All you need – an elegant sufficiency

Hi Folks,

Armed only with my trusty library card narf7 is on the hunt. I am hunting a book called “Pigs tits and parsley sauce” a most worthwhile read by all accounts. A book about how to live more sustainably for less and wouldn’t you know it? The library didn’t let me down…another blow against the middle man and another point to narf7, the penniless middle aged student hippy who point blank REFUSES to say “can’t” this year. We just had our 600 litre borrowed water tank repossessed. Our Crazy American “friend” decided that another couple he has just met are more deserving of fluoride free water and we had to empty out 600 litres of prime rainwater but not before thrifty problem solving came into play…

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Exhibit A, Crazy old American

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Part 1 of 7 blue barrels that are going to make up our rainwater system

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Baking soda and cornflour…we made decorations but they still aren’t dry!

We recently found a large blue barrel floating on the tide close to shore on the riverbank near Serendipity Farm. I waded out to ferry it in to shore (Steve has delicate city feet 😉 ) and we managed to get it into the back of the car and back to Serendipity Farm complete with freshwater oysters. It had apparently been used as part of a pontoon and had broken free from its moorings to come and live on Serendipity Farm as a much prized single entity…obviously has Napoleonic tendencies (much like everything else on Serendipity Farm so it will fit in here well). So we were able to syphon 200 litres of our precious water into this makeshift rainwater tank. What to do now? Well, we have devised a most interesting gravity fed system that we are going to add to as we find more blue barrels. Steve has been hunting Gumtree for the elusive and most rare blue barrel but it would seem like most of Tasmania has the same idea.

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Our wonderful friend Roxy gave us a lovely little basket of home-grown happiness for Christmas 🙂

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This is my new most delicious healthy treat…homemade coconut cream yoghurt using coconut cream, blended up fruit and some of my finished non-dairy kefir to culture the brew…DELICIOUS! and a most satisfying substitute for “real” yoghurt

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Steve took some artistic shots of his Christmas food…

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Pork pies and sliced meat never looked so good! Sorry you didn’t get images of my nacho’s, they weren’t very photogenic but they tasted like heaven 🙂

Steve logged on for a final look as we are heading into Launceston today (Sunday) to pick up a Karcher high pressure cleaner from Steve’s mum for Christmas. A MOST appreciated gift indeed Pat 🙂 and some sundry cleaning products (sanding pads and sandpaper) so that we can prepare the deck and railings for painting when Stewart and Kelsey arrive on New Year’s Eve to help us paint the deck, rails and part of the house. Aside from 2 bedrooms, it will be the very last part of making Serendipity Farm completely “ours”. The whim paid off and we found another blue barrel in Launceston for $15 so now we will have 400 litres of rainwater storage…we just need to find 5 more blue barrels to make our plans complete.

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Buying your pet supplies through a small local producer sometimes yields benefits that you wouldn’t get from a large generic supplier. This is one of our boys bones gifted for Christmas by Suzie, our lovely pet food lady

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I saw and photographed this on Christmas Day for Jess and Bev and anyone else who would get a chuckle out of this mindful graffiti 😉

Well it is now 2014. “Happy New Year” everyone! I have a really good feeling about this year. Not because it isn’t going to contain its share of pain and heartache, but because I have learned to accept that without pain and heartache, the stark simple beauty of this amazing thing we call life is so much dimmer. This year finds Steve and I hard at work rubbing away years of dirt, grime, rust and neglect from our deck, the deck rails, guttering, downpipes and part of the house that was clad with Western Red Cedar as a feature. It has been exposed to the weather without protection now for a good many years and so we are going to paint it. After perusing the Karchers in our price range we decided that handing over good money for something cheap and plastic that we probably wouldn’t use much wasn’t something that we wanted to do and so we made a decision to carry on as we are and we have almost prepped every surface ready to start painting today.

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Wild foraged harvest…the larger red fruits are sour cherries from roadside trees (possums aren’t all that partial to sour) and the strange looking fruits that resemble cashew fruits are Native Cherries that for some reason, the possums haven’t scoffed from the trees this year like they usually do

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A before shot of the deck, by next week we should have painted the deck, the railings and the upright posts you can see here

2013 was a very important year for me. After half a century of life I finally learned that food is fuel, not comfort and managed to get down to a healthy weight with very little fanfare and fuss but with an incredible amount of happiness and contentment. I spent the year learning, living, and Steve and I managed to complete our media course and have the bits of paper to prove it. We built a huge fully enclosed veggie garden and Stewart and Kelsey who are glamping outside informed me that “something” spent most of yesterday evening attempting to breach the deck without luck…SCORE! I have a vision of a large sad possum laying spreadeagled out over the top of my vegetables pawing sadly at the netting in the direction of my magnificent lettuce tantalisingly close but completely out of reach.

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Can’t say I blame the possums and wallabies…this all looks quite tasty

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IT looks like my yacon decided that living is fun and are putting on lots of growth. They are surrounded by spuds we planted out 2 weeks ago that are also having a great time in the veggie garden

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My compost heap experiment. We trucked this load of compost from over next to the chook shed where we had a large compost bin (that we never turned) and dumped it at the rear of the veggie garden in order to soften up the soil in this area. It was full of worms so I keep adding compost to the front of the pile to feed the worms but I noticed that there were all different kinds of seedlings growing in the pile so decided to let everything grow. The larger plants that you can see in this photo are melon plants that my eldest daughter Madeline grew and gifted to me. They have small flowers on them already 🙂

2014 feels good to me. We are starting it how we mean to finish off, busy and “doing”.  I can feel 365 days ahead and they feel fecund with possibilities. They are sending out tantalising rays of interest to me. I want to taste each one of them fully…to savour my moments and to enjoy those flavours, whatever they may be. There will be bitter days. There will be days that taste of sadness and hopelessness but underneath those days will be the surety that things will get better…that life is an incredibly rich tapestry of flavours, colours, textures and choices that will lead us from one day to the next. How lucky are we? How incredibly blessed to be allowed to experience this wonderful life each day and to have the chance to step out in the new day with a slate wiped clean of yesterday and all of the possibilities of today laid out before us like a huge pile of Lego waiting to be built

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Some of the adventitious food seedlings that are starting to grow

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And a few more

This year I am going to grow all of my vegetables from seed. This year I am going to learn something new every day, even if it is only something simple. I am going to challenge myself to wake up each morning and fully appreciate the moments that make up each day. I am going to go looking for the beauty in the simple and the mundane. I am going to look for the lessons in what life hands to me and I am going to try to be a better narf7 in the way that I both see things and react to them. I want to grow this year and learn and understand. I want to do more, see more and feel more and in the process I want to sample everything that life hands me in 2014

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We tipped compost in this area prior to me shovelling horse manure into this area and you can see a plethora of pumpkins are all starting to grow amongst the potatoes…nature doing her thang

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Not so tiny yellow zucchinis

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A tangle of herbs and Swiss chard and carrots

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Everything is growing like topsy and our efforts to build this garden look like being rewarded 10 fold 🙂

This is going to be a small post. Apparently WordPress has sent me a report about how the blog went this year. I could care less about stats to be honest. They are the annoying thing that makes my desktop take longer to load than it should. I don’t care where my dear constant readers are coming from, so long as they “get” us and our vision…you are all welcome. We don’t discriminate here (much 😉 ). Serendipity Farm has become our own tiny little island in the stream. Its where Steve and I can march in time to the cycles and heartbeat of the earth…an ancient and primal sound that most of us can’t hear any more. We get to say “BOLLOCKS!” to the speed of society and we get to put our feet up and just “be” us. We know how incredibly lucky we are to be us, right here, right now. Some people would say that we were part of the great unwashed masses…they would be right in the unwashed bit…our shower has been out of action now for 3 days thanks to someone (who shall remain anonymous) deciding to remove the door and put in the new shower door at the very same time as we decided (most insanely) to tackle the deck and house painting. We are part of the great unwashed. We are tumbled in with everyone else and we are incredibly happy that we have the chance that we have here on Serendipity Farm. Life is wonderful…life is good…a simple life full of compassion, hope, joy at simple things and gratefulness and where sharing is tantamount to societies lust for power, we find ourselves rich beyond riches in our simple life.

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More experiments…this circle of mesh contains old compost that I threw in here in order to soften up the soil beneath it ready to plant out a food tree. I tossed the last of the silverbeet that we pulled out a while ago into here and as you can see, some of it is growing again! The bonus of experimentation is that you never know what you are going to get and sometimes you get more than you expected

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Bezial and Earl’s Boxing Day bonus

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Steve whipper snipped the tea-tree garden area and I whipper snipped a 15 metre firebreak around the back block. Here you see a before shot of the back block with Franks whipper snipped side already done

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A lovely little yellow fungus inside an old tree stump on the back block

My wish is that 2014 will bring happiness to you all. That it will provide you with opportunities to learn and grow in yourselves. That the lessons that you learn will not break your hearts and won’t be too hard to bear. I hope you will taste the breeze of contentment, that sunshine will fall in equal measure and that you and yours will grow in the light of understanding and possibilities that this wonderful New Year brings. Here’s to sharing Serendipity Farm and our lives with all of you my dear constant readers. Some of you may never comment but that doesn’t matter. All I hope is that you are still getting something out of my mad ramblings and our crazed middle aged Hippy antics and that there is an opportunity for us to touch the lives of someone whom we may never have been able to meet without this amazing platform and all of us will emerge the richer for that brief interlude as we pass

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Before we got started on the side of the house…

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We had to put gates in to stop the fabulous Mr E from absconding off the side of the deck to hunt cats and chooks after we sanded down the deck timbers and removed the chook netting (Earl resistant) in order to paint this side of the deck rails. As you can see, we also had to remove a fair bit of vegetation in the process. That tyre to the left of the image contains a poor long suffering well chewed artichoke plant. Hopefully we will have some complete transformation shots to show you by next Wednesday 🙂

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Not entirely sure how long these pears are going to last but I get the feeling that possums don’t like pears much. Those peaches that I refused to consider disappeared sometime in the night after I posted their tentative image last Wednesday 😉

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Earl “helping” to sand the deck…sigh…

See you next week folks. Hopefully the deck will be finished by then and we will have some good photos to share with you all but for now you are going to have to be content with what I have managed to find today (note to self “get out there and take some photos!”) 😉

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New Years Eve

2 Hi All,

It’s New Year’s Eve today. We are going to usher in the New Year the way that we plan to spend the rest of the year. Quietly, with a glass or two of bubbly, a nice meal of whatever we like and relaxing in front of the television (most probably asleep) until about 10pm when we will head off to bed long before the fireworks (flares out here) go off and will oblivious of countdowns, revelry and drunken carousing. I guess that makes us bordering on old farts but we like what we like. We are not very social creatures and like our own company. It’s not because we don’t like other people, it’s because we like “us” and how we live out here and don’t like to have to organise our lives around other people and their wants and needs. Living out in the country on a 4 acre property where you only get the occasional glimpse of your neighbours is fantastic for hermits like us. We can do what we like, when we like and our days are our own. 2012 is offering us a glimpse of a degree of freedom that we haven’t had before. We can head out fishing in the tinny, we can potter around in the garden slowly changing it to our own design and affecting change to our advantage. We can get up when we like, go to bed when we like. We can take each day and make it ours and we both realise how very lucky we are to have those kinds of choices.  I laughingly say to Steve that “when we retire” we won’t have that problem with learning each other all over again. Who could stand being with their partner 24/7? We can and we do. For 2 people who are on entirely different spectrums of humanity we survive each other remarkably well. Neither of us tries to manipulate the other because it’s simply not worth it. When you are dealing with someone that you can’t even begin to imagine their thought processes, it makes it very difficult to go about manipulation in the classic sense and as we are both lazy and impatient, we can’t be bothered and it would take too much effort and would take too long so by our flaws, we get along well.

I am going to spend today throwing all of our clothing onto the bedroom floor. We have the most enormous amount of clothing for 2 people that rarely wear more than 3 items of clothing a week and most of it sits at the back of the wardrobe doing its level best to escape at any opportunity and most especially when the wardrobe door is opened. We can’t find anything in there because, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, we are lazy and impatient (isn’t it liberating to admit your faults? :o)) and hunting through clothing is NOT going to happen. We just grab the first thing that we see which results in some most interesting reasons why people shouldn’t just “drop in” on us without phoning first! I don’t want to be muttering about not having any underpants or Steve, socks in the coming year and so I am going to solve that problem by paring down our wardrobe significantly. How many coats does one person need? We have about 20 each. Jeans…I have about 15 pairs and most of them I can’t fit into any more so why am I keeping them? No doubt the op shop will get a massive influx of clothing at this time of year and our input will be significant. I want to be able to look into the wardrobe and be able to isolate and pick up an item of clothing at will. No more waiting for the toppling pile to settle before angrily shoving it all back in, holding the teetering pile back with 1 arm whilst hurriedly shoving the door shut in readiness for the next time I stupidly open the door and become engulfed by  Mt. Underpants.

I am going to let you all take a peek into our glasshouse where we store all of our precious babies that we have grown from seed and cuttings over the last few years. Most of them come from our 1st and 2nd year at Polytechnic when we were on sight and keen as mustard. 2011 was spent renovating, clearing masses of debris and tangled jungle from around the house and bollocking out our Diploma (which we got in the mail, Thanks Nick! :o). We keep these plants in the glasshouse that we renovated using our usual no money lots of time to think up solutions to get what we want using what we have laying about and whatever we can get cheaply and it seems to be holding up and the plants are obviously loving it!

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Right…I have tried to be a clever clogs here with my total lack of technological skills and insert a slideshow of the contents of the glasshouse. I did this because I couldn’t sift through and find any to leave out and wanted to share them all with you (like a proud mum showing off her kids). Anything that looks dead isnt, it’s in a dormant phase (especially the elephantipes bases that die back at will), most of the lush leaves had have a good going over by an interloping snail and you can see why I call hostas “gastropod fodder” because they must be delicious to them. Everything is happy, growing like crazy and anything that doesn’t look like it should be in a glasshouse (like pines, succulents etc) is there because it was previously on deaths door and was taken to the glasshouse to rest and recouperate and 9 times out of 10 they survive and flourish in the glasshouse. It contains our precious hot climate babies that we grew from imported seed, Earl’s conquests over plant life that hadn’t much left to live for to be honest and who have all come back admirably and things that we have moved from the heat bed (like avocado’s grown from seed) and cuttings that are thriving now and that need to be moved out to harden them off. Gardening is NOT something you enter into to lead a slothful life! I can’t see the slideshow till I publish this post. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that ALL of the photos that I have in this post (slideshow or those below) are going to show up in the slideshow. I know this and I don’t care! I figure that you don’t mind the odd photo and that most of you are patient enough to wade through some of the pictures twice, and that your mothers taught you that it is NOT polite to ridicule technophobes when they are at least trying to conquer their lack of skills. Do I have that covered now? I think so! Also, you get to look at my awesome photos twice…aren’t you lucky little vegemites? :o) Here goes…(I have my hands over my eyes as I post this…)…sigh, I just edited this to admit defeat…all the pictures are in this post and I am not the clever clogs that I thought that I was…back to the drawing board…

We are heading up to the 1st paddock where Steve has been removing the fence that separates the house area from the paddock. There is a twin concrete trough that must have been used for watering some form of livestock at some time in the distant past that will be perfect for giving the chooks a regular supply of good clean appropriate temperature water. I learned today that chooks won’t drink any water over 5C of their body temperature and a concrete trough situated in the right shady position will ensure that they are happy with their water temperature from now on. We headed up and manipulated the trough onto a hand trolley.

Testing for water tightedness

Still going fine…

Oops! Oh well, they didn’t need 2 troughs so Steve cut the remaining trough to size with a diamond tipped blade and it’s now over near the hen house

I got bitten by “something” but as of yet I haven’t started convulsing, twitching or vomiting (any more than usual…) so I think it must have been a small spider or ant. When we removed the trough we found these…

and finally a nice closeup shot for you to take a good look at them. This is how I actually identified them as skinks eggs :o)

I would imagine that they are lizard’s (skinks in particular) eggs. One cracked when I was taking these photos and it is most definitely an egg and the shape that they are would lead me to believe that they are reptilian. Serendipity Farm is a huge learning experience and every day we get a glimpse of the local wildlife and their habits. Sorry lizards, but your loss is some other hungry creatures gain. I took some photos in the glasshouse for you to see how crazy everything is going at the moment. It is 22C out on the deck and 35C in the glasshouse. I noticed some massive pink flowers as I was taking photos inside the glasshouse and emerged to see what they were. I did a bit of research and the most likely candidate is Hatiora x graeseri a member of the Rhipsalidae family which are predominately epiphytic (don’t need soil to grow) and that can grow in tiny pockets between rocks or in tree branches like orchids. I thought that this might be a member of the Schlumberger (zygocactus) family but again, I learned something today. Steve headed back to the shed to try to mend the cracks on the concrete trough and I headed down into the jungle to get you some pictures. Up until now I have hidden the extent of wilderness to which this poor garden has sunk. I think that you are all comfortable enough with us now to share in some of the sheer terror that we are going to have to deal with when confronted with “Gardening” in this lower garden. I am going to call it Extreme Gardening and might see if we can’t get it listed as an Olympic sport. These masses of chaos are slowly going to be tamed to the point where we can start planting out what we want to grow in these wild and tangled garden zones. It’s a massive challenge and one that we are going to throw ourselves into over the course of 2012. We will share it all with you and you can follow the changing landscape. Isn’t it good that we are doing our Diploma of Landscape Design in 2012-2013? We should be learning all that we need to know about implementing a garden design custom made for Serendipity Farm and because Steve and I have very different areas of expertise, we should be able to manage the full spectrum of what we want to achieve and how we are going to get there between us. I am just going to head off now and have a little hide under the bed and a minor panic attack after looking at those photos and what we have to accomplish in these chaotic wild areas of the garden. See you all tomorrow. Don’t worry…if I am still under the bed, Steve can hand me the laptop and I can still post…

I almost forgot to put these photos in I was so stressed about the jungle photos that I took and will put into the posts following these. That way you will get a better understanding of why I regularly procrastinate about heading out into the jungle with our puny secateurs and hand saws when what we really need is a compas, a good pair of machetes and most probably a chainsaw…

I just wanted to show you that these flowers are much bigger than the usual Zygocactus type flower. I am off back under the bed now…”Earl! Make some room!”…