The great sushi carousel of life…

Hi All,

I come up with some wonderful ideas while I am walking Earl. I don’t know whether it’s the wonderful early morning fresh air or the constant jerking around, back and forth, sometimes being dragged, sometimes dragging, all the time on edge and ready for action that jogs my brain around enough to get it back on track and actively thinking again but thoughts randomly appear and usually nothing to do with what Steve and I might be talking about at the time. I was talking about studying and suddenly the thought that life was like an ethereal sushi carousel came to me. We sit down at the bar and we watch little plates of experience pass us by. We eyeball them suspiciously (the older we get the more suspicious we get 😉 ) and we tentatively pick up plates we deem “suitable” and leave those plates that tend to be something we are suspicious or afraid of. Most of us are fine with the Californian roll. Nothing to worry about there folks! The salmon and avocado? “Don’t mind if I do!” How about a nice inside out sushi roll? “Yup, reachin’ over for that one RIGHT now…” but then you get something indistinguishable…something plain out “weird”. “What the heck is that?!” It has fish eggs or something bright orange and glow-in-the-darky and flaky brown bits on it…not sure but if I don’t grab that plate, it is going to head straight past me in a most determined sped up sushi carousel sort of way and it might not come around another time…someone else might snap up that weird creation and I might never get to taste it… then you have to factor in the cost at the end of your meal. We all arrive at the end one day folks and what we have ingested in our own little personal sushi bar of life is going to dictate how we pay at the end. I guess walking Earl does have its benefits. If it can jog my mind into crazy analogies at least these early morning wrangling events that have me completely knackered at the end are worth a few paragraphs of blog fodder 😉

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This is NOT sushi…this is Bezial, shamelessly luxuriating in the warm spot that I just left to go to the loo at 2.30am…no point trying to wake him up now as he is OBVIOUSLY fast asleep…sigh…looks like an early morning for narf7! 😉

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Bezial in his rightful place in the bed…if you look a bit closer you will see the accusatory eyes that are telling me “turn off that bloody light don’t you know its 2.30am!”…sigh…

That was a long paragraph…sorry about that folks. I am learning to break up my words so that you don’t need to come up for air in the middle but that paragraph needed to be kept together for posterity. An artist can’t be destroying her creation now! ;). Not sure when I am going to post this post. I have The Virtual Vegan Potluck post this Saturday…then next Wednesday I have a post all about the progressive garage sale that also occurs on Saturday. Luckily I already have my VVP post done and dusted (well I will by the day 😉 ) and all of the tinker-doohickie stuff that we had to learn to put linky buttons to link my post to the post before me, and after me in the list of more than 150 blogs that are taking part was a major blogging lesson. It turns out it’s very easy to put a linky to a picture to take you somewhere else in a blog. It’s also easy to schedule your post to post itself! You learn something every day. Tonight’s post is already done and so this poor post most probably won’t see the light of day till the Saturday after next!

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I would get you to cast your minds back to the episode of “Black Adder” where Black Adder is trying to teach Baldrick to count…I quote “What do you get when you have 2 beans, and you add 2 more beans?”…and Baldrick answers “A small casserole”. Behold…a small casserole.

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I was amazed to get this amount of dried beans from the small bean cube of vegetation that the possums couldn’t reach with their questing extended little hairy arms. I have enough to grow lots of beans next Spring and to share with friends.

I guess them’s the breaks when you have a sushi carousel moment of clarity that you want to share. Whenever you get this post I hope you will think about occasionally taking a little bit of a risk with your “sushi”. This is a single carousel line folks…we only get one chance to sample that sushi and the older we get; the more cautious we tend to be. Life has handed us sea urchin roe before and we are MOST wary of putting that disgusting stuff in our mouths again and so we tend to look harder, taste slower and get ready to spit in a moment’s notice. In the process we often lose that chance to sample truly magnificent things because we let our fear of that disgusting sea urchin (yes…I HAVE tried it :o( ) ruin our future gustatory enjoyment of life. Taste it slowly, savour it and if necessary spit it out, but at least give it a go :o) (apart from the sea urchin roe…you have my permission to let that one glide right on past 😉 )

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Steve took me a few shots of The Gorge, a heritage area very close to Launceston. As you can see the deciduous trees are in full colour. Gorgeous isn’t it? Why aren’t I taking these shots? Because right in front of the car is a sign saying “No Dogs”…sigh…I waited with Earl and Bezial in the car while Steve knocked himself out taking photos 😉

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Another glorious shot of The Gorge

I love sharing the love. I consider myself to be a collector of life’s detritus and someone who was born to pass things on. Generosity comes naturally to me and I have a sneaking suspicion that is solely because we didn’t have a lot of money when I was a child and so living comfortably without it is where I feel most secure. Would you like a book? Take one from the bookshelf, I probably haven’t read it for ages…how about something from the garden? Let’s get the secateurs and go hunt. I have so many potted plants out there I could probably populate your front garden and we STILL wouldn’t notice the plants I gave you missing. I am not the only one who realised the value of sharing the love. On Thursday, Steve and I headed down the driveway (who am I kidding…Steve skidded down behind an overexcited Earl and Bezial ran circles around them delighting in his free state and I trundled down picking Easter lily seeds and tossing them into areas of the garden where I want Easter lilies in the future…) for our daily walk with the dogs. Nothing unusual there but Steve checked the mail box on a whim. I don’t know what he is waiting for…HE doesn’t know what he is waiting for but he always has to check the mailbox whenever we go past it 😉

DSCF1759Incidentally, this isn’t a small casserole…it’s a large quiche made with eggs that our hens have now remembered how to lay after a 5 month hiatus…funny how a few weeks out foraging in the garden can jog your egg laying parts isn’t it girls? 😉

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The suspense is palpable…

Today his checking was rewarded. A small and most discrete parcel rested on the rusty bottom of our mailbox. An address in the U.K. showed that it came from my blog pal Thinking Cowgirl and after we got back from our walk (drag) I tucked the parcel under my jacket (it was raining) and wondered at what she had sent to me. The weather has turned decidedly feral here in Tassie. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! It’s cold and we had 3 solid days rain this week which made my soul smile. Forget superficial rain love, this runs deep and primal and ancient inside me and echoes the dusty sighs of those trees outside that were clinging tenaciously to the tiny bit of moisture that they could suck from deep down in the soil. Dry was an understatement for the horrific season we just had. “Arid” is a more appropriate word. I knew that we would get a very tough winter after that summer. It seemed somewhat inevitable and as we head into the last month of autumn we are getting temperatures less than 10C. Only last month we were hitting 28C. It’s a bit of a culture shock and I have the chilblains to prove it!

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Hens in their “Happy Place”…invading the garden en masse

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My kind of card 🙂

What was in my parcel you (nosy buggers) say? I got inside and lay the parcel down on the kitchen table with reverence. I headed off to let out the chooks (hell hath no fury (or lack of eggs) like 8 furious chooks that have to wait inside their pen to be let out!) and sweep the mats (something I have to do on a regular basis or they end up hairier than Earl…) and put the kettle onto Brunhilda after feeding her up with her woody rations and then I sat down to ponder the parcel. It was very light and came in a wonderful recycled paper bag. I carefully opened it to find a card and beautifully wrapped tissue paper gift inside…I opened my card first and instantly fell in love with the message. “The Biscuit of Loveliness” Underneath, a hand drawn illustration of said biscuit in all of its comeliness radiating out its gorgeousness and a simple prayer underneath…

A Prayer

Shine down upon us with your

Golden RADIANCE.

Make us glow and sparkle

Like HAPPY children in the

Glorious dance of LIFE

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The Gorge is beautiful at this time of year…you might almost think that we were in Canada

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Lovely moss covered rocks.

Amen sister! You nailed it Sarah :o). There is NOTHING more satisfying than a simple well-cooked crunchy homemade biscuit of loveliness to accompany your beverage of choice (I no longer have a choice, if I don’t drink tea I cease to exist…) and the simple ritual of imbibing that biscuit is the secret to happiness…it’s all in the small stuff folks! That’s where happiness lives…it resides in those humble oat biscuits that your mum made you and sent you as rations because otherwise she just KNOWS you are going to starve…that cup of tea that you knock together when you have just come in out of the cold that tastes like the pure distilled elixir of heaven and that manages to warm body, soul and spirit all in one…those simple little moments of gold that we are being taught to ignore for the sake of someone else’s profit margin and new Mercedes are the real reason that we are here. That biscuit of loveliness might just save someone’s life, might just be the reason that someone gives it another day here on this glorious battered planet revolving around the sun.

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The steps leading up to the car park at The Gorge

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Some of these shots are going to make it into Steve’s final assessment

So what did Sarah send me? Aside from some seriously gorgeous tissue paper that I most carefully folded and saved for “later”, she sent me a horticulturalists winter happiness folks! Sarah is a fellow horticulturalist. In fact, if we are being honest here, Sarah is a REAL horticulturalist. Steve and I might have thrown ourselves in at the deep end and might have collected more seed and grown more seedlings than a small African nation since we started studying horticulture but Sarah has worked in the industry. Sarah speaks from years of experience and Sarah knows what a horticulturalist needs in life. Copious quantities of beverage of your choice. Great bickies to carry you through your day. Throw bags and bags of them into the car all you aspiring horticulturalists because when you are out there bums up in someone else’s garden, in the wilderness 100km away from the nearest shops, that thermos and a bag of out of code biscuits that you find under the seat are going to be all the food that you get out here! Forget sandwiches and picnics on the lawn, that’s for people without horse manure under their nails…a biscuit is calorie dense, satisfying, quick to eat and you can throw half of it back into the bag and leave it for another year and it will STILL be good! Perfect food for an horticulturalist…

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You can’t have enough shots of that beautiful staircase…(well maybe you can but Steve took them for you all so you can just sit back and enjoy them 😉 )

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Isn’t this little old rotunda pretty? It’s about 150 years old and still looks beautiful today.

Sarah has been bums up creating someone else’s dream more times than she might care to remember. When you are at the coal face of creativity where it meets active participation and fundamental action you learn quick smart what really matters in horticulture. You don’t need all of the whizz bang “stuff” that they try to sell you when you start. Bypass all of that expensive bampf and do yourself a favour. Spend up big on the best pair of secateurs you can find. Get some decent steel cap boots that you can wear comfortably and after wearing them in, you can’t feel them anymore…extensions of your feet is what you need folks with the added benefit of saving your toes when you are exhausted after 9 hours digging trenches and forget that your foot isn’t part of the ground… some sturdy clothes that are going to take the punishment you are about to inflict on them. Forget those gorgeous Laura Ashley printed “frocks” that you see in gardening magazines, head down to your nearest workman’s store and pick up whatever you like from the colour range, blue or khaki…them’s your choices folks!

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I couldn’t resist sharing this little family of common house sparrows with you. I hadn’t ever seen a sparrow living in Western Australia because they are actively destroyed should any of them be discovered anywhere near the border. We also didn’t have starlings or blackbirds or bumble bees but here in Tassie we have all of them. These little guys seem to think that no-one can see them and perhaps no-one can…maybe it takes someone who delights in them to be able to take the time out of their busy day to enjoy them enough to see them 🙂

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Inner city Launceston…a very pretty city indeed and this sort of view goes a long way towards making me less homesick for Western Australia 🙂

After that you can throw in a few gardening tools but don’t go fancy, you just need something to reliably dig, something smaller to weed and if you are feeling particularly adventurous, something to hoe with. The K.I.S.S. principle is most important here because horticulturalists are like Gypsies, they are transient folk. Mohammad has to move with the mountain on a constant journey from place to place, garden to garden, compost heap to green waste site at the local council (although clever horticulturalists make use of other people’s green waste to their own profit 😉 ) a constant cycle of moving back and forth that starts with dragging your tired derrière out of bed and ends with dropping it right back into bed to sleep the sleep of the dead and awake again to another round. Horticulture isn’t an easy career choice folks but it is rewarding.

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“BEHOLD the mitts of eternal happiness!” 🙂

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Gloves that are shamelessly never taken off pointing at the biscuit of loveliness now ensconced over my monitor so that I can remind myself to glow and sparkle on a regular basis 🙂

Back to that parcel you say? I had to fill you in on the reality of horticulture before the precious nature of what Sarah had sent to me, a gift from someone who recognised my passion from her own echoed passion deep within her. Once plants get hold of you they don’t let go. You can take an hiatus from them…they will allow you that, but like fungus, their underground network has infested you, you belong to THEM now and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You signed an ancient primal waver when you started to dig the soil and you planted that first plant. They count you as ally and you count them as master. Sarah has been “on hold” of late…dabbling…but reading between the lines the fungus is restless…it has been tweaking at her peripherals and Sarah has been gardening again folks…for other people. Sarah knows what horticulturalists really need. She “knows”. Sarah sent me a pair of hand knitted fingerless, but more importantly “thumbless” gloves. I put them on instantly and knew that I wouldn’t be taking them off much for the rest of our cold season. From one horticulturalist to another…our fundamental slavetude unites us…the plants might call us but we are still able to communicate with the outside world (for now) and my gratitude is deeper than those plant roots :o).

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Frozen hands holding a mug (bucket) of tea immediately after returning from a sub zero dog walk and finding these most welcome fingerless mitts in the mail 🙂

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Chickens thinking about invading the vegetable garden while I am watching them but biding their time till I am out of sight…

Sarah, you are a true friend :o) I will wear these amazing gloves until they fall apart. I have plans to knit more. I suck at knitting but these gloves are so amazing I can’t be without them in our cold season for the rest of my life. I will perfect my ribbing simply so that my newfound best wrist friends will always be close at hand like those biscuits in the car…several rolled up pairs will be stashed in the glove box, the boot, in various voluminous winter coat pockets and in Steve’s tool kit to be found out in the forest when I realise that it is -5C and I forgot to bring a pair. I will knit Steve pairs of them…My knitting will improve exponentially simply because I can’t be without these mitts EVER. I will probably learn to cable now. I will learn how to weave ends in because I am going to NEED to do these babies in rainbow colours. It all started from one horticulturalist to another who recognised on some fundamental level that a need had to be met…the plants whispered it to Sarah…Sarah listened…the plants have spoken. And I have a gorgeous pair of mitts that I adore with a passion that is at once both enormous and pathetic in its glory…I am in love and that’s all that I need to say apart from “Thankyou Sarah from the bottom of my heart…for my biscuit that now lives over my P.C. monitor and for my long suffering wrists that now reside in ambient comfort…you are a true friend and you have my eternal horticultural gratitude :o)”

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This Cordyline australis makes this sunset on Serendipity Farm look somewhat tropical. One might even be forgiven for thinking we were someplace warm…can you see where the possums have been scratching away at the bark on this poor specimen?

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And a final shot of sunset on Serendipity…a lovely cold evening with the promise of many more to come…just how narf7 loves it! 😉

Steve and I have been studying for a week. We have been honing our Photoshop skills to satisfy said studies and are really learning about how to manipulate images. I never thought I would enjoy this course anywhere near as much as I am but it is certainly taking a lot of our time. Today is the first day that it hasn’t rained and we have a weekend of sunshine…frigid sunshine to get stuck into digging our holes and concreting in our poles to get our new fully enclosed garden started. And thus it begins folks…like mice we scurry from studies to garden and back again…we were in Launceston for the entire day yesterday taking photos for our final Photoshop assessment. Our next adventure in our course is going to take us both into foreign territory involving parts of the Adobe CS6 suite that we have never heard of, let alone used. It’s going to be an interesting journey indeed! But for now we are busy beyond belief and so I am going to have to hug you and leave you all there folks. Have a fantastic week till we meet again for our L.A. meeting (Life Anonymous…) and confess our sins for another day :o) Don’t forget to take that plate of squidgy lumpy grey sushi by the way… you might not eat it today, but it might just be the seasoning that makes your life bearable tomorrow…

A Serendipitous Stromboli for The May 2013 Virtual Vegan Potluck

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I hope you enjoyed your flight over from Colorado in the U.S. where you just explored Reia’s wonderful culinary creation at The Cruelty Free Review to Sidmouth Tasmania. I guess you are all starting to know how Santa Claus feels on December 25th 😉

Welcome to Serendipity Farm for the May 2013 round of The Virtual Vegan Potluck. This is my very first time as a participant but I have avidly followed the previous 2 events and found a lot of amazing new vegan food blogs to tuck into my overstuffed RSS Feed Reader. If you want to check out a list of all of the participants in one fell swoop you can click here. Otherwise you can start off hungry and end up stuffed like Mr Creosote from the Monty Python movie “The Meaning of Life”. The trick is to eat slowly folks and not get overwhelmed or the fate of Mr Creosote might be inevitable with 169 fantabulous recipes for you to try. As this potluck is going to have you zipping from one side of the world to the other in a dizzying race to the finish line I figure we can all indulge freely…how many calories does it expend to race from one side of the earth to the other? Quite a few methinks and we are running this marathon all night folks!

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Here on Serendipity Farm we do things old school. Not because we shun the amazing plethora of vegan short-cuts that are available, but simply because as penniless student hippies living in Tasmania who are trying to live as sustainable a life as possible we choose to try to grow or make our own before we turn to the supermarket shelves. Secondly, most of the amazing vegan items that are simple shelf selections for the rest of the world just aren’t available here in Tasmania. I shop at our local Chinese, Korean and Indian stores to get my “interesting” ingredients and everything else we grow or we create ourselves from scratch.

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My recipe for the potluck is a conglomeration of several other recipes. Some I borrowed and adapted and some I invented. The mushrooms, tomatoes (Fresh, sun-dried and dried and powdered), jalapeno’s, spinach and walnuts used in this recipe were all grown on Serendipity Farm. I wanted to show you all that even if you can’t get vegan convenience food or takeaway where you live, you can make something just as satisfying and delicious with a bit of planning and thought. My Stromboli came about because Steve was watching “Man vs. Food” one night, that horrific show where one man attempts to eat his way through the American fascination with everything HUGE and comes out the other side with a t-shirt and a case of indigestion that would haunt him for a week. Neither of us had ever heard of a Stromboli but I am game when it comes to invention and invent I did! I hope you all enjoy the results. Steve did and as a picky Omni who doesn’t like kalamata olives at ALL he managed to polish off this entire enormous Stromboli in 2 settings. What better praise could a vegan want?

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Without further ado, here is the recipe…

Serendipity Farm Stromboli

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Stromboli dough ingredients: –

Adapted from http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/399/calzones with my own personal touch…

8g of instant dried yeast

1/2 tsp. ground Himalayan pink salt

1 tsp. caster sugar

3/4 cup warm water

2 cups plain (all purpose) flour

2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. Italian dried mixed herbs

1/2 cup of home dried tomatoes ground into a fine powder in a coffee grinder

1 tsp. dried chilli flakes or more to taste

Filling Ingredients: –

1 batch of tomato and walnut pesto (see recipe below)

½ batch of Vegan Colby Cheeze (see recipe below)

2 medium sized ripe tomatoes sliced

1 medium onion sliced very thinly

Approximately 250g (just on 9oz) of button or field mushrooms thinly sliced

1 bunch of fresh spinach shredded

½ cup Kalamata olives, seeded and cut in halves or sliced

A little olive oil for frying the mushrooms and sautéing the spinach

Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Method:-

1. Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a jug and stir with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place for about 5 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface.

2. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the dried tomato powder, the mixed herbs and the chilli flakes evenly.

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3. Add the yeast mix and 2 tbsp. of oil. Mix to form a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place for 15 – 20 mins or until doubled in size.

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4. Preheat the oven to 220C (428F). Line a flat biscuit (cookie) tray with baking paper. Aside from preventing the Stromboli from sticking to the tray you can use it to guide you when you are forming the Stromboli.

5. While the dough is rising prepare the filling ingredients

6. Finely shred the spinach, slice the mushrooms, tomatoes and Kalamata olives and very thinly slice the onions.

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7. Gently fry the mushrooms in a little oil to remove some of the moisture to ensure they don’t make the Stromboli dough wet.

8. Flash fry the spinach in a little oil till just wilted

9. Shred the vegan Colby cheeze

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10. Assemble all of your filling ingredients together on a plate, not forgetting the pesto, ready to layer on the dough when it is ready

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11. Once the dough has risen, punch it with your fist. Knead it gently on a lightly floured surface. The dough should be quite soft and easy to work. Press the dough out to a 30cm x 35cm (11 x 14 inches) rectangle and try to ensure that the sides of the rectangle are reasonably straight. This will make it easier to roll the dough around the filling.

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12.  Spread the pesto over the rectangle leaving a 5cm (2 inch) border all around the outside of the rectangle. Top with the spinach, tomato slices, onion slices, fried mushrooms, olives and lastly the vegan Colby cheeze shreds.

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13. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper

14. Starting with one of the longer (35cm/14 inch) sides of the rectangle and using the baking paper as a guide, roll the Stromboli up like a sushi roll. The dough will probably stick a bit to the baking paper so do this slowly and tease the dough from the paper as you go. When you get to the end of the roll, press the sides and ends of the dough together. The dough should be soft enough to meld together. Once you have pinched the dough shut and using the baking paper as a guide roll the Stromboli back onto the sealed edge.

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15. Using a bread knife or other serrated knife, make slices 2 ½cm (1 inch) apart along the length of the Stromboli, ensuring that you only cut down halfway through the roll.

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16. When you reach the end of the roll put it into the preheated oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown

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17. Remove from the oven when done and allow the Stromboli to cool for about 5 minutes and then slice into pieces and serve with salad or on its own.

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18. ENJOY! 🙂

Sundried tomato and walnut pesto

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Note: – you will need a full batch of pesto for the Stromboli

Ingredients: –

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1 cup of walnuts

1 cup of Sundried tomatoes preserved in oil patted dry on paper towel

1 tsp. dried Italian mixed herbs

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. chilli flakes finely ground

1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

2 tbsp. Chili Bamboo Shoots a wonderful Chinese product that adds a lovely cheesy taste to this pesto

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Method: –

Put everything into a food processor and whizz until the pesto reaches a consistency that you like. It’s nice smooth or chunky. For this recipe I used it chunky to give added texture to the Stromboli. Note: – if you can’t find the chili bamboo shoots just omit them. They add flavour but the cheezy flavour can be somewhat replicated by using 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes (nooch). If you like your pesto a little looser you can add a little olive oil to the mix.

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The only vegan “cheeze” available in our local Tasmanian supermarkets is plain nasty. Its soy cheeze and looks like soap. It kind of tastes like soap as well…I only ever tried it once before wondering at the desperation of the masses purchasing this more than once and keeping it on the shelves. We might be penniless student hippies but we never compromise on taste. If we can’t buy it better, we make it better! I turned to my trusty old agar stained copy of “The Uncheese Cookbook”. I imported this book from the U.S. and after making most of the uncheeses contained within its hallowed pages, Steve and I ended up loving this version of Colby Cheeze.  The only additions that I make is to add 2 tsp. of miso and swap the mustard powder out and add yellow American style mustard to add colour and just the right flavour.

Colby Cheeze

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Adapted from “The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook” by Joanne Stepaniak

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Ingredients: –

1-1/2 cups water

5 tbsp. agar flakes, or 1-1/2 tbsp. agar powder (I used powder)

1/2 cup roasted red capsicum (peppers) skin and seeds removed, or pimento pieces

1/2 cup raw cashews or skinless Brazil nuts (I used cashew pieces)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I used bottled as we didn’t have any lemons)

2 tbsp. tahini (I made my own using this recipe http://vedgedout.com/2013/01/02/toasted-sesame-tahini-pictorial/ )

2 tsp. onion powder (I made this using dehydrated onion flakes in my repurposed electric coffee grinder)

1/4 tsp. garlic powder (again, made from garlic granules in my repurposed electric coffee grinder)

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1 tsp. salt (I use ground pink Himalayan salt)

1/4 tsp. mustard powder (I subbed 2 tbsp. of prepared yellow American style mustard for flavour and colour)

I add in 2 tsp. of Hikari white miso paste to add an umami cheesy flavour to my uncheeze but feel free to skip this ingredient if you don’t have it, it isn’t in the original recipe.

Method: –

  1. Lightly oil a 3-cup plastic storage container and set aside. I used a small metal rectangular muffin pan and a small round ceramic bowl.
  2.  Combine the water and agar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, until dissolved, about 5 to 10 minutes.

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  1. Transfer to a blender and add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Process several minutes until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender jar as necessary. I use a Vitamix to do this to ensure my mix is completely smooth
  3. Pour into the prepared container and cool uncovered in the refrigerator. NOTE: – I find that this cheeze sets almost as soon as it is made so make sure that you pour it out of your mixer into your moulds as soon as the mix becomes smooth
  4. When completely cool, cover and chill several hours or overnight. As I mentioned above, don’t hang around once your mix becomes smooth in your blender or your uncheeze may set in the container. This has happened to me on more than once occasion so take note!

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  1. To serve, turn out of the container and slice. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Will keep 5 to 7 days.
  2. This cheeze can be grated easily and will soften nicely when used in hot dishes

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Variations: – In place of the red peppers, use 1/2 cup cooked chopped carrots, 2 to 3 teaspoons paprika, or 2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste. For Chedda Cheeze add 2 tablespoons light or chickpea miso prior to blending. For Olive Cheeze replace dry mustard with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. After blending, stir in 3/4 cup chopped black olives or sliced pimento-stuffed green olives.

I managed to find a YouTube video of how to make this cheeze and it looks like Jack Black beat me to it! 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3FYduSF-dw

So there you have it folks. Hopefully you will enjoy our Stromboli creation and will be fortified enough for the long haul flight over to the next blog in Canada, the amazingly delectable Mermaid Café where your chef for tonight will be the lovely Mira. “Please ensure that your carry-on baggage is stowed safely in the luggage compartments above your head and enjoy your flight…”

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Zone 1 all wrapped up in plarn

Hi All,

Can anyone out there please explain to me how ANYONE has time to be bored these days? I read about bored unemployed people…I am (for the want of a job) “unemployed” but I would really appreciate it if these people could loan me a bit of their spare time that they can’t seem to fill up because my time is bursting its seams! Whenever I get spare time I have all sorts of things festering on the back burners. If I am really free of pressing things to do I can jump online and head off into the ether to read my backlog (at least 500 of them…) of backed up blogs that I absolutely POSITIVELY must keep in my rss feed reader. I add at least 10 new blogs to them every day and am showing no signs of slowing down. My poor reader is starting to strain a bit when I open it at 5am (it would seem that I am not the only one who isn’t fine-tuned for mornings ;)) and I spend some delicious time syphoning magpied recipes, sippets of precious gardening information and all things sustainable and therefore incredibly precious to this little black duck who chooses to simplify her life. I seem to end up heading up all sorts of alternate pathways as I reply to particularly good posts, click on links and wander off searching the globe for solutions for our tiny corner of the globe in the wider blogging and online community. I just spent an hour wading through raw food blogs to sift out some amazing raw dehydrator bread and wrap recipes that I am going to have a go at making soon. I have a huge 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator that I bought years ago when I lived in a hotter clime. I use it mainly to dehydrate the dogs thin beef strips to keep them doing what we want on long walks and to dehydrate any surpluses that we get (like our recent mushroom glut) for the future. I also found out that raw foodists seem to love sweet things more than savoury. I am the opposite and love savoury things with a passion. Give me a cheesy sour cream flavour over chocolate ANY day. Again Steve and I are complete opposites there. He loves sweet…I love savoury…he is measured with his food and I am an abject glutton (much like heifer is a “glutton” in Rocko’s modern life)

This is a prospective Larix decidua grove of tiny trees

A sea of forget-me-nots not being forgotten

If I get bored of surfing for information and I do at times…I always have a large stack of delicious library books (with more backing up on hold to pick up today) that are just waiting for me to curl up on Bezials sofa next to Brunhilda and slowly fall asleep to. Nothing like a book reading nap to remind you that you are no longer 20! Talking about Brunhilda…I got up today and realised that it was October 1st. “A pinch and a punch for the first of the month and NO RETURNS”…childish aren’t I? Last night I decided to end my long running battle with enormous food portions. I have always eaten “well” and when I changed my long standing bad habits earlier in the year and lost weight I hung on tenaciously to the size of my portions. I know that I should eat less, I just don’t want to! Now is the perfect time to cut a sliver off my portion sizes and lighten the night time load. I invented an Asian style soup last night with wakame, shaved orange and purple carrots, my heavenly Korean green miso and veggie paste, some Korean chilli paste (that I am almost out of so I get to go to the Asian food shop in the near future again…YAY!), Massell stock powder (all natural and the best thing that we Aussies came up with since free speech), fresh sliced thick mushrooms, minced fresh garlic and ginger and probably some more things that I have forgotten but it was delicious and it was light and I enjoyed it immensely. The best part about it was that because it was light soup, I couldn’t overindulge. I also woke up ready for my breakfast rather than still full after an oversized meal. Bad habits are hard to change but I figure that changing one of them at a time is good enough for me and this one is a lifelong habit…one of the doozies…so I am not going to hamper myself by trying to tackle anything else while I nail the coffin lid onto my overeating habits. Wish me luck…I am going to need it!

I thought you might like a game of “spot the chives”

Two elephant garlic plants that for some reason, the allium loving possums and wallabies have decided to spare

So I have my library books and my online information highway…I also have the supermarket bag full of plastic bags. I am not saving my bags to use for rubbish because I have ANOTHER bag of supermarket bags for that. This special bag contains all of the supermarket bags that have holes in the bottom…my empty oat packets, date packets. Frozen vegetable packets etc. All of the bread wrappers (again, I have a separate stash that I use for collecting the dogs deposits around the yard…) and in the near future I am going to reduce them all into plarn. Plarn is my new friend. I am going to use my crocheting skills (such as they are) to render said plarn into useful stuff like tote bags for our shopping (I find is somewhat ironic that I am crocheting cut up shopping bags to make a bag for my shopping ;)), scuffy shoey things that look like sandals, hats, dishcloths etc. Check “Plarn” out here to see what I am talking about…

This first blog has how to make plarn and some good projects for using it…

http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2011/03/06/newspaper-bags-recycled-into-plarn/

This is a fantastic blog of crocheted guinea pigs…I kid you not! Someone made plarn AND crocheted guinea pigs…guess who just found something else to add to their rss feed reader 😉

http://planetmfiles.com/2008/09/06/how-to-make-plarn/

And this is for you lazy sacks who don’t like to read (don’t say that I don’t cater for the masses!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdTm2V4ssvY

You should now have a very good idea what plarn is, and how to use it in your day to day life. Plarn takes all of those pesky plastic bags that haunt me in that bit of time that it takes me at night (probably 7.3 seconds these days…) to fall into a deep sleep. I feel so guilty throwing my plastic bags into the bin. I even keep my bread ties! What was I going to do with them all to salve my sore sustainability bone and return my “smug-o-meter” to full? Make plarn that’s what! Good luck eating the plarn by the way Earl. I know you love to eat stuff but plarn isn’t going to give you the rush that scarfing my precious paid for wool is going to do because I will see you frolicking in my crochet bag and will raise my shoulders and say “meh!” You LOSE your ability to make me do that funny windmill thing with my arms whilst advancing on you with rickety speed and mouthing loud stupid humanities at you that constitutes “GAME ON” in your small doggy brain.

Evidence of “possum activity” on this poor long suffering mandarin tree. There is another mandarin tree just across from this one that never gets touched. It just goes to show that you can’t second guess a possums actions

The first of our feral asparagus spears of the year. We have spotted spears shooting up all over the garden delivered to their hidden spots by birds eating forgotten asparagus berries.

Let’s recant what we have so far…So we have the online information highway…the chock full of happiness library books and the plarn…but wait…there’s more! I have a cupboard full of weird stuff that I occasionally like to open and gloat at. I collect weird ingredients. I have things in packets that I have NO idea how to use but I knew when I saw their strange hieroglyphic foreign script with nothing listed in English that I absolutely positively HAD to have them (I like a challenge ;)). I have been delving into my weird stuff lately. I actually used an entire packet of cloud ear fungus and I loved it! I opened up large plastic containers that got shipped here from Western Australia on a container ship last night to see if I had any weird noodles left. I ate the sweet potato noodles (yummy) and the starch noodles and some other noodles that refused to get tender no matter what and saw something noodle like but was deflated when I realised that it was agar-agar flakes (not so good cooked up as noodles…). I noted several weird types of seaweed in the boxes, some unlabelled floury things (no fun if you actually know what they are…) and some bags of gluten flour from previous attempts to make seitan (wheat meat for vegans). I have rice syrup, I have dehydrated wood ear fungus (hey if cloud ear is yummy, I am going to give wood ear a go!) and every weird and wonderful non-English ingredient that comes into my peripheral vision is likely to be added to my collection. I have plans to feed Steve some very interesting creations over the summer months. He is wary of my weird stuff but if he can’t see what I am using to cook with and the end result tastes alright he is fine with it. I plan on making lots of wraps and tortillas this summer using home-made flatbreads and home grown greens, tomatoes and lots of pesto’s, hummus’s and all sorts of wonderful aioli’s and mayo’s. When we first arrived in Tasmania is was a long hot summer and we spent our evenings creating delicious wraps using lots of veggies, sliced meats (Steve and the girls) and condiments. That is how we want to eat this summer so I have practicing to do in my weird foods cupboard. Tapioca flour…potato starch…dehydrated veggie powders, veggie purees, nettle gnocchi you will soon be my bitches and Steve’s bitches indirectly…

More forgotten garlic underneath a small mulberry tree

A stand of white iris that appear to be harbouring the enemy!

I have been planting interesting little pots of things underneath the stairs up to the deck

Because we are starting to develop a dwindling firewood stack in the wood shed (it is looking positively pathetic to be honest) we are going to stop firing Brunhilda up in the mornings. The weather is getting warmer and we aren’t going to need her but my morning routine of happiness encompasses the ignition of Brunhilda and the centring of my qi over that first communal cup of precious elixir tea that we produce together. I didn’t fire Brunhilda up this morning. I let her sit fallow and cold and as I started reading my rss feed reader I heard Brunhilda’s equivalent of a throat clearing “excuse me…haven’t you forgotten our daily meeting?” as wood settled in the wood box. I felt guilty! After Steve headed off to do the shopping and the boys settled into sulk mode I decided to get Brunhilda fired up because it was cold. It was cold and I felt guilty…Bezial had slunk off to lie on our bed so I used that as an excuse to fire Brunhilda up. I think I am addicted to my relationship with you Brunhilda and like all good co-dependent relationships we are going to have to cool it for a bit. I don’t really know how I am going to live without you over the summer. I feel a spirit of camaraderie with you as I turn on the hot tap for that scalding hot water, shove my almond mush left over from making my regular almond milk for my tea, insert the boys frozen meat from the freezer into your coolest oven, rest my cuppa on your closed lid and draw a degree of comfort from the feeling that everything will be alright because we have Brunhilda constantly simmering something or other. Our story has been a love story and ever the romantic, I am loath to lose those first flushes of passion and allow our relationship to slowly ebb to an everyday simmer but slow it must because 35C + Brunhilda = heat stroke. Sorry Brunhilda BUT I promise to totally clean you out. To remove all of the ashes and coals and to give you a good scrub with the brush that came with you and you will have a delicious new coat of black wood fire paint to ready you for the very first sign that autumn is starting to turn into winter next year. I love you Brunhilda…adieu for now.

2 Podophyllum peltatum that are very happy to be out of their pots and in the ground underneath a large Japanese Maple

Helleborus foetidus or the delightful common name “Stinking Hellebore” is one of the most hardy flowering perennials that we have on Serendipity Farm. It grows everywhere, it flowers constantly and it doesn’t stink! Whats not to like about this wonderful plant

When you think of spring you think of little frolicking lambs, those first daffodils of the season, everything budding up and the sun coming out and everything green, coloured and joyful. For some reason Serendipity Farm has heralded spring with angst. Everything is fighting! The birds are all aerial bombing each other into submission and despite our recent rooster culling event, the chooks are all antsy and twitchy thanks to our resident population of gritzy cluckies who set everyone’s teeth on edge and who are permanently nesting and crazy. The soil is sulking because of its recent soaking rains that have plumped up the clay and made it as recalcitrant as a teenager in full Emo angst. The plants are confused and reactive as the possums emerge triumphant at night to render any new tender growth nibbled and scarfed depending on their sugar content. The feral cats are all fighting and we are going to have to deal with the 2 females in the population because soon 8 feral cats will become an explosion of cats. I cling tenaciously to the spring idyll and will be putting my hands over my ears whenever I hear Big Yin erupting under the deck at one or other of his charges recalcitrant ways. My spring mantra is “Forgedaboudit!” spoken loudly (over the top of whatever is trying to ruin my inner peace and joy) and with windmill arm actions that are designed to remove anything from Zone 1 around my immediate person.

I love Freesias for their tenacity, their hardiness, their incredible scent and their colour

At ground zero of our recent mangling of the side garden we have planted out a Gingko biloba tree.

I have been dabbling in my own personal version of permaculture. I love permaculture…it is my creed…my ethos (are those 2 things one and the same? I am too lazy to check) and my new way of life. I am one of those people who hurl themselves into something and instantly start personalising it and customising it so that soon it’s pretty much unrecognisable from its original shape and size. Permaculture is no different to any of my passions and I have decided to renegotiate the principal of “Zone 1”. It’s supposed to be the first zone outside of your home where you regularly walk. I think that is too open to interpretation for me. I like things nailed down and staked (just like I like my vampires…) and so this vague core principal needed a bit of a pragmatic makeover as far as I was concerned. I trimmed it…I shaped it and I showed it the haircut in the mirror and it didn’t faint so here is MY new Zone 1 premise…

“If it’s within 1 metre of my hands at any given time its zone 1”

How’s that? I can be wandering around the house…zone 1…I can be up in the back paddock pulling up weeds…zone 1…I can be in town sitting on a flower bed outside the toilets waiting for Steve to come out and pulling out stray sow thistles…zone 1. My “Zone 1” is more personal and real than permacultures generic zone 1 because it makes me deal with everything that is within my reach. I can’t say “zone 1 = the wood shed” allowing me to only deal with it when I feel like heading up to the wood shed…my zone 1 principal has me pulling weeds rather than including them in my mental data base to deal with in my zone 1 plan later on…I have taken zone 1 from a picture in my head into my own personal reality and there is shall stay as my new way of ensuring that I actually deal with the space immediately outside my own personal space. Bring it on weeds! I am now forced to deal with you as I wander around Serendipity Farm!

Not being an officianado of lilies I couldn’t tell you what kind this is, only that it “is” a lily 🙂 there are all sorts of interesting things starting to come up in the newly cleared out ground and everything is growing incredibly quickly

We planted this Hydrangea anomala petiolaris (Climbing hydrangea) next to a Cordyline australis so that it has something to climb

Steve is tormented by doing the shopping but loath to give up the experience because he knows that I would take all day (he is back by lunch time) AND I would likely buy more weird stuff than normal happy Steve stuff. He has phoned me up 6 times today to ask me about something or other on the list. His way of shopping would drive me nuts! I am very methodical and would ensure that I took the least amount of time by sorting my list into areas where I would have to go to purchase these items and would go about my expedition that way. Steve zips about all over the place. He has a sort of logic behind his path but often forgets something, can’t find something (going too fast to have a proper look) or gets the shits because some supermarket hasn’t got something on his list and has to drive back to one of his past shops to get said item. Steve doesn’t think a lot. He acts. I am the thinker, and without me there he tends to act his brains out! He comes home frazzled and frantic and overstimulated. I told him that I am going to do the shopping next fortnight to give him a rest but I bet he finds some excuse to do it. He is loath to give up his control over the spending process. I have no problems with him shopping because it’s a lovely quiet morning spent surfing the net and doing a few household chores but I know that I wouldn’t be quite so frazzled as Steve by a day in the city. I think he is scared of me going there alone and coming back armed to the back teeth with only vegan sweet potato noodles and no cheese and onion crisps 😉

A very happy newly planted out Magnolia stellata

Not sure what this is…all I know is that it is the possum equivalent of catnip to cats and makes them go crazy in their efforts to scoff it all. I am very surprised that its leaves got this far without being totally annihilated by guzzling freeloaders but they are currently trying to completely defoliate Steve’s lovely weeping maples so I guess it is going to have to wait it’s turn. If anyone knows what this is please let me know

Wait a minute! How did you get here? My arch nemisis…the dreaded forget-me-not! Your days are numbered on Serendipity Farm sunshine! Stop trying to con everyone with that cute exterior…you are pure sticky seeded torment to me…forget-me-nots…BEGONE!

Oh bollocks! I just overran my regular blog post word count! See?! I make my posts smaller and my brain (who is as anal as I am and who has been keeping tally of the word count) has decided to make up the words that I missed out in my smaller posts. I guess I can blame spring excitement as my word count spills over 3000. Anyone want a thesis written? Any assignments, reports, blog posts that you need overrepresented by a poor tormented blogger stuffed full of words? I think I might have a career waiting for me in the wings as a ghost writer! For now, that’s all folks! See you on Saturday when the sun is supposed to be out and we should be full of happiness and joy after at least laying out our first poly tunnel on Serendipity Farm :o)

The colours of Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

I was going to be very clever and give you a bit of a different style of post today. I have a delightful constant reader called Katie who has an amazing blog. She does everything that I admire! She takes awesome photos, she has the most scrumptious artistic ability to match colour and texture and flavour all together with good humour AND the girl can garden, make her own cosmetics and can keep her posts concise and beautiful! Head on over to check Katie out and marvel at her icecream palettes and her glorious ability to make me want to eat her photographs.

http://katienormalgirl.com/

I thought that I might give you all a palette for spring on Serendipity Farm. I headed out with my trusty camera and the will to succeed. “If Katie can do it…I can do it!”…I came back a broken woman. It turns out the colours of Serendipity Farm in the spring run to chook poo green, mud brown and angst ridden overwhelmed dull red. The kind of red that is muted at the moment but that might just flare up into full blown pillar box waving a rag at a bull red in a moment! I decided to forget colours and head over to textures…they turned out to be equally as “delightful” with the texture of oozing wet mud predominate with hints of the aforementioned chook poo dotted about and plenty of unhindered slug and snail trails assisting in the overall look. Never one to give up easily I headed for the last bastion of the photographer and went hunting for flavour…I gave up as I dejectedly did a panorama of Serendipity Farm drenched in torrential rain, bathed in fog and flattened by saturated new growth and a herd of rampaging chickens hell bent on destruction. Serendipity Farm in the spring is not to be held in artistic esteem folks…it is to be regarded with terror! That’s why Steve and I are bums up, heads down effecting change as fast as we can and it’s why I have a new respect for people like Katie who can take what nature throws us and make it look delightful, wholesome and downright tasty! You get massive kudos from this amateur photographer whose muses only run to words and can’t comprehend the reason for me wanting to share our vision for Serendipity Farm. If you are a “Normal Girl” Katie, goodness only knows what I am! 😉

See these nice healthy azalea bushes that are just about to flower? Last year, when we cleared out this garden under the deck, we hacked the living daylights out of the old gnarled up overgrown half dead azaleas and were so tired at the end of our efforts in the hot sun that we had no energy left to remove the stumps. We left them there and promptly forgot about them. Nature didn’t forget about them!

And they are all growing back! 😉

This is an unusual grevillea. I haven’t seen this before, it has greeny/blue flowers and very large leaves. If anyone knows what this grevillea is please let me know!

I am on a mission. I have been researching water wise, self-seeding perpetual plants that will take to living in Serendipity Farms less than stellar soil right here, right now. I am not going to be stupid and pretend that the soil is going to suddenly become AMAZING overnight. It is going to be a hard fought battle but we WILL win! It’s just that we will win slowly and I want ground cover now! I discovered, from personal observation that salvias seem to have a wonderful range of xeriscape plants that tolerate a myriad of terrifying conditions. Overall, we are lucky on Serendipity Farm. We get a long dry summer but it isn’t usually that hot, and despite it being pretty cold in winter, we rarely get a frost in the morning and even then it’s minor. Salvias offer us a solution to quite a few of our problems. Most of them are adventitious growers with fast growth rates and most of them are perennial and like to hang about for a bit and grow back year after year. I know that they will do well here because there were some clinging tenaciously to life sans care and attention for the last 20 years so bring on the salvias!

This poor old Philodendron had languished in a pot that was dissolving around it on the deck for 20 years with very sporadic watering. It had send out enormous feeder roots in search of water and we decided to liberate it into the soil of Serendipity Farm. It’s already looking happier 🙂

There might not be much of this azalea but what there IS is very pretty

Another pretty azalea in the side garden

Nat, of Polytechnic fame and if I have my way, garden design fame, has a love of salvias that spread to me when we were attending Polytechnic in our earlier years. Nat is a natural garden designer. What she isn’t naturally happy with AutoCAD. That makes you a normal human being by the way Nat. NO-ONE who understands and is comfortable with using AutoCAD is normal! I couldn’t have completed my Diploma of Horticulture without Steve coaching me constantly and soothing my desire to throw the entire desktop computer, monitor AND desk over the deck on a regular basis. I made it, but just…I am NOT a natural garden designer. This doesn’t come easy to me and I have to ponder over books, think about it fiercely and give it my utmost attention and when you know me, you know that I am easily distracted, especially when something bores me. If you interest me, I will give you my all…I will research you into the night and I will peer myopically at the computer screen in oblivious rapture for days…for weeks…for as long as it takes to gather all of the information that I need to get going with the project. But if you can’t interest me I am a petulant child. I am borderline with garden design. Nat has a magnificent garden. The kind of garden that makes me drool. I wander about in her small but perfectly proportionate garden and want to hug her shrubs that all look so vibrant and healthy that she must have Peter Cundall AND Costa living under them ready to offer advice whenever she sets foot out into the garden. Stop blushing Nat, you KNOW I am telling it like it is, you are just one of life’s modest people. I am not. Your garden is gorgeous, sensual AND I envy it. There…I said it! Our friend in the witness protection (a long-time friend of Nat) AND I envy it! (Misery loves company ;)). We have an image of Nat’s gorgeous garden in our minds and it would seem that nothing we do gets us any closer to that beautiful vista. In our defence, the native wildlife seems hell bent on removing more vegetation than we can plant and our soil is ancient and old and twice as wrinkly and denuded as Nat’s fertile plot. Nat has a lot less area to work with and more drive than I could harness to a truck. Nat, I salute you! You are indeed one of those “natural gardeners” that I read about all of the time. Envy and kudos is enough for now…I am going to slither off and stand on my deck and look out to the river and imagine that one day someone might turn up and see more than devastated and mangled gardens that look like a re-enactment of the Vietnam War recently occurred here complete with Agent Orange.

Flowers aren’t all that is growing on Serendipity Farm. In the next few days Effel Dookark will be a mum again

A picture of Fatty doing his morning callisthenics

My road find, a silicone bowl scraper. No idea why one of these would be laying on the ground miles away from nowhere but its mine now! 🙂

Talking about our friend in the witness protection, she has now purchased a 1.2 metre tall pink flamingo to assist her with creating a reign of terror to marauding wildlife on her 50 acre bush property. I salute you my comrade in arms! She gave up any vestiges of instant garden gratification after the first few waves of “creatures” scarfed her carefully planted purchases and now battles with everything that comes within arm’s length including this flamingo that she bought from K-Mart (if any of you feel the need to race out and purchase a 1.2 metre tall pink flamingo, knock yourselves out!). You have to admire her tenacity and her spirit…she is a true Valkyrie gardening warrior! I can’t bring myself to decorate Serendipity Farm with hanging soft toys in various stages of decomposition. I live right next to the Auld Kirk Church graveyard and there is something seriously disturbing about someone dangling effigies of ex cuddly and fluffy toys adjacent to hallowed ground. I also have a natural aversion to anything garish in the garden. I hope that doesn’t make me a garden snob. I am not desperate enough to resort to fluffy toys. Should the possums ever get that bad I will purchase a 30 metre long thick piece of metal chain and will tether Earl to the grafted maple garden and teach those possums a lesson that they will NEVER forget! Steve is walking Earl today to give Bezial (a.k.a. fatty Lumpkin’s) a bit of a rest.  That means that Bezial and I can trundle at our leisure through the garden and I can get my pedal to the metal up to my armpits in flying forget-me-nots while Bezial wanders around the grounds with impunity threatening no-one and exploring to his heart’s content.

Still getting heaps of mushrooms from our free mushroom compost and more to come!

And here are is the days egg haul. Looks like Steve is having a delicious mushroom omelette for tea

Here’s our heavily fortified little self pollinating almond tree ready to do battle with the possum marauders. It has 15 tiny little baby almonds on it so far

Forget-me-nots begone! Well “lay low and forget about any virulent activity for the foreseeable future if you know what’s good for you!” Steve has whipper snipped the teatree garden area and rendered it forget-me-not flat. I pulled out forget-me-nots from around the stinky purple lilies, the enormous arums and the persistent agapanthus that I have come to hold a grudging like for now that reality gardening is on the cards permanently on Serendipity Farm. I planted out some of the smaller plants in the side garden. It still looks like Armageddon in the morning BUT it is Armageddon with possibilities (and the odd twig starting to branch up). I planted out all of my lavender’s, my pentstemons and a few other scruffy looking things that have survived against the odds and have thus qualified for rehousing out in the soil. I should put a sign up at the gate with something like “Serendipity Farm…a home for waifs and strays” because that’s what we have here and most of them have attitude and are slightly skewed much like the present owners. I found a really good sign on Facebook the other day that said “Ring the bell…if no-one answers pull some weeds”…that’s my kind of sign and I feel a wood burning event coming on in the near future! For now, I have to head back out into the garden with Steve to plant out some of his trees. Our new creed is “not in our lifetime” so good luck Stewart and Kelsey, some day you are going to inherit giant redwoods, enormous Bunya nut trees with 5kg fruit dropping in season and all sorts of weird and wonderful grottos and groves that eventuated because your parental units got tired of thinking about where to put things and just “bunged them into the ground”…I dare say we just got drummed out of the landscape designers confraternity and it’s all going to come back and haunt us some day but for now we don’t care…get them into the ground!

Steve’s Cedrus atlantica “Glauca Pendula” that will one day be magnificent stretched out along the front of the deck

The Cedrus that we just planted and our other little conifers that are going nuts in the soil out of their pots.

$8 well spent methinks!

It’s not often that I have 87 photos to choose from when I am just about to post. That should give you a bit of an idea how busy we have been on Serendipity farm over the last 3 days. On Friday we stopped working in the garden to get gussied up and head into town to our illustrious leaders Landscaping Expo. We left 2 sulking dogs, one of them hell bent on destruction (once the sulking wore off) and after battening down the house (or those pieces of it that said dog was likely to destruct…) we headed out into the cold cold snow. Well…I may be overemphasising the snow bit but it WAS cold…and raining…when we got to town we discovered that we had been forgotten on the list of people to tell (those who mattered…are you feeling guilty enough yet Nat? ;)) that the expo had been cancelled! Bollocks! Oh well, no use crying over spilt landscaping expo’s so we made the most of it, bought pizza, sweet potatoes and purple carrots, a bottle of Guinness (a man’s gotta have SOMETHING when he has just driven all the way to town and back for bugger all) and a $1 all you can stuff bag of toys for the dogs to mass destruct from the thrift shop behind the Polytechnic that we attend on the odd occasion that someone remembers that we are coming… and we picked up a couple of plates as well. I LOVE thrift shops. They make me smile. I love fossicking about in bargain bins and hunting out stellar bargains that someone else foolishly discarded. When we got the boys bag of toys out to hurl into the maniacally happy crowd (good stress release to diffuse separation anxiety and stop us from being pounced into next Tuesday by heifer dogs who are VERY excited to see us home) I noticed a little smiley plush weighted flower…now I don’t know about you, but I was seriously addicted to the game “Plants and Zombies” and this little fellow looked just like one of the flowers from the game! That plus it was weighed…bright colours…cost the better part of about 5c and would make a HECK of a mess if I gave it to the boys to destruct so I decided to keep him. His name is Herman. He reminds me to smile and he is a constant reminder to Earl that the ones with the opposable thumbs who can place things out of dogs reach rule the world!

What my desk looks like at the moment. A mass conglomeration of seeds, books, C.D.’s and “misc”. Still don’t need glasses! 😉

The almond trees label, the rock melons and mini watermelon seeds and my ever present notepad and pen for “ideas” and Steve’s coffee and Earls back scratcher.

Herman smiling for the camera 🙂

We walked the boys up an enormous hill today just because we could. A year ago…indeed 6 months ago, I couldn’t have walked up this hill inside an hour because I would have been constantly having to stop on the threat of a mild heart attack coming on, but today I just walked up the hill without stopping and without breaking a sweat. On the way back down the hill after a brief detour to look at a MASSIVE edifice that someone is erecting to the thickness of their wallet overlooking the water I noticed something on the floor and after picking it up discovered that it was a silicone bowl scraper! I have wanted one for a while and haven’t justified its specialised worth to myself but now I have one, sterilised in boiling water and stuck on my magnetic knife rack because some wise monkey decided to put a bit of metal inside it so it would stay where you bend it. Bring on the wet dough’s! Bring on hand action to rival Masterchef U.K.! I can now say that my desire to make pastry has moved one step closer to regular. We also had a look at the lady at the top of the road’s little plant stand. She sells plants all of the time for $2 and I noticed a few little babies that I would like to add to my in ground population. When we arrived home we drove back and bought 2 lilies’ of the valley (1 about to flower), a miniature pink Japanese anemone and a blue corydalis and after we planted out our little almond tree in the middle garden and Steve’s Cedrus atlantica “Glauca Pendula” we planted them out as well.

I think Steve is working on his busking routine…cute…but NO-ONE is going to pinch either his guitar or his hat full of money! 😉

Earl loves sitting in Steve’s guitar room with him when he is playing. Especially when he is playing LOUD! Bezial slinks off outside to save his ears but Earl is right there in the thick of it.

I think Earl has settled down for the afternoon…pity Steve wants to put his guitar back in its case 😉

We found a few packets of annual flower seeds that we had collected and decided that we would scatter them around in the middle garden. While we were at it, we headed out and had a look in the shed to see if we had any other seeds and found a large bag of all kinds of seeds that were mostly out of code and that we had collected en mass when we were attending our horticulture courses at Polytechnic. We figured that the worst that can happen is that the chooks eat the seed so we scattered all sorts of things all over the place. If half of them grow we are in trouble! I have a few plans for making “things” out of plastic bags. I am not too sure what kind of “things” but all I know is I am tired of feeling guilty for throwing the bags out into landfill. A friend gave me some dishcloths that a friend of hers had crocheted using cut up supermarket bags and that gave me an idea. I have seen hats, shoes and bags made out of plastic bags and I found a pattern for making “Plarn” on Instructables the other day. Plarn is plastic yarn that is perfect for making all sorts of crafts with and for repurposing plastic bags. I noticed pumpkins growing in the compost heap the other day and am going to transplant them (along with some of their precious compost) into specially formed mounds situated in the outside chook run. We also found some mini watermelon seeds and some rockmelon seeds that we had bought previously and are going to give them a go as well. There is something manic about spring that just carries you along with it. I have been getting up at 5am for a few days now and am just about used to it. I feel tired at 8pm but the trade-off is that I get 2 hours to myself at the beginning of the day. The ultimate trade-off is that next Sunday morning I WON’T be tired! I just noticed that I am back up to my usual post size! I tried people…I tried hard. I stifled my posts natural angle of repose and ended up losing the battle. That’s my way of saying I am finishing up here for the week folks. Have an interesting rest of the week and don’t sweat the small stuff because deodorant is getting expensive!

Serendipity Farm is an Octopus Free Zone!

Hi All,

What’s going on here! We have just hit the spring equinox in Australia and I am acting more like the grasshopper than the octopus…remember the old story as told by Fry from Futurama? The one about the grasshopper doing all of the work and the octopus that mooched off his girlfriend and the grasshopper died as a direct result of the hard work leaving the octopus to take advantage of his hard yakka AND to rub salt into the wound he also found the money to buy a sports car…the message is DON’T think that spring is time to hoard your nuts…or is it? When you live close to the earth like homesteaders you need to be thinking ahead. Even G.M. monocrop farmers think ahead. Its part and parcel of living on the land and it involves all sorts of economics and futures and all sorts of things that make my brain spin BUT at its core, where I like to live in my simple mentality, it means “make hay while the sun shines bucko or sit out winter on an empty belly!”…that’s my take on it. You might get lucky. You might just be able to mooch off your girlfriend for the summer…driving around in her Volkswagen beetle and drinking beer on the beach while she works hard at the diner to pay the bills and your friend, who works in I.T. or Apple or somewhere profitable, squirrels away his money because he is a nerd and hasn’t got even a vague chance of acquiring a girlfriend UNLESS he goes on Beauty and the Geek…but that is another story! So enter your geeky I.T. I-phone 5 toting mate who talks in binary code and who bores the pants off you BUT makes you look amazing when he is standing next to you at parties and who earns a fortune that he foolishly spends on war hammer figurines and Dr Who merchandise from Think Geek who when your girlfriend wises up to your loser habits and tosses your lazy arse to the curb is probably good to mooch off minus the obvious side benefits. The grasshopperss of the world tend to be the workers and the octopi take…Take…TAKE!

Check out our rubber egg! It was found in the hen house after our early evening rooster wrangling event. Methinks that the poor hen that laid it was scared rubbery!

I wouldn’t recognise these 2 good dogs if it wasn’t for the hippy standing with them. It’s amazing what a pocket full of dog treats will do for a dogs behaviour isn’t it! 😉

Rubber egg number 2! Obviously the fear goes on…

This might look like a hillbillies back yard but its a Hill Williams back yard thank you VERY much! This covered heap is our dung futures heap and just up from that tree trunk is where we are putting our poly tunnels

Our constant companion whenever we head out to do any gardening…you just never know what delicious bugs are going to turn up when you follow those humans around!

Ok, so consider that my lesson on consumerism and elitism and how unfair the world is these days with the 1% rich getting richer and the 99% of us a.k.a. poor people propping up their sports car ventures. Here on Serendipity Farm we don’t have any octopi. It’s too far out of the city, we live on a river with no beach or surf AND we drive a sad little 4 x 4 and even though you can take the top off it, the dog hairs are so thick on the seats that it looks like we have flocked seat covers. In other words we are an octopus free zone here! To get what we want we have to work. We have to plan ahead. We use our God given brains to facilitate our futures and we think laterally about where we are going to get things that we need and always try to make do.  Reuse, recycle and repurpose are our creeds here on Serendipity Farm. Spring is a chance for us to plan for winter. We can plan what we need to store up for the cold weather and we can make our polytunnels to give us an extended harvest. We don’t get frost here much and so polytunnels should allow us to grow most of what we need for the whole year. Our chooks are old breeds and may not lay eggs every day but we have enough of them to produce copiously and with a side benefit that our predominately Wyandotte population lay right through winter so we don’t lose out on the egg front. We have all the acorns that we can squirrel away but no real use for them, however, I have learned from my online hunts that acorns can be made into flour that can be used to bake breads albeit of the flat kind. A good tip should the need ever arise. Always work with what you have lots of because you are pretty much guaranteed that you won’t run out of it. Acorns…you are our friends.

The corner where we planted out some of our maples and other tasty treats (can you hear the sarcasm dripping from my acidic tongue?… bloody possums!)

One of the clivea flowers that has just started to open. We found these clivea underneath a mound of blackberries and overgrown grass. It’s lucky I am known for my “careful weeding” and it wasn’t Steve and his whipper snipper that discovered them or there might not be this lovely display for us to admire!

This maple is called “Lockington’s Big Red”. It was developed by Don Dosser, a wonderful man who is better known for developing all sorts of Rhododendron’s than maples but we are honoured to have a Tassie bred maple on Serendipity Farm 🙂

Those straight trunks belong to Brachychitons that have been on Serendipity Farm for many years. They are not native to Tasmania and have been doing it tough for a while. Steve planted out 3 more Brachychitons of different species in this area to see if they grow. We grew them all from seed and hopefully they will like living on Serendipity Farm. We also planted out several different kinds of maples in this area as well

Instead of thinking about the long hot summer that we are being promised in Tasmania and planning what we are going to do for the summer holidays on the one beach in Tasmania that has actual sand rather than pebbles and oysters we are thinking about work. We are building polytunnels, a gravity fed chook run, planting out our potted babies, thinking about building a worm farm, changing our composting from a sad anaerobic system (too lazy to get out there in winter and turn it regularly) to an aerobic system (by pulling the roof off the duck enclosure that backs onto the compost bin and shovelling the compost from one side to the other). We have so many plans on the burner that we are going to be the leanest of squirrels by the time we get to the other side. Forget “why did the chicken cross the road?” here on Serendipity Farm they do what they want and you don’t question them…just ask the feral cats who are totally intimidated by them! We have “why did the squirrel not need Jenny Craig?” Remember my theory of living in the processes? You can’t get more alive than when you are up to your armpits in hot compost or knee deep in horse dung futures. You sleep better, you earn your evening meal and you feel like you have accomplished something deep and primal at the end of the day. Life takes on a new vibrancy when each day seems to be working towards the next. You start to feel as alive as the microbe teeming soil that you are trying to help along. All of your processes might initially be out of whack but after a while, using permaculture as your core, everything starts to cycle in a most pleasingly congruent way. One day we should be able to manage this place on our own without having to hide under the bed covers in fear of “Where the heck do we start today?!” as our creed.

This is where we put the maples and a cornus

Here’s a Miscanthus that will hopefully get to its full height of 1.5 – 2 metres

This is a dwarf bamboo that we have been told will spread. The person telling us was looking aghast at us for purchasing not one, not two but three of these “invaders”…I will tell you what Rog…you have less than a quarter acre of garden and we have 4 acres. I think that the spreading dwarf bamboo can have a bit of room to spread in don’t you? Besides…if it can squash out the forget-me-nots, I will buy 100 more!

Can you hear my teeth grinding as I type this? This poor little maple USED to have a lot more leaves than this. It’s the only maple (so far) that the possums have decided to sample more than a few leaves from. They did perform trapese acts on one of Steve’s larger maples and ripped of a large chunk but we think that whoever did it landed hard and has been avoiding a repeat performance. This goes to show that sometimes you never can tell what possums will go for!

Today we plant. We figure that the thermal mass of the soil and the high clay content is going to give our poor long suffering potted babies a better chance over summer. Once we get those mooching chooks into their gravity fed chook run we should be able to get our gardens mulched and ready for the long hot summer ahead. Thermal mass works with bulk planting as well. The more plants you have in any given area (especially ground covers) the more moisture you can retain in the soil. I am on the hunt for ground covers and am not averse to bending down and liberating a little bit from the edge of the footpath should the opportunity arise. Consider me a guerrilla squirrel. I will throw seed bombs into the nature strips and I shall take advantage of harvests unharvested. Squirrel, thy name is Fran!

Two snakebark maples that have been languishing in pots since we bought them a few years ago are stretching out their leaves and roots and breathing a grateful sigh of relief

A couple of low vibernums and a couple of slow growing taxus

Steve’s ducky friend following him around. It wouldn’t have anything to do with ducky being the recipient of all of the snails and slugs and slaters that our lifted pots revealed? 😉

I am excited about this one…ALMOND FUTURES! 🙂

This large broom shrub has a very interesting scented flower. Whenever we walk past it the smell is reminiscent of crushed peppery nasturtium leaves

Steve set the alarm clock for 5.30 yesterday but forgot to tell me. He hasn’t decided to be my personal boot camp sergeant, he did it because I asked him to because the dreaded Daylight Savings is rapidly approaching and this year I REFUSE to be the bleary eyed zombie that I am every year when I have to get up an hour earlier…to everyone out there just about to correct me and tell me that “it’s not actually an hour earlier it’s a better use of the day” BOLLOCKS! Daylight savings and I have a bad history and to this day I can’t for the life of me see any other reason for it than commercial gain. I won’t give you my tirade here for the day because I don’t have time. I have to cram in my rss feed read before Steve gets up and we head off into our day whipper snipping forget-me-nots and me hand pulling them in the hard to get places or where Steve’s maniacal “style” might just eliminate something precious. We also have to get stuck in to planting out more of our potted plants. We have just about gotten to the end of the easy stuff…the small pots and the things that had a definite place to go and now we are down to the pines that get to 120ft tall, the things that Earl ate the tag from and we don’t really remember what they are called or how big they get and the stuff that we aren’t sure if we want to keep yet. Tomorrow I am going to get Steve to set the alarm clock to 5am. I am going to revel in my 2 hours of rss feed reading time for about a week. I might even get a few things done in the mornings (but I doubt it) and I am going to be ready for you daylight savings…BRING IT ON!

This dwarf nandina is SO happy that we unhooked it from its blackberry overlords that it has turned the most lovely shade of red. I planted a little struggling camellia in the gap to the right of this little fellow.

This old flat serving spoon was found when we were walking in Exeter where some excavation work was going on. Its a lovely old French spoon and so I brought it home and stuck it in this cut off blue glass bottle with a couple of shiny mates to keep it company

I left the camera out in the shed last night when I took a few photos of what we had done, the clivea flowers and our dung future pile that we have covered up and rendered chook and duck proof much to their chagrin. I collected some eggs from the remaining chooks who are not clucky (not very many of them at the moment) and I got sucked into pulling out a section of forget-me-nots and promptly forgot. How ironic eh? As today is posting day I will be trundling around attempting to take some post worthy photos. I will be grappling with the recalcitrant “macro” and “super macro” to attempt to get the camera to not take extreme close-ups of the background leaving the desired object out of focus and almost unrecognisable. The camera and I have a somewhat strained relationship and like most things on Serendipity Farm it has an attitude. Some days it will take great photos without effort and the next, it is on strike. I admire people who can take good photos like I admire people who are naturally artistic and who are natural green thumbs. I guess I don’t mind being mediocre as long as I can get what I am trying to share out with people. Cheers to Kym for keeping her eye open for a rainwater tank on her holidays in Bali. That is one dedicated friend! Try to get one where they are offering to pay for the postage Kym…I am sure that there are HEAPS of vendors like that in Bali! ;). I doubt that even Kym’s amazing bargaining powers could affect that kind of deal ;). When I lived in Western Australia I never quite managed to take advantage of Bali being “Little Australia” and just off the top end of W.A. I remember when you could head over to Bali for a week for $500 and that included your flights and your accommodation! Unlike “The Rest of the World”…Australia is miles away from EVERYTHING and any kind of travel hurts us in the hip pocket. I read with envy about people jetting off to France, Italy, and Russia for the weekend and it costing pennies where if we were to do the same thing we wouldn’t BE there in a weekend let alone get time to set foot off a plane before we had to start our flight back home. My idea of a tropical getaway is heading up to Queensland to eat my weight’s worth of tropical fruit…it’s also something on my bucket list so I might have to think about that someday soon. If I can combine that bucket list item with another bucket list item to do a permaculture residential course in Queensland I might just be able to justify it all in my mind, “multitasking babe…I am just multitasking!”

I know this isn’t the greatest picture in the world but my camera was having a Primadonna moment and point blank REFUSED to use the flash. After having words with it, this is the best I could get. Does anyone know what it might be? It has square minty type stems and I think it might be a salvia. I got it from somewhere hot and arid and dry and am hoping that it might do what mints do best and send out roots in a glass of water

Gunns went tits up yesterday. A completely fitting epitaph as I used to liken the company to a bull with teets…completely useless! That doesn’t automatically mean that we won’t get a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley BUT anyone buying the permit is going to have a handful of problems aside from the obvious angry ravening hoards of locals, the high Aussie dollar and the high cost of labour in Australia we have the low price of wood chips and pulp and the ever decreasing call for white bleached paper for newspapers etc. as a lot of content recedes to online these days. Our corrupt state government are steadfastly refusing to give up this pulp mill BUT that is what got gunns bankrupt and in receivership in the first place…completely disregarding what the people want. I would like to say goodbye to our sad excuse for a premier at this point because she will be lucky to make it to the next elections as our state leader. I can’t for the life of me understand why every woman politician in a position of power in Australia seems to have a need to over enunciate their words making every speech a chore to have to listen to and a reminder of when childless adults talk to small children and all of us talk to deaf people, loudly and slowly. The Tasmanian populace might be somewhat lacking in the educational stakes BUT we are NOT…ALL…NUMPTIES…LARA…and you don’t have to speak so slowly to us all because we are mindless vacuous creatures who can’t comprehend big words. Our corrupt political parties and gunns didn’t realise who they were messing with when they took on the hippies. Tasmanian natives are an easily herded bovine lot who don’t prize education and could care less about anything other than footy and weekends as a rule. They go where they are directed and tend not to rock the boat and are easily hornswoggled and intimidated by weasely politicians and the sheer force of anything that appears to have a degree of power. When the hippies started moving over here from the mainland the nepotistic relationship between our politicians and gunns started to become glaringly obvious to these newcomers and for once in their relationship someone actually started to care what they were up to! The bully boy tactics didn’t work when you tried to dam the Franklin and you didn’t learn. Northern Tasmania has been a logging stronghold and gunns ran the show from go to whoa. They were loath to concede anything at all and held on to the flagship pulp mill with a stubborn refusal to give up until it changed into the figurehead of their ship and was the first thing to sink under the water when the whole shebang went down. Lesson to be learned to old school Tasmanian politicians, corporations, nepotistic industry and bully boys…most hippies are clever creatures who went to university and completed doctorates in law, commerce etc. and you can’t hoodwink them, talk down to them, negate them or bypass them.  Ignore us at your peril! Goodbye gunns. You lost your battle to steamroll your will over the people of Tasmania and you learned, too late, that paying politicians to get your way doesn’t always get you what you want. So long and thanks for nothing!

Here’s a good shot of one of the compound leaves of that plant. Definately a type of salvia I would imagine and I am hoping that one of you might know what it is. If I can’t get it to grow from a water cutting, I will get a bit of the root and give it a shot that way! 🙂

In saying what I just said I have a deep sense of sympathy for all of the 320 people who are going to lose their jobs thanks to gunns demise. Tasmania is not an easy place to gain employment and most of us are out of work. The official jobless rate doesn’t even begin to show the true picture because most of us are hidden from the statistics by being syphoned off into education, job training and working for the dole. We are a state of Centrelink employees and our leaders keep grasping at straws and taking reckless bets to try to keep themselves in power rather than getting together and actually facing up to the monumental task ahead of them to try to set Tasmania back on track. Stop having quorums, setting up committees, paying experts and grasping at straws and just face up to the fact that Tasmania is going to have to have a different business model to the rest of the mainland. What is so wrong with growing amazing food and crops? What is wrong with having a fantastic wilderness that people can visit? What is wrong with making Tasmania a truly clean, green state where people would want to flock to live and that implements green technology and uses all of this restless un and underemployed population to positive effect? It’s all too hard and we are going to have to get rid of a generation of politicians who are clinging to the old model tenaciously and stubbornly refusing to even consider life in Tasmania without the forest industry. Stop selling us off to anyone with a dollar in their pockets. Stop flogging our beautiful pristine precious rainforests off to open cut mines because it might give you someone else to do back room deals with and keep yourself in power a bit longer. WE CAN SEE YOU YOU KNOW! It’s all eminently depressing to be honest and I think that for change to happen in Tasmania it is going to have to rise up through the ranks and topple the tyrants. If the world could get rid of Sadam and Gadhafi, it can certainly prize loose our entrenched parasitic politicians! I am thinking of hiring out my rants to any leftist magazine that will take me…heck I will give them to you for free! Sorry dear constant readers, my frothing mouth needs to be wiped and my tirade here is done!

Bollocks! Not only have I had a delicious tirade in my post today, I have overshot my small post mark! Oh well…let’s be honest folks…It really couldn’t have lasted for long. Anyone out there having problems writing posts let me know. I have more words than I can cope with. I am juggling about 14 muses who are all blabbermouths and none of them have the silent disdainful composure that I am lead to believe muses effect. Mine are all collaborating and yelling in my ear at once and are all as overexcited about life as I am. Quiet you lot I am trying to condense! Sigh…oh well, at least I am consistent! I had best stop there and let you all get back to your lives and the real world. With a bit of hope, nothing politically exciting will occur in the next few days and your next post will be pristine and full of happy joy joy. See you all on Saturday…remember life IS great, hurl yourself into it and ride it like you stole it! 😉

Penniless hippies of the world unite for we are many!

Hi All,

After walking the boys on a decidedly grey day and taking some lovely photos of wildflowers in our neck of the woods to share with you lucky people who have exotic beauties rampaging through your woods we arrived home feeling a bit seedy today. None of this overenthusiastic imbibing for us, we appear to have caught the dreaded lurgy thanks to one of the speakers at the recent soil symposium that our friend in the witness protection and I attended sitting in between us and coughing violently in a most determined fashion all afternoon…oh well…at least we are miserable together! Steve was grumbling about having to unload the trailer that he had to load with firewood that he collected from our friend in the witness protection’s property on Tuesday as we have just found a source of free spent horse hay bedding laced with nitrogenous deposits in large quantities just as we were scratching our heads wondering how to fill the proposed raised beds inside our (also proposed but veering into the “probable” camp at an alarming rate…) new polytunnels. Suddenly we are to be buried in horse dookie and we couldn’t be happier! I say “we” but it’s really me that’s overjoyed as poor Steve has to take his newly emptied trailer over to meet the man with the excess of spent straw and shovel for the queen. I have been left to mind the dogs and make Eccles cakes and as he has been such a sweetie and hasn’t complained too much, I am going to lace the Eccles cakes with chocolate.

“Chicken” and “Stock” tonight to actual chicken stock. They have assaulted their last hen!

Some of our mushroom futures from the 6 bags of mushroom compost that we were given for delivering 20 bags to a friend

Egg futures! So many egg futures that we don’t know what to do with them (do you think you can dehydrate egg? ECH! ;))

A firework/rocket that we found on one of our walks with the boys

There are only so many fingers that a fork can give you before they become a little bit rude! 4Q, Steve’s new fork enterprise has begun!

When the son and heir and Kelsey, his Texan sweetie rocked up on our doorstep the other day they brought with them all sorts of things. Booze for Steve (anything that you have ever done to Steve has just been forgiven Stewart ;)), cocktail frankfurters for roasting over an open fire apparently… but now safely frozen for future use (next time you come you can take them from their cryogenic chamber and imbibe liberally Kelsey! ;)) and a bottle of Pumpkin Ale for Steve to try. The “Man in the bottle shop” (for “man” read shyster…) had assured Stewart that this was traditional fare for American’s. Kelsey was sceptical, I was sceptical…even Steve, bordering on alcoholic and known to drink things that others would shun just by sniffing them, was bordering on the sceptical and so it was with great trepidation that we opened the bottle and all had a quaff…a very BRIEF quaff…quickly associated with spitting out, loud exclamations of “Good Lord man what is that taste?!”. Firstly I need to assure all American readers that this brew was constructed in Australia…Western Australia in fact, my old stomping grounds so I have to admit that the hideous sweet fizzy tar that briefly touched our lips wasn’t a slight on your brewing heritage, indeed ANYTHING that you could brew would have to be pretty bad before it could descend down the imbibing ladder as rapidly as this pumpkin ale fell…Steve, always the booze trouper, gave it one last swig before he capped it and placed it at the back of the fridge. Why didn’t we toss it into the drain? Well firstly folks, we are very aware of what we throw into our drains because our drains go straight down into the Tamar River and there is NO way that I am going to get the blame for the mutations that this stuff would cause… think the Simpsons episode with the 3 headed fish and that would be tame compared to this stuff and secondly, I decided to give it one last chance to shine. Always looking for a way to not waste anything, I found a recipe for a chocolate beer cake (stout to be more precise and stout tastes like old jock straps after a season of hard play so surely this hideous pumpkin blend might be a worthy substitute?) and am going to make it today. I might even make it a spiced chocolate ale cake just to be on the safe side…spices cover a wealth of evils 😉

My personalised prescription for fixing our soils nutrient problems from Steve Solomon himself. The only problem is that I am having a little bit of trouble working out what he has written…

Bron?…Byron?…whatever it is I need 10% of it!

GYPSY’S! Possums? Ely Possum?

Its VERY lucky that I got Mr. Solomon to translate BEFORE I headed out the door isn’t it otherwise I might be hunting in some inocuous health food shop for some pretty weird things! 😉

Steve should be shovelling nitrogenous masses as I type this now. I have the fruity, chocolaty filling prepared for the eccles cakes and am just waiting for the mix to cool and the pastry to thaw enough to combine the 2, weld them together with egg white and sugar, hurl them into Brunhilda at whatever temperature Brunhilda feels like exhibiting at any given time (we gave up trying to regulate her…everything seems to work out great in her so we let her have free reign!) and hopefully (if I remember to take them out in time) he will have something tasty for morning tea when he gets back. It’s a baking day today on Serendipity Farm. Tomorrow is Bezials 5th birthday. Qi (a.k.a. Princess Pickens) who lives in town with our daughters now, will be 3 on exactly the same day (a decided “woo-woo” moment when we found out!). Earl has to wait till November for his birthday but he doesn’t mind sharing Bezials for the moment. Bezial has asked for homemade bacon, egg and cheese covered beef burgers for his birthday tea accompanied by one of Steve’s spongecakes liberally doused with cream. Always willing to accommodate we will be preparing everything today and tomorrow he and Earl get to shred 2 whole bags of soft toys that we bought earlier in the week to their little hearts content. I figured that as I was baking up dog delicacies anyway, I may as well mess about with the pumpkin ale and reward Steve’s hard slog at the same time. I have a small bottle of prune juice in the fridge that the son and heir had purchased and didn’t want that I am also going to use in baking…might even make some muffins. So as you can see, it might be grey and threatening an imminent downpour on Serendipity Farm, but we are still as busy as the bleary eyed slow bees that are just starting to emerge from their winter hidey holes.

Chocolate Eccles cakes taste a WHOLE lot better than they look

The birthday boy waiting for his birthday toys and spread to be laid before him

Yet another fine spongecake produced for Bezial’s birthday and filled with cream, topped with cream and caramel and white chocolate chunks and heartily devoured before I remembered to take a photo along with the beef burgers with bacon, eggs and cheese that the boys got for their tea. The toys got shredded and I didn’t want to show you the evidence in case any small children ever read these posts!

The title of today’s post wasn’t designed to overexcite the large percentage of the world’s population that live on the fringes of poverty to riot, it was designed to elevate anyone sitting at home wondering how the heck they are going to do ANYTHING with their humble lot. Consider us your humble equals…so humble in fact that we are full of possibilities and the moth eaten sock under the bed is on its last threads. We don’t care. I used to be twitchy about the future and about trying to find ways to make money until I became educated and realised that money is “the man’s” way to keep us subservient (I TOLD you I was a radical hippy didn’t I? ;)). If we sat around waiting for the folding green we would be waiting for a very long time. It’s up to us to find ways to get what we want when we need it without having to resort to cash unless we absolutely positively HAVE to. Some things need money spent on them and some things need good money spent on them. You just have to be clever enough to know what is worth saving and spending on and what can be found for free or for some sort of exchange out there in the big wide world. Our recent introduction to the gentleman with the spent horse bedding material is just such a situation. He has a problem in that he needs to get rid of this stuff…he could care less about the cation exchange rate involved with straw and organic matter in the soil, all he wants is a heap free existence. Along come the crazy hermit hippies from up the road with their trusty trailer and remove his problem. Does he want money? No he doesn’t! He is happy to get rid of the eyesore and overjoyed that he didn’t have to do anything to get what he wanted. He is more than happy to allow us to take what we want for as long as we want and in so doing, we are now able to use this precious soil amendment to our advantage. One man’s horse dookie is another mans (and woman’s) treasure!

I almost missed a photo opportunity! Here are some of the mushroom futures that we ended up drying because we had so many of them that we ran out of things to do with them! 6 bags of mushroom compost have kept us in mushrooms for weeks now AND we have dehydrated mushies to use in stock, soups and chinese food…whats that on the dehydrator sheet with the mushrooms eh Steve?

A nice big round glass jar FULL of dehydrated mushroom futures. I might get out my vitamix and process some down into powder to use in flavoured stocks…the possiblities are endless

Aha! That’s what Steve had tossed onto the dehydrator tray! These are 2 year old thin dehydrated orange slices that I use to decorate our Christmas tree with at Christmas time along with all sorts of other things like star anise pods and home made orange and lemon pomanders. I love Old School Christmas 🙂

We also found out on the grapevine that the local salmon farm just around the corner from Serendipity Farm were offloading their old fish netting for free…lovely thick ropey stuff in large rolls for nothing! Never one to look some gift netting in the mouth we said “Yes Please” to our friend who we had just given some free plants to (again, a good mutual arrangement) in exchange for the plants. Never let it be said that I never learned anything from my sustainability guru Hugh Fearnley-whatsizname (I loved it AND stole it Bev ;)) in thinking outside the box to get what you want. We might be penniless student hippies BUT we are knowledgeable penniless student hippies with qualifications. We can draw you some plans…you can give us some tomatoes…we can help you work out how to landscape your garden sustainably, you can help us in OUR garden when we have a permablitz…so many ways to make ends meet and so many of them don’t have to involve the elusive cash! I have been finding more and more delicious blogs to cram my rss feed reader with. I found a fantastic one through someone else the other day called fixies shelf. This quirky blog is full of whimsical art, sustainable hard work and a wonderful “Can Do” attitude. I got highly excited when I found it because this stuff is right up my alley! Feel free to take my word for it or head on over and have a peek at this delightful marionette filled Aussie blog site…

http://fixiefoo.typepad.com/fixies_shelf/

Dreadies, marionettes, whimsical art, home-made greenhouses and all with an amazing vitality and zest for life that bleeds out onto every post. Consider me hooked!

A nice trailer load of dung futures

Dung futures up close and stinky just how we like them! 😉

The dung futures have arrived! A trailer load for now, soon to be followed up by another trailer load of more dung and a promise of more to come. For now this is good enough for us! We can make a start on our polytunnels (hoop houses) without having to worry about what we are going to plant our veggies into when we finish. Steve is out making my little terracotta butter dish a wooden lid. I don’t like the idea of critters wading through the butter en mass at night when we turn out the light and if they are anything like us when it comes to butter, they will be doing the backstroke in bliss! Anything worth it needs to be protected and butter is right up there in our precious stakes so lidding needs to commence. I bought this little rectangle terracotta pot ages ago and it got absorbed into the “stuff” in Steve’s shed. I re-liberated it and decided that it would make a good butter dish and have been using it as such with the flimsy protection of cling film over the precious golden fat source. I can see it now…out goes the light and the nocturnal insectivorous and verminous wildlife seize their cue to start scrounging around for something to eat. They would obviously start in the dog’s food bowls, not much aside from a few crumbs of buttered oat…butter you say! I know… lets head up to that tasty smelling pot up there and liberate ourselves a HUGE wodge of it to take back to our lair and scarf at our leisure!…all I can see as I contemplate these poor little hungry critters is a motley collection of them all lying prostrate on a thin membrane of cling wrap…the odd one bouncing slightly and peering myopically at the golden headily scented bliss below and wondering just what it would take to find a way through this meniscus of invisibility to that heaven below…sorry guys, I might be a bit of a pushover when it comes to nature and her inhabitants but insects tend to be excluded from the hierarchy of command thanks to their inability to give me seal eyes in any sort of manner that would make me want to give them anything.

Steve’s clever idea for a lid for my little teracotta butter dish with a handle recycled from our old kitchen cupboards

Eco wood oil, our bestest friend in the woody kitchen and many bottles of this unctious orange scented stuff were needed to waterproof and protect our lovely thick bamboo countertops in our new kitchen. This little bit helped us give food grade protection to our new butter dish lid

Oiled and ready to go…maybe a bit of false advertising on the butter dish BUT at least it directs you to what you are about to put it on 😉

I think that there might be something wrong with the new weather notifier at Riverside. Either that or Riverside has gone through a temporal loop and come out the other side a bit ruffled. We drove past the board wearing our winter warming coats and noted the 32C temperature on one side and the 18C on the other…hmmmm…whilst still debating the reason for the anomaly we drove past the Tailrace centre to see “Celebrate Father’s Day here!”…I could have sworn that father’s day was a few weeks ago?! Maybe the fact that my daughters live in Riverside may have contributed to the weirdness wafting around? Who would know, but if it was 32C the other day in Riverside I would HATE to see what it is when it warms up a bit! It’s Friday and it’s raining. It’s not the sort of rain that drizzles a bit and then stops, it’s been going steadily all night and shows no sign of stopping. I love rain and have no problem with it raining for a week if it feels like it BUT it is a constant reminder that we don’t have a water tank. A large rainwater tank is one of those items that can’t be negotiated around and most times you can’t barter your way into one. On the radio yesterday they were talking about Tasmania having a hotter and drier summer than usual…some bampf about “El Nino” and I am starting to think that El Nino is another word for The Boogieman! EVERYTHING is blamed on El Nino. It’s easy to point a finger at a scapegoat rather than on our own actions but for now, that’s the buzz word with the weather men, those self-same weather men who can’t get it right from one day to the next! Maybe El Nino is actually more like “Gremlins”? 😉 Whatever the reason it makes me twitch that we can’t negotiate our way around getting a rainwater tank and that the moth eaten sock under the bed is going to have to put on a lot of weight before we can even consider buying one.

Posts are like caterpillars…they are cute, innocuous and they sneak up on you when you least expect them! This one has been meandering all over the place and has suddenly stopped to nibble on a metaphorical cabbage leaf so it can have its natural hiatus and I am going to call it a day for today. If anyone out there knows how to get a rainwater tank sans cash that doesn’t involve public humiliation or ritual dismemberment PLEASE let us know! See you all next hump day 🙂

Hermits with soil samples unite!

Hi All,

It’s Tuesday and another blog post deadline is looming. Stewart and Kelsey made a short stop on Serendipity Farm and it was lovely seeing them. They spent a lot of time wandering around in the dark looking at the stars and watching possums, bandicoots and wallabies scooting around in the undergrowth no doubt on their way to eating one or other of our tender shooting deciduous plants. We spent yesterday recovering and realising that we are indeed the hermits that our friends prophesied that we would become living out in the sticks and only venturing into town for “supplies”. A week of tidying and a whirlwind but wonderful visit later and Steve and I are feeling shell shocked. We had to head off to our friend in the witness protections place today to get another load of wood and to head over to Steve Solomon’s house to get the results of our soil tests and his customised prescription to remedy our obviously denuded soil. When we arrived at our friends place we noted that she was striding with purpose from her boundary fence with a large metal mallet. Living in the country can sometimes do strange things to a person and we approached her with caution but we didn’t have to be alarmed, she arrived muttering about how shooters hunt on her property and don’t shut the gate. They had broken the fence to get through (must be fat hunters) and she had been banging a metal star picket into the ground to hold the gate closed and stop her donkeys from raiding her vegetable garden. The things that people living in the country have to contend with!

Stewart and Kelsey relaxing on Sernendipity Farm

A group cuddle

Kelsey and the infamous American style Pumpkin Ale that is languishing at the back of our fridge for when I next feel like baking a beer chocolate cake

And what do we have here?

That would be a white forest cherry cake!

The travellers heading off to warmer climes 🙂

She heard on the grapevine somewhere that possums and wallabies won’t eat your plants if you situate stuffed toys all around them. Her garden now looks like some sort of demented landscaper has designed it with stuffed toys hanging by their necks from all sorts of odd places. Her little granddaughter had helped her to hang them by the neck. Life in the country is about as real as you can get. We left Steve with a massive log to be cut up and we headed out of the gate to Mr Solomon’s place for our results. We arrived and found Steve minus his bottom teeth thanks to some sort of denture accident but despite the loss of his lower mandibles speech mode we cobbled together the gist of what he wanted us to do. We purchased a sack of Soft Rock Phosphate from him and a large sack of dried wakame in lieu of kelp at a significant discount ($8 a sack for the wakame and $40 a sack for the kelp) with essentially the same nutritional rundown and the wakame has the added bonus of being extremely tasty! We got a printout of our initial results from the American soil analysis company and Steve then took those results and reworked them to be pertinent to a 10 square metre garden plot. My witness protection friend’s soil is quite denuded but nowhere near as much as he had expected. Because of the clay in her subsoil her summer hydrophobic soil is able to hold onto a reasonable amount of nutrients and our soil profile was even better. We both got Steve’s prescription for what to add to our soil and in what quantities. We had a bit of a laugh with him and he said that he was glad that he had met us and that we were “his type of people”. Always glad to make a new friend especially when he wants to assist us both with our gardening ventures in the future.

Meet Tilly. She used to be Nat’s dog and now she lives with our friend in the witness protection. If you lean on Nat, you might discover our friends identity but you have to get past Tilly first 😉

Our friend in the witness protection’s long suffering possum and wallaby scoffed back yard. Note the close proximity to native bushland and the strange collection of stuffed animals in grotesque poses

This is the first time that the rose situated directly underneath Mr Ted-E-Bear (complete with bow tie thank you VERY much…) has managed to keep its tender little new leaves since our friend in the witness protection planted it.

A teddy in a waistcoat taking one for the Gipper

Our friend in the witness protection just so happens to work in a gardening centre and can use her staff discount to avail herself of the necessary nutrients required for our soils. We have decided to buy in bulk and split the cost. I am going to buy 2 more sacks of wakame from Steve, myself, so that we can top dress the soil with pulverised dried wakame and he also said that we should use spent mushroom compost to add organic matter to the soil to increase the soil carbon. No problems with that Mr Solomon and your prescription fits in nicely with our own thoughts on what we want to use to improve fertility and vitality in both of our soils. We can also harvest mushrooms from our spent mushroom compost value adding at the same time. I love it when a plan comes together! We then bid Steve and his denture free lower mandible arividerchiand adieu and drove back to our friend in the witness protection’s property where she dropped me off at the gate where Steve was sitting in the car waiting for me to return with a trailer loaded down with wood, a most satisfactory situation! We drove home just in front of a massive black cloud that was hell bent on raining on our parade (and our load of wood!). We just made it home and the cloud decided to take a left at Albuquerque (no fun in us beating it home…off to find more mischief somewhere else) and leave us alone for a bit and so we quickly toted our wheelbarrows off to the woodshed to get ourselves some nice dry wood and on the way we decided to plant out the lovely claret ash that our good friend and lecturer in horticulture at our Polytechnic had bought for us when my mum died earlier this year. My mum had a massive big claret ash at her loved home in Denmark and couldn’t take it with her when she moved to her new little flat and she always talked about how much she loved it. We were going to buy one and plant it in her honour but Nat beat us to it when she read about our ideas. We hadn’t gotten around to planting it yet (slack…I know Nat!) but in honour of mums birthday today we decided to get stuck into our stone ridden soil and put the effort in to honour mum and give her a belated birthday gift. The place that we chose was near a regular green ash tree and overlooking Glad’s property with a nice view of the river. We can see it from the deck and when the ash starts to change colour in the future we will think of mum.

On a whirlwind visit to town after visiting Steve Solomon and our friend in the witness protection I noticed this lovely pattern painted by nature in Princes Square

Lacy tree shadows are a much better picture to share with you than what Bezial and Earl were doing ON said lovely deciduous trees…sigh…

A pretty display of Polyanthus in the park

I hate the gaudiness of Petunia’s but can’t resist Polyanthus

I can’t think of a better way to herald in Spring in earnest

Steve is wailing away to Jimi Hendrix who died on mum’s birthday (September 18th) 42 years ago. The dogs are tucked up on their respective chairs next to Brunhilda and I have our evening meal on the go. We were going to dispatch “Chicken” and “Stock” today but as it’s about to rain cats AND dogs we decided to give The Dalton Boys another day on this earth. We will be putting in a sterling effort tomorrow to work out where we are going to build our series of polytunnels behind the house. We dropped in on another friend who has been away this morning when we noticed them home on our walk with the dogs and they are going to get us some thick netting from the local salmon farm so that we can build our gravity assisted chook run. We will use terracing to ensure that our furious digging poultry can’t redistribute the hay that we put into it down to the bottom of the run in a day. Over the course of spring and summer we will be dealing with all of the debris constructively and we will be getting creative with our resources. I envy people who have water tanks and that is going to be our next big spend but we need to save up for them first. I have some ideas about market stalls and things that we have been tinkering with but that is going to have to wait a little bit as we have a pretty full few months ahead of us working out how to enclose our restless unsuspecting chooks and regain Serendipity Farms gardens and the ability to mulch and have the mulch stay put! After we planted mum’s claret ash “Chicken” was hovering around scratching the soil and pecking up slaters that had spilled out of the bottom of the bag and the remaining duck was feasting on a few foolhardy snails who thought that they were safe under the lip of the tree bag. I am under no misapprehensions that “Chicken” is going to do his level best to uproot the ash and will put some stones around the base tomorrow to ensure that they don’t tunnel mine down to its emerging spring roots.

Isn’t this a beautiful colour?

Either “Chicken” or “Stock” (not sure which) rootling around in the newly turned earth that contains the lovely claret ash that Nat bought for us when mum died earlier this year. We decided to plant it in honour of mum’s birthday. Thank you so much for your amazing kindness Nat and a huge hug to you for losing your dad last week

You know its really spring and not just a freak weather event when your grafted Japanese maples start to leaf up

This is how real men buy their spuds…by the 10kg bag and I applaud Steve’s cleverness as 10kg of King Edwards for $6.95 is a bargain in anyone’s neck of the woods

What have we here?

Is it catching?

Sigh…it would appear that “Clucky” is the new black on Serendipity Farm

Today was spent dealing in futures…it rained and thundered so any work was to be considered “future” and put on hold. We walked the dogs and swapped some plants and eggs for some netting to make our gravity fed chook run. We measured out the area that we are going to build our polytunnels in and decided to use the space in between the polytunnels as a covered area where we can harden off small plants out of the curiosity sphere of our native woodland scamp’s hell bent on scarfing their tender little shoots. It rained all afternoon and aside from trying to work out why my Facebook page seemed to not want to load when Steve’s was fine (sorted out now) we didn’t do much else.. We worked out the logistics of our polytunnels involving arcs, diameters and radii and gave ourselves headaches but at least we know that the materials available to us are going to be suitable for making polytunnels. I consider that a good day! It felt like a decidedly strange day all-round and after I post this post I am going to head off to ether land and do a bit of online distressing. I might even play a bit of Zelda as I had a nice early tea and am still awake which is always a bonus for me. I note that my posts are starting to creep up in the word count again but I am trying to keep a lid on their size. I will head off and post this one now as I know that there will be lengthy and wordy captions for my photos and it feels like cheating on my newfound desire to keep these posts lean and pertinent. See you all on the cusp of Saturday :o)

Before we go, here are a few of the projects that we took on in the week before Stewart and Kelsey arrived on our doorstep. Firstly this sad old rusted out mailbox might be only hanging on by the skin of its rust but you certainly wouldn’t know it from it’s schmick new look!

Our Hakea elk got attacked by some possum marauders and sustained an antler malfunction but he is still greeting visitors on Serendipity Farm

A close relative of the rusted out mailbox was the daggy old metre box but who could miss it now?

Last but by no means least the old dishevelled gas hot water system that hasn’t been used all winter now has a nice new paint job to match the metre box

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