Oh what a crafty minx I am!

Hi All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Still fuzzy girl!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is a “Where’s Wally” flower

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

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Is THAT where you keep those delicious dog treats eh?

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

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

Invasion of the Choko

Hi All,

It’s 3.13am Thursday morning and I have decided to tap away here for a little bit because I am waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to load. After it reached 525 posts and my eye started to twitch involuntarily I decided to head off for a bit and distract myself. Steve and I are juggling studies and dog walking with our annual winter wind-down. I have almost knitted a pair of gauntlets. I live in the knitting world between day and night. I spend a few short moments of my time knitting furiously before I start to fall asleep and have to lay my needles down and go to bed. Usually I am pretty tired by this point and have to make sure that my half asleep brain remembers to put the knitting back into my knitting bag and hide it in the spare room. There are always a pair of eyes watching me when I knit. I must admit, the pair of eyes has learned not to jump on me and steal my wool while I am knitting. I figure the pair of eyes turning 3 this year might be part of it but it is a small victory and something to be celebrated. When I was untangling the wool that I got from my daughter earlier in the week (and no Bethany, you STILL can’t have it back! 😉 ) he trotted past the tangled heap on the table and did a classic double take. He trotted back in a most interested way and after I told him “NO” he trotted off to a safe distance away (obviously my “NO” has a personal space…) and proceeded to watch me like a hawk for any signs that my defences were down and he could launch in to take possession of the delicious tangle of fun on the kitchen table. Alas…my defences didn’t drop and he didn’t even get to sniff the wool.

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As soon as Earl realised that I had picked up my camera to take a picture of him completely upside down with his legs in the air, both he and Bezial decided to turn away…party poopers!

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Steve thinks I am not going to use this photo and the next one. Earl is looking decidedly demented in this shot 😉

Earl isn’t like other dogs. Earl is as close to a wild dog as you are going to get without adopting a wolf. Up until now we have often felt like we are walking a tightrope with him because he just did what he wanted to do and we didn’t know how to deal with it. There were times when we first bought Earl when I would look into his eyes and see “alien”. He just felt completely and utterly foreign to me. Not a dog, sort of a bunch of muscles from mars. After numerous attempts to try to train him he seemed untrainable. It would be easy to think that Earl was stupid. He doesn’t listen, he eats the furniture and even after the humans go spare he still does what he wants. Nothing worked and unlike Bezial, he didn’t learn from his mistakes, he just kept making them.  He obviously thinks he rules the roost but something has happened to Earl over the last 6 months. He has decided that he loves us. He even loves his fat old sofa buddy Bezial. In allowing himself to love us he has also allowed himself to start fitting in to the hierarchy here. He is starting to listen to commands. “NO” is something he understands now. I don’t ever think he didn’t understand “NO” I just think he chose not to worry about it. Now he wants to please us and get cuddles and have us say “Good Dog!” and pat him. Earl is an attention hog. He loves nothing more than being loved and it’s lucky that Bezial could care less about cuddles because Earl is always there to lap up any attention that anyone wants to give him.

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I think this is priceless…all 3 of my boys looking completely and utterly doo-lally! SHHH! Stop laughing…Steve will hear you! 😉

Now the following image isn’t going to make an OUNCE of sense to anyone outside of Australia and of a “certain age” but here it is anyway…doesn’t Milo bear a canny resemblance to Steve in this image?! 😉

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If Steve EVER finds this post it could be enough reason for a divorce! 😉

Where I said earlier that it would be easy to think that Earl was stupid I meant that he never seemed to learn anything. We spent 6 months trying to teach him the benefits of shaking hands. He eventually learned it and if you pull out a treat bag that little front paw is straight up in the air. Earl is the least “stupid” dog I know. What Earl is, is his own dog. He might have a feral edge a mile wide but that edge is completely tempered with how a dog should act. The problem is that Steve and I aren’t dogs and Bezial doesn’t think that he is one either and Earl is trying to teach us the ways of the pack. Obviously he is top dog in his pack order but after 3 years he is starting to see that there are benefits in allowing the pink hairless ones to think that they are the boss. There are some quality games to be had when you drop the toy that you are holding. Dropping prey is foreign to a dog. Why would you drop your hard won fluffy squirrel for another dog?! Earl recently showed me how clever he was. He often brings a toy in to the computer in the afternoon and presses it gently onto the knee of whoever is using the computer at the time. It’s his way of saying “a game would be nice around about now, you obviously need to check off that seat before you start to resemble Bezial…” it is also the precursor to his long and convoluted series of stages that he goes through before his meal. He brought the toy to me and pressed it onto my knee looking up at me with enormous doe eyes. Earl is VERY good at doe eyes. Nature gave him Chinese eyes but he has learned to open them wide and can melt hearts with those eyes. I think it’s the fact that you don’t expect that adoration and innocence from that body.

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Admittedly this doesn’t look tasty. It looks like something that might once have been tasty but that has passed through the digestive tract of the enjoyer and is on it’s way to the sewer. It is, however, delicious! This is date paste that has had a good slug of Jack Daniel’s, a splosh of Hazelnut liqueur, a glug of Stones Green Ginger Wine and a gargle in some delicious maple syrup (all with the complete acceptance of my daughters who owned all of these ingredients 😉 ). It tastes like scrumptious smooth fruit mince and I am going to make some coconut vegan vanilla ice-cream and swirl some of this gorgeousness through it.

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This is a choko that has broken it’s banks and that is growing. I am happy for it to grow, in fact, I am ecstatic! Jean of the wonderful blog “allotment adventures” has been waxing lyrically about choko’s for a while now and has reignited my memories of these humble tasteless vegetables. I have eaten them boiled and this is what turned me off them BUT I have also enjoyed them immensely without even knowing that they were in what I ate. They are carriers of flavour, sort of the green vegetable equivalent of tofu (except nothing like it 😉 ). They work well in jams, marmalade and eke out the prize tasty ingredients by being content to stay in the background while the prized fruit shines. Love them or loath them, Serendipity Farm is about to have a choko vine :). Those strange looking things underneath the choko used to be red Jerusalem artichokes. For some reason once I put them into this bowl and they all deflated! The white stuff is not mould but is flour (Steve is a messy cook 😉 )

Earl and I have a special bond. Apparently he sees me as his property. He knows that as “property” I have my disadvantages. One of them is that I go ballistic at a moment’s notice. To own property like me you need to be dedicated. I am like owning an old degrading WW2 bomb, I am unstable and I am dangerous. I might look barnacled and benign but beneath my pock-marked surface I am ticking and Earl knows it. I would like to think that he has decided that I am his mistress. That I rule the roost here and that I am to be listened to but I fear I am barking up the wrong tree and Earl has just decided to let me do what I want to do so long as I keep scratching him in the right places, cuddling him and telling him he is a good boy and I let him sleep at my feet on the bed. There is a whole lot more to Earl’s love than that. I am doing him an injustice there. When Earl loves, he adores. If he was a human he WOULD be a Viking. He would be all man muscular and handsome and when he fell in love it would be that amazing real deal. There would be roses and feet being swept off and forever and lots and lots of fluffy squirrel donations but he isn’t a man, he is a dog and that makes him a little more manageable. He is satisfied with his lot aside from a constant need to be the cream that rises to the top. He knows that Bezial was here first and that Bezial has a part of Steve’s heart that he will never be able to fill. I give Earl that love that he craves and as the only “bitch” in the family I qualify for his undivided attention and Earl IS learning to fit in now. I wouldn’t trust Earl with anything other than a human but with a human I would trust him implicitly. Earl is the sort of dog that you could send your 10 year old child off with and KNOW that nothing was going to happen to them. He instinctively knows how he is supposed to act. There are no fears in Earl (aside from squirty water bottles and a strange terror of noises that come out of mobile phones that send him running) and I know that if any of us, Bezial included, were ever to be attacked he would fight for us to the death. I know that like I know the morning will come. I love Earl and my early fear of his animalistic alien-ness has mellowed to acceptance and real love. We have an understanding now that runs much deeper than the here and now and Earl and I navigate through our day’s one fluffy squirrel at a time.

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Lastly…you tell ME how you pronounce that without the library lady jumping over her desk and washing your mouth out with soap! 😉

Sorry about the bad photo but it was raining and a bit dark today so the flash kept going off. Here’s todays library haul. James Wong is a legend and the other 2 books are some recipe books that I have been interested in messing about with. The black book has some most interesting recipes in it “crack pie” and “cereal milk ice cream” are only 2 of the choices but I am having fun going through the yellow book that has recipes for making your own ramen…now who wouldn’t want to know how to make good quality ramen!

It’s windy and rainy and thundery and lightning and absolutely LOVELY! It’s great to have a bit of foul weather for once and to know that it really is winter. The weather worldwide seems to have become somewhat confused. Steve and I have been so grateful that we bought Brunhilda when we did. She is certainly paying for herself now with endless hot water, free cooking and house warming. We have been cracking through our media course and are learning heaps about Adobe Flash and have recently been animating household objects. Steve animated his coffee cup and I animated a set of 3 Babushka dolls that I picked up somewhere. Lots of fun and another feather in our caps should we ever need to look like Indian Chiefs. I am lusting after getting out into our new veggie garden. I need to source some hay but at the moment we are starting to prep ourselves for the impending visit of friends and family for my rapidly approaching “big” birthday. There is snow on Mount Wellington Kymmy! We can go up together and make a snowman. I want to post a picture of Kym and I making a snowman and throwing snowballs at each other (not sure how I am going to take a photo of us BOTH throwing snowballs but hey, leave it with me! 😉 ). My sister Pinky is coming over as is the son-and-heir and his Texan sweetie Kelsey so there will be quite a few more than usual hovering around Serendipity Farm.

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Here’s my gauntlets so far. It’s just about time to swap over to that brown wool so I am going to have to bite the bullet and cast off!

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These are my daughter Bethany’s. I forgot to take them off when I borrowed them the other day and only remembered halfway home so Steve will be taking them back on shopping day. I wonder if anyone out there would know where I could find a pattern (and the knitting ability) to make a pair of these? I LOVE them!

Steve headed off and took a few motion blur images of Glad’s little waterfall that runs through her property. She was out raking leaves (not bad for 91) and said “Knock yourselves out!” when we asked her if she minded us taking photos. She recently burned the junction where the waterfall meets the outflow pipe (into the Tamar River) to remove all of the oak leaves that were clogging it and its lucky that she did because this recent rain has caused the stream to flow wonderfully and it would have backed up into her garden if it was full of leaves. The roosters are crowing in unison under the deck. I wouldn’t care so much if they weren’t situated directly underneath me. They are big roosters and those large lungs are apparently there to increase the noise. We just discovered that one of the smaller “hens” is a rooster. It is going to be a most beautiful rooster because it is a cross between Big Yin (a standard golden Wyandotte rooster) and one of Effel Dookarks offspring (She was a blue Wyandotte) and it has a lovely grey tail. We might even keep him and see what he looks like. The other 2 are living on borrowed time. We were recently given the bones from a piglet purchased from a local producer by our friends. They were ostensibly for the dogs but Earl is “funny” about bones and when he saw how many bones were on offer he started to strut around and we decided to stop a problem (with Bezial) before it occurred. He got a couple of bones (that he promptly ran off to hide with his nose) and the rest went into a stockpot with lots of water while I was away. If I had been here, I would have done something with them but Steve just let them simmer till they reduced down to about ¼ of their original weight and the next day they had turned to jelly. The dogs didn’t want to even contemplate eating it. They are VERY fussy for big dogs. The feral cats got it all and enjoyed every single jelly filled mouthful. I think Steve just made instant canned cat food…”Jelly meat anyone?” 😉

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Here’s the back of them. Note the cute mitt conversion kit that…

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Flips over when you need your fingers to be warm

I am just finishing off todays post whilst waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to download todays haul. I have dumped a few peripheral blogs that I no longer read and am tailoring my blog feeds to what I am now interested in. My interests tend to evolve on a regular basis but revolve predominately around vegan food and recipe blogs and baking sites along with some gardening and environmental sites. Most of the blogs that I follow post infrequently which is amazingly lucky for me because I have so many of them. I have almost managed to get back to a maintenance level where I empty my feeds every day. It takes me about a week of intensive shuffling to do it after a weekend away. I am going to have a LOT of feeds after my week with Kym but there is an option called “The Panic Button” that you can press that eliminates all posts older than a specified date (you choose) so I might just have to get ruthless on them or die trying to eliminate them. My choko is sprouting nicely, my gauntlets are almost finished and now I found a tutorial reminding me how to cast off, I should be able to finish them soon :o). That should tell you how long it has been since I last knitted! We are enjoying using rainwater in our kettle to make our daily beverages now. I also use it to make my kefir. I have been batching up my excess non-dairy kefir and freezing it in ice-cube trays ready for warmer times when I can get back to drinking green smoothies for breakfast without sustaining frost bite of the lip.

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These are my lovely rainbow wool socks that my son bought for me one mothers day a few years ago. Earl “redecorated” them :(. I am in the process of pulling what is left of them apart, re-joining the hand dyed wool together and then I might just attempt to recreate a pair of those lovely hooded mitts. I know that they will probably be HUGE and I won’t be able to do or feel anything with them but as they are chunky wool, at least I won’t have cold hands!

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The biscuit barrel is starting to get low…time to bake some more! That’s my non-dairy kefir doing its thang next to the bickies

I just found an excellent blog site (that I promptly added to my feed 😉 ) all about making and using worm wicked water beds. An excellent resource and here is the website for anyone interested in this wonderfully water-wise way of vegetable gardening…

http://www.jas49580.blogspot.com.au/

And here’s another great blog with free PDF’s about soil mycology and how to build and use water wicking veggie garden beds. You can now get an idea why I never manage to get entirely through my RSS Feed Reader…I keep finding new and amazingly useful sites! 😉

http://www.wickingbed.com/

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This is one of Steve’s sponge cakes. He just tossed this one together for a friends birthday tomorrow. He will be taking orders when he recovers from the effort 😉

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I KNEW this choko had designs on taking over Serendipity Farm! This image was taken this afternoon…the image at the beginning of the post was taken about 2 hours earlier…it is growing exponentially! By Wednesday we will all be trapped inside and it will be demanding to be fed…actually…look at the end of it. it bears an uncanny resemblance to “Audrey” from The Little Shop of Horrors!

It would seem that I have fallen prey to the dreaded lurgy folks. Not bad, but definitely making me feel tender and sniffy. How lucky am I that I can settle down next to Brunhilda and fall asleep over my knitting or a book. Steve is off hunting Aurora Australis somewhere in Deviot. Apparently there are sun spots at the moment and that means a greater than average chance (60% if you care) of seeing the Aurora Australis from the Southern states of Australia. As Tassie is about as far south as Australia gets (apart from our vested interests in Antarctica…) we have a good viewpoint. Steve has plans for taking some time-lapse photography tomorrow involving the river and some yachts. This wind brings the yachters out en masse. I think I might be just about to call this post done and dusted folks. Today has been “smooth”. Not bad to be smooth when you are sick, just coasting along and nothing major…just “smooth”. Tomorrow will hopefully be just as smooth and won’t have me crusty and with a handkerchief permanently welded to my nasal area. Wish me luck and see you on Wednesday :o)

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At least if the choko manages to eat me, it will get its just deserts! 😉

Bezial kissed a cow and he liked it…

Hi All,

I’m back! I learned a couple of things from my trip to my daughters. When you live inland in a cold climate it gets cold. You can put a lead on a dog but you CAN’T make it walk. Parrots like aniseed “people” sunflower seeds and rats are a whole lot cleverer than I thought. I also learned that Vista was an operating system from hades and we are getting our Vista infested laptop exorsised as soon as we can raise the funds. Aside from gorging itself on as many Windows updates as it could (and we haven’t ever used it online so you can only BEGIN to imagine the gustatory spread that it felt the need to guzzle…sigh…) it took 20 seconds to open a new blank word document, 5 minutes to load a Pinterest board and it kept crashing and telling me that Internet Explorer was using WAY too much memory when it wasn’t. Time to get reformatted and be done with it. What I am trying to tell you is that I got bugger all done in town :o(. I hardly even dipped my toes into the massive tidal flow that is my Pinterest board problem and I didn’t even open my RSS Feed Reader (if a word document takes 20 seconds I could only IMAGINE how long it would take it to load my RSS Feed Reader!). I was forced to twiddle my thumbs and knit. Not bad because in between gnashing my teeth at the laptop refusing to do anything but update itself I managed to almost knit a pair of gauntlets out of that wool that our friend Roxy had spun herself. I haven’t knitted in years and was a bit worried that I wouldn’t remember how but I had obviously done a fair bit of it before I ceased because it came back to me like riding a bike…all natural like. I was smug in my ability to knit myself a pair of gauntlets as I even remembered how to rib! I got to the end of the first gauntlet and suddenly realised that I had NO idea how to cast off!  I am most pathetically going to have to check how to do it online…sigh…

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Earl sniffed out the culprit who was sitting and staying shtum on this clutch of prospective feral cat fodder earlier this week. He got a reward of some raw eggs to reinforce his egg hunting (well…to be honest…chook hunting) abilities. Now if we can just get him to do our studies…

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Check out this glass of my non-dairy kefir. It’s thick like kefir even though the original soymilk (organic and homemade) I made it out of was thin and watery. It is bubbly, fizzy and tastes a lot like yoghurt. I add extra date puree to the mix so that it has something to keep snarfling in the tundra of the fridge and it seems to love it. I have been freezing it to add to smoothie futures and drink it by the glassful. No idea if it is doing me any good but I now have a great probiotic live substitute for dairy yoghurt that doesn’t involve me having to choke down that insipid sweet mush that they sell as “yoghurt” in Australian shops. “Score!” 🙂

I am letting the P.C. download my massive RSS Feed Reader quotient for the weekend. All I can do is hope that all of you are outside making daisy chains and having gorgeous picnics in some green lush wooded areas to bother with such trivialities as posting blog posts and that most of the Northern hemisphere is joining you. Note that I am studiously avoiding checking the feed by pretending that I absolutely positively HAVE to make a start on this blog post for Wednesday ;). I had a lot of time to just “think” while I was house-sitting over the weekend. I didn’t bother using the remotes even though the girls gave me lessons before they headed out. I just didn’t feel like watching anything and as I go to bed so early there wasn’t much point. I took some music in with me on a memory stick and after downloading it to my daughters desktop P.C. (they don’t use it online) I looped it and played it in the background all day. I wrestled with the laptop and spent a lot of time thinking and patting and playing with the dog. It’s amazing how your mind will fill in the blanks if you allow it to :o). My rapidly (galloping) approaching 50th birthday has its sights on my thoughts and even though I might have wanted to completely forgedaboudit and deal with it in good stead, other people think it’s an important enough milestone to celebrate so celebrate narf7 will do!

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Beggars can’t be choosers when they get to 6pm on the day of their post and realise that they forgot to take lots of pictures for their dear constant readers… these are raw potatoes. They turned into some delicious cooked potatoes but Steve ate them before I was able to take a photo

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Here are some raw sausage rolls. You remember those potatoes? Same result…snarfled before I could snap.

While I was away one of our friends who live locally decided to test out his tractor and head up to Serendipity Farm and pull down that pesky tree that has been dangling in another tree precariously. So long as we don’t walk underneath it, it doesn’t appear to hold any sort of danger to us but if we manage to get it down we can cut it up for firewood. Guy turned up with his tractor and after Steve hooked a strong rope around the trunk of the semi-fallen tree Guy set forth in his tractor to pull the tree down…except…the tree had other ideas about that. The tractor lurched forwards and shot a spark plug straight into the air causing both Steve and Guy to hit the deck and the tractor to stop working. After spending the rest of the afternoon “tinkering” (as men do when they really don’t know what they are looking at but feel the need to at least look like they do) they had to admit defeat. We now have a large tractor as garden art up next to our defoliated liquidambar tree. Earl has claimed it by urinating on it at least twice and Bezial has detected possum activity in the immediate vicinity. Hopefully it gets sorted out soon and doesn’t become a permanent fixture on Serendipity Farm but at least it is in an unobtrusive place for now. We are assured that when the sparkplug gets mended it will go like gangbusters but for now it is showing its age and having a nap under a blanket.

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I probably should have warned the more sensitive of you (you are still reading this blog?) that I was going to show you a photo of one of the fork/hooks that Steve added to this sliver of Tasmanian Blackwood. Please be reassured that Steve hasn’t felt the need to revisit his punk past and he would like it to be known by all and sundry that this is NOT a rude fork…it is a “Peace fork”.

As a person who doesn’t naturally gravitate towards food early in the morning I have been struggling with “breakfast” as a concept. I know that it is important to eat breakfast. I know that it starts your metabolism and your day off right. I know that BUT that doesn’t make it any easier for me to eat it. I started off with the grainy porridge types of cereals but they made me feel lethargic and heavy for most of the day till they wore off. I dare say they were sustaining me but I would rather be springy and active than in need of a nap at 10am. My daughters gave me a really good idea when they shared some “Juk” with me when I stayed with them recently. Juk is the Korean version of Congee, a thin gruel made from rice. Ostensibly it’s eaten for breakfast and by the elderly and the sick and tends to be seen as comfort food. I see it as the perfect thing to eat for breakfast, especially the pumpkin variety. I have my eyes on a variety that involves black sesame seed but for now am happy with the pumpkin kind. I throw in black beans to fortify the mix and although it might be somewhat unconventional, it’s filling, tasty and it hits the spot and allows me to keep going through my day without feeling like I am weighed down. Now I just need to work out how to throw lunch into the mix and I am set!

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Yeah…I know…”YUM!” ;). Seriously though, this is delicious. I forgot to put the rice in and just ended up with pumpkin and beans cooked with date syrup and water and it was absolutely delicious.

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This is a 2 litre wine bottle. It smacks of the desperation I find myself in that I should stoop to using this image in my post. I am going to try to segue it by saying that Steve used this in his recent animation but he shelved that animation because it was too hard…(maybe I should have used the coffee cup that he eventually used?)…just know that we did, indeed, drink this entire bottle of wine and it wasn’t bad!

I may or may not be still addicted to Pinterest (spoken like a true addict). You know how people who are addicted to porn magazines tell you that they are reading them for the articles? Well I am learning a whole lot from pins that I have pinned to my boards. Just this morning I found this most interesting blog post about how to make your own recycled newspaper yarn. I love the idea of taking something that you either throw into the recycle bin or use to line a garden bed (or start the fire) and make something you can actually crochet or knit or weave with. The end results are quite beautiful…just call them a study in greyscale. Check out the tutorial here…

http://greenupgrader.com/2138/handspun-recycled-newspaper-yarn/

I don’t think I will be making an all-weather hat any day soon but there are some very interesting practical indoor uses for something made from recycled newspaper yarn, think baskets and bags. I found a tutorial on how to cast off! I can now finish off my first gauntlet and get going on the second one. I also managed to untangle an almighty mess of wool that my youngest daughter had stuffed into a supermarket bag and stashed in her wardrobe. She had no use for it and I asked her if I could have it. It’s that fluffy/fuzzy stuff that is a bugger to knit but I am going to practice making granny squares out of it. You can never have enough bags, shoes or granny squares girls! I really enjoyed picking up a pair of knitting needles again after a long hiatus.

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This is the wool that I inherited from my daughter…supposed to be round the other way I know…the daughter should inherit from the mum BUT she didn’t want it any more and I did so lets just call it a role reversal of fortune. I had to untangle the entire mess. You can see I managed to get 1 ball untangled before taking this image

Aside from being assured by my daughters that I was just showing my age, I am getting a great deal of satisfaction out of making something functional. I have some dark sage green wool (khaki?) that I am going to make Steve a pair of long gauntlets out of to walk the dog with. It’s cold in the mornings and that’s the best time to walk the dogs. We rug up well but fingerless gloves don’t come down far enough to keep the breeze off your wrists. I got the great idea from those lovely mitts that Sarah from thinkingcowgirl sent to me a while ago. I have been tumbling them around in my mind to see if I couldn’t customise them to make them slightly more robust. I didn’t want to wear the mitts that Sarah sent me outdoors as “dirt” lives outdoors. It lurks…it waits and it usually adheres itself to Earl whenever he races out the dog door. It is insidious stuff, dirt… no matter how much I sweep or wipe things over it comes back to do the dusty equivalent of a Mexican Wave to me every time I reveal my Italian soul and start waving my arms around all over the place. What’s a girl to do when she is surrounded by male counterparts who could care less about dirt and its nefarious ways? I have to get canny and surreptitiously pretend not to be sweeping but when you have 2 dogs that lie right in front of the broom (they have obviously made some kind of deal with the dust) it’s difficult to say the least.

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Here I was most pathetically trying to gain your sympathy with the size of the pile of wool that I needed to untangle and how matted it was…did I succeed? I didn’t think so…

Steve has been dabbling in time-lapse photography and had some fun the other day taking some long exposure images of stars. We recently became aware (thanks to one of our fellow students in our course that we have been chatting online with) that Tassie is being bathed in the gorgeousness of the Aurora Australis most nights. We live on the wrong side of the hill to see it but I am sure I saw it out of the corner of my eye when I was waiting to pick up my daughters on Sunday night. The sky was too red for a winter’s day and after checking a Facebook page that we were directed to that hosts lots of photos of the spectacular I realised that my right eye might just have seen something that the rest of me hasn’t. Steve also did a bit of light painting with his torch down in the graveyard. I can only hope that Frank and Adrian weren’t standing on their deck at the time to see him waving his torch all over the place in the graveyard and aiming at headstones. Grave robbing isn’t viewed with the same understanding these days as it once was! 😉

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Yeah…a few balls done here and only a small pile of temper tantrum wool that was too knotted to be allowed to fraternise with the rest. This wool might be a pain to knit but good luck spotting the joins…swings and roundabouts folks! 😉

When we were walking this morning we walked past a heard of young steer (male cows castrated and raised for beef) that immediately took an interest in Bezial. It might have been because he was small and black like they are, it might have been because he was on a lead but it’s more likely because every few metres he was stopping to eat grass. Both of our dogs love to eat grass and if we were to allow them cart blanch in the mornings we would be out for hours while they munched their way through most of the road verge in Sidmouth. We aren’t that patient and Steve was in the process of dragging Bezial away from a particularly green and lush patch of grass when they were both approached by a most determined young steer on the other side of the fence. He put his head down and stared at Bezial who completely ignored him. Earl jumped up in the air, did a mid-air pirouette and had to be taken to the other side of the road in disgrace (the story of Earls life) but the steer kept staring at Bezial and so Steve decided to allow Bezial to meet the steer. I just need to point out here that where Earl is completely untrustworthy when it comes to any form of animal aside from human beings, Bezial is the most trustworthy hound on earth. He accompanies me to the hen house in the mornings and watches excitedly as I feed them. He follows Pingu and sniffs her nether regions with glee because she is “his”. They bonded when she lived in Steve’s music room as a small chick who had only just escaped death and she is the only chook who isn’t afraid of him. He walks through the throng of feral cats and completely ignores them. The only time he chases a chook is when I urge him to run over and stop one of the feral roosters having his wicked way with one of Yins girls and Bezial obliges by pelting over and scaring it off while the hen ruffles her feathers indignantly.

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My natural desire to organise things has been outed :(. After untangling the balls from each other I lined them up before untangling the balls from themselves. Talk about double handling! 😉

Bezial can be trusted…Earl can’t. To anyone who has watched the U.K. television program “Black Books” it is the same situation as when Bernard and Manny were left in control of Bernard’s friends wine cellar and drank the very expensive bottle of wine that he was going to give to the Pope. You don’t make the mistake of forgetting which dog you allow out the gate without a collar and lead on… you only make that mistake once. The steer seemed to really want to get close to check Bezial out and by this time, Bezial was interested in the big black fuzzy thing directly in front of him. They both had a really good sniff of each other and then the steer licked Bezial’s muzzle and Bezial licked the steer back. I wish we had a camera because it was a really excellent photo…”American Staffordshire Terrier kisses cow” He might never live it down. He has been telling Earl that he was just tenderising it but Earl doesn’t believe him for a moment! We all know that Bezial is a cow lover now 😉

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Woo-hoo! I did it!!! 🙂 Now I have some fluffy/fuzzy wool to use for “something” in the future. By the way Bethany “no you CAN’T have it back now!” 😉

I have a nice mug of mint and ginger tea sitting in front of me. I have a huge pot of homemade Soup Dragon (Steve) made soup on Brunhilda bubbling away and tonight it contains lots of barley. I have the beginnings of a cold slithering around in my bones and 2 enormous bags of oranges that are my way of hedging my bets. Steve and I have been beavering away at our studies and have managed to create 2 passable animations that hopefully have our lecturer patting us on the head and saying “good students” and tomorrow we animate windmills…well…we “attempt” to animate windmills. If you live anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere you are most probably going to be able to hear us yelling tomorrow. Just ignore us; we stop after a while, like the roosters ;). Have a great rest of your week folks. Here in Tassie it’s finally raining! Now that it is, it’s grey and wet and muddy and I suddenly remember why people get S.A.D. in winter. Enjoy your sunshine you Northerners and cheers for finally sending the rain our way :o)

Where there’s muck, there’s brass

Hi All,

Have you ever listened to roosters till the novelty wears off? I do it on a daily basis. I have come to the conclusion that roosters are just like bagpipes. The similarities are actually quite startling. They are both bags that when inflated and squeezed (the pipes are man squeezed, the roosters are self-motivated…) they make a noise. The “noise” that emits from them could, initially, by some romantic person living 3 blocks away, be seen as entertaining for approximately 5 minutes before the novelty wears off and the repeated inhales and exhales punctuated by a raucous droning sound become unbearable. I have the dubious luxury of being situated directly above where our 2 feral roosters roost at night. We know that they roost there because aside from the loud inhales and exhales that can start anywhere from 1am onwards, we have discovered a large pile of nitrogenous fertiliser on a tall pile of firewood under the deck that coincides with the rough approximation about 2 metres above said pile of fertiliser that narf7 sits above as she taps away here to her dear constant readers…that would be you!

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Here we have the two feral roosters that I talk about in this post. I have officially named them “Ralph” and “Hewie”. Their female counterpart who tends to hide a lot has been named “Elvira”. That interesting metal thing to the left of Ralph (the dark rooster with the rose comb) is my prospective still/rocket stove. I have yet to work out how to make it but for now, prospective is good enough for me!

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This is not a rooster. It is a duck. You would think that a duck wouldn’t have the bagpipe lungs of a rooster but you would be wrong. A duck can use her lungs to great advantage when she wants to and this one wants to every 10 minutes.

Roosters are windbags. They are solely there to make a lot of noise and to repopulate the earth with mindless hens. The hens are mindless BUT they have enough primal cunning built in to allow them to hunker down and stay shtum once they spot more than 3 eggs in a nest…they remain hunkered for 3 weeks when they emerge triumphant leading a bewildered and bedraggled selection of fluff balls out of hiding and straight into the jaws of the starving feral cats…roosters are SUPPOSED to be protectors of the flock. In our experience, they are the first to run and hide up a tree and crow from a nice safe distance once they have covered their own furry derrières. If a mindless hen spots ANYTHING out of the ordinary…say a human standing in an area that they weren’t standing in 10 minutes ago…they will send out an alarm cluck…this cluck will be passed on with exponentially increasing degrees of alarm and clucking, much like the ubiquitous Chinese Whispers game, until all roosters are crowing maniacally, all hens are clucking in unison and the alarmee is supposed to flee in mortal terror at the sheer amount of noise going on.

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If you look carefully you will see the quack-bag herself hiding behind this snapdragon that self seeds every year from goodness only knows where.

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Myrtus communis…a Mediterranean fruit that tastes somewhat foul on it’s own but that enterprising Greeks have managed to turn into some form of potent (lethal) alcohol that they imbibe on a regular basis…you have to love the Greeks…they certainly know how to take a difficult situation and make it rock!

I read a lot of blogs folks…a LOT of blogs. Some of them deal with life on farms and smallholdings and no matter how many times you read about the keeping of hens, and what a pain in the derrière they can actually be, there is a propensity for “regular folk” (that’s you lot, living in cities and big towns) to wear rose coloured glasses whenever you think about fluffy bottomed chooks clucking quietly and pecking delicately around your back yards in a romantic countrified way. The reality is that chooks are the equivalent of Somalian pirates. They rob from the rich (supposedly “us”) and they give to themselves. They navigate Serendipity Farm with stealth and cunning that leaves us alarmed, bewildered and afraid for our lives. We managed to coral them into an enclosure for 5 months and the resulting garden happiness was directly correlated to a decided lack of the ovarian orbs that make keeping chooks worth it. We might not have had chicks popping out from all over the place but we also didn’t have any eggs. What’s a smart person to do? Give in to the pirates that’s what!

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One of the “things” that have been keeping us busy on Serendipity Farm. Our crazy hippy friend down the road wants us to drink rainwater…we don’t have a say in it apparently, we HAVE to be drinking rainwater so he has given us a permanent loan of this 600 litre rainwater tank…I wonder if he will let us paint it blue to match the gas hot water heater (that is full of spiders as it gets turned off for most of the year while Brunhilda is pumping out her delicious heat…)

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Another one of the things that has been keeping us busy for the last few days. Steve headed out bush to get a load of wood with a mate on Sunday and this is the resulting haul. He will be heading out again for more wood sometime soon so thanks to his wonderful mum Kaye, whose property they are plundering for firewood, narf7 and Stevie-boy should make it through winter without turning into human popsicles

We are already finding nests in far flung well hidden places. I can only image how this is going to end and I have a VERY good imagination. When we bought our initial 8 chooks from an unscrupulous (read desperate) woman at a local market she insisted that they were all hens. I now know that this poor woman was desperate to offload at least one of her windbag roosters to some poor newbies with rose coloured glasses and visions of gorgeous fluffies assisting them with their permaculture ideals. I have since discovered that this poor woman’s flock have gone over to the dark side. No longer working FOR her, they have taken over her entire property and are festering malcontent all over the place. She has no control over them anymore. They live out of the lovely high-rise coop that her husband made for her back when she was a wide eyed newbie (not all that long before I myself came into the picture…) and they live in the trees and on the surrounding neighbour’s properties. There are so many roosters that have gone feral that there is no chance of stopping this maniacal hen invasion and the only option is to plead insanity…Allison…I no longer hold you responsible for your actions when you slipped Big Yin into my initial 8. I would do exactly the same thing. Desperation breeds craziness…a yard full of chook poo, no eggs, 40 000 chicks and 20 feral roosters all crowing directly under your window at 2am is going to render you somewhat crazy no matter how stoic and resilient you are. And still my dear constant readers will smile knowingly and will muse internally about the delights of keeping chooks. That’s how they get you folks…be afraid…be VERY afraid…

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I have been given permission to share a few of Steve’s more creative endeavours with you…

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I like to call this one “Serendipity Farm as a Christmas Bauble”…

I have been invited up to a neighbours for “morning tea”. I am a hermit. I have forgotten the niceties of social graces. I eat cake with my hands and tea from the ceramic equivalent of a bucket. I don’t have to worry about slurping or where my pinkie finger ends up or how to make small talk because Steve could care less about any of it. We talk about what our lecturer is going to do when he sees some of our “creative” photography and how we are going to be able to amend our creativity once he does. We talk about rain, and we talk about digging holes and how to deal with feral cats. I have NO idea how to talk to real people. These people, an older couple from Western Australia, my home state, are very nice. They live in a lovely old homestead with a gorgeous cottage garden in a completely walled property with gorgeous deciduous trees and three lovely miniature schnauzers. The only thing that we have in common with them is a love of gardens and a propensity to visit the husband’s place of work, he manages a bottle shop.

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I bought this ice-cream maker years ago from a market stall at the Evandale Markets. I paid $10 for it and have hardly ever used it. I would like to draw your attention TO the delicious chocolate ice-cream that is being churned in the ice-cream maker and AWAY from the dribbled chocolate creamy custard that narf7 dribbled onto the ice-cream maker and that Steve wouldn’t let me clear off before the shot was taken because I might melt the ice in the machine…sigh…

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Aside from the chocolate deliciousness in the ice-cream we chopped up some Cadbury’s dream finger biscuits and an entire crunchy bar to add. Steve is hovering around the freezer just waiting till he has eaten tonight’s Cornish pasty and spicy homemade oven wedges till he can serve himself a HUGE bowl of it. There are a lot of benefits to having a vegan wife…consider this as being one of them ;).

By the way, if anyone would like to try the truly innovative recipe for homemade chocolate ice-cream that doesn’t require eggs and is loosely based on David Lebowitz’s recipe, you can go to my food porn heaven site at Food 52 and find it here… http://food52.com/recipes/5872-naked-chocolate-ice-cream-for-lovers

Being “me” I have tried to think about the angles of this “visit”. Steve has been let off the hook (the lucky bollocks) because someone has to stay here because today is the day when the electricity metre reading man turns up and we had to promise to be here and contain our dogs because he took one look at them 5 months ago and refused to read the meter even though they were completely enclosed at least 10 metres away from where he would be reading said metre. We now have the honour of being able to read our own metre 3 times in a row and only having to lock up our dogs once every 4 months for a day till the metre reader has been. Today IS that day so Steve is off the hook. I, however, am not. A social butterfly I am not. A bewildered narf7 I am! I made a cake. I made it last night out of whatever I could cobble together that I figured would taste good and that I could eat a thin sliver of. I made it vegan and I made it chocolate and I made it with tofu and I used this recipe…

http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/cakes/r/veganchoccake.htm

I then decided to top it with a couple of jars of homemade coconut oil (that I almost blew my food processor motor out on trying to make), some date puree and some cinnamon to replicate a caramel topping. I ended up with something more akin to a caramel marzipan but it tasted delicious so I went with it. I formed it into a round on top of the cake and patted it neatly into a disc that fit the top of the cake nicely. I used a bit of Christi’s Farmlet jam, the BEST JAM IN THE WORLD to put in the centre of the cake and the end result looked both presentable and tasty, who could ask for more?

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Today is Bezial’s day on the blog. He is tired of Earl getting the centre stage and told me in NO uncertain terms that it will be a dog day afternoon if I don’t do something to redress the imbalance so here is a profile picture of Bezial (showing his good side apparently…)

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He will magnanimously allow this shot of Earl and would like to point out that battle scar that he, personally, inflicted on Earl making him the superior beast on the block. He doesn’t want me to tell you that this wound was inflicted while they were both rolling around playing on the floor…that would NEVER do 😉

I will hold this cake aloft like Excalibur along with a bottle of my non-dairy milk. I would hate for anyone to feel put out by my personal choice to exclude animal products from my diet. I hate a fuss being made and as I am already at a social disadvantage, I don’t want to add “crazy health nut lady” to my exponentially growing list of “crazies”. Steve and I keep to ourselves. We have, on occasion, visited with Glad next door. Glad is lovely. She is 90 years old, tough as old nails, calls a spade a spade and is ANYTHING but “old”. She also could care less what we wear and seems to like us. Frank and Adrian, our long suffering neighbours to the left seem to have gotten used to living next door to ferals. Feral cats, feral roosters, feral chooks and feral neighbours…they sigh but seem resigned to their fate. We never see Noel, our ex pilot neighbour who lives behind Frank and we don’t talk about our neighbours directly to the rear but needless to say, if “feudin’” were to be part of life on Serendipity Farm, we would pick these neighbours to start with…

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Here you see yet ANOTHER reason why we have been busier than beavers around here on Serendipity Farm. We saw a note stuck in our gate latch the other day saying “ring this number to get some more horse manure”…we phoned and were told that we could have a mountain of aged horse manure from a gentleman’s property because the person who was supposed to be taking it, didn’t so it was now free for the taking…we took! Here you can see 3 trailer loads. We ended up with 6 so even after our feathered buccaneers did their best to level the heap you can imagine the size of the mountain of manure that we can use in our new fully enclosed veggie garden 🙂

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Bezial laying next to a pile of spent hay that the chooks have done their best to redistribute all over Sidmouth. I am thinking of hiring them out as earth  movers…sigh…

The people that I will be visiting today (Tuesday) live directly opposite the neighbours directly to the rear of us. I will be heading up through the back of our property, cake aloft, plastic beer bottle full of non-dairy milk aloft and will gingerly attempt to step over the barbed wire fence between our properties where there is a council enforced “no-man’s-land” that was once mooted to be a road before they realised that lesser Sidmouth was NEVER going to be a teaming metropolis and shelved the plans to fester, along with neighbourly coveting of this area of non-road. We could care less about this small stretch of prospective road but Frank has already claimed his bit. He let us know in NO uncertain terms that should his bit of ex-road become available, he had kept it cleared for the past 10 years and had first dibs. Fair do’s Frank, you have earned it!

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Steve insisted that I put this photo of me actually doing some work on the blog. Here I am…narf7…willing and able to be the stunt double of the lead singer of Aphex Twin 😉

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Someone MUCH more handsome to look at. Isn’t he lovely? He actually smiled in town the other day and Steve got this lovely shot of him where Bezial has an uncanny knack of being able to avoid being photographed 🙂

I am not so sure that I would be as accommodating with the ex-road at the rear of our property…our neighbours to the rear are the same folk that duped our house sitter into cutting down trees on our back block so that they could attempt to gain more of a view to sell their house for more. No-one is willing to pay the ridiculous amount of money that they are asking for their modest home and so they are resorting to telling fibs to try to increase their chances of a sale. These self-same people sold my dad a dud of a car that he then gifted to my eldest daughter for her 21st birthday. He paid enough for it to have bought a sensible small modern car but a massive great automatic Mercedes Benz from the 70’s is NOT an ideal first car for a girl to learn in. When it stopped doing what cars are supposed to do…”Go”…she managed to sell it for $200 and is well shot of it. She catches buses along with her sister and living 4km from the city centre is an added bonus. No need of a petrol guzzling, road tax requiring car when you practically live in the middle of Launceston. It’s this ex-road that I will be navigating to get to my morning tea date today. Wish me luck folks and hopefully our neighbours to the rear don’t choose today, when my hands are both full, to decide to take a pot-shot of your own dear narf7!

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Here is Steve wearing his Canadian Club hat that keeps his ears warm…

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And here is Steve “Acting the Giddy Goat” as my nana would say. I doubt that he thinks I am going to put this picture in today’s blog post…but you know what Steve? You would be wrong! HA!!! He just told me he doesn’t care because this Canadian hat has been superseded by his new Russian hat that you will have to wait till my next post to see…

Bollocks…a week has passed since this post and I am tossing up whether or not to hurl it into the ether but I only have a day till I need to post again and narf7 needs something under her belt (aside from a stiff vodka) to get her through the day. It’s all things go here on Serendipity Farm. On Sunday Steve was fast asleep in bed and I was pootling around buttering bread to throw to feral chooks (it’s a tough life here on Serendipity Farm…) when the phone rang. I picked it up in shocked confusion hoping that my daughters hadn’t managed to get the dog stuck in the blender…again…and was pleasantly surprised to hear the dulcet tones of our friend who lives down the road asking for Steve. I carried the phone reverently in to Steve who was now awake and a detour for his day was on the cards. Our friend Guy was off to collect wood on his mum’s farm and had invited Steve to go with him “someday”. Apparently Sunday was “someday” and Steve was up for it. He jumped out of bed (another Jamie Oliver “literally” moment…) and hooked up the trailer and was off in a space of 15 minutes (had to have a coffee as well). That left the boys and I twiddling our thumbs and doing sweet nothing which gave me the time to eradicate my RSS Feed Reader and actually do something else on my Sunday

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Here’s a blended photo of Earl and Bezial. We had 2 photos. One where Bezial looked good and one where Earl looked good but the other dog (in each shot) was looking away so Steve used a Photoshop blending tool to blend the images. This is his first attempt but if you look closely at Earls little pink nose, you will notice it looks a little bit strange…

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With a bit of blending and a bit of cropping Steve turned less than great images into 1 wonderful image…Photoshop is the bomb! 🙂

I chose to take some gorgeous brightly coloured knitted sock boots that my wonderful son had bought for me previously. I had removed the red fleece insert prior to Earl nibbling 2 holes in each one and they had been languishing in the cupboard as I was loath to hurl them out. It’s lucky I didn’t hurl them out, even though they have the equivalent of a small airplane of a moth bite in each one, I can unpick them and use them for my next knitting project. My last knitting project, if I can remember back that far, was when I lived in Western Australia and attempted to make my ex-husband a jumper. It got as far as the front and back portion and the 2 sleeves and when it came time to put needle to collar and cuffs that was all she wrote folks! I have been married to Steve for 13 years this year so you can work out for yourselves how long it has been since I knit anything. I am going to take this gloriously and most raucously dyed (supposedly) Tibetan wool (it is certainly rustic enough in texture to be nomadic…) and after wrangling it out of its booty shape, which takes HOURS and is punctuated with moments of arm waving and Earl restraining as he is reminded of just how tasty nomadic Tibetan woollen boots are, rolling it up into ball shape and then actually knitting gauntlets using a pattern that I found through Ravelry, a most wonderful and magical place where furtive knitters and crocheters can go to satisfy their textile lust in packs. You can get some amazing patterns for free if you hunt and cheers to Linnie for sharing it with me…

http://www.ravelry.com/

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Here is a random stolen image from my brothers Facebook page of the beach where I come from in Western Australia. Check it out folks…it’s paradise :). It took a fair bit for us to consider leaving this wonderful part of the world and relocating down to the hole in the ozone layer but the lure of 4 acres of self sufficiency was strong young padawans and here we are…but I do miss those beaches…and Steve misses the fishing…by the way sorry for pinching your image Jim (no I’m not…you never read my blog posts anyway! HA!) 😉

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I designed this shirt. I WANT this shirt. Steve Photoshopped it for me and I am going to just have to head in to a printers somewhere and get myself this shirt.

On Monday I got addicted to Pinterest. That’s all I really need to say about that. On Sunday I looked down at anyone who used Pinterest as “sad” and “pathetic” creatures who didn’t have a life. On Monday Steve left me alone to go shopping and by 11am I was hopelessly addicted with the fervour of a heroin addict on a crack high.  I have been a Pinterest “member” since foreverty-boo and just ignored it ever since. I like the fact that I had to go through a waiting period to be admitted (and they say that clever marketing doesn’t work!) which shows that I fit exactly smack bang into the middle of their ideal demographic and niche market… the person (usually female) who has NO control over her life but who has a tragic desire to put EVERYTHING in labelled boxes and create order in her chaotic (read “real”) life. It’s food porn folks, food, and health, and travel, and photographic and just about everything else “ic” that you can think of and I am now officially addicted beyond hope thanks to Steve going shopping and my RSS Feed Reader emptying out nice and early in the day. I spent an entire morning cramming my Pinterest fluffy cloud with as many foodie things as I could find and I can find a HUGE amount folks, that’s what narf7’s are for…finding things. Steve returned with a carload of stuff and I had 154 Pinterest pages open on my poor groaning browser and couldn’t do ANYTHING till I had clicked “follow” on every single one. I learned (quick smart) how to make other pages on my page and now have so much food porn I won’t ever have to cook anything myself ever again to be able to satisfy that “perfect shot”. Don’t you love the fantasy of the interweb? 😉

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Steve and I FINALLY finished our media studies for this term. We finished nice and early to give ourselves 3 weeks off to get our veggie garden built. We needed to produce a slideshow of 11 photographs that we took ourselves that mirrored the 11 rules of photography for our final assessment. The only real stipulation was that we had to link them with the common theme of a colour. Steve chose green and this photo is a portrait shot…

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This was my submission…I chose blue…I didn’t get away with it. I had to repost another image that was less photogenic where Earl and I were both looking most intently over the deck rail but a girl has her pride you know and I liked THIS shot! It might not give a very good representation of portrait but who cares…for once I am happy to post an image of myself to the blog so here it is…happy days! 🙂

So there you have it…another big mutha post and I haven’t even caught up with what we are doing! I guess that means I have plenty for Saturdays post already so I might just start it off so that when I am laying somewhat comatose at 3pm because of all of the hard work that I have undertaken for the last week and am unable to lift my feeble fingers to keyboard to share it all with you, I will at least have something to offer you, my dear constant readers. See you then and whatever you do…DON’T go to http://pinterest.com/ …don’t say I didn’t warn you folks! 😉

A rooster is just a set of bagpipes with feathers

Hi All,

I just finished my last Saturday’s post where I waffled about sushi and gloves. I must be getting officially “old”…if you read the post; you are obviously getting officially old as well ;). Misery LOVES company…would you like a rooster? I have 2 that love to crow under the deck at crazy hours. The sun isn’t going to be anywhere NEAR up till about 7am today and they are already crowing great guns under the deck at a place that approximates the direct area underneath my feet as I sit here typing at 4.21am. I just finished telling you about Sarah’s amazing gift of a wonderful pair of hand knitted wrist warming finger and thumbless mitts and I am wearing the mitts as I type. They are akin to when your teenager insists on you buying them a specific jumper/jacket and then proceed to cut a hole in said (very expensive) jumper/jacket about 2 ½ inches (or 5cm for we enlightened folk) from the cuff just so they can stick their thumb through it and wear their jumper/jacket as a glove as well as a coat. I love them FAR beyond their physical presence because these gloves are giving me the impetus to get knitting again where there wasn’t even an inkling of a desire to knit prior to their arrival

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You can almost hear the roosters crowing in the background can’t you? 😉

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Early morning on Serendipity Farm with the obvious chance of precipitation 😉

Earl needs a coat. Earl is an amazing creation of muscle and scars and bones that all combine to create something that nature surely couldn’t produce without worrying about the result as soon as she stood back to take a look at her creation. Earl also has a curious lack of hair. He comes from South Australia and to anyone who isn’t an Aussie that means he comes from the equivalent of the Gobi Desert. It’s hot there folks…hot for an extended period of the year…hot and dry and perhaps dogs are starting to go through a form of natural selection that allows them to live their lives with less hair to keep them cooler. The problem is when you move a South Australian dog that has little hair and lots of body mass down to the Australian equivalent of the South Pole and winter hits… Earl loves to walk. He would walk all day if you let him. The problem is that Earl not only has very little hair, but the hair that he does have sheds. He must grow hair like sharks grow teeth, constantly, because I spend my days sweeping our wooden floors and rugs and get the equivalent of a small red and white mammal worth of hair from these rugs courtesy of Earl each day.

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Steve tapping in one of the poles for the fully enclosed vegetable garden

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This shot shows you the area that we are currently working in to build our fully enclosed vegetable garden. You can see the wood shed and the glass house and the existing vegetable gardens in the shot along with lots and LOTS of rocks and the trees that we had to cut down to ensure the garden gets enough sunshine

We can’t not walk Earl…we do so at our peril because when Earl gets bored, he eats the furniture. We have been warned! Knowing almost everyone in your neighbourhood has its perils as well. When you walk daily you become part of other people’s routines. Through the week we walk at roughly the same time every day. We pass the same people on their same journeys to work and school and these people have claimed us as part of their routine…they wave at us now. We have NO idea who these people are, but we are kindred spirits on that early morning journey to and from life. We are peripherals to other people’s routines and lives and as such they think that they own us. We get stopped a lot and called to from balconies and we chat and Earl sits shivering beside us looking up at us imploring us to “MOVE!”. Earl needs a coat. I was tempted to take my newfound desire to knit and render it Earl shaped…I could use up all of my leftover bits and pieces of wool and make Earl his own coat of many colours…Earl would like that. It would last for the first couple of kilometres until Earl found a bit to chew and by the end of the walk, Earl would have unravelled most of it and there would be a long trail of evidence leading from wherever we just walked all the way to our front gate! ”Busted sunshine!”…sigh…

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We are (in our minds) cleverly going to use these 2 eucalyptus trees as a basis for our gating system for our large fully enclosed garden. Here you can see Steve working on another pole and can get a bit of scale regarding the area

I won’t be knitting Earl a jumper any day soon. I am not (despite what I might seem) a stupid woman. We will pay some middle man (most probably from Korea where dogs are prized for more than their ability to guard a house 😉 ) to deliver a waterproof, cotton lined equivalent of a flak jacket made from sensible oilcloth that will lend Earl a sophisticated “Gentleman about town” look. Bezial won’t be needing a coat “thank you VERY much”. He has thick black fur that covers him entirely, courtesy of that small portion of him that shrieks “LABRADOR”. He might look like an American Staffordshire terrier…he might act like an American Staffordshire terrier, but that tiny little bit of Labrador is reflected in his fur, his appetite and his overwhelming desire to seek out water and delight in its comeliness at all times. Forget the coat; Bezial is on Labrador time…

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All of the poles had been hammered into the ground here and this shot is to try to give you a bit of perspective on where the garden is going to go. The existing veggie gardens take up approximately one quarter of the area that the large new garden will give us and are situated inside the parameters of the new garden area

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One of Steve’s newly concreted in poles. The branches from the felled trees are going to become a hugelkultur base for the new garden beds and the wood will be stored for next years firewood…nothing gets wasted on Serendipity Farm if we can possibly help it.

We got 3 days of rain last week and we are making hay while the sun shines and for once, Mr Jamie Oliver’s overuse of and entirely inappropriate use of the vernacular “literally” is quite honestly a reasonable word to use for our current situation. I started attempting to add porridge oats back into my morning routine now that I have hit my magic “ideal weight” but have discovered that oats give me a headache. I was wondering why I kept getting headaches. I stopped getting them when I reintroduced my morning green smoothies and they started again when I reintroduced porridge. It was the ONLY explanation and as an oat and porridge lover from way back I feel cheated. What could I eat that could take the place of the ubiquitous stomach filling long lasting humble (cheap) oat? I had to take to the internet to find out. I arrived at a few of the more exotic grains that I really didn’t want to imbibe on a regular basis (read expensive…) and bypassed them quickly. What I arrived at can be grown here on Serendipity Farm as a cover crop and loves our temperate climate… “Buckwheat”…the humble soul food of pancake creations made its über healthy self both obvious and noticeable.

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Spot the little wren with an insect she found in the hole that Steve dug

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I stood back to try to get you an idea of the scope of this garden but at the end of the day its just HUGE… 🙂 About the size of a standard tennis court.

Buckwheat? Who eats buckwheat! I don’t really know who eats is apart from the Russians and Canadians but now narf7 eats it as well. I decided to try making it like porridge. I got some raw groats (that’s what they are called folks) that I had in a container in our middle room pantry shelf and I ground them into buckwheat flour in my Vitamix. I then added a teaspoon of dried ginger because ginger makes EVERYTHING better for narf7. I added a couple of generous scoops of cocoa powder because choc-ginger makes a suspicious food a whole lot more tempting and hopefully the combination of flavours might just cover up any strange flavours that buckwheat might offer into the mix. I then tipped this floury brown mix into a saucepan and used some date syrup (the mix that results from the leftover date paste in the bottom of my Vitamix that I am
too lazy to scrape out and just whizz up with the date soaking water to make a thinner sweet syrupy date mix) to sweeten the mix. Date paste and syrup are nowhere near as sweet as sugar but add a subtle hint of sweetness to whatever you add them to along with a big hit of fibre and nutrition (especially iron). I started to stir the floury mix into the syrupy mix and become somewhat alarmed at the resulting gloopy looking mix. After smoothing out the lumps it had a decided slimy sort of texture…not promising folks!

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We are still trying to work out what to do with that little ride on lawn mower behind the trunk of the tree on the left hand side of this shot…any ideas? Using it for it’s original intention isn’t an option due to the steep gradients and rock infested tundra on Serendipity Farm

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You can tell that Steve has done this before…

I suspiciously put the pan onto the hob and stirred it all together with a wooden spoon. I figured it would react like oats do and would thicken…I was right! Buckwheat might be slimy when it is in its unheated form but as soon as the temperature reaches the equivalent of 88 miles per hour (do yourselves a favour if you don’t know what I am talking about there and watch the “Back to the Future” trilogy, thank me later…) it suddenly seizes and turns into cement. My absent minded stirring suddenly turned into a wrestling match between the buckwheat and I for possession of the spoon and I am ashamed to admit, the buckwheat won! What grain is this that can best a well-honed human bicep in an arm wrestling match and claim the spoon eh? Now I was afraid! I was just about to put this creature into my intestinal tract to see if it could tango!

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In a past life Steve used to be very proficient with concrete…a skill that has come in handy more than once since we moved to Serendipity Farm

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Left over concrete mix that we then decided to use to try to fill in some of the worst holes in our driveway (see Kym, we DO think of you 😉 )

I scraped the resulting “porridge” (for want of a better word), still containing my wooden spoon, into a bowl. It sat there stiffly with the spoon poking out of it at a jaunty angle and I eyeballed it closely. It seemed innocuous enough, and after pulling my spoon out of its thick mass with a primordial “schlepp” I considered how I was going to tackle this mound of buckwheat, ginger and cocoa. I decided to eat it plain, without non-dairy milk or kefir so that I could get a true representation of its “flavour”. Flavour isn’t an issue with me by the way folks, I sometimes eat strange things simply because they are good for me as a vegan and I was prepared for “strange” and willing to wear it for the sake of something that would stick to my ribs and last for half a day. I stuck a dessert spoon into the mound and got the distinct impression of when an arrow goes into a dartboard and just “stops”. I had just been warned…

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We got these metal poles for free so Steve cleverly made a stanchion with some offcuts to brace this corner pole and make it a whole lot stronger. We want this fully enclosed vegetable garden to last!

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Earl on patrol

I forced my way into the mass of buckwheat and started to eat. Buckwheat has a nice mild nutty flavour that is quite pleasant and after researching it prior to eating it I know it is cram packed with gluten free nutrition. I ate spoon after spoon of this dense creation with increasing enjoyment when suddenly I hit the equivalent of a runners “wall” or a career forgers “glass ceiling”…half a bowl in and buckwheat made itself known to my stomach in no uncertain terms. It told my stomach “you are now full…do NOT eat any more buckwheat…proceed to go/work and do not collect $200 because you are not going to need it, you are officially FULL WOMAN”. I don’t “fill” easily. I find it difficult to believe that half a bowl of buckwheat was going to fill me up. I foolishly carried on to finish the bowl… the equivalent bowl of porridge oats would have satiated me nicely until lunch time. This bowl of buckwheat spent the rest of the day reminding me that I should have stopped at half the bowl and that buckwheat porridge is the equivalent of eating house bricks in powdered form. I only regained “hunger” at 6pm that evening! I have learned my lesson…I will eat buckwheat porridge on a regular basis but half the amount I ate the other day. “You have bested me again buckwheat! You are a true master of seeds; I bow and concede to your superiority”

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The two grey areas on our driveway were, prior to this photo, very large holes. We are attempting to try to fix the deep furrows on our driveway so that Kym can actually drive up in August, rather than park at the church and walk 😉

Every Saturday, without fail, I inflict Armageddon on the localised population of spiders that live indoors on Serendipity Farm. I guess “Armageddon” might be too stiff a word for it and a more appropriate explanation might be the end results of a very strong storm when it relocates houses and flotsam and jetsam from where they were located before, to a new location. In my case I vacuum and clean on a Saturday. I am particularly careful not to vacuum up spiders. I don’t like killing things because you just never know…reincarnation might just be part of our life cycle and I might have just hoovered up someone’s uncle Ernie. If you were a bit of a deadbeat in your past life you might end up in Serendipity Farms spider population…you weren’t bad, just a lazy person who didn’t pull their weight and who just wasted their life bumming around but because you didn’t actually affect anyone aside from yourself and your long suffering mother (especially if she was Jewish and REALLY wanted a lawyer-doctor-specialist-insert other high paying career here… for a son/daughter), you are allowed to live someplace where you are considered to be part of the ethos and given some kind of “rights”.

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These 2 seedpods have made me VERY happy. This brachychiton tree was on it’s last legs a few years ago but it seems to have recovered now and had flowers for the first time in years this year and it has produced seed pods! Steve and I can now harvest these seed pods and grow some more brachychitons that are especially hardy for our local area

Bad people get reincarnated at my sister’s house. If you cheated, you lied, you broke people’s hearts and you were generally a bit of a nasty piece of work you might find yourself waking up in an arachnid’s body in the home of an arachnophobe. My sister could care less about spiders but her partner hates them…with a passion…any spider stumbling into his pathway is likely to have a VERY short reincarnation adjustment period and will return to be reprogrammed as something equally as insidious quick smart on the flat side of an enormous flip-flop (we call them “thongs” here in Australia BUT knowing that “thongs” also have another connotation elsewhere in the world I wouldn’t want ANYONE thinking that Jason wears men’s string underpants and likes to sit on spiders…kinky stuff Jase…kinky stuff ;)…most probably as a cockroach on Serendipity Farm where narf7 will reveal that cockroaches are one of the ONLY things that she hates with a passion and you will get fed to ducky quick smart…you might want to start mending your ways as after me it gets worse!

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Isn’t our Japanese maple putting on a lovely show this year? Another sign that our trees think we are living in Canada and that it is going to be VERY cold this year

Anyhoo…I vacuum and I tidy and I clean once a week in earnest. Most other days I give a few rudimentary sweeps to stop Earls rapidly shed hair from accumulating too much and forming into a small rodent that might or might not predate my stocks of seed in my pantry but on Saturday I get stuck in and put the boot into the dirt population on Serendipity Farm. I have to lock the doors as Earl hates the vacuum cleaner and tries to kill it if given the chance…only when it is actually on and only when the vacuum cleaner head is off and he can grab the hose and bite it. A specific vacuum cleaner serial killer is our Earl…I have to lure him (cleverly) from room to room and then shut doors and make sure he can’t get in. Earl is clever; he can push doors open with his paws and his nose so we have little latches everywhere so that we can vacuum in peace rather than pieces.

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Steve took this awesome motion blur shot with his new camera and without the aid of a tripod…apparently it’s VERY hard to take a shot like this without a tripod but when you forgot it, and you are 50km away from home, you do what you have to do 😉

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Steve took this lovely autumnal shot when we were in Beauty Point taking some photos for our final Digital Imaging assessment earlier in the week and walking the dogs at the same time. I think it goes to show just how pretty the area that we live in actually is. Tassie…you might be broke, but you are easy on the eye! 😉

If I had the equivalent of hurricane Katrina hit me where it hurts and remove my house and my possessions I would head off to someplace where there were NO hurricanes, no cyclones, no earthquakes, no anything really…the Ozarks perchance…I would head for the hills and I wouldn’t come back because I have a rudimentary brain stem and I can learn things and “FOOL ME ONCE NATURE!”. Apparently spiders are either missing that rudimentary brain stem that allows them a degree of memory and thus choice, or they really ARE lazy buggers from another life who just wait for me to finish and start spinning again…”whew Bruce…that was a close one wasn’t it? She got pretty close to me today…I saw you standing up to her…you’re a HERO mate! Remind me to shout you a fly next time I catch one…” and the cycle goes on…suck down their empire on Saturday and by Sunday they are working on a new one

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Steve put my new craypot (from the progressive garage sale) on the deck rail. We are still waiting for crayfish…none yet…

Steve is digging holes for Queen and country. He needs to dig 8 holes today and has been dreading it for weeks. Hopefully someone up there takes pity on him and makes the soil where he chooses to dig nice and soft and rock free and he returns at lunch time in triumph with his spade over his shoulder feeling pretty good about himself. The sad truth is that he is likely to be still working on hole 4 at 5.30pm when the sun is almost gone and his back and spirit are almost broken. I, in return for him kindly not expecting me to help him dig holes, am doing all the cleaning myself. I am baking him biscuits (cookies to you Americans), I am keeping the fire going and I am going to make him his new favourite Stromboli for his dinner tonight. I have just taken a brief hiatus to type out this final paragraph here because I formulated the second half of this post while I was vacuuming around spiders…it’s a funny world isn’t it folks! Have a great rest of your week and remember, if you suddenly find yourself waking up after being unexpectedly hit by a bus and you didn’t really do very much wrong in your life but you weren’t a shining example of humanity either, you might just find yourself a spider on the wall on Serendipity Farm ;)…I guess there are worse things to be…aren’t there Jason! 😉

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The last of the liquidambar leaves just about to head south for the winter…

A confraturnity of early morning bloggers

Hi All,

What have I done! It would seem that my newfound zeal for early mornings has managed to insinuate itself on Jess (a.k.a. “Rabid”) from   http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ and now one of Jess’s blog followers the wonderful Linne http://arandomharvest.wordpress.com/  has started following the blog and suddenly here we are…a confraternity of early morning ladies gathering in spirit all over the world! Admittedly our early mornings are Linnes evenings but our ethos is woven together over the miles (kilometres in our neck of the woods but who is going to count eh? 😉 ) and this small sisterhood of communication and mutual respect has begun. Who couldn’t love someone who says that “My inner geek is a luddite!” The girl is speaking my language! Next, I got this marvellous comment when Linne had a peek at our sideline page where we admit to being middle aged hippies…

‘’Aging Hippies’??? Wonder what that makes me, then . . . nope, you are still very young; try using my New Age Ruler: 0 – 50 = Young; 51 – 100 = Middle Aged; 101 – 150 = Old; anything after that and you’re Ancient’

And this lovely lady lives in Alberta…that’s in the U.S. to all of my dear constant readers in other places in the world (all 4 of you 😉 ). Don’t forget Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ who is officially my olalla twin and so many more of you that I have come to think of as family more than dear constant readers. I have to admit that when I started this blog it most certainly wasn’t to communicate with like-minded people in far flung corners of the globe, but more a way to keep my mother who lived in my home state of Western Australia in touch with us without the need for a 7 page email every day. Mum loved the blog and it was a sort of letter from the new country to her heart and she loved Serendipity Farm with a passion. Like most things born of necessity, the blog grew like topsy and took on a life of its own. I have met amazing people through this blog, pioneers of their own minds who take hold of what life has handed them and make the most of their lot. True heroes who explore the parameters of life and tease the fabric of the extremities just to see how far their life can take them. I love you all dearly and you go a long way to making my own personal life a more meaningful and vibrant place to be. I think the blog has given me more than a means to communicate, it has given me a way to release my inner writer and despite my inner writers desire to maniacally type till the cows come home, you keep coming back to pore over my rampant words and find something that resonates with you and I thank you all for your confidence in me :o)

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Kniphofia uvaria seed stripped off a stalk on our walk this morning with the dogs and scattered near the gate just inside Serendipity Farm. It’s plants like these that are going to give us the look and feel that we want here at no cost and with minimal intervention. It’s all about getting cluey enough to work out what is going to do the best on your property/in your garden and get clever about sourcing it and planting it. Over winter this year I will be poring over my gardening tomes to find all different kinds of plants that will love living here and that will be something that we actually WANT to live here…a juggling act that will be worth the effort

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Badumna longinqua “Black house spider” whose habitat is listed as “tree trunks, logs, rock walls and buildings (in window frames, wall crevices, etc).” I would like it known that the “etc.” part of this equation also encompasses sports shoes…and my worst nightmares!

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Here she is looking decidedly groggy after her forced eviction from my shoe. Note the laces have been undone because Steve insisted that she was gone…I am an Aussie…we Aussie Sheila’s don’t “bugger off” all that easily mate…I KNEW she was still in there…apparently the females never leave the nest (unless they are forced out with a stick and the arachnid equivalent of a force 10 earthquake when their new house is being banged against the brick wall…) and remain in situ waiting for males to come along and coax them out of their homes…this one decided that my sports shoe was a LOT better than the shoe that she had been living in (rent free mind you!) right next to where my shoes were stashed… its VERY lucky I decided to take a peek inside them before I put them on!

Back to the early morning thing… I am sitting here at 4.22am thinking “I had best get back to my rss feed read”…I think I am addicted to it, to be honest. These early mornings are more to feed my information habit than for any other reason. I am a quintessential knowledge fiend who loved to acquire useful information that is pertinent to our own personal situation. I don’t know why I feel compelled to hoard this precious information but it’s like gold to me and gives me the ability to be able to choose to bypass mainstream consumerism (which is a good thing because mainstream consumerism involves large quantities of the plastic folding stuff and here on Serendipity Farm that is a rare commodity!) and find ways to do what we want to do here at minimal cost. Have you ever felt rich beyond your wildest dreams? Sometimes a recipe, or a technique or a specific way of doing something that I wasn’t aware of before that is revealed to me in an early morning blog when my mind is wide awake and I am vibrant with possibility after a good night’s sleep makes me feel like that. Its really strange the more I focus on how lucky we are, how happy I am and how many possibilities there are out there to give us what we want and change our lives, the happier I get! Its not like anything has really changed, we haven’t suddenly taken receipt of any secret formula for how to change the world around us and it certainly isn’t as if we have come into a large sum of money, it’s something more fundamental than that. It’s the ability to think, act and do for ourselves what humanity has been doing for millennia and what has delivered us to this very point here in our existence with the ability to choose to “first do no harm” to ourselves and our surrounding environment. Once you get your head around the fact that you DO, indeed, make a difference and that even your smallest efforts are like that smile that we have all heard about that can travel the earth or that small ripple on one side of a lake that causes a bow-wave on the other side, we can start to feel like our existence is worthwhile, meaningful and that there actually is “Hope”. Happiness is something that we weave ourselves…it might have a lumpy boucle look, it might be ruched by the dog pulling the wool/fabric of your existence, it might have slipped stitches and mismatched colours and be badly knit and you might have to wear it minus the collars and cuffs because life is too short to learn how to make them BUT at the end of the day you have a life jumper and it warms you when its cold and it gives you a sense of solidity that your life is actually something that you chose to take part in…your life HAS meaning and at the end of the day, that’s something precious :o)

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“Look! Lassie came home!”…wouldn’t Earl just LOVE that! This is Della a beautiful bearded collie. She is one of the boys friends from one of their regular walks and she comes up to the fence to get treats. She is well behaved, beautiful, elegant and dignified… her son “Tiny” shares NONE of those traits and spends he days racing up and down the fence barking at the top of his lungs and attempting to incite riots with Earl who studiously ignores him (making Tiny even crazier)

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Meet Tenodera australasiae or “Purple-winged Mantis” (thanks to http://www.ozanimals.com/Insect/Purple-winged-Mantis/Tenodera/australasiae.html for pictures so that I could identify him 🙂 ). This one was sitting on the edge of the ashphalt and so we picked him up and put him into the shrubs on the side of the road

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This is an Egretta novaehollandiae or “White faced Heron”, one of the local birds that cohabit our little space between the river and our property. They nest on Glad’s property next door and spend their time alternating between invading our garden for worms and insects and fishing in the river

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This is Cassytha melantha or “Coarse Dodder laurel” and I am assured by a most reputable website that the fruits are edible and harvested from the wild but we know dodder more for its ability to completely cover a tree and kill it. Any parasitic plant that kills its host is a bit mental but as you can see, dodder fruits prolifically and if the seed is actually tasty, its no wonder birds carry it for miles

That’s what early mornings deliver to me…I am a philosophy major at 4.32am ;). Let’s see how my mind, my energy levels and my desire to wax lyrical change over the course of a day shall we? It’s Friday…todays’ blog post (posted Saturday night) is going to go…today we have to upload all of the activities that Steve and I have been slaving over for the last week. This course isn’t difficult but it is work intensive and we are learning heaps about all different kinds of things and I, for one, am loving it. Steve has very kindly let me do most of the work…I know that sounds like I fell for some sort of sales pitch and Steve is sitting with his feet up and a straw in his mouth dreaming of television and a nap on the sofa BUT “I” am the luddite and “he” is the computer literate and to let me bumble around in programs where he can just zoom, is an act of love on his part. Steve is like Speedy Gonzales that little Hannah Barbera mouse who goes 110% all of the time. To slow down to my Luddite speed is tantamount to being given a huge dose of valium and told to “sit”. Not an easy task for him to say the least but to give him his credit, he has been an angel about me clicking the wrong dropdown boxes for the 27th time in a row and I am only able to detect him twitching after about 6 hours solid of sitting here next to me. I didn’t think that I would like this course but I actually love the freedom that learning about how to really use the Adobe suite is giving me. We are even talking about heading out and designing our own web pages and bollocks to WordPress but that’s in the future and like we all know…in the future there are robots!

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These are Crassostrea gigas or “Pacific or Japanese oysters”. In some places in the world they would be sought after seafood and indeed, many tourists scarf down copious quantities of them on their camping holidays but eating these babies from the Tamar River might give you more than a stomach ache. As filter feeders they collect lots of heavy metals and it simply isn’t worth eating them. This shot was to show you why we don’t let our dogs loose just over the road from Serendipity Farm…we love them too much 🙂

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One of the panorama’s that Steve took from directly in front of Serendipity Farms front gate. The lighthouse to the left is in front of Glad’s house and is an historical monument and the rest is just…”rest”…whatever the camera picks up while Steve is slowly tracking. If you want to see this photo larger just click on it and when you finish looking hit your back button to return to this post…I will wait for you here…no really… knock yourselves out! 😉

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Another misty morning and part of the payback for walking the dogs every day is that we get to see things like this, nice and early before most people are up 🙂

That’s about all I am going to do now as it’s 4.39am and Bezial just came in from his early morning back yard dog bone munching efforts and on his way past he sighed at me…he has ensconced himself on the sofa where he will “mind” me for the next few hours till Earl gets up at approximately 6.45am and prods both Bezial and I in readiness for his happiest part of the day…”THE WALK”…the reason for Earls very existence is “THE WALK” and his questing beak is stuck into any portion of both human and kennel mate in a furious effort to arrive at “THE WALK” as soon as is possible after that 6.45am wake-up call. See you later in the day to see how these synapses adapt after a few hours study… It’s now 1pm and Serendipity Farm is shimmering with heat. Steve is outside taking a few panorama shots for me with the new/old camera that my brother gave us and Bezial and Earl are panting under the table. That’s what autumn brings to us here in Australia, 32C today and no change in the immediate future…global warming has knobs on! We finished our learning activities for our course yesterday (all except having to draw 50 pumpkins and we won’t talk about that for a little bit because it makes me hyperventilate and need a paper bag…) and posted all of the links to our pseudo blogs up. Do you remember me making snide comments about the class factotum? Well Steve and I just officially moved into that spot as of this morning when we uploaded EVERYTHING that we possibly could to the study site and we can actually “feel” the rest of our class seething through the ether…too bad…we have 50 pumpkins to draw over the next few days and we don’t need any distractions getting in the way. Now all of our current workload is uploaded we are free to concentrate on those dreaded pumpkins. We are studiously avoiding them at the moment. “It’s too hot…I need some photo’s for tomorrows blog…I have to think about what we are going to cook for tea tonight…I need to lay on the ground and look at my navel…” you know the kind of procrastinations that we humans can come up with to avoid having to do what we know we are going to have to do sooner rather than later…

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Another one of Steve’s panoramas, this time showing you the state of our “lawn” in the side garden and see how some of the shrubs are actually starting to curl up? Not a good sign!

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Looking back towards the house and if you notice that the “lawn” hasn’t been mowed, keep it to yourself. “Tut-tut” me and “Pfft” me all you like but do it behind my back…I am a broken woman with all of this heat and mowing what’s left of the “grass” is a sobering reminder that rain isn’t going to be coming any day soon 😦

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This walkway leads from the driveway up to the house. You can walk this way or you can head on up the steep driveway if you are insane enough… I choose the steep driveway every time. It’s nothing to do with my sanity and everything to do with me heading straight out to water the veggie garden as soon as we get back in from walking the dogs. I water, I think, I ruminate, I pick a bunch of spinach and I head indoors to blend a green smoothie and start my day

I can’t wait for the weather to cool down. It’s not only the heat, the dryness, the cracks in the ground and the soul sapping, ongoing, stretched-outedness of summer, it’s the minimalist role that cooking takes in summer that gets to me. I want to dance the dance of the Swedish Chef from the Muppet show as I hop from one pan to the next on top of Brunhilda and all ovens have something exotic wafting from them. I want to “feel” the warmth of the fire as part of something wholesome and not something that has to be endured. You can tell the plants on Serendipity Farm that have suffered through all of the extended summers past and they are eking out what remains of the soil water at the expense of the green stuff that some would call lawn that is now brown, crispy and blowing away on a regular basis. If the soil wasn’t so hard, rock filled, sloped and comprised of clay I would simply get rid of most of the “lawn” and would make more garden beds. I saw a really great idea on Facebook…Facebook is where I get a lot of ideas. I am a bit over it for “communication purposes” but ideas flow left right and centre from the carefully selected pages that I like and today I noticed some spiral herb gardens giving lift and shape to garden beds. One was simply made of rocks (we HAVE those!) and the other was made of gabion and looked fantastic. We don’t have a lot of wire at the moment (it’s draped over EVERYTHING that we don’t want the possums and wallabies to inhale…) so gabions are out of the question but like cooking, gardening in our “autumn” is starting to make me twitch. You can almost feel the earth yearning for water. I noticed someone digging out their dam today on our morning walk with the dogs. Large scoops of duck infested slime being removed so that this year’s winter rain (if, indeed, we get winter…) will fill it anew. Steve still hasn’t returned from his photographic sojourn down to the river… (Speak of the proverbial…he’s back! 😉 ). Off for a bit to check his photos :o)

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This is a “red lily” don’t ask me to find its botanical name because I already tried that. I can tell you what it ISN’T…just not what it is. I have NO idea what it is but it cost me $2 from Big Pot Nursery and it seems to like it here so it can stay 🙂

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Orange seems to be the colour of late summer…maybe nature is trying to reflect the enduring heat of it all…
I have been pulling this plant out all over the place becase I thought it was a weed…this one escaped my attentions after hiding out in a spiraea (English May) bush and isn’t it pretty? I hereby cease my efforts to remove this “weed” from Serendipity Farm! 😉

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Some beurre bosc pears that my eldest daughter Madeline shimmied up the tree and picked for Steve when he was visiting on Monday. I may, or may not have eaten a few of these pears and I may or may not have inadvertently consumed a coddling moth larvae. I expect to have an angry lynch mob complete with pitchforks and lit torches from the vegan society banging on the door any day soon to take my membership card away…

It’s Saturday and it’s still hot :o(. I am NOT happy about the “hot” bit because hot and I make bad bedfellows. Luckily we don’t have to study today because we were such swats yesterday and handed in most of our work AND we uploaded our websites so our fellow students can REALLY think we suck. Sometimes you just have to do what you gotta do and finishing up work early is how we roll. It’s a good lesson to learn when you work from home and we learned it very early in the piece. We still have to draw those pesky pumpkins but I can feel a smattering of artistic interest being piqued by my artistically challenged brain so it might be more interesting and enjoyable than first thought. For today though, I have fed Audrey, the fridge dwelling sourdough, I syphoned off 250g of her unfed bulk to make a large sourdough carrot cake tomorrow and I have decided to have another go at making home-made soy milk. I own a soymilk machine that has been gathering dust for years now after I tried to make soymilk that would work in my daily cup of tea and failed abysmally. I know that store bought soymilk has little tricky inclusions like sunflower oil, gums, starches and sugars to give it body and flavour and mine just tasted watery and beany and not very nice in my tea. I am going to spend the day hunting to see if I can’t find a recipe to approximate store bought soymilk at home. I dare say the spiders will be upset about being evicted at short notice from the soymilk maker but fair do’s, they have had a VERY long lease! ;).  I am getting more and more interested in fermentation and feel the need to ferment myself some miso and other interesting Japanese ferments. I have found a source of koji (the ferment used) but need to source it from the U.S. It might be a very exciting experiment as miso tends to be a slow cultured ferment and I like the idea of tucking it away and waiting till it is ready, sort of like a Japanese Christmas present. There are so many ferments that indigenous cultures use every single day. We think of them as exotic, but to their daily users, they are just a means to an end in food form. I really like the idea of knowing how to make these incredibly useful and nutritious ingredients myself and in being able to source the cultures. Once you start making your own miso, you can keep using it to culture future batches. I had an amazing book about tofu that I can’t find. Steve and I just turned the house upside down and I fear I may have included it in a stack of books donated to the local thrift shop! “Zut alors!” Or more like “Dummkopf” on my behalf :o(. Oh well…I DID find a great ex libris copy of a fantastic book on how to make your own soba noodles so that salves my tofu and miso parched soul…

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I have Birdy style “Skinny love” for these eggplants. I most cleverly (I can’t be waiting for you lot to praise me up so I am just going to have to do it myself…) chose to plant these smaller Japanese style eggplants so that they wouldn’t require a longer period to ripen than our short season can give them. I did the same for our tomatoes choosing cherry tomatoes and “medium” tomatoes (that are large but shhhh! Don’t tell! 😉 ). You have to work with what you have, what will grow well in your endemic situation and you have to learn from your mistakes…consider it done! Next year I will be an older (sigh…) and wiser Narf7 🙂

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Here we have Kid Creole and his coconut. I can’t help but think of the Clash song “Rock the Casbah” when I look at my kefir pot. Kid just sent his coconuts off to convert the milk that I made from this very cute coconut. Just a quick aside…does anyone else think that the advertisment for Wrigley’s Extra Gum delivers the wrong message? I don’t see that cute food as anything bad, in fact I want to embrace that doughnut! I want to bring him home and snuggle him up into a paper bag so that I can open it and look at him whenever I need a smile. To all of you outside Australia, here’s one of the adverts if you would like to check it out…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTEhfj24PBc&feature=endscreen&NR=1

“The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odour around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one centre after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection.” – Lewis Thomas

Am I the only one that uses their sense of smell more than just a way to get those stomach juices roiling? Scents can take me all over the place…I get a slight whiff and I have strong and vivid memories related to these scents. I have a theory (might even do a thesis on it one day should I ever stray into the realms of social nutrition or psychology 101…) that we more “generously” proportioned human beings have much better senses of smell than you skinny malinkies out there. We are able to use our olfactory senses to seek out food, much like little piggies hunting out truffles. Rather than be sneered at as a lack of personal willpower, it should be seen as a survival trait, much like our bodies stubborn refusal to give up its fat stores at all costs…modern humanity scorns it, we exhibit it and it could help us live longer in a famine situation…see how I turned that negative into a positive? I would like a positive point now please…preferably a nice shiny factotum gold star ;). Well the heat is starting to melt my brain. Its autumn and its hotter than summer was. I am more than over summer and 90+F (that’s for all of you Americans who scoff at our 32C days because you didn’t see the “C” and thought we were whinging about the cold…) Indian summer that we are being forced to endure. I am going to resize some photos, soak some soybeans, decant my weird fizzy sour tasting homemade coconut milk that Kid Creole’s coconuts just made me and put Kid into some new fresh milk…I am then going to try to work out what to do with 2 litres of kefir  and do my level best to find a free online PDF of “The book of tofu”…”The book of Miso” and “The book of Tempeh”… consider it a challenge and this little black duck loves nothing more than a challenge! “To the fray Robin!” (That’s you Steve…NO I get to wear the cape! 😉 )…

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This is OFFICIALLY “Me” 🙂

The saga of the factotum and the printer

Hi All,

Steve and I have finally started our online course in web design! We headed over to check out what we had to do and ended up signing up for a new WordPress blog each (part of the course requirements) and doing the equivalent of an online introduction. Reading the other participants intro’s was a bit like waving at the other inmates from your cell when the other inmates are from a different planet to you and you hope to goodness that you never have to come out of your cell and mingle any day soon… Did anyone see “School of Rock”? I did…lots of times. I love “School of Rock” and if those of you who did watch School of Rock cast your mind back to the part where Ned Schneebly (don’t ask me to spell that correctly, it AIN’T gonna happen folks! 😉 ) first comes up against “Summer”…the class “Factotum”. We have our own Summer. She has not only done everything on the list that we are supposed to do, but she has completed the first assessment (only an hour after it was posted) that is due next Monday. We also have an anti-social member of the class whose only threat, as outlined in his S.W.A.T. was that he didn’t want to invade Russia in the winter. This person bears a distinct similarity to my daughters in his view of the world and our class in general and if I didn’t know better, I would say that one of them has decided to crash the class. After reading the credentials of the remainder of the class, my natural instinct is to run screaming but if you ignore the other class members (not too hard to do when you are studying from home) the course content is very interesting. If you play your cards right, you might get lucky and get to see some of our work 😉

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An early morning picking for my daughters in the city

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Earl bagses the eggplant…

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Steve’s tea last night…homemade sourdough bruschetta liberally slathered with garlic butter and with home grown tomatoes, some bought avocados, spring onions and chilli topping. It was DELICIOUS (apparently) and the sourdough had a gorgeous crunchy crust :). Audry is now part of our Serendipity Farm family forever 🙂 (just don’t turn orange Audrey…orange is the blue screen of death for sourdough starters! 😉 )

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Free white nectarines from Roxie and blackberries from the hedgerows on our walk with the dogs this morning. The seeds will be planted and the tomatoes were also from Roxie. The tomatoes behind the fruit are the beginning of our tomato harvest and are left over from last nights bruschetta feast

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Aren’t these blackberries in the height of ripeness (and heady sweetness) gorgeous? I froze the tray with the chopped white nectarines and these blackberries to use in my breakfast green smoothies

Jessie a.k.a. “Rabid” of http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/  sent me instructions for how to knit a dishcloth out of cotton. She made me a lovely black one from some organic cotton that she had and I had mentioned that I had some bright yellow (almost mustard to be honest) cotton that I had picked up from the Beaconsfield op-shop a while ago and thus began our discourse regarding knitting and its foibles. I must admit at this stage, I am NO knitter. I can knit a scarf…bits of a jumper (no cuffs, no collar and DEFINITELY no cable!) and generic squares and after perusing the pattern I decided to hide my knitting needles and go back into my comfort zone and crochet a dishcloth. The progress is slow because I have to work between the hours where Earl is active (approximately 7am to 6pm) and nightfall (at the moment about 9pm). Earl is unpredictable and can suddenly launch into action when an interesting mustard yellow ball rolls past his nose where it just dislodged itself from my knee and aside from being unpredictable, he is quick. He is a master of the grab and run attack because if you grab and “stay” whatever interesting thing you have appropriated tends to get taken off you so running is your best bet. At least you get to chew whatever it is a bit before your humans (arms waving and yelling) catch you and retrieve said item. I have crocheted half of a dishcloth and Earl has been eyeballing me out of the corner of his eyes as I crochet…he is waiting for me to drop off to sleep (highly likely) and he will be on my cotton like a tick on a dog!

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I had to race out with the camera last night because the sky was the weirdest colour! I didn’t think I would catch the weird lighting but I sort of did.

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This was taken a few moments later and you can see a rainbow over the river…Steve has pinpointed where it was pointing as that is his leprachaun pot of fish 😉

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A nice thick layer of free mulch has made the garden under the deck a MUCH happier place to reside for our poor long suffering parched plants

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One of the large enclosed compost heaps that I planted potatoes in and a single sweet potato that is growing! The white patch is a species of fungus known as a “dogs vomit” fungus…it is harmless but as you can imagine, it isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing 😉

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Another one of the large enclosed compost heaps full of pumpkins and a few potatoes that the slugs haven’t managed to scarf (yet)

I have been inundated with kefir. I have at least a litre of it in the fridge and am scratching my head how to use it. I have decided to bake a chocolate sourdough cake with kefir and a large tray bake spice cake with kefir to replace the milk. I am also going to make the kefired equivalent of labneh so that I can make small balls of extra thick kefired labneh and preserve them in herbed olive oil with chillies. Our jalapeno chillies are doing amazingly well and it looks like we might have a bumper crop of them this year along with the small fingerling eggplants. I am so glad that we decided to go with the smaller eggplants to make sure that they had the best chance of ripening fully before the cold season sets in. The excess kefir grains (that are growing exponentially on plain old “ordinary milk” Jessie 😉 ) are going to be given to customers who would like some at our local health food shop. I believe in sharing excesses and David can pass them on to interested customers. I have also offered him the same deal with excess sourdough if he gets customers asking about it. I am starting to get into the flow of feeding and working with my small batch of homely cultures. Now I need to find a kombucha Scoby and some water kefir grains and after that the sky is the limit! I will be spending a lot of time reading my fermentation books this winter and learning all about just what I can, and can’t culture here on Serendipity Farm.

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Not sure if we can use this photos but I liked it. Nice and clean and isn’t that sky a gorgeous colour?

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This old ramshackle building is right in the middle of the city. It has stood, unthreatened, for years and is situated between a boutique pub and our local Centrelink office. Considered an eyesore for years, developers have just obtained permission to remove it. I just wanted to remember it in a photo and I quite liked how this one turned out

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These buildings all belong to Boag’s brewery (including the grain silo’s in the background) and are part of the inner city industrial area. I love how they have restored the older buildings and made this a really attractive part of the city

I noticed some unusual small black pods on the side of a tiger lily in the side garden. It has ceased flowering a long time ago and has seed pods on top of it. I know that they form bulbs that spread under the ground but on closer inspection, the little pod-like thingo’s had small leaves growing out of them…I headed inside to check out my good friend “Google” and discovered that these pods are called bulbils and not all lilies produce them. Tiger lilies are well known for producing them and they are another form of plant division. Each little black bulbil is an entire new little lily. After a while, the bulbils will form leaves (as mine are currently doing) and will eventually form roots and will push themselves off the stem of the spent lily flower and will drop onto the ground where they will take root and start growing. After 3 years they will start flowering and you have a plethora of new lilies for free to either plant out or give to your friends. Aren’t plants the bomb? :o). I will need to collect all of the little wandering bulbils to pot them up so that I can find them in spring when they start growing again but for now I will let them cling tenaciously to their mum for as long as they see fit. I also discovered that lilies are extremely hardy belying their delicate appearance. Many plants that we might think are tender or delicate are actually incredibly hardy and I am in the process of compiling a list of incredibly hardy plants for Serendipity Farm. A friend from down the road (Boof’s owner) gave me a bag of fragrant ripe white nectarines and tomatoes today as we walked past her house when we were walking the dogs this morning. She also gave me a bag of curly leafed parsley seed to plant out. We swap all sorts of things and have a really good bartering system going. Roxy is a very resilient lady and knows a whole lot about growing vegetables, keeping goat’s etc. and how to do just about everything herself. I love sharing knowledge and “stuff” with her because it is a win-win situation for us all. We are just about to give her one of our feral roosters as she doesn’t have a rooster and is tired of having to ask for fertile eggs from friends. This way she will have all of the fertile eggs that she likes to put under her clucky chooks and can have lots of hens to sell her excess eggs from the roadside. The value of community and individual knowledge when combined with others is priceless…the resilience of a community is only as strong as the individual members that group together to share. I love forging community here in Sidmouth :o)

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My gorgeous chooky potmits that are WAY too nice to use with Brunhilda 🙂

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These are cuttings of Tagetes lucida, Mexican marigold or Texas tarragon were sourced from a local plant and are apparently easy to grow so I am letting them get legs in this mug of water.

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This long suffering philodendron had been almost on the brink of extinction for years before we inherited him and decided to release him out into the wild. He had bright yellow leaves and only had 1 leaf and now he is happy in his new environment

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A nice new stem on a lovely orchid that we inherited that dad only watered with beer. He said that the beer made it flower and maybe he was right because it hasn’t flowered this year on its new regime of water…might be time to reintroduce that vitamin B quotient to make it happy 🙂

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Look what the wallabies did to my Loquat japonica’s :(. They had been growing completely untouched for months and suddenly the wallabies decided to eat all of their leaves. They are incredibly hardy small trees and will grow more leaves but the wallabies are skating on very VERY thin ice! It just goes to show that you can’t take it for granted that ANYTHING is safe on Serendipity Farm

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This little fig tree has some figs on this year. We grew it from a cutting and this year it just might keep those figs to full term 🙂

We had to go to Launceston this morning because as we were reading up about our course and our very first assignment we realised that we were going to need printer ink and our printer was out of ink. We had already walked the dogs and I had already watered the veggie garden and released the baying hens so we hurled the eager dogs into the car and set off for an adventure to buy printer ink. We checked out what we needed to accomplish for our second assignment (technically “Assignment 3” but it’s the second one that we have to hand in…already they are trying to trick us! Not WE wily black ducks! 😉 ) and realised that we needed photos of billboards, advertising signs and road signs and we threw the camera into my bag so that we could take as many artistic shots as we could. We hadn’t read up on what we actually needed but we took all kinds of photos so hopefully we can use some of them for our assignment. We then headed off to pick up some printer ink, only to find that the shop that sold us the printer had just superseded it and were no longer stocking the ink! They recommended K-Mart but Steve knows that K-Mart don’t sell the ink either so we looked at each other and decided to buy a new printer. We managed to buy a printer with ink for less than we were going to have to pay for the ink alone on our old all-in-one printer. I can’t believe that this sort of equipment is so “throw-away” these days! How can they justify selling something if they are not going to stock the peripherals for any length of time? We have 2 of the printers that we can’t get ink for…one was ours and one we inherited from my dad when he died…what to do with them? I am NOT going to throw them into landfill and am going to be spending some ingenious time finding ways to use them rather than disposing of them. Perhaps I need to cram them full of cacti and succulents and sell them at the market? ;). We got back to discover that my bestie, Kymmy from Norseman Western Australia had sent me 2 absolutely gorgeous pot holders that she had quilted. What a doll! Kymmy, you are so talented! I am refusing to use them till you get here and we can cook up a storm on Brunhilda because they are too pretty to use and get grotty :o). I might even have to frame them and put them on the wall as I can’t bear the thought of Brunhilda and her messy ways turning them into sad representations of the lovely things that they are today :o). Your gooseberry seed is drying nicely and will be ready to send to you soon…bartering is SO sweet :o)… oh, and Bev from http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ has offered to send me some leaf AND seed amaranth! I love you guys! Along with Jessie and a plethora of people I have yet to meet and barter/swap with in various seed swap meets etc. this bartering thing is absolutely ripe with mutual possibilities :o).

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Bulbils! Note the leaves growing out of the bulbils…each one of these dark coloured “pods” has the propensity to become a new lily

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A native hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii) flower on a crown lifted tree that is much happier since we started giving it a helping hand

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Finally I get a cornflower! The wallabies have been snipping the tops off them as they protrude from the top of the ex-fish farm netting but this one escaped to flower 🙂

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This Aquilegia vulgaris (Grannies bonnet) grew right next to the back door…note the dandelion…I would have normally removed it but now that I know how amazing they are (and how much Bernard and Manny our Java Finches LOVE them) I leave them to carry on regardless 🙂

I think that might be all for tonight folks…I have to race out waving my arms around now to find you some photos to decorate this post and I will be starting with the bulbil’s so that you can see what I am talking about. Tomorrow we will be juggling with the new course and tap-dancing on unfamiliar territory all over again. I can’t count the amount of times that we have gone back to kindergarten with new areas of study and it’s all in the processes…my favourite place of all! :o)

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