What a Mingy Comumbus a.k.a. “Oh COCK!”

Hi All,

To find out what the title of today’s post means you either have to find Series 2, episode 4 of James May’s “Man Lab” or you need to get your fingers googling. No laziness here folks…this blog is all about educating the masses and how are you EVER going to get ejamicated without a bit of work from your side eh? Steve actually prefers his version (well…the version that he was hunting for this morning online and curiously finding nothing at ALL to do with it…) the “Mumbly Comumbus”. Steve loved this SO much he has renamed “The Tubby Piggins” to “The Mumbly Comumbus”…A fitting name for his little aluminium coracle…go look it up! I KNOW it is driving you crazy! ;). I had a Mingy Comumbus of a day on Monday. I went to town with Steve and the dogs to do the fortnightly shopping on a hot day when the dogs and I spent most of the time in the car because I can’t hold both excited boys myself and we were forced to endure extended periods in a hot car. I KNOW that dogs die in hot cars but so do middle aged women! We had the windows down and doors open (well my door was open, Earls door was decidedly NOT! 😉 ) but that doesn’t make up for having to sit in the sun while Steve dashed in and out of various shops hindered by an exponentially grouchy wife and 2 panting pups. I completely forgot half of what I wanted to buy in town because I was feeling so twitchy, I have lost my city legs and was swaying from side to side mentally the whole time I was in the city. We got home and Steve had to race out to go and pick up some more craft wood from a man who is moving away from the area but Steve teed up to buy some more delicious varieties of wood from so he had to be there for 2pm. I hurriedly opened the kitchen window to give the insistent cuckoo shrike some cheese cubes and in the process hit our knife sharpener that caused a chain reaction that knocked a little blue and white flowerpot that had been on mums windowsill in her tiny little unit over. The pot didn’t break but every single one of my lovely blue and white ceramic jam spoons that it contained flew out all over the place and shattered into smithereens…”OH COCK!” as James May would say…the day was just “one of those” days…we all have to bear them…it wasn’t particularly fundamentally “bad” but it wasn’t one that I would have chosen and we all need days like this to show us how good our normal days really are. Update: not all of my ceramic spoons are broken! I found one in the cutlery draw…Steve must have put it there and for once, I am glad of his absentmindedness about where he puts things after he washes up :o)

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Earl bagsed top bunk…

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“Is this how you drive? Why isn’t it going?”

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“I prefer to be chauffered…”

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“Any fish in here?”

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Tilly, Nat’s dog enjoying one of the dogs treats

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“So you won’t get up for me to sit down eh?”…

I don’t watch a lot of television but I do LISTEN to a lot. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen/living room because that is where my base station is. Our desktop P.C. is the centre of my day and I have invisible threads that allow me to head out and do everything that I do in my day but I inevitably end up back checking something, researching something that I thought of while I was bum’s up in the garden or making sure that I didn’t forget to do something. I was doing the dishes the other day when I heard that Tasmania is going to have the driest January on record. We have a very lean 3 months in Northern Tasmania over the summer period as it is and rather than see this as an imminent threat, I prefer to see it as a challenge. Enter my arid food growing guru Bev from the wonderfully informative blog http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ she is my kind of problem solver. She uses a variety of permaculture principals on her property and reading about her exploits is both interesting and informative. I especially love her water wicked containers. In her latest post she shows how she has grown salad veggies in one of her wicked boxes and in arid conditions where water is likely to be limited these wicked boxes give you a whole lot of control over your food supply. I found a tutorial on how to make self watering raised veggie boxes here… http://www.josho.com/gardening.htm But I have to say that Bev had an equally excellent tutorial on her website that you can check out here… http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/preparing-a-wicking-box/  . Bev is also an incredibly generous gardener with sharing her hints, tips and spare seed. I am eagerly awaiting some parsnip seed that she managed to grow in copious quantities…no parsnips but plenty of seed and when life hands you parsnipless seeds, you pass them on! Lesson learned…no snips BUT a plethora of new interstate friends who love to collect seed and share as well. I am still ruminating the Aussie seed swap. I think it’s a fantastic idea and just because I have had to go back to horticultural kindergarten with my sideline into vegetable gardening

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One of Steve’s finds whilst pootling around on the river the other day…isn’t this place lovely?

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Part of the lovely house in the last photo and we think that they might be walnut trees

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Walking down the driveway to check the mail…

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And walking back up again…it’s no wonder Steve has skinny legs 😉

I have just realised why I am willing to be kicked out of bed at 3.50am by the dog and head out into the dark early morning to read blogs through my rss feed reader…it enlivens and invigorates my mind. I LOVE learning…I love the cut and thrust of replying to comments and sharing my opinion and I love that I can do it from the comparative safety of my own little kitchen miles away from the coalface of the original idea. I can wander through a list of amazing personally selected blogs that feed my mind and act as jumper leads to my day. I flick from amazing food blogs…lots of innovative vegan blogs and gorgeous foodie blogs with amazing recipes to cutting edge fermentation sites and sites where I learn how to make just about everything. Then I have my environmental sites. I hate depressing doom and gloom sites and refuse to frequent them. I love positivity in the face of insurmountable odds and that’s the sort of blogs I frequent…”the world is going to hell in a hand basket but we will be bullocked if we are going down without a fight…” that sort of site. I had best clear up now that I don’t frequent crazy stockpiling hillbilly “shoot the neighbour Brandeen…they are stealin’ our food stores!” sites that sort of site can make you crazier than you already are! I might occasionally veer side left to pinch a plan for a rocket stove or wood fired oven plan but I cover my eyes because I KNOW they are probably taking on other forms! ;). I have blogs in my rss feed readers that defy classification…one such blog I actually hoard. It’s called “23 Thorns” and if this man puts out a book I am buying it. I don’t care if I have to work down t’ coal mines for a month to do so, his writing is that entertaining. Check it out if you want to end up on the floor laughing…this man is the bomb! This link takes you to his series of “The Lowveld Posts” an absolutely hilarious look at the wildlife that inhabits his local area. You should go there merely to read about these amazing creatures in Africa and woven through his amazing posts that are incredibly well written (the man is a wordsmith) is a background of Africa warts and all…

http://23thorns.wordpress.com/category/the-lowveld-posts/

One day when I have more time available to me when I won’t feel guilty for taking perhaps an entire tea fuelled week, I am going to wade through every single one of this bloggers posts. He is the Patch Adams of blogs and I, for one, prefer 23 Thorns to chocolate! There…I said it :o). I urge you all to at least have a look at these wonderful posts that will hopefully bring a smile to your day :o)

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Steve got a shock when this seal shot out of the water right next to his boat the other day

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A visitor to Serendipity Farm hunting for insects (or maybe a drink of water?) on his way through

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Our friend in the witness protections front garden (well a bit of it) to show you how dry it is in our region at the moment

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Our friend in the witness protections all enclosed veggie garden doing as well as ours is. That compost is pure gold!

Today we are heading back into town. We need to get some fruit (for my daily green smoothie habit) and chia seed that I completely and utterly forgot on my “diem horribilis” on Monday. We are also going to visit our friend in the witness protection ostensibly to “visit” but really, for me to have a good perve at her fully enclosed garden and see how her partner Glen made it. Her veggies are also going great guns and she has runaway snow peas going crazy all over the enclosure. We can only assume that because of our widely varying soil conditions, our joint success has come from the rich organic compost that we purchased by the trailer load from Exeter Landscaping. I don’t think that they are going to benefit from my free plug there because their office receptionist, although eminently pleasant and approachable, is completely unable to navigate her way around their new website and completely bypasses it should anyone make a web enquiry…sigh…(and they wonder why Tasmania is lagging behind the rest of the world?). We have some young junipers and other hardy conifers that we don’t intend on planting out on Serendipity Farm that we are going to give her to plant out on her 40 acre property. She needs drought tolerant species that don’t mind getting their feet wet in the winter. Her property goes from arid desert in summer to swamp in winter and is festooned with possums and wallabies and rabbits at night time, all wanting to completely consume everything that she plants as soon as the sun goes down. Despite these drawbacks she is surprisingly willing to keep trying and her horticultural persistence is starting to pay off. I will take some photos of her garden unless it is starting to look like Serendipity Farm, dry, arid and like a 70’s Instagram version of its modern self all turned up corners and orange hued where I will allow her a degree of anonymity. We are also going to walk the dogs in the city again and also on Jenny’s property. They are going to have a ball! I have to say “Hi” and “Welcome back” to Nat, one of my best mates and a dear constant reader of this humble blog. She is back at Polytechnic working as a horticultural lecturer for another year which allows her to occasionally take a brief foray into the world of Serendipity Farm and keep her on the cutting edge of insanity on a regular basis. I do my bit girl… I do my bit! 😉

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Our friend in the witness protection gave me this enormous sack of silverbeet, carrots and snow peas…Earl had a bit of a sniff but found them all wanting

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My fruit haul including 7kg of bananas @ .90c a kilo, 5 enormous mangoes @ $1.00 each and some nectarines and apricots @ $4.99kg. I have enough fruit for green smoothies to last me a month!

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The bananas have already been frozen and just the mangoes and sundry fruit to go 🙂

It’s now 5.23. Bezial threw me out of bed at 3.50am and the young rooster that lives under the deck is tentatively crowing the new day in. Another series of processes is just about to begin and as they weave their way into our psyche let’s just hope that today isn’t a repeat of Monday and to make sure, I am going to hide that one remaining ceramic jam spoon! See you all on Saturday and remember to tell us if you would like to win the spoon that Earl will draw on Saturday morning. EVERYONE can enter. We don’t care if you live on the moon…we love sharing with you all and please don’t think that you can’t enter the draw because you live in Timbuktu…so do we! We know what it is like to live in the sticks and feel out of the loop and we love to share with fellow out of the loopers all over the world. Secretly, Steve wants his spoons to be represented in every single continent so I am going to have to work hard to market this blog to several underrepresented countries (Africa…”who wants a spoon!”…same goes for India, Russia, China, Korea, Japan…sigh…)… you have to be in it to win it folks 😉

His name is Herman, he’s just moved in here…

Hi All,

Firstly, that title is set to Copacabana by Barry Manilow should you be at ALL interested…Secondly meet Herman…

Isn’t he lovely?

Herman appears to have been living the good life as he is quite plump and looks very sleek and healthy

At this stage he wasn’t aware that Steve was taking photos of him through the archway between the first and second gardens…

Here Herman appears to have found something particularly tasty that he needed to probe the lawn for

Here is where Herman rumbled Steve taking photos of him and hightailed it off the lawn into the dense undergrowth

Herman has been spotted twice now on Serendipity Farm. The first sighting was of Herman hanging about the drain that runs underneath the driveway down to the teatree forest. We got a brief glimpse of him looking down the avenue of Lilly Pilly trees and by the time that Steve grabbed the camera and hot footed it down the pathway to take a photo and by the time that he got to where we saw Herman, he was gone. Today Steve got back from dropping mum off and shopping and we were standing out on the deck in the sun and Steve noticed something moving about through the archway leading to the second garden. We had a closer look and saw Herman rootling around in the lawn hunting for whatever it is that echidnas eat and Steve snuck down and took those photos before Herman realised that he was being watched and hightailed it into the undergrowth to freedom. Until he realised that he was rumbled, Herman was decidedly at home wandering around the second garden like he knew it intimately which leads me to believe that Herman has decided to call Serendipity Farm his home. We are happy and proud to welcome Herman the echidna to our humble but mental property and hope that his stay here is not infested with fleas, ticks, leeches, hens or cats of any kind and that he enjoys his stay here for as long as he sees fit.

Tasmania seems to be hitting a few high temperatures this weekend. I am not too sure as to what we are going to be doing while this heat wave is wafting over us, but the odds are, not very much.Effel just lost another one of her babies. I would be angry at the cats apart from the fact that Effel constantly takes her babies over to the lion’s den where the cats all live and pushes her luck every day. Today she pushed her luck too far and her favourite baby that stayed with her constantly got taken. I dare say it was the kittens that took it because they are large enough to be bored with staying in the conifer all day while mum hunts sparrows. Felix will no doubt give them the equivalent of a hissy fit when she gets back and sees what they have done because she knows that she isn’t allowed to touch the chicks and hasn’t taken any yet. I think the chick that they took was a rooster so in a way I am not too angry but that poor little chick didn’t deserve to be taken in the first place because his dumb cluck of a mother kept putting him in dangers way. I suppose it’s the survival of the fittest and Effel only has 1 of her original 3 babies left now. Houdini has all 5 of her babies with her still and as feral as they are, they are the most likely to survive and pass on their genetic material to a future generation. I have been reading Jackie French’s “Chook book” that mum gave me for Christmas. It’s a veritable wealth of good common sense information about raising healthy and happy chooks naturally in Australian conditions. Jackie French is an Aussie institution. I remember her, larger than life (she is a lot thinner now) and eccentric bordering on insane with her natural remedies about everything and her sustainable ways long before it was fashionable to care about the environment. She is no nonsense and very intelligent and her website is a wealth of information about everything. She is also a prolific author now and no doubt her books are as interesting as she is. Here is the garden section of her website to give you a glimpse at what she does with her spare time…

http://www.jackiefrench.com/garden.html

I remember seeing Jackie on Mike Walsh’s daytime television show. That was so long ago that it can only be seen through wisps in the ether (and on YouTube…) and anyone younger than 40 probably won’t remember it.  It was the precursor to many of our television shows since and was a very entertaining watch for many years. Jackie French had a regular spot on the show and had incredible enthusiasm and passion for everything that she talked about and did. She used to wear weird and wonderful hats and was a consummate spinster and suddenly one day she got married and had a tribe of children. I love to see people like her prosper because she was a plain large eccentric lady who got her 15 minutes of fame and who has a real place in our Aussie echelons of fame for what she taught us all way back when the world was all about greed and no one cared about sustainability. Thank you for your tireless work back then and for showing us a little light under a massive great corporate bushel Jackie and you deserve all of the success with your books and your life that you are now enjoying.

I have a problem with my teabags. I usually have 1 enormous cup of tea a day now because I would like to give up tea but I can’t bear the thought of the 3+ days of caffeine headache that will take over my life and make me miserable until it bleeds out of my system where it has been safely ensconced since I was 2 years old. I have found that I am fine so long as my body gets that 1 cup of tea in the morning. I have 3 teabags in my cup, nice and strong and a good kick-start to the day. My problem is that tea leeches up the string of the teabag and drips down onto the desk next to where I am sitting leaving a little puddle of tea on the desk. Why does this happen? It’s obviously some sort of wicking thing. I have been researching water wicking in garden beds and it’s a very interesting premise for using grey water in an enclosed gardening system as well as minimising water usage and plant roots do your work for you. It is based on the principal of capillary action in soil and plant roots action on water and the direction that it takes in the soil. I am not going to bore you with the details of water wicking here but if you are interested, it’s really a great idea for Australian growing conditions and you can check out more about it here where you can download PDF’s that show you how to implement water wicking in your own gardening situation…

http://www.waterright.com.au/

After that aside, let’s get back to the problem at hand…my teabags leaking all over the desk and wasting some of my precious only cup of tea I allow myself in a day. Short of licking the desk (which is gross and probably would result in me getting some sort of dusk allergy going internally…) I needed a way to stop me having to wipe up wayfaring liquid every time I had a cup of tea. Enter the Teafu. Teafu is an amazing creation by Dreamfarm and part of my Christmas gift from my son this year. I have mentioned this most innovative of companies before but they are worth your patronage should you be in the market for some shmick multi-purposing kitchen gadgetry that will save you time and money. The teafu is a most interesting contraption that consists of a teaspoon shaped set of 2 silicone (red in my case but you get a choice of colours) halves that you put loose leaf tea into one side, close them together and sit them into your cup/mug and pour over your boiling water. The silicone is both attractively coloured (you can choose from lots of eye-catching colours) and practical as you can squeeze the sides of the teafu together to extract every drop of your precious elixir out of its contents and then you can stand it on the bench top until you want to open up the handles and dump the contents into your waiting compost bin. I had purchased one earlier in the year that was purple, but now that I have a few items that are all red, I gave my purple teafu to mum and she can have her green tea, her lemon verbena or whatever else she wants now in it. I have very large mugs, usually exceeding 600ml and so I need to use a bit of my lateral thinking ability to ensure that the teafu doesn’t end up submerged in my mug. I use a metal skewer slid through the handle to dangle it over the boiling liquid, thus saving my fingers (and anyone in close proximities ears) from having to fish it out of said boiling liquid. It is an ingenious idea and I found a good recipe for making your own Chai tea on the Instructables site and will be buying and mixing my own soon and that is where teafu will come in extremely handy.

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Steve has just finished removing a massively overgrown stringy Westringia fruticosa (Coastal rosemary) from where Effel’s baby got snaffled this morning. We are removing the cats hiding places so that they can’t leap out of the undergrowth and grab unsuspecting (and somewhat stupid) hen’s babies without a degree of warning so that they at least have a chance to run. Over the course of the next year Steve and I are going to take back Serendipity Farm from the blackberries, jasmine, honeysuckle and banana passionfruit and pare it back to its bare bones. We have lots of potted plants just waiting for us to install some brown dripper hose irrigation and plant them out in the raised garden bed under the deck and in the side garden. I am constantly amazed by how our past choices fit in with what we have to do on Serendipity Farm now. We almost didn’t sign up for the horticulture course when it fitted in with our schedule. It was a toss-up between horticulture and a diploma of small business. I was pushing for small business, but Steve wanted to have a go at horticulture and thank goodness we did because no diploma of small business on earth would have set us up with the knowledge and practical ability to steer Serendipity Farm on the right sustainable course. It’s important to note that what we see as something terrible in our lives is not always the case. Steve was forced to move from his flat in South End in the U.K. back home to his parents place in Liverpool. No one wants to have to move back in with their parents, it is admitting defeat and adult children are most definitely a thorn in their parent’s social lives and living conditions. If Steve hadn’t  moved back to live with his parents, I would never have met him. Sometimes the calamities and catastrophes that life hurls at us are to set the wheels in motion for something wonderful in the future. We are all part of this machine that we call humanity and each one of us is a vital cog in what happens with our world. We might feel insignificant and like no one cares and that we don’t matter but everything happens for a reason and what we do and our choices that we make each and every day form a specific part of where the world is heading to. I am glad that I haven’t had an amazingly easy life and that I wasn’t born beautiful and privileged because I have learned so much on my pathway so far and plan on expanding that knowledge exponentially for as long as I live. It’s true that with age comes wisdom. It’s just sad that some people choose to remain dumb isn’t it? :o) See you all tomorrow when it’s heating up Serendipity Farm and we all head towards the countdown to 2012.