Taking sustainability to the next level

Hi All,

Don’t you hate people that tell you what you should be doing…that gesticulate grandly and proceed to espouse their perfect plan for the world and how they know just about everything…I call them the felt hatted brigade…they seem to be overrepresented in every single community meeting where anything about sustainability, environmentalism or alternative life in general is being discussed and tend to hog the floor with their wonderful ideas…theories and proceed to vote down anyone who has any ideas that differ from theirs…the felt hatted brigade are “Sayers”…they want to be in charge, in control and in your way (but when it comes time to doing anything they are suddenly most conspicuous by the absence…)…I would rather eat my own feet than become a felt hatter and sit back in my armchair telling you about how fantastic I am because I am trying to do something sustainable and how terrible you all are because you are not living off the grid and grinding your own corn between your original 1970’s Birkenstocks… I hate hypocrisy more than I hate felt hatters (and cyclists for that matter…the felt hatters tend to arrive at their meetings on bikes…). I want to be a “Doer”, rather than a “Sayer” and that’s why we are throwing ourselves, admittedly…sometimes dubiously and often dragging our feet…into living what we say. Today we headed out under the rain filled clouds and stood looking at a trailer load of dried oak leaves. What could we do to ensure that this trailer load of leaf futures was going to break down quickly to become something that we could add to our spring veggie gardens? Ok brain… let’s see if we can’t actually remember some of that horticulture stuff that got crammed into you over the last few years… Leaves = good. Ok…that’s a start…we have the leaves and now we just need to work out how to keep them from flying away in the breeze whilst value adding them ready for the garden…hmmm…my initial idea was to build a cairn of rocks (rocks being freely overrepresented on Serendipity Farm both above AND below the soil…) and tip the trailer load of leaves into this cairn and cover it with a tarp over winter and allow nature to do its stuff. A good idea but it would involve constructing a cairn and finding a way to keep the chooks out of the delightful pile of insect hiding leaves…our chooks are clever girls and good luck to me stopping them scratching their way in!

Steve being VERY patient with my newfound need to photograph everything to do with what we are doing at the moment in the garden…

Using an enormous plastic bag that Glad got with her mattress to transfer oak leaf futures from the trailer and too their new home

An old copper fire hydrant that we found in one of the outbuildings on the property has apparently piqued Steve’s artistic desires… not too sure what this represents but with the amount of rain that we have been having lately it might come in useful should anything decide to spontaneously combust

Ok…cairn + leaves + chooks = bad…it was about then that Steve decided to come up with some ideas…the first being “let’s lug that USELESS mulcher out to the garage from under the house and mulch the leaves smaller so that they don’t take up so much room”… very clever idea! (I KNEW I kept you around for something…) so he lugged the mulcher…we plugged it in…we started it up and dutifully shoved handfuls of leaves into its gaping metal chugging maw… and discovered 2 things

1. The mulcher is indeed USELESS and can’t even chop leaves up and indeed set fire to the leaves it refused to spit out in a vain attempt to drive me to abject apoplexy and 2. It would take us a day to alternately shove the leaves in…clear out the aforementioned fire from the mulcher at regular intervals (mulcher + leaves + fire + electricity = VERY bad!) and in the process we would spend more in electricity than we would pay for a trailer load of mulch!

Here is the offending mulcher.

This (supposed) mulcher is SUPPOSED to be able to handle branches with a 5cm diameter…these are “Dry Leaves”…even a 6 month old baby could do some considerable damage to them…

Steve’s ingenious idea to put an old chicken food bag under the hopper to catch the newly shredded leaves…

Ok so it did manage to mangle a few leaves…but what you can’t see here is the smoke coming from the base of the unit where it declined to expel said mangled leaves and decided to set fire to them instead! “HELP…FIRE…”

Tipping the smouldering leaves (that it took the mulcher an inordinate amount of time to mulch, let alone set fire too) out of the mulcher

My new opinion of the mulcher…

The only part of the mulcher that I saw fit to rescue…I am currently wearing this in my hair plait! Steve can repurpose as much of it as he feels like he wants to but as far as I am concerned…its going to the Beaconsfield Tip Shop!

Mulcher + leaves = fire + apoplexy. Our next trip to the tip is going to be to take this monstrosity to its final resting place! Steve’s next idea had more merit (and less hard work…fire and apoplexy potential…) “why don’t we throw some of the leaves into the compost heap?”… That’s a GREAT idea! 1/3rd of the trailer got shovelled off and into the compost heap to be covered with some chopped up green waste in the near future… 2/3rd of a trailer left…what to do…ok, Steve isn’t a 1 trick pony and came up with another idea! “Let’s throw some in with Bob in the outdoor enclosed chook area so that the chooks can scratch them around and break them down whilst nitrogenising them at the same time!”…Oh MAN you are on a roll Steve…so another 1/3rd of the 2/3rd of a trailer that was left got shovelled into a large plastic mattress bag that Glad next door gave us to use to collect the leaves from her ditch and put them into our trailer in the first place. She generously gave it to us and we are making good use of it still. I am USELESS at maths so I can only guess that what we have left in the trailer at this point is about 6/9th so let’s just say that we still have a fair pile of oak leaf futures in the trailer at this point along with 1 very happy chicken who has been confined for her own good due to over molestation by a rooster who is living on very VERY thin ice at the moment…Steve has now become our local sage because he took his outdoor enclosure idea further and suggested that we throw the rest of the leaves into the chicken coop under where they all roost at night and allow them to become pecked, shredded and nitrogenised at the same time so that when it came time for me to clear out the leaves (and hay underneath) we could add them straight into the veggie gardens to overwinter and mature. You can’t use chicken manure green (fresh) because it can actually burn plants because it is so very high in nitrogen so we are careful to compost it before we use it anywhere. So we had an empty trailer, a very happy hen, a chook roost full of oak leaves and a compost bin replete with a good proportion of carbon to be topped off with enough nitrogen to get it all ruminating around and cooking nicely. I LOVE being a doer! It’s so very satisfying to accomplish things and as naturally lazy as I am, I no longer take great delight in spending days on end doing nothing when I could be outside or inside making, learning or doing something productive.

A nice layer of dry carbon to top the clematis prunings that were starting to take over the deck and voila…the compost heap is full again!

You can see one of our first girls in the far nest doing her level best to ignore me putting leaves into the roost. The little fellow staring at me is one of Houdini’s last 7 babies…all of which are still alive and most of them are roosters including this little man. I give him his credit…none of houdini’s 12 (now 11 since “Little Red Rooster” was summarily dispatched due to an overexuberant desire to crow our neighbour Frank into frosty upheaval…) have crossed the line to moving from “outside” to “inside” apart from heading in occasionally to eat. This little man is being VERY brave and after I put these leaves into the coop he spent a happy 20 minutes scratching around through them. Enjoy your time while you can little man…

The close proximaty of the compost bin to the chook coop is NOT an accident. Its a whole lot easier to shovel the chickens most gracious nitrogen deposits and their spent bedding hay into the compost bin when its right outside their door. You can just about see the oak leaves on the floor inside…still got to throw more into where the hen is nesting yet…

Ok, so a hen can only be so brave…

This is the outdoor enclosed coop area, not that its used much because our hens are truely free ranging and get let out when we get up and head back at nightfall (aside from Houdini’s remaining 11 that is the oldest 4 girls roost in a large conifer and the youngest 7 roost WHO KNOWS where they roost…sigh…) and the blue tarp is covering a little structure that we used to house Effel and her 12 babies that we had to move from the front of the property up to the roost because we are NOT going to be having any more ferals…Effel still has 7 babies now and they are starting to be very pretty but today poor overmolested Bob is being kept safe from her would be rapist assailant who spends his days sneaking up on her. You can’t see Bob here because Bob is naturally suspicious of most things (rightly so) and so she is around behind the blue tarp hiding…

“Well done Steve!” Not just a pretty face…and a nice empty trailer all ready to head off to Glads and pick another enormous load of oak leaf futures.

And there’s Bob! Everything is ticketyboo on Serendipity Farm 🙂

I opened up a 5kg sack of dog biscuits and had a look at the sad little generic discs that tumbled into my dog biscuit storage container…they smelled like they contained predominately bone meal and some form of grain. Dog food isn’t subject to any form of compliance aside from ensuring that what it says on the side of the packet regarding the energy/protein etc. ratios are somewhat accurate so who would know what goes into man’s best friend (and Earl’s) regular nibble? I decided that aside from the packet that has to be thrown away being made of unrecyclable plastic (BOOO! To the manufacturer…) that our boys deserve better than that. They only eat these biscuits when they are trying to make me feel guilty for feeding them something that they are suspicious of or when one of us heads off and leaves the other here with the dogs…in other words, they eat them to spite us and to make us feel guilty. I am always up for a challenge and so headed off to my best mate “the internet” to find out if I could take minced meat, combine it with some form of healthy grain and end up with something that would be better for the boys AND would be better for the environment… if I could get our fussy dogs to eat it so much the better! I ended up finding this site…

http://www.collienet.com/Home-made-dog-food-recipes.html

These dogs eat better than some third world humans! Anyway…I scrolled down the page and found the recipe for “Bake your own crunchy dog biscuits” and checking the ingredients I figured that I could sub fine chicken mince from our local pet food shop for the sausage mince and instead of garlic granules I used nutritional yeast and I didn’t bother with the water, I just kneaded the mince into equal proportions of wholemeal flour and voila…a gazillion dog biscuits AND the dogs beg for them! I am paying the same amount for the chicken mince and wholemeal flour as I am for the branded dog biscuits and I know exactly what is going into them. I am going to mess about with this recipe. I am going to add grated root veggies to these cookies and I am going to stop buying the dog food that travels thousands of kilometres to get to me and that does sweet bugger all for my dogs (aside from giving them an “out” for their doggy angst against my tyrannical rule…). A win-win situation for me, the dogs AND the environment…a true red letter day for sustainability on Serendipity Farm

An enormous glass jar full of dog biscuits…

They are an “interesting” shape because I made them into round discs and then decided to break them up further. The next time I make them I will use the bone shaped biscuit cutter that I bought specifically for this purpose but COMPLETELY forgot about when I was making these dog biscuits…sigh…

Just a very quick aside here for all of you Americans…biscuits are what you call cookies…scones are what you call biscuits…the lord only knows why you couldn’t just use the good old English word for them but it does cause no end of confusion when we are hunting around online for recipes!…these are good old Aussie Dog “Biscuits” not cookies…feel free to call them whatever you like if you choose to make them as our uber fussy dogs can’t get enough of them…

I just thought that you might like to see a REALLY big picture of them…you can almost see the nutritional goodness in them can’t you? 😉

As you can see…they are actually desirable to dogs…our boys are uber fussy and for the last 2 days have been refusing their dinner because they have crammed themselves full of these biscuits in preference! Now we can make our own dog biscuits and we can even use our own roosters to do so if we have to dispatch tough old birds thats one less plastic bag a fortnight and a whole lot of satisfaction knowing exactly what we are feeding to our boys. Taking sustainability to the next level? We are blasting it out of the stratosphere! 😉

We loaded up our trailer with all of the rusted up heaps of chicken wire that my dad had for some reason decided to encircle the entire side garden with and staked into the ground with various chunks of wire ranging from coat hangers through tent pegs…fire pokers and most interestingly an old pogo stick! Aside from marvelling at the why’s and wherefores of my father’s gardening skills (or lack therein) we had to get rid of the tangled mass of debris and the local tip recycles metal so after adding a bag of shed rubbish and various bottles, bags etc. that the chooks have been kindly digging up in the garden (cheers dad!) and topping the teetering pile with 3 armchairs…1 that Earl redesigned with his teeth and 2 that we bought with the dogs new sofa and we couldn’t use in the house, strapped them all down and headed over to Beaconsfield to walk the boys and visit the tip. Beaconsfield has a thriving tip shop and so the chairs should find a new home, the metal will be collected and taken for scrap metal recycling in Georgetown and the few bags of sundry shed rubbish will head off to landfill…we spend a lot of time trying to find ways to recycle, reuse and repurpose just about everything that we can (so much so that I have bags waiting for my first attempt at plastic lamination waiting in my pantry cupboard until I get up the nerve…) but there is inevitably a bag of waste that has to head to the tip. At least we are trying to minimise it I guess. We also wait until we have a full trailer to go to the tip with so that we are not wasting fuel, or a tip pass on anything other than a full load. We also wait and walk the dogs at the same time to make sure that we do as much as we can while we are over there. It’s funny how our habits have changed since we moved out here and how we now think and do so many different things to when we lived in the city. I really love finding out other people’s ways of dealing with waste and debris. Christi who lives on the border of Washington and Canada in the USA, of “farmlet.wordpress.com” blogging fame told me about how her grandmother used chicken gizzards and lamented her wasting them. A most bodacious blogger living the Spanish dream “chicaandaluza.wordpress.com” who along with Christi is a fellow compatriot of the worldwide school of sustainable real living, told me that chicken gizzards are highly prized in Spain…Now we just need to get together and work out some of the recipes that Christi’s gran and Tanya’s fellow Spanish compatriots would have used to turn our gizzard waste into food futures saving a wasted opportunity to use this resource that Christi and I both find ourselves inundated with of late. The sharing of information, tips, hints and recipes is what makes blogging imminently satisfying and ultimately profitable to the information highway and anyone who wants to find out how to do things. My rss feed is cram packed full of totally amazing blogs and websites that someone out there decided to create for the purposes of sharing what they know. I can’t even begin to thank all of you caring, sharing people out there because most of what I know about what we need to do to survive, and thrive on Serendipity Farm comes from people like you and I am using my newfound skills wisely young padawan’s!

Just to finish up I have 2 photos of the dogs and their happy places. Bezial loves to lay on the mat just inside the sliding door that leads out to the deck. He surfs the sunbeams and can often be found laying on his back and twitching his legs fast asleep while he is chasing dream rabbits

This is the little sofa that we bought along with 2 armchairs (now at the tip shop in Beaconsfield) that fits perfectly on the tiles next to the wood burning stove. This is Earl’s newfound favourite place to lay and despite us not being able to trust him with the cushions for long periods of time he is the picture of doggy happiness whenever he can leave off nibbling the cushions for 10 minutes or so

Kitchen renovation and Mary Anne Schaffers list

 

Hi All,

I decided that I would like to share a post with you on how we renovated our “kitchens” in our house in town. In the process I will explain why we had 2 kitchens! Not a normal thing, but this is Tasmania and “normal” tends to be in the minority when you are dealing with houses and house building. When we moved from Western Australia to Tasmania it was with the promise of not having to pay rent and being able to study. We didn’t have any idea what the house that we were moving to looked like. When we arrived, we walked through the house in a state of mild shock and bewilderment. Our rented house in Albany W.A. was old, had seen better days but was also enormous. We had huge rooms and plenty of space for all 5 of us (my son Stewart was living with us and we left him renting the house when we left). The house that we were walking around was infinitesimally smaller and we looked at each other and all of us said at once “how are we going to fit all of us AND our stuff in here?” That is saying something because we had left most of our “stuff” behind in Albany including most of our furniture. The house was/is tiny. There is a good sized 1 bedroom unit out the back, but the house itself is very small. The house had also very recently been vacated by its past tenants and like most of my dad’s ex tenants; they didn’t see why they should have to clean up before they left. One look in the tiny split level electric stove/oven revealed a thick layer of white chop fat that coated everything and that needed to be removed before we could use the stove. The one thing that stopped me sinking into a pit of despair was the kitchen. It was light, airy, bright and wasn’t all that bad. It did have linoleum tiles on the floor but we could fix that at a later date. It had been built in the 60’s and owned by a little old lady with 2 eccentric sons, one of whom kept snakes in the shed… We had a lot of work to do! We slowly amassed what we needed to convert the house. We started off with a colour scheme of a soft butter yellow lounge room and kitchen and the rest of the house was painted white (Bethany’s room) and green “Madeline’s room as well as the bathroom (same green). That was to allow us to think that it was “our place” until we could get stuck in in earnest. We soon ripped up the lino tiles and laid some ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen. We ripped up the carpet and polished the wooden floors. We redecorated the bathroom… twice! We also worked out that our 2 kitchens needed to be given identities. The small kitchen near the back door was simply a receptacle for the stove. It had a few small cupboards and not much else. The main kitchen area had no stove, a sink, some cupboards and an interesting metal set of cupboards and bread box sunk into the wall between the 2 kitchens. A most interesting setup and one that we decided to work with…

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We tried to add as much of what we actually wanted in a kitchen along with our ability (well…Steve’s…) to do all of the work ourselves (apart from plumbing in the gas stove). We were able to customise everything because we did it all ourselves resulting in us being able to work with our space and also work vertically so that we could make the best use of the very small amount of area available. We love being inventive with space and with what we use to make cupboards etc. We ended up making our bench tops in the main kitchen area out of very thick pine. We loved what we did and it really suited our needs.

We set about giving each room identity. The room with the stove got a nice big gas stove purchased by my father from a local auction house (after I headed in and picked it out). I don’t know if any of you realise how difficult it is these days to get an “all gas” stove with a gas oven as well but it was a sheer stroke of amazing good fortune that someone wanted to sell their all gas 6 burner stove when we wanted to buy one second hand. This stove is amazing and we decided to do away with using large gas bottles and set up a system of the smaller 9kg gas bottles for the stove after we had a chat to a chef who does the same at his place. No more gas bottle rental for us! We then set about making it a good space for the stove and added our washing machine and a wall bracket for the dryer. For such a small space we sure packed a lot in! We then worked with the main kitchen and set about removing a dated island and after tiling we set about repainting and redecorating this area. We then added shelves in the windows so that the neighbours couldn’t see in easily. Here are some photos to show you what we did. The first photo that we had of the little kitchen was actually after we had done some redecorating so you can’t see what greeted us when we first got there. We didn’t have a camera at that stage and so you are just going to have to imagine the grease covered, smoke covered surfaces and the grime that covered everything. We had a little bit of savings that we had brought over with us from W.A. but apart from that, we had to save up and do things as we had the money. I think that it makes you feel prouder of your efforts and you appreciate what you have done more when you have to save up to get it and you have to find ways to get what you want cheaper. I think that the process of arriving at your destination is always where you get the most satisfaction. The end result is all well and good but remembering how you tipped that tin of paint off the deck…how you painted over every single vent in the house…how the dog ate your sponge…how you had to live in a caravan outside in the sub zero temperatures with a most exuberant young dog who insisted on shoving you out of your tiny single bed give your “project” it’s meat. We have always had to use our lateral thinking abilities and natural inventive minds to counteract our low fund issues. We are also somewhat eccentric about what we do and don’t like. Some of the things that we have done to the house in town are not to everyone’s taste but we don’t care, because

  1. We are penniless hippy student hermits who could care less about what “normal” people think
  2. We have more time and energy than we do money so we have to be inventive and sometimes “inventive” ends up slightly different to what money can buy
  3. We love what we did
  4. We enjoyed being able to do whatever we wanted to the house as it was actually ours!
  5. Did I mention that we are hermit eccentric bohemians who could care less what other people think?

We love the bright colours and the very next year “burnt orange” and “cerulean blue” were the IN colours for accent walls. Admittedly we did paint our entire kitchen and lounge room burnt orange with contrasting green cupboards, our hallway area was the brightest Mediterranean blue that you have ever seen (and still is because our daughters are too busy with other things to repaint) and the bathroom is pillar box red with black and white accents. It certainly takes your mind off how small the house is! The tiny kitchen/stove area is a nice dark sage green colour and is probably the most understated room in the house. When you work with what you have available it limits your choices sometimes but Steve and I are always on the lookout for something that is functional as well as aesthetically pleasing, and if it does a few more things at the same time (like going vertical rather than horizontal and saving us space or being colourful and useful) so much more the better.

The brand spanking new copy of the book that Earl ate has arrived. I can’t praise this online book store enough! 1 week to get here from the U.K. and less than half the price the library wanted to charge me for the very same book. I will be using this book shop repeatedly from now on. They have amazingly good prices and free postage to Australia and now, with only 1 week waiting time, they are my new favourite book store. No more browsing shelves of the local shops, I will be hunting down reviews online and will be purchasing my books from The Book Depository. I can’t see how real time book stores are able to have the bollocks to charge what they charge for these books. I know that they have physical costs like wages and lighting etc. but all I can think is that they want to buy themselves a new Mercedes with the massive profits that they are charging. Bollocks to them. This is one instance where the book shop (wanky, overpriced and full of pretentious Pratt’s and snooty staff) can go broke as far as I am concerned. I am heartily sick of people ripping other people off and making “book reading” (something that should be fostered, nurtured and actively promoted for everyone) only for the rich. They have done it with anything cultural. Art, books, music and now food. Don’t forget the humble pushbike that was once the mode of transport for artistic Frenchies, school kids and people who lost their license, now it is seen as being something to aspire to (and to haul your ancient flabby bodies into lycra to make some sort of status statement about your sad old carcass…). Wine is to be sniffed and swirled around your mouth before you spit it out and beer is no longer the premise of the “common man” but is boutique and scented with blackberries and chocolate undertones. There is something to be said for “ambiance” in cafes and book stores, but if you want to spend a small fortune on a book to elevate yourself above the rest of society and make yourself feel better get a life! Give us back our books. Thank goodness for whoever thought of making books available free to the masses in the form of libraries. I owe them my sanity and several certificates and a Diploma to boot. I love the Book Depository. I don’t care if some sweaty strange person with hairy palms runs the website from their basement dungeon where they are confined by their ankle bracelet to make sure that they don’t emerge in daylight hours to shuffle about dealing nefariously with the general public. To me they are someone wonderful and to be championed. Now I can take the book to the library, I can collect my mangled copy and I can take out 2 of the books on Mary Anne Schaffer’s list of “best ever books”. I am going to spend the rest of the afternoon with one of these most precious tombs and a nice cup of earl grey tea. I will most probably make the shortcrust pastry for Steve’s pie that he wants to experiment with later on now so that nothing will interrupt me and my pleasure. See you all tomorrow :o)

Just a very quick addition to this post…the first Mary Anne Schaffer book that I picked up to read “Time and Again” by Nora Roberts is apparently a bestseller on the New York Times list. I started reading it with great interest and it took me all of 3 pages to work out that it was a bodice ripper. Oh well…I don’t read romance novels. I don’t have time to sigh about unrequited love and, in this case, the need for some future Romeo to get back to his time while he falls in love with a 20th century babe. Not a good start Mary Anne! I hope that this was a mere aberration in your list and that it doesn’t start out as it means to finish up or I might be severely let down. I am not going to finish the book. I read 100 pages of it and apart from on again, off again tension between the principal characters, this book did nothing for me. If you like a good romance novel perhaps you will enjoy it… I am on to the next book by Sebastien Japrisot “A Very Long Engagement” that promises to be somewhat meatier than the last choice. I am also going to request the next 2 books on Mary Anne’s list. I will let you know how Monsignor Sebastien Japrisot’s novel is going in the near future. See you tomorrow :o)

Making sprinklers while the rain pours…

Hi All,

Our friend Jenny is coming to visit us on Serendipity Farm today. Who cares? WE DO! Jenny was just another person in our somewhat small class when we first started in Certificate 2 in horticulture. As the class members melted away over the initial 6 months and then started to alarmingly dissolve in Certificate 3 down to a steady stream of 6 of us, Jenny, Steve and I gravitated towards each other as being “mature aged students” and kindred spirits. Jenny and Glen, her partner, are most probably the most generous people that I have ever met. They are generous with their time as well as their possessions. I am, by nature, a generous person. It has come a little harder to Steve but he is coming along in leaps and bounds apart from the odd decent into tightness. I have no problem with giving things that I no longer need or want away. I think that the world needs generosity to balance out all of the meanness and selfish hoarding that goes on and practice it whenever I can (the generosity, not the selfishness :o) We haven’t seen much of Jenny over the school holidays as she is using her new found horticultural knowledge to work in the industry. Apart from her generosity, Jenny is one of the most easy going non-threatening people that I know and has a fantastic work ethic making her an ideal team member in a nursery. I have a streak of anal perfectionism that makes me a pain in the bum to other members of any team that I am forced to work in. I think it comes from being a stay at home mum and only venturing into the workforce after my divorce. Arriving at “work” as a concept at the age of 34 meant that work wasn’t just something that I did to get my daily bread, it was something that I wanted to excel at and as such I tried my hardest to do my best, which pissed off many of my “team mates” no end because if someone in your team is striving to achieve, that means you have to pick up your game. I don’t make a good “team member”. Not because I don’t want to join in, not because I don’t get along with my other team members, but simply because I try my hardest to do the best job that I can and in so doing I upset people (especially other women) that I work with and it never ends nicely. I should work, ideally, somewhere where I can research and catalogue my findings. I love following processes and ticking boxes. Stick me in a library somewhere cataloguing books under the Dewy decimal system and I would be in heaven. That might sound boring, but I was born to catalogue, research and document with a major in planning. Each to his/her own and that is my idea of the ideal job. It would also limit the amount of “normal” people that I would have to deal with thus limiting my need to compete with said “normal” people and piss them off. Honesty is so refreshing! Now you all know how anal I can be…how I need to do things properly (“if you can’t do things property, don’t do them at all!” instilled in me by my grandmother over many years along with “clean up as you go along…” both mantra’s that can’t be broken) and in due process (unless I figure out an easier and more streamlined way to arrive at the end of the process with the same results…another one of my abilities :o). I tend to piss people off (especially women). I talk too much (to cover up not knowing what to say and being naturally shy) and I am not very good at sharing empathy, gossip or at shopping with other women. I can’t see the point of spending hours on end window shopping. I like to go in…buy it… and get out! Unless it’s a kitchen shop or a shop that sells weird and wonderful ethnic grocery lines I am unable to stand for more than 10 minutes at a time without twitching. I must be part man…

It takes all sorts to make a world and Jenny is our “sort” of person. We all work together well. We were able to drag ourselves kicking and screaming through Certificate 3 in horticulture and we all passed. Jenny may have taken the path (that we at least have) less trodden and used her knowledge to gain lawful employment (where we are threatening to become old aged pensioner professional students…) but we maintain a great friendship and are always willing to help each other out should any of us need said help. Despite being terrified of our dogs (mainly King Earl), Jenny comes out to visit us and even if we do have to stand outside the perimeter fence and chat, she can have a look at how huge the chickens have grown, she can see exactly what we have (and haven’t) done on Serendipity Farm since she was last here and she can fill us in on all of the horticultural gossip that we miss out on living out in the sticks in the boondocks of Serendipity Farm. There will always be a cup of coffee (or beer should the arms of the clock be over the yard arm…) and a bickie for Jenny on Serendipity Farm :o)

That was a long first stanza! How am I going to match that? Perhaps with a shorter more manageable bite of paragraph? I tend to be verbose physically as well as mentally. I get incredibly excited about things and want to share them and my fingers trip over themselves in my efforts to get my thoughts down onto the online version of the page. I have had a few of you (lazier) constant readers pull me up on the length of my posts. Get a cup of coffee/tea (or even your alcoholic beverage of choice…who am I to tell you what to do? :o) and pull up a chair and spend a little bit of your day, wherever you are, here on Serendipity Farm with your good friends the Pimbletts. We might not actually physically know each other, but here on this blog, in this tiny little segment of the world we are good friends in spirit. I find out so many things through wandering around online. I usually start somewhere with a specific task/goal to achieve but end up finding all sorts of things off to the side of what I am actually looking for. I have an enormous word document where I store “interesting” and “must revisit” websites that I find on my travels sideways and upside down through the World Wide Web. I found a list (that I shared with you in an earlier post) of books that one “Mary Anne Schaffer” (of “The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society” book fame) loved to read. That makes them a must read for me. I have a follower on this blog called “Photobotos”. No idea who this person is, only that he is male, his brother is also male (funny that…your brother being male…) and that he and his brother take the most amazing photographs that I have ever seen. They are not just visual representations of the scenery and conditions at the time; they are small and most amazing windows to the soul. Through this person I have been able to see some incredible things that I would otherwise never have been able to see. This person/persons has found some way of hunting down blogs that amuse/interest them. I am a quintessential magpie and never let it be said that I can’t take advantage of someone else’s hard work and natural inquisitive talent to sniff out a good blog or two and pare down the multitudes of dross to find the nuggets of literary (and photographic) gold out there. Like his illustrious literary counterpart Ms Mary Anne Schaffer, I will be wading slowly through the list of people thanking him for liking various blog posts on their blogs. I want to visit these blogs because I have a more than sneaking suspicion that he is onto something…like gulls flocking to another gull bums up in the water emerging with a most delicious fish in his beak…I am the next cab in the rank to sample those delicious moments…thankyou Photobotos for your thumbs up to these blogs…they are next on my list to explore and you have saved me countless hours of energy wading through rubbish to find something special :o)

What a meandering path I am taking today! Sometimes my posts take a more physical lien like when I am talking about “actual events” or plants in our garden. Should something interesting happen down on Serendipity Farm (or halfway up the hill where I have to huff and puff to get up there to document it for you) you are always the first to know. Sometimes I just let my mind wander about where it will. Some of the less kind of you might be sniggering and saying “yeh…and it sure is obvious!” but my answer to that is “get back to your studies you lazy bollocks” (aimed at my 2 daughters who are the most likely candidates for that sort of a retort) and “talk to the hand!” to the rest of you. The hand is actively typing and could care less about what you are thinking at the moment. I can hear a mole cricket formulating his chirps out in the newly moist soil. I heard a little frog singing a chorus to heaven when I went out at dusk to see if the hens were in their roost ready for us to lock up (like fun they were!). Like my brothers little wood and stone cottage out in the bush, Serendipity Farm has a degree of removal from the outside world allowing us to see and hear things that we might otherwise not be aware of. I love the way that these little creatures wander through, across, over and around Serendipity Farm. We have lizards in the house hunting for flies. We have a few large huntsman spiders wandering about sampling the mosquitos that home in on Steve in the night. We have all sorts of little birds in various stages of life that interact with each other and with us on a regular basis. We can watch the seasons unfold and the life cycles rotate. It brings us closer to God (much like the 9 inch nails song “Closer”…by the way…if you are of a serene disposition or over the age of 30 please DON’T go hunting for the lyrics to that song…I warned you! :o) isn’t it amazing that we can all find ourselves functioning and living our day to day lives amongst all of this apparently chaotic life teeming around us…plants…animals…insects and everything else not represented by these genres working together to keep this world running exactly as it has for millennia. I can hear Steve driving up the driveway and the boys are whining and singing out to him. There is no doubt whatsoever when Steve gets back (or anyone else for that matter) as the dogs herald his return with gusto.

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What can I say about this slideshow of the process involved in taking some of the grouchiness out of first thing in the morning apart from somewhere in this slideshow, you get to see someone who appears to be sick of me taking photographs of him… We are very happy with our end results. DON’T show this to Nick Nat or we will be forced to kill you (and he will be forced to make us do a unit in irrigation all over again). Sometimes what you have learned needs to be tweaked by what you can afford :o)

We just set up the overhead watering system. It cost us just on $45 to build and it waters all of our potted plants around the side of the house. We are extremely happy with the results and with pairing our ideas, existing “stuff” and a few things that we had to buy new (sprinkler heads and fittings and some rope and a coil of black polypipe) and best of all IT WORKS! At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how pretty something is or how much it cost, if it works, it is just what the doctor ordered. Our system works and isn’t all that bad on the eye to be honest. We are enjoying knowing that we are not going to have to be out watering for an hour and a half every second day (and every day when it’s hot) and that we can pair the watering system with a timer that we bought when we were in town to water the garden nice and early so that the plants soak it up before it evaporates. I collected another instalment in the new blackberry wine ingredients list (some blackberries). That is the ONLY reason why most of the blackberries around Serendipity Farm are still alive and twitching, because right now I am harvesting them. They fruited early this year and most copiously. I think having a year or two of mild conditions and lots of rainfall followed by a nice hot long summer made them go mad. I don’t really mind as I get to harvest all of the nice ripe fruit early and we get a head start on our wine production for this year. Pretty soon PANTAS stone fruit orchard just up the road from us will offer peaches “$2/kilo pick your own” and we will get some more of them as well. Last year we made peach wine. It had a most “interesting” flavour and over the year turned from a weird tasting wine to a very strong weird tasting wine. Steve just finished the last of the barrel off last week and it was somewhat akin to paint thinner. We might combine the peaches with something else this year. We read that peaches make a watery thin wine with very little taste so we added lots more peaches and sugar and ended up with peach vodka. A small glass could render me legless and I am NOT a 1 pot screamer so that should tell you how strong it was. We have 2 hop vines in pots and should we EVER get around to getting our veggie garden area sorted, we will plant the 2 hop vines out and allow them to do what they do best, head to the sky. We will train them up some of the eucalyptus trees in the veggie garden area and we might even have a go at making our own beer wort this year. At least the hops won’t croak now that they are getting regular water. (Note to self… take the hops around to where they can get regular water…). We headed over to Exeter today to pick up a few more sprinkler heads for our system. We underestimated how many we would need because we increased the area of watering from 25 metres to 35 metres and needed to adjust the amount of sprinklers accordingly. While we were in Exeter we decided to check out the Thrift shop and I found a most wonderful old brass door knob. We are going to mount it on the door between the laundry and the hallway leading to the kitchen. I really love it. It is brass and ornamental and cost me the princely sum of $1. Tasmania might suck for all sorts of reasons, but bargain hunting is NOT one of them. You can get all sorts of amazing bargains if you are willing to get out of bed early on a Saturday (and sometimes a Sunday) morning. If you go to the Evandale markets you can often find people selling very interesting things at very low prices. We don’t get to go much these days as Evandale is now a long way away from where we live. Back when we lived in town we would make a weekly trip and then drop in at the Esk markets in Launceston occasionally on the way home. The Esk markets are not as good as the Evandale markets but it’s sometimes nice to check and see if anything is there. I miss going to the markets but we spend a whole lot less out here so I guess there are swings and roundabouts. We have been sifting through our plants to see what we could pot up to sell at the local Deviot Market. We might even book a stall at the Mad Hatters Market Day in March. We have lots of interesting plants, most of them we grew from seed or cuttings in Certificate 2 of horticulture. We learned where to buy our pots, our potting media etc. and BOY did we throw ourselves head first into propagation. Steve headed sideways into grafting and we both did a stint with bonsai and several other horticultural specialties. Hopefully we get a bit more time this year to mess about a bit and do some maple grafting. We have quite a few nice specimens now and lots and lots of regular Japanese maples that we grew from seed and collected from friend’s places and roadside verges. Should we get the impetus to do so, we will share the results with you all. Ok, I think it is time to head off into the blogging ether. Time to cook something for Steve’s tea. Last night we had some most delicious home-made spring rolls and tonight it might be something meaty and vegetably for Steve (he was a good boy and ate his green beans so he might get let off eating them tonight…). After I do that, I will plump some nice pillows under Steve in the lounge room and will head off into the kitchen to play Animal Crossing (I might be addicted…but I am nothing if not consistent!) see you all tomorrow :o)