A nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat

Hi All,

What the hell is she talking about now? At least I don’t bore you dear constant readers ;). What today’s post is about is communication. That vital synaptic leap between the brain of one to the brain of another… a mutual process of understanding we know as “communication”. You might have the best most amazing idea in the world…you turn it around in your head, you feed it with possibilities, you craft it carefully and lovingly…you sample it and it tastes sweet and you want to share it with your friends but unless you are able to take that kernel of an idea and plant it firmly in the damp earth of someone else’s mind you are lost. I spend my mornings reading blogs through my rss feed reader. I keep evolving with what I do and don’t like and regularly throw blogs into the ether to make way for amazing new blogs. My new blogs are all about possibilities…fermentation, making things yourself, xeriscape gardening (and one combines xeriscape gardening with vegan cooking… what’s not to love!)And what I love about these blogs is their ability to communicate their ideas and processes with a wider audience. I am a processes girl. I learn through following processes and getting familiar with those processes. When my guitar teacher (who ran away from his wife leaving her available to become my dad’s partner and who inevitably left us Serendipity Farm but that, my dears, is another story! 😉 ) told me that practice makes perfect…aside from lying, he was outlining the perfect way for me to learn. Not everyone learns like this. There are many ways that people learn. Some people (take Steve for example) learn on the fly. They like to hurl themselves into the “experience” and pick it up as they go along. That way of learning scares the hell out of me! I need to start at a point where I understand “something” about the process and work in incremental stages from there till I arrive at the other end. To see Steve jumping in at the deep end and swimming with the fishes of his creativity is like being probed by aliens…frankly terrifying. Are you starting to get a bit of a picture of how difficult it is to sometimes translate what is going on inside “my” head to that of my wildly arm waving Don Quixote of a husband? 😉

13010091

“Well what do we have here then eh? A lovely little Aussie Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus montanus) still hanging about after Christmas Day…”

13010092

“RUN!”…

DSCF8400

The fixin’s for a batch of Steve’s favourite calzones. He has gone from being very suspicious about the idea of a calzone to demanding them on a constant basis 🙂

DSCF8438

This is a Boozy Oatwell Slice…the hybrid result of a man who just couldn’t make his mind up “I would like an oat slice…but then that bakewell slice you made the other day was delicious…and I could go a batch of eccles cakes…” rather than bake 3 separate things, I combined them all and a new classic is made…AND Steve loves it! 🙂

DSCF8394

“Quick Steve…get the chilli and garlic spray…there is something in the vegetables!”

DSCF8409

“Beetroots conquered and divided SIR!” Not only do we get the root but we get the delicious leaves to use like silverbeet in whatever we want. Tonight I am having some in my soup 🙂

Serendipity Farm is all go at the moment. Not the sort of “go” that eventuates in enormous swathes of things being done, but lots of little patches of “done”. I am spending a lot of time in the veggie garden much to Steve’s surprise. He expected that he would have to be the brawn where the veggie garden was concerned but Dame Elizabeth and mum are spurring me on and won’t let me rest if something needs doing out there. Yesterday I was mulching everything with some of the tinder dry lawn clippings and dead oak leaves that we got from Glad’s place. They were perfect to grab handfuls of and shuffle between the plants. The veggie garden is looking suitably smug now in its new blanket of deceased vegetative matter and I know that once it rots down it can only add to the fecundity of the soil. I am already learning the distinct benefits of being a “Doer”. This is my year of “Doing” and instead of thinking about projects I am actively hurling myself into them. When I say “hurl” I mean Fran’s planning type hurl rather than Steve’s jump in with both feet hurl. When mum used to be in her garden for most of her days I simply couldn’t understand the attraction…what is out there?! Now I know. Mum’s final communication with me (aside from her stint as chief muse that is…) was received, planted and has grown to fruition. I finally “Get it” mum :o). The sum of the process is worth so much more than the little bits that make it all up. We almost had an Hitchcockian case of extreme vertigo when faced with the garden when we first got here. Nothing would have changed unless we stepped out in the faith that we could, indeed, make a difference. We are slowly introducing cycles to the property…compost heaps to take care of green waste, food scraps and anything that will rot down to minimise landfill and to maximise our soil; vegetable gardens to feed ourselves; chickens for eggs, meat (roosters), nitrogenous manure and spent hay bedding that can be used for mulch and composting and many more. Today I took another wheelbarrow of oak leaves and dry lawn clippings to mulch the strawberries that are in containers by the side of Steve’s shed. I can feel the information that I have been collecting flowing out of me as I work…”make sure to cover all of the bare earth so that you minimise soil evaporation…don’t use the green leaves, make sure you only use the dead ones to minimise nitrogen draw-down…Don’t plant those chives with those snowpeas! They release substances that limit the growth of the peas…” It takes knowledge AND action to effect change. Incidentally, if you would like to see a good companion planting guide check this one out via Sustainable Gardening Australia…

http://www.sgaonline.org.au/?p=6986

DSCF8452

One extremely squished ex-golden nugget tomato courtesy of “The possums”…

DSCF8451

How much more fortification do we need?!!! Aside from buying a long metal chain and situating Earl in the wood shed to the right of this photo, we are not too sure what to do next…barbed wire perchance?

DSCF8445

Lets just call these pears “Romeo and Juliet” because they are together and still alive only because the possums haven’t found them yet…say goodbye to Romeo and Juliet 😦

DSCF8456

The butterfly Romeo and Juliet…for some reason butterflies love to hide under this tarpaulin where I keep the grass clippings and spent oak leaves that we got from Glad and every time I open it up, I find a few dead butterflies…

DSCF8455

The potato futures that we tossed into the compost heap the other day are all starting to grow!

DSCF8383

Some of the recent items harvested from Serendipity Farm including the rare golden nugget tomatoes (well NOW they are 😦 ) and a bouncy ball that was found in the bushy area next to the Auld Kirk church…”throw it over to the filthy heathens children…we shall save them YET!”

I have been singing the praises of the Tamar NRM for a long time now. They are an amazing source of information and practical application for how to manage your land using natural resources. Amanda, the powerhouse behind all communications and the lady that keeps everything running smoothly and efficiently recently asked me if I would like to write an article about my attendance at many of their workshops last year and how it has affected what we are going on our property for their next newsletter and I accepted. I just sent her 2 pages of words which was very difficult to do because my muses would have liked me to write a small novella, but for the sake of those reading (most probably mainly farmers who could care less to be honest) I reined them in this time. You can only imagine how difficult that was! ;). I sent a few photos to accompany the article but it will be interesting to see what Amanda does with my words and photos and how it looks in the next Tamar NRM newsletter. I might even link it so that you can all see it. Well the possums did it this time! I was out walking Earl this morning because Bezial is having one of his sporadic limping episodes. It curiously coincides with Bezial running maniacally around Serendipity Farm like a mad dog but he insists it is NOTHING to do with that. Earl and I arrived back home to Steve twitching more than normal. Apparently, while we slept, the possums decided that waving their hairy little arms through the bird netting to grab the occasional snack wasn’t enough…they decided to chew their way through to our tomatoes! We had a beautiful golden nugget tomato loaded with almost ripe perfect golden little orbs that were completely trampled flat and all of the gold stolen. I WOULD phone the police, but after heavily fortifying the entire “fruiting” bed (containing anything that a possum would be vaguely interested in…) and throwing some ex-fish farm netting over the top for good measure (they might chew their way in from the top!) we realised that what we had just made looked suspiciously like we were trying to hide “something” amongst our tomatoes…the spotter plane, most fortuitously flew over right at that time and we are waiting for the cops to bust down our door and demand to be taken up to see our illicit grown products. Best not trouble them while they are plotting the downfall of the Sidmouth 2 😉

DSCF8412

This is the “Queen of Hearts” jam making spoon with it’s own little heart for Valentine’s Day. It was a very clever idea but Steve isn’t happy with the watermark in the wood on the spoon bowl so away he went to make you another spoon…nothing is too good for our dear constant readers!

DSCF8434

Enter the gorgeous Ms. Myrtle…a stunning example of a local Tasmanian wood and something that I want to enter the draw for, let alone you lot! You get to choose which spoon you would like should you happen to win the spoon draw…be sure to let us know in time for this Saturday’s draw!

Well it’s spoon day again! Steve spent a few hours making what he called “The Queen of Hearts” on Thursday. He made it out of a lovely piece of Ash but in his haste he didn’t notice a little watermark in the wood that made the spoon look a little discoloured. Ash is pure white wood and this little watermark is very distinctive. He went to the trouble to make The Queen of Hearts spoon a true jam tart spoon with a little heart and a smaller tsp measure at the end for tasting the jam…you have to hand it to him, aside from being a great ideas man (re- booze bus…) he tried to make this spoon for multitasker’s…”make the jam, feed the baby…make the jam, put sugar in your tea…make the chutney, add some spices and salt…” but that little watermark made him twitch…he rubbed the spoon down and now it feels like smooth bone…light as a feather. Ash is hard wood…it broke 3 of his blades but this spoon is delicate looking. I can see this spoon lasting through the tough times, much like the Ash tree that it was made from, it is a stayer. Not happy with the watermark, Steve headed off and came back out of the shed today with a gorgeous Tasmanian Myrtle spoon. It is the most gorgeous colour and is just as light and smooth as the Ash but now he isn’t sure what to do with the Ash spoon. He has asked me to ask you to see which spoon you would like for the draw. Anyone who reads this blog, who wants to enter the draw for a spoon, please let me know in the comments and I will put you into the draw. This spoon draw will be drawn on Saturday so you really don’t have much time to get yourself into the draw. Steve wanted it to be drawn and sent so it has a chance to get to the recipient for Valentine’s Day and as mentioned, the choice of spoon is yours. Earl is twitching with happiness to be drawing another walnut draw. Little does Earl know that I have added a few ex-Christmas nuts to the bowl and there will be a choice of walnut, Brazil nut, Almond and Hazelnut. Again, if you would like to enter the draw please get back to us ASAP to get your name in the draw…we already have 7 people on the list so don’t wait or you might miss out :o). I will leave you with this Facebook reply that my little brother made when I was ranting about our recent tomato loss to the possums…

”I feed my possums to stop them running amok, and it works but the possums here aren’t as invasive nor as big as over in Tassie…brush tails ringtails and pygmies are full after a piece of bread some apple and a dried apricot. And because I’ve been bribing them with food, the nectarine tree near my back door has tripled in size and is well loaded with good fruit…in saying that, when the fruit has a week to go from being ripe and pickable, I’ll be camping out there with a metal colander /strainer on my head and a fly swat chanting subliminal messages to them under my breath.!”…

Oh NO dear constant readers…it runs in the family 😉

The New Costa and the U.K. Beet

Hi All,

Isn’t Christmas getting close?! I must admit we are a bit up in the air at the moment because my brother is supposed to be coming over Christmas with a friend but hasn’t told us when and as quintessential planners it is driving us nuts! We are in the process of relocating our chooks into their new enclosure and tomorrow they will all be inside the fence rather than outside looking in. It isn’t going to be easy for them and no doubt we will have some escapees that are going to have one of their wings clipped but today I took advantage of knowing that one of the feral chooks that remains (we gave 4 away recently) was clucky and her exact location so after putting up with a serious hen talking to I picked her up and deposited her in the new enclosure. I figure if anyone can find a chink in its armour it’s a clucky feral chook with a nest that she wants to return to. We are tidying up our woodshed and getting it ready for next year’s wood futures. After tomorrow I can start mulching the garden with the certainty that it isn’t going to be dug up directly behind me as I work. I have a love/hate relationship with the chooks and they are the most stubborn creatures under the sun! If they want to dig a hole halfway to China and spread dust halfway to Oklahoma they will! They only stopped digging the other day when they hit a buried dog bone and decided that it was time to start a new hole. After a year of learning to quash my frustration as they chooks defoliated, ate, dug up, scratched around and generally defiled my poor long suffering plants I find it hard to believe that pretty soon I may just be able to plant something will stay in the ground! Steve is whipper snipping the honeysuckle out the back that keeps trying to take over the world. So many dictators on Serendipity Farm! I wish that one of them would take the front running Napoleonic seat so that we could at least focus our efforts on a single enemy.

DSCF7111

Some gratuitous “flower” shots to remind everyone in the North that it IS summer somewhere in the world 😉

DSCF5647

A lovely Callistemon at our back gate in full  bloom relishing its newly cleared out status

DSCF5648

One of millions of Erigeron karvinskianus (Seaside Daisies) that call Serendipity Farm home

DSCF5566

A Stylidium gramminifolium (Trigger plant) in full flower taken on one of our early morning walks with the dogs

We have noticed a bird flying around that looked like a swallow and it landed on the deck the other day and Steve got a good look at it. He raced inside to tell me that it had a blue beak…time to Google that little sucker! In the process of identifying our new feathered friend which turned out to be a Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus) I found a fantastic Tasmanian blog about Tasmanian birds compiled by Alan Fletcher, a local man with a penchant for taking breathtaking photos of our endemic birdlife. It was very simple to identify our new friend using Alan’s wonderful site and after sending him an email to ask him for permission to use a photo from his site he graciously allowed us to do so and in return I urge you to head to Alan’s beautiful site to see just how special our native birds are. You can find a link to Alans blog and from there to his photo gallery above his photo. I loved his blog so much I subscribed to it :o)

http://tassiebirds.blogspot.com.au/

SONY DSC

Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus)

DSCF5655

Physalis peruviana (Ground Cherry or Chinese Gooseberry) with the lesser spotted “Earl” underneath

DSCF5652

Aeonium arboreum Zwartkop recovering from duck attack nicely

DSCF5573

A little cactus enjoying it’s sunny spot

12120027

And this explains why Melaleuca linariifolia is commonly known as “Snow in Summer”…not sure what these little beetles are but they also love roses and banging themselves senseless on our windows at night

I am slowly working my way through my rss blog reader and have been finding some incredible posts. People are so generous with their information! I was looking for a way to make home-made banners of substance and style and found this shining beacon of a site that I now subscribe to…

http://katescreativespace.com/2012/12/16/in-praise-of-simple-pleasures/

Disclaimer: Do NOT go to this blog if you are likely to collapse into a sobbing wreck of a human being when faced with gorgeousness beyond belief, creative majesty to only wonder at and a severe dearth of anything…ANYTHING resembling we mere mortals normal lives. I go to this blog to see how the other half lives…it’s beautiful, it’s incredibly organised, its Pinterest ready and it’s my secret lusting station but don’t say that I didn’t warn you! Halfway down into this perfect post and I find that this lady reads! She is planning on tackling some novels for the second time and says…”They sit full of promise on my bedside table, and the anticipation of losing myself in them again is half the pleasure” Oh what a lucky woman! I have to hide my books in the spare room out of sight, out of mind where Earl can’t render them “snow” along with the rest of the couch cushions that live (quaking in fear) in our bedroom wardrobe and the overwhelming luxury of a stack of amazingly anticipated literature right at my fingertips let alone on my bedside table will remain a wistful fantasy until Earl loses his desire to chew, or his teeth…if I am being honest (and it’s STILL my year of living honestly…) even if I WAS able to run my hands over a stack of soul food…I would leap into the realms of my imagination and would manage a paragraph or two before I woke up with a crick in my neck and a most carefully and gently shredded copy of my latest paramour laid reverently and soggily in my outstretch hands an undetermined amount of time later…no more than I deserve!

DSCF7099

A Psaltoda moerens (Red Eye Cicada) newly emerged from it’s juvenile skin sitting on a large buddleia leaf outside our bedroom window

DSCF7108

You can see why they are commonly known as Red Eyes. After a few days their exoskeletons turn a very dark greeny black and they head off to join the clicking throng of their brethren in the trees

In another blog post I found this…

“The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.” Said Diogenes, “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.”

― Anthony de Mello

I really like this reflection on an interaction from a bygone era…it fits with my ethos of learning to live frugally, simply and in so doing, empowering our lives and allowing others to do the same. It delivers a fundamental message about which ferryman you want to pay and how you want to live in the process. I choose the lentils even though I am not overly fond of them because in choosing lentils I choose a degree of freedom and internal satisfaction that feeds my soul. I can align myself with the rest of the world and I don’t have to feel guilty about my choices in life but most importantly, I am able to learn how to effect a positive change in my own lifetime and feel like I am really living my life. That is something to aim for folks!

DSCF7032

We are still harvesting mushrooms from our veggie gardens courtesy of the mushroom compost mulch

DSCF7323

Check out the beets we grew! Steve made these into some pickled beetroot U.K. style (all vinegar and spice and no sugar) to grace our Christmas table next week

DSCF7321

Bezial giving our home grown spinach his own special “seal of approval”! (I hope you washed that before we made gnocci with it last night Steve!)

DSCF7319

My own personal vegetable gnome I found in the veggie patch :o) He thinks that he has a chance at beating Costa Georgiadis to the top spot on Gardening Australia…good luck babe…you might be cute but that beard needs a bit more “OOMPH!” before you become a serious contender 😉

Well today is walnut day folks! We will identify your possible ownership of Steve’s handmade Blackwood spoon and associate your hopes and dreams with a numbered walnut. We are going to attempt to video Earl selecting his chosen nut and one of us (the bravest…) removing it from Earl’s gaping maw in an effort to identify the number that he has chosen (he can have it back then!). This is your last chance to enter the draw to anyone out there who would like to enter. There are no conditions, anyone from any country can apply and the winner will receive a lovely handmade spoon in the mail some-time after Christmas. Today’s post is going to be a shorter post again because I have spinach gnocchi to make for Steve’s tea tonight. We are combining our desire to use leftovers (homemade bolognaise sauce) with vegetables from our garden (spinach) and make the most of our food dollars. Steve is enjoying all sorts of different food and hasn’t complained about anything that he has been served so the vegetable garden must be delivering quality veg. I noticed a plethora of little snow peas on their vines when I was watering today and will pick some when I am up collecting the spinach for the gnocchi today and I might just redirect the cucumbers from their determined efforts to scale the zucchini’s to the poles that we installed specifically for them to grow up. The tomatoes are covered in flowers but will definitely not be on our Christmas table but on the bright side, we will be able to grace our table with our very own home grown lettuce and salad leaves which makes it all the more special this year. It is a very interesting experiment and very rewarding to grow veggies. I recommend it to anyone. We have even started a new compost heap up near the veggie gardens in anticipation of needing a whole lot more compost in the future. I have plans for making strawberry beds and broad bean beds and have been contemplating sourcing some Jerusalem artichokes to set loose on Serendipity Farm behind the new chook pen. Before anyone tells me how exponential they go, I already know and I love it! :o). Who wouldn’t love sunflowers in spring followed by delicious knobbly roots in the summer…and who cares about the resulting sunchoke gas…we are descending into feral heaven on Serendipity Farm and we love it! :o). Another post down on Serendipity Farm in the middle of summer in the pouring rain. We just keep on saying “it’s good for the garden”…and you know what? It is! :0)…See you Saturday and good luck to everyone who has entered the spoon draw…

DSCF7331

Here are your walnuts folks! Check your nut against your number below and note there are still more walnuts…sad…lonely…unmarked walnuts that could be graced with your own personal number…

Spoon Draw
1. Rabid little hippy http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com
2. Spencer http://www.anthropogen.com
3. Little sundog http://littlesundog.wordpress.com
4. Kym http://brymnsons.wordpress.com/
5. Christi http://farmlet.wordpress.com/
6. http://www.bitesizedthoughts.com/
7. Bev from Foodnstuff http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/
8. Pinkus
9. Jean http://allotmentadventureswithjean.wordpress.com
10.Hannah http://bittersweetblog.wordpress.com/
11.8 acre farm http://eight-acres.blogspot.com.au/
12.Chica Andaluza http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/
13.Wendi http://scarsandallyoga.com
14. Thinking Cowgirl http://thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com

In the (highly likely) event that Earl picks more than one walnut his actions  will immediately force a redraw…lets just hope that Earl doesn’t think that this is enormous fun or this draw might go down as the longest prize giveaway draw in history! 😉 and are you feeling lonely there Pinkus? That’s because you don’t have a blog! 😉

Exploring the parameters

Hi All,

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

DSCF5593

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

DSCF5595

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

DSCF5597

A closeup of the beautiful flowers.

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

DSCF5613

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

DSCF5616

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

DSCF5617

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

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

DSCF5620

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

DSCF5635

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

DSCF5638

Isn’t this new little baby sweet?

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

DSCF5626

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

DSCF5633

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

DSCF5630

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

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

DSCF5640

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

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

DSCF7063

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

DSCF7047

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

DSCF7055

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

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