A teeny tiny little aniversary post

Hi Folks,

Today is Steve’s and my 13th wedding anniversary. I read something the other day about “the ideal relationship” and if we were going by what was listed in the post we are doomed. The thing about “ideal relationships” is that they aren’t real. They are idealistic wants and desires and don’t resemble real love at all. Real love isn’t pretty. It’s saggy and overweight and often grouchy and has hairs sprouting out where hairs shouldn’t be seen in polite company. Real love is that toilet seat left up/down once too often and “paper, rock, scissors for who is going to take out the bin. Real love is the place where we all settle for what is in front of us, rather than what is inside our heads.

Who wears the pants in our relationship?

Who wears the pants in our relationship?

We BOTH do thanks to Jess :)

We BOTH do thanks to Jess 🙂

Real love is also spotting your wife’s 4 litres of brewed tea and sugar left to cool outside and promptly forgotten about and thinking “I bet the possums would pee in that…” and bringing it in anyway, despite how funny watching your wife drink possum pee Kombucha would be. THAT…is true/real love :).

Like Big Kev would have said "We're not fancy... but we're cheap!" ;)

Like Big Kev would have said “We’re not fancy… but we’re cheap!” 😉

Happy anniversary my wonderful man and here’s to many more 13 year instalments 🙂

This is us folks, take us or leave us but there is no denying we are "real" :)

This is us folks, take us or leave us but there is no denying we are “real” 🙂

I’m just doing the do…how about you?

Hi All

September appears to be a month of change on Serendipity Farm. Last week we found out that the son-and-heir was moving down to Tasmania with his Texan sweetie Kelsey and suddenly all of the piles and boxes of debris and memories that we had left languishing in the unit at the rear of our daughter’s home in the city needed to be removed, revisited and revised. The 3 “R’s” of the apocalypse folks and it has seen us moving a lot of things around in the process and getting rid of lots of “stuff” that we simply don’t have the space for and will never need.  We inherited a lot of cut glass that had lived in a glass cabinet in the spare room until last week when we decided that we would offer Stewart and Kelsey the queen sized bed it contained and would swap it for our old bed that Steve made for me about 10 years ago. Steve and I headed into town and cleared out a lot of boxes and bags of “stuff” and brought them home with us and at that point we merely thought it would be a case of “open a cupboard and stuff them in”…

Steve's "emo" respray on a little bedside set of draws

Steve’s “emo” respray on a little bedside set of draws

Still trying to make the internet his minion...

Still trying to make the internet his minion…

Nope…it wasn’t. We ended up going through the boxes of old papers, bits-and-bobs and “stuff” and have spent the better part of a week working out whether or not we want it, will need it, or have anywhere to actually put it. Most of the old papers had been kept by my father and just need to be burned so methinks a baked potato bonfire complete with roasted marshmallows is in our immediate future, however there were lots of nick-knacks etc. that hold no sentimental value to us (or anyone else still alive) so what do we do with them? They aren’t technically “worth” anything and aside from sticking them back into the glass cabinet that we liberated what should we do with them? So we found ourselves in a bit of a quandary and what made it worse was that we had our OWN “stuff” that we had been hoarding and carting around from pillar to post to deal with as well so as you can imagine, we have had piles of rubbish all over the place and Earl has been seen at regular intervals sneaking away with various articles in his beak

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

We found this teeny "faeries" egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We found this teeny “faeries” egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We erected the 4 poster bed that Steve made for us back when we lived in W.A. in the small middle bedroom and were amazed at how tiny the room now looks. We have decided to put our interior design skills to work and paint the whole bed white to minimise its impact. It’s a sort of stained jarrah at the moment which makes it look huge and oppressive. Aside from being a hulking great thing, nothing that was in the bedroom before fits there now so we had to take a look at the furniture in the room and move it “elsewhere”. In the process we ended up moving bedroom furniture, furniture from the lounge room (twice), things moved back and forwards and in the end we found a happy medium that took us all day Sunday to accomplish. We still have that pile of cut glass so if anyone knows what we should do with it, feel free to let us know

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli...note to self... don't use spaghetti in the oven

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli…note to self… don’t use spaghetti in the oven

How much more character could I want?! ;)

How much more character could I want?! 😉

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Steve decided to tidy up his music room and go hunting for a camera charger that he needed and took all day to find it and when he did, it was in one of the boxes that he first looked in. You know those moments where you are BURSTING to say something but think better of it because of the sake of world peace? Well I had a moment like that. If I am being honest, I had about 10 moments like that all in a row and aside from having to stifle the urge to bang my head on the computer desk in front of me I am completely unable to get it through Steve’s head that if you insist on “man checks” you are going to spend a LONG time looking for anything. Couple that with a chaotic organisational system that involves “putting things away” but in no particular order or place and you can only imagine what it is like here sometimes when “something” needs to be found…sigh…

The grapes are alive!

The grapes are alive!

So are the avocado's and the hazelnuts...stick some seeds in the ground folks...whatchagottalose?

So are the avocado’s and the hazelnuts…stick some seeds in the ground folks…whatchagottalose?

The weather has been typically spring weather of late. Lots of drizzly rain and I certainly am not going to be the first one to complain about it. I want it to rain for as long as it can because the alternative is hard baked clay and blow-away silt to contend with and the longer it stays wet…the longer it stays in place and is easy to dig. The trees that we planted out are all still alive so that’s a bonus and we have decided to take a day and pull all of our potted plants out and go through them and sort them into a pile of keepers that we can justify keeping and that we actually have an area put aside to plant them out into and a pile to give away to someone. Steve wants to put them on gumtree as “free trees pick up only” and while I am all for giving them away, after our last attempt to give things away via gumtree I am not so sure that I want to engage with the natives who usually want you to drive 200km and deliver…sigh…Anyone with any good ideas about what we can do with the wealth of free trees that are going to come out of our ruthless cull please, again, let us know.

Remember that tree that wouldn't fall down?

Remember that tree that wouldn’t fall down?

It fell down

It fell down

It’s Wednesday again! How come 2013 has flown away so fast? Suddenly we are on the cusp of both hotter weather and Christmas and I am prepared for neither. I woke up at 2.30am to a loud clap of thunder and we had a small electrical storm with pelting rain that has passed now. SO glad I didn’t end up doing the washing like I was lamenting yesterday evening ;). Steve and I are starting our final course unit and have been working on a list of questions to prepare us for entering the world of Web Publishing and “Dreamweaver”. We had a problem with a link that we needed to access to complete the questions and after sending off a missive to our lecturer we decided to head off to the Beaconsfield tip and take some old bed bases that someone might get some use out of complete with headboards. I like the Beaconsfield tip, it has a really great tip shop and depending on the day that you visit, you get great bargains. The weekend lady is a tough nut. She wants profit at all costs. The weekday lady is a friend and you get your bargains extra cheap. After poring through old books and other peoples discarded treasures I ended up finding a very large baking tray that fits perfectly on Brunhilda’s over-large shelves, a complete walk through book of a game that my daughter owns and loves, a small sturdy round Huon pine cutting board, a book on recipes and crafts for fetes with lots of great cake and toffee recipes and under a heap of old books we found a book on how to use Dreamweaver! BONUS! It’s an older version but most programs don’t change all that much so we at least have something to use if we get really stuck and we can start working through how to use this complex program over the holidays

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It might be older but at 20c I figure it is worth it’s age in gold

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

Have you ever thought of developing your own website? I know that I watch how much of my WordPress blog I have used up so far and am mindful of keeping my image size low so that I don’t run out of space too fast. I have been blogging about Serendipity Farm for over 2 years now and have used up 42% of my space. For the first year I blogged daily so I don’t think I am doing too bad but the time is coming when I am going to have to pay up or ship out. The course that Steve and I are currently doing was a sort of “gap year” thing. I let Steve pick a course to do because we can’t go to university until Steve becomes an Aussie citizen (and takes the dreaded citizenship test…). Well… technically we CAN go to university but Steve would have to pay up front, something that we just can’t find a way to do so until he gets his act together and learns the inside scoop on what our past Prime Ministers ate for breakfast and what size their underpants were (in chronological order…) we have been learning about Web Design.

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! "WOOT!" :)

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! “WOOT!” 🙂

Aren't these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

Aren’t these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

The course might have been a gap year thing but it has opened up a wealth of possibilities to us. We have learned that with a bit of effort and a desire to learn how to get our hands a bit dirty in the world of simple code etc. we could start our own website and this blog could gain a much greater degree of security than it currently has. The more we look at it, the more interesting it becomes and with Steve the wonder techy behind us (more stubborn refusal to give in than technological genius really 😉 ) and the son-and-heir who is also technologically minded I figure we could bumble our way through the stages required to design and bring and new website to life. Whenever I see a blog that I follow mentioning “moving to a new site” I start to twitch. It usually means that we are just about to be inundated with advertisements’ and posts full of product placement. I am not blogging for fame or fortune folks. I am blogging to release the pressure of my muse’s constant undercurrent hum of “sound” so you can be assured that when we do move, it will be to nice clean unadvertised premises with a decided middle aged hippy flavour.

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I love bulbs :)

I love bulbs 🙂

Steve picked up our new bbq the other day and it has been languishing inside its massive cardboard box in the shed ever since. It’s not because we don’t want to tear open the box and assemble it. Steve and I both have that gene that wants to assemble, I think it is called the Scalextric, Airfix or Lego gene and requires you to mindlessly put things together…if glue is a part of the equation, all the better! It’s like knitting in front of the television…a semi-conscious pastime that feeds something inside you and leaves you replete. The problem that we also have is that Steve has a “hurry UP!” gene and I have a “Slow and steady wins the race” (and doesn’t arrive at the finish line with a hand full of nuts and bolts that probably, really, SHOULD be on that assembled item…sigh…) gene and the two genes are incompatible. You know how like poles on magnets repel? So do Steve’s and my working genes.  It’s not just the fact that assembling a simple bbq is going to probably result in our own revisitation of the battle of Britain…we have an added problem in the form of Earl.

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial's birthday

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial’s birthday

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live...for now...

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live…for now…

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

Earl has a BIG problem with anything setting foot on his deck. He is fine with Steve, Bezial and me but anything else is an invader and needs to be repelled. He spends his days in an endless cycle of snoring upside down on the couch, begging for walks and parading around the perimeter of the fence that keeps Earl inside (much to the world’s relief) and the invaders out. Earl has more than his fair share of foreign invaders including feral cats and possums that invade in the night to steal the cheese that we put on our kitchen window ledge for the birds in the day, the birds that come for the cheese are included on the invader list apparently…butterflies, ants, wasps, bees ANYTHING that dares to come onto Earls deck is fair game for his displeasure…included in the process of “repelling all boarders”, is the process of making sure that the invaders KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that this is “Earl’s turf”. To do that, Earl needs to spend an inordinate amount of time peeing on anything that he feels is especially “his”.

The large arty pot prior to Earl's stamp of ownership

The large arty pot prior to Earl’s stamp of ownership

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don't buy milk, I make it.

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don’t buy milk, I make it.

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

We brought home a large unusual arty pot that we inherited when dad died and that has been languishing in the unit out the back of our daughter’s home in the city since we moved to Serendipity Farm almost 3 years ago. It’s most unusual, most impractical and highly visible and when we decided to place it on the deck because we had NO idea where to put it otherwise, Earl immediately homed in on it and put his tag on it. Steve noted this and headed out with a kettle of boiling water to de-mark the afflicted item and was bemused to note as he was coming back in with the empty kettle…Earl casually strolling up to the pot and re-marking it! We can only imagine the joy that Earl is going to feel when we are talking to each other again after the assembly of the bbq and we haul this shiny black behemoth of a “possession” onto the deck for summer gustatory delights and in the name of keeping the house cool in the coming hot months. I can only begin to imagine how many water bowls are going to be emptied through Earl onto our new bbq and that’s why it is still in its box and awaiting the Pimblett version of W.W.3 to rise like the phoenix from the shreds of cardboard and become the mainstay of our summer (albeit urine tinted) cooking space.

Here's what happened to narf7's veggie garden over winter...

Here’s what happened to narf7’s veggie garden over winter…

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Its 4.39am and I am just about to pat this post on the head and send it off to the blogging version of “the printers”. I know it’s a bit less entertaining than usual and indeed, so am I. It’s the cusp of the damp and cooler weather and unlike most Northerners who are already starting to sulk about the impending rain and cold, I am sad to see our cooler, wetter weather go. I really don’t like hot weather. I am not a fan of sweat or sleepless nights bathed in the stuff. I don’t like trying to walk grumpy hot dogs on hot days or mosquitoes or the smell of the river when the oysters dry up (ECH!). I love spring and its possibilities but the long hot dry months of summer leave me restless and twitchy. I am a Northerner living in a Southerners body. I also have a vegetable garden that is NOWHERE near ready for planting out with new summer veggies. I headed up (most bravely) yesterday and waded through the mud to see that the spinach that has been the mainstay of the garden for the past year has finally decided to go to seed and is now up to my chest. I am not short. I cut some for tonight’s evening meal whilst trying to simultaneously shield my eyes from the sow thistles doing their damnedest to get into the Guinness World Book of Records for having the thickest stems.

Clivea flowers

Clivea flowers

Clivea seeds from last season's flowers

Clivea seeds from last season’s flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

It’s time to haul ass and get out of winter “inside” mode and back into summer “outside” mode and I am scared. Steve and I have 2 weeks of holidays coming up and we will be outside pouring concrete, setting the final poles into the ground for our big outside enclosed veggie garden. I have plans to make a garden bed out of the various coloured wine bottles that we have been storing in the small shed that I was going to make a bottle wall out of but that I am now going to turn into a lovely raised garden (thanks to Pinterest for the idea 😉 ). The rest of the garden beds will be assembled from existing enormous wooden beams that are in situ inside the perimeter (thank goodness!) and lots and lots and lots and lots of rocks. We can spare the odd rock. Serendipity Farm is predominately made up of rocks ;). Well that’s all for today folks. Narf7 is entering “doing” territory and that’s my least explored territory of all. I am great at planning…implementing isn’t my forte but as this is my “year of doing” I had best get my act together and at least “DO” something! ;). See you next week when I should technically have some photos of lots of hard work and misery loves company so feel free to get out into your own gardens so that we will meet next Wednesday as the confraternity of hobbling, tired, scratched and maimed gardeners ;).

If Steve ever suggests that you "just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it's SUCH a lovely day..." best you pretend you didn't hear ;)

If Steve ever suggests that you “just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it’s SUCH a lovely day…” best you pretend you didn’t hear 😉

Today's word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left ;)

Today’s word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left 😉

The New Costa and the U.K. Beet

Hi All,

Isn’t Christmas getting close?! I must admit we are a bit up in the air at the moment because my brother is supposed to be coming over Christmas with a friend but hasn’t told us when and as quintessential planners it is driving us nuts! We are in the process of relocating our chooks into their new enclosure and tomorrow they will all be inside the fence rather than outside looking in. It isn’t going to be easy for them and no doubt we will have some escapees that are going to have one of their wings clipped but today I took advantage of knowing that one of the feral chooks that remains (we gave 4 away recently) was clucky and her exact location so after putting up with a serious hen talking to I picked her up and deposited her in the new enclosure. I figure if anyone can find a chink in its armour it’s a clucky feral chook with a nest that she wants to return to. We are tidying up our woodshed and getting it ready for next year’s wood futures. After tomorrow I can start mulching the garden with the certainty that it isn’t going to be dug up directly behind me as I work. I have a love/hate relationship with the chooks and they are the most stubborn creatures under the sun! If they want to dig a hole halfway to China and spread dust halfway to Oklahoma they will! They only stopped digging the other day when they hit a buried dog bone and decided that it was time to start a new hole. After a year of learning to quash my frustration as they chooks defoliated, ate, dug up, scratched around and generally defiled my poor long suffering plants I find it hard to believe that pretty soon I may just be able to plant something will stay in the ground! Steve is whipper snipping the honeysuckle out the back that keeps trying to take over the world. So many dictators on Serendipity Farm! I wish that one of them would take the front running Napoleonic seat so that we could at least focus our efforts on a single enemy.

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Some gratuitous “flower” shots to remind everyone in the North that it IS summer somewhere in the world 😉

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A lovely Callistemon at our back gate in full  bloom relishing its newly cleared out status

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One of millions of Erigeron karvinskianus (Seaside Daisies) that call Serendipity Farm home

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A Stylidium gramminifolium (Trigger plant) in full flower taken on one of our early morning walks with the dogs

We have noticed a bird flying around that looked like a swallow and it landed on the deck the other day and Steve got a good look at it. He raced inside to tell me that it had a blue beak…time to Google that little sucker! In the process of identifying our new feathered friend which turned out to be a Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus) I found a fantastic Tasmanian blog about Tasmanian birds compiled by Alan Fletcher, a local man with a penchant for taking breathtaking photos of our endemic birdlife. It was very simple to identify our new friend using Alan’s wonderful site and after sending him an email to ask him for permission to use a photo from his site he graciously allowed us to do so and in return I urge you to head to Alan’s beautiful site to see just how special our native birds are. You can find a link to Alans blog and from there to his photo gallery above his photo. I loved his blog so much I subscribed to it :o)

http://tassiebirds.blogspot.com.au/

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Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus)

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Physalis peruviana (Ground Cherry or Chinese Gooseberry) with the lesser spotted “Earl” underneath

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Aeonium arboreum Zwartkop recovering from duck attack nicely

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A little cactus enjoying it’s sunny spot

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And this explains why Melaleuca linariifolia is commonly known as “Snow in Summer”…not sure what these little beetles are but they also love roses and banging themselves senseless on our windows at night

I am slowly working my way through my rss blog reader and have been finding some incredible posts. People are so generous with their information! I was looking for a way to make home-made banners of substance and style and found this shining beacon of a site that I now subscribe to…

http://katescreativespace.com/2012/12/16/in-praise-of-simple-pleasures/

Disclaimer: Do NOT go to this blog if you are likely to collapse into a sobbing wreck of a human being when faced with gorgeousness beyond belief, creative majesty to only wonder at and a severe dearth of anything…ANYTHING resembling we mere mortals normal lives. I go to this blog to see how the other half lives…it’s beautiful, it’s incredibly organised, its Pinterest ready and it’s my secret lusting station but don’t say that I didn’t warn you! Halfway down into this perfect post and I find that this lady reads! She is planning on tackling some novels for the second time and says…”They sit full of promise on my bedside table, and the anticipation of losing myself in them again is half the pleasure” Oh what a lucky woman! I have to hide my books in the spare room out of sight, out of mind where Earl can’t render them “snow” along with the rest of the couch cushions that live (quaking in fear) in our bedroom wardrobe and the overwhelming luxury of a stack of amazingly anticipated literature right at my fingertips let alone on my bedside table will remain a wistful fantasy until Earl loses his desire to chew, or his teeth…if I am being honest (and it’s STILL my year of living honestly…) even if I WAS able to run my hands over a stack of soul food…I would leap into the realms of my imagination and would manage a paragraph or two before I woke up with a crick in my neck and a most carefully and gently shredded copy of my latest paramour laid reverently and soggily in my outstretch hands an undetermined amount of time later…no more than I deserve!

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A Psaltoda moerens (Red Eye Cicada) newly emerged from it’s juvenile skin sitting on a large buddleia leaf outside our bedroom window

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You can see why they are commonly known as Red Eyes. After a few days their exoskeletons turn a very dark greeny black and they head off to join the clicking throng of their brethren in the trees

In another blog post I found this…

“The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.” Said Diogenes, “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.”

― Anthony de Mello

I really like this reflection on an interaction from a bygone era…it fits with my ethos of learning to live frugally, simply and in so doing, empowering our lives and allowing others to do the same. It delivers a fundamental message about which ferryman you want to pay and how you want to live in the process. I choose the lentils even though I am not overly fond of them because in choosing lentils I choose a degree of freedom and internal satisfaction that feeds my soul. I can align myself with the rest of the world and I don’t have to feel guilty about my choices in life but most importantly, I am able to learn how to effect a positive change in my own lifetime and feel like I am really living my life. That is something to aim for folks!

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We are still harvesting mushrooms from our veggie gardens courtesy of the mushroom compost mulch

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Check out the beets we grew! Steve made these into some pickled beetroot U.K. style (all vinegar and spice and no sugar) to grace our Christmas table next week

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Bezial giving our home grown spinach his own special “seal of approval”! (I hope you washed that before we made gnocci with it last night Steve!)

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My own personal vegetable gnome I found in the veggie patch :o) He thinks that he has a chance at beating Costa Georgiadis to the top spot on Gardening Australia…good luck babe…you might be cute but that beard needs a bit more “OOMPH!” before you become a serious contender 😉

Well today is walnut day folks! We will identify your possible ownership of Steve’s handmade Blackwood spoon and associate your hopes and dreams with a numbered walnut. We are going to attempt to video Earl selecting his chosen nut and one of us (the bravest…) removing it from Earl’s gaping maw in an effort to identify the number that he has chosen (he can have it back then!). This is your last chance to enter the draw to anyone out there who would like to enter. There are no conditions, anyone from any country can apply and the winner will receive a lovely handmade spoon in the mail some-time after Christmas. Today’s post is going to be a shorter post again because I have spinach gnocchi to make for Steve’s tea tonight. We are combining our desire to use leftovers (homemade bolognaise sauce) with vegetables from our garden (spinach) and make the most of our food dollars. Steve is enjoying all sorts of different food and hasn’t complained about anything that he has been served so the vegetable garden must be delivering quality veg. I noticed a plethora of little snow peas on their vines when I was watering today and will pick some when I am up collecting the spinach for the gnocchi today and I might just redirect the cucumbers from their determined efforts to scale the zucchini’s to the poles that we installed specifically for them to grow up. The tomatoes are covered in flowers but will definitely not be on our Christmas table but on the bright side, we will be able to grace our table with our very own home grown lettuce and salad leaves which makes it all the more special this year. It is a very interesting experiment and very rewarding to grow veggies. I recommend it to anyone. We have even started a new compost heap up near the veggie gardens in anticipation of needing a whole lot more compost in the future. I have plans for making strawberry beds and broad bean beds and have been contemplating sourcing some Jerusalem artichokes to set loose on Serendipity Farm behind the new chook pen. Before anyone tells me how exponential they go, I already know and I love it! :o). Who wouldn’t love sunflowers in spring followed by delicious knobbly roots in the summer…and who cares about the resulting sunchoke gas…we are descending into feral heaven on Serendipity Farm and we love it! :o). Another post down on Serendipity Farm in the middle of summer in the pouring rain. We just keep on saying “it’s good for the garden”…and you know what? It is! :0)…See you Saturday and good luck to everyone who has entered the spoon draw…

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Here are your walnuts folks! Check your nut against your number below and note there are still more walnuts…sad…lonely…unmarked walnuts that could be graced with your own personal number…

Spoon Draw
1. Rabid little hippy http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com
2. Spencer http://www.anthropogen.com
3. Little sundog http://littlesundog.wordpress.com
4. Kym http://brymnsons.wordpress.com/
5. Christi http://farmlet.wordpress.com/
6. http://www.bitesizedthoughts.com/
7. Bev from Foodnstuff http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/
8. Pinkus
9. Jean http://allotmentadventureswithjean.wordpress.com
10.Hannah http://bittersweetblog.wordpress.com/
11.8 acre farm http://eight-acres.blogspot.com.au/
12.Chica Andaluza http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/
13.Wendi http://scarsandallyoga.com
14. Thinking Cowgirl http://thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

In the (highly likely) event that Earl picks more than one walnut his actions  will immediately force a redraw…lets just hope that Earl doesn’t think that this is enormous fun or this draw might go down as the longest prize giveaway draw in history! 😉 and are you feeling lonely there Pinkus? That’s because you don’t have a blog! 😉

There’s a mole in my head

Hi All

I am in the enviable blogging position of having too much to post today. I have at least 4 posts worth of material ruminating about inside my head and am going to have to divide them (much like amoeba) and sift through their content to make sure that no cross breeding goes on. I have an entire post of how I spent an hour on Sunday with my daughters and what we all created. I won’t be posting about that today because I have photos to jolt my memory for that post and need to document the rest because after a few days it fades into the ether and may never have the opportunity to resurface because my head tends to be constantly crammed full of “stuff” and my poor addled brain spends its days sifting through useless information and discarding it ad hoc (Note to self…you need to pay that poor overworked organ more!). I liken my condition to watching a mole at work. It makes a concerted start on an area of earth and starts flinging soil out in all directions until it achieves its holey goal. Most of the dirt that has been displaced just settles into a moley angle of repose that erodes away to nothing after a few days leaving no trace of mole activity. You wouldn’t even know that a mole had even dug aside from the hole, a few missing turnips and the erroneous dirt. Thus is the fate of my thoughts. The main reason for my visit to town was to attend a Sustainable Food Day. I attended last year and many of you can still remember my aversion to the felt hat brigade. Well I am pleased to say that the felt hat brigades were very conspicuous by their absence this year. It might have been too cold for them and aside from one lady who appeared to have made a career of being negative, the rest of us were there to learn. The most interesting (to me) talk revolved around Biochar and the speaker, Mr Frank Strie, was passionately eloquent about how the process of Pyrolysis can produce carbon negative energy whilst achieving increased soil fertility and locking down carbon in the soil at the very same time. Who couldn’t help but get excited about prospects like that?!

Frank is the very first person in this line of speakers all waiting for us to quiz them about their areas of expertise

Despite morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea supplied free of charge and all being substantial and delicious this is the sum of the local interest in food sustainability in the Tamar region. The speakers almost outnumbered the audience! It did make for a very cosy and friendly atmosphere though.

Here is Franks carrot experiment. The small carrots were grown in soil minus charcoal and the large carrots were grown in charcoal (Biochar) rich soil with the same packet of seeds and the same soil/growing conditions. This alone was enough for me to consider hosing down my burning piles before they reduce to ash in the future

Franks basket of tricks containing various jars of charcoal in different grades from coars through to dust and the “tin” at the back of the basket was actually a small model of a pyrolysis set up where the heat harnessed from slowly burning the charcoal is converted to power. A VERY interesting premise and one that I will be looking into in the near future

I met an amazing array of people and some of them are shaping up to be wonderful sources of discount information. A group of us are having a meeting this Saturday about Permaculture and what exactly “Zone 1” means. To keep the costs down we are going to meet up in each other’s houses and supply our own food for the duration of the meetings. Some of us live in far flung places and have started applying Permaculture Principals already so it is going to be very interesting to see just what other people are doing with their own little patch of Nirvana. We are building our own communities and taking what we are learning to friends, family and the wider community in the hopes that we can develop real community relationships that work. Frances (how could she NOT be an unmitigated genius with a name like that 😉 ) is also talking about Permablitzes where a group of like-minded Permies (cute name…like Kermit the frog is “Kermie”…) get together and blitz someone’s garden in a day. Everyone gets a turn to share in the work as well as a turn in getting their own garden blitzed. Frances is an amazing person who is incredibly knowledgeable about Permaculture and who has applied it in various places throughout the world. I can’t wait to see what we can do about Serendipity Farm and the obstacles that have now started turning from huge blockades into something usable. The more I learn the more excited I get because we can use our “problems” to work for us. Piles of weeds and debris? No problem! Use them to make weed tea, compost, and mulch or row compost.  Soil full of rocks that sets like porcelain in the summer? No problem! Use the rocks to form swales for the problem of the sloped nature and water run-off problem and kill 2 birds with one stone! As our lecturer Nick likes to remind us on a regular basis…”for every action, there is an equal, and opposite reaction”. It’s up to US to work out how to use whatever we have here to gain positive change.

A Daphne odora at the back door at my daughters home in Launceston. If you have never smelled Daphne in full flower you are missing out!

Some Hellebores that keep on keeping on also at my daughters home in town the irises just starting to emerge are a lovely bright yellow when they flower

A large camellia that Steve and I crown lifted when we lived with our daughters in town before we moved to Serendipity Farm. The dead looking mass of sticks in front of the camellia is actually a small cherry plant

A mass of my favourite flower, violets. I LOVE spring! 🙂

I think that spring is shoving the rear end of winter a little hard this year as it appears to be overriding the cold and ignoring the last bastions of winter. Everything is leafing up and starting to flower and the birds are all agitated and pairing up for the breeding season. I dare say we have a season of chickens just about to land on the doorstep but we are too busy to care at the moment. It would seem that just as nature has increased her activity, so have we. I seem to be steering a course for real activity on Serendipity Farm with all of the information that we have been getting and we are itching to get out into the garden and start working on our first year of vegetable gardening and planting out. We are going to try to get as many of our potted plants into the ground as we can in the next few weeks. Those that remain are going to be repotted and those that we don’t want, rehoused. My mind is a bit of a maelstrom with everything that I am trying to force into it at the moment and all of the new processes that we are starting. Usually winter blends pretty seamlessly into spring around here but this year seems to have an urgency about it that demands to be acted upon so never one to shirk the urgency of a season (who knows WHAT might happen if I did!) we have been rudely awakened from our winter hibernation and flung head first into instant activity. I just received the last of the fermentation books that I ordered from The Book Depository on Monday and an enormous tomb it is. It’s more an explanation of fermenting various things than actual recipes and allows the reader to experiment with ideas. It would seem that just about everything can be fermented and that segues nicely with my next book arrival, this time from Amazon. I had a bit of birthday money burning a hole in my already holey pockets. When pockets as holey as these start blazing its best to spend your dosh while it still lasts and before the bills arrive so spend I did! I bought 3 books, 1 of which isn’t in stock apparently and I have to wait. Guess which book it was Hannah… ;). One of them I have been waiting for most excitedly and with my latest round of fermentation it will fit in wonderfully. I can’t wait for Miyoko Schinner’s book “Artisan Vegan Cheeses” to get here. I have been using the bread prover over Brunhilda to give my ferments a chance to bask in her radiant love, much like Bezial lies lovingly at her feet with his big black head up against the warming oven.  They have been rewarding me with exponential growth and after giving away 3 of the 8 sourdough starters that Steve and I have been cultivating (to share the love) there are still 5 of them bubbling away ready to move to new homes when the desire arises. Up until lunch time today they were sharing the proving rack with a glass jug of wine yeast doing its thang that is now swimming free and winning the Serendipity Farm equivalent of the Olympic 100 metres breast-stroke in 17 litres of “Skeeter Pee”. Skeeter Pee is apparently potent quaffable lemon wine best drunk chilled in the summer after working hard in the garden. At 14% alcohol you wouldn’t want to drink too many of them in between shifts! We are enjoying seeking out alternatives to paying the middle man our hard studied dosh for something that we can make ourselves out of seasonal produce and by harnessing natural bacteria and fungus to work for us.

My idea of the juxtaposition between winters last bastion and the first flush of spring

Rescued rabbits from a battery meat farm in the North rehoused at Big Ears Animal Rescue where the girls rabbits have now found their new forever home. More about this admirable place in future posts.

Christi and The Bearded One land safely on Serendipity Farm. I am going to put this little picture in a small frame as original artwork by Keith to accompany the wonderful book that Christi sent to me along with some amazing Farmlet jams and some long gone dog treats that are but a fond memory in a sleep twitching dogs dreams now. I am going to use a little bit of this wonderful jam in a small cake that I am taking over for Glads 90th birthday this Saturday. Thank you SOOO much for you open friendship, your incredible generosity and your sisterhood Christi 🙂

I was chatting to the owner of Inspirations Nursery in Exeter the other day when we were picking up some mushroom compost. I love mushroom compost and its propensity to give. Why spend $25 on a mushroom kit when a few bags of mushroom compost will give you pretty similar yields and a whole lot of usable compost to hurl into your garden for quarter the price. We have 7 bags and are just about to lug it into the hidey hole under the house. I have some interesting ideas about what we can do with this wasted space directly beneath the house and growing mushrooms might be a good way to utilise it. After we picked up the mushroom compost we headed inside the nursery to have a little look at the range of seeds that were developed along with Steve Solomon and that are now propagated by a school as a partnership project. I found out that one of the local Resource Management groups is also partnering with the school so the children grow native plants for revegetation. It’s a win-win situation all round and a great way to show children that trees aren’t just for cutting down (it IS Tasmania after all 😉 ). While Steve was roaming about the outside looking at plants in pots I had a look at this amazing seed range and was struck by the wonderful rare old bean selection that was being offered. Apparently the owner has also partnered with another man who is passionate about cold climate beans. This struck a chord with me because one of the points that came out when one of the speakers was talking about food security was that Tasmania doesn’t grow its own grains or legumes. The selection of wonderful looking beans got me very excited. Most of them are grown to dry out and store for use as pulses and ground for high protein flours. Once the owner realised that I was very interested in his selection of beans he opened up and told me about some of the history of the beans. One long black bean was an American Indian variety called “Field of Tears” and was their staple bean crop named after their displacement from their homeland. There were beans of all shapes and colours and one particular kind of bean got me very excited. Getting excited about beans is lame, by the way, and only a fellow vegan could understand how excited I got with this one ;). It’s called a Tepary bean and is a Northern American bean that is just starting to discover a new audience thanks to its incredible drought tolerance and good texture and flavour and keeping qualities. The beans were grown in the desert and living on one of the driest countries on the planet anything edible that promises to perform well in drought conditions is my kind of food! Inspirations Nursery sells 2 kinds of Tepary bean, one nondescript light brown squarish bean and its gaudy white with blue spots cousin, also drought hardy and very nutritious. Here’s a good website with some quality information about Tepary beans if you are interested…

http://www.seedsofchange.com/enewsletter/issue_56/tepary_beans.aspx

The lazarus almond that was stone dead only last year, so much so that I had thrown it up the back of the garden and completely forgotten about it where it spent all summer devoid of water has apparently decided to live! My girls told me that it was alive and I didn’t believe them. It goes to show that plants can be a whole lot more resilient than you might initially think and it also goes to show that I have at least 1 almond tree ready to plant out on Serendipity Farm 🙂

This poor little Pieris japonica had been completely squashed by vegetation all around it last year. We liberated it and gave it a hair cut and it is repaying us (and the bees) by putting on an amazing floral display this year.

The chickens are not content with being able to roam freely all over Serendipity Farm horizontally, now they are determined to conquer the vertical! If they start laying on the chook shed roof you can just about forget paper, rock, scissors Steve!

One of the speakers at the Sustainable Food day talked about spreading various hardy edible plants around your garden and allowing them to go to seed and take up residence all over your property. I dare say this man’s garden isn’t ever going to feature in “Home and Garden” magazine but the idea struck a chord with me. He suggested broadcasting silverbeet, parsley, coriander, rocket, bok choy, chicory and another lady chimed up with celery, carrots, fennel and parsnips as also being easy to let run free on your property. The same man turned what is an incredibly invasive pest plant, Allium triquetrum (Three cornered Garlic) from something that was almost impossible to remove without herbicide to a positive asset by showing that it was indeed a culinary herb, edible and delicious! I love finding ways to turn a negative into a positive and the ultimate revenge is to eat your pest! Making weed tea or piling weeds up and covering them with black plastic for a few years is also a wonderful way to expunge your pent up frustration at a garden full of nitrogen scoffing weeds. Make them work FOR you. Everything has at least one positive (and usually several negative) points and if you can exploit that positive, you are ahead as far as I am concerned. I have a small patch of nettles in the veggie garden area that Steve has been itching to whipper snip since it grew. I am saving my nettles. Not only are they a good vegetable source of iron, make excellent soup and wine BUT they encourage beneficials, they are an indicator that the soil is very fertile (especially in phosphorus) and that the soil has been disturbed. They can be used as a compost activator and can be used to make weed tea that is low in phosphate but has good amounts of magnesium, sulphur (which is low in Tasmanian soils) and iron and coincidentally, they are one of the few plants that can tolerate and flourish in soil rich in poultry droppings ;). For every action (negative) there is an equal and opposite reaction (positive). Cheers Nick! Permaculture teaches us that everything has a use. We were just about to burn some piles of debris and wood and I mentioned this to my new Permaculture guru Frances and she said “DON’T”! She and I had talked about how water runs down our property and how we can’t dig swales to slow the descent and keep the water in our own soil thanks to the rocks. She pointed out that forming the vegetation into rows will act as a swale along with rocks heaped over them. I have SO much to learn but I am going to enjoy every single minute of it :o).

All kinds of fermenting bubbling experiments on Serendipity Farm. This bread proving rack is situated above Brunhilda and is the perfect place to ferment warm cultures. After receiving my latest big book of fermentation I can see this place being populated by some pretty weird foodstuffs…watch this space!

Kipfler seed potatoes ready to be planted into bags…having soil full of rocks is NOT going to stop me from enjoying my new kipflers fresh from the ground! The brown rice in the jar was used last night for blind baking Steves chicken, bacon, mushroom and beer pie pastry.

Another couple of thousand words just flew out of my fingertips. Get in line Merlin I have the magic touch! I might just spend the rest of this evening formulating my next post because I am just getting started and it’s time to finish. Steve is making me vegan pea and “ham” soup by substituting smoked paprika for the ham and green split peas for the regular yellow ones so tonight I will be dining on experimental food. I think that spring is full of experimentation. All sorts of new chances to mess about in the garden, to spend time working on projects outside, to give new life to our poor long suffering potted plants that are envious beyond belief at their already planted brethren. So much to do before the heat sets in and robs us of our energy and will to head out into the garden as surely as the winter rain does the very same thing. Serendipity Farm is awakening to all of the possibilities of spring and it would seem that so am I :o). See you all on Saturday and here’s hoping that all of you in the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying the heralds of spring. Sorry you lot in the North, you HAD your turn! 😉

Earl saw a Wabbit…

Hi All,

Its official folks…Earl now OWNS Deviot. He urinated on every second guidepost from the Deviot Yacht Club back to the Auld Kirk Church in Sidmouth near our home today. We were getting tired of depressed dogs on shopping day and so Steve decided to give Bezial a much needed ego boost and take him to town. Poor Bezial does it tough in our household. He used to be the only dog here but had to push his luck and start acting like he was depressed and refusing to eat so that we would think that he was lonely, rather than the spoiled manipulative hound that he was and so we took pity on him and bought a new friend for him in the form of little imported Earl. You would think that Bezial would have learned about companions after Qi took over and ruled the roost when we were living in town but he just couldn’t resist the chance to try to take over the universe and the result is Earl. He has NO-ONE but himself to blame for the arrival of Earl (and perhaps Qantas can be held vaguely responsible for the depositing of Earl on Tasmanian soil…). Earl is a wonderful dog. He is fantastic with other dogs and can read them well unlike Bezial who gives off intense vibes and sets every dog this side of the Pecos (and the Pecos is a very VERY long way away from Sidmouth Tasmania folks!) off with his vibes. The problem is that Bezial HATES to share. He has never been much of a cuddly boy and expects Earl to be the same but Earl loves nothing more than cuddles, adoration and hugs. Bezial is somewhat disgusted at Earls upside down love fests but puts up with them for the sake of the peace and sometimes he just likes to go back to what it was like before Earl when he was numero uno and Steve was all his. Today he has travelled into Launceston in the front seat (usually a big no-no), he has had a walk in his sacred ground (an old swampy bit of land just up from where we used to live), he has shared a foot long breakfast sub (bacon, egg and cheese) with Steve and has been ferried all over the place and allowed out to walk in the park and various other special places all on his own. Bezial is in heaven.

Princes Square where Bezial dragged Steve in solitary delight on Monday

Peek-a-boo…

Earl and I travelled with Steve and Bezial this morning to be dropped off in the dark at the Deviot Yacht Club. We set off back home so that Earl would get his exercise (very important or he eats things…) and I would get mine (ditto to Earl 😉 ). We were armed with a trusty small torch and my mother’s walking stick inherited from her mother.  Not because I had any physical need of it but because it was light and easy to wield with one hand in case of stray dogs deciding to “have a go” at Earl on the way home. Tasmanians don’t believe in adhering to rules. “Hey mate…if I was sposed to have moi dog on a loid…woi dint thay giv me wun wiv the dorg ay?”… Dogs run free from driveways with impunity in our neck of the woods and I would rather be safe than sorry! Thankfully mum/grandma’s (and perhaps her mum’s before her…) stick didn’t have to be employed to thwack dogs today and we had a lovely meandering walk home and as mentioned, Earl cheerfully pee’d on every second post and dethatched most of the road verge in his youthful eagerness to make his presence felt. By the time he got home he had no “presence” left to feel! He had to fill up with a big drink of water when we got in for the next round. We got to share the most amazing sunrise this morning. Rain is on the way but Earl and I just stood there marvelling at the beauty of it and feeling exceedingly special to be allowed to have God share it with just the 2 of us. Earl helped me make the bed (the middle pillow may never recover from his “help”…) and helped me feed the chooks by barking at the cats. I have been able to give Earl Heaps of cuddles and hugs as Bezial isn’t here to give me withering looks every time I do. We might have to do this more regularly as it’s good for the boys to be apart sometimes and get a special bit of attention each. Earl loves Bezial and misses him badly whenever he isn’t here. I know that somewhere underneath Bezials black bear coat that he loves Earl too but you wouldn’t know it! I raced around the house after Earl with a toy as he careened around the walls, floor and furniture in manic glee. He ended up under our bed with the toy in question and I actually managed to get him puffing which is very hard for the rubber band formerly known as “Earl”. When Bezial and Steve get home the 2 dogs will perform feats of callisthenic activity that would gain them automatic inclusion in the Australian Olympic gymnastics squad should they ever see fit to halt their interspecies racial intolerance but for today that means that I won’t bother hauling all of the rugs that Earl previously left in disarray back to their correct positions until they have finished their reunion frolics and all is calm on the Western Front.

The parents of our (still to be planted out) olive pits bordering Marian’s vinyard in Deviot

This time we remembered to take a photo of the varieties of olive so that we have an idea of what to get scion material for when it comes time to graft

From the other side of the road looking at the teeny little bus stop for the area

I have finally become a fully-fledged card carrying vegan again. The only thing that had been holding me back previously was my ongoing addiction to black tea with milk in it. I couldn’t stand it black as the tannin makes me twitch and not using soy milk (no genetic modification for me Mateo’s!) left me with few satisfactory non-dairy milks to use. Everything I tried was either too watery or allowed the tannin flavour to seep through or tasted weird. I am a tea puritan and if I don’t get at least a bucket large cup of it once a day I am not fun to be around.  I finally found the answer thanks to my daughter Madeline giving me back the remnants of a large bag of almonds that I had left with her when we moved here. To say that they were probably out of code is an understatement but they were in the freezer and they tasted pretty good so bollocks to codes! I ate a few as snacks and used the last of the bag to have a go at making some almond milk. I had read that it was good in tea and wanted to try it so soaked the remaining nuts overnight and used my VitaMix to process them finely, strained them through a fine sieve and the resulting “milk” tasted delicious. Taste was important but what would it be like in tea? I usually have 2 tea bags in my large tea cup but we tried 1 tea bag and it was delicious. I got the added bonus of the left over strained almond pulp. Not liking to waste anything if I can help it I decided to research what to do with it and the pioneering people who went before me most generously shared their knowledge and I ended up putting the pulp (after it was thoroughly pressed to remove as much of the milk as possible) onto a sheet of baking paper (next time I will use one of my re-usable silicone sheets that I got with my dehydrator but this time was an experiment), into a baking dish and placed in Brunhilda’s  4th, and coolest “warming” oven where I also defrost the dogs meat from the freezer over the course of the day. The 2 tasks were NOT combined on this occasion :o). The result was a very light fluffy almond “flour” that can be used in baking or combined with other things to make muesli. I am going to experiment with adding sesame seeds to increase the calcium. I love the taste, I can make it myself and I don’t have to worry about my ecological footprint and will be planting out some almond trees in the near future so that my milk futures are a step closer to being totally sustainable as well.

It would appear that Aurora have better things to do at the moment than fix this problem. It may not be totally obvious, but they have tied a rope to this overhead power line, thrown the rope through a branch on this tree and pulled it up. I guess they will get around to actually sorting out the problem one day…maybe…

Is that the overhead power line being precariously held there by this chunk of salvaged rope? No kidding guys! I shouldn’t give them too much jip I suppose, the outage was over 12 hours so we were sent a cheque for $80…”Woo Hoo! That almost pays our next power bill :)”

I am still madly in love with Brunhilda. I can hear the small weathered river stone that I placed in her ticking away as the kettle simmers on the hob. If I CAN’T hear the stone I know that the kettle’s water is getting low. I got this tip from my grandmother years ago and remembered it when we bought Brunhilda. My grandmother had a wood burning stove that always seemed to be on the go. She produced the most delicious roasts, cakes etc. from that stove and that’s what made me want one all these years on. Her kitchen was the hub of our fractured family’s existence and it was a very rare day that we didn’t go to see gran. My grandmother’s ingenuity went hand in hand with this kitchen and she made her own Tamarind paste long before tamarind was something that anyone had heard about, let alone used in their cooking. She grew herbs, made all sorts of lotions and potions and back in the distant past she would no doubt have been looked on most suspiciously by the religious establishment for her “nefarious” activities. Thankfully she was born into the 20th century but she was most definitely a pioneering spirit and was very artistic and creative and taught us all to be adventurous with our minds. Thanks for that gran. It’s only now that I truly appreciate what you did for us and I will be sure to give any dog that tries to stick it’s nose out of the driveway untethered a hefty “THWACK” for you.

The next couple of weeks are going to be spent working our way through our studies. We will be putting in an application of interest in a course that will enlighten us in the magic art of Illustrator 5. The course also teaches printing etc. but the best bit about the course is that we can do it from home like we are currently doing our diploma. We have to go through an interview process but hopefully the fact that this is a certificate 3 course, we have been at Polytechnic in the recent past, we have completed 2 Diploma’s (by that stage we will have…) AND that we have a proven track record in working at home on our own should all go in our favour when they are making their selection criterion for this hugely popular course.

This old horse has most certainly seen more than a few winters and a bit of frost isn’t going to put him off!

I am utterly in love with my early morning pre sunrise winter ritual of getting up on my own and heading out to the kitchen to greet the morning. Steve likes to lay in a bit until I bring him his first cup of coffee in bed and I don’t mind one little bit. It’s dark when I get out of bed. It’s also inevitably quite cold in our bedroom as it’s the furthest from the kitchen where our heat source latently drizzles out the heat after being damped down overnight and coincidentally, the kitchen is the place where I find Bezial waiting for his early morning “me” time with me basking on his small sofa next to Brunhilda. I don’t know who loves Brunhilda more, to be honest, Bezial or me.  I take pride in being able to navigate our house in the dark. Nothing to do with all of the carrots that I eat and everything to do with the dominant knee protrusions lying in wait to deliver a not inconsequential blow to any unsuspecting joint that dares to forget its place in the dark. I run my hand along the bedroom wall and can see the day when there is a well caressed groove in that short distance. After our bedroom (and the chunky footer of our bed…the most dangerous source of joint pain in the entire house…) I am ok to just walk. Once I get to the kitchen the very first step is to wake Brunhilda from her slumber. Brunhilda rises like the phoenix after a few sticks and has the polished river stone in my first kettle of water tap-dancing before I have time to settle down in front of the computer to immerse myself in the early morning magical world of rss feed reading. I can then lose myself for an hour (depending on how lazy Steve is feeling) in my gardening, recipe and sustainable living blogs over that first precious cup of elixir of life tea. Thus starts my day on Serendipity Farm over the winter. Summer is going to bring a LOT of changes. No Brunhilda to greet me and sunlight WAY before I decide to tumble out of bed. I dare say that the bedroom wall will be thankful for summer but I, my dear constant readers, will not.

The almond pulp left over from making my almond milk that I dried out in Brunhilda

What it looks like after being pulverised into almond flour. Both batches that I have made so far end up with a smell reminiscent of malted grain and should make an interesting addition to various baked items.

Well I just hit 2000 words. I keep trying to make my blog posts shorter but life imitates art here folks and I am known for my verbosity. The problem is that I was born to share and this primal need often overrides my ability to cull my posts. It feels like when you see people with their toddlers on a leash… just know that I am at least trying :o). I was looking up the lineage of the name Brunhilda. It’s derived from the Norse “Brunhilde” and my maternal grandmother, who I feel a close kinship with and an even closer ethos was called Hilda. My grandfather was called Hamilton. Neither of those names would appear today on the “most desirable baby names” list and thank goodness for that! Now that I have enough years under my belt to be able to throw around the odd thought or two with some life experience to tamp it into my philosophical Sherlock Holmes pipe… I have learned to embrace and enjoy my life sans mainstream acceptability. I am proud of my working class history, my upbringing and indeed everything about my life that brought me to the place where I sit here typing this post right now. I love each and every one of my children utterly and the man that I share my life with I consider my soul mate (even though we are complete opposites and will never understand each other till the day that we die…). I am most probably the luckiest woman I know. I dare say that there is someone else out there luckier…but I am content to be the luckiest woman on Serendipity Farm and am entirely grateful, thankful and in debt to God and to the circumstances that put me here. Cheers…and thanks for all the non-meaty fish ;).

Sunrise Sunday morning…and we didn’t even get any rain!

Freezing cold but very pretty…these photos don’t do it justice

Back (segueing nicely) to Brunhilda… anyone over the age of about 10 will have heard of Bugs Bunny. I actually didn’t like the smug little git and aligned myself more with that little black duck that raged even more spectacularly than his more mainstream cousin Donald. Bug’s was the cartoon equivalent of a psychopath and most certainly NOT to be idolised by anyone’s children. He did whatever he wanted to and turned his antagonists into gibbering idiots on more than a solitary occasion. My most lasting memory of a journey that he took underground almost in its entirety with Daffy Duck (we can only guess that Bugs and his pathological ability to lie drove Daffy to the depths of travelling underground to Pismo beach as ducks tend not to like being in this sort of environment) occasionally sticking his head out of the ground uttering the famous lines “I shoulda taken that left toin at Albukoikee”. I discovered the following and I quote: –

“Some of Chuck Jones’ colleagues got lost commuting from the Southeast US to Hollywood and ended up lost out in the New Mexico boonies. The experience was memorable enough to create an inside joke that ultimately became the means by which Bugs Bunny ended up in the middle of nowhere. The joke was that Bugs was actually trying to get to Hollywood but got diverted in Albuquerque.”

The Bugs and Daffy episode ended up with Daffy showing his greedy side at the expense of his sanity and physical wellbeing but another episode involving Bugs Bunny and his poor long suffering antagonist Elmer Fudd, involved Bugs toying with poor addled Elmer and pretending to be Brunhilde to avoid being “pwugged” by Elmer’s gun. Pathological lying…psychopathic bullying behaviour AND cross dressing all designed to amuse children…can we now, perhaps, understand why the baby boomers are all a bit “exit stage right” about life?! Here’s a picture of Bugs being found out in his lie and an inch away from being “pwugged” from the episode “Herr Loves Me, Hare Loves Me Not”…

http://www.animationconnection.com/view/lj83272-herr-loves-me-hare-loves-me-not

I got this from this site where you can purchase this very hand painted film cell framed for a mere $1,325.00. I can’t quite justify paying that sort of money and will be content with hoping that my brain keeps remembering this film cell in its entirely free format inside my head for many years to come…

I wonder if my grandmother’s lineage harks back to Norse kinship. She was a most determined and strong woman and should any of you have a bit of spare time you can head on over to this site and read a bit about Wagner and his Ring cycle operas (3 in total).

http://www.well.com/user/woodman/singthing/ring/story.html

It would seem that I have more than a paternal smattering of Germanic heritage. Reading this description of a Valkyrie most definitely reminds me of my grandmother…

“(The Valkyries are female, but they are warlike females. Not only that, Brünnhilde has to have a voice capable of outshouting a full Wagnerian orchestra for 4-plus hours. Hence the cliché of the massive armour-girt soprano with breastplates and horns.)”

Grandma was neither massive nor loud but was most definitely the patriarch of our family where women were survivors and were born to serve their man. You didn’t butt horns with grandma and come out the other side wholly intact…although that most CERTAINLY didn’t stop me trying…

Is it Earl locked out…or Steve locked in?!

Steve’s tea tonight…home-made chicken and mushroom pies made with cheese shortcrust, free range rooster and a local salad dressing (no food miles there 🙂 ) That egg is one of 15 eggs that we found in a hidden nest today. No doubt we will be finding many more eggs from now on. The secret is to listen for the hens telling everyone that they have laid an egg and backtracking to find the source! We will beat you yet Yin!

Well I just hit 3000 words and that’s my curtain call folks…forgive my foray off into the world of the Valkyries but to be honest, you could all do with a good cultural shake up, and what’s better than a Wagnerian Opera to stir up your inner cobwebby machinations. I might even delve into Donald Duck and his desire to teach his nephews a lesson when he thinks that they have been smoking cigars and they have actually bought them for him. He makes them smoke every last cigar and then finds out his error…lesson learned on both counts! We can all learn from both our elders AND our children and thus ends the lessons for today dear brethren…see you same time on Saturday for the matinee session…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E12ykihvCHk

Cher stampedes my early morning brain

Hi All,

I am starting to get the feeling that Earl is one of those dogs that is prone to falling prey to his instincts. Earl likes to taste things. He likes to sample…savour…chew (especially chew) and masticate just about anything that he lays his eyes on. He has settled down a lot lately and we have been getting somewhat complacent about the damage that used to occur on a daily basis. Steve headed in to the lounge room today to vacuum the floor. He plugged in the vacuum cleaner and got most of the way through vacuuming when the vacuum cleaner stopped. He assumed it had pulled out of the wall because the lead doesn’t reach all of the way into the lounge room. He turned back to plug it in again…and noticed the smoke coming out of the cord…THE CORD!!! Sigh…Earl…(the little darling) had been allowed into the middle (spare) room where Mr Vacuum Cleaner (his arch nemesis) lived about 3 months ago and in the tiny space of time that it took for him to wander into the room and be ushered out, he had nibbled the vacuum cleaner cord. Dyson vacuum cleaners are NOT cheap Earl…sigh… In saying that…I wouldn’t swap Earl for anything. He is starting to turn into a really great dog and one day, much like his big black well behaved kennel mate Bezial, he will earn our complete trust. Bezial is allowed outside the gate on his own amongst the chickens…the feral cats etc. He is completely trustworthy and lies down in the sun whenever he is allowed outside. Earl is on high alert for ANYTHING that he can hunt. Bezial used to be like this and we often found dead (curiously unmarked) baby blackbirds on the back step when we lived in town. We know it was Bezial because we watched him lay on the back step and suddenly launch himself onto an unsuspecting sparrow and catch it. We chased him around the back yard with his squeaky toy and if we weren’t so concerned to get the sparrow off him we would have been laughing because the very much unhurt sparrow was watching our efforts with his head out from between Bezials tightly clenched canine teeth. We eventually managed to catch him and release the unharmed sparrow from him where it promptly took off soggy on foot underneath a large gas bottle to hide and elude further capture. Bezial was quick, he was accurate and he was worse than Earl because he KNEW what he was doing was naughty!

Here’s the dog himself. Do you see why poor Mr Vacuum Cleaner didn’t stand a chance?

We took Qi for a walk in town…she had a great time and posed nicely for me only once. For the rest of the walk she was too busy to pose and this is the only shot of her standing still

I was once told by our horticulture lecturer that Serendipity Farm must have its own little microclimate because we were able to grow things here that couldn’t be grown in most other places in Tasmania…curiously we had the same little microclimate factor when we lived in town…I am starting to suspect that the combination of Steve and I as a whole create our own microclimate and perhaps even our own little micro world! Nothing that we live with for any amount of time or that chooses to live with us ever manages to act or react in any sort of logical way. Our chickens are the masters of the farm (after Earl that is…he is the Grand High Master of the lodge and they had best not forget it!) and hold supreme pecking order in their complex little society of hens. When most other people are lamenting the dearth of eggs…our chickens have just started to lay copious quantities of eggs…most of the way through autumn and almost into winter and (fingers crossed) show no sign of stopping any day soon. Last night, Steve, who shuts the hens in at night and checks the 2 nests (that we know about) that we pepper with 2 eggs each day to ensure that the hens don’t think that we are onto their hiding spots, discovered one of our newly laying white hens has decided to go clucky…CLUCKY…right on winter! We just had our Silver Laced Wyandotte hen hatch out 3 babies and a Golden Laced Wyandotte hen go clucky on no eggs at all. They ended up sharing the parenting of the 3 babies of which all 3 babies got eaten by feral cats…2 mothers and 3 babies and they STILL couldn’t manage to look after them. Wyandotte hens are big girls and tiny little Houdini the feral chook mum was able to hatch out 2 clutches of 5 and then 7 babies and all 12 are still alive thanks to her tenacious ability to attack ANYTHING that threatened her babies. It just goes to show that you can’t judge a hen by its size or breed. Effel doocark is a terrible mum…she is a Blue Laced Wyandotte…are we starting to get a picture in our minds about the parenting habits of Wyandotte hens? All in all, any sane…normal chicken is off the lay and prepared to sit on a perch contemplating her chicken alternative to a navel all winter. Not ours…they appear to have other plans. Perhaps world domination? Who would know…whatever they are planning they had best remember who brings home the sacks of seed that feed them

Here are some of those chickens skulking around as we had just chopped some firewood and they were allowed to hunt through it to find all of the insects. We had just tidied up the area and apart from being a grey day with more rain on the way at least the yard looks tidy now

Doesn’t this look like I was messing about with black and white photography? That would be crediting me with some sort of photographic comprehension. This is the result of attempting to share with you just how foggy it gets around here with the fog rolling up the river early (like it is here) and back down the river later on

Again…this looks pretty shmick…”what a clever photographer…” nah…sheer fluke. Black and white bleeds into a bright blue sky all painted by God and sweet nothing to do with me!

I started the fire this morning on my own. There is something primal and ancient about starting your own fire. It harkens back to when a fire meant the difference between survival and death and lighting my own little fire this morning kindled (yeh I know…I am HILARIOUS ;o) something inside me that rewarded me with much more than the act of fire lighting. I don’t think it ignited (I am on a roll here…) any latent pyromaniac tendencies in me, but I feel more satisfaction than the simple fire starting act should give me. I am not going to take off all of my clothes and do a celebration dance around the kitchen because aside from requiring more effort than I am willing to put in at this time of day, Bezial has to cope with my irrational outbursts and crazy antics on a daily basis…he is just making it through to the end of the day somewhat sane. He spends his days with one eye open watching for any elevation in my naturally semi manic state from which he is ready to spring into action and race over to sooth my inner savage beast (the actual quote is “breast” but that would just be weird folks so I am going with the bastardised version for the sake of the flow…). Bezial is a very clever dog…he now knows that to stop Earl from careening around the lounge room in a state of mental bliss after his evening meal all he has to do is bring him a toy to stop him bouncing from one lounge chair to the other. It works…he soothed the savage (in this case) beast and he tries to do the very same thing with me. I don’t know whether I am flattered by his attention or slightly disturbed that my dog thinks I need soothing on a regular basis and lumps me in with Earl in the “CRAZY” basket but it’s nice to know that someone is willing to mellow me out when I am raging. He doesn’t deserve me prancing about in the nude first thing in the morning though. I don’t think his fragile dog psyche could take that much fear and we might be up for paying for a good dog psychologist.

Here’s a few photos from Steve’s new mobile phone. I am starting to think I might toss the camera into the river and use the phone! It makes our view looks stunning!

Isn’t this lovely? Steve took it walking along the river when we were walking the dogs one morning (again, with his phone…)

This is a really lovely shot. The sun has just come up, we are walking along the side of the river and it just goes to show what a beautiful place we live in. Its like the sky is bleeding into the river…again…a phone shot

I keep fighting against my natural inner geek. I don’t know why I am fighting so hard apart from the fact that I am married to a naturally cool man. He plays lead guitar…he used to be a guitar teacher… when I first laid eyes on him he looked like Justin and Dan Hawkins’s from the band “The Darkness”  big brother. He was a punk in the U.K. in the 80’s. He loves Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and followed cutting edge musical genres as natural progression in his musical development. I feel like a super nerd sometimes when we go to youtube and check out our “old favourites”. He is watching David Bowie and The Pogues and I am pretending that I was in a coma through the late 70’s and early 80’s because ABBA and The Bay City Rollers were about as uncool as you could get. I guess it really is true when they say that complete opposites attract because that’s exactly what Steve and I are…exactly opposite. We have birthdays 6 months apart…we come from opposite sides of the world, we have temperament’s on complete opposites of the spectrum and we often find ourselves with no-one to back us up when trying to explain what it is that is going on inside our heads. We are like Felix Unger (me) and Oscar Madison (Steve) in “The Odd Couple” and despite everything going against us, it works. Why did I mention this? Because I am cursed with having one of the songs in the first stanza of songs played on the clock radio by our local FM radio station in the morning becoming wedged inside my skull and repeated on an eternal loop for the rest of the day…sometimes for the rest of the week if it was a particularly annoying song. Today I had a choice. I could have gone with Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks”. Not particularly “my thing” but not a bad song…not uncool…definitely my period of music (I was young once you know…this little interjection is for the benefit of my daughters who now read these posts and can be summarily ignored by anyone else). Then we had “Sultan’s of Swing”. I know which song is going to be stuck in Steve’s head all day…if songs do indeed get stuck in his head that is. His dad was a major fan of Dire Straits. His dad also played lead guitar… in a band…in the 1950’s…in pubs and clubs and his dad was a friend (wait for it…this is a big one) of Ringo Starr of the Beatles fame! Steve comes from musical royalty and it appears it has bled through to the present day. So we had “Young Turks”…we had “Sultan’s of Swing” and 1 other song… I am cursed to spend my day yodelling at the top of my lungs (because that is how you sing it…) “Jessie James” by Cher. Yes…I rest my case…I am a TOTAL NERD GEEK and I have the children to prove it. All of my latent nerdiness bled into my highly intelligent children and revealed itself as a most obvious truth and you know what? I am coming to appreciate my natural lien towards the nerd side. It’s now cool to be a geek (or Hip to be a Square…Mr Huey Lewis and the News was years ahead of his time) and I can “come out” blazing (or in flames)…”just like Jessie James”…sigh…

This is a Fly Agaric mushroom. It is the quintessential toadstool that fairies choose to sit on. For once I am glad that Steve won’t let me eat the mushrooms that I find! This one lets you turn blue and see God

I love that weeds can find just about anywhere to settle down to grow. This little fellow has chosen a very lofty position of power. Who knows? Perhaps he will grow up one day and “Rab-o-bank”! (Oh come ON you lot…do NONE of you have a sense of humour? 😉

This is the Polytechnic in Launceston. Steve and I attended this Polytechnic where we studied business and small business. Its a really lovely old building and my youngest daughter went to Launceston College for year 12 just over the road

Its two and a half months since I started my “No Diet” approach to getting healthier. I haven’t felt deprived; I haven’t yielded to temptation because I haven’t felt tempted. I eat when I am hungry and the only “rule” if there is one, is that I just don’t eat anything that isn’t nutritious any more. I eat as much as I want to eat and although I am losing weight slower than on a strict diet, I am losing weight consistently and without any effort at all. I think I have found the answer to my lifelong weight problem. I fully expected to lose very little weight. I wasn’t aiming for weight loss, I was aiming to make myself healthier and to hopefully minimise the damage that being overweight for most of my life has done to my joints. I walk with Steve and the dogs for a minimum of 4km a day and no longer shirk a bit of hard work. In the 2 ½ months that I started eating this way I have lost 11kg. Not bad for not even trying and if I was following one of my old strict diet plans I would have fallen off the wagon by now, tempted beyond belief and feeling completely resentful and weak. Stop dieting people, it doesn’t work.  I used to have very little energy but now have more than enough to help Steve around the property and spent the day today helping him drop dead trees, cut them up and lug them into the trailer, and then out of the trailer and into the wood shed. It’s a vicious circle being on a diet. I should know…I think I have been on just about all of them. I once fasted for 21 days and have subjected myself to some pretty crazy schemes in the search for eternal thinness. I don’t care if I don’t reach my “ideal weight” I would like to know who it is that decides what someone’s ideal weight should be. I get the feeling that they are being paid by the diet industry to make it incredibly difficult to attain and I could care less about the dieting industry now. I am going to plod along doing what I am doing now. I am going to see if my body reaches a place where it is happy to move around easily and settles in to stay at that point. Life is too short to spend your life fantasising about food and I plan on spending what I have left of it living. I will keep you posted with my experiment on minimising the waist in my life (ha-HA :o).

Isn’t Launceston pretty? This road leads out of town. It leads to the West Tamar Highway and we used to live 3km from this spot on this road. I sometimes miss being able to duck into the City at any given time. I liked being able to walk the dogs in the city centre early on a Sunday morning when no-one was up and the only sound came from the street sweeper that we used to wave to. At least I appreciate it whenever I walk in town now and the dogs LOVE it 🙂

We spent the day logging and lugging yesterday and while we were hauling some kindling to add to the wood in our trailer for our girls in town we decided that rather than Steve take the wood in next Monday on his regular shopping day event, we might just be a bit adventurous and head in today (Tuesday) with the load, walk the dogs in town and spend half a day in the big smoke. I was reminiscing on Sunday about how we took for granted the ability to just head into town to do all sorts of things before we moved out here. I guess I am feeling a bit stir crazy at the moment. Part of it is because I have run out of wool and have thus eliminated one of my stress relief crafts and the book that I am reading at the moment is less than satisfying. It’s “Ok”… but apart from dealing with turning a barren wasteland into a productive vibrant organic farm it feels like another planet away from what we are doing here. Being an American book, the forests, the land, the entire ecosystem is completely different and the feeling of united horticulturalists leading the way appears to have left me dragging behind and feeling somewhat dissatisfied…oh well…NEXT BOOK PLEASE. I have ordered 3 more from the Mary Anne Schaffer bucket list of books. I would have to say that I have enjoyed immensely about half of the books that I have read so far. The other half has been mostly enjoyable but are not my particular sort of book that delights my soul. I am reading my way through them all (the ones that I can get from the library that is…2 have not been able to be obtained) as a sort of homage to doing things properly. So many times the voice of my grandmother peels back the layers of my psyche with her forthright comments…”start out as you mean to finish off”…”clean up as you go along”…”do it properly the first time and you won’t have to do it again”… cheers gran. I identify with my grandmother who was YEARS ahead of her time. After my mother’s death we discovered all sorts of things about my grandmother by proxy and it was quite interesting to see just where our family came from and what sort of ethos they held sacred. My grandmother was a pioneer. She left a family of women after her parents divorced (unheard of back then) and headed out to forge a new life for herself in Australia from her Northern England home town. She was brave, strong and taught her daughters and granddaughters that women were naturally strong and that men had to be looked after. Not too sure if that ethos rings true today gran, the world has changed a bit, but the combination of our genes coupled with the strong German genes inherited from our father have indeed resulted in strong women. I inherited a strong face. I inherited a strong personality and a strong desire to affect equality from somewhere. I spend most of my days trying to soften myself because it’s very hard for a man to be married happily to a strong woman. Sorry Steve…forgive me for occasionally taking over…I was taught to do so and it runs like molasses through  my veins and it’s just as hard to stop once it gets flowing. My grandma taught me tenacity…to never give in…never give up…I have passed on my need for perfection that I inherited from her, her inventive spirit, her lateral problem solving skills and for that I thank you gran. You and I didn’t always see eye to eye… when you raise them strong you are making a rod for your own back…but you live on in my heart, my mind and my actions and whenever I am utterly pissing Steve off by saying “don’t do that job by halves…may as well do it properly the first time” it’s actually you that he is pissed off with ;o)

Well looky here…Urban agriculture! Apparently someone is growing City Millet…I wonder how long this is going to last when the blackbirds and sparrows realise that there is a veritable feast right on their inner city doorsteps!

We just got a text message to tell us that we are rich! We won 750 000 pounds! How very fortuitous on the day that we are going to town…all we have to do is give them our bank details…our names… our address…a deposit to get the money put into our bank account…why let’s set about doing this forthwith Steve!…sigh…will these people EVER give up trying to scam us? I can’t count the amount of times someone from an obviously foreign country has told us “you have a virus on your computer” and attempted to get us to turn over control of our PC to their “windows service” department. Steve actually strung one of them along for about 30 minutes till he told them to shove it in no uncertain terms once. They are vermin…right up there with most lawyers and patent and copyright trolls. They just didn’t get a fish today…no doubt they will be trying harder in the future although I dare say they will change the bait…Well look at that! If I have any followers left on this blog (cheers WordPress… you appear to have eliminated most of my followers along with your latest update and your stupid comments coming thick and fast from anyone other than my followers) I hope you have a really great day and week ahead. I know it’s getting tough right through the world. I read that cafes and restaurants are going broke all over the U.S.A. whilst McDonalds is flourishing…a sign of the times? We just have to learn to think laterally…think smarter people…don’t see things negatively, the baby boomer generation screwed us up just see this lot as challenges that our generation were born to solve. Or…you can stay in bed for the day with a cup of tea and a good book and “FORGEDABOUDIT”…your choice 😉

TIMBER and fire futures

Hi All,

First I want to talk to you all about something…many of you may have noticed that my posts occasionally appear to have been written in the past and then suddenly you will see a bit added that is somewhat random and may not have much to do with the post in general. Let’s just say for curiosities sake that I have invented a Serendipity Farm time machine. I have put flux capacitors, twiddley knobs and all sorts of weird and wonderful hoozamagigs that I am not going to explain because hey…I might want to manufacture them and make a bit of pocket money at some time in the future. Just a little aside here…it would be a good thing if we keep this little secret between ourselves because otherwise I may suddenly “disappear” and not be posting any more (courtesy of the C.I.A. or some other “interested party”…). Back to the time machine. Now this thing DOESN’T run on plutonium by the way…apart from me not having a ready access to it and having no idea how to manufacture it from raw materials (nor in fact having any desire to do so as I was born with a brain…) it is being run on an entirely sustainable and renewable source of energy (let’s say something along the line of Tesla coils…) and that I am able to hop my posts from one day back and then forwards and that I take avail of this sometimes. Let’s just say that because it is a whole lot more interesting and romantic and gung-ho than the actual truth and for the sake of your sanity (and I would probably have to kill you if you found out…) you just accept that OK? There…that wasn’t so hard was it? A suspension of disbelief is all that it takes…you all watch television don’t you? All of that was to lead into me spending the morning of Monday doing manly things with Steve. No…I wasn’t spending “Labour Day” drinking beer in the shed, scratching my private parts and watching football…I was out doing some hard physical labour and toting logs while Steve cut them up with the chainsaw and then split them with the log splitter. And before you say ANYTHING about how come I am talking about Monday and it is actually Saturday? Remember… the time machine… (Wink wink…)

I had been up for just over an hour before I took this shot of the sunrise…what am I going to do when daylight savings stops next month?!

An early morning lumberjack with his challenge

As you can see these trunks are right next to my compost bin and Pingu’s house…

Steve has already cut his tree on the other side and is now cutting his wedge hole

Sorry these are dark but I was hiding behind a tree MILES away from this and zooming in for you to see…this is the wedge cut

Steve is using his block splitter to knock a wedge shaped bit of wood into the chainsaw cut. He has already cut the front of the tree and now he is tapping the wedge into this cut to slowly tip the tree where he wants it to go

TIMBER!

Now I have been trying to stall this tree felling event for a while now. I am a natural worry wart and Steve is a natural gung-ho manly man who likes to get stuck in before he engages his brain sometimes. After having a chat with some manly friends who both said “Piece of piss”…which is a masculine Aussie colloquialism for “Easy peasy” with regards to chopping down the 2 smallish trees and with everyone scorning my obvious “girly” fears, Steve was able to isolate an actual date (Labour Day) to get me to assist him in cutting down these trees. When I say “assist”, what I mean is hide behind a VERY large tree as far away from the actual event as possible taking pictures. Just another quick note here…we don’t recommend that anyone do this with the minimal safety equipment that Steve had on. Get yourself some good safety gear before you do this but for today’s little effort, Steve decided to go nude… (Sigh…). Both Steve and I have undertaken and completed our chainsaw licenses through our Certificate 3 in Horticulture and both of us know about tension, compression and how to read wood. In saying that these trees were a very easy and predictable drop and they were both stone dead. I would never allow Steve to cut down live trees because they are totally unpredictable with how they are going to react. Wait till they die and THEN cut them down :o). Ok, now all of that safety (or lack therein) has been discussed let’s get down to what we did. I took lots of pictures but as it was pretty early (7.30am) some of them are quite dark. Because I was being a sooky la-la and hiding behind a large tree the stupid flash kept going off and making the picture even darker so you will have to bear with me, but here is the progression as it happened…(oops…maybe I should have put the first 7 photos here…but you get my drift…)

The Lumberjack is fashioning himself a rudimentary chopping block (I feel like David Attenborough doing a commentary…)

It looks like Steve is gesticulating at me in a most Italian and derogative way but it’s just my early morning photography…I am not all that good at the best of times but this is BEFORE my first cuppa and I can’t be held responsible for my actions

Now it’s time for the second, smaller trunk to be felled. By now I was more blase about Steve’s abilities and was only half a mile away (but still behind a tree…it doesn’t pay to get TOO cocksure…)

Hey…I actually got this one falling! Action shot (another tick from my “must do before” list…)

Admiring a job well done…not a single tap was flattened…no hens fell in the wayside and Pingu is entirely 3 dimensional and the compost bin lives to feed the possums another day

Ok that was a lot of photographic documentation and I am tired and need to head off to get a cup of tea now after all of that exertion… ok, back now and ready to tackle the rest of this post. We have a wood burning stove that doubles as a hot water system in winter and that requires regular food or it doesn’t work. A pretty simple concept and something that we are well aware of. My “trick knee” has been telling me that winter is going to be a hard one this year. Our elderly neighbour Glad told us that you could tell how hard a winter was going to be by the brightness of the cotoneaster berries. They are flame red this year so perhaps they are trying to tell us something. Never let it be said that I ignore nature’s signs because I have most definitely learned to do so at my own peril. I figure we are due for a very cold dry winter and as such we are going to need enough firewood to keep the stove operating effectively for the winter and most probably up to about October when it starts to warm up a bit and the last frosts occur. Over winter I use the wood stove extensively for drying clothes in front of, heating the entire house, cooking all sorts of amazing things and lots of staple foods like bread and for heating our hot water. It is very efficient and doesn’t need an incredible amount of wood to heat up the top plate and the water so if we don’t need to cook anything in the ovens we only need to keep it “ticking over” and we use very little wood in the process. We are learning all about this old way to cook and by the end of this year we should have a good handle on just what it takes to get our stove to do what we want it to do. There are all sorts of knobs and things on the stove to open and close flu’s and to direct heat all over the place. Steve, being the technology genius, has taken it on himself to “learn the ways” of the stove. I hope he teaches me because apart from being good at lighting fires (past life) I have no idea about how to get this baby working well.

This is how close those trunks were to my compost bin…

Steve and I have both commented that there is an optical illusion going on in this photo. The area where these trees fell is nowhere NEAR as big as it looks in this photo. Lots of delicious wood for warm cosy fires in the freezing cold winter so I can wear tee-shirts when it is stormy outside

The hens were all going ballistic to be let out before Steve started up the chainsaw. Chainsaws = grubs so the hens weren’t particularly upset when he started it up but as soon as he started to use it on the tree they all took off inside their coop. Here they are coming out very VERY slowly to look at the carnage…

It doesn’t take our courageous girls long to get curious and come out to see what is going on

Here is what the fallen sentinels looked like from the deck (Note we haven’t planted out the Claret Ash yet Nat…we did learn at least 1 thing from James…that was plant in the autumn…

Most of you will be aware that Steve recently had a haircut. His hair was previously pretty long for him and had been dyed blond a long time ago and gave him a decidedly gypsy swashbuckling look. Once he got his hair cut he looked like a different man. He had said that he wasn’t going to get his hair cut until we finished everything that we were going to do on Serendipity Farm. Once he realised that his hair was going to tangle up on a daily basis (welcome to my world!) and that he was going to have to brush it (shock horror!) and that we are most probably going to be working on getting Serendipity Farm “finished” for the rest of our lives he decided to bite the bullet and get it cut. Now that he has had it cut it needs to stay cut and with our frugal life I told him that I was going to cut his hair…here is what he thought of that…

And this is how happy he was when I told him that I was only joking…

I decided today that I am going to only post once a week now. I figure that familiarity breeds a bit of contempt. With our studies taking up more of our time and with our newfound efforts in the garden at Serendipity Farm we have a lot less time to do what I have been doing for 8 weeks over the holidays. I love posting for the blog but am starting to find that my posts are starting to contain very similar things. I started the blog as a way to keep in the loop with family and friends interstate and I think that my daily long posts appear to have been doing the opposite thing to keeping in touch. I get the sneaking suspicion that some of my “constant readers” are not reading many of my posts. I know how easy it is to hit “delete” when my inbox is too full in the mornings and I don’t want Serendipity Farm to become something that is easy to delete. I look forwards to my weekly posts from some of my blog subscriptions and think that a week on Serendipity Farm will yield a much rounder and more fulfilling post for you all to read. I haven’t run out of words I just want to remain relevant to family and friends and be something that they look forward to receiving so you will get a post from Serendipity Farm on the weekends now. It will contain everything that we have done through the week and lots of photos to describe it. Today we will be taking out another tree and no doubt that will be in next week’s post. This will be my final daily post for Serendipity Farm. The time that I spend here typing out posts I will pour straight back into the garden. Steve and I have a renewed energy and drive to get stuck into the garden now that the weather is cooler and we can burn some of the piles of debris that are littering the landscape.  Our new study course is also giving us a lot of impetus towards directing our efforts into our sustainable future here on Serendipity Farm. When you are trying to set up a permaculture based sustainable lifestyle for yourself the initial processes are the hardest and we figure we had best get stuck in now and make it happen. With our trusty Earl nibbled pig skin copy of “Creating a Forest Garden” in hand and a new appreciation of looking at small chunks and dealing with them on a regular basis rather than being overwhelmed by the big picture, we are going to affect change here and when spring gets here we will be ready for it. That doesn’t mean that I won’t allow myself the odd intermittent post…I am somewhat addicted to posting and it is a bit like when your children leave home (or live in one of your homes away from you…) and suddenly you miss the little buggers so don’t be surprised if you get the odd mid-week post to salve my need to type or I might have to channel it all into a book somewhere. We are noticing small trees growing where we have cut the grass consistently in the back paddocks and left it lying on the ground to act as mulch. We are seeing native heath flowering, wallabies visiting and are starting to think about how we can redirect the massive problem of storm water that thunders down our steep sloping block to our advantage. The more we learn the more excited we get about being able to apply these principles to our own situation. Steve whipper snipped the teatree garden area yesterday. Prior to our arrival on Serendipity Farm just on 16 months ago the area was covered in forget-me-nots up to our knees and a massive invasion of Periwinkle (Vinca major) that was taking advantage of a series of fallen spindly teatree (Melaleuca alternifolia) to climb out of the sea of forget-me-nots and reign supreme over the invading hoards. The whole area was a sea of blue and purple and whenever anyone walked through this area they emerged out the other side covered in sticky forget-me-not seeds and usually after at least one trip incident thanks to the tangle of thin Vinca stems. We have been pretty consistent with whipper snipping this area. We wanted it to return to a state where native wildflowers could return and native grasses and we are starting to see that since the competition from the exotic weed species has been reduced, the native plants are starting to return let’s just call this a short term seral community thanks to nature and her never-ending desire to reach equilibrium.  It’s an exciting time for us here and with renewed energy and a desire to get “stuck in” we should be able to really make a difference over the coming autumnal period and into winter on Serendipity Farm. We have quite a few overgrown shrubs and small trees to tackle and while the weather is conducive to working outside and the trees start to lose their leaves and return to a dormant stage it is the perfect time for remedial work and removal of dead, diseased, dying, deformed and in our case “demented” foliage, branches and most probably entire shrubs that have overgrown exponentially and are trying to move to Glad’s place next door by osmosis.

If you look REALLY hard up against the side of the shed you might be able to see, just behind that blue tarpaulin, our first stack of wood that we cut

We found Effel Doocark’s nest! It wasn’t easy as she is a crafty old minx but she made the mistake of revealing herself at lunch time yesterday just after we had taken a break from our studies and were tossing a bit of bread to Pingu over the deck railing when I noticed her amongst the bread scoffers. She has been sighted over the last week and then almost immediately she disappears without a trace. We decided that we were going to follow her the next time that we saw her and thus began the saga of the Doocark hunt. Our prey was a worthy opponent. She knew almost instantly that she had been spotted and set about a most impressive array of defensive action based on subterfuge and decoy. She waited until she thought that I wasn’t looking (my covert mother ability to look out of the corner of my eye when I was staring straight ahead didn’t let me down) and as soon as she started running off in her hilarious hen gate down the pathway leading to the area of garden where we had suspected her of bunkering down I alerted Steve who was hiding on the bottom step of the deck stairs. He took off after the crafty old minx who was rapidly receding into the distance and she suddenly veered off to the left which is most definitely NOT where we thought that she would be nesting. On inspection Steve discovered that she was employing guerrilla tactics and was attempting to divert our attention away from the true direction that she wanted to take (the crafty old hen!) and he spent the next 20 minutes sneaking from large agapanthus clump to agapanthus clump to disguise his presence. Effel kept spotting him and taking evasive action but eventually her need to get back to those rapidly cooling eggs took over from her desire to evade and she ran full pelt back to a massive clump of overgrown driveway lining agapanthus right near the gate at the front of the property! Steve lost her then and was just about to come up and admit defeat, whilst isolating where she might be, he hadn’t managed to spot her from that point and so I came down and we set about Effel isolating in earnest. We got a couple of old teatree branches and started to lift up the agapanthus fronds and poke around inside them. They are most interesting things when they have been stuck in the same place for years and small ones grow on top of larger ones with long aerial roots draping to the ground and in amongst one of these ancient monsters Effel was sitting as still as a statue. She never moved once even when she knew that she was rumbled. That wily old hen had led Steve a merry dance for 30 minutes all over Serendipity Farm and so we decided that she deserved her peace and quiet and pretended not to have noticed her and headed off elsewhere. Effel must make that long upwards (our driveway is very steep and is enough to deliver a mild dose of “winding” to anyone unfit and overenthusiastic enough to climb it quickly) journey at a full run (because that is the only way that Effel knows how) to get a drink and some food because there are no food or water sources anywhere near where she has nested (apart from the Tamar River). What a brave old girls she is and how tenacious is her need to find somewhere away from any predator’s and despite her giving us nothing but jip I totally admire the old girl. I might even take her a bowl of water and a scoop full of seed down to the bottom of the driveway today to reward her for her tenacity. Here is a little newsflash courtesy of that Serendipity Farm time machine that I am able to use to go back and forth in my posts. When taking some grain down today to Effel, we heard squeaking and managed to count 6 babies. It is so cold today that we decided to rehouse Effel in the shed with her babies, knowing what a bad mum she is and not wanting any of the poor little things to perish in the cold down next to the gate right next to the Tamar River and the wind. We can see that we have a few little blue Wyandotte’s like their mum in the group and when we got the dog carrier that Earl arrived in and headed down to collect Effel and her babies we found not 6…not 7 but 12 babies! Effel and her babies are now safely ensconced in Pingu’s old cage in the shed until Effel’s babies are big enough to survive curious cats (about 2 weeks old) and “the masses” (as we shall call them until they start to be more than fluff balls and develop a bit of character…that is apart from “Owl face” who Steve has already named). We give away 7 hens and we gain 12 babies…No wonder we are overrun with chooks and are only able to find 1 egg a day at the moment…the hens are taking advantage of the 4 acres of overgrown shrubs, trees and massively invasive weed species to tunnel themselves impregnable fortresses. I have noticed that every single nest that we find has been situated right in the middle of a blackberry bush. Now that there are 3 roosters crowing on Serendipity Farm and they show no sign of attempting to destabilise the existing governor (Big Yin) they are taking their harems to various different areas on Serendipity Farm and setting up all sorts of covertly created nests. The hen problem is rapidly approaching the feral cat problem, indeed one day the hens might just deal with the cats for us as there won’t be any room left out there in the jungle for the cats to live in.

That’s a bit easier to see isn’t it? That cage covered with the blue tarpaulin was where Pingu lived for a while when Earl broke her leg. She is now living in the old duck enclosure most happily in transition between this cage and moving in with the rest before winter. The cage shown here is now cram packed full of Effel and 12 little blue wyandotte fluffballs…the cutest little things that you ever saw. Notice the hens in the background pecking insects (mainly termites) off the wood that we cut from our felled trees. Sustainable living involves using nature to clear out your pest species. Our hens scoff their weight in insect life every day and if they EVER let us know where they are laying eggs, they will just about pay for themselves on Serendipity Farm…Steve did find a nest with 17 eggs in it (thank GOODNESS Houdini didn’t decide to sit on that one!) the other day and Effel had 14 eggs (all hers) all up in her nest so there are some enormous clutches of eggs around here…

Here is our pile when we chainsawed a few more logs to top the pile up. This pile is now safely in the wood shed up behind the house that used to be the boat shed. We are saving up our wood futures and just like Fry said from Futurama…

Fry:  It’s just like the story of the grasshopper and the octopus. All year long the  grasshopper kept burying acorns for winter while the octopus mooched off his  girlfriend and watched TV. Then the winter came, and the grasshopper died, and  the octopus ate all his acorns and also he got a racecar. Is any of this getting  through to you?”

I am sure that there is some sort of lesson in there for you lazy bollocks feeding from the grid while we slave for our wood, but I am starting to think that perhaps Fry might be right!

Steve was going to make a chair but decided to make himself a nice chopping block from these stumps and I dare say they will be well used by the possums climbing into my compost bin…

We are off now to cut down the first of 3 trees that need to be removed from the garden in front of the house. I realise that we may be taking habitat from wildlife but if any of these trees fall they will be taking OUR habitat and so it is survival of the fittest at the moment and we have to remove these old dead trees before nature and winter do it for us. Now that we know that Effel isn’t ensconced in the blackberries where we are going to fell these trees (yes we are WELL aware that felling trees into blackberries might result in difficulties later on when we need to log these trees but this is the lesser of all of our considered evils as anywhere else would result in massive flattening of existing shrubs) we can drop them with impunity. 1 of the trees will fall into the jungle area that we haven’t dealt with yet. Hopefully none of the feral cats are hunting birds in there when we drop the tree…

Note the hens have gone from being somewhat scared of the chainsaw to totally ignoring it because it is the heralder (if there is such a word) of delicious insects and even when we have cut up our logs, we still have limbwood (in the foreground) and kindling wood to cut up…nothing is wasted in our trees

Steve wanted me to take a couple of pictures of his shed for him. He tidied it up the other day and it won’t stay in this state for long (indeed Effel and her 12 babies are making short shift of the ‘nice and neat’ and rendering it ‘hay filled and smelly’) and he wanted it documented for posterity and where better to put something for posterity but a post? (Yeh I KNOW that was lame…I would say punny, but you can have your own opinion on that)

Here is the last of the numerous photos for the day. Steve’s shed was still tidy and Effel free…We had yet to load all of that wood into the trailer and take it up to the wood shed and unload it and I wasn’t full of soup like I am now  (lets just stop while I am ahead)

I forgot to add a site to one of my posts in the last few days (too many words in my head and my muse is Billy Connelly…) and because we are finding all sorts of really valuable websites and databases about water wise xeriscape plants I would like to actually share this one with you. It’s no fun living somewhere where the sun kills EVERYTHING that you plant out and that water is something you actually have to think about. I would imagine that some inland areas of Australia are right up there with the Kalahari desert and the dry canyons in America but there is ALWAYS a solution people…you just have to think outside the local nursery box. Sometimes you might have to buy some seed and grow your own (like we do) if you want something that the local nursery selling bog standard phormiums, pittosporums and cordylines haven’t even heard of let alone stock. Don’t you love how anyone these days thinks that they can run a nursery? The same problem exists with Health Food Shops.  Here is a great Australian website and sorry to all of you wonderful readers elsewhere in our big beautiful world but you are just about to find out how WE feel whenever we hunt for information pertinent to what we are interested in and have to wade through all sorts of mental arithmetic involving seasons (you are the reverse of US not of you by the way…) Here it is… we are using it to compile a basic list of plants that are pretty much guaranteed to grow in our local conditions. If you look hard enough you will notice that these plants are even trademarked and so you may even be able to communicate with your local nursery because they may have a book “somewhere” with these little babies listed…now you just have to use hand signals to get them to understand what you want…

http://www.floraforfauna.com.au/

It’s a little bittersweet to sign off now for the first time where I am not almost immediately thinking about my next post. Hopefully the quality and content of my weekly posts will make up for them not being every day and that all of you dear constant readers will be able to settle down on the weekend to a nice long letter “from home” over a cup of tea and some toast. See you all next Sunday morning (Aussies) as I will be posting the post on Saturday night. I am off to help Steve cut up the tree that he just felled…but that, my dears, is another story…