Fast forward in the life lessons

Hi All

I hope you don’t mind me using the post that I was going to post last week before all of those photos took over. This week has been a complete blur of studying in a most determined and bolshie desire to prove myself. Our lecturer handed us our final assessment and then dropped a hefty weighty unit involving so much research it is making me twitch on top of it. All of this work has to be completed by the end of November and after an initial wide eyed panic attack I have settled down to work my way through the morass of incredibly boring material that needs to be assembled and then pared away in order to hand our lecturer the gold nuggets that will give us our passing grade. SO much bampf for so little gratitude and I have learned something over the last month…I don’t want to be a web designer…not in the LEAST! So here sits narf7 tapping away when all she wants to do is get out into that gorgeous damp (it has been raining ever since I lay the last Earl proof stone in place) space and go nuts. I get the feeling that this teetering tower of study is going to make me SO glad to get it finished that gardening is going to look like pure gold. There are lessons afoot…life lessons and thus begins today’s tale…

“Whenever I fail it is a chance to learn and grow”

How’s that for a life lesson? I learned it while I was being pulled mercilessly behind Earl on our bonding Sundays where Bezial (and his ubiquitous dicky leg) and Steve get to stay home and Earl and I get to go on a long walk. I would love to say “Long leisurely walk” but I can’t. Earl starts to wind up as soon as I head into the bathroom to brush my hair and put it up in a pony-tail. The first sign of “walk”…next we have me putting on my shoes and the ears start to prick up and he gets up off the floor…trotting to the back door excitedly and sticking himself half in, half out of the dog door is next on the agenda in case any feral cat or chook has been stupid enough to instigate themselves directly outside the back door…”never let a chance go by” is Earl’s motto.

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Today’s motley collection of images is brought to you by the letter “Pee”. This little aquilegia has survived the maelstrom of pee that Earl hisses all over it every single morning. You can only begin to imaging the strength of a dogs pee when he has been holding on all night on the “pack bed”. This goes to show that if you want a perennial that will grow almost anywhere, Aquilegias are you ideal plant

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I don’t think we really need to say much about this image do we? Picture me hard at work slaving away over a hot PC trying to wrap my brain around OH&S in the media industry and forgetting that I left the pantry door open.

After surveying your territory you need to head out the back door and mark your aquilegia. It is MOST important to mark your aquilegia, I mean, anything that has the blatant NERVE to grow between the brick wall and the paving stones right outside the back door and that can withstand a daily squirt of straight ammonia and not only survive, but flower beautifully, has to be given some sort of award, and what more important award than being decorated by more pee? By this stage Earl is prancing around because he has heard the tell-tale jangle of his dog lead and his mind is now out on the road with visions of prospective road kill dancing around in his head. Earl is gone…enter the fray at your folly you STUPID WOMAN…sigh…

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Steve had to go to town the other day and this is the result…Earl under the bed with only the dust bunnies to console him about his loss and…

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Bezial and his fluffy toy laying on the carpet in the lounge room completely devoid of joy…obviously I make a terrible second best to Steve’s pack leader…

I enter the fray. I instantly regret entering the fray because it’s like the gate rising at Flemington (hope you didn’t lose too much on the cup 😉 ) and Earl is OFF! Down the steep driveway hurtling with as much speed as you can when dragging a 63kg “fat anchor” that has her heels dug in behind you. You won’t let that stop you though…there are smells OH the smells! Something has rubbed against that shrub that is right in the middle of that thicket of thistles and you just HAVE to sniff it. After that you need to limp pathetically because you have thistles in your foot and you have to wait for your stupid fat anchor to liberate them …you look around surreptitiously to check that no other dogs have seen you. The chooks saw you… lunge at them aggressively…they won’t look at you with those little beady eyes NOW!

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Not entirely sure if I have shared this with you before but this image is of the West Tamar Highway and you can see that it has collapsed thanks to the incessant amount of rain that we have been having. Don’t you just love the handrail sunk in 44 gallon drums of concrete?

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Narf7’s happiness and sadness…a juxtaposition of emotions. I am happy from 3 – 7am when I sit here researching and reading my RSS Feed Read blogs and then the deep blue funk of OH&S settles over my sunny disposition rendering me fogged up for the day

Earl and I tend to travel a road well-travelled on our Sundays. We head down the dirt road and off over the bridge to the park on the other side to listen to the dulcet tones of the dumped rooster and the loon who has been living in a caravan for almost a year now. They vie for our attention as one crows and the other one yells loudly. Once we get our fill of fresh air, windy gusts that threaten to topple us over the railing into the Tamar 90 metres below and duelling Sunday lunacy we head off back over the bridge and up the highway to be buffeted by log trucks. We turn the corner to head back down the more familiar road to come home and check the little plant stand to see if the proprietress has bothered to restock anything interesting…she hasn’t…sigh…so after Earl salutes her lack of effort with what is left in his reserves, we head off down the steep slope home…

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I am resorting to old photos now. This one shows what we had to do to remove tiles from the tiny bathroom in our daughters home in town when we were renovating the bathroom. That expression on Steve’s face isn’t all play acting

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Joe Cool and his amazing prototype penniless student hippy compost bin. The only problem with this image is that the compost bin didn’t work but Steve still has those sunglasses (if not that hair 😉 )

5km + of Sunday drag and by the time I get home I am ready for that breakfast smoothie and a chance to park my derrière out on the big wooden bench that Steve and I made years ago from wood that we plundered right here when we house sat for dad for three weeks back in 2007. It’s huge, sturdy and surprisingly well made for anything made by Steve and I but I must have won out on that project ;). I am holding a big mug of tea and a big mug of tea has never been earned more strenuously. Earl is lying on the floor quietly. His day is effectively over unless he can con someone else into picking up that lead and taking him out into the possibilities of the real world again. Earl turns 3 at the end of the month. Earl is a teenager. I can tell.

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Me raking leaves when we lived in the city. I loved that wall and every year a gorgeous Boston Ivy grew and covered the wall in it’s glorious display in autumn

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I am laughing because I just noticed that I am wearing that jumper as I type this comment…I am NOT however wearing those rather fetching thermals underneath. I have acclimatised my sad Western Australian self to the colder climes and no longer need to wear thermals. I wear entire blankets now 😉

So what was that first quote about eh? Well I have to admit to being completely and utterly terrified of failure. It stifles my efforts because I might just stuff up and look like an idiot. I put it down to success being the only thing that got a positive reward from my father figure but to be honest, I don’t think anything that I did really had an effect on how my father saw me and I learned to bypass my need for paternal acceptance and head off into the terrifying territory of self-worth. I now have a hefty sense of moi. I no longer think that I am worthless but I also have a healthy dose of tall poppy syndrome, we are all worth something but no-one is worth more because they own more, they control more or they “think” they are worth more do you get the picture? Start sticking your head up and telling me that you are special because…and narf7 is going to walk away. I don’t expect too much from the world but I DO expect a lot from myself and that’s where that nifty little new mantra is going to come in handy.

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The last shot of me I promise (well, in the city anyway 😉 ). I appear to have a handful of string. Maybe I am just about to make a nest?

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Fast forward to narf7 last week and when we actually had a sunny day to work in. The joy is obvious isn’t it?

I tend not to try. I know all kinds of things but I tend not to apply them to my day to day life because I might stuff them up or worse still, not be very good at them. If I am not good at something I tend not to repeat it. My loss really. I have decided to rectify that need to remain inactive and safe and am starting to wade out into the deep pool of possibilities, remembering that I can’t swim (seriously, I can’t) and that there aren’t any safety logs out there to catch me should I start to drown. In the past I completed several certificates in commercial cookery with a commercial cookery school. I tend to stick with certain “safe” recipes though. I must admit, part of that is because I am married to a naturally fussy “I am only one man!” Englishman who is loath to try anything he considers strange, but part of it is a mix of laziness brought about by an underlying desire not to fail. “What if it doesn’t rise?”; “What if someone doesn’t like it?” “What if it tastes weird and it gets wasted?” Not anymore. Narf7 is about to start messing about with what she knows and putting it into practice.

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Mother Teresa

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Lawrence of Arabia…maybe I should just light Brunhilda and stop pretending that the weather is going to be warm tomorrow? 😉

Hugelkultur is another point in case. I “know” how to do it. I “know” the science behind it and I “know” how it would benefit the soil and Serendipity Farm but putting what I “know” into action has me twitching. Same goes for just about everything that has me liberating my ass from this chair where the safe sport of researching is my calm harbour in the storm of activity that needs to be initiated to do what we want to do here on Serendipity Farm. Steve and I get overwhelmed by what we have to do here. Part of the problem is that we haven’t got money to facilitate instant gratification and another part is that before you can do what you “want” to do, there are 7 things that you “have” to do in order to get what you want accomplished. Sorry if I sound like I am complaining there (I am, but sorry anyway 😉 ). I guess what I am trying to say is that liberating myself from that old fear crutch is going to free me up to get out into the scary wilderness of “doing” and in the process we will
start to accomplish what we want.

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A tiny little dead bat that Steve found when he was heading out the other day. It appears it must have fallen from its mother but isn’t that gorgeous coat on his back beautiful? Poor little mite

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Ground up buckwheat groats and sunflower seeds to make my breakfast of choice in cold weather (which would be now)

We hurled ourselves into getting the fully enclosed veggie garden up and completely contained in the last week. We are more than happy with the results. We decided to enclose the glasshouse as part of the compound so that it could be used to propagate seedlings and cuttings within the structure. Now we need to plan the most efficient and effective setup for the garden beds. I have lots of cutting grown Muscat grapes that need to be planted out ASAP. I have raspberry canes soaking in seasol (seaweed concentrate) along with Marion berries that also need to be planted out. We have all kinds of seedlings and I have visions of rock herb and flower spiral gardens in the centre of the compound to attract in the beneficials and as somewhere to plant Steve’s teeny tiny grafted Ballerina apple that he produced way back when we were studying horticulture at polytechnic.

DSCF5241The ground buckwheat and sunflower seeds being mixed with homemade date and apple paste to sweeten and add nutrition

DSCF5250Chained to the machine but at least I can have my tea and porridge. The milk in my porridge is homemade sesame milk sweetened with some date paste and a dash of rose water making a most exotic breakfast and a very tasty one too. I use the same milk in my tea minus the rosewater

This week will see us creating garden beds, lugging soil components and creating our vision under cover. I don’t mind if the possums drop angry deposits on the top of the garden…nature loves a bit of extra nitrogen and at the very least it will go part way to pay us back for everything that they eat with wanton abandon in the rest of the garden. I will be taking hawthorn cuttings in the near future and have decided to plant a hawthorn hedge right around the perimeter fenceline of Serendipity Farm. I will intersperse it with cherry plums so that the native birds get lots of habitat and food. Hawthorn and plums are both incredibly able to survive arid conditions and drought and make perfect hedging specimens (well the hawthorn does 😉 ). You have to work with what will grow best and that means figs, olives, persimmons, quinces, apricots, apples and colder climate nuts. We are amassing our fruity and nutty armies to take over the farm and we even managed to grow 2 mango trees in our compost last summer that will take up residence on Serendipity Farm as soon as they are big enough to get planted out. I don’t care if they produce fruit, they will be another wonderful addition to horticultural diversity on Serendipity Farm

DSCF4964By the pricking of my thumbs something spiny this way comes…

DSCF4973Steve’s little echidna mate who bumbles around occasionally. He allowed Steve to take a few photos before digging his heels in and hiding

I might stop there for today. I have herbs to research, companion planting to check, a list of seedlings and seeds a mile long that I need to work out how to acquire and then how to plant to get the maximum results in our garden. I am only just starting to internally “Squee!” that nothing is going to be able to eat our veggies…except the aphids…and the scale…and the caterpillars…sigh… see you all next week when we should have planted out our seedlings and anything else that doesn’t grow over 6ft tall and the garden will be an impenetrable fortress of pure narf7 joy :o)