are) to render said plarn into useful stuff like tote bags for our shopping (I find is somewhat ironic that I am crocheting cut up shopping bags to make a bag for my shopping ;)), scuffy shoey things that look like sandals, hats, dishcloths etc. Check “Plarn” out here to see what I am talking about…

This first blog has how to make plarn and some good projects for using it…

http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2011/03/06/newspaper-bags-recycled-into-plarn/

This is a fantastic blog of crocheted guinea pigs…I kid you not! Someone made plarn AND crocheted guinea pigs…guess who just found something else to add to their rss feed reader 😉

http://planetmfiles.com/2008/09/06/how-to-make-plarn/

And this is for you lazy sacks who don’t like to read (don’t say that I don’t cater for the masses!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdTm2V4ssvY

You should now have a very good idea what plarn is, and how to use it in your day to day life. Plarn takes all of those pesky plastic bags that haunt me in that bit of time that it takes me at night (probably 7.3 seconds these days…) to fall into a deep sleep. I feel so guilty throwing my plastic bags into the bin. I even keep my bread ties! What was I going to do with them all to salve my sore sustainability bone and return my “smug-o-meter” to full? Make plarn that’s what! Good luck eating the plarn by the way Earl. I know you love to eat stuff but plarn isn’t going to give you the rush that scarfing my precious paid for wool is going to do because I will see you frolicking in my crochet bag and will raise my shoulders and say “meh!” You LOSE your ability to make me do that funny windmill thing with my arms whilst advancing on you with rickety speed and mouthing loud stupid humanities at you that constitutes “GAME ON” in your small doggy brain.

Evidence of “possum activity” on this poor long suffering mandarin tree. There is another mandarin tree just across from this one that never gets touched. It just goes to show that you can’t second guess a possums actions

The first of our feral asparagus spears of the year. We have spotted spears shooting up all over the garden delivered to their hidden spots by birds eating forgotten asparagus berries.

Let’s recant what we have so far…So we have the online information highway…the chock full of happiness library books and the plarn…but wait…there’s more! I have a cupboard full of weird stuff that I occasionally like to open and gloat at. I collect weird ingredients. I have things in packets that I have NO idea how to use but I knew when I saw their strange hieroglyphic foreign script with nothing listed in English that I absolutely positively HAD to have them (I like a challenge ;)). I have been delving into my weird stuff lately. I actually used an entire packet of cloud ear fungus and I loved it! I opened up large plastic containers that got shipped here from Western Australia on a container ship last night to see if I had any weird noodles left. I ate the sweet potato noodles (yummy) and the starch noodles and some other noodles that refused to get tender no matter what and saw something noodle like but was deflated when I realised that it was agar-agar flakes (not so good cooked up as noodles…). I noted several weird types of seaweed in the boxes, some unlabelled floury things (no fun if you actually know what they are…) and some bags of gluten flour from previous attempts to make seitan (wheat meat for vegans). I have rice syrup, I have dehydrated wood ear fungus (hey if cloud ear is yummy, I am going to give wood ear a go!) and every weird and wonderful non-English ingredient that comes into my peripheral vision is likely to be added to my collection. I have plans to feed Steve some very interesting creations over the summer months. He is wary of my weird stuff but if he can’t see what I am using to cook with and the end result tastes alright he is fine with it. I plan on making lots of wraps and tortillas this summer using home-made flatbreads and home grown greens, tomatoes and lots of pesto’s, hummus’s and all sorts of wonderful aioli’s and mayo’s. When we first arrived in Tasmania is was a long hot summer and we spent our evenings creating delicious wraps using lots of veggies, sliced meats (Steve and the girls) and condiments. That is how we want to eat this summer so I have practicing to do in my weird foods cupboard. Tapioca flour…potato starch…dehydrated veggie powders, veggie purees, nettle gnocchi you will soon be my bitches and Steve’s bitches indirectly…

More forgotten garlic underneath a small mulberry tree

A stand of white iris that appear to be harbouring the enemy!

I have been planting interesting little pots of things underneath the stairs up to the deck

Because we are starting to develop a dwindling firewood stack in the wood shed (it is looking positively pathetic to be honest) we are going to stop firing Brunhilda up in the mornings. The weather is getting warmer and we aren’t going to need her but my morning routine of happiness encompasses the ignition of Brunhilda and the centring of my qi over that first communal cup of precious elixir tea that we produce together. I didn’t fire Brunhilda up this morning. I let her sit fallow and cold and as I started reading my rss feed reader I heard Brunhilda’s equivalent of a throat clearing “excuse me…haven’t you forgotten our daily meeting?” as wood settled in the wood box. I felt guilty! After Steve headed off to do the shopping and the boys settled into sulk mode I decided to get Brunhilda fired up because it was cold. It was cold and I felt guilty…Bezial had slunk off to lie on our bed so I used that as an excuse to fire Brunhilda up. I think I am addicted to my relationship with you Brunhilda and like all good co-dependent relationships we are going to have to cool it for a bit. I don’t really know how I am going to live without you over the summer. I feel a spirit of camaraderie with you as I turn on the hot tap for that scalding hot water, shove my almond mush left over from making my regular almond milk for my tea, insert the boys frozen meat from the freezer into your coolest oven, rest my cuppa on your closed lid and draw a degree of comfort from the feeling that everything will be alright because we have Brunhilda constantly simmering something or other. Our story has been a love story and ever the romantic, I am loath to lose those first flushes of passion and allow our relationship to slowly ebb to an everyday simmer but slow it must because 35C + Brunhilda = heat stroke. Sorry Brunhilda BUT I promise to totally clean you out. To remove all of the ashes and coals and to give you a good scrub with the brush that came with you and you will have a delicious new coat of black wood fire paint to ready you for the very first sign that autumn is starting to turn into winter next year. I love you Brunhilda…adieu for now.

2 Podophyllum peltatum that are very happy to be out of their pots and in the ground underneath a large Japanese Maple

Helleborus foetidus or the delightful common name “Stinking Hellebore” is one of the most hardy flowering perennials that we have on Serendipity Farm. It grows everywhere, it flowers constantly and it doesn’t stink! Whats not to like about this wonderful plant

When you think of spring you think of little frolicking lambs, those first daffodils of the season, everything budding up and the sun coming out and everything green, coloured and joyful. For some reason Serendipity Farm has heralded spring with angst. Everything is fighting! The birds are all aerial bombing each other into submission and despite our recent rooster culling event, the chooks are all antsy and twitchy thanks to our resident population of gritzy cluckies who set everyone’s teeth on edge and who are permanently nesting and crazy. The soil is sulking because of its recent soaking rains that have plumped up the clay and made it as recalcitrant as a teenager in full Emo angst. The plants are confused and reactive as the possums emerge triumphant at night to render any new tender growth nibbled and scarfed depending on their sugar content. The feral cats are all fighting and we are going to have to deal with the 2 females in the population because soon 8 feral cats will become an explosion of cats. I cling tenaciously to the spring idyll and will be putting my hands over my ears whenever I hear Big Yin erupting under the deck at one or other of his charges recalcitrant ways. My spring mantra is “Forgedaboudit!” spoken loudly (over the top of whatever is trying to ruin my inner peace and joy) and with windmill arm actions that are designed to remove anything from Zone 1 around my immediate person.

I love Freesias for their tenacity, their hardiness, their incredible scent and their colour

At ground zero of our recent mangling of the side garden we have planted out a Gingko biloba tree.

I have been dabbling in my own personal version of permaculture. I love permaculture…it is my creed…my ethos (are those 2 things one and the same? I am too lazy to check) and my new way of life. I am one of those people who hurl themselves into something and instantly start personalising it and customising it so that soon it’s pretty much unrecognisable from its original shape and size. Permaculture is no different to any of my passions and I have decided to renegotiate the principal of “Zone 1”. It’s supposed to be the first zone outside of your home where you regularly walk. I think that is too open to interpretation for me. I like things nailed down and staked (just like I like my vampires…) and so this vague core principal needed a bit of a pragmatic makeover as far as I was concerned. I trimmed it…I shaped it and I showed it the haircut in the mirror and it didn’t faint so here is MY new Zone 1 premise…

“If it’s within 1 metre of my hands at any given time its zone 1”

How’s that? I can be wandering around the house…zone 1…I can be up in the back paddock pulling up weeds…zone 1…I can be in town sitting on a flower bed outside the toilets waiting for Steve to come out and pulling out stray sow thistles…zone 1. My “Zone 1” is more personal and real than permacultures generic zone 1 because it makes me deal with everything that is within my reach. I can’t say “zone 1 = the wood shed” allowing me to only deal with it when I feel like heading up to the wood shed…my zone 1 principal has me pulling weeds rather than including them in my mental data base to deal with in my zone 1 plan later on…I have taken zone 1 from a picture in my head into my own personal reality and there is shall stay as my new way of ensuring that I actually deal with the space immediately outside my own personal space. Bring it on weeds! I am now forced to deal with you as I wander around Serendipity Farm!

Not being an officianado of lilies I couldn’t tell you what kind this is, only that it “is” a lily 🙂 there are all sorts of interesting things starting to come up in the newly cleared out ground and everything is growing incredibly quickly

We planted this Hydrangea anomala petiolaris (Climbing hydrangea) next to a Cordyline australis so that it has something to climb

Steve is tormented by doing the shopping but loath to give up the experience because he knows that I would take all day (he is back by lunch time) AND I would likely buy more weird stuff than normal happy Steve stuff. He has phoned me up 6 times today to ask me about something or other on the list. His way of shopping would drive me nuts! I am very methodical and would ensure that I took the least amount of time by sorting my list into areas where I would have to go to purchase these items and would go about my expedition that way. Steve zips about all over the place. He has a sort of logic behind his path but often forgets something, can’t find something (going too fast to have a proper look) or gets the shits because some supermarket hasn’t got something on his list and has to drive back to one of his past shops to get said item. Steve doesn’t think a lot. He acts. I am the thinker, and without me there he tends to act his brains out! He comes home frazzled and frantic and overstimulated. I told him that I am going to do the shopping next fortnight to give him a rest but I bet he finds some excuse to do it. He is loath to give up his control over the spending process. I have no problems with him shopping because it’s a lovely quiet morning spent surfing the net and doing a few household chores but I know that I wouldn’t be quite so frazzled as Steve by a day in the city. I think he is scared of me going there alone and coming back armed to the back teeth with only vegan sweet potato noodles and no cheese and onion crisps 😉

A very happy newly planted out Magnolia stellata

Not sure what this is…all I know is that it is the possum equivalent of catnip to cats and makes them go crazy in their efforts to scoff it all. I am very surprised that its leaves got this far without being totally annihilated by guzzling freeloaders but they are currently trying to completely defoliate Steve’s lovely weeping maples so I guess it is going to have to wait it’s turn. If anyone knows what this is please let me know

Wait a minute! How did you get here? My arch nemisis…the dreaded forget-me-not! Your days are numbered on Serendipity Farm sunshine! Stop trying to con everyone with that cute exterior…you are pure sticky seeded torment to me…forget-me-nots…BEGONE!

Oh bollocks! I just overran my regular blog post word count! See?! I make my posts smaller and my brain (who is as anal as I am and who has been keeping tally of the word count) has decided to make up the words that I missed out in my smaller posts. I guess I can blame spring excitement as my word count spills over 3000. Anyone want a thesis written? Any assignments, reports, blog posts that you need overrepresented by a poor tormented blogger stuffed full of words? I think I might have a career waiting for me in the wings as a ghost writer! For now, that’s all folks! See you on Saturday when the sun is supposed to be out and we should be full of happiness and joy after at least laying out our first poly tunnel on Serendipity Farm :o)