Narf7 bakes bread and loses a leg

Hi All,

Today we are going to take a little bit of an aside from my usual blog post format. Firstly, I didn’t lose a leg…I was just borrowing a quote from “Father Ted”. I have been communicating with a lovely lady in the U.K. called Joanne who hosts the wonderful blog “Zeb Bakes”. I found Joanne’s blog through a compilation bread blog site called http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/ that is one of the most incredible places to find just about any “bread” you could possibly want. Joanne posts some of her wonderful homemade breads to this site and that’s how I met her…through some of my exuberant comments to her blog.

http://zebbakes.com/2013/08/10/date-syrup-kefir-bread/

And here’s a follow up post for anyone wanting to try the recipe but who wanted to only bake a single loaf…Joanne is such a thorough and caring person when it comes to her blog followers…

http://zebbakes.com/2013/09/08/post-script-date-kefir-loaves/

This kefir raised bread couldn’t have come at a better time. I pulled Audrey, my sourdough starter, out of the fridge to feed her and discovered that she had decided to commit suicide. Rather than a yeasty scented mass of dough, she had gone belly up and was exhibiting a scent wholly unbecoming of a sourdough starter. R.I.P. Audrey, I did you wrong. I also found out that starters aren’t meant to be kept in fridges for extended periods of time and you are supposed to feed them regularly…that would be more than once a month…sigh…”BAD NARF7!”…I am a murderer! I tipped the squalid remains into the compost bucket where her now green and fuzzy remains will add a new suite of organisms to the resulting compost. I was just getting my head around the thought that I was going to have to make a new sourdough starter when along came Joanne with “The Recipe”…

I had asked Joanne about “Date syrup” a product that she had discussed in a post because I had never heard of it. I make date paste to use instead of refined sugar and after talking to Joanne a bit we started discussing kefir etc. Joanne posted the following post about using kefir to raise bread rather than using sourdough starter or a commercial dried/fresh yeast. I got VERY excited about this idea because I make kefir regularly using homemade organic soymilk sweetened with homemade date paste. I found that my kefir grains (sent to me by one “Rabid Little Hippy” who gets a HUGE hug across The Tasman for being so babelicious and such a generous blogger) adore the sugar in the date paste and I can tweak the fermentation of the kefir by the amount of date paste I choose to add. I have also experimented using other sweeteners and can’t see why using something like coconut sugar or rice syrup wouldn’t give you a similar result. Bread can also be baked with water kefir so I decided that I was going to give it the old college try and attempt to bake a loaf or two…

Joanne is an amazing blogger. Not only did she give us this wonderful recipe to tinker with, she actually wants us to get stuck in and inject our own take on the recipe. She tried making a gluten free variety but it didn’t work and asked if I would have a go at making a non-dairy version for people who either choose not to have dairy or simply can’t…there are a lot of us out there. I have linked to Joanne’s Post so that you can all go to her wonderful site and see it in person…she even gives you a PDF download of the recipe! Sorry guys, I am not quite up to that yet but give me a few years and you never know…at the moment, the best I can do is take Joanne’s recipe and add myself to it. I have bolded Joanne’s instructions in ”parenthesis” so that you know when I am quoting her wise words…the stupid words are entirely of my own design so please don’t judge Joanne for them, I take full responsibility ;). I am going to post my images here in a slideshow format. They start at the point where I had mixed the preferment ingredients together and end with the final bread. The last few images are of the bread the following day just before Steve made heavenly smelling toast with it…all in all this bread is wonderful and it won’t be the last time narf7 bakes it.

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Narf7 Bakes Date Paste Non-Dairy Kefir Bread

(This is where Joanne had put “Started” and had given the time she assembled the preferment) Started – err…no idea really but it was before lunch time and after breakfast so that narrows it down a bit for all of you bread detectives out there ;). The room temperature was reasonably cool here in Tasmania but we do have Brunhilda, our large wood fired oven slowly ticking over all day and so I would imagine the room temperature would have been around 20C.

Make a preferment with: –

  • 150g room temperature water. I used rain water
  • 200g fresh kefir which I make with homemade organic soy milk to which I add homemade date paste (I soak a packet of dried dates in boiling water to cover and once the dates are soft, I puree them to a smooth paste in a blender. To 1 ½ litres of homemade soymilk I add 300g of homemade date paste and this is the basic food for my kefir grains to feed on). Note, you can use mature water kefir in this recipe as well. Not sure how it goes but Joanne mentioned that another blogger that she knows of has made bread with it so it is possible. Mine was “milk” kefir though so don’t quote me on it 😉
  • 250g strong (bread) flour. I used regular strong white bread flour from a local Tasmanian flour mill
  • 50g extra date paste

“Mix these well together and leave in a covered bowl for approximately 18 hours in a warm room (20 – 22 C)  at which point it should be bubbling and thick and looking ready to go.” Note – I put the mix on a proofing rack over Brunhilda to make sure it bubbled enough but prior to putting it on the proofing rack it was bubbling albeit a bit slowly so I would imagine it would just take a little bit longer at a colder room temperature. Kefir keeps fermenting even when stored in the fridge and I have to open the lid of the container of fermented kefir that I keep in the fridge to make sure the lid doesn’t blow off.

Ingredients for the final dough:-

  • All of the preferment (as above)
  • 850g bread flour. I used the same white strong bread flour as I used in the preferment
  • 282g  water (again, rainwater)
  • 20g salt (I used sea salt)
  • 30g melted butter
  1. Using a Kenwood Mixer I put the starter in first, added the water and then the flours and mixed for about three minutes on the lowest speed. I did this too but my mixer isn’t a Kenwood and it started to list sideways somewhat alarmingly midway through the process so I decided to hand mix the dough from that point on.
  2. Leave to develop in the bowl for 20 minutes. I covered the bowl with cling wrap for the duration.
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and trickle the melted butter in while the mixer is going and continue mixing till the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Again, my mixer had a bit of a hard time with this dough and after allowing it to dance across the counter for a bit, I liberated the dough and hand kneaded it for a short while to make sure the butter and salt were evenly distributed.
  4. You may need to adjust the dough with more water if your flour is very absorbent. Mine wasn’t and the proportions above were just fine.
  5. 5.       (If you mix by hand then go with a more traditional order of ingredients, i.e. mix the water and starter together and add these into your bowl of flour.)
  6. I will let Joanne talk you through the next bit because I had never done this before…”I took the dough out once it was reasonably developed and put it into a big bowl, covered with a tea towel, and left it for about three hours. During this time I folded it in the bowl twice, as much to see how the fermentation was progressing as anything. Folding in the bowl is simply picking up the dough from one side and pulling it out and over the main bulk of the dough, like light kneading except you don’t put it on a board. You can put it on a board. There are no rules here!” I followed Joanne’s instructions to a “T” and figured that I would fold the dough once an hour and each time I folded the dough back onto itself, it had risen double, and I took this as a very good sign!
  7. Again, Joanne is the real bread baker here so once again I will let her talk you through this next bit…”Once it was showing good signs of activity and had increased in size by roughly a half. I weighed it into two equal portions.  Then I split those two portions in the ratio 85:15 using the % function on my scales. If you don’t have one of those, it would be about 135g for the small ball to 765g for the main ball.
  8. 8.       With the first portion I made a boule which I divided into four quartiles with a thin dowel rod and made a smaller boule with the small ball and put that in the middle.
  9. 9.       With the second portion I made a pointy ended baton and then a plait with the remaining ball which I placed along the top of the dough – because the dough had such a long second prove this didn’t come out quite as I had hoped but I like the effect that it gives anyway. A good way to create a nice looking effect on a loaf if you are finding slashing difficult.
  10. I put both loaves on baking paper on trays and tucked them inside clean bin liners to prove.” You can tell that Joanne is a real baker, I attempted to put my bread on a baking tray but realised that I had no way of stopping it for sticking to the bin liner so ended up putting it into 2 bread tins rather than have to fall on the ground twitching when the top of the bread stuck to the bin liner and deflated alarmingly (“FOOL ME ONCE BREAD DOUGH!”…)
  11. Second proof time was about three hours. Be patient, these are just as slow as a more traditional sourdough to rise. I need to point out here that my bread took less time to proof. For some reason it rose fast and it rose incredibly well. Just as good as any regular yeasted bread that I have made in the past. Proofing it on the bread rack over Brunhilda may have had something to do with it but who knows…I was just happy that all of the steps were going like clockwork and I wasn’t going to stick a spoke in any wheels just to ask questions 😉
  12. 12.   Egg-wash the crust with a mixture of egg yolk and kefir whey and sprinkled a few sesame seeds on top for interest.
  13. 13.   Here’s what Joanne said…”Bake in a preheated oven (with steam) either on the trays or slide them off onto a baking stone or kiln shelf which is what I use rather than a stone.” I just put the bread tins into the oven…no steam, no smoke, no whistles, no bells just a hot oven.
  14. “Starting at 220 ºC for the first twenty minutes and then dropping back by stages to 190 ºC for the last ten minutes of the bake.  About 40 – 45 minutes in all.” We had been stoking the fire to make it get hotter and inevitably the oven that we had the bread in kept getting hotter and we had to put the bread into one of the cooler ovens (I have 4 ovens to choose from in various stages of “hot”, how spoiled am I?) but the damage was already done and the bread top was a little “over-caramelised” but not beyond saving in the photo-shoot (and that’s all that really matters right food bloggers? 😉 )
  15. “Leave to cool on a rack as normal once you are satisfied the loaf is cooked; a nice hollow sound when you thump it is a good sign.” Being a natural fuss-budget I wasn’t entirely satisfied that it was cooked and tossed the loaves back into the oven for 5 minutes upside down once I took them out of the bread tin. It was probably overkill in hind sight but I wanted my bread to be a success…I had a lot riding on this.
  16. Wait till the bread is cool before cutting it.

Or if you are Steve and I, you will cut it when it is hot, soak it liberally in butter and Steve will eat 4 slices just before his tea and will feed a further 2 slices dripping in butter to the slavering hounds waiting below…we are ALL class here on Serendipity Farm. I am sure that most of you will have the diplomacy and willpower to wait until the bread is merely lukewarm before descending on it like wolves but whatchagonnado? My excuse is that I wanted to take photos of the crumb…it’s MY excuse and I am sticking with it! ;). The bread was amazing…the bread rose beautifully with no added yeast aside from the kefir whatsoever…the bread was almost textbook wonderful to bake and I couldn’t believe that I was able to replicate this amazingness being that the baking conditions were almost certainly directly inverse to those that Joanne’s dairy kefir were subject to. Let me clarify it a little bit further…

  1. Joanne is a wonderful bread baker and I am a bread plebeian
  2. Joanne used dairy kefir and I used something strange that I keep making because I SWEAR it is alcoholic (“HIC!”)
  3. Joanne is at the tail end of summer and Narf7 is on the tail end of winter
  4. Joanne created a wonderful recipe that anyone can follow and that a bread idiot couldn’t stuff up (I know they can’t, because I didn’t 😉 ) and I am waffling in excited stanza’s that are probably confusing any poor wayfaring baker from the ether beyond belief
  5. Joanne gave you a PDF…I am not even going to PRETEND to know how to do that so my regulars can just do one of two things “forgedaboudit” or “head over to Joanne’s blog and get yourself that delightful PDF and revel in its amazingness like I did when I downloaded it”
  6. Joanne cared enough about her blog followers to do a follow up post that clarified any issues in the first post and that gave interested people a choice whether or not to bake 2 loaves (the original recipe) or reduce the recipe down to 1. I won’t be offering you the same courtesy folks. It isn’t because I don’t love you all, it’s because why would I try to tweak perfection? Just head over to Zeb Bakes and check it out there.

Joanne, as a well-known bunch of geriatric Aussie rockers with a Scottish lead singer would sing loudly and proudly, “for those about to rock…we SALUTE YOU!”. You both “rock” and deserve my “salutations”. Please consider this most pathetic husk of a blog post that isn’t even worthy to crawl on its belly next to your post, a humble experiment designed to be for the greater good. Your recipe is great…mine was good. From this point on I can refine this bread. I can tweak it and mess about with it and I can include bread in my diet once more and for this, I owe you so much more than a bit of experimentation. Thank you for sharing this recipe and for allowing us free reign to tinker with it…consider it non-dairy tinkered and I offer the torch up to braver bloggers than I am to run with the Gluten Free recipe because that is a step too far for one Narf7 to take folks!

Here endeth the post…that’s it, that’s all folks…you can all go home now and revel in the fact that you can make bread WITHOUT ADDING SOURDOUGH OR COMMERCIAL YEAST. Yup…my job here…is DONE! :o)…except for today’s word cloud that is…here it is folks in all it’s bready goodness for you to enjoy…

Nondairy kefir bread blog post

Oh what a crafty minx I am!

Hi All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Still fuzzy girl!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is a “Where’s Wally” flower

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

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Is THAT where you keep those delicious dog treats eh?

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

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

Holy crap I turned into Denise Scott!

Hi All,

Did you all miss me on Saturday? Don’t tell fibs! You were all happy to get a solid 15 minutes to yourselves without having to wear a literary snorkel and come up for air at regular intervals thanks to my completely bolshie disregard for the use of correct grammar. Who needs commas and full stops when you can just go on…and on…and on… ;). I blame the liberal Australian school system in the 70’s where we were being used as experiments. I think my own personal school experience shows that liberalism DOESN’T pay! Glad they got over their need to go all existential on our young tender derrières and that a generation of 40 something’s (rapidly approaching 50 something’s) can’t spell or do complex maths.  Steve has been away and I have been left here to accomplish studying by myself. It was bound to end up in tears and with me almost burning down the house but he has NO-ONE but himself to blame, leaving a technophobic Luddite in charge of the computer. I spent all yesterday twiddling my thumbs and wandering around the house finding “other” things to do (remember, Pinterest was unavailable to me so whatchagonnadoeh?!) because when trying to follow our lecturers wonderful video of how to convert a video to Roto scoping, our Adobe tool to convert didn’t look like his and by the time I fiddled a bit I had rendered it completely different. I didn’t want to erase the program (also accidentally but there must be a bit of wishful thinking going on there 😉 ) so I had to leave it till Steve came back to sort it for me. I pride myself on being a pretty knowledgeable person but technology and “programs” in general leave me cold and twitching. I really can’t fathom how most of them work until I get practicing and I can’t practice on this one if I just stuffed it up! ;). The highly pathetic thing was that Steve got in, said “easy fix” and reset the program and showed me how simple it was to do what our lecturer’s vid wanted us to do. The problem was I am a creature of sequences…I am like the dreaded computer in that aspect (like repels? 😉 ) I need a series of processes to get me from “A” to “B” and if there is a break in transmission in any of the sequences I just never arrive at “B” till it is fixed and I can progress. Steve jumps straight in at “J” and then doubles back. He instinctively just knows how to deal with technology and I am eternally grateful that he does. My natural instinct is to hit whatever isn’t working or shake it around or if it is being really bolshie, throw it off the deck. Luckily Steve is able to rescue most technology from my grasp before I get that frustrated ;). I couldn’t progress through the video from “A” to “B” because my program didn’t look (or act) like his. How was I expected to follow the process if my program was different!!! Steve has officially been elevated in my eyes to necessary technological genius. That pretty much guarantees that he is safe from rat poison in his coffee no matter what he does 😉

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This image was to show that you Americans used to call “cookies” biscuits like we do! When did it change? Was it after that Boston tea party where everyone decided to bollock of the English or was it the civil war and when the Yankees won they decided to change all of the names so that they wouldn’t be aligned with the Brits? Either way…here’s the proof that cookies ARE biscuits!

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Butter, sugar and dates, a match made in date cake heaven

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One of my experiments with making apple butter with no added sugar. The end results are scrumptious. All I did was simmer these apples and those dates together till they turned into mush and all of the liquid evaporated leaving me with a delicious caramel flavoured apple paste that can be used in all kinds of things…now I just need to experiment to find out what!

After having to align dialogue and audio to our latest media assessment I am officially disillusioned with my voice. I was labouring under the false apprehension that I had the dulcet tones of a radio announcer. I learned that the reality is that my voice is a sad cross between Steve Irwin and Denise Scott. I realise that most of my dear constant readers have NO idea who Denise Scott is. Denise Scott is a wonderful Aussie comedienne “of a certain age” who much like myself grew up prior to mummies being concerned about their daughters sounding like Aussie fishwives and who just let us drawl our way into adulthood when our ingrained speech patterns could no longer be dealt with even by the likes of one Henry Higgins…sigh…here is a picture of Denise.

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Denise is the one on the left. The other “lady” is Judith Lucy, they are seen here in their Short and Girly show. Hopefully they won’t be too grumpy that I used this image. I consider it promotional material and as a blog that supports strange and interesting (the feminine equivalent of “windswept and interesting”…) women I consider it my duty to promote their show…(do you think I got away with it? 😉 ). I think I might need to make myself one of those costumes by the way…I need something to wear out on my 50th birthday…

And here is a 17.35 minute Youtube video of Denise in prize form. Feel free to just listen to her Aussie drawl and picture narf7 hiding under the bed with Earl or if you have 17.35 minutes to spare you can sit down, grab a cuppa and laugh your bollocks off at Denise doing what only an Aussie Sheila of “a certain age” is able to do. I promise you, you won’t regret donating 17.35 minutes of what is left of your life to this healthy pursuit…what have you got to lose folks? 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nk5KkGs_SE

And here is what she sounds like. I am going to post a link to our animation. I am NOT going to post the audio quotient of it. After listening to Denise Scott you will know why. I am officially traumatised by this whole experience and after posting my assessment off to my lecturer I am going to slither under the bed with Earl to share 2 pints of good ice cream and I might even let Earl lick the spoon with me…

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Earl telling Steve that his dirty socks might be past their use by date…

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The gallon jar of New Yorker chocolate chip cookies that I found the recipe for on Pinterest. It is good for some things aside from wasting time 😉

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More excess kefir grains…these things just keep on getting bigger and breeding! I put the teaspoon next to them to show you the size of them. If living most of the time in non-dairy milk is harming them I can’t see how 😉

Not only did I have to upload my Aussie drawl to my lecturer but I had to do something technical unsupervised! I may just have burned down the house by accident folks…I had to download Google Drive so that I could share Steve’s animation (MUCH bigger than mine) with our lecturer because it exceeded the size limit on our TAFE website. I also had to zip our animations involving me first finding where “zip” was on our computer (admittedly I IMMEDIATELY phoned Steve up knowing that he was still in phone range and able to be reached), second putting the animations and their accompanying movie clip into the zip folder and thirdly sending the zip off. As mentioned, mine was small enough to slip under the TAFE Nazi size limit ruler but Steve’s was well over the limit. As he is over the limit, Google can “Drive”. Get it? I made a pun folks. Well “I” thought it was funny! ;). All of this technology has my brain whirling and I don’t know how to “share” Steve’s uploaded document in Google Drive with our lecturer! I just sent of a missive to him dumping it fair and square into his lap. You want me to wantonly engage in random technology sir, you show me how!

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How pretty is where we live? This was taken by my humble little Fuji point and click camera off our deck last evening as the sun was starting to set. This makes all of the blackberries, the weeds, the rocks, the clay, the everything else (possums and wallabies I almost forgot them!) worth it 🙂

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I zoomed in on Redman Island so that you could see the reflections in the water. I want to get a kayak and pootle around these waters, a great way to get upper body and back strength…I had best get an industrial sized life jacket as I can’t swim 😉

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A little clump of lilies up for another year down in the wilderness part of the garden

Next I have to wait indoors near the telephone. Steve ordered some camera cleaning fluid, some camera cleaning swabs and a blower to hoof the miniscule specks from his new camera lens so that it no longer looks like it has measles in every photo. He was unaware that heading out at night time in the freezing cold trying (unsuccessfully) to get an elusive shot of the Aurora Australis would result in no image and a whole lot of water spots. They certainly don’t tell you about THIS when you are paying over a considerable portion of your children’s inheritance to purchase a new DSL camera do they! I will keep my little point and click any day rather than have to either pay someone $100 to clean the lens or learn the precarious art of “how not to stuff up your DSL lens and have to buy a new camera”.

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This is a Brachychiton populnea that we grew from seed. We have lots more like this one and it has been planted next to a large specimen that is on it’s last legs thanks to borer predation

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Another Brachychiton, this time a rupestris or “Queensland Bottle Tree”. A lovely little specimen that we also grew from seed. They aren’t supposed to grow down here…this little man has other ideas about that!

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You probably can’t see the “canopy” of this Brachychiton. It’s a discolour and has taken off like topsy. It was half this size when we planted it earlier in the year and it absolutely LOVED our hot dry summer. In the background you can see our inherited tractor. One day it will get fixed but for now lets just call it an oversized piece of garden art and be done with it!

Back to the story…I got sidelined…never happened to me before in my life! 😉 So he ordered his innocuous enough products from Melbourne, just over the brine from us and discovered that it couldn’t be sent in the post because camera cleaning fluid is listed on the “DANGER WILL ROBINSON” list of things not to send through the post. O…k… so it had to be sent via the ferry and then delivered by a local franchise of “Star Track” a delivery service. He ordered the products on Monday and on Thursday he got a card left in the mail saying “signature needed”…sigh… so he phoned up Star Track and the nice receptionist pulled up the details and told him that all he had to do was leave the signed card in the mailbox and Bob would be our ubiquitous uncle. He dumped the card into the mailbox and headed down on Friday to find another card in the mailbox along with the first. This one had “SIGNITURE REQUIRED!!” underlined 3 times…so we phoned and found out that apparently this humble little delivery requires an electronic signature from the customer…sigh…just wondering why the receptionist couldn’t have told us that at the time? We phoned…again…and were told that they would redeliver on Monday…today. I said “get them to phone me 10 minutes before they get here so that I don’t have to camp on a deck chair for the entire day awaiting their majestic presence.”

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This is an Indian Hawthorn. They are quite happy in dry conditions and so this one is doing really well here on Serendipity Farm

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If you want something that you can use as a hedge, that is an Australian native and that could care less about cold, dry, wet, clay, sand whatever you want to throw at it get yourself a Westringia fruticosa. They will grow on a hot tin roof

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This is a grevillea. Not sure which one but I think they must be endemic to Tassie because there are lots of them around here growing in the wild.

Is anyone out there getting the picture that Steve isn’t here today? Well he isn’t! He is off with a mate and has left poor narf7 to cope, alone, with nightmares of technology swirling in my head…sort of the anti-sugarplums of the Christmas story AND I have to hightail it down the driveway to sign a card by some pompous delivery guy that I am most DEFINITELY going to give stink-eye to when he gets here! That means that I can’t walk Earl until the parcel has been signed for and delivered…that means the furniture isn’t safe. So far he has satisfied his testosterone by barking at the feral cats from the deck several times and forcing Bezial to play rough house with him. I know that soon it isn’t going to be enough to roll Bezial over on his back (pretending to be dead all the time) like a turtle and he is going to start nudging my elbow and bringing toys for me to chase him with around the house. Ignore that at your own peril narf7!

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A large clump of Dracena with a large palm tree peeking out from behind it

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The same palm tree taken from the other side and surrounded by Senna…yes…the kind that yields pods to be used for limbering up your digestive tract 😉

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This is a Mahonia or Oregon Grape. It is just starting to flower and after flowering it will produce electric blue fruit that jam can be made from. Last year I left the fruit too long and something scoffed it so this year I am going to keep checking and jam shall be MINE!

I experimented on the weekend. I made a batch of date paste like I normally do and then I decided to use up 3kg of small granny smith apples that were threatening to go over to the dark side and make applesauce. As I was pouring boiling water over my dried dates I suddenly had an epiphany moment…”what if I added a packet of dried dates to the applesauce? What if I then cooked them both down till they were thick and reduced and made an apple/date paste?”…good thinking narf7! So I did. And then I went all experimental again and did it with pumpkin and dates. I love the flavour of both of them but think that the pumpkin butter might just need some spice to give it more oomph. I have 11 jars of unctuous brown thick all natural fruit based pastes in my fridge to be used in all kinds of ways over the next week or two. I might try making my non-dairy kefir with some… I might also mess around with soaking almonds and making raw almond butter out of them which I inadvertently managed to do while I was trying to process some soaked almonds to make almond flour the other day. After using half of the almond paste to make my friand’s and crossing my fingers that they would work out (which they did) I then wondered how to use the rest of the paste? I tasted it and it was lovely so I added some date paste to it and used it in my morning pumpkin porridge.

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Here’s part of the reason why the wilderness area remains a wilderness area. That is a HUGE palm tree behind those blackberries…whatever lives underneath it is welcome to it! 😉

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A very trustworthy dog having a bit of a sniff around outside our front gate. I am standing at our front gate taking this image and the river is just on the opposite side of the road

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If you thought that growing azaleas was hard and that they were delicate think again! This azalea has spent the last 20 years down at the bottom of the property with bucklies and NONE chance of getting supplemental water. It seems to be happy enough with it’s aggie mates. Mass planting keeps soil moisture in and that’s what I plan on doing here…planting the wazoo out of Serendipity Farm so that it naturally forms cycles of growth and decomposition that perpetuate the cycles. All I have to do is get those cycles going…(and get myself motivated! 😉 )

The fully enclosed garden is scratching on my subconscious. I can feel it reminding me that all of the various seeds that I have littered all over Serendipity Farm are going to need to be planted out soon so that I can get them into the garden for the start of spring. Frankly, that’s a terrifying thought! We are still missing a wall, a gate and the roof at the moment and nothing much has happened up in the garden since I last posted about it aside from the odd chook invasion. We are being promised 3C days for the foreseeable future and our workload is conveniently huge allowing me to bury myself in study and avoid the fact that there are entire decomposing trees inside the 3 standing walls of the veggie garden where in a few short months some crazed idealistic part of me has visions of green fecundity. I wish I had bought more ice cream…”MOVE OVER EARL I AM COMING IN!” 😉

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Another one of our leaf piles, this one full of decomposing oak leaves under one of Glad’s massive big oak trees. Bezial had a bit of a dig, and is enjoying his freedom

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Here is the reason why you didn’t get a closeup of those snowdrops. Mr E decided that he absolutely POSITIVELY had to follow Bezial and as he weighs more than half my body weight, I didn’t have much say in the matter 😉

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Bezial investigating.

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In a few short months this entire area will be completely covered with lush green oak tree branches and you won’t be able to see the water. Deciduous trees give you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to landscaping and are well worth their upkeep 🙂

I am in the process of writing a weekly post for a wonderful conglomerate blog called “Not Dabbling in Normal”. As you can see by the name of it, I am perfectly cut out to post in this blog. I am waiting on one of the co contributors to get back to me to show me around the ropes but at the moment I am footloose and fancy free on Mondays for now. With Steve off and gallivanting around the countryside I can get down to working my way through our next study unit. There won’t be any Steve to call on when I undoubtedly hit a brick wall so I am going to have to suck up my bolshie Luddite ways and just try to work it out for myself.  It would seem that the universe is telling me to “get over” my Pinterest addiction. The problem with Pinterest is that it is a combination of pretty pictures (the lure) with the added bonus of taking you (usually) someplace that you can find what you are after; usually a recipe or a pattern thus taking away from time spent searching nicely. That makes it highly addictive to knowledge hounds like narf7. I have been spending a bit too much time on there hunting and pinning and suddenly I find that Pinterest is having a few problems. It won’t let me pin! It’s not just me, it’s happening all over the place so I am being guided forcefully by the universe to get back on track and stop living my life in a delicious online community where I get to control the knowledge flow, again, like crack to we little black duck knowledge hounds 😉

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The Ash trees are telling me that it is going to be spring soon

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The one image that Mr E would allow me to take of the new veggie garden before we hurtled off after Bezial. Note the dead trees that need to be cut up as base material for garden beds

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This is what our entire first paddock looks like…sheoak needles all scratched up to blazes thanks to a herd of marauding chooks that must have drumsticks of iron with all of the energy and passion that they put into it…they certainly take their job seriously 😉

The veggie garden is calling me. I have been taking the dogs for a bit of a walk around the property lately and the veggie garden is telling me in no uncertain terms that I need to get bums up in it. I have trees to cut up and use to layer in the base of garden beds. I have that mountain of horse poo that is mouldering away nicely and I have piles of leaves with tarpaulins all over them waiting to be distributed nicely over the branches and the horse poo. I also have a plethora of loose chooks all doing their level best to scratch up everything inside the area. We have to get 4 more poles sunk (a new addition but needed to support the netting over the top and the fat possums that are going to try to trampoline their way down to my precious vertical growing veggies) and the final net wall up (already cut and ready to put up) and then get the door (donated by our good friend Jen, she who used to be in the witness protection but who can be outed with impunity now) up and suddenly that space will be all mine :o). I will be hauling rocks from all over the property to form garden beds. We have lots and LOTS of rocks. We are positively rich in rocks and for once, I am happy about it! We also have a new shower screen door that a friend gave us from a recent renovation. Our current shower screen door was from the early 80’s and wants to keep coming off its rails whenever you least expect it. This is a solid toughened glass door that opens out and allows you out of the shower where our current door sometimes doesn’t without a fight! We didn’t have to pay for it and it is in amazingly good condition…BONUS!

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This is the first paddock, the back bush block is just behind that fence to the rear of the image. You can see that there are rocks…these are only the rocks on the surface…once you try digging you are always going to find more of them to add to the piles…sigh…

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Our humble little home :o)

I have just about hit the 2800 mark that tells me it’s time to stop waffling and time to bugger off and let you good folk have a break. We have had some gloriously sunny days here in Northern Tasmania, frigid but sunny. Brunhilda is my new champion and has been working for us this year and has been on a nice lean diet of lovely dry wood keeping her happy and productive and very economical. It has only taken me 2 years to learn how to manage her but finally we are at a point where we can work together and both enjoy the benefits. I don’t think of her as an inanimate object, I think of her as a friend :o). Well, that 2800 mark just got crossed and it is time to let you head off dazed and confused after another assault by the literary equivalent of a rush attack by narf7. Have a great day/week and remember to stop and admire the daisies, the bees LOVE them and there is a daisy for every single climactic condition on earth…I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the moon! ;). See you next Wednesday folks :o)

Flipper Hitler

Hi All,

This morning we were walking along the riverbank taking the dogs for a walk and suddenly a seal popped out of the river not 3 metres away from us and scared the living daylights out of us. Bezial was most interested and when the seal submerged, he watched the patterns on the water to follow it’s progress and was spot on looking where the seal re-emerged a few moments later…Earl, however, was MILES off. He was looking upstream when the seal emerged back downstream. He blames Bezial for blocking his sonar ;). Steve knows this seal well. It hangs around waiting for the excess baby salmon from the salmon farm around the corner from us to be ejected into the river. He calls the seal “Flippy” and that reminded me of a recent bought of memory hunting on Youtube that we undertook. Steve comes from Liverpool in the U.K. he used to listen to a most interesting and hilarious radio show as he drove from one guitar lesson to the next (he was a guitar teacher in the U.K.) called “Hold your Plums”. Liverpudlians are known for both their ability to charm the pants off you whilst pinching whatever isn’t nailed down AND their incredible senses of humour. This show was funny! It was sort of an online game show where people phoned up and had a go at guessing questions that the announcers threw at them. Some of the answers were hilarious and seeing Flippy the seal reminded me of an elderly lady in her 80’s who phoned up to have a go. I would like to share the link here with you because it had Steve and I laughing so much our stomachs hurt! If you fancy a bit of a deep belly laugh today, give it a go, it might just do the trick :o)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoH3tL1SOZY

Here in the frozen outreaches of civilisation in the frigid tundra’s of Sidmouth we Inuit Pimblett’s have decided that we can’t hibernate any longer and we are just going to have to rug up all Russian style and get out into the brilliant sunshine of what amounts to a day trip to the Gulag peninsula in winter. The piles of debris aren’t going anywhere themselves and we need to chop some wood for Brunhilda who never sleeps through winter. She might not be ravenous but she can certainly pack wood away at a slow and steady pace and if we don’t feed her, she goes on strike. I have to rake the driveway and find it again underneath the thin layer of mulch that the chooks scratched up to liberate some unsuspecting invertebrates and to make the place look a bit tidier. We pulled down the temporary low fence around Steve’s precious grafted maple selection because at the moment they are just sticks and no self-respecting wallaby or possum would bother with them. We want to put up a more aesthetically pleasing fence for the coming spring to dissuade the natives from scarfing the new tender maple leaves and to keep the flow of our view out to the Tamar River which is a constant source of enjoyment and wonder for us…we live here…we own this!

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Earl doing his best “Earlvis” sneer in preparation for his big debut. As it was, he got stage fright and Bezial had to step into the breech and “woof” for Steve’s animation

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As you can see, the choko is starting to take over the kitchen and I am starting to think about where to plant it until the frosts go. Probably in a large pot in the glasshouse for the moment but wherever it goes, it had best go quickly as it is starting to reach for kitchen utensils…

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What am I going to do with this bag of apples? I might turn them into apple butter or cook them down until they are quite dry and make an apple spread with some cinnamon.

The huge enclosed veggie garden isn’t going to build itself. We know that because we have been waiting and it hasn’t happened. We figure that means we are just going to have to get off our middle aged derrières and effect the change all by ourselves. We have the last net wall to go up and a gate to pick up from our friend Jenny who generously donated it to the cause and in early spring we are going to cover the lot with black bird netting and good luck to anything getting into the equation aside from us. The enclosure had an impromptu test the other day when we released the hound (the other one stayed firmly tethered to us but mobile) and he pelted up to the back garden and promptly got confused about how to get out. He barrelled into the net walls because he tends to use his brute force to get out of things but this time he ended up bouncing off the wall and stood there looking incredulously at the net…he then tried to bulk his way out of the wall again and failed again. Think sideways trampoline and you can get a bit of a picture of what Bezial was doing. After his second failed attempt he started to wander the peripherals (he was inside the enclosure at this point) pushing the net with his beak to see if he could shove his way out…nope…Steve ended up having to lift the netting for him (very heavy stuff) and release him. If a 40kg American Staffordshire terrier couldn’t muscle his way out of the netting nothing smaller could muscle their way in. I think we are onto a winner here :o).

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My underutilised mandoline actually getting a workout for once!

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The reason for the mandoline’s outing, we made oven baked potato crisps! Steve ate them all before I could get a photo but it was a test run to see if they were worth the effort it takes to make them…apparently they were :o)

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Icy cold but sunny, Winter is delicious when you have a lovely warm fire to go inside to :o)

My leaves all washed down into the Tamar River and floated away to fairer climes (that’s you Victoria). Glad burned some of them and the rest washed away with the decent rain we had. We should have raked them but have been making excuses to stay indoors and out of that icy cold and ended up losing a wonderful free ameliorant for our new garden soil. We have a HUGE pile of horse poo mixed with straw but oak leaves are precious. Glad said that there are still some leaves there and we will head over to rake the leave from under the large oak tree that borders our properties but we really shouldn’t have missed that opportunity for a few trailer loads of free leaf mould for the sake of warm hands. Steve and I spend a lot of time juggling studies and working in the garden and it’s SO easy to push studies to the front and ignore heading out into the cold. We will chalk our leaf loss up to experience and next year we won’t miss out on that glorious free annual chance to bulk up our soil and add a new suite of organisms to our soil mycology.

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Mass slaughter in the kitchen (note the nose prints all over the cupboards…) Steve usually brings a few bags of stuffed toys home after his fortnightly shop and this is the scene shortly after we dump them on the floor for the dogs to “play” with 😉

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Steve bought me a bonus coconut in the shopping which I decided I was going to turn into coconut butter. First, you need to liberate your coconut, THEN you need to cut all of the brown skin away from the coconut meat and then you need to cut it up finely. I have a vitamix high speed blender and even then it still took ages to process the coconut flesh. Apparently it’s much easier to do this with dry coconut but the resulting finely processed fresh coconut tastes delicious and I am using spoons of it in my breakfast juk

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Bugger…this is the second knife that has fallen victim to death by coconut…I am going to have to rethink the way that I liberate my coconut meat!

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Mid way through the processing scraping down the coconut puree

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Pureed, packed and ready to put on the lid and put in the fridge for future use

Now that I have outed us as lazy comfort seeking bollocks I can redeem myself by saying that today we are heading out, rugged up like Russian Babushka dolls, into the minus Celsius temperatures of Serendipity Farm to burn things. We are going to collect up some of the more aesthetically challenging heaps of branches and twigs that we heaped up and are going to drag them to our burning spot and burn them. Not only will be clearing up the place, but we will be keeping warm at the same time.

I just opened up my RSS Feed Reader this morning (yes…I am STILL doing this post today 😉 ) and had the glorious feeling of being able to manage my RSS Feed Reader…usually I would have somewhere in the vicinity of 600+ posts to manage and try to weave my way through what was “useful” and what was not necessary…I mean seriously folks…how many “recipes” for avocado on toast do we readers REALLY need?!!! On Tuesday I had a bit of a mental crisis. I was over trying to negotiate and satisfy my RSS Feed Reader. It had been a solid week of non-stop trying to eliminate it and I suddenly came to the realisation that I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Once I realised that I had become a slave to my RSS Feed Reader I decided to take some action. I eliminated posts AND blogs. I now have a tiny core of key blogs that I read. I can now comment on posts again. I have the time to give each post that I read my undivided attention and I am not just skimming over the hard crafted labour of someone else’s mind to get to the next post and to be finished. I am back to enjoying getting up nice and early to open my mind up and learn from other people. I love the interaction of commenting and if someone has taken the time to share an interesting and informative post with us all, I figure I at least owe them a bit of a head’s up.

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The somewhat alarming results of leaving a glass of non-dairy kefir out for a little while…a bit like Mt. Vesuvius!

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One of what the dogs have every single day on Serendipity Farm…and we wonder why they are fussy with anything else? 😉

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I spy…with my little eye…something…beginning with…”C”…I don’t expect you to look that hard but on a recent visit by dad’s old dog Milo, he happened upon this poor unfortunate feral cat that he promptly chased up this tree…

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The cat didn’t come down out of the tree for ages!

So the RSS Feed Reader took a hiding and is a mere shadow of its former self. I have limited my Pinterest action although that’s a hard one because that’s a new addiction and you can find some amazing stuff through Pinterest. I have found that I am redirecting my attentions now away from the gorgeous pamplemousse pies and back to sustainable and frugal hints and tips and crafty deliciousness so I might yet get something worthwhile out of my Pinterest addiction. Steve and I have been cooking up a storm lately. The weather and the free stove have been conducive to us wanting to cook. We have been baking all sorts of delicious things and we both decided that aside from the obvious benefits of Brunhilda, she has given us the ability to not have to worry about what we are going to cook for tea. The ovens are always on, there is always a range of temperatures that whatever we are cooking will fit into and we don’t have to wait for anything to heat up before we can start. We can warm things over her, we can proof our Stromboli dough (Steve has had 2 Stromboli’s in 4 days 😉  ) and she satisfies my need to experiment (read “play”) with my food in a most wonderful way.

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Chestnuts for me to cut slits in and then steam ready to make chestnut paste

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Some of the chestnut paste mixed with some date paste to be used in some sweet steamed buns

I have been messing around with pastes. I got Steve to pick up some adzuki beans and some more black beans on his last foray into shopping on Monday. He also bought me some sweet potatoes, some chestnuts and 2 enormous pumpkins and some black sesame seed. I have settled on eating juk (Korean thin rice porridge) for my winter breakfasts and have modified the recipe slightly to tweak it to my own personal tastes. I am now starting to get a bit more adventurous with the ingredients that I add. My pumpkin juk was delicious and I found a recipe for black sesame juk to try. I am making pastes so that I can use them to make a sort of “instant juk” like instant porridge for when we get back from walking the dogs and I don’t have to spend half an hour prepping the ingredients to make my breakfast. We have been snowed under in studies lately and our animations are starting to take a fair bit of time to produce. We need to get stuck into our work for the day pretty much as soon as we get in from our walks so having the options of “instant juk” is very appealing. Making my own black sesame, black bean, adzuki bean, reduced pumpkin, reduced sweet potato, chestnut etc. pastes in the fridge was a tantalising thought and so far I have made chestnut puree (half unsweetened and half sweetened with date paste) and am about to spend the weekend making all different kinds of pastes. Most of them will be sweetened by date paste and reduced down to thick unctuousness to increase their shelf life. Think “Korean jam” and the ability to stir a few spoonfuls of whatever flavour I fancy on the day into some water with some fresh ground glutinous rice and have my breakfast ready in 5 minutes is very enticing.

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An artistic shot of my last 2 remaining vanilla beans. I used them today to make a rich creamy vanilla custard to make vanilla ice cream tomorrow for Steve

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This might not look like much but it is creamy English fudge…well…the beginnings of it 😉

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And this is the end of it. Some of this is going to be chopped finely and folded through Steve’s vanilla icecream

My experiments with non-dairy kefir are a huge success. I have managed to harness my kefir grains to 3 days producing homemade organic Aussie soybean milk and 1 day basking in regular whole milk to refresh them and gird their loins. I have learned that kefir grains are sugar freaks. They adore the date paste that I sweeten my homemade soymilk with and float around basking in the glory of it. My grains get huge with this regime and despite dehydrating most of them a few weeks ago; I am going to have to dry another tray of them. I am keeping the dehydrated kefir in the fridge in a jar with some organic milk powder in it to snuggle up to in their frigid dream state to keep them happy. I sent some dehydrated kefir grains to Wendy from the wonderful blog quarteracrelifestyle (that you can find here… http://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/ ). She lives in New Zealand and we all thought that she would have her grains stopped at customs but they arrived safe and well and are now producing quality kefir for her and her wonderful husband Roger (who we still want to borrow by the way Wendy 😉 ). No doubt they will start to grow exponentially and they will get snowed under with grains and can give some to friends and family. I can’t believe that there are people actually waiting in line to get kefir grains! Mine just keep on growing alarmingly. I have several clusters of grains that are almost as big as my palm and that keep shedding small nuggetty grains into my milk. I have perfected the daily process of separating the kefir from the morass (you could hardly call the mix of soymilk and brown date paste that mine bath in “milk” 😉 ). I have also learned when to decant my kefir into new milk and how fermented I like my milk. It’s all a learning process and experimenting is huge fun.

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Chestnuts inside my vitamix waiting to be rendered into spread

Steve bought me a coconut on Monday and I put the coconut water (the liquid inside the coconut) into my non-dairy kefir stockpile in the fridge. I keep a 3 litre milk bottle with however much kefir I have managed to produce ready to use and drink whenever I feel like it. We have to release the gas from the lid whenever we open the fridge and the container has managed to swell up alarmingly in the past and actually crack the plastic on the fridge door. Never underestimate the power of gas folks! Think ginger beer and kefir isn’t too far behind it when you put a lid on it ;). Aside from experimenting with my breakfast and making pastes I have been thinking outside the box a bit. I have a “what if” brain. It keeps wanting to wrap itself around ideas and get busy with them. I have been ruminating over a “what if?” for a while now and as Steve is off collecting firewood with a friend today, my “what if” might get a chance to get researched today. “What if I tried to take the natural sweetness from root vegetables and turn it into a useful sweetener?” I am talking along the lines of date paste, but coming from sweeter veggies like pumpkin and sweet potato. I am going to experiment with “butters” to see if I can satisfy my veggie sweet tooth naturally and with minimal flavour additives to the root veggies. I have also been finding lots of naturally sweet thick syrups in my forays online. Things like pomegranate and apple molasses, a result of reducing straight juice down to a thick unctuous syrup like product that has keeping qualities. Obviously this was one of the ways that our pioneering ancestors managed to keep sweet things over winter and preserve the harvest. I wonder what juices I could extract and reduce down to make some amazing flavoured thick molasses? I am going to be experimenting so expect some results soon.

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A selection of ingredients to make some biscuits. The orange peel is awaiting me turning it into preserved orange peel and that biscuit barrel is getting a little bit low…time to make another batch.

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Some of the ingredients for Steve’s Stromboli that he had for his evening meal last night

Another thing that I have been ruminating over for a little while now is this blog. I have honed my RSS Feed Reader down to accommodate our busy lifestyle and to allow me to spend more time in the mornings prepping for our day. My mornings can now be spent initially reading and commenting on my RSS Feed Reads (and pinning worthy posts) and then I get time to deal with my kefir, put beans on to soak for cooking the next day as it’s easier to plan what I need for the day and the next day when I have a specific time set aside to do it. I always forgot to soak my soybeans for my non-dairy milk but now I won’t forget. Morning is when I plan out what I need prepped for my needs. I make a lot of what I use myself including my non-dairy organic soymilk for my kefir, my almond and oat milk for my tea and personal use, a regular progression of homemade date paste and the various cooked beans that I use in my day to day recipes. I love being organised and this newfound freedom to plan my prepping has me thinking that I am starting to get on top of this country living lark. I am thinking about changing the direction of this blog. I am going to drop it down to a single post a week. I tried to do that back when I dropped it from daily, to twice a week but all of my dear constant readers protested. I have noticed that I have a lot of followers who never comment and who are effectively “sleepers”. Some haven’t read a blog post in years and I realise that my long winded, eccentric posts might be a bit much for most people.

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Oops! I am going to run out of images if I am not careful…this is the dough for the biscuits that I made yesterday. It is the same dough that I make for Quaker oat biscuits. The only difference is that I eliminate the cinnamon and sugar and add bacon and grated cheese

There are a small core of you out there that “get” me. That see what I am trying to do here and that appreciate my crazy tangle of muses that want to explode into the arena that forms this blog. I started this blog to satisfy the needs of my mum. She was happy to allow us to move to Tasmania so long as she could see what was going on and the blog allowed me to share with her, and with the rest of the world. It also satisfied my latent need to write. I have enjoyed posting and can truly say that it has never been a chore to me. Words flow out of me like water into a stream and writers block isn’t something that I have had to contend with on a regular basis. I still feel that there are millions of posts welled up inside me but the tide has started to change. I want to hone my posts and make them relevant to what we are doing here. I know that my dear constant readers are interested in what we are accomplishing on Serendipity Farm and I seem to have been stagnating here for a while. Winter and our derrières firmly welded to this P.C. throne as we try to keep up with our lecturers manic and erratic study load have left us with precious little time (or inclination if the truth be told…) to get out into the frozen archipelago that has become Serendipity Farm. You know how I said we rarely get frost? Ignore that as the machinations of a mad woman…it is practically snow here of late! I have been getting very interested in fermenting things. I am also harbouring a burning flame for planting out our food trees. It’s as if something is telling me to hurry up and I tend to listen to those small urgent voices that come from those primal places inside me more than the clamouring voices from outside.

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And here they are! Delicious oaty bacon and cheese biscuits made with butter…and they are all for the dogs! It’s certainly a dog’s life here on Serendipity Farm 😉

I will be cutting posts down to once a week on a Wednesday folks. I want to get stuck back into the garden where we belong, forging the soil, the food forest and the base permaculture cycles that we need to get this place humming along sustainably and spring is coming…the ash trees are starting to bud up! There are bulbs erupting all over the place and jonquils are waving about in the frosty breeze. The whole of the Tamar river looks romantic and windswept from the daily mist events that waft up the river and then back down at regular intervals. I want to be out there living life and facilitating change. I don’t want to wake up one day too old to do what we want to do here and have to live with that for the rest of my life. I know that you will all understand the whys and wherefores of what I want to do and that you will also appreciate the new sense of excitement that will be injected into your posts. I am hoping that my natural cut off point (that just got breached 😉 ) of 2800 words (yes…my muses let me off about then 😉 ) will not expand to a 5000 word small novella once a week. Lets just see how it goes. That’s the glory of blogging, you take it for a spin, you test it out and if it’s a dud you bugger off and go elsewhere to find one that WILL work…see you on Wednesday where Steve and I are going to share some of the animations that we have been furiously tinkering over for the last month. We are suitably proud of them and our lecturer passed us on our very first try with all of them. We were most proud of ourselves when that happened :o). Have a great week everyone and prepare for a rollercoaster of weird experimentation, extreme gardening and narf7’s eccentric take on life, the universe and everything :o).

Bezial kissed a cow and he liked it…

Hi All,

I’m back! I learned a couple of things from my trip to my daughters. When you live inland in a cold climate it gets cold. You can put a lead on a dog but you CAN’T make it walk. Parrots like aniseed “people” sunflower seeds and rats are a whole lot cleverer than I thought. I also learned that Vista was an operating system from hades and we are getting our Vista infested laptop exorsised as soon as we can raise the funds. Aside from gorging itself on as many Windows updates as it could (and we haven’t ever used it online so you can only BEGIN to imagine the gustatory spread that it felt the need to guzzle…sigh…) it took 20 seconds to open a new blank word document, 5 minutes to load a Pinterest board and it kept crashing and telling me that Internet Explorer was using WAY too much memory when it wasn’t. Time to get reformatted and be done with it. What I am trying to tell you is that I got bugger all done in town :o(. I hardly even dipped my toes into the massive tidal flow that is my Pinterest board problem and I didn’t even open my RSS Feed Reader (if a word document takes 20 seconds I could only IMAGINE how long it would take it to load my RSS Feed Reader!). I was forced to twiddle my thumbs and knit. Not bad because in between gnashing my teeth at the laptop refusing to do anything but update itself I managed to almost knit a pair of gauntlets out of that wool that our friend Roxy had spun herself. I haven’t knitted in years and was a bit worried that I wouldn’t remember how but I had obviously done a fair bit of it before I ceased because it came back to me like riding a bike…all natural like. I was smug in my ability to knit myself a pair of gauntlets as I even remembered how to rib! I got to the end of the first gauntlet and suddenly realised that I had NO idea how to cast off!  I am most pathetically going to have to check how to do it online…sigh…

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Earl sniffed out the culprit who was sitting and staying shtum on this clutch of prospective feral cat fodder earlier this week. He got a reward of some raw eggs to reinforce his egg hunting (well…to be honest…chook hunting) abilities. Now if we can just get him to do our studies…

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Check out this glass of my non-dairy kefir. It’s thick like kefir even though the original soymilk (organic and homemade) I made it out of was thin and watery. It is bubbly, fizzy and tastes a lot like yoghurt. I add extra date puree to the mix so that it has something to keep snarfling in the tundra of the fridge and it seems to love it. I have been freezing it to add to smoothie futures and drink it by the glassful. No idea if it is doing me any good but I now have a great probiotic live substitute for dairy yoghurt that doesn’t involve me having to choke down that insipid sweet mush that they sell as “yoghurt” in Australian shops. “Score!” 🙂

I am letting the P.C. download my massive RSS Feed Reader quotient for the weekend. All I can do is hope that all of you are outside making daisy chains and having gorgeous picnics in some green lush wooded areas to bother with such trivialities as posting blog posts and that most of the Northern hemisphere is joining you. Note that I am studiously avoiding checking the feed by pretending that I absolutely positively HAVE to make a start on this blog post for Wednesday ;). I had a lot of time to just “think” while I was house-sitting over the weekend. I didn’t bother using the remotes even though the girls gave me lessons before they headed out. I just didn’t feel like watching anything and as I go to bed so early there wasn’t much point. I took some music in with me on a memory stick and after downloading it to my daughters desktop P.C. (they don’t use it online) I looped it and played it in the background all day. I wrestled with the laptop and spent a lot of time thinking and patting and playing with the dog. It’s amazing how your mind will fill in the blanks if you allow it to :o). My rapidly (galloping) approaching 50th birthday has its sights on my thoughts and even though I might have wanted to completely forgedaboudit and deal with it in good stead, other people think it’s an important enough milestone to celebrate so celebrate narf7 will do!

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Beggars can’t be choosers when they get to 6pm on the day of their post and realise that they forgot to take lots of pictures for their dear constant readers… these are raw potatoes. They turned into some delicious cooked potatoes but Steve ate them before I was able to take a photo

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Here are some raw sausage rolls. You remember those potatoes? Same result…snarfled before I could snap.

While I was away one of our friends who live locally decided to test out his tractor and head up to Serendipity Farm and pull down that pesky tree that has been dangling in another tree precariously. So long as we don’t walk underneath it, it doesn’t appear to hold any sort of danger to us but if we manage to get it down we can cut it up for firewood. Guy turned up with his tractor and after Steve hooked a strong rope around the trunk of the semi-fallen tree Guy set forth in his tractor to pull the tree down…except…the tree had other ideas about that. The tractor lurched forwards and shot a spark plug straight into the air causing both Steve and Guy to hit the deck and the tractor to stop working. After spending the rest of the afternoon “tinkering” (as men do when they really don’t know what they are looking at but feel the need to at least look like they do) they had to admit defeat. We now have a large tractor as garden art up next to our defoliated liquidambar tree. Earl has claimed it by urinating on it at least twice and Bezial has detected possum activity in the immediate vicinity. Hopefully it gets sorted out soon and doesn’t become a permanent fixture on Serendipity Farm but at least it is in an unobtrusive place for now. We are assured that when the sparkplug gets mended it will go like gangbusters but for now it is showing its age and having a nap under a blanket.

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I probably should have warned the more sensitive of you (you are still reading this blog?) that I was going to show you a photo of one of the fork/hooks that Steve added to this sliver of Tasmanian Blackwood. Please be reassured that Steve hasn’t felt the need to revisit his punk past and he would like it to be known by all and sundry that this is NOT a rude fork…it is a “Peace fork”.

As a person who doesn’t naturally gravitate towards food early in the morning I have been struggling with “breakfast” as a concept. I know that it is important to eat breakfast. I know that it starts your metabolism and your day off right. I know that BUT that doesn’t make it any easier for me to eat it. I started off with the grainy porridge types of cereals but they made me feel lethargic and heavy for most of the day till they wore off. I dare say they were sustaining me but I would rather be springy and active than in need of a nap at 10am. My daughters gave me a really good idea when they shared some “Juk” with me when I stayed with them recently. Juk is the Korean version of Congee, a thin gruel made from rice. Ostensibly it’s eaten for breakfast and by the elderly and the sick and tends to be seen as comfort food. I see it as the perfect thing to eat for breakfast, especially the pumpkin variety. I have my eyes on a variety that involves black sesame seed but for now am happy with the pumpkin kind. I throw in black beans to fortify the mix and although it might be somewhat unconventional, it’s filling, tasty and it hits the spot and allows me to keep going through my day without feeling like I am weighed down. Now I just need to work out how to throw lunch into the mix and I am set!

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Yeah…I know…”YUM!” ;). Seriously though, this is delicious. I forgot to put the rice in and just ended up with pumpkin and beans cooked with date syrup and water and it was absolutely delicious.

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This is a 2 litre wine bottle. It smacks of the desperation I find myself in that I should stoop to using this image in my post. I am going to try to segue it by saying that Steve used this in his recent animation but he shelved that animation because it was too hard…(maybe I should have used the coffee cup that he eventually used?)…just know that we did, indeed, drink this entire bottle of wine and it wasn’t bad!

I may or may not be still addicted to Pinterest (spoken like a true addict). You know how people who are addicted to porn magazines tell you that they are reading them for the articles? Well I am learning a whole lot from pins that I have pinned to my boards. Just this morning I found this most interesting blog post about how to make your own recycled newspaper yarn. I love the idea of taking something that you either throw into the recycle bin or use to line a garden bed (or start the fire) and make something you can actually crochet or knit or weave with. The end results are quite beautiful…just call them a study in greyscale. Check out the tutorial here…

http://greenupgrader.com/2138/handspun-recycled-newspaper-yarn/

I don’t think I will be making an all-weather hat any day soon but there are some very interesting practical indoor uses for something made from recycled newspaper yarn, think baskets and bags. I found a tutorial on how to cast off! I can now finish off my first gauntlet and get going on the second one. I also managed to untangle an almighty mess of wool that my youngest daughter had stuffed into a supermarket bag and stashed in her wardrobe. She had no use for it and I asked her if I could have it. It’s that fluffy/fuzzy stuff that is a bugger to knit but I am going to practice making granny squares out of it. You can never have enough bags, shoes or granny squares girls! I really enjoyed picking up a pair of knitting needles again after a long hiatus.

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This is the wool that I inherited from my daughter…supposed to be round the other way I know…the daughter should inherit from the mum BUT she didn’t want it any more and I did so lets just call it a role reversal of fortune. I had to untangle the entire mess. You can see I managed to get 1 ball untangled before taking this image

Aside from being assured by my daughters that I was just showing my age, I am getting a great deal of satisfaction out of making something functional. I have some dark sage green wool (khaki?) that I am going to make Steve a pair of long gauntlets out of to walk the dog with. It’s cold in the mornings and that’s the best time to walk the dogs. We rug up well but fingerless gloves don’t come down far enough to keep the breeze off your wrists. I got the great idea from those lovely mitts that Sarah from thinkingcowgirl sent to me a while ago. I have been tumbling them around in my mind to see if I couldn’t customise them to make them slightly more robust. I didn’t want to wear the mitts that Sarah sent me outdoors as “dirt” lives outdoors. It lurks…it waits and it usually adheres itself to Earl whenever he races out the dog door. It is insidious stuff, dirt… no matter how much I sweep or wipe things over it comes back to do the dusty equivalent of a Mexican Wave to me every time I reveal my Italian soul and start waving my arms around all over the place. What’s a girl to do when she is surrounded by male counterparts who could care less about dirt and its nefarious ways? I have to get canny and surreptitiously pretend not to be sweeping but when you have 2 dogs that lie right in front of the broom (they have obviously made some kind of deal with the dust) it’s difficult to say the least.

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Here I was most pathetically trying to gain your sympathy with the size of the pile of wool that I needed to untangle and how matted it was…did I succeed? I didn’t think so…

Steve has been dabbling in time-lapse photography and had some fun the other day taking some long exposure images of stars. We recently became aware (thanks to one of our fellow students in our course that we have been chatting online with) that Tassie is being bathed in the gorgeousness of the Aurora Australis most nights. We live on the wrong side of the hill to see it but I am sure I saw it out of the corner of my eye when I was waiting to pick up my daughters on Sunday night. The sky was too red for a winter’s day and after checking a Facebook page that we were directed to that hosts lots of photos of the spectacular I realised that my right eye might just have seen something that the rest of me hasn’t. Steve also did a bit of light painting with his torch down in the graveyard. I can only hope that Frank and Adrian weren’t standing on their deck at the time to see him waving his torch all over the place in the graveyard and aiming at headstones. Grave robbing isn’t viewed with the same understanding these days as it once was! 😉

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Yeah…a few balls done here and only a small pile of temper tantrum wool that was too knotted to be allowed to fraternise with the rest. This wool might be a pain to knit but good luck spotting the joins…swings and roundabouts folks! 😉

When we were walking this morning we walked past a heard of young steer (male cows castrated and raised for beef) that immediately took an interest in Bezial. It might have been because he was small and black like they are, it might have been because he was on a lead but it’s more likely because every few metres he was stopping to eat grass. Both of our dogs love to eat grass and if we were to allow them cart blanch in the mornings we would be out for hours while they munched their way through most of the road verge in Sidmouth. We aren’t that patient and Steve was in the process of dragging Bezial away from a particularly green and lush patch of grass when they were both approached by a most determined young steer on the other side of the fence. He put his head down and stared at Bezial who completely ignored him. Earl jumped up in the air, did a mid-air pirouette and had to be taken to the other side of the road in disgrace (the story of Earls life) but the steer kept staring at Bezial and so Steve decided to allow Bezial to meet the steer. I just need to point out here that where Earl is completely untrustworthy when it comes to any form of animal aside from human beings, Bezial is the most trustworthy hound on earth. He accompanies me to the hen house in the mornings and watches excitedly as I feed them. He follows Pingu and sniffs her nether regions with glee because she is “his”. They bonded when she lived in Steve’s music room as a small chick who had only just escaped death and she is the only chook who isn’t afraid of him. He walks through the throng of feral cats and completely ignores them. The only time he chases a chook is when I urge him to run over and stop one of the feral roosters having his wicked way with one of Yins girls and Bezial obliges by pelting over and scaring it off while the hen ruffles her feathers indignantly.

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My natural desire to organise things has been outed :(. After untangling the balls from each other I lined them up before untangling the balls from themselves. Talk about double handling! 😉

Bezial can be trusted…Earl can’t. To anyone who has watched the U.K. television program “Black Books” it is the same situation as when Bernard and Manny were left in control of Bernard’s friends wine cellar and drank the very expensive bottle of wine that he was going to give to the Pope. You don’t make the mistake of forgetting which dog you allow out the gate without a collar and lead on… you only make that mistake once. The steer seemed to really want to get close to check Bezial out and by this time, Bezial was interested in the big black fuzzy thing directly in front of him. They both had a really good sniff of each other and then the steer licked Bezial’s muzzle and Bezial licked the steer back. I wish we had a camera because it was a really excellent photo…”American Staffordshire Terrier kisses cow” He might never live it down. He has been telling Earl that he was just tenderising it but Earl doesn’t believe him for a moment! We all know that Bezial is a cow lover now 😉

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Woo-hoo! I did it!!! 🙂 Now I have some fluffy/fuzzy wool to use for “something” in the future. By the way Bethany “no you CAN’T have it back now!” 😉

I have a nice mug of mint and ginger tea sitting in front of me. I have a huge pot of homemade Soup Dragon (Steve) made soup on Brunhilda bubbling away and tonight it contains lots of barley. I have the beginnings of a cold slithering around in my bones and 2 enormous bags of oranges that are my way of hedging my bets. Steve and I have been beavering away at our studies and have managed to create 2 passable animations that hopefully have our lecturer patting us on the head and saying “good students” and tomorrow we animate windmills…well…we “attempt” to animate windmills. If you live anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere you are most probably going to be able to hear us yelling tomorrow. Just ignore us; we stop after a while, like the roosters ;). Have a great rest of your week folks. Here in Tassie it’s finally raining! Now that it is, it’s grey and wet and muddy and I suddenly remember why people get S.A.D. in winter. Enjoy your sunshine you Northerners and cheers for finally sending the rain our way :o)

Brunhilda feeds tonight…

Hi All,

You can’t stop a behemoth. By its sheer solidity of purpose it has a primal desire to flow from one state to another and good luck stopping it. Brunhilda is one such behemoth. She affects a type of reverse hibernation where she sleeps all through the bustling summer months when everything else is up, procreating and turning green. Brunhilda settles down into her long slumber in mid-October when the frosts officially cease but I have my suspicions that it might be slightly later this year. The berries on the cotoneaster and the hollies are both copious and incredibly bright red so I think we might be in for a long winter. Brunhilda rises to the call of the cold. She opens her door and yawns for the first taste of kindling and the behemoth awakes. From that first flickering flame Brunhilda is constantly in a state of fire. She “ticks over” or she burns like a funeral pyre and in between she gives us something that money just can’t buy, she makes our cold winter house a home. Brunhilda has been going since early May and aside from a few hairy moments when one or other of us forgot to add her fuel of choice and she threatened to go on strike she hasn’t gone out. After you set a behemoth on its way you have to step back and let it do its thing. We put in the fuel and she walks her primal pathway. We reap so long as we pay. It’s a pure case of symbiosis and I love it!

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I am not the only one that has complete and utter adoration for Brunhilda and all that she stands for…meet her humble servant Bezial…

Brunhilda prefers nice dry wood. She is a creature of comfort, much like Bezial who prefers steak and butter and like Bezial we have to temper her desires and she gets her version of broccoli in wood that might not be completely dry. We know that so long as we mix the slightly damp wood with lots of dry we won’t have any problems and it is amazing to see Brunhilda and her tongue of flames turn something that was a tree last year into ashes. You learn a lot about life if you observe its cycles and fire is no exception. I love my winter cycles. They seem so much more real because the cold hones your perception and forces you to focus. We collect our wood like squirrels and we stack it in well-ordered piles on the deck and we slowly feed it into Brunhilda as she works her way through the pile. When we bought this particular model of Aussie made oven I wasn’t sure whether we had done the right thing. Aside from being very expensive (although nowhere NEAR as expensive as her imported brethren) we were going out on a limb to try and support an Aussie business and there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there about their range. It would seem that people like imported Aga’s and Rayburn’s. Brunhilda is not related and where her imported cousins can be colour coordinated with your kitchen there is a degree of bolshiness about her little black attire that reminds you that a stove is supposed to heat, cook and maybe heat your water if you thought about it in advance and decided to spring for the hot water jacket…

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Steve bought these 2 filters and 3 in that little wallet underneath the box at the rear for $15 total. No postage and they got here in just over a week from Hong Kong. Steve has been buying online camera equipment now for a couple of months and so far everything that he has purchased has been a lot cheaper and a lot better than he would have imagined.

From the moment we lit Brunhilda she has been reliable and frugal with her appetite. We feed her, she burns. Because of the unique firebox position in the middle of the 4 ovens, the heat gets retained better and so long as Steve stokes her up before he goes to bed she is waiting for me to give her breakfast when I get up at 3am and open her up. We don’t need firelighters, she just keeps going and my first cup of tea is in line with the first cuppa’s that our pioneering women drew their daily strength from in the past. When you bypass the instantaneous ability to flick a switch or click a gas jet you take on a role in the processes that requires you to keep up your end of the bargain or the cycles stop. You can’t be lazy and take a holiday from hauling wood or stoking Brunhilda because you won’t be able to heat the house and fuel yourself with those soul warming cups of tea and so we become part of the cycle and the process and there is a wonderful degree of fulfilment that comes with stepping in and taking up that yoke.

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I think I might just have to buy this book. It is excellent. James Wong shows us all how to grow some pretty amazing edibles and 3 weeks worth of reading has made me want to own this book.

Yesterday we put up 2 more nets around our huge enclosed garden. We can see the scope of the area that we chose now and I am getting really excited about the possibilities. Where before it was all in my mind, now my idea is coming into fruition. It might not be pretty but it will stop the native wildlife from scarfing our precious food crops and what price that? Again we come back to cycles and our part in those cycles. How can we appreciate what we get if we haven’t had to take part in the process? Handing over a few dollars for a whisk from Shiploads (our equivalent to Wal-Mart apparently…) doesn’t give us the satisfaction of being part of the process. Some poor worker slaved on a factory line in China to make that whisk and its $1.97 price is completely unrepresentative of the true cost of its manufacture. I didn’t just pull “whisk” out of the atmospheric dictionary dear constant readers, I just bought one. I know…”SHAME ON YOU NARF7!”. I supported slave trade… I consumed… I did a bad thing…did it count that I thought about what I was doing?

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This book was in the car ready to be taken back to the library (unread…we have been VERY busy…) when I had to wait in the car for Steve to pick up some plumbing gear from the Beaconsfield hardware shop and so I started to read it and decided to take it out again. It’s a very interesting subject…not sure I would be willing to leave my body to Mr Bass when I die after reading what they do to human remains but kudos to the people that do, a lot of crimes have been solved thanks to the research and macabre generosity of people with their earthly remains after they no longer inhabit them…

While I was twitching that whisk around in a bowl of homemade soymilk and some homemade date paste that I was turning into food for my kefir I was thinking about how we really don’t appreciate the things that are available to us because we really don’t know what cost they truly represent to us. The up-front $1.97 is just a fraction of what any of us earns. Even penniless student hippies that get paid by the state to pretend that they are not actually unemployed, but are productive members of society get more than enough money to justify paying out $1.97 for a whisk but behind that heavily subsidised miniscule price there is an incredible price to pay for the ability to stir some soymilk. Raw resources are being taken from the ground in alarming rates so that we can have whisks, plastic funnels for $1.76 (a set of 2 folks…who WOULDN’T want them…), 3 sieves that fit neatly inside each other for a bargain $1.52 and more…who cares that they are flimsy and will fall apart…just throw them into the rubbish bin and buy another one! That’s the cycle of consumption folks and narf7 doesn’t want to support it. That’s why we spend our days lugging wood and feeding it into Brunhilda. For our part of the equation/cycle we get so much more than a heated house, 8 months of free hot water on tap, 4 ovens to cook just about anything we want to at the same time and our knickers dried in front of the fire, we get the exercise of cutting the firewood and carting it from its resting place to Brunhilda. We get the incomparable joy of waking up knowing that all we have to do to make our home cosy is to take our place in the cycle again and there is something truly primally satisfying in taking up that yoke

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See that “pile” just behind those white poles there? That’s narf7’s hard slog from 8.30am till 1pm. As you can see it’s a large pile of horse dung and it was in mid compost when I hauled it to it’s new residence (inside the structure). Note we have covered it with some ex fish farm netting in a vain attempt to stop the chooks from moving the entire pile back outside the fence perimeter. Lets just say that I wouldn’t be pleased if they did!

Today I take on another process. This one will give me more exercise than I could hope to get in a single day but I am less inclined to yoke myself to this process than I am to stuffing some wood into Brunhilda’s gaping maw. Today I shovel 6 trailer loads of composted horse poo from one pile to another pile 2 metres away. I need to do this so that when we put up our final net wall for our fully enclosed garden the enormous pile of dung won’t need to be manually barrowed all the way around to the other side of the enclosure where the gate is going to be situated. There are benefits to shovelling dung. Exercise is the predominate benefit (although 2 days later when I am aching from my efforts and my lats are reminding me of my impending 50ness I won’t be so chipper about the whole thing) closely followed by job satisfaction and the equal satisfaction that I am going to get from stopping the chooks from spreading the 6 trailer loads of manure to the 4 winds. They have taken their task most seriously and the pile has been somewhat levelled by their determination. Once inside the enclosure the chooks will have to stand around outside and look in as wistfully as I hope the possums will be looking in come spring.

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This is a native Tasmanian Grey Shrike Thrush. He decided to check Steve out when he was testing his new filters on the deck. This particular Shrike Thrush comes on a regular basis for small cubes of cheese that we leave out for the wrens and Shrike Thrushes. The sparrows weren’t invited but gate crash on a regular basis

After shovelling the dung I have another mammoth task that needs to be taken on before I can start creating the garden beds that will give us a huge degree of food choice this growing season. I have to chop up the branches and leaves from the sheoak and wattle trees that we had to remove to create the garden. Trees are clever things folks. Never let it be said that they are just “vegetables” in disguise. They have a primal need much like Brunhilda does and if you allow them to coexist with your vegetable garden they are going to take as much advantage of your tender loving care for your vegetables as they can. You are going to water your veggies and the surrounding trees are going to respond like ferals and send all of their available roots over to freeload. Fertilising your garden? “Cheers!” say the trees and promptly pinch your soil ameliorations before they get a chance to settle. Trees are most adventitious at surviving against the odds and if you turn the odds in their favour they are going to take whatever you give them. I am all for the trees. I love trees and Steve and I plan on populating Serendipity Farm with a plethora of them BUT to get the productive and useful trees that we want we are going to have to sacrifice some of the hardier foundation trees that have sprung up on Serendipity Farm

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This is our back block. It was cleared back when Ida owned the property and all of the trees that you see here have grown over the last 20 years. Most of them are wattles and sheoaks with the odd young eucalyptus

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Here’s where some trees have decided to die in the back block and are being harvested for their tasty firewood…Brunhilda approves

When I say foundation tree I am talking about seral behaviour. “Seral” is like viral folks. They just take off running and when we humans do our thing and clear huge tracts of land the seral community starts right back in where we left off and the earth tries to heal itself. Have you ever wondered why all of those pesky weeds spring up whenever there is a bare patch of earth or why your outdoor fire patch seems to grow the best weeds? Nature hates bare earth. It is foreign to survival and needs to be covered and so she allows those little freeloading weeds to get active for a season. What makes them pests is also what allows quick ground cover and their short lived vigour (thanks to huge amounts of available sunlight caused by a sudden lack of trees) allows some of the smaller shrub species to get a foothold in the soil amongst them. Once the shrubs start to grow some of the trees on the periphery of the area can shed some seed inside the weedy vacant lot. Once a few small trees start to populate the area nature is back on track to regaining control of her cycles. We just don’t see that these “weeds”, those ugly native shrubs, that prickly ground cover and those boring sheoak’s that shed their needles on anything that walks past them are doing an amazing job at keeping the moisture in the soil, nitrogenising the soil (sheoak’s and fast growing wattles are all nitrogen fixers) and are doing it extremely tough so that those tender useful species that we humans so covet for their ability to feed us can survive in the cycle of events.

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The branches you can see on the ground are part of Steve’s latest barrow load of wood. Today has been particularly lovely. Sunny with gorgeous blue skies but nice and cool, perfect for a shovelling narf. The lovely manicured lawn with the pretty orange coloured tree in the rear of the shot is our neighbours to the back. They would like us to clear our entire back block so that they have a better view of the water. We would like for the back block to not slide down the steep slope in the next rains so we tend to ignore them much to their disgust. It must be difficult to have awful penniless student hippies living in front of your prospective perfect view… 😉

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These little shrooms were sheltering underneath this spiders web underneath where Steve was chainsawing tonight’s firewood and they managed to survive the onslaught…kudos shrooms!

I love to learn. Shovelling horse poo and manually cutting up entire trees to line raised garden beds might not be everyone’s idea of a school room but to narf7 it is a precious opportunity to learn at the coalface. Yesterday while we were hauling ex fish farm netting from where we had stored it under the deck after cutting it in half for our purposes I noticed that the ground was unusually damp next to our glasshouse. It might be winter here in Tasmania but we haven’t had much rain over the last few days and this was more than dew…it was positively squishy. I mentioned it in passing to Steve on our first trip up and he muttered something about a tap and we didn’t think any more of it. On our second trip up to the garden hauling a larger net we were going slower and Steve looked down at the tap that he had been muttering about and was somewhat alarmed to notice that the large piece of white polypipe that surrounded it was half full of water and I was positively duck like in my squishing around the area and suddenly Steve had one of those forced life lessons that no-one really wants to take hold of…it was time to dig up the pipes.

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Check out Steve’s fixing job with assistance from some wayfaring plumbers. He hasn’t filled the assembly back in yet as we are waiting to see if it leaks…fool us once!

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Here is my choko. If you check the end it is starting to sprout and after some research that took us to permies.com (one of my go-to places to find “stuff” out) we found out that after it shoots we can plant it out. We will have to protect it from the marauding possums (remember the top of the fully enclosed gardens won’t be put on till spring) by covering it with some ex fish farm netting but this little baby is going to love climbing up and going nuts. Lets see if we can keep the choko cycle going 🙂

Serendipity Farm has been home to 3 “families”. None of them has had children living with them. The first family was an elderly couple who bought the land from their friends (Glad and her deceased husband Ted) and who lived in a caravan in the shed until the house was built. They are the creators of the gardens here and apparently the gardens were something to see back when they owned the place. The husband sadly died a month after the house was built but Ida lived here for many years and it was her love of interesting plants that forged the remnants of garden that Steve and I spend our days trying to find. Next came my father and his partner Val. They fell in love with the property and bought it from Ida and promptly realised that gardening was NOT their forte. By the time Steve and I inherited Serendipity Farm, the once delightful terraced gardens were jungles of overgrown struggling survivors and adventitious weeds.

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In my last post I talked about dehydrating kefir grains. I have way too many to keep using and don’t want to euthanise them so I decided to dry them (according to Dom’s instructions here… http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/sharing-kefir-grains.htm ) and I just wanted to show you how my experiment went. Wendy, you will get your grains soon. We went to Beaconsfield yesterday with the duel purpose to post your grains and return my library books but in the rush to get out of the door I completely forgot to bring the grains! The very next time we are someplace with a post office we will post your grains 🙂

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The image above and this image show what the excess grains looked like after washing them carefully in rainwater (I actually HAD rainwater… “Squee!” 😉 ). I decided to put a bit of baking paper onto the mesh screen from my dehydrator as the grains were still wet and dripping. In the end I didn’t even use my dehydrator I just dried them out on the bread proofing rack above Brunhilda

The property is littered with taps. I have NEVER seen anything like it. Ida must have never wanted to be more than 20 metres away from a tap because for some reason, the entire property has been dug up and black irrigation pipe laid down in the past. The problem is that around about now, that pipe is rapidly starting to degrade. If the pipe had degraded when my well-heeled fathers partner Val was still alive, it might have been replaced but once we penniless student hippies inherited, we suddenly became the keepers of the pipes. Steve has already had to do some serious digging to fix a pipe that decided to explode down in the garden in front of the house. Aside from being somewhat annoying (more so for Steve who actually had to do all of the digging and fixing bit) we were able to fix it quite quickly. The problem comes from the fact that the water mains is right up at the top of the property, up a steep hill and at least an acre and a half away from the house…a heck of a long walk to turn the tap off…then back on…and then off…and then back on again and just that bit too far away for anyone to hear what the other person is yelling to them. It is one of the ONLY times that I am glad we have a mobile phone!

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You can see that the smaller grains have dried out quicker than the bigger grains. As the grains dried out I put them into a small bowl that contains some organic milk powder that I purchased a while ago and keep in the fridge.

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A closer shot to show you how the grains look as they dry out. They get very yellow and start to smell vinegary

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Most of the grains had dried out enough to be put into the milk powder by this stage. Only a few of the larger grains were still slightly soft and needed a bit more dehydrating. You can see how much smaller the grains are now that they have shed their moisture

Today I shovel poo…yesterday Steve had to mend a pipe. We took my overdue library books back to Beaconsfield and we paid out for overpriced plumbing equipment from the local hardware store. We might have paid more than we would have at the large hardware behemoth (my word of the week… you aren’t the only one who has Wednesday words Linnie! 😉 ) Bunning’s that we Aussies are completely and utterly addicted to BUT we supported a small business and while Steve was wandering aimlessly up and down the plumbing resources section with his out-dated tap assembly in hand he met up with 2 plumbers collecting a few doodads and doohickies that they needed for a local job. They noticed his furrowed brow and his damp appearance and decided to help a poor (obviously clueless) hippy. After asking Steve what he was after they quickly ascertained what he needed with a few questions and set about assembling the puzzle of components that Steve needed for his job. Within 5 minutes the 2 of them did what would have taken Steve about 30 minutes of frustration to do and he is eternally grateful to them. That small section of tangled pipes and brass and pressure valves is now safe and updated but there are thousands of metres of aging pipe that still remain and we are afraid…we are VERY afraid…

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Here’s the finished kefir grains in stasis in their milk powder. Wendy will get most of these and if anyone else is curious about kefir or would like to try some please let me know. From now on my excess grains will be “free to a good home” anywhere in the world 🙂

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This last photo for my post is to show you my 5kg sack of “juicing apples”. Can you see anything wrong with them? Neither can I! I have eaten quite a few already and still nothing to show me why they were separated for different treatment aside from them being somewhat smaller than what you would expect. For $5 for 5kg I will take small thankyou! You can also see the kefir grains and my enormous glass jar that I was given by a previous employer along with many more. I worked in a deli and they got lots of huge glass jars containing antipasto ingredients and didn’t want them. I got a lot of lovely big jars and still have some to this day. I can’t remember what was in this jar but pretty soon it will be full to the brim with 2 enormous cabbages and 1.5kg of shredded carrots worth of kimchi. The folded blanket to the rear was a gift from my wonderful daughters. I wrap it around me every morning while I am waiting for Brunhilda to heat up the kitchen after her overnight slumber. It is MOST appreciated and Bezial says that if I put it down anywhere lower than the table he is going to steal it 😉

Bezial just got up and decided to take advantage of his sofa in the prime position right next to Brunhilda. Her balmy warmth is his until Earl decides to brave the day and shoves him from his lofty position. Today I shovel poo and I make kimchi in a huge jar that I forgot I owned till I went hunting in the empty granny flat behind our daughters home that is littered with leftover “stuff” from our moving here and our emptying out dads “stuff”. I carried the jar reverently home and pulled my precious cup of remaining kimchi out of the fridge ready to inoculate my new batch. I have to chop up 2 large cabbages, about 1 ½ kilos of carrots need to be shredded and a whole lot of garlic needs to be crushed to be added with lots of chilli and ginger to form the basis for what is going to ferment and bubble away in Steve’s shed for the next few months. Steve won’t let me keep my kimchi in the house after I added sea vegetables (for added nutrition) to my first batch and it smelled like a dead fish on a hot tin roof. Sadly it will fester away in the shed but I am happy in the knowledge that no matter where it rests, it will do its thing and I will someday take my place in the process and reap the benefits of being part of another small cycle of life. See you all Saturday when that pile of hard work will be merely a muscle memory and where my kimchi will already be starting to “BLOOP” its first fermented sea scented burps of life…aren’t cycles wonderful? :o)

Finally here is Steve’s latest animation complete with sound. We have certainly come a long way with Flash ;). Hopefully you can all see this, Steve is rightfully very proud of his little project 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocA6y8O3Dlg&feature=youtu.be

 

Narf7 loves bread

Hi All,

It’s 3.41am on a Sunday and I just made myself some chocolate pudding. I think I need to clarify something here…the intention wasn’t to deliver myself a bowl of breakfast but a drink. I opened the fridge up this morning and took out my non-dairy milk to make myself my first cup of tea. I opened the cap and took a sniff (a wise thing to do when you make your own milks with a much shorter shelf life) and realised that my non-dairy milk was starting to head for the dark side…not in a serious way, but in enough of a “way” to make my tea curdle. Tea is my early morning institution, it’s like some folk consider their bacon and eggs…their morning toast, their newspaper…it is sacred to me and to have it curdle on me wasn’t an option. I would save my first cup of tea till later in the day when I could make a LOT of noise using my Vitamix.

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Another lovely autumn sunrise on Serendipity Farm. You can see how chilly it is these days but isn’t it pretty?

What to do with my slightly sour scented almond and oat milk that remained? Turn it into a nice big mug of hot carob! I had a container of carob that was interlaced with a bit of raw cacao that the lady in the health food shop had managed to fandangle me into buying (never shop on an empty stomach folks!) and I figured I would just apply the cocoa techniques to the carob/cacao mix. Easy peasy! I tipped 2 tbsp. of carob/cacao mix into my smallest saucepan and I crushed it to a fine powder. I then added an equal amount of the non-dairy milk and I whisked the mix till it was smooth (who likes lumpy cocoa?!) and slowly added the rest of the non-dairy milk and a few scoops of whole date paste (my sweetener of choice) until the mix was nice and smooth and put it on top of the newly ignited Brunhilda and stirred. After about 5 minutes of stirring (Brunhilda stays slowly slumbering overnight ready to wake up at a moment’s notice) I had a pot of brown unctuousness ready to pour into a large mug and enjoy.

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Steve attempting to teach Earl to “stay”…doing good Earl…doing good!

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Bezial “pointing” to a wasp

I was smug! I managed to use up something that wasn’t all that good for much and turned it into a win! That was till I started to pour it into my mug and realised that when you use “almond and OAT” milk to make a drink, and you put it on the stove you end up with chocolate porridge. Don’t get me wrong folks…I am NOT going to waste it! I have a silky smooth form of breakfast oats that I never would have tried before that tastes pretty good but a morning “cuppa” it is not. Oh well…looks like Sunday is going to be an interesting day today! I look forward to exploring its eccentricities but for now I had best get me a spoon and eat my “cocoa”…

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We were getting tired of the possums using this bench to climb up, eat our plants, knock them over and steal the wren and cuckoo shrikes cheese while we slept so we rearranged the area. So far so good…there was still cheese on the window sill this morning!

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Earl teaching me a very valuable lesson…”when we go out…make sure to remember to use the head halter or you aren’t going to be able to walk with Earl and you are going to have to ski down the driveway”…consider this little black duck taught! 😉 In this shot, Earl’s lead is wrapped around the tree in the background so that I didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of being dragged down our steep driveway upside down to Steve’s feet at the bottom of the driveway…I don’t think I would have EVER lived that down! 😉 (and he had his new camera with him so you can bet he would have “documented it for posterity” 😉 )

My “cocoa” was such a success that I have started adding it to my regular breakfast line-up. I throw a handful of rolled oats, a few whole almonds (might get round to soaking them someday but for now they are just out of the freezer in their dry state) and a scoop or two of carob mixed with some raw cacao into my Vitamix and process them for a minute till they are like a fine flour. After that, I put them into a saucepan along with a couple of scoops of homemade date paste and start adding water slowly mixing to ensure I don’t have any lumps. After simmering and constantly stirring on the stove I end up with chocolate pudding porridge that appeals to the need for speed, nutrition hunting, comfort food seeking part of me and satisfies all three with great aplomb.

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Maples starting to really colour up and these brachychitons that were almost dead last year appear to be getting a new lease on life after we cleared out the weeds and debris underneath them

The title of today’s post is most fitting because bread was one of my soul foods back in the day. I could eat a whole loaf of fresh white bread slathered with butter, toasted and slathered with butter, made into toasted sandwiches slathered with butter…you get my drift ;). Today I don’t eat bread. I haven’t eaten bread since January when I started using green smoothies to mainline my nutrients and I haven’t ever felt better. Narf7 might love bread but I fear she can’t eat that fluffy white nutritionally defunct version of it anymore. So what can I eat? I can eat homemade good quality whole-wheat or multigrain bread and that’s where Audrey comes into the picture

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A shot of the terrible state of our driveway. It’s VERY lucky that we own a 4 x 4 because I dare say we would have to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk up if we had anything less!

I got Audrey from Jess of Rabid Little Hippy blogging fame. I have faithfully maintained Audrey, even though of late, she has only been out of the fridge for her 4 day feeding events (that seem to have stretched to weekly feeding events without much protest on her behalf). She has been incredibly faithful in her efforts and whenever I am ready to bake, she wakes up and rises (literally 😉 ) to the occasion. I have a mission. I have been stalking a most wonderful conglomerate of amazing bakers who get together to share the amazing bread that they have been baking called Yeast spotting. If you would like to check it out for yourself and are at all interested in the yeasty path of righteous baking, here’s a linky…

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2013/05/05/yeastspotting-5-5-13/

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Steve took this “shroom’s eye view” shot of the Auld Kirk Church yesterday…just thought you might like to see it from a shroom’s point of view 😉

Each one of those 3 classifications of bread links will open up a plethora of passionate bread makers who are willing to share their magnificent creations with us all. I fell instantly in love with this blog and have been following a few of the bakers that regularly post. Ian, of the wonderful blog Mookie loves Bread, bakes some of the most amazing bread that I have ever seen. Aside from the amazing bread he loves cats and he finds the time to give his amazing bread the most fantabulous names. Who couldn’t love a blog like that? I have been ruminating about wanting to start baking “real bread” for a while now. I decided that as Brunhilda is going to be pretty much on the go 24/7 for our coming 6 – 7 months of Ice age (CHEERS LINNIE! 😉 ) that I may as well use this opportunity of constantly “on” ovens to learn to bake really good loaves of bread. I have been commenting on Ian’s blog for a while now as I drool over the endless line of gorgeousness that he produces on a regular basis and he has kindly offered to assist me with my baking processes should I run into any problems…who am I kidding! I am GOING to run into problems! 😉 Why start with the basic stuff? If you are narf7, you have a built in perfection valve and Ian appears to have that very same perfection valve because his recipes leave no room for omissions. A great place to start for a beginner and so I have decided to throw myself in at the deep end and attempt to make Ian’s amazing “Kamut-Turkey Whole Wheat Spelt Tomato Sour Dough Bread” as my very first proper loaf of bread. Here’s the link if you would like to check it out…

http://mookielovesbread.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/kamut-turkey-whole-wheat-spelt-tomato-sour-dough-bread/

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“Is it for me? is it? Please? Pretty Please?…”

I started preparing this loaf of bread 2 days ago. As someone who isn’t naturally patient (I can hear my children laughing out loud there 😉 ), this 3 day process to churn out a loaf of bread, certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I think next year I am going to take up the word “patience” and run with it (or maybe “walk slowly with it” is more to the point 😉 ) but for now, good old impatient narf7 is going to have to muster up the serenity to go slow. I have the mashed potato ready for this recipe. I am raring to go and I can’t wait to see if I can bake anything like the gorgeous loaf that Ian made in this tutorial. I am prepared for disaster but my optimistic side says “go for it narf7!” so I am :o). Wish me luck folks. Today…I bake!

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Steve’s new paramour and accoutrements 😉

While I was rabidly hoarding recipes from the Yeast spotting site I came across another amazing blog. Zita, from Baking Badly does anything BUT bake badly. This young guy is a most amazing baker and his site is a study in list making, perfection and appealed to my inner experimental baker and my inner list maker at the very same time. How could you resist bread called “Pregels” a cross between pretzels and bagels…and not only does he show us how to make them, he perfects his recipe over 3 posts! Here’s the first pregel recipe should you want to drool all over your computer screen…

http://bakingbadly.com/2013/03/31/spiced-sourdough-pregels-pretzels-bagels/

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Steve’s “Old School” cameras and his new baby

The next 2 posts after this one are both about the pregel perfection process although if I could turn out pregels as amazing looking as Zita’s very first batch I would be entirely satisfied and would be baking them for the entire neighbourhood all puffed up with baking pride ;). After initially thinking that Zita was a girl and commenting as such, he forgave me my stupidity and has decided to help me through my sourdough stumbling’s anyway. Cheers Zita, you are a truly kind blogger to be sharing your amazing talent with us all. I think my next sourdough journey is going to be a nice big batch of pregels :o)

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Steve’s speed camera. He plans on raising some valuable (elusive) funds on Serendipity Farm by accepting bribe money from upset speedsters 😉

I am a camera widow. Since we started our new course Steve has been making rumblings about cameras. He is a camera buff from WAY back and it would seem our little Fuji S5700 wasn’t giving up the goods enough for Stevie-Boy. We recently got given a pittance by the government in a vain attempt to encourage us to vote for our current prime minister. Note the distinct lack of capital letters for such an esteemed position. I did that on purpose…sigh…I don’t even want to THINK about voting in 3 elections over the coming year and will probably be registering my very first ever donkey vote in my voting history because there just isn’t any candidate worthy of my vote :o(. The dribble of bribe money did, however, allow us to start a small side saving venture that we have been adding to each fortnight. Steve has been avidly studying camera review websites in an effort to isolate the very best entry level SLR camera possible for our purposes and last week stumbled over an amazing deal from Harvey Normans. I am not going to promote this shop here in my post or blog aside from this singular mention. Gerry Harvey is a racists, a bigot, and a consumerist money monger who I would rather drown than promote BUT his online shop managed to make Steve “SQUEE” last week and our carefully hoarded camera savings were able to get us a new Canon EoS 1100D a lot quicker than we thought that they would.

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One of Steve’s first photo’s taken with his new camera…note the tree in the background that STILL hasn’t fallen down!

The new baby arrived on our doorstep yesterday. Delivered by a courier, not a stalk, and the poor man stood there bewildered whilst Steve signed his bit of paper and the dogs gave him a magnificent rendition of the Halleluiah chorus from above on the deck all in barks.  After the poor man drove his van back down our approximation of a driveway (runnels included for free) Steve raced inside and fondled the large box that the camera came in. I could see that faraway look that men get when they get a new toy and knew instantly that Steve had left the building. I dare say he won’t be back for the next week. He disappeared outside with his new baby as soon as the battery charged and even read an online manual (the real one had writing that was too small…glasses time methinks Stevie-Boy!) so that should tell all of my female dear constant readers how serious this new love really is and he even found out where the “Q” button was…I have NO idea why he would think I could care less where the “Q” button was but it was apparently a small triumph…

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Steve’s new camera adds a whole new dimension to our exploration of photography. We haven’t got the foggiest idea about how to use it but you can be sure that Steve is on the case as I type this. By the end of the month it will be putty in his hands 😉

Watching a 48 year old man springing off into the vestigial jungle of Serendipity Farm with a large camera around his neck is like waving goodbye to your last child as they head out of the house…FREEDOM! I know that I can do whatever I like for the next week…Steve won’t care. He will pretend to care; he will mutter vaguely positive things whenever I ask him about anything but he is gone…away with the camera pixies in photographic heaven for the duration of time that it takes to absorb this new toy in its entirety. That might take some time folks. This one does all different kinds of things. It beeps and takes 4 or more photos a second (you get to choose) and will perform sequences of actions seamlessly and can be programmed. This camera is his new best mate and he was holding it tenderly on the sofa last night. I headed off to bed and I swear he was talking to it…should I be alarmed? Nope. I know he will be back when the novelty wears off 😉

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The new camera took this photo of our fairy grotto in these alarming colours today. Steve didn’t fiddle with it, it was on automatic and who knows why it decided to add these vibrant greens to what is actually somewhat dull at the moment. Who cares…doesn’t it look pretty? We are enjoying pretending that we actually live in Ireland 😉

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This is the actual colouring on Serendipity Farm at the moment. That large brush pile in the background is just that…a large brush pile waiting for a Guy. The collection of wood in the foreground on the right hand side is some of my driftwood that I have found just opposite this area on the riverbank

So in the throes of baking, kefiring, making various non-dairy milks and working through our latest tangled mass of studies I might love you and leave you there folks. I have so much to do today that I am sacrilegiously thinking of only half reading my RSS Feed Reader today and just blasting straight into the “Doing” bit of my day early…” sacre bleu!” I haven’t even filled my allotted 2800 words! This Saturday I will be posting my entry into The Virtual Vegan Potluck. Hopefully you all stick around to see what culinary creation narf7 has decided to enter into the fray and my own little personal twist. Saturday is also the day of the enormous progressive garage sale and Steve and I will be off and hunting nice and early. We will take the dogs and will walk them at Paper beach. Steve will be tenderly clutching his new baby and I will have old faithful, now officially “mine” so expect a LOT of pictures of the event. I will post about it next Wednesday and you will be able to tell the photos that Steve took…not by the quality, but more by his desire to use as many of the inbuilt features in a single photo as possible. Pfft…Aquarius’s and their artistic liens! 😉 See you on Saturday folks or if you choose to bypass the Veganese, see you Wednesday, hopefully loaded up with bargains and a wonderful pictorial trail of our adventure :o)

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