Can the good stuff in life ever be 30% off?

Hi All,

I am sitting here reading advertisements waiting for my latest pdf to download. I use a pdf writer to pinch recipe (and other) posts that amuse and delight me. I am easily amused and delighted so I have a lot of pdf’s but the acquirement of these pdf’s require that I sit here and spend a lot of time looking at advertisements while I wait for them to download. Today’s offering involves Barbara Streisand’s latest album, Pink Floyd pushing “The Endless River” and some unknown to me singer called “Lucinda Williams” who gave her album the illustrious title “Down where the spirit meets the bone”. It’s 30% off. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see a time or place where spirits meeting bone should be 30% off. If anything, fundamental soul should be 30% extra…just sayin…

Meet our resident Kurrajong "Curry". He/she (we are not sure which) has most cleverly seen other birds that come up to our windowsill being rewarded with cheese.  Now we have all kinds of birds arriving on the sill including Curry

Meet our resident Kurrajong “Curry”. He/she (we are not sure which) has most cleverly seen other birds that come up to our windowsill being rewarded with cheese. Now we have all kinds of birds arriving on the sill including Curry

"Excuse me humans, you appear to have run out of delicious cheese cubes. Do you think you could see your way clear to putting a few more out?"

“Excuse me humans, you appear to have run out of delicious cheese cubes. Do you think you could see your way clear to putting a few more out?”

Steve on strike on the shed roof because he doesn't think that his artistic talents are being fully appreciated...

Steve on strike on the shed roof because he doesn’t think that his artistic talents are being fully appreciated…

Ms Ducky, caught in the act of stuffing her craw

Ms Ducky, caught in the act of stuffing her craw

I just reblogged Mr 23Thorns latest attempt to sell books in his book establishment and if I lived in Africa, which I sometimes think I may as well be the amount of animals that track through Serendipity Farm on their way to “somewhere else” is reminiscent of the Serengeti, I would haunt like a grey wraith and Mr 23Thorns would have to have me evicted and subpoenaed for stalking. I hope you read his post. I hope you loved it. I hope milk came out of your nose when you read the bit about making your kids live in the garage and only come down at Christmas time and having to breathe through straws, even if you weren’t drinking milk. Mr 23Thorns is all over this writing thing. I am still learning how to tame my ellipsis. Might be easier if I wasn’t slothful about it all and took the time to actually learn a bit about the English vernacular but whatchagonnadoeh?

I LOVE Garage sales...

I LOVE Garage sales…

Especially when you get really good bargains

Especially when you get really good bargains

I liked the look of the Guinness cooler bags and when I lifted them I discovered that they each had 3 bottles of vintage Aussie Marsala wine in them. I got the coolers and the wine for $10..."bargain" :)

I liked the look of the Guinness cooler bags and when I lifted them I discovered that they each had 3 bottles of vintage Aussie Marsala wine in them. I got the coolers and the wine for $10…”bargain” 🙂

Old hairdressing scissors, a good vegetable peeler (finally!), an excellent staple gun, a set of pan pipes (I release my album next week...), antique blue delft Dutch tiles and a musical wine pourer

Old hairdressing scissors, a good vegetable peeler (finally!), an excellent staple gun, a set of pan pipes (I release my album next week…), antique blue delft Dutch tiles and a musical wine pourer

3 antique tape measures, a vintage auto compass, a Chinese vase, an old outdoor thermometer and a green glass float

3 antique tape measures, a vintage auto compass, a Chinese vase, an old outdoor thermometer and a green glass float

Horse brasses and some small handmade ceramic pots

Horse brasses and some small handmade ceramic pots

A crystal ball...or another clear float

A crystal ball…or another clear float

And lastly, for my daughter Beenz who collects old playing cards, a deck of soft porn vintage playing cards circa 1940. I bet she doesn't have a deck of these! ;)

And lastly, for my daughter Beenz who collects old playing cards, a deck of soft porn vintage playing cards circa 1940. I bet she doesn’t have a deck of these! 😉

So I bled out onto the page last week so what am I going to talk about this week? Well it’s Friday at the moment and I am inclined to pot seeds up today. Yesterday I hauled big rocks. I fought the dreaded Jack Jumper ants and won. In other words, they didn’t bite me. I did use a large mattock handle to roll the rocks down to their new home, being very careful not to go so slowly that the dreaded Jack Jumpers got their bearings and homed in on my tender narfy bits. I did it so that Stevie-boy can drive through our new gate without taking the new fence out in the process. It was hard enough to get motivated to construct the fence in the first place. Re-constructing it would be madness. Best we make sure it stays up in the first place and that involved moving large rocks from a garden bed that was in the way. A garden bed full of Jack Jumper ants.

Feral and fecund inside Sanctuary

Feral and fecund inside Sanctuary

Plenty of room for nefarious creatures to roam under cover...

Plenty of room for nefarious creatures to roam under cover…

I pulled out all of the weeds from the garden beds and added 8 bags of well rotted mushroom compost full of worms...

I pulled out all of the weeds from the garden beds and added 8 bags of well rotted mushroom compost full of worms…

And we cleared out the glasshouse ready for turning it into a plant propagation and germination centre.

And we cleared out the glasshouse ready for turning it into a plant propagation and germination centre.

It also contained a lot of enormous terracotta pots that I had filled, in a past life, where plants were the object of my intense adoration, with succulents and cacti. I was the succulent and cactus queen who tended her terracotta pots with joy and aplomb. We moved to Serendipity Farm and suddenly I had no time to pull out the weeds and when we got ducks they started to mysteriously disappear. I would walk past them and do a double take as there was a strange empty space where I was sure a succulent had been the last time I walked past…it turns out ducks love succulents. I mean why wouldn’t they? Succulents are the plant equivalent of slugs. They are just green skin surrounding a slimy centre and ducks adore them. By the time I worked out who was hoovering down my succulents it was too late…they were almost all gone. The duck wasn’t quite so keen on the succulents with added protection and so I still have a fair few of my cactus and now that we have liberated the rock gardens near the clothes line (I can put washing on the line without voortrekking around the outside like a buffalo girl!) I am going to plant the last of my semi wasted cacti that are still showing signs of life despite being semi-dehiscent out to their equivalent of “green pastures” to live out the rest of their lives (until Earl urinates them into oblivion).

Hoeing the soil

Hoeing the soil

More soil hoeing

More soil hoeing

How much hoeing can one family do?

How much hoeing can one family do?

I am sitting here thinking about how we do and accomplish so very much in our days in modern society but on the whole there is a general sense of dissatisfaction with our lot. I have kitchen windows that need a wash. I have a floor that needs a wash to be recognisable as a floor, I need to remove the cobwebs from the corners, evict the spiders, sweep up the dog hair and do all sorts of other things but how many of these processes are going to give me a sense of inner satisfaction. I wonder…I wonder what would happen if we didn’t bother to wash the windows. If we stopped scrubbing the bathroom till we could see our faces in the porcelain. Would we all die of terrible unsanitary diseases or would we simply stop buying as many bathroom cleaning products and buy a bit more time to do something that makes our heart sing? I love it when my heart sings. I know that I need to do the things that need “doing” before I can release that inner blackbird but I also know that some of what my mind keeps telling me I absolutely, positively, MUST do is absolutely, positively NOT necessary. So if any of you ever make it over to this little portion of the world, don’t be surprised to find dog hairs in the corners, tomato paste splashes on the splash back and a floor that is reminiscent of a Picasso painting. I am AWOL…my heart is singing…

Organic soil ammeliorants

Organic soil ameliorates

Soil ameliorates plus a nosy dog who quite likes the smell of that kelp...

Soil ameliorates plus a nosy dog who quite likes the smell of that kelp…

Blue barrels set up ready for rain action over the next few days (pity we forgot to check that the taps were closed...sigh...)

Blue barrels set up ready for rain action over the next few days (pity we forgot to check that the taps were closed…sigh…)

Donated big 1000 litre water container SQUEE! :)

Donated big 1000 litre water container SQUEE! 🙂

 

It’s Wednesday and we have done SO much! It would seem that spring springing has given us wings. We are the narf and Stevie-boy equivalent of bats…fairies are too cutesy for us and birds are already over-represented on Serendipity Farm so bats it is. We are flitting here and there but with steely determination. We are actually making things work and in the last few days I have planted out seeds, bought 2 lovely San Marzano tomato plants (I will buy 2 more next week) that are going to spend a little bit of time in the glass house as it is still too unpredictable out there in the real world to not expect a heavy frost. We headed into the city and picked up the plumbing fixtures for turning our 2 blue barrels into water collection devices and set them up. We just checked them to see if last nights rain had been collected and realised that the tap was open…sigh…tap is now SHUT. We headed to our friends and she gave us beetroot seeds, a Polygala myrtifolia which is a lovely little groundcover native plant with purple and yellow pea flowers on it. She also gave us a pot of rooted flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) as nothing seems to eat them here where the native animals hoover down the regular currants and as we were talking about what we were doing with the 2 blue water barrels she mentioned that they had a large water container that they weren’t using any more and she would talk to her partner and see if he still wanted it and if he didn’t, we could have it.

Fittings for the water container and screws for the gate construction inside the shed

Fittings for the water container and screws for the gate construction inside the shed

Steve crowbaring the hardwood panels from the shed to start making 2 doors

Steve crowbaring the hardwood panels from the shed to start making 2 doors

Crowbarring completed, hole cut with chainsaw and hardwood shed boards removed and dealing with the heavy tin flashing

Crowbarring completed, hole cut with chainsaw and hardwood shed boards removed and dealing with the heavy tin flashing

Door 1 ready to hang...

Door 1 ready to hang…

Door 1 hung :)

Door 1 hung 🙂

Free things are delicious! We got a phone call last night and it was delivered by her partner this morning on his way to work past where we live. We now have the capacity to store 1400 litres of water in Sanctuary and we are going to try to pick up at least another one of the large water containers to join the mix. I am hunting for a water tank to use outside the area to provide us with all of the water that we will need inside Sanctuary but for now I am just happy that we are able to save a bit of water towards the veggie watering endeavour. We went to a garage sale and got some lovely bargains and we are cutting double doors into the side of the shed near Sanctuary in order to get loads of manure, straw and oak leaves directly into Sanctuary without having to barrow them in. Steve just picked up the cement and dust to make me a concrete ramp into Sanctuary so that I can barrow things in whenever I want (including grass clippings etc.) Spring has been amazingly productive so far and we are showing no signs of slowing down just yet but mind you, the weather has been lovely and cool. As soon as it starts heating up more we will take it easier.

Stevie-boys Canon with his old 100 x 300mm Sigma SLR lens attached via an adaptor that he bought recently. Why waste these excellent quality lenses when they cost a lot of money late last century...

Stevie-boys Canon with his old 100 x 300mm Sigma SLR lens attached via an adapter that he bought recently. Why waste these excellent quality lenses when they cost a lot of money late last century…

The adaptor that allows Steve to use his other SLR lenses with his DSLR camera. A very clever invention :)

The adapter that allows Steve to use his other SLR lenses with his DSLR camera. A very clever invention 🙂 Perfect for taking photo’s of tonight’s solar eclipse/red moon if the cloud cover ever goes away that is…

Steve's old SLR cameras and lenses.

Steve’s old SLR cameras and lenses.

I have lots of photos to share with you of our past week and hope that you are enjoying your change of seasons as much as we are. We are both tired but very happy with how things are working out here. Have a great week and don’t forget to keep your eye out for the lunar eclipse tonight if you are in the viewing range. We should get a great view from here so long as the cloud cover disappears and Steve has his zoom lens on to see if he can’t take some really awesome shots. I will share them if he does. I am off to help Steve to hang the doors in the shed now so catch you all next week 🙂

I will leave you with 2 photos that we took in the city yesterday that prove that dogs can not only get along with cats, but can actually enjoy interacting with them…

Bezial and a great big British Blue Rex cat in the city. We saw the cat chasing moths in the window of this shop and Bezial wanted to say hello. At one stage they both had their noses pressed up against the window looking at each other...

Bezial and a great big British Blue Rex cat in the city. We saw the cat chasing moths in the window of this shop and Bezial wanted to say hello. At one stage they both had their noses pressed up against the window looking at each other…

"Don't go big doggy, I will share my moth..."

“Don’t go big doggy, I will share my moth…”

 

Of Ferments, Foments, Fizzing Synapses and the odd good book

Hi All

I have noticed that a lot of the blogs that I am following are starting to delve into the subject of thrift and frugality. As a penniless student horticultural hippy I am more than aware of the value of thrift and am not only immersing myself in thrifty pastimes but am incredibly excited and rewarded by finding as many ways to live as frugally as possible as I can. I spend a lot of time hunting out how to do things myself. I decided that my “special” thing would be that I knew stuff. Not anything that would get me that million dollars on a game show but useful stuff like how to make milk out of nuts, how to start a fire with knicker elastic and a stick and how to approach a grumpy dog without having your jugular ripped out…you know…”useful” stuff.

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Thinking about cutting my long hair short…I reckon I would look just like Audrey Hepburn…

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See…EXACTLY THE SAME! Told you so 🙂

I think that the power of not being wealthy is that you have to learn to rely on your wits to get you what you want. You have to learn to plan, to organise, to save up and to find alternative ways to get to your goals. I also think the most important thing about being on a low income is how you look at your situation. Steve and I might be living below the poverty line but we certainly don’t feel poor. We manage the money that we do receive well and I feel positively rich. I was gifted a good education (what price that?!) and am able to head to my local library and find books on almost anything I need to know. Whenever I want to find out how to do something I can head straight to the internet and there will be a tutorial or pdf somewhere with my name on it that will give me the information that I need to know for the task.

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That innocuous little pile of “stuff” in the shadows there is netting that we cut to start the long and laborious process of covering our garden bed

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My able assistant showing you how we have to unroll the massive heavy (did I say HEAVY?!) rolls of rainwater soaked fish-farm netting so it could dry out enough for us to cut it in half to use to cover the top of our fully enclosed veggie garden

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I am not just performing my morning Tai-chi routine here folks…I am tying up hundreds of metres of nylon rope in the hope that it will hold up the weight of the heavy fish farm netting

Steve and I are both problem solvers. We are diametrically opposed in just about everything and even that has its benefits…we tend to be able to see all sides of a problem (when we can stop bickering enough to unite our efforts that is 😉 ) and usually, not always, we can nut out a way to at least stem the tide till we can afford to do the job properly. I have a bucket list of wants. At the apex is a wind turbine, closely followed by a HUGE rainwater storage tank. After that I have various smaller wants that mostly revolve around us doing things, planting, plotting and most importantly “DOING”. The numero uno of everything that matters.

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“Check it out Leroy!” part 1 of 3…

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You can see it better from directly underneath this  portion…16m long and 5.5m wide (remember this is only one third of the total size of this MASSIVE great garden area. You can see the old veggie gardens dwarfed underneath this part of the garden

As a seeker of the truth of useful stuff I have a most amazing series of hard-drives cram packed to the brim with what I have found. I have been doing this for years and it’s only comparatively recently that I have started to put what I have learned into practice. Jo, from “All the blue day” recently asked her readers how they had been living more frugally. I commented but it got me thinking about what we do, that we no longer even think about that is frugal. I like to make as much as I can from scratch. That makes good business sense to me. Take out that useless middle man (BASTARD!) and you are left with a lot more money in your pocket so narf7 is on a mission to cure her penniless condition by making as much as she can out from raw materials and recycled “stuff” herself (and apparently talking in the third person makes it even better…)

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I found a very clever idea on Pinterest for half burying wine and beer bottles in the ground upside down for a most aesthetically pleasing and thoroughly sustainable garden bed. “STEEEEVE…GET DRINKING!” 😉

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Some of the seeds that we bought today to start planting out in our veggie garden as soon as we get it under cover and the beds sorted

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A selection of little babies to go into the garden…can you see their little smiling faces? No? Well you aren’t looking hard enough then! Picking up tomatoes and eggplants next week as we like to plant them straight into the garden as soon as possible

I make my own sesame milk for my tea. I used to make almond milk but almonds are expensive and so I started to do a few experiments and sesame milk is my new go-to milk sweetened with a little homemade date paste to give it a rough approximation of regular milk in tea. Aside from that I now culture kefir and kombucha, both of which add valuable probiotics into my non-dairy diet. I can make a very good approximation of yoghurt out of seeds and nuts but now I am delving deeper and have found that I can make a tangy cheese out of cooked beans and my spent sesame seed husks from making milk when cultured with a bit of non-dairy kefir tastes amazing when you dip raw apple slices in it. I am UBER excited about the fermentation process and how invisible industrious little critters can be beavering away in the background making our food digestible. By the way, did you know that our bodies contain more microbes than cells?

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I buy raw buckwheat kernel’s so that I can process it freshly as and when I want buckwheat porridge for my breakfast. That way it is both cheaper and better for me as the nutrients are retained inside the grain. In the background you can see a little bowl of soaking soy beans for my homemade organic soymilk kefir.

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I used the last of Brunhilda’s winter latent heat to cook all of these dried, pre-soaked beans so that I would have some beany material to experiment with over the next few weeks. I am going to perfect making fermented beans to add even more probiotics to my already seething bacteria laden body 😉

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Sometimes my endeavours to make everything myself backfires…

I also attempt to grow as much of what we eat as possible. Living 50km away from the city we shop once a fortnight and we shop well and if we run out…too bad. We are in the process of attempting to grow a food forest on Serendipity Farm to shore our future but the “penniless” bit gets in the way somewhat. Where regular people head out to the nearest Bunning’s we have to get clever. That’s where 4 years of horticulture and decades of watching my mum and Grandma take cuttings, grow from seed and just generally “make a garden from bugger all” comes in. We have figs, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, avocados, carob trees and lots of other food bearing shrubs that we have grown from seed or cuttings. Sometimes if you want something you have to go about getting it another way than the accepted norm. There is usually a way to get what you want but you might just have to think outside that box or learn to do things yourself or stand on your head to see things from a different perspective to get it

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Last years cuttings and seeds that are this years transplants into our garden. Learning how to grow your own food and plants is a fantastic idea if you are monetarily challenged

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Our friend who used to be in the witness protection but who outed herself and became “Jenny” gave us a stack of raspberry canes and 2 Marion berries today from her garden to transplant into our garden. Aren’t good friends wonderful? Jen has been our friend since we all did horticulture together in a local Polytechnic. She says that we are the only people that she would let into her house when it is messy (not that it ever is 😉 ) and the sentiment is mutual…THAT is friendship folks 🙂

If we need something we try to make it out of something that we already have. Enter Steve the amazing. I SWEAR his mum pinched him from a gypsy because this guy can MacGyver his way out of anything and can make pretty much whatever we need here with bits of wire, a bottle cap and some tree sap and what’s better…it lasts. Our temporary dog compound around the house to stop Bezial from wandering when we first moved here 3 years ago has stood the test of time. It holds Earl the fearless in and away from the feral cats that meow and spit at him through the gates so it must be strong. We are in the process of building a fully enclosed vegetable garden the size of a decent tennis court. Another means to an end. I also saw a lovely homemade basket woven willow cloche for preventing chooks from scoffing your preciouses that I am going to start making ASAP so that I can grow things in the garden again (who says Pinterest isn’t useful? 😉 )

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Despite Steve’s little joke with the sharp knife, this ISN’T what it looks like…no still beating heart was held for a single moment by this good vegan (can I still stay in the vegan confraternity this time?…Please?…) what you see before you is the squished husks of a couple of kilos of blackberries that we only remembered that we had when we were cleaning out our freezer in the shed. What to do with a couple of kilos of blackberries? Why make WINE of course!

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Part 2 of the wine making process. Part 1 was squish and soak in water for 24 hours…part 2 is where you sieve out the seeds and pulp over sugar into a sterilised container. Our container is somewhat larger than this small batch of wine needed but we are ever hopeful that one day we WILL fill a container and the “craic” will go on for weeks!

I make bread and just about everything else that we eat here from scratch. The more you bake/make it the better you get at it. I sub a lot of vegetarian options to reduce costs because meat is expensive and Steve could care less because the things that we cook taste delicious with or without meat. It’s all about sauces, spices, herbs and finding the right flavour bases (which we also make ourselves). We are not scared to delve into other cuisines and have found a wealth of amazing recipes, techniques and food ingredients this way. My current adoration of fermentation came from messing around with ferments myself but then reading about homemade miso, tempeh etc. and learning that fermented soy products are the only healthy way to consume soy…and why stop at fermenting soy? Just about every bean, grain, fruit and vegetable has some way to culture it and when you think of all of those little internal microbes you realise that adding a few more to the mix might just add something positive to the balance.

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“I Spy with my little eye…”

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“Itsy bitsy spider but she is flipping’ HUGE!” That will teach us to leave the fish-farm netting rolled up and out in the elements for months without touching it!

I spend a lot of time researching (from 3am till 7am) and then putting into practice what I have learned. I read a lot. I take books out of the library and read them. I am currently reading a book about creating gardens from bugger all (a good book indeed!) and the traditions of community when creating gardens. I am also reading Patty Smith’s autobiography and it’s an amazingly good read. I couldn’t tell you what she sang but I now know a whole lot more about this fascinating complex lady. Reading feeds your imagination and your soul. I am having some amazing dreams and remembering them now. Just needed to fire up the old brain box again 😉

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We took the dogs to the dog park. Note Bezial standing to the left doing NOTHING but sniff the same blade of grass for well over 15 minutes…may as well have a nap…

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Me attempting to stop one of the dogs noticing that this wonderful tree trunk is VERY close to the external fence and performing parkour moves before we could catch them…I don’t think that Beaconsfield is ready for Earl in full parkour

Our studies are also fermenting exciting possibilities. We now know how to knock together a rudimentary website. Nothing fancy at the moment but we are fast learners. Keep your eye on this space. We plan on turning Serendipity Farm into its own little blog space in good time. I am also getting a niggling feeling like I am neglecting our local community in all of this research. What if I was to start a group of like-minded people in the local area? Predominately we could get together over crafts at the local hall or perhaps we could form a baking circle? What about if we started a gardening group/club and shared our information and plant material? What about if I headed over to the local community centre and showed people how to do more with less? What if? What about? It all boils down to taking all of this amazing information and sharing it and THAT dear constant readers is what narf7 is all about. That’s what this blog is about. I have an omnipresent overwhelming NEED to share. I think I was born to share. Imagine how exciting a community of like-minded people could be? Take your stagnant little suspicious neighbourhood and turn it on to possibilities…Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is showing small communities how to get off the grid entirely with wind turbines…a large wind turbine is too expensive to even contemplate for a family… for a couple of families…but what about an entire community? Can you see the possibilities?

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This is the only way that Steve can get the dogs to run around in the dog park…note the bag of dog treats in his hand…

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You can see why these 2 are particularly active if you look to the right of this shot…sigh…

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Earl after running around like crazy, “smiling” up a storm

I am all about the excitement of new possibilities and not giving in to the depressing morass that society has found itself bogged down in lately. I am not an ostrich, I KNOW that we need to be aware of Global warming and the current crazed economic threat of world monetary collapse BUT I can’t personally “do” anything about that…I CAN show people how to do more with less. I vote with my feet and my moth filled wallet and I can learn to do more with less. So can you. Have a great rest of the week folks. Get stuck in to trying to do what you can with what you have. Make it a challenge, not a chore and see how your life and your degree of satisfaction increases exponentially with the results 🙂

Confraturnity of Chrones

I just wanted to share a gorgeous image that my sister shared with me on Facebook. THIS is a life well lived folks and what I am aspiring to with not only my wonderful sister Pinky, but each and every one of my fantastic confraternity of prospective crones. A reprobated and bolshie old age to each and every one of you 🙂

A week in pictures…

Hi All,

I have a post ready for today but at the last minute, when I was hunting through the images that we have accumulated over the past week I decided that I might tell the story of the week that was in pictures. They say that a change is as good as a holiday and with Steve’s guest post last week you have had a fortnight off ;). Are you ready to wander through Serendipity Farm? Here we go…

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Having never made homemade thick syrup before I had no idea how to go about making some but never one to back down from a challenge I forged ahead…without a recipe…and without most of the ingredients that you would be inclined to use to make a heavy syrup. It consists of raw sugar and floral green tea reduced. I had a vague recollection about having to test a drop on a saucer of cold water but wasn’t entirely sure what consistency it had to reach. I realised that it wasn’t going to be a thick syrup and had jumped straight to green tea toffee but to be honest,  It’s amazing it managed to get to this stage but after pouring it onto a teflex sheet to set hard…it didn’t. I ended up with a bendy semi-set toffee…what to do?

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Refusing to give up on my vague recollections as fact, I remembered how you can turn semi-set toffee into “taffy” by pulling it. I buttered up my hands and got stuck in to pulling it. Despite liberally buttering my hands this stuff stuck. It didn’t turn to taffy, it didn’t do anything aside from stick to anything that it touched. It is languishing in the fridge in a bowl thinking about it’s actions. I figure we will melt it over homemade ice-cream…and in the words of Jason Nesmith of Galaxy Quest fame “never give in, never surrender!”

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You see before you another selection of half-assed food preservation. The yellow jars are lemon curd/butter. The dark jars are citrus marmalade that was also made with raw sugar and the lighter jars are 6 jars of date and apple paste. I didn’t want to waste some apples that were a bit floury, a huge stash of lemons and Steve just wanted marmalade so what’s a girl to do? These 10 jars of preserves are 8 more than I have made in my 50 years prior to this. This preserving lark is eminently satisfactory 🙂

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What happens when your husband is thinking about something else while he is putting the kettle on to boil 😉

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Time for tea…

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Homemade Asian stuffed buns (for Steve) and the top level of the steamer holds a rich chocolate steamed sponge that he had with homemade custard for dessert

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The buns and stir fried veggie accompaniment but I forgot to take any pictures of the dessert

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“A real sunbeam!”

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It pays to keep your eyes open when you are perambulating around your local neighbourhood. Steve and I found this beauty floating just over the road from our driveway…how convenient! A pity I had to wade out  in the freezing cold water to get it but them’s the breaks and this baby has been earmarked for water storage inside our new veggie garden 🙂

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Decanting the results of a week of Kombucha fermentation mixed with a litre of juice into bottles for secondary fermentation. I am mixing glasses of delicious Kombucha and non-dairy kefir and the results are delicious. Even Steve is drinking the Kombucha because it is really tasty and eminently customisable. My next batch is going to be fermented with some fresh ginger and apple juice.

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Another tea. That pile of riced red potatoes covers a good old fashioned shepard’s pie with some grated cheese on top. Steve proclaimed it “delicious”

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One of multitudes of babies hatching out all over the place

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I have been throwing harvested perennial seeds all over the place in the side garden and finally some of them are starting to grow… those osteospermum daisies days are numbered though!

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We still haven’t finished cutting up the tree that fell into the side garden thanks to the incessant rain but the sun is finally starting to win out and even though the side garden is full of tree, it’s looking quite pretty at the moment

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More tree and more garden

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Still more tree but the other end of the garden

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At least you can see we have at least been TRYING to cut up that tree 😉

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Cutting foraged steel poles to be sunk into the ground and concreted in to stabilise the netting over the top of our huge fully enclosed veggie garden

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Drilling holes

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Holes are needed to string wire through to prevent mass invasion from above by possums

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Another tree that fell needed to be cut so that we could get our wheelbarrows full of concrete through to the veggie garden

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You can see how damp the weather has been by looking at that sky. We were racing against the clock to hammer the poles in and then concrete them in before the rains came

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In the foreground you can see the roots of the tree that fell down and the proximity to the new veggie garden along with the exposed old veggie gardens that have been completely predated by chooks since we uncovered them

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But not before I harvested all of the spinach!

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Jerusalem artichokes that I found growing on the side of the road and rehomed on Serendipity Farm and a wild lettuce that just decided to keep them company

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Steve was gifted an old empty beer keg not so long ago and aside from vague (and vain) aspirations of turning it into a still (HA!) he had to rethink his gifted keg and thought that he might make it into a rustic coffee table. After realising that we don’t need a coffee table he rethought again (all of that thinking 😉 ) and came up with turning it into a stool for his music room. Here you see the remnants of the old leather jacket that I used to cover a stool a few months ago being used again to cover a section of plywood that Steve cut into a circle. The old pillow gave us the padding material and with some rudimentary tools we turned this pile of “stuff” into this

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A padded leather covered keg topper for a musicians derrière

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“Can I have it?”

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Sorry…No, but you CAN pretend you are D.J. Earl…will that make it better?

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He’s all soul 😉

Lastly, here’s a nice composite picture that Steve made using some new software that he recently got called “Snapseed”. It’s much easier to use than Photoshop and great fun to boot. The flower is in the side garden and if you look VERY carefully on the left hand side you can STILL see that tree ;). All in all a good way to say “seeyalateralligator” for today and wish you all a great week ahead…

prewtty

Brunhilda feeds tonight…

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Processes and possibilities

Hi All,

It’s Tuesday and we are heading into Launceston for the day. We decided to go today because we received a “power outage” forecast in the mailbox for today promising us a day without power so we decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and go in to pay off our Polytechnic fees for the year and sign up for our course. Since I last posted we have been beavering away in the garden and bumbling around Serendipity Farm in general. Steve has been out fishing and caught a few that he felt sorry for and put back and he went to town to help a friends mum remove a pile of debris that came from an old carpet warehouse that was in the upstairs building of an inner city shop that she purchased and is going to renovate the top part as her home and have a shop underneath. The warehouse contained lots of long steel poles that go in the middle of display rolls of carpet and Steve’s friend told him that he could have as many as he liked. Steve had the brilliant idea that they could be used when we make our enormous edifice to human ingenuity of a vegetable garden and a morning helping a friend has given us another cornerstone to our ethos :o). I learned from Jessie/Rabid that I had to feed Audrey (soon to be renamed) directly before I put her into the fridge for her sourdough hiatus so that she could languish in style whilst feeding on her bounty. I had fed her, but about 8 hours earlier so I pulled her out of the fridge and fed her up and she rose up beautifully…is there nothing that this lovely and most gracious lady can’t do? Rabid shared about how she and Bertha (Audrey’s mum) are harnessed together and work as a team. I am still learning all about the team work and am having to do a lot more forward planning because you can’t just grab a jar of dried yeast from the cupboard and “bake”. You have to nurture the sourdough back to a happy state after feeding it and you have to plan your prospective baking event in advance because just about everything that involves cooking with sourdough takes more time. I am a processes girl and love the new routines but am still learning my timing. Last night Steve was running a diagnostic on the computer that took a LONG time and I didn’t get access to my sourdough information until 9.30pm. I was tired and crabby and poor Audrey needed feeding, dividing and putting back to bed in the fridge. I managed to grump my way through making the pizza dough for Steve’s tea tonight and what seemed like an ENORMOUS quantity of bread dough for baking later on today when we get back in and ended up with a kitchen full of flour, a bad temper, a twitching husband and poor Audrey being subject to being harnessed to a cranky cow rather than a willing helper. Once I learn the processes I love to refine and hone…I am always carving and grooming my processes and making them run like a well-oiled machine and someday, hopefully soon, this new baking friend and I will share some amazing adventures :o)

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This is what we feed our chooks and it is fortified with calcium (in the form of shellgrit) and has lots of grains and seeds. They seem to like it and when we discovered the 3 newly hatched chicks the other day we turned this into…

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This with the aid of my trusty Vitamix high speed blender.

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Here’s 1 of the babies, the rest are underneath “Blondie” our silver laced Wyandotte hen

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Steve made another thin spoon out of golden sassafrass…the metal teaspoon is for size comparison…Steve isn’t quite up to forging his own steel just yet 😉

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What’s left of my most comfortable early morning slippers…If you are reading this Stewart (oh dearest son of mine kissy kissy)…you know what to get your dear old Mam for this mother’s day! (Cheers Earl…sigh…)

We are still going through troubled times with the dogs refusing their food on days when it isn’t straight meat. Bezial is the worst culprit. We know that dogs need more than just meat for their health. They aren’t straight carnivores like cat’s are and need fibre and vegetables etc. for their internal health. Bezial and Earl are both good representatives of what is known as a very strong willed dog breed and Bezial is up there with the most stubborn of dogs. He has been refusing to eat for 2 days now and Earl has just been skimming the meaty lure off the top of his fibrous ingredients. They have a bone stash outside that Bezial has been living off and he even ate a few of the despised dog biscuits last night whilst looking at me piteously as if to say “you are starving me woman!” I can’t back down on this issue because it is what is best for the 2 of them but ignoring those pathetic eyes is very hard! Bezial is chief manipulator and attempts to get Earl to join him on his hunger strikes but Earl’s hunger is more important than Bezials need to be the boss and get his way and Earl has yielded to the foodie lure much to Bezials disgust so he is standing stolid on his high moral ground and I can hear his stomach creaking…good luck with that Bezial! If my children couldn’t make me give in to their foodie whims, you have NO chance! 😉

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Mum and baby kookaburra having a drink and a bath in some of the water baths that we keep topped up with fresh water. We have had a lot of babies born on Serendipity Farm including baby cuckoo shrikes, baby black cockatoo’s, baby butcher birds and baby kookaburras.

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Mum on watch while her baby splashes about in the bird bath

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An oak sapling takes 10 years to produce its first acorn…I think this might well be Serendipity Farms very first acorn! It grew on an oak tree that grew from mulched oak leaves taken from the front of the property

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There isn’t much flowering on Serendipity Farm at the moment…everything is on heat watch and is just marking time till we get some rain but this little nigella proves that if you pick the right plant for your situation, you can still have colour in an arid place

I have been following a lot of blogs that share how to do all kinds of things for yourself from foraging from weeds through to building your own wind turbines. I am up for the weeds but not quite ready for the turbine yet! I knew that you can make kefir with coconut milk and so decided to make my own coconut milk from dried coconut in the pantry. I found a good recipe, I whizzed up the soaked coconut with its soaking water and strained it all through a clean cotton pillow case (gotta get me a nut bag…). I took the remaining pulp out to the food dehydrator to make coconut flour and smugly placed Kid Creole (my kefir grains…newly named from the 80’s band “Kid Creole and the Coconut’s”…) into about a cup full of my coconut milk. My coconut milk separated into cream on top and whey underneath and I didn’t care…my kefir grains sat there…and sat there… and sat there…and nothing happened. I got a bit concerned when the next day the milk was still watery and the kefir grains hadn’t set the milk and I decided to take mercy on Kid Creole and clean him off and put him into a glass of regular milk where he is fermenting to his heart’s content. I blame Rabid and her organic milk…she has spoiled Kid for anything other than pure dairy! ;). When we were in town on Tuesday we headed to the fruit and veggie shop and I found 8 mangoes for $4. I thought that was a pretty good deal and bought them along with half a rockmelon for $1.50 and when I got home I cut them up and froze them for my morning green smoothies. I also found passionfruit with lovely wrinkled skins that were fragrant and promising so I bought 2 and when we got home I sieved the pulp and juice from the seeds and poured it into Steve’s home-made orange and lemon cordial that I made the other day. It was already delicious but the addition of 2 passionfruit made it heavenly and after I picked some of our fragrant ripe ex-tip strawberries and pureed them up with about 500ml of the orange and passionfruit cordial the results both smelled and tasted amazing. Homemade isn’t second best folks…it’s the bomb!

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Passionfruit seed from 2 passionfruit drying out on a coffee filter ready for me to have a go at growing them from seed

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Same goes for rockmelon 🙂

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Here we have a plethora of seed etc. all waiting it’s day in potting mix. The bags are full of fermenting fruit. I am doing experiments and am trying to echo nature to get the best germination rates. I figure that plums and fleshy fruited plants would drop their seed and it would either go through an animal or would ferment on the floor and so I am prefermenting the fruit in it’s parental juices to see if it doesn’t grow better. Might work…might not. Thats the beauty of experimentation and if it grows “Good oh!” if it doesn’t “Them’s the breaks” and I will put it into the compost bin 😉

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Coconut milk on the left and coconut pulp on the right. The pulp is now dehydrated and in a jar in the pantry waiting to be used in recipes. I might even start fermenting the pulp before I dehydrate it for better digestion…so many experiments…so little time in the day! 😉

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Those large leaves are my turmeric that finally started to grow. I bought organic turmeric from a local health food shop and it loves the conditions in the glasshouse, which is lucky, because that is where it is going to have to live if it wants to survive on Serendipity Farm! 😉

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The last of the turmeric taking its time…pay NO attention to the Oxalis…I don’t! 😉

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A pot full of Oxalis and Discorea elephantipes developing their basal cordex amazingly well…nice and corky and round, my favourite kind 🙂

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One of my cardamom plants that seems to be loving the conditions in the glasshouse. I might get Steve to make me a big raised planter box that we can plant the turmeric and the cardamom in as a more permenant fixture in the glasshouse

Before we headed into Launceston to sign up and pay for our new course at Polytechnic yesterday, I took out the sourdough pizza dough that I had mixed up the night before from the fridge where it had been sitting in stasis. I left it on the counter because the recipe called for it to ferment 8 hours so I figured that it would be ready to turn into pizza when we got home. I eyeballed it when we got home and gave it a suspicious sniff and it smelled lovely and had risen to double its size.  We had more than enough for a large pizza tray and so I rolled some very thin and put it on another tray along with some thinly rolled out dough with some cheese pressed into it. We baked it in the bbq while we were topping Steve’s pizza and when we were ready to put the pizza in the oven Steve got to taste the results. He was more than happy with the flavour and how crunchy the thin dough was and the cheesy twisty thing’s tasted great as well…I was starting to get excited by now because the sourdough was actually rising, rolling and behaving like real bread dough! Steve pulled his pizza out of the oven after 15 minutes and ate the entire thing and pronounced it “delicious”. We have a large bowl of sourdough bread in the fridge rising slowly and tomorrow we will bake 2 loaves. If the loaves turn out, I am going to pronounce this sourdough experiment completely and utterly successful and will start baking in earnest (or Brunhilda…whichever one comes first 😉 ). I checked Audrey and found that she had escaped her container and was spilling down the side so rehoused her in a larger taller container to allow her to slowly grow and eat her organic rye flour at her leisure. It is going to take me a little while getting used to having to plan so far ahead when baking but I love processes and so am enjoying the learning experience and the possibilities that sourdough baking bring to Serendipity Farm.

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Isn’t this baby gorgeous?! I had to take a photo of it and share it with you 🙂

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The possums have been restless…sigh…note the complete lack of leafy greens on the top of this bean cube? They don’t eat the bean pods so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much…mutter…mutter…

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Eggplant futures!

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Mulch futures soon to be seen to migrate about a metre to the left…

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The last of the mulch futures…not sure where this is going but if we don’t need it in the front garden it can go into the stockpile ready for using in our new enormous enclosed vegetable garden…I love saying that “ENORMOUS ENCLOSED VEGETABLE GARDEN”! I am going to yell it tonight at the top of my lungs when I go outside at about 10pm before I head off to bed and I can hear the possums fighting over my bean bed… sigh…

I was thinking about processes while I was making my coconut milk (which I am going to have to think of something to do with now that Kid Creole has refused to work with it 😉 ) and how we can choose to pick up something ready made from the supermarket OR we can choose to have a go at making it ourselves. When you buy a product from the shelves it has “cost effectiveness” embedded into its ethos. The product is there because someone wants to make a profit out of it and you can rest assured that its flavour profile has been compromised in order to give it an extended shelf life and keep the cost down. When you make things yourself you might have to factor in the cost of making the item (electricity, personal effort etc.) BUT you get so much more out of the process. You get to learn the process of how to actually make the item, you get various items through the process, i.e. When I made Steve his homemade cordial I got orange skins to preserve and some for the compost, I got passionfruit shells for the compost and I got passionfruit seed that I am going to attempt to grow. When I bought rockmelon to put into my green smoothies I got the shells to put into my compost and the seed to attempt to grow as well as the frozen rockmelon pulp to add amazing flavour to my drink…we can customise what we make to our own personal tastes…too much sugar? Add some lemon juice…not enough sugar, add some more. It might take more time to make something yourself than it takes to grab something from the supermarket but there is an amazing depth of satisfaction to be gained from making your own and cutting out that insidious middle man who thrives on the profits of others. You can also take advantage of what is in season and preserve it for later and again, the satisfaction of shoring up your supplies for another time and giving yourself a degree of food security is immeasurable. There is another benefit to doing things yourself…in my case it results in my efforts to collect and save fruit seeds makes the kitchen smell AMAZING! :o)

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More pumpkin futures…another experiment. This is inside one of the compost heaps and aside from a few manky potatoes that get regularly stripped of leaves by either possums reaching in, wallabies waiting for the potatoes to (stupidly) poke out or slugs just slithering about at their leisure picking the tastiest bits to chew…they don’t like pumpkin leaves but they DO love the young fruit :(. Again, I see it as another way to learn how to be clever…I figure by the time I am laid 6 ft under I will be the cleverest woman in Sidmouth! 😉

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The chives are so happy they are flowering…wallabies LOVE the allium family, the chives close cousins, the garlic, have all had their tops munched down by the wallabies that parade around the outside of the veggie garden at night looking for anything poking out

The more you pare back from your life the more beautiful the simple things you retain become. I am enjoying my early morning wake-up cup of tea SO much more now that it is my only cup of tea. It tastes amazing and I fully appreciate it accompanying me as I read my rss feed reader blogs. I always have my eyes open for opportunities to collect plan material on our early morning walks with the dogs and have a large pile of all different kinds of seeds collected locally from perennials, trees and shrubs that are doing particularly well in our area. I collected some seed from a shrub at the Polytechnic where we signed up that appears to be a type of hawthorn with large panicles of white flowers and very large red fruit. It has enormous thorns and was growing in a very arid part of the garden all of which make it an excellent choice for growing on Serendipity Farm. Thorny plants are great habitat for small birds as are shrubs that are tall enough to make it difficult for predators to climb. Fruit and flowers are a bonus for bees and food for birds and it appears to be hardy enough to grow in very dry conditions making it ideal for our area. I phoned up the West Tamar Council and asked them about a large pile of wood chips that I have been eyeing off for about 9 months now. The parks and wildlife resources manager phoned me back and told me that if the pile had been there that long without being used that they obviously didn’t want it and that I was welcome to it! Steve and I spent 1 ¾ incredibly well spent hour’s today collecting 4 trailer loads of free mulch. It is rotting down nicely and is a good combination of leaves and bark and was nice and damp which shows how good it is at retaining moisture because we haven’t had a lot of rain for the whole summer. We left some around the base of a large liquidambar so that it wouldn’t be compromised by our removal of its windfall mulch and I am going to spend most of tomorrow shovelling it all over the garden under the deck and along the driveway to cover the exposed and parched soil.

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The tomato jungle…all the fruit is contained in this jungle…I am going to have to be narf7 the explorer and go hunting in here one day soon (or try to con Steve into doing it for me 😉 )

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My spinach beds, plundered on a daily basis for my morning green smoothie habit but it seems to have made them stronger and they haven’t wanted to go to seed so far…maybe pinching leaves all of the time is a good thing for a plant? The little beetroot haven’t amounted to much (they were the teeny ones left over when we harvested the bigger ones) but I figure I can eat the leaves if they don’t form roots so they have earned their place in the garden…note the numpty who’s shadow is included in this shot 😉

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Our corn bed with rocket going mental/to seed. I am allowing the rocket and lettuces to go to seed now so that I can collect seed for next years crops 🙂

I had best stop waxing lyrical and head off to sort out some photos to accompany this post. No Bev… it aint short! ;). I just have to hope that my enthusiasm for life is infectious and that my happiness in the simple processes bleeds through to you my dear constant readers and gives you your own simple enthusiasm for your own lives…at the end of the day…what more can we really hope for? See you on Saturday when I may, or may not have made some lovely yellow dishcloths with the pattern that Rabid sent to me…more like I have knitted a few rows…Earl has pounced on my most interesting moving yarn and either grabbed it and run, rendering the square suddenly puckered and decidedly unsquarelike or snicker snacked off the wool and run off with the ball…either of these 2 eventualities are highly likely! 😉

Frans AWOL so i am in charge

Hi All, I love potatoes…as I was walking home with Earl the other day I was thinking about my brother’s friend who is (how shall I say this…) a bit on the rotund side ;). As with most Aussie “blokes” they all have their little nicknames for each other. Why on EARTH go with the moniker that you were given at birth when you can shorten your name and add a “Y” or an “O” or an “A” to the end of it i.e. “Jacko” , “Bazza” and “Barnsey” (in fact ANY vowel at the end will do…). Another fun thing to do is to give your mate a nickname that has something to do with their choice of employment like” splinter” (works with wood) or the best of all (and the most pertinent to this post) is to take a look at your mate…size him up for his physical attributes and think up something HILARIOUS to call him for the rest of his life. My cousin Chris has always been rake thin and so “spike” ended up being his moniker and my brother’s mate “spud” obviously fell into this category. I, personally have a love Love ADORE! Relationship with potatoes a.k.a. spuds so much so that I have, in my previous life, somewhat resembled this versatile and humble tuberous vegetable myself.

This is all our own grown food and it tasted emmmm

This is all our own grown food and it tasted emmmm

Ok Steve here, I suck at typing firstly and my spelling is awful.. Ok Fran seems to have left and I can’t seem to see any words to post in her blog. Here are some words for you all from me… ok time to get wordy arty and clever. Emm ok firstly we have made it, we have become double diploma students and I am really proud of us and especially Fran. Earl says he is a diploma student and his is in chaos and Bezials is in sulking. Ok now we have a few weeks off till I drag Fran off into the world of web design , I think we will both have a bit of fun here and I’m sure a few arguments lol. I wish I was able to talk and the computer typed stuff, I remember a friend in the uk had a program that supposedly did that and it was hilarious , ok I just boiled the kettle and decided that I was going to have a beer instead. I have a beer problem here as when I have it I want to drink it all really fast and then I fall asleep and that’s bad, I want to watch batman tonight so I won’t have another after this. I’m sorry to frans readers that this post won’t be a stimulating work of words but I know that the girls will like it , I think they like to take the piss out of how I say stuff and type it , that’s ok they don’t know I will use spell check to make this shine lol. It’s a weird thing when you have been at a place on and off for the best part of 4 years, you sort of feel weird and a strange thing happened today Fran said I will miss this place , and you know what so will I. I think it’s the fact we have spent so much time putting us onto paper and sending our words and designs into Nick that we will miss the way we have had to sort what we do and make sure it’s all ready to be seen , I hope that makes sense to you all. We would work really hard at time and spend days in the house making plans and sorting out online what we needed to make sure that our work was the best we could make it. We made a lot of friends at the Polytechnic and some we don’t see much and some we hear won’t be there next year ( don’t panic Nat lol) (Cory) I guess people come and go from you lives but I also think some people will always be there and will always be a part of you and what you have become. James Nat Nick and all the other people that we have met along the horticulture way will have all played a part on what we are today (bums lol ). ok so I think that we all have this in our lives , I remember when I left school for the last time at 16 the feeling was very odd and a little scary if I’m honest, it’s the unknown as I didn’t have any pathways in my life set out and drifted from one job to another. I guess fate drive some people and I was defiantly one of them and fate I thank you for the day I answered the question to what is the meaning of life posed by someone that I hadn’t met yet but was destined to meet. We are here for a reason some may not know that reason till they die, some know why and are trying to make a difference and some float along and let things take them. We all have a path and we can try and change that path but boy does fate , god, some other force try and pull you in a certain direction , sometimes this makes you feel like you are out of control but you never really are. My answer was 42 and my life was never the same from that fateful and amazingly lucky day. Fran always says do you feel lucky and do you know what you have in your life, I can’t really ever say just how lucky I am and how happy I am, I’m not good that way with words but I am a lucky man as I am a lucky dragon in the stars, my life became a life because of the number 42 and a woman I hadn’t touched yet and hadn’t seen in this life. Fran said today we are a pearl. I won’t go into who’s the foreign substance and who’s the nacre that covers it but we need each other to make something amazing and precious. Ok thanks for listening to that, Earls demanding some time I best go for a bit and I will return later for now here’s an interesting link to the 42

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

you have to copy and pates that link as it wont hyperlink?

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My dinner that tated as good as it looks

that’s a lot of words for me there, we have a few weeks of time now and we are going to get our asses into the jungle here and shape it a bit more, we have been so tied up with the day to day things we haven’t had a chance to get out and work at what we are good at and that’s growing stuff. We gave Nick a pachapodium today and he was genuinely chuffed as we gave him a plant he can’t actually buy here in Tasmania and therefore something that he hadn’t seen and to a horticulturist that’s like getting a gold nugget is to a miner. I have been asked this weekend to make a tyre garden for Fran and plant some seeds, I will do that on Saturday and plant the seeds and see how they grow. We are gettin g ready here for our first alone Christmas, it will be a very different time of the year and I’m sure Fran will have a little reflection on her mums visit last year, we will raise a glass to her and she can sit out here with us, I’m sure my dad sits watching as play guitar here sometimes. Earls really bored he just dropped the Shrek toy behind the computer as IF TO SAY PA IM BORED AND BEZIAL SUCKS COME ON OUT ON THE DECK AND LETS GET HIM. OK BACK SOON , AHH caps lock I will leave that as I was knocked lol.

Dont ask why earls on the table again

Dont ask why earls on the table again

Chickens… ok we have too many and Fran said the other day we (me) could eat them and I have been thinking it may not be a bad idea if we can kill them. Ok I hate killing but then we have raised a flock of 8 to a flock of over 35 and they are getting to the point where we could play the game wack a mole and replace the mole with a chicken lol, we will see? ok what else can I tell you all about here, Fran reads me here blogs and they are full of interesting things and I can’t write like she does, she’s should write a book lots of people say that. The house looks like a series of a slasher cartoon at the moment as Earls killed homer Simpson Shrek tigger and pooh. We get our toys for a $1 a bag at the op shop when we head into Polytechnic and the boys love to get that plastic bag when we get home, the fun is very messy though and always involves fluff, we don’t get toys with beans in as we have learned from past experiences that beans are bad and get everywhere. Well everyone I think for Friday night I’m done here and may do a little more tomorrow before I post this post for Fran and I bet when I ask here she will tell me she’s done heaps lol , I seem to think she hadn’t done much as Madeline rang last night and she didn’t get a chance to do a post. Ok girls there are the wise words of pimmy and you can take them and place them in your book of great sayings lol hey I’m flattered they like the way I type. Ok all I may spend Saturday in my shed making someone else a spoon I will have to see how my wood futures are at the moment and what I can whittle out from them. Ok for now byee

its my egg i found it lol

its my egg i found it lol

Good morning all. Ok a teeny bit more here and then I will head off and do whatever I am going to do today. The weirdest thing this morning ….. we decided to head off to Deviot on our walk and we were driving down the road and just got to the corner of the road and I spotted a peacock in the bush , cool eh now we then saw it walking on the road as we came back , it may head up here lol Earl was very excited when we saw it and I think it’s the biggest bird he’s ever seen. Its planning on being a lovely day here today so I am going to head off in a bit and do this little tyre bed and then I may split some spoon wood to see what I can make in the next week or so . Ok Frans readers this is steve saying have a good week and hey I have added 1600 words to her post, not sure if they make sense but they pad this post out. Have fun be happy and may your god go with you Steve

ok some more pics to end with

our bean tyre gardens

our bean tyre gardens

old style Beaconsfeild mine shot

old style Beaconsfeild mine shot

spooky eh  the cool thing is you can see how it realy looks by using invert in adobe ;)

spooky eh the cool thing is you can see how it realy looks by using invert in adobe 😉

earl watching a crazy cat on youtube , he was very curious about this cat and dog fight

earl watching a crazy cat on youtube , he was very curious about this cat and dog fight

My best water dog , he wont go in higher than this lol

My best water dog , he wont go in higher than this lol

I took this while me and Bezial waited for Fran and Earl. pretty eh

I took this while me and Bezial waited for Fran and Earl. pretty eh

Ok heres a few pics of what we have been doing of late . The first one is Frans drawing of a hydroponic system , unfortunatly i cant get her concept plan to translate to a JPEG , we know why and hey its lucky we could make it a pdf lol

heres her drawing

pretty clever eh

pretty clever eh

and this is my concept , and no im not trolling for buisness lol

informal formality final concept

sorry they are small but thats the best we can do on the blog as they are A3

Remember we are allowed to charge like wounded bulls now for this ROTFL

I did it heres Frans concept plan 😉

Nice eh

Nice eh

Exploring the parameters

Hi All,

It’s 5.11am on Tuesday and I should be reading my exploding rss feed reader but with 400+ posts all shrieking for my attention I am starting to feel like a worker in a day-care centre. I have decided to make a start on tomorrows post before tomorrow creeps up and starts howling along with the rest of them. We are entering an interesting phase on Serendipity Farm…our studies are a meeting away from finishing for the year. We are just about to say goodbye to 4 years of horticultural study and head into the unknown and previously unexplored world of art and design but until February we are free agents with only our own wanton desires to harness our guilt valves and our desires run to various activities on Serendipity Farm. A little while ago we were incredibly lucky to take possession of 2 large rolls of ex-fish farm netting from the salmon farm around the corner from here. They have to regularly replace it and after they remove the lead weights from around the base that keep the hungry seals from scarfing their profit margin they haul the rolls out into the paddock and anyone in the know can have them for free. We recently reacquainted ourselves with a couple of estranged friends and gave them a plethora of plants that we were never going to be able to plant on Serendipity Farm. I wanted them to have a life because we propagated them with love and they were languishing in their pots and needed to be planted out before they gave up the ghost in our extended rain free summer. Our friends were very grateful for their newfound plant wealth and asked us what we were up to on Serendipity Farm. We told them that we were in the process of harnessing our chicken population for “good” but were waiting till we were able to accumulate the funds to build the enclosure needed to keep them inside rather than outside and that was when Guy mentioned that he knew where we could get some free netting…the start of an adventure! I have always found that generosity breeds generosity. Like most islands Tasmania relies on a few core industries and recently one of those industries lost its fight to rein supreme. The forest industry is in the process of bowing out of their monopoly but in the process they are taking their jobs with them and leaving behind a bewildered and jobless population. Money is a rare commodity and people are starting to learn the value of a good swap. These rolls of net that Steve picked up a few weeks ago are 20 metres long and 10 metres wide each. We have been promised more of them and after unrolling a roll yesterday I suddenly realised how massive they were. We should get our chook enclosure out of a single roll and visions of my friend in the witness protections fully enclosed garden are dancing like sugarplums in my head…

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Talking about my friends garden, isn’t this clematis lovely? We visited our friend who shall not be named the other day and I took some photos of her garden progress and her wonderful new fully enclosed vegetable garden

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Isn’t this Kalmia latifolia commonly known as mountain laurel, calico bush or spoonwood lovely? Our friend in the witness protection picked this lovely shrub up for a song at a small local nursery

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A closeup of the beautiful flowers.

I can feel the boundaries of the cultivated suddenly gaining possibilities that previously existed only in my mind…in the sad, tired, almost defeated part of my mind along with the “chook” and “feral cat” categories that have been sitting on the “too hard” fence for a while now. Being a penniless hippy is one thing…being an impatient penniless hippy makes it harder. Steve and I have an insatiable appetite for being able to make and do things for ourselves but sometimes even the most pressing desires have to be tempered by the need for some kind of input and whether that input is monetary and we have to shake the moths out of our moth eaten sock under the bed to get what we want or a matter of logistics there is usually an unbearable waiting period that accompanies the process. Steve and I are not country folk. We haven’t learned the value and indeed the necessity of waiting for what we want. Living in the country teaches you harsh lessons…living in Tasmania, where there actually are 4 seasons also teaches you about cycles and change and life in a way that was previously easy to skim over the top of. Sometimes you just can’t change the boundaries no matter how much you try and you just have to wait. When you ask your deity for something you may just have to wait for a response. I tend to let my wants and needs merge together and with a bit of faith that someday they will emerge triumphant they usually do. Before we can really sort out our garden areas we need to remove the ever industrious chooks from the equation. Their unfettered population is going to be minimised and reduced down to a core egg producing population and Yin will get a free ride because he is such an amazing rooster who is completely selfless. After we build this (now possible) chook run over the next few days we will be able to take back Serendipity Farm from the chooks.

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Isn’t this black sambucca lovely? You can catch a glimpse of the new enclosed veggie garden in the rear of the photo

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I really love how our friend has used hardy perennials and shrubs in her garden along with rocks sourced from her property. Not too long ago this entire area was a flat wasteland…under water in winter and dry and rock solid in summer. Our friend is working steadfastly and refused to allow this monumental task to overwhelm her and her garden is really starting to reflect all of that hard work

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Our friend in the witness protection with her grandson Dylan. You can see her families water supply in the background in that big green tank. Her family are completely off the grid with complete solar power, tank water and no telephone line to their home and are certainly no worse off for their lack of utilities

That’s phase 1. Next we need to protect what we want to keep alive and growing from the invading possum and wallaby hoards. I managed to grow a borage plant this year. I remember borage in my grandma’s garden and had an altogether nostalgic desire to have one in my own garden. I saw some growing in an area of wasteland and transplanted one of the small seedlings into the front garden where it promptly died BUT it must have seeded before it croaked and I got a nice healthy borage plant growing where its stunted parent dropped it the year before. It was going great guns until the wallabies decided to take a sample and found it “tasty”. I am now the sad owner of a borage stalk. It joins the ranks of the Nepeta 6 hills giant stalks…the dwarf elm stalks…the rapidly decreasing ornamental grass stumps and the repeatedly harvested back to growing point ground covers that I am attempting to utilise to minimise soil moisture loss in the front garden. Between the chooks scratching my pitiful attempts to mulch around what I love and the wallabies and possums hell bent on eating the water stressed root exposed remains I am bordering on being a broken horticulturalist. With the possibility of more rolls of netting I am starting to get excited again…I have visions. I have visions of a place where the small existing orchard is covered and unattainable to the wandering slavering hoards and they can only cling tenaciously to the boundaries licking the netting like children outside a sweet shop. I have visions of being able to walk into a fully enclosed vegetable tunnel that can be converted in the winter to increase our growing season…I have visions of being able to make attractive netted fencing around Steve’s adored Japanese maple collection that doesn’t make my newfound internal artist wince when I look at the motley collection of chook food bags and bird netting cobbled together in haste to protect them…as usual…needs must at the time but once the necessity becomes a certainty, a fella’s mind runs to aesthetics…

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Our friends home behind the beginnings of what is going to eventually be a Laburnum walkway using Laburnum vosii

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Our friend looks after one of her other friends rescued donkeys. You can see Tasmanian native bushland in the background

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Isn’t this new little baby sweet?

Steve had a day off walking today because he did a glute (or whatever the leggy bit that joins to a glute is called…) when he was rolling up the massive heavy roll of ex-fish farm netting the other day. Bezial didn’t mind staying home because he was being plied with home-made dog jerky when Earl and I headed out the door. It rained last night and the bushland smelled amazing. The sun was shining and Earl and I set off with “Born to be wild” as our ethos and decided to head down the highway and look for a bit of adventure of our own. Steve doesn’t like walking down the highway on a week day because it’s pretty busy and there are lots of trucks but Earl and I are rebels and could care less about trucks whistling past us at breakneck speed. We collected a couple of empty soft drink bottles for our next and final lecture with Nick. I have to say that Nick has been a brilliant lecturer. He really pushed us to excel and gave us a new appreciation for deserved praise. Part horticulturalist, part psychologist and part Hitler, he certainly knew which of our buttons to push to get the best out of us. Kudos to this wonderful lecturer who genuinely loves to teach. They say that those who can…do and those who can’t…teach but this is a massive disservice to most of the teachers that I know who are in it for the long haul and you could completely understand an edge of desperation in their populace here in Tasmania where one in two people can’t read or write adequately and where education is so far down the hierarchy of importance in a Tasmanian’s day to day perambulations that it ranks after having to eat their own feet. Another old saying comes to mind…”you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink” and that echo’s the conundrum that many passionate lecturers over our state would feel when faced with a class full of students who are ill prepared to learn.

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I am incredibly envious of our friends bargain kettle that she picked up at a local market. This kettle is wonderful and if you look at the side of it closely you can see an envious woman taking a photo 😉

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This lovely Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Leopoldii’ (variegated sycamore) has so far resisted the local wildlife and has certainly given us the impetus to get our little specimen out into the ground on Serendipity Farm. Our friends specimen was much smaller than ours last year and now its at least 7 times bigger!

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Isn’t this enclosed veggie garden wonderful? I am green with envy! BLUE with envy…just like that ex tennis court netting that our friends clever repurposing partner decided to use to protect their vegetables from the marauding hoards

We have decided to adjust our dog’s diet to ensure that they are getting enough fibre. I don’t like proprietary dog biscuits because they contain ingredients that are based on profit margins rather than the health of their consumers. That leaves me with having to find a way to include fibre in their diets through something that I have made. I need to point out that I am not a bad cook. In a past life I made my living out of preparing other people’s food so our 2 American Staffordshire terriers complete refusal of their evening meal every second night is nothing to do with my degustatory abilities and a whole lot more to do with how incredibly fussy they are. Amstaffs are naturally very strong willed and our two are no exception. Bezial is part labrador and aside from liking to head out into water up to his armpits and gaze wistfully out to sea in search of the illusion of a partridge and his predilection for enormous quantities of food you would think that he was predominately an Amstaff thanks to his complete disregard for his long suffering owners who are making windmill arms at him and yelling out his name at the top of their lungs while he wanders off, nose to the ground with purpose…Earl is an entirely different kettle of fish and actively avoids the water unless the weather is hot. He has a very finely honed sense of what is right…HE is right…the end. Living with 2 strong willed dogs isn’t much different to living with strong willed children and I have had more than my fair share of strong willed children. I can actually physically hear them all roaring in protest at that sentence but you know what kids? You WERE strong willed…and so was I :o). Whenever the dogs start to lay down the law…I gird my loins and take my years of parenting battles to the negotiating table where they attempt to negotiate and I point blank refuse to yield my territory…it took me years to gain this tiny little bit of ground and I am NOT giving it up for 2 stubborn dogs! Thus begins the battle…no problem on night 1. A large bowl of prime pet grade steak for each of them which usually disappears before I have turned away to wash their cutting board. Its night number 2 where we have the problem. I recently decided to put steak into the food processor and add it to wholemeal plain flour and several grated carrots which I kneaded together and pressed out into a biscuit (yes to my American friends that would be “cookie” in your strange language… 😉 )tray that Steve then takes out and cooks on the bbq. The end result would be eagerly consumed by just about anyone. It looks like meatloaf…it smells like meatloaf…I dare say it tastes like meatloaf but Steve is a party pooper and refuses to try it for me ;). To the dogs it is sheer unmitigated poison and every time I serve it to them they turn up their noses…look at me with seal eyes and head off to lie on the ground at a distance but still within sight so that I can see just how cruel I am being to them, sighing as heavily as they can. The battleground line has been drawn and I SHALL NOT BE DEFEATED! No pity from me! No giving in to their grumbling stomachs in the morning and no giving them extra treats on their walks because they are obviously hungry. What we are trying to serve them every second night is what other dogs would fight to get. Ours are incredibly spoiled fussy buggers who are going to have to learn to eat their fibre like everyone else. I will keep you posted on how it goes but I can bet that they are still refusing their fibre rich tea by the end of the week. I didn’t think that there was anything more wilful and stubborn than my 3 children but you know what? There is! 😉

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This ancient little reprobate is called Tilly. She is the feisiest old girl (aside from Glad) that we know and in this photo you can see her actively rolling around and doing her level best to stop Steve from taking her photo to share with Nat 🙂

I love having leftovers, especially frozen leftovers. It appeals to my frugal bones as well as to my lazy bones and on nights where we have been busy or unexpectedly diverted from our regular activities it is great to have leftovers to fall back on. Even after 2 years of living on Serendipity Farm and leaving our adult daughters behind in our home in town I STILL haven’t gotten used to cooking smaller portions. I think the problem stems from Steve being Omni and me being vegan. It hardly seems worth cooking a single portion so I cook for 4 and Steve ends up with lots of leftovers which we are able to stockpile for unexpected events. I will be heading off to my daughter’s home in Launceston this weekend. We are having a mum and daughter bonding weekend and Steve, Earl and Bezial will be doing some bonding themselves…the girls and I will cook and watch movies and talk etc. and Steve and the dogs will turn feral in the few short days that I am away. I am only mentioning this because I won’t be here to post my Saturday post and Steve will have to do it for me. We have been having a battle with our duck who has decided that she doesn’t want to have the shackles of oppression thrust upon her person by having us lock her in with her fellow chook brethren and who has been hiding amongst the agapanthus where Steve couldn’t find her. I hear her quacking early in the morning in readiness for me throwing out bread and butter to the feral chooks that live in the large conifer out the front of the house. Once we erect the extended chook run we are going to give away 2/3rd of our chooks. We don’t want to give them to just “anyone” because the odds are that these prime egg laying girls will be eaten. I would rather give them to someone who wanted to keep chooks for their eggs and who wanted to give them a good home. If any of my Tassie readers know of anyone who fits that bill, we have some lovely chooks looking for a good home. Please let us know as we are not too sure what to do with 20 chooks! Our REAL problems start when we try to rehouse the ferals who steadfastly refuse to move into the coop with the rest of the chooks. We know where they roost at night and it won’t be hard to sneak in there and nab them but what do we do with them then? I am sorely tempted to toss them over the fence of the unscrupulous woman who sold us “8 hens” and who told us that she was CERTAIN that they were all hens…she has her own karma and is currently overrun by chooks and most probably wouldn’t notice a few extra’s but I couldn’t do that to my chooks no matter how much they infuriate me (and no matter how much she deserves them back! 😉 ) so like everything else on Serendipity Farm, they have to be dealt with A.S.A.P.

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This photo has the sole purpose of reminding me that it does, indeed, rain on Serendipity Farm. I will be looking at this photo wistfully on a regular basis through our coming 3 months of dry weather to give me hope that one day…it will rain again

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Steve…Jack of all trades and master of whatever he turns his hand to ensuring that this pole isn’t going to be the weak spot in our war against chook invasions on Serendipity Farm

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Some of the poles that we dug into the rocks soil on Serendipity Farm yesterday in readiness for our wholesale chook control in the very near future

Don’t forget to send a comment our way if you would like to win the handmade Blackwood spoon that Steve made specifically for this giveaway and from timber sourced from Serendipity Farm. No bells to ring, hoops to jump through or Facebook pages to like, just let me know and you will be in with a chance. He put the final coat of delicious smelling orange eco-oil on it and it has a lovely satin finish and feels and smells wonderful. You have until December 22nd to let us know and go into Earl’s walnut lotto which we plan on videoing and sharing with you all for posterity (and complete transparency 😉 ). See you next Wednesday and remember that Steve is posting my post on Saturday so go easy on him or you will have me to deal with next week! 😉

The frugal bug bit me hard

Hi All,

Frugality is a bit like exercise. You start off noticing every time you set off and you are knackered when you get back BUT pretty soon you find yourself enjoying the previously taboo subject and finding all sorts of ways to slip it into your day to day life with good results. Frugality conjures up scrooge. I am too generous to be a scrooge but frugality has really started to sit well with me. I love to share the love around with anyone who wants to share but I am learning to condense my efforts into those that offer a bit of reward for your hard work. I am starting to get very enthusiastic about making our own pasta and the prospects of taking it a step further and making all sorts of weird and wonderful farinaceous goods from far flung countries. Just about every country has some sort of pasta equivalent albeit made from yak’s butter and a dab of the local earth to get it started. I have always wandered the degustory earth like grasshopper in search of foodie Nirvana…not “Foodie” like Anthony Bourdain, but Foodie like “Oh MAN that tastes so good I need to make it again…right now!” That sort of foodie :o). As a penniless student hippy there are certain ingredients that are out of my reach but they are not unattainable, just luxuries. I save them for special events where their inclusion will lend an air of “special” to the occasion. Growing our own veggies is another case in hand…not only can we grow our own vegetables, we can plant things that we otherwise would never be able to get in the shops. I am in the process of working out how to set up an Australia wide network of Seedy Pen pals to share open pollinated seed and other edible and ornamental seed with we long suffering Aussies whose borders shall be protected at all costs! I am right there with customs on preventing disease from entering our borders…I just see the end results where we can’t get cheaper seed material BUT if we are willing to pay the earth and at least one of our limbs we CAN import the bare rooted material from a nursery who is willing to make massive profits on the mainland and pass ALL of the costs onto the poor Tasmanians or Western Australians who are desperate enough to want something a bit different. Plant material should know no boundaries except those that exist to stop diseased material from passing them.

Some of Noel Button’s glorious special irises that he grows on a small allotment in Exeter and sells them once a year at Entally.

I LOVE living near the water. There is something magical about being able to watch the ebb and flow of the river

It was hard to take this shot when there were 2 overexcited dogs trying to drag us in so that they could have a swim. I don’t know how Steve managed to take it!

The more Serendipity Farm starts to emerge like the phoenix from the ashes of Highfield Gardens, the more excited I get at the possibilities. While we will NEVER be the glorious manifestation that Wychwood is (check out this amazingly gorgeous and highly enviable garden here… http://www.wychwoodtasmania.com/Garden/gardenM.htm and it’s only 2 ½ acres AND it’s not too far from Serendipity Farm!) we can make this a little permaculture paradise in an oasis of dry summer humidity. I know “dry” and “humidity” don’t really work but we have the luxury of a short growing season coupled with a lack of rain (thanks to the mountains to the west stealing all of the rain before it gets to us) and a LOT of natural vegetation that tends to leak out its moisture as soon as the temperature gets over 25C. Couple this with the hole in the ozone being directly over us and the sun really packing a punch and our conditions become humid and dry…go figure! Finding free edible plants like our figs and our little loquats was great fun as well as money in the bank. Frugality breeds frugality simply because it feels so good. We aren’t going to start hoarding what we have but we are most definitely enjoying living simply and richly. It’s now Sunday and I am SO excited! I only recently told you about my lack of success with growing Moringa oleifera. I had purchased seed online several times and no matter what I did it wouldn’t germinate. I blamed on selling and old seed BUT that didn’t stop me from tossing the last of the seed that I bought about 2 years ago into my automatic sprouter along with the purple king beans that Bev recently sent me and the last of the beansprouts that we used most of last night in a wonderful stirfry. I was watering the strawberries when Steve called out to me and came out of the shed with his hands cupped around something. I thought that he had caught one of the little banjo frogs that live amongst our potted plants eating the insects that are attracted to the moisture but he had one of the Moringa seeds in his hands and it had sprouted! As my dad would have most euphemistically spouted “You could have bloody well knocked me over with a feather!” The only reason I tossed the seed into the sprouter was so that I could emphatically finish the sad saga of the Moringa and call it the bad lot that it was but it paid off and I might just get those (well…at least one!) Moringa’s that I have lusted after. That’s the thing about growing things from seed and cuttings, you get a chance to mess about with the mystery of life and the end results can be nothing short of enlightening :o)

Lest we forget…

Buttercups!

We managed to grow at least 1 Muscat grape from our original vine that we left with our daughters in town and hopefully we should get some more as the cuttings are starting to leaf up well

It was Remembrance Day today. We remembered. I remembered my grandfathers who both went to war. My dad’s dad was in both wars and my mums dad was in WW2 in Papua New Guinea. I remembered that the fantastic life that we lead today is only because of these men who were brave enough to do what their country called them to do. I am not talking about whether or not they SHOULD have been called to war…just that they were ready to go to protect their families and their country…nothing is nobler than being willing to lay down your life. We were over at Glads collecting a trailer load of grass clippings and old dead leaves to bring back and inoculate our new hot compost heap with. We had been chatting to Glad and Steve was still enviously staring at the sky where not 1 but 2 sea planes were swooping low…landing in the water and then taking off again in tandem when Glad said “must be getting near 11…” and we remembered that we needed to observe 1 minute’s silence. Glad headed indoors and Steve started the car and then suddenly stopped it. From the car radio the last post rang out clear and pure and flowed down to flood the river where boatloads of people stopped what they were doing and looked up and listened. We do remember grandad. We remember that life is too short to wage war on each other and that any time there are enough brave men who are willing to lay down the law there in the midst is humanity. Thank you SO much for what you did for us. For the chance to be able to think what we want to think…do what we want to do and be who we want to be. I don’t know much about what my grandad’s went through. I know that my dad’s dad got gassed by mustard gas. I know that my mum’s dad came back harbouring a particularly virulent form of malaria and had to spend a long time convalescing in hospital. I know that neither of them would have been the same after they returned and the burden of what they had witnessed burned deep into their psyche forever. All I know is that I will be eternally grateful for what they did for me.

Serendipity Farm looking “spesh” for spring 🙂

A plethora of eggs

Bean futures on steroids with a punnet of bicolour corn and some tiny little Cavello Nero

I also remembered something else. I remembered back when I was at school and played the tuba in the school brass band. I remember how on Remembrance Day we would all be shuffled off in uniform to march from the school down to the memorial and most of the town would turn up stoic and scrubbed and looking like the farmers playing dress up that they were. Uncomfortable in their suits and shiny shoes but as soon as the last post started we all stood to attention and we listened…a whole community united by remembrance. After the last post and some other cornet interlude played by a quavering youth whose adolescent honking usually only bore a vague resemblance to the original score, we marched right back to the school and back to our lives without much more thought about what we were remembering. I remember the weight of that tuba…I remember the song that we played as we marched and the “Boom Boom” of the big bass drum. I remember how badly we marched and how heavy that damned tuba started to get about halfway down to that memorial. The memorial had the epitaph “Lest We Forget” emblazoned on its monolithic brow and we never forgot…not once…to march for the soldiers.

Things certainly grow quicker in spring. This is the little walnut that was only just out of the ground on Saturday…

and this is one of the little hazelnuts that stratified over winter and we forgot about till we wanted the esky back. The little nut trees are being protected by the wheelbarrow till they are old enough to move out of the shed as Pingu the great defoliater lives in the shed with them!

The weather is starting to heat up and my thoughts are turning to irrigation systems. We have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment and as one iron gets beaten by the blacksmiths hammer of activity, the others have to lay there smouldering until we can get around to dealing with them. Irrigation is going to have to come to the fore soon as we have been planting out our precious babies and whilst they are going great guns with the spring rain that we have been having, pretty soon we will hit our 3 months of summer with very little rainfall and we need to be ready to irrigate. The cleverest way to irrigate our widespread trees is to use black polypipe and brown dripper hose in a circle around the tree/shrub that you want to irrigate in a series of watering stations. Black polypipe is cheap… brown dripper hose is not. That’s why you need to use a whole lot more black polypipe than brown dripper hose and make it count. You also need to ensure that the precious moisture that you are giving your plants stays put in the ground around their root zone and so you have to mulch Mulch MULCH to the max. In a couple of years’ time our trees won’t need our supplemental water. Till they are able to establish deep and decent root systems we will need to give them enough to survive on till they can stand on their own two feet. We are always mindful of our sustainable ethos here on Serendipity Farm and one thing that has been grating on our consciences is the lack of a large water tank to take advantage of the annual winter rainfall that cascades from every orifice on site. We have several outbuildings on the property and any one of them could be collecting precious sky water for use over summer. I wish we could afford an enormous rainwater tank but we simply can’t. That won’t stop me looking for as many water barrels as I can over the coming year to shove under drainpipes and harvest next year’s water but for now my frustration at not being able to have collected all the water that we need for the summer watering regimen is pretty high.

My new fortified compost pumpkin and potato future bin. Good luck breaking in possums…I overengineered it to the max!

Our veggies are going great guns. They seem to like the position in full sun that we gave them and are growing like crazy. The tomatoes are happy and I am about to trial pinching out the shoots on the tomatoes and potting them up to grow tomato cuttings to keep the harvest growing well into next year. I learned this technique from Bev at “FoodnStuff” a wonderful Victorian blog that taught me all about water wicking garden beds and Hugelkultur gardening techniques. Bev is a mine of information and is living real. Check out her website for some wonderful ways to garden Aussie style :o)

http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/dehydrated-pumpkin/

That post was a most interesting run down on preserving pumpkin for future use. Rabid little Hippy just told me about another new Aussie sustainability blog that one of her friends has started up in Queensland. It’s called The Tropical Hippy and although she hasn’t posted many posts yet this blog promises to be a most interesting read and I have tucked it in my rss feed reader between “These Light Footsteps” and “Turning Veganese”. I hope she likes the company ;). If you would like to check her out feel free to wander on over to

http://thetropicalhippy.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/growing-veges-from-veges/

And this post should reward your efforts handsomely. It’s about growing vegetables from the ends of other vegetables and is great fun!

The tip strawberries that are now incredibly happy (and also fortified) and are just about to start producing strawberries for us. Some of the berries are starting to turn red…Hopefully there will be some strawberries left to show you 😉

I am SO glad that I had this mostly done post cribbed up my sleeve! We have been working exceptionally hard this week to finish off a mammoth design each and suddenly it’s Wednesday and my eyes are sore and twitchy from being forced to watch a computer monitor for hour after hour. I actually really enjoyed the process though. AutoCAD and I have had a bit of a history going. We didn’t like each other much and we still treat each other with a degree of suspicion but we are learning to get along now and I am actually proud of the sustainable landscape design idea that I created. In the few brief minutes that we allowed ourselves away from the computer I fortified the compost heap because I had an epiphany. I was tossing the latest contents of my compost bucket onto the heap under the interested gaze of the chooks who instantly fall on any scraps with gusto and scratch them all over the place eating very few of them (fussy sods!) and leaving the way open for the possums to wander about scarfing scraps at their leisure. I have been noticing pumpkins popping up in the compost bin along with a potato growing out the side. The potato has lost its leaves to wayfaring wallabies but the pumpkins were managing to survive because I tossed a large dead lavender into the compost because it was too hard to snip up and was waiting for it to decompose and it was protecting some of the young pumpkins from the possums…as I upturned the compost bucket into the compost bin I thought to myself…”why don’t I contain this compost bin and grow spuds and pumpkins in it?”…just like that I had a great idea! Serendipity Farm soil isn’t anything to write home about thanks to the heavy clay and the plethora of rocks BUT my compost bin has been sitting there full of happy worms elevated above the rocks and the clay and things are growing in it magnificently. Rather than hump the compost off to the veggie garden, I am just going to plant the veggies IN the compost! A win-win situation all round and so I headed outside with the dregs of a bag of King Edward spuds that had gone to sprouts and some Kipflers that we bought a while ago that I just never quite got around to planting. I am going to put a trellis up the side of the chook house and train the pumpkins up the trellis. Once the pumpkin gets to the chook roof it will have all the space to run laterally that it can and hopefully, if I do my job and keep it happy with food and water, I will get some pumpkins AND the chook house will get some thermal insulation against the heat of the day.

Cacti enjoying the sunshine in their pot 🙂

Ok, it’s just about time to post this post and I am going to spend the evening (you guessed it) staring at the computer screen doing a bit more work to complete one of our final units. In a few weeks we won’t be horticulture students any more. We will students of fortune…our own good fortune. We will have time to spend in the garden. We will have all day, every day, to put our heads together and make gates, bean beds and sort out our chook yard. We have applied for the graphic art and printing course that we want to do next year and now we just have to wait to see if we get accepted. I am really enjoying the processes of Serendipity Farm in the spring. I was looking out the window this morning at some of the hard work that we have done here and realised that it feels like “our place” now. The amount of pleasure that I get out of getting down and dirty is completely out of proportion to the act of getting down and dirty. I have a sense of peace and happiness that I haven’t had in ages and I feel like a woman in her castle…perhaps we should have called this place “Serenity Farm” ;). To all of you who don’t know what I am talking about…go watch one of the few amazing Aussie movies called “The Castle” and you will get it :o). See you all on Saturday when we will be up to our armpits in beans and we had better have remembered to get that bird netting to protect them or they might take over Serendipity Farm! :o)

Expectations and where they come from

Hi All,

Today (Monday) is apparently a public holiday in Tasmania. It’s been given the dubious moniker “8 hour day” which aligns it with labour day in other Australian states…I don’t know why various states have holidays on different days…may as well just clump them all together and have national holidays but apparently there is no fun in that so separate strangely named days are our predilection. I had just gotten up from my 2 hour morning rss feed read marathon and was buttering bread for the chooks and the dogs morning snack, making Steve’s morning cup of coffee in bed, getting ready to cut tiny cubes of tasty cheese for the cuckoo shrikes and wrens and I suddenly got to thinking about how these things became expected of me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing these things, I was just wondering how they became institutionalised on Serendipity Farm. These little occasional treats have become regular “expected” events that need to be kept up for the sake of the peace. As I was buttering the slices of shop bought bread that we don’t eat and only buy for the animals, I thought about how our own expectations of what life is meant to be have arisen. We “expect” that we will be able to go about our business safely and with rights but where did those expectations come from? Someone in the past had to fight for all of the expected normalcies that we take for granted and whenever there is a cause and a fight, there is someone fighting just as hard to keep the status quo. We expect choice in our shops. We expect to be able to find a job, to buy a house, to get credit on our purchases. We don’t even think about these things…they just “are”.  The more people “get” in their lives, the more they tend to expect. It’s a bit like getting a promotion at work with a good pay rise attached…after a while your lifestyle absorbs the pay rise and you are back where you started from…we have a habit of upping the ante whenever we get a run of good fortune and becoming blasé about how well off we actually are. In deliberately choosing to live a simpler life we all get to choose to be grateful for what life has handed us all over again. I, for one, am extremely grateful for the plate that I have been handed :o)

The ubiquitous repurposed automatic sprouter has done itself proud! Here you can see the scarlet runner beans sprouting

Here are the borlotti beans that apparently loved the conditions in the automatic sprouter. They, along with all of the other beans, have now been planted in seed trays and once they get big enough they will be planted out into our new bean garden

Here are the sprouting Yin Yang beans. If our summer is as long and hot as they say it is going to be these little babies should do well

I love meeting like-minded people through blog hunting. I recently found a wonderful Aussie blog with the delightful moniker of “Rabid Little Hippy”. Go and have a look for yourself…this blog is a frenetic blast of positive sustainable energy all rolled into a jumble of kids, a tiny tractor driving husband and a weekly commute between an old and a new life eagerly anticipated…

http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/another-weekend-in-ballan/

How could you resist a name like that? Aside from the name, the blog is a wonderful blend of homesteading, sustainable living and a zest for life that is positively infectious. I have never met anyone with so much energy and I just realised that although I follow each one of this wonderful bloggers posts I have NO idea what her name is! For the purposes of this post she shall be known as “rabid”… I have had great fun conversing with “rabid” via the comments section of her blog and after a recent post we discussed a swap event that she had been to. I assumed that it was a seed swap but apparently, it involved people taking things that they no longer used/needed and that they had made/grown etc. to barter for other goods. In Tasmania times are tough. There are very few jobs to be had and most jobs tend to be part time or transient. If any state needed a boost of positive sustainable energy it’s our humble little full stop at the bottom of the wealth generation of Australia. After listening with growing excitement as “rabid” told me about where she had been and what she had swapped my nose was twitching like Tabitha from Bewitched and I had formulated a plan to head in to the next Sustainable Living group at the Tamar NRM (Natural Resources Management) centre and postulate this wonderful idea for a chance for the locals to barter their excess or unwanted goods for other excess and unwanted goods. What a fantastic idea! “Rabid”, you may have just made some Tasmanians almost as happy as your faithful reader narf7 by telling me about this fantastic way to effect change whilst cycling goods in an incredibly sustainable way to everyone’s benefit.

Here are the punnets of mixed zucchini and rainbow chard that we have since planted out into the vegetable garden. The orange punnet at the front contains some of the Cavolo Nero that we will plant in the veggie garden and after that, out in the main garden

Who could resist dinosaur kale? It has lots of names including Cavolo Nero but I am going to call it “Sideshow Bob” kale

Bev from the wonderfully informative blog with truly useful information sent me a copy of The Weed Foragers Handbook. I am over the moon! I was going to buy this little tomb but now I don’t have to :). Thank you for that wonderful gift Bev along with the purple king bean seeds that you can see here in the automated sprouter along with the moringa oleifera seed that I am optimistically attempting to sprout 🙂

Some of our past experiences with purchasing seed online have been less than triumphant to say the least. We have paid quite large sums of money for seed that refused point blank to germinate and that was most probably too old and had been sold on at a profit from other sellers. We learned the hard way and so seed swapping with locals with seed that has local provenance is truly the best way to go about purchasing/gaining seed. We really want some Moringa oleifera seed to grow this amazing tree on Serendipity Farm. We previously purchased several batches of seed in an attempt to grow it with no luck. I retained some of the seed in a fit of pique whilst muttering about the seller’s dubious parentage under my breath and promptly forgodaboudit. We found the seed the other day and after the bean seeds grew so well in the sprouter, I decided to see if the Moringa oleifera would sprout. Nothing has happened yet but if I can manage to get the seed to sprout I will be a very happy camper. The beans that we sprouted recently are now planted out into flat trays to grow on until they are big enough to plant out in their bean garden home. There is something very addictive about propagating from seed. We have grown all sorts of plants from seed but most of them were ornamental shrubs or trees and growing our own food from seed adds an entirely new dimension to the fun. Today we removed 4 loquat saplings that we dug up from the side of the road as tiny little seedlings. We stashed them in the glasshouse in pots over winter and now they are ready to harden off before we plant them out. We also brought 3 more fig trees out of the glasshouse. We planted out one little fig tree to see how it went and it is going great guns so we figure 4 fig trees are better than 1. We have more walnut and hazelnut seedlings than we could shake a sustainable stick at and none of them cost us a cent. Sometimes you have to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. Three of the fig trees had ground layered on an old overgrown fig tree at a local school where we walk our dogs and we grew one from a now removed tree in Launceston city central. We collected the walnuts from a tree on the side of the road and we were given the hazelnuts from Glad’s daughter Wendy. There is a degree of primal delight to be had from helping nature to furnish your larder and growing edible plants from seed goes even deeper than that. Here is a link to show you why I am really eager to get some Moringa oleifera growing and thriving on Serendipity Farm…

http://enviro.org.au/article_moringaTree.asp

The little loquats that we rescued from the side of the road last year are hardening off prior to planting out

2 of the figs either side of the loquats and in the background you can see our little Gingko biloba that we planted out into the side garden

Another $2 roadside stall find…this time its garlic chives

Steve found this in the shed not so long ago…he promises me that with sharp blades it will be just as good as the petrol mower…for the sake of our sustainable future I certainly hope so! 😉

Steve and I took the boys for a small walk up the road this afternoon and noticed that Glad and Wendy next door had been mowing. We had a chat to them over the fence and Steve headed down to drop off some eggs and asked them what they were going to do with the pile of lawn clippings and oak leaves…”burn them” was the reply! He then asked if they would mind if we had them and they were overjoyed. Wendy pointed out another large pile of lawn clippings and leaves at the top of the property and asked him if we wanted those as well? “Darned RIGHT” we do! Now we can make a large compost heap near our vegetable garden area that will help us in the future…another example of how one mans trash/problem is another mans treasure. Whenever they mow they are going to give us their unwanted clippings and as Glad has 6 acres that amounts to a whole lot of clippings. It also highlights how proactive being part of a community can be. I was wondering where to get more compost ingredients from and the answer was right next to us all the time 🙂

I am twitching with excitement! It’s nothing to do with the $100 million lotto draw that apparently half of the Australian population has bought tickets in (not me!) and everything to do with farinaceous goods. I have been a rampant voyeur over the last month of all things Vegan and have found all sorts of amazing food blogs thanks to Annie at the fantastic blog An Unrefined Vegan. Here’s one of her delectable posts should you ever want to make heavenly peanut shortbready biscuits whilst learning some skills in the process.

http://anunrefinedvegan.com/2012/10/19/veganmofo-peanut-sandies/

Annie, along with some equally amazing vegan food blogging friends, spent a whole month coordinating Vegan Mofo…a chance for anyone with a vegan food blog to shine with as many recipes as they could post in 31 days. I followed avidly and spent every morning from 5am – 7am in a vain effort to keep up with these amazing posts, save them for future degustory delight and comment on as many as I could. At the end of the month quite a few of them got together to have a Vegan Potluck virtual meal online and again, my rss feed reader runeth over. As I pored over what was on offer I felt a distinct desire to cook and share that went as far as hinting that I might like to participate in next year’s Vegan Potluck. That gives me a year to think up some splendiferous idea to knock my peer’s socks off…an enormous vegan spongecake with multi layers filled with delicious spreads and topped with homemade vegan truffles? How about a scrumptious vegan pie? Homemade vegan lasagne? Whatever I choose to do, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be practicing it for a while and that it will be scrumptious…why would you want to share something with your peers if they had made it before? Time to get thinking…

One of the little hazelnuts that we potted up this week after checking the bags of stratifying seeds in our overwintering esky

A wheelbarrow full of free nut trees. Most of these are hazelnuts which seemed to germinate later than the walnuts that are in the glasshouse. I LOVE free edible plants 🙂

We need a gate at the side of the dog compound. We don’t want to spend much on the gate. Steve is a clever little vegemite and has worked out a way to turn this metal gate into a perfect gate in the compound. Stay tuned to see what he does with it

Steve and I have been dabbling in the farinaceous arts as I mentioned earlier (before I veered off to the left and got mentally lost…). We are on a quest to live as simply as we can whilst at the same time living as well as we can. Life is too short for bad wine and Steve has been blending his own peculiar bad wine with his good wine to render it all drinkable. I decided to use some of the various pieces of kitchen equipment that I have stashed in the top of the pantry out of sheer guilt for having paid so much for some of it many years ago. We had a go at making our own pasta as a way to use up some of our egg futures. We decided to mess about with a spinach pasta recipe that we found online and it was a really good recipe. If you want to try it yourself here it is…

http://cookingequipment.about.com/od/maincourserecipes/r/SpinachPasta.htm

Little Pig 🙂

The home made lasagne that we made from scratch

We then made a really delicious lasagne from scratch by making our own pasta, pasta sauce, meat sauce and béchamel. Steve really enjoyed it and the amount of pasta that we made was WAY too much for our lasagne needs and so we had to come up with some ideas of what to do with the left over pasta. Steve had some tonight in a bowl of homemade Asian noodle soup and pronounced the noodles delicious. I segued nicely back to why I was so excited earlier in the post…to make the noodles I remembered “Little Pig” in the top of my pantry cupboard. Little Pig is a non-centrifugal juicer that I bought many years ago when I was on a bit of a health kick. I have used Little Pig to make fruit mince, juice a few carrots and that’s about it. I remember reading that the juicer could be used to make Korean rice cake noodles but as I didn’t have a recipe for them I didn’t attempt to try to make them. Today I remembered that Little Pig had various nozzles that extruded dough’s into different shapes and after I got Steve to heft Little Pig down from the top shelf we put the remaining wrapped spinach pasta dough out on the bench top to reach room temperature while we made some Asian chicken broth and prepared vegetables to add to it. Once we got the soup on to simmer we turned back to attempt to make a spinach pasta version of udon noodles to go into Steve’s soup. Having never tried extruding pasta or any kind of dough through Little Pig I was a little dubious about it’s ability to perform but I shouldn’t have worried because after fitting the noodle nozzle and feeding the pasta dough into the top of the machine it made perfect round green noodles that were delicious in the soup. We have a large serving of noodles left that we are attempting to dehydrate as I type this to see if we can make our own dried pasta to store for later use. The speed and ease of making pasta this way got me twitching (FINALLY she got around to why she was twitching! 😉 ). I have visions of all sorts of pasta made from all sorts of grains, legumes, and seeds with different nuts, pesto’s, herbs and spices in a wide range of natural colours. The extruding process through Little Pig means that I should be able to intertwine various colours of dough and get amazing looking rainbow noodles in all sorts of shapes. I can make Korean rice cake noodles thanks to an amazing Korean online recipe site and I get to use up some of our excess eggs in the process. If our dehydration of the remaining pasta works, we will be able to mess about with all different kinds of pasta and dehydrate them for future use.  My excited twitching comes from the realisation that we won’t ever have to buy pasta or noodles again! I feel an amazing rainbow pasta recipe coming on for the Vegan Potluck next year :o)

We decided to sprout some mung beans at the same time as sprouting our beans and we will be using these babies in a stirfry tomorrow

The only potato doing anything other than sitting in the pantry on Serendipity Farm. Our soil is predominately comprised of rocks which sadly, are not conducive to the growing of potatoes…the compost heap appears to be an option…

The little mulberry is leafing up and the garlic growing underneath it was planted by my brother when he visited my dad many years ago. You can see some overbown asparagus in the foreground and in the background we have a lovely little mandarin tree

Here you can see “Possum Damage”. This is why Australians who live rurally spend a lot of time tearing out their hair or spending a fortune protecting their precious edible specimens from these furry little larrikin hooligans. This poor little mandarin tree suffers horendously every single year while its sibling sits not further than 10 metres away from it completely untouched. I will NEVER understand the mental processes of possums!

We are almost at the end of our studies and are finalising our sustainable landscape designs. We have yet to hear if we got an interview in our chosen courses for next year but should we miss out, we can always find something else relevant to study till Steve gets his Australian citizenship and we head off to university in 2014. We might even study drafting as we already have a good handle on AutoCAD…I love the possibilities that have opened up for us since we took a leap of faith and decided to live like penniless student hippies in order to pave the way for further learning opportunities. I have no doubt at all that our lives have been made much richer in the process and that our abilities have been honed to fine pointy tips and have allowed us to make amazingly good use of what life has thrown in our direction. The quest for “Happiness” is apparently on the rise…people have discovered that money isn’t the answer to this elusive state and curiously, people want to live in a constant state of happiness not realising that happiness only gains its beauty after periods of contrasting emotions. Happiness is inside every single one of us. We all have it within our reach and it has much more to do with being grateful and thankful for our roll of the dice than it has to do with any external forces. Life has a natural balance about it and as we seesaw our way up and down through a gamut of emotions we need to remind ourselves of Newton’s law of motion… “For every action…there is an equal, and opposite reaction”…a constant striving for equilibrium and whilst we might be down at any given time…it won’t be long until we are up again. Have a great week folks and count your blessings because sometimes what we are expecting overshadows how very lucky we already are :o)

If any of you are feeling a bit down this song is bound to make you feel better…get a saucepan and a wooden spoon and do a bit of tub-thumping yourself! 😉 Or Steve says…”even better…you drink the whisky drink…you drink the lager drink…you drink the cider drink…and after that you won’t CARE” 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS-zK1S5Dws

And if you aren’t laughing yet…check out Homer singing his version of tub thumping…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFvSUi-QFX4

The Voles are coming and I have become a hoarder

Hi All,

Having just planted out 7 garden beds with precious vegetable futures we now have to consider the fact that we aren’t the only ones who love vegetables…there are apparently hoards of creatures out there who can’t wait to take a scrump of our loot. Short of buying a rocking chair, a shotgun and putting a straw in my mouth I figure that we are going to have to do some detective work regarding “pests”. Pests come in a couple of forms…invertebrate, including most of the creatures that are going to totally ignore our bird netting cover and who are going to buzz right on through. Because we have covered the beds with bird netting (and here is the total irony of it all…) the little insectivorous birds, like the wrens that patrol our windowsill bossing the tiny cheese cubes out of us, can’t actually get in to scarf the aphids etc. who will carry on regardless. For these insectivorous critters we need to think smarter not harder. Integrated pest management is the way to go. We are using permaculture principals to give Serendipity Farm a whole new ethos. We are reusing, recycling and repurposing just about anything that we can get our hands on because it’s both sustainable practice and cheap and as penniless student horticulture hippies we need to be mindful of “cheap”. We have learned a few things over the last 4 years about building strong foundations for your hopes and dreams starting with the soil and building up from there. I am constantly amazed and excited with the prospects of working with nature rather than against it. As we learn more and more about permaculture through practical application we realise that it is the quickest most trouble free way to get what we want from our land. We are using what we have learned from our mainstream horticulture studies to branch off laterally into permaculture and learning about design has given us a new set of eyes each (like spiders 😉 ) to see how it all fits together. Some of what we are doing at the moment includes: –

Integrated pest management:  if you make conditions ideal for beneficials they will come…they will stay and they will eat your pest populations. We are prepared to wear a bit of insect damage till the beneficial population builds up to meet the pest populations and we are in the process of building overwintering bug houses and installing them around the area. We hand pick snails, slugs etc. and use the most ecofriendly choices for slug pellets that won’t hurt native animals and that biodegrade safely around our vegetables that have been covered and everywhere else has Sargent ducky on patrol. No slugs or snails shall pass by her probing dibbling beak! One of the most valuable tools you can have to deal with invasive pests before their populations become a problem is very simple. Just walk around your garden and “LOOK”. If you are doing this often enough you will notice the tell-tale signs of plant predation and will be able to nip it in the bud early.

Integrated weed management: weeds are just plants in the wrong place guys! I have been learning from some amazing sites where people go hunting for weeds and use them for all sorts of edible and medicinal reasons. No more “bollocks a weed!” for me, aside from some of the invasive grasses and should they become a serious problem, methinks it is time to get that pair of geese that I have been thinking about who eat their weights worth of grass which is their predominate food of choice. Just have to dig a little goosy dam for them and as our subsoil is solid yellow clay, no problemo! Use your weeds and you will be amazed at how they suddenly become managed problems. Use Bernard and Manny’s weeds for an example, Bernard and Manny are our two Javanese finches. They LOVE dandelions and I headed out to pick their favourite snack daily. Pretty soon there were no dandelions left in the front yard and I found myself in the ironic situation of having to steal weeds from other people’s gardens at night just to feed my finches habit. Use those weeds and you can bet your derrière that they will disappear! Murphy’s Law works both ways folks ;).  Don’t use herbicides, use your brains.  Hand grub and use the weeds to make weed tea for yourself (dandelions and nettles) or for your plants. They pinched the nitrogen from your garden in the first place, may as well take it back! No weed can survive a good drowning.  Try chopping the weeds with no seed heads up fine and putting them in the compost or cover the heap of weeds and solarise them with some black plastic. We all have to learn to put away the quick fix because most of them come with a steep price tag both for our pockets and the earth. This site, in particular, is a wealth of knowledge about weedy species and how to use them to your advantage

http://urbanherbology.org/2012/10/30/365-frankendael-day-193/

Here is a way to deal with your weeds thanks to good old Aunty ABC…

http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s2267268.htm

You can also make liquid manure to mix in with the weed tea and you can make compost tea as well. Crush up some charcoal and add it and aside from something that will attract flies for kilometres; you will have a valuable source of nutrients in their more easily assimilated liquid form. Just remember to hold your nose when you are measuring out!

Companion planting: Cheers to my long time gal pal in Perth Kymmy for sending me some information on companion planting. Kymmy has her garden totally together and it’s lovely to wander about in the greenery and tropical lushness that spills onto her undercover area. No tropical here aside from a poor long suffering philodendron that dad was trying to starve to death for 20 years. It’s now under a large tree and its leaves are slowly turning from yellow to a nice dark green…rescue 101 Pimblett style!  Many plants actually grow better with certain other plants. American Indians realised this and grew corn, pumpkins and beans together forming a symbiotic relationship of nitrogen production (beans), green mulch (pumpkin) and height for the beans to grow (corn stalks). I have been hunting around and found a really wonderful comprehensive permaculture companion planting PDF that want to share with you…

http://permaculturenews.org/2010/07/30/companion-planting-guide/

Confuse-a-cat: Plant your food in the garden and your garden with your food. Plant herbs and flowers in with your food garden and why not kill 2 birds with one stone? Make them edible flowers as well. Use plants like borage, comfrey, marigolds, pansy’s (especially Johnny jump-ups that keep on keeping on no matter what the conditions are) Italians have known about this forever. Back in Western Australia (or little Italy as it shall be spoken of from here on in…) the Italians were the market gardeners and started all of the green grocers all over the place. They certainly knew how to grow a tomato and you always saw their front gardens full of vegetables and flowers en mass. That’s how to confuse your pests too folks…mass planting with everything. I just have to get my chooks under control (for under control read locked up!) to start practicing what I am preaching here because they scarf everything edible in the garden and take dust baths in my hard work.

Mulch…mulch…MULCH!: Soil microbes need moisture to carry on their day to day activities and if the soil dries out they will head for damper pastures. Your veggies/plants won’t like it much either. Water has become a precious commodity and its price is starting to cause us to conserve it. Nothing like a hit in the old hip pocket to make you care about something. The perfect solution is to ensure that your soil is mulched to retain its moisture. You can use all sorts of things to mulch soil including organic and inorganic materials. We have a massive heap of Photinias that we removed from the fenceline that we are leaving in situ for the summer so that the leaves will drop off and mulch the soil and the branches will dry out and we can use the larger branches on the fire and we can use the smaller branches to form hugelkultur beds. Mulch will make your garden happy and will significantly reduce your water bills. Couple this with harvesting rain and using it on your veggie garden and you are in a win-win situation

Nothing to do with today’s post but a couple of random dog walking photos taken recently

It was a lovely still morning…

I am waiting to get some seed from that lovely bluey green leptospermum (tea tree) behind that banksia

I will never tire of looking at this beautiful Japanese Maple. Maybe one day some of our little babies will be this beautiful

Finally we get to the vertebrates! These are the boned critters with hearts that pump warm blood…those hearts might pump warm but their thoughts run to cold…stone cold stealin! On Serendipity Farm they run amok and range from rabbits, potoroo’s, wallabies, possums  and the most dangerous of all are “chookus Serendipitus”…the dreaded Common house chook. After reading the gardening blogs that I follow in the wee small hours of the morning I have suddenly become aware of a problem sweeping the US that I had never thought about before…voles! Voles: tiny field mice that remain faithful to their partners for their whole lives that eat seeds and grain and that reach sexual maturity in a month and that can wreak havoc on a good root crop…wait a minute… WE plan on having a good crop! I have unprotected beetroot in the ground that voles could tunnel underneath and lay in wait for those tender red bulbs to form and slowly digest them around their expanding family while I wait on tenterhooks for a vole scented gnawed handful of leaves!

This might be a water vole but its the only stock photo that I could find! No vole lawsuits for me!

I realise that voles are not endemic in Australia. I also realise that most voles could care less about vegetables BUT with global warming who knows where the voles will migrate…there could be voles right now stowing away on cruise ships with tiny sticks over their shoulders and all of their worldly seedy belongings stowed in a tied up gingham kerchief…stealthily and steadfastly wending their way to Australia to start a new beginning. If the Irish can do it…so can the voles. They keep telling us that we now have foxes in Tasmania although most people haven’t seen them and there is a sneaking suspicion that some wily Tasmanian decided that working in the forestry was a bit of a dud and that he might spread the rumour that “there be foxes!” so that he could sit back in a cushy “hunt the fox” job and get paid a handsome sum to stay in bed all day and postulate about “yup…me mate saw one the uva day!”. Most of Tasmania wants to end the “Fox Taskforce” as a bad joke BUT I can see a new direction for it…”Vole Taskforce!” Why not? If foxes can weasel their way over here in the boot of someone’s car (probably said aforementioned wily Tasmanian who ferried them in as “evidence” for his new income venture…) then so can voles! I could put an entire extended family of voles under my hat and a banana in my handbag and run the gamut of the sniffer dogs and insist that I didn’t realise that I wasn’t allowed to bring in a bit of fruit to eat for morning tea whilst the dogs rabidly tried to digest my legs. Once my contraband fruit was handed over they would pass me through customs…no banana “no worries luv”! But I WOULD have a hat full of voles and a new income generating venture for the coming season 😉

This is just to prove to myself that I CAN make fishcakes! Secret = use the potato ricer rather than mash the spuds

Earls potato sack halloween costume. He figures that he can trick people into letting him into their homes and then he can treat himself to whatever he likes and carry it away in his sack

Steve catching Earl in the act as he tried to head over to Frank and Adrian’s place next door and almost fell off the deck…

Stevie Kruger joining in on the halloween festivities…”One two Stevie’s coming for you”…

A plethora of vegan food blogs have exploded exponentially in my rss feed read thanks to vegan mofo. Vegan mofo is a month of crazed recipe creation where every day my inbox is cram packed full of awesome and exciting vegan recipes. I can officially be called a hoarder of vegan blogs and Steve is considering an intervention (but not before I collect a whole lot more!) These blogs freely share homemade cheeze recipes, how to make creamy vegan sauces, all sorts of wonderful sauces, salsas, spices and herby goodness to excite my tastebuds… now could I resist? My rss feed reader is bursting its seams but I just can’t stop! They are all so amazing, so promising, so full to the brim with wonderful creative and scrumptious looking food that my gluttonous fingertips keep clicking “Add to rss feed reader” before my brain kicks in. It IS 5am when I am reading them folks…who is awake then? I am NO exception! I am actually going to make one of the “cheeze” recipes tomorrow. This recipe is made with coconut cream and the resulting cheeze looks like cheddar, melts like cheddar and gives a nice cheesy result for pizza, quesadilla’s and all sorts of previously unattainable recipes. This is why I get up at 5am folks…I am hunting vegan wabbits! I will share this recipe with you because I am the magnanimous and most caring person that I am. If you are brave, give it a go. If you are lactose intolerant, can’t eat nuts, are vegan etc… it could be a life saver.

http://sweetroots.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/vegan-quesadillas-homemade-coconut-milk.html

We built a bean bed today. It involved us removing ancient enormous nails from some old treated pine poles, hammering those poles together to form bed sides with the old enormous nails and putting some scarlet runner, yin yang and borlotti beans into my almost unused electric sprouter. I added some mung beans as the machine has 4 compartments and I may as well get something I can eat out of it in the short term. We were given the scarlet runner beans by Wendy, Glad next doors daughter. I was given the other two kinds of beans by someone from the Sustainable Living Group on one of my brief forays into what they were going to teach as permaculture. The teacher was using a book to teach from and wanted payment for her services so I figured that I would get the book myself and bollocks to paying someone to read a book to me…I can do THAT myself ;). The local Sustainable Living Group is part of Tamar Natural Resources Management and has regular seed swap days to get heritage seed circulating throughout the population. I will be attending the next seed swap day and will be taking some of my little walnut trees to trade. I could almost start a walnut farm with the amount of them that germinated. It pays to use local sources to select your seed for growing whenever you can because it has adapted to your local conditions and has provenance in your area. I chose local walnut trees to get my seed from and most of it germinated without stratification over winter. The same goes for vegetable seeds. Buy what grows best locally and what is suited for your growing conditions to guarantee yourself the best chance of a good result. We decided that rather than waiting 10 days for our little baby beans to struggle through the soil and spread their tiny cotyledons to embrace the fresh air and sunshine on Serendipity Farm that we would use my sprouter and see if they don’t sprout faster. This is a whizz bang sprouter that sprays a fine spray of water over the beans, seeds, grains (whatever you are kidding yourself that tastes good when it is sprouted) and regulates the humidity etc. I bought it in a moment of madness when I had deluded myself enough to think that I was going to eat only raw food. That lasted till winter and fizzled when sprouts and vegetable pulp wraps suddenly become decidedly unappealing. I am sure that I heard Steve muttering something about “no more gadgets!” but he knows better than to get between me and a bargain whose-a-ma-jig that I don’t have in my kitchen already (sigh).

Steve working out how to make a bean bed out of some random treated pine poles

Hoarded building futures…

Isn’t it amazing how much room a man needs to build a small bean futures garden bed?

Voila! Using recycled old nails and hoarded treated pine poles Steve made a bean futures bed ready to be relocated tomorrow. Note that bench with steps, a previous project of Steve’s

The you-beaut sprouter doing its thang with the scarlet runner beans at the front. We have put the sprouter in the shed because it makes so much noise!

Our veggies are standing up happily and are so far free of vermin, pests and disease. Our bean futures are bathing in a light misting of water to facilitate their enhanced germination period, We have a bean bed ready to transport over to where we have chosen to grow our veggies tomorrow when it stops raining and to be filled with the remaining rich compost and some of our compost heap that has been mouldering away all winter long. Let’s just call it an anaerobic compost heap and be done with it because when it was raining I couldn’t find it in my nice comfy position next to Brunhilda to don my raincoat and get turning that friable heap. Thanks to a red wriggler compost worm injection from our friend at Inspirations Nursery Exeter, we have worms in the compost heap and Steve found a container that we are in the process of turning into a worm farm so that we don’t farm off our worms into the veggie gardens at the expense of our new compost heap. We have a gate to build in the dog’s compound around the house so that we can get out to the veggie garden area more easily and we have all sorts of pressing things to do on Serendipity Farm. The difference between this year and last year is that this year we have goals, a purpose and a direction that permaculture has been able to deliver. Last year we were hacking away at what appeared to be a never ending problem. This year our problems are rapidly turning into benefits and suddenly it all looks achievable.  I have some surreptitious ground cover “pinching” to do over the next few months and am going to raid the girls place in town for comfrey and various other cuttings from lavenders and rosemaries so that we can mass plant them all over Serendipity Farm. I now have visions in my head rather than dread. I love it when a plan comes together! See you all on Saturday when it isn’t Halloween and no-one will be knocking at your door asking for candy/sweets or throwing bricks through your window because you forgot to buy any 😉

I couldn’t resist it! Watch out…the vampire voles are coming!

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