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 🙂

Damn the man!

Hi All,

I DID IT! It might have taken me 6 months but I DID IT! I damned the man. 6 months ago to the day, I barely blearily woke up assured that Daylight Savings wasn’t going to make me its biotch ever again. No longer would I stagger from my bed in October in a rough approximation of jetlagged for the next fortnight till I got used to having a precious hour of my day removed surgically by the nefarious powers that be, I would wake up an hour earlier AND I would hit Daylight Savings running…but then my ever inquisitive questing mind realised that this would be a pattern that would repeat itself and that I would just slide back into absorbing that extra hour come the end of Daylight Savings in April… how was I going to prevent this happening. You have to go back into the ether 6 months ago to see how very different my life was then…you have to imagine that wibbley wobbly cutaway scene that they are able to recreate on telly but that I seem to be having difficulty reproducing here in my post so it’s up to you guys to wibble and wobble ok? Righto, back to the story folks! 6 months ago I was a night person. I stayed up regularly till 1am reading, watching television and generally inhabiting the night. My mornings were a study in grouchiness and Steve was always up before me proffering my first (bucket) mug of tea with shaky hands and the scene was set with Steve, fully dressed and raring to go, both dogs twitching with anticipatory excitement at their prospective walk and me, stubbornly clinging to the bedclothes and my teacup in a vain effort to stay in bed…I grumbled…I complained, I muttered my way into my mornings with my ears pinned back in warning to ANYONE foolish enough to talk to me or even look in my approximate direction. I was a morning harpy folks! A full month before Daylight Savings was going to hit us I decided to get up slightly earlier to adapt to the full hour that Daylight Savings was going to steal from me. I started with setting the alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each week and by the time Daylight Savings hit, I was ready for it and it didn’t render me apoplectic and staggering like every year prior. Not THIS little black duck! I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and when I realised that there might just be a problem at the other end of Daylight Savings I just decided that if I could adapt to 6am…why the heck couldn’t I adapt to 5am? Now for me, this was tantamount to crazy land. I hadn’t seen 5am aside from the start of long trips and 5am wasn’t a time, it was a beginning…

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“Err…excuse me…someone appears to have forgotten to leave the gate open, do you think you could do me a favour and just open it up?…please?…pretty please?…”

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“I KNOW you aren’t going to leave me alone till you take a photo so just take it and bugger off!”

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Steve’s collection of twang (note the inclusion of a banjo so that we can blend in with the local’s if we ever need to 😉 )

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The invaders are coming to deliver a telephone mast to the other side of the river…”GET THE TIN FOIL STEVE!” 😉

After adjusting my brain to 5am and realising that there were so many possibilities with waking up at this ungodly hour, I started to wake up even earlier. In 6 months I have gone from a night person who shunned mornings to a very early morning person who went to bed at 7pm last night. Once you set yourself on the pathway to changing your habits you never know how much it is going to change your life. In the past 6 months I have managed to totally change my days and nights (although I don’t really know what happens at night anymore because I am fast asleep!). I went from having a degree of insomnia where I would lay awake worrying about the state of the world to being unable to prevent sleep and having no problems staying asleep. I went from someone who hated walking the dogs and exercise in general to someone who is out the front of the walk and eager to carry on. I went from bordering on obese to “ideal weight” with very little effort and you know what? I think it all came from that initial desire to damn the man and make a tiny positive change in my days. There is a Bupa health fund ad where people see their future healthier and fitter selves and that’s what I am doing today. If it wasn’t for my bolshie desire to bugger up Daylight Savings and remove its tentacle hold on my life, I wouldn’t be the vibrantly buzzing healthy specimen of early morning happiness and possibilities that I am today. One tiny little stubborn desire has entirely changed my ethos and my way of life.  I wonder what other tiny little changes could predominately effect our lifestyles? If something as simple as waking up 15 minutes earlier in my day could deliver this sort of massive change, what else could I start with by just putting my feet on a new pathway?

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Talking about a new pathway…this is a Stromboli. A Stromboli is Steve’s latest favourite food. This one consists of some homemade pizza dough (with the inclusion of mixed herbs, chilli flakes and home grown, dehydrated and powdered tomato) and cabanossi sausage made by Nige our local butcher at “Nigel’s on Tamar” (do I get some free meat Nige? 😉 ), bacon, home grown sliced last of the season tomatoes, thin sliced local grown onions and a mix of grated parmesan and cheddar.

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Once you top the Stromboli, you need to roll it reasonably tightly

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Next you need to cut the Stromboli midway through with a serrated bread knife

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Put your Stromboli, along with the baking parchment you SO cleverly rolled it up on to prevent having to do washing up onto a baking sheet

I got a request for sharing a recipe for those baked spring rolls that I shared a photo of in the comments section of my last post so here is my recipe. Steve and I customised it to be healthier than regular deep fried spring rolls because Steve isn’t a fan of anything deep fried (I, on the other hand, LOVE deep fried anything and that, my dear constant readers, is why I had trouble fitting through doors in a past life 😉 ) and although baked spring rolls need to be served up and eaten pretty much straight away to maintain their crunch, you can be smug and satisfied that you get pretty much the same taste with a whole lot less fat and a lot more nutrition…

Homemade baked spring rolls

1 packet of spring roll wrappers (usually 20 in a pack). We get ours from Coles as they are the only reasonably priced option in Tasmania but feel free to get yours anywhere you want to

A large quarter of a cabbage finely shredded

6 large carrots grated (the longest part of this equation)

1 egg (I don’t eat these spring rolls anymore and the egg binds the filling and reduces any liquid that would make the rolls soggy)

2 packets of MI Goreng (ramen) noodles along with their seasoning packs OR if you are being über healthy, sub veggie stock powder (Massell is the BEST and is Aussie made :o) ) cook the noodles according to the packet, drain them and chop them finely with scissors and reserve the seasoning packs to add to the main mix or you could just add some dried Chinese noodles of your choice. We used to add rice vermicelli and that worked amazing well so it really is up to you :o)

You can add finely chopped capsicum, mung bean sprouts, finely chopped cooked mushroom (to remove excess moisture) and just about any other vegetable or Chinese add (we have previously used soaked dried wood ear fungus and white fungus to great advantage) in that you like at this point but we usually just use cabbage and carrot and the results are yummy

We add some form of protein. Steve likes finely diced chicken cooked with some chilli flakes and I used to have firm tofu but you can add diced up cooked omelette, bacon, any finely diced lightly fried meat, prawns, anything really and you only need about a cup of finely diced protein in total for 20 large spring rolls

Then comes the seasonings. I use lots of oyster sauce (for Steve), Thai chilli sauce, yellow American style mustard, a squirt of toasted sesame oil, lots of crushed garlic (about 7 cloves) and an equal quantity of crushed fresh or jarred ginger, a couple of squirts of Worcestershire Sauce and we add a couple of teaspoons of dried chilli flakes but we love hot food so I would suggest a little sprinkle if you aren’t sure as you already have chilli in the sauce (depending on how hot it
is). Steve likes pepper added and I used more of the Massell veggie stock powder (sub whatever stock powder you fancy to your heart’s content) and feel free to add any other favourite condiment to your batch that takes your fancy. It’s all about customising to your own personal tastes here…that’s what makes these delicious and what makes “homemade” the best.

Mix the entire mass together with clean hands. It’s therapeutic to be up to your elbows in Chinese food. Once you have an even distribution of sauce through the shredded/grated veggies you can start making the rolls. Open your packet of spring roll wrappers and keep a clean tea-towel over the packet to keep them from drying out as you work. I am pretty quick at rolling up a batch of 20 but I have had a lot of practice over the years. Here’s a great tutorial to show you how to roll them up…

http://www.steamykitchen.com/22276-chinese-spring-rolls-with-chicken-recipe.html

She also talks about draining off the liquid to prevent soggy spring rolls. Liquid is an antagonist to a spring roll and keeping the filling reasonably dry is especially important with baked spring rolls. This tutorial makes small spring rolls…yours are going to be big spring rolls but the rolling method is the same and feel free to go ahead and deep fry them if you fancy. The process is the same BUT we like to brush ours with olive or rice bran oil and bake them till they are crisp and golden brown. Either way you end up with something full of flavour, absolutely addictive and you don’t have to pay by the roll. Very economical and much tastier than what you can buy from the supermarket or most food vendors. Give it a go, if you like Asian food (who doesn’t?!) you are going to love these :o)

YUM just found another pictorial tutorial with a completely delicious looking recipe for more spring rolls. Remember, it’s all about customising them to your own personal taste and when you are eating a plate piled high with your own personal favourite flavours you can smugly damn the man all over again!

http://shesimmers.com/2011/06/fried-spring-rolls-po-pia-tod-html

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This is what the cooked Stromboli should look like. I didn’t include a photo of Steve as he was drooling too much to be anywhere near presentable enough for a photo 😉

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Cut crosswise into chunklets just like you would with a Swiss roll and eat…eat a lot…eat too much of it and there will STILL be enough left over to satisfy your appetite the night after with some home baked homemade oven wedges 🙂

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I forgot I had this casserole dish…I picked it up for $2 from a local thrift shop because it didn’t have a lid. How many times do I need a lid? Not many! This is a shepherds pie topped with a mountain of riced cooked potato. Ricing the spuds keep them separate and make a lovely crisp topping.

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I am still getting zucchini’s and a trickle of tomatoes and these are the very first of our ripened jalapeno chillies along with “something” curious that tends to invade most of my photos these days 😉

I am sitting here quietly on Tuesday morning tapping away with “eau de rotting kangaroo carcass” wafting through the air. The decomposing large roo that is about 20ft from the back door is starting to attract more than flies and crows and its wonderful aroma is starting to permeate more than it’s immediate proximity. The native wildlife has done it pretty tough this year and after a couple of bumper seasons, the bushfires that removed a lot of their grazing territory and the long, hot, extremely dry summer that we just had has resulted in a lot of animal deaths. Tasmania is the Aussie home of road kill, thanks to its cooler conditions and larger proportion of vegetation. The animals have been forced to eat pretty much anything this year and my guess is that our kangaroo friend up the back is the culprit who has been eating all of the potato leaves and rhubarb leaves and his toxin tolerance just hit zero. Steve had to take an impromptu trip into town because when we got back from walking the dogs our daughters phoned up to tell us that the hot water tap in the kitchen decided to turn itself on permanently last night and they had to turn the water off at the mains (at least they now KNOW where the mains is 😉 ). Steve was expecting a major job but $15 for a tap and a few extras and about the same amount of minute’s worth of work resulted in job done and happy campers all round. Steve thought that his midday adventures pootling around in the Mumbly Cumumbus were going to be extinguished but now they are back on the cards. I just finished my wireframe drawing of my poster, the final part of my assessment that needs to be submitted on Monday and have the rest of the week to put in a concerted effort to reduce my RSS Feed Reader and to plan our veggie garden that we will be starting on quite soon. I am hoping to convince Steve that our small orchard could do with enclosing fully at the same time so that we can prune the poor long suffering possum playgrounds and perhaps get some fruit next year.

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Proof…Irrefutable PROOF that Flares ARE coming back man!

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And the foolishness continues…Just in case anyone wanted to know what colour our kitchen was 😉

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This is a Schacht Inkle Loom. I bought it for $5 from the year before last’s HUGE progressive garage sale that spans 15km along the Tamar River and is our favourite event on the yearly calendar. I have NO idea how to use it so any clever clogs out there who know about weaving (you KNOW who you are 😉 ) can tell me whether it is something I should/could be bothering with or whether I should just let Earl eat it like he has been trying to do for a year and a half

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The Mumbly Cumumbus just in from Steve’s latest “pootling” event on the river. He actually caught 2 flathead (fish) and the dogs got both of them… well Bezial got both of them as Earl was suspicious of Steve’s intentions and wasn’t going to eat the fish in case it negated us giving him large quantities of steak. Bezial would live on fresh fish if he could 🙂

I am starting to get excited about the prospects of being able to garden with impunity. To be able to plant things that nothing can get (aside from the insects but their predatory grubby friends can deal with them). In preparation for the garden I have been thinking about where to find lots of bulk to fill the prospective garden beds for free or at least as cheaply as possible. My idea is to use keyhole gardens (cheers YBert 😉 ) coupled with a lot of vertical action to gain the maximum amount of growing space. I found some Jerusalem artichokes growing on the road verge this morning and managed to procure a couple of them to plant out in one of my compost bins till I can sort out a corner of Serendipity Farm for them to live happily in and spread to their hearts content. I have visions of both Jerusalem and globe artichokes growing all over the place and if winter ever comes I have visions of spending long wet hours cuddled up near Brunhilda with the laptop, an excel spread sheet (Jess already beat me to it 😉 ) and my permaculture and food forest spidey senses tingling with the research possibilities. I love a good researching event and finding the right perennials, shrubs and trees to deliver food for our series of endemic conditions on Serendipity Farm is a wonderful challenge that I am up for. Permaculture gives us that option. It gives us a new way of looking at our problems and allows us to use our problems to form solutions. What might initially seem like a bit pain in the derrière can be twirled around till it’s good points are facing frontwards. Rocks in the ground? Dig them up and use them to make raised garden beds…Dry conditions causing you growing problems? Store water any way that you can through winter and use it on your gardens when the dry weather hits and use clever gardening tricks like mass planting, mulching, trickle irrigation, choosing food crops and plants that grow in arid conditions and you can bypass a lot of problems. There is ALWAYS  a solution…it’s just up to us to look for the answer and sometimes what you are trying to solve might not be the real problem. My Jerusalem artichokes come with a “you will NEVER be rid of them!” warning. I don’t want to be rid of them. I want food that will grow itself without too much effort. I want to be able to have food all over Serendipity Farm eventually, not just zone 1, but everywhere. I have a vision of fecundity and production and an eventual harmony/equilibrium of cycles on Serendipity Farm that fills me with a sense of hope and happiness. It’s often how you choose to look at things that gives you answers and I like to turn things around a whole lot and look at the bits that other people tend to shun…I’m a bit strange like that 😉

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Another lovely day on the river

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Steve’s aquatic companions

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The Deviot Yacht Club from the river. You can see the deciduous trees starting to colour up nicely

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Some of the houses in Deviot that span the riverbank

Well I am back to normal. I am just about to finish this post off as somewhat less than a novella but definitely more than a quick read over a 5 minute tea break. I hope that all of my dear constant readers are beavering away in their respective changeling seasons between the wet and the dry and vice versa. Spring and autumn are definitely bridging seasons and whatever you are trying to achieve this year, I hope that you get it at least started before the heat of summer or the cold and wet of winter sets in for the long haul. Have a great rest of your week and see you on the weekend, rested and ready to rumble :o)

The confessions of a self-absorbed hierophant

Hi All,

I made it! I managed to stay up till after 12 for the very first time in years! Steve and I stumbled out of bed at 5am so that he could go fishing and I could get my very first post of 2013 up and running. It’s amazing how hung over you can feel without even having a drink ;). I have had a most interesting few days. In preparation for my 2013 ethos (I like to have a goal and a theme 😉 ) I have been “doing” lots of things. I want to be a better (read less lazy) cook this year and create a lot more “from scratch” things. I want to hone my skills this year so you can expect a lot more tutorial type posts and interesting recipes…at least photos of what we cooked. I made Steve a savoury pithivier the other day and rather than use milk to make the base sauce, I used white wine. It was delicious apparently and the leftovers got recycled into a huge quiche the next day using zucchini, our own eggs (14 of them…we have 9 dozen to get through and rising!) and some of our spinach. I want to become more organised and condense my processes down and get Serendipity Farms cycles integrated better this year. We are composting everything that can possibly be composted and it is amazing how something turns from a problem into an asset with a little bit of knowledge. Finding ways to effect positive change on a shoestring is what warms the cockles of my little penniless hippy heart. I found out an incredible amount of information last year and stashed it away for future use. I learned how to make hugelkultur gardens, how to ferment, how to grow a sourdough (even though Herman is still in cryogenic stasis as I type those words…) and how to do all sorts of things from scratch bypassing the consumer dollar in the process. We spend our money locally as much as we can and have stopped buying supermarket meat in favour of our local butcher Nigel from “Nigel’s gourmet on Tamar”…he didn’t give me anything to plug his business there folks…his quality produce was all that needed me to laud him and there are so many small primary businesses out there that could use a bit of a capital injection from we the public. The supermarkets are insidiously replacing all of the branded products on their shelves with their “own labels” to maximise their profit margins. Check out the back of these products and take note that they are not supporting Aussie farmers in their endeavour to rule the Australian consumer dollar…they are importing cheap foods from goodness only knows where and packaging them here in Australia to try to make them look better. Don’t support them if you have any other option…even penniless student hippies can choose to shake their moth eaten sock into their open hands to the benefit of Australian producers.

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The quiche of a million eggs for your perusal!

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Here is a photo that Steve took from his aluminium coracle whilst pootling around on the river the other day. If you look REALLY closely (or if you click the photo and make it bigger…) you might just be able to make out what that red blob is up on that deck…its me! Our house is only really visible from this position in the river and from here you can see The Auld Kirk Church, Steve’s shed and our house and those rocks in the foreground actually belong to Redwood island which Steve is conveniently anchored near to give you a bit of perspective. All of those trees are pretty much ours and the area in front of the house used to be landscaped and terraced garden…not any MORE it isn’t! 😉

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These tyres contain the entirety of a packet of seed that we were given to us by the funeral directors back in 2010 at my fathers funeral. At the time Serendipity Farm was in no condition to broadcaste seed around but we found this packet the other day and decided that our veggie garden needed some flowers to confuse the predatory insects and so Steve built this little tyre garden while I was away at my daughters house. As you can see there is a plethora of possibility here in this tyre…not being an annual person myself, I have no idea what these little green babies are (hopefully not weeds!) but whatever they are they can at least get to see the light of day from their packet and act as little first defence soldiers in the war of integrated pest management

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My little Moringa oleifera that I have been gestating in the glasshouse that will eventually be planted on Serendipity Farm

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The fecundity of the well fortified old compost heap…

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This is an old beer can…one of the cluckies who had been hunkering down for over a month in the new chook pen (before it was a new chook pen to be exact!) was actually sitting on it. I bravely checked under her and was duly repelled with great gusto and all for this remnant of my dad and his drinking buddies…sigh…

I have some dried fruit soaking in the last of the Christmas rum ready to make boozy Eccles cakes for Steve today. Steve has been steadily working his way through the Christmas booze because he wants to give his liver a bit of a rest for lent this year and wanted to start early ;). When we were taking the dogs for a walk up the highway the other day I found a tiny little metal spoon bowl that had become separated from its handle. I have NO idea how it got to be on the side of the road but I picked it up and we brought it back home and Steve make it a handle out of a Serendipitous twig and took a bit of adventitious rust off it and now it sits proudly in the cutlery draw, given a new life by someone who saw it’s intrinsic value. Steve has managed to get on top of the list of spoons that needed to be made and I even got a massive great Spoondle (a cross between a spoon and a ladle). He got creative for Roz’s spoon and decided to make a cross between a wooden spoon and a spatula…the Spatuloon is born! I love that we can both make spoons. The end results are startlingly different and entirely personalised to our own view of the wood that we are working with. I also love that the small pieces of wood that Steve cuts his spoons out of get recycled into small spoons and the remainder get bagged up ready for fire lighting futures. The sawdust gets swept up and bagged as well to use for odour control in my indoor compost bucket and for increasing the suite of organisms in our compost heap. By the way folks…add all sorts of things to your compost…add leaves and broken up twigs from all sorts of plants and trees and tip your beer can dregs into your compost bucket… they all add something exciting and new to your compost brew and make for adventurous growing seasons and who doesn’t love to see what amazing fungi grow out of their compost heap! I know that composting will never be the same for me after opening up the compost bin at Polytechnic in my very first compost turning event and seeing fungi mycelium threaded right down through the compost pile…the fecundity of it all excited me along with the cycles and processes that were initiated by what went into that compost and got me wanting to grow my own fungus…I LOVE fungi :o).  Earl has been getting restless whenever his snout manages to get within sniffing distance of the bowl of walnuts in Steve’s music room…he has personally asked us to do another spoon draw so that he can reintroduce his questing nose into that bowl full of walnuts as he loves to crack them in half and leave them lying around for foolish barefoot hippies to find… another spoon draw is on the horizon folks :o)

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Pinky my dear younger sister’s new spoon in its finished but raw state…

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If you can take your eyes off that spiders web in the top left hand corner for a bit, you will notice that the spoon is now a different colour. It has been rubbed with Eco-oil, a natural food safe blend of orange and tung oil that gives wood a lovely lustre and enhances its natural beauty

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You can tell that these hands belong to Steve…firstly by the hairy arms and secondly by the long fingernails…murphy’s law states that all guitarists must grow their fingernails at an exponential rate because fingernails get in the way of playing…

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This is my Spadle…its huge and pot ready and I can’t wait to wave it about like excalibur over my head when diving into cauldrons of bubbling harvest futures

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A selection of wooden spoons that Steve has made since he decided to become “The Spoonman”

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Earl wistfully prodding the walnuts with his nose

Not long after I found the little spoon bowl on our recent walk I noticed a large tree growing on the road verge and my horticultural bones started to twitch…”Steve…I think that might be a chestnut tree!”…my horticulture spidey senses were on full alert and indeed it WAS a chestnut tree! I haven’t seen an adult chestnut tree in flower and it was a very interesting thing to behold. The flowers are long and pendulous and have a very “interesting” fragrance…not entirely pleasant but my guess is (assisted by the clouds of flies and beetles covering the tree) that they are not aiming at bees and butterflies to pollinate them. I could see tiny chestnuts forming on the ends of the branches and another free food source has been isolated. I am definitely going to plant some chestnut trees out now. If they will grow on a road verge with no outside source of irrigation they are definitely a tree for Serendipity Farm. As we were walking back to our car I noticed a red clover (Trifolium pratense) plant growing in the gravel on the side of the road…again my horticultural senses twitched because deep in the over clogged information highway of my mind something put 2 and 2 together and came up with “bonus!”…I did a bit of research when I got home about red clover because I hauled the red clover plant out of its desert gravel pit and put it into one of our incredibly useful dog dung bags (we use them for horticultural purposes more than their intended use!) and it is sitting in the laundry sink happily bathing its toes in fresh water as I type this. My ethos is “never let a chance go by” and I am glad that I didn’t because this baby had a HUGE root system and because it was covered in seed ready to broadcast if it was worth cultivating. It’s always a good sign if your query results in 2 results lauding the health benefits of said red clover before you get to the Wikipedia entry and apparently I learned something in my horticultural endeavours because I found out that red clover has been used for centuries as a metabolic diuretic, an expectorant and a blood purifier. It contains lots of nutrients and phytoestrogens to balance hormonal activities and is being researched for its uses as a natural treatment for cancer, menopausal symptoms and skin disorders. It makes a pleasant cup of herbal tea and 1 – 2 tsp of dried flowers infused in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 – 30 minutes is all it takes to add this delightful natural remedy into your diet. See what a bit of knowledge can give you? I am going to spread the clover all over the place on Serendipity Farm…I am going to infuse the “lawn” with it, I hope to attract bees from all over the place by having a lot of it growing here. Knowledge is power of the highest degree and the kind of power that this freely sourced knowledge can give you is immensely empowering to those of us living on a shoestring

Trifolium pratense red clover

This is a lovely stock photo of red clover…MUCH better than I could take for you so you can acutally identify it in the wild using this shot

Pirate Ship

I am hoping that I can sneak this photo by the internet trolls… I am going to give full kudos to The Examiner our local rag for this shot. Its of the pirate ship that I talked about not so long ago and a Melbourne man built it from scratch and has been sailing it around since Christmas… I don’t know about pirate but at $5 a person to take a sneak peak on board, he might just be rolling in dubloons by the end of the season!

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Here is what the little found spoon looked like after I extracted it from the pocket of my jeans

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Here it is resting on the twig that I picked to be its new handle

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And here is what it looks like now after a bit of a clean up and a nice new twiggy handle 🙂

We are off to take some rubbish to the tip tomorrow. I have a plethora of amazing books to pick up from the local library as it opens again on January 2nd and Nigel slaters complete back catalogue appears to have landed in my request box ;). We try to combine as many things as we can into a single trip and tomorrow (today really but I typed this yesterday 😉 ) we will be walking the boys in Exeter, heading up to the tip and perusing the tip shop for any hardwood that we can find including floor boards to make spoons and spatulas with, going to the local op shop to see if anything new has arrived and picking up my weights worth of free books from the library. I don’t know why more people don’t take advantage of the library. I know it is easier to just buy a book but when funds are tight, it’s not an option and when time is an asset that you have plenty of, typing out the best recipes from a good cookbook isn’t an issue and if you run out of time you can just request it again :o). I have a wonderful selection of books at the moment ranging from vegan cookbooks by the iconic Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a vegan pioneer who has, along with her good friend Terry Hope Romero, dragged vegan food kicking and screaming out of the “too hard” box and directly into the oncoming path of mainstream society. I purchased “Vegan cupcakes take over the world” in a selection of vegan cookbooks from the U.S. a few years ago and now we have “Vegan pie in the sky” (on my desk waiting to be typed out) and “Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar” is waiting for me to pick it up tomorrow…I get very excited whenever I get near the library. It’s a knowledge thing…a fundamental ingredient in my makeup that gives me a “good dog!” pat on the head whenever I head into that hallowed hall of literature and I never cease to amaze myself at how greedy I can be when it comes to books. I never have a spare space on my library card of 15 allowed books and regularly use my dear non-literary husband’s library card to shamelessly hog 15 more books. I can never hope to get through all of them in my allotted 3 weeks but whatchagonnado eh? 😉

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You wanted pictures of the veggie garden…you GET pictures of the veggie garden…this is the view from the house side of the veggie gardens…

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And this is the view from the other side…that blue tarpaulin still has some of the organic compost underneath it waiting to be used to fill duckies old boatpond and used as a raised herb garden

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Some of the rainbow chard that I cut to give to the chooks surrounded by sage and cucumbers and snow peas

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3 different kinds of zucchini, some chives, some snow peas, some cucumbers and a rustic attempt at allowing the cucumbers to go viral

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English spinach, beetroot, sage, cucumbers and those exponentially grow-before-your-eyes zucchini plants

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The spinach and beetroot bed…beetroot leaves are delicious by the way and every bit as good as silverbeet

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Looking back towards the corn and silverbeet

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Tomato mania! I am standing up taking this photo and you can see how crazy they have gone!

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A bed full of lettuce, rocket (going to seed but still tasty), capsicums (peppers), jalapeno chilli’s and more! I think you will all agree that our summer veggie garden experiment appears to be paying off 🙂

I think I may have stumbled onto the next greatest thing in vegan cooking…I am saying this because I know that Hannah, the vegan degustatory equivalent of Albert Einstein reads my blog posts…I hope you are reading this one Hannah because I am sharing my new found secret passion with you right here…right now. I LOVE cheese…I love it with a passion rivalled only by my love for potatoes (and butter…and bread…and…well you get the picture!) and I have sorely missed that cheesy flavour since I went over to the bright side of the street where the vegans hang out in the hipster side of town… it was one of the main reasons that I stuck steadfastly to my vegetarian past and stubbornly refused to cross that dairy free line. Eggs…no problem…cheese and butter “NOOOO!” but cross I did for health reasons and here I am still lusting after that deep cheesy flavour that comes from well-aged cheddar and I haven’t found a vegan alternative yet. I do love the taste of aged nut cheeses and I like vegan homemade yoghurt but the nut cheeses are expensive to make and while I was staying with my daughters they introduced me to something revolutionary that gave me back my cheesy hit without any effort on my part…magic! We had a complete weekend of cooking; we made homemade pizza and 12 different Korean recipes and Asian sago pudding and delicious icecream and all sorts of things. The girls had cheese on their pizza along with all sorts of weird things. They like to experiment with their food and often take recipes to their limits in the process. They have all sorts of unusual multicultural ingredients in their home and as they are going through an Asian phase at the moment they had purchased lots of Asian products in tins and jars to experiment with. Apparently my youngest daughter Bethany had bought a jar of Chilli bamboo shoots on a whim and after opening the jar and trying them she didn’t like them and the jar had remained on their fridge shelf gathering the fridge equivalent of dust for a while. When we were considering what to put on my vegan pizza Madeline (my eldest daughter) said “why don’t you put some of those chilli bamboo shoots on it?”…never one to shirk my duty to try new things I agreed and thus was born my newfound addiction to these wonderful fermented little shreds of vegan cheesy happiness. They taste almost identical to aged vintage cheese. If you don’t believe me Hannah, head down to your nearest Asian food store and buy a jar of Double Coins Chili Bamboo Shoots and see for yourself. I know you are a very innovative girl and are not averse to trying new things and I am sure that you will be able to integrate them into some of your wonderful vegan recipes…time to start a new trend Hannah and you will be right there at the beginning :o). Don’t say that I am not a generous blogger :o). I just let Earl (who likes to stand up and give me a kiss when I am typing on a regular basis) a sniff of the chili bamboo shoots and he started licking his lips and attempting to insert his doggy tongue into my precious jar of cheesy vegetable goodness…Earl is a cheese fan of old…I rest my case!

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Here it is Hannah…it might not look very promising but these fermented little strips of pure cheesy flavoured goodness were enough to lure Earl to attempt to stick his nose into the top of the jar and Earl is a true cheese afficionado of old! Check them out and let me know if you don’t agree that these shards of vegetabley goodness are not a craze waiting to happen 🙂

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We sprayed the roosters past wishbones and were going to thread them together to make a garland for the Christmas Tree but completely forgot them and so they will have to be this year’s project. We are going to spray some of them red and some gold over the top of the green but we only had green spray paint at the time…

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The end result of an experiment to see what happens if you dehydrate a whole raw egg…what happens is that you get something surreal that the dogs ate with gusto!

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A quick mercy trip to deliver a fridge to my daughters resulted in an impromptu trip to Launceston. I took lots of photos and will share them with you over the next few posts as this post is crammed to bursting! I just wanted to share this one with you to show you how pretty Launceston is 🙂

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The genius of street art…what is it? Not sure, but it does resemble my 5am face should I ever be foolish enough to look in the mirror at that unGodly hour!

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This is OBVIOUSLY the next fashion trend for the season…Steve and I will be sure to embrace it fully the next time that we visit…

So much for me cutting my post size down for 2013! I guess you have to work at “resolutions” don’t you? You can’t just expect to go cold turkey on your muses right up…I hereby give you 300 less words this post! I expect lavish applause and multiple congratulations for that… (Good luck getting me to repeat it 😉 ). See you on Saturday and have an amazing rest of the week my wonderful dear constant readers :o)

Bezial is NOT fat…he is just big boned…

Hi All,

Bezial is begging again. He has a sore leg because of a spate of rainy cold weather that started yesterday and a desire to race around like a spring chicken when he is effectively a middle aged man (something like those sad 35+ year olds that carry their skateboards everywhere…). This means that he doesn’t walk today and it’s my day to stay home with him while Steve walks Earl. We can’t NOT walk Earl…our home is too precious to us and as penniless student hippies we can’t afford to replace what his overactive teeth tend to expend that excess energy on when he doesn’t get his regular quotient of exercise. Earl gone = Bezials free reign at trying to get me to open the treat cupboard and feed him till he bursts. You can’t blame him for trying though. He is part labrador…his entire digestive system is Labrador along with his desire to frolic maniacally in any form of water from the chooks water bowl to the sea. He “looks” like a lovely big black American Staffordshire terrier BUT in actuality he is channelling his inner labrador most of the time. Anyone who knows dogs well knows that Labrador’s come a very VERY close second to Beagles in the gutsy dog stakes. Bezial has always had a tendency to eat to excess (a bit like his female caretaker to be honest!) and we once gave him 2kg of prime dog steak to see if he could eat it all when he was a pup…he did! Earl, even though he appears to be a heifer, has trouble with eating too much food and will leave some at the end of most of his meals. He tends to be a lot pickier than Bezial about what he will and won’t eat but unlike Bezial, he doesn’t use food avoidance to get his point across! The dehydrated dog steak treats that we give our dogs are Bezials snack of choice. We forgot to turn off the dehydrator when drying out the last of the steak the other day which resulted in amazingly crisp and crunchy meaty goodness and Bezial has his mind firmly centred on getting as many of those crispy meaty treats into his ever expanding girth as those big brown puppy dog eyes will allow. I am a sucker for those eyes. I threw Earls leftover steak out to one of the feral cats last night because of big cat eyes…I am also a quintessential over-eater so I sympathise with Bezial…I, too, am channelling my inner labrador and so am able to allow him his space to sulk when I put the lid on the treats and put them up on the treat shelf.

Here’s a few gratuitous grub shots…veggies ready for roasting

Barley and lemons…what more could a girl want?

Barley combined with mushrooms, capsicum and onions being sauted ready to make barley risotto

Veggie stock added to the barley risotto…I can’t find a photo of the finished result but it tasted delicious 🙂

Did anyone else out there realise that it’s almost Christmas time?! One of the blogs that I follow reminded me of it when I was reading my rss feed reader the other day and I almost fell off my chair! No time to panic about the Mayan calendar…CHRISTMAS IT COMING! Incidentally…the native Mayan descendants are a bit pissed about it all to be honest. They say that the local governments in South America are making money out of crazy foreigners booking “end of the world” trips to South America to party hearty while they, themselves, are celebrating the end of the old calendar and the beginning of the new. No-one is sponsoring their own new beginnings parties because there isn’t any money in new beginnings…only wildly spending desperate people who think that they won’t have credit card debts in February 2013 (let alone Christmas debt) so they are willing to go out on an exponential limb and party like its 1999. Christmas WILL come folks and with it, the usual hype, overspending, overeating and credit card woes in February… it’s inevitable…or is it? We are bollocking Christmas off this year. Not the sentiment or the actual meaning, but the rubbish that goes with it. This year we are going to volunteer (already have in fact 😉 ) at a local community church event aimed at giving people alone at Christmas time some Christmas cheer. After we get home we are going to cobble together a delicious simple meal of our favourite things and share a bottle of something tipsy to allow us to really feel grateful for our lot. We have been so very fortunate to be given the chances that we have in our lives and we just want to share that around and pay back some of what we have been given in kind. Consumerism? “Forgedaboudit!”…not this year world! You aint gettin’ ANY of our hard grafted moola! We need to stuff our moth eaten sock for prospective bills and permaculture practices so there’s no room in the inn for your overinflated projections of what makes people happy…Christmas no longer makes people happy (aside from people who manufacture anything with an “I” in front of it…and most of them are on minimum wage in China somewhere and could care less about Christmas). Let’s all take back the real meaning of Christmas this year and get stuck into feeling grateful and thankful for our lot. We really are a lucky bunch you know…let’s start acting like we know it!

MORE gratuitious grub shots…this time of the beginnings of an amazing pasta sauce containing caramelised onions and heaps of garlic, capsicum and mushrooms

Here’s the middle of the delicious pasta sauce…

and here’s the end result! Thick, rich and delicious…much like many a boy band member! 😉

And lastly heres an action shot of an incredibly delicious dhal that I made earlier in the week

Talking about Christmas has me contemplating our next homemade Christmas tree and most probably the photographic content of a future post. We have gotten quite adventurous over the last few years with what construes a Christmas “tree” here on Serendipity Farm. As rabid hippy tree hugging horticulturalists we refuse to kill a tree in the name of a seasonal holiday. This smacks of pagan sacrifice to be honest! The borers ate last year’s tree. It would seem somewhat significant because it was also mum’s last year on earth and her final Christmas with us. She died not long after Christmas and I am contemplating burying our Christmas tree somewhere on Serendipity Farm to make a bit of a statement. Steve is contemplating having me committed because aside from wanting to bury a handful of borer eaten branches, Serendipity Farm is predominately comprised of 1 part soil to 9 parts rocks and there is NO way that he is going to dig a large hole for anything  let alone some mouldering bits of twig. The alternative is to give our last year’s Christmas tree a full Viking funeral where we burn it on a pile and reinvest it into the soil rather than make a raft for it and send it out into the Tamar River which is tempting BUT we are too lazy and busy at the moment to go to that sort of an effort…  What are we going to build this year? Not too sure. Maybe an homage to a Christmas tree in the form of a vertical gabion herb spiral with Christmas baubles on it? Probably not…that’s a little bit far gone for even me but who knows… 2013 might just be the year that I finally channel my inner hippy and go nuts and totally dispense with the traditional and usher in a radical new ethos…but I doubt it…that would mean actually building said edifice to herbs and that would mean that both Steve and I would have to meet in the middle of a project that requires more than a day or so of combined effort which inevitably results in one of us exploding (usually me) and the other one sulking (usually Steve).  We certainly don’t have a shortage of rocks to donate to the project!

Here’s proof that you don’t need a shmicko camera and light box to take a good photo…I was attempting to take a photo of my garlic scissor hands for Halloween and noticed that this photo looks “FABULOUS” Darlings! I have decided to throw everything to the 4 winds and run off to become a famous French photographer…on second thoughts…I just can’t be quite bothered at the moment…I will just keep my latent amazing photography under my hat 😉

Earl sitting on one of the kitchen chairs waiting till I stop pointing that bloody thing at him till and turn back to the computer so that he can put his nose into that white bowl to the right and steal walnuts to his hearts content! He loves stealing walnuts and cracking them on the floor for unsuspecting bare footers to step on early in the morning…(you will notice that I have reverted back to my crappy photography but whatchagonna do eh? 😉 )

One of Earl’s stuffed toys fell off the deck when he was playing with it yesterday and Moustachio found it. He is mid destruction in this photo. Anyone who knows cat’s will know the position for destruction and those hind feet were going like pistons! You can see how he got his name in this shot

Steve says that he is instituting a new Boxing Day tradition on Serendipity Farm. He is going to tow the barely used aluminium tinny that dad left him down to the jetty and go fishing. No sports for him, unless he hooks a shark which isn’t an impossibility as we are just around the corner from the sea and Devil’s Elbow, the name of the little estuarine pocket of the Tamar River that we live on, which is a shark nursery and sanctuary. In that case he will be probably towed out to sea and will have to row his way back and that will be enough sports for him to last all year!  The funny thing about spring is that time seems to go MUCH quicker than the rest of the year. I feel like I only just posted my last post and Steve reminded me that it’s time to post again tonight! We are doing a lot of work in the garden at the moment to stave off more work in the future. We have been dealing with the blackberries that are threatening to take off and are removing them systematically. We have a garden bed that needs to be totally cleared out and replanted along with a very large Cotoneaster tree that also needs removing. We are then going to renovate a pond, clear out the jungle part of Serendipity Farm and start planting out some of our precious trees. We have to irrigate the trees that we have planted out so far and we have to install a gate on the side of the house so that we can get out to the veggie garden beds and relocated compost heap more easily… oh yeah…we have to relocate the compost heap! Spring is a time of barely concealed blind panic where you spend your days trying to outrun the weeds (and usually lose).

Note the blackberry tangles in this area of the garden…

The darned chooks certainly did!

Here’s another one of their well camouflaged nests inundated with brambles

We were outside bums up and heads down hacking away at blackberries when we heard a chicken’s tell-tale egg song. We are more than aware that the hens have moved their regular nests “somewhere else” and so we decided to have a look-see to see if we couldn’t find where. We found one of their nests and heard another hen down in the jungle area and if they are nesting there good luck to them! We will be sorting out which hens we do and don’t want to keep soon and will be selling some of them off. After we do so, we will be making a large enclosed area for the hens and Yin to live in with a gravity fed deep litter run. We want to be able to mulch our garden beds and our hens are most determined that we won’t. This is one battle that I fully intend to win! I have noticed that since we cleared out the side garden all sorts of plants are starting to grow. Lots of aquilegias have emerged and as waterwise perennials you can’t do much better. I noticed that some of the tall blue salvia that used to grow down next to the bird baths has shown its face in the garden. I thought that I had lost it all but it would seem that it was there all along, just tangled up in blackberries and unable to shine. We need to ensure that the soil stays moist over the coming summer months. Northern Tasmania has an extended period of hot weather without much rain. We have been leaving debris and branches around the wilder areas so that the chooks won’t scratch the soil bare but until we contain and reduce their numbers we can’t stop them from doing what hens do best. After we reduce their numbers and contain them we can start using chook tractors to get the chooks to work where WE want them to work. No more eggs off in the wilderness! No more random ferals living in trees…no more chickens emerging from the shrubs to be hoovered up by the feral cats. In effect, we will be able to take back control of our chook population and contain them where we want. I am sure that there will be some rumbling protestations by the hens but too bad…they have had it all their way up until now and the humans are taking back the farm! 😉

Billbergia nutans (Queen’s Tears), an epiphytic bromeliad native from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina is a very hardy plant. I recently divided it in thirds and all 3 of them are flowering like crazy after being planted into the garden

Acer palmatum ‘Beni shidare’ one of Steve’s lovely dissectum weeping maples

Another showy maple…this one is called “Peaches and Cream”

Our veggies are happily growing and we bought 2 more punnets when we were last in town. We decided on some rainbow chard and a punnet of mixed zucchinis (yellow, regular green and some light green ones). We also bought a packet of Italian kale seed and found a site online that showed us how to make a seed block maker to make our own seed blocks for planting in using our own customised seed raising mix. Our dried beans that we put into my rarely used automatic sprouter have all started sprouting and we will be planting them into soil tomorrow. I am excited to see what we are able to grow and will be saving seed from this year for next year’s bean futures. Most of the punnets of seedlings that we bought are not heritage seed but we didn’t have much choice this year. Next year will be a very different situation and we will be buying heritage seed and planning out our garden beds much more carefully next year. You have to start somewhere and we have at least “started”.  We just fed the dogs a dozen hard boiled eggs and they will get more tomorrow. We have too many eggs! The end result of the dogs degustory delight at being able to freely imbibe eggs on a regular basis leaves a LOT to be desired and we might have to think of something else to do with our excess eggs. Reducing the chook population is a good start but we are going to have to start thinking of ways to use up our egg surpluses to make the best use of our resources. Cake baking time methinks! It might even be Pavlova time!

Nectarine futures on Serendipity Farm!

Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’. Can you see why we love conifers?

“Get eating boys…we have 12 dozen to get through!” 😉

Time to wrap up another post and get it all packaged up and tied with a bow to send to your inboxes. I have a few interesting ideas up my sleeve regarding starting a seed pen-pal group to share heritage seed in Australia. I follow a Dutch blog that has done this most successfully and would love to do something similar here in Australia. We might not be able to receive certain types of vegetable seeds but most are fine so long as they come from Australia so I am contemplating how to go about starting something like this. It’s a sort of online seed swap that gives people a chance to share the genetic love around. I thought it was a brilliant idea when I read about it on the blog and think that we Aussies shouldn’t have to miss out because of our strict quarantine laws regarding the import of seed material. We have imported a lot of seeds from other countries but you never know how they are going to react and many imported seeds are unviable or unsuited to our climate. It would be amazing to swap seeds amongst like-minded people with minimal cost (aside from postage) involved. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea and if it could work and I might start thinking more strongly about it. See you all on Wednesday and enjoy the rest of your weekend :o)

A hand full of oca and a head full of rising sap

Hi All

Today is the first of spring and the weather has turned on a most magnificent day for it. We had a nice sleep in (7.30am) by ignoring the chickens scolding us underneath our bedroom window, the cuckoo shrike tapping  on the kitchen window and calling out, the dogs alternately hopping into bed and hopping out in anticipation of their walk and got out of bed when WE wanted to. We then fed some bread and butter (our chooks are connoisseurs and will only eat butter) to the chooks and the feral cats; let Pingu out for a few more chunks of bread and butter and then the rest of the coop for a mass orgy of bread and butter flying in the air. Sparrows, cats, chooks, duck EVERYONE had some and then we headed out to walk our boys in the beautiful spring air in Exeter. We parked the car and headed off for a nice long walk and then dropped in to drop off a few “Barbara” pumpkin seeds to the local nursery man who was most grateful and gave me a hand full of what we call “New Zealand Yams” but on further research, their real name is “Oxalis tuberosa” or Oca in their native South American Andes homeland. The New Zealanders are prone to pinching things and renaming them after themselves starting with kiwifruit, a native of China and Pavlova, Lamingtons and ANZAC biscuits ALL of which originate in Australia and now Oca from the Andes…I won’t be hearing that you don’t pinch things you Kiwis! I think you have been learning from your native Kakapo flightless parrots. I watched a Discovery channel programme about them a little while ago that showed how they might not be able to fly, but they can certainly steal things! Australia might be founded on convicts but you have no excuses for pinching things but we do forgive you because your economy is totally stuffed and heck, most of you are heading over here to become Aussies anyway so I guess we will go easy on you for the while…but we are watching you…

More mushrooms growing after we have already harvested a kilo of nice big mushrooms from our freebie bags. After they finish shrooming, we can use the mushroom compost for our garden

One of the feral cats has decided that she likes Steve and follows him around meowing. He does feed them every evening so I guess it might be cupboard love, but she seems particularly taken with him

Serendipity Farm is emerging from its week of drowning and aside from it now being leech heaven around here, we are hoping that the sun will dry it out a bit over the weekend

Its the first day of spring! Time to wash the car and clear out the boat ready to launch it on that lovely water in the background…

While I was at the nursery in Exeter I took advantage of their kind offer of a bag of red wriggler worms for free. Our compost heap does contain worms, however they are the enormous native kind that breeds slowly and that just slug about waiting for blackbirds to eat them. Red wrigglers are adapted to living in compost heaps and the small bagful that I placed carefully into our overladen heap should be incredibly happy to be relocated. Their home at the nursery was seething with comrades but here on Serendipity Farm, they will be pioneering their way into history. Once they breed up we will start a worm farm to collect the worm tea for use on our plants. So many ideas! Steve found me heaps of online information about permaculture the other day and I have been immersed in videos of hope and sustainability. There is nothing like being a penniless student hippy to make you realise that consumerist gardening is not for you! Who can afford to populate their gardens with purchases from mainstream nurseries (and indeed, who would want to!). Our pathway in life gives us lots of time but precious little payola to spend but never people to let problems stand in our way, we negotiate our way around the outside like gyrating, belly dancing hippy buffalo girls and find a lateral way to solve our problem. No money for plants? No worries! We haven’t just spent the better part of 4 years studying horticulture for nothing you know! We learned how to grow plants from seed, from cuttings and how to bud, graft, layer and many cleverer hints and tips to allow us to grow our own.

Thursday over at Beauty Point walking the dogs in the sunshine aren’t we lucky to have such lovely places to walk our dogs?

A clever way to enhance a standard wooden fence

The rest of the fence is the same and most certainly makes this home one to remember on our walk around Beauty Point

We fixed up the glasshouse and have a heat bed of our own to get our cuttings to strike and our seeds champing at the bit and we have the will and the desire to find solutions to our planty problems. The gazillion strawberry plants languishing at the Exeter tip that I waded through mud (after asking permission from the tip guy) to save from a waterlogged death are all potted up and flowering like crazy. I planted the oca in with the strawberries so that I know where they are and aside from the strawberries there is a tiny little Babiana corm that I found amongst the debris and planted and that is now sending up greenery to greet the sun. I love gardening. It’s one of the most positive things that you can do. It’s a way to feel the cycles of the seasons and immerse yourself in the natural world and as the spring sap rises in the deciduous trees and shrubs I can feel it bubbling inside me and rising in unison, full of possibilities and the excitement that comes with effecting change.

Myvanwy doing what she does best. She is a hybrid of Herman and Ethel Merman and is a 75% all white hydration. She appears to be rising magnificently and taking her time to fall so it looks like there is a lot of happy yeasty activity going on in that nice tall glass jar. She is raising at least double every time we feed her and so Miff, is going to be our next baking event. Anyone laying bets as to how she turns out?

Steve’s delicious creation soup the other night.

We found a packet of cloud ear fungus that I must have bought in a past life hiding up the back of the cupboard the other day and decided to use it in our cooking. You soak it in warm water, cut out the bit where it joins to the tree and it is crunchy and vaguely seaweedy. Delicious and we will certainly be using the rest of the packet soon

A young currawong looking through our bedroom window wondering if he might just move in. I know life here is paradise for animals but inside is off limits matey!

I have grand plans for how to slow the rapid descent of water from the sheoky dry bit up the top of the block down to the marshy melaleuca infested area down at the bottom of the property. I am going to build a hugelkultur garden bed. We can’t dig the usual swales that permaculture suggests to perform this task, but if you look a little outside the box you can usually find an answer and hugelkultur seems to be ours. You can start with biochar logs (slow burned to get a honeycomb pattern in the charcoal) or you can start with regular garden debris and we have a depressing amount of garden debris littering Serendipity Farm. I think that the true value of permaculture is being able to use what you have available to effect change rather than having to wait until you have enough money to do it. I can “take a frown and turn it upside down” and those piles of debris that were hanging about waiting for me to hire a mulcher or tote them off to the tip are now a positive asset on Serendipity Farm. I can cut them up, lay them in a long line, cover them with chopped up branches and dead plant matter, I can head off to our friend who has given us all the topsoil that we can handle and get trailer loads of soil to spread on top of our branches along with bagged manure (probably sheep) and then cover it all over with some large bales of hay and I can plant fruit and nut trees and other edible shrubs and herbs directly into it. It’s all about looking at the reality that you have in a different way. Seeing what you have as positive and learning how to use it to your advantage.  I no longer look at the tangle of debris down in the garden as being a massive pain that has to be hacked away in sections, but somewhere that is going to protect our young fruit and nut trees until they grow enough to be able to stand on their own two roots. I am also carving what has to be done into small manageable portions. Instead of being totally overwhelmed with 4 acres of hassles, we now have 4 acres of future edible food forest just waiting for us to wade in and make it happen. We are going to use everything that we have learned to give us what we want here including vertical gardening, aquaponics, hugelkultur gardening, permaculture, biodynamics, xeriscape gardening…all SORTS of things that just typing out here make me excited. I love learning and even more than learning…I LOVE putting what I learn into action and having something to show for those hours spent hunting for the elusive, precious information in the first place. Life is good people, let’s live it!

A lovely little Acer rubrum, a waterwise small tree, one of many that we managed to get to grow from some seed that we bought online. We now have lots of little shrubs all budding up and needing to be repotted. Might be time to do some giving away, planting out, swapping and THEN with the few that are left, we can repot…anyone else out there procrastinating about repotting?

Where the Acer rubrum is hiding amongst his compatriots…one small stand of many small stands dotting Serendipity Farm and all needing our care and attention in the near future

A lovely Nectarine blossom on one of the fruit trees out the back. This is a lovely yellow nectarine and we have a delicious white one next to the chook yard. Here’s hoping that Big Yin doesn’t show his girls how to jump and eat them all like he did last year…

We had our fortnightly visit to see our lecturer the other day and got to paint our assessment model so we are now officially able to share it with you here. We are suitably proud of our efforts and our lecturer seemed to be pleased as well so it was a win-win situation as our lecturer now has 2 models to use for the upcoming Polytechnic open day to show what our course (only offered this year for the first time) is all about. Steve and I didn’t have to learn how to use AutoCAD this year so we could get stuck straight into model building which fitted in nicely with the open day because all of the other students in the course are still getting their heads around the dreaded AutoCAD and without us there wouldn’t have been any models to share. Nat made a flitting visit and it was great to see her. I told her that I would put something about her in the blog because the poor girl doesn’t get to even look at the blog much as she is so busy these days. Her class will be putting on a floral display at beautiful Entally House soon and I can’t wait to see it when it’s done. All of the annuals have been grown especially for this event by her students and it’s an amazing chance to learn how to grow for a specific event and how to pull it all together. Good luck Nat, but you don’t really need that because you are fantastic at organising and are a true asset to the Horticultural department at Polytechnic. Our friend in the witness protection gave me a whole lot of Hippeastrum bulbs a little while ago. She had been keeping them in her polytunnel but we have just stuck them outside in the sun. They are happy enough and hopefully they will flower this year. Our friend is a very generous person and we like to be generous to so sometimes the give and take can go on for a long time with a single gift starting it all off :o). I am off with her to a soilweb presentation in Launceston on Wednesday while Steve stays here with the dogs. I have all sorts of information about permaculture to give to her as I know that she will be as excited as I am with the possibilities that it brings to our lives.

Our original (practice) model construction on display inside the Horticulture Department at our Polytechnic

Our final model painted and ready for submitting to our lecturer with yours truly hovering around anxiously in the background with a paint pot in case we missed a bit…

We passed our model making 🙂

Spring appears to have awoken more than the plants. Steve has been following “The Bearded One’s” stick drawings on Christi’s Olalla Washington farmlet.wordpress.com blog for quite some time now and he decided that he was going to put some drawings of his own on my post for today. I watched him feverishly crouched over his piece of paper (shielding it from my inquisitive eyes whenever I went too close) and when he finished with a final flourish and presented me with his magnificent creations I told him not to tell me what they were (which should tell you that they need a degree of interpretation to say the least!) so that I could attempt to guess. Here are his pictures and firstly my interpretations and then what they are actually meant to be…

Err…

My interpretation of the first picture: I think that this looks like one of the young roosters that has broken into the shed and has invaded the chook feed. They are constantly hungry and hover around under the deck avoiding Big Yin and his deft attacks, crowing, jumping on any passing hen and tomorrow night, they will actually BE their namesake…”chicken” and “stock”!

Steve’s actual description: He said this was originally a self-portrait (no…he hasn’t drunk his 2 bottles of Guinness that he picked up in Exeter this morning…) and then he changed it and it is now “The Cockatrice of Doom”…I think that Steve is having flashbacks to Nam!

Hmmmm…

My interpretation of the second picture: I have been eating a lot of kimchi and lots of cooked beans lately…I think that this is Steve’s way of telling me to not only stop nagging him about his Guinness habit but also to lay off the farty stuff. He is obviously holding me down and I am trying to elevate him from his one true love…Guinness…

Steve’s actual description: I am full of the lightness of spring and he is thoughtfully grounding me and stopping me from flying away. The large pint glass of Guinness in MY interpretation has been replaced with the 20 litre bucket of skeeter pee (lemon wine)…at least I got the booze bit right!

Eek!

My interpretation for the third and final picture: THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING!!! They are rising along with the sap from the graveyard next door and they are apparently armed and dangerous! They have a couple of pigs in tow (for sustenance?) and have attracted some blowflies as they lurch towards our home and our certain doom…(note to self – I must stop watching the Crime Investigation channel before I go to bed…)

Steve’s actual description: We are walking hand in hand through the spring garden where the roots and shoots of the trees are awakening (at least ONE of us remembered our horticultural studies…), the birds are flying above us and our two dogs are with us and Steve has plus fours because he can’t draw board shorts very well…

Ok so I kind of got it a bit wrong. I got it HEINOUSLY wrong. You know those shows and quizzes where you are supposed to guess what your partner has answered for a specific question? Well I don’t think that I will enter us in any of those shows aside from the entertainments value as we are guaranteed NOT to win. We are totally the polar opposite of each other and that is more than obvious by our answers BUT Yin and Yang we are. I am starting to sound a bit like Yoda there so I think it’s time to call this post sprung! See you all on Wednesday when I will have been to a Tamar NRM day all about soil with our friend from the witness protection and I will be all hyped up on mountain dew and knowledge…my favourite state of being! See you all then :o)

Finally you get a short post!

Hi All,

I woke up in a deep blue funk this morning. I think it was a combination of WordPress messing about with my posts and with its format in general and having to cancel following all of the blogs that I followed due to a massive increase in comments flooding my inbox from other people commenting on posts where I had commented on other people’s blogs and reading too many “Doom and Gloom” environmental posts in the last week. It’s not hard to get downhearted when life seems to be gloomy and grey wintery days do nothing to make you cheer up in a hurry. Steve was on a roll and as usual, when one of us is down, the other one is on the way up and he decided that we were going to tidy up around the house today. I would rather have gone back to bed but being the good wife that I am I headed out to shake off the blues. It was the best thing that I could have done because not only did it make me feel like I was doing something positive, but I remembered something that my mother, who died earlier this year, had told me about gardens that made my day. She had told me many things and back when she was alive I was guilty of listening with my ears shut like most of us are prone to do when our parents instruct. This little pearl of wisdom came back to enlighten and delight me when I had resorted to using secateurs and a pair of loppers to reduce a mass of vegetation down to wheelbarrow loads of smaller bits. I hadn’t gone mad…I had just given up on trying to get our mulcher to cooperate with my wishes. Anyone want a mulcher? It’s free! She told me that when you make raised beds, you could start with a thick layer of chopped up garden waste. I had an enormous pile of chopped up garden waste and suddenly realised that what had been causing me a headache would actually become a solution to some of our problems.

I got Steve to take a photo of the jungle vista off the side of the house near our bedroom window. As you can see its a teensy tiny bit overgrown…

We had removed a bit of debris previously that you can see in the foreground to clear a way through to our potted plants from the front of the house but what remained had to be dealt with and so we decided to tackle it…

This is the point at which we stopped for a mornings cup of tea/coffee and Effel and the babies “Doocark” set about tackling the newly exposed damp earth with rank abandon

This is to show you a few of the piles of green waste generated as we hacked, heaved and pulled out the years of overgrown plants and weeds. There are some nice plants under all of this rubbish, the poor things are somewhat shell shocked…

It’s just gone 7pm on Saturday…Saturday is the day that I post. This is as far as I have gotten on my Saturday post that needs to have been posted about…an hour ago! It looks like you might actually get a shorter post today. I have just spent an hour and a half making an Indian meal consisting of sweet potato and black bean patties, Bombay spicy potatoes and a nice veggie curry with coconut cream. I cooked brown rice to go with it and tomorrow we will make brown rice fried rice for our tea. I used the last of our 10kg bag of potatoes and as I was tipping out the remaining dark red topsoil into my compost bin I realised how far I have come with recycling, reusing and making do. When you live in the country you have to be careful that you plan your shopping trips well. Petrol isn’t cheap and the difference between petrol in Launceston and petrol in Beaconsfield is just over 10c a litre so you really don’t want to be having to put more fuel in at Beaconsfield. We have learned to make do and after a particularly disastrous start to the year where our savings plummeted to zero, we have been living more carefully than usual to regain a savings base. In the process we have eliminated a lot of waste…we have given up drinking and have both lost a significant amount of weight. We have learned to be happy with less and to enjoy saving our money for a rainy day. We have been inventive about what we are eating, buying less meat and less processed food and substituting fruit, vegetables and a large proportion of vegetarian meals. I read a blog post the other day about people going into debt to maintain their standard of living. I think that we all need to be aware that there are other options to going into debt and one of them is learning to live within our means. Power bills are going up and water prices are going up. How can we manage to save when it seems like there is always some sort of official hand stretched out waiting for any spare change that we get? We need to think smarter, not harder and that includes occasionally thinking about eating less expensively, only using hot water when it’s really needed, walk or cycle instead of drive (if you don’t live 50km away from the city that is!). We walk the dogs all around Sidmouth and they enjoy their morning walks. We noticed that our hot water cylinder was overflowing today. We have gotten so used to minimising our use of hot water that we haven’t been using all of the “free” hot water that our wood stove has been delivering into our enormous storage unit. It doesn’t take long to change bad habits and it doesn’t take long to get used to living sustainably or at least a bit more carefully. Grow some veggies in containers or make a garden. Make some of your own biscuits, find a recipe for some of the basic items that you purchase on a regular basis and apart from saving money, you just might get a sense of satisfaction out of living carefully and frugally that you wouldn’t have thought possible.

Here is the view of what we had done at the end of day 1. By this stage we no longer had any strength in our arms and were tired of small chickens taking up residence on our boots whenever we stood still for any length of time

We moved out of the garden (after finding a bench and a frying pan) and the chooks moved in to take over …

As you can see we removed a large amount of overgrown jungle and ended up with a hacked barren wasteland…I guess that gives us all the more room to plant out our potted babies

Heres the new view from our bedroom window. The wrens and blackbirds are most possessive about the newly exposed area and are hunting for insects all through the bark. The possums are as shell shocked as the remaining plants and the feral cats no longer have cover to hunt for the native birds. Now we need to whipper snip the area to reduce the Osteospermum daisies to mush and we can start preparing the ground for our plants. We can now see right through to our glasshous, to Glad’s property and to the driveway.

We spent the last 3 days in various stages of reducing the side garden to looking like a bomb went off in the vicinity. It’s very difficult for someone who loves plants to hack away at them mercilessly. To chop perfectly good shrubs off at the base and to completely remove what were once beautiful roses because of 20 years of complete neglect. I don’t think that my father and his partner realised what it means to take on a large garden and assumed that it would look after itself. It has to a degree. The falling leaves, bark and debris have formed a thick layer of mulch that has managed to sustain the garden through the hot summer months where rain is very infrequent and the thick coverage of banana passionfruit, blackberries and other weeds and dense infestation of boneseed, cotoneaster and pittosporum have kept the moisture in the soil. We waded in with our welders gloves and tackled the lot in one fell swoop. We have more piles of debris than you would imagine could have been taken from the area that we have dealt with. Some will be burnt. Some will be returned to the soil as mulch and some will be carted off to the green waste station at the tip because of its nefarious ability to grow from small pieces of debris. As we were pruning some of the shell-shocked remaining plants we heard our neighbours daughter Wendy calling out to us. She gave us an enormous box full of Muscari botryoides (Grape hyacinths) that I am going to install underneath the stairs around the large Japanese maple and an even larger box of red Fuji apples from her small tree. We in return handed her a dozen eggs and a bunch of proteas cut from a newly liberated large shrub. Sharing is one of those things that make living in the country a very satisfying and rewarding experience. I love bartering and sharing. We brought the boxes back and after installing the Grape hyacinths in a large heap under the stairs we brought the apples in and I promptly forgot about them. Later on in the day when we had finished the garden work I was hungry and decided to try an apple. I don’t, as a rule, like apples much. They are not one of my favourite fruits but the box was sitting there, I was hungry and I was too lazy to head off and make myself anything to eat so an apple it was! I cut it into small slices and absently tried a piece as I was sitting looking at the computer screen and couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I have never tried an apple like it. It was incredibly sweet and fragrant and almost bordered on a ripe pear in flavour. Bernard and Manny, our Javanese finches, started fighting over the 2 pieces that I gave them as soon as I put them into their cage. I am an apple convert! So long as I can eat Wendy’s Fuji apples, I will eat apples happily all day long.

Here you can see the selective nature of possums. The lush green mass of vegetation is a very happy and healthy clematis. The green sticks are what used to be a lovely yellow banksia rose. Possums LOVE roses. Every single rose that we exposed in the side garden has been savaged by the possums. I am starting to think that roses and Serendipity Farm are NOT conducive to happiness…

All thats left of a large English holly (Ilex aquifolium) that was growing alongside the driveway and that vindictively scratched the car every time we drove past it. Finally it has berries!

“First chew yourself a nice comfortable hole in the blanket…next insert head…now sleep…zzzzzzzZZZZZZZZ”

The Indian feast is consumed and now I have to work out what I am going to do with my evening. I could sit in one of the armchairs near the wood fire and read…I have a book about organic and sustainable farming that I could read or another one of the Mary Anne Schaffer bucket list…Or I could watch television with Steve. He has lots of television programs taped for us to watch together. I could sit here and play a game of Hammer Heads…a most disturbing computer game where the object is to hit garden gnomes on the head and collect money. I could start crocheting something with the luminous yellow cotton that I picked up at a local thrift shop for $1 for 7 balls. I have NO idea what I am going to do with it but that doesn’t matter. With me, it is the act of crocheting that allows me to relax in the evening rather than the eventual item I have crocheted that is my reason for crocheting. Steve said that I could make him some socks…Steve has NO idea how hard it is to knit socks! I have NO idea how to crochet them and so that idea has been shoved into the “Too Hard” basket. I am ruminating about joining some community gardening groups…perhaps volunteering in some form or other…I get restless when I don’t think that I am helping or doing anything really productive towards my local community and have rash fits of joining things quickly that I later live to regret. Bezial is sitting here giving me seal eyes because he wants me to give him a piece of date brownie (made without cocoa so it is technically a “blondie”). He and Earl LOVE it. I doubt that their undying love has anything to do with the dates, the flour or the sugar involved and has more to do with the large amount of butter that is in the recipe. Either way, Bezial spends most of his days following me around or pushing his nose onto my arm to make me look into his seal eyes. Occasionally they work, so he is clever enough to realise that there is a chance that seal eyes might work again so he wears them permanently. I can’t handle the seal eyes for much longer so I may just leave this post here now. Have a great evening, morning or what is left of your weekend. I might have some more to tell you about our prospective move from our blog here at WordPress to our new blog over at Google. For the moment we will remain here but prepare yourselves for a move to the dark side people… wish us luck!