The day that Earl just missed out on world domination because of my need to (hoard) Collect…

Hi All,

Today was going to be Earl’s day to communicate with you all. Ms Pauline and I have been hosting an intercontinental (sounds grand but technically true…) dog telepathy experiment where Earl has been teaching dear little Sir Siddy the 1st how to be a “propr dorg”. Earl may be lacking in the vernacular but what he lacks in a literary sense, he more than makes up for in animal cunning and admirable doggy brilliance. He has managed to invade Sir Siddy’s tiny headspace and teach him to climb up on Ms Pauline’s table by cross Tasman telepathy. I shudder to think how much further Earl’s mind powers could reach (and the litigation that we could possibly be facing should he try a bit harder…) Thank GOODNESS something else more pressing came up that stopped me from channelling Earl’s nefarious desires but he has a little message for you all that I will translate for you (unpaid slave, drag toy and translator that I am…)

Earl (great master of all that he surveys…)

Earl (great master of all that he surveys…)

“Gdai huminz. Aye em url. Aye em a dorg. Aye done eweshally torg to peepl bud aye godda ged maye messij herd.

Aye av disayedid thad fore yur owne gud, aye em goin tu ave tu tek ova. Yor guvmints ar nod doin aye gud jorb. Aye, url,  wull tichm howe tu rool th worl. Aye rekn aye cood du bedda.

Vowd fore url  ine yor negs alecshunz an aye wull cee yu ride. Wee dorgs juz won ay far gow. Yooz yumanz ave stuvved thingz ub an wee dorgs ar gonna figz id.

Iv u vode fore mi ina alecshunz, aye wull led yu slip ina maye bigga bede wiv mee ana eed frome maye boll (arvda aye finich wiv id ov corz). Mee un suddi gonna bee thee bozz frum nowe orn sow yu hadz bedda joy nub wiv uz ore elze”.

Sygned URL

"were iz maye dinna wumin…"

“were iz maye dinna wumin…”

Wod ewe meen yor gorn awn strige?

“Wod ewe meen yor gorn awn strige?”

Translation: “Good-day fine human specimens. I am Earl (the great). I am a truly magnificent dog. I don’t usually lower myself to communicate with you lowly specimens however I have finished licking my left testicle and have a few minutes to spare before I start licking my right and so I will deign to point my vocabulary in your general direction.

I have decided that for your own good, I am going to relieve you of your worldly control. Your world leaders are not doing a good job. I, Earl (the great…did I mention that I was GREAT) will teach them how to truly rule the world. I think that I could do much better.

Vote for me in your next elections and I will make sure that you don’t suffer to much in the ensuing aftermath. We dogs are tired of being second class citizens, of being forced to live outside in the cold, eat stale dog biscuits and drink from algae lined bowls. We are tired of being the forgotten ones that guard your house, listen to all of your woes, comfort you when you are depressed and NEVER get enough

  1. Walks
  2. Food
  3. Attention
  4. Couch space
  5. Room in the bed

And so it is with great intentions that I, Earl (THE GREAT AND MIGHTY) am going to take over. If you choose to vote for me I will consider you a friend. I will allow you to sleep in my big bed and eat from my personal bowl (after I have finished with it, of COURSE). Sir Sidney Dog the First and I are going to take over. He is going to be my henchman and I have been training him up specifically for the purpose. He might be small and hairy but he is eager to please and that’s all you need for a willing henchman…a nice young brain ready for planting my world domination seed in. The first of many…

If you are not for us, you are against us. Be warned

Signed Earl (THE GREAT AND MIGHTY RULER OF THE WORLD, LORD OF ALL THAT HE SURVEYS)

 

One of the (freeloading cheese hog) grey shrike thrushes that come for small cheese cubes on the windowsill

One of the (freeloading cheese hog) grey shrike thrushes that come for small cheese cubes on the windowsill

Another (slightly bigger) cheese hog pinching cheese sandwiches. One of the resident Currawongs helping himself…

Another (slightly bigger) cheese hog pinching cheese sandwiches. One of the resident Currawongs helping himself…

Yet another freeloader. This one was after something in the back yard. "NOT wise little parrot, you are walking into the lair of the beast!"

Yet another freeloader. This one was after something in the back yard. “NOT wise little parrot, you are walking into the lair of the beast!”

We stopped the possums! :)

We stopped the possums in Sanctuary! 🙂 This silverbeet is one of my indicators. The possums scoffed all of the silverbeet down to nubs and if there are leaves, there are NO possums 🙂

Grape vines sprouting inside Sanctuary

Grape vines sprouting inside Sanctuary

Loquats that will be planted out inside the new enclosure to protect them from wallabies

Loquats that will be planted out inside the new enclosure to protect them from wallabies

A very happy looking little dwarf Valencia orange

A very happy looking little dwarf Valencia orange

An equally as happy lemonade lemon tree :)

An equally as happy lemonade lemon tree 🙂 Looks like a resident rock has come to have a chin wag 😉

Peach futures. Might actually get some this year as we purposefully included this small badly possum mangled orchard INSIDE the dogs new compound parameters so that Earl can protect his patch and we can maybe get some fruit this year :)

Peach futures. Might actually get some this year as we purposefully included this small badly possum mangled orchard INSIDE the dogs new compound parameters so that Earl can protect his patch and we can maybe get some fruit this year 🙂

 

What is the difference between “collecting” and “hoarding”? I ask this of you, my dear constant readers, as moderators to my closeted hermitage. You, who are out there in the “real world”, are obviously in the know. I am beseeching you to “please asplain” because there is a very fine line between the two as far as I can ascertain. I mention this (and thus nip Earl’s push for world domination one continent at a time, most swiftly, in the bud…) because I was trawling my RSS Feed Reader this morning. Nothing new there. I can be found there most mornings between the hours where I am not actively answering emails and commenting on my own blog and the hour when I have to wake Stevie-boy up from his somnolence. I have a comfortable 116 quality blogs nested tastily on top of each other like a most delicious sandwich full of highly flavoured condiments firmly scrunched in the middle of the best damned sourdough you ever tasted. This is where narf gets to play. It’s where my desire to explore my kind of food in all its heady and often lusty delights. Everything else tends to be crafty, wordy or positively barmy (if you are a dear constant reader and I follow your blog you KNOW which genre you fit into 😉 ).

 

ACTUAL work being done on Serendipity farm that doesn't involve a computer. The start of the dogs compound extension

ACTUAL work being done on Serendipity farm that doesn’t involve a computer. The start of the dogs compound extension

When people wonder why we are loath to dig holes to plant things on Serendipity Farm, here's why…this is our "soil profile"

When people wonder why we are loath to dig holes to plant things on Serendipity Farm, here’s why…this is our “soil profile” The yellow things in that soil are rocks… LOTS of rocks…sigh…

This is the "soil" that Steve just dug out of that hole. Note the predominate soil componant "rocks". And THAT is why talking about digging holes brings us out into a cold sweat! Despite sweating a LOT Steve managed to dig 4 holes today before he was rained out. He has never been happier to see rain ;)

This is the “soil” that Steve just dug out of that hole. Note the predominate soil componant “rocks”. And THAT is why talking about digging holes brings us out into a cold sweat! Despite sweating a LOT Steve managed to dig 4 holes today before he was rained out. He has never been happier to see rain 😉

The olive tree that dad planted is growing nicely now that it has established itself

The olive tree that dad planted is growing nicely now that it has established itself

Earl and Bezial will gain a LOT of new ground in this extension. That little cream coloured shed is going to be on the boundary of the extension and WAY back near the house (in the distance in this shot) is where the boys are confined to at the moment. Earl will spend the first week, when it's completed,  patrolling 24/7 ;)

Earl and Bezial will gain a LOT of new ground in this extension. That little cream coloured shed is going to be on the boundary of the extension and WAY back near the house (in the distance in this shot) is where the boys are confined to at the moment. Earl will spend the first week, when it’s completed, patrolling 24/7 😉

Our echiums flowered for the first time this year :)

Our echiums flowered for the first time this year 🙂

Amazingly good plants to grow as they adore rough conditions and will grow in wastelands and bees love them

Amazingly good plants to grow as they adore rough conditions and will grow in wastelands and bees love them

So what has pushed Earl out of world domination mode and narf back squarely into numero uno spot on the blog this week? Well, I don’t only follow blogs and read them AND comment on them, I also collect the best recipes that make me squeal with delight and I Pin them on my Pinterest boards as well. I want the whole world to be able to find these gorgeous posts. I want everyone to squeal with delight like I do and thus, I share. A small aside…because I have quite a large selection of pins on my Pinterest boards (…ahem*…) my early morning emails tend to be littered with “Mr/Mrs “X” has followed one (or more) of your boards…” I usually just send the notifications to the trash as I can see who has followed me via Pinterest however this morning I had a few spare blissful moments (no studies…’WOOT!” 🙂 ) and so I took a little look at the strange and convoluted list of names that had tumbled into my inbox. You can tell the cut of my Pinterest jib by the strange and wonderful people that rock up in my inbox, all kinds of delicious crazy folk all wanting a slice of narf’s Pinterest action. All I can say is “knock yourselves out guys!” I love this social media sharing thing. I love sharing in general and this is on a worldwide scale of great (addiction) happiness :). So it was with great interest that I noticed that none other than “Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School” had followed one of my Pinterest boards! I went and checked (people get aspirations in social media and think that they are Napoléon 😉 ) but this looks legit and I think I just had a brush with gustatory royalty! “SQUEE!”

 

Brigadoon!

Brigadoon!

Steve caught this lovely shot of the Tamar Cruiser on it's languid journey up the river and back into Launceston. It turns around right at the front of our gate

Steve caught this lovely shot of the Tamar Cruiser on it’s languid journey up the river and back into Launceston. It turns around right at the front of our gate

Steve took this shot as he was walking back to the gate after taking the last shot. I am posting it for the sake of honesty rather than love for this image. That expanded derriere is on the wane as I have returned to the wagon and am riding it like sea-biscuit ;)

Steve took this shot as he was walking back to the gate after taking the last shot. I am posting it for the sake of honesty rather than love for this image. That expanded derriere is on the wane as I have returned to the wagon and am riding it like sea-biscuit 😉

I am getting to the point slowly folks, patience is a virtue you know (one that you really need to cultivate if you are going to stick around here and get the actual gist of what I am on about 😉 )! So after squealing on the inside (it was 3am, a “no squealing zone exists between 3am and 7am on Serendipity Farm…) I headed off to my RSS Feed Reader to check out my nice tidy SMALL list of blog posts. I love being able to languidly read a blog post and comment with time to spare thought to the efforts of the person who has posted. I hate…I HATE “generic” blog comments. They smack of “have a nice day…”and a complete lack of original thought or intent. People slave for hours over blog posts, days even! We can at least do them the service of taking their hard work and giving it the attention and admiration that it deserves. If you don’t like it, don’t comment. If it makes you hot under the collar, best not to comment either. Save comments for genuine admiration methinks, it makes for an all-round better blogging world.

 

Isn't this pretty? Forget-me-not-farm! ;)

Isn’t this pretty? Forget-me-not-farm! 😉

Stevie-boy being manly with a chainsaw

Stevie-boy being manly with a chainsaw and gumboots

This is a multitasked image. It involves showing you that we have a small oak tree growing in my immediate vicinity and that Stevie-boy is up chopping wood with the car. I consider my multitasking a success ;)

This is a multitasked image. It involves showing you that we have a small oak tree growing in my immediate vicinity and that Stevie-boy is up chopping wood with the car. I consider my multitasking a success 😉

 

As I have already mentioned, (probably twice, I am getting on you know 😉 ) I tend to save recipes in word documents and pdf’s. I love pdf’s so much that I have a pdf creator that I turn blog posts into pdf’s with in short shift. Any that I can’t access this way (you clever minxes…) and I try the good old fashioned “copy” and “paste” way. I have several other ways to access tricky blog posts whose posters are MOST insistent that we can’t save but they are my secrets. I wouldn’t want them catching on and making it even harder ;). Seriously folks, why on EARTH would you put a recipe on the internet if you didn’t want other people falling in love with it and wanting to make it? I realise that there are many nefarious people out there pinching images, and indeed entire blog posts, and waving them around as if they were their own. I just want to be able to save and make the recipe should I want to and so I feel no compunctions about pilfering with impunity. “The buck (recipe) stops HERE” and goes no further.

 

This camellia bush will stay covered in flowers for quite some time now

This camellia bush will stay covered in flowers for quite some time now

Some of dad's orchids flowering

Some of dad’s orchids flowering

Up close and beautiful. We give these orchids absolutely nothing and they give us these lovely flowers every single year

Up close and beautiful. We give these orchids absolutely nothing and they give us these lovely flowers every single year

More orchids that I bought for $3 a pot from a plant stand on election day earlier in the year.

More orchids that I bought for $3 a pot from a plant stand on election day earlier in the year.

Check out the size of these cyclamen leaves down in the jungle area of Serendipity Farm. They must love it down there as they are back every year and getting spreading

Check out the size of these cyclamen leaves down in the jungle area of Serendipity Farm. They must love it down there as they are back every year and  spreading

Dad's old bbq down at the bottom of the property

Dad’s old bbq down at the bottom of the property

Steve, Earl and Bezial walking back up to the house

Steve, Earl and Bezial walking back up to the house

Our "soil". Frogs would love to live on "soil" like this!

Our “soil”. Frogs would love to live on “soil” like this!

So (still getting to the point…) I was saving a particularly “SQUEElicious” blog post this morning and I realised that my recipe folder was in a bit of a mess. A bit of a SERIOUS mess. I had been dumping pdf’s in the wrong place and my list of word docs was starting to alarm even me who is immune to enormous quantities of just about anything and so I started tidying up a bit… and that was when I realised that maybe most people don’t have 372 recipe pdf’s stored on their PC. Maybe, just maybe “normal” people don’t have 3006 word document recipes stored their either? So I finally get to my point… “When does collecting become hoarding and what is the difference?” My enormous hoard of stored recipes is just the tip of the ice burg. I have several hard-drives and CD’s full of stored recipes. I am NEVER going to make all of those recipes but I am compelled (COMPELLED I tell you!) to (hoard) collect them.

 

You can't get a good idea of how big this pot actually is but these are red raspberry canes in a VERY big pot that took Steve and I to haul it into his shed

You can’t get a good idea of how big this pot actually is but these are red raspberry canes in a VERY big pot that took Steve and I to haul it into his shed

Me pathetically trying to show you how big this pot is AND take a photo at the same time

Me pathetically trying to show you how big this pot is AND take a photo at the same time (more red raspberry canes)

Seedlings that need to be planted out before Jenny gets here for her visit tomorrow ;)

Seedlings that need to be planted out before Jenny gets here for her visit tomorrow 😉

I finally found a way to stop the wallabies from nibbling off my artichokes. I put three tyres around the base and look at it now, it's almost 2 metres tall! :)

I finally found a way to stop the wallabies from nibbling off my artichokes. I put three tyres around the base and look at it now, it’s almost 2 metres tall! 🙂

"Pinkbells" nothing blue about these babies ;)

“Pinkbells” nothing blue about these babies 😉

My craft folders and my “Interesting things” folders are much more sedate however my recipe folders are full to overflowing with the most awesome and phantasmagorical things. I am not going to stop saving (hoarding) recipes. Is there hope for me? We have just finished off our studies. Truly finished them off for the next 2 weeks at least and there is the possibility that if the rain ever stops, we can get out into Sanctuary and we can facilitate change! We just planted out 4 citrus trees that my wonderful horticultural mate Jenny gave us because the possums simply wouldn’t give up on the poor things and they had to be segregated. We learned from her lesson and planted them inside Sanctuary. I have carob trees, nut trees, loquat trees, avocado trees, all KINDS of trees that need planting out ASAP and we have a dog compound to run up before the ground sets to purest porcelain all over again. We have “outside” possibilities and now, we have “outside” abilities to go with them!

This little quince tree is going to be planted out tomorrow as Steve will be digging holes in the immediate vicinity (praying for rain all the time ;) ) so he may as well dig me another one to plant my little quince tree in :)

This little quince tree is going to be planted out tomorrow as Steve will be digging holes in the immediate vicinity (praying for rain all the time 😉 ) so he may as well dig me another one to plant my little quince tree in 🙂 That blue tarp is covering up a mountain of oak leaf mould

The last of our dry wood stash. Just about time to let Brunhilda go out for the next 6 months for a most well deserved rest after being on duty 24/7 since mid April "Well done good and faithful friend" :)

The last of our dry wood stash under the deck. Just about time to let Brunhilda go out for the next 6 months for a most well deserved rest after being on duty 24/7 since mid April “Well done good and faithful friend” 🙂

Yellow climbing roses. The only kind that possums don't like.

Yellow climbing roses. The only kind that possums don’t like.

Steve took this lovely shot of one of the blueberries budding up.

Steve took this lovely shot of one of the blueberries budding up.

I have a list of gorgeousness that I want to accomplish before the next blog post (and document with my trusty Fujipix for your mental alacrity and clarity) including

  • Go and pick up at least 2 trailer loads of seaweed for top dressing the garden
  • Fork and ameliorate the existing garden beds (and try to remember what was planted where last year underneath the seething mass of pumpkins in a vain attempt to “rotate my crops”) and add in a healthy dose of aged horse manure and oak leaf mould
  • Plant out all kinds of seeds and get a system in place for succession planting
  • Plant out seedlings that I was given (better do that today as Jenny is visiting tomorrow! Come to think of it, better process all of those beetroot that she gave me as well. She WILL check 😉 ) by Jenny including parsley, leeks, brassicas (no idea which as she just sprinkled them on the soil to teach me a horticultural lesson 😉 ) and some flowery thing that she gave me to add to the mix. We swapped a lot of rare pines that we just can’t plant here that made her feel almost as happy as we did when we bought them. We introduced Jenny to pine addiction and she is gleefully happy to be the recipient of our pine lust. She has 50 acres to populate and a few stray pines would be most welcome
  • Shore up our blueberries (that are budding up alarmingly) in the pile of horse manure in front of the deck for this year. Too late to find a spot for them in Sanctuary but next year they will get a forever home inside. This year we will need to protect them!
  • Plant out all of the raspberry canes that Jenny gave us that are currently up to their tender little armpits in that big pile of horse manure and leaves. It appears that’s our cutting bed ;). So far nothing has chosen to eat them but why would it? We feed everything that hangs around out the front of the house cheese sandwiches and they haven’t got time to eat lowly green things any more 😉

 

"Sigh...if you MUST take photos of me at least take them from my best side..."

“Sigh…if you MUST take photos of me at least take them from my best side…”

This world domination is NOTHING to do with me! I am a peace loving hippy dog who walks amongst the cows and chickens and (disgusting) cats without blinking an eyelid. I refuse to be blamed for any of this!"

“This world domination push is NOTHING to do with me! I am a peace loving hippy dog who walks amongst the cows and chickens and (disgusting) cats without blinking an eyelid. I refuse to be blamed for any of this!”

And so you have it, dear constant readers. Narf is BACK! I get to move, to stretch and to dig. I get to choose and to think and to pot and to exercise (everything that doesn’t get strained in my early morning walks…) and my poor addled study stuffed mind can have a decent rest and most well deserved holiday. I am in the zone AND happy to be here :). See you all next week and let’s just see just how much of that list we actually accomplish eh? 😉

 

Forget the Ides of March, we have the Daffodils of September

Hi All

“Daffodils are like ideas, they spring up in the middle of waste land and they give you hope for future possibilities”

That quote is a narf7 original. It sprung out of the ether in my overstuffed brain one day when I was walking Earl and noticed a pile of rubble in the native bushland on the side of the road with a daffodil flowering profusely in the middle. Life is a bit like builders rubble sometimes. We make our “buildings” and we might not always build them strong. Many times they fall down and we are left with our own piles of “builders rubble” that need to be sifted through to salvage what we can from the experience and to start again but there is always a daffodil in every pile of rubble, we just have to sift through and find it.

The dogs have gone mad...they appear to be begging for cauliflower! "NO It's MINE!"

The dogs have gone mad…they appear to be begging for cauliflower! “NO It’s MINE!”

White men might not be able to jump but 50 year old white girls can certainly head-bang with the best of them

White men might not be able to jump but 50 year old white girls can certainly head-bang with the best of them

Earl is VERY impressed with my ability to rock

Earl is VERY impressed with my ability to rock

The son-and-heir just managed to pull an almost extinct rabbit out of a hat and find a job in Tasmania. Not only did he find a job, but his new office was so eager to have him join their crew that they created a position for him with extras to the job that was being offered. It’s always nice to feel appreciated and now Stewart can move to Tasmania with his Texan sweetie Kelsey, who has become a firm part of our family, and start to negotiate his way around the “real world”. Living in inner city Melbourne is like living in a bubble. You are surrounded by commerce and an artificial bustling reality that has very little to do with the real world. Moving to Tasmania will allow them both to relax a bit and to stretch out their minds to other pursuits. Both of them want to explore the beautiful scenery here in Tasmania and as they are moving into the unit behind the house where my daughters live in the city, they won’t have to pay rent and will be able to pay off outstanding bills and start saving towards their future life together

I asked my brother in W.A. to send me some stone worn smooth by the Southern Ocean from where I came from.

I asked my brother in W.A. to send me some stone worn smooth by the Southern Ocean from where I came from.

He walks for miles on deserted beaches taking photographs and sent me these 4 beauties earmarked as the heralds of my kettle boiling

He walks for miles on deserted beaches taking photographs and sent me these 4 beauties earmarked as the heralds of my kettle boiling

Hmmm Might need to dust the kettle! Pebbles in situ ready to tap-dance their way into Serendipity Farm history

Hmmm Might need to dust the kettle! Pebbles in situ ready to tap-dance their way into Serendipity Farm history

We were given a very similar chance when my father extended his offer to allow us to live in the house that my daughters live in. At the time we were working and studying and paying rent in Western Australia. I love Western Australia. It’s where I was born and where I grew up and it forged what makes me “me” but I also love Tasmania. I am ever the adaptable narf when I can see the benefits of a long haul move. Stewart and Kelsey will be able to split the annual bills that come with living in a house with his sisters which will leave them both a lot better off. Sometimes life changes the gameplay and you find yourself riding an entirely different bus…you think that you are headed in one direction and next minute you are looking out the passenger window and you are in Albuquerque and it’s time to get off. Your experience lies in how you deal with your bus ride and what you do with your new surroundings when you get there.

The spare bedroom is the only room with old carpet still in it

The spare bedroom is the only room with old carpet still in it

Steve and I both decided that we would remove the carpet in a recent burst of Spring cleaning. We removed the bed and  Earl realised that he could see outside

Steve and I both decided that we would remove the carpet in a recent burst of Spring cleaning. We removed the bed and Earl realised that he could see outside

I am affecting change...Bezial HATES change...Earl is wrapped up inside change...

I am affecting change…Bezial HATES change…Earl is wrapped up inside change…

A job well done and now the bedroom floor looks like the rest of the house :)

A job well done and now the bedroom floor looks like the rest of the house 🙂

Stewart and Kelsey have been given a chance to change their lives and mould them how they see fit. Not everyone gets that chance in life. Some people are stuck in lives and jobs that they see going nowhere and that they feel have no value. It’s hard to see other people making a break for the sun when you are stuck under a rain cloud but you just never know where that rain cloud is going to take you. You might just be marking time until your ship comes in. How you mark time is going to shape your personality and how you deal with what eventuates in your life. I am very philosophical here today aren’t I? I guess you get milestones in your life and although this isn’t my personal milestone, it might be a significant moment in Stewart and Kelsey’s life path. It looks like “Thanksgiving” might become part of our new family traditions…we wouldn’t want Kelsey to feel out of the loop but I am NOT eating sweet potatoes and marshmallows girl…THAT is a step too far for this little black narf 😉

Earl and a little friend... or is it?!!! This was an image that Steve found online. Doesn't this look a whole lot like Earl!

Earl and a little friend… or is it?!!! This was an image that Steve found online. Doesn’t this look a whole lot like Earl!

This week has seen us planting trees like crazy. Actually it’s been a fortnight of tree planting and now we have come to the point where we have no idea where to plant the remaining trees that we want to get into the ground. We have so many trees and not enough Serendipity Farm to do them justice. As horticulturalists we know how big these trees grow and how much space they are going to need to be happy and we can’t simply cram them all into the ground close to each other and claim ignorance at a later date. We owe these trees more than that. Most of them we grew from seed that we collected, some from other countries, sourced from the stashes of friends, new acquaintance’s, adventitious “over the fence” seed collection and gardeners that we chatted with over the gate who are incredibly generous with information and cuttings most of the time. As a penniless student hippy I have learned how to be very savvy when it comes to collecting plant material and when I want something for the garden, it’s not hard to get it and most of the time it’s free.

"If...I...Just...stretch...a...tiny...bit...more..."

“If…I…Just…stretch…a…tiny…bit…more…”

I have been communicating with Jess from the wonderful sustainable blog “rabidlittlehippy”. She is putting into practice everything that I want to do here. She tends to be a lot more active than I am and gets stuck in where I procrastinate a little too much methinks. You are more likely to find me pinning on Pinterest than out in the garden hacking blackberries but Steve and I are moving out of winter mode and back into the garden. Jess has been telling me about various plants that I want to institute on Serendipity Farm and never thought that I could get here and we are cooking up how to get hold of Yacon, an amazing root crop from the Andes that promises to be a natural sweetener that should do well here. It’s all an experiment really and who knows what is going to grow happily here. We have a rough idea of what the seasons are going to deliver to us now that we have been living here for almost 3 years (in December).

Rincewind in human form...

Rincewind in human form…

The tree that was dangling like the sword of Damocles in the side garden and that had us using extreme gardening techniques whenever we had to mow underneath it has been felled. I didn’t even hear it fall! Apparently the crash made the dogs jump and Steve and our friends Guy and Lee pulled it down with a thick rope and Lees Toyota Landcruiser (note Toyota…if you notice this advertisement in my obviously influential blog please feel free to send me a box of Landcruisers. I will be sure to share them with friends and family and praise your products worth to anyone who will listen 😉 ). Aside from squashing a poor shrub that had already been split down the middle by fat chickens perching on its lower branches, the side garden suffered miraculously little damage and now I can start using the area to plant out smaller shrubs and perennials that I wasn’t willing to risk being squished like grapes till that tree fell.

"ExCUSE me...I am Pinteresting here!"

“ExCUSE me…I am Pinteresting here!”

The recent planting endeavours has shown us that there are way too many trees being held captive in small pots that really should be given away to people who will appreciate them. It’s hard. Not because we don’t want to give them away, but because we grew these trees from seed. We nurtured them while we learned and those trees signify our horticultural passion and a stage in our lives where a lot of doors opened up for us and changed our direction. Moving to Serendipity Farm back in December 2010 allowed us to have space to grow but it also showed us that our city plans weren’t going to be all that compatible with our actual country reality. There are a lot of obstacles that appeared in the way and it’s our job to find a way to jump those hurdles and see those daffodils that are growing up, most determinedly, through our early piles of builder’s rubble. When you are 50 and there are 4 acres of determined weeds and invasive exotics waving in the breeze at you taunting you from the deck it’s sometimes hard to know where to start but Steve and I have plans…

Doesn't this look pretty? Well the camera tells fibs folks! It never ceases to amaze me how pretty photos of Serendipity Farm look and how rangy and terrifying reality actually is!

Doesn’t this look pretty? Well the camera tells fibs folks! It never ceases to amaze me how pretty photos of Serendipity Farm look and how rangy and terrifying reality actually is!

I SWEAR I removed all of the garlic from this area last year. I actually dug around in the soil and pulled everything I could find out! It would appear I didn't. The little mulberry tree above the garlic probably benefits from it's protective pest resistance

I SWEAR I removed all of the garlic from this area last year. I actually dug around in the soil and pulled everything I could find out! It would appear I didn’t. The little mulberry tree above the garlic probably benefits from it’s protective pest resistance

There is a stand of tall spindly Melaleuca alternifolia at the bottom of our property. It denotes an area that gets swampy in winter. Melaleuca alternifolia are also known as Tea Trees. Their leaves contain an essential oil that is known world-wide as a natural antiseptic and as such, they are a valuable resource however the Melaleuca alternifolia on Serendipity Farm are a dime a dozen and those in the tea tree garden area are predominately spindly and falling over due to over-competition and a distinct lack of light. We haven’t touched them aside from the odd thinning out event to generate a few poles to use as makeshift fencing but the other day I was looking at them and thought “why don’t we cut them down and use the area to plant out our nut trees?” Why not indeed? There is about half an acre of land being occupied by tea trees and aside from keeping a band of them (thinning out the spindly ones and letting the healthier trees reach their full potential), why not avail ourselves of some of that land to our advantage? Nut trees are a perennial food source. They keep on keeping on and like fruit trees; they offer you a source of long term food. In our family, nuts feature more than just snacks and additions to baked goods. I am vegan and make my own nut milk to use in my tea every day. They can be ground and used in many different ways and as Tasmania is perfect for growing hazelnuts, walnuts and chestnuts, why not put this half an acre of land to better use?

Green and purple asparagus! Cheers to Bev for reminding me that it is asparagus season :)

Green and purple asparagus! Cheers to Bev for reminding me that it is asparagus season 🙂

There are always compromises to be made. Serendipity Farm is bookmarked to be a food forest. To do this, we have to weigh up what we do and don’t want to remove from the garden and how we are going to mix native and exotic species to get the best of all worlds. We are playing horticultural alchemy here folks and throwing climate change and instability of world markets into the equation and suddenly a food forest is a lot more important than a few spindly Melaleuca alternifolia that are reaching the end of the line. I think, as custodians of the land, it’s up to us to make the most of it. We need to be aware of the natural cycles that are currently operating on Serendipity Farm and make sure that we don’t dent them too significantly. We need to find ways to get what “we” want, whilst maintaining equilibrium or in Serendipity Farm’s case, achieving equilibrium would be a good start.

(what's she showing us this wonky pile of debris for?)

(what’s she showing us this wonky pile of debris for?)

"BUGGER!"... three more chicks on Serendipity Farm...sigh...

“BUGGER!”… three more chicks on Serendipity Farm…sigh…

This is entirely off topic folks. When Stewart was here visiting on Sunday after having a job interview the day before he was checking something on our computer and accidently closed one of the windows that he had open that he wanted more information from . Did you know that if you do that, you can call that window back by pressing the “Control”, “Alt” and “T” buttons? Neither did I! How many times have you accidentally closed a window and had to go through the process of searching all over again or having to sift through your computers history for the day to see if you can’t narrow it down…well NO MORE FOLKS! Now, thanks to second hand info from my genius son, you can just press Control, Alt and “T” and your page will miraculously come back. This only works for the last page that you closed…if you open another page or do anything in between closing your page and using this shortcut you are on your own, but it’s great to at least know that you can catch your mistake after the event.

I had to share this with you all as this is the cleanest you are EVER going to see Steve's shed. Don't let him fib and tell you that he is tidy...he is chaos on legs!

I had to share this with you all as this is the cleanest you are EVER going to see Steve’s shed. Don’t let him fib and tell you that he is tidy…he is chaos on legs!

It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. I have so many photos and not enough posts to share them in! Last weeks excited bread post took over from the norm and the images are starting to back up and fall off the factory conveyor belt. I met Jo who blogs at “All the Blue Day” yesterday in our shared health food shop of choice. Poor Jo was under siege as I was distracted with the HUGE shopping day ahead of me (that started at 6.30am and  didn’t end till I got home at 3.30pm) and my adult daughters were hell bent on out consuming each other to the max…”how much is that imported Canadian maple syrup with the maple leaf shaped bottle?”…I can only thank my lucky stars that as Bethany, my youngest daughter reminded me “it’s our money and you don’t have to pay for it!” ;). Seriously though, it was lovely to meet Jo over the dates and mixed nuts and to furtively exchange lemons for dehydrated kefir grains and a dozen free range eggs…I am hoping the lovely lady behind the counter ignored us and poor Jo might not recover from our bombardment of her sensibilities but meeting a fellow blogger was a lovely experience and perhaps we can have that “cuppa” one day and really meet each other on a level, un-twitching, playing field :o)

A local thrift shop was having a winter clothing clearance and I picked up lots of clothes for $2 an item. This shot is for my daughters..."I am Robbie Rotten!" ;)

A local thrift shop was having a winter clothing clearance and I picked up lots of clothes for $2 an item. This shot is for my daughters…”I am Robbie Rotten!” 😉

I went back to the op shop a few days later and everything was going out for 50c an item! Here you see Narf7 modelling a $1 Spring outfit

I went back to the op shop a few days later and everything was going out for 50c an item! Here you see Narf7 modelling a $1 Spring outfit

Why not have some fun when you are cleaning up the detritus of ex stuffed toys...wearing another 50c jumper and rocking to Pearl Jam's "Evenflow"

Why not have some fun when you are cleaning up the detritus of ex stuffed toys…wearing another 50c jumper and rocking to Pearl Jam’s “Evenflow”

That’s the end of the line folks. It’s 5.14am on Tuesday and I have a few things to fix up before my lecturer is going to let me pass my assessment. I am learning that “criticism” isn’t always personal and that I tend to take criticism to heart rather than see it as a tool to educate me. I have been offered a chance to grow…I am choosing to take it. We need to head into town and clear out all of the boxes of past life (ours and dad’s) detritus from the unit so that Stewart and Kelsey can move in and make this small space their own. It’s a chance to clear out old papers and items that are no longer used. Let’s face it…if it has been in a unit out the back of a house in town for almost 3 years, methinks it isn’t crucial to our survival on Serendipity Farm ;). We also need to deliver the queen-sized bed that is in the spare room to the unit and swap it for the high rise bed that Steve made for me back when we lived in Western Australia. I LOVE that bed and it was our bed for many years before we moved here. Steve is going to cut the legs down a bit because aside from it being VERY high, the people that might want to visit and stay (read Kym and Bruce who are visiting in January…) may not want to have to use a step ladder to get into bed. Time to clear things out…regroup and march on…just like the daffodils do year in and year out, and hopefully we manage to flower beautifully in the process. See you all next week folks when I have a LOT of photos to share with you and no doubt life will tumble us around in some kind of interesting way to your reading advantage ;).

Today would have been my mum's birthday. I started this blog so that she could see what we were up to over here so I owe her for where this space has taken me. Thank you mum...we miss you

Today would have been my mum’s birthday. I started this blog so that she could see what we were up to over here so I owe her for where this space has taken me. Thank you mum…we miss you

Today's word cloud

Today’s word cloud

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 😉

0adcc936ec716a961d446c30b2bda21d

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!

DSCF3095

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

DSCF3098

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.

shortAndGirlyDeniseScottandJudithLucy

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…

DSCF3105

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

DSCF3111

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 😉

DSCF3121

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!

DSCF3114

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 🙂

DSCF3117

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 😉

DSCF3135

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”.

DSCF3123

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

DSCF3124

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!

DSCF3126

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.”

DSCF3128

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

DSCF3130

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

DSCF3133

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!

DSCF3137

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

DSCF3139

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 😉

DSCF3143

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.

DSCF3145

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! 😉

DSCF3146

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

DSCF3150

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!” 😉

DSCF3153

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

DSCF3163

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 😉

DSCF3164

Bezial investigating.

DSCF3154

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 😉

DSCF3172

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

DSCF3185

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

DSCF3186

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!

DSCF3189

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…

DSCF3190

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)

The power of music

Hi All,

In honour of World Permaculture Day on May 5th 2013…(YES I am early but I am giving you plenty of time 😉 )

All of us would acknowledge our own work as modest; it is the totality of such modest work that is impressive. Great changes are taking place. Why not join us in the making of a better future.

Ingenio Patet Campus. The field lies open to the intellect.”

Bill Mollison
2 May 2012

I would just like to add…don’t forget the heart Mr Mollison, for that is where you find the courage to go on in spite of overwhelming odds. Your head might get you to the starting gate but it aint gonna’ win you that race!

DSCF9981

This is what represents Serendipity Farm at the moment. I went for a walk to take some photos of pretty things to cheer myself up because it has been so hot and dry, but outside its actually hotter and drier than inside and all that happened was I started measuring up against places like Texas and The Gobi Desert and found us wanting so here it is…my artistic rendition of what Indian Summer represents to Serendipity Farm!

Today we found my earphones. I used to listen to music for hours on end and own a huge collection of CD’s, some of them helped me through my marriage breakup. Certain songs matched milestones, Pearl Jam “Alive”… Chumbawamba’s “Tub Thumping” EVERYTHING by The Counting Crows and Hootie and the Blowfish and a longstanding musical affair with Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 after I won their very first CD on an early morning radio station because no-one gets up at 5am and is awake enough to phone up D.J.’s at that time of day…all except me that is…me and my early morning habits…music was always there. I chose it. After I left my ex-husband and we vindictively divided up the C.D.’s I wore my music as a badge of courage and I hid behind it and wore my heart on my sleeve as I tried to work my way through the processes of unpicking a long standing relationship. Music is a bit like that nose/sniffing thing that I mentioned in the post before last. Music can hoist me high or lay me low and it takes me places that I have stumbled through before. Steve was hunting for something in the middle room built-in’s the other day and came out with a large stack of CD cases and reignited my love affair with music and infusing my brain with it as I type and think and hunt online. The next step was to give me anonymity. Steve likes to watch television unhindered by loud music so we needed to supply me with earphones. Steve retrieved his headphones from his music cupboard but they are those old fashioned Cyberman headphones and hurt my ears after I wear them for a while (which I inevitably do) and I remembered my funky set of Mochi earphones that I bought for my MP3 player when I used to go everywhere with music. I lost the time to listen to music and found myself “doing” more and ended up giving my MP3 player to my daughter and I promptly “Forgodaboudit”. We still had Youtube marathons into the night but no solo forays until Steve found my mochi’s and now I am hooked. It’s like I never left! My early mornings are going to be peppered with music. My very first CD that I listened to was Ben Folds 5. Next was Jeff Buckley and “Hallelujah” still makes me cry. Next The Whitlam’s opening number “There’s No Aphrodisiac” and who knows who after that…The Clash? Maybe Mark Knopfler “Sailing to Philadelphia?” How about Ben Harper “Diamonds on the Inside”? or ANYTHING from John Butler before he split with his trio…so many old friends that have been waiting patiently for me to get my mojo back…”I’m back!” :o)

DSCF9957

My favourite of the 50 Pumpkins…this one I could eat! 😉

DSCF9950

The first carrot cake that I can remember that I made that actually turned out! Usually they are tasteless or too wet or just plain ornery but this wonderful sourdough version turned out perfectly! Audrey, you are a star 🙂

DSCF9956

A close-up of the gorgeous crumb. Half is in the freezer and the other half is rapidly receding into Steve

DSCF9945

Isn’t this pretty? It’s Steves creation. I made pastry with grated butter straight from the fridge that made gorgeous flaky pastry. I also cooked a lot of potatos (steamed) and Steve cooked a heap of caramelised onions with chilli and made a delicious rich cheesy sauce and combined it all in layers with cooked capsicum (peppers) and made a fantastic (and most enormous) vegetarian pie.

Its Monday 11th of march and Douglas Adams would have been 61. His candle burned very brightly for a short time. I met Steve because of my early adoration of Douglas Adams. I read every single one of his books and was introduced to philosophy through their pages. Prior to reading the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” trilogy, I had never thought much about life, the universe and everything. The sky was up there and I sometimes lay on my back in the evening looking up at the stars and thinking about how small I was but not much more. Adams introduced me to thought processes outside my comfort zone and to the number 42. When my son was small he was given a small wooden mouse with a leather tail. We called him “Slartibardfast” and despite losing his tail in an early accident (children are curious…) he managed to stay with us through moves all over Western Australia. I have no idea where he is now or if Stewart still has him but I would imagine he would be in an ancient sandpit in a house in the Western Australian fringe outback as I type this. I actually owe my love of Douglas Adams books for meeting Steve. My son, Stewart, then 14, got tired of me complaining about having nothing to do and showed me how to use the internet. I could only type with 1 finger and back then (last century circa 1997) the net was populated by chat rooms, places where you picked yourself a little avatar that you associated with and you waited to jump into someone’s conversation. There were so many different chat rooms and I remember scrolling down the exponentially increasing list in awe and thinking “Where do I start?” As a Luddite technophobe the temptation was to just give up before I started but I chose a room called “Comic Chat” and entered. When I got inside there were reams and reams of text scrolling down the page and despite my best efforts to tap away with 1 finger, by the time I had anything typed the conversations had moved on…I was somewhat bemused at the speed of my brain being entirely unrepresentative of what was coming out of my fingers! I ended up just sitting there watching words scroll maniacally across the page till one sentence hit me…”What is the meaning of life?”…I had a SHORT ANSWER to that one! I quickly (well…quickly for someone who didn’t even know where the number keys were 😉 ) typed back “42!”…little was I to know that this was Steve’s final hurrah online. He had been tapping away for months trying to connect with likeminded people. His friend (also Steve) had gotten him into computers via gaming and he had been making brief but frustrated forays into the chatting world and had decided that he would ask this one question and if he didn’t get a satisfactory answer he was out of there for good! My very first sentence online would seal my fate for the rest of my life. How fitting and how poignant that Mr Douglas Adams would be my teacher and would deliver my ultimate happiness to me via being brave enough to step out into a brave new world. Cheers Douglas and Stewart for my new life, I couldn’t have done it without either of you :o). I saw the Google homepage tribute to Douglas Adams this morning and raced to Facebook to laud him but my sister Pinky had gotten there first. Oh well… I can get there first here! ;). I headed off into the ether for a few moments to find out about how 42 equates with life, the universe and everything and there are some very interesting connotations to the number 42. You can read about them here on my old paraphrasing friend Wikipedia if you are so interested. Aside from being interesting, this page was written by someone with more than a brain cell or two (which lends this Wiki page a bit more weight) because it is littered with some mighty fine scientific backup and there are some very amazing things that start with or end with 42…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42_(number)

I found another page where Mr Adams had decided to give his view about Australia. A most humorous and fitting small article about us antipodeans that is well worth a few moments of your time to read…

http://www.jumbles.com/douglas_adams.htm

Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchet are my favourite fiction authors. It is curious to see that Douglas Adams died so young and that Terry Pratchet is facing his own slow demise at such an early age. Perhaps their brilliance in literature could only burn so bright for a short time? Was it worth it? As someone who has gained more than she could have possibly imagined from both of them and learned so much in the process I salute both of these amazing men and am reminded how “The Old Country” has spawned such a magnificent array of talented artists in all realms. I am bordering on sounding like an Anglophile there! Best stop that quick smart or I will have to hand back my Bolshie workers party pin (along with my Vegan confraternity pin after eating that Beurre bosc pear along with its previous occupier…)

DSCF9961

This is our half of the wonderful stash of natural soil ammendments that Steve Solomon recomended for our soil. Just to ensure there are no readers sending animal protection around…that lime isn’t actually to deal with “moles”. We don’t get moles here in Australia…it’s from a place called “Mole Creek” in Tasmania 🙂

DSCF9965

If nothing else grows on Serendipity Farm in the middle of the hot dry weather these most certainly do! Dandelions are loving the weather and are enjoying the extended Indian Summer

DSCF9964

Kid Creole on the left and his “Coconuts” on the right

We humans have art to express ourselves. Some of us are artistically challenged when it comes to attempting to reproduce what we see around us pictorially but then visual representation is only one of the ways that we are able to reach out and communicate with other people. Neither Steve nor I are dab hands with a paint brush, let alone a pencil. The fact that having to draw 50 pumpkins each for our Media design course (in an attempt to make us think about how to represent a pumpkin in 50 different ways) has us twitching and procrastinating when we have finished the rest of this unit should go a long way to showing you how desperately untalented we both are at drawing anything other than crazed stick men (Steve) and lopsided spheres (me). It’s curious that we should both adhere to other artistic pursuits though. Steve is very musical. He spent his misspent youth dabbling in the art of suspicious substances, enormous quantities of alcohol and generally “muckin’ abart” as a lad with his gang of mates. He had the dubious honour of being alive and of an influential age when Old Blighty was going through a rolling succession of workers strikes and Maggie Thatcher ruled supreme with an iron fist. Whenever inequality and hard times strike it brings out the quintessential artist in the working class and suddenly punk was born, closely followed by the rise of the first set of Goths…Steve straddled both classes and walked the fine line between the two. As a child he was exposed to music as a way of life. His father was a musician in a band and knew Ringo Starr of The Beatles fame. Steve picked up a guitar as a small child and by the time his teenaged angst hit it was second nature to use a guitar to fend off the blues. Steve used to be very shy and his guitar was the weapon that he used to fend off the world and give himself a medium to communicate. When I met him he had been teaching guitar for a few years and had a steady clientele of students and a quiet but comfortable life. Steve has 13 guitars (if you count a lap steel as a “real” guitar that is 😉 ) and has learned to bypass music as a means to communicate. He is now comfortable in his skin and is nowhere near as shy as he was when we first met but his music is a quintessential part of him and his first guitar, a white strat that he bought back in the 80’s, will be buried with him when he leaves the earth.

DSCF9968

I don’t even know what this mad weed is. I know it is a garden plant but it has gone mental all over the place and is another lover of this extended hot weather

DSCF9978

I am not sure what this tree is (there goes my horticultural street cred 😉 ) BUT I know it was on it’s last legs in it’s pot and we planted it out to give it a chance to die in the soil and we haven’t watered it once all summer and it is thriving! Apparently it must taste foul to wallabies and possums because it is putting on foliage and seems to love where we planted it go figure!

DSCF9969

This variagated sedum was almost completely consumed by duckies sister. She had a craze for eating our succulents and cacti and when she disappeared the xeriscape plant massacre stopped.

I was born to communicate…not always effectively but sometimes sheer volume can make up for a lack of direction and like Billy Connelly before me, I have learned the value of persistence…eventually you will get to the point! ;). I too was an incredibly shy child. I had a complete lack of drive and direction and life had been buffeting me around for 34 years before I decided to make my life count. As a result I left one marriage and embarked on a new life. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to really “live”. I didn’t want to arrive at the Pearly Gates and have my cap in my hand and nothing to show for the time that I was given. I couldn’t justify my existence and that was a terrifying thing. Why was I here? Why did “I” get this chance when millions of babies die each year or are not given the chance to even be born? I had to know or at least live a more worthwhile life and after leaving my husband of 15 years I headed off into the wilderness to think. I had never had time to think, or be myself before. I jumped straight from the terror of school into early motherhood and lost myself in the process…I was a pure example of how to function without thought. I can see how easy it is for people to just give themselves up to the processes like robots and how it would be such a tragedy to wake up at 65 and find yourself retired, married to someone you hardly know and suddenly having to face up to the fact that you haven’t done much with your life. I had my mid-life crisis at 34. After my marriage dissolved along with my family (my son chose to stay with my ex and I had to let him make his choice) I took my daughters and started a new life. I had 12 years of education, half a year spent having the BEST time at teachers college (before I got thrown out 😉 ) and a complete lack of a working history if you disregard 6 months spent working for a fish and chip shop and 2 months spent working in a café when I was 15. I was bewildered, terrified, completely unprepared for my new life and as a mother and a prize rabbit (August 1963 put me square in Chinese bunny territory) I was a perfect example of a rabbit bedazzled by life’s headlights. I spent a lot of time finding myself and my daughters will tell you that they were severely neglected. The poor little darlings were obviously left to fend for themselves…eating hotdogs out of an electric kettle and living under a rug…that’s how they tell the story…I remember it a bit differently girls! ;). I remember pulling the girls out of school when the sun was shining and it was too nice a day to be cooped up and driving them out to the tall Jarrah trees and we had a picnic with honey icecream cones purchased from Bartholomew’s Meadery on the way to the trees. We took Barbie and Woody along for the ride and they actually got married on a mossy log under the trees…I remember doing the same (some might say irresponsible, I say “enlightened”) thing on another lovely day when we drove out to a far off beach in Albany and just wandered around feeling our space in the world. If I was living under societal conventions I might feel a bit guilty about my daughters early childhood. More so because of allowing my ex to constantly move around to satisfy his need to climb the hierarchal ladder in his chosen profession but I have since learned that children who are cossetted and not given a modicum of freedom to explore the parameters of their world on their own and who are not taught the value of life lessons and the responsibilities of the natural world never grow up to be independent thinkers. We might have eaten hotdogs from a kettle girls BUT that was because the gas bottle ran out and I didn’t have enough money to buy another one. I remember it as fun…you might have been under a rug while I tapped away to a man thousands of miles away in a completely different timeframe but at least when he eventuated on the scene he didn’t take over your lives or try to change you in any way. The world has a way of communicating what we REALLY need to us, often against what our own perceived views of the world might be. It’s a true to life case of “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes…you get what you need”.

DSCF9979

A line of drought hardy nerines all heralding the autumn that just won’t come

DSCF9974

No sign of that lovely red lily from Saturday but look what I found growing right next to the spent stem! This little crocus has managed to grow and flower in the middle of the worst drought we have had in years! Again, you just can’t pick what will and won’t grow here 🙂

DSCF9977

There are at least 2 mango seedlings that grew from the mango seeds that I tossed into the compost and we will make sure that they are protected for their first winter on Serendipity Farm and after that they will be planted out in the food forest. I LOVE free plants 🙂

I would like to appologise to my children for being a somewhat absent mother for a few years there. I DO feel a level of guilt for having to tear you away from your lives but I know that what I did gave us all back our lives including my ex who is now happily married with another child. What might seem chaotic and devastating can be seen from the distance of memory to be very different clothing. My communication…my “art” if you will is my desire to represent my world and my view of the world in words. I might stumble over myself and I might have to endlessly check my spelling because my fingers can’t match the speed at which my myriad muses want me to type but there is a fire inside me and like all good bushfires, it won’t quit till one of its ignition sources is quenched and that doesn’t look like happening any day soon. Maybe one of my parents should have realised that I had a penchant for words and steered me into journalism…My parents had their own battles and I didn’t factor into their peripherals much so I was pretty much on my own when it came to trying to work out what life, the universe and everything meant to me as a child and a young adult. I owe my ex-husband a lot. Aside from my children, he spent the 15 years that we were together plodding along following his own set of processes to give us all what we physically needed to survive. He kept it all together when we were really falling apart and for that, I owe you Robert. I am not sorry that I left you and now that you are happy on the other side of Australia I feel somewhat vindicated in my choices. This post has been somewhat cathartic! I didn’t intend it to be a treatise about my life but in a round-about way it is. Mr Adams gave me a focal point and the key to the door that opened up my new life. 42 was indeed, my meaning of life moment. If you step outside your comfort zone and you dare to take a walk on the wild side, even if it is for only just a short time, you might just find your reason. I know…I did :o).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkGrkNu6mDg

The saga of the factotum and the printer

Hi All,

Steve and I have finally started our online course in web design! We headed over to check out what we had to do and ended up signing up for a new WordPress blog each (part of the course requirements) and doing the equivalent of an online introduction. Reading the other participants intro’s was a bit like waving at the other inmates from your cell when the other inmates are from a different planet to you and you hope to goodness that you never have to come out of your cell and mingle any day soon… Did anyone see “School of Rock”? I did…lots of times. I love “School of Rock” and if those of you who did watch School of Rock cast your mind back to the part where Ned Schneebly (don’t ask me to spell that correctly, it AIN’T gonna happen folks! 😉 ) first comes up against “Summer”…the class “Factotum”. We have our own Summer. She has not only done everything on the list that we are supposed to do, but she has completed the first assessment (only an hour after it was posted) that is due next Monday. We also have an anti-social member of the class whose only threat, as outlined in his S.W.A.T. was that he didn’t want to invade Russia in the winter. This person bears a distinct similarity to my daughters in his view of the world and our class in general and if I didn’t know better, I would say that one of them has decided to crash the class. After reading the credentials of the remainder of the class, my natural instinct is to run screaming but if you ignore the other class members (not too hard to do when you are studying from home) the course content is very interesting. If you play your cards right, you might get lucky and get to see some of our work 😉

DSCF9560

An early morning picking for my daughters in the city

DSCF9564

Earl bagses the eggplant…

DSCF9568

Steve’s tea last night…homemade sourdough bruschetta liberally slathered with garlic butter and with home grown tomatoes, some bought avocados, spring onions and chilli topping. It was DELICIOUS (apparently) and the sourdough had a gorgeous crunchy crust :). Audry is now part of our Serendipity Farm family forever 🙂 (just don’t turn orange Audrey…orange is the blue screen of death for sourdough starters! 😉 )

DSCF9596

Free white nectarines from Roxie and blackberries from the hedgerows on our walk with the dogs this morning. The seeds will be planted and the tomatoes were also from Roxie. The tomatoes behind the fruit are the beginning of our tomato harvest and are left over from last nights bruschetta feast

DSCF9600

Aren’t these blackberries in the height of ripeness (and heady sweetness) gorgeous? I froze the tray with the chopped white nectarines and these blackberries to use in my breakfast green smoothies

Jessie a.k.a. “Rabid” of http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/  sent me instructions for how to knit a dishcloth out of cotton. She made me a lovely black one from some organic cotton that she had and I had mentioned that I had some bright yellow (almost mustard to be honest) cotton that I had picked up from the Beaconsfield op-shop a while ago and thus began our discourse regarding knitting and its foibles. I must admit at this stage, I am NO knitter. I can knit a scarf…bits of a jumper (no cuffs, no collar and DEFINITELY no cable!) and generic squares and after perusing the pattern I decided to hide my knitting needles and go back into my comfort zone and crochet a dishcloth. The progress is slow because I have to work between the hours where Earl is active (approximately 7am to 6pm) and nightfall (at the moment about 9pm). Earl is unpredictable and can suddenly launch into action when an interesting mustard yellow ball rolls past his nose where it just dislodged itself from my knee and aside from being unpredictable, he is quick. He is a master of the grab and run attack because if you grab and “stay” whatever interesting thing you have appropriated tends to get taken off you so running is your best bet. At least you get to chew whatever it is a bit before your humans (arms waving and yelling) catch you and retrieve said item. I have crocheted half of a dishcloth and Earl has been eyeballing me out of the corner of his eyes as I crochet…he is waiting for me to drop off to sleep (highly likely) and he will be on my cotton like a tick on a dog!

DSCF9580

I had to race out with the camera last night because the sky was the weirdest colour! I didn’t think I would catch the weird lighting but I sort of did.

DSCF9585

This was taken a few moments later and you can see a rainbow over the river…Steve has pinpointed where it was pointing as that is his leprachaun pot of fish 😉

DSCF9724

A nice thick layer of free mulch has made the garden under the deck a MUCH happier place to reside for our poor long suffering parched plants

DSCF9732

One of the large enclosed compost heaps that I planted potatoes in and a single sweet potato that is growing! The white patch is a species of fungus known as a “dogs vomit” fungus…it is harmless but as you can imagine, it isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing 😉

DSCF9734

Another one of the large enclosed compost heaps full of pumpkins and a few potatoes that the slugs haven’t managed to scarf (yet)

I have been inundated with kefir. I have at least a litre of it in the fridge and am scratching my head how to use it. I have decided to bake a chocolate sourdough cake with kefir and a large tray bake spice cake with kefir to replace the milk. I am also going to make the kefired equivalent of labneh so that I can make small balls of extra thick kefired labneh and preserve them in herbed olive oil with chillies. Our jalapeno chillies are doing amazingly well and it looks like we might have a bumper crop of them this year along with the small fingerling eggplants. I am so glad that we decided to go with the smaller eggplants to make sure that they had the best chance of ripening fully before the cold season sets in. The excess kefir grains (that are growing exponentially on plain old “ordinary milk” Jessie 😉 ) are going to be given to customers who would like some at our local health food shop. I believe in sharing excesses and David can pass them on to interested customers. I have also offered him the same deal with excess sourdough if he gets customers asking about it. I am starting to get into the flow of feeding and working with my small batch of homely cultures. Now I need to find a kombucha Scoby and some water kefir grains and after that the sky is the limit! I will be spending a lot of time reading my fermentation books this winter and learning all about just what I can, and can’t culture here on Serendipity Farm.

DSCF9635

Not sure if we can use this photos but I liked it. Nice and clean and isn’t that sky a gorgeous colour?

DSCF9649

This old ramshackle building is right in the middle of the city. It has stood, unthreatened, for years and is situated between a boutique pub and our local Centrelink office. Considered an eyesore for years, developers have just obtained permission to remove it. I just wanted to remember it in a photo and I quite liked how this one turned out

DSCF9668

These buildings all belong to Boag’s brewery (including the grain silo’s in the background) and are part of the inner city industrial area. I love how they have restored the older buildings and made this a really attractive part of the city

I noticed some unusual small black pods on the side of a tiger lily in the side garden. It has ceased flowering a long time ago and has seed pods on top of it. I know that they form bulbs that spread under the ground but on closer inspection, the little pod-like thingo’s had small leaves growing out of them…I headed inside to check out my good friend “Google” and discovered that these pods are called bulbils and not all lilies produce them. Tiger lilies are well known for producing them and they are another form of plant division. Each little black bulbil is an entire new little lily. After a while, the bulbils will form leaves (as mine are currently doing) and will eventually form roots and will push themselves off the stem of the spent lily flower and will drop onto the ground where they will take root and start growing. After 3 years they will start flowering and you have a plethora of new lilies for free to either plant out or give to your friends. Aren’t plants the bomb? :o). I will need to collect all of the little wandering bulbils to pot them up so that I can find them in spring when they start growing again but for now I will let them cling tenaciously to their mum for as long as they see fit. I also discovered that lilies are extremely hardy belying their delicate appearance. Many plants that we might think are tender or delicate are actually incredibly hardy and I am in the process of compiling a list of incredibly hardy plants for Serendipity Farm. A friend from down the road (Boof’s owner) gave me a bag of fragrant ripe white nectarines and tomatoes today as we walked past her house when we were walking the dogs this morning. She also gave me a bag of curly leafed parsley seed to plant out. We swap all sorts of things and have a really good bartering system going. Roxy is a very resilient lady and knows a whole lot about growing vegetables, keeping goat’s etc. and how to do just about everything herself. I love sharing knowledge and “stuff” with her because it is a win-win situation for us all. We are just about to give her one of our feral roosters as she doesn’t have a rooster and is tired of having to ask for fertile eggs from friends. This way she will have all of the fertile eggs that she likes to put under her clucky chooks and can have lots of hens to sell her excess eggs from the roadside. The value of community and individual knowledge when combined with others is priceless…the resilience of a community is only as strong as the individual members that group together to share. I love forging community here in Sidmouth :o)

DSCF9717

My gorgeous chooky potmits that are WAY too nice to use with Brunhilda 🙂

DSCF9741

These are cuttings of Tagetes lucida, Mexican marigold or Texas tarragon were sourced from a local plant and are apparently easy to grow so I am letting them get legs in this mug of water.

DSCF9728

This long suffering philodendron had been almost on the brink of extinction for years before we inherited him and decided to release him out into the wild. He had bright yellow leaves and only had 1 leaf and now he is happy in his new environment

DSCF9722

A nice new stem on a lovely orchid that we inherited that dad only watered with beer. He said that the beer made it flower and maybe he was right because it hasn’t flowered this year on its new regime of water…might be time to reintroduce that vitamin B quotient to make it happy 🙂

DSCF9736

Look what the wallabies did to my Loquat japonica’s :(. They had been growing completely untouched for months and suddenly the wallabies decided to eat all of their leaves. They are incredibly hardy small trees and will grow more leaves but the wallabies are skating on very VERY thin ice! It just goes to show that you can’t take it for granted that ANYTHING is safe on Serendipity Farm

DSCF9738

This little fig tree has some figs on this year. We grew it from a cutting and this year it just might keep those figs to full term 🙂

We had to go to Launceston this morning because as we were reading up about our course and our very first assignment we realised that we were going to need printer ink and our printer was out of ink. We had already walked the dogs and I had already watered the veggie garden and released the baying hens so we hurled the eager dogs into the car and set off for an adventure to buy printer ink. We checked out what we needed to accomplish for our second assignment (technically “Assignment 3” but it’s the second one that we have to hand in…already they are trying to trick us! Not WE wily black ducks! 😉 ) and realised that we needed photos of billboards, advertising signs and road signs and we threw the camera into my bag so that we could take as many artistic shots as we could. We hadn’t read up on what we actually needed but we took all kinds of photos so hopefully we can use some of them for our assignment. We then headed off to pick up some printer ink, only to find that the shop that sold us the printer had just superseded it and were no longer stocking the ink! They recommended K-Mart but Steve knows that K-Mart don’t sell the ink either so we looked at each other and decided to buy a new printer. We managed to buy a printer with ink for less than we were going to have to pay for the ink alone on our old all-in-one printer. I can’t believe that this sort of equipment is so “throw-away” these days! How can they justify selling something if they are not going to stock the peripherals for any length of time? We have 2 of the printers that we can’t get ink for…one was ours and one we inherited from my dad when he died…what to do with them? I am NOT going to throw them into landfill and am going to be spending some ingenious time finding ways to use them rather than disposing of them. Perhaps I need to cram them full of cacti and succulents and sell them at the market? ;). We got back to discover that my bestie, Kymmy from Norseman Western Australia had sent me 2 absolutely gorgeous pot holders that she had quilted. What a doll! Kymmy, you are so talented! I am refusing to use them till you get here and we can cook up a storm on Brunhilda because they are too pretty to use and get grotty :o). I might even have to frame them and put them on the wall as I can’t bear the thought of Brunhilda and her messy ways turning them into sad representations of the lovely things that they are today :o). Your gooseberry seed is drying nicely and will be ready to send to you soon…bartering is SO sweet :o)… oh, and Bev from http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ has offered to send me some leaf AND seed amaranth! I love you guys! Along with Jessie and a plethora of people I have yet to meet and barter/swap with in various seed swap meets etc. this bartering thing is absolutely ripe with mutual possibilities :o).

DSCF9726

Bulbils! Note the leaves growing out of the bulbils…each one of these dark coloured “pods” has the propensity to become a new lily

DSCF9729

A native hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii) flower on a crown lifted tree that is much happier since we started giving it a helping hand

DSCF9731

Finally I get a cornflower! The wallabies have been snipping the tops off them as they protrude from the top of the ex-fish farm netting but this one escaped to flower 🙂

DSCF9739

This Aquilegia vulgaris (Grannies bonnet) grew right next to the back door…note the dandelion…I would have normally removed it but now that I know how amazing they are (and how much Bernard and Manny our Java Finches LOVE them) I leave them to carry on regardless 🙂

I think that might be all for tonight folks…I have to race out waving my arms around now to find you some photos to decorate this post and I will be starting with the bulbil’s so that you can see what I am talking about. Tomorrow we will be juggling with the new course and tap-dancing on unfamiliar territory all over again. I can’t count the amount of times that we have gone back to kindergarten with new areas of study and it’s all in the processes…my favourite place of all! :o)

Wychwood and a heartwood spoon

Hi All,

I am officially in love…I am UTTERLY in love. Yesterday my friend in the witness protection and I had a horticultural road trip to visit the utterly bewitching Wychwood gardens before Karen and Peter are able to sell this most magical of gardens to some lucky person with both the money and the eye to be able to appreciate this gem of a property. After my “dei horribilis” on Monday, closely followed by her own dei horribilis on Wednesday when we dropped in to deposit some of our wayward junipers on her doorstep. We both decided that we needed to head off into the horticultural wilderness and Wychwood was the sirens song that lured us out of bed early and pointed in a direction that neither of us points very much. I met her at Exeter, midway between our properties and we continued on in her 4 x 4 which is much more reliable than “ole Bessie” our little workhorse. We took our time enjoying all of the quaint little towns festooned with unusual murals, topiaries; wooden sculptures ANYTHING to drag the tourist dollar up from Hobart and the south where all tourists are avidly pointed by the powers that be. Up north we have some gorgeous country and some really pretty places to visit and I have NO idea why people would go down to the South apart from trekking the last vestiges of gorgeousness in the wet wilderness traced by the Gordon river. Oh… and Mt. Wellington is a bit of alright as well ;). If you want to see real Tasmanians, come up north! They certainly lay it on thick up here…wine, potatoes, onions, hippies (yup…LOTS of hippies…), more potatoes…did I mention potatoes? ;). We trundled around upsetting people driving at breakneck speed in search of a traffic accident while we just sat in the left hand lane doing the equivalent of Steve pootling up the river. We didn’t stay on the highway long because highways are for chumps (and for big trucks and angry road rage ridden drivers…) so we ducked over and wended our merry way on the side roads less travelled and enjoyed the heck out of our trip. We stopped in Deloraine, a mecca for hippies and antiques and after a veggie sausage roll, our friend in the witness protection was ready to continue driving to Mole creek and beyond. Steve had hurriedly scratched down some driving instructions but what use have 2 chattering middle aged women in a large 4 x 4 doing 80km/hour and paying NO attention to the road signs, for instructions? We did what men DON’T do, and we stopped at Mole Creek to ask at the local Information centre (that’s what it’s there for folks! 😉 ) where Wychwood was and were given instructions how to get there by a very nice lady who didn’t mind at ALL that we were lost with no idea where we were…in fact, we kept her in a job in a job stressed market for another day…

DSCF8667

I took a million, squillion and 7 photos of Wychwood so I have had to limit today’s post to a few as we have to put Earl’s walnut draw for the Valentine’s Day spoon in as well so this photo is of the lovely little nursery at Wychwood, full of all sorts of healthy and unusual stock all grown as excess on Wychwood soil for lucky patron’s to purchase and take home to pretend that their gardens are some day going to look like Wychwood 😉

DSCF9038

A really nice idea. Karen and Peter like to pick a selection of the plants in flower and fruit in the garden on any given day, an herbarium for the punters

DSCF9041

As Edina from “Absolutely Fabulous” would say about the Wychwood shop…”Lots of gorgeousness sweetie…lots of little gorgeous things…”

DSCF8698

The garden had splashes of colour all over the place. Nothing gaudy and over the top because Peter told us that he prefers foliage and texture. My sentiments exactly!

After we learned that we only had to go up the road a little ways before finding our destination we trundled off again and suddenly there it was…unmistakable amongst bare fields full of sheep, an oasis of treed greenness that silently beckoned us into its folds. I have to mention here to anyone who has been shirking their “Dear constant reader” duties and not keeping up to speed on Serendipity Farm posts that visiting Wychwood has been a dream of mine for some time now. I have stalked Peter and Karen from afar for years…I follow Karen’s wonderful Wychwood posts on “Garden Drum” a most informative collection of expert writers that document their garden journeys and adventures and I follow her on Facebook as well. To explain Wychwood isn’t easy. In a nutshell it is 2 peoples idyll and passion that bled into a sheep paddock out in the middle of woop-woop miles away from the madding crowd that evolved over a period of almost 20 years to be somewhere that any garden gnome or fairy would lust after calling “home”. 2 ½ acres of gorgeousness to the max and every turn has something special…we were lucky enough to arrive on a less than promising day…no sunny blue skies and lots of prospect of rain and even though we were there for hours (I think I must have been abducted by aliens because it felt like 5 minutes…) only 1 other couple turned up while we were there and left long before we did. We are both horticulturalists so you can only begin to imagine the “Oohing and AHing” that went on. We were up to our armpits in precious things and everywhere we turned there was something to delight our horticultural senses. So many beautiful things and a mind full of possibilities…round buxus balls festooned their merry bumbling way across a lawned area reminding me of hedgehogs on their way to a saucer of water…Our friend got VERY excited…”I have just plonked buxus down in the sand! One day, when I have filled in the gaps it might look like this!”…delight, excitement, overwhelming prospects of reward at the end of the tunnel and we were gone…wandering aimlessly taking photo after photo and being constantly reminded of the possibilities that result from someone’s willingness to “Have a bash” and get stuck in and effect change on this sort of scale. These people are collectors…I was amused when I asked Peter what a certain species of Viburnum was that he had in the garden and he told me that it was called Viburnum rhytidophyllum. I then proceeded to tell him that I had found this very viburnum deep in the undergrowth of the jungle that we call Serendipity Farm. He was suddenly very interested and asked me where this plant had been sourced. I told him that the elderly lady, who had owned this property, prior to my father, had planted all sorts of things and some of them were still alive. He told me to ask her where she had bought this shrub from because by the sounds of it, it isn’t a very common shrub in Tasmania. Ida… you were indeed a plants woman :o)

DSCF9016

With the shop over to the left of this photo the exit into the garden has this lovely staged border of colour, texture and foliage height

DSCF8693

Borders are the name of the day on Wychwood as are the use of grasses and medium shrubs and trees to give interest to each garden bed. Note the Gunnera manicata’s HUGE leaves looking for all the world like enormous rhubarb

DSCF9011

To the left note the clever use of Rugosa roses acting as a hedge between one garden area and another and more massed planting and staggered borders to the right

DSCF8784

The garden is full of little pathways like this, leading you around corners in search of the elusive secret garden behind those shrubs

Karen and Peter have made the most of this amazing space and have carefully and lovingly created a slow evolutionary march of vegetation from their initial deciduous tree plantings, lots of birches, an interesting beech, Linden and various maples to the inbetweeners…the cornus and the well placed Sambucus in all of their glorious varieties and forms providing shade, flowers and fruit for the birds, bees and butterflies that were staggering lustily whilst twittering, buzzing and flittering around respectively. A most scrumptious ornamental Japanese grape vine (Vitis coignetiae) meandered all over the small but well stocked nursery a study in gorgeous green that we were assured by Peter, was not only difficult to propagate but that rewarded the autumn spectator with a show of vibrant red magnificence. There was a chook yard with hens protesting their incarceration along with a high hedged orchard that contained a single short fat pair of gorgeous ducks and a “Cranky Goose” signposted and warned and no indemnity taken…I am used to geese. My mother once kept a flock of 50 of them and I know what geese are like. This one was timid compared to mum’s geese and our friend in the witness protection wouldn’t even go near it and stayed outside the lovely wrought iron gate with her mobile camera switched on in hope that the goose would attack thus giving her fodder to amuse her friends…I gracefully emerged unscathed (to her disappointment I might add…) but well aware that the “Hissing” behind me was indeed a warning of beak-to-pants action should I overstay my welcome…I understand gooseanese implicitly! I will share more of Wychwood in the photos that I add to this post but I am still in a daze of happiness about yesterday and am cram packed full of possibilities. Our friend and I have plans…inscrutable plans for propagating masses of perennials between us so that we can mass plant the back end out of our properties. She is still in the “sheep paddock” stage but we have the benefit of there being some strong plant foundations here on Serendipity Farm but having to pare back the layers of debris and weeds built up over 20 years of neglect to reveal the poor long suffering survivors underneath. We did learn some interesting things from Peter who told us that he never fertilises anything…”nature doesn’t fertilise anything other than dropping leaves on itself so why should we?” He mulches with pea straw etc. for humus but although the soil on the property was sandy and infertile this garden towers majestically out of the hillsides and plonked down on Mole Creek like a little piece of heaven. Wychwood is for sale by the way… Peter said it wouldn’t hurt to mention it in my blog…obviously free publicity with the way that I have been gushing over the place but it truly is a magical garden full of enticing and exciting possibilities. If anyone you know would like to live in “Clean Green” Tasmania, nestled in a basin between 3 mountain ranges with a creek on the side of the property and a garden to die for, do a bit of Google searching and I am sure that you will find a real estate agent that will be more than happy to guide you through the processes of signing your life away…but in the process, gaining a little piece of paradise that I know you won’t find anywhere else :). We exited and drove off twittering with possibilities…

DSCF8722

Occasionally you would see something in the middle of the lawn like this large grass or a series of round topiary buxus like hedgehogs following their mum into the long grass…it was a clever way to separate garden areas and minimise turf, which is incredibly water hungry and prone to insect predation

DSCF8686

The drop dead gorgeous enormous leaves of Vitis coignetiae a Japanese ornamental grape vine with a hint of the colour that the entire vine takes on in autumn. One of the reasons why our friend in the witness protection and I are heading back up mid April this year

We decided on heading up further north to check out a nursery that we had been to a few times over the last few years. Big Pot nursery isn’t a patch on Wychwood nursery but it has 2 things going for it. 1. It is cheap as chips and 2. It has a whole lot more “stuff” than Wychwood. We had purchased some “pretties” from Wychwood. I bought “Rudbeckia triloba”; “Ajuga reptans ‘Jungle Beauty’ and “Monarda didyama” from Wychwood and considered $18 well spent. For an upmarket garden with a twinkle of gorgeousness that would lead a body to believe that there might also be a twinkle of expense involved with their nursery stock the prices were very reasonable and I know that the plants are healthy and vital. Heading over to Big Pot and the stock is somewhat less reliable and more higgledy piggledy in nature but from $2 – $3 for perennials and extremely reasonable prices for deciduous trees (most of the smaller stock was $6) Big Pot nursery is well worth a trip to budget mindful penniless student hippies and the sign saying “Liliums $2 each” had our friend twitching with excitement. I didn’t even look sideways at the gorgeous floral tributes because they do grow on Serendipity Farm…and they are eaten on Serendipity Farm before they are able to thrust out those gorgeous blowsy flowers so lilums and I are not mano-a-mano if you know what I mean. I trundled over and found…”Sophora microphylla (N.Z. Kowhai) a lovely small tree that has lacy leaves (that promise nitrogenous advantages to the soil surrounding its roots); Salvia corrugata with scrumptious deep blue flower spikes; Sisyrinchium striatum (a lovely hardy member of the iris family that has tiny butter yellow stalks of flowers and that is very hardy); Salvia elegans or Pineapple sage with its heady scented leaves and wonderful spikes of red flowers and Eryngium alpinum, a member of the sea holly family that I am going to carpet Serendipity Farm with variations of because it has stood defiant against the advancing hoards and they have found it wanting! A most perfect plant for Serendipity Farm ;). Our friend in the witness protection also broke a piece from her pot of Ajuga reptans ‘Catlins Giant’ that was heading off in another direction and that had adventitious roots and gave it to me to pot up and coax into fruition for our garden. We will both be collecting fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) and Queen Anne’s lace seed (Daucus carota) from weedy specimens in ditches over the coming few weeks as the seed heads ripen and will be interspersing the resulting plants with garlic…Wychwood had a lovely patch of mixed fennel and garlic just outside their vegetable garden as a beneficial attractant and a pest deterrent. There is so MUCH to learn about gardening and luckily, the best way to do it is free…watch your garden (such as it is…) wander around it at all times of the day (hint: use a torch at night time…just sayin’…) and just “look”…watch what insects are bumbling around…are there any birds? Lizards? Frogs? Over the coming season watch how the conditions in your garden change as the seasons change and check for windy spots, hot spots, dry spots and shady spots. Learn where the sun is at any given time of the day and learn how much sunlight the objects of your horticultural desire need…just watch, listen and learn from your garden. It has so many lessons to teach you if you will only stop bumbling about yelling and listen to it! (in saying that…I am still in the bumbling stages and most definitely in the yelling stages so perhaps it’s best to do as I say, not as I do for the purposes of this lesson O.K? 😉 )

DSCF8940

 I truely abhor photographs of “me” but in order for you to see this amazing edifice to fatherly love in the form of a kids cubby house that not only has this beautiful garden surrounding it, but it has sleeping accomodation inside and has 2 stories!, I had to post me too.  I appear to have lost one of my eyes and grown the teeth of a donkey in this shot…I scolded our friend in the witness protection for her lack of photographic skills but then I saw the photos that I took of her standing here on her phone and decided not to say anything about her lack of talent 😉 …

DSCF8887

One side of this pathway leads off to a wonderful grass maze that I will share with you in future posts and the right hand side leads off to an orchard…an orchard that apparently contained a very cranky goose…we were warned…but hey? When have I EVER listened to warnings eh?

DSCF9002

2 occupants of the orchard…cranky geese? I think not! These 2 ducks were quite small but incredibly stocky making them emminently squeezable…they obviously knew how cute they were and had suffered several squeezes in the past because as soon as I entered the rusted wrought iron gate into the orchard they hightailed it away from me as fast as those tiny waddling legs would toddle

DSCF9003

“SPOTTED!”…time to make a hasty retreat to the safety of the area directly behind the rusted wrought iron gate and our friend in the witness protection with her camera phone at the ready just in case the goose decided to attack…I had to sternly remind her that “Youtube is a fickle mistress”…

Bugger! I got so excited I put too many words in this post…I hope you are still here with me as I tap out these last few stanzas and tie up the string section for that last great “Huzzah!” Well here we are at the end of the post and most of you could care less about the gardening bit and want to know who won the beautiful Valentine’s Day spoon? Well (drum roll…..) Earl picked…

Congratulations to …..

cooltext896062115

The Valentine’s Day spoon is going to Oklahoma :o)

http://s1101.beta.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/MyMovie-1_zpsd4563739.mp4.html

So to all of you dear constant readers who missed out, it will soon be “Mother’s Day” (well here in Australia it will!) so you will get another chance then :o). Till Wednesday, here is a photo of the spoons to choose from…

DSCF8434

If Little sundog wants to choose which spoon she wants and let me know in the comments section we can tee up how you are going to get your spoon. See you all on Wednesday 🙂

Zone 1 all wrapped up in plarn

Hi All,

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

This is a prospective Larix decidua grove of tiny trees

A sea of forget-me-nots not being forgotten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More forgotten garlic underneath a small mulberry tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A very happy newly planted out Magnolia stellata

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

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

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

The colours of Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

I was going to be very clever and give you a bit of a different style of post today. I have a delightful constant reader called Katie who has an amazing blog. She does everything that I admire! She takes awesome photos, she has the most scrumptious artistic ability to match colour and texture and flavour all together with good humour AND the girl can garden, make her own cosmetics and can keep her posts concise and beautiful! Head on over to check Katie out and marvel at her icecream palettes and her glorious ability to make me want to eat her photographs.

http://katienormalgirl.com/

I thought that I might give you all a palette for spring on Serendipity Farm. I headed out with my trusty camera and the will to succeed. “If Katie can do it…I can do it!”…I came back a broken woman. It turns out the colours of Serendipity Farm in the spring run to chook poo green, mud brown and angst ridden overwhelmed dull red. The kind of red that is muted at the moment but that might just flare up into full blown pillar box waving a rag at a bull red in a moment! I decided to forget colours and head over to textures…they turned out to be equally as “delightful” with the texture of oozing wet mud predominate with hints of the aforementioned chook poo dotted about and plenty of unhindered slug and snail trails assisting in the overall look. Never one to give up easily I headed for the last bastion of the photographer and went hunting for flavour…I gave up as I dejectedly did a panorama of Serendipity Farm drenched in torrential rain, bathed in fog and flattened by saturated new growth and a herd of rampaging chickens hell bent on destruction. Serendipity Farm in the spring is not to be held in artistic esteem folks…it is to be regarded with terror! That’s why Steve and I are bums up, heads down effecting change as fast as we can and it’s why I have a new respect for people like Katie who can take what nature throws us and make it look delightful, wholesome and downright tasty! You get massive kudos from this amateur photographer whose muses only run to words and can’t comprehend the reason for me wanting to share our vision for Serendipity Farm. If you are a “Normal Girl” Katie, goodness only knows what I am! 😉

See these nice healthy azalea bushes that are just about to flower? Last year, when we cleared out this garden under the deck, we hacked the living daylights out of the old gnarled up overgrown half dead azaleas and were so tired at the end of our efforts in the hot sun that we had no energy left to remove the stumps. We left them there and promptly forgot about them. Nature didn’t forget about them!

And they are all growing back! 😉

This is an unusual grevillea. I haven’t seen this before, it has greeny/blue flowers and very large leaves. If anyone knows what this grevillea is please let me know!

I am on a mission. I have been researching water wise, self-seeding perpetual plants that will take to living in Serendipity Farms less than stellar soil right here, right now. I am not going to be stupid and pretend that the soil is going to suddenly become AMAZING overnight. It is going to be a hard fought battle but we WILL win! It’s just that we will win slowly and I want ground cover now! I discovered, from personal observation that salvias seem to have a wonderful range of xeriscape plants that tolerate a myriad of terrifying conditions. Overall, we are lucky on Serendipity Farm. We get a long dry summer but it isn’t usually that hot, and despite it being pretty cold in winter, we rarely get a frost in the morning and even then it’s minor. Salvias offer us a solution to quite a few of our problems. Most of them are adventitious growers with fast growth rates and most of them are perennial and like to hang about for a bit and grow back year after year. I know that they will do well here because there were some clinging tenaciously to life sans care and attention for the last 20 years so bring on the salvias!

This poor old Philodendron had languished in a pot that was dissolving around it on the deck for 20 years with very sporadic watering. It had send out enormous feeder roots in search of water and we decided to liberate it into the soil of Serendipity Farm. It’s already looking happier 🙂

There might not be much of this azalea but what there IS is very pretty

Another pretty azalea in the side garden

Nat, of Polytechnic fame and if I have my way, garden design fame, has a love of salvias that spread to me when we were attending Polytechnic in our earlier years. Nat is a natural garden designer. What she isn’t naturally happy with AutoCAD. That makes you a normal human being by the way Nat. NO-ONE who understands and is comfortable with using AutoCAD is normal! I couldn’t have completed my Diploma of Horticulture without Steve coaching me constantly and soothing my desire to throw the entire desktop computer, monitor AND desk over the deck on a regular basis. I made it, but just…I am NOT a natural garden designer. This doesn’t come easy to me and I have to ponder over books, think about it fiercely and give it my utmost attention and when you know me, you know that I am easily distracted, especially when something bores me. If you interest me, I will give you my all…I will research you into the night and I will peer myopically at the computer screen in oblivious rapture for days…for weeks…for as long as it takes to gather all of the information that I need to get going with the project. But if you can’t interest me I am a petulant child. I am borderline with garden design. Nat has a magnificent garden. The kind of garden that makes me drool. I wander about in her small but perfectly proportionate garden and want to hug her shrubs that all look so vibrant and healthy that she must have Peter Cundall AND Costa living under them ready to offer advice whenever she sets foot out into the garden. Stop blushing Nat, you KNOW I am telling it like it is, you are just one of life’s modest people. I am not. Your garden is gorgeous, sensual AND I envy it. There…I said it! Our friend in the witness protection (a long-time friend of Nat) AND I envy it! (Misery loves company ;)). We have an image of Nat’s gorgeous garden in our minds and it would seem that nothing we do gets us any closer to that beautiful vista. In our defence, the native wildlife seems hell bent on removing more vegetation than we can plant and our soil is ancient and old and twice as wrinkly and denuded as Nat’s fertile plot. Nat has a lot less area to work with and more drive than I could harness to a truck. Nat, I salute you! You are indeed one of those “natural gardeners” that I read about all of the time. Envy and kudos is enough for now…I am going to slither off and stand on my deck and look out to the river and imagine that one day someone might turn up and see more than devastated and mangled gardens that look like a re-enactment of the Vietnam War recently occurred here complete with Agent Orange.

Flowers aren’t all that is growing on Serendipity Farm. In the next few days Effel Dookark will be a mum again

A picture of Fatty doing his morning callisthenics

My road find, a silicone bowl scraper. No idea why one of these would be laying on the ground miles away from nowhere but its mine now! 🙂

Talking about our friend in the witness protection, she has now purchased a 1.2 metre tall pink flamingo to assist her with creating a reign of terror to marauding wildlife on her 50 acre bush property. I salute you my comrade in arms! She gave up any vestiges of instant garden gratification after the first few waves of “creatures” scarfed her carefully planted purchases and now battles with everything that comes within arm’s length including this flamingo that she bought from K-Mart (if any of you feel the need to race out and purchase a 1.2 metre tall pink flamingo, knock yourselves out!). You have to admire her tenacity and her spirit…she is a true Valkyrie gardening warrior! I can’t bring myself to decorate Serendipity Farm with hanging soft toys in various stages of decomposition. I live right next to the Auld Kirk Church graveyard and there is something seriously disturbing about someone dangling effigies of ex cuddly and fluffy toys adjacent to hallowed ground. I also have a natural aversion to anything garish in the garden. I hope that doesn’t make me a garden snob. I am not desperate enough to resort to fluffy toys. Should the possums ever get that bad I will purchase a 30 metre long thick piece of metal chain and will tether Earl to the grafted maple garden and teach those possums a lesson that they will NEVER forget! Steve is walking Earl today to give Bezial (a.k.a. fatty Lumpkin’s) a bit of a rest.  That means that Bezial and I can trundle at our leisure through the garden and I can get my pedal to the metal up to my armpits in flying forget-me-nots while Bezial wanders around the grounds with impunity threatening no-one and exploring to his heart’s content.

Still getting heaps of mushrooms from our free mushroom compost and more to come!

And here are is the days egg haul. Looks like Steve is having a delicious mushroom omelette for tea

Here’s our heavily fortified little self pollinating almond tree ready to do battle with the possum marauders. It has 15 tiny little baby almonds on it so far

Forget-me-nots begone! Well “lay low and forget about any virulent activity for the foreseeable future if you know what’s good for you!” Steve has whipper snipped the teatree garden area and rendered it forget-me-not flat. I pulled out forget-me-nots from around the stinky purple lilies, the enormous arums and the persistent agapanthus that I have come to hold a grudging like for now that reality gardening is on the cards permanently on Serendipity Farm. I planted out some of the smaller plants in the side garden. It still looks like Armageddon in the morning BUT it is Armageddon with possibilities (and the odd twig starting to branch up). I planted out all of my lavender’s, my pentstemons and a few other scruffy looking things that have survived against the odds and have thus qualified for rehousing out in the soil. I should put a sign up at the gate with something like “Serendipity Farm…a home for waifs and strays” because that’s what we have here and most of them have attitude and are slightly skewed much like the present owners. I found a really good sign on Facebook the other day that said “Ring the bell…if no-one answers pull some weeds”…that’s my kind of sign and I feel a wood burning event coming on in the near future! For now, I have to head back out into the garden with Steve to plant out some of his trees. Our new creed is “not in our lifetime” so good luck Stewart and Kelsey, some day you are going to inherit giant redwoods, enormous Bunya nut trees with 5kg fruit dropping in season and all sorts of weird and wonderful grottos and groves that eventuated because your parental units got tired of thinking about where to put things and just “bunged them into the ground”…I dare say we just got drummed out of the landscape designers confraternity and it’s all going to come back and haunt us some day but for now we don’t care…get them into the ground!

Steve’s Cedrus atlantica “Glauca Pendula” that will one day be magnificent stretched out along the front of the deck

The Cedrus that we just planted and our other little conifers that are going nuts in the soil out of their pots.

$8 well spent methinks!

It’s not often that I have 87 photos to choose from when I am just about to post. That should give you a bit of an idea how busy we have been on Serendipity farm over the last 3 days. On Friday we stopped working in the garden to get gussied up and head into town to our illustrious leaders Landscaping Expo. We left 2 sulking dogs, one of them hell bent on destruction (once the sulking wore off) and after battening down the house (or those pieces of it that said dog was likely to destruct…) we headed out into the cold cold snow. Well…I may be overemphasising the snow bit but it WAS cold…and raining…when we got to town we discovered that we had been forgotten on the list of people to tell (those who mattered…are you feeling guilty enough yet Nat? ;)) that the expo had been cancelled! Bollocks! Oh well, no use crying over spilt landscaping expo’s so we made the most of it, bought pizza, sweet potatoes and purple carrots, a bottle of Guinness (a man’s gotta have SOMETHING when he has just driven all the way to town and back for bugger all) and a $1 all you can stuff bag of toys for the dogs to mass destruct from the thrift shop behind the Polytechnic that we attend on the odd occasion that someone remembers that we are coming… and we picked up a couple of plates as well. I LOVE thrift shops. They make me smile. I love fossicking about in bargain bins and hunting out stellar bargains that someone else foolishly discarded. When we got the boys bag of toys out to hurl into the maniacally happy crowd (good stress release to diffuse separation anxiety and stop us from being pounced into next Tuesday by heifer dogs who are VERY excited to see us home) I noticed a little smiley plush weighted flower…now I don’t know about you, but I was seriously addicted to the game “Plants and Zombies” and this little fellow looked just like one of the flowers from the game! That plus it was weighed…bright colours…cost the better part of about 5c and would make a HECK of a mess if I gave it to the boys to destruct so I decided to keep him. His name is Herman. He reminds me to smile and he is a constant reminder to Earl that the ones with the opposable thumbs who can place things out of dogs reach rule the world!

What my desk looks like at the moment. A mass conglomeration of seeds, books, C.D.’s and “misc”. Still don’t need glasses! 😉

The almond trees label, the rock melons and mini watermelon seeds and my ever present notepad and pen for “ideas” and Steve’s coffee and Earls back scratcher.

Herman smiling for the camera 🙂

We walked the boys up an enormous hill today just because we could. A year ago…indeed 6 months ago, I couldn’t have walked up this hill inside an hour because I would have been constantly having to stop on the threat of a mild heart attack coming on, but today I just walked up the hill without stopping and without breaking a sweat. On the way back down the hill after a brief detour to look at a MASSIVE edifice that someone is erecting to the thickness of their wallet overlooking the water I noticed something on the floor and after picking it up discovered that it was a silicone bowl scraper! I have wanted one for a while and haven’t justified its specialised worth to myself but now I have one, sterilised in boiling water and stuck on my magnetic knife rack because some wise monkey decided to put a bit of metal inside it so it would stay where you bend it. Bring on the wet dough’s! Bring on hand action to rival Masterchef U.K.! I can now say that my desire to make pastry has moved one step closer to regular. We also had a look at the lady at the top of the road’s little plant stand. She sells plants all of the time for $2 and I noticed a few little babies that I would like to add to my in ground population. When we arrived home we drove back and bought 2 lilies’ of the valley (1 about to flower), a miniature pink Japanese anemone and a blue corydalis and after we planted out our little almond tree in the middle garden and Steve’s Cedrus atlantica “Glauca Pendula” we planted them out as well.

I think Steve is working on his busking routine…cute…but NO-ONE is going to pinch either his guitar or his hat full of money! 😉

Earl loves sitting in Steve’s guitar room with him when he is playing. Especially when he is playing LOUD! Bezial slinks off outside to save his ears but Earl is right there in the thick of it.

I think Earl has settled down for the afternoon…pity Steve wants to put his guitar back in its case 😉

We found a few packets of annual flower seeds that we had collected and decided that we would scatter them around in the middle garden. While we were at it, we headed out and had a look in the shed to see if we had any other seeds and found a large bag of all kinds of seeds that were mostly out of code and that we had collected en mass when we were attending our horticulture courses at Polytechnic. We figured that the worst that can happen is that the chooks eat the seed so we scattered all sorts of things all over the place. If half of them grow we are in trouble! I have a few plans for making “things” out of plastic bags. I am not too sure what kind of “things” but all I know is I am tired of feeling guilty for throwing the bags out into landfill. A friend gave me some dishcloths that a friend of hers had crocheted using cut up supermarket bags and that gave me an idea. I have seen hats, shoes and bags made out of plastic bags and I found a pattern for making “Plarn” on Instructables the other day. Plarn is plastic yarn that is perfect for making all sorts of crafts with and for repurposing plastic bags. I noticed pumpkins growing in the compost heap the other day and am going to transplant them (along with some of their precious compost) into specially formed mounds situated in the outside chook run. We also found some mini watermelon seeds and some rockmelon seeds that we had bought previously and are going to give them a go as well. There is something manic about spring that just carries you along with it. I have been getting up at 5am for a few days now and am just about used to it. I feel tired at 8pm but the trade-off is that I get 2 hours to myself at the beginning of the day. The ultimate trade-off is that next Sunday morning I WON’T be tired! I just noticed that I am back up to my usual post size! I tried people…I tried hard. I stifled my posts natural angle of repose and ended up losing the battle. That’s my way of saying I am finishing up here for the week folks. Have an interesting rest of the week and don’t sweat the small stuff because deodorant is getting expensive!

The Day that the Underpants Gnomes invaded Sidmouth

Hi All,

The nefarious Underpants Gnomes wallowing in a pile of pilfered underpants

I think that the underpants gnomes have invaded Serendipity Farm. There I said it! If you are not aware of the underpants gnomes (and that’s EXACTLY what they want you to be…) here’s a bit of background information about what they do…

We don’t just have ordinary underpants gnomes here (is ANYTHING normal on Serendipity Farm?!), we have the kind that sabotages your underpants to ensure that you are effectively nobbled. How do I know this? Because my underpants have suddenly all sprung their elastic and spend their time avoiding the task that they were designed to perform and avoiding my ample hips and choosing to attempt to cover my knees. Some of them are now a collection of holes being held together by a bit of cloth. I have 2 options at this point…I can start wearing Steve’s boxers OR I can use some of the bits of string in the back of the cupboard that I used to wear in a past life that were perpetually heading on an expedition to find my appendix that are waiting in solitary confinement to be used to tie up the tomatoes this summer. Neither solution appeals to me so I am going to have to bite the bullet and go underpants shopping because underpants and socks are NOT something that I will buy from a thrift shop. At least I am in the “normal” underpants range now and can have a bit of a choice other than enormous cotton nana knickers that go up to my armpits. I just want some serviceable underpants that stay up (preferably). I don’t need Hello Kitty represented on my nether regions and am more than happy to wear plain undies.  Does this say anything about me? I hope so!

Working on our model that we have FINALLY finished! You can see me measuring the place that we have to drill holes to nail in 1/5th scale nails that are TEENY!

Photo’s being taken of us having to use a punch to enable us to hammer (yes…that small silver thing is a hammer!) in the miniscule nails that we needed to use to achieve a true 1/5th scale. (Note to self…best get that bleach out pretty soon…)

The finished pergola…”Noice”! Seeing as this was a 1/5th scale model and it took us 6 weeks to complete (3 fortnightly visits)…if anyone wants us to build a full scale pergola it should take us approximately 3 years to complete…but it will be FANTASTIC! 😉

I discovered today, while Steve and I were looking for which saints were born on our birthdays (As you do…Steve has several and I have NONE!)…that there have been some semi famous people born on the day that I came into the world. The most famous of which was Neil Armstrong who professed to walk on the moon but many people would deny that. It’s all downhill after that…here’s the list…

  1. Neil Armstrong
  2. Marcia from the Brady Bunch
  3. The guy who wrote Hulk Hogan’s theme tune
  4. Pete Burns from Dead or Alive (we share a birthday AND???!!!)
  5. Evil Jared Hasselhoff from the band The Bloodhound Gang (Google it…apparently the roof is on fire…)
  6. Funkmaster Flex…

And last, but by no means least, someone who has 184 years to go till he is born…

Kevin Thomas Riley from Tarsus IV (Star Trek)

Now wasn’t that a good way to waste some of the time that I have left here on earth? I don’t THINK so! I shared this with you to show you that normal people are NOT born on the day that I was born… something happens in the time space continuum on this day every year to ensure that normality isn’t going to be an issue. (Pete Burns…REALLY?!!!). One of my dearest constant readers is also having her birthday soon. Kym has been one of my closest friends and was my best friend in high school. She shared her passion of Linda Ronstadt and John Denver with me and I shared my participation in drama class with her. We drifted away when we both headed to our capital city and headed off into different directions but met again not so long ago and now we have started back where we left off. Have a fantastic birthday Kymmy

This must be quite an old fashioned greeny/butter yellow grevillea because it was planted more than 20 years ago on Serendipity Farm. It must also be a very hardy grevillea because it has survived a total lack of water aside from natural rainfall along with a tree falling across it…not bad you tough little Aussie battler you and despite me not liking Australian natives much…this one gets to stay right where it is for as long as it wants to stay here.

As sad and slippy and ruinous as the gardens look at the moment there are little touches of colour and small waftings of heady scent drifting about in random corners of Serendipity Farm. This little patch of jonquils has decided to grow in the middle of the small second lawned area surrounded by overgrown hedges and the untamed heart of the garden. It’s hopeful little plants like this that keep me hurling myself into what is rapidly descending into a silty mire of mangled looking plants.

I am in love with kimchi. I made some the other day and placed it reverently on my bread proofing rack above Brunhilda and with the addition of miso and heat the fermentation process was speedier than usual and resulted in a nice quick kimchi with amazing flavour. I had some with rice tonight for my tea and I feel suitably chuffed with myself to add another skill to my bow. As you all know I LOVE being able to make things for myself and aside from my kimchi having quite a strong smell (it has a LOT of garlic in it…) I have a large jar of it in the fridge ready to consume at my every whim. Apparently a great way to speed up the process the next time I want to make it is to add a little of the old kimchi to the new batch (much like I added the miso knowing that it is cultured also). When looking for recipes to utilise my newfound kimchi wealth I found a recipe for Korean plain rice cakes that are actually little tubes of cooked rice flour that are used somewhat like noodles with kimchi. I have an interesting machine in the top of my pantry that was purchased years ago on one of my health kicks to make cold pressed juice. I call the machine “Little Pig” and to date it has made 1 batch of fruit mince, 1 batch of vegetarian sausages and about 1/16th of a glass of carrot juice and about 2 Supermarket bags worth of pulp in the process. This machine would be amazing for making these rice cakes. My daughters are way ahead of me with Korean food. They have been frequenting a little Korean grocery shop in Mowbray and are well versed in the delights of Korean food. I have limited myself to Korean red chilli paste and their amazing miso pastes that are delicious and I use like stock pastes. It’s about time I headed back and perused this amazing shop again. I have learned not to bother much with trying to work out what is contained inside these packages with Korean writing only and to head to the counter and show the Korean gentleman who shakes his head or smiles and nods as he knows that I am a vegetarian and don’t eat meat. He doesn’t understand much English and I don’t understand much Korean but we seem to have a good system going and I will continue to shop at this man’s shop because of the amazing array of products that pique my interest.

This protea is one of the shrubs that has survived on Serendipity Farm that seems to constantly flower throughout the year. Even the spent flowers are somewhat attractive, which is lucky because they are in NO hurry to evacuate their position on the shrub any day soon. They make lovely cut flowers if you are that way inclined but I would rather that they spent their days on their parent shrub feeling the sun and the rain on their upturned petals.

A small azalea that was, prior to a manic stint of vicious weeding, covered in blackberries and overgrown by ivy geraniums appears to be quite happy with its newfound ability to wave in the breeze

It’s now Saturday and I am sitting here wondering why anyone would pay for a weather service that doesn’t actually accurately predict the weather? A lot of taxpayer money goes to funding weather bureau’s and if you want an accurate idea of what the weather is going to be…in my opinion, it’s probably a good idea to stick your head out of the window. The weather report (last night) said “frosty mornings and 0C over night with fine weather for the next 3 – 4 days”…”All RIGHTY then!” says I and heads to the washing machine this morning before we set our on our walk with the dogs. 2 loads of washing later and all hung up nice and neatly on the line waiting for the sunshine and immediately after I put the last load of washing on to wash I headed out to try and get a little bit of early spring happening on Serendipity Farm for your voyeuristic enjoyment and what did I spy meandering down the river in a slow sprinkling deluge? RAIN! Not enough to totally saturate my washing but enough to set itself in, stop me from mucking out the chicken yard like I intended and too much to give me time race back and get the washing off the line…IF I paid tax I would be sorely tempted to contact the weather department and ask them for my money back! I raced my bale of hay into Steve’s shed in a wheelbarrow and could at least take some comfort that it remains snug and dry and ready to spread into the chook run after I remove the last nitrogen sodden tenant from its position under the perches. Yin is starting to spread out into some of the lower and upper regions of Serendipity Farm in search of human proof nesting sites. We found a nice little hen shaped nest tunnelled into a wild patch of Erigeron glaucus (seaside daisy) and upon closer inspection discovered a tell-tale white feather. Good try Yin…we are onto this one! I didn’t realise that seaside daisy’s other name was seaside fleabane? Perhaps that is why our dogs haven’t ever had a single flea since we moved here? Not that Bezial has EVER had a flea but if someone was going to pick up a nefarious hopper it would be Earl and he hasn’t ever had them either.

This little clump of Helleborus x hybridus (Winter Rose) has grown back most stubbornly amongst a pile of sticks that were left behind after a session in the garden. The same is happening all over Serendipity Farm as bulbs start to send their leaves up to the light and are having to detour around piles of debris and other things that weren’t there when they died back last year. I have to give them points for their persistence

Here’s a close up of these hardy little stayers that keep on coming back for more punishment

This lovely perennial goes by the name of “Stinking Hellebore”…I can’t for the life of me work out why because as far as my nose goes…and it’s a very well honed nose…it has no scent at all. Its one of the most hardy plants that I have seen around the property and will grow in places that look about as close to “Desert” as Tasmania can produce. I can only imagine that it likes the cold as otherwise it would run rampant everywhere it is so hardy.

Aside from being hardy and having striking leaves, Helleborus foetidus has very interesting flowers and is well worth growing in your garden if you want to ensure a year round supply of these attractive flowers

The tall tree-like Buddleia that I talked about wanting to identify in a past post is covered in flowers. I still don’t know what species it is but at least I can share a couple of photos with you. It has the most intense perfume somewhat like a Daphne odora but more citrusy. The wattle birds and other nectar feeders are all over it fighting for its fragrant elixir and I also discovered a Lonicera fragrantissima (lovely shrub honeysuckle) that has the most amazing scent growing in one of the lower gardens. I took some photos to share with you but mainly to remind myself that this sodden mass of broken twigs, mangled undergrowth and hacked vegetation has some promise for the future. I guess the saying “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette” is there to remind me that it’s got to get worse before it gets better. The tiny little camellia that had been languishing underneath a pile of blackberries and a long dead tree that had fallen into the middle of it has finally flowered. I tried to take cuttings from this tiny little camellia when I was staying here a long time ago when dad was alive. I felt so sorry for this poor little plant that was surely on its last legs and it is certainly repaying me for its liberation from blackberry hell with its ongoing survival and it’s lovely flowers. We walked the dogs along the highway today for a bit of a change and headed down a side road and found a stall selling apples and Beurre Bosc pears. The pears were on special and after we got back to the car we headed back and picked up 2kg for $2. I love Beurre Bosc pears and these are particularly fragrant and taste like honey. I think I might make some pear muffins so that Steve can enjoy the flavour as he doesn’t generally eat fruit unless it is heavily disguised as “cake”. He doesn’t mind strawberries, however, which is just as well because almost every single tip rescued strawberry plant has grown. I was very surprised at how the tiny little budded bits have taken off but I must have found them at exactly the right time and now they are happily putting all of their energy into growing. I noticed that the 2 small pots of Australian native dendrobium orchids have both got flower spikes on this year. One of them, dad claimed to have climbed up a rock on an island in New South Wales and removed and transported to Tasmania. He said that it had a small blue flower so I will take some photos if it manages to produce a flower. The other one could be anything and was picked up from a small nursery in the states north for $2.

This Buddleia is situated in the middle of the untamed part of the lower garden. I know that it isn’t a regular Davidii and would love to know what it actually is. I think it might be an alternifolia. Let me know if you know what it is as it will definately make me a happy camper

Aside from being most happy to grow and flower in this tangled bit of wasteland in the middle of the garden this species is HUGE for a shrub. You can see the tops of the Eucalyptus in the background that should give you an idea that this is more tree than shrub

These little Bergenia’s are situated all over Serendipity Farm and a hardier little flowering ground cover would be difficult to find. The leaves are like cabbages and until I knew their botanical name I called them “The Cabbage Plant”…how horticultural eh? 🙂

A most hardy specimen of an unusual bush honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) that has a most delicious scent reminiscent of Daphne odora and well worth getting hold of for your garden

One of the small camellia’s that are starting to emerge in various parts of the garden all around Serendipity Farm

The little camellia that I had previously tried to take cuttings from that appears to be not only alive, but happy now that it has been liberated from its weedy prison

The little camellia in the previous photo has a lovely weeping habit and is certainly rewarding us with lots of flowers. 2 other small standard weeping camellias that I found under a large conifer are just about to start flowering and it will be interesting to see what their flowers are like.

I have been hunting out some recipes in which to use the kimchi that I made last week. Steve is NOT a fan of the product or the delightful garlicky scent that has started to emanate from the fridge whenever he heads there but I love it. I discovered that Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of the book that I found the recipe for my kimchi has 2 other books and have added all 3 books to my birthday list. The first of his books is more mainstream and talks about harnessing cultures to use in making bread, cheese, beer and wine. The second is the “Wild Fermentation” book that I have from the library and this one delves slightly more into the world of weird fermentation. His latest book called “The Art of Fermentation” heads all over the place and doesn’t actually give recipes but more guidelines to using ferments to create and experiment with. I think that where you live can often have a direct impact on how successful your ferments are. If you live in San Francisco, you can pretty much guarantee that you are going to grow yourself a hearty and most delicious sourdough starter whereas you may not have all of the luck in the world in Antarctica. Sometimes you have to find a source of your desired culturing agent like kefir grains or a kombucha Scoby (mother) but occasionally you can just rely on the wild yeasts and bacteria that are just floating around adventitiously waiting to predate your unsuspecting foodstuff if you give them the right conditions.  One problem with using cultures to change raw foodstuffs into fermented goodies is that they tend to get very happy with their new environmental conditions and start to breed their numbers up. You only need a certain amount of sourdough, kombucha and kefir (for example) and once you get more you either give it to someone else who wants it or you throw it away. I hate wasting things and Sandor has given those of us frugal magpies out here an out. He has shown how to turn Scoby mothers (kombucha) into the equivalent of glace fruit! What an interesting idea? Not only do you not have to drop your faithful servant into the toilet and give them a nautical funeral whilst feeling as guilty as heck as you flush, BUT you are able to repurpose it into something that is not only good for you, but that you can add into cakes. The end result looks a whole lot like glace mango and apparently tastes like lemony apple pie. You can’t go wrong with that! When I get my books I will be concocting all sorts of interesting ferments. I want to make some beer from wort and make good use of cheap fruit and vegetables in the coming productive seasons and turn them into all sorts of fermented goodies and wine.

It’s 2.30pm and Bezial is barking furiously at me to make his dinner. The day that you get your dinner at 2.30 is the day that I become a mindless dog zombie servant and that day isn’t approaching any time soon meladdy! The trouble with having dogs that are used to living the high life is that they tend to keep pushing their boundaries. Earl has a problem staying in the back seat of the car and can be relied upon to inch his way slowly further and further into the front in his excitement to plank like a hood ornament on the bonnet of the car…Bezial has a similar mentality when it comes to food and will push his luck if he thinks that he can. Steve is constantly subject to seal eyes whenever he starts to eat anything. They tend to leave me alone as parsnip soup and steamed veggies don’t seem to have the same appeal as cheese sandwiches and chicken pies so vegetarians have SOMETHING going for them ;). I just finished hanging up my washing on the washing line and the rain has started again. I don’t really mind as I know that my washing will smell lovely when it does eventually dry. I haven’t played Zelda for 2 days (I sound like a recovering alcoholic!) now and am planning on going on a Zelda bender later on tonight (yup…game-aholic alright 😉 ). Steve has been messing about with his new phone and has discovered that aside from taking a halfway decent photograph, it can do some funky things whilst taking said halfway decent photograph. I will leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend (some of you have more of it left than the rest of us…) with a few of Steve’s experimentations with his phone…

It would seem that an American African woman has stolen our dogs! A photo of yours truly in negative…not too sure…I might actually prefer myself in negative…

The entrance way to the Alanvale Polytechnic Block G (Horticulture) taken in “Solarise” mode

A similar photo taken in the same area using “negative” showing that even mobile phones can take a pretty interesting photo…at least it kept Steve from dying of boredom in the 5 minutes that it took our lecturer to get to our early morning lecture.

Its raining hens

Hi All,

It rained yesterday (saturday) afternoon and all night and now it seems to be steadily raining and has set in for the day. I don’t mind…in fact I positively welcome it. We were going to have a market stall today to sell some of our excess plants but the woman in charge of the market never replied to us about the stall so we decided not to go. Lucky for us (their policy is that if it rains they keep your stall fee) we decided to forgedaboudit and I dare say that most people won’t be thronging to Deviot for a tiny indoor (outdoors is rained out) market selling a few veggies and some jam. Hopefully that doesn’t sound like sour grapes there, because it isn’t. I am just glad that we didn’t waste our stall fee on what is just about to be rained out. We didn’t cover the book in todays post but we did tomorrow…how about that for future travel! We are pretty cluey here on Serendipity Farm and can often be seen scooting between time frames on a regular basis. I am going to share some photos taken the other day in Beaconsfield and one particularly lovely garden with all sorts of zinnias (Zinnia elegans); marigolds (Tagetes erecta) and asters (Aster spp. by the way…putting “spp.” at the end of something means “species” and usually means that the person typing out the Botanical name can’t be bothered to hunt any further for the actual species name…).

I think this is quite a nice photo. I dare say there are many people who would disagree…it might not be centred, the colour could be tweaked a bit…blah…blah…blah…as much as I truly do appreciate amazing photography, I am not inclined to spend hours staging and posing a shell that I bought for a dollar at a market somewhere when I don’t have the talent to do it justice. I just like to look at the shell and Steve took this photo so I could transmit some of its “pretty” to you

Steve and I did a unit in our last diploma about assessing trees and this poor ancient Ash tree has obviously been assessed and found wanting. There are some magnificent trees that have suffered a similar fate to this one (splitting due to the huge weight of the canopy and a lack of formative pruning when they were young) but obviously the Beaconsfield council are not willing to pay out to have this tree bolted and braced like Launceston City Council was with the specimens that Steve and I found in the Hospital grounds. These trees are part of our heritage and deserve to be given every chance, but this Ash is just about to be removed.

You can see that this tree is huge and old. I dare say it wasn’t a good candidate for bolting and bracing but I can also guess that “trees” are not high on the Beaconsfield council’s list of being something worth paying for. If it splits, get rid of it…that says a fair bit about how trees are viewed in Tasmania by everyone except we “Greenies”.

Here is a lovely example of arb pruning (tree pruning) in Beaconsfield. The people that removed this limb would have had to have completed their certificate 3 in horticulture and learned how to prune properly. It takes just as long to prune a branch in the correct way as it does to hack it off and do a bodgy job. This sort of bad pruning opens the tree up to disease and fungal spores so why bother pruning it at all?

Here is another example of “pruning”. Note the chainsaw cut into the remaining trunk, again, allowing fungal spores and bacteria to gain entry to the tree. Bad job Beaconsfield council…it costs you just as much to pay a numpty to do the job as it does someone who cares. Alex Shigo would be spinning in his grave!

Steve and I are going to be covering that book that Earl ate that we had to replace from the library today. I have an old leather jacket that is out of fashion that was bought specifically from a thrift shop at a heavily discounted price specifically for this purpose. I have my instructions from Kirsty of “Kirsty and Phil” fame in the U.K. where every show that they host turns to pure ratings gold. They have an amazing chemistry together…she is mumsy, he is a big kid and there is something amazingly “real” about everything that they do. Kirsty had a show on her own called “Kirstie’s Home Made” and because she seems enamoured of life in the 1940’s and even wears clothing to match, home-made and thrift seems to be the order of the day in this series. Recycling things, buying things second hand and making your own even though Kirsty is most definitely an upmarket girl in every way. Who cares if she has a plum in her mouth when she is as easy going as anything. Kirsty is one of a kind and when you pair her up with Phil, you have a winning combination that could sell snow to the Eskimo’s. One of her “home-made” episodes was about making your own books. We got a detailed series of instructions on how to do this and how to use leather to make a cover for your book. Earl at the spine of my book and it now needs considerable protection as it is about to be one of my most used books so giving it a nice hard wearing leather cover would be the clever thing to do. I love being able to make things ourselves. I love being able to work out how to do things ourselves for minimal cost (free if possible) and thrift excites me. It is very different when you are forced into thrift and life is really tough, but when you have a choice, it always gives you a great feeling to be able to save something or do something yourself whenever you can. I have a real problem with middle management and middlemen in general. They tend to be the last to be let go from places of employment whenever times get tough and the very first that most probably should go. Supermarkets are perfect examples of what happens when you create a middle man between the consumer and the producer. Ask a primary producer what sort of money they are receiving per unit for their products and then have a look at the cost of what you are putting into your grocery cart and you would be amazed at how much money is being added to the cost of that item by simply passing through a middle man. I prefer to cut the middle man out as often as I can.

I have to admit something regarding this Robinia ‘mop top’ which pains me no end. In my year of living honestly I noted the pruning of this mop top earlier in the year. Whoever pruned it had removed EVERYTHING from the top of the trunk leaving a few spindly twigs with no foliage. I loudly protested the murder of these 2 trees and the parentage of the person who hacked them to death and have had to swallow my pride as each time we went to Beaconsfield they have grown more and more…it just goes to show that you don’t know everything and indeed, I know very little

This is a lovely beech that we don’t have in our beech collection (Fagus spp.) and so we are going to graft this lovely specimen when it loses it’s leaves later in the year. We tried to grow some of the seed last year and after stratifying it we planted it out. We did the same with a large, most beautiful, copper beech that was gifted to Beaconsfield from its sister city (also named Beaconsfield) in the U.K. about 100 years ago. The copper beech seed all germinated but the seed taken from this tree did not. We figure it might be sterile so moving on from seed we have grafting as a way to get ourselves a new baby beech for our collection. I LOVE horticulture and it’s many and varied ways to get stuff for free. If you can’t get it to grow one way…try another one…Next we have aerial layering…

I gave you a few recipes from The Readers Digest book “Homemade” over 700 everyday items that are easy to make and will save you money yesterday. I thought that you might like a few more that are indeed easy to make and will hopefully save you money and more importantly, the environment from all of that commercial production of unnecessary products.

Yesterday I gave you a septic tank activator and today I might give you a home-made drain clearer

Drain Opener

Don’t bother with those caustic commercial cleaners; try this simple, inexpensive and safe way to unclog drains instead

½ cup (140g) bicarbonate of soda

1 cup (250ml) vinegar

1 teapot boiling water

  1. Pack the drain with bicarbonate of soda, then pour in vinegar
  2. Keep the drain covered for 10 minutes, then flush it out with boiling water
  3. For particularly stubborn drain blockages you might have to repeat the process

Non Toxic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Clean and sanitise your toilet bowl without harmful chlorine. For no-scrub convenience, simply pour in this mixture and leave overnight

  1. Flush the toilet to wet the sides of the bowl
  2. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl, and then liberally drizzle some vinegar on top. Let the toilet sit undisturbed for 3 – 4 hours (overnight) before scrubbing with a toilet brush and flushing to clean

I really like the idea of the next one. Steve is quite sensitive to laundry detergents and gets a bit of dermatitis with some but this recipe promises to be quite gentle while removing stains and making the clothes nice and soft at the same time

Laundry Soap

This basic laundry soap gets clothes just as clean as commercial cleaners; it just costs a lot less

½ cup (50g) pure soap flakes (or a bar of pure soap grated)

½ cup (140g) bicarbonate of soda

¼ cup (70g) washing soda

¼ cup (60g) borax

1 clean 500g plastic container with a lid

  1. If you cannot find soap flakes, lightly grate a bar of pure soap on a coarse kitchen grater
  2. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container
  3. Use about ½ cup (110g) of the mix instead of detergent in each load of laundry

Note: you can add a few drops of your choice of essential oil to this mix to give your washing detergent your own customised scent

And lastly here is a purported stain remover to go with the laundry soap. How cool is this? We can make all of this stuff using ingredients from the supermarket they are just up high or down low on the shelves that the top companies are not paying through the nose to be placed on to get your attention.

Stain Remover

Stains are always easier to get out if you treat them before they set (soda water is effective for lifting many stains before they dry).

1/3 cup (80ml) clear household ammonia

½ cup (125ml) white vinegar

¼ cup (70g) bicarbonate of soda

30ml liquid castile soap

6 cups (1.5 litres) water

1 clean 2 litre recycled plastic container

1 clean 500ml spray bottle

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in the 2 litre container. Pour some of the solution into the spray bottle. Shake well before each use.
  2. Spray liquid onto the stain and leave for 3 – 5 minutes and then launder as usual

Note: if this doesn’t work, at least you won’t have spent a fortune on commercial stain removers that also don’t work :o)

This last recipe is for a nice gluten free coconut and lime drizzle cake. This is for all of my gluten intolerant dear constant readers out there (and anyone nice enough to make this cake for someone who is…). It comes from The River Cottage Handbook No. 8 (Cakes) by Pam Corbin and looks to be something that could be cheerfully polished off by just about anyone with glee.

Lime and coconut cake (gluten free)

Creamy coconut and zesty lime team up perfectly to flavour this lovely gluten free cake. Because the recipe uses rice flour rather than conventional wheat flour, it does have a tendency to sink a bit in the middle. This doesn’t bother me in the least – in fact, I rather enjoy the dense centre. However, if you are concerned about it, you can prevent the cake sinking by adding a little xanthan gum, which acts as a substitute for the stretchy, bouncy gluten found in wheat flours and will bind the mix together. Xanthan gum in available from health food shops and the baking section of large supermarkets

Serves 10 – 12

For the cake: –

125g rice flour

2 tsp gluten-free baking powder

1 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

175g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened

Finely grated zest of 3 – 4 small limes

175g caster sugar

3 eggs

50g desiccated coconut

For the drizzle: –

75g caster sugar

100ml fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 – 4 limes)

Equipment: –

1 litre loaf tin, about 20cm x 10cm lightly greased, base and long sides lined with baking parchment, or a 20cm round or 18cm square tin, lightly greased and base-lined with baking parchment

Method: –

Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift together the rice flour, baking powder and xanthan gum, if using, into a bowl. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and lime zest to a cream, using either a woode spoon or a hand held mixer. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mix is light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tbsp flour from the 125g alotted for the recipe with each addition and beating well before adding the next. Carefully fold in the remaining flour with a large metal spoon and then fold in the desiccated coconut. Spoon the mix into the prepared tin, lightly smoothing over the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 mins or until the surface is nicely golden and the cake feels springy to the touch. Shortly before the cake will be ready, prepare the drizzle by dissolving the sugar in the lime juice. When the cake comes out of the oven, prick the surface deeply (but not to the very bottom) all over with a skewer. Spoon half of the lime syrup over the surface and leave to cool for 10 minutes before spooning the remainder of the syrup over the cake. Make sure that you pour plenty of drizzle down the sides of the cake inside the tin. Leave in the tin until cool before turning out.

This cake will keep for 5 days in an airtight tin

Variations: –

St Clemen’t cake – replace the limes with a mix of oranges and lemons

Christmas cracker – replace the limes with tangerines. For the drizzle, replace 50ml of the juice with 50ml orange liqueur

We call these “everlasting daisies”  The botanical name is Bracteantha bracteata but different varieties can also now be known as Helichrysum sp. or Rhodanthe sp.

This is to show you the type of soil that these everlasting/straw daisies are growing in. They are designed to grow in arid conditions so have no problems growing under the eaves of this small shop with very little rain being able to reach them and they put on a really lovely show of flowers that can be picked and as their name alludes to, kept for practically ever in a vase with no water.

This is the closest to a “Tropical flower” that Tasmania is going to get. This is a variety of ornamental ginger that apparently loves it here. We have some down underneath the blackberries in the small hedge/garden that divides the first garden from the tiny second garden. Ours are yellow but at least we can pretend that we are a lush paradise with these delightfully exotic things growing in our garden

Zinnia’s and Aster’s in jail…

Well we didn’t end up getting that book covered (as mentioned above)  but we have good plans for that tomorrow (and lots of photos of how we did it). I got some great “wool” (actually lots of balls of cotton) that I can use to crochet a nice hearth rug for Bezial to lay on in front of the fire. I spent a fair bit of last night typing out more of those amazing rustic cake recipes using home grown produce from the River Cottage Cake book. I get very excited whenever I find things like this. I also am very aware that should Google, Apple and Microsoft ever get their way about stopping actual downloads (remember the cloud theorem?) unless you pay for them (no more pictures, recipes, pdf’s…ANYTHING unless you pay Google, Apple and Microsoft for the privilege…the ultimate in middle men and my new pet hate…) and am starting to go through all of the websites that I have saved in my “Websites for the future” Word document (a very long document indeed) and finding those precious bits of information, recipes, pdf’s etc. that I can download now and making sure that I get them because come the day that I have to pay Google for someone else’s work, I WON’T BE! As mentioned in a previous post regarding this matter I will simply head back to the library for my information. Not as immediate but still invaluable. I took all of those books that I sorted out and forced myself to give away (after going through the pile and taking some back…) to the Beaconsfield Thrift shop today. That was where I got the wool. I got an enormous quantity of wool (well cotton) for $2. My idea of donating my books just before I bought the wool obviously paid off. Steve and I have been booze free for just on a month now. Steve has lost his tiny beer gut and can now stay awake to watch television at night. I don’t need to get up as much in the night when nature calls and am feeling clearer headed now. We haven’t stopped drinking altogether, we are taking a hiatus so that we can give our bodies a rest and when we drink again, it won’t be a daily (bad) habit born out of stress and the need to unwind. It is so very easy to fall into the clutches of bad habits…negativity is a terrible habit, fear is a bad habit, being angry, using alcohol and drugs to escape…life isn’t that bad…it’s just occasionally a bit hard to take and we are learning to face it all head on. We have enough blackberries to make some more blackberry wine and Steve’s new redneck ways are making him look at the “interesting” stainless steel barrel thing that is lying on top of the remains of a large pile of assorted metal that “someone” left here before dad died. People do that in Tasmania…they find someone stupid enough to let them pile up their junk on their property and then leave it there for years. We tossed out 2 piles of “stuff” that various people had left in wardrobes and in the boat shed and we found a large flag pole that a council worker who works in the area apparently owns and asked us if we still had. He hasn’t been back since so I guess we are supposed to be looking after it for him? This enormous pile of assorted metal was probably pilfered from building sites and someone tried to claim it before we moved here while our caretaker was living here. The person in question owed my dad $30 000 and there was no WAY that he was going to take a single thing from this property. The pile of metal has been swapped with a friend who is going to give us a large load of firewood for it. We are keeping the weird stainless steel boiler thingy as Steve has plans for it. His redneck ways are making him thing “still”. I didn’t say that…I never mentioned it…forgedaboudit! (I wonder what blackberry schnapps tastes like?). The weather is cooler and we are going to have a fire tonight so no doubt Bezial will be safely ensconced in front of the fire and then will move onto his chair on the side of the stove when we go to bed. It’s a dog’s life around here. I do feel sorry for all of the farm dogs stuck out in their flimsy water tanks with holes in while our 2 sprawl out on a king-sized bed with a feather and down doona to keep them warm. We were walking today in this lovely sunny but cool breezy weather over in Beaconsfield and noticed a goat tethered to one of the ubiquitous goat houses like a tiny little A Frame home. Does someone manufacture these as goat houses? They seem to be everywhere! We would really like to get a goat and no doubt our ideas of the goat eating all of the long grass in the top 2 paddocks is a noble one, but the cold hard stark reality is that within about a month that goat would no longer be in it’s little A frame home (Steve can make him/her one…)…it would be on the king-sized bed, refusing mere grass, fat as butter and living on tinned foie gras…sigh…farmers we are NOT.

There is something about a lovely cottage garden that delights my soul. My grandmother used to sow all sorts of annuals every year in her garden and this reminded me of Gran’s garden. Coincedentally, she also used to broadcast annual seed all over the neighbours fallow and most ugly empty plot next door when they were not watching and no doubt they often wondered how they had a meadow field of assorted annuals come up every year when they hadn’t planted anything.

A nice contrast between the salvia behind and the zinnia’s and marigolds in the front. Nice and lush and green with splashes of colour. Most of these annuals were grown beneath shrubs in a nice protected environment but methinks a degree of water has been splashed about in this garden because this year has been very dry and most surrounding gardens are devoid of greenery and colour apart from some parched looking hebe’s and a few half dead hydrangeas…

Isn’t this pretty? Mass planting keeps water in the soil…so does thermal mass where you clump lots of plants together (either planted or in pots) and due to their sheer mass, they are able to keep more moisture situated within the core of the group than they otherwise might be able to. Isn’t horticulture interesting?

I love zinnias…I don’t know why, but they are just something that makes me smile and that tick something in my happy zone.

This zinnia appears to be 2 toned but it was really a sunbeam that had made it’s way through the shrubs above to alight on this pretty zinnia.

I like sharing with you. I hope you don’t mind me sharing these recipes with you. I am easily enthused, especially by things that give us back a degree of control over our destiny and the fate of the earth. That might sound a bit melodramatic but we are constantly thrashed by advertisement’s insisting that we are somewhat less than normal if we don’t buy…Buy BUY!!! Their latest greatest product when what we are actually doing is purporting a massive great rip off at our own expense. I refuse to take part in that rip off whenever I can and using our own cleaning products, recipes for basic ingredients and other home-made products give us that little edge when it comes to being useful human beings.