And so we meet again…

Hi All,

It only seems like yesterday when I was tapping away, tongue sticking out of the side of my mouth, attempting to amuse bouche you guys and here we are again with a new blog post knocking around inside my brain and a deadline of “NOW!” So what’s a girl to do but go all freestyle on your derrières and just wing it with the muses. This week has been a whirlwind of secret crafting business tangled up with gardening and a good dose of telling Stevie-boy what a good husband he is. It’s around about this time of year when everything comes together in the small time and space continuum vortex that is Serendipity Farm and all of the things that I have been putting off all year rise up like phoenixes (or the ghosts of Christmas past more appropriately) to wave their talons/apparition fingers at me and tut in whatever language phoenixes/ghosts tut in.

#Earl loves bloons

#Earl loves bloons

#Earl loves bloons AND walking on the coffee table ;)

#Earl loves bloons AND walking on the coffee table 😉

Stevie-boy, ever the creative genius, has made our youngest daughter Bethany (or Beenz as she has been tagged for a while now) something wonderfully special for her Christmas gift this year. Those of you dear constant readers who have been trying to make head or tail of my blog posts for a while now will know that we are both working on secret Christmas gifts for our daughters as part of a “give us something we like and you might win a $50 booze voucher”. Initially it was that booze voucher that piqued our sense of intrigue but that lasted all of about 10 seconds when the competitive part of the challenge stepped in…”there be WINNING to achieve here folks!” And thus it began…

It's not all about Earl today. This lovely photo of Bezial was photoshopped by Steve

It’s not all about Earl today. This lovely photo of Bezial was photoshopped by Steve

Happy first day of Summer Southern Hemisphere! ;)

Happy first day of Summer Southern Hemisphere! 😉

Stevie-boy listened to my idea for my gift and said “might as well not bother, you have it in the bag”. Which was a great ego boost but to be honest, I didn’t even know if I could create what was inside my head. As I started working on what I have created for Madeline (we got given a daughter each) Stevie-boys competitive streak started to rise up and suddenly he was full of ideas and waving things around in front of my concentrating nose and there were many interruptions to my concentration where I had to “ooo” and “ah” with sufficiently admiring sounds in order to get back to what I was doing. As his creation started to take shape I started to feel the tables flipping and suddenly there was a real competition! Stevie-boy, being Stevie-boy went at his creation like a bull at a gate. He has tamed his desire to finish everything “yesterday” though and is now much more aware of aesthetics and has honed his desire to create quality items rather than “quick” items. I must admit to playing a big part in this transformation…me and my desire to not have the house fall down around us…

Stevie-boy on Saturday faced with this mountain of banana passionfruit that all needed removing

Stevie-boy on Saturday faced with this mountain of banana passionfruit that all needed removing

Most of the banana passionfruit removed and now we just have to remove the dead shrubs under the passionfruit and cut the remainder down to hedge height

Most of the banana passionfruit removed and now we just have to remove the dead shrubs under the passionfruit and cut the remainder down to hedge height

So Stevie-boy’s gorgeous creation is sitting in his music room all finished and ready to be gifted. It is beautiful. I will share it with you in the blog post on December 17th which is immediately after our little familial un-Christmas Christmas celebration as our children are celebrating with their dad and his family who are coming all the way from Western Australia for the occasion. We will have our own delicious Christmas sitting out under the shade of a (not) coolabah tree looking out over the river and giving constant thanks for the circumstances that landed us here on Serendipity Farm.

Narfs breakfast beans

Narfs breakfast beans

The "Dead possum" lily is back for another year. Our friend Jenny just bought one of these. We have hundreds of them that return to reak of death just on Christmas.

The “Dead possum” lily is back for another year. Our friend Jenny just bought one of these. We have hundreds of them that return to reak of death just on Christmas.

My gift creation isn’t so easy. Not only have I had to learn several new skills in order to create this gift, but I have also had to take those newly learned skills and riff on a theme. What I am creating is pretty out there and I have to adapt things from all over the (most wonderful) sharing caring colony of crafters and their wonderful “free tutorials” and then change them to suit my needs. I am quite pleased with the results and everything is starting to come together nicely but it aint finished folks and I am starting to twitch because today is December the third and I need to be finished by this weekend as I have other projects to get stuck into ASAP and this one is starting to take on epic proportions. I can’t wait to share our creations with you and our daughters gave us an amazing gift when they thought up this challenge in the first place. They gave us the gift of actually thinking about the person we are giving a gift to and really homing in on what they like and both Stevie-boy and I have learned a lot in the process so we all win in the end. Stewart and Kelsey have both been given a giftee as well and I know what Stewart has got Madeline  and she is going to be hard pressed to choose between his gift and mine (so that is why I am going to have to slip sleeping pills into his morning coffee and render him AWOL on the day! 😉 ) NO idea what Kelsey is contemplating but now she is a most honorary Aussie (her visa to stay came through…”HOORAY!” 🙂 ), she can stop worrying about heading back to frozen Texas (does it freeze in Texas?) and can spend Christmas Day sweltering away like the rest of us southerners ;).

A wasp is moving in to our bug house! :)

A wasp is moving in to our bug house! 🙂

Stevie-boy is finishing off cutting up last years logs ready for our next load to be delivered.

Stevie-boy is finishing off cutting up last years logs ready for our next load to be delivered.

Stevie-boy deserved a beer after this! :)

Stevie-boy deserved a beer after this! 🙂

So what else has narf been up to (apart from twitching about the rapidly approaching gift giving celebration day that is…), well the garden has taken up a good part of our week. I have been carrying on with my newfound idea to shove all kinds of veggies etc. in all kinds of places. The thing about pests is that they tend to flock when they get a sniff of something in a row. I don’t know what it is about pests but they appear to be regimented and like mass plantings. The problem is, most veggie gardeners love nice neat rows of things as that makes it easier to garden, to harvest and to keep tabs on what you have in your garden and what you can plant in the recently vacated soil. Not for narf, this nice easy life that is “rows”. I have planted out beetroot, okra (the few that the slugs didn’t scoff… see, slugs eat it as they need to replace all of that slime!), Roselle’s (that are developing a gorgeous rosy colour on their little round leaves), beetroot, a single tomatillo (that will be joined by a few of its brethren soon), lots of silverbeet and spinach as they are two of my most consumed foodstuffs over the summer period, 2 cucumber plants (gifted from a friend) and 3 very sad Roma tomatoes from the self-same friend who had just plonked the plants into her small pond and left them there for over a week. Tomatoes are survivor’s folks. These tomatoes were living a semi aquatic lifestyle! There is a whole lot going on in narf7’s garden but only the potato onions and the radishes (yes “radishes” Madeline! 😉 ) are in rows. Everything else is scattered all over the place like a particularly fecund Salvador Dali or Picasso painting.

Steve has been messing around in Photoshop with this lovely original image taken at Hollybank, a lovely reserve 15 minutes east of Launceston.

Steve has been messing around in Photoshop with this lovely original image taken at Hollybank, a lovely reserve 15 minutes east of Launceston.

This version is a reflected version with a soft glow

This version is a reflected version with a soft glow

This version is a reflection in "water"

This version is a reflection in “water”

This one reminds me of the Blair Witch forest!

This one reminds me of the Blair Witch forest!

This is my favourite version. Its haunting but lovely. Isn't Photoshop amazing if you learn how to use it well?

This is my favourite version. Its haunting but lovely. Isn’t Photoshop amazing if you learn how to use it well?

In my first year of gardening I tried to create garden beds but the possums and wallabies caused them to be covered to the back gills with bird netting, wire, chook netting and sticks and although the harvest was pretty good, most of it went to seed as the cruel irony of all of my protective devices was that “I” couldn’t get into there either! Year 2 saw us with Sanctuary but my “get-up-and-go” had gotten up and went. I wasn’t in the mood to vegetable garden and it was only through my friend Jenny and our compost heap contents that anything grew in Sanctuary at all. We shall call it “The year of the pumpkin” for that very reason and the pumpkins took over and ruled the bit of Sanctuary that the possums couldn’t reach. The possums ate everything green as well as quite a few pumpkins and until we managed to completely stop them from gaining entry, they had free reign. Not THIS YEAR possums! This year Sanctuary has been fortified with plastic coated wire clothes line. It looks like a green oasis of possum envy and I have had the incredibly satisfying experience of planting out citrus trees, seedlings and all sorts of berry bushes underneath a sea of seething and most envious possum activity. I know they are up there because their little deposits are fertilising Sanctuary 😉

 

Steve's prototype most awesome new Christmas tree. We haven't sprayed it green yet but it has spacers between the "limbs" and we can move the limbs around to wherever we like

Steve’s prototype most awesome new Christmas tree. We haven’t sprayed it green yet but it has spacers between the “limbs” and we can move the limbs around to wherever we like

And one of the best bits (the bit that makes Steve call this his "Ikea" Christmas tree) is that it folds flat for under bed storage for the rest of the year! :)

And one of the best bits (the bit that makes Steve call this his “Ikea” Christmas tree) is that it folds flat for under bed storage for the rest of the year! 🙂

I have been experimenting by planting things like silverbeet, spinach and the odd Roselle directly into small heaps that I have put compost on one side of and spent horse manure and lots of oak leaves on the other. I learned that a big pile of well-aged horse manure is like gloriously fertile soil to most plants. I also learned it dries out pretty quickly though so adding extra’s to it is part and parcel of working with this wonderful medium. Enter the oak leaf mould and the compost. My experiments have me seeing if adding compost to the higher side of the pile (everything is on a degree of slope on Serendipity Farm aka “Slippery Slope” Farm 😉 ) will cause nutrient run off down to the rest of the pile. I have 3 smallish piles in between all of the citrus trees as I know that they are heavy feeders and I am attempting to kill a whole mess of birds with a single stone. I have a very large compost heap full of compost, horse manure, oak leaves and a lot of dried grass from Glad’s back paddock next door, on the other side of Sanctuary in which a small but most determined crew of red and yellow raspberries is going it’s best to take over the world. I know that they won’t be able to achieve world domination because they have an even bigger and more determined patch of Jerusalem artichokes surrounding them to get through before they can conquer Sanctuary. “Good luck with that raspberries!”

Jenny's raspberries that grew from a single raspberry plant that she planted last year (note to self WATCH those raspberries inside Sanctuary! ;) )

Jenny’s raspberries that grew from a single raspberry plant that she planted last year (note to self WATCH those raspberries inside Sanctuary! 😉 )

Everything eats Jenny's plants but what they don't eat I pay close attention to. If they don't eat it at Jenny's place, there is a very good chance that they won't eat it here! Guess who is about to buy some dianthus...

Everything eats Jenny’s plants but what they don’t eat I pay close attention to. If they don’t eat it at Jenny’s place, there is a very good chance that they won’t eat it here! Guess who is about to buy some dianthus…

And some penstemons...

And some penstemons…

And How about elderberries. Jenny has a particularly nice selection of these beauties. Nothing eats them because aside from the fruit they are completely poisonous :)

And How about elderberries. Jenny has a particularly nice selection of these beauties. Nothing eats them because aside from the fruit they are completely poisonous 🙂

The excitement of propagation has returned and poor Steve had to dig a “root growth zone” (aka “hole”) for me to plant out a new Emperor mandarin that our friend Jenny gave us to add to our growing collection. She has also gifted us a couple of cherry trees as the native wild life at her home just hoover anything fruity down. We are working on creating a Mediterranean garden for her as they won’t touch figs, quinces etc. and so I am thinking that the best bet for her is to plant what the possums can’t stand. You have to work within the parameters that your situation hands you sometimes and then when you have the basics set up, you can start fandangling with the principle of the thing. That’s how we gardeners roll. We are never happy to call it quits because there is always something new around the corner that piques our interest.

A lovely rose at Jenny's house

A lovely rose at Jenny’s house

And the reason why it is still alive ;)

And the reason why it is still alive 😉

We visited Jenny yesterday and gave her a sack of small agapanthus that we crowbarred up from near our front gate. When we were studying our Diploma in Landscape Design we had to come up with a plan each for a Design and we ended up using Jenny’s place as our Design. We came up with a lovely rosemary, lavender and agapanthus series of low hedges surrounding a potager style garden full of things that possums and wallabies and rabbits (and now native crayfish!) wouldn’t like to eat. It was a challenge but the real challenge is that Jenny wants to actually create this garden for reals! So thus finds us crowbarring up agapanthus babies for the near future and sharing the things that we can and can’t grow between us. It is awesome having a good friend who just “gets” us and our crazy desire to be plant slaves and to be like Dr Frankenstein when it comes to grafting all kinds of strange things onto other strange things (cue the thunder, lightning and crazy laughter…)

Lambs ear and (the dreaded) osteospermum daisies and wallflowers. There are a lot of plants that our native animals find unpalatable, I just have to find out which ones they are and plant them :)

Lambs ear and (the dreaded), Arbutilons,  osteospermum daisies and wallflowers. There are a lot of plants that our native animals find unpalatable, I just have to find out which ones they are and plant them 🙂

This is what happens when Jenny tries to plant out fruit trees...

This is what happens when Jenny tries to plant out fruit trees…

The old "stuffed toy to scare the natives away" obviously doesn't work ;)

The old “stuffed toy to scare the natives away” obviously doesn’t work 😉

Visiting friends has benefits, especially when they don't like broad beans :)

Visiting friends has benefits, especially when they don’t like broad beans 🙂

Oh dear. I have manically arrived at a long blog post again. I can’t say that I am sorry as I am not. I love sharing what excites me with you all. Pretty soon you will get to see what has been keeping Stevie-boy and I busy for the last few months (well Stevie-boy for a weekend or two and me for about 3 months now!) in the gifting arena. I would like to thank both of our daughters for giving us all this challenge as we have both learned SO much from having to adapt what they like to what we are capable of creating. ALL kinds of lessons learned, challenges raised to meet and exciting possibilities arising thanks to this desire to stop Christmas from turning into a series of gift voucher or cash handouts. Let’s all take Christmas back this year folks. It doesn’t have to be a commercial crazy rush of cash flowing out of your account/cards, it can be carefully thought out and meticulously planned but if you don’t end up feeling like you have taken part, what’s the point? Lets take Christmas (whatever it means to you) back from the middle men and place it firmly in the creative bent of our own little hot hands. I know that Stevie-boy has had a lot of fun creating our latest “Christmas tree” and that we are creating all of our own decorations this year. That’s how you feel “Christmassy”…Christmas is in the processes, the lead up, the wonder of creation and the enjoyment of sharing a good meal with good friends and family. Being thankful for the year that has past, the year that is about to hit us (EEK!) and being grateful, thankful and most joyful for our continued existence on this small blue planet navigating it’s way around a small bright star somewhere out there in this wide expanse of a universe. See you all next week 🙂

I will leave you with a parting shot of Serendipity Farm on the first official day of summer just to make you Northerners feel a bit happier about your own bad weather ;)

I will leave you with a parting shot of Serendipity Farm on the first official day of summer just to make you Northerners feel a bit happier about your own bad weather 😉

Just a quick note, next week I will be in Hobart with my 2 daughters getting ready to attend a Ben Folds concert (“SQUEE!”) my Christmas gift from my daughters so Stevie-boy will be left to hold the fort and will be responsible for next weeks blog post. He has just informed me that he wants to write next weeks blog post. You can be assured it will be smaller than my usual blog posts ;).

 

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Earl turns 4, Three wise herons and learning to appreciate snotty oysters

Hi All,

Late last week I could have cheerfully had my little brother neutered and sent off to obedience class. Alas, this is WAY beyond the scope of my rights as a big sister (watch out Earl!) Instead I ended up having an (shall we say, for the want of a better word…) “interesting” conversation on Facebook with him which culminated in him badgering me to unfriend him. I just noticed that spellchecker has no problem with the word “unfriend”. I, on the other hand, do. You can’t just “unfriend” someone who has, for the last 46 years of your life been part and parcel of the rough and tumble of your existence. That old saying “you can choose your friends but you (are stuck with) can’t choose your family has never been more poignant. If you are reading this Jamie, “keep reading!”…so where was I, AH that’s right, halfway between “neutering” and “sending off to obedience school”…so this delightful situation that we found ourselves in wasn’t just a spat between brother and sister, this time it was between all three siblings and it had been brewing on the back burner for quite some time.

Story of my life, ever cautious ;)

Story of my life, ever cautious 😉

 

Steve's little mate "Wall-e-bee" helping us deal with the sow thistle problem on Serendipity Farm "EAT FASTER!" ;)

Steve’s little mate “Wall-e-bee” helping us deal with the sow thistle problem on Serendipity Farm “EAT FASTER!” 😉

Our friend Jenny grew globe artichokes just because she could. She doesn't actually like them so guess who got the chokes!

Our friend Jenny grew globe artichokes just because she could. She doesn’t actually like them so guess who got the chokes!

Christmas marinated artichoke heart futures :)

Christmas marinated artichoke heart futures 🙂

Things like that you don’t take to Facebook so why did we? Because we are first and foremost “Stahl’s” and we tend to think with our outrageous indignation and it is only when we retreat to lick our wounds that a little light bulb comes on in our heads that says “er…maybe I could have moderated that a bit better.” I only mention this because some of my dear constant readers (you know who you are) are also Facebook friends so you may have been privy to said “spat”. My sister, who has a more genteel constitution than myself unfriended him but I have the hide of a hippo (and the bum but we won’t expand on that here and now) and as we all know, the predominately vegan hippo kills more people in Africa than the macho carnivorous lion. Wise words to ponder over folks… wise words INDEED.

Jenny and I and her grandson Dylan went to Red Dragon nursery last Thursday. I would love to share some photos that I took of this beautiful place. The plants are amazing, unusual and the owner is my favourite horticultural nutcase. You rock Andrew ;)

Jenny and I and her grandson Dylan went to Red Dragon nursery last Thursday. I would love to share some photos that I took of this beautiful place. The plants are amazing, unusual and the owner is my favourite horticultural nutcase. You rock Andrew 😉

This magnificent cloud pruned conifer was cloud pruned by Steve and I back in 1010 when we did some work experience for Andrew at Red Dragon  Nursery.

This magnificent cloud pruned conifer was cloud pruned by Steve and I back in 1010 when we did some work experience for Andrew at Red Dragon Nursery.

Steve and I love this place

Steve and I love this place

Jenny's (first) cart full of plants, mine are on the wall behind the cart

Jenny’s (first) cart full of plants, mine are on the wall behind the cart

This place gives "garden rooms" a whole new meaning as each turn, path, side track delivers you to another little section of gorgeousness to peruse, ponder and purchase if you see fit :)

This place gives “garden rooms” a whole new meaning as each turn, path, side track delivers you to another little section of gorgeousness to peruse, ponder and purchase if you see fit 🙂

I adore Zenobia's but my specimen died. This one is well and truly alive and flowering to boot

I adore Zenobia’s but my specimen died. This one is well and truly alive and flowering to boot

Andrew is most proud of his selection of very large leafed rhododendrons. He even gave me the name of this one to share with you all. This is very hard to get and is Rhododendron sinogrande with leaves that reach 780cm. What a magnificent beast!

Andrew is most proud of his selection of very large leafed rhododendrons. He even gave me the name of this one to share with you all. This is very hard to get and is Rhododendron sinogrande with leaves that reach 78cm. What a magnificent beast!

More of those beautiful rocks (with a protective hand...he knows my magpie tendencies ;) )

More of those beautiful rocks (with a protective hand…he knows my magpie tendencies 😉 )

The exit to the nursery

The exit to the nursery

Part of the outside grounds where examples of the trees and shrubs for sale have been planted so that people can see what they will look like in a garden situation

Part of the outside grounds where examples of the trees and shrubs for sale have been planted so that people can see what they will look like in a garden situation

More of the outside garden. Aren't these conifers gorgeous?

More of the outside garden. Aren’t these conifers gorgeous?

I adore this golden bamboo. Jenny bought herself a large pot of black bamboo. We have seen these bamboos in other nursery's for $120 but at Andrew's this very healthy specimen was a mere $32 (and that was expensive!) Jenny has promised me some when it starts to shoot :)

I adore this golden bamboo. Jenny bought herself a large pot of black bamboo. We have seen these bamboos in other nursery’s for $120 but at Andrew’s this very healthy specimen was a mere $32 (and that was expensive!) Jenny has promised me some when it starts to shoot 🙂

After all of the bru-ha-ha had settled down a most magical thing happened. My testosterone fuelled, angst ridden, outrageously indignant brother who thinks with his sharp pointed finger and who holds onto his anger with a furious dignity that could be admired if it wasn’t so very infuriating, apologised to me. He may have deleted most of the more incriminating parts of said post but he apologised. I am thinking that much like Mr Rudyard Kipling’s most glorious ode of father to son masculinity “If” , my little brother has become a “man”. There comes a time in your life where being right is less important than being part of a small but most stalwart collective of bunched up and twitching outrageous nervous energy or as mainstream humanity would call it, part of a “family”. You are part of my family Jamie. You always will be. Whether you choose to flail about and sustain collateral damage (hippos think with their mouths…) is up to you, but I love you and you will always be in my heart.

The little building here is the nursery office. Andrew, Steve and I share a passion for cold climate shrubs and trees that bonded us all from the start

The little building here is the nursery office. Andrew, Steve and I share a passion for cold climate shrubs and trees that bonded us all from the start

Andrew also shares a passion for the beautiful rocks that can be found on beaches all around the shorelines of Tasmania.

Andrew also shares a passion for the beautiful rocks that can be found on beaches all around the shorelines of Tasmania.

2 lovely maples side by side

2 lovely maples side by side

Loveliness

Loveliness

More loveliness

More loveliness

Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to delight your eye. My photos don't do this wonderful place justice.

Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to delight your eye. My photos don’t do this wonderful place justice.

:)

🙂

The entrance/exit

The entrance/exit

Even the trolley bay is pretty

Even the trolley bay is pretty

Red Dragon Nursery specialises in rare and hard to get rhododendrons and azaleas. This is a rhododendron but I certainly wouldn't have picked it as such

Red Dragon Nursery specialises in rare and hard to get rhododendrons and azaleas. This is a rhododendron but I certainly wouldn’t have picked it as such

This azalea appears to have a split personality ;)

This azalea appears to have a split personality 😉

Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way lets talk about what the heck narf7 is on about with that title! Well today is Earl’s birthday. It was 4 years ago today, somewhere in rural South Australia that little Earl first tumbled out into the world, no doubt making his presence felt as soon as he could. From that day on, he has spent his life infuriating, exasperating, eating, dissecting, scraping, chewing, frolicking, barking, did I mention eating? And loving us all. Earl is one of a kind. He is a doggie shaped enigma and we love Earl to bits. It took me a fair while to warm to Earl because he was so very feral but now we are mono-a-mono and there is no separating us. I love him so much I carried home 3 segments of pool noodle that someone had thrown out in a roadside collect today, 2 km to the bemused stares of early morning commuters just so that he would have the joy of tearing them into tiny “squeaky” shreds on his birthday. Today will bring white chocolate (yes, dogs can have it), pizza, eggs, balloons, pool noodles and lots and lots of love, just how it should be when a dog turns 4 🙂

Earl not long after we got him

Earl not long after we got him back in April 2011 wasn’t he a cutey? 🙂

Earl in his usual habitat, a trail of chewed mass destruction in his wake ;)

Earl in his usual habitat, a trail of chewed mass destruction in his wake 😉

Here is that small collective of pool noodle/s that I carried home this morning. Most of them have been shredded but one remains in the lounge room for grazing on later in the day ;)

Here is that small collective of pool noodle/s that I carried home this morning. Most of them have been shredded but one remains in the lounge room for grazing on later in the day 😉

The heron bit…well yesterday on our early morning walk, Earl and I noticed a flock of 14 herons winging their way in from the river to a large dead gum tree. They all landed in the tree and it took them all of 4 seconds to note us walking under the tree. 9 of the herons flew away protesting loudly but 3 remained, stoic in the knowledge that there was no WAY this side of the Pecos that a somewhat overweight 50+ year old woman and a dog who was tethered to said woman (thus completely immobilised by his fat anchor…) were going to be able to climb up 50 feet into the sky to catch them without them at least getting a bit of a whiff of the clear and present danger LONG before it arrived. 3 of those herons were clever. Their babies will be taught by clever parents. And thus the clever bring more cleverness into the world…

Steve took this photo of a dandelion covered in seeds not so long back. Pretty isn't it?

Steve took this photo of a dandelion covered in seeds not so long back. Pretty isn’t it?

It might not be as delicate and sensitive as a zenobia but this deutzia is just as pretty and much hardier. You have to be clever with what you plant, you can usually find something almost the same that will be most happy to live in your garden :)

It might not be as delicate and sensitive as a zenobia but this deutzia is just as pretty and much hardier. You have to be clever with what you plant. You can usually find something almost the same that will be most happy to live in your garden 🙂

Sunshine in Sanctuary and another opportunity to get stuck in to food production

Sunshine in Sanctuary and another opportunity to get stuck in to food production

The last part of the title (and the least pleasant to think about) is the snotty oysters. I can hear you all thinking “I thought narf was a vegan? What the heck is she doing eating and learning to appreciate snotty oysters?!” Well I was being metaphorical rather than actual in this part of the title. Walking with Earl at 5am gives me time to contemplate the world without having to worry too much about ducking over to the very edge of the verge (and coincidentally the very edge of the river bank) in order to avoid being run over by cars. You tend to think more about your own mortality at 7am than you do at 5am. I had just stood and witnessed the sun coming up over a glorious still river and watched the shadows give way to that amazing light that only comes at sun up and Earl and I stood silent and in awe (well I was, Earl was sniffing a dandelion) of this amazing world, how beautiful and privileged we were (again, Earl was otherwise occupied so I really shouldn’t be speaking for him) to bear witness to the start of another amazing day on this slow revolving blue planet that occupies this point in space and time.

These are the plants that I bought at Red Dragon. We have stopped buying ornamentals and everything here has at least 2 purposes. The manna ash has sweet sap that can be harvested in Mediterranean climates like maple syrup, the katsura has toffee apple scented leaves and amazing autumn foliage, the small pot is a Tasmanian pepperberry and the pot on the far right is a New Zealand wineberry BUT I did a bit of research when I got home and they are dioeceous which means that they need both a male AND a female to produce fruit. Looks like Stevie-boy and I will be heading back out to Red Dragon in the near future. Oh what a difficult thing to do! ;)

These are the plants that I bought at Red Dragon. We have stopped buying ornamentals and everything here has at least 2 purposes. The manna ash has sweet sap that can be harvested in Mediterranean climates like maple syrup, the katsura has toffee apple scented leaves and amazing autumn foliage, the small pot is a Tasmanian pepperberry and the pot on the far right is a New Zealand wineberry BUT I did a bit of research when I got home and they are dioeceous which means that they need both a male AND a female to produce fruit. Looks like Stevie-boy and I will be heading back out to Red Dragon in the near future. Oh what a difficult thing to do! 😉

Friends who live down the road had a garage sale on Saturday.

Friends who live down the road had a garage sale on Saturday.

I bought this loveliness... well I didn't buy those wicker balls at the front, I got them for free from another roadside stand that was giving things away. They are going to be used on our homemade Christmas tree this year along with all of our other homemade decorations :)

I bought this loveliness… well I didn’t buy those wicker balls at the front, I got them for free from another roadside stand that was giving things away. They are going to be used on our homemade Christmas tree this year along with all of our other homemade decorations 🙂

I also got some small ounce scales (no, I am NOT going into "business" I just liked them ;) ) and this lovely copper pot and small sugar bowl...

I also got some small ounce scales (no, I am NOT going into “business” I just liked them 😉 ) and this lovely copper pot and small sugar bowl…

...with feet! Who can resist something inanimate with feet :)

…with feet! Who can resist something inanimate with feet 🙂

Stevie-boy bought me a passionfruit and a kiwiberry on Monday when he was doing our fortnightly grocery shop.

Stevie-boy bought me a passionfruit and a kiwiberry on Monday when he was doing our fortnightly grocery shop.

A different variety of Jerusalem artichoke to my regular variety that I have planted to add to the mix, a punnet each of rainbow chard, spinach and jalapenos and my compost bucket ready to be emptied in Sanctuary

A different variety of Jerusalem artichoke to my regular variety that I have planted to add to the mix, a punnet each of rainbow chard, spinach and jalapenos and my compost bucket ready to be emptied in Sanctuary

That Jerusalem artichoke and some that needed to be removed from the garden bed. Once you have Jerusalem artichokes you won't ever be without them but as I love them I really don't mind, it's all bonus food and sunflowers for me! :)

That Jerusalem artichoke and some that needed to be removed from the garden bed. Once you have Jerusalem artichokes you won’t ever be without them but as I love them I really don’t mind, it’s all bonus food and sunflowers for me! 🙂

A whole lot less pumpkins but a whole lot more order and choice. I am planting things out randomly in the hope that nature will be happy with my chaos. (That's my story and I am sticking to it ;) )

A whole lot less pumpkins but a whole lot more order and choice. I am planting things out randomly in the hope that nature will be happy with my chaos. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it 😉 )

They might not be the most professional looking tomato cages but they serve the purpose and were made with love by Stevie-boy for my 2 San Marzano paste tomatoes :)

They might not be the most professional looking tomato cages but they serve the purpose and were made with love by Stevie-boy for my 2 San Marzano paste tomatoes 🙂

Earl was peeing on a tree by this stage but I was still full of the heady bliss of it all and my thoughts turned to life, the universe and everything. I started to think about how each new day was like an oyster being opened. Inside you could find a pearl or you could find a snotty oyster. Pearly days are absolutely wonderful, snotty oyster days are to be endured, unless you find a way to appreciate snotty oysters and then you are ahead. I guess what I was trying to say (other than “I don’t like raw oysters”) is that if we learn to appreciate our days, come what may, we end up with a better quality of life, no matter what our circumstances. Life is what we make of it, not what it hands us. Some lives are harder to live than others and some circumstances are more difficult to endure but there is always a way, always a silver lining and always a way to put the check book back in balance (metaphorically speaking) we just have to find it. I would like it known that I will NEVER appreciate snotty oysters (or cooked okra) I will just pass them on to someone who does and thus ends the lesson for today. Time to head off into our respective lives, to live, to love, to moderate our Facebook rants and to make of our lives what we will. Here’s to Earl and his unmitigated merriment no matter what and a birthday full of things that make him happy 🙂

This is what makes Earl happy, loud music and love and adoration from his humans :)

This is what makes Earl happy, loud music and love and adoration from his humans 🙂

Enter the lizard hunter

Hi All,

 

Well hot diggety dog my dear constant readers, we are right back here again and little has changed on Serendipity Farm except the slave albino Morlock’s have been freed from their shackles of oppression and are now footloose and fancy free of studies for at least a couple of days. We collated our final two assignment tasks and all of the peripheral bampf that makes them take a much longer time to complete that we are required to submit along with our work and handed them in on Monday. That left us shell-shocked and twitching and with NO idea of how to live in the real world aside from sitting on a PC and working to rule. It was sad to see us wandering around like little lost lambs without a clue and even sadder when we were joined by the dogs because it started to rain and thus became a washout for working in the garden and walking dogs…four pathetic souls walking around the kitchen table following each other like shrews in a perpetual circle…

An example of what we have been doing lately

An example of what we have been doing lately

 

A caravan of shrews

A caravan of shrews

We had planned to forge ahead…to drive to Exeter and pick up a half trailer load of compost from the local landscape supply centre then head off to buy some seeds from a small local nursery that specialise in breeding their own heritage seeds to our local conditions. Less variety but more likely to survive…I like those odds! We had SO many plans! We were going to fix Sanctuary and Stevie-boy would be my hero and would drill holes in the poles and we would string up the possum repelling top netting with plastic coated clothes line wire that the little swine’s wouldn’t have a hope in heck of chewing through and would be relegated to bouncing furiously on with no dent in the netting allowing them to trampoline their way down to the tender greens below. I had visions of all sorts of things but then the reality of the rain…slow…constant…and unlikely to stop rain set in and so we walked a few more circuits around the kitchen table in a slow progression of sadness and broke off eventually to pursue other indoor activities.

One of the gorgeous sunsets we have been having lately to welcome spring into the Southern Hemisphere

One of the gorgeous sunsets we have been having lately to welcome spring into the Southern Hemisphere

 

We can’t handle another day of Earl sulking so we are going to have to get out and walk the dogs today. I can hear the wind chime heralding more rain but we have the curious situation here in my local borough, whereby it tends to stay dry till about 10am here and then rains. Excellent for early morning dog walkers, not so good for people who want to garden after they walk. We did go to Exeter yesterday to post off Ms Pauline’s dangler things for her dangler of International Happiness. I hope she isn’t expecting too much as there is a bag of harvested bits-and-bobs that we thought might just make interesting inclusions to her dangler.  I can’t wait to see how it looks when Ms Pauline has put her touches to it. Anyone who would like to add something to Ms Pauline’s dangler of great international happiness please drop me a line and we can talk. Ms Pauline could do with some aqua beads if anyone has any lying around. I did find something sort of green but that’s about as aqua as it gets in my mixed bag so anyone who dabbles in the beady arts who has some strange leftover beads please get in touch. The cause is worthy, admirable and will result in your cast offs being turned into frugal sustainable art by Ms Pauline who is a most clever minx when it comes to the creative arts.

We are getting a LOT of eggs lately. At the moment they are happy to lay in a haybale in Steve's shed but any day soon that will change and we will be back to hunting high and low for them

We are getting a LOT of eggs lately. At the moment the chooks are happy to lay in a haybale in Steve’s shed but any day soon that will change and we will be back to hunting high and low for them

I also sent off a delicious wooden spoon handcrafted by Stevie-boy to a wonderful lady who wanted to trade on her blog. I have been following Belinda’s blog for a little while now and  I had shared a post by Belinda with you all before and in this post  Belinda posed a most interesting case for trading something rather than selling. I think she was testing the waters to see just what she might end up with if she wanted to trade. I need to point out something here about why I was SO excited about wanting to trade with Ms Belinda. My daughters are both Koreanaphiles. They love all things Korean but especially K-Pop, a subculture of Korean pop music that has bled over into the West. The very first band that they liked was a band called Shinee and although I could remember most of the guys in the band I could NEVER remember one called “Minho”. Minho was my nemesis and my daughters would tease me mercilessly saying “which one is Minho”?  And I would invariably pick the wrong band member. It turns out “Minho” isn’t just a member of a Korean K-Pop band but it is also a region in Portugal famous for inventing Caldo Verde and for it’s gorgeous hand spun wool. Ms Belinda had made some wonderful hats out of some of this unctuous wool and was offering them up for trade! I could have my own Minho hat! I would never forget Minho again! Long after my daughters had forgotten who he was…”I”…the forgetful narf…would remember 🙂

 

Minho hat! :)

Minho hat! 🙂

So you see I “had” to at least attempt to trade with Ms Belinda (who appears to be hugging herself in the first image in this post…hey, if you can’t hug the one you love, hug the one your with eh? 😉 ). She accepted the offer of a trade for one of Stevie-boys wooden spoons and I promptly forgot about it till Steve came up the driveway with a parcel that I wasn’t expecting…it turns out the wonderful Ms Belinda had sent my Minho hat and a second Minho hat for one of the girls! Looks like we are ALL going to remember who Minho is ;). Steve found some lovely blackheart sassafras, a rare and special Tasmanian endemic wood, in his woody collection to turn into a lovely spoon for Ms Belinda and for some curious reason I forgot to take a photo of it before I sent it off yesterday…”Doh!” Oh well…I can show you the Minho hats and my daughters can fight over their hat when I get around to delivering it to the city ;). I love the idea of trading things. No money need change hands (which is a good thing when there isn’t a lot of it lying around to trade) and you end up forging community, making new friends, getting something awesome and handmade and sharing the creative love around. I think Stevie-boy needs to make more wooden spoons…his creative muse is delicious. Stevie-boy thinks that I need to shut up 😉

Steve both made these pork pies and took this lovely photo. This is for all of you carnivorous ex-pat's from the old country who can't live without their pork pies at Christmas...make them yourself! :)

Steve both made these pork pies and took this lovely photo. This is for all of you carnivorous ex-pat’s from the old country who can’t live without their pork pies at Christmas…make them yourself! 🙂

this photo is 40+ years old. It was taken by my mother on an 100 acre farm that we once lived on and is of her gaggle of geese that she kept. It might look like the Kalahari desert in this photo but it's mid summer and the geese have eaten all of the grass.

this photo is 40+ years old. It was taken by my mother on an 100 acre farm that we once lived on and is of her gaggle of geese that she kept. It might look like the Kalahari desert in this photo but it’s mid summer and the geese have eaten all of the grass.

It might be windy outside but it hasn’t rained since I got up and its 5.10am now. Bezial heard the alarm go off this morning and headed in with determination to take up my warm spot in the bed prior to me evacuating it so I did what any good dog owner would do and got out of bed. I need to tidy up my RSS Feed Reader that is wilder than Serendipity Farms front jungle at the moment but that’s easily tamed and apologies to my dear constant readers who I haven’t been commenting on your posts of late but our study load was formidable and now that we are out the other side (and the slave master general had his whip eaten by Earl) we have a bit of breathing space. The last thing that I want to do when freed from my seat on the PC is sit here all day knocking out my RSS Feed Reader so it might take me some time but I will get there 🙂

Spring has definitely sprung and here's the proof...the nectarine tree is flowering

Spring has definitely sprung and here’s the proof…the nectarine tree is flowering

The shadow of a narf and the actuality of a power cord that made all of the work we did today possible in Sanctuary (remind me to hide that power cord next time... ;) )

The shadow of a narf and the actuality of a power cord that made all of the work we did today possible in Sanctuary (remind me to hide that power cord next time… 😉 )

I might share our school blog with you all so that you can head over there and see what Stevie-boy and I have been doing for the last 2 years. That’s a lot easier than clogging up this blog with our erstwhile efforts and you can head over there and take a peek or not…your choice. Last year we weren’t expected to put much up on our blogs but this year our lecturer has us putting up our final assessments…I am not sure that I agree with her logic. Feel free to head over and have a nose around on our blogs but remember they are our school blogs so please vet your comments accordingly (looking at YOU Ms Twinn! 😉 )

https://heartwoodspoons.wordpress.com/

This is Stevie-boys school blog

https://veganscousewife.wordpress.com/

And this one is Narf’s school blog

Note if you want to look at the links, WordPress seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to how it opens them. Sometimes it expects you to download them to your desktop, sometimes it opens up a pdf on the page you are viewing (so you have to click back to where you were) and sometimes it opens up a pdf on another page…NO idea what it is going to do at any given time but that’s part of the experience right? 😉 By the way Bethany…if you do happen to go and have a look at our work and you see an image of a girl dressed up in fancy dress with a flower in her hand that looks strangely like you when you were about 8…it’s just a figment of your imagination! 😉

This artichoke is only alive because of those tyres around it. Note the tangle mass of deceased plant matter to the left of the artichoke. This is possum damage and the reason why we need to fix Sanctuary before we try to plant a veggie garden this year...

This artichoke is only alive because of those tyres around it. Note the tangle mass of deceased plant matter to the left of the artichoke. This is possum damage and the reason why we need to fix Sanctuary before we try to plant a veggie garden this year…

On Tuesday morning we had to walk around like hunchbacks in order to traverse sanctuary as the possums had trampolined the top almost down to the ground

On Tuesday morning we had to walk around like hunchbacks in order to traverse sanctuary as the possums had trampolined the top almost down to the ground

It’s only Tuesday at the moment so you just never know. I might get up to Sanctuary today and there may or may not be photo’s. I can at least get a photo of Earl’s craziness when we let him off lead in Sanctuary and he realises that he is FREE! which is part of the reason why you are NEVER going to be “free” in the real world Early boy…pity you don’t learn a bit of self-restraint as it would be lovely to let you off the lead and let you forage around but you were built to hunt and your primary objective is to sniff, to find and to eat 😦 Oh well…your choice sunshine! Bezial is happy to curb his desire to scarf a chook in order to wander free (like Kung-fu) among them (with the occasional beak pressing episode that we won’t talk about 😉 ) That’s given me a good head start on tomorrows email now. I can add a bit, take a few photos and I don’t have to produce a rabbit out of a hat at the starting gate… I tend not to perform well when put on the spot or on command. Probably best that I wasn’t born male 😉

Kale gone to seed YAY! :)

Kale gone to seed YAY! 🙂

Might be time for our resident sheoak inside Sanctuary to have a hair cut again...

Might be time for our resident sheoak inside Sanctuary to have a hair cut again…

I can plant these loquats out this year as they are big enough to survive a summer in the ground without a lot of extra watering

I can plant these loquats out this year as they are big enough to survive a summer in the ground without a lot of extra watering

I am SO tired! I went from twiddling my thumbs on Monday to slaving in the Sanctuary gulags for the last two days and I couldn’t be happier :). We started sorting out the top of Sanctuary, my fully enclosed (supposedly) native animal proof veggie garden yesterday. It was hard going because Stevie-boy had to drill holes in all of the steel poles that we concreted into the ground in order to make Sanctuary in the first place so that we could thread through and tie off sections of plastic coated metal clothes line that we are using to ensure that the possums etc. can’t pass. He broke 3 drill bits in a row they are so tough and we had to take a trip to Exeter to pick up some new bits so we also bought some compost and seeds at the same time. We like to multitask. We had a bit of a twitching moment yesterday where Stevie-boy decided that he would release the ring of clothes line that I had entrusted him to hold in order to do “something else” and it twisted all over the place and became hopelessly entangled. Needless to say I think I need to sign up for anger management classes and possibly hypnotherapy to teach me not to swear like a duchess whilst threatening Stevie-boy with every threat I could possibly think of if he EVER touched the plastic coated wire ring ever again… we got over it…not sure the neighbours have yet though…

The great lizard hunter

The great lizard hunter

The great lizard hunter again

The great lizard hunter again

Bezial has sworn off lizards and is enjoying a sunbeam

Bezial has sworn off lizards and is enjoying a sunbeam

Today, after walking the dogs with Jan and Mieka who appears to be developing a Mieka fan club and who has gone from Jan wondering what she was going to do with her to 5 people wanting to adopt her (the best possible outcome), we headed up to Sanctuary with steely determination and set to with the final push to get our garden back from the (filthy) possums. Earl and Bezial were most happy to be returning to sunbeams and lizards and the first thing that Earl did was frolic…a lot. We managed to shore up all of the top of Sanctuary and I sorted out one of the areas where the possums can get in. Tomorrow we have about an hour to sort out the other join and then Sanctuary is MINE! It would be OURS if Steve really cared about it but it’s my baby and my dream and Steve would rather be doing something else but is entirely happy to indulge me in my (crazy) pursuits.

 

Earl gave up on lizards and found a much slower golden beetroot to chew instead

Earl gave up on lizards and found a much slower golden beetroot to chew instead

The view from Stevie-boys gumboot

The view from Stevie-boys gumboot

Sanctuary liberated! :)

Sanctuary liberated! 🙂

So here I am…tired but incredibly happy on what has turned out to be a gorgeous spring day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, it’s still crisp and cool and the soil is nice and damp (gluggy and muddy in some places) and I feel vegetable futures in MY future :). I will be soaking seed today to plant out tomorrow as we bought some compost and will be adding other things to it to make a happy place for seeds to grow. This year narf 7 actually IS going to grow all of her own seedlings and I have the seeds to prove it! Wish me luck folks because there is a whole lot of work to be done before I can plant out those little prospective seedlings but at least they are changing hands from being mental seedlings to physical seedlings. Thank you SO much to all of my gardening dear constant readers who have given me encouragement and help and thanks to spring for filling me with spring possibilities. No doubt I will be less than happy with spring tomorrow when I can’t get out of bed because I am too sore but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉

Vegetable futures!

Vegetable futures!

 

 

 

Grey Shrike Thrush Life Coach

Hi All,

 

Who needs to pay someone to “coach” you to a better life? The better life is right here inside us and Mr Grey Shrike Thrush just shows us how living simply and getting “enough” is really the best life indeed :). We get Grey Shrike Thrushes visit us on a daily basis. I reckon I am going to view them as my life coaches from now on 🙂 Please note that the image below was taken from my Facebook feed and originated from the original artwork of Mr Michael Leunig, the human version of the Grey Shrike Thrush 🙂

 

The Grey Shrike Thrush Life Coaching Session by Leunig

Caus I’m Happy :)

Hi All,

Another sporadic teeny tiny little post in order to share the love. Its 7.14am on a Friday and I am most blessedly happy. Simple, fundamental, base happy where no-one can steal it from me because it didn’t cost me anything and it was born of loving the life that I live :). Penniless student hippies of the world unite because learning is part of the equation…happiness is born inside each and every one of us, it’s just waiting for us to stop looking outside ourselves and realise that it’s right here within our grasp and so long as we are willing to be grateful, thankful and generous we can all be happy 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM&feature=kp

If you didn’t dance like a maniac then you have some introspected soul searching to do. Unlock a few doors and find your boogie shoes. When you do, come and join the narf7 dance party. It’s not pretty but it’s real 🙂

Finding happiness in simple things

Hi Folks

I wanted to start this week’s post off with a simple but most beneficial truth that I learned this week and if I learn nothing else this month…perhaps even year…this is a goodn’. Do you ever keep getting the same message over and over and over again? I have been revisiting the “be grateful and thankful and happy with what you have and simple things” message a lot lately. Just about every blog post, FB page update (that I sporadically look at) and website that I access has some hidden message just for narf7 that involves me thinking about how very lucky I am to be learning how to be so happy with so little. When you can be content with little you are truly blessed.

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“What do we have here?” (after changing my clothes to repeat the original “what do we have here” but after a quick change in clothing so as not to look like Granny weather wax out of the Discworld witches series 😉 )

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Potato onions! Sent by Jess from rabbidlittlehippy. Out of season, and the people at Yelwek farm in Tassie couldn’t have bent over further to make this happen if they were contortionists. I couldn’t believe the amazing customer service folks. If you are in the market for potato onions (white or brown) or oca, the delicious little multi coloured yam fest of great happiness or if you want to wait a little bit because they are just about to add onion shallots to their fantastic repertoire (and they sent me 2 for free to trial!), check out their website and do yourselves a favour and buy some and support a small grassroots company that could do with your business. These guys make buying something fun 🙂 Oh, by the way…that isn’t really wurzel gummidges nose…it’s ALL mine! 😉 In my defence, I was running on 4 hours sleep and my eyes felt like boiled onions by this stage of the day 😉

http://yelwekfarmoca.com/

I got the most overwhelming sense of bliss just walking into my veggie garden to water it yesterday. A true and most complete sense of being right with the world. As I watered (and flattened my veggies with their regular quotient of H2O) my mind wandered around all over the place as it tends to do. Just a quick aside…scientists have proven that older people don’t forget things because they are suffering from dementia as a rule, they forget things because they have SO MUCH INFORMATION CRAMMED IN THEIR HEADS that some leaks out. I, for one, will be supporting that scientific study with my hand on my heart and a fierce sense of loyalty most probably far outweighed by the studies weight in the scientific community 😉

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I was supposed to get 10 of each…as you can see (if you are furiously counting…) I got 14 brown potato onions and 12 white and see that lovely little card filled with helpful information? How amazing are these guys eh? 🙂

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One of my “pretties”. I don’t have a lot of them and indeed, I almost didn’t have this one. This is a tuberous begonia. I thought that this particular specimen had carked it so I tossed it outside the glasshouse where the poor thing overwintered completely devoid of potting mix and then started to grow little green leaves as soon as spring hit. I couldn’t believe it when I noticed it growing tenaciously next to the glasshouse. Here it is reminding me that I don’t know everything and that sometimes, what you throw out is beautiful…”be careful what you throw away”. Life lesson learned 🙂

I usually get up at 3am, have my first life giving and most wonderful mug (bucket) of tea soon after. It accompanies me as I browse and read blog posts delivered to me overnight into my RSS Feed Reader without which I would have to sift a whole lot more dross before I found the pure gold. I slowly sip my life giving elixir and all is right with the world. I don’t allow myself another cuppa till I get back from walking Earl. I do this because otherwise I have to find tracts of bushland in order to evacuate said extra mug (bucket) and you just never know who is watching 😉 that was up until today. Today I have coined the phrase that is going to accompany through 2014 and most probably the rest of my life. “Do simple things that make you happy”. Simple things like have that extra cuppa, go and read that book, stop following the dogs and sweeping behind them and go out to the garden instead and just sit and plan…little things that make my heart sing, my soul smile and that I keep putting off because I have so much to do…”so much to do” can wait. Life is here now and I want to enjoy it to the max 🙂

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One of the “mints” that I pulled from out of the pathway at the community orchard in Deviot turned out to be a bee balm 🙂

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My latest 2 fig “cuttings”. The one of the right appears to be happy but the one of the left might have been just a teensy bit too big to survive on the small amount of roots that this ground layer had managed to set down. Time will tell

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What happens when plants are happy…you get fruit!

I kept coming up against reviews for the book “Eat, Pray Love” last year. I fortuitously found a copy for 20c at a local op shop and thought that it was a sign that I should read it. Sometimes signs are put there in order for you to learn, and sometimes they are put there for some higher being to have a bit of a laugh. I get the feeling it was the latter case for me in this situation. I settled down to read the book and by the time I got to chapter 3 I couldn’t stand the heroine and was starting to wish terrible things down upon her self-indulgent head. I stopped reading it and vowed never to let it, or anything written by its author darken my doorstep again! “Eat, Pray, Love” was supposed to teach me something and indeed it did. It taught me “never rely on someone else’s reviews to dictate what is and isn’t going to be a good read!” Earl has his own version of “Eat, Pray, Love” it’s called “Eat, Prey, No love involved” I don’t want to give people the wrong impression about American Staffies. They get a bad rap through the press as it is but there are some dogs that are just born hunters and Earl is one of them. Bezial, also an American Staffy, isn’t. He was born with a black and white peace sign planted square on his private parts and he has been keeping the peace ever since. When Steve and I have one of our rare arguments (I argue, he hides) Bezial is right there between us gently pressing his warmth up against the protagonist (that would be me) and attempting to sooth the waters and bring about peace. Maybe he is the reincarnation of Ghandi and is asking me with those doggy eyes to give non-violent protest a chance 😉

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Happy mango seedlings grown from a seed. Time to repot them into bigger pots and let them overwinter another year before planting them out in the spring

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The tall (and most spectacular) euphorbia here was grown from a small piece pinched from a friends succulent. The cactus below it came in my mum’s shoe from Western Australia 😉

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The “Lone Banana” of Serendipity Farm still going after 4 seasons in our small glasshouse

Bezial will walk through the middle of a motley collection of chooks, cats, and small furry critters completely ignoring them. He would most probably love to leap into the centre of them and frolic for all he is worth but he knows that his freedom and ability to wander at will on Serendipity Farm (where Earl is on a leash at all times…) rely on him playing pool with our wishes. I must admit he does get a bit excited when he sees a rooster and that may, or may not, have something to do with me “releasing the hounds” (well…Bezial…) on said roosters whenever they bail up a poor unsuspecting hen and force their unwanted attentions upon her. Rape is rape folks. I am NOT speciesist and Bezial is my weapon of choice. Earl would do as good a job but the raper AND the rapee would both suffer the consequences of my outrageous indignation 😉

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More exotics…if you don’t try them you will never know. The large leafed beauties are turmeric, grown from a single organic rhizome bought from the health food shop and the lush leaves in the background are avocado’s grown from seed. The palmate leaf on the left hand lower side is my choko (“YES JESS I AM GOING TO PLANT IT OUT!” 😉 )

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A fully enclosed, “Garden Room” that I haven’t thought of what to put in here yet. Any ideas?

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Scarlet runner bean futures. They can be eaten green in their pods or dried and cooked from dry. A most ambidextrous bean indeed 🙂

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Pumpkins (triffids) who have decided that the grass is greener on the other side of the compound and who are heading off in a most determined way to prove it!

Look what I found the other day…a hazelnut! 🙂 we dug this small sapling up from a farm that we were working on. It was supposed to be discarded but we asked if we could have it and this year it has a solitary hazelnut. That’s what this is all about folks 🙂

You are getting 2 posts today. 1 recipe and 1 regular. I made the recipe the other day and saw that it had incredible possibilities and just wanted to share it with you all, especially Wendy from Quarter Acre Lifestyle  because she is a fellow penniless middle aged bit-of-a-health-nut hippy and would completely and utterly “get” the benefits to this recipe 🙂 I have since had an inquiry from Jess at rabbidlittlehippy asking about how I make my buckwheat porridge. That’s a much easier proposition than this cereal but I must admit, I love this bolshie buckwheaty granola stuff. I have eaten it every day for breakfast since I made it and it keeps me full until dinner time. When you look into buckwheat you start to realise that it is a nutritional powerhouse

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=11

It has a distinct earthy flavour to it that I love but if you mix it with other flavours it carries them well. It grows well in just about any conditions, it can take extreme heat and extreme cold and it seems to like being beneficial in all stages of it’s life cycle. I love a good multi-use plant!

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I found some calendula (marigold) seeds on a plant on the side of the road verge the other day and decided to plant them and here are the very first marigolds grown by narf on Serendipity Farm 🙂

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Beans growing in the experimental compost heap of great glory. Please don’t ask me what kind…no idea…just beans 🙂

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These small seedlings are of a perennial plant known as “coin plant” or “honesty”

I am just waiting on my good friend Jenny previously known as “she-who-can’t-be-named”. She is the taskmaster who forced me to plant out a vegetable garden this year and so I guess I owe her for the entire mass tangle of fecundity that is threatening to take over Sidmouth as I type. I was watering happily the other day when I realised that as much as I adore permaculture and harvests, this little patch of green has fed my soul by simply being an oasis of growth in a sea of rapidly declining green cum brown paddock. It stands out like a beacon and at any time of the day you can find chooks circling it trying to scratch their way into the paradise beyond. Good luck with that chooks…after an early oversight on our behalf and a small invasion of the possum kind where said possum harvested a pathway right through my silverbeet and a small apple tree and ate a lime off a tiny little lime tree (that was how I knew we had been invaded by one of our furry foes…nothing else would eat an unripe lime!) which Steve and I patched up and fortified like Fort Knox, we haven’t had any other nocturnal (or otherwise) invaders to speak off aside from the odd insect but we also have a wonderful lizard population and a spider underclass that seem to be doing a sterling job of keeping the pest species to a minimum

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The view of the (triffid) garden from up in the top right hand corner

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This is what used to be my compost heap experimental patch and has been renamed the pumpkin patch

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Potted edibles mix with their raised bed siblings

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I got this red clover a year ago as an emaciated half dead specimen on the side of the road and it loves it’s new home on Serendipity Farm

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Another view point of the garden

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And yet another one. Whipper snipping the circumference of the garden beds made it much easier to really see the garden and how it is doing. Prior to this the grass and weeds were almost as high as the garden beds

My younger sister Cathy aka Pinky, got married last Thursday. She and her wonderful partner Jason have been together for almost 15 years and they finally decided to tie the knot. I am incredibly happy for them both because they are 2 of my most favourite people in the world. Cathy and I might be 2 strong women with strong personalities to go with the territory and it’s probably good that we are separated by a vast chunk of rocky Australia for most of the time but we would fight to the death for each other…she knows that I have her back and any time she really needs me, I will be there. Seriously Pinky…if you need a gas bottle changed, just send me a plane ticket and I will be there! 😉

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How we cook our dinner on a hot HOT summer’s night…outside with a view and accompanied by an ice cold beer 😉

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I took this shot to show Jess what feverfew flowers look like and decided that it was pretty so I am sharing it with you here 🙂

Well I don’t think I should waffle on too long in this post. Aside from wanting to get these 2 posts up and loaded nice and early, I have 2 of them to box your ears with and can’t expect you to wade through two long epistles in a single sitting. Have a fantastic week. Here in the South East of Australia we are copping a fair bit of heat at the moment but sooner than we know it, it will be autumn and that chilly wind will start to blow heralding another 6 months of Brunhilda crackling most companiably with me on my early morning starts. See you next Wednesday 🙂

And so this is Christmas…

Hi Folks,

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This is the cute doggy personification of Christmas we couldn’t get our two boys into the spirit enough to dress up and we had enough trouble getting a foot print off them to make decorations but that is another story…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7JE0J4aYe0&feature=youtu.be

This is the reality of our Christmas morning…

I find myself sitting pondering the meaning of Christmas at 5.31am on Christmas morning. I believe in God, and I believe in the reason for the season. That’s how I roll; make of it what you will but I won’t be expecting anyone else to follow me and I won’t be  apologising for what I believe in any day soon. I woke up at 3am and lay there feeling altogether Grinchy. I got out of bed and made my cup of tea while the computer was booting up and Mr Kaspersky was doing his rounds with his hardwood Russian baton. Maybe, like the Grinch, my pants grew 3 sizes too tight yesterday at our wonderful communal family get together. I spent the afternoon making a large pile of delicious Mochi turn into a small pile of delicious Mochi and perhaps that was part of why I felt a bit “off” this morning.

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The kind of “off” that Christmas brings…

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Off like a Christmas light globe that takes the rest of the string down with it…

I sat down with my cuppa and started to wade through my (thankfully small) RSS Feed backlog all the while feeling mildly disturbed. I finished remarkably early (it would seem that other bloggers are somewhat busy at this time of year 😉 ) and headed off to me old mate Pinterest for a little look-see and some mindless vacuous pinning. As I pinned, that disturbed feeling escalated and I found myself at 5am feeling almost at the point of “unhappy” Unhappy on Christmas Day? My usual state of affairs is pretty happy. I am incredibly lucky in that I can be happy with very little and can make my own fun. I found this state of affairs bemusing and a little confusing because there really wasn’t any reason for it.

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Its Christmas…its “supposed” to look like this…

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Large firs and picea bedecked with Nordic symbols go right over the top of our Southern Aussie heads

I had a fantastic day with my children, the dogs and Steve yesterday. We had a glorious communal feast sitting outdoors under the blissful shade of a gorgeous wide span of flowering cherry leaves and a medium sized Sycamore that was only a small sapling when we took up residence in Tasmania as wide-eyed, bushy tailed Western Australians. When Steve built the deck that was heaving with deliciousness yesterday, he left a large gap around the trunk of the sycamore. Yesterday saw him attempting to widen the gap with a small pruning saw because the trunk has filled the gap.

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This is what Christmas looks like in Launceston Tasmania…

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No snow but lots of flowers and butterflies and bees

I had so much fun I completely forgot to take any pictures. It is lucky Steve took a few shots with his mobile or I wouldn’t have any images at all. The food was wonderful, the company was delightful and sharing it all with our growing family was a really blissful experience. So why was I feeling Grinchy this morning? I had a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with my own idealistic expectations about “Christmas” the panoramic view rather than “Christmas” the reality in my little patch of the world.

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And cicada’s clicking in the trees as the day heats up

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Our friend Jenny’s garden where most of your gardens are buried under a canopy of snow

We Southerners start getting bombarded with “Christmas” around about November…we see snow and reindeer and holly and ivy when our own reality is spring and exponential greenery and in some parts of Australia, heat shimmering off the tarmac. It is almost surreal for northerners who have lived “proper” Christmases to come to Australia and find themselves amongst prawns on the barbie and t-shirt wearing tanned humanoids who seem to think that this is a normal state of affairs. I know that Steve doesn’t feel Christmassy and that it is endemic with northerners. Glad next door is 91 years old and STILL doesn’t feel like it is Christmas after all of her years living in Australia. The latest link in the chain has been the yearly production of proper English pork pies that get gifted to Glad and her daughter Wendy and that Steve gets to eat on Christmas Day. It goes part of the way towards making them feel a little bit more seasonal. I was a little worried about Kelsey feeling left out but we all tumbled around each other on the small deck, hunting food, sharing and enjoying each other’s company and she tumbled with the best of us. You are made of the right stuff to be part of our family girl 🙂

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Delicious and most enormous English pork pies made to salve the lack of cold and hot dinners for Steve, Glad and Wendy the ex-pats

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Me giving all of the dogs Christmas treats in town yesterday

Each New Year I dedicate myself to a new venture. I mulled over my New Year’s “resolution” (for want of a better word) and decided that this year is going to be my year of New Things. I am going to try something new each and every day. I am going to learn things, try things, plant things, discover things, invent things etc. As I sat here contemplating my year of New Things I found that something interesting was happening…I wasn’t feeling quite so Grinchy anymore. All I had done was contemplate something new and interesting and my Grinchiness shrunk 3 sizes…interesting… so I did something new. I headed over to the kettle and made myself another cup of tea. I grabbed my large, fluffy brown, carefully folded, cold early morning, wrap around blanky and took my large mug of tea out into the early morning to watch the sun rise.

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Taken this morning at 5.30am while I was outside in my blanket

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Absolutely NOTHING to do with Christmas…I just wanted to see if you were paying attention 😉

I sat in the chilly morning air, rugged up with my cup of tea warming the cockles of my belly and my heart followed suit. I learned something new this morning. I learned that how you “feel” is pretty much up to you. I learned that if you don’t like where you are and how you are feeling about it, take yourself someplace you do. I deserted my computer screen. No need to worry, Pinterest will still be there when I get back…and I headed out into the chilled beauty of nature on a still summers morning. It should reach about 25C today. A lovely sunny, blue sky Christmas.

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Sorry about the lack of images, we were caught up enjoying ourselves so I don’t think you will mind. We had to pass the food through the laundry window in order to prevent the dogs rampaging through the house while we were eating

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Here I am telling Stewart something with lots of hand actions…can’t for the life of me remember what though 😉

I learned something else today. You don’t need snowflakes and reindeer and icicles for a wonderful Christmas. You just need to have a good reason to be happy and you have to waft it over your head like mistletoe. Bollocks to not feeling Christmassy, and bollocks to lusting after idealistic Christmas scenes. Today narf7 is off down to the bottom of our property to make an oak leaf mould angel. I may, or may not emerge fully clothed in leeches. Today narf7 is going to eat luxury Christmas Nacho’s. Some of you are eating hot dinners but Christmas Nachos are perfect for Serendipity Farm on a 25C balmy day. Today narf7 is going to be thankful for the gift of being able to see and to be able to be happy with little and love a lot. Today my pants might swell an additional 3 sizes but my heart will outdo them in leaps and bounds. Today is a great day folks. Let’s all find something magnificent in our own humble lives to celebrate. Let’s not look at what everyone else is doing because the old adage “be careful what you wish for, it might come true” is most probably the case and “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” is a sad state of affairs for our competitive modern lives. Life is good, and today we get to contemplate purpose, the end of our year, arriving at the dawn of another year and all of the hope, dreams and possibilities that accompany it

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Delicious Indian curry puffs and Asian mini pork pies

3am narf7 = The Grinch; 6am narf7 = a happy little vegemite… note to self…”You are one lucky narf7 🙂 “

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Sausage rolls…you can’t do Christmas in Australia without sausage rolls

If anyone is reading this post they are most probably a little outside the Christmas festivities. Maybe you are feeling a bit lonely, a square peg in a round hole. Maybe your trousers are huge and your capacity for giving a damn is small but there are always reasons to be thankful. You just have to find them in your own life. THAT is the secret of true happiness. I decided to give you that gift. It’s a beaut, and I wish I had been given that gift a long time ago but it took me a long time to learn and I am still turning it around slowly and looking at it in wonder inside my head where I really live. I am, as always, a bit of a bolshie slow learner when it comes to life lessons. Consider me full of Christmas good cheer and in about 6 hours that Christmas good cheer will be somewhat enhanced by alcohol.

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Bezial smiling for the camera 🙂

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Merry Christmas from Earl to all of his fans out there 🙂

I will raise my glass to you all. To the motley crew of outcastes and beatnik’s that choose to frequent Serendipity Farm. I will give thanks for each and every one of you because you make my days better by just being there. Here’s to the reason for the season, whatever you choose to insert there and here’s to 2014 being the best year yet…bring on the NEW 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN4Uu0OlmTg

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