Evolving…

Hi All,

What’s this? Didn’t narf just say “I won’t be regularly blogging for a while, and here she is blogging?” well yes, indeed, I am. You see I just had a little epiphany. I have been reading and digesting your comments about my rather hastily conceived blogging hiatus that I dumped on you last Wednesday. Life last week was past hectic and into crazyville and I was pruning away like mad to find a little bit of something normal to hang onto. We spent the weekend planning and prepping. We have lots of meals in the freezer, we have organised ourselves well, we are on top of it all and this morning I read a blog post by the always chic, ever interesting and often thought provoking Ms Cityhippfarmgirl who was the instigator of my blogging epiphany. She has been blogging for 5 years now (not much more than I have) and threw a word into the arena that gave me great pause for thought…

The other day I was feverishly crocheting a cover for a tablet that we purchased to support our latest study load. Stevie-boys twitchy fingertips had been all over it and if the FBI had have wanted a sample of his DNA they could have easily swiped it and had more than their fill. I was considering how to protect it from the bumps and knocks that seem to follow our chaotic life around at the same time as find an instant way to slither away those finger marks (no Stevie-boy DNA for YOU FBI! 😉 ) and came up with the idea for a  crocheted cover (mainly because I can’t sew for toffeenuts…) Once it was finished I had to work out how to close it. I have NO idea how to put zips into things and even if I did, I didn’t have a zip, so that was out of the question. I ended up thinking “buttons” but all I had were some teeny tiny ones that would have required a shrew like sequence of them and nimble fingers to keep the cover closed and knowing how impatient Stevie-boy is I could see them being left undone and the tablet slipping out in transit or worse still, when the cover was held aloft like excalibar. What was a girl to do? “Hmmm…”

In the midst of my feverish musing I suddenly remembered a Pinterest pin that I had shuffled into my ‘Crafty Bollocks’ board and I went hunting. I finally found it and gleefully started hooking. The pattern was for lovely eccentric crocheted buttons. As the wool that I had used to make the tablet cover was so very thick and chunky (double insulation for life’s bumps and knocks) the buttons ended up HUGE but who cares, they served a purpose and put a narfish seal of approval on the final result. I would love to share a photo of the cover with you all but it is 3.50am and Stevie-boy has sequestered both tablet and cover away somewhere and I don’t want to wake up the dogs and pique their early morning interest so you are just going to have to believe me that it is a. eccentric and b. serves the purpose. When I was making the buttons I immediately knew that I wanted to share the pattern. I wanted to tell everyone how to make them and how much fun it was to customise your own buttons and then suddenly I remembered “I am having a rest”…but you see I didn’t WANT to have a rest, I just wanted a bit of freedom to blog about what delighted me and what would be fun to share and THAT was my epiphany…

So I won’t be stopping blogging my dear constant readers. My knee-jerk reaction to almost drowning in C.H.A.N.G.E. which has always been my bugbear (what a magnificent word) and sticking point was to throw caution and all of my sheets to the wind and run around howling just before I sequestered myself under the bed with Earl at arms reach. I took all of your wonderful and most caring suggestions on board and my posts will be shorter and more to the point. When I have something that makes me “SQUEE!” with delight, I will share it. I can’t share my nectarines with you as they went in my mouth and I ate them but everything else you can consider fair game.

I want to thank Ms Cityhippyfarmgirl for giving me the most splendid and thoughtful epiphany. My word for this year is “Evolve”. And evolve, I shall! See you soon when I will most probably have something to get excited about and at least one photo to brighten it up a bit.

If you would like to have a go at making your own Squeealicious crochet covered buttons here is a very easy tutorial. There are many more out there but lazy old me just went with numero uno as it was a doddle.

http://www.annettepetavy.com/pages/en/newsletter/2012/10.html

 

UPDATE –

Stevie-boy is up now so I took a photo of the cover with the button sewn on it. I am imagining that your buttons will be a whole lot better than mine. I left the benchmark pretty low. I like people to feel good about themselves 😉

"Ta-DAH!" :)

“Ta-DAH!” 🙂

 

When opposites collide

Hi all,

 

This blog post is late. It is late because we have been studying hard all day and only just realised that I had to post my blog post today! EEK! The images of Sir Stevie-boy and Ms narf taken in homage to Ms Pauline, Mr Orlando and Sir Siddy are the result of very tired students who are three sheets to the wind as they haven’t had their dinner yet but have certainly not missed out on some wine…here’s hoping Ms Pauline is amused rather than mortified ;). On to the actual post…

We all have this “thing” where we look at other people’s lives or what they do and we add a little touch of fairy dust and “POOF!” that other person’s life is suddenly SO much better than our own. That old saying “you can’t truly know a man till you walk a mile in his shoes” is SO true. Try walking a mile, 100 metres…heck 10 metres in Stevie-boys shoes and you will instantly know what I mean ;). Seriously though, what is it about lusting after other people’s lives? I guess part of it is that we are not privy to the bad bits. I mean who posts about terrible, horrible, no good very bad days? I think that blog authors and blog readers are all guilty of omitting the bits of their lives that they think might not be as amuse bouche as others. If you saw what my laundry floor looked light right at this minute you would have to run to your bathrooms and wash your hands repeatedly (OCD?) but I am NOT going to share that image with you so you can’t really “see” how narf twitches whenever she walks out the back door and looks down at the door mats covered in all KINDS of nefarious things that sometimes get wiped off…but most of the time make their way into the laundry to create a delightful tapestry of nature that narf7 gets the joyful task of removing…

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Although this MIGHT look like I am attempting to crochet a dalek from Dr. Who, it’s actually the base of a crocheted gauntlet. Although I did learn a couple of new crochet stitches making this I ended up pulling it apart and starting again

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What happens when you leave your crochet alone for 10 seconds to go to the loo…sigh…

So what brought this topic to Serendipity Farm today? Aside from beavering away on studies all week and being holed up like a field mouse hibernating and doing pretty much BUGGER all except for extracting hair from root follicles when Illustrator refuses to do what I want it to do, I mean is it SO hard to just do what I want? I negotiate with it…I put my cup (bucket) of tea right next to the screen so that it can inhale that life giving aroma. It jump-starts me, so why can’t Illustrator just “get” what I am trying to do eh? Seems the brain of a narf and the programming of an Illustrator may just be a step too far apart and something needs to be inserted in-between in order for that miraculous synapse to become complete and start firing. That miraculous in between quotient is Stevie-boy but he is somewhat gainfully employed at the moment leaving narf to try to overcome her natural luddism when it comes to computers. Once you have given the monitor, and then the desktop box, a bit of a gentle whacky reminder of who is boss and it STILL doesn’t work, what’s a narf to do?

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A lovely image that Steve took recently

Nothing…that’s what…nothing that suddenly turns into spending hours on Pinterest but that’s another thing that you don’t see when you drop in to Serendipity Farm. You see the water tank installations and the veggie garden (well, when I am not ashamed to take photos you see it…) and pretty close-ups of flowers (that the possums/wallabies/chooks/Earl hasn’t eaten yet) and you get the good bits. No-one wants to air their dirty laundry and everyone wants to hold up their triumphs, their successes in order to garner a small degree of praise that is usually lacking from their significant others (“I am just…one…man!” I rest my case! 😉 ) I will segue back to my point now for those of you wondering what the heck this post is about. I read a most delightful and equally as sporadic post from Ms Pauline over at The Contented Crafter . Pauline is a most amazing woman. She lives with King Orlando and Young Sidney pup and not only manages to survive that maelstrom of animal activity but she shares her ideas, her ideals, her amazing ability to turn wool and paint and bits of string into most magnificent, lust-worthy creations. Craft genius aside, the most wonderful thing about Ms Pauline is that she IS Ms Pauline. A kind, caring, clever, intelligent, and most delightful person who gives damned good comment when the need arises.

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Earl having a bit of a rest after a long walk. I don’t get that luxury 😉

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Can you see the hole in the ashes in the firebox? I think we have fire moles!

She hasn’t been posting as often as she used to (not that I would know, I haven’t seen my RSS Feed Reader feet past the belly of posts that have built up over the last unread week or so) thanks to Mr Sidney pup who has turned her quiet life of order and routine upside down. There is NOTHING like getting a new puppy to make you suddenly realise how bloody amazing your life was before. Again, you are lusting after the good bits and completely ignoring how there was a dog shaped hole in your life that was missing in action and that desperately needed filling but that gets shunted aside when you look at the chaos that is your life now…the chewed and still wet socks, the skirting boards that are either chewed or peed on, the crafts that you used to be able to leave in a tasteful basket on the floor now up high because not only are the crafts not safe, the basket has a greatly increased half-life as well. Siddy, I salute you young lad. You have most definitely shaken up and stirred Ms Pauline and Mr Orlando who is only just starting to see the benefits of being able to tease a young over-excitable pup

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Steve teaching Earl how to use Facebook…

After reading Ms Pauline’s most honest appraisal of Life spent in between Mr Orlando and young Sidney pup I started to realise how much Stevie-boy and I resemble Mr Orlando and young  Sir Sidney. I tend to be a whole LOT like Mr Orlando. I lay about, reclining at various impossible angles (MUST get a new sofa…) for most of the day contemplating my navel…allowing my head to fill with thoughts and then empty without having done a single thing in between. I take delight in my simple processes that blend seamlessly into other simple processes that make up my day. I like my routines, they keep me sane, I am a creature of habit and happily so. I like to crochet, to take my time when cooking, cleaning, doing things. It’s just me. Then we have Stevie-boy. I have never met a man who is more puppy like than Stevie-boy. He jumps from one task to another with a sporadic joy that is both delightful and terrifying to watch. You just never know where that man is going to end up next. He races from one task to the next, often leaving the first task to head off and do something else. When he abandons one task it is my signal to start cleaning up the worst of the mess that was generated from the first task. I am Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote…I am sure he thinks that some miraculous mess fairy flies in and tidies up his mess when he vacates the premises as its most certainly not there when he comes back…

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Poor Earl. Not only is he missing opposable thumbs but he also can’t read. If he COULD read he would know that this box once contained “winged sitting pigs” his most favourite kind of pigs of all

Stevie-boy is a notorious half-doer. He leaves a wake of “stuff” in his path that just stays there for days, weeks, months till he needs it again when it has obviously been displaced by “someone else” as he knew exactly where he left it/put it…sigh… our life is a life of chaos on one side and a life of order on the other. The place where these duel lives meet is strangely terrifying and yet completely invigorating. We still have to learn how to negotiate with each other. After 15 years of living together (this year is our 14th wedding anniversary) I still have NO idea about how Stevie-boys mind works and by the look of bewilderment on his face whenever I am angrily voicing my complaint, he is just as equally in the dark as to where my mind is at. It is a conundrum to me. I fear that should I ever wake up and find myself in Stevie-boy’s body (and visa-versa) that we might both have to be raced to the nearest mental health facility STAT.

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AHA! NOW we see why Mr E was so very interested in that box (and being on the table in the first place!) I ended up making a pair of knitted long gauntlets for a friends birthday but Mr E decided that he might like to add “knitting” to his long line of accomplishments. I, being the spoil-sport that I am, said “NOOOOOOOOO!” 😉

After finishing reading Ms Pauline’s delightful blog post and her simple desire to have a single photo of her with both Mr Orlando and young Sidney pup the first NOT holding them both by the scruffs of their necks, not a conglomerate image superimposed using Photoshop (yes Ms Pauline, you CAN do that 😉 ) but simply her with Orlando and Siddy (How come “Siddy” isn’t a word but “Soddy” is Spell-check eh?!!!) just sitting together. No Andy Cap and Flo type cloud of feet and whiskers and sibling angst, just Orlando in all his regal serene splendour and Siddy just sitting there, doing his small doggy best to smile. That’s all Ms Pauline wants. Her simple life has been hijacked and the order, the serenity that once was is long gone…BUT the energy, the sheer unmitigated puppy joy, the intense desire to interact with Mr Orlando, the bliss of holding a furry bundle of snuffles in your arms (for 10 seconds till he NEEDS to be put back down…there are mysteries afoot!) is a most intoxicating salve for the wounds of the savaged past that really and truly need to be licked, cleaned, scab formed and gotten over. That’s what shared lives are. A mass conglomeration of negotiations, stand-offs, opportunities to learn, to understand, to grow that we would otherwise never have the chance to understand and appreciate unless we were dragged backwards, kicking and screaming into that melee.

Andy Cap and Flo

Here you see Andy Cap and his long suffering wife Flo. Back last century this comic strip ran on a daily basis in the newspapers. I read a few of them while I was hunting for a strip with the ubiquitous fight scenes (this one has two!) in it and noticed that Andy spent a lot of time punching Flo! This comic strip is SO politically incorrect but back when I was a kid it was apparently funny! But back when I was a kid Rolf Harris was an Aussie Icon. I rest my case!

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Stevie-boy and I. I want to know why I am riding a cow!

I decided that Ms Pauline might need to see how much like Mr Orlando and young Sidney pup the first, Stevie-boy and I are like so we took a few photos in homage to the chaos that is Ms Pauline’s life now just to show her that we are standing in solidarity (and similarity) with her on her journey into self-discovery and awareness. I hate to break it to you Ms Pauline but your hope for a quick and painless/seamless easing back to the life that you once knew is probably doomed. Stevie-boy and I have been living together for 15 years now and neither of us has the FOGGIEST idea of how the other ones mind works, what the heck they are on about most of the time or how on earth we are going to solve problems together without bickering. On the plus side, we HAVE learned to live and let live (neither of us likes those Andy Cap and Flo fights) and give each other distance and our own space so maybe that’s the best that you can hope for in this situation. Stevie-boy and I are cemented together now for better or worse and the glue that keeps we complete opposites attracting is pure magic. No idea why I still want to please him, to cook him food that makes him smile, to plump up his pillow when I make the bed…no…bloody…idea! Maybe that’s why opposites stay together? Because they just DON’T get each other and that magic just never gets a chance to be fathomed out and become also-ran? Who would know…maybe there is a book in that, some scientific research, whatever…feel free to poach my hypothesis, my theorem and run with it if you are so inclined.

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Everything is right with the world when there are hot sausage rolls to be eaten 🙂

Me, I am TOO busy to do anything about anything folks, Illustrator and I are learning to negotiate the boundaries…to work together when WE are complete opposites. Perhaps a delightful partnership of mutual satisfaction may arise but more likely we will be butting heads where those lines meet on a regular basis and I will learn to tolerate Illustrator from afar with a degree of admiration and awe at what it can do. I hope you enjoy our pictorial homage to Ms Pauline’s Orlando and Siddy conundrum that she finds herself embroiled in. If you would like to read the post that generated this homage, please head over to Ms Pauline’s blog The Contented Crafter  and read, laugh, learn, feel yourself salved by Ms Pauline’s delightful honest word-smithing and know that somewhere out there opposing creatures are stirring…

We will go in order of images posted in Ms Pauline’s post…

1. Ms Pauline was walking Sir Siddy pup the first and in this image, Mr Earl is walking Sir Stevie-pup the first…

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2. Sir Siddy had hightailed it with one of Ms Pauline’s shoes…

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3. Sir Siddy has Mr Fox but Stevie-boy has big Mr bear…

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4. Mr Orlando was staring myopically into the camera with his fur askew…not hard to replicate this one 😉

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5. Mr Orlando was curled up on a lovely BIG dresser to remain out of Sir Siddy’s reach. Mr Stevie-boy wouldn’t let poor narf curl up on anything other than this tiny little cupboard…

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6. Mr Orlando, still on the dresser (however he looks a WHOLE lot more comfortable and content than Ms Narf!) and Mr Siddy looking up forlornly at the object of his desire (where Stevie-boy is languishing for his tea…)

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Just to finish off this homage to the chaos that is now Ms Pauline’s life I would like the opportunity to salve a little of the problem. Sir Siddy the first just wants a kitty of his own. Check out this awesome link where you can knit your very own Sir Siddy Kitty that he can do whatever he wants with about halfway down. A free pattern…knock yourself out Ms Pauline, we all need hope…

 

http://www.ravelry.com/designers/sara-elizabeth-kellner

 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes…

Hi All

Or as Mr Bowie may well have sung if it was at ALL easy to rhyme…”ex-ex-ex-ex-experiments”… which comes off sounding somewhat like “Com-pu-pu-pu-(add 10 more pu’s here…by the way I know  that there are 10 more “pu’s” because I counted them 😉 )-computer game” by the NZ band with the dubious name of “Mi-sex”. I say dubious because from what I have managed to glean from dealings with some of my New Zealand blogging confraternity, they are pretty cluey when it comes to spelling so my guess is that the members of the band Mi-Sex are just Aussies that swam the wrong way across the channel as everyone knows that Australian males could care less about spelling. Consider it a fair swap for Crowded House (and by the way, cheers for the pavlova and the lamingtons, they were delicious! 😉 ) . If you would like to count the amount of “pu’s” yourself or you are interested in seeing how computers used to look last century (before anyone was allowed to touch one or own one themselves) or if you are at all, even vaguely, interested in 1979 New Zealand rock feel free to watch the song here…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m8IOD-wk9g

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This tree has been a dead tree standing for a while now. It was quite close to our house so a friend came over and gave Steve a hand to chop it down on the weekend. It’s completely dead and most deliciously fire ready. Perfect for this coming season of feet up around Brunhilda and tussling for the chairs either side of her before the dogs become permanently welded to them for the next 6 months

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Doesn’t look all that impressive but it’s over a cubic metre of uber dry firewood that we didn’t have to lug from the back block or pay for so “WOOT!” 🙂

I have been having a few “LEARN YOUR LIFE LESSONS NARF” moments here of late. I would like to share some of them with you for the sake of posterity…

  1. When you reduce your feral cat population significantly and are feeling self-righteous about what excellent neighbours and hail-fellow-well-met sterling examples of society you are, you may notice that suddenly your pumpkins are all scoffed by bush rats and the quolls move in and start snarfing your chooks…just sayin’
  2. When you set out to create a lush green oasis in the middle of a parched and arid landscape, every insect from this side of the Pecos is going to invade Poland
  3. When you focus on “lush and green” rather than any sort of thought process that might arrive at an increase in garden produce you get lush and green and not a whole lot to eat
  4. When you fall prey to the ideals of Permaculture and imagine your garden full of delightful helpful chickens who scratch delicately and eat all your pests you probably deserve to end up with no eggs and sixty quintillion baby chicks turning you every slowly more insane with their incessant cheeps
  5. If something tastes good, and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat. If something doesn’t taste good and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat
  6. When you give strawberries not enough water they refuse to fruit. When you give strawberries too much water you end up with mushy tasteless fruit…

I hope they can be of some assistance to those of you contemplating the delights of living in the arid wasteland formerly known as “Northern Tasmania” now, most accurately, an extension campus of the Gobi desert

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Here’s some firewood that we prepared earlier. You can tell that we prepared it earlier because a) it is stacked, b) it is dry and c) nature appears to be attempting to take it back…most notably that bollocking blackberry!

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Another one that nature prepared earlier. As you can see, this tree fell over our fence from Glad’s property next door. We cut up the wood that was blocking the driveway but the rest is going to be dealt with soon…not sure when soon actually is. Not even sure if it can be quantified. “Soon” on Serendipity Farm is like “Manana” to a Spaniard 😉

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Here’s another stack of logs that we cut from the tree that fell over Glad’s fence. You can see the pile of debris next to it and I have plans for any debris that we generate from now on. Soon I am going to start a concerted hedge building effort involving striking as many hawthorn cuttings as I can and interplanting them on hugels formed of hacked up debris along the boundary fences on Serendipity Farm. Our neighbours are going to LOVE us but you know what? Bollocks to them. This is for nature, for Permaculture and to redress the loss of topsoil washed down our steep slopes in winter

Today’s post was brought to you by the letter “H”. In particular, the word “Honesty” I read Pauline’s revealing and excellent post about her life and how facing up to the problems and behaviours that were blocking her from her full potential and taking a first step on the road to recovery initially physically, but closely followed by mentally and I dare say spiritually as well led her to become the vibrant, vital and most awesome person that she is today. When you are healthy you see things differently. Life has extra colours, there is hope around every corner and you can’t help but get out of bed feeling like today is going to have some interesting possibilities come what may and you are perfectly able to deal with them. In the spirit of this post I got to thinking about my own journey and the blockages that prevent me from living my life more fully and one of my worst habits kept making itself obvious again and again and again…

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Not a blockage per-se but this little fellow loves to live in our drainpipes and comes out to bumble around on the lawn where he hunts for insects

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One good habit that I cultivated was eating breakfast. Here you see narf7’s breakfast. A large mug of tea (2 teabags) and a bowl of buckwheat porridge with chopped apple, date paste and sesame milk.

I have been having more than my fair share of moments lately where I am lucid AND aware and my synapses are all firing in a similar direction and thought has been the order of the day. I have decided to challenge my longstanding habits on a daily basis. Why would I do something as inherently foolish as that? Because I realised that if we stick with what is safe and what we know we never learn anything and we never move forward. I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately where people have soldiered on against the odds and have come out the other side older, wiser and with a greater understanding and appreciation for their lot than they went into this exchange with. I want to ensure that I am not clinging tenaciously to old habits that might just be inhibiting me in my day to day life. Here’s a few of them that might be on the chopping block in the immediate future

  1. I always want things done my way.
  2. I get stressed when things aren’t done my way
  3. I sulk when things aren’t done my way
  4. I protest vehemently and loudly (and often into the night) when things aren’t done my way
  5. When ANYTHING negative eventuates (I will be waiting for years for just such a gleeful occasion) with anyone else’s interpretation of how things should be done I rise, like the Phoenix in gleeful schadenfreude

Now in looking at this list you might not immediately be able to pick out any common denominators. I am a reasonably well balanced woman who has managed to make it to 50 without going to jail for strangling anyone but I am starting to get the picture that I might just be a teensy little bit of a control freak.

Control freak

noun

informal

noun: control freak; plural noun: control freaks

a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.

Oh Dear 😦

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“Thank the Lord…we aren’t going to starve today!” Our amazing harvest for Monday… 😉

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Dates soaking in boiling water to make them soft to whizz up in my vitamix blender to make date paste and we actually grew this celery! Never tried to grow it before. It always smacked of “too hard” and so this year it got planted. Delicious stuff and I cut the bases off leaving about an inch so that they can regrow

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Mr Zuke is too cool for school but maybe not too cool to turn into 2 pans of zucchini brownies…

I have a lot of other habits that might need a bit of a tweak but this habit arose like the phoenix apparently in order to prevent me from needing to hyperventilate into a paper bag at least 100 times a day. People who are control freaks are afraid of being out of control. Knowing myself reasonably well (after having to live with “me” as an erratic flatmate inside my head who I might just be going to kick out if she doesn’t stop Pinning on Pinterest and get outside and do a bit of yard work in the immediate future!) I think that this might be a reasonable assumption to make. Throw me a curve ball and I start to twitch. I am not good at change and freely admit that anything out of the ordinary is viewed with suspicion first until it has proven to be anything other than nefarious where I may, or may not frolic in delight when proven wrong. Here’s a website for anyone else who thinks that they might be a control freak or be dealing with one.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201010/how-deal-control-freak

I am sure that Steve would be most happy to have me attempt to deal with my incessant need to have my way because that would open the door and allow HIM to have his way all of the time. Steve and I are both control freaks but I am the more dominant (dominatrix?!) one and so I tend to manipulate things a little more than I should. I can’t stop Steve from turning into Napoléon but I CAN stop myself from limiting my enjoyment of life’s day to day experiences and for that, it will be worth unleashing Attila the Steve on society

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This is what kefir grains look like when you feed them non-dairy milk exclusively. Mine revel in homemade sesame milk mixed liberally with homemade date paste. Here you see my little hard working grains sitting in some finished, cultured kefir

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I lift them out of the finished kefir and plonk them straight into some nice new sesame milk/date paste mix ready for them to get cracking with turning it into finished kefir

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This heinous and most unusual looking jellyfish creates cracking caffeine rich probiotic kombucha. The outside of this large container might leave a bit to be desired but the inside is pure deliciousness

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One of the most interesting things about kombucha (booch) SCOBY’s is that they swell to fill the space that they are allotted. My container is square with ridges and so my booch SCOBY is square with ridges :). Here you can see her basking in some of her finished booch ready to be dunked into her next vat of cool sweet tea to feed for another 10 days before narf liberates her and places her reverently into some more…slave? “Moi?!”

Nature has conspired to assist me in my desire to relinquish my need for control. She has thwarted my ways most successfully of late and through gritted teeth I am “grateful”. Where I desired a fecund oasis of productive garden I have had to tackle a sagging enclosure roof that has allowed the possums to bounce their way to snapping off my sunflower heads and chomping the tallest tomatoes off at the stalk. I have discovered that you actually need to be proactive when it comes to potatoes and mound “something” up around their stalks because otherwise you get a lot of green and not a lot of “edible”.  When you think you have a handle on something horticultural because you spent the best part of 4 years studying horticulture and you really should know what you are doing you don’t. There are SO many life lessons that have been tapping me on the head with the duelling wooden spoons of nature and life that I think I might stop there. I am of the firm belief that life hands you life lessons for a reason. I am also of the firm belief that you keep getting those life lessons revisit you like the ghost of Christmas past, if you steadfastly refuse to acknowledge them and deal with them.

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This box contains par of the solution to the problems that we have on Serendipity Farm. I discovered these day lily tubers languishing in a ditch on one of our walks…they have brothers…and sisters…and aunties…and uncles…and about a squillion cousins and I can collect a few surreptitiously each time I decide to ambulate up this road and soon I will be able to populate Serendipity Farm with Day Lilies out the wazoo!

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Here they are having a nice relaxing spa and catching up on all the gossip with their kin

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What my poor kitchen looks like at any given time. There is always something being soaked, or dried or cooling (those 2 bowls of buckwheat porridge) or ground (I have 2 mortar and pestles), or washed, or thrown (“EARL!”) and its just lucky that I designed an UBER simple kitchen in order to keep clutter to the minimum (note…I am NOT showing you a picture of my kitchen table 😉 )

It turns out that we have been tackling Serendipity Farm all wrong.  We have been trying to force our ideas and ideals on the land rather than spending time observing it. Our gung-ho attitude has seen us grow and plant out things that are completely unsuitable for our property and its climactic conditions and it’s time to relinquish control and watch nature at work. Over the coming autumnal period and the ensuing winter, I am going to go back to basics with how we are going to deal with our property and what our outcomes are. Serendipity Farm has a lot of problems but it also has a lot going for it and it’s up to us to work WITH nature to effect positive change rather than try to keep banging our heads on the brick wall that refusing to admit defeat when it comes to our own wants and desires has become. There are some compromises to be made and they aren’t going to be pretty. They might see me having to rethink some of my ideas and ideals and renegotiating exactly what I want for our property. Permaculture is the only answer but each situation is different and I can’t try to apply principles that work elsewhere to here…back to the drawing board…observe, note, THEN plan once we are armed with what we need to move forwards.

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Our new lecturer (who is a darling by the way and who I adore already 🙂 ) told me to take pictures of all sorts of things, to get creative and to find design all over the place. I fear I may be stuck on our “50 pumpkins” task from our course last year. This year we get to design “50 bananas”…I am NOT going to tell you what Steve said…

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Another random shot of my kitchen. This time I have 4 bottles ready for the sesame milk and date paste mix (sesame milk is already in that big bowl and the date paste is in the vitamix blender), the celery was waiting to be chopped along with those carrots for last nights most delicious soup (I have been taking lessons from The Soup Dragon and am now the apprentice Soup Dragon 🙂 ) . I had a delicious moment the other day when for some reason I decided to try and stick one of my spatulas to my magnetic strip…NO idea why I tried it but I found out that it is, indeed, metallic on the inside! That means I can stick my kefir spatula up with the knives away from my other “regular” spatula (also magnetic) so that it doesn’t get cross contaminated and I start culturing my cakes and more to the point, my sesame milk for everyday use

We signed up and paid for our course yesterday. We are now about to commence study in a field that is SO far off centre to what we are used to that my right eye is twitching as I type this. We dabbled with design last year but within strict parameters. This year we are given a lot more creative freedom and as a quintessential planner, releasing the muses is tantamount to sending in the hounds. I think I hide behind my lists. I think that under all of this collective of knowledge that I have been collating and stashing away is a little narf7 who is frankly terrified of being of little worth and who has assumed a hermitty crab shell of great control in order to assuage that fear and reassure myself that I am, indeed, “relevant”

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The son and heir purchased this vacuum sealer for me as a gift WAY back when we lived in Western Australia. It has taken me all of this time to use one box of bags…I am hoping that they still sell them!

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These are dehydrated kefir grains. The yellowish ones were purely fed on cows milk and the darker ones were fed dually on cows milk and non dairy milk with date paste added. The powder around the outside is just dried milk powder. Apparently it keeps them happy while they are in stasis in the fridge. When I fed my kefir on 2 days of non-dairy milk and 1 day of cows milk they grew considerably and I dried them as they produced new babies and the container became too full of them. Here you can see the results of all of that drying

Anyhoo…back to Mr Bowie and his ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and how they pertain to narf7 and Serendipity Farm as a whole. Well I have actively decided to change those habits that are supporting my need to be a control freak. I am going to recognise them for the fear mongers that they are and I am going to learn my life lessons as fast as I can because I am impatient and SUCK at waiting. Whilst working through what makes narf7 tic (not a spelling mistake…) I am going to see if I can’t initiate a few good habits to replace the bad ones. I am considering having a go at Pilates. I hear it’s like yoga with an eye patch…if so…”ARRGHH! Narf7 be ready for that kind of mellow jaunt across the high seas of life”. I am also going to read more, listen to good music more and explore my creative side without having to create “perfect” examples of anything and allowing myself to fail abysmally in the process. All life lessons…all good.

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I used my vacuum sealer to bag up 2 selections of my dehydrated kefir to send to Pauline (The Contented Crafter) and Tanya (Chica Andaluza) so these little babies are winging their merry way to New Zealand and to Spain respectively. I am not sure if either of them will make it through customs let alone get dunked into fresh milk at the other end but at least we are trying girls 🙂

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A close up of their little vacuum sealed bodies…still in stasis but one step closer to their goal of Serendipity Farm kefir grains taking over the world! (Oops…did I say that out loud? The masters will be angry! )

It looks like we have arrived at the end of this post. Sorry about the philosophy 101. I actually typed up an entirely different post earlier in the week that I decided to discard because it was too philosophical but it would appear that my muses are insisting on philosophy this week and you are stuck with my erstwhile attempts to find my navel where I don’t actually have one. I may, or may not have a chakra but navel…nada. It was removed in a past surgery so I guess that leaves me to attempt to find my third eye without going cross-eyed in the mirror.  Hopefully normal service will have resumed next week but I think part of this introspection is partly to do with the change of seasons. My brain is INSISTING on changing the seasons with the calendar month this year. I get the picture that nature will again insist otherwise…”nature is a control freak” 😉

Hot, hot HOT down in sizzling Sidmouth

Hi Folks,

Back to my normal posting style (if, indeed, I have one) for today’s post. My life lessons for this week have been tangled up in painting and hacking through blackberries and walking Earl at a somewhat brisk pace, sometimes doubling back on ourselves at an alarming speed and with humorous results but that’s another story…The temperature continues to rise on Serendipity Farm and all over Australia. I got back from walking Earl this morning (Sunday) and found Steve and Bezial sitting on one of the rugs on the deck. It’s a lovely place out there now and an additional “room” that we can take advantage of over the summer period. Our local government gave “cash back” incentives to people who had their fireplaces removed and who installed electric heat/cooling pumps in order to “minimise pollution”. For a government who is pushing this pulp mill like flogging a dead horse and who can’t be bothered policing anything environmental you have to think that there might just be an agenda involved with that decision and you don’t even have to poke it with a stick before you see that as the primary shareholders in our power, the government has somewhat vested interests in us all cashing in our solid fuel heaters and paying through the nose for electricity.

Garden Advisory Service

I pinched this from Mr Leunig. I love it 🙂 If you feel like suing me Mr Leunig, I will pay you in zucchini, the legal tender on Serendipity Farm 😉

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If you don’t believe me…here I am, using Earl’s not inconsiderable bonce as a size comparison for this monster. Last week this was a tiddler. A week later it is over a foot long

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This is to show you how hot it has been around here of late. This candle was artistically doing duty out on the front deck. It had been doing duty out there for years. Not even Earl had bothered with it, but this year it decided to take one look at our summer and gave up the ghost. It melted. THAT is how hot it is here folks!

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Aren’t these bumper stickers amazing? Linne of the eclectic and most crafty and world wise blog A Random Harvest sent these beauties to me so that I can put Trogdor in pride of place on our little 4 x 4 battle wagon’s tailgate. Every time I look at these stickers I smile because I am reminded of how amazing it is to be able to share a good friendship with someone on the other side of the world. Back when we were kids, Linne and I would have had to send snail-mail letters and be pen pals but now we can chat, send messages and comment almost instantaneously…and they say that technology is bad! Thankyou from the bottom of my little Trogdor infused heart Linnie and BIG (hot sweaty) hugs from Sidmouth to you 🙂

The catch 22 situation involved with that is that Tasmanian’s are sooky la-las when it comes to any variations in Temperature. They have real problems when the temperatures go up any higher than 25C and down any lower than 0C and those heat/cooking pumps and air conditioners start humming like a swarm of bees on the move. Tasmania is a relatively small state but when the entire population turn on their electrical cooling at the first sign that it might just be a warm day, something’s got to give and what happens is that we have rolling power outages. We just lost power for about 15 minutes. I could care less because everything that we need for the duration is gas or “other” powered. It is more of a nuisance for us to be honest but think of how later in the day when it really IS hot, those outages are going to impact on when the coolers are really needed…numpties tend not to think. That is my explanation for a “numpty”, “People who try their very hardest NOT to use the brain that God gave them”. Simple…and the sad thing is that ¾ of Tasmanian’s are like that through no fault of their own and through a systematic and most nefarious  population control by corrupt state government and big business (predominately the forestry industry and its key players).

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This is matcha green tea powder. My wonderful daughters purchased it for me. By the way girls I found that small baggie I pinched from you! Want it back? 😉 I used some of it to make myself a delicious hot matcha sesame milk sweetened with date paste. It was delicious 🙂

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This is how we Earl proof Steve’s music room in order for him not to roast every time he wants to play guitar in there

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We didn’t have the luxury of more of those gate/door thingo’s to put on the middle room but it needed airing out and so we had to formulate an Earl proof plan…do you like it? I call it “Chair…like you are going in THERE sunshine!” 😉

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I shall show you this once. We shall speak of it no more after this one time. This…is the letter “P”. It once took pride of place between the “O” key and the “{[” key on our keyboard. I closed Earl and Bezial in the house when I was painting the deck boards and when I came back inside I checked for collateral damage (like you do) and couldn’t see anything. I sat down to check emails and was oblivious to anything until I attempted to type the letter “P” and found an empty space. I went hunting for the letter and discovered it on the floor with these tell-tale tooth marks on it. What I want to know is how the heck did Earl manage to extract this key from a keyboard without moving the keyboard from its original position and without doing any other damage to the keyboard?!!! (Be afraid… be VERY afraid!)

When education is pushed down to sub-necessary, it is very easy to fool the population most of the time when half of them can’t actually read or understand how to fill in a form. So when the state government tells them to “get a heat pump” most of them mindlessly “baaaa” their way to the nearest Harvey Norman store where they can hock themselves up to the eyeballs for the next few years. Don’t forget, most of we Taswegians are unemployed or underemployed and thus expensive new heating and cooling systems represent a large proportion of our income. The poverty cycle in Tasmania means that many Tasmanian’s are unable to pay the huge power bills that are being accrued by their adhering to state government urging and a spiral of poverty is forcing people into heading to charities in order to make ends meet.

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Here you have Serendipity Farm partially completed…

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Then we painted the weather damaged cedar…

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Then I decided to paint this old bench that Steve and I built years ago with timbers on the property…

You won’t hear about that on the news or read about it in the newspapers. You find out about it by living here and seeing how things work. It does foster a sub culture of resilience however. It is amazing to see how people get by, get around and just “get” themselves from A to B when they need to and there are none more generous than people who know how hard it is to be down and out. Tasmanians are very generous givers to charity. They help out a mate and they will share what they have. I have found that this occurs wherever there is a welfare belt or when people are subject to living below the poverty line. My grandmother would have said “needs must…” and she was right. When you can’t get what you want with the folding green, you have to find another way. There are good and bad things about every situation and learning how to be resilient is right up there with the best skills you can learn in life.

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Then after what felt like an ETERNITY we ended up with this 🙂

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Which turned into this. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it suits us just fine 🙂

While the power was out I headed up to water the veggie garden (triffids). Steve hooked up the Mumbly Cumumbus and headed out with a spring in his step, his battered old straw hat with an imported beer logo on it a past gift from our generous daughters and a 20 litre bucket just in case he actually catches anything. Steve loves to trawl around the Tamar in the sunshine with the smell of the salty air, the breeze blowing up his shorts (why do they call them shorts when they are down to his knees?!!!) and as many fishing rods in the water as he has digits to hold them. Much like a “mans shed”, a “man’s tinnie (small aluminium dinghy)” is vital to his happiness when he lives in close proximity to any body of water.

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Knowing that we had an impending visit from Kym and Bruce I decided to tidy up a bit. I moved a lot of things and simplified and this is the new kitchen setup. Nice and simple and clean lines. No doubt it will take me all of a week to take it back to cluttered but I now have this image to remind me how nice it looks when there aren’t bits of sea glass, stones, seed pots, plant material etc. littered all over the place 😉

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Here we have Stevie the fix-it-man wonder boy (who is turning 49 at the end of January) putting the “new” shower door on the shower. We got given the door by a friends wonderful mother and it certainly makes our lives happier. Now Earl can sit and stare at me as I shower…not disturbing at ALL! 😉

I started to sketch down ideas for this post but as usual, I am free forming. I need to check out if choko’s (Chayote’s) are annual, biannual or perennial because my choko from last year is still in a pot in the glasshouse and I have a nice spot in the garden for it to climb up one of the supporting poles (circus poles) so that it can grow with impunity.  I just went and checked and it is “a long lived vigorous, tender herbaceous perennial vine with tuberous roots”. “WOOT!” so that means I now need to find someplace it can grow happily in perpetuity. I also found out some interesting and useful information about it…”The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and infusions of the leaves were used to dissolve kidney stones.” Always good to know that your food has other uses

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Here you can see just how bewildered Stevie-boy can get when faced with an appliance that is more bolshie than I am. He eventually got this hot water system to go but he can’t tell you how or he would have to kill you

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This is what is left of our 900 potted plants that we ferried here as wide eyed city folk. We had SUCH plans! Those plans have faded into obscurity and we are still trying to work out where to put these last few plants on Serendipity Farm or if, indeed, they have a place here at all. They are revelling in water here. Narf7 forgot that she had put the overhead sprinklers on and came out about 2 hours late (I know CRINGE!) to find the duck wading in water and quacking merrily. At least someone was happy with all of that water gone down the proverbial and literal drain 😦

I also wanted to share this paragraph from a post that I read this morning from the blog Zenhabits. It came from a list of shake-up’s that the author had given himself to get himself motivated out of a blue funk. It affected me predominately and made me really think about living each day to the fullest…

“I remembered that this day counts. I only have so many days left on earth. I don’t know how many that is, but I do know it’s a very limited number. I know that each one of those limited days is a gift, a blessing, a miracle. And that squandering this miracle is a crime, a horrible lack of appreciation for what I’ve been given. And so, I reminded myself this morning that this day counts. That I should do something with it. That doesn’t mean I need to work myself into the ground, type until my fingers are mere nubs, but that I should do something worthwhile. Sometimes taking a break to nourish yourself is a worthwhile activity, because that allows you to do other worthwhile things, but just sitting around in self-pity isn’t helpful, I’ve found. So I got up and did something.”

Often, just getting up and doing something is enough to get you someplace where life looks and feels a bit better. I looked out over the Batman Bridge at the expanse of water below and the gorgeous countryside I was walking through and the beauty of the early morning tinged with the warmth of the sun’s rays and felt truly blessed.

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I took this shot this morning when I was walking Earl to show you how overcast it was. Overcast, foreboding and humid out the wazoo! Not my favourite kind of day but at least we have a nice breeze blowing and that makes up for too many degrees on the thermometer (almost…)

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We saw this lovely little fellow taking a rest on the road. You can see how dry the soil is in this image

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We also saw this…”EEK!” Council have been mowing the grassy roadside verges and this little fellow appears to have been “reaped”

I discovered a food blog yesterday that made me sit up and take notice. I am a bit of a habit former when it comes to what I eat. I develop a repertoire and tend to just plod along eating the same old same old because by the time I get to my evening meal I am usually semi-asleep on my feet. Not anymore! I have seen this blog in my peripherals as I wade through the morass of vegan food blogs and “alternative” foodie sites in my early morning exploration of “grub”. I discounted it for 2 reasons.

  1. “Veggie num num”.  I REST MY CASE! Anything with a name as ridiculous as this is likely to drive me insane in the first 5 minutes of perusing it.
  2. It is a “vegetarian” blog, not vegan

So I have been sliding around the edges of this blog for a while now. It keeps coming up and waving at me from a distance and I keep putting my head down and walking in the opposite direction. Yesterday we collided. You know when you see the love interests in a movie collide? Well it was like that. I think I just found my new passion on a wholesome tasty stick. I stumbled over one of Trudy’s scrumptious looking, most inventive recipes on Pinterest and it piqued my interest to visit the site ostensibly to plunder the recipe but also to have a stickybeak around. It was love at first site! I don’t think I have found a single recipe yet (and there are legion) that I didn’t want to race out to the bbq and cook. I will be working my way through this amazingly creative ladies recipes for the foreseeable future. My wooden spoons will be redolent of spices and interesting flavour combinations and I will be substituting buckwheat for rice, rice noodles for wheat noodles and mucking around with the components of the recipes that are vegetarian and turning them veganise.

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I love Shasta daisies 🙂 I HATE Osteospermum daisies. Not much difference between them really but the Shasta’s are welcome here, welcome to spread all over the place but I frown whenever I see an invading Osteospermum daisy. Horses for courses folks… horses for courses 😉

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The ONLY way we are going to get sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes on Serendipity Farm is to protect them like this. Apparently wallabies love artichokes of any kind and even though they are hardy and drought tolerant, being chewed down to stumps makes it awfully hard to survive 😦

I learned about perseverance and the power of extreme passion when it comes to overcoming adversity. Narf7 + blackberries = “adversity” on STEROIDS. The extended wet winter that we just had combined with our inability to get out into the garden has seen the blackberries and spear (scotch) thistles take over Serendipity Farm. While I was focussing on the forget-me-nots I forgot that there are worse things than having your upper eyelids stuck to your hairline. Spear thistles are not my friend. I don’t care that you can make vegan rennet from them because to get that rennet you have to allow them to grow and my mission in life is to hamper their growth at all costs. I wasn’t intending to tackle the spear thistle and blackberry problem that now inhabits the second garden almost completely when I headed down with my trusty secateurs yesterday. I was going to spend 10 minutes pruning a few stray tendrils of blackberry and a lot of plectranthus that went feral with all the rain. I didn’t even take gloves…

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New growth on one of  the Brachychiton discolor that we planted out. They are all adapting well and none of them have died yet

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Coming up the driveway today…

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Part of the tea-tree garden where Steve whipper snipped. It might be full to the brim with forget-me-not seeds but at least it looks tidy now 😉

You would have thought that I would have realised that this task might be a little more complex than was immediately apparent when I couldn’t actually see through the archway to the garden behind it, but not narf7…I am not known for my observatory powers, and so I headed into the battle completely unaware that I was going to have to fight tooth and nail for my tiny patch of ground. I also should have known that it was going to be a hard slog because Steve had abandoned his hedge trimmer in the immediate vicinity and was in his shed “cleaning up” and whistling in a most nonchalant way… I started by noting that some of the blackberry canes were HUGE! I was a bit bemused because last year I cut them all back and wouldn’t have thought it possible for them to have grown so enormous in the space of a single year. I was wrong. The blackberry mother (like the alien mother…) is a very protective creature. The worst and most thorny canes are usually on the outside of the blackberries boundaries and are the fruiting canes. You have to tackle them first before you can breach the mother and she ALWAYS puts up a good fight.

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Here’s that little choko that I have yet to find a forever home for in the veggie garden. He seems to be very happy at the moment in the glasshouse but I am sure he would rather be climbing up one of the garden poles or a tree on the side of the garden

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Avocado trees grown from seeds, turmeric starting to shoot (in the black pots at the front of this photo) and over to the right, my little mango trees that I grew from seed. Aint nature grand? 🙂

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A closer shot of those turmeric shoots absolutely loving the conditions inside the glasshouse now it is covered in protective netting and feels like tropical North Queensland inside

2 hours later narf7 was in the blazing sun, howling like a banshee at each small victory. Cut to ribbons with blood streaming down my arms and each cane cut and thrown onto a large tarpaulin felt like a major victory in the war. I managed to get the archway opened up and was faced with a dense forest of spear thistles that were equally as defensive of their territory…add to that the blackberries had spread to most of the gardens in the area, everything has grown exponentially over spring and no-one has mown the grass in this area and you can probably see why I decided to decamp back to base to plot my next move. This coming week will see me triumph. I know I will triumph because unlike blackberries, I don’t have to rely on my spines, I have a mind so sharp you could cut cheese with it and I am formulating a cunning plan (hopefully not as cunning as one of Baldric from the Black Adder series “cunning plans”…) The blackberries and spear thistles may be heavily fortified, in possession of the territory and heavily outweigh narf7’s in this war BUT I have my trusty secateurs, a pair of welding gloves (that I WILL remember to take down with me, “forewarned is forearmed”!) and a trusty pair of loppers to bypass those nasty reaching canes that grab you on your nether regions when you bend to pick up their fallen brethren. I SHALL triumph!

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The ubiquitous weekly compost shot. I know that some of you poor polar vortex infused Northerners are living vicariously through my compost heap so here is a gratuitous shot just for you to print out and put on your fridge 😉

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Not “Where’s Wally?”…”Where’s Bezially?”

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One of 2 cardamom plants that seem to be tough as nails that are still surviving here on Serendipity Farm after years of neglect

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The view of my fecund vegetable plants (trifids)

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Beetroots! 🙂

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Tomato “weeds” that seeded outside the garden. Best kind of weeds methinks

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I dug this red clover up from the side of the road last year and lugged it back home in my bag. It is now almost a metre across and loving it and flowering prolifically. Weeds? Nope, very useful plants 🙂

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My potatoes are all starting to flower. The only think I know about potato flowers is that if they are white, the spuds are white and if they are pink, you have pink skinned spuds. That is ALL I know. I also think it means I might get some potatoes this year but I am not holding my breathe 😉

Well it looks like this is a long post and I am going to finish up here for the week. At the beginning of the week, my zucchini plants had small fruit on them about as long as my little finger. At the end of the week they are pick able. The yellow zucchini appear to be much slower growing but I am going to have to watch the green zucchini and the patty-pan squash as they are off the chart when it comes to exponential growth and now that Veggie num num has come to my rescue and suggested some excellent recipes for me to try that use the humble zucchini and I noticed this gorgeous Chocolate, cherry and zucchini cake on Angela of Canned Time’s blog and am going to have to make it because it looks like moist, unctuous, dark chocolaty heaven on a stick that I can use up zucchini in and that I can actually eat…and no doubt I am going to have to think of ways to preserve it for later use. I will be fermenting some, using it in just about everything and offloading it to my unsuspecting children (girls…you don’t suspect alright? ;)).

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It’s too hot to cook indoors so tonight Kym, Bruce, Steve and I are having a bbq. They are having narf7’s homemade beef burgers with the lot – bacon, Serendipity Farm eggs, cheese, sliced pickled beetroot (its an Aussie thing 😉 ), salad and tomatoes with condiments. I then decided that I should probably go out on a limb and provide some kind of nibblies for when we have drinkies… so I bought some bbq crisps, made some narf friendly hummus with rice crackers and veggies and made this strange 70’s hedgehog. I have NO idea why our mothers were not all neurotic and insane for having to produce these hedgehogs at a moments notice right through the decade of the 70’s. They were haute cuisine at the time and I have my suspicions that they were made out of processed cheese as feta and crumbly tasty cheddar do NOT like to be forced onto cocktail sticks!

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Lastly, I found this wonderful delight on the interweb…I was contemplating making it for Kym and Bruce’s meal tonight. I just KNOW they would have loved it. I might save it for when the queen comes to visit Serendipity Farm. She looks like someone who would truly appreciate this delightful vintage 70’s dish. I will stick with the hedgehog 😉

I just found an awesome book that I am trying to request from the library (but those rolling power outages seem to have hit their site so I will have to wait a bit and retry) and that I am going to buy ASAP called “Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles” by Eric Toensmeier. I used the Google book format to find out the information about the choko/chayote via this book and just had a little look at it and it is wonderful! Book Depository, here I come! I just found the book 25% off at a local seller called Fishpond.com.au so narf7 is even happier! Have a great week folks. To my northern friends suffering under the umbrella of frigid cold that the Polar Vortex has brought to you all, enjoy your marshmallows and hot chocolate because sooner than you know you will be back up to your armpits in the heat of summer again 😉

Philosophy 101 narf7 style

Philosophy 101 narf7 style

Hi Folks,

Uncle Travelling Matt

I decided that 2014 was going to be a year where I learned/tried something new every day. Here are my first weeks reporting’s back to you, my dear constant readers. I feel like Travelling Matt from Fraggle rock, out reporting back so that you can all sit in your armchairs in the relative safety of your homes and learn from narf7’s mistakes…here we go…

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The deck prior to starting work

 

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The deck as of today. I have yet to paint the area in the foreground but that is on the cards for tomorrow

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Around the side of the deck

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The western red cedar that had deteriorated badly due to not being treated in 20 years is now a nice sage green. There used to be a large rose and clematis clump over this area of the deck but as I was pruning it decided to part ways with the deck and now lies on the ground in front of it. A problem for another day!

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Painting the deck step rails

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Bezial surveying his land

1. New Year’s Day – Starting the New Year with a sinus headache sucks. I had a bonus lesson today in the shape of “when sanding the deck on New Year’s Eve, wear a face mask in order to not have a sinus headache on New Year’s Day”…lesson learned TICK!

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A headache isn’t going to stop narf7! It might look like I am lying down on the job but some jobs require a degree of horizontality

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In my “Smurfette” phase…I have since been through my Kermit the frog phase and a brief stint with thinking I was Casper the friendly Ghost. Now I think I am a Jackson Pollack original. I am going to sell my bespattered trousers off to the highest bidder 😉

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Clever green washing to attract the unwary husband. Steve brought this home the other day on the shopping pronouncing it “organic”. He associated the green colour, the name “nutrients” the image and the “premium” with organic and figured it was better than the brand that we usually buy. I said “did you check where it was grown?” (he obviously hadn’t…) and surprise, surprise it is grown in China! It might have worked once but they won’t fool him again

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The awesome 8 litre jar that Steve bought for me the other day. I am going to get a couple more for my buckwheat and my sesame seeds

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Some of the bargain plants I have been picking up from small roadside stands lately. I am collecting monocots (grasses and iris type plants) for the driveway

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Who needs chia when you have buckwheat? I soak my buckwheat now for my morning breakfast smoothies and it forms a thick layer of gel. I love how these smoothies keep me going for the whole day until I am ready for my evening meal. Combined with my homemade kefir and Kombucha they are nutrient powerhouses

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A pint of free blueberries from our crazy American friend…trying to win us back 😉

2. Breaking large seemingly insurmountable tasks into small manageable chunks prevents you from hiding under the bed with Earl and not coming out. I realised that Steve’s desire to “do the deck” could be considered to be an insurmountable task and when I found myself shuffling mindlessly sideways towards the bedroom on Thursday,  I chose, instead, to pick up a paint brush and just “start”. A few hours later and many small chunks of painting and I had finished off the deck stairs and most of the deck railing. I learned the value of small chunks from Mr Adam Richman of “Man vs. Food” fame. When faced with having to ingest a hoagie the size of his not inconsiderable derrière, he would always break it down into small bite sized pieces…lesson learned TICK!

jewelled_caddisfly_riverfly.co.uk

I am probably going to get sued for using this image but this is the lengths that some jewellers go to in order to not have to do ANY work at all and get the maximum profit. The ultimate in middle man…poor cadis fly larvae!

3. Life IS like a box of chocolates. Mr Gump’s mama certainly knew what she was alluding to. When faced with a full and open box of chocolates we all go for something different. My personal favourites are chocolate covered Turkish delight. I was walking back over the Batman Bridge today after heading off with Earl for his daily exercise (and my daily drag) when I noticed a little trail of “jellybean stones” on the roadside. Jellybean stones are little smooth stones in the shape of jellybeans and I collect them whenever I see them on the side of the road. A truck delivering garden stones to a nursery must have passed by and lost some of its cargo and ever the magpie I bent to pick them up. We are all different. What one of us finds irresistible is so much “meh” to someone else. We pick and choose what we find attractive and worthwhile as we travel through our lives. We collect little piles of whatever we fancy and we stockpile them like Caddis fly larvae (Put picture in of those jewelled cadis fly larvae) in order to make our lives comfortable and attractive to us. I learned that I like simple natural things. I also learned that you don’t head out into the road part of the bridge in front of large log trucks to pick up tiny stones or that life that you wish to add those little stones to might be somewhat shorter than you imagined it…lesson learned TICK!

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My BAD in situ ready for me to elbow open the pantry door…I LOVE gifts from the universe, they are always perfect and exactly what I need, when I need them 🙂

4. “Keep your eyes open today” was one of my grandad’s favourite sayings…”why grandad?” “because you can’t see with them shut!” Most of us walk around as if we have our eyes closed most of the time. We think about all kinds of other things while we are doing our day to day tasks. We are miles ahead of ourselves and plotting up to the middle of next year while today is slipping away from us. Right this minute is the only time that we are guaranteed of. I learned that keeping your eyes open is a good thing. I found a BAD today while I was walking Earl. What’s a BAD you say? As Steve so succinctly put it “that is one BIG ARSED doorknob!” so BAD it is now known as. I put it in my bag and wondered at how it got on the side of the road. I had no idea what I was going to use it for, or if indeed, I was going to but when I got home when Steve was joking around about what we could do with it, I realised that one of his suggestions was actually pretty clever. We screwed the BAD into the pantry door that contains the rubbish bin and the compost bin. I am usually approaching this pantry with something unsavoury or wet in my hands and now I can just elbow open the door via the BAD. Not bad for something that the universe gave me 🙂

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Our almost new 10 000 litre rainwater tank. We got a pump with it and at just over half the new price

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The lady of the house gave me this New Zealand lily. She bought one plant and she has managed to line her entire driveway by dividing that same plant up! It is growing in hard clay so it should find life here on Serendipity Farm pretty cushy after that

5. The universe gave me something else today. It ALMOST gave me a hernia but let me backtrack a little here to give you the details. Today I learned that sometimes, when you put something out into the ether you get a reply. Everyone who is anyone knows that narf7 has very few actual desires. I am a pretty simple little spud who enjoys simple pastimes and my favourite things are usually free. I am a cheap date. My 2 biggest desires are to get hold of a rainwater tank in order to have a continuous supply of clean rainwater and to afford a small wind turbine for Serendipity Farm. In the scheme of things, they are pretty small requests. Whenever you go to a website you are faced with the site loading you up with cookies. The cookies that the site loads you with won’t make you fat but it will fatten up and customise the advertising that you see from that point onwards. Steve has been visiting Gumtree (our Aussie equivalent to Craig’s List as far as I can see…) in order to see if we can get more 200 litre blue barrels in order to put his genius plan into action. While I was perusing my early morning blogs in my RSS Feed Reader I kept noticing advertisements for Gumtree on the sides of the blogs and my eye was drawn by a blue barrel for sale! Pity the blue barrel was on the other side of Bass Strait in Victoria but the next series of ad’s that were all rainwater related contained a large rainwater tank. For some strange reason I decided to click on the rainwater tank knowing that it was probably in the Northern Territory but when the advertisement opened it was for a 10 000 litre rainwater tank and pump for $1000 and the best part about it was it was in the suburb next to us! I looked eagerly at the date of the advertisement and noticed that it was early December and figured that the tank would be long gone. I sent a tentative email off to the seller asking if they still had it and received an email back by lunchtime saying that he did so Steve and I phoned him up, set off to check it out and on Monday morning we headed around to pick up our new rainwater tank that we ended up paying half price for (after Steve did a bit of dickering) and one of my 2 biggest desires can now be ticked off the list. The moth-eaten sock under the bed dragged itself off to die but we now have a tank that will supply us with more water than we can use and the blue barrels are about to be creatively used to collect and supply rainwater to the veggie garden. Sorry that was a big one, but it taught me the value of waiting and of keeping my eyes open, “cheers grandad!”

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Gratuitous vegetable shot of the yellow zucchinis with the spuds in the background

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A mystery is afoot! I might have prevented the larger vertebrate critters from scarfing my precious veggies but obviously something pretty hungry is giving my silverbeet the old college try! No idea what but I bet it comes in caterpillar form…mutter!

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Lush garden full of “stuff”

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More lush garden…more stuff

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The beans that are growing in the compost

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The compost heap with its volunteer brigade of stalwart veggies

6. Monday saw me doing some serious hard yards on the deck and today I learned that sometimes, when something isn’t really important to you, it doesn’t hurt to give it up. Steve wanted me to paint all of the cedar walls the same colour and I wanted to leave one wall (the best preserved) as a feature wall. I usually get my way but this time I had a think about it and realised that Steve really wanted it to be the same as the rest of the walls and so I painted it over for him. It made him happy. I learned that making Steve happy makes me happy, a win-win situation 🙂

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2 very happy yacon plants

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Last week these zucchinis didn’t have fruit and I noticed that the beetroots have small beetroots the size of Ping-Pong balls

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Patty pan squash

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A little tomato plant that was growing outside the veggie gardens that I dug up to prevent me from trampling it

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All of these tomatoes are volunteers! I probably should have transplanted them…I wonder if it is too late?

7.  Tuesday was a doozy of a life lesson. I learned that sometimes the choices you make can have amazing results. I walked Earl and decided to take him over the Batman bridge and feed the 2 little chooks that have been abandoned there. I try to do this once a week just to make sure that they get at least 1 square seedy meal a week. When we got there I noticed that the little black bantam hen has had babies! 8 tiny little fluff balls. As I started to throw the grain on the ground 2 completely different chooks emerged to peck at it! Obviously the Batman is a prime dumping ground for unwanted poultry 😦 I thought about going to the loo at the public toilets but that would involve taking Earl into the loo and I didn’t quite fancy that level of intimacy so kept walking. We got back home with me almost bursting for the loo and I took a small detour to relieve myself in the bushland at the front of the property. I then decided to head through the tea tree garden and take a look at how some of the small trees we planted are doing (well as it turns out) and on the way back to the house I happened to glance down at the ground and saw a dead puffer fish! Obviously the feral cats brought it back to our property and they chose to dump it right where Bezial goes to sniff when we let him run down the driveway off his lead. If I hadn’t chosen all of the sequence of choices that I did this morning, Bezial would now be dead. He can’t resist eating blowfish. Only last week we had to prevent him from picking one up at the beach and he would have eaten this one as fast as he could with dire results. Is our life made up of choices or is it actually directed by our choices? I would like to think that our lives are the result of an incredibly long and convoluted “Choose your path” book. You start out as a baby and once you get to make choices they form your pathway to your life. YOU get to choose your pathway. That is really the only thing that we get in life, our choices.

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I thought that this was just a pretty weed but it is a useful herb called “self heal”

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The property is covered in oregano. This one is in flower

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Golden oregano

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A mystery…this hydrangea had bright blue flowers last year. This year the flowers are obviously pink. Nothing, aside from some bark, was added to this garden bed so why on EARTH have the colours changed? The pH is somewhat acidic (which would account for the blue flowers) so changing to pink is very strange indeed!

8. That brings me to today. What has narf7 learned today? I learned that on February 2nd I am going to head off to Hobart with my 2 wonderful daughters for what is ostensibly a trip to pick up a boot load of Korean foodstuffs and ingredients that my daughters can’t source here in Launceston. I am also going to head off to a park to find a statue of John Woodcock Graves who wrote the poem/song “Do ye ken John Peel” and take a photo of a book of poems compiled by a fellow bloggers dad (with lots of assistance by her) alongside the statue. Social media can assist people to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. I am honoured that I can help Joanna (Zeb Bakes) to make her dad happy. The lesson is that if we can do something small/simple for someone else that will make them happy, why not? We are all in this together and if we share and we help other people we make the journey a little better.

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After I finish painting I am going to tackle this. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was a jungle. It is actually an archway, heavily fortified and the garden behind it is being guarded by 8ft tall Scotch thistles. I imagine some of the lessons that I am going to learn next week are going to be painful ones…sigh…

That’s about all I have to report today folks. I am absolutely knackered after painting half of our deck and after I get tea on I am going to settle down and have a bit of a rest. A bonus thing that I learned over the past week is that hard work makes me feel incredibly satisfied. I might be dog tired but I feel satiated body and soul. This learning thing is turning out to be fun 🙂 See you next week when the vegetable garden will have probably outgrown its enclosure and gone on the rampage…

One last teeny post I promise!

Hi Folks,

I seem to be the queen of teeny tiny little posts and reposts at the moment but it’s not my fault there are quality life lessons and excellent writing going free for grabs…I need to share it! Here’s something that I found in today’s RSS Feed Reader inbox. I can’t help but share when there are fundamental truths twitching behind my eyes and this little baby set off jangling bells. Wise words to live by and something to aim for. We often forget to really live and make do with merely existing. Remember…we only get 1 ride of this crazy careening carousel we call life and we had best enjoy that ride to the max because once we get off at the end there aint no more folks!

http://zenhabits.net/aol/

Brunhilda feeds tonight…

Hi All,

You can’t stop a behemoth. By its sheer solidity of purpose it has a primal desire to flow from one state to another and good luck stopping it. Brunhilda is one such behemoth. She affects a type of reverse hibernation where she sleeps all through the bustling summer months when everything else is up, procreating and turning green. Brunhilda settles down into her long slumber in mid-October when the frosts officially cease but I have my suspicions that it might be slightly later this year. The berries on the cotoneaster and the hollies are both copious and incredibly bright red so I think we might be in for a long winter. Brunhilda rises to the call of the cold. She opens her door and yawns for the first taste of kindling and the behemoth awakes. From that first flickering flame Brunhilda is constantly in a state of fire. She “ticks over” or she burns like a funeral pyre and in between she gives us something that money just can’t buy, she makes our cold winter house a home. Brunhilda has been going since early May and aside from a few hairy moments when one or other of us forgot to add her fuel of choice and she threatened to go on strike she hasn’t gone out. After you set a behemoth on its way you have to step back and let it do its thing. We put in the fuel and she walks her primal pathway. We reap so long as we pay. It’s a pure case of symbiosis and I love it!

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I am not the only one that has complete and utter adoration for Brunhilda and all that she stands for…meet her humble servant Bezial…

Brunhilda prefers nice dry wood. She is a creature of comfort, much like Bezial who prefers steak and butter and like Bezial we have to temper her desires and she gets her version of broccoli in wood that might not be completely dry. We know that so long as we mix the slightly damp wood with lots of dry we won’t have any problems and it is amazing to see Brunhilda and her tongue of flames turn something that was a tree last year into ashes. You learn a lot about life if you observe its cycles and fire is no exception. I love my winter cycles. They seem so much more real because the cold hones your perception and forces you to focus. We collect our wood like squirrels and we stack it in well-ordered piles on the deck and we slowly feed it into Brunhilda as she works her way through the pile. When we bought this particular model of Aussie made oven I wasn’t sure whether we had done the right thing. Aside from being very expensive (although nowhere NEAR as expensive as her imported brethren) we were going out on a limb to try and support an Aussie business and there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there about their range. It would seem that people like imported Aga’s and Rayburn’s. Brunhilda is not related and where her imported cousins can be colour coordinated with your kitchen there is a degree of bolshiness about her little black attire that reminds you that a stove is supposed to heat, cook and maybe heat your water if you thought about it in advance and decided to spring for the hot water jacket…

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Steve bought these 2 filters and 3 in that little wallet underneath the box at the rear for $15 total. No postage and they got here in just over a week from Hong Kong. Steve has been buying online camera equipment now for a couple of months and so far everything that he has purchased has been a lot cheaper and a lot better than he would have imagined.

From the moment we lit Brunhilda she has been reliable and frugal with her appetite. We feed her, she burns. Because of the unique firebox position in the middle of the 4 ovens, the heat gets retained better and so long as Steve stokes her up before he goes to bed she is waiting for me to give her breakfast when I get up at 3am and open her up. We don’t need firelighters, she just keeps going and my first cup of tea is in line with the first cuppa’s that our pioneering women drew their daily strength from in the past. When you bypass the instantaneous ability to flick a switch or click a gas jet you take on a role in the processes that requires you to keep up your end of the bargain or the cycles stop. You can’t be lazy and take a holiday from hauling wood or stoking Brunhilda because you won’t be able to heat the house and fuel yourself with those soul warming cups of tea and so we become part of the cycle and the process and there is a wonderful degree of fulfilment that comes with stepping in and taking up that yoke.

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I think I might just have to buy this book. It is excellent. James Wong shows us all how to grow some pretty amazing edibles and 3 weeks worth of reading has made me want to own this book.

Yesterday we put up 2 more nets around our huge enclosed garden. We can see the scope of the area that we chose now and I am getting really excited about the possibilities. Where before it was all in my mind, now my idea is coming into fruition. It might not be pretty but it will stop the native wildlife from scarfing our precious food crops and what price that? Again we come back to cycles and our part in those cycles. How can we appreciate what we get if we haven’t had to take part in the process? Handing over a few dollars for a whisk from Shiploads (our equivalent to Wal-Mart apparently…) doesn’t give us the satisfaction of being part of the process. Some poor worker slaved on a factory line in China to make that whisk and its $1.97 price is completely unrepresentative of the true cost of its manufacture. I didn’t just pull “whisk” out of the atmospheric dictionary dear constant readers, I just bought one. I know…”SHAME ON YOU NARF7!”. I supported slave trade… I consumed… I did a bad thing…did it count that I thought about what I was doing?

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This book was in the car ready to be taken back to the library (unread…we have been VERY busy…) when I had to wait in the car for Steve to pick up some plumbing gear from the Beaconsfield hardware shop and so I started to read it and decided to take it out again. It’s a very interesting subject…not sure I would be willing to leave my body to Mr Bass when I die after reading what they do to human remains but kudos to the people that do, a lot of crimes have been solved thanks to the research and macabre generosity of people with their earthly remains after they no longer inhabit them…

While I was twitching that whisk around in a bowl of homemade soymilk and some homemade date paste that I was turning into food for my kefir I was thinking about how we really don’t appreciate the things that are available to us because we really don’t know what cost they truly represent to us. The up-front $1.97 is just a fraction of what any of us earns. Even penniless student hippies that get paid by the state to pretend that they are not actually unemployed, but are productive members of society get more than enough money to justify paying out $1.97 for a whisk but behind that heavily subsidised miniscule price there is an incredible price to pay for the ability to stir some soymilk. Raw resources are being taken from the ground in alarming rates so that we can have whisks, plastic funnels for $1.76 (a set of 2 folks…who WOULDN’T want them…), 3 sieves that fit neatly inside each other for a bargain $1.52 and more…who cares that they are flimsy and will fall apart…just throw them into the rubbish bin and buy another one! That’s the cycle of consumption folks and narf7 doesn’t want to support it. That’s why we spend our days lugging wood and feeding it into Brunhilda. For our part of the equation/cycle we get so much more than a heated house, 8 months of free hot water on tap, 4 ovens to cook just about anything we want to at the same time and our knickers dried in front of the fire, we get the exercise of cutting the firewood and carting it from its resting place to Brunhilda. We get the incomparable joy of waking up knowing that all we have to do to make our home cosy is to take our place in the cycle again and there is something truly primally satisfying in taking up that yoke

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See that “pile” just behind those white poles there? That’s narf7’s hard slog from 8.30am till 1pm. As you can see it’s a large pile of horse dung and it was in mid compost when I hauled it to it’s new residence (inside the structure). Note we have covered it with some ex fish farm netting in a vain attempt to stop the chooks from moving the entire pile back outside the fence perimeter. Lets just say that I wouldn’t be pleased if they did!

Today I take on another process. This one will give me more exercise than I could hope to get in a single day but I am less inclined to yoke myself to this process than I am to stuffing some wood into Brunhilda’s gaping maw. Today I shovel 6 trailer loads of composted horse poo from one pile to another pile 2 metres away. I need to do this so that when we put up our final net wall for our fully enclosed garden the enormous pile of dung won’t need to be manually barrowed all the way around to the other side of the enclosure where the gate is going to be situated. There are benefits to shovelling dung. Exercise is the predominate benefit (although 2 days later when I am aching from my efforts and my lats are reminding me of my impending 50ness I won’t be so chipper about the whole thing) closely followed by job satisfaction and the equal satisfaction that I am going to get from stopping the chooks from spreading the 6 trailer loads of manure to the 4 winds. They have taken their task most seriously and the pile has been somewhat levelled by their determination. Once inside the enclosure the chooks will have to stand around outside and look in as wistfully as I hope the possums will be looking in come spring.

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This is a native Tasmanian Grey Shrike Thrush. He decided to check Steve out when he was testing his new filters on the deck. This particular Shrike Thrush comes on a regular basis for small cubes of cheese that we leave out for the wrens and Shrike Thrushes. The sparrows weren’t invited but gate crash on a regular basis

After shovelling the dung I have another mammoth task that needs to be taken on before I can start creating the garden beds that will give us a huge degree of food choice this growing season. I have to chop up the branches and leaves from the sheoak and wattle trees that we had to remove to create the garden. Trees are clever things folks. Never let it be said that they are just “vegetables” in disguise. They have a primal need much like Brunhilda does and if you allow them to coexist with your vegetable garden they are going to take as much advantage of your tender loving care for your vegetables as they can. You are going to water your veggies and the surrounding trees are going to respond like ferals and send all of their available roots over to freeload. Fertilising your garden? “Cheers!” say the trees and promptly pinch your soil ameliorations before they get a chance to settle. Trees are most adventitious at surviving against the odds and if you turn the odds in their favour they are going to take whatever you give them. I am all for the trees. I love trees and Steve and I plan on populating Serendipity Farm with a plethora of them BUT to get the productive and useful trees that we want we are going to have to sacrifice some of the hardier foundation trees that have sprung up on Serendipity Farm

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This is our back block. It was cleared back when Ida owned the property and all of the trees that you see here have grown over the last 20 years. Most of them are wattles and sheoaks with the odd young eucalyptus

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Here’s where some trees have decided to die in the back block and are being harvested for their tasty firewood…Brunhilda approves

When I say foundation tree I am talking about seral behaviour. “Seral” is like viral folks. They just take off running and when we humans do our thing and clear huge tracts of land the seral community starts right back in where we left off and the earth tries to heal itself. Have you ever wondered why all of those pesky weeds spring up whenever there is a bare patch of earth or why your outdoor fire patch seems to grow the best weeds? Nature hates bare earth. It is foreign to survival and needs to be covered and so she allows those little freeloading weeds to get active for a season. What makes them pests is also what allows quick ground cover and their short lived vigour (thanks to huge amounts of available sunlight caused by a sudden lack of trees) allows some of the smaller shrub species to get a foothold in the soil amongst them. Once the shrubs start to grow some of the trees on the periphery of the area can shed some seed inside the weedy vacant lot. Once a few small trees start to populate the area nature is back on track to regaining control of her cycles. We just don’t see that these “weeds”, those ugly native shrubs, that prickly ground cover and those boring sheoak’s that shed their needles on anything that walks past them are doing an amazing job at keeping the moisture in the soil, nitrogenising the soil (sheoak’s and fast growing wattles are all nitrogen fixers) and are doing it extremely tough so that those tender useful species that we humans so covet for their ability to feed us can survive in the cycle of events.

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The branches you can see on the ground are part of Steve’s latest barrow load of wood. Today has been particularly lovely. Sunny with gorgeous blue skies but nice and cool, perfect for a shovelling narf. The lovely manicured lawn with the pretty orange coloured tree in the rear of the shot is our neighbours to the back. They would like us to clear our entire back block so that they have a better view of the water. We would like for the back block to not slide down the steep slope in the next rains so we tend to ignore them much to their disgust. It must be difficult to have awful penniless student hippies living in front of your prospective perfect view… 😉

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These little shrooms were sheltering underneath this spiders web underneath where Steve was chainsawing tonight’s firewood and they managed to survive the onslaught…kudos shrooms!

I love to learn. Shovelling horse poo and manually cutting up entire trees to line raised garden beds might not be everyone’s idea of a school room but to narf7 it is a precious opportunity to learn at the coalface. Yesterday while we were hauling ex fish farm netting from where we had stored it under the deck after cutting it in half for our purposes I noticed that the ground was unusually damp next to our glasshouse. It might be winter here in Tasmania but we haven’t had much rain over the last few days and this was more than dew…it was positively squishy. I mentioned it in passing to Steve on our first trip up and he muttered something about a tap and we didn’t think any more of it. On our second trip up to the garden hauling a larger net we were going slower and Steve looked down at the tap that he had been muttering about and was somewhat alarmed to notice that the large piece of white polypipe that surrounded it was half full of water and I was positively duck like in my squishing around the area and suddenly Steve had one of those forced life lessons that no-one really wants to take hold of…it was time to dig up the pipes.

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Check out Steve’s fixing job with assistance from some wayfaring plumbers. He hasn’t filled the assembly back in yet as we are waiting to see if it leaks…fool us once!

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Here is my choko. If you check the end it is starting to sprout and after some research that took us to permies.com (one of my go-to places to find “stuff” out) we found out that after it shoots we can plant it out. We will have to protect it from the marauding possums (remember the top of the fully enclosed gardens won’t be put on till spring) by covering it with some ex fish farm netting but this little baby is going to love climbing up and going nuts. Lets see if we can keep the choko cycle going 🙂

Serendipity Farm has been home to 3 “families”. None of them has had children living with them. The first family was an elderly couple who bought the land from their friends (Glad and her deceased husband Ted) and who lived in a caravan in the shed until the house was built. They are the creators of the gardens here and apparently the gardens were something to see back when they owned the place. The husband sadly died a month after the house was built but Ida lived here for many years and it was her love of interesting plants that forged the remnants of garden that Steve and I spend our days trying to find. Next came my father and his partner Val. They fell in love with the property and bought it from Ida and promptly realised that gardening was NOT their forte. By the time Steve and I inherited Serendipity Farm, the once delightful terraced gardens were jungles of overgrown struggling survivors and adventitious weeds.

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In my last post I talked about dehydrating kefir grains. I have way too many to keep using and don’t want to euthanise them so I decided to dry them (according to Dom’s instructions here… http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/sharing-kefir-grains.htm ) and I just wanted to show you how my experiment went. Wendy, you will get your grains soon. We went to Beaconsfield yesterday with the duel purpose to post your grains and return my library books but in the rush to get out of the door I completely forgot to bring the grains! The very next time we are someplace with a post office we will post your grains 🙂

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The image above and this image show what the excess grains looked like after washing them carefully in rainwater (I actually HAD rainwater… “Squee!” 😉 ). I decided to put a bit of baking paper onto the mesh screen from my dehydrator as the grains were still wet and dripping. In the end I didn’t even use my dehydrator I just dried them out on the bread proofing rack above Brunhilda

The property is littered with taps. I have NEVER seen anything like it. Ida must have never wanted to be more than 20 metres away from a tap because for some reason, the entire property has been dug up and black irrigation pipe laid down in the past. The problem is that around about now, that pipe is rapidly starting to degrade. If the pipe had degraded when my well-heeled fathers partner Val was still alive, it might have been replaced but once we penniless student hippies inherited, we suddenly became the keepers of the pipes. Steve has already had to do some serious digging to fix a pipe that decided to explode down in the garden in front of the house. Aside from being somewhat annoying (more so for Steve who actually had to do all of the digging and fixing bit) we were able to fix it quite quickly. The problem comes from the fact that the water mains is right up at the top of the property, up a steep hill and at least an acre and a half away from the house…a heck of a long walk to turn the tap off…then back on…and then off…and then back on again and just that bit too far away for anyone to hear what the other person is yelling to them. It is one of the ONLY times that I am glad we have a mobile phone!

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You can see that the smaller grains have dried out quicker than the bigger grains. As the grains dried out I put them into a small bowl that contains some organic milk powder that I purchased a while ago and keep in the fridge.

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A closer shot to show you how the grains look as they dry out. They get very yellow and start to smell vinegary

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Most of the grains had dried out enough to be put into the milk powder by this stage. Only a few of the larger grains were still slightly soft and needed a bit more dehydrating. You can see how much smaller the grains are now that they have shed their moisture

Today I shovel poo…yesterday Steve had to mend a pipe. We took my overdue library books back to Beaconsfield and we paid out for overpriced plumbing equipment from the local hardware store. We might have paid more than we would have at the large hardware behemoth (my word of the week… you aren’t the only one who has Wednesday words Linnie! 😉 ) Bunning’s that we Aussies are completely and utterly addicted to BUT we supported a small business and while Steve was wandering aimlessly up and down the plumbing resources section with his out-dated tap assembly in hand he met up with 2 plumbers collecting a few doodads and doohickies that they needed for a local job. They noticed his furrowed brow and his damp appearance and decided to help a poor (obviously clueless) hippy. After asking Steve what he was after they quickly ascertained what he needed with a few questions and set about assembling the puzzle of components that Steve needed for his job. Within 5 minutes the 2 of them did what would have taken Steve about 30 minutes of frustration to do and he is eternally grateful to them. That small section of tangled pipes and brass and pressure valves is now safe and updated but there are thousands of metres of aging pipe that still remain and we are afraid…we are VERY afraid…

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Here’s the finished kefir grains in stasis in their milk powder. Wendy will get most of these and if anyone else is curious about kefir or would like to try some please let me know. From now on my excess grains will be “free to a good home” anywhere in the world 🙂

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This last photo for my post is to show you my 5kg sack of “juicing apples”. Can you see anything wrong with them? Neither can I! I have eaten quite a few already and still nothing to show me why they were separated for different treatment aside from them being somewhat smaller than what you would expect. For $5 for 5kg I will take small thankyou! You can also see the kefir grains and my enormous glass jar that I was given by a previous employer along with many more. I worked in a deli and they got lots of huge glass jars containing antipasto ingredients and didn’t want them. I got a lot of lovely big jars and still have some to this day. I can’t remember what was in this jar but pretty soon it will be full to the brim with 2 enormous cabbages and 1.5kg of shredded carrots worth of kimchi. The folded blanket to the rear was a gift from my wonderful daughters. I wrap it around me every morning while I am waiting for Brunhilda to heat up the kitchen after her overnight slumber. It is MOST appreciated and Bezial says that if I put it down anywhere lower than the table he is going to steal it 😉

Bezial just got up and decided to take advantage of his sofa in the prime position right next to Brunhilda. Her balmy warmth is his until Earl decides to brave the day and shoves him from his lofty position. Today I shovel poo and I make kimchi in a huge jar that I forgot I owned till I went hunting in the empty granny flat behind our daughters home that is littered with leftover “stuff” from our moving here and our emptying out dads “stuff”. I carried the jar reverently home and pulled my precious cup of remaining kimchi out of the fridge ready to inoculate my new batch. I have to chop up 2 large cabbages, about 1 ½ kilos of carrots need to be shredded and a whole lot of garlic needs to be crushed to be added with lots of chilli and ginger to form the basis for what is going to ferment and bubble away in Steve’s shed for the next few months. Steve won’t let me keep my kimchi in the house after I added sea vegetables (for added nutrition) to my first batch and it smelled like a dead fish on a hot tin roof. Sadly it will fester away in the shed but I am happy in the knowledge that no matter where it rests, it will do its thing and I will someday take my place in the process and reap the benefits of being part of another small cycle of life. See you all Saturday when that pile of hard work will be merely a muscle memory and where my kimchi will already be starting to “BLOOP” its first fermented sea scented burps of life…aren’t cycles wonderful? :o)

Finally here is Steve’s latest animation complete with sound. We have certainly come a long way with Flash ;). Hopefully you can all see this, Steve is rightfully very proud of his little project 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocA6y8O3Dlg&feature=youtu.be

 

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