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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“On the scrounge again…”

Hi All

“I just can’t wait to get on the scrounge again…” (ALL apologies to Mr Willy Nelson for taking his sterling effort and narforising it…)

Disclaimer…just before you start attempting to wade through this post it is probably one of the longest posts I have ever put on this blog. I completely and utterly forgive you if you just want to flick through the images and get a visual idea of what the post is about today. I guess summer has just taken over my brain…its my excuse, and I am sticking with it! 😉

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These are Gladioli carmineus corms. Gladioli carmineus (Mini Gladioli) are a low growing gladioli that grow quickly and spread like wildfire. I got these bulbs when leaning over a gardeners fence and admiring her plants on one of my morning walks with Earl

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Steve gets the bucket and I get the tahini from inside it…a win-win situation

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Whatever these plums are they are not cherry plums. I noticed these on a small tree amongst some wild cherry plums so I picked some before the possums stripped the tree and am going to plant out the seeds

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geranium cuttings and the reason why you pick fruit when it is green around here…the possums sampled my pilfered plums…cheeky sods!

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I am a manic list maker…here you see some of my lists, some clasps to ensure that the hose doesn’t blow (again) and bags of chia, quinoa and amaranth seed that I am going to plant along with some buckwheat as experimental crops this year

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The hay bales in Steve’s shed have just been appropriated for “other purposes”. I don’t mind, at least I know where this nest is!

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Looks like it has more than one occupant!

Well here I am again on Wednesday but what a difference a couple of weeks makes to this little black duck. 2 weeks ago I was a spent husk. Today I am bursting with possibilities. December 1st was apparently the first day of summer but Tasmania seems to have decided to succeed from the rest of the world and do its own thing and we have had spring, autumn, winter and a tiny hint of summer thrown in over the course of the last 2 weeks. I can’t say I mind. I love all of the rain that we are having and so does the garden. 2 weeks ago the veggie garden was a sad reminder that I had been hiding under the bed with my fingers in my ears a little bit too long but the season appears to have been hiding under the bed with me so everything is rosy on Serendipity Farm.

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Steve’s Chinese (larger) bonsai Japanese maple that he sourced from under the deck as a tiny seedling and has been training for 3 years now with it’s own nitrogen fixing crop of clover growing with it

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A little primrose and a strappy liriopes both bought from the little stall at the top of the hill for $2 each

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When I sorted through the potted plants I found this succulent that is just about to flower and a lavender that I can plant out in the garden

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My newly purchased Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks along with grape vines grown from cuttings from a Muscat grape and pelargonium and scented geranium cuttings sourced from one of our walks

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Healthy melon and capsicum (pepper) plants that my daughter Madeline grew from seed and that are excess to her needs so I get some (cheers Madeline 🙂 )

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More geranium and pelargonium cuttings. I usually take a whole lot more care with cuttings but geraniums and pelargoniums are very hardy and should all strike no problems

The vegetable garden is going great guns. Because of all of the rain that we have been having, the rest of the garden is great gunning as well; especially the forget-me-nots that I am studiously pretending don’t exist much to their amusement. I looked down at my jeans yesterday after I had gone hunting for eggs amongst the undergrowth (I live in hope and am ever optimistic…) and I was covered in forget-me-not seeds…the little buggers LOVE me! Earl, who had accompanied me on lead was also covered in forget-me-not seeds BUT the difference was, he just shook himself and they magically dropped off him…I attempted to follow suit and nothing happened…I was still scraping them off my jeans and muttering under my breath when I managed to haul Earl up the deck steps to the deck above. If truth be told, the jeans aren’t the only thing that is covered in forget-me-not seeds but every time I get infested I toss the item into the washing and continue on regardless “I CAN’T hear you forget-me-nots!”

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Wheeling loquat seedlings, cherry plum seedlings and displaced herbs around to the veggie garden from the shed

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An oak leaf hydrangea flower on the way

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The only thing stopping this artichoke and the Jerusalem artichoke in this photo from being scoffed are the forget-me-nots and other “garden miscellanea” in this garden bed preventing the chooks from being able to see them

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Looking back from the first garden to the house where you can see one of our fine specimens of guard dogs on alert…pity they weren’t on alert the other day when we had some Jehovah’s witnesses breach the compound, walk up the steps, come onto the deck and tap on my window for a good 5 minutes before I realised that it wasn’t Earl’s tail on the window, it was (shock horror) PEOPLE! I calmly informed them that I had NO idea why our big dogs hadn’t bounded around the corner barking to greet them, politely said “no thank-you” when offered literature and said goodbye to them as they headed back down the steps. Suddenly the deck started to rumble, an eruption of barking ensued and shamefaced dogs who had been sleeping on the job pelted down to bark off the intruders…sigh…

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I hope you are all getting the picture as to why I am hiding under the bed and have NO idea where to start in the garden. Everything has gone completely mental and who would know what most of this is!

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Our mountain of home grown compost underneath some ex fish farm netting that has been dampened to keep the worms in it happy

Now that I am free to wander around the garden at will (forget-me-nots and all…) I have rediscovered my love of gardening all over again. It goes dormant for winter and appears to have erupted out of me with a vengeance this year. As a penniless student hippy who desires to live simply and sustainably I have to find all kinds of different ways to get what I want that don’t involve the green folding stuff (or even the silver stuff to be honest 😉 ) and the last week has seen me scrounging with impunity to our advantage. Here is a list of recent scrounges…

  1. Live Christmas trees scrounged by Stevie-boy, the son-and-heir, his Texan sweetie and my daughters from the firebreak between a pine plantation and our friends property
  2. 2 x 20 litre tahini buckets scrounged by Stevie-boy from Wholesome House health food shop for his shed that contained enough organic tahini to fill a large glass jar…BONUS!
  3. A visit to the Deviot Heritage Apple and Pear enclosed orchard yielded rooted cuttings of various kinds of herbs that had gone rampant into the path and that are now replanted into a large pot
  4. More angelica seed from the same garden scattered all over the place on Serendipity Farm
  5. Some cuttings of Tagetes lemmonii (an aromatic shrub native to south-eastern Arizona and south into Mexico) that I have on the windowsill in a mug of water with the hopes that the cuttings will produce roots
  6. 4 more small loquat trees that are now potted up and happy as clams in the veggie garden
  7. Lots of cherry plum seedlings found on a recent walk down at Bonnie Beach that are going to become the welcoming fence line trees on Serendipity Farm in the future
  8. A selection of pelargoniums and geranium cuttings that were sourced from plants growing on the side of the road on another one of our walks recently. I realised that some areas of Serendipity Farm are always going to be pretty arid so have decided to grow plants that will be able to tolerate low water conditions and geraniums and pelargoniums are perfect cheerful specimens. Soon to come will be lavender cuttings, rosemary cuttings and anything else that I deem drought ready and willing
  9. I walked with Earl over the Batman again and took my secateurs and a large plastic bag this time and arrived back home with cuttings from Cistus x “Purpureus” (Pink Rock Rose) and that unknown grey leaved sage type plant that I am experimenting with. I have put half of them in a glass of water on my kitchen windowsill and the other half are in potting mix in the veggie garden
  10. Seeds, seeds and MORE seeds…collecting like a crazy woman from wherever I can see something that I like (that doesn’t involve pole vaulting over someone else’s garden fence 😉 )
  11. I found a stash of possum sucked loquat seeds underneath a large loquat tree that I may, or may not have been going to predate (but the possums got there first…) and brought them home and shoved them into the ground in likely places of survival all over Serendipity Farm. I kept 5 back to plant in potting mix as I love loquats and want them all over the place as part of my lines of defence between us and the marauding natives. I figure, by the time they get to the heart of our garden where the “good” things are, they will be so stuffed full on lesser fruits that they will hardly be able to waddle…ever the optimist is narf7 😉
  12. I have been snacking on native cherry fruit as I have been walking Earl in the mornings down Auld Kirk Road. There is a particular tree that Earl likes to make a fuss over (due to a large brown hound once attempting to accost Earl in this exact place…) that gives me a little time to snack on the large native cherry tree in the vicinity. The fruits are small, reminiscent of cashew fruit with the seed sticking out the bottom of the fruit and the same shape (except a lot smaller) and quite tasty when they are ripe. There are so many of them the birds can’t actually keep up with them this year.
  13. Free seedlings from Madeline, my eldest daughter including red capsicum seedlings and some kind of melon (either rock or honeydew). I am just about to clear them their very own mountain of horse poo to grow happily in. The pumpkins that sprouted from compost hurled under the horse poo before we sunk the first pole in the veggie garden are all starting to grow like crazy so some melons may as well join the parade
  14. Still finding lots and lots of beer bottle caps on the side of the road that I am collecting to make this

That’s only a small selection of free or minimal cost things that I have been hunting out with a view to utilising them on Serendipity Farm. I get so excited about the possibilities of growing free plants and guess what I did this week…I FINALLY managed to sort through all of the potted plants and move them to one area. Steve helped me set up the overhead watering system so that most of them get watered without effort and only a few are going to need to be watered with the hose but pretty soon we will be taking some of them off to one of the Deviot Saturday morning basket markets with a large painted sign saying “Free to good home”. I would like to think that people will make the most of some free plants for their garden and that our potted babies will make someone else happy 🙂

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Even the possums have been hiding under the bed when faced with the wealth of crazy undergrowth that Tasmania is generating. I am starting to think that we have switched poles and Tasmania is the new Bali! This rose bush is usually twigs. It lives as twigs for most of the year and then goes twiggily dormant…this year it has been allowed to keep it’s leaves and these little roses smell amazing. “Cheers possums!”

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Steve’s Strelitzia’s are just about to bloom and this large black cicada has just hatched out of his pupae and is waiting for his wings to harden enough for him to fly off to the trees above and join hundreds of his brethren in a chorus that will herald the heat of summer. They are great food for birds and other animals and every 4 years we get invaded by these huge slow chirping behemoths

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The offending pipe that kept blowing apart when we turned the tap on in the veggie enclosure. This pipe is all that stands between water and the garden so I mended it today with some of those clips that you saw in an earlier image. Soon we will get another water tap inside the enclosure but for now this one is good enough

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This used to be the first series of 3 garden beds in our original set-up. We were late to the game this year so decided to use the existing infrastructure to get going sooner and after pulling out the now unnecessary partitions we have a fair bit more room to grow veggies

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The bed in the foreground contains silverbeet that our horticulture friend Jenny gave us months ago. They were languishing in a cardboard box with most of their soil washed away and I am amazed that they survived, let alone are growing like crazy now! It can only attest to their hardiness

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Next time I plant carrots I will use seed tape…as you can see “someone” accidentally tipped a few extra seed halfway along that third row…oh well, the packets were only $1 each and the thinnings should be prolific

I have been studiously ignoring Christmas almost as much as I have been ignoring the forget-me-nots to the same effect…it is just flowing past me regardless. I have reached a point where I am just about ready to tentatively stick my toe into the Christmas tide BUT I will be doing it at my pace and point blank refuse to get caught up in the hype. The television is manic with “GREAT DEALS FOR CHRISTMAS” but narf7 is content with “slowly, slowly catchy monkey”. Wouldn’t a monkey be great on Serendipity Farm? He could live in the veggie garden and have fun with the possum marauders on their nocturnal visits…but seriously, this year will be spent doing what we want, when we want. A most glorious wish and one that I get the feeling I just might get.

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Rows of peas going crazy…now I just have to work out how I am going to support them when they get bigger

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On the left hand side of this small garden bed are some scarlet runner beans that formed large bulbous tubers last year and that the chooks scratched most of the soil away from. I didn’t expect them to grow back this year but once we topped up the soil and added lots of horse manure they started growing again. Bonus crop with no sowing effort at all!

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The nut trees that had been living in Steve’s shed to protect them from the native animals are much happier out in the open

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My 2 yacon plants surrounded by the pallid tendrils of a forgotten bag of potatoes in the back of the pantry

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Horse poo mountain that I am going to leave in this spot because all of these pumpkins spontaneously grew here. I must have dumped some household compost underneath this spot and now they are growing happily…more plants that I didn’t have to coax to seedling height and transplant out…I LOVE this gardening lark!

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More free plants. This time they are some of the strawberries that I sourced from a stack of strawberry runners that someone threw onto the green waste at the local dump. Their loss, my gain! This pot is one of almost 15 that we will be planting out “somewhere” inside the veggie compound

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The Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks in situ. Is it just me or does that Egyptian walking onion look like Earthworm Jim? 😉

Bev, from the wonderfully inventive and sustainable blog “Foodnstuff” posted a post this week that was completely invigorating and got me out and about collecting plant material and getting stuck into the garden. Sometimes you just need a gentle shove and Bev’s post was mine. If you would like to see how a real garden works, click on the link above and head on over and check out Bev’s garden full of possibilities. I love Bev’s blog because every time I see a new post it gives me some new ideas and new ways of doing things that I didn’t know before. I am ever on the scrounge for useful information and Bev’s blog is cram packed full of it

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The sum total of the lettuce population in the garden…a bit sad really but we are just about to remedy this problem. I have to use slug/snail pellets in the garden at the moment because they appear to have heard on the grapevine that there is free grub on Serendipity Farm and I am NOT losing any more food to freeloading varmints…

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Looking into the veggie garden at the possibilities…note the amazing architectural construction of the gateway into the garden. Another one of my dad’s “wonderful creations”. I am just REALLY glad that he didn’t build the house! 😉

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Note the garden is now taking over the “lawn”. Note also that someone has to mow the lawn! (Note to self…mow the lawn BEFORE you show them another photo of this area! 😉 )

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This is what is commonly called “Elephants Ears” or Bergenia cordifolia by people who want to appear horticulturally clever “You KNOW who you are!”

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Note Earl has just about had enough of me walking backwards and forwards and taking photos…We picked up that Cray pot full of floats for $5 at the last progressive garage sale in march…I love the progressive garage sale 🙂

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Sadly, I don’t know what this is. I bought it in a pot at Wychwood because the lady told me that it was hardy. Here you can see it fighting a loosing battle against some native raspberries (note to self add “make tepee’s for the native raspberries as number 732 on your to-do list”…sigh…)

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Unlike the unknown perennial that the native raspberries are attempting to throttle, these little guys are edible. They are going great guns in the garden under the deck and you can see the small fruit forming on the vines now

I am just about to gird my loins and head off to a local friend’s home and spend some time chatting to her about making my idea about developing local community a reality. I know that there are a lot of people living in the area who might be interested in getting together with other like-minded people in order to develop our local community and share our combined knowledge to everyone’s advantage. My idea is to have a meeting to see how many people are interested, to start a group of us that are interested in getting together over a cuppa for a crafting group, baking circle, gardening group etc. all invested in teaching each other new skills and forging a sense of community here in tiny little riverbank Sidmouth. Stevie-boy suggested the name “Sidmouth Sustainability Group” which sounds like a plan to me and my friend is the perfect place to start because she has been a “hippy” for most of her life and knows more about sustainability than I have had hot dinners (and that is a LOT folks 😉 ). Together we should be able to at least host a few interesting talks about various subjects ranging from keeping goats, making goat cheese, spinning, gardening (Roxy) through to keeping ferments, cooking for allergies etc. (me). The idea keeps lodging itself in my head and I think it’s the right time to bring it to fruition. I will keep you in the loop about how it pans out but I doubt I will do anything about it till after Christmas (oh NO! I said it! If you acknowledge it, it will come! Sigh…)

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This spot under the deck is very dry and this is where I am going to plant lots of those pelargoniums and scented geraniums in order to keep moisture in the soil and to grow other shrubs that wouldn’t otherwise survive in this arid spot. There was nothing here last year and as you can see, we have some plants growing. A note to anyone who thinks that where they live won’t grow flowers. Plant snap dragons. Those snapdragons are self sown from “somewhere” (dad most certainly didn’t sow them!) and keep coming back and spreading year after year.

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This was a scented geranium that I potted up as a cutting last year that we planted out earlier in spring

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So is this one. They are hardy, have pretty flowers that stay on the shrub all summer and whenever they are touched by anything (including wind or water) they release a lovely scent. The perfect plant for under the deck on a hot summers day 🙂

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This bottlebrush seems happy out the back but it will soon be enclosed inside the dogs compound (we are going to extend it) so I can’t vouch for it’s continued happiness. We can only hope that Earl decides to “mark” things a bit further afield but I won’t hold my breath…

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Steve’s collection of “Solar Groovers”, little solar powered things that he has collected that wiggle in his music room window. You can see one of his tab books on the music stand in the background.

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Back on the deck now (much to Earl’s delight) and looking back towards the veggie enclosure. Note the gypsy hoards of chooks wandering around pinching things…sigh…

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Our bedroom window with assorted vegetation

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“Someone” who wishes to remain anonymous because he was a very silly man, left the door to the pantry open where he had placed his nice new crocs that he had purchased the day before…

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We can’t be having Earl get ALL the attention now…better do my cute “upside down” number and have a bit of a chew on what was left of that croc while I do…

Looks like I have earbashed you again but like the large black cicada’s that are hatching out all over the place, my summer exoskeleton is firming up nicely and I will be ready to fly in a week or so. I have even been contemplating the Christmas meal! Next week I will have the tree put up and decorated (although it will probably take me a month to take it down again…), decorations made of an interesting baking soda clay from this site… and goodness only knows what else will be fermenting on Serendipity Farm so stay tuned for the next summery instalment of simple sustainability on Serendipity Farm and enjoy your nice warm fires and hot chocolate because at the moment, I am doing the very same thing! 😉

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The cherry plum seedlings that I found on our walk at Bonnie Beach

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The loquat seedlings that I found on our walk in Deviot…if you keep your eyes open and look for things you would be amazed at what is right there on the ground

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I was happy to get a red cherry plum seedling so it should remain true to type and stay red as it grows with red cherry plums

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The herbs that I pulled out of the sawdust path at the Apple and pear heritage orchard in Deviot. No idea what they are but probably some form of mint. They look a bit sorry at the moment but they will soon perk up. Anything with a square stem (minty sage type families) tends to be very hardy

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Some of the cuttings that I took from the park over the other side of the Batman bridge while I was walking Earl the other day on the kitchen window ledge

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The Scented marigold shrub cuttings that I am hoping will strike in water also on the kitchen window ledge that is pretty full incidentally. Note the collection of shoes that need to be removed before we come inside due to being coated in something insidious and the lengths that we have to go to in order to ensure that they remain wearable and out of doggy reach.

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Fast forward in the life lessons

Hi All

I hope you don’t mind me using the post that I was going to post last week before all of those photos took over. This week has been a complete blur of studying in a most determined and bolshie desire to prove myself. Our lecturer handed us our final assessment and then dropped a hefty weighty unit involving so much research it is making me twitch on top of it. All of this work has to be completed by the end of November and after an initial wide eyed panic attack I have settled down to work my way through the morass of incredibly boring material that needs to be assembled and then pared away in order to hand our lecturer the gold nuggets that will give us our passing grade. SO much bampf for so little gratitude and I have learned something over the last month…I don’t want to be a web designer…not in the LEAST! So here sits narf7 tapping away when all she wants to do is get out into that gorgeous damp (it has been raining ever since I lay the last Earl proof stone in place) space and go nuts. I get the feeling that this teetering tower of study is going to make me SO glad to get it finished that gardening is going to look like pure gold. There are lessons afoot…life lessons and thus begins today’s tale…

“Whenever I fail it is a chance to learn and grow”

How’s that for a life lesson? I learned it while I was being pulled mercilessly behind Earl on our bonding Sundays where Bezial (and his ubiquitous dicky leg) and Steve get to stay home and Earl and I get to go on a long walk. I would love to say “Long leisurely walk” but I can’t. Earl starts to wind up as soon as I head into the bathroom to brush my hair and put it up in a pony-tail. The first sign of “walk”…next we have me putting on my shoes and the ears start to prick up and he gets up off the floor…trotting to the back door excitedly and sticking himself half in, half out of the dog door is next on the agenda in case any feral cat or chook has been stupid enough to instigate themselves directly outside the back door…”never let a chance go by” is Earl’s motto.

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Today’s motley collection of images is brought to you by the letter “Pee”. This little aquilegia has survived the maelstrom of pee that Earl hisses all over it every single morning. You can only begin to imaging the strength of a dogs pee when he has been holding on all night on the “pack bed”. This goes to show that if you want a perennial that will grow almost anywhere, Aquilegias are you ideal plant

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I don’t think we really need to say much about this image do we? Picture me hard at work slaving away over a hot PC trying to wrap my brain around OH&S in the media industry and forgetting that I left the pantry door open.

After surveying your territory you need to head out the back door and mark your aquilegia. It is MOST important to mark your aquilegia, I mean, anything that has the blatant NERVE to grow between the brick wall and the paving stones right outside the back door and that can withstand a daily squirt of straight ammonia and not only survive, but flower beautifully, has to be given some sort of award, and what more important award than being decorated by more pee? By this stage Earl is prancing around because he has heard the tell-tale jangle of his dog lead and his mind is now out on the road with visions of prospective road kill dancing around in his head. Earl is gone…enter the fray at your folly you STUPID WOMAN…sigh…

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Steve had to go to town the other day and this is the result…Earl under the bed with only the dust bunnies to console him about his loss and…

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Bezial and his fluffy toy laying on the carpet in the lounge room completely devoid of joy…obviously I make a terrible second best to Steve’s pack leader…

I enter the fray. I instantly regret entering the fray because it’s like the gate rising at Flemington (hope you didn’t lose too much on the cup 😉 ) and Earl is OFF! Down the steep driveway hurtling with as much speed as you can when dragging a 63kg “fat anchor” that has her heels dug in behind you. You won’t let that stop you though…there are smells OH the smells! Something has rubbed against that shrub that is right in the middle of that thicket of thistles and you just HAVE to sniff it. After that you need to limp pathetically because you have thistles in your foot and you have to wait for your stupid fat anchor to liberate them …you look around surreptitiously to check that no other dogs have seen you. The chooks saw you… lunge at them aggressively…they won’t look at you with those little beady eyes NOW!

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Not entirely sure if I have shared this with you before but this image is of the West Tamar Highway and you can see that it has collapsed thanks to the incessant amount of rain that we have been having. Don’t you just love the handrail sunk in 44 gallon drums of concrete?

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Narf7’s happiness and sadness…a juxtaposition of emotions. I am happy from 3 – 7am when I sit here researching and reading my RSS Feed Read blogs and then the deep blue funk of OH&S settles over my sunny disposition rendering me fogged up for the day

Earl and I tend to travel a road well-travelled on our Sundays. We head down the dirt road and off over the bridge to the park on the other side to listen to the dulcet tones of the dumped rooster and the loon who has been living in a caravan for almost a year now. They vie for our attention as one crows and the other one yells loudly. Once we get our fill of fresh air, windy gusts that threaten to topple us over the railing into the Tamar 90 metres below and duelling Sunday lunacy we head off back over the bridge and up the highway to be buffeted by log trucks. We turn the corner to head back down the more familiar road to come home and check the little plant stand to see if the proprietress has bothered to restock anything interesting…she hasn’t…sigh…so after Earl salutes her lack of effort with what is left in his reserves, we head off down the steep slope home…

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I am resorting to old photos now. This one shows what we had to do to remove tiles from the tiny bathroom in our daughters home in town when we were renovating the bathroom. That expression on Steve’s face isn’t all play acting

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Joe Cool and his amazing prototype penniless student hippy compost bin. The only problem with this image is that the compost bin didn’t work but Steve still has those sunglasses (if not that hair 😉 )

5km + of Sunday drag and by the time I get home I am ready for that breakfast smoothie and a chance to park my derrière out on the big wooden bench that Steve and I made years ago from wood that we plundered right here when we house sat for dad for three weeks back in 2007. It’s huge, sturdy and surprisingly well made for anything made by Steve and I but I must have won out on that project ;). I am holding a big mug of tea and a big mug of tea has never been earned more strenuously. Earl is lying on the floor quietly. His day is effectively over unless he can con someone else into picking up that lead and taking him out into the possibilities of the real world again. Earl turns 3 at the end of the month. Earl is a teenager. I can tell.

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Me raking leaves when we lived in the city. I loved that wall and every year a gorgeous Boston Ivy grew and covered the wall in it’s glorious display in autumn

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I am laughing because I just noticed that I am wearing that jumper as I type this comment…I am NOT however wearing those rather fetching thermals underneath. I have acclimatised my sad Western Australian self to the colder climes and no longer need to wear thermals. I wear entire blankets now 😉

So what was that first quote about eh? Well I have to admit to being completely and utterly terrified of failure. It stifles my efforts because I might just stuff up and look like an idiot. I put it down to success being the only thing that got a positive reward from my father figure but to be honest, I don’t think anything that I did really had an effect on how my father saw me and I learned to bypass my need for paternal acceptance and head off into the terrifying territory of self-worth. I now have a hefty sense of moi. I no longer think that I am worthless but I also have a healthy dose of tall poppy syndrome, we are all worth something but no-one is worth more because they own more, they control more or they “think” they are worth more do you get the picture? Start sticking your head up and telling me that you are special because…and narf7 is going to walk away. I don’t expect too much from the world but I DO expect a lot from myself and that’s where that nifty little new mantra is going to come in handy.

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The last shot of me I promise (well, in the city anyway 😉 ). I appear to have a handful of string. Maybe I am just about to make a nest?

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Fast forward to narf7 last week and when we actually had a sunny day to work in. The joy is obvious isn’t it?

I tend not to try. I know all kinds of things but I tend not to apply them to my day to day life because I might stuff them up or worse still, not be very good at them. If I am not good at something I tend not to repeat it. My loss really. I have decided to rectify that need to remain inactive and safe and am starting to wade out into the deep pool of possibilities, remembering that I can’t swim (seriously, I can’t) and that there aren’t any safety logs out there to catch me should I start to drown. In the past I completed several certificates in commercial cookery with a commercial cookery school. I tend to stick with certain “safe” recipes though. I must admit, part of that is because I am married to a naturally fussy “I am only one man!” Englishman who is loath to try anything he considers strange, but part of it is a mix of laziness brought about by an underlying desire not to fail. “What if it doesn’t rise?”; “What if someone doesn’t like it?” “What if it tastes weird and it gets wasted?” Not anymore. Narf7 is about to start messing about with what she knows and putting it into practice.

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Mother Teresa

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Lawrence of Arabia…maybe I should just light Brunhilda and stop pretending that the weather is going to be warm tomorrow? 😉

Hugelkultur is another point in case. I “know” how to do it. I “know” the science behind it and I “know” how it would benefit the soil and Serendipity Farm but putting what I “know” into action has me twitching. Same goes for just about everything that has me liberating my ass from this chair where the safe sport of researching is my calm harbour in the storm of activity that needs to be initiated to do what we want to do here on Serendipity Farm. Steve and I get overwhelmed by what we have to do here. Part of the problem is that we haven’t got money to facilitate instant gratification and another part is that before you can do what you “want” to do, there are 7 things that you “have” to do in order to get what you want accomplished. Sorry if I sound like I am complaining there (I am, but sorry anyway 😉 ). I guess what I am trying to say is that liberating myself from that old fear crutch is going to free me up to get out into the scary wilderness of “doing” and in the process we will
start to accomplish what we want.

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A tiny little dead bat that Steve found when he was heading out the other day. It appears it must have fallen from its mother but isn’t that gorgeous coat on his back beautiful? Poor little mite

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Ground up buckwheat groats and sunflower seeds to make my breakfast of choice in cold weather (which would be now)

We hurled ourselves into getting the fully enclosed veggie garden up and completely contained in the last week. We are more than happy with the results. We decided to enclose the glasshouse as part of the compound so that it could be used to propagate seedlings and cuttings within the structure. Now we need to plan the most efficient and effective setup for the garden beds. I have lots of cutting grown Muscat grapes that need to be planted out ASAP. I have raspberry canes soaking in seasol (seaweed concentrate) along with Marion berries that also need to be planted out. We have all kinds of seedlings and I have visions of rock herb and flower spiral gardens in the centre of the compound to attract in the beneficials and as somewhere to plant Steve’s teeny tiny grafted Ballerina apple that he produced way back when we were studying horticulture at polytechnic.

DSCF5241The ground buckwheat and sunflower seeds being mixed with homemade date and apple paste to sweeten and add nutrition

DSCF5250Chained to the machine but at least I can have my tea and porridge. The milk in my porridge is homemade sesame milk sweetened with some date paste and a dash of rose water making a most exotic breakfast and a very tasty one too. I use the same milk in my tea minus the rosewater

This week will see us creating garden beds, lugging soil components and creating our vision under cover. I don’t mind if the possums drop angry deposits on the top of the garden…nature loves a bit of extra nitrogen and at the very least it will go part way to pay us back for everything that they eat with wanton abandon in the rest of the garden. I will be taking hawthorn cuttings in the near future and have decided to plant a hawthorn hedge right around the perimeter fenceline of Serendipity Farm. I will intersperse it with cherry plums so that the native birds get lots of habitat and food. Hawthorn and plums are both incredibly able to survive arid conditions and drought and make perfect hedging specimens (well the hawthorn does 😉 ). You have to work with what will grow best and that means figs, olives, persimmons, quinces, apricots, apples and colder climate nuts. We are amassing our fruity and nutty armies to take over the farm and we even managed to grow 2 mango trees in our compost last summer that will take up residence on Serendipity Farm as soon as they are big enough to get planted out. I don’t care if they produce fruit, they will be another wonderful addition to horticultural diversity on Serendipity Farm

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DSCF4973Steve’s little echidna mate who bumbles around occasionally. He allowed Steve to take a few photos before digging his heels in and hiding

I might stop there for today. I have herbs to research, companion planting to check, a list of seedlings and seeds a mile long that I need to work out how to acquire and then how to plant to get the maximum results in our garden. I am only just starting to internally “Squee!” that nothing is going to be able to eat our veggies…except the aphids…and the scale…and the caterpillars…sigh… see you all next week when we should have planted out our seedlings and anything else that doesn’t grow over 6ft tall and the garden will be an impenetrable fortress of pure narf7 joy :o)

Of witches, conjugated verbs and things that go BANG in the night…

Hi Folks,

So what does one do when one has buffeted their dear constant readers with a succession of small blog posts at regular intervals over the last week? One gives you a short post, that’s what “One” does ;). The “BANG!!!” in the title is somewhat of a misnomer…a dangling carrot in front of your jaded eyes if you will to lure you back to the fold. Steve headed in to one of the outer suburbs of Launceston to pick up some heavy items for a friend of ours who doesn’t own a car and while he was taking a side trip over to Woolworths to pick up some frozen Brussels sprouts (what can I say…SOMEONE  has to love them!) and 2 litres of “good” milk (don’t get me started on the watered down garbage that the major supermarkets are using as loss leaders to pull customers through the doors and that is ultimately going to shape Australia’s dairy industry into the future…I SAID don’t get me started! 😉 ) when he noticed a little white haired lady waving maniacally at him from a small silver car…it was Glad from next door!

Second fermenting Hilda the Booch's fizzy results with a bottle of Pomegranate juice Stage 1

Second fermenting Hilda the Booch’s fizzy results with a bottle of Pomegranate juice Stage 1

After a couple of days the booch is now starting to fizz nicely Stage 2

After a couple of days the booch is now starting to fizz nicely Stage 2

“Wendy (her middle aged daughter) absolutely positively HAS to have some “special tomatoes” that you can’t buy anywhere but here” she apparently said with the appropriate degree of sarcasm. Steve felt privileged to be inside Glad’s circle of trust and she went on to ask Steve if he had heard the massive explosion sound the night before at 9.30pm. Now if it was me that she was talking to the answer would have been an unequivocal “Nope…sorry…” because by 9.30pm narf7 is well and truly super glued into the land of nod, not to wake until her bladder threatens to burst in the wee (pun FULLY intended) small hours…but Stevie-boy is a night stalker and as such may have heard the sound, but nope, he didn’t either so perhaps one of the large trees that semi-fell in the strong winds that we had last week performed a slow waltz to the ground? “If a tree falls on Glad’s property GLAD HEARS!” At least someone bore witness to its demise. By the way…YES I know that capitals mean yelling…I like to yell it’s a much underrated form of stress relief.

Steve bought me 4 bottles of this delicious Swedish cider for our anniversary meal. As you can see, I drank one so these 3 bottles will probably last me the rest of the year

Steve bought me 4 bottles of this delicious Swedish cider for our anniversary meal. As you can see, I drank one so these 3 bottles will probably last me the rest of the year

Booch mid fizz and a Rekorderlag (I TOLD you it was Swedish!) glass that came with the purchase full of non-dairy kefir.

Booch mid fizz and a Rekorderlag (I TOLD you it was Swedish!) glass that came with the purchase full of non-dairy kefir.

Today we talk about “stuff”. The stuff that has seen the wet weather carry on, Steve and I starting our final course unit where we learn to take everything so far and cram it maniacally into a pathetic excuse for a “Web Page”. If we let our imaginations run riot we could both be up for some kind of award methinks…Steve could get the honorary “Stephen King” award for the most B-Grade movie images crammed onto a single web page EVAH! And I would most probably end up with some obscure award from the Druid’s society for writing posts so laboriously hard to read and for bastardising the English vernacular so badly that I had actually managed to shroud some form of elemental truth (like the Holy Grail) from view by my sheer unmitigated refusal to compromise my “art” for my readers comprehension or reading pleasure.

Why looky here... do I spy a little girl scout collecting funds by selling Freddo Frogs for charity?

Why looky here… do I spy a little girl scout collecting funds by selling Freddo Frogs for charity?

We will start where I always start when I first tumble out of bed in the morning bedecked in a pair of Steve’s boxer shorts that have rapidly receding elastic on one side requiring me to clutch at them and making only one hand available to grope in the dark for the wall so that I don’t run head first into the enormous chunk of wood that someone thoughtfully chose to place at the end of our bed and give myself a leg cork from hell. I have also been known to hook the droopy bit of the undies on this large chunk of wood and in my half-awake semi dreaming state, have occasionally found myself wondering why my walk out to the kitchen is taking so long…

Why no! It would appear it was Earl attempting to negotiate his dog door with a prize stolen from Steve's music room...

Why no! It would appear it was Earl attempting to negotiate his dog door with a prize stolen from Steve’s music room…

Once in the kitchen I get dressed in front of Brunhilda who could care less about how I look. She loves me anyway and is one constant in my life that I never tire of. I forgot! I always turn on the P.C. on the way past as Mr Kaspersky our Russian Heavy who manages security here on Serendipity Farm needs time to choose  whichever toxins he has chosen to surprise the hackers and spammers with on any given day before taking up silent sentry duty for the day. If you want to try to infest us with Trojans or burrow a worm into us I suggest you talk to Mr Kaspersky…it’s easier that way, at least your death will be quick…

"Excuse me... if you could just see your way clear to filling my box with Freddo Frogs I will be out of your way in an instant..."

“Excuse me… if you could just see your way clear to filling my box with Freddo Frogs I won’t trouble you any further…”

Mr Kaspersky doesn’t bother with email spam though. It’s beneath him and thus my bleary pre-tea eyes tend to have to stare in bemused mirth at some of the enticing ways that spammers attempt to lure me to head over to their sites…only this morning I had this delightful leader… “Local Sluts – Slut Finder”…not too sure whether “I” was being asked to take part in the slut hunt or whether “I” WAS the slut at the end of the rainbow, either way, my pre-dawn brain isn’t ready for any form of wanton woman so I promptly sent them out into the ether to float with Major Tom for all eternity.

"I think Fatty is dead..."

“I think Fatty is dead…”

The ex driveway at the side rear of our house that is still mostly flooded but that looks verdant enough to share with you

The ex driveway at the side rear of our house that is still mostly flooded but that looks verdant enough to share with you

I have given up trying to kid myself that I am not addicted to Pinterest. I am. I choose to get up at 3am to indulge myself to the max. I first work my way through our 3 email inboxes where I sift through and answer the ones that matter to me and sort them into piles for Steve and Piles for me. If I haven’t answered it’s into the bin…life is too short for bad wine and unsolicited emails. Next I click my RSS Feed Reader into action and let it load up in the background. I get between 40 and 80 blog posts a day depending on the day. Early in the week it’s the lower quotient and Saturday is the big day for email posts. I work my way through posts, reading those that I love and indulging my senses in some amazing word smithing, excitingly sustainable possibilities and soaking up information like the little black magpie sponge that is narf7.

I am constantly amazed at the resilience of nature. This artichoke had been pecked down to the core. Forget torturing mice to find cures, we should be looking at plants!

I am constantly amazed at the resilience of nature. This artichoke had been pecked down to the core. Forget torturing mice to find cures, we should be looking at plants!

While I collect and collate (for indeed I keep a word doc open to save anything I find particularly useful and a notepad page to navigate between my RSS Feed Reader and Google…) I Pin. It’s curious that I can multi-task when it comes to information collation but give me 3 things to do at once and I turn into a gibbering wreck. Steve found me a new weapon in my arsenal of pilfering the other day. I had noticed that certain websites that I visited offered the chance to download the post in PDF format. Steve headed over to this amazing free plug-in and promptly told me that it was, indeed, free, but that it was only for people with “real blogs” not sad free WordPress blogs like we had :(. Narf7 sighs…BUT in the near future we will be creating a permanent home for Serendipity Farm in our own space and we WILL go to the ball damn it! Steve also said “why don’t you just stick it on your task bar and whenever you find a particularly bolshie site that won’t let you copy things you can whack the URL into the PDF maker and Bob’s your proverbial?” why didn’t “I” think of that?!!! Genius man! I KNEW I kept you around for something! So now I can pinch pages with impunity and those websites that have HUGE posts can be saved quickly and tucked away into my exponentially growing database. Here’s the URL if you aren’t aware of this wonderful free plug-in…

http://www.printfriendly.com/

A Cape Gooseberry bush coming back from possum attack and winter to start doing what perennial food sources do all over again for another year

A Cape Gooseberry bush coming back from possum attack and winter to start doing what perennial food sources do all over again for another year

"Can I help you ma'am?"

“Can I help you ma’am?”

The power and reach of social media still amazes me. Aside from having the ability to meet  new and likeminded people you can find out SO much these days! A single picture on Pinterest can lead you to an amazing site. I found this site the other day that I immediately tucked into my RSS Feed Reader

http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/

This online magazine has a wealth of low tech ideas to satisfy our modern needs and wants whilst rediscovering past solutions that are sustainable and kinder to our future. I immediately stuffed it (like a hamster cramming cheese into its cheeks) into my RSS Feed Reader so as not to lose it and eagerly look forward to new posts from this fringe online magazine.

This little fig survived a terrible dry summer with very little additional water.

This little fig survived a terrible dry summer with very little additional water.

This was an experiment. I filled this with compost about 6 months ago and am just about to dig in this spot to see if the next fig I am about to plant will benefit from this treatment. It's all about finding what works in your own little space

This was an experiment. I filled this with compost about 6 months ago and am just about to dig in this spot to see if the next fig I am about to plant will benefit from this treatment. It’s all about finding what works in your own little space

I find some interesting and informative things via my RSS Feed Reader posts and Pinterest. Only this morning (yes…I am writing this post today) I found a post about a book that Patty Smith wrote called “Just Kids” and logged on at 4.56am and put it on hold at my local branch of the state library. The library won’t be open for another 4 hours…how amazing is that? I guess it is only “AMAZING” to we last centuriers (yeah, I know…”no such word!” but whatchagonnadoeh?! 😉 ) who were born before computers. Yes… BEFORE COMPUTERS were main stream. Back when you had to send real letters if you wanted to communicate with someone you couldn’t easily reach by car and when a friend or family member headed interstate or overseas, that was it. You maybe phoned them once or twice but they were effectively out of your life. Now you just head over to Facebook or text them or send them an Instagrammed image of your foot with a moustache on it or something equally as trite, but the point is, you CAN almost immediately get in contact with them. We can bank in our underpants from the comfort of our computer chairs, we can order a bushel (is there still such a measure?) of baked beans from an online warehouse that will be delivered right to your door without having to get out of your underpants (unless you have a problem with the delivery guy seeing you sans outer garments that is…)

The possums have hammered this poor Japanese maple but it comes back every year without fail

The possums have hammered this poor Japanese maple but it comes back every year without fail

If you are isolated you aren’t any more with Social Media and our online system of commerce. I like to be balanced and remind myself that with great good (fun) comes the opportunity of great bad as in “us” being SO reliant on living our lives online, that we forget how to do so in reality. Plugged in and living in the Matrix where the real world is too hard to comprehend. Ok, so that probably arrived in this post because Steve and I have been watching a bit too much Crime T.V. lately but you can see where I am going. If we put all of our faith in the availability of everything online, one day someone is going to hijack that over-reliance of humanity on an easily hacked network and they are going to do something to make some money out of it. If they want to hack my Patty Smith book I guess I am just going to have to live with that!

Here’s an example of what I would consider “Good” information closely followed by “Garbage”…

Check out this amazingly exciting post about medicinal plants…

http://permaculturenews.org/2013/10/09/medicinal-plants/

And then this…”post” if you could call it that…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2449000/Katy-Perry-John-Mayer-don-mouse-ears-stroll-Disneyland-date.html

Note the amazing content and awesome possibilities in the first and the complete lack of ANYTHING important or worthwhile in the second (including the nefarious pop-up that kept trying to open while Mr Kaspersky our Russian heavy kept shoving it back into cyberspace…). A perfect way to illustrate the potential for “Good” and for “mindless vacuous time wasting” offered by social media. I rest my case folks!

Enclosed chooks held captive for their continued existence for various reasons...

Enclosed chooks held captive for their continued existence for various reasons…

Free to roam chooks that return to their coop every evening to be shut in for their continued existence...

Free to roam chooks that return to their coop every evening to be shut in for their continued existence…

Fringe dwellers hell bent on repopulating the earth for THEIR continued existence... it's a constant cycle of chooks here on Serendipity Farm

Fringe dwellers hell bent on repopulating the earth for THEIR continued existence… it’s a constant cycle of chooks here on Serendipity Farm

Mrs 23Thorns witch post was most thought provoking. You don’t know who Mrs 23Thorns is? Where have you BEEN?!!! Go here immediately…do NOT pass go, you don’t have time…get some history into you for goodness sakes and don’t forget to take it with a liberal dose of good humour, tasty drive by bin dress ups and the ability to still stay sane whilst being married to the ubiquitous Mr 23Thorns (if you don’t know who Mr 23Thorns is, please take the time to create a small mental image of narf7 hitting her palm to her forehead…). But for the sake of a few hundred years, a mere twitch in the eyes of history, narf7 would be burned at the stake. I have “strange unguents” brewing and festering in my kitchen and a few birth marks…I dare to speak in the company of men! (They might not listen but I bloody dare to speak!)…I have the dubious pleasure of 13 (what a MAGICAL number) feral cats, most of them in various stages of “simple black” that race to the deck with upturned faces whenever I exit stage left…OBVIOUSLY I am a witch! But for a quirk of my birth date, I would never have managed to attain middle age.

2 of my minions...

2 of my minions…

Kind of typical, when you want to see them they aren't there!

Kind of typical, when you want to see them they aren’t there!

Mr 23Thorns has an esteemed position on the right hand side of this blog in my Blogroll. As soon as Steve gets out of bed and stops drooling and snoring I am going to get his amazing I.T. knowledge onto the problem I have of NOT having Mrs 23Thorns wonderful thought inspiring dances with history forever (I jest you not…theroadtoserendipity is immortal!) up there in lights with it. I am seriously considering placing her blog above your blog Mr 23Thorns. Not because I don’t respect your ability to conjugate a verb, but because she just struck a gong that has been threatening to blow inside my head and because she is RIGHT! We women have to stick together and she has shared that her name is Tracy and you sir, who would KNOW what your name is? So I am calling you Zebedee and as EVERYONE knows…”T” comes before “Z” in alphabetical hierarchy. So be it… and it was so.

Our little orchard that we have to figure out how to protect from the marauding possums this year

Our little orchard that we have to figure out how to protect from the marauding possums this year

A little cherry tree that was mostly dead but that appears to be giving it the old college try for at least one last time

A little cherry tree that was mostly dead but that appears to be giving it the old college try for at least one last time

If you would like to read Ms Tracy’s wonderful post that inspired that outburst (and her elevated position in the blog roll hierarchy) please feel free to duck over and give it a read. You won’t regret it. She certainly knows how to conjugate a verb AND she can spell as well. I hold her in awe-full esteem…

http://tracyloveshistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/of-witch-hunts-and-fairground-rides/

And just so’s he doesn’t sulk too badly, here’s Mr 23Thorns blog for you all to head over to and check…

http://23thorns.com

Evidence of driveway clearing and a few solid hours work

Evidence of driveway clearing and a few solid hours work

More evidence and undergrowth for possums to hide in

More evidence and undergrowth for possums to hide in

I just started a new Pinterest Board of blog posts that make me stop and think. My brain is an incredibly active place to be. It is constantly quivering between thought and action and usually thought wins out. I must have incredibly active synapses because my brain flickers past ideas at lightning speed. I can only begin to imagine that the reason I can no longer remember where I put the mobile phone or the butter is because my brain has honed its ability to process information far beyond my ability to translate its responses ;). Now…if I am going to hand you a shorter post than usual I had best finish right about NOW!

I thought you might like some pretty flowers. This is a Clematis montana

I thought you might like some pretty flowers. This is a Clematis montana

The side garden that appears hell bent on covering its nakedness with osteospermum daisies

The side garden that appears hell bent on covering its nakedness with osteospermum daisies

An orchid that we inherited from my dad that flowers maniacally every year. This is a single spike of 7 that the plant is currently sporting

An orchid that we inherited from my dad that flowers maniacally every year. This is a single spike of 7 that the plant is currently sporting

Lastly here's a Ceanothus and a bee.

Lastly here’s a Ceanothus and a bee.

I hope you will check out the links that I shared with you in today’s post. They are all incredibly worthwhile and worth the look-see (and my having to figure out how to link them into my post). Have a wonderful rest of the week and remember Wednesday is only hump day to a one humped camel. If you consider the Dromedary, hump day is both Tuesday AND Friday and Wednesday is free to be whatever the hell it wants to be again. It’s all relative folks 😉

 

heres the wordleJava Printing

Inspiration

Hi All,

What inspires you? What makes your heart sing and ignites your soul? Forgive me for waxing myself lyrically there but at 4.44am this morning (Sunday) I read a blog post that completely inspired me. I will post a link here so that you can all check out this amazing story and marvel at the level of dedication that one man was able to muster against a wealth of odds to create something amazing out of refuse and rubble and at 88, is still working on. Have you got an opus? Something that makes you get up every morning and that sends you to bed tired but completely content? Neither have I, but we are getting there 🙂

http://landscapelover.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/the-rock-garden-chandigarh/#comment-5338

I spend a lot of time getting inspired by amazing people out there. I can’t get over how clever and creative some people are! We all have something that we are good at but some people seem to be amazingly gifted and I am only wonder at the creative processes going on in their minds. Since we started working on design we have been learning all sorts of things about the creative process. Here I was just thinking that you slap a bit of paint on something or drew a picture freehand or just messed about a bit with some sort of medium but apparently there is a lot of thought that goes into art, design, music etc. The creative process usually has to follow an ordered process no matter how chaotic it may want to be…even anarchy needs to conform when it comes to web design ;). There are so many rules that you have to follow and it requires a degree of mathematics…thank goodness I covered rudimentary maths last year with landscape design and won’t have to bang my head on the wall this year trying to make it all come back from last century when I went to school…

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This nice foggy bank heralded a week of overly warm weather here in tassie that culminated in the second hottest day that we have had here this summer. The poor garden is on it’s last legs and I can’t wait for autumn!

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“NO PRISONER’S!” 😉

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Someone REALLY hates having his photo taken 😉

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It really pelted down raining today (cheers Port Hedland for that lovely cyclone that you are currently hosting 😉 ) and you can almost see the garden sighing with relief…you can also almost hear Steve and I sighing and doing “Paper, rock, scissors…” because we remembered that the guttering needs to be cleaned 😉

I have been trying to work out why cooking gives me so much more satisfaction than it should. I get the feeling that condensing your efforts down into creating things is immensely satisfying beyond the sum of the result. I think it’s another “living through the processes” moment and after reading Lynda Wallace’s small book “A Short Course in Happiness” I realised that a lot of the reasons why I feel inordinately happy for a middle aged penniless student hippy is that I am finding my happiness in simple processes. When we condense our thought processes and actions down into using what we have and our own mental alacrity in order to create something (especially if it is an original idea) we are giving ourselves a chance to explore the road to happiness. Making something is an outward expression of what makes us “us”. It is 5.59am and either “Stock” or “Pot” is crowing lustily underneath the deck just to my left. His processes are automatic and start as soon as his tiny little brain senses the dawn. My processes are often as a result of a desire. I want something, for whatever reason I can’t just go out and get something and so I have to work through a series of processes to give myself what I desire in a lateral way. I wouldn’t have ever thought that making things yourself, growing, cultivating, culturing, preparing and all of the other processes that begin with an idea/ideal and end in a satisfying dusting off of hands could give so much satisfaction, so much “happiness”.

I remember my grandmother doing all different kinds of unusual things. Back in the 70’s when I was a small child she always had something interesting for us to do when we got to her home. She had a large tin box with strange things in it. What was in the box on one day wasn’t necessarily in it when we next went. I remember a plastic spinning top, a box of dominoes, cards and my memories start to dim up a bit…it WAS last century folks! 😉 What I remember was that there were LOTS of things in that box. I also remember grandma making us small nets out of twisted repurposed (back then it was called “making do”…) coat hangers with some of her ex pantyhose stretched over the wire so that we could go fishing for the tiny shrimp in the inlet at the bottom of her property. I remember my sister and I arrived one day to new home made wooden looms that had silky smooth wood and my carpenter grandfather must have worked hard to make them. I often wonder if my grandmother was the instigator of this deep and most earnest desire to seek out and understand things. Perhaps my mum was right when she said that I always reminded her of my grandmother…perhaps I can see that now as a compliment :o). All I know is that if I am ever given the grace to become a grandparent, I, too, will have a large box that will change on a visit by visit basis. I will teach my grandchildren all kinds of things especially the incredible value of books and libraries and I will attempt to give them a deep passion for learning.

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Kefir production on target for Wednesday…we will soon be drowning in the stuff! 😉

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A nice pot of delicious rich pasta sauce made with local onions, our own tomatoes, some olive oil, herbs and lots and LOTS of garlic.

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Soon to be frozen ready for lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise and other tasty future tomato rich meals

Its amazing how fast habits, things that you do on a regular basis, become ways of life. It must be part of our human psyche to follow pathways of regularity. I have been eating a different way now for just on 7 weeks and in that time I have completely changed the way that I eat, the size of my meals, the content of my food and I actually have breakfast and have lost a fair amount of weight. It wasn’t hard, it was all just following little pathways that were initially new and that are now well worn grooves in my day. The same goes for getting up early. Anyone who knows me knows that I was a true died in the wool night person. I loved staying up late and would spend hours trawling the net hunting for information etc. and would go to bed between 12 and 1.30am most nights. Now I can’t make it past 8.30pm and as soon as my head hits that pillow I am gone! I sleep like a baby (unless Earl decides to sleep “on” me…) and wake up refreshed and raring to get up. The strange thing is that my initial reason for getting up early was to be bolshie! I didn’t want to be a hostage to feeling like a zombie for a fortnight after daylight savings crashed onto our doorstep last October so I decided that for the month before I would wake up a bit earlier in increments…15 minutes earlier each week, to allow me to make a steady transference to the hour block that they shave off in a day. I arrived at the day triumphant in the knowledge that my usual 7am wake-up was now 6am and they weren’t going to phase me THIS year! I then did what I usually do and thought “ok, so what if I keep getting up an hour earlier? Then I won’t have to do Daylight Savings ever…EVER…again!” And suddenly I went from being a night person to a morning person over a matter of months. I discovered the joys of those few quiet dark hours before Steve and the boys get up and all of that amazing time in the morning when my brain is raring to go and eager to take up new ideas. I now get up at 4am! YES 4am! I love it :o). I put the kettle on, I turn on the computer and cuddle Bezial who bravely stands guard all night on the sofa (Earl shamelessly takes the day watch and sleeps all night in the bed) and give him his early morning scratches and hugs. He shakes himself off and heads into bed and then the early morning is all MINE! I check emails and reply first, and then I head off here and check comments. I am a prolific commenter on other people’s blogs. If someone has put the effort in to share something precious with me, to give me one of their amazing recipes or tell me something that I didn’t know and am excited about finding out I want to thank them. I get a lot of replies from other blogs in the morning and its fun to read and reply to them first up. After that I head straight to my RSS Feed Reader and start wading through my morning’s blog posts. I have umpteen-eleventy-squillion blogs that I now follow and a 4am rising usually gives me enough time to deal with most of the posts for the day unless I get side-tracked by links in posts and then it might take a bit of night time reading to complete the deal. I have an eclectic mix of vegan food blogs, heavenly food porn (gorgeous photos and amazing recipes) that aren’t vegan, philosophical blogs, instructive blogs and blogs about sustainability that feed my mind and get it positively charged for the day. By the time 7am rocks up and Earl is prodding me with his nose to start the processes that eventuate at him getting a walk, I am fully charged, extremely happy (usually) and Steve gets his 7am cup of coffee and a wife who is raring to go for the day. I used to be the one lying in bed waiting for my cup of tea and stretching out the “getting up” process but no more… I am a changed woman and the possibilities of “Early Morning” only came about because I was being bolshie and wanted to take control of the situation…I wonder what you could do with your life if you tried? Do you have any habits that are dragging you down? If I can change my way of thinking, doing things then so can you. It really isn’t hard, its just a matter of starting. “Start where you mean to finish up”, another one of my grandmothers sayings and a most pertinent one for habit breaking and starting :o).

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Last minute ideas for how to use up some spare sourdough ended up with this interesting version of cinnamon rolls with a filling of chopped dates, grated left over hard caramel sauce from a sticky date pudding and lots of cinnamon

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After they were rolled up like a Swiss roll and cut I put them to prove in a greased and lined round cake tin until they increased in size a bit

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The finished results that are apparently very tasty 🙂

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Sourdough pizza prior to baking…

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And after…also, apparently, tasty 🙂

Does anyone else out there venture far and wide in their hunts for new and interesting food ingredients, how to use them and authentic recipes and cooking methods that contain them? Well I do! I love finding new things to do with previously unknown ingredients. It really excites me to delve into other countries cuisines, especially in the frugal ingredients that most of us wouldn’t think of using or don’t even know about. It’s nothing to do with elitism and everything to do with learning more about what is out there and available to eat. It’s the same thing that has me reverently placing foraging food blogs in my rss feed reader side by side with gorgeous food porn sites. When you love something you want to explore it all! ;). In my food travels I find a lot of recipes and links taking me to sites with recipes galore but all in languages that I can’t understand. A recipe that you can’t understand is an abject fail…UNLESS…you use your gourd and head on over to Google Translate and use it to translate the recipe for you. I must admit that sometimes the results are hilarious and totally incomprehensible BUT you at least have to try don’t you? And the worst you can get it a really funny read ;). I love finding blogs that skate along the fine line between Western cookery and their own culinary genius being applied to it. I found just such a site this morning and eagerly stuffed it into my Rss feed reader after exploring it for a bit to make sure that it was worth the stuffing. It most certainly was! Check it out if you would like to see some very interesting Asian takes on common recipes… http://ellenaguan.blogspot.sg/2013/02/longan-and-cranberry-yogurt-cake.html .

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The only eggs that we have had in a fortnight and all apparently laid by the same hen (the only one that has a free ticket to the next round!)

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One of our tasks for our course had us finding advertisments in various kinds of media that used “White space” to highlight and reinforce the subject matter and here is one of my examples…

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What do you do when it’s hot, you don’t want to pay “The Man” for his rubbish cordial and you have a freezer full of frozen fruit…you make your own cordial! This amazingly coloured variety is the result of a recipe for Lemon and Lime cordial that I messed around with so much that it hardly even resembles the original recipe. I used oranges instead of the lemons, I added a ziploc bag of frozen lemon juice, about 2 cups of frozen ripe mangos, the zest of the 3 oranges and about a cup full of ripe strawberries. These were all processed until smooth in my Vitamix blender and were added to 2 1/2 cups of sugar and then I added a tsp of citric acid and as much boiling water as I felt it needed to render it to “cordial” thickness. Steve is enjoying it whenever he feels the need for something other than coffee to drink and again, has pronounced it “tasty” 😉

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I needed to clarify just how “MASSIVE our harvest of potatoes actually was that I mentioned in the last post. Here you see the full extent of them being eaten by Steve for his tea last night…note the size comparison between the potato on his fork and the green pea next to it… I rest my case! 😉

Well we had a hard day today trying to find examples of design that doesn’t contain guide lines. And are planning on resting our poor addled brains this evening with a nice easy meal and an early night for me, and most probably some horror movies for Steve (his favourite genre). I am actually really enjoying this course (so far…) and we are learning an enormous amount. Steve will hopefully be picking up a copy of the student edition of the Adobe CS6 Design & Web Premium Student and Teacher edition so that we can start getting serious with Photoshop. So it’s all go around here at the moment. See you all on Saturday :o)

Trade offs

Hi All,

“What are you willing to trade for the life that you want to lead?” That seems to be the common thread running through my life. This morning I headed out to water the strawberries…a few handfuls of deliciousness for all that water…I watered the poor long suffering maple trees that we grew from seed about 3 years ago that are stunted in their pots and that are likely to still be stunted in their pots in a years’ time (those that are still alive that is…) because of a trade-off…veggie gardening and food production is more important than the cost of the potting mix required to repot these now, unnecessary, trees. After watering the “unnecessary” I headed up to the veggie garden and noticed that something has chewed my kale leaves off again…sigh…I know it wasn’t possums because they were too busy laying on the bird netting on the top of the bean bed reaching their hairy little arms through to pinch whatever vegetation they could manage to grasp…the trade-off here is that I don’t like using poison on my garden and the enormous slug that is apparently the reason behind my now skeletonised kale can be taken in triumph out to the henhouse where the duck will dispatch it with loud squishy joy (a degree of personal human joy can be obtained from said “squish!” so double bonus there!) and I cling steadfastly to my city dude attitude that one day we are going to be able to live with our native brethren in harmony because Serendipity Farm will be so cram packed FULL of food that neither of us is going to make a massive dent in its productivity. The trade-off is trampolining possums with rope burn on their arms and wallabies that are brave enough to circle the “unnecessary” bed and are picky enough to only eat the newly emerging leaves of what they grazed down prior to this present buffet style munching episode.

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Firstly I have to say “THANK YOU; THANK YOU; THANK YOU!” to Jessie from the wonderful “Good life” blog http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/an-update-and-things-coming-together/ Jessie sent me some of her sourdough starter that she makes her gorgeous loaves with along with some kefir grains. I was over the moon that they only took a day to get here and I plonked the kefir grains straight into some milk and Steve headed over on a mercy dash to buy some organic rye flour from Beaconsfield. Jessie also made that lovely black dishcloth that you can see underneath the jar of milk and happy little kefir grains doing the backstroke. I got it this morning (hence the green smoothie behind…note the spoon that Steve made me for my smoothies, extra long and has a pointy end to liberate “bits” from my vitamix). Take careful note of the 3 almonds in front of “Audrey” (my new sourdough’s name because she is going to want me to “FEED HER SEYMOUR” ASAP…). They are the result of a very caring man who decided that they looked like they were “on the turn” and that he would save them from dying…sigh…it looks like Jessie’s children aren’t the only ones prone to picking unripe almonds from trees 😦

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After the mercy dash we have 2kg of rye flour to feed Audrey…

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Audrey ensconsed in Herman’s old pot after being fed and watered. She is VERY happy by the way Rabid! It is a warm day here today and she has crept right up to the top of Herman’s old pot! I am going to feed her twice a day as a precaution against vinegar bricks…I now know that it wasn’t Herman’s fault…it was MINE! I should have been feeding him twice a day to encourage yeast growth, once a day encourages lactobacilli that make your bread sour and they must have been inhibiting the yeast as my bread didn’t rise enough…result…vinegar bricks. Maybe Audrey will be able to give me something that Herman couldn’t…an edible loaf of bread ;). Steve said “I don’t even want to look at it ok?” He has bad memories of us both being enslaved to Herman and his kin…around the clock nurturing that took over our lives! Now I have Audrey and the information that I need to ensure “I” don’t stuff it up, lets see if this little black duck can’t turn out something resembling “edible” :). I am over the moon Jessie! You just made my day, my week and my month and I don’t even care that I am going to be Audrey’s indentured slave until I can wean her off her rye and get her back into the fridge where she belongs…she has earned her warm spot and her fast raise for the next few days 🙂

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I don’t know where our local grocer gets these Mainland mangoes from but for $1 each, and supporting an Aussie farmer I am there!

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This is what they look like after cutting away the seed and freezing them ready to be added to my breakfast green smoothies. The seeds have all been put into the compost heaps all over Serendipity Farm as an interesting experiment. I figure that if mangoes fell from trees, they would do so in hot and humid conditions not all that different to my compost heap so lets just see what happens…at the worst, the seeds will rot down into the compost, at best I get a mango tree…a win/win situation!

At the bottom of this philosophical ethos, I guess what I am trying to say is that I have chosen to live like a penniless student hippy and the trade-off is that I can live how I please. I can experiment with my vegetable garden and I can take the time to “feel” this space and work out what I want and where. I can research long into the night and I can get up early and do the same thing until lunchtime if I wish. I temper my efforts to learn everything that I can about our world and everything that is pertinent to what we are doing with studying to advance our “worth” to society. I am able to spend the time working out which plants are going to be right for our situation and our requirements. I can download PDF’s and head off on as many tangents as I like to find what I am after and to me, that ability is worth our “penniless” label. Money is pretty overrated. I can hear the son and heir scoffing now. He is a money man…he deals in it and his job pretty much revolves around the acquisition and hoarding of it. If you choose to live simply and think laterally you would be very surprised at how little green folding stuff you actually need. Rabid, my erstwhile idealistic heroine of Ballan who has more energy than the Eveready bunny and would give my chin out mum a run for her money with her stubborn refusal to give in, has recently opened my eyes to the power of bartering. Bartering has been used for millennia as a way for we proletariat peasants to access the goods and services that we need without the requirement of ready cash. Rabid likes Steve’s spoons… Rabid lusts after a little spoon of her own…Rabid sends sourdough to a lustful Narf7 and suddenly a world of possibilities opens up… I love sharing. I really do. I don’t know why, but it is part and parcel of “me” and Steve is learning how much happiness can be gleaned from generosity. By the way, does anyone out there want any Cape gooseberry seed? This plant is a marvel for drought ridden areas and will grow just about anywhere. The chooks love to eat its large leaves and adore the fruit. I love the fruit and it is related to tomatoes and tomatillo’s but if you let it ripen it is sweet and tasty. You can even make jam and chutney out of them and they grow like weeds. I love how they keep popping up everywhere courtesy of the chooks and their past pilfering of the lower fruit on one ancient perennial shrub that has been here metastasising since dad was alive. Let me know if you want some (anyone in Australia that is) and I will start drying some. I have them growing in the garden and the compost and can spare a few seed ;).

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Not only are the cape gooseberries in the main garden, they grew all through the compost that we used to make the first set of garden beds and you can see one growing maniacally on the left of this shot…does this garden/jungle have any sort of order?! Not really…this is the result of 2 people hell bent on preventing the possums and wallabies from scarfing their produce…so hell bent that they have made it a virtually impenetrable fortress…and that includes for themselves! ;). The lettuce has gone to seed but I am going to collect it for lettuce futures and you can see the clover growing, I just left it because it is nitrogenous. I love how the veggie beds are evolving and doing their own thing (because that means that I don’t have to become a middle aged contortionist and slither sideways into them to correct anything that has gone wrong! 😉 )

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The trade-off for having a maniacal rocket plant is that it is rocket in the bank. I get to save the seed, the rocket keeps the soil covered and moist and NOTHING eats this bitter plant when it has gone over to the dark and seedy side The rainbow chard are also doing well and I will share some more garden shots with you on Saturday

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This is a teeny little compost heap. Well fortified and apparently of no interest to the possums because it didn’t have anything pinched from it last night. I have decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and make lots of little compost heaps all over the place where we want to plant trees. I figure that they will soften the soil, attract worms and add nutrients to the soil where we are going to plant in autumn. I think I am starting to learn a few things!

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The lengths we have to go to just to keep compost inside our compost bays but as you can see, “things” are growing in them. This was the last half 10kg sack of spuds that had gone stringy and are just starting to grow through the layer of leaves. I have also planted mango seeds (you never know…) and adventitious pumpkins are sprouting all over the place. The other large compost bin full of potatoes has been hit hard by the slugs but they are soldiering on regardless. I “found” some jerusalem artichokes out on the nature strip (and some comfrey but that is for another walk with the dogs 😉 ) and brought a couple of them home and put them in the centre of the big compost heap…again… you never know!

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Here is one of the culprits who are eating leafy things in the veggie garden…this one made a most satisfying noise as it slid down duckies happy beak!

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Some of the veggies that we harvested this morning…thank GOODNESS I have a recipe to make “Zucchini Cream” out of that monster zuke!

Compost is another one of my trade-offs. I spend the time making round wire mesh compost bays and I spend the time putting my fruit and vegetable scraps into a bucket in my pantry and supplement them with the vacuum cleaner emptying’s and paper and cardboard snipped up as it becomes available. I cut up all of my cardboard boxes and use the little $4 paper shredder to shred all of the newspaper etc. that we are able to find. I have been known to pinch extra I.G.A. catalogues when we are in Beaconsfield as they are made with thick newspapery paper that is great for the compost heap. 1 ½ years ago I could have cared LESS about composting…composting was something that mum nagged me to do and thus went straight into the “NUP” basket. Now I lust after leaves in the park underneath big deciduous trees, I twitch when I see people carting green waste branches to the tip, I can’t even begin to imagine throwing paper and scraps into the bin where once it was something I did without thinking about it. The trade-off for this vigilance is that I get amazing compost to put into my gardens and to feed this poor dry ancient topsoil. Swings and roundabouts folks, there is always an up, and a down and it’s our place to find the best balance between the 2 that we can whether that involves learning to suck it up when you find yourself with a bean cube rather than a mass of foliage and knowing that if you take that problem and find a prospective solution, next year you will be triumphant. Learning and constantly finding new solutions, not only keeps your brain active but fills you with possibilities beyond what you thought possible. If you aren’t a materialistic person you might just find that living with less and going lateral feeds your soul. It has certainly opened up some incredible doors for me :o)

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An ENORMOUS pile of ex-fish farm netting 🙂

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A photo that Steve took from next to the veggie gardens…can anyone…ANYONE tell me how photo’s make things look so much better than they really do?!

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This is a $2.50 “drinking coconut”. Back in the day I would have consumed the juice, eaten the meat and tossed the rest into the bin…not any more!

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The liquid and the meat go into my morning green smoothie…

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I also get this empty shell, that  I dried out completely, that I can make a bird house out of or a simple coconut bowl…either way, this valuable resource won’t be wasted…

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Even the white fibre on the outside of the coconut was chipped away and will go into the compost to enrich it’s suite of organisms… where once $2.50 wasn’t worth all that much, It most certainly is worth MUCH more in the sum of its parts now 🙂

I am starting to think about seed swapping again. Saving seed and swapping seed must be one of the most fundamentally fulfilling things that we can do. Not only are we “Sticking it to the man”, one of my favourite bolshie pastime, but we are feeding a tradition that goes back to our very human roots… survival through spreading the love (and load) around. Diversification is the means to survival. Monocrops are not the answer to our food problems. I would have thought that the great potato famine would have stood as testament to that. Back in biblical times there was famine and we need to learn from those lessons and not rely on single crops to be our saving grace. Monocrop’s are designed to line the pockets of the über rich and nothing to do with producing nutritious food for humanity. We need to diversify and work with what will grow best in our own little neck of the woods and learn to be satisfied with our lot, something that in the artificial world that humanity now manages to inhabit is an entirely foreign concept to mainstream thought processes…we are taught that we can have ANYTHING so long as we work hard enough…no we can’t folks. We can manipulate our environment just so much before it goes on the blink and refuses to do what we ask it to do any more. We need to work “with” rather than just take and that’s what we need to be learning now, how to solve the industrial sized problems that humanity has been forcing the world to live with for the last century. We CAN do this; it just involves that awful word that so many of our children would rather eat their left food than do…”work”. I, myself am not ashamed to admit to being incredibly lazy. I was one of those people contemplating the benefits of life without a left foot but I changed and if I can change, so can anyone. Again, all it took was a good hard honest look at how I was living and a strong desire to do something positive. I am NOT of the school of thought that “we are going to hell in a hand basket, let’s just group together and moan about “the end days” with sackcloth on our heads”…not THIS little black duck! If I am going out…I am doing it whilst trying to do something positive. If you can’t pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again it’s pretty much game over and I plan on living this life to my full potential for as long as I can and as happily as I can. I want to leave a positive legacy, led by example, for my children of just how important it is to keep going and learn to live within your means and be satisfied with your lot. In saying that, I am not talking about being stagnant. I am talking about exploring the parameters of the life that you have been handed and doing everything that you can with it…go as far to the left and right as you can and put miles on that life before you have to hand it over to be checked in.

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Before ANY of my facebook friends do a double take and say “I SWEAR I have seen these last few photo’s before?”…yes you have and yes I AM going to use them here in the blog…whatchagonnadoeh? ;)… I found these empty water bottles on a walk and decided to title this photo “EPIC fail”…

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If you haven’t already got them, you should get these babies soon Jessie :). I LOVE bartering! Bring it on! 🙂

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“1 more photo…just ONE more photo and I SWEAR…”…

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Everything except for the cheese came from Serendipity Farm :).

I suppose it is all about that precious thing that makes humanity such a wild card…our ability to choose our own pathways. Our choices can change the world. Whether we know it or not, every action has an equal and opposite reaction and what we do DOES matter. I am talking science here folks, not hippy mumbo jumbo…call it “the butterfly effect” if you like. We are all here for a reason and it’s up to us how we choose to live. Steve just phoned and told me that David, the owner of “Wholesome House” our wholefood establishment of choice asked him about his wooden spoons! Steve is starting to see that his hobby could actually pay off. David is interested in stocking Steve’s spoons! We will take a selection of them in for him to see and we will see what happens from there. I guess you just have to be willing to explore those parameters and be brave enough to occasionally go out on one of those limbs on the boundaries. I have been thinking more and more about community. About developing all different kinds of communities, online, through the blog, locally and globally. Forging relationships with other people isn’t hard. Keeping relationships with other people is much more difficult. We aren’t taught how to negotiate, to listen and to suck it up these days and dealing mano-a-mano with other people isn’t as easy as it once was. Back in the day (say a century ago before industrialisation…) you HAD to get along with the other people in your community. You might not have liked them but each and every one had a place and a job within that community. You learned to live with each other because you HAD to and that is an incredibly valuable lesson and part of the reason why humanity survived and metastasised into what we are today, our adaptability. Industrialisation allowed us to play God. It gave us a false sense of our superiority and we ran amok. The problems that we are all having to face up to are a direct result of corporate greed and our insatiable desire to elevate ourselves above the rest and we are going to have to learn to live with less and accept the consequences of our actions BUT we can learn to do this with grace and hope and we can leave a better world for our children and their children. We just have to be willing to accept the trade-offs.

The confessions of a self-absorbed hierophant

Hi All,

I made it! I managed to stay up till after 12 for the very first time in years! Steve and I stumbled out of bed at 5am so that he could go fishing and I could get my very first post of 2013 up and running. It’s amazing how hung over you can feel without even having a drink ;). I have had a most interesting few days. In preparation for my 2013 ethos (I like to have a goal and a theme 😉 ) I have been “doing” lots of things. I want to be a better (read less lazy) cook this year and create a lot more “from scratch” things. I want to hone my skills this year so you can expect a lot more tutorial type posts and interesting recipes…at least photos of what we cooked. I made Steve a savoury pithivier the other day and rather than use milk to make the base sauce, I used white wine. It was delicious apparently and the leftovers got recycled into a huge quiche the next day using zucchini, our own eggs (14 of them…we have 9 dozen to get through and rising!) and some of our spinach. I want to become more organised and condense my processes down and get Serendipity Farms cycles integrated better this year. We are composting everything that can possibly be composted and it is amazing how something turns from a problem into an asset with a little bit of knowledge. Finding ways to effect positive change on a shoestring is what warms the cockles of my little penniless hippy heart. I found out an incredible amount of information last year and stashed it away for future use. I learned how to make hugelkultur gardens, how to ferment, how to grow a sourdough (even though Herman is still in cryogenic stasis as I type those words…) and how to do all sorts of things from scratch bypassing the consumer dollar in the process. We spend our money locally as much as we can and have stopped buying supermarket meat in favour of our local butcher Nigel from “Nigel’s gourmet on Tamar”…he didn’t give me anything to plug his business there folks…his quality produce was all that needed me to laud him and there are so many small primary businesses out there that could use a bit of a capital injection from we the public. The supermarkets are insidiously replacing all of the branded products on their shelves with their “own labels” to maximise their profit margins. Check out the back of these products and take note that they are not supporting Aussie farmers in their endeavour to rule the Australian consumer dollar…they are importing cheap foods from goodness only knows where and packaging them here in Australia to try to make them look better. Don’t support them if you have any other option…even penniless student hippies can choose to shake their moth eaten sock into their open hands to the benefit of Australian producers.

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The quiche of a million eggs for your perusal!

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Here is a photo that Steve took from his aluminium coracle whilst pootling around on the river the other day. If you look REALLY closely (or if you click the photo and make it bigger…) you might just be able to make out what that red blob is up on that deck…its me! Our house is only really visible from this position in the river and from here you can see The Auld Kirk Church, Steve’s shed and our house and those rocks in the foreground actually belong to Redwood island which Steve is conveniently anchored near to give you a bit of perspective. All of those trees are pretty much ours and the area in front of the house used to be landscaped and terraced garden…not any MORE it isn’t! 😉

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These tyres contain the entirety of a packet of seed that we were given to us by the funeral directors back in 2010 at my fathers funeral. At the time Serendipity Farm was in no condition to broadcaste seed around but we found this packet the other day and decided that our veggie garden needed some flowers to confuse the predatory insects and so Steve built this little tyre garden while I was away at my daughters house. As you can see there is a plethora of possibility here in this tyre…not being an annual person myself, I have no idea what these little green babies are (hopefully not weeds!) but whatever they are they can at least get to see the light of day from their packet and act as little first defence soldiers in the war of integrated pest management

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My little Moringa oleifera that I have been gestating in the glasshouse that will eventually be planted on Serendipity Farm

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The fecundity of the well fortified old compost heap…

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This is an old beer can…one of the cluckies who had been hunkering down for over a month in the new chook pen (before it was a new chook pen to be exact!) was actually sitting on it. I bravely checked under her and was duly repelled with great gusto and all for this remnant of my dad and his drinking buddies…sigh…

I have some dried fruit soaking in the last of the Christmas rum ready to make boozy Eccles cakes for Steve today. Steve has been steadily working his way through the Christmas booze because he wants to give his liver a bit of a rest for lent this year and wanted to start early ;). When we were taking the dogs for a walk up the highway the other day I found a tiny little metal spoon bowl that had become separated from its handle. I have NO idea how it got to be on the side of the road but I picked it up and we brought it back home and Steve make it a handle out of a Serendipitous twig and took a bit of adventitious rust off it and now it sits proudly in the cutlery draw, given a new life by someone who saw it’s intrinsic value. Steve has managed to get on top of the list of spoons that needed to be made and I even got a massive great Spoondle (a cross between a spoon and a ladle). He got creative for Roz’s spoon and decided to make a cross between a wooden spoon and a spatula…the Spatuloon is born! I love that we can both make spoons. The end results are startlingly different and entirely personalised to our own view of the wood that we are working with. I also love that the small pieces of wood that Steve cuts his spoons out of get recycled into small spoons and the remainder get bagged up ready for fire lighting futures. The sawdust gets swept up and bagged as well to use for odour control in my indoor compost bucket and for increasing the suite of organisms in our compost heap. By the way folks…add all sorts of things to your compost…add leaves and broken up twigs from all sorts of plants and trees and tip your beer can dregs into your compost bucket… they all add something exciting and new to your compost brew and make for adventurous growing seasons and who doesn’t love to see what amazing fungi grow out of their compost heap! I know that composting will never be the same for me after opening up the compost bin at Polytechnic in my very first compost turning event and seeing fungi mycelium threaded right down through the compost pile…the fecundity of it all excited me along with the cycles and processes that were initiated by what went into that compost and got me wanting to grow my own fungus…I LOVE fungi :o).  Earl has been getting restless whenever his snout manages to get within sniffing distance of the bowl of walnuts in Steve’s music room…he has personally asked us to do another spoon draw so that he can reintroduce his questing nose into that bowl full of walnuts as he loves to crack them in half and leave them lying around for foolish barefoot hippies to find… another spoon draw is on the horizon folks :o)

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Pinky my dear younger sister’s new spoon in its finished but raw state…

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If you can take your eyes off that spiders web in the top left hand corner for a bit, you will notice that the spoon is now a different colour. It has been rubbed with Eco-oil, a natural food safe blend of orange and tung oil that gives wood a lovely lustre and enhances its natural beauty

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You can tell that these hands belong to Steve…firstly by the hairy arms and secondly by the long fingernails…murphy’s law states that all guitarists must grow their fingernails at an exponential rate because fingernails get in the way of playing…

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This is my Spadle…its huge and pot ready and I can’t wait to wave it about like excalibur over my head when diving into cauldrons of bubbling harvest futures

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A selection of wooden spoons that Steve has made since he decided to become “The Spoonman”

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Earl wistfully prodding the walnuts with his nose

Not long after I found the little spoon bowl on our recent walk I noticed a large tree growing on the road verge and my horticultural bones started to twitch…”Steve…I think that might be a chestnut tree!”…my horticulture spidey senses were on full alert and indeed it WAS a chestnut tree! I haven’t seen an adult chestnut tree in flower and it was a very interesting thing to behold. The flowers are long and pendulous and have a very “interesting” fragrance…not entirely pleasant but my guess is (assisted by the clouds of flies and beetles covering the tree) that they are not aiming at bees and butterflies to pollinate them. I could see tiny chestnuts forming on the ends of the branches and another free food source has been isolated. I am definitely going to plant some chestnut trees out now. If they will grow on a road verge with no outside source of irrigation they are definitely a tree for Serendipity Farm. As we were walking back to our car I noticed a red clover (Trifolium pratense) plant growing in the gravel on the side of the road…again my horticultural senses twitched because deep in the over clogged information highway of my mind something put 2 and 2 together and came up with “bonus!”…I did a bit of research when I got home about red clover because I hauled the red clover plant out of its desert gravel pit and put it into one of our incredibly useful dog dung bags (we use them for horticultural purposes more than their intended use!) and it is sitting in the laundry sink happily bathing its toes in fresh water as I type this. My ethos is “never let a chance go by” and I am glad that I didn’t because this baby had a HUGE root system and because it was covered in seed ready to broadcast if it was worth cultivating. It’s always a good sign if your query results in 2 results lauding the health benefits of said red clover before you get to the Wikipedia entry and apparently I learned something in my horticultural endeavours because I found out that red clover has been used for centuries as a metabolic diuretic, an expectorant and a blood purifier. It contains lots of nutrients and phytoestrogens to balance hormonal activities and is being researched for its uses as a natural treatment for cancer, menopausal symptoms and skin disorders. It makes a pleasant cup of herbal tea and 1 – 2 tsp of dried flowers infused in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 – 30 minutes is all it takes to add this delightful natural remedy into your diet. See what a bit of knowledge can give you? I am going to spread the clover all over the place on Serendipity Farm…I am going to infuse the “lawn” with it, I hope to attract bees from all over the place by having a lot of it growing here. Knowledge is power of the highest degree and the kind of power that this freely sourced knowledge can give you is immensely empowering to those of us living on a shoestring

Trifolium pratense red clover

This is a lovely stock photo of red clover…MUCH better than I could take for you so you can acutally identify it in the wild using this shot

Pirate Ship

I am hoping that I can sneak this photo by the internet trolls… I am going to give full kudos to The Examiner our local rag for this shot. Its of the pirate ship that I talked about not so long ago and a Melbourne man built it from scratch and has been sailing it around since Christmas… I don’t know about pirate but at $5 a person to take a sneak peak on board, he might just be rolling in dubloons by the end of the season!

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Here is what the little found spoon looked like after I extracted it from the pocket of my jeans

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Here it is resting on the twig that I picked to be its new handle

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And here is what it looks like now after a bit of a clean up and a nice new twiggy handle 🙂

We are off to take some rubbish to the tip tomorrow. I have a plethora of amazing books to pick up from the local library as it opens again on January 2nd and Nigel slaters complete back catalogue appears to have landed in my request box ;). We try to combine as many things as we can into a single trip and tomorrow (today really but I typed this yesterday 😉 ) we will be walking the boys in Exeter, heading up to the tip and perusing the tip shop for any hardwood that we can find including floor boards to make spoons and spatulas with, going to the local op shop to see if anything new has arrived and picking up my weights worth of free books from the library. I don’t know why more people don’t take advantage of the library. I know it is easier to just buy a book but when funds are tight, it’s not an option and when time is an asset that you have plenty of, typing out the best recipes from a good cookbook isn’t an issue and if you run out of time you can just request it again :o). I have a wonderful selection of books at the moment ranging from vegan cookbooks by the iconic Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a vegan pioneer who has, along with her good friend Terry Hope Romero, dragged vegan food kicking and screaming out of the “too hard” box and directly into the oncoming path of mainstream society. I purchased “Vegan cupcakes take over the world” in a selection of vegan cookbooks from the U.S. a few years ago and now we have “Vegan pie in the sky” (on my desk waiting to be typed out) and “Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar” is waiting for me to pick it up tomorrow…I get very excited whenever I get near the library. It’s a knowledge thing…a fundamental ingredient in my makeup that gives me a “good dog!” pat on the head whenever I head into that hallowed hall of literature and I never cease to amaze myself at how greedy I can be when it comes to books. I never have a spare space on my library card of 15 allowed books and regularly use my dear non-literary husband’s library card to shamelessly hog 15 more books. I can never hope to get through all of them in my allotted 3 weeks but whatchagonnado eh? 😉

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You wanted pictures of the veggie garden…you GET pictures of the veggie garden…this is the view from the house side of the veggie gardens…

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And this is the view from the other side…that blue tarpaulin still has some of the organic compost underneath it waiting to be used to fill duckies old boatpond and used as a raised herb garden

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Some of the rainbow chard that I cut to give to the chooks surrounded by sage and cucumbers and snow peas

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3 different kinds of zucchini, some chives, some snow peas, some cucumbers and a rustic attempt at allowing the cucumbers to go viral

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English spinach, beetroot, sage, cucumbers and those exponentially grow-before-your-eyes zucchini plants

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The spinach and beetroot bed…beetroot leaves are delicious by the way and every bit as good as silverbeet

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Looking back towards the corn and silverbeet

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Tomato mania! I am standing up taking this photo and you can see how crazy they have gone!

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A bed full of lettuce, rocket (going to seed but still tasty), capsicums (peppers), jalapeno chilli’s and more! I think you will all agree that our summer veggie garden experiment appears to be paying off 🙂

I think I may have stumbled onto the next greatest thing in vegan cooking…I am saying this because I know that Hannah, the vegan degustatory equivalent of Albert Einstein reads my blog posts…I hope you are reading this one Hannah because I am sharing my new found secret passion with you right here…right now. I LOVE cheese…I love it with a passion rivalled only by my love for potatoes (and butter…and bread…and…well you get the picture!) and I have sorely missed that cheesy flavour since I went over to the bright side of the street where the vegans hang out in the hipster side of town… it was one of the main reasons that I stuck steadfastly to my vegetarian past and stubbornly refused to cross that dairy free line. Eggs…no problem…cheese and butter “NOOOO!” but cross I did for health reasons and here I am still lusting after that deep cheesy flavour that comes from well-aged cheddar and I haven’t found a vegan alternative yet. I do love the taste of aged nut cheeses and I like vegan homemade yoghurt but the nut cheeses are expensive to make and while I was staying with my daughters they introduced me to something revolutionary that gave me back my cheesy hit without any effort on my part…magic! We had a complete weekend of cooking; we made homemade pizza and 12 different Korean recipes and Asian sago pudding and delicious icecream and all sorts of things. The girls had cheese on their pizza along with all sorts of weird things. They like to experiment with their food and often take recipes to their limits in the process. They have all sorts of unusual multicultural ingredients in their home and as they are going through an Asian phase at the moment they had purchased lots of Asian products in tins and jars to experiment with. Apparently my youngest daughter Bethany had bought a jar of Chilli bamboo shoots on a whim and after opening the jar and trying them she didn’t like them and the jar had remained on their fridge shelf gathering the fridge equivalent of dust for a while. When we were considering what to put on my vegan pizza Madeline (my eldest daughter) said “why don’t you put some of those chilli bamboo shoots on it?”…never one to shirk my duty to try new things I agreed and thus was born my newfound addiction to these wonderful fermented little shreds of vegan cheesy happiness. They taste almost identical to aged vintage cheese. If you don’t believe me Hannah, head down to your nearest Asian food store and buy a jar of Double Coins Chili Bamboo Shoots and see for yourself. I know you are a very innovative girl and are not averse to trying new things and I am sure that you will be able to integrate them into some of your wonderful vegan recipes…time to start a new trend Hannah and you will be right there at the beginning :o). Don’t say that I am not a generous blogger :o). I just let Earl (who likes to stand up and give me a kiss when I am typing on a regular basis) a sniff of the chili bamboo shoots and he started licking his lips and attempting to insert his doggy tongue into my precious jar of cheesy vegetable goodness…Earl is a cheese fan of old…I rest my case!

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Here it is Hannah…it might not look very promising but these fermented little strips of pure cheesy flavoured goodness were enough to lure Earl to attempt to stick his nose into the top of the jar and Earl is a true cheese afficionado of old! Check them out and let me know if you don’t agree that these shards of vegetabley goodness are not a craze waiting to happen 🙂

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We sprayed the roosters past wishbones and were going to thread them together to make a garland for the Christmas Tree but completely forgot them and so they will have to be this year’s project. We are going to spray some of them red and some gold over the top of the green but we only had green spray paint at the time…

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The end result of an experiment to see what happens if you dehydrate a whole raw egg…what happens is that you get something surreal that the dogs ate with gusto!

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A quick mercy trip to deliver a fridge to my daughters resulted in an impromptu trip to Launceston. I took lots of photos and will share them with you over the next few posts as this post is crammed to bursting! I just wanted to share this one with you to show you how pretty Launceston is 🙂

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The genius of street art…what is it? Not sure, but it does resemble my 5am face should I ever be foolish enough to look in the mirror at that unGodly hour!

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This is OBVIOUSLY the next fashion trend for the season…Steve and I will be sure to embrace it fully the next time that we visit…

So much for me cutting my post size down for 2013! I guess you have to work at “resolutions” don’t you? You can’t just expect to go cold turkey on your muses right up…I hereby give you 300 less words this post! I expect lavish applause and multiple congratulations for that… (Good luck getting me to repeat it 😉 ). See you on Saturday and have an amazing rest of the week my wonderful dear constant readers :o)

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