Who do you think you are?

Hi Folks

After some recent email conversations with the most delightful Pauline from “The Contented Crafter” where narf7 did her VERY best to alienate and enrage a potential dear friend by likening her to the most (in my eyes) gorgeous Kate Bush much to her chagrin, I started to think about who we think we are vs. who we “actually” are. I got to thinking that we should all take a good look in the mirror and then head over to get someone without a vested interest in their safety, to explain what they see when they look at us. I know that I see someone completely different to the person that everyone else sees because those photos are all LIES! I don’t look like that! Same goes for the voice but that’s another story…

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Kym, Bruce and Stevie-boy looking decidedly feral in his Hong Kong Phooey shirt but note the altogether happy face…”beer makes EVERYTHING good!”

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The same Kym and Bruce but sans Stevie-boy and a narf7 appears to have attached herself to one side of them. No beer though, straight kombucha for this little black narfy duck 🙂

I told Pauline that I had been prancing around the kitchen singing The Police hit song “Roxanne” at the top of my lungs and she expressed a degree of concern for my neighbours that is entirely unwarranted (if you know Frank, you would know what I mean 😉 ) however it did get me to thinking about my obviously incredible singing voice as experienced from inside the middle aged husk of narf7 vs. my “actual” singing voice as experienced by the rest of the world.

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Talking about Pauline, she makes wonderfully artistic mixed media art. This isn’t one of hers but it is similar to her fantastic works of art and I just really loved this saying :). Says it all really

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I have been an entirely spoiled narf7 this week. I received 2 boxes of the most gorgeous dark chocolate covered marzipan from a wonderful fellow blogger in the U.K. who pens the delightful Zeb Bakes. Cheers for the deliciousness Joanna, it didn’t last long but while it did, it most certainly did the trick! 😉

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Bev from The wonderfully enlightening, sustainable and altogether Permaculture soaked blog Foodnstuff sent me this wonderful tome (see girls…I SPELLED IT RIGHT THIS TIME but I am no WAY going back to amend it in back posts 😉 ) it is cram packed to the back gills with wonderful and most sustainable hints, tips and recipes and like most things from New Zealand, it is pragmatic and straight to the point…”No bullshut” here folks!

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And I also received a most unique and wonderfully practical gift from Jess at Rabidlittlehippy who sent me 12 beautifully sewn (not a seam out of place…how does she do that?!!!) produce bags so that I won’t have to put my veggies into plastic bags from now on. I will be able to use these wonderful bags and do my little bit to reduce plastic waste :). I am thinking that I might do some potato printing on the front of them (knowing lazy narf…I will just cut the potato in half and dab it into some ink and make smiley faces on the bags but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ) and when anyone asks me where I got them, I am going to direct them to Jess’s site. You had best get that Etsy stall going Jess as the customers are going to be lining up… 🙂

I had to make a voice recording of myself for last year’s course. I had to do this because my lecturer is a sadist who wanted to torture me. I had to listen to myself and hear someone who I didn’t recognise and who made me cringe. Did I really sound like that? I thought I had a rich cultured voice but it turns out I have a decided Aussie twang, I sound like Denise Scott with hay fever and if that’s how I sound when I talk…what on EARTH is my singing voice like?!!! Have I been torturing everyone for too many years than I wish to admit? Was my ex-husband actually right?!!!

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“A vat of carob and buckwheat smoothie and thou (Mr Terry Pratchett) sitting beside me in the wilderness (on the couch)” is pretty much all I need to make narf7 a blissed out little hippy 🙂

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An early morning image of what an 8 litre jar of buckwheat looks like…and eggs…

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What looks to be an uneasy truce between my kombucha on the left and my non-dairy (sesame milk and date paste) kefir on the right…

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One of the (many) benefits of having 2 daughters who are not only excellent cooks, but who like to experiment with Asian cuisines and unusual recipes and ingredients is that the shop owners of the places that they frequent and spend vast amounts of cash in, tend to be most grateful for their patronage…SO grateful in fact, that they give them 2 calendars for the New Year. One for them and one for their mum :). “Cheers Anthony!” If you are ever in downtown Launceston Tasmania and feel in need of some Aloe juice, or you want some Korean bean paste or some fermented beanshoots, you could do a whole lot worse than heading off to Tsing Wah and spending a few of your tourist dollars to support this excellent business 🙂

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This is my new brain. I got tired of relying on the old one to have it let me down again and again and again. I also got tired of trying to sort through all of the scraps of paper with hurried and fervent little notes from my inside self to my outside self scribbled down in unreadable handwriting so I decided “enough was ENOUGH!” and here is my new brain. Contained within shall be neat and most tidy lists of things to do, the order in which I want them done and copious quantities of dates, numbers and other most interesting and important things that I want to keep track of…or…most probably…I will still keep scrawling notes in the dark and leaving them strewn around because that’s what I am used to 😉

Who is that middle aged greying long haired golem impersonator gambolling about waving her liver spots at the camera and attempting to be sued by Denise Scott for impersonating her voice very badly? Is that me? IS THAT ME??!!! If so, why is Steve still here?! What DOES he see in me?! Why on EARTH hasn’t he fled screaming never to darken the gateposts of Serendipity Farm again? I have no idea folks. I get the feeling that we should all be anonymously and secretly videotaped going about our daily business. We should then be sat down and made to watch the results. The puddle of expired ego that results should be scooped up into a pretty bottle and stashed on a shelf at eye level where we can be reminded that sometimes we just aint who we think we are…but for the most part I am…I sing like an angel “ROXANNE!”, I look like a tanned and happy Valkyrie and my voice is strong but pleasant and in NO way contains any form of Aussie drawl…I said IN NO WAY! And we shall speak no more of this alarming and most enlightening of thoughts because my ego is sploshing sadly at me from the shelf next to the phone…sigh…

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I found this when I was trying to find an image of my daughter Madeline’s mug to share with you…altogether more appropriate for me!

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Then I found this…and quickly became enamoured of it…

I know everything

Anyone who knows me (and many people who don’t) would say that this was the absolutely ideal mug for me 😉

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I LOVE this mug…no pressure! 😉

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This one is even better! Entirely up to me what “shit” I want to get “done”  and in what order

Where was this mug when I needed it

Oh WHERE was this mug when my kids were refusing to eat their dinner! 😉 That’s enough pilfering humorous mugs for today. I am probably on Amazon’s most wanted list for flogging images (shhhhh!…you never saw it here!)

Its Tuesday suddenly. Where did the rest of the week go? Oh yes THAT’S right…it melted! I am feeling a little melancholy today for some reason and so I have decided to immerse myself in good music and sing my way out of it. I listened to the best of The Killers first and that did the trick. Now I am onto U2 and Mr Bono and I are strangely in tune…in sequence, because I was cutting up the dogs meat and was suddenly struck by a need to pee…I am only ever desperately struck by a need to pee when I am up to my armpits in something nefarious and Mr Bono started to sing “She moves in mysterious ways” and I was, indeed, moving in mysterious ways. Sort of shuffling and hopping like those African Bantu tribes men just before they do that big hop. I wasn’t quite game enough to attempt the big hop and was having enough trouble with the shuffle bit but I had just been reading Wendy who pens Quarter Acre Lifestyle  from over the water’s (New Zealand) post about how the universe rises up to meet you if you are prepared to meet it half way and it made me smile that Mr Bono and I should meet each other half way in order to attempt to make my dear constant readers have a bit of a chuckle on hump day. “Your job here is DONE Mr Bono”…you can go back to your castle or wherever it is that you live with the Dali Lama and Mother Teresa’s ashes content that you were of use today…

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My latest Mr Pratchett novel that I am devouring and savouring slowly because it’s the last one (in my possession) in the Discworld series. I am waiting on the latest novel to be printed in paperback so that I can add it to my collection and savour it at my leisure 🙂

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Proof that I am a shameless hoarder…

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More proof…

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Now you can’t blame me for wanting to hoard that fossil! Nothing like outing yourself for the blogging world to see (but it won’t stop me hoarding 😉 )

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Talking about hoarding…pantry 1…

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Pantry 2…

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And a VERY tidy pantry 3 complete with Earl the wonder dog photobombing the shot 😉

My eldest daughter Madeline turned 26 today. That means that I am the mother of a 26 year old woman. Not only that, but I am also the mother of a 24 year old in April and most shockingly, a 32 year old in that same month. How can that be? Surely I am only 30 myself?! Madeline has a mug that says that “It took me 50 years to look this good” (don’t ask). The sad thing is that in my case it is true! I have been holing up inside ostensibly to reduce my RSS Feed Reader that ate Paris while Kym and Bruce were here visiting but in all honesty I am frankly terrified of what the garden has metastasised into out there. The long wet winter and the sudden onset of heat seems to have awoken the Kraken (blackberry) in a most alarming way and what should be tendrils are giant squid sized branches reaching out to grab the unsuspecting (read narf7 on her way out to the washing line). Anything thicker than my wrist is to be feared and we are just about to transcend that goal. I am doing my best to eat the blackberries young to prevent them from spreading but they have awoken to my plans and have decided to triple fortify themselves AND give the chooks somewhere amazingly impenetrable to lay the few eggs that they feel like laying in between hatching out huge clutches of chicks…I am starting to panic about how focussed and virulent everything that isn’t human has become on Serendipity Farm…

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The ubiquitous garden (triffid) shots that you, my dear constant readers, have come to expect each week…

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As you can see, the garden has taken over the area and is doing whatever it damned well pleases and who am I to argue?

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This photo was an attempt to show you the compost heap experimental garden without actually having to haul my lazy carcass over to the far corner of the garden…did it work? 😉

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Part of the reason why Serendipity Farm is full of asparagus with more growing every year. Most of the existing asparagi (is that the plural?!) are covered in these little red fruits that apparently taste good to birds because they get ingested and the seeds “dumped” all over the place and I, for one, am absolutely delighted! I can’t vouch for Frank but I reckon that’s another tick against my name in his “most despised” list 😉

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Jerusalem artichokes going mental. I will be transplanting them in a better (more protected) area where they will be allowed to spread to their hearts content with no complaints from me!

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Steve’s shed looking suspiciously tidy for once…oh wait a minute…that’s because “I CLEANED IT!” sigh…

“Oh I LOVE this song!” Every time I hear Mr Bono sing “One” it makes me melt…it bleeds deep into me and Mr Bono and I are “one” :). Does that happen to anyone else out there? When you read, watch an amazingly good movie, listen and sing amazing songs do they become part of you? I often find myself dancing around the kitchen twirling like a narfy dervish to the songs that I listen to and infusing like a fine aged cold pressed coffee. MAN I love music :). I was told a story regularly by my Grandmother and my mother about how when my Uncle Wally brought home the Beatles single “Aint She Sweet” that I raced out of the room that I was otherwise occupied in and suddenly started to dance like crazy. I obviously amused them because they recanted that story well into my adulthood. The thing is, I DO love music. It isn’t just “music” it really does become part of me and I can lose myself in it for hours. I can bliss out and completely change my mood if I am feeling grumpy or twitchy (both to be avoided) and I could just listen to music all day and all night if Stevie-boy wasn’t partial to watching crap T.V. and complaining about how loud the music is and how he can’t hear the loggers cutting down the trees or the Mountain men hunting “bars” (yes…I deliberately spelt that wrong…that is how they say it!) over the top of my exemplary singing (he would say “screeching” but what would he know eh?!)

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Prospective olives…

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Prospective Myrtus communis berries…

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Prospective figs

January seems to have lifted up her skirts and is in full pelt to get out of 2014. February is going to be a bit grouchy about having to take over so soon methinks. I am SURE January fudged it a bit and is going AWOL too soon. February will hardly have finished his cup of coffee before he will have to put on his bowler hat and come to the party…it’s just NOT cricket January! Steve turns 49 on Monday and has decided that he and The Mumbly Cumumbus are going to meld this year and so gifts are to be of the fishy persuasion. I don’t mind. Steve has the best fun out pootling around on the water and I am all for him having the best fun in life 🙂 I feel for my daughters who are going to be ferried around the local fishing shop as Steve takes the lead pointing at lures, shiny things, red beads, squidgy little plastic prawns that stink to high heaven and goodness only knows what else in order to amass his “present” from them. It is always an adventure to trail behind Steve. That’s why I will be staying put and “watching the dogs at home” 😉

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3/4’s of Serendipity Farm is covered in agapanthus flowers at the moment

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This is a salvia…it is blue…it is tall…it is pretty…it comes back every year after dying down over winter…if you want to know any more about it you had best Google it because narf7 isn’t going to deprive you of precious time researching (and she can’t be bothered to go look up the name 😉 )

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Another gratuitous flower shot, this time Nigella damascena, one of my imports

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This is the only gazania on Serendipity Farm. Most probably because I love them 😉

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Crocosmia and Feverfew ensuring that the soil doesn’t turn into dust and blow away

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Buddleia davidii or butterfly bush

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Buddleia globosa, a yellow ball shaped version and as you can see, favourite fodder for bees 🙂

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A narfs eye view taken from the newly painted bench where I parked my derierre to read the other day

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Same bench, but a slight swivel of the wrist to the right…

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And lastly, the view behind the bench (and yes…those ARE Christmas lights in the window…thankyou for noticing 😉 )

I have just been outside wandering around aimlessly taking photos for this post so I guess that means that it is “all over red rover” and “finito” and “Arividerci Roma” for another Wednesday. It’s drop dead gorgeous day today on Serendipity Farm. The sky is blue, the trees are (still) green, there is a lovely cool breeze blowing and what a difference to last week! I am revelling in just being alive today and feeling incredibly grateful and thankful for my lot :). Have a fantastic week and see you next week when I will probably be covered in scratches from head to toe because I fully and most DEFINITELY intend on tackling those blackberries…”NO PRISONERS!” 😉

About the best thing a bike could be used for

Finally, I would like it known that this is the absolutely, positively BEST use for a racing bike yet! 😉

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“On the scrounge again…”

Hi All

“I just can’t wait to get on the scrounge again…” (ALL apologies to Mr Willy Nelson for taking his sterling effort and narforising it…)

Disclaimer…just before you start attempting to wade through this post it is probably one of the longest posts I have ever put on this blog. I completely and utterly forgive you if you just want to flick through the images and get a visual idea of what the post is about today. I guess summer has just taken over my brain…its my excuse, and I am sticking with it! 😉

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These are Gladioli carmineus corms. Gladioli carmineus (Mini Gladioli) are a low growing gladioli that grow quickly and spread like wildfire. I got these bulbs when leaning over a gardeners fence and admiring her plants on one of my morning walks with Earl

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Steve gets the bucket and I get the tahini from inside it…a win-win situation

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Whatever these plums are they are not cherry plums. I noticed these on a small tree amongst some wild cherry plums so I picked some before the possums stripped the tree and am going to plant out the seeds

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geranium cuttings and the reason why you pick fruit when it is green around here…the possums sampled my pilfered plums…cheeky sods!

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I am a manic list maker…here you see some of my lists, some clasps to ensure that the hose doesn’t blow (again) and bags of chia, quinoa and amaranth seed that I am going to plant along with some buckwheat as experimental crops this year

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The hay bales in Steve’s shed have just been appropriated for “other purposes”. I don’t mind, at least I know where this nest is!

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Looks like it has more than one occupant!

Well here I am again on Wednesday but what a difference a couple of weeks makes to this little black duck. 2 weeks ago I was a spent husk. Today I am bursting with possibilities. December 1st was apparently the first day of summer but Tasmania seems to have decided to succeed from the rest of the world and do its own thing and we have had spring, autumn, winter and a tiny hint of summer thrown in over the course of the last 2 weeks. I can’t say I mind. I love all of the rain that we are having and so does the garden. 2 weeks ago the veggie garden was a sad reminder that I had been hiding under the bed with my fingers in my ears a little bit too long but the season appears to have been hiding under the bed with me so everything is rosy on Serendipity Farm.

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Steve’s Chinese (larger) bonsai Japanese maple that he sourced from under the deck as a tiny seedling and has been training for 3 years now with it’s own nitrogen fixing crop of clover growing with it

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A little primrose and a strappy liriopes both bought from the little stall at the top of the hill for $2 each

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When I sorted through the potted plants I found this succulent that is just about to flower and a lavender that I can plant out in the garden

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My newly purchased Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks along with grape vines grown from cuttings from a Muscat grape and pelargonium and scented geranium cuttings sourced from one of our walks

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Healthy melon and capsicum (pepper) plants that my daughter Madeline grew from seed and that are excess to her needs so I get some (cheers Madeline 🙂 )

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More geranium and pelargonium cuttings. I usually take a whole lot more care with cuttings but geraniums and pelargoniums are very hardy and should all strike no problems

The vegetable garden is going great guns. Because of all of the rain that we have been having, the rest of the garden is great gunning as well; especially the forget-me-nots that I am studiously pretending don’t exist much to their amusement. I looked down at my jeans yesterday after I had gone hunting for eggs amongst the undergrowth (I live in hope and am ever optimistic…) and I was covered in forget-me-not seeds…the little buggers LOVE me! Earl, who had accompanied me on lead was also covered in forget-me-not seeds BUT the difference was, he just shook himself and they magically dropped off him…I attempted to follow suit and nothing happened…I was still scraping them off my jeans and muttering under my breath when I managed to haul Earl up the deck steps to the deck above. If truth be told, the jeans aren’t the only thing that is covered in forget-me-not seeds but every time I get infested I toss the item into the washing and continue on regardless “I CAN’T hear you forget-me-nots!”

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Wheeling loquat seedlings, cherry plum seedlings and displaced herbs around to the veggie garden from the shed

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An oak leaf hydrangea flower on the way

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The only thing stopping this artichoke and the Jerusalem artichoke in this photo from being scoffed are the forget-me-nots and other “garden miscellanea” in this garden bed preventing the chooks from being able to see them

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Looking back from the first garden to the house where you can see one of our fine specimens of guard dogs on alert…pity they weren’t on alert the other day when we had some Jehovah’s witnesses breach the compound, walk up the steps, come onto the deck and tap on my window for a good 5 minutes before I realised that it wasn’t Earl’s tail on the window, it was (shock horror) PEOPLE! I calmly informed them that I had NO idea why our big dogs hadn’t bounded around the corner barking to greet them, politely said “no thank-you” when offered literature and said goodbye to them as they headed back down the steps. Suddenly the deck started to rumble, an eruption of barking ensued and shamefaced dogs who had been sleeping on the job pelted down to bark off the intruders…sigh…

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I hope you are all getting the picture as to why I am hiding under the bed and have NO idea where to start in the garden. Everything has gone completely mental and who would know what most of this is!

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Our mountain of home grown compost underneath some ex fish farm netting that has been dampened to keep the worms in it happy

Now that I am free to wander around the garden at will (forget-me-nots and all…) I have rediscovered my love of gardening all over again. It goes dormant for winter and appears to have erupted out of me with a vengeance this year. As a penniless student hippy who desires to live simply and sustainably I have to find all kinds of different ways to get what I want that don’t involve the green folding stuff (or even the silver stuff to be honest 😉 ) and the last week has seen me scrounging with impunity to our advantage. Here is a list of recent scrounges…

  1. Live Christmas trees scrounged by Stevie-boy, the son-and-heir, his Texan sweetie and my daughters from the firebreak between a pine plantation and our friends property
  2. 2 x 20 litre tahini buckets scrounged by Stevie-boy from Wholesome House health food shop for his shed that contained enough organic tahini to fill a large glass jar…BONUS!
  3. A visit to the Deviot Heritage Apple and Pear enclosed orchard yielded rooted cuttings of various kinds of herbs that had gone rampant into the path and that are now replanted into a large pot
  4. More angelica seed from the same garden scattered all over the place on Serendipity Farm
  5. Some cuttings of Tagetes lemmonii (an aromatic shrub native to south-eastern Arizona and south into Mexico) that I have on the windowsill in a mug of water with the hopes that the cuttings will produce roots
  6. 4 more small loquat trees that are now potted up and happy as clams in the veggie garden
  7. Lots of cherry plum seedlings found on a recent walk down at Bonnie Beach that are going to become the welcoming fence line trees on Serendipity Farm in the future
  8. A selection of pelargoniums and geranium cuttings that were sourced from plants growing on the side of the road on another one of our walks recently. I realised that some areas of Serendipity Farm are always going to be pretty arid so have decided to grow plants that will be able to tolerate low water conditions and geraniums and pelargoniums are perfect cheerful specimens. Soon to come will be lavender cuttings, rosemary cuttings and anything else that I deem drought ready and willing
  9. I walked with Earl over the Batman again and took my secateurs and a large plastic bag this time and arrived back home with cuttings from Cistus x “Purpureus” (Pink Rock Rose) and that unknown grey leaved sage type plant that I am experimenting with. I have put half of them in a glass of water on my kitchen windowsill and the other half are in potting mix in the veggie garden
  10. Seeds, seeds and MORE seeds…collecting like a crazy woman from wherever I can see something that I like (that doesn’t involve pole vaulting over someone else’s garden fence 😉 )
  11. I found a stash of possum sucked loquat seeds underneath a large loquat tree that I may, or may not have been going to predate (but the possums got there first…) and brought them home and shoved them into the ground in likely places of survival all over Serendipity Farm. I kept 5 back to plant in potting mix as I love loquats and want them all over the place as part of my lines of defence between us and the marauding natives. I figure, by the time they get to the heart of our garden where the “good” things are, they will be so stuffed full on lesser fruits that they will hardly be able to waddle…ever the optimist is narf7 😉
  12. I have been snacking on native cherry fruit as I have been walking Earl in the mornings down Auld Kirk Road. There is a particular tree that Earl likes to make a fuss over (due to a large brown hound once attempting to accost Earl in this exact place…) that gives me a little time to snack on the large native cherry tree in the vicinity. The fruits are small, reminiscent of cashew fruit with the seed sticking out the bottom of the fruit and the same shape (except a lot smaller) and quite tasty when they are ripe. There are so many of them the birds can’t actually keep up with them this year.
  13. Free seedlings from Madeline, my eldest daughter including red capsicum seedlings and some kind of melon (either rock or honeydew). I am just about to clear them their very own mountain of horse poo to grow happily in. The pumpkins that sprouted from compost hurled under the horse poo before we sunk the first pole in the veggie garden are all starting to grow like crazy so some melons may as well join the parade
  14. Still finding lots and lots of beer bottle caps on the side of the road that I am collecting to make this

That’s only a small selection of free or minimal cost things that I have been hunting out with a view to utilising them on Serendipity Farm. I get so excited about the possibilities of growing free plants and guess what I did this week…I FINALLY managed to sort through all of the potted plants and move them to one area. Steve helped me set up the overhead watering system so that most of them get watered without effort and only a few are going to need to be watered with the hose but pretty soon we will be taking some of them off to one of the Deviot Saturday morning basket markets with a large painted sign saying “Free to good home”. I would like to think that people will make the most of some free plants for their garden and that our potted babies will make someone else happy 🙂

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Even the possums have been hiding under the bed when faced with the wealth of crazy undergrowth that Tasmania is generating. I am starting to think that we have switched poles and Tasmania is the new Bali! This rose bush is usually twigs. It lives as twigs for most of the year and then goes twiggily dormant…this year it has been allowed to keep it’s leaves and these little roses smell amazing. “Cheers possums!”

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Steve’s Strelitzia’s are just about to bloom and this large black cicada has just hatched out of his pupae and is waiting for his wings to harden enough for him to fly off to the trees above and join hundreds of his brethren in a chorus that will herald the heat of summer. They are great food for birds and other animals and every 4 years we get invaded by these huge slow chirping behemoths

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The offending pipe that kept blowing apart when we turned the tap on in the veggie enclosure. This pipe is all that stands between water and the garden so I mended it today with some of those clips that you saw in an earlier image. Soon we will get another water tap inside the enclosure but for now this one is good enough

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This used to be the first series of 3 garden beds in our original set-up. We were late to the game this year so decided to use the existing infrastructure to get going sooner and after pulling out the now unnecessary partitions we have a fair bit more room to grow veggies

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The bed in the foreground contains silverbeet that our horticulture friend Jenny gave us months ago. They were languishing in a cardboard box with most of their soil washed away and I am amazed that they survived, let alone are growing like crazy now! It can only attest to their hardiness

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Next time I plant carrots I will use seed tape…as you can see “someone” accidentally tipped a few extra seed halfway along that third row…oh well, the packets were only $1 each and the thinnings should be prolific

I have been studiously ignoring Christmas almost as much as I have been ignoring the forget-me-nots to the same effect…it is just flowing past me regardless. I have reached a point where I am just about ready to tentatively stick my toe into the Christmas tide BUT I will be doing it at my pace and point blank refuse to get caught up in the hype. The television is manic with “GREAT DEALS FOR CHRISTMAS” but narf7 is content with “slowly, slowly catchy monkey”. Wouldn’t a monkey be great on Serendipity Farm? He could live in the veggie garden and have fun with the possum marauders on their nocturnal visits…but seriously, this year will be spent doing what we want, when we want. A most glorious wish and one that I get the feeling I just might get.

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Rows of peas going crazy…now I just have to work out how I am going to support them when they get bigger

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On the left hand side of this small garden bed are some scarlet runner beans that formed large bulbous tubers last year and that the chooks scratched most of the soil away from. I didn’t expect them to grow back this year but once we topped up the soil and added lots of horse manure they started growing again. Bonus crop with no sowing effort at all!

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The nut trees that had been living in Steve’s shed to protect them from the native animals are much happier out in the open

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My 2 yacon plants surrounded by the pallid tendrils of a forgotten bag of potatoes in the back of the pantry

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Horse poo mountain that I am going to leave in this spot because all of these pumpkins spontaneously grew here. I must have dumped some household compost underneath this spot and now they are growing happily…more plants that I didn’t have to coax to seedling height and transplant out…I LOVE this gardening lark!

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More free plants. This time they are some of the strawberries that I sourced from a stack of strawberry runners that someone threw onto the green waste at the local dump. Their loss, my gain! This pot is one of almost 15 that we will be planting out “somewhere” inside the veggie compound

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The Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks in situ. Is it just me or does that Egyptian walking onion look like Earthworm Jim? 😉

Bev, from the wonderfully inventive and sustainable blog “Foodnstuff” posted a post this week that was completely invigorating and got me out and about collecting plant material and getting stuck into the garden. Sometimes you just need a gentle shove and Bev’s post was mine. If you would like to see how a real garden works, click on the link above and head on over and check out Bev’s garden full of possibilities. I love Bev’s blog because every time I see a new post it gives me some new ideas and new ways of doing things that I didn’t know before. I am ever on the scrounge for useful information and Bev’s blog is cram packed full of it

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The sum total of the lettuce population in the garden…a bit sad really but we are just about to remedy this problem. I have to use slug/snail pellets in the garden at the moment because they appear to have heard on the grapevine that there is free grub on Serendipity Farm and I am NOT losing any more food to freeloading varmints…

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Looking into the veggie garden at the possibilities…note the amazing architectural construction of the gateway into the garden. Another one of my dad’s “wonderful creations”. I am just REALLY glad that he didn’t build the house! 😉

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Note the garden is now taking over the “lawn”. Note also that someone has to mow the lawn! (Note to self…mow the lawn BEFORE you show them another photo of this area! 😉 )

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This is what is commonly called “Elephants Ears” or Bergenia cordifolia by people who want to appear horticulturally clever “You KNOW who you are!”

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Note Earl has just about had enough of me walking backwards and forwards and taking photos…We picked up that Cray pot full of floats for $5 at the last progressive garage sale in march…I love the progressive garage sale 🙂

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Sadly, I don’t know what this is. I bought it in a pot at Wychwood because the lady told me that it was hardy. Here you can see it fighting a loosing battle against some native raspberries (note to self add “make tepee’s for the native raspberries as number 732 on your to-do list”…sigh…)

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Unlike the unknown perennial that the native raspberries are attempting to throttle, these little guys are edible. They are going great guns in the garden under the deck and you can see the small fruit forming on the vines now

I am just about to gird my loins and head off to a local friend’s home and spend some time chatting to her about making my idea about developing local community a reality. I know that there are a lot of people living in the area who might be interested in getting together with other like-minded people in order to develop our local community and share our combined knowledge to everyone’s advantage. My idea is to have a meeting to see how many people are interested, to start a group of us that are interested in getting together over a cuppa for a crafting group, baking circle, gardening group etc. all invested in teaching each other new skills and forging a sense of community here in tiny little riverbank Sidmouth. Stevie-boy suggested the name “Sidmouth Sustainability Group” which sounds like a plan to me and my friend is the perfect place to start because she has been a “hippy” for most of her life and knows more about sustainability than I have had hot dinners (and that is a LOT folks 😉 ). Together we should be able to at least host a few interesting talks about various subjects ranging from keeping goats, making goat cheese, spinning, gardening (Roxy) through to keeping ferments, cooking for allergies etc. (me). The idea keeps lodging itself in my head and I think it’s the right time to bring it to fruition. I will keep you in the loop about how it pans out but I doubt I will do anything about it till after Christmas (oh NO! I said it! If you acknowledge it, it will come! Sigh…)

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This spot under the deck is very dry and this is where I am going to plant lots of those pelargoniums and scented geraniums in order to keep moisture in the soil and to grow other shrubs that wouldn’t otherwise survive in this arid spot. There was nothing here last year and as you can see, we have some plants growing. A note to anyone who thinks that where they live won’t grow flowers. Plant snap dragons. Those snapdragons are self sown from “somewhere” (dad most certainly didn’t sow them!) and keep coming back and spreading year after year.

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This was a scented geranium that I potted up as a cutting last year that we planted out earlier in spring

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So is this one. They are hardy, have pretty flowers that stay on the shrub all summer and whenever they are touched by anything (including wind or water) they release a lovely scent. The perfect plant for under the deck on a hot summers day 🙂

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This bottlebrush seems happy out the back but it will soon be enclosed inside the dogs compound (we are going to extend it) so I can’t vouch for it’s continued happiness. We can only hope that Earl decides to “mark” things a bit further afield but I won’t hold my breath…

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Steve’s collection of “Solar Groovers”, little solar powered things that he has collected that wiggle in his music room window. You can see one of his tab books on the music stand in the background.

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Back on the deck now (much to Earl’s delight) and looking back towards the veggie enclosure. Note the gypsy hoards of chooks wandering around pinching things…sigh…

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Our bedroom window with assorted vegetation

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“Someone” who wishes to remain anonymous because he was a very silly man, left the door to the pantry open where he had placed his nice new crocs that he had purchased the day before…

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We can’t be having Earl get ALL the attention now…better do my cute “upside down” number and have a bit of a chew on what was left of that croc while I do…

Looks like I have earbashed you again but like the large black cicada’s that are hatching out all over the place, my summer exoskeleton is firming up nicely and I will be ready to fly in a week or so. I have even been contemplating the Christmas meal! Next week I will have the tree put up and decorated (although it will probably take me a month to take it down again…), decorations made of an interesting baking soda clay from this site… and goodness only knows what else will be fermenting on Serendipity Farm so stay tuned for the next summery instalment of simple sustainability on Serendipity Farm and enjoy your nice warm fires and hot chocolate because at the moment, I am doing the very same thing! 😉

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The cherry plum seedlings that I found on our walk at Bonnie Beach

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The loquat seedlings that I found on our walk in Deviot…if you keep your eyes open and look for things you would be amazed at what is right there on the ground

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I was happy to get a red cherry plum seedling so it should remain true to type and stay red as it grows with red cherry plums

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The herbs that I pulled out of the sawdust path at the Apple and pear heritage orchard in Deviot. No idea what they are but probably some form of mint. They look a bit sorry at the moment but they will soon perk up. Anything with a square stem (minty sage type families) tends to be very hardy

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Some of the cuttings that I took from the park over the other side of the Batman bridge while I was walking Earl the other day on the kitchen window ledge

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The Scented marigold shrub cuttings that I am hoping will strike in water also on the kitchen window ledge that is pretty full incidentally. Note the collection of shoes that need to be removed before we come inside due to being coated in something insidious and the lengths that we have to go to in order to ensure that they remain wearable and out of doggy reach.

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Oh what a crafty minx I am!

Hi All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Still fuzzy girl!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is a “Where’s Wally” flower

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

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Is THAT where you keep those delicious dog treats eh?

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

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

Fumbling past 50

Hi All,

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A strange reflection in the water this morning looked like a sandbar across the river but must have been a reflection of Redwood Island to the right of the photo

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I have been hunting for diatomaceous earth for AGES now. David at wholesome house has just started stocking it and I can now use it with our chooks to rid them of any lice that they pick up and our dogs to kill intestinal parasites as well as with horticultural usage to kill aphids etc. It is human safe as well and apparently contains lots of minerals via the silica in the teeny tiny little fossils that comprise the powdered product. So glad to be able to buy it locally and support a small business in town 🙂

I am at ground zero the day after the big 5.0. birthday and so far nothing seems to have been lost since crossing that invisible but all too real line between “young” and “old”. I don’t seem to have lost my mind (so far), I haven’t started to resemble poor Brigitte Bardot in the wrinkle status and I could still get out of bed this morning without falling over despite imbibing freely of the demon drink last night. I had an altogether lovely birthday spent with Steve and got phone calls from family and friends to wish me happy birthday. I also received some amazing gifts from some precious friends out there to remind me that meeting people online is just as real as knowing them in person. I received a gorgeous jar of jam from my twin sister Christi in Olalla. I am starting to think that we might just be 2 of many “twins” out there Christi…a confraternity of women of “a certain age” who all share a common ethos a glorious muddle of middle aged possibilities who absolutely and positively refuse to fade into obscurity and whom age finds “windswept and interesting”. My jar of jam is precious. I get the jam, which is seriously the very best jam that I have ever eaten, I get the wonderful jar which I hoard with glee and use for my various date pastes and strange food creations along with the other precious jars from Olalla that I keep on my pantry shelf AND I get an amazing ziplock bag as well! I can hear you laughing Christi but as we live 50km away from the city where we shop, we only go in once a fortnight and we have to buy all of Steve’s milk at once so we freeze it. When I take the containers out of the freezer I place them in one of your huge ziplock bags (that we can’t buy here) and they don’t drip all over the fridge :o). I can’t forget that Earl had the MOST fun out of the coffee perculator box that you send me my jam and my wonderful “Official New Novelist Guidebook” which I am going to use as I write my novel all about “Life…the universe…and everything” according to narf. Earl shredded the box to within an inch of its life and aside from a few of the wonderful scrunched up comic pages that you added for our entertainment that I managed to save, he dove into the middle of them and went rip crazy…I have never seen him so happy since we bought him,  a whirling dervish of hurling tearing rolling delight :o)

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I still haven’t opened the jam yet…the anticipation of that first spoonful is almost as delightful as the jam itself 🙂

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The wise words and the friendship of Christi and Keith are the stuff that novels are made of 🙂

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Stewart and Kelsey and I on Kelsey’s birthday on Sunday (the day before mine 🙂 ) …and Earl photo bombing…

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I won’t tell you what Earl was doing on the sofa but it was shameful! 😉

Steve had to do the fortnightly shop on my birthday but when he got back he handed me a small parcel from Kym, my bestie from high school who I only caught up with again after mum died last year. She is coming for a visit on Friday and we are going to “Do” Tassie in style. I was most curious to open the parcel and found a wonderful small book that she had created all about our friendship. I must admit I cried. Circumstances made us drift apart but good friends are very difficult to lose. Poor Steve isn’t going to get a word in edgewise for the coming week and Kym and I are going to be trawling wineries, running up miles on her hire car and Kym has apparently booked somewhere amazing for us to stay on Saturday night in Hobart. I thought that we were going to do a day trip down so that Kym could visit the markets but now we can spend a lovely leisurely time at the Salamanca markets, we can wander around Hobart and we can head off to see what we can find. The apartment that we are going to be staying in looks amazing! It is right on the waterfront at Salamanca and I am going to take so many photos I am going to resemble a Japanese tourist. It’s all going to be great fun and by the time she heads back to her wonderful husband Bruce in order to celebrate her own 50th birthday, she is going to be knackered! She might just sober up by the time the 19th arrives but I very much doubt it! :o).

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A picture from the wonderful book that Kym had made and sent to me. This picture was taken in 1979 at Albany Senior High School when I was in year 11 at high school. Our close knit little group comprised Janet on the far left, yours truly, Kym, Kylie and Rachel. The photo was taken on the top balcony where seniors were able to take aim and drop water bombs on the juniors below…ah the sweet memories Kymmy 🙂

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The note informed me about how we are about to stay somewhere wonderful in Hobart overnight. Another adventure!

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This is apparently a present from the dogs for Kym and I in Hobart…I wonder what it is… 😉

I then got a message in the post to tell me that a parcel had arrived. I was on the phone to my sister Pinky at the time and she had sent me a parcel last week for my birthday. We both assumed that it was from her but it wasn’t. We have to head up to the small local store on the Batman Highway which acts as our local post office as well to pick up the parcel and when Steve got back it turned out to be something amazing. Not only did I get a wonderful and most glorious pair of knitted trousers from Jess aka rabidlittlehippy, but I also received a magnificent learning experience in the form of a fantastic book from Linne of A Random Harvest. 2 bloggers that I have gotten extremely close to over the last few months and who I think of as very close friends had sent me gifts from the heart. I adore my trousers. They are completely and utterly “me” and as Jess so rightly pointed out from the photos that I sent her to show that they both fit and “fit” me, they match our cupboards :o). I am wearing them now and will be sporting the winter camo look all the way to Exeter when we deposit the cheque that Steve’s mum sent to me for my birthday that arrived the same day. I love the book that Linne sent to me and will spend hours poring over it because it is an incredible tale of adventure, spirit and understanding and an empowering educational aid to anyone wanting to set out and do something a bit different on their land. Its “me” to a tee and I will be forever grateful to you for being able to see exactly what I needed and to be the bearer of another precious learning experience for narf7 to quaff liberally to add to my wonderful life experiences to date.

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I love that Linne found this book in an Australian bookstore for out of print books. Low carbon miles, high in the kudos factor girl…you did well and you made narf7 VERY happy on her 50th 🙂

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Aren’t these trousers the bomb! 🙂

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Steve told me to “work with me baby!” so I did 😉

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The trousers are wonderfully unisex…just sayin’ 😉

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Not only did I get some wonderful trousers and a fantasic book but the 2 wonderful art pieces that you see proudly displayed on our fridge were created by Jess’s wonderfully talented son Jasper. I will treasure them always Jas, one day they might be some of the first artworks that you produced (and then I will frame them! 😉 )

Steve has been helping a friend renovate his mother’s home in Launceston and when he was talking about my rapidly approaching 50th birthday, he was telling Guy that I adore bowls. Indeed I could be called a bowl fetishist my adoration is so compelling. Guy casually mentioned that he had a bowl that I would probably love and that I could have. It was a cava bowl, a ceremonial drink drunk by Fijian natives in their ceremonies and that he would give it to me on my birthday. I had no idea that I was getting this and Steve kept it from me amazingly well because Steve is usually unable to keep secrets. Guy and Roxie arrived in the afternoon armed with what Steve assumed to be a small wooden bowl but was actually a large bowl full of fruit! The bowl is amazing. I did a bit of research about it online after Guy and Roxie headed back home and found out that it was carved from a single piece of wood. I was amazed and delighted to discover that the wood used was Thespensia populnea and one of its common names is “Milo” wood! How very fitting that a Milo wood carved turtle shaped bowl would come back to live on Serendipity Farm. We couldn’t have Milo live with us, but we can have this Milo turtle to remind us of him :o). They also gave me $6 worth of scratch lottery tickets and I won $11 so all in all my birthday was a ceremony of good friends, wonderful gifts and incredible bon chance

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My wonderful antique milo wood cava bowl. I have named him Atuin in honour of his incredible turtleness. Rather than holding the earth on his carapace, he appears to be holding fruit, not a bad trade off methinks and twice as tasty

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A bottle of sticky next to Atuin the great fruit turtle

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Just in case anyone else out there wants to avail themselves of a particularly sweet and sticky drop. I got this bottle all to myself. Steve isn’t partial to sweet and sticky but I, the little fruit bat that I am, love it!

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Not only did I get Atuin I got fruit! I will be working my way through Atuin’s contents for the next few days. The bowl is currently minus the grapes, that apple and the banana and the kiwifruit (that I am allergic to) went back home with my daughters. Kelsey ate one of the lemons but the rest will be used wisely, one with Steve’s fish tonight

I still have my sisters “goodie box” to look forward to and my brother phoned last night and told me that he has a lovely hand framed photograph of Denmark, my home town earmarked to send to me. I am an incredibly lucky 50 year old woman to have so many friends and family who care about me :o). Steve bought me a wonderful deep frypan made from carbon steel that he carefully seasoned and that Brunhilda hasn’t managed to melt yet, a wonderful new kettle that makes my early morning tea making a blissfully quiet experience and 2 amazing heavy stoneware bowls with “tilt function” that I already treasure beyond belief. I have all of my children turning up today (Tuesday) for an impromptu birthday lunch together and hopefully soon Stewart and Kelsey will move to Launceston permanently. Stewart is applying for jobs here and hopefully he gets one and is able to move from inner city Melbourne to outer cumbuckance Launceston to start saving for their own property out in the bush somewhere. Tasmania is still a wilderness state despite the best efforts of miners and loggers to clear-fell and dig up the entire state for a few measly jobs and a lot of profit to be funnelled off elsewhere. If Stewart is able to get one of the jobs he has applied for they can move into the unit behind the home that we own in Launceston and live rent free so that they can save up for their own home. It’s a great chance to get their feet on the homeowners rung and to get out of the spiral of paying $2400 a month rent on what is effectively a very nice shoebox in the middle of inner city Melbourne.

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Stewart looking like a Serendipity Farm health inspector just about to close the kitchen down and me doing my level best to hide the evidence 😉

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If the wind changes you will stay like that Kelsey! The remainder of the Stromboli’s that I made for lunch on Sunday got polished off by Steve for his tea that night along with some homemade oven chips. Do you like my magnetic knife rack? I do 🙂

Today finds me replete with the knowledge that I am both liked and loved and that 50 hasn’t dampened my ardour for life. I might have woken up a bit seedy but that was self-induced. Sweet white wine is indeed the debils work folks! I did have the presence of mind to stop drinking it when dinner was taking a long time thanks to interruptions from friends and relatives phoning up in the evening. I am usually in bed at 7pm and last night I didn’t get dinner till 8pm. My meal was wonderful. I managed to take a photo of the formed beetroot and chickpea patties (that look rather disturbingly like ground meat!) but alas, the wine rendered me somewhat senseless and I forgot to take photos of the finished meal, I was ravenous by the time I got it and it was absolutely scrumptious. Steve had bought some triangle seeded rolls to put the patties on and formed the patties into triangles to echo the shape of the rolls. We topped them with baby leaves, peppery with rocket and fresh sliced vine tomatoes. I had sliced marinated artichoke hearts because I love them, sliced pickled jalapeno chillies and lots of sliced avocado and Steve made me homemade crispy oven fried potatoes. I haven’t eaten potatoes since February and they tasted amazing. I topped it all off by eating half of the wonderful macadamia and coconut cream icecream that Steve had made for me and dragged my desperately tired derrière off to bed at 9.30pm. I fully intended to sleep in till 5am but one of the dogs let out a dream howl at 3am and I wasn’t able to get back to sleep. I lay in bed till 4.30am and decided to get up. I am trying to sleep in a bit as I can’t be getting up at 2.30am while Kym is here…the poor girl doesn’t want to be sitting up at night with only Steve to talk to as I have gone to bed at 7pm so narf7 is trying to redirect her habits for a week…it is a most interesting experiment that seems to be failing but at least I am trying 😉

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The delightful contents of the box my wonderful sister Pinky sent to me that we picked up today from the post office. The plate and the gorgeous blue shell bedecked container are made by a local producer in Albany that Pinky and Jason know well who sells their wares at a local weekend markets. The gardening gloves and the tin of gardeners balm are wonderful gifts for someone about to embark on a comfort free lifestyle and the gorgeous pashmak underneath will be lovely wrapped around my neck in Hobart on my rapidly approaching visit. Thankyou HEAPS sis and here’s a big slobbery smootchy hug and kiss from Tassie…now go wipe your face, you know you want to! 😉

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This glorious pile of amazing wool came from my wonderful daughters Madeline and Bethany. They always know the perfect gift to give me and homed in on my wool fetish to my delight. I have NO idea what I am going to make out of all of this amazing wool but most of the balls have a pattern with them and I can get creative and learn some new skills. The gorgeous fluffy pure white ball at the front has the strangest creature as the pattern that looks like some sort of rabbit crossed with a ghost! Not sure I will be making it whatever it is 😉

What does turning 50 mean to me? Not a lot really. I don’t feel any different to when I turned 49 aside from being fitter and healthier than I have been in years. Perchance turning 50 has offered me a valuable lesson in life appreciation. I think mid-life crisis are just people suddenly becoming aware that life is half gone…that we are entering territory that people don’t like to talk about and most people desperately attempt to deny. “Old Age”…what is old age to be honest? It’s something that comes to all of us, no matter how much we try to deny it or repel it. There isn’t anything sadder than someone who point blank refuses to age gracefully. You won’t find me fervently purchasing new breasts on the black market to be inserted by Asian doctors in special clinics…I am perfectly happy with what I have. You won’t find me scouring the shelves of upmarket department stores for promises of eternal youth in a jar. I could care less about eternal youth…it’s entirely overrated folks! So much work to maintain an exterior when the interior needs so much more. You can’t take all that silicone and eye work with you when you go folks even though it will remain here to be dug up by some future archaeologist and our vanity and stupidity will no doubt be marvelled at. Just think your fake silicone boobs that have a half-life might end up as trophies on some grave digger’s shelf or be sold on the future equivalent of eBay as “antiques”…

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My wonderful bowls that Steve bought for me, showing how they “tilt” They are heavy stoneware and gorgeous.

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Don’t these look like they are made of meat?! They aren’t, they are beetroot and chickpea burgers and they were delicious. I still have 3 of them in the freezer for the next time I need a burger fix

50 has found me thoughtful and in a redirection phase. I now have intent and purpose to move forwards. Steve and I have been bumbling around and now I have direction. I am channelling my energies towards what is important and getting the veggie garden up and running is incredibly important. After Kym heads off Steve and I will be sinking 4 more poles in the centre of the garden to help make the netting that will be covering the enclosure more stable and less likely to yield to possum bouncing. We want to plant horizontally AND vertically and after learning all about how clever possums really are, I don’t want a repeat of my bean cube. I want to harvest enough dried beans to actually use this year and will use last season’s harvested dried beans to grow this seasons eating beans. I cleaned out my RSS Feed Reader and now I am slowly adding precious new blogs that are all about growing your own food and learning to use what you grow to maximum potential. The internet can be a big waste of time (think Pinterest) or a huge boost to your information highway, its really up to you. I have been channelling my Pinterest addiction to find lots of new places to learn how to ferment foods, how to grow things and how to make things myself. There is a wealth of free information out there and Pinterest can allow you to find things that you are specifically after…you just have to resist the temptation to wade into the pretty pictures and just funnel your searches to what you are actually after.

Chinese Red Dates

Steve likes to surprise me with little treats when he goes shopping and this fortnights treats started with these Chinese red dates. Not only are they delicious, but they are treasured by the Chinese as valuable medicine. I am in the process of sourcing a Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Red Date) tree for Serendipity Farm as these babies are delicious

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This is coconut sugar. It’s a cross between brown sugar and molasses and tastes delicious. It’s another one of Steve’s little treats 🙂

I am going to write my first post for my new blog sharing experiment on “Not Dabbling in Normal” a compilation blog by some very interesting people all over the world. I need to get my first post up and running and find out how it all works, so far I am a bit confused about it but what the heck, in for a penny, in for a pound as my gran used to say! 50 has given me the impetus to start trying new things. I have decided that this is going to be my year of getting out of my comfort zone. I am going to do 1 thing a day that takes me out of my regular routine and that forces me to move forwards rather than remain safe. When I think of myself I imagine an image of someone who has plastered herself with protective glue and who sticks regular routine onto that glue like a hermit crab. I have all of my regular routines down pat…my inner control freak is most happy when everything is in its place. I was always good at mis en plus when I worked in the food industry. I like things to be “just so” and I don’t like chaos. I married chaos though so I am just going to have to learn to peel off some of my hermitty control freak layers and step out into the sunshine of the real world in my undies to see how the wind blows. Safe is good but it also stifles creativity and knowing that we only get 1 ride of this carousel called life, I don’t want to limit my life through my desire to remain contained and safe.

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We went to Launceston today to pick up some last minute things for Kym’s impending visit. Steve couldn’t find a hot water bottle on shopping day and we found one today but we also picked up a bag of toys for Earl from the thrift shop. He was pretty tired when we got home after dragging me all over Launceston on a most exciting walk and didn’t have the energy to rip them limb from limb so I tipped them into this old box till he regained his mojo

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Mojo regained! There aren’t many of these toys left and the box ended up shredded like wheat 😉

50 has gifted me the desire to set out on some new pathways. I am going to test myself. I am going to stop procrastinating and start “Doing”. I am just about to wood burn myself a sign that I am going to mount on the wall above my computer monitor. It is going to say “I can and I will”. I come from a long line of most determined women. They did amazing things despite their worldly limitations and I will be buggered if I am going to let the side down now! I will document my daily comfort breakers here and hopefully my journey into the unknown will help other control freaks out there break their own fears and will let them at least peel a few layers off their own hermitty shells of control to allow them to stop and smell the roses…watch a few clouds disappear into the ether and dance like they mean it. Watch this space folks…narf the elder is back…in pog form! See you next week. My comfort zone experience will be starting after Kym heads back home so the post after next should have some interesting components. Kym and I will be in full force doing Tassie to a tee this time next week so you can expect a few photos of the 2 of us and some adventures of our own. Till then, keep safe, but not too safe 😉

So long and thanks for all the fish 2012…

Hi All,

Just a little post to thank each and every one of you, my dear constant readers, for sharing what has been a most eventful and thought provoking year with us here on Serendipity Farm. I hope that you all front up tomorrow morning sans hangovers and raring to hurl yourselves into 2013. We plan on putting everything that we learned in 2012 into action this year. Feel free to come along for the journey…I am sure that there will be chocolate biscuits in the biscuit tin for all :). See you all on the flip side!

Penniless student horticultural hippies in love with life and living the dream

Older but most probably not any wiser penniless hippy students of life who love each and every one of you 🙂

There’s a mole in my head

Hi All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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