Where narf learns the value of hard work, gentle days, and is elevated to tribal wise woman and healer in a single week…

Hi Folks,

It’s full on summer here on Serendipity Farm but in a distinctly Tasmanian way. That means that yesterday I was wearing a sarong and thinking about Pina coladas and today I am wearing a jumper and thinking about swapping it for an even bigger one.  I have been learning more about nature thanks to me diving in with both feet…I learned that nature blends herself to adapt…native species live in harmony with Mediterranean species that are almost as hardy and drought tolerant banding together to help Serendipity Farm weather the long hot summers.  Back when Serendipity Farm had the ubiquitous name of “Highfield Gardens” it had been planted out with water loving tree ferns as an homage to an English garden. There are watering systems everywhere that are starting to atrophy and decompose but back in its heyday, when water was free in Tasmania (like it still is in parts of New Zealand you LUCKY BUGGERS!) this property was well irrigated by an automatic watering system. Now the automatic watering system is narf7 and there is a considerable decline in the degree and extent of watering that goes on at any given time.

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Newly periwinkle denuded area but they are tenacious little buggers and will be back with friends

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Part of the whipper snipped driveway. Note some of the plants that we planted out last year survived! This year they should be able to handle the harsh summer a bit better because they have had time to put down roots and get used to their place in the ground (and I have been putting mulch and rocks around the bottom of them just to make sure they do)

The property was left to its own devices when Tasmania implemented paying for water and those water hungry specimens promptly up and died. There are still relics to that luxurious past in the form of tree fern stumps dotted through the property that hardier more drought tolerant species have used to their effect. What remained on “Highfield Gardens” when we moved here was an overgrown tangle of adventitious vines and the hardier more resilient specimens that had been planted and I discovered this excellent site that guides you through choosing waterwise and drought tolerant plants for your garden whilst still being able to have a garden to make you smug with paternal joy. I am having a wonderful time learning about arid/drought hardy plants thanks to a French site…who’d  a thunk that Serendipity Farm had ANYTHING to do with France but apparently it does…same meridians…same climate. Check out http://www.mediterraneangardensociety.org/index.html if you live in a climate where you get very little rain over your summer months…that’s us to a tee. If you don’t think that you can have a lovely garden using waterwise plants then think again.

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One of our “invasive species” in full flight. Here you can see honeysuckle engulfing a rosemary plant. We have a similar problem with blackberries and jasmine

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Not sure if this is invasive but it is certainly putting on a good show this year whatever it is

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This little peach tree grew in the debris from the recently fallen tree and the resulting squashed shrub that must have been towering over it preventing it from getting light. Reminds me of the Paul Kelly song “From little things, big things grow”

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A most useful and happy Mediterranean plant that seems to like living here on Serendipity Farm. I got this small fig tree as a rooted cutting last year and overwintered it in its pot before planting it out in spring. It has 3 friends that are in close proximity. I learned that figs are pollinated by a small wasp and figure I want to give that little wasp the best possible chance of finding ALL of the figs on Serendipity Farm 😉

When I first started typing this post I was having a “Gentle Day”. I had been full on whipper snipping, carting wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of homemade compost from where we had dumped it into the veggie garden by the narf7 equivalent of a Rube Goldberg Machine…a contraption designed to allow access to what is effectively an inaccessible area. I used a combination of boards and planks in order to make the job easier but what eventuated was narf7 learning to skateboard indirectly (or I fell off the teetering boards) so I guess aside from learning how many barrow loads of compost you get in a metre square of homemade compost (27 if you are interested…) and learning that singing “X” barrows of compost to go…”X” barrows to go…” does a whole lot to keeping you motivated to push a heavy barrow up a steep incline on a hot day I am now able to hold my own at the skate park. Enter the “Gentle Day”. A day where narf7 sits here welded to the computer chair clicking “like” to Pinterest and smiling benignly to herself in a most appreciative way. Couple the gentle day with as many cups of tea as I feel like quaffing and you have a recipe for recovery that hospitals worldwide would kill for.

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Once every 4 years these cicada’s emerge en mass and serenade the heat of summer in one long drawn out  “CLICK”

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Steve’s liberated bird of paradise plant flowering like crazy and covered in cicada husks, much like everything else around here that doesn’t move around much

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I thought this tree was dead…apparently not.

“So what is all this about “wise woman” and “healer” narf?” I wondered how long it would take you to get around to asking me…well Steve and I have an acquaintance that is either a prophet or doo-lally…and my money is on the latter to be honest. Methinks the combination of being Californian and imbibing heavily in the green weeds of happiness (and I am NOT talking Scotch thistles there folks 😉 ) has enabled him to put 2 and 2 together and make 14. On a good day he is a bit manic and likes to share with anyone who will listen (or won’t…makes no difference to him…) about how the aliens are shaping our world. On a bad day he becomes almost messianic with the need to spread “the good word” which in his case is always on the fringe borderland of sanity…teetering on the edge.

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What I am reading (or have just finished) at the moment. I just finished Clarissa Dickson Wrights tomb about her amazing life, the Organic Gardening book is mine but I haven’t ever read it (and I have had it for 4 years) and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was a recommendation by Jo of “All the Blue Day”. I have just started it and am enjoying sitting out on the deck in the sunshine with a big glass of Kombucha feeding body and soul at the same time

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No sooner do we discover a nest than the bolshie hens abandon it and move further into difficult territory. The last nest that Earl and I found was nestled amongst forget-me-nots and hidden deep in a blackberry bush. I emerged triumphant with eggs held aloft but with my eyelids sticking to my eyebrows…time to invent a long handled egg plucker methinks!

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Does anyone know what this is? I am SO used to not seeing these that I am confused when confronted with one. The local possums are still suspiciously conspicuous by their absence. I have been able to harvest ripe fruit from the native cherries and I am gearing up for a possum zombie apocalypse as we speak…

After having several visitations with him over the last week I got a little tired of listening most politely about aliens. I needed to push some heavy barrows up a steep hill in what was becoming the equivalent of the sun being the magnifying glass and narf7 taking the part of an ant. I had to think quick about where I was heading or I might have been holed up for hours so I pressed a few litres of kombucha into his hand and told him to go home and drink it for his health. The next day he was back…empty bottle in hand and I had suddenly been elevated from “woman who irritated him by talking when he was in full rant status to “wise woman of his tribe”…” Not entirely sure that I WANT to be the wise woman of his tribe but the next day he was back (with another empty bottle) and I had been elevated to healer and not only was I now officially sanctioned by the nursing union, but he has decided to put the aliens on ice for a bit and take up healing the world. I wonder if this lonely man is adapting himself to people that he sees as his community? Steve and I give him our time because he hasn’t got anyone else. He is bright, interesting but has some seriously whacked out ideas about the world but haven’t we all got some off the wall secrets? Michael just chooses to share his.

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I refuse to salivate over this peach. I know that as soon as I start to contemplate the delicious juicy morsel it will disappear. I consider it collateral damage

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Another job I did was to sort through the potted plants and move them all around under our watering system to make summer watering more efficient and easier to accomplish. These are Steve’s bonsai specimens that he works on sporadically when the mood hits him. They have been separated from the rest of the plants as he doesn’t mind pottering around watering them each day.

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Here’s the rest of the potted plants all bundled together to make sure that they get watered by that overhead watering system that Steve rigged up. The empty stand was once where Steve’s bonsai babies lived. It will be dismantled and removed when we get around to it (so expect it to be still there come winter 😉 )

After taking more kombucha he headed off informing me that he would be back…sigh…he brought back a container of borax, some literature (to go with the other literature in the bag of literature in the spare room for when we get a budgie…) and a 1960’s wind up alarm clock that plays “some enchanted evening” as an alarm. It didn’t take him long to explain himself and apparently we all need to be turning off the electricity at the fuse box to make sure that we don’t get cancer and repressed… the clock was to ensure that we woke up in the mornings but as Steve so dryly put it when he headed off on his aging wheezing motorbike…”that dial is luminous…that paint is radioactive!” He seems to have found something else to do over the last few days (most probably making something to cure the world) so Serendipity Farm is back to the quiet hermitage that we know and love so well 🙂

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The 60’s wind-up clock with Michaels new batch of Kombucha in the background and all the “literature” I can face at this moment in time

The voodoo lilies are out in force this year. They have been steadily building up numbers and the rain we had helped this year’s incarnation to be a particularly glorious and most foetid one. I was whipper snipping the driveway the other day and thought I could smell a dead possum or 5…turns out the voodoo lilies were in fine form that day. We even smelled them wafting through the door leading out to the deck and they are quite a way down the driveway. There is always a ferryman to be paid and in the voodoo lily case, the ferryman trod in something!

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Steve took this image on his mobile. It looks like something in Transylvania to me. You would expect that sort of exotica someplace where things howl maniacally at the moon (like Serendipity Farm 😉 )

13120013 A closer view (as close as my olfactory senses would let me get…) of the amazing flower on the voodoo lilies. The “scent” (far too mild a word for what emanates from them) is a blend of aged road kill, Roquefort cheese and Steve’s feet after a hard days work and comes from that darker stamen.

It is around about this time of year that our local council sends out notices to people to get their firebreaks mowed or face a fine. Stevie-boy (the tight) and narfypants (the equally as tight) don’t like to pay fines so it was up to the back block to wade through the metre tall poa grass in order to cut a 15 metre swath through the undergrowth. The good thing about the back block is that we rarely go there. Our least favourite neighbours live up here…the neighbours that conned our house sitter into clearing a large swathe of trees from the back block in order for them to get more of a view and a better price for their house sale (not sold yet 😉 ). I spent a lot of time being VERY careful to whipper snip gently around the outside of the small black wattle and sheok trees that have sprung up assisted by our wet winter…nature appears to be wanting her property back and I, for one am NOT going to argue with her 😉

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One of natures first lines of demarcation in the war against bare earth…the ground cover. This particular ground cover is Acaena nova-zelandiae aka “Buzzies”. Its hard to believe that someone would want to buy this groundcover for their garden but on the mainland it is a nursery specimen. Why do I have a problem with buzzies?

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Sigh…here’s why. Buzzies hitching a lift on narf7 to a new home (which most vindictively appears to be a concrete gutter…bad luck this time buzzies! 😉 )

I have been taking cuttings furiously and have added Artemisia and lavender to the mix. Both of these shrubs are incredibly hardy and water wise and should love living here on Serendipity Farm. I have been joyously hurling compost hand over fist onto our large pile of composted garden soil. Its full of worms and I figure the best way to keep it that way till I can get it made into more garden beds. Remember that thing about paying the ferryman? Well it’s really swings and roundabouts to be honest…you do have to pay the ferryman but you also get good stuff in return. Our “interesting” Californian friend might require a fair bit of patience and time but he offered to give me some of his old railway sleepers he has been hoarding to help build our garden. He also permanently loaned us that small rainwater tank. Friends come in all shapes, sizes and mental dispositions… we don’t discriminate here and karma has a way of giving back what you pass out to the universe…sounding a bit “woo-woo” there folks? I will give you 20 minutes with Michael and then you can tell me that my theories are woo-woo 😉 .

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This is a small bowl of gumnuts that come from Eucalyptus globulus more commonly known as the Tasmanian blue gum. I collected them from underneath a huge specimen today on my walk with Earl. The heat brings out the smell of eucalypts and I had the most vivid memory of spending Christmas Day at my Grandmothers and heading out to laze away an overstuffed afternoon underneath the branches of a huge blue gum that was on her property. Right next to this specimen was an English broom in full bloom and the combination of scents made me smile.

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I am well aware that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to Christmas Trees. For one, it is only vaguely reminiscent of a “tree”. It was made out of driftwood collected from the riverbank at the front of our property. It appears to have been decorated by a blind lunatic (that would be “moi”) and someone forgot when to stop when it came to putting decorations on it. Steve LOVES chaotic Christmas trees. I usually put the reigns on him and tell him that we have to be tasteful and the results are aesthetically pleasing and usually quite sterile. This year I decided to stop being the Grinch and let Steve have his Christmas Tree HIS way. This is the end result. What would happen if Pirates bothered to celebrate Christmas but Stevie-boy is happy and my sense of style shrunk 3 sizes in the process 😉

I have been thinking about ways to be more sustainable I read several wonderful Aussie blogs that spur me on to want to try harder. Jess/Rabid of “Rabid little Hippy”, Jo of “All the blue day”, Linda of “Greenhaven” and Bev of “Foodnstuff” all motivate me to find even more ways to live simply and minimise our carbon footprint. The other day I was pondering how to keep water up to the arid garden under the deck. I have been mass planting it in order to keep as much moisture in the soil as possible but I know it is going to have a tough time when the sun comes out and stays out for the next few months. One way to water it would be to tap into the grey water that runs from the kitchen sink into the septic. This would require some plumbing skills that neither of us is willing to contemplate at the moment so I figured out the next best thing was to put a large plastic bowl in the kitchen sink and whenever it gets full I will take it out onto the deck and pour it onto the parched plants below. In the first couple of days of using this system I am amazed at how much water I flushed down into the septic tank on a daily basis. I feel positively virtuous and am managing to kill 2 birds with one stone, my favourite game :). Another idea involves a bucket, the end results of my cups of tea and our compost heap…still contemplating that one but again, 2 birds with 1 stone and a healthy dose of nitrogen thrown into the mix

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My thrifted plastic tub ready for action

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And what, pray tell is this?! This, my dear constant readers, is what happens when you are trying to cook bulk quantities of healthy vegetable soup and wonder what would happen if you threw some of your new most favourite seed (buckwheat) into the mix. This is a solid chunk of soup. About 8 solid portions. Puts a whole new slant on a “solid meal” 😉

I hauled 9 bags of mushroom compost into the enclosed veggie garden and noticed that one of them had large mushrooms in it that had gone over to the dark side. I decided to see if we couldn’t get some sort of benefit out of this situation and tipped the mushroom compost onto the surface of the large pile of compost I had just barrowed in and placed the squishy fungal matter spore side down onto the compost. I am thinking that the spores might infect the media and we might be onto a mushroomy winner but only time will tell.

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Some of the 9 bags of mushroom compost that are waiting for me to tip them onto the pile of compost that I barrowed in and am guarding carefully

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This doesn’t look like much. I tried to take a shot from various angles to give you the best idea of how much homemade compost lives in this worm sodden heap but you are just going to have to believe me…27 barrow loads doesn’t lie! I keep the netting over it so that I can keep it soaked and the heap nice and moist in order to keep my wormy mates happy. Mono-a-mono those worms and I. We have an understanding 🙂

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I wasn’t entirely sure if these root cuttings of various mint varieties and what I think is a bergamot plant (the tall one) would survive the trip back from where I found them but they seem to be very happy in the veggie garden and are growing nicely.

I was sitting here on Monday at 3am when I suddenly heard what I thought was the sound of Christmas tree decorations falling onto the ground. A sort of “pop” sound. We had just put up the Christmas tree so it was a highly likely eventuality and I snuck into the lounge room expecting to see the floor littered with Christmas debris but was bemused to find that none of the decorations had fallen off. I returned to my seat where for the next 2 hours I heard this sound on a regular basis…I thought it might have been Earl sneezing on our bed (I had checked Bezial who gets up with me to keep me company) but he was out like a light and completely sneeze free. The noise kept coming until I headed off to make Steve his first cup of coffee and I heard the noise closer and on looking around discovered that my kefir…that I keep in a lidded bottle…was escaping. It had been forcing its fizzy way out of the screw top of the bottle…I judged (somewhat prudently it turns out) that the bottle might be under a degree of pressurisation and carefully opened the lid whereby the most curious thing happened…all of my kefir grains quite literally “Popped” out of the neck of the bottle and were deposited on the wooden bread board alongside the bottle. A nice neat collective of fermentation doing what it does best. Consider me warned that the warmer weather is going to require a revision of the fermentation schedule!

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As you can see, everything is starting to take off in the wonderful humid conditions of the enclosed veggie garden…especially the weeds! I know what I will be doing tomorrow…sigh…

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More exponential growth of “stuff”

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Pumpkins and potatoes are most rewarding with the amount of growth that they put on in a week.

Finally I would like to share a most wonderful blog post with you all today. Feel free to read it or not. I think that should you choose to read it, you will arrive at the other side enriched and satiated and most probably with another blog tucked into your “must read” Rss Feed Reader (or equivalent). Did you ever wonder about the REAL Father Christmas? Turns out someone wrote a marvellous book about him and this post is redolent of a time, last century, when the world had just finished tearing itself apart and Santa was living a careful, simple and most austere life. Good to know that my superhero is adaptable :). By the way folks…next Wednesday just so happens to be Christmas. I will be posting as usual, most probably about the delightful communal celebrations we had the day before so feel free to check it out if you find yourself at a loose end. By the way…in the spirit of adventurous Christmas repasts future, I have chosen to institute a new Christmas food tradition for myself. From this day forward, December 25th shall be “Christmas Nacho Day”! “OLE!”

http://restoringmayberry.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/father-christmas-homesteader.html

I just found this Youtube link to a wonderful animation voiced by the late actor Mel Smith illustrated by Raymond Briggs (the author of Father Christmas) if any of you would like to watch it…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4k-9KGs_4U

 

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Look what just turned up in the mail… 🙂

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Life, death and the endless progression of OH&S in between…

Hi All

There has to be a degree of irony in me, hunched over…floppy spined, myopically peering at my monitor with terrible lighting and trying to show the world how enlightened I am about office OH&S…does ANYBODY listen to or care about this stuff?!!! Come to think of it, does anyone ever stop eating peanut butter because some rake thin anorexic plastic “expert” in the health field tells them to? If we were ever vaguely inclined to follow “expert” advice we would have dangled on our parents every word…we would have learned to “fly right and steer straight” immediately as we were told and we would have made something of ourselves rather than arriving at 50, dazed and confused with only “windswept and interesting” as our chief saleable asset.

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The young rooster on the right of this image died this week. He was never a “normal” rooster and spent his days sitting in this coop with his sisters keeping them company. He wasn’t prone to leaping on hens or crowing. He was gentle, beautiful and like so many of his Byron reading compatriots, he died too soon. R.I.P Little Boy Blue. In saying that, there are chicks hatching out all over the place on Serendipity Farm. The same day that Little Boy Blue died, another hen emerged triumphant and bedazzled with fluffy chicks…the poultry cycle of life goes on…

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When all else fails eat fruit!

That brings me to today’s post… I have managed to tear myself away from OH&S for a whole blissful day. It doesn’t even bother me that it’s grey, dreary and raining outside because I didn’t have to try to wrap my poor addled brain around another “Act”; “Award” or “Industry Standard” when it couldn’t comprehend the first Act, let alone the last that I tried to stuff into the one remaining brain cell that appears to be on the ball. Today I got to sit here and type out interesting and sustainable hints, tips and anecdotes about how to live better with less. Steve and I have almost finished our websites that we have to create from scratch for our final assessment. Mine is called “Sustainability on a Shoestring” and despite it being entirely fictional, not available to the naked eye (apart from our lecturers …) and just something that we had to knock up at the last minute I have developed a motherly sort of fondness for it and am driving Steve nuts by my need to make it look good and function well. “No-one can see it!” is his mantra…”I can see it” is mine 😉

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This shower door is about to be changed to a clear glass door that doesn’t get stuck when you are trying to open it with shampoo in your eyes because you forgot to get the bottle of conditioner that is over on the window ledge…Steve was given the shower door by a friends mum who is renovating and who didn’t need it. I doubt she realises how happy she has made me with her generous gift. Now I can open the door blinded by shampoo and not worry about having to call Steve to free me when the door sticks when I am halfway out of it…

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My container of bread ties (still haven’t worked out what to do with them but I will!) and some of the bottle tops I am collecting on my early morning walks with Earl. If anyone out there drinks anything other than Boag’s beer and would like to send me a few bottle tops please feel free to let me know 😉

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What happens when you discover some “fresh” pineapple that you juiced, put in a bowl in the fridge and promptly forgot about that when you rediscovered it and gave it a sniff (as you do) and realised that it was halfway to being pineapple vodka and you cleverly decide to pour it into the top of a bottle of second fermented Kombucha erupts like Krakatoa …”VESUVIUS”…that’s what happens

I have just finished off the last of the text for the various side panels, spry tabs etc. that we are required to show our lecturer to satisfy this unit. We are using Dreamweaver to create our sites making it a much easier process than having to write the HTML ourselves but I am still clueless about what most of it does but can see it has great possibilities. The best bit is that we got to buy the Student version of the Adobe suite at a significant discount because students = poor (damned RIGHT they do!) and educational institutions don’t want to force us into becoming shoplifters in order to satisfy their requirements. Lucky really because I suck at pinching things, unless they are cuttings when I am able to abrogate my guilt long enough to snip off a stray tendril and call it urban guerrilla gardening 😉

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“I know what will make all of this study better…a litre bottle of homemade Kombucha…”

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And another one…

I spend a lot of my life in the dark. It’s my choice, getting up at 3am seals the deal but if I want to get some quality “me” time to study, to read the blogs that I follow and to research the things that I am interested in I have to find an alternative to daylight hours where we tend to be studying or working in the garden. I now love getting up early and am firing on all cylinders by the time I wake Steve with a coffee at 7am after indulging my brain to the max with a wealth of fantastic possibilities that I have just waded through for the last 4 hours. Fennec foxes have enormous ears and narf7 has small ears…fennec foxes manage to navigate their way around in the dark with ease and agility where narf7 has bruises on her legs and hip where she bumbles hopelessly into furniture and walls…coincidence? I think not!

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“What say we have another one?” I reckon I am starting to feel a bit like Keith Richards in that photo about now…

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I am stuck inside the house when outside it looks like this…

One interesting thing that I have noticed about the dark is that you can see your brain sending messages to your eyes. Seriously…if you are sitting in the pitch dark and close your eyes you can see little chains of light where your brain is communicating with your eyes…in my case it is saying “watch out she is just about to bump into another table!” but as my eyes are officially closed (or I can’t see the synapses…) it’s too late…”OUCH!” I can, however, manage to find the correct place to spray the air freshener in the toilet in complete darkness…maybe there is a chance for future employment opportunities for my amazing newfound skill?

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And this…

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and this!

Earl is almost 3 and is just starting to “get it”. I must be a late bloomer because here I am at 50 and I still haven’t “got it”. One of life’s mysteries is that we only start to make sense of all of these lessons that life throws at us on a regular basis when we are past the point of impetuous youthdom and it leaves you wondering “surely it would have been so much better to have learned these lessons BEFORE all of those stupid mistakes we made?” I am left to believe that maybe we need to have made lots of stupid mistakes to “get” the life lessons in the first place…my head is starting to hurt with that conundrum so I might just leave it there for now folks as I have to keep a few functioning brain cells in reserve in order to complete our studies before next Thursday when the last of our units is due in.

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Some of us are enjoying the lovely weather

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Note the lack of a care in the world and the amazing growth in that garden bed under the deck that we only planted out in April this year

I have been busy fermenting potions in between doing the hard yards with study and am learning how versatile cultures can be. My last batch of kombucha was flavoured with ginger and rosewater and turned out to be really delicious. It takes the mother SCOBY 7 days to culture a batch of black tea with sugar in it. I choose to double ferment the mix by adding a litre of juice to the results and fermenting it for another couple of days before putting it in the fridge. The results are fizzy and delicious and with summer promising to be long and hot I think a large quantity of kombucha in the fridge will be a definite asset. I have also been using my non-dairy kefir that I now make with homemade sesame milk (rather than the organic homemade soymilk that I used to make it with) to culture the sesame pulp left behind after making the milk. I use the resulting fermented  mix to make hummus that I ferment for a day at room temperature. One very interesting thing about fermenting hummus is that it rises up alarmingly in its bowl a bit like sourdough starter does. I guess that means that the culture really likes beans. Whatever it means the results are really delicious and I am enjoying seeing what else I can ferment

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Fermented sesame seed pulp and some leftover cooked dried chickpeas and borlotti beans that I have been using from the freezer

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The hummus before it decided to rise up out of the bowl and threaten to take over Serendipity Farm unless I took it to Cuba

I have been having porridge in the morning made from finely ground buckwheat flour and sunflower seeds that I add a bit of date paste to and cook. I then top it with sesame milk with a bit more date paste in it and a dash of rosewater. Now that the weather has started to warm up I might be able to start drinking my green smoothies again but if today is anything to go by, winter hasn’t quite given up yet. By next Thursday our course will officially be over. Steve and I are working as hard as we can to knock these final units on the head but they can’t be finished soon enough in our minds. We are really going to enjoy the free time that we get in between this course and the start of our next course and  hopefully we will get lots of time out in the garden in the coming month to make up for all of the time that we have spent chained to the PC.

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The view out of my kitchen window this morning. Note the Grey Cuckoo Thrush sitting on the deck rail waiting for her early morning cheese cubes to be put out on the window ledge and note also how grey and rainy it is because I am not chained to the PC being forced to study OH&S until my brain melts…Murphy is a bollocks!

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Its still grey out there but at least the grey cuckoo shrike has her cheese and I have a cup of tea and suddenly, after a few sips… all is right with the world again 🙂

Christmas is getting very close. I know it is because all of the advertisement’s on the television keep telling me it is. Is anyone else incredibly jaded by the mass push towards commercialisation this year? It started back in October and suddenly we are lighting Christmas trees mid-November and come mid-December we will be implored to buy next year’s Easter Eggs… what should be a time for people to get together with their families and friends to see out the old year and be thankful for our lot has been hijacked by the need for massive pre-Christmas profits. The spirit and the message of Christmas were born of humble circumstances and I think the still quiet message is slowly being drowned by all of the Christmas sales. Has anyone else worked out what they are going to do for Christmas this year? Neither have we! We were going to have a very quiet Christmas like we did last year but now Stewart and Kelsey are here we might all get together at my daughter’s home on Christmas morning and have Christmas breakfast together…or we might not…whatever we do it will be in the spirit of Christmas and nothing to do with how much we spent on food, drink and presents. Steve’s one stipulation is a bottle of brandy so that he can make the brandy and chocolate milk that he remembers from a long ago holiday spent falling over in Greece. Sounds like a plan Stevie-boy! 😉

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A little Cassia fistula growing amongst the forget-me-nots. Cassia pods are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine so this little guy is welcome on Serendipity Farm

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From one gorgeous thing to another…These marvellous track pants were inherited from my daughter Madeline who was about to throw them away because they were torn on the bottom. I decided to cut them (mainly to stop me falling over the frayed bits) and what you can’t see here is that one side is at least 10cm longer than the other even though I SWEAR I measured them! I mention this so that all of you wonderfully crafty folk out there realise that some of us are not as gifted in the crafty stakes as you are…but we are doing you a HUGE service by suffering the slings of craftless arrows that rain down on us whenever we pick up needles, hooks, material or dare to sit down at a sewing machine…we bow before your creative genius but some of you were born for craft greatness, some (like me) just have to satisfy ourselves with being born fashionistas…The jumper is warm. Narf7 cares not for fashion folks and its darned lucky that she doesn’t because if I EVER went out wearing this ensemble, I would be committed. The black socks that I am wearing in this picture were stolen from Steve’s side of the wardrobe by “moi” and were subsequently eaten by Earl when they were abandoned (foolishly) on one of my outdoor forays. Socks are not safe on Serendipity Farm…they are an endangered species

I think I might love you all and leave you there for today. I fear I am probably not at my best after a week of brain numbing rehashing of boring statistics. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible on Serendipity Farm but for now, this pays the bills so rehash we must! See you all next Wednesday when I will probably be giddy with happiness thanks to it being the final day before we are set free from our shackles of oppression…can you tell I’m a bit over this? ;). Have a great week folks and enjoy what you are doing wherever you are doing it 🙂

The Goodies visit Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

This post has been on the back burner for ages. I had a brainstorm about 3 months ago (I did say “ages” there!) when I remembered an episode of a kids show that I used to watch back last century, when I was…a kid. As someone who had their formative years in the early 70’s I grew up with the remnants of the swinging 60’s and the peacenik 70’s emergence. I wore flared trousers and grew my hair long and as an Aussie kid I only had 2 television channels to watch. A commercial channel that on the school holidays usually had extended cricket games that seemed to go for weeks and the ABC. Our antipodean version of the BBC and we shared most of our television programs as well. We shipped off Rolf Harris (good idea on hindsight 😉 ) and neighbours and you gave us The Goodies. Everything is forgiven U.K. for The Goodies.

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I loved The Goodies. Even though the ABC must have really wanted to get their money’s worth as they aired it constantly. One series would end to be replaced with the next. A constant stream of Goodies and now part of my early childhood patchwork of memories. The Goodies was a show about 3 men who hired themselves out for work. Their claim to fame was that they did “Anything, Anytime” and they rode around on a 3 seater tandem bike. Not sure if that is even a real thing but they did so it was for the purposes of this post. At the time we all laughed and enjoyed the program but when I was reminiscing about it with Steve (who strangely didn’t watch it), I realised that The Goodies was a show WAY ahead of its time. Much like “The Good Life” the show about a couple who dropped out of living commercially and turned their suburban home into a self-sufficient block with good humour, gentle satire and the ability to completely engage an audience as only a good U.K. sitcom can do.

Despite Earl's best intentions, this aquilegia keeps coming back from the brink of damp ruin

Despite Earl’s best intentions, this aquilegia keeps coming back from the brink of damp ruin

Although poles apart, The Good Life and The Goodies both had the same message. The world in the 70’s was just starting to realise that over commercialisation was hurting the environment, our hip pocket and our chances of surviving as a species. Both programs highlighted a current of people wanting to get back to the land and live wholesome lives. Where The Good Life was hands-on, The Goodies aired issues of the time in a crazy and zany way. Painting issues with good humour is like Mary Poppins and her spoon full of sugar, it certainly makes the medicine go down in a most delightful way.

Telopea oreades a native Tasmanian waratah along the walking route that we took today in Beaconsfield

Telopea oreades a native Tasmanian waratah along the walking route that we took today in Beaconsfield

I remembered a particular episode of The Goodies where Tim, Bill and Graham went to visit Tim’s uncle’s farm to see how “real” food was produced and were shocked to discover that the farm was catering to public demand for “fast food” in hilarious forms. The episode dealt with the serious issues of genetic modification, our food being incredibly unhealthy and bad for us because of public demand for it (supply and demand) and cruelty in industrially farmed animals WAY before PETA was even thought about. As a small aside, I just checked when PETA was formed and found out it was 1980 9 years after The Goodies “Farm Fresh Food” went to air. As usual the boys were able to make these serious issues hilarious and light heartedly bumbled their way through the episode blowing up “battery hens” along with the hens that were fed directly from the mains ;).

See girls...I DO wear the shirt that you gave me ;)

See girls…I DO wear the shirt that you gave me 😉

At the end of the episode, Tim’s uncle refuses to feed the animals to the boys because, like most people buying generic “meat”, “eggs” and “milk” from the supermarket shelves, he never put 2 and 2 together when it came to animal cruelty and mass food production. I am not preaching veganism here folks, I am preaching sustainable and healthy farm production where the animals that you eat are produced in a healthy, entirely natural way without having to pump them full of hormones, antibiotics and goodness only knows what else just to get them onto the supermarket shelves A.S.A.P. at the smallest production cost to the farmer and the true culprit of all of this, my dreaded middle-man – “The Supermarkets!” Can we cue some danger music folks!

The final episode of head banging on Serendipity Farm...for now...

The final episode of head banging on Serendipity Farm…for now…

I wanted to illustrate this post with images that I sourced online. I couldn’t find any! This episode seems to have been one of the more obscure episodes and as such the diehard fans haven’t been spreading the love but the other day one of my wonderful blog mates Tanya from the exotic yet entirely sumptuously wholesome blog http://chicaandaluza.com/sent me a link to this very episode! I mean…what are the odds?! I would more likely win the lotto than get my hot little hands on this episode of The Goodies but here it was, right in front of me…30 minutes of memories and the entire contents of this post all wrapped up in someone on the other side of the world’s memories also.

One of three glass cases we bought for an extremely cheap price at Bunning's for "something". Still in the cupboards gathering dust. This one is going to live with Stewart and Kelsey and will become a Wardian Case (look it up folks ;) )

One of three glass cases we bought for an extremely cheap price at Bunning’s for “something”. Still in the cupboards gathering dust. This one is going to live with Stewart and Kelsey and will become a Wardian Case (look it up folks 😉 )

The U.K. in the 70’s was a hotbed of change. Maggie Thatcher and her heavyweight political thugs were setting up what was to be a bloodbath of the common man, tearing apart the unions and sending wage and industrial relations back to the dark ages, something that the U.K. is still reeling from today. The Goodies were a mix of middle of the road conservatism (Tim), scientific inventive know-how (Graham) and crazed way out sherbet sucking hippy (Bill) that melded together to expose and solve (in their own indubitably hilarious fashion) many of the problems that Britain was going through where in reality, the situation seemed dire.  If you have ever seen the punk episode where Tim wants to go to the punk ball you will know what I am talking about. Who saw THAT ending coming eh?

Still raining...sigh...

Still raining…sigh…

Aside from hilarious chronological and political story telling the music was wonderful, the dialogue was hilarious and full of double entendre that kept our parents snorting with glee where we had NO idea what was being alluded to. We last century kids got hefty doses of realism thrown in with our humour. No-one felt the need to shelter us from reality and indeed Sesame Street was a FAR different place when my children were watching it than it is today. NO sanitary wiped, germ free, everyone lives forever nonsense, they even integrated an episode where one of the main characters, Mr. Hooper (or “Looper” as Big Bird called him) actually died and decided to share it with the children watching. Everyone was genuinely sad but it was real folks. Kids NEED real, not being wrapped in cling wrap and stuck in the fridge till they mature like so much artisanal cheese.

Earl vs Steve. Earl 1, Steve nil

Earl vs Steve. Earl 1, Steve nil

I also remember an episode where chemical toxic waste was being served as tomato soup in drums and it turned everyone into clowns. Another double entendre and a very clever one at that. Dealing with the heavyweight issues of environmentalism and cutting edge humour wouldn’t have been an easy task but The Goodies were up for it and the results are still hilarious today. The Goodies were one of my favourite childhood television shows and thanks to ABC “thrift”, one of my children’s favourite television shows as well. We could do with less Telly Tubbies and a whole lot more Goodies when it comes to educating our kids about the real world and allowing them to develop a good sense of humour at the same time.

A man and his dog

A man and his dog

I think that might be all about The Goodies. I was going to ramble on for an entire post but I just fizzled out. You can all breathe a sigh of relief but do yourselves a favour and head off to Youtube where the BBC has actually released a fair few Goodies episodes for us all to enjoy. If you haven’t ever heard of The Goodies before you can settle down with a hot mug of whatever takes your fancy and a bit of cake (yes, you have permission for cake!) and have a good old fashioned last century politically incorrect chuckle at the antics of a few crazed Englishmen…go on…you KNOW you want to ;)…

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGoodiesBBC?feature=watch

It’s been wet-wet-WET on Serendipity Farm and I don’t mean that 80’s Scottish band who crooned “Love is all around” by the way, I am talking about precipitation and specifically, the kind that has been digging more of the twin canyons in our driveway out making negotiation of said driveway an “extreme sport” to say the least. I have had a bung knee thanks to an attempt at being somewhat fashionable and wearing something with a small heel to my last shopping adventure resulting in a decidedly unfashionable knee swelling event. Steve has been braving the mornings with Earl and an umbrella. He foolishly took both dogs yesterday and on the way back home in the pouring rain (sans umbrella, he only has 2 hands folks!) he let Bezial off his lead on the walk back up the driveway who promptly steamrolled him over into one of the gaping driveway canyons resulting in language that can’t be reproduced here in polite conversation.

The new bbq in situ with its Earl Free Protection Zone constructed around to minimise dampness

The new bbq in situ with its Earl Free Protection Zone constructed around to minimise dampness

We have been cooking, plotting the downfall of the possums and various weed populations and arranging and re-arranging the furniture and most importantly we have been waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop and for a chance to get out into that garden that has erupted into a crazed growth spike thanks to endless rain and elevated temperature. I have been racing out in between rain showers and raking the driveway and lawns to get fallen branches to put on our ornamental gardens to foil the chooks from scratching all of the mulch from the soil. I WILL beat the chooks…you had better believe it! One “chook” in particular is living on borrowed time. We allowed one of our white chooks who had been clucky for the better part of 6 months to hatch out a single egg. She managed to prevent the feral cats from consuming this baby until it turned into a rooster…sigh…a rooster that is now turning its randy eye onto any and everything. Poor ducky has taken to not going back into the roost as this rooster finds her particularly attractive. Tonight, it is going to become an ex-rooster and a delicious pot of chook stock. Problem SOLVED!

Steve's statement about my "help" to construct the bbq...

Steve’s statement about my “help” to construct the bbq…

I think the same white chook is sitting on about 7 eggs hidden over in the side garden where the tree fell down. She is just about due to hatch them out and unless we get to her and her chicks first and throw them into the communal enclosed outside area that now houses a wonky rooster that survived being set upon by his dad and his brother, a hen with 1 largish chick and a hen with 3 babies, the feral cats will think that they are fair game. It’s dog eat dog here on Serendipity Farm and Bezial is worried! Steve has headed into town to brave the Launceston locals and to do our fortnightly shopping. We are buying another copy of Kaspersky, our Russian hit man anti-virus software who has been protecting us to the max since we bought it from Office works. There are many other anti-virus software packages but what we can get here in Tasmania, let alone from Office Works, is severely restricted so Kaspersky, our proven saviour, is IT. We will load it onto our newly liberated Windows 7 rich laptop so that yours truly can surf Pinterest with impunity on the sofa till I fall asleep at 7.30pm and Steve can then use it to find guitar tab to play while he watches his horror movies

Dog love :)

Dog love 🙂

Some time on Friday or Saturday, my arch nemesis will return. D.S. I don’t even WANT to type the rest of it will rob all of we Eastern border dwellers of an hour of our sleep. That’s not 1 hour folks, that’s an hour a day! Call me a mathematical plebian but even I know that when you add it up that makes approximately 182 hours of robbed sleep in time. It’s bad enough for the people that have to get up an hour earlier to go get ready to go to work but think of we magpies…we hopeless RSS Feed Reader and Pinterest addicts who need to get up before the blackbirds sing to satiate our wanton desires and you can start to see why I ABHORE D.S. I only realised that it was the dreaded D.S. when I read a post from Sarah at the holistically wholesome and sustainably engaging quirky New Zealand love fest that is http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ . Sarah alerted me because N.Z. just commenced their own D.S. Sarah, unlike me, didn’t whinge or complain even once about it. I would imagine that was because Sarah (again…unlike me) is a natural morning person. Narf7 isn’t a natural morning person. I am a natural night-time person who endures mornings to get what I want. D.S. is like inserting bamboo skewers under my twitching early morning eyelids folks and I can only thank goodness that Steve and the dogs aren’t up to see me before that first elixir of mellowness known as “tea” soaks into my grouchy internal organs and seeps outwards to lend me an air of somewhat contented bewilderment

That big jar next to my Vitamix contains "Hilda the Booch" my new Kombucha scoby

That big jar next to my Vitamix contains “Hilda the Booch” my new Kombucha scoby

Here's a closer view of Hilda. The glass isn't really grotty, it was painted once and the bits in the line are all that remain. I got the scoby from David at Wholesome House, our favourite health food shop.

Here’s a closer view of Hilda. The glass isn’t really grotty, it was painted once and the bits in the line are all that remain. I got the scoby from David at Wholesome House, our favourite health food shop.

I foolishly got Steve to set the alarm for today. I have a bolshie desire to foil myself being forced into waking up an hour earlier and giving any powers that be a degree of satisfaction in this little black ducks lack of preparedness for this annual fleecing of hours. I stumbled out of bed with one eye glued to the other wearing only a pair of Steve’s boxer shorts (I DID tell you it hasn’t stopped raining here…) and a sports bra (probably backwards…it no longer matters 😉 ) and turned on the P.C. to see that it was 2.45am. 2.45am?!!! The temptation to head over to my saucepan collection and select 2 particularly loud specimens complete with lids to walk around the house banging together but I figured that it was my own fault for not setting the alarm myself and decided to get dressed instead… Bezial had suffered enough!

It's Steve's and my 13th wedding anniversary on October 7th...we plan on celebrating redneck style. Check out the moonshine glasses that Steve found in town. We will be sipping our port in style!

It’s Steve’s and my 13th wedding anniversary on October 7th…we plan on celebrating redneck style. Check out the moonshine glasses that Steve found in town. We will be sipping our port in style!

So Wednesday finds us somewhat sunny but deep in study again. That’s the thing about living the life that we do…it’s not all beer and skittles you know. We have to pay the ferry man for our lifestyle choices and so study we must. We have to put our veggie garden on the back burner and get stuck in to our final unit of this course where we learn to put everything that we have been learning together and make a website… technically we have to make 2 websites…one each, but let’s not nit-pick, at the end of the day we get to turn out a real and proper website! This has excited Steve and I to the possibilities of making more. We might make one for Earl and Bezial… it would probably get more hits than mine. People love dogs ;).

Our attempt to prevent the wallabies from scarfing the tender new weeping maple leaves. I am pleased to say it works! So far...

Our attempt to prevent the wallabies from scarfing the tender new weeping maple leaves. I am pleased to say it works! So far…

Before I bugger off and let you all get your lives back after tumbling you around the brain of narf7 and hopefully not damaging your psyche’s too much in the process, I want to share an amazing vegan food blog with you all. Don’t roll your eyes; this one would make the most discerning gourmet twitch with delight. I found this blog through the annual Vegan M.O.F.O where crazed vegan food bloggers decide to beat themselves over the head daily and post a food post a day on a particular theme. If I was ever to be crazy enough to join them I would choose Stromboli because Steve would eat every single one of them and STILL want more at the end of the month but I digress…back to http://thevegankitchenofdrcaligari.wordpress.com/ .

Have you ever seen a jasmine tea "flower"?

Have you ever seen a jasmine tea “flower”?

Neither had I till our friend Roxy gave me one

Neither had I till our friend Roxy gave me one

After pouring boiling water gently over the tea "flower" it started to open...

After pouring boiling water gently over the tea “flower” it started to open…

This vegan food blogger took a month worth of “cupcakes” and ran with it. When you think of cupcakes, you think of little sweet cakes with some form of icing (frosting to you Northerners) on top and perhaps a few sprinkles or a cherry to grace the top if you are feeling particularly adventurous on the day…well NO MORE folks! Dr Cal has deconstructed the average cupcake, found it wanting and knocked it right out of the ballpark! In his amazingly innovative way, he has undertaken a Frankenstein approach to cupcakes and every single cupcake that has rolled off the production line this MOFO has been an eye opening scintillating creation that boggles the mind. Think sweet cupcakes that take you all over the place with decidedly unusual ingredients and then forgedaboudit folks and think savoury cupcakes…savoury? Why not! Gorgeous little cupcakes that would be fantastic served at a pot luck or picnic and that would be an instant conversation starter at any “bring-a-plate” event anywhere. Dr Cal (forgive me sir, I don’t know your real name 😉 ) is as eclectic as his cupcakes and every single recipe on his blog is amazing. Do yourselves a Molly Meldrum favour and head straight over there…do NOT pass go and forget about your $200, you are going to need it to buy all of the crazy ingredients that you need to make every single batch of these heavenly delightful cupcakes and just make them and mainline them. Who needs drugs when you have cupcakes like this to free your mind from the oppression of everyday hum-drum life? Kudos Dr Cal and here’s to a lifetime of educating we jaded and oppressed vegans back into the folds of creative invention I salute you sir!

The tea "flower" almost fully opened

The tea “flower” almost fully opened

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

It was like a beautiful anemone at the bottom of the pot and the tea tasted lovely as well :)

It was like a beautiful anemone at the bottom of the pot and the tea tasted lovely as well 🙂

That brings us to the end of this post. About time, it is just about to hit 3000 words but you know how it is…needs must when your muses prompt. What are you still doing here by the way…you should be marveling and “Oohing and Ahing” at Dr Cal’s gorgeous creations! See you on Wednesday when narf7 may or may not be able to fit through the door after making and eating almost all of the months MOFO cupcake creations 😉

Today's Word Cloud picture

Today’s Word Cloud picture