And now we are five…plus 45 more…

Hi All,

It’s official. Stevie-boy turned 50 on Tuesday. He celebrated his day by helping a friend make a patio and had a very rich pie that was 2 days in the making with pastry (pate brisee) that could kill a lesser man (a ratio of almost equal proportions flour to fat) and a deceptively simple looking “cake” that contained 600g of chocolate. I figure he thought if he was going to hit 50, he may as well do it in style. He says he doesn’t feel a day older and he doesn’t look it either so he’s quite happy with achieving his half century mark.

 

Luxury pie

Luxury 50th birthday pie

It's not pretty but apparently it tasted amazing. Lots left for post 50th birthday snarfing

It’s not pretty but apparently it tasted amazing. Lots left for post 50th birthday snarfing

Looks decievingly demure but this baby has 600g of chocolate and a lot of brandy hidden in this innocent exterior

Looks decievingly demure but this baby has 600g of chocolate and a lot of brandy hidden in this innocent exterior

Birthday booze. Cheers Stewart and Kelsey for the Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz :)

Birthday booze. Cheers Stewart and Kelsey for the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz 🙂

I had a request to post the recipes for the vegan brownies and the zucchini and lemon curd recipes from Yelana of the gorgeous food blog Cooking Melangery in a recent comment. Yelena shares food from her home country Russia but lives in the U.S. Her blog is amazing. Incredibly beautiful photography, wonderful recipes and Yelena herself is a wonderful person. I couldn’t resist! So here they are just for you Yelena 🙂

http://www.theyummylife.com/Zucchini_Brownies

http://www.food.com/recipe/zucchini-cream-130433

Note you really don’t need the butter in the zucchini cream recipe but it does add an authentic “curd” texture and taste to the recipe

I may as well go whole hog and share a recipe from Amy’s amazing blog Fragrant Vanilla Cake that is vegan, contains both zucchini and lemons and is absolutely scrumptious. Everything that Amy makes is amazing. If you like healthy, delicious food, go and have a look at Amy’s amazing site

http://fragrantvanillacake.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/vegan-zucchini-lemon-cake.html

It’s the middle of summer here in Australia and most of us are scratching our heads trying to work out what to do with zucchini’s so I thought that Yelena’s request might just be of benefit to some of you out there who are heartily sick of all things zucchini to find something else interesting to make with it.

This is one section of one of our insect hotels that I made a few years ago for our native insects. I checked it the other day and noticed that something is using it and that it is plugging up the holes with wattle leaves.

This is one section of one of our insect hotels that I made a few years ago for our native insects. I checked it the other day and noticed that something is using it and that it is plugging up the holes with wattle leaves.

Stewart and Kelsey came to visit on Saturday afternoon and brought me a few kilos of satsuma plums from their back yard tree. I decided to dehydrate them

Stewart and Kelsey came to visit on Saturday afternoon and brought me a few kilos of satsuma plums from their back yard tree. I decided to dehydrate them. First you stone and slice them

Then you load up your dehydrator sheets with slices

Then you load up your dehydrator sheets with slices

Once they are dehydrated you add them to your stash in the pantry. The plums are in the bottle on the left. The rest of these are dehydrated cherries

Once they are dehydrated you add them to your stash in the pantry. The plums are in the bottle on the left. The rest of these are dehydrated cherries

I often have serendipitous moments where something I have learned or researched suddenly pops into my head when I see something else. Today I was scrolling down my Facebook feed and noticed an article about a plant called Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). FINALLY I have a name for the plant that came up in the garden, all by itself and that keeps on keeping on no matter what. It moved into the “lawn” (along with the 2 blackwood saplings) and strutted it’s, not inconsiderable, stuff. It grew to almost 11 ft tall and I had a feeling that it was useful so rather than chop it down (or mow it…that’s what you are supposed to do with lawns isn’t it? 😉 ) I let it go and now I dare say we are going to have a lovely mullein explosion on Serendipity Farm. I don’t care. I am in the process of letting my globe artichokes go to seed so that I can save some to share and sprinkle them all over the place. It’s the same thing that keeps me planting out little patches of Jerusalem artichokes in sheltered spots where the grazing wallabies can’t chew them down to the ground. I love food and herb plants that don’t need molly-coddling and that just get on with it in our long dry summers. Here’s an article about how valuable mullein is in our gardens…

http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/herb-to-know-mullein-verbascum-thapsus.aspx?PageId=1#axzz3Q3gqA8DR

The strawberry water wicked boat is keeping these strawberries nice and moist and they are all very happy that they migrated to the good ship strawberry. I even have some new fruit being produced.

The strawberry water wicked boat is keeping these strawberries nice and moist and they are all very happy that they migrated to the good ship strawberry. I even have some new fruit being produced.

It's a foolish man that lays on the floor when there are dogs around ;)

It’s a foolish man that lays on the floor when there are dogs around 😉

This is what your hair looks like if you get your hair wet when you have a plait and you don't take the plait out for 2 days ;)

This is what your hair looks like if you get your hair wet when you have a plait and you don’t take the plait out for 2 days 😉

Serendipity Farm from the deck this morning. Another glorious mild summers day 2015 :)

Serendipity Farm from the deck this morning. Another glorious mild summers day 2015 🙂

I was looking at Gumtree the other day and saw this ad for a spinning wheel for $100 in Launceston

I was looking at Gumtree the other day and saw this ad for a spinning wheel for $100 in Launceston

Look what now lives at narf's house :)

Look what now lives at narf’s house 🙂 Thank you SO much Stewart and Kelsey for picking it up and bringing it out for me

I am learning to appreciate “weeds” for their tenacity as well as their actual uses. Spear thistles are not just there to spike me mercilessly whenever I attempt to go down to the second garden (obviously I want to have a mental breakdown…), blackberries have many uses that their thorny angst would bely. Most of our common weeds are European edibles that we just see as pests. I think it’s important to know that “weeds” can also tell you about your soil conditions and tend to be the fixer-upperers of the soil web. Nature knows what she is doing, it’s just us that keep wanting to interject with our obviously superior wisdom 😉

 

Black radish flowers. Once they go to seed I will collect the seed. Note, these black radishes were very hot and spicy. If you like your radishes mild, these might not be a good variety for you to grow

Black radish flowers. Once they go to seed I will collect the seed. Note, these black radishes were very hot and spicy. If you like your radishes mild, these might not be a good variety for you to grow

It's a jungle of tomatoes in Sanctuary. Most of this mass tangle is tomatoes. I am going to have to learn how to prune tomatoes one of these days!

It’s a jungle of tomatoes in Sanctuary. Most of this mass tangle is tomatoes. I am going to have to learn how to prune tomatoes one of these days!

Curly kale and red Russian kale  babies that survived being planted at the wrong time and that haven't bolted to seed as I planted them in a shady spot. Fingers crossed I might get some kale!

Curly kale and red Russian kale babies that survived being planted at the wrong time and that haven’t bolted to seed as I planted them in a shady spot. Fingers crossed I might get some kale!

More mass tangle but at least it is green and most of it appears to be flowering and producing tomatoes

More mass tangle but at least it is green and most of it appears to be flowering and producing tomatoes

I found this tiny little tomato growing in among the strawberries in one of the pots that I transplanted into the strawberry boat so he got potted up with this chive plant for companionship. I am a champion of the underdog and even though it is probably WAY too late for this little tomato to be productive, who cares, he was tenacious so he gets to live :)

I found this tiny little tomato growing in among the strawberries in one of the pots that I transplanted into the strawberry boat so he got potted up with this chive plant for companionship. I am a champion of the underdog and even though it is probably WAY too late for this little tomato to be productive, who cares, he was tenacious so he gets to live 🙂

My moringa's growing like topsy

My moringa’s growing like topsy

My cherimoyas enjoying the sunshine

My cherimoyas enjoying the sunshine

This is a King orchid. I never realised that it is an Australian native orchid but all I know is it was dad's "beer orchid" and he only ever watered it with the dregs from his cans of beer. We are going to mount it on the tree to the right of this image in sphagnum moss to make it happy

This is a King orchid. I never realised that it is an Australian native orchid but all I know is it was dad’s “beer orchid” and he only ever watered it with the dregs from his cans of beer. We are going to mount it on the tree to the right of this image in sphagnum moss to make it happy

This bit of the garden looks a bit more "normal" as veggie gardens go. Still chaotic but you can at least see a bit of variety. The pots of artichokes are growing really well now

This bit of the garden looks a bit more “normal” as veggie gardens go. Still chaotic but you can at least see a bit of variety. The pots of artichokes are growing really well now

It’s been a most wonderful week on Serendipity Farm. We had some rain and our temperatures are in the low to mid 20’s (celcius). Life has been very good to us in 2015. The rest of this blog post is going to be in comments. I hope you enjoy the garden and other images and can feel a bit of our lovely sunshiny summer in them. Have a scrumptious week. I am animating some sourdough starter that was sent to me by the amazing Ms Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial (isn’t that a lovely name? 🙂 ). Ms Celia’s sourdough is called Priscilla and we, the lucky recipients of little packets of Priscilla, were urged to incorporate something of her name in our new starters names. I decided that I wanted to take back sourdough baking in my kitchen this year. I have dabbled in sourdough before with very mixed results (vinegar brick loaves) so I needed a name for my new starter that was going to waylay my fears and give me a fearless attitude. I came up with Godscilla and hope that my starter lives up to it’s lofty name.

 

Some of the many sprays of tomatoes that my 2 San Marzano tomatoes are producing. Hopefully we get lots of ripe ones so that I can turn them into amazing sauce :)

Some of the many sprays of tomatoes that my 2 San Marzano tomatoes are producing. Hopefully we get lots of ripe ones so that I can turn them into amazing sauce 🙂

My pepino's have had lots of flowers but haven't set any fruit this year. It can't be for lack of pollinators as there are bees all over them. Maybe they are a bit overwhelmed by the close proximity of the ever present tomato clan? Any ideas Bev?

My pepino’s have had lots of flowers but haven’t set any fruit this year. It can’t be for lack of pollinators as there are bees all over them. Maybe they are a bit overwhelmed by the close proximity of the ever present tomato clan? Any ideas Bev?

My 4 turmeric plants planted out into what was a horse manure pile last year. It is now amazingly black soil that retains moisture well. Hopefully the turmeric like it here

My 4 turmeric plants planted out into what was a horse manure pile last year. It is now amazingly black soil that retains moisture well. Hopefully the turmeric like it here

My poor long suffering cardamom plants finally got planted out. They are already starting to grow new leaves and I can almost hear them saying "thank GOODNESS!" ;)

My poor long suffering cardamom plants finally got planted out. They are already starting to grow new leaves and I can almost hear them saying “thank GOODNESS!” 😉

One of the tomatillo babies that I planted out into the first of the new veggie gardens a few weeks ago. Everything is starting to take of in the new garden beds but the tomatillos are galloping away and some are even flowering. I will be most interested to see what they look like when they fruit.

One of the tomatillo babies that I planted out into the first of the new veggie gardens a few weeks ago. Everything is starting to take of in the new garden beds but the tomatillos are galloping away and some are even flowering. I will be most interested to see what they look like when they fruit.

These are my terracotta pots that I used to have cactus and succulents in. There are still a few in the pots but the pots have a new use, to stop the hose from invading the garden bed. They are doing a great job :)

These are my terracotta pots that I used to have cactus and succulents in. There are still a few in the pots but the pots have a new use, to stop the hose from invading the garden bed. They are doing a great job 🙂

My cucamelons (aka mouse melons) have flowers! You can see the tiny fruit forming behind the flower

My cucamelons (aka mouse melons) have flowers! You can see the tiny fruit forming behind the flower

My pumpkins are fruiting all over the place. Without the possums chewing the fruit as they form it looks like I might get a lot of fruit this year :)

My pumpkins are fruiting all over the place. Without the possums chewing the fruit as they form it looks like I might get a lot of fruit this year 🙂

The new red currant grape that we picked up from Bunnings the other day. I am saving up for a red finger lime now but that's a LOT more expensive than my little red currant grape ;)

The new red currant grape that we picked up from Bunnings the other day. I am saving up for a red finger lime now but that’s a LOT more expensive than my little red currant grape 😉

A close up of one of my grown from cutting sweet potato vines

A close up of one of my grown from cutting sweet potato vines

That feathery green thing is an asparagus plant that was in one of my strawberry pots so it got transplanted out as well. Nothing goes to waste on Serendipity Farm :)

That feathery green thing is an asparagus plant that was in one of my strawberry pots so it got transplanted out as well. Nothing goes to waste on Serendipity Farm 🙂

Looking down from the far back of Sanctuary. It looks a lot neater now we gave it a haircut ;)

Looking down from the far back of Sanctuary. It looks a lot neater now we gave it a haircut 😉

 

I got this succulent from a friend that I met via a Facebook page I have just started to follow.

I got this succulent from a friend that I met via a Facebook page I have just started to follow.

She also gave me these amazingly HUGE figs and a promise that I can take some cuttings in winter. Aren't they gorgeous?

She also gave me these amazingly HUGE figs and a promise that I can take some cuttings in winter. Aren’t they gorgeous?

This is Shrek. I bought him when he was in a teeny tiny pot and he is one of the only succulents that the ducks weren't partial to so he lived to find a home in Sanctuary

This is Shrek. I bought him when he was in a teeny tiny pot and he is one of the only succulents that the ducks weren’t partial to so he lived to find a home in Sanctuary

The colour of the flower tends to be the colour of the potato under the ground. I am hoping these adventitious spuds that grew from the compost bucket are pink eyes :)

The colour of the flower tends to be the colour of the potato under the ground. I am hoping these adventitious spuds that grew from the compost bucket are pink eyes 🙂

Myer lemon futures :)

Myer lemon futures 🙂

A pot full of oca and very healthy leaves. I am going to have to work out a place to make them a garden bed but for now they are in a nice big pot and seem happy enough to grow there for the moment.

A pot full of oca and very healthy leaves. I am going to have to work out a place to make them a garden bed but for now they are in a nice big pot and seem happy enough to grow there for the moment.

Steve captured this native hyacinth orchid (Dipodium punctatum) beautifully. I tried about 20 times but every shot was blurry. I guess sometimes you just have to know when to fold em'! ;)

Steve captured this native hyacinth orchid (Dipodium punctatum) growing up next to the chook yard beautifully. I tried about 20 times but every shot was blurry. I guess sometimes you just have to know when to fold em’! 😉

Steve's new camera is giving him a lot of happiness. He is taking some seriously lovely photos with it.

Steve’s new camera is giving him a lot of happiness. He is taking some seriously lovely photos with it.

Like this one

Like this one

And this one. He did use a polarising filter with this one though

And this one. He did use a polarising filter with this one though

He took this photo from the small jetty at the boat ramp just down the road from us

He took this photo from the small jetty at the boat ramp just down the road from us

And this one of my ingenious ability to drink beer when I can't use my hands because they were sticky with cherry juice

And this one of my ingenious ability to drink beer when I can’t use my hands because they were sticky with cherry juice

And after a while, when your husband insists on taking "urban degradation" shots from every industrial area known to man you develop a stoic resilience and just smile and wave whenever you are told to ;)

And after a while, when your husband insists on taking “urban degradation” shots from every industrial area known to man you develop a stoic resilience and just smile and wave whenever you are told to 😉

I was going to have this corner shower unit as a pond in Sanctuary but now that the strawberry wicking beds are doing so well, I might make it a water wicked bed for cranberries.

I was going to have this corner shower unit as a pond in Sanctuary but now that the strawberry wicking beds are doing so well, I might make it a water wicked bed for cranberries.

This is our walnut tree. This year we mulched underneath it with hay from Glad's place next door. It seems to be much happier than it usually is but then again, we have had a much milder season this year with a lot more rain so I can't be sure.

This is our walnut tree. This year we mulched underneath it with hay from Glad’s place next door. It seems to be much happier than it usually is but then again, we have had a much milder season this year with a lot more rain so I can’t be sure.

Walnut sap is incredibly full of bitter tannins. That doesn't stop the wallabies from stripping all of the leaves that they can reach from the ground. I think they must have cast iron stomachs!

Walnut sap is incredibly full of bitter tannins. That doesn’t stop the wallabies from stripping all of the leaves that they can reach from the ground. I think they must have cast iron stomachs!

These are some of the tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) at the front of our block. We have about an acre of them growing and a new friend on the "Fans of Grassroots Magazine" page that I am now following on Facebook has just told me how to extract tea tree oil from them if we ever choose to. I am learning SO much from that page! :)

These are some of the tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) at the front of our block. We have about an acre of them growing and a new friend on the “Fans of Grassroots Magazine” page that I am now following on Facebook has just told me how to extract tea tree oil from them if we ever choose to. I am learning SO much from that page! 🙂

Earl (Mr Big Head) surveying his drive way

Earl (Mr Big Head) surveying his drive way

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum tee-hee!) are incredibly hardy and drought tolerant. This clump grows down the driveway and never gets watered. They pop up all over the place and unlike their unwanted friends the osteospermum (Margerita) daisies, I really like them :)

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum tee-hee!) are incredibly hardy and drought tolerant. This clump grows down the driveway and never gets watered. They pop up all over the place and unlike their unwanted friends the osteospermum (Margerita) daisies, I really like them 🙂

Part of the jungle we call a "garden" at the front of the house on the side of the driveway. The canna lily is growing really well and I picked up a few more pots of them to add to the mix. I love anything that grows well with no water and that has pretty flowers and edible roots. It all adds up to a win-win situation for Serendipity Farm :)

Part of the jungle we call a “garden” at the front of the house on the side of the driveway. The canna lily is growing really well and I picked up a few more pots of them to add to the mix. I love anything that grows well with no water and that has pretty flowers and edible roots. It all adds up to a win-win situation for Serendipity Farm 🙂

We still have green grass in the middle of summer! It has been a very mild summer this year and I love it! :)

We still have green grass in the middle of summer! It has been a very mild summer this year and I love it! 🙂

Here's my little packet of Priscilla promise. She is an 8 year old starter that works like magic. I am hoping that she will rub off her glorious possibilities onto my hereto pathetic sourdough baking efforts on Serendipity Farm. Her new name is Godscilla and long may she reign in the kitchen! Wish me luck folks, I am going in! :)

Here’s my little packet of Priscilla promise. She is an 8 year old starter that works like magic. I am hoping that she will rub off her glorious possibilities onto my hereto pathetic sourdough baking efforts on Serendipity Farm. Her new name is Godscilla and long may she reign in the kitchen! Wish me luck folks, I am going in! 🙂

And so we arrive at the end of another week on Serendipity Farm. So far, 2015 has been a glorious year and we have enjoyed it a lot. I will have hopefully had a go at spinning the alpaca fleece that I have sitting in my spare room by the next time we meet and I can show you what my efforts look like but I am not promising anything! Have a wonderful week whatever you are doing and wherever you are in the world. See you next week on Serendipity Farm 🙂

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One busy week deserves another

Hi All,

 

Last weeks picture post was apparently greatly appreciated by most people. I think I wrote a blog post in comments which seemed to suit everyone so I think I might just carry on with this kind of post for a while (till something better comes along and inspires me 😉 ). Ms Rabid shared a pin with me this week that completely blew me away. We have a little groundcover growing on the desperately dry area between our driveway at the front of the deck and the first garden (lower down). Every year it survives with the odd squirt from the hose and keeps spreading. I just found out from Ms Rabid that it is actually a form of creeping groundcover raspberry called Rubus pentalobus. You learn something every day! Mine flowers but hasn’t ever set fruit and the conditions that the poor plant is living in I am not surprised. Guess who is going to take lots of cuttings and care for it and fertilise it and plant it ALL OVER THE PLACE now that I know that it has value in a permaculture garden other than holding the slope together in the arid conditions that we call “Summer” here. What a valuable little plant! 🙂 Ok, lets get into it then…what has happened since last Wednesday…

This is the Rubus pentalobus that Ms Rabid mentioned the other day. I am quite sure it's what she was talking about and here's the blog post that backed me up... http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/permaculture-plants-groundcover.html

This is the Rubus pentalobus that Ms Rabid mentioned the other day. I am quite sure it’s what she was talking about and here’s the blog post that backed me up… http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/permaculture-plants-groundcover.html

 

Steve needed a new workbench in his shed and so we cut up our old kitchen table to repurpose it for the job.

Steve needed a new workbench in his shed and so we cut up our old kitchen table to repurpose it for the job.

We didn't disturb the tenants, they get angry when you make too much noise...

We didn’t disturb the tenants, they get angry when you make too much noise…

Once the table/bench was in Steve decided to rearrange his shed and tidy it up and here's what it looks like now

Once the table/bench was in Steve decided to rearrange his shed and tidy it up and here’s what it looks like now

We took a lot of rubbish down to the tip (and lots to the tip shop) and we always check the tip shop in case there is something we can use in the garden. This time we found this half keg with holes drilled in the bottom that is going to be Steve's new shed bin.

We took a lot of rubbish down to the tip (and lots to the tip shop) and we always check the tip shop in case there is something we can use in the garden. This time we found this half keg with holes drilled in the bottom that is going to be Steve’s new shed bin.

We also bought this very deep corner shower unit for $5 to be repurposed as a pond under the new tap that Steve installed in Sanctuary for me. Here, Steve is removing the lip from the top of the shower/bath

We also bought this very deep corner shower unit for $5 to be repurposed as a pond under the new tap that Steve installed in Sanctuary for me. Here, Steve is removing the lip from the top of the shower/bath

Nice smooth top and time to make sure that the water doesn't come out when it is filled

Nice smooth top and time to make sure that the water doesn’t come out when it is filled. Steve found a thick plastic lid and cut a circle out of it

Then he applied lots of silicone and let it dry/set before we took it up to Sanctuary.

Then he applied lots of silicone and let it dry/set before we took it up to Sanctuary.

The tip shop has a shed with more discarded treasures and we picked up some teddies for the dogs to play with and when I was sorting through them to weed out the teddies that didn't have beans inside them (bad mistake to buy teddies with beans inside them for dogs ;) ) I found this lovely little rabbit. He is very cute but that's not why I bought him...

The tip shop has a shed with more discarded treasures and we picked up some teddies for the dogs to play with and when I was sorting through them to weed out the teddies that didn’t have beans inside them (bad mistake to buy teddies with beans inside them for dogs 😉 ) I found this lovely little rabbit. He is very cute but that’s not why I bought him…

This is why I bought him for the princely sum of 20c. He is a vintage Steiff bunny.

This is why I bought him for the princely sum of 20c. He is a vintage Steiff bunny. Sometimes it pays to go to the tip shop 🙂

We had been working very hard so we stopped for a beer (Steve) and a shandy (me...I am a lightweight ;) ). Nothing tastes as good on a hot day as a very cold beer

We had been working very hard so we stopped for a beer (Steve) and a shandy (me…I am a lightweight 😉 ). Nothing tastes as good on a hot day as a very cold beer

More zucchini's from our 4 plants that are about to be made into zucchini and lemon curd and vegan zucchini brownies

More zucchini’s from our 4 plants that are about to be made into zucchini and lemon curd and vegan zucchini brownies

Bev from foodnstuff talked about bush tucker the other day and when we were walking the dogs in the local bushland we found these Pale flax lilies (Dianella longifolia) so I collected them and am drying them out so that I can grow some Serendipity Farm bush tucker for the native animals. Thank you for telling us about them Bev :)

Bev from foodnstuff talked about bush tucker the other day and when we were walking the dogs in the local bushland we found these Pale flax lilies (Dianella longifolia) so I collected them and am drying them out so that I can grow some Serendipity Farm bush tucker for the native animals. Thank you for telling us about them Bev 🙂

2 more sacks of cherries and after someone who shall not be named ate quite a few of them we turned them into these...

3 more sacks of cherries and after someone who shall not be named ate quite a few of them we turned them into these…

Dehydrated cherries that taste amazing!

Dehydrated cherries that taste amazing!

This was the state of the area behind the glasshouse and just inside Sanctuary's entrance last week...

This was the state of the area behind the glasshouse and just inside Sanctuary’s entrance last week…

A few scratches later and we were left with this...

A few scratches later and we were left with this…

And now we have added a piece of old trellis and have planted out our kiwiberry in this area.

And now we have added a piece of old trellis and have planted out our kiwiberry in this area.

A closer shot of the kiwiberry. It will take up to 5 years for it to fruit but once it starts it produces a lot of berries.

A closer shot of the kiwiberry. It will take up to 5 years for it to fruit but once it starts it produces a lot of berries.

Here you can see some blackcurrant cuttings from a lovely lady called Ruth who I met through a facebook page that I am actively participating in called "Fans of Grassroots Magazine". I love finding amazing community and this group of people are wonderfully interesting, very helpful, incredibly generous and know a huge amount about growing food plants. I got talking to a lady in Queensland and she mentioned her friend Ruth who just lives over the river from us and yesterday I met Ruth and had a really lovely time chatting to her about gardening etc. She also gave me some perpetual leeks to add to our garden mix, 2 different kinds of mint for my new mint bed (in the half fridge) and I can take some cuttings from her fig tree that grows figs the size of my fist. I LOVE community! Also in this shot is my new thornless blackberry that Stevie-boy bought me yesterday when he did the fortnightly shop in Launceston

Here you can see some blackcurrant cuttings from a lovely lady called Ruth who I met through a facebook page that I am actively participating in called “Fans of Grassroots Magazine”. I love finding amazing community and this group of people are wonderfully interesting, very helpful, incredibly generous and know a huge amount about growing food plants. I got talking to a lady in Queensland and she mentioned her friend Ruth who just lives over the river from us and yesterday I met Ruth and had a really lovely time chatting to her about gardening etc. She also gave me some perpetual leeks to add to our garden mix, 2 different kinds of mint for my new mint bed (in the half fridge) and I can take some cuttings from her fig tree that grows figs the size of my fist. I LOVE community! Also in this shot is my new thornless blackberry that Stevie-boy bought me yesterday when he did the fortnightly shop in Launceston

Here is the thornless blackberry at the end of one of the new garden beds with it's new support structure

Here is the thornless blackberry at the end of one of the new garden beds with it’s new support structure

Stevie-boy is still looking for photo opportunities at any given time ;)

Stevie-boy is still looking for photo opportunities at any given time ;). I am reading a Patricia Cornwall novel here. I love a good forensic crime novel.

We stacked all of the woodpile at the bottom of the driveway together into 2 large rows so that the split wood will dry well over summer and to make room for the next load of wood arriving soon.

We stacked all of the woodpile at the bottom of the driveway together into 2 large rows so that the split wood will dry well over summer and to make room for the next load of wood arriving soon.

In the process we found something amazing. The last load of wood got dumped on top of one of our brachychiton babies that we grew from seed and planted out down the driveway. 14 tonnes of wood sat on this poor little tree for the best part of a year and when we moved the last of the wood pile to stack it up we noticed that not only was it alive, but it had new leaves! How resilient are plants?!

In the process we found something amazing. The last load of wood got dumped on top of one of our brachychiton babies that we grew from seed and planted out down the driveway. 14 tonnes of wood sat on this poor little tree for the best part of a year and when we moved the last of the wood pile to stack it up we noticed that not only was it alive, but it had new leaves! How resilient are plants?! Stevie-boy is going to dig it up and move it. I doubt it will be so lucky after another 14 tonnes gets dumped on it…

This is our front gate (open) as we headed out to take the dogs for a mystery walk. It was a mystery to the dogs and I but Stevie-boy was driving and knew where he was going...

This is our front gate (open) as we headed out to take the dogs for a mystery walk. It was a mystery to the dogs and I but Stevie-boy was driving and knew where he was going…

We went to Georgetown, 20km away on the coast where the dogs love to walk. Here's a windswept pine on the boardwalk as we were walking (being dragged in a most determined manner by) the dogs

We went to Georgetown, 20km away on the coast where the dogs love to walk. Here’s a windswept pine on the boardwalk as we were walking (being dragged in a most determined manner by) the dogs

This was taken on the boardwalk further up. We live in a lovely place :)

This was taken on the boardwalk further up. We live in a lovely place 🙂

Georgetown is very historical but not as historical as Low head where we took a snap of this very old house and gardens. We thought it particularly fitting to include it in this weeks post as next Monday is Australia day and that's our flag folks! :)

Georgetown is very historical but not as historical as Low head where we took a snap of this very old house and gardens. We thought it particularly fitting to include it in this weeks post as next Monday is Australia day and that’s our flag folks! 🙂

Steve saw this naked bathing beauty on one of the Georgetown beaches...

Steve saw this naked bathing beauty on one of the Georgetown beaches…

She then had a bit of a swim ;)

She then had a bit of a swim 😉

Steve took this photo on today's walk. It was overcast and very humid and the tide was out so we were able to walk out to this little outcrop that is usually an island in the water.

Steve took this photo on today’s walk. It was overcast and very humid and the tide was out so we were able to walk out to this little outcrop that is usually an island in the water.

The other day we walked the dogs on a bush track and Steve saw these hibiscus/cotton bugs. I have NO idea where they are going to find cotton or hibiscus around here! Most interestingly, the adults live together with the young in a colony.

The other day we walked the dogs on a bush track and Steve saw these hibiscus/cotton bugs. I have NO idea where they are going to find cotton or hibiscus around here! Most interestingly, the adults live together with the young in a colony.

Steve took this lovely artistic shot today when we headed over to Hillwood, over the Batman bridge to walk the dogs this afternoon and see if we could buy some more jam cherries for $1.50 a kilo

Steve took this lovely artistic shot today when we headed over to Hillwood, over the Batman bridge to walk the dogs this afternoon and see if we could buy some more jam cherries for $1.50 a kilo. The person who lives in this house has several brightly coloured unusual items artistically displayed in their garden and Steve liked this door in particular

I am going to dehydrate 10 kilos of these cherries and Steve is going to make cherry wine with 3kg. The potatoes were dug up when we were planting out my turmeric this afternoon. I wasn't intending to dig up spuds but there they were, right in the way of my turmeric planting venture so they had to come out.

I am going to dehydrate 10 kilos of these cherries and Steve is going to make cherry wine with 3kg. The potatoes were dug up when we were planting out my turmeric this afternoon. I wasn’t intending to dig up spuds but there they were, right in the way of my turmeric planting venture so they had to come out.

I planted out my 4 pots of turmeric as well as my 2 pots of cardamom after doing some research and finding out that both should do fine in the ground here.

I planted out my 4 pots of turmeric as well as my 2 pots of cardamom after doing some research and finding out that both should do fine in the ground here.

Here's my ungrafted Nelly Kelly passionfruit vine. Even though it might be less vigorous than a grafted version, it won't send up suckers from the rootstock and we already have enough weird and wonderful weedy passionfruit on the property thank you! I will take cuttings from it when it gets older to make sure that we never have to buy another one. The vines last for about 7 years.

Here’s my ungrafted Nelly Kelly passionfruit vine. Even though it might be less vigorous than a grafted version, it won’t send up suckers from the rootstock and we already have enough weird and wonderful weedy passionfruit on the property thank you! I will take cuttings from it when it gets older to make sure that we never have to buy another one. The vines last for about 7 years.

While I was starting to plant out the cardamom the skies opened up and we got a torrential downpour. Steve and the dogs hid in the glasshouse but I decided to carry on planting

While I was starting to plant out the cardamom the skies opened up and we got a torrential downpour. Steve and the dogs hid in the glasshouse but I decided to carry on planting. Stevie-boy took this photo from the dry glasshouse while I was out in the rain

 

Here I am with a shirt full of spuds after slipping over in the slippery mud. I won't show you the back of my pants ;)

Here I am with a shirt full of spuds after slipping over in the slippery mud. I won’t show you the back of my pants 😉

Here are my 5 cherimoya seedlings loving the glasshouse temperatures and my little population of indigo seedlings that I am letting grow on a bit till I repot them.

Here are my 5 cherimoya seedlings loving the glasshouse temperatures and my little population of Moringa seedlings that I am letting grow on a bit till I repot them. There are more moringa’s germinating every day so I will just let them grow a bit till I pot them up.

I potted up these 2 as they were growing well. The 4 pots in the rear contain some fresh macadamia nuts, 3 seeds in each pot (12 in total). In order to have the best chance of germination they need to be under 3 months old and they need to be planted with the blossom end sideways. Fingers crossed I get some to germinate and one day macadamia nut trees will grow on Serendipity Farm :)

I potted up these 2 as they were growing well. The 4 pots in the rear contain some fresh macadamia nuts, 3 seeds in each pot (12 in total). In order to have the best chance of germination they need to be under 3 months old and they need to be planted with the blossom end sideways. Fingers crossed I get some to germinate and one day macadamia nut trees will grow on Serendipity Farm 🙂

We finally finished the water wicked strawberry bed. Here is a strawberry blond dog inspecting the bed for comforts sake

We finally finished the water wicked strawberry bed. Here is a strawberry blond dog inspecting the bed for comforts sake

After being busted for pelting through one of my garden beds, Earl has retreated to his favourite spot in Sanctuary to sulk...

After being busted for pelting through one of my garden beds, Earl has retreated to his favourite spot in Sanctuary to sulk… I am not holding out much hope for my poor strawberries once I get around to replanting them in here 😉

Isn't this tuberous begonia pretty? I bought some a few years ago that were in the plant throw-out bin at a local nursery for $2 each. I ended up with 3 of them that grow and flower ever year. Lovely leaves and lovely flowers and very easy to grow.

Isn’t this tuberous begonia pretty? I bought some a few years ago that were in the plant throw-out bin at a local nursery for $2 each. I ended up with 3 of them that grow and flower ever year. Lovely leaves and lovely flowers and very easy to grow.

Steve took this shot of an interesting seaweed that had washed up on the beach the other day

Steve took this shot of an interesting seaweed that had washed up on the beach the other day

Lastly, I was just about to squash some aphids infesting the new growth on this loquat japonica when I noticed a ladybird was just about to do my job for me. I love it when natures cycles kick in to deal with our pests :)

Lastly, I was just about to squash some aphids infesting the new growth on this loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) when I noticed a ladybird was just about to do my job for me. I love it when natures cycles kick in to deal with our pests 🙂

 

So that was our week folks. Pretty full on and we did, and accomplished a whole lot in this time. I hope that you all spent your time productively and enjoyably. I am off to cook a bechamel sauce for a lasagna that I am making Stevie-boy for his dinner tonight. He turns 50 on Tuesday, the day after Australia Day, so he will get an extra special dinner on that night and a very scrumptious cake. See you all next week and whatever you are doing, do it well. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A post full of wonderful insight and hope…

Hi All,

I know, “it isn’t Wednesday yet, what is Narf up to?” Well sometimes I feel the need to share blog posts because they are powerful, they move me or they are just glorious. This blog post is a combination of the three. A survival story cram packed with the best advice I have heard in a long time. To anyone going through a bad or rough patch, please take the time to read this blog post. It might just infuse you with hope. It did me 🙂

 

http://www.livinghomegrown.com/life-lessons-cancer/

How my grandmother would have loved the internet

Hi All,

Steve's new camera view from over our deck

Steve’s new camera view from over our deck

I always remember my grandmother as a very strong and resourceful woman. As children we used to love visiting her house as she always had some new and most interesting thing for us to do and if she hadn’t gotten around to getting grandad to make us a small loom or some other craft, we always had a large box of the most interesting puzzles and homemade games to keep us amused. If we weren’t in the mood for a game or puzzle, we had their wonderful garden to explore or we could always push off in the bootle bumtrinket, a tiny little rowboat that we could explore the small island that was just off a point not too far from their home on the inlet. My grandmother was a most interesting person and it showed.

What do you have for tea when it is 37C inside the house and you really don't want to cook and heat it up even more? You cook good old fashioned Aussie sausage rolls on the bbq! ;)

What do you have for tea when it is 37C inside the house and you really don’t want to cook and heat it up even more? You cook good old fashioned Aussie sausage rolls on the bbq! 😉

Steve took this lovely shot of some lichen on a branch at Hollybank

Steve took this lovely shot of some lichen on a branch at Hollybank

Another "Wait a minute while I take a photo!" moment...This is half a cooked artichoke that I am actually in the process of eating prior to being used as a hand model ;)

Another “Wait a minute while I take a photo!” moment…This is half a cooked artichoke that I am actually in the process of eating prior to being used as a hand model 😉

We no longer dread taking down the decorations as our "Ikea flat pack tree" makes it such an easy process. It's now under the spare bed taking up NO room at all :)

We no longer dread taking down the decorations as our “Ikea flat pack tree” makes it such an easy process. It’s now under the spare bed taking up NO room at all 🙂

She always had some kind of interesting thing that she was learning. She knew how to knit, to crochet, to tat and much more. She grew herbs in her garden and she was always learning as much as she could. I am sure that the local library gave her a gold card she used it that much. My grandparents weren’t wealthy but they had a wealth of knowledge between them. Grandad was a carpenter and could make just about anything to do with wood and Grandma was one of the most resourceful women that I know.

Steve using some kind of "mode" on his new camera that makes things look extra teeny tiny from high up. All you tech heads probably know what this function is but whatever it is, it looks pretty shmick ;)

Steve using some kind of “mode” on his new camera that makes things look extra teeny tiny from high up. All you tech heads probably know what this function is but whatever it is, it looks pretty shmick 😉

Lunch that consists of onion lightly sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic, peas and beans and covered with water, brought up to the boil and some veggie stock powder added and then some ground brown rice flour. A most interesting and tasty lunch

Lunch that consists of onion lightly sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic, peas and beans and covered with water, brought up to the boil and some veggie stock powder added and then some ground brown rice flour. A most interesting and tasty lunch reminiscent of polenta

A nice shot of moss from Hollybank

A nice shot of moss on an old dry stone wall at Hollybank

A tiny (1.5cm) frog on raspberry leaves at our friends house the other day

A tiny (1.5cm) frog on raspberry leaves at our friends house the other day

I was hunting for information about natural dyes this morning and found this amazing link

http://maiwahandprints.blogspot.ca/p/guide-to-natural-dyes.html

Practically a whole library book of information available to moi, sitting here in my early morning fuggish haze tinged with excitement from my glorious find. Anything that I want to learn about is online. I just have to do a bit of sifting and hunting for the quality stuff. It is getting harder and harder to sift through as so much utter garbage is being shuffled about in the name of twitter, hash tags and links that don’t actually lead anywhere but that’s the minefield that is the net. If you want quality information, you are just going to have to go out there and find it and that’s where I step in.

Bezial would like it to be known that he is NOT fat, he is big boned!

Bezial would like it to be known that he is NOT fat, he is big boned!

A Tasmanian trigger plant (Stylidium graminifolium) that Steve took a photo of with his new camera

A Tasmanian trigger plant (Stylidium graminifolium) that Steve took a photo of with his new camera

 

I love learning. I am also a penniless student hippy who lives a fair way away from the library. I adore the library and use it a lot (although not so much recently) but the internet allows me to hunt from my inner sanctum and save this information to my own little library of great happiness. As soon as I get interested in something (and lets face it, just about everything interests little old me 😉 ), I go hunting. My 3am starts are part RSS Feed Read and part “lets just see where this will take me…” a most delightful way to find things out.

A lovely young Tasmanian fairy wren sunning himself early the other day when we walked the dogs in the park over the Batman bridge

A lovely young Tasmanian Superb fairy wren sunning himself early the other day when we walked the dogs in the park over the Batman bridge

Steve headed over to the Gorge restaurant site in order to see if he could get some nice pictures the other day when he was in the city doing the shopping. This male peacock was most insistent that he take his photo. Isn't he lovely?

Steve headed over to the Gorge restaurant site in order to see if he could get some nice pictures the other day when he was in the city doing the shopping. This male peacock was most insistent that he take his photo. Isn’t he lovely?

My grandmother would have adored the internet. She would have immediately realised it’s intrinsic value to her as a long standing magpie. Information…for free…that you didn’t have to drive to town to get? SCORE! Grandma didn’t drive and my grandad only had his motorbike license so they had to wait till mum drove them to town so the internet would have given my grandmother a degree of freedom that she couldn’t have thought was even possible. She would also have been able to keep in contact with her sisters and other family in the U.K. for free. OH what an amazing resource we have at our fingertips for pennies. My grandmother would have called me a “lucky bugger” and I am fully cognisant of just what a lucky bugger I am.

New Years day cocktails

New Years day cocktails. Enough fruit and veggies in this one to call it lunch! 😉

Hot days = cold beer and shandies

Hot days = cold beer and shandies in our redneck drinking mugs 😉

Me sorting through my beer bottle caps that I have been collecting for a year

Me sorting through my beer bottle caps that I have been collecting for a year

(do you see what I have to put up with! ;) )

(do you see what I have to put up with! Apparently this is motion blur and focal points 😉 )

Getting jiggy with the hammer and flattening out the remaining beer bottle caps to turn them into teeny tiny alcoholic bunting for Stevie-boys music room

Getting jiggy with the hammer and flattening out the remaining beer bottle caps to turn them into teeny tiny alcoholic bunting for Stevie-boys music room

We have been very busy little beavers this week.  On New Years Eve I stayed up and both Stevie-boy and I welcomed in the New Year for once. We had a little basket with coal (that my mum had given me on her last Christmas here, I must have been naughty! 😉 ), bread and money in it and as Steve is naturally dark haired, he had to walk in to the doors (both opened up to let out the bad and let the good in) and receive the basket. By the sound of it, we were the only ones in Sidmouth up at 12 to see in the New Year. NO idea why we did this aside from sticking with someone else’s tradition and then we popped a cheap bottle of peach flavoured passion pop that Steve picked up as he thought that I wouldn’t stay awake for 12 and we wouldn’t need it. OH how wrong he was! It was pretty much undrinkable so we had a sip each, grimaced and then went to bed.

My prototype drop spindle until Steve can get around to making me a Turkish drop spindle

My prototype drop spindle until Steve can get around to making me a Turkish drop spindle

Gorgeous caramel coloured alpaca fleece for spinning on the drop spindle

Gorgeous caramel coloured alpaca fleece for spinning on the drop spindle

Even lovelier kid alpaca silvery grey/white fleece for spinning

Even lovelier kid alpaca silvery grey/white fleece for spinning

Steve has been taking SO many photos since he got his new (baby) camera. Here you can see me attempting to eat breakfast whilst being coerced into being a "model" for his practice ;)

Steve has been taking SO many photos since he got his new (baby) camera. Here you can see me attempting to eat breakfast whilst being coerced into being a “model” for his practice 😉

New Years Day arrived and we decided to spend it crafting. I hammered out bottle caps to make beer bottle bunting and a beer bottle lamp shade for Stevie-boys music room and researched how to nailbind. Nailbinding is an ancient Nordic craft that preceded knitting and crochet that the Vikings used to make clothing. It involves using a “nal” or a kind of long needle made out of bone or wood. Steve knocked me up a “nal” and I am ready to go once I start spinning my alpaca wool…alpaca wool?! Yes, Stewart and Kelsey came out and gifted me 2 enormous garbage bags of the most beautiful caramel and silvery white alpaca fleece for me to learn how to spin on. Stevie-boy had made me a drop spindle and they were out hunting for more wool for Kelsey as she is learning to spin on a drop spindle as well and thought that they might get me some as well. MUCHO happy guys :).  Now I just need to find the time to get started!

It always looks like Steve is doing all of the work around here but someone has to duck away to take the photos! ;)

It always looks like Steve is doing all of the work around here but someone has to duck away to take the photos! 😉

After hauling the 2 long sections of garden bed up the hill and into Sanctuary we hammered small star picket stakes into the ground in front of the bed to keep it in place when we loaded it up with soil

After hauling the 2 long sections of garden bed up the hill and into Sanctuary we hammered small star picket stakes into the ground in front of the bed to keep it in place when we loaded it up with soil

Looking back from the mountain of manure and oak leaves to the site where the new garden bed was being built

Looking back from the mountain of manure and oak leaves to the site where the new garden bed was being built

We then decided to create the next 2 gardens from the great and mighty mountain of aged horse poo and rotted oak leaves. Steve and I cobbled together  a garden bed out of old half rounds that we had found on the property and bits of rubbish timber that we had been storing for “a rainy day” (or a garden bed 😉 ). We then used it as a sort of terrace in Sanctuary. Steve headed off to do the shopping on Monday and I shoveled the second of the two new garden beds into place. We had generated some “char” in a recent burn off of branches (after we cut off any usable wood). I wouldn’t call it “biochar” as it wasn’t produced properly but most of the pile was charcoal so “char” it is and I am sure it will be good for the garden so after it cooled down I hauled it up to Sanctuary in a wheelbarrow and tipped it onto the ground before I dug the second of the new beds.

My wheelbarrow of "char". Nothing gets wasted around here!

My wheelbarrow of “char”. Nothing gets wasted around here!

Earl "helping" in Sanctuary

Earl “helping” in Sanctuary

Earl helping some more...

Earl helping some more…

Steve noticed this really wonderful way to make a good water hand pump out of PVC pipe and a few easy to get hold of cheap items (to make the valves) on Facebook the other day. I will share it here with you all as you can never have enough hats, bags and good cheap water pumps!…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaho7JSVS1I 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG6own141z0&feature=youtube_gdata_player 

The first video shows you how to make the pump and the second one shows you how to make the one way valves. The pump can be used to pump water or air. I am going to make 4 of them, one for each limb 😉

King Earl of the dung heap ;)

King Earl of the dung heap 😉

The sweet potato cuttings that I got from our friend Jenny's house last Friday. I read that the best way to grow sweet potatoes was by cuttings.

The sweet potato cuttings that I got from our friend Jenny’s house last Friday. I read that the best way to grow sweet potatoes was by cuttings.

I am in awe at how quickly these roots grew. This was 3 days after I put them into some water in the kitchen and just before I planted them out

I am in awe at how quickly these roots grew. This was 3 days after I put them into some water in the kitchen and just before I planted them out

My new large bench and a potted up cucamelon for a friend

My new large bench and a potted up cucamelon for a friend

Yesterday Steve and I pruned our 7 little grape vines that I grew from cuttings from our muscat grape vine in the city. We researched how to do it and we staked them up so that next year we can start training them to grow on a trellis. Steve made me a lovely big bench to use in Sanctuary and then knocked up another one because I said that I could carry the bench around with me and sit down and water (and Don Burke thought that HE was the lazy gardener! 😉 ) and now I don’t even have to lug the bench around :). It got pretty hot then so we hunkered down inside and spent the rest of the day relaxing. Today has been spent out in the garden potting up my 10 long suffering artichoke babies that desperately needed moving to bigger pots to grow on before I plant them out in the main garden. I also planted out my cucamelon/mouse melon (Melothria scabra)  babies (and potted one up to give to a friend). I was sent the seed by the wonderful Bev from Foodnstuff on the mainland after lamenting that I would never find the seed here in Tasmania. I then found out that my son was growing cucamelons as well. When asking him where he got his seed he said “Bunnings”…oh well! 😉 I had 19 of them germinate and gave 8 of them away so I have 11 left. That was my mathematics lesson for the day folks! (Did I pass?) If you would like to know more about this most interesting of fruits/vegetables (one of the two 😉 ) here is an interesting link that also contains a recipe for how to preserve them…

http://homegrown-revolution.co.uk/savoury-fruit/growing-cucamelons/

The top new garden planted out with potatoes that had gone to seed and sweet potato cuttings (that you can't see but that are already growing leaves :) )

The top new garden planted out with potatoes that had gone to seed and sweet potato cuttings (that you can’t see but that are already growing leaves 🙂 )

The new garden bed planted out with all kinds of seedlings from the glasshouse. I have since added basil and bergamot seedlings to the mix.

The new garden bed planted out with all kinds of seedlings from the glasshouse. I have since added basil and bergamot seedlings to the mix.

The second new garden bed is very long. I didn't have enough manure/oak leaf mix to fill it all so the last bit is now my new compost heap where I will create my own soil for another garden. I love the possibilities of gardening :)

The second new garden bed is very long. I didn’t have enough manure/oak leaf mix to fill it all so the last bit is now my new compost heap where I will create my own soil for another garden. I love the possibilities of gardening 🙂

I also planted out basil, bergamot and some chilli’s that had been languishing in with the artichokes as now we have room to plant them. I had already planted out eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos and capsicum plants. I am not really bothered that it’s a bit late for them, I just didn’t want to waste them in the glasshouse and now they at least have a chance to grow out in the sunshine. Steve and I often walk our dogs over in Beaconsfield, a small town about  10 minutes away from here and on one of our walks we noticed an old cast iron bath out the back of the local council buildings. We kept seeing it on our walks and so I decided to phone up council and ask if we could have it. I got a phone call back today to say that I could pick it up whenever I wanted it and so Sanctuary is just about to get a nice pond. I have been lusting after a bath ever since Bev from the amazingly informative permaculture blog “Foodnstuff” posted about storing water in the garden in non-conventional (and cheap) ways…

https://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/storing-water-for-the-garden/

Can you see one of your baby pepino's in the jungle that is Sanctuary Bev? ;)

Can you see one of your baby pepino’s in the jungle that is Sanctuary Bev? 😉

Towering 8ft tall Jerusalem artichokes dwarfing rhubarb that has gone to seed and raspberries in a compost heap

Towering 8ft tall Jerusalem artichokes dwarfing rhubarb that has gone to seed and raspberries in a compost heap

Potted up artichoke babies and one of the chaotic garden beds that forms the bulk of Sanctuary

Potted up artichoke babies and one of the chaotic garden beds that forms the bulk of Sanctuary

My little tiny loquat seedlings that I dug up from the road verge last year are growing like crazy now that I have planted them out inside the new dog compound. Nothing touches them and the fruit is delicious :)

My little tiny loquat seedlings that I dug up from the road verge last year are growing like crazy now that I have planted them out inside the new dog compound. Nothing touches them and the fruit is delicious 🙂

Cucamelons ready to plant out

Cucamelons ready to plant out

The new cucamelon enclosure. Apparently they can grow to 3 metres high so maybe I should have planned a bit better but they are over in the top of Sanctuary where not much else exists so if they want to invade Poland they can knock themselves out ;)

The new cucamelon enclosure. Apparently they can grow to 3 metres high so maybe I should have planned a bit better but they are over in the top of Sanctuary where not much else exists so if they want to invade Poland they can knock themselves out 😉

A regular sweet cherry and a sour cherry that our friend Jenny gave to us. She can't plant them on her property as the possums would simply hoover them down. Now that we have an Earl protected (at all hours of the day) inner sanctum compound, these cherries should grow and flourish free from possum invasion

A regular sweet cherry and a sour cherry that our friend Jenny gave to us. She can’t plant them on her property as the possums would simply hoover them down. Now that we have an Earl protected (at all hours of the day) inner sanctum compound, these cherries should grow and flourish free from possum invasion

So we have been busy as beavers here in sunny Sidmouth on Serendipity Farm. Hopefully you have all had a most excellent first week of the new year. We have certainly started out as we mean to finish up. I have even been writing things in my new day to day diary to make sure that I don’t forget things (that probably won’t even last till February but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ). I am tired but in a good way and very excited by all of the different things that we are contemplating this year. Have a great week everyone until we get together again next Wednesday to have a chat and a cuppa and catch up where we left off 🙂

Earl had a hard night on the bottle ;)

Earl had a hard night on the bottle 😉

Past, present and future

Hi All,

I hope everyone who celebrated Christmas has managed to not only survive, but have crawled out from under the bed and dusted themselves off and are now upright and functioning again. Stevie-boy and I had a really lovely Christmas. The day started out raining as we walked the boys but then suddenly the sun came out and the rest of the day was magnificent. I can’t remember much about it but then those fruit punch drinks that Steve was making me had a LOT of rum in them. We found an excellent Christmas music YouTube channel that kept us rocking and feeling particularly festive and I multi-tasked and managed to do 2 loads of Christmas washing and watered Sanctuary. The dogs were very suspicious of all of the festivities and point blank refused to eat any of the special treats that we gave them as we were obviously trying to poison them. Aside from the slinking suspicious dogs, Christmas was lovely

Steve's arty shot of his idea of the very best Christmas

Steve’s arty shot of his idea of the very best Christmas

Bezials idea of the very best Christmas

Bezials idea of the very best Christmas (note, the shorts were still intact in this image)

Narf7's idea of the very best Christmas. Earl was slinking around somewhere and is still suspicious of "Christmas" on the whole

Narf7’s idea of the very best Christmas. Earl was slinking around somewhere and is still suspicious of “Christmas” on the whole

I have decided not to make a New Year’s resolution because most resolutions are programmed to self-destruct by February. I have some plans for this year that include taking what I have learned in the past 50 years and applying it to the next 50 (should I be so lucky as to be gifted that kind of longevity). I have even started early and Stevie-boy and I have spent the last few days of 2014 working hard to make a good start in 2015. We shoveled 7 trailer loads of aged horse manure and rotting oak leaves from where they have studiously sat for many months now into our trusty little trailer and hauled them up the steep incline to the rear of Sanctuary whereby we removed the wallaby proof rocks on the base of the netting and backed the trailer in and shoveled it all out again.

Stevie-boy contemplating the consequences of his actions

Stevie-boy contemplating the consequences of his actions. Note Sanctuary is to the rear of Stevie-boy and open to the elements

Small tree down. Note the close proximity to the car when the cuts that we made were supposed to drop the tree in the other direction...maybe we should hand our chainsaw licenses back? ;)

Small tree down. Note the close proximity to the car when the cuts that we made were supposed to drop the tree in the other direction…maybe we should hand our chainsaw licenses back? 😉

Err...the fallen eucalyptus appears to be attempting to steal our car!

Err…the fallen eucalyptus appears to be attempting to steal our car!

Luckily, it doesn't have opposable thumbs (a problem that it shares with Earl) and thus was unable to make a fast getaway

Luckily, it doesn’t have opposable thumbs (a problem that it shares with Earl) and thus was unable to make a fast getaway

However it did leave behind several "passengers" that quickly took up residence and had to be forcibly evicted

However it did leave behind several “passengers” that quickly took up residence and had to be forcibly evicted. One or two of them even manged to keep their shed skins on their heads in the melee. Our car is now full of shed head stacker caterpillar skins…EWW!

Our plans were not without a degree of drama as we decided to remove a small eucalyptus tree that was growing in the way and if it wasn’t for Stevie-boys quick thinking (and fast arm) we might have dropped it directly on top of our car but his quick wits caused the canopy to end up in the front seat, delivering a collective of dazed head-stacker caterpillars onto the driver’s seat, well out of their natural habitat. We also had to heave a large rock out of the way to make backing the trailer up easier and in the process, Stevie-boy tore a hole in his favourite EVER shorts. Everything is OK though because I am going to use a recent blog post by the wonderfully creative hooky maestro Phil at the twisted yarn  to create some hooky magic to salve his shorty wounds…problem is, Stevie-boy apparently doesn’t want me to crochet a peacock on his nether regions (I KNOW what is wrong with the man? 😉 )

We headed out early to Paper Beach where our dogs love to walk and even though it was raining we attempted to inject some Christmas Spirit into the crowds of people that were yet to wake up and smell the Christmas Roses

We headed out early to Paper Beach where our dogs love to walk and even though it was raining we attempted to inject some Christmas Spirit into the crowds of people that were yet to wake up and smell the Christmas Roses

Stevie-boys wonderful new camera that makes him twitch with happiness and that hasn't been out of his hands since we bought it last week even though it is SUPPOSED to be for his 50th birthday next year...sigh...

Stevie-boys wonderful new camera that makes him twitch with happiness and that hasn’t been out of his hands since we bought it last week even though it is SUPPOSED to be for his 50th birthday next year…sigh…

So aside from some ripped shorts and some very sore fingers we have been doing a lot of maneuvering, moving and hauling on Serendipity Farm. We mean to start out as we are inclined to finish off 2015 by being very active in the garden and by making positive changes around here. We were recently given a trailer load of refractory bricks from a good friend and where once we were contemplating making an adobe pizza oven, our thoughts have now turned to a full on masonry oven. Hopefully 2015 will see it come into fruition. Steve suggested that I turn the spare room into a craft room and we spent some time moving furniture around (I would like to say dusting behind it but I didn’t so whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ) and thinking about the possibility of moving the internet cord that Steve routed through the roof and into the lounge room for me to use the laptop while he watches TV that I am always too tired to use by the time I get into the lounge room, into the spare room, enabling me to be able to access the net in my new creative bolt hole.

Steve took this shot with his Canon on Christmas Day (prior to buying his new Nikon 7100 in an incredibly good sale in the city)

Steve took this shot with his Canon on Christmas Day (prior to buying his new Nikon 7100 in an incredibly good sale in the city) This was after the sun came out around mid day

This is Melaleuca alternafolia also known as "Snow in Summer". It's in flower all over the place at the moment. Who says we Aussies don't get "Snow" at Christmas time eh? ;)

This is Melaleuca alternafolia also known as “Snow in Summer”. It’s in flower all over the place at the moment. Who says we Aussies don’t get “Snow” at Christmas time eh? 😉

We headed into the city to buy Steve's camera on Saturday morning so we took the boys for a bit of a walk around the university arts campus. Here's Bezial posing with one of his kin...

We headed into the city to buy Steve’s camera on Saturday morning so we took the boys for a bit of a walk around the university arts campus. Here’s Bezial posing with one of his kin…

And here is Earl with his long suffering fat anchor posing on what can only be a metal dragon?!

And here is Earl with his long suffering fat anchor posing on what can only be a metal dragon?!

Steve got some nice shots of a tram that has been set up to take advantage of the tourist dollars flooding into the state at this time every year. The tram drivers were sitting in a little hut and didn't mind Steve taking a few photos as no-one else was around at the time. Isn't it pretty?

Steve got some nice shots of a tram that has been set up to take advantage of the tourist dollars flooding into the state at this time every year. The tram drivers were sitting in a little hut and didn’t mind Steve taking a few photos as no-one else was around at the time. Isn’t it pretty?

Towards the back of the tram

Towards the back of the tram

Not a lot of room for commuters and lots of room to stand up. Most probably a good thing that we don't use trams like this in the city any more or lazy commuters would complain ;)

Not a lot of room for commuters and lots of room to stand up. Most probably a good thing that we don’t use trams like this in the city any more or lazy commuters would complain 😉

 

The dogs were (again) suspicious of our actions. I keep reading things about how dogs are loyal and loving and never jealous or judgmental and obviously, the 2 furry things that we have living with us in the house on Serendipity Farm are not dogs because jealousy, suspicion, manipulation and dissent are their middle names. They slunk around as we tidied up and moved furniture and gave us pathetic enormous furry creature eyes in order to attempt to manipulate us to stop what we were doing and return to the status-quo. Bezial soon cheered up when he realised that the new craft room meant that he would be able to sleep on the bed in the spare room (covered with a nice thick blanket to prevent dog contact with the bed) and promptly lay down and wagged his tail. Earl isn’t so easily bought and has been keeping his eye on Steve and I now to make sure that we are not planning any funny business.

Stevie-boy with some wonderful Christmas earrings that he received as an Early Christmas gift this year ;) raising a toast to you all :)

Stevie-boy with some wonderful Christmas earrings that he received as an Early Christmas gift this year 😉 raising a toast to you all 🙂

From this point on, the photos in this post are all taken on Stevie-boys new precious baby. Feel honoured that he could tear himself away from taking artistic shots of butterflies to take a few photos for this post ;)

From this point on, the photos in this post are all taken on Stevie-boys new precious baby. Feel honoured that he could tear himself away from taking artistic shots of butterflies to take a few photos for this post 😉 These are the refractory fire bricks that a kind friend gave us in order to make a masonry oven, stacked up at the rear of the shed where spiders rule the roost

This is my Lazarus artichoke that rose from the dead stump and that now has 4 chokes on it. I am suitably delighted at both it's tenacity and it's desire to produce food despite it's recent traumatic events

This is my Lazarus artichoke that rose from the dead stump and that now has 4 chokes on it. I am suitably delighted at both it’s tenacity and it’s desire to produce food despite it’s recent traumatic events

This is a passionfruit. It is most likely to be one of those round yellow weed species with red fruit but at least it makes a change from the elongated yellow banana passionfruit with pink flowers that are the usual rulers of the weed species around here ;)

This is a passionfruit. It is most likely to be one of those round yellow weed species with red fruit but at least it makes a change from the elongated yellow banana passionfruit with pink flowers that are the usual rulers of the weed species around here 😉

Some of the blueberries that are growing in the enclosed "Blueberry hut" in front of the deck. I thought that they would die but they appear to have other ideas :)

Some of the blueberries that are growing in the enclosed “Blueberry hut” in front of the deck. I thought that they would die but they appear to have other ideas 🙂

Parsley futures

Parsley futures

Cherimoya futures (so far 3 of them : ) )

Cherimoya futures (so far 3 of them : ) ) You can see my cucamelons trying to take over the shot on the right hand side. I need to make a patch in the garden for them before they take over the glasshouse!

The one peach left on the tree that Earl is studiously protecting from the salivating possums

The one peach left on the tree that Earl is studiously protecting from the salivating possums

Stevie-boys amazing wood futures. Hardly any chopping to do in our 2015 winter period as this stack is only 1 of 4 other stacks that he recently worked very hard to create. He can put his feet up when it is raining and just stoke Brunhilda with joy :)

Stevie-boys amazing wood futures. Hardly any chopping to do in our 2015 winter period as this stack is only 1 of 4 other stacks that he recently worked very hard to create. He can put his feet up when it is raining and just stoke Brunhilda with joy 🙂

Earlier in the year we were gifted some very large, very old blueberry bushes from a friend who is moving out of the district. When we got them home we dug holes in the manure and oak leaf mountain that was in front of the deck at the time as a temporary home for them until we worked out where we wanted to put them. That was about 6 months ago and the blueberries that we expected to die, have taken off in their nice fertile home and are covered in berries that are all starting to ripen. We built a possum and wallaby proof structure around their perimeter and they have done so well (when everything that I read said that they hate being transplanted and would probably die) that they are going to be allowed to stay put where they are. My artichoke that was cruelly destroyed by anarchistic possums re-sprouted at the base of the stem and has regenerated enough to produce more artichokes. Aside from being magnificent architectural plants they are very hardy, are perennial and most importantly, they are edible. When you find a plant that is incredibly happy to grow in your particular environment and it isn’t a weed, treasure it. I treasure my artichokes and am just about to pot up 10 more to add to the mix when they get a bit older

Steve's new camera takes awesomely detailed images. My camera would just see this as a mass of shadows with a bit of blue water. His camera is much more detailed. This is the view through the Nikon 7100 from the deck. He hasn't learned how to use it properly yet so he says you are going to have to bear with him as he learns

Steve’s new camera takes awesomely detailed images. My camera would just see this as a mass of shadows with a bit of blue water. His camera is much more detailed. This is the view through the Nikon 7100 from the deck. He hasn’t learned how to use it properly yet so he says you are going to have to bear with him as he learns

This photo is one for the books. Steve NEVER reads anything, especially instruction manuals. He is actually reading this one for his new camera. I almost fainted when I saw this but recovered my composure enough to take this shot

This photo is one for the books. Steve NEVER reads anything, especially instruction manuals. He is actually reading this one for his new camera. I almost fainted when I saw this but recovered my composure enough to take this shot

The driveway looking back towards the house (just around the corner at the top of the driveway). I don't know how photos make everything look much better than it really does but I, for one, don't mind ;)

The driveway looking back towards the house (just around the corner at the top of the driveway). I don’t know how photos make everything look much better than it really does but I, for one, don’t mind 😉

We gave away 6 kitchen chairs that we no longer needed and Steve is going to re-purpose the kitchen table to make extra work benches in his shed. He plans on getting creative this year and his first project is to turn a large slab of myrtle that a friend gave us and a vintage wrought iron bed head into a bench for Sanctuary. We both have some creative plans that have us excited at the prospects of learning new skills and honing old ones. 2015 looms on the horizon as 365 days of wonderful possibilities, chances to grow, to learn, to live and to love. We are both planning on making the most of the opportunities that come to us this year, on expanding our horizons, on forging community, sharing our time and our energy productively and not wasting resources that come our way. We have lots of branches/debris littered all over Serendipity Farm and we could just burn them or we could cut up the branches into smaller pieces and make hugels out of them that we could cover with soil, leaves, compost, manure etc. and make the most of this resource, or we could turn it into bio char, another most valuable resource in the garden.

What have we here? It appears to be the glorious illustrations of one B.O. and half of the glorious team of Keith and Christi, the ex Olallaians who are now native Hawaiians. I wonder what they are sending me? (Steve would like it known that he is a hero for removing the address lines so well in Photoshop. Please feel free to marvel at his amazing skills in the comments below ;) )

What have we here? It appears to be the glorious illustrations of one B.O. and half of the glorious team of Keith and Christi, the ex Olallaians who are now native Hawaiians. I wonder what they are sending me? (Steve would like it known that he is a hero for removing the address lines so well in Photoshop. Please feel free to marvel at his amazing skills in the comments below 😉 )

Its an amazing banner! I am in the process of turning our spare room into a narfish craft room. Fuelled by Ms Pauline's glorious efforts I have decided to follow suit and get myself away to a creative place to commune with my muses. This 4 poster bed was built by Stevie-boy way back last century as a birthday gift to me. It was once 2ft taller than this but we cut it down to fit it into it's current situation. I am going to create an enclosed nook and this bed shall be my "creative space". Christi's banner and any other bunting/banners that I am most privilaged to receive from amazing people out in the wide world of the net that are not waterproof will be given a home in here. You will have to watch this space to see how this room evolves. I have wooden chairs to yarnbomb and a lampshade to do the same with so this is a work in progress. Thankyou with all of my heart to Christi, my twin in Hawaii who just knew instantly what I would love :)

Its an amazing banner! I am in the process of turning our spare room into a narfish craft room. Fuelled by Ms Pauline’s glorious efforts I have decided to follow suit and get myself away to a creative place to commune with my muses. This 4 poster bed was built by Stevie-boy way back last century as a birthday gift to me. It was once 2ft taller than this but we cut it down to fit it into it’s current situation. I am going to create an enclosed nook and this bed shall be my “creative space”. Christi’s banner and any other bunting/banners that I am most privilaged to receive from amazing people out in the wide world of the net that are not waterproof will be given a home in here. You will have to watch this space to see how this room evolves. I have wooden chairs to yarnbomb and a lampshade to do the same with so this is a work in progress. Thankyou with all of my heart to Christi, my twin in Hawaii who just knew instantly what I would love 🙂

Even Stevie-boys messy shed looks posed with his new camera ;)

Even Stevie-boys messy shed looks posed with his new camera 😉

Some of Steve's bonsai babies given the Nikon treatment

Some of Steve’s bonsai babies given the Nikon treatment

This one is for Linne. I love this shot! There is a pink t-shirt that had been used as a pumpkin sling last year in this image. Again, Stevie-boy has removed it. He did a good job didn't he? :).

This one is for Linne. I love this shot! There is a pink t-shirt that had been used as a pumpkin sling last year in this image. Again, Stevie-boy has removed it. He did a good job didn’t he? :).

There are so many possibilities for 2015 and it’s up to us to make the most of them. Here’s to a year of forging good community, of listening, creating, understanding and learning from our mistakes and here’s to each and every one of you, my dear constant readers, who has spent the time to come and read about what we are doing here and some of you have become very good friends. We thought about how to say thank you to you all and as we have been learning how to wangle some Adobe programs over the last few years we decided that we would attempt to make a calendar for you all to download and print off if you like. If anyone would like a background colour change or any special dates or text added please let us know and we can customise this basic calendar to your needs. Again, thank you all for your support through the year. Both Steve and I truly appreciate all of the comments, time and energy that you put into visiting Serendipity Farm. We have made some truly wonderful online friends through this humble little blog and hope to see you all in 2015. Happy New Year and here’s to many more 🙂

Calander 2015

And so we meet again…

Hi All,

It only seems like yesterday when I was tapping away, tongue sticking out of the side of my mouth, attempting to amuse bouche you guys and here we are again with a new blog post knocking around inside my brain and a deadline of “NOW!” So what’s a girl to do but go all freestyle on your derrières and just wing it with the muses. This week has been a whirlwind of secret crafting business tangled up with gardening and a good dose of telling Stevie-boy what a good husband he is. It’s around about this time of year when everything comes together in the small time and space continuum vortex that is Serendipity Farm and all of the things that I have been putting off all year rise up like phoenixes (or the ghosts of Christmas past more appropriately) to wave their talons/apparition fingers at me and tut in whatever language phoenixes/ghosts tut in.

#Earl loves bloons

#Earl loves bloons

#Earl loves bloons AND walking on the coffee table ;)

#Earl loves bloons AND walking on the coffee table 😉

Stevie-boy, ever the creative genius, has made our youngest daughter Bethany (or Beenz as she has been tagged for a while now) something wonderfully special for her Christmas gift this year. Those of you dear constant readers who have been trying to make head or tail of my blog posts for a while now will know that we are both working on secret Christmas gifts for our daughters as part of a “give us something we like and you might win a $50 booze voucher”. Initially it was that booze voucher that piqued our sense of intrigue but that lasted all of about 10 seconds when the competitive part of the challenge stepped in…”there be WINNING to achieve here folks!” And thus it began…

It's not all about Earl today. This lovely photo of Bezial was photoshopped by Steve

It’s not all about Earl today. This lovely photo of Bezial was photoshopped by Steve

Happy first day of Summer Southern Hemisphere! ;)

Happy first day of Summer Southern Hemisphere! 😉

Stevie-boy listened to my idea for my gift and said “might as well not bother, you have it in the bag”. Which was a great ego boost but to be honest, I didn’t even know if I could create what was inside my head. As I started working on what I have created for Madeline (we got given a daughter each) Stevie-boys competitive streak started to rise up and suddenly he was full of ideas and waving things around in front of my concentrating nose and there were many interruptions to my concentration where I had to “ooo” and “ah” with sufficiently admiring sounds in order to get back to what I was doing. As his creation started to take shape I started to feel the tables flipping and suddenly there was a real competition! Stevie-boy, being Stevie-boy went at his creation like a bull at a gate. He has tamed his desire to finish everything “yesterday” though and is now much more aware of aesthetics and has honed his desire to create quality items rather than “quick” items. I must admit to playing a big part in this transformation…me and my desire to not have the house fall down around us…

Stevie-boy on Saturday faced with this mountain of banana passionfruit that all needed removing

Stevie-boy on Saturday faced with this mountain of banana passionfruit that all needed removing

Most of the banana passionfruit removed and now we just have to remove the dead shrubs under the passionfruit and cut the remainder down to hedge height

Most of the banana passionfruit removed and now we just have to remove the dead shrubs under the passionfruit and cut the remainder down to hedge height

So Stevie-boy’s gorgeous creation is sitting in his music room all finished and ready to be gifted. It is beautiful. I will share it with you in the blog post on December 17th which is immediately after our little familial un-Christmas Christmas celebration as our children are celebrating with their dad and his family who are coming all the way from Western Australia for the occasion. We will have our own delicious Christmas sitting out under the shade of a (not) coolabah tree looking out over the river and giving constant thanks for the circumstances that landed us here on Serendipity Farm.

Narfs breakfast beans

Narfs breakfast beans

The "Dead possum" lily is back for another year. Our friend Jenny just bought one of these. We have hundreds of them that return to reak of death just on Christmas.

The “Dead possum” lily is back for another year. Our friend Jenny just bought one of these. We have hundreds of them that return to reak of death just on Christmas.

My gift creation isn’t so easy. Not only have I had to learn several new skills in order to create this gift, but I have also had to take those newly learned skills and riff on a theme. What I am creating is pretty out there and I have to adapt things from all over the (most wonderful) sharing caring colony of crafters and their wonderful “free tutorials” and then change them to suit my needs. I am quite pleased with the results and everything is starting to come together nicely but it aint finished folks and I am starting to twitch because today is December the third and I need to be finished by this weekend as I have other projects to get stuck into ASAP and this one is starting to take on epic proportions. I can’t wait to share our creations with you and our daughters gave us an amazing gift when they thought up this challenge in the first place. They gave us the gift of actually thinking about the person we are giving a gift to and really homing in on what they like and both Stevie-boy and I have learned a lot in the process so we all win in the end. Stewart and Kelsey have both been given a giftee as well and I know what Stewart has got Madeline  and she is going to be hard pressed to choose between his gift and mine (so that is why I am going to have to slip sleeping pills into his morning coffee and render him AWOL on the day! 😉 ) NO idea what Kelsey is contemplating but now she is a most honorary Aussie (her visa to stay came through…”HOORAY!” 🙂 ), she can stop worrying about heading back to frozen Texas (does it freeze in Texas?) and can spend Christmas Day sweltering away like the rest of us southerners ;).

A wasp is moving in to our bug house! :)

A wasp is moving in to our bug house! 🙂

Stevie-boy is finishing off cutting up last years logs ready for our next load to be delivered.

Stevie-boy is finishing off cutting up last years logs ready for our next load to be delivered.

Stevie-boy deserved a beer after this! :)

Stevie-boy deserved a beer after this! 🙂

So what else has narf been up to (apart from twitching about the rapidly approaching gift giving celebration day that is…), well the garden has taken up a good part of our week. I have been carrying on with my newfound idea to shove all kinds of veggies etc. in all kinds of places. The thing about pests is that they tend to flock when they get a sniff of something in a row. I don’t know what it is about pests but they appear to be regimented and like mass plantings. The problem is, most veggie gardeners love nice neat rows of things as that makes it easier to garden, to harvest and to keep tabs on what you have in your garden and what you can plant in the recently vacated soil. Not for narf, this nice easy life that is “rows”. I have planted out beetroot, okra (the few that the slugs didn’t scoff… see, slugs eat it as they need to replace all of that slime!), Roselle’s (that are developing a gorgeous rosy colour on their little round leaves), beetroot, a single tomatillo (that will be joined by a few of its brethren soon), lots of silverbeet and spinach as they are two of my most consumed foodstuffs over the summer period, 2 cucumber plants (gifted from a friend) and 3 very sad Roma tomatoes from the self-same friend who had just plonked the plants into her small pond and left them there for over a week. Tomatoes are survivor’s folks. These tomatoes were living a semi aquatic lifestyle! There is a whole lot going on in narf7’s garden but only the potato onions and the radishes (yes “radishes” Madeline! 😉 ) are in rows. Everything else is scattered all over the place like a particularly fecund Salvador Dali or Picasso painting.

Steve has been messing around in Photoshop with this lovely original image taken at Hollybank, a lovely reserve 15 minutes east of Launceston.

Steve has been messing around in Photoshop with this lovely original image taken at Hollybank, a lovely reserve 15 minutes east of Launceston.

This version is a reflected version with a soft glow

This version is a reflected version with a soft glow

This version is a reflection in "water"

This version is a reflection in “water”

This one reminds me of the Blair Witch forest!

This one reminds me of the Blair Witch forest!

This is my favourite version. Its haunting but lovely. Isn't Photoshop amazing if you learn how to use it well?

This is my favourite version. Its haunting but lovely. Isn’t Photoshop amazing if you learn how to use it well?

In my first year of gardening I tried to create garden beds but the possums and wallabies caused them to be covered to the back gills with bird netting, wire, chook netting and sticks and although the harvest was pretty good, most of it went to seed as the cruel irony of all of my protective devices was that “I” couldn’t get into there either! Year 2 saw us with Sanctuary but my “get-up-and-go” had gotten up and went. I wasn’t in the mood to vegetable garden and it was only through my friend Jenny and our compost heap contents that anything grew in Sanctuary at all. We shall call it “The year of the pumpkin” for that very reason and the pumpkins took over and ruled the bit of Sanctuary that the possums couldn’t reach. The possums ate everything green as well as quite a few pumpkins and until we managed to completely stop them from gaining entry, they had free reign. Not THIS YEAR possums! This year Sanctuary has been fortified with plastic coated wire clothes line. It looks like a green oasis of possum envy and I have had the incredibly satisfying experience of planting out citrus trees, seedlings and all sorts of berry bushes underneath a sea of seething and most envious possum activity. I know they are up there because their little deposits are fertilising Sanctuary 😉

 

Steve's prototype most awesome new Christmas tree. We haven't sprayed it green yet but it has spacers between the "limbs" and we can move the limbs around to wherever we like

Steve’s prototype most awesome new Christmas tree. We haven’t sprayed it green yet but it has spacers between the “limbs” and we can move the limbs around to wherever we like

And one of the best bits (the bit that makes Steve call this his "Ikea" Christmas tree) is that it folds flat for under bed storage for the rest of the year! :)

And one of the best bits (the bit that makes Steve call this his “Ikea” Christmas tree) is that it folds flat for under bed storage for the rest of the year! 🙂

I have been experimenting by planting things like silverbeet, spinach and the odd Roselle directly into small heaps that I have put compost on one side of and spent horse manure and lots of oak leaves on the other. I learned that a big pile of well-aged horse manure is like gloriously fertile soil to most plants. I also learned it dries out pretty quickly though so adding extra’s to it is part and parcel of working with this wonderful medium. Enter the oak leaf mould and the compost. My experiments have me seeing if adding compost to the higher side of the pile (everything is on a degree of slope on Serendipity Farm aka “Slippery Slope” Farm 😉 ) will cause nutrient run off down to the rest of the pile. I have 3 smallish piles in between all of the citrus trees as I know that they are heavy feeders and I am attempting to kill a whole mess of birds with a single stone. I have a very large compost heap full of compost, horse manure, oak leaves and a lot of dried grass from Glad’s back paddock next door, on the other side of Sanctuary in which a small but most determined crew of red and yellow raspberries is going it’s best to take over the world. I know that they won’t be able to achieve world domination because they have an even bigger and more determined patch of Jerusalem artichokes surrounding them to get through before they can conquer Sanctuary. “Good luck with that raspberries!”

Jenny's raspberries that grew from a single raspberry plant that she planted last year (note to self WATCH those raspberries inside Sanctuary! ;) )

Jenny’s raspberries that grew from a single raspberry plant that she planted last year (note to self WATCH those raspberries inside Sanctuary! 😉 )

Everything eats Jenny's plants but what they don't eat I pay close attention to. If they don't eat it at Jenny's place, there is a very good chance that they won't eat it here! Guess who is about to buy some dianthus...

Everything eats Jenny’s plants but what they don’t eat I pay close attention to. If they don’t eat it at Jenny’s place, there is a very good chance that they won’t eat it here! Guess who is about to buy some dianthus…

And some penstemons...

And some penstemons…

And How about elderberries. Jenny has a particularly nice selection of these beauties. Nothing eats them because aside from the fruit they are completely poisonous :)

And How about elderberries. Jenny has a particularly nice selection of these beauties. Nothing eats them because aside from the fruit they are completely poisonous 🙂

The excitement of propagation has returned and poor Steve had to dig a “root growth zone” (aka “hole”) for me to plant out a new Emperor mandarin that our friend Jenny gave us to add to our growing collection. She has also gifted us a couple of cherry trees as the native wild life at her home just hoover anything fruity down. We are working on creating a Mediterranean garden for her as they won’t touch figs, quinces etc. and so I am thinking that the best bet for her is to plant what the possums can’t stand. You have to work within the parameters that your situation hands you sometimes and then when you have the basics set up, you can start fandangling with the principle of the thing. That’s how we gardeners roll. We are never happy to call it quits because there is always something new around the corner that piques our interest.

A lovely rose at Jenny's house

A lovely rose at Jenny’s house

And the reason why it is still alive ;)

And the reason why it is still alive 😉

We visited Jenny yesterday and gave her a sack of small agapanthus that we crowbarred up from near our front gate. When we were studying our Diploma in Landscape Design we had to come up with a plan each for a Design and we ended up using Jenny’s place as our Design. We came up with a lovely rosemary, lavender and agapanthus series of low hedges surrounding a potager style garden full of things that possums and wallabies and rabbits (and now native crayfish!) wouldn’t like to eat. It was a challenge but the real challenge is that Jenny wants to actually create this garden for reals! So thus finds us crowbarring up agapanthus babies for the near future and sharing the things that we can and can’t grow between us. It is awesome having a good friend who just “gets” us and our crazy desire to be plant slaves and to be like Dr Frankenstein when it comes to grafting all kinds of strange things onto other strange things (cue the thunder, lightning and crazy laughter…)

Lambs ear and (the dreaded) osteospermum daisies and wallflowers. There are a lot of plants that our native animals find unpalatable, I just have to find out which ones they are and plant them :)

Lambs ear and (the dreaded), Arbutilons,  osteospermum daisies and wallflowers. There are a lot of plants that our native animals find unpalatable, I just have to find out which ones they are and plant them 🙂

This is what happens when Jenny tries to plant out fruit trees...

This is what happens when Jenny tries to plant out fruit trees…

The old "stuffed toy to scare the natives away" obviously doesn't work ;)

The old “stuffed toy to scare the natives away” obviously doesn’t work 😉

Visiting friends has benefits, especially when they don't like broad beans :)

Visiting friends has benefits, especially when they don’t like broad beans 🙂

Oh dear. I have manically arrived at a long blog post again. I can’t say that I am sorry as I am not. I love sharing what excites me with you all. Pretty soon you will get to see what has been keeping Stevie-boy and I busy for the last few months (well Stevie-boy for a weekend or two and me for about 3 months now!) in the gifting arena. I would like to thank both of our daughters for giving us all this challenge as we have both learned SO much from having to adapt what they like to what we are capable of creating. ALL kinds of lessons learned, challenges raised to meet and exciting possibilities arising thanks to this desire to stop Christmas from turning into a series of gift voucher or cash handouts. Let’s all take Christmas back this year folks. It doesn’t have to be a commercial crazy rush of cash flowing out of your account/cards, it can be carefully thought out and meticulously planned but if you don’t end up feeling like you have taken part, what’s the point? Lets take Christmas (whatever it means to you) back from the middle men and place it firmly in the creative bent of our own little hot hands. I know that Stevie-boy has had a lot of fun creating our latest “Christmas tree” and that we are creating all of our own decorations this year. That’s how you feel “Christmassy”…Christmas is in the processes, the lead up, the wonder of creation and the enjoyment of sharing a good meal with good friends and family. Being thankful for the year that has past, the year that is about to hit us (EEK!) and being grateful, thankful and most joyful for our continued existence on this small blue planet navigating it’s way around a small bright star somewhere out there in this wide expanse of a universe. See you all next week 🙂

I will leave you with a parting shot of Serendipity Farm on the first official day of summer just to make you Northerners feel a bit happier about your own bad weather ;)

I will leave you with a parting shot of Serendipity Farm on the first official day of summer just to make you Northerners feel a bit happier about your own bad weather 😉

Just a quick note, next week I will be in Hobart with my 2 daughters getting ready to attend a Ben Folds concert (“SQUEE!”) my Christmas gift from my daughters so Stevie-boy will be left to hold the fort and will be responsible for next weeks blog post. He has just informed me that he wants to write next weeks blog post. You can be assured it will be smaller than my usual blog posts ;).

 

Earl turns 4, Three wise herons and learning to appreciate snotty oysters

Hi All,

Late last week I could have cheerfully had my little brother neutered and sent off to obedience class. Alas, this is WAY beyond the scope of my rights as a big sister (watch out Earl!) Instead I ended up having an (shall we say, for the want of a better word…) “interesting” conversation on Facebook with him which culminated in him badgering me to unfriend him. I just noticed that spellchecker has no problem with the word “unfriend”. I, on the other hand, do. You can’t just “unfriend” someone who has, for the last 46 years of your life been part and parcel of the rough and tumble of your existence. That old saying “you can choose your friends but you (are stuck with) can’t choose your family has never been more poignant. If you are reading this Jamie, “keep reading!”…so where was I, AH that’s right, halfway between “neutering” and “sending off to obedience school”…so this delightful situation that we found ourselves in wasn’t just a spat between brother and sister, this time it was between all three siblings and it had been brewing on the back burner for quite some time.

Story of my life, ever cautious ;)

Story of my life, ever cautious 😉

 

Steve's little mate "Wall-e-bee" helping us deal with the sow thistle problem on Serendipity Farm "EAT FASTER!" ;)

Steve’s little mate “Wall-e-bee” helping us deal with the sow thistle problem on Serendipity Farm “EAT FASTER!” 😉

Our friend Jenny grew globe artichokes just because she could. She doesn't actually like them so guess who got the chokes!

Our friend Jenny grew globe artichokes just because she could. She doesn’t actually like them so guess who got the chokes!

Christmas marinated artichoke heart futures :)

Christmas marinated artichoke heart futures 🙂

Things like that you don’t take to Facebook so why did we? Because we are first and foremost “Stahl’s” and we tend to think with our outrageous indignation and it is only when we retreat to lick our wounds that a little light bulb comes on in our heads that says “er…maybe I could have moderated that a bit better.” I only mention this because some of my dear constant readers (you know who you are) are also Facebook friends so you may have been privy to said “spat”. My sister, who has a more genteel constitution than myself unfriended him but I have the hide of a hippo (and the bum but we won’t expand on that here and now) and as we all know, the predominately vegan hippo kills more people in Africa than the macho carnivorous lion. Wise words to ponder over folks… wise words INDEED.

Jenny and I and her grandson Dylan went to Red Dragon nursery last Thursday. I would love to share some photos that I took of this beautiful place. The plants are amazing, unusual and the owner is my favourite horticultural nutcase. You rock Andrew ;)

Jenny and I and her grandson Dylan went to Red Dragon nursery last Thursday. I would love to share some photos that I took of this beautiful place. The plants are amazing, unusual and the owner is my favourite horticultural nutcase. You rock Andrew 😉

This magnificent cloud pruned conifer was cloud pruned by Steve and I back in 1010 when we did some work experience for Andrew at Red Dragon  Nursery.

This magnificent cloud pruned conifer was cloud pruned by Steve and I back in 1010 when we did some work experience for Andrew at Red Dragon Nursery.

Steve and I love this place

Steve and I love this place

Jenny's (first) cart full of plants, mine are on the wall behind the cart

Jenny’s (first) cart full of plants, mine are on the wall behind the cart

This place gives "garden rooms" a whole new meaning as each turn, path, side track delivers you to another little section of gorgeousness to peruse, ponder and purchase if you see fit :)

This place gives “garden rooms” a whole new meaning as each turn, path, side track delivers you to another little section of gorgeousness to peruse, ponder and purchase if you see fit 🙂

I adore Zenobia's but my specimen died. This one is well and truly alive and flowering to boot

I adore Zenobia’s but my specimen died. This one is well and truly alive and flowering to boot

Andrew is most proud of his selection of very large leafed rhododendrons. He even gave me the name of this one to share with you all. This is very hard to get and is Rhododendron sinogrande with leaves that reach 780cm. What a magnificent beast!

Andrew is most proud of his selection of very large leafed rhododendrons. He even gave me the name of this one to share with you all. This is very hard to get and is Rhododendron sinogrande with leaves that reach 78cm. What a magnificent beast!

More of those beautiful rocks (with a protective hand...he knows my magpie tendencies ;) )

More of those beautiful rocks (with a protective hand…he knows my magpie tendencies 😉 )

The exit to the nursery

The exit to the nursery

Part of the outside grounds where examples of the trees and shrubs for sale have been planted so that people can see what they will look like in a garden situation

Part of the outside grounds where examples of the trees and shrubs for sale have been planted so that people can see what they will look like in a garden situation

More of the outside garden. Aren't these conifers gorgeous?

More of the outside garden. Aren’t these conifers gorgeous?

I adore this golden bamboo. Jenny bought herself a large pot of black bamboo. We have seen these bamboos in other nursery's for $120 but at Andrew's this very healthy specimen was a mere $32 (and that was expensive!) Jenny has promised me some when it starts to shoot :)

I adore this golden bamboo. Jenny bought herself a large pot of black bamboo. We have seen these bamboos in other nursery’s for $120 but at Andrew’s this very healthy specimen was a mere $32 (and that was expensive!) Jenny has promised me some when it starts to shoot 🙂

After all of the bru-ha-ha had settled down a most magical thing happened. My testosterone fuelled, angst ridden, outrageously indignant brother who thinks with his sharp pointed finger and who holds onto his anger with a furious dignity that could be admired if it wasn’t so very infuriating, apologised to me. He may have deleted most of the more incriminating parts of said post but he apologised. I am thinking that much like Mr Rudyard Kipling’s most glorious ode of father to son masculinity “If” , my little brother has become a “man”. There comes a time in your life where being right is less important than being part of a small but most stalwart collective of bunched up and twitching outrageous nervous energy or as mainstream humanity would call it, part of a “family”. You are part of my family Jamie. You always will be. Whether you choose to flail about and sustain collateral damage (hippos think with their mouths…) is up to you, but I love you and you will always be in my heart.

The little building here is the nursery office. Andrew, Steve and I share a passion for cold climate shrubs and trees that bonded us all from the start

The little building here is the nursery office. Andrew, Steve and I share a passion for cold climate shrubs and trees that bonded us all from the start

Andrew also shares a passion for the beautiful rocks that can be found on beaches all around the shorelines of Tasmania.

Andrew also shares a passion for the beautiful rocks that can be found on beaches all around the shorelines of Tasmania.

2 lovely maples side by side

2 lovely maples side by side

Loveliness

Loveliness

More loveliness

More loveliness

Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to delight your eye. My photos don't do this wonderful place justice.

Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to delight your eye. My photos don’t do this wonderful place justice.

:)

🙂

The entrance/exit

The entrance/exit

Even the trolley bay is pretty

Even the trolley bay is pretty

Red Dragon Nursery specialises in rare and hard to get rhododendrons and azaleas. This is a rhododendron but I certainly wouldn't have picked it as such

Red Dragon Nursery specialises in rare and hard to get rhododendrons and azaleas. This is a rhododendron but I certainly wouldn’t have picked it as such

This azalea appears to have a split personality ;)

This azalea appears to have a split personality 😉

Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way lets talk about what the heck narf7 is on about with that title! Well today is Earl’s birthday. It was 4 years ago today, somewhere in rural South Australia that little Earl first tumbled out into the world, no doubt making his presence felt as soon as he could. From that day on, he has spent his life infuriating, exasperating, eating, dissecting, scraping, chewing, frolicking, barking, did I mention eating? And loving us all. Earl is one of a kind. He is a doggie shaped enigma and we love Earl to bits. It took me a fair while to warm to Earl because he was so very feral but now we are mono-a-mono and there is no separating us. I love him so much I carried home 3 segments of pool noodle that someone had thrown out in a roadside collect today, 2 km to the bemused stares of early morning commuters just so that he would have the joy of tearing them into tiny “squeaky” shreds on his birthday. Today will bring white chocolate (yes, dogs can have it), pizza, eggs, balloons, pool noodles and lots and lots of love, just how it should be when a dog turns 4 🙂

Earl not long after we got him

Earl not long after we got him back in April 2011 wasn’t he a cutey? 🙂

Earl in his usual habitat, a trail of chewed mass destruction in his wake ;)

Earl in his usual habitat, a trail of chewed mass destruction in his wake 😉

Here is that small collective of pool noodle/s that I carried home this morning. Most of them have been shredded but one remains in the lounge room for grazing on later in the day ;)

Here is that small collective of pool noodle/s that I carried home this morning. Most of them have been shredded but one remains in the lounge room for grazing on later in the day 😉

The heron bit…well yesterday on our early morning walk, Earl and I noticed a flock of 14 herons winging their way in from the river to a large dead gum tree. They all landed in the tree and it took them all of 4 seconds to note us walking under the tree. 9 of the herons flew away protesting loudly but 3 remained, stoic in the knowledge that there was no WAY this side of the Pecos that a somewhat overweight 50+ year old woman and a dog who was tethered to said woman (thus completely immobilised by his fat anchor…) were going to be able to climb up 50 feet into the sky to catch them without them at least getting a bit of a whiff of the clear and present danger LONG before it arrived. 3 of those herons were clever. Their babies will be taught by clever parents. And thus the clever bring more cleverness into the world…

Steve took this photo of a dandelion covered in seeds not so long back. Pretty isn't it?

Steve took this photo of a dandelion covered in seeds not so long back. Pretty isn’t it?

It might not be as delicate and sensitive as a zenobia but this deutzia is just as pretty and much hardier. You have to be clever with what you plant, you can usually find something almost the same that will be most happy to live in your garden :)

It might not be as delicate and sensitive as a zenobia but this deutzia is just as pretty and much hardier. You have to be clever with what you plant. You can usually find something almost the same that will be most happy to live in your garden 🙂

Sunshine in Sanctuary and another opportunity to get stuck in to food production

Sunshine in Sanctuary and another opportunity to get stuck in to food production

The last part of the title (and the least pleasant to think about) is the snotty oysters. I can hear you all thinking “I thought narf was a vegan? What the heck is she doing eating and learning to appreciate snotty oysters?!” Well I was being metaphorical rather than actual in this part of the title. Walking with Earl at 5am gives me time to contemplate the world without having to worry too much about ducking over to the very edge of the verge (and coincidentally the very edge of the river bank) in order to avoid being run over by cars. You tend to think more about your own mortality at 7am than you do at 5am. I had just stood and witnessed the sun coming up over a glorious still river and watched the shadows give way to that amazing light that only comes at sun up and Earl and I stood silent and in awe (well I was, Earl was sniffing a dandelion) of this amazing world, how beautiful and privileged we were (again, Earl was otherwise occupied so I really shouldn’t be speaking for him) to bear witness to the start of another amazing day on this slow revolving blue planet that occupies this point in space and time.

These are the plants that I bought at Red Dragon. We have stopped buying ornamentals and everything here has at least 2 purposes. The manna ash has sweet sap that can be harvested in Mediterranean climates like maple syrup, the katsura has toffee apple scented leaves and amazing autumn foliage, the small pot is a Tasmanian pepperberry and the pot on the far right is a New Zealand wineberry BUT I did a bit of research when I got home and they are dioeceous which means that they need both a male AND a female to produce fruit. Looks like Stevie-boy and I will be heading back out to Red Dragon in the near future. Oh what a difficult thing to do! ;)

These are the plants that I bought at Red Dragon. We have stopped buying ornamentals and everything here has at least 2 purposes. The manna ash has sweet sap that can be harvested in Mediterranean climates like maple syrup, the katsura has toffee apple scented leaves and amazing autumn foliage, the small pot is a Tasmanian pepperberry and the pot on the far right is a New Zealand wineberry BUT I did a bit of research when I got home and they are dioeceous which means that they need both a male AND a female to produce fruit. Looks like Stevie-boy and I will be heading back out to Red Dragon in the near future. Oh what a difficult thing to do! 😉

Friends who live down the road had a garage sale on Saturday.

Friends who live down the road had a garage sale on Saturday.

I bought this loveliness... well I didn't buy those wicker balls at the front, I got them for free from another roadside stand that was giving things away. They are going to be used on our homemade Christmas tree this year along with all of our other homemade decorations :)

I bought this loveliness… well I didn’t buy those wicker balls at the front, I got them for free from another roadside stand that was giving things away. They are going to be used on our homemade Christmas tree this year along with all of our other homemade decorations 🙂

I also got some small ounce scales (no, I am NOT going into "business" I just liked them ;) ) and this lovely copper pot and small sugar bowl...

I also got some small ounce scales (no, I am NOT going into “business” I just liked them 😉 ) and this lovely copper pot and small sugar bowl…

...with feet! Who can resist something inanimate with feet :)

…with feet! Who can resist something inanimate with feet 🙂

Stevie-boy bought me a passionfruit and a kiwiberry on Monday when he was doing our fortnightly grocery shop.

Stevie-boy bought me a passionfruit and a kiwiberry on Monday when he was doing our fortnightly grocery shop.

A different variety of Jerusalem artichoke to my regular variety that I have planted to add to the mix, a punnet each of rainbow chard, spinach and jalapenos and my compost bucket ready to be emptied in Sanctuary

A different variety of Jerusalem artichoke to my regular variety that I have planted to add to the mix, a punnet each of rainbow chard, spinach and jalapenos and my compost bucket ready to be emptied in Sanctuary

That Jerusalem artichoke and some that needed to be removed from the garden bed. Once you have Jerusalem artichokes you won't ever be without them but as I love them I really don't mind, it's all bonus food and sunflowers for me! :)

That Jerusalem artichoke and some that needed to be removed from the garden bed. Once you have Jerusalem artichokes you won’t ever be without them but as I love them I really don’t mind, it’s all bonus food and sunflowers for me! 🙂

A whole lot less pumpkins but a whole lot more order and choice. I am planting things out randomly in the hope that nature will be happy with my chaos. (That's my story and I am sticking to it ;) )

A whole lot less pumpkins but a whole lot more order and choice. I am planting things out randomly in the hope that nature will be happy with my chaos. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it 😉 )

They might not be the most professional looking tomato cages but they serve the purpose and were made with love by Stevie-boy for my 2 San Marzano paste tomatoes :)

They might not be the most professional looking tomato cages but they serve the purpose and were made with love by Stevie-boy for my 2 San Marzano paste tomatoes 🙂

Earl was peeing on a tree by this stage but I was still full of the heady bliss of it all and my thoughts turned to life, the universe and everything. I started to think about how each new day was like an oyster being opened. Inside you could find a pearl or you could find a snotty oyster. Pearly days are absolutely wonderful, snotty oyster days are to be endured, unless you find a way to appreciate snotty oysters and then you are ahead. I guess what I was trying to say (other than “I don’t like raw oysters”) is that if we learn to appreciate our days, come what may, we end up with a better quality of life, no matter what our circumstances. Life is what we make of it, not what it hands us. Some lives are harder to live than others and some circumstances are more difficult to endure but there is always a way, always a silver lining and always a way to put the check book back in balance (metaphorically speaking) we just have to find it. I would like it known that I will NEVER appreciate snotty oysters (or cooked okra) I will just pass them on to someone who does and thus ends the lesson for today. Time to head off into our respective lives, to live, to love, to moderate our Facebook rants and to make of our lives what we will. Here’s to Earl and his unmitigated merriment no matter what and a birthday full of things that make him happy 🙂

This is what makes Earl happy, loud music and love and adoration from his humans :)

This is what makes Earl happy, loud music and love and adoration from his humans 🙂

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