Past, present and future

Hi All,

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

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

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

Bezials idea of the very best Christmas

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

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

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

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

Stevie-boy contemplating the consequences of his actions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Towards the back of the tram

Towards the back of the tram

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parsley futures

Parsley futures

Cherimoya futures (so far 3 of them : ) )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of Steve's bonsai babies given the Nikon treatment

Some of Steve’s bonsai babies given the Nikon treatment

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

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

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

Calander 2015

More Serendipitous Photo post padders

Hi Folks,

I actually had a blog post all done and dusted on Monday morning before Steve tumbled out of bed and we headed wearily out to the great monolith of a vegetable garden so you might be wondering why I am offering you another image post…well I took so many images that it seems a shame to cull them for words. I have also been very busy today and completely forgot about posting till late so the post can wait and you get lots of photos of what we have been up to this week. Let the images commence…

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We managed to get the 3 remaining fig “cuttings” (really root layers but we won’t quibble) out into the ground and in the background you can just about see where I have put the portable compost bin. What you might not be able to see is the chooks circling around it like Indians circling a cowboy caravan. What the chooks don’t pull through the possums climb over and sift through but at the end of a month the soil should be nice and moist and ready to plant another tree, probably an olive.

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The pot at the front has samosa mix and the pot at the back is a spicy homemade dipping sauce for the samosas

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The process of forming the samosa’s proper shape commences…

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Leftover samosas. I was brave and made my own pastry for them.

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Secondary fermentation of this weeks Kombucha. You can see the bubbles collecting on the side of the containers. By the time I put it in the fridge and then drink it it’s bubbly

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One of the many aquilegia’s that have sprung up all over the garden. If you look closely (click on the image) you can see a little ant. He is most probably carrying an aphid buddy to infest it 😉

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Another aquilegia, one of the more common “Granny’s bonnet” variety that grows so well in hot dry conditions

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Most of these potted plants will be given away as soon as we can work out which ones we want to keep and can assemble them all into one spot

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This might look like a jungle but it’s another potted plant area that appears to be going over to the pink side

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Eggs and sugar being whisked together…

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Custard being gently heated to make white chocolate ice-cream that will join some milk chocolate mocha ice-cream we made the day before.

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Some women like flowers, some like chocolates but Steve knows exactly what makes my heart sing and gifted me a large tub of Korean miso seasoning 🙂

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Narf7 gets artistic in a dusty shed

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It might look like a gypsy’s tent but it’s actually a partially covered glasshouse just about to get some much needed relief from the hot sun

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A small Chinese woman working on the fully enclosed veggie garden (or is it… 😉 )

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No, I should be so lucky! 😉

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The glasshouse with it’s “double skin” of netting that makes it nice and warm and humid inside minus the blazing heat thanks to the layering effect. It should be more useful to us for propagation over summer now and is actually part of the veggie complex now

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Steve figuring out how to mount an old screen door on the side of the old wood shed

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A well earned beer after a hard days work

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Since I swapped to making sesame milk for my tea I end up with pulp that I now ferment using non-dairy kefir. The results are very tasty and quite “cheesy” and I am going to experiment to see if I can’t make a kind of probiotic rich cheese out of them…waste not want not

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Another attempt at an artistic shot looking down from the deck at one of Steve’s lovely weeping maples below

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More aquilegias, lucky I love them 🙂

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It might be time to weed this table of potted plants methinks, however the weeds are actually vetch, a nitrogen fixer so for the moment it can stay 🙂

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One of the garden beds that we cleared out last year must have had these lovely iris’s tangled up inside it. We never noticed them before but this year they are flowering beautifully. Another reward for all of this hard work 🙂

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We still haven’t found time to cut up that felled tree but it would appear nature is our ally and is attempting to cover over the evidence for us

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It might be time to plant out that grape vine that appears to want to climb up the freezer…so much to do!

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My daughter Madeline has discovered horticulture and found these honeydew and rockmelon seeds and some red capsicum seed growing in their compost heap and asked me if I would like some…”Yes please!” :).

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We have had to resort to buying seedlings again but next year we will be well placed to produce all of the seedlings that we need from seed.

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I couldn’t resist…more seedlings

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Various transplants languishing in seasol and water and recovering from their various trauma’s nicely

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2 very healthy yacon plants champing at the bit to be planted out into the new veggie garden

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Steve’s and my garden creation kit, the hole in the hat is for airflow 😉

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Some of the kilometres of rope that we have been cutting from the ex fish-farm netting that we used to make our fully enclosed veggie garden

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Cherry seed and lemon seeds along with some other seeds that I can’t even remember what they are (but they are “food”) ready to be planted out

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NOT an aquilegia

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Using our automatic sprouter last year gave us beans that were ready to plant much quicker than planting them directly into seed raising mix. These are purple king beans after 3 days in the sprouter

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These borlotti beans came from our own bean cube harvest that the possums allowed us to collect last year

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We collected these yin-yang beans from our garden last year as well and as you can see, 3 days has given them a great head start

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Even the scarlet runner beans are sprouting! We are on to a winner 🙂

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I bought this wrought iron single bed head at the progressive garage sale much earlier in the year for $2 thinking “I could do something with that in the garden…” I am going to integrate it into the new veggie garden

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The fixings for my standard warm season breakfast, a healthy probiotic rich smoothie. On any given day they contain at least sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, both kefir and Kombucha, organic vanilla, ginger, soaked buckwheat, carob or cocoa and sometimes some non-dairy protein powder to add a bit of oomph

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The only way I can force myself to drink “water” on warm days. I load it up with sliced fruit (in this case a fresh lemon from a neighbour) and work my way through it in the day. It works.

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Last but by no means least the dogs now have a “new” rug to lay on out on the deck. We remembered we had some old rugs in the shed and decided to give the boys something nice to lay on when they are basking in the sun.

I hope you all enjoyed a pictorial post of what we have been up to on Serendipity Farm over the last week. Hopefully normal service will resume by next week. See you all then when I will (hopefully) have created new garden beds and will have planted out all of those new babies you saw in this post (along with some “old” babies that have just been waiting for this moment 🙂 )

Of Ferments, Foments, Fizzing Synapses and the odd good book

Hi All

I have noticed that a lot of the blogs that I am following are starting to delve into the subject of thrift and frugality. As a penniless student horticultural hippy I am more than aware of the value of thrift and am not only immersing myself in thrifty pastimes but am incredibly excited and rewarded by finding as many ways to live as frugally as possible as I can. I spend a lot of time hunting out how to do things myself. I decided that my “special” thing would be that I knew stuff. Not anything that would get me that million dollars on a game show but useful stuff like how to make milk out of nuts, how to start a fire with knicker elastic and a stick and how to approach a grumpy dog without having your jugular ripped out…you know…”useful” stuff.

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Thinking about cutting my long hair short…I reckon I would look just like Audrey Hepburn…

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See…EXACTLY THE SAME! Told you so 🙂

I think that the power of not being wealthy is that you have to learn to rely on your wits to get you what you want. You have to learn to plan, to organise, to save up and to find alternative ways to get to your goals. I also think the most important thing about being on a low income is how you look at your situation. Steve and I might be living below the poverty line but we certainly don’t feel poor. We manage the money that we do receive well and I feel positively rich. I was gifted a good education (what price that?!) and am able to head to my local library and find books on almost anything I need to know. Whenever I want to find out how to do something I can head straight to the internet and there will be a tutorial or pdf somewhere with my name on it that will give me the information that I need to know for the task.

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That innocuous little pile of “stuff” in the shadows there is netting that we cut to start the long and laborious process of covering our garden bed

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My able assistant showing you how we have to unroll the massive heavy (did I say HEAVY?!) rolls of rainwater soaked fish-farm netting so it could dry out enough for us to cut it in half to use to cover the top of our fully enclosed veggie garden

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I am not just performing my morning Tai-chi routine here folks…I am tying up hundreds of metres of nylon rope in the hope that it will hold up the weight of the heavy fish farm netting

Steve and I are both problem solvers. We are diametrically opposed in just about everything and even that has its benefits…we tend to be able to see all sides of a problem (when we can stop bickering enough to unite our efforts that is 😉 ) and usually, not always, we can nut out a way to at least stem the tide till we can afford to do the job properly. I have a bucket list of wants. At the apex is a wind turbine, closely followed by a HUGE rainwater storage tank. After that I have various smaller wants that mostly revolve around us doing things, planting, plotting and most importantly “DOING”. The numero uno of everything that matters.

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“Check it out Leroy!” part 1 of 3…

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You can see it better from directly underneath this  portion…16m long and 5.5m wide (remember this is only one third of the total size of this MASSIVE great garden area. You can see the old veggie gardens dwarfed underneath this part of the garden

As a seeker of the truth of useful stuff I have a most amazing series of hard-drives cram packed to the brim with what I have found. I have been doing this for years and it’s only comparatively recently that I have started to put what I have learned into practice. Jo, from “All the blue day” recently asked her readers how they had been living more frugally. I commented but it got me thinking about what we do, that we no longer even think about that is frugal. I like to make as much as I can from scratch. That makes good business sense to me. Take out that useless middle man (BASTARD!) and you are left with a lot more money in your pocket so narf7 is on a mission to cure her penniless condition by making as much as she can out from raw materials and recycled “stuff” herself (and apparently talking in the third person makes it even better…)

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I found a very clever idea on Pinterest for half burying wine and beer bottles in the ground upside down for a most aesthetically pleasing and thoroughly sustainable garden bed. “STEEEEVE…GET DRINKING!” 😉

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Some of the seeds that we bought today to start planting out in our veggie garden as soon as we get it under cover and the beds sorted

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A selection of little babies to go into the garden…can you see their little smiling faces? No? Well you aren’t looking hard enough then! Picking up tomatoes and eggplants next week as we like to plant them straight into the garden as soon as possible

I make my own sesame milk for my tea. I used to make almond milk but almonds are expensive and so I started to do a few experiments and sesame milk is my new go-to milk sweetened with a little homemade date paste to give it a rough approximation of regular milk in tea. Aside from that I now culture kefir and kombucha, both of which add valuable probiotics into my non-dairy diet. I can make a very good approximation of yoghurt out of seeds and nuts but now I am delving deeper and have found that I can make a tangy cheese out of cooked beans and my spent sesame seed husks from making milk when cultured with a bit of non-dairy kefir tastes amazing when you dip raw apple slices in it. I am UBER excited about the fermentation process and how invisible industrious little critters can be beavering away in the background making our food digestible. By the way, did you know that our bodies contain more microbes than cells?

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I buy raw buckwheat kernel’s so that I can process it freshly as and when I want buckwheat porridge for my breakfast. That way it is both cheaper and better for me as the nutrients are retained inside the grain. In the background you can see a little bowl of soaking soy beans for my homemade organic soymilk kefir.

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I used the last of Brunhilda’s winter latent heat to cook all of these dried, pre-soaked beans so that I would have some beany material to experiment with over the next few weeks. I am going to perfect making fermented beans to add even more probiotics to my already seething bacteria laden body 😉

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Sometimes my endeavours to make everything myself backfires…

I also attempt to grow as much of what we eat as possible. Living 50km away from the city we shop once a fortnight and we shop well and if we run out…too bad. We are in the process of attempting to grow a food forest on Serendipity Farm to shore our future but the “penniless” bit gets in the way somewhat. Where regular people head out to the nearest Bunning’s we have to get clever. That’s where 4 years of horticulture and decades of watching my mum and Grandma take cuttings, grow from seed and just generally “make a garden from bugger all” comes in. We have figs, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, avocados, carob trees and lots of other food bearing shrubs that we have grown from seed or cuttings. Sometimes if you want something you have to go about getting it another way than the accepted norm. There is usually a way to get what you want but you might just have to think outside that box or learn to do things yourself or stand on your head to see things from a different perspective to get it

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Last years cuttings and seeds that are this years transplants into our garden. Learning how to grow your own food and plants is a fantastic idea if you are monetarily challenged

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Our friend who used to be in the witness protection but who outed herself and became “Jenny” gave us a stack of raspberry canes and 2 Marion berries today from her garden to transplant into our garden. Aren’t good friends wonderful? Jen has been our friend since we all did horticulture together in a local Polytechnic. She says that we are the only people that she would let into her house when it is messy (not that it ever is 😉 ) and the sentiment is mutual…THAT is friendship folks 🙂

If we need something we try to make it out of something that we already have. Enter Steve the amazing. I SWEAR his mum pinched him from a gypsy because this guy can MacGyver his way out of anything and can make pretty much whatever we need here with bits of wire, a bottle cap and some tree sap and what’s better…it lasts. Our temporary dog compound around the house to stop Bezial from wandering when we first moved here 3 years ago has stood the test of time. It holds Earl the fearless in and away from the feral cats that meow and spit at him through the gates so it must be strong. We are in the process of building a fully enclosed vegetable garden the size of a decent tennis court. Another means to an end. I also saw a lovely homemade basket woven willow cloche for preventing chooks from scoffing your preciouses that I am going to start making ASAP so that I can grow things in the garden again (who says Pinterest isn’t useful? 😉 )

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Despite Steve’s little joke with the sharp knife, this ISN’T what it looks like…no still beating heart was held for a single moment by this good vegan (can I still stay in the vegan confraternity this time?…Please?…) what you see before you is the squished husks of a couple of kilos of blackberries that we only remembered that we had when we were cleaning out our freezer in the shed. What to do with a couple of kilos of blackberries? Why make WINE of course!

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Part 2 of the wine making process. Part 1 was squish and soak in water for 24 hours…part 2 is where you sieve out the seeds and pulp over sugar into a sterilised container. Our container is somewhat larger than this small batch of wine needed but we are ever hopeful that one day we WILL fill a container and the “craic” will go on for weeks!

I make bread and just about everything else that we eat here from scratch. The more you bake/make it the better you get at it. I sub a lot of vegetarian options to reduce costs because meat is expensive and Steve could care less because the things that we cook taste delicious with or without meat. It’s all about sauces, spices, herbs and finding the right flavour bases (which we also make ourselves). We are not scared to delve into other cuisines and have found a wealth of amazing recipes, techniques and food ingredients this way. My current adoration of fermentation came from messing around with ferments myself but then reading about homemade miso, tempeh etc. and learning that fermented soy products are the only healthy way to consume soy…and why stop at fermenting soy? Just about every bean, grain, fruit and vegetable has some way to culture it and when you think of all of those little internal microbes you realise that adding a few more to the mix might just add something positive to the balance.

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“I Spy with my little eye…”

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“Itsy bitsy spider but she is flipping’ HUGE!” That will teach us to leave the fish-farm netting rolled up and out in the elements for months without touching it!

I spend a lot of time researching (from 3am till 7am) and then putting into practice what I have learned. I read a lot. I take books out of the library and read them. I am currently reading a book about creating gardens from bugger all (a good book indeed!) and the traditions of community when creating gardens. I am also reading Patty Smith’s autobiography and it’s an amazingly good read. I couldn’t tell you what she sang but I now know a whole lot more about this fascinating complex lady. Reading feeds your imagination and your soul. I am having some amazing dreams and remembering them now. Just needed to fire up the old brain box again 😉

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We took the dogs to the dog park. Note Bezial standing to the left doing NOTHING but sniff the same blade of grass for well over 15 minutes…may as well have a nap…

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Me attempting to stop one of the dogs noticing that this wonderful tree trunk is VERY close to the external fence and performing parkour moves before we could catch them…I don’t think that Beaconsfield is ready for Earl in full parkour

Our studies are also fermenting exciting possibilities. We now know how to knock together a rudimentary website. Nothing fancy at the moment but we are fast learners. Keep your eye on this space. We plan on turning Serendipity Farm into its own little blog space in good time. I am also getting a niggling feeling like I am neglecting our local community in all of this research. What if I was to start a group of like-minded people in the local area? Predominately we could get together over crafts at the local hall or perhaps we could form a baking circle? What about if we started a gardening group/club and shared our information and plant material? What about if I headed over to the local community centre and showed people how to do more with less? What if? What about? It all boils down to taking all of this amazing information and sharing it and THAT dear constant readers is what narf7 is all about. That’s what this blog is about. I have an omnipresent overwhelming NEED to share. I think I was born to share. Imagine how exciting a community of like-minded people could be? Take your stagnant little suspicious neighbourhood and turn it on to possibilities…Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is showing small communities how to get off the grid entirely with wind turbines…a large wind turbine is too expensive to even contemplate for a family… for a couple of families…but what about an entire community? Can you see the possibilities?

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This is the only way that Steve can get the dogs to run around in the dog park…note the bag of dog treats in his hand…

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You can see why these 2 are particularly active if you look to the right of this shot…sigh…

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Earl after running around like crazy, “smiling” up a storm

I am all about the excitement of new possibilities and not giving in to the depressing morass that society has found itself bogged down in lately. I am not an ostrich, I KNOW that we need to be aware of Global warming and the current crazed economic threat of world monetary collapse BUT I can’t personally “do” anything about that…I CAN show people how to do more with less. I vote with my feet and my moth filled wallet and I can learn to do more with less. So can you. Have a great rest of the week folks. Get stuck in to trying to do what you can with what you have. Make it a challenge, not a chore and see how your life and your degree of satisfaction increases exponentially with the results 🙂

Confraturnity of Chrones

I just wanted to share a gorgeous image that my sister shared with me on Facebook. THIS is a life well lived folks and what I am aspiring to with not only my wonderful sister Pinky, but each and every one of my fantastic confraternity of prospective crones. A reprobated and bolshie old age to each and every one of you 🙂