(Somewhat) Wordless Wednesday…

Hi All,

 

Today’s blog post is a little bit different than my usual word filled ramble. Today I am going to talk in photos while I give my brain a bit of a rest from the muses endless clatter. Please click on the link at the end of this post to visit an African farmer who has given me pause for thought and great hope with what we are trying to do here in our little patch of paradise…now on, to the not words…

 

Our old lecturer from last year gave Steve this excellent Adobe book when Steve was dropping off our last assessment in the city. Thank you Chris :)

Our old lecturer from last year gave Steve this excellent Adobe book when Steve was dropping off our last assessment in the city. Thank you Chris 🙂

 

Spread rounds of bread dough of your choice with garlic butter...

Spread rounds of bread dough of your choice with garlic butter…

Bake them till golden brown...

Bake them till golden brown…

And serve them with some delicious home made veggie and lentil soup :)

And serve them with some delicious home made veggie and lentil soup 🙂

How to train a dog to use a treadmill...hint...make sure to have a LOT of treats...

How to train a dog to use a treadmill…hint…make sure to have a LOT of treats…

"Seriously? You want me to walk on this?!"

“Seriously? You want me to walk on this?!”

"OH I get a treat? Sign me up!" ;)

“OH I get a treat? Sign me up!” 😉

My little indicator apple tree next to the protected pile of manure to prevent Earl from using it as a ramp to evacuate from the compound

My little indicator apple tree next to the protected pile of manure to prevent Earl from using it as a ramp to evacuate from the compound

I have been keeping myself very busy working hard in the garden. This is an almost extinct pile of earthworm packed horse manure

I have been keeping myself very busy working hard in the garden. This is the almost extinct pile of earthworm packed horse manure prior to me wheeling it up to Sanctuary

And this is a pile of very damp oak leaves just about to be moved into Sanctuary

And this is a pile of very damp oak leaves just about to be moved into Sanctuary

Happy chooks scratching through the remains of the pile and that log selection contains a small oak tree that grew from the debris

Happy chooks scratching through the remains of the pile and that log selection contains a small oak tree that grew from the debris

Acess to Sanctuary via the shed

Acess to Sanctuary via the shed

A big compost pile in the corner now covered in manure and leaves

A big compost pile in the corner now covered in manure and leaves

More manure and leaf piles that are feeding the surrounding citrus trees as well as becoming the beginning of future garden beds in the process. I keep adding buckets of veggie scraps and plant material and dry leaves and the worms and fungus do the rest

More manure and leaf piles that are feeding the surrounding citrus trees as well as becoming the beginning of future garden beds in the process. I keep adding buckets of veggie scraps and plant material and dry leaves and the worms and fungus do the rest

The last of the currant compost piles inside Sanctuary. Earl has claimed this one to roll in...

The last of the current compost piles inside Sanctuary. Earl has claimed this one to roll in…

Happy rhubarb in its forever home surrounded by oak leaf mulch

Happy rhubarb in its forever home surrounded by oak leaf mulch

My transferred Jerusalem artichokes in their new bed where they can grow and expand to their hearts content

My transferred Jerusalem artichokes in their new bed where they can grow and expand to their hearts content

Weeds pulled out of garden beds and sunlight accelerating the growth of seeds that were already in the beds. Lots of free tomatoes, pumpkins and "other" things are growing

Weeds pulled out of garden beds and sunlight accelerating the growth of seeds that were already in the beds. Lots of free tomatoes, pumpkins and “other” things are growing

Curry the male Currawong in mid splash

Curry the male Currawong in mid splash

I managed to save a little honesty plant inside Sanctuary and it has rewarded me by flowering. Now I just need to remove that blackberry that is giving it a hug

I managed to save a little honesty plant inside Sanctuary and it has rewarded me by flowering. Now I just need to remove that blackberry that is giving it a hug

 

We had to redo our new compound gate as the old one was built out of obviously very green treated pine that warped magnificently. This new "Donna Hay" green gate is made out of dry timber and should last the distance

We had to redo our new compound gate as the old one was built out of obviously very green treated pine that warped magnificently. This new “Donna Hay” green gate is made out of dry timber and should last the distance

Steve got tired of my dehydrator being in his music room and made it a new shelf in the laundry

Steve got tired of my dehydrator being in his music room and made it a new shelf in the laundry

Veggie seedlings on Monday

Veggie seedlings on Monday

Veggie seedlings on Wednesday

Veggie seedlings on Wednesday. Growing like weeds 🙂

Looking back outside the glasshouse door you can see a dog sniffing around for the chook that I just saved that was stupid enough to fly into the dog compound

Looking back outside the glasshouse door you can see a dog sniffing around for the chook that I just saved that was stupid enough to fly into the dog compound

My purple artichoke babies :)

My purple artichoke babies 🙂

The other inhabitants of the glasshouse enjoying the sunny weather

The other inhabitants of the glasshouse enjoying the sunny weather

I grow my nut trees from seed I collect on my travels and I obviously have 2 different kinds of walnut here :)

I grow my nut trees from seed I collect on my travels and I obviously have 2 different kinds of walnut here as you can see by the leaf structure 🙂

Look Bev, how your babies have grown! :)

Look Bev, how your babies have grown! 🙂 These are pepino cuttings a good friend sent me and aren’t they healthy little babies. Bev certainly knows how to grow a mean pepino 😉

Even under the potting table is green!

Even under the potting table is green. This is a lemon balm growing out of one of the cracks in the glasshouse concrete floor

The first of the rhododendron blossoms on Serendipity Farm. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of them and we are enjoying basking in their beauty on our early morning dog walks :)

The first of the rhododendron blossoms on Serendipity Farm. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of them and we are enjoying basking in their beauty on our early morning dog walks 🙂

The first of our raspberry futures :)

The first of our raspberry futures 🙂

Wait a minute...isn't this for the dogs? ;)

Wait a minute…isn’t this for the dogs? 😉

Bezial relaxing after a particularly difficult trot around the garden...

Bezial relaxing after a particularly difficult trot around the garden…

My 2 fig cuttings that were bare sticks over winter that are now taller than the fig cuttings that I planted out last year. Ready to be planted out

My 2 fig cuttings that were bare sticks over winter that are now taller than the fig cuttings that I planted out last year. Ready to be planted out

Potato, yacon and "other"patch

Potato, yacon and “other”patch

Zucchini and some form of cabbage or cauliflower seedlings. My friend that gave them to me has no idea which they are ;)

Zucchini and some form of cabbage or cauliflower seedlings. My friend that gave them to me has no idea which they are 😉

That very overgrown area at the back of Sanctuary is just about to become my grape arbour. Who says that compost isn't worth making? This area was where I threw a few buckets of compost last year and look at how much vegetation is growing in this small patch. Compost folks, compost now! :)

That very overgrown area at the back of Sanctuary is just about to become my grape arbour. Who says that compost isn’t worth making? This area was where I threw a few buckets of compost last year and look at how much vegetation is growing in this small patch. Compost folks, compost now! 🙂

This photo was taken standing inside the fence looking back towards the rear compound fence. These trees would have been devastated by the combined efforts of the possums and the wallabies by now but the new compound seems to have given them a much better degree of protection than I would have initially thought. Earl is obviously VERY good at patrolling and marking "his" patch ;)

This photo was taken standing inside the fence looking back towards the rear compound fence. These trees would have been devastated by the combined efforts of the possums and the wallabies by now but the new compound seems to have given them a much better degree of protection than I would have initially thought. Earl is obviously VERY good at patrolling and marking “his” patch 😉

Look at how my little indicator apple has grown! It might just be a rootstock apple but I can graft onto it. Apple futures on Serendipity Farm, I never would have thought it possible :)

Look at how my little indicator apple has grown! It might just be a rootstock apple but I can graft onto it. Apple futures on Serendipity Farm, I never would have thought it possible 🙂

 

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/10/28/glimpse-climate-smart-agriculture-kenya/

Anyone who is struggling with the costs of growing vegetables and gardens in general take heart from Maurice’s story and go and get yourself a bucket full of hope, possibility and enthusiasm from this mans dreams that he turned into realities with his steadfast and most determined actions. He is a credit to penniless people everywhere and a great example of how anyone can do this, you just need to find ways to access cheap/free soil builders. We are just about to pick up 3 trailer loads of grass clippings from Glad’s place next door. Another garden bed inside Sanctuary once they rot down. Its all in the possibilities and in recognising them when they raise their heads 🙂

Last but by no means least…here’s a little pre Halloween image where I become a zombie thanks to Papa Doc Earl…

"BRAINZ!" ;)

“BRAINZ!” 😉

And now we are three…

Hi All,

Technically we are 4…but if you add our peripheral family in we are 9 but the title refers to this…

nowwearethreeBecause yesterday Earl turned 3.

Here is a photo of the original toys that the stories were based on…

Original and real Pooh bear and friends

Eeyore and Bezial are very much one and the same critter and Earl has “Tigger” written all over him but maybe this Tigger is not as representative as this one…

thylacine

That’s an image of the very last Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) in captivity. Earl and this “Tigger” are more closely related methinks 😉

DSCF5350Because he is a “Big Boy” now, Earl got to drive the car for his birthday. He was checking the rear view mirror here…

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Remember the old Batman series on the television when the villains were on screen everything went sideways…Here is our own resident Serendipity Farm villain with one of the 25 balloons that he had the BEST time bursting.

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I emerged from my OH&S repressed state like Heimlich from A Bugs Life…I felt like a “Beeoodiful butterfly” and headed out the door to go flitting from flower to flower but was met by this…overgrown weeds EVERYWHERE!

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Get a gander at that grass!

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So being the tenacious narf7 that I am I headed down the driveway to rid it of its weedy extremities

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When I say “weedy extremities” I mean “Extreme weeds”. Here you see a gorgeous forest of Scotch thistles and forget-me-nots waving in the breeze

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Here one minute…gone the next…

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Everything was going swimmingly until I tackled this scotch thistle and it ate my whipper snipper line

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Back to the shed to get more…I found plenty of it BUT I couldn’t work out how to get the whipper snipper head off so that was it for the day…but then I headed off and did a lot of pruning, mulch shovelling…

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and general tidying up until lunch time and after lunch the boys and I headed up to the veggie garden to fill in the holes left by pulling out the walkway partitions that were previously installed and I spent 3 hours shovelling horse poo into the wheelbarrow and driving it to the garden beds to fill them…

DSCF5391At least SOME of us were working hard…

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Ducky still sitting on her clutch of chook eggs

DSCF5384Earl hunting lizards…Earl nil, lizards 1

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Earl hunting watering cans…Earl 1, watering can reduced to rubble 😦

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Got to make sure that the boys don’t go thirsty…all of that lizard hunting and laying around tires a body out you know

DSCF5380Scarlet runners from last year have decided to grow again!

DSCF5406Sorry Pinky…those lovely pristine gardening gloves that I dare say you imagined me pottering around like Margot Ledbetter out of the Good Life in her rose garden with got a sterling workout yesterday.

DSCF5416The rest of the images in this post are of this mornings walk with Earl. I figured that you might all be interested in a narf7 perambulation. Here you see the newly shorn driveway and the newly 3 Earl eagerly forging ahead…note the taut lead…

DSCF5423The first sniff for the day…

DSCF5424The first pee for the day, and we haven’t even gotten out of the driveway yet. It’s going to be a long 5km

DSCF5446For all my New Zealand readers “we have them too!” A lovely tree fern growing on a steep incline on a hairpin bend. Probably the only reason why no-one has pinched it 😉

DSCF5455The only thing holding this section of bank together are this trees roots. You can see a good cross section of what our soil is like here…can you imagine trying to dig this?!!!

DSCF5458“You KNOW you want to give me a treat now…”

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“Cheers!”

DSCF5555Standing over the road from the Auld Kirk Church looking at the Batman Bridge where we are heading

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Walking across the Batman Bridge

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Looking back at the Auld Kirk Church and that red and white “thing” is the lighthouse where we took that picture of the Batman (are you dizzy yet? 😉 )

DSCF5480Some of the incredibly water wise plants that are growing sans water in the park on the other side of the Batman. This is a hebe and hebes will grow just about anywhere and are very drought tolerant. Apparently it is “Earl’s” park…just so’s you know…

DSCF5482Another incredibly water wise plant, an Escallonia. These will grow from a cutting stuck into the ground and produce lovely honey scented flowers that bees adore

DSCF5486This is a Cistus x purpureus and originally comes from the Middle East. There is a white variety called Cistus ladanifer that is equally as hardy

DSCF5494No idea what this is aside from it having squared stems so it is most probably in the laminaceae family but it’s pretty, the leaves turn a lovely grey colour as they age and it gets HUGE. I am going to take hard wood cuttings of all of these shrubs and get them growing on Serendipity Farm. A wise gardener takes good note of what is growing well around them because that’s what will grow well in your garden too. These plants don’t get watered ever and so they are perfect for Serendipity Farm and most of them are pretty as well so its a win-win situation

DSCF5513Council chopped down all of the old HUGE Pinus radiata that were in this area of the park. I know that a few branches blew down in the strong winds but this makes me sad.

DSCF5519To give you a bit of scale to see how big the trunk was on this smaller one

DSCF5523Guess which narf7 will be taking the trailer back for a few of these gorgeous big pine chunks to make into features in her new veggie garden. Council is just burning them and I feel like that is sacrilege…so does Earl. Here he is contemplating just how much urine he is going to have to produce to make sure that EVERYONE knows that they are all his

DSCF5563We finally arrived back home and decided to take a final shot of Serendipity Farm peeking out from behind the Auld Kirk Church…all of this before 8.30am “bring on the rest of the day!” 😉

I hope you don’t mind me giving you another image intensive post. I had a very busy day today with an unexpected drive by “dropping in” from a friend who decided that we were going to plant out a vegetable garden there and then…the garden is now FULL of veggies and I will have to share photos in my next post as for now I am absolutely knackered! See you next week when I should hopefully have some good photos of how the garden is progressing. I have plans to fill tyres with soil and plant out pumpkins to grow all over the place in the top part of the veggie garden that we won’t be developing till next year (no time this year) to cover the soil and keep the moisture in. I will also be planting out lots of sprouting spuds that I just found in my cupboard and that my friend brought with her and will be wheelbarrowing a couple of cubic metres of home grown black gold compost to make a large compost heap at the top of the garden. It’s all hands on deck…it’s summer on Sunday! See you in Summer/Winter 🙂

A week in pictures…

Hi All,

I have a post ready for today but at the last minute, when I was hunting through the images that we have accumulated over the past week I decided that I might tell the story of the week that was in pictures. They say that a change is as good as a holiday and with Steve’s guest post last week you have had a fortnight off ;). Are you ready to wander through Serendipity Farm? Here we go…

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Having never made homemade thick syrup before I had no idea how to go about making some but never one to back down from a challenge I forged ahead…without a recipe…and without most of the ingredients that you would be inclined to use to make a heavy syrup. It consists of raw sugar and floral green tea reduced. I had a vague recollection about having to test a drop on a saucer of cold water but wasn’t entirely sure what consistency it had to reach. I realised that it wasn’t going to be a thick syrup and had jumped straight to green tea toffee but to be honest,  It’s amazing it managed to get to this stage but after pouring it onto a teflex sheet to set hard…it didn’t. I ended up with a bendy semi-set toffee…what to do?

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Refusing to give up on my vague recollections as fact, I remembered how you can turn semi-set toffee into “taffy” by pulling it. I buttered up my hands and got stuck in to pulling it. Despite liberally buttering my hands this stuff stuck. It didn’t turn to taffy, it didn’t do anything aside from stick to anything that it touched. It is languishing in the fridge in a bowl thinking about it’s actions. I figure we will melt it over homemade ice-cream…and in the words of Jason Nesmith of Galaxy Quest fame “never give in, never surrender!”

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You see before you another selection of half-assed food preservation. The yellow jars are lemon curd/butter. The dark jars are citrus marmalade that was also made with raw sugar and the lighter jars are 6 jars of date and apple paste. I didn’t want to waste some apples that were a bit floury, a huge stash of lemons and Steve just wanted marmalade so what’s a girl to do? These 10 jars of preserves are 8 more than I have made in my 50 years prior to this. This preserving lark is eminently satisfactory 🙂

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What happens when your husband is thinking about something else while he is putting the kettle on to boil 😉

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Time for tea…

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Homemade Asian stuffed buns (for Steve) and the top level of the steamer holds a rich chocolate steamed sponge that he had with homemade custard for dessert

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The buns and stir fried veggie accompaniment but I forgot to take any pictures of the dessert

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“A real sunbeam!”

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It pays to keep your eyes open when you are perambulating around your local neighbourhood. Steve and I found this beauty floating just over the road from our driveway…how convenient! A pity I had to wade out  in the freezing cold water to get it but them’s the breaks and this baby has been earmarked for water storage inside our new veggie garden 🙂

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Decanting the results of a week of Kombucha fermentation mixed with a litre of juice into bottles for secondary fermentation. I am mixing glasses of delicious Kombucha and non-dairy kefir and the results are delicious. Even Steve is drinking the Kombucha because it is really tasty and eminently customisable. My next batch is going to be fermented with some fresh ginger and apple juice.

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Another tea. That pile of riced red potatoes covers a good old fashioned shepard’s pie with some grated cheese on top. Steve proclaimed it “delicious”

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One of multitudes of babies hatching out all over the place

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I have been throwing harvested perennial seeds all over the place in the side garden and finally some of them are starting to grow… those osteospermum daisies days are numbered though!

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We still haven’t finished cutting up the tree that fell into the side garden thanks to the incessant rain but the sun is finally starting to win out and even though the side garden is full of tree, it’s looking quite pretty at the moment

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More tree and more garden

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Still more tree but the other end of the garden

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At least you can see we have at least been TRYING to cut up that tree 😉

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Cutting foraged steel poles to be sunk into the ground and concreted in to stabilise the netting over the top of our huge fully enclosed veggie garden

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Drilling holes

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Holes are needed to string wire through to prevent mass invasion from above by possums

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Another tree that fell needed to be cut so that we could get our wheelbarrows full of concrete through to the veggie garden

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You can see how damp the weather has been by looking at that sky. We were racing against the clock to hammer the poles in and then concrete them in before the rains came

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In the foreground you can see the roots of the tree that fell down and the proximity to the new veggie garden along with the exposed old veggie gardens that have been completely predated by chooks since we uncovered them

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But not before I harvested all of the spinach!

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Jerusalem artichokes that I found growing on the side of the road and rehomed on Serendipity Farm and a wild lettuce that just decided to keep them company

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Steve was gifted an old empty beer keg not so long ago and aside from vague (and vain) aspirations of turning it into a still (HA!) he had to rethink his gifted keg and thought that he might make it into a rustic coffee table. After realising that we don’t need a coffee table he rethought again (all of that thinking 😉 ) and came up with turning it into a stool for his music room. Here you see the remnants of the old leather jacket that I used to cover a stool a few months ago being used again to cover a section of plywood that Steve cut into a circle. The old pillow gave us the padding material and with some rudimentary tools we turned this pile of “stuff” into this

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A padded leather covered keg topper for a musicians derrière

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“Can I have it?”

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Sorry…No, but you CAN pretend you are D.J. Earl…will that make it better?

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He’s all soul 😉

Lastly, here’s a nice composite picture that Steve made using some new software that he recently got called “Snapseed”. It’s much easier to use than Photoshop and great fun to boot. The flower is in the side garden and if you look VERY carefully on the left hand side you can STILL see that tree ;). All in all a good way to say “seeyalateralligator” for today and wish you all a great week ahead…

prewtty

Narf7 bakes bread and loses a leg

Hi All,

Today we are going to take a little bit of an aside from my usual blog post format. Firstly, I didn’t lose a leg…I was just borrowing a quote from “Father Ted”. I have been communicating with a lovely lady in the U.K. called Joanne who hosts the wonderful blog “Zeb Bakes”. I found Joanne’s blog through a compilation bread blog site called http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/ that is one of the most incredible places to find just about any “bread” you could possibly want. Joanne posts some of her wonderful homemade breads to this site and that’s how I met her…through some of my exuberant comments to her blog.

http://zebbakes.com/2013/08/10/date-syrup-kefir-bread/

And here’s a follow up post for anyone wanting to try the recipe but who wanted to only bake a single loaf…Joanne is such a thorough and caring person when it comes to her blog followers…

http://zebbakes.com/2013/09/08/post-script-date-kefir-loaves/

This kefir raised bread couldn’t have come at a better time. I pulled Audrey, my sourdough starter, out of the fridge to feed her and discovered that she had decided to commit suicide. Rather than a yeasty scented mass of dough, she had gone belly up and was exhibiting a scent wholly unbecoming of a sourdough starter. R.I.P. Audrey, I did you wrong. I also found out that starters aren’t meant to be kept in fridges for extended periods of time and you are supposed to feed them regularly…that would be more than once a month…sigh…”BAD NARF7!”…I am a murderer! I tipped the squalid remains into the compost bucket where her now green and fuzzy remains will add a new suite of organisms to the resulting compost. I was just getting my head around the thought that I was going to have to make a new sourdough starter when along came Joanne with “The Recipe”…

I had asked Joanne about “Date syrup” a product that she had discussed in a post because I had never heard of it. I make date paste to use instead of refined sugar and after talking to Joanne a bit we started discussing kefir etc. Joanne posted the following post about using kefir to raise bread rather than using sourdough starter or a commercial dried/fresh yeast. I got VERY excited about this idea because I make kefir regularly using homemade organic soymilk sweetened with homemade date paste. I found that my kefir grains (sent to me by one “Rabid Little Hippy” who gets a HUGE hug across The Tasman for being so babelicious and such a generous blogger) adore the sugar in the date paste and I can tweak the fermentation of the kefir by the amount of date paste I choose to add. I have also experimented using other sweeteners and can’t see why using something like coconut sugar or rice syrup wouldn’t give you a similar result. Bread can also be baked with water kefir so I decided that I was going to give it the old college try and attempt to bake a loaf or two…

Joanne is an amazing blogger. Not only did she give us this wonderful recipe to tinker with, she actually wants us to get stuck in and inject our own take on the recipe. She tried making a gluten free variety but it didn’t work and asked if I would have a go at making a non-dairy version for people who either choose not to have dairy or simply can’t…there are a lot of us out there. I have linked to Joanne’s Post so that you can all go to her wonderful site and see it in person…she even gives you a PDF download of the recipe! Sorry guys, I am not quite up to that yet but give me a few years and you never know…at the moment, the best I can do is take Joanne’s recipe and add myself to it. I have bolded Joanne’s instructions in ”parenthesis” so that you know when I am quoting her wise words…the stupid words are entirely of my own design so please don’t judge Joanne for them, I take full responsibility ;). I am going to post my images here in a slideshow format. They start at the point where I had mixed the preferment ingredients together and end with the final bread. The last few images are of the bread the following day just before Steve made heavenly smelling toast with it…all in all this bread is wonderful and it won’t be the last time narf7 bakes it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Narf7 Bakes Date Paste Non-Dairy Kefir Bread

(This is where Joanne had put “Started” and had given the time she assembled the preferment) Started – err…no idea really but it was before lunch time and after breakfast so that narrows it down a bit for all of you bread detectives out there ;). The room temperature was reasonably cool here in Tasmania but we do have Brunhilda, our large wood fired oven slowly ticking over all day and so I would imagine the room temperature would have been around 20C.

Make a preferment with: –

  • 150g room temperature water. I used rain water
  • 200g fresh kefir which I make with homemade organic soy milk to which I add homemade date paste (I soak a packet of dried dates in boiling water to cover and once the dates are soft, I puree them to a smooth paste in a blender. To 1 ½ litres of homemade soymilk I add 300g of homemade date paste and this is the basic food for my kefir grains to feed on). Note, you can use mature water kefir in this recipe as well. Not sure how it goes but Joanne mentioned that another blogger that she knows of has made bread with it so it is possible. Mine was “milk” kefir though so don’t quote me on it 😉
  • 250g strong (bread) flour. I used regular strong white bread flour from a local Tasmanian flour mill
  • 50g extra date paste

“Mix these well together and leave in a covered bowl for approximately 18 hours in a warm room (20 – 22 C)  at which point it should be bubbling and thick and looking ready to go.” Note – I put the mix on a proofing rack over Brunhilda to make sure it bubbled enough but prior to putting it on the proofing rack it was bubbling albeit a bit slowly so I would imagine it would just take a little bit longer at a colder room temperature. Kefir keeps fermenting even when stored in the fridge and I have to open the lid of the container of fermented kefir that I keep in the fridge to make sure the lid doesn’t blow off.

Ingredients for the final dough:-

  • All of the preferment (as above)
  • 850g bread flour. I used the same white strong bread flour as I used in the preferment
  • 282g  water (again, rainwater)
  • 20g salt (I used sea salt)
  • 30g melted butter
  1. Using a Kenwood Mixer I put the starter in first, added the water and then the flours and mixed for about three minutes on the lowest speed. I did this too but my mixer isn’t a Kenwood and it started to list sideways somewhat alarmingly midway through the process so I decided to hand mix the dough from that point on.
  2. Leave to develop in the bowl for 20 minutes. I covered the bowl with cling wrap for the duration.
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and trickle the melted butter in while the mixer is going and continue mixing till the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Again, my mixer had a bit of a hard time with this dough and after allowing it to dance across the counter for a bit, I liberated the dough and hand kneaded it for a short while to make sure the butter and salt were evenly distributed.
  4. You may need to adjust the dough with more water if your flour is very absorbent. Mine wasn’t and the proportions above were just fine.
  5. 5.       (If you mix by hand then go with a more traditional order of ingredients, i.e. mix the water and starter together and add these into your bowl of flour.)
  6. I will let Joanne talk you through the next bit because I had never done this before…”I took the dough out once it was reasonably developed and put it into a big bowl, covered with a tea towel, and left it for about three hours. During this time I folded it in the bowl twice, as much to see how the fermentation was progressing as anything. Folding in the bowl is simply picking up the dough from one side and pulling it out and over the main bulk of the dough, like light kneading except you don’t put it on a board. You can put it on a board. There are no rules here!” I followed Joanne’s instructions to a “T” and figured that I would fold the dough once an hour and each time I folded the dough back onto itself, it had risen double, and I took this as a very good sign!
  7. Again, Joanne is the real bread baker here so once again I will let her talk you through this next bit…”Once it was showing good signs of activity and had increased in size by roughly a half. I weighed it into two equal portions.  Then I split those two portions in the ratio 85:15 using the % function on my scales. If you don’t have one of those, it would be about 135g for the small ball to 765g for the main ball.
  8. 8.       With the first portion I made a boule which I divided into four quartiles with a thin dowel rod and made a smaller boule with the small ball and put that in the middle.
  9. 9.       With the second portion I made a pointy ended baton and then a plait with the remaining ball which I placed along the top of the dough – because the dough had such a long second prove this didn’t come out quite as I had hoped but I like the effect that it gives anyway. A good way to create a nice looking effect on a loaf if you are finding slashing difficult.
  10. I put both loaves on baking paper on trays and tucked them inside clean bin liners to prove.” You can tell that Joanne is a real baker, I attempted to put my bread on a baking tray but realised that I had no way of stopping it for sticking to the bin liner so ended up putting it into 2 bread tins rather than have to fall on the ground twitching when the top of the bread stuck to the bin liner and deflated alarmingly (“FOOL ME ONCE BREAD DOUGH!”…)
  11. Second proof time was about three hours. Be patient, these are just as slow as a more traditional sourdough to rise. I need to point out here that my bread took less time to proof. For some reason it rose fast and it rose incredibly well. Just as good as any regular yeasted bread that I have made in the past. Proofing it on the bread rack over Brunhilda may have had something to do with it but who knows…I was just happy that all of the steps were going like clockwork and I wasn’t going to stick a spoke in any wheels just to ask questions 😉
  12. 12.   Egg-wash the crust with a mixture of egg yolk and kefir whey and sprinkled a few sesame seeds on top for interest.
  13. 13.   Here’s what Joanne said…”Bake in a preheated oven (with steam) either on the trays or slide them off onto a baking stone or kiln shelf which is what I use rather than a stone.” I just put the bread tins into the oven…no steam, no smoke, no whistles, no bells just a hot oven.
  14. “Starting at 220 ºC for the first twenty minutes and then dropping back by stages to 190 ºC for the last ten minutes of the bake.  About 40 – 45 minutes in all.” We had been stoking the fire to make it get hotter and inevitably the oven that we had the bread in kept getting hotter and we had to put the bread into one of the cooler ovens (I have 4 ovens to choose from in various stages of “hot”, how spoiled am I?) but the damage was already done and the bread top was a little “over-caramelised” but not beyond saving in the photo-shoot (and that’s all that really matters right food bloggers? 😉 )
  15. “Leave to cool on a rack as normal once you are satisfied the loaf is cooked; a nice hollow sound when you thump it is a good sign.” Being a natural fuss-budget I wasn’t entirely satisfied that it was cooked and tossed the loaves back into the oven for 5 minutes upside down once I took them out of the bread tin. It was probably overkill in hind sight but I wanted my bread to be a success…I had a lot riding on this.
  16. Wait till the bread is cool before cutting it.

Or if you are Steve and I, you will cut it when it is hot, soak it liberally in butter and Steve will eat 4 slices just before his tea and will feed a further 2 slices dripping in butter to the slavering hounds waiting below…we are ALL class here on Serendipity Farm. I am sure that most of you will have the diplomacy and willpower to wait until the bread is merely lukewarm before descending on it like wolves but whatchagonnado? My excuse is that I wanted to take photos of the crumb…it’s MY excuse and I am sticking with it! ;). The bread was amazing…the bread rose beautifully with no added yeast aside from the kefir whatsoever…the bread was almost textbook wonderful to bake and I couldn’t believe that I was able to replicate this amazingness being that the baking conditions were almost certainly directly inverse to those that Joanne’s dairy kefir were subject to. Let me clarify it a little bit further…

  1. Joanne is a wonderful bread baker and I am a bread plebeian
  2. Joanne used dairy kefir and I used something strange that I keep making because I SWEAR it is alcoholic (“HIC!”)
  3. Joanne is at the tail end of summer and Narf7 is on the tail end of winter
  4. Joanne created a wonderful recipe that anyone can follow and that a bread idiot couldn’t stuff up (I know they can’t, because I didn’t 😉 ) and I am waffling in excited stanza’s that are probably confusing any poor wayfaring baker from the ether beyond belief
  5. Joanne gave you a PDF…I am not even going to PRETEND to know how to do that so my regulars can just do one of two things “forgedaboudit” or “head over to Joanne’s blog and get yourself that delightful PDF and revel in its amazingness like I did when I downloaded it”
  6. Joanne cared enough about her blog followers to do a follow up post that clarified any issues in the first post and that gave interested people a choice whether or not to bake 2 loaves (the original recipe) or reduce the recipe down to 1. I won’t be offering you the same courtesy folks. It isn’t because I don’t love you all, it’s because why would I try to tweak perfection? Just head over to Zeb Bakes and check it out there.

Joanne, as a well-known bunch of geriatric Aussie rockers with a Scottish lead singer would sing loudly and proudly, “for those about to rock…we SALUTE YOU!”. You both “rock” and deserve my “salutations”. Please consider this most pathetic husk of a blog post that isn’t even worthy to crawl on its belly next to your post, a humble experiment designed to be for the greater good. Your recipe is great…mine was good. From this point on I can refine this bread. I can tweak it and mess about with it and I can include bread in my diet once more and for this, I owe you so much more than a bit of experimentation. Thank you for sharing this recipe and for allowing us free reign to tinker with it…consider it non-dairy tinkered and I offer the torch up to braver bloggers than I am to run with the Gluten Free recipe because that is a step too far for one Narf7 to take folks!

Here endeth the post…that’s it, that’s all folks…you can all go home now and revel in the fact that you can make bread WITHOUT ADDING SOURDOUGH OR COMMERCIAL YEAST. Yup…my job here…is DONE! :o)…except for today’s word cloud that is…here it is folks in all it’s bready goodness for you to enjoy…

Nondairy kefir bread blog post

Two old tarts and Top Gear

Hi All,

I have discovered 1 downside to being 50. The recovery rate is somewhat slowed. Kym headed home to Western Australia on Sunday and it is Tuesday and I am still trying to tell my body that bread isn’t my friend. It has decided that it LOVES bread and flour products in general and appears to want to make up for lost time. Lost time equals a fat derrière body so you can just about give up on that idea! I stopped trying to match Kym and Steve when it came to wine consumption. I bow before their ability to imbibe and pass the torch to them both. I can, however, eat for the queen and it only took me a few days to jump right back into bad habits. Getting back into habits that you have cultivated can sometimes be a little difficult but my 50 year old body can get reacquainted with my 50 year old willpower all over again.

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Can you tell it’s cold and windy? Kym standing next to the lighthouse at Low Head near Georgetown. No penguins but I think that they all blew away

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Me telling lies about the size of the fish that I caught

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The only way that we can keep Earl out of the banana’s…

What is going to take longer to get back into is reading my RSS Feed Reader. I shared Pinterest with Kym and showed her how it can be a useful tool to while away an afternoon but was too scared to open up my RSS Feed Reader and so it had remained sealed like King Solomon’s tomb for the entire 9 days that Kym was here. I am a prolific blog follower and commenter and the blogs that I regularly follow must have thought that I had expired (some may indeed have drawn in a sigh of relief 😉 ) but narf7 is back…in pog form! It is going to take me a solid few weeks to get back to waking up early enough to deal with the backlog of blog posts in my feed reader as the feed reader wasn’t the only thing that had to be neglected while Kym and I cavorted around the countryside reinvigorating entire swaths of wineries.

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2 reprobate hippies and their long suffering (under walked) dogs on Paper Beach in winter

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I can’t even remember what was so hilarious…probably still under the influence 😉

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Guess who doesn’t have this sock/boot any more…sigh…

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When I was rootling around to find another earring to replace a faux one that was giving my lobes jip I found this silver gem bracelet that my wonderful daughter’s had bought for me a few years ago. No point leaving it in a velvet bag so narf7 is now decorated and shiny with bling 🙂 Cheers girls, I LOVE IT 🙂

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More bling, bought in a little shop in Liverpool but sadly broken on one of the links

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Some of the gemstones in the bracelet. I am going to have to get it fixed as I love this bracelet as well 🙂

Steve and I decided to put our studies on hold. I can’t say that I was sorry about that because our lecturer tricked me. He allowed me to think (uncorrected) that the unit that we are currently being subject to was “creative writing” when it is actually something entirely noxious and the word “creative” is dangled as a lure for unsuspecting narf7 moths. The unit is actually “creative thinking” and requires a degree of researching and waffling that even I find obsequious and repulsive. We have to learn all about the 6 hats of Edward de Bono. Beware folks! This might sound like a most entertaining children’s story or an excerpt out of a Rolling Stones magazine describing the crazy antics of Bono’s insane half-brother but it is a sad indictment of an entire cultures need to stuff everything into controlled boxes including creativity. No longer can we create wildly via thought. We need to farm our creativity and much like farmed fish, something has to give. You can’t stuff creativity into a box folks and expect it to give you something unique. What you end up with is a series of hats that are supposed to funnel you to a directive. They even tried to lure me with colours! As the irascible bolshie woman that I am I find it difficult to do what I am told at the best of times but when I am given a series of coloured hats to attempt to funnel my “creative thought” towards a target I find my heels dug in sharply and Steve is going to have to drag me forcibly through this unit. I feel a battle brewing on the horizon!

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Me looking decidedly like Katharine Hepburn but Ms Hepburn would NEVER allow her ankles to be photographed like shameless narf7!

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Steve was the little engine who could…but not for very long! 😉

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It’s egg central on Serendipity Farm and ducky has started laying her lovely blue eggs again! It must be all of the rain (and slugs/snails/leeches) that she is eating. “Duck eggs on shopping day girls” 🙂

I published my first solo post on the wonderful blog Not Dabbling in Normal on Monday and if any of you would like to see a short post by yours truly (I KNOW…it is a miracle!) feel free to perambulate yourselves over to NDIN and check it out. I have yet to wood burn my post 50 message of enlightenment but “I can and I will” is my new motto. I can wash and vacuum out the car and I will…I can plant a tree a day and I will! I can stop procrastinating about my latest study unit and I WILL get stuck in and finish the bollocking thing…you get the picture. Life is found in the “doing” not the planning and the first 50 years of my life has seen an imbalance of power with a lien decidedly biased towards the planning stage. Post 50 brings me “nearer my God to thee” and so I want to get stuck into the actualities of living. It certainly took me long enough to work it out but at least I did. That’s a good start…

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The road and most of Serendipity Farm!

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The top part of our ex-driveway…

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The twin canyons that have formed to allow the water to run straight down the driveway and into the Tamar River…never let it be said that we didn’t let the water do whatever the heck it wanted on Serendipity Farm…sigh…

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Almost 200mm down folks! Looks like we are going to have to do some serious drainage work on our driveway ASAP 😦 (when it stops raining that is… sigh…)

Kym headed home after making her very own first Stromboli. She wanted to know how to make a good reliable pizza dough and I immediately thought of the Stromboli dough. It isn’t actually a Stromboli dough, it’s a dough for calzones that I found online and discovered that it is amazingly malleable to various dough based recipes. So far it has baked excellent calzones, Stromboli’s (both savoury and sweet) and pizza bases both thin and crispy and thick and tender. I needed a post about “flour” for my NDIN (Not Dabbling in Normal from this point forwards folks) blog post and I immediately thought of sharing, developing community and how flour has allowed humanity to grow and prosper. There may or may not be a degree of historical realignment skewed to my version of events in my post but no-one can dispute the importance of grains and cereal crops to mankind. Kym made a fantastic first Stromboli and I actually remembered to take photos so you can share her glory here

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“More cowbell baby!” if you don’t know what I am on about you NEED to hunt down the Saturday Night Live episode with Will Ferrell, Christopher Walken as The Blue Oyster Cult…hilarious AND full of cowbell. “How’s THIS for a cowbell Bethany? Steve says “MORE cowbell baby!” 😉

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I might not have been able to take Steve with me on the day but here’s the front end of a cow doing a great job of looking like him 🙂

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Yup…Steve or Hippy Jesus…you choose 😉

Kym’s husband Bruce…a saint of a man who needs a medal, required only one thing of Kym when she returned back home…well he required two things but he only got one. The first was that Kym turn up on time (sorry Bruce that was ALWAYS going to be a questionable ask…) and the second was that she pack her bag with as much Tassie cheese as she could stuff in. Considering she only had 3kg of space she did an amazing job and included 2 large blocks of chocolate to (literally) sweeten the deal. To facilitate the cheese giving we decided to head off to Ashgrove cheese factory to sample their wares and see what we could find for Kym to bring back for Bruce. We discovered more than cheese and returned home with some of their amazing milk, some Gloucestershire cheese offcuts for Steve (future Stromboli happiness) and a good selection of some of the more delicious and unusual cheese samples for Bruce.  We also discovered a selection of fibreglass cows and a large Tasmanian native pepperberry shrub in full pepper production that I may or may not have pinched some berries from. Bruce also got a wheel of double cream brie that should keep his cheese buds happy for a while.

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“Sorry? What was that cow?…”

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“Bruce needs Kym to empty her suitcase and fill it with cheese eh?” 😉

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Kym sharing how she feels about that idea…

I headed into town on Monday to do the fortnightly shopping and to meet up with my daughters to “do lunch”. I was still dazed and confused after my 9 days of carousing and ended up taking twice as long as Steve does to do the shopping but at least I returned before Earl started to eat the furniture. We were going to head off to have lunch at a local Korean place but ended up picking up Subway to go and I must admit I have a decided soft spot for Subway sandwiches. Mine was HUGE. The girls serving us appeared to be having some kind of meeting with a higher power and they appeared to want to impress the suited man with a clipboard. The girls and I ended up with more salad than we would have thought possible to stuff onto a sandwich and my request for “extra jalapeno’s please” resulted in an entire jar being tipped on. I haven’t had Subway in quite some time and as a customisable meal it has a lot of things going for it. We arrived back at the girls house after an extended shopping trip all over Launceston at 3.15pm and after hurriedly scoffing my Subway (second degree mouth pain courtesy of jalapeno central) and swilling a much welcome mug of hot tea I raced off to pick up a sack of chook food and back to the grumbling stomachs of Earl and Bezial who usually eat at 3…needless to say they were a bit miffed. Earl (the gizzard of the South) actually refused his meal initially! I am not the only one who is going to have to get reacquainted with old habits 😉

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This is what happens when the clay under the soil gets sodden…arrivederci wattle tree!

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This used to be dry as a bone…not any more! Now we have a swamp to make our melaleuca trees happy (and the moss…don’t forget the moss!)

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The perfect place for a pond…in fact…the powers that be appear to have chosen it for just that purpose!

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Mush…

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Daffies covering more mush 🙂

Today (Tuesday) I got up at 4.30am. I am trying to get my head around early mornings all over again after 9 days of waking up at 7am and going to bed at 11pm. I love the extra time that getting up early gives me but there are swings and roundabouts to everything and the swing is that with early mornings you have to have early nights. I have been enjoying spending time watching a bit of television with Steve lately. Kym got to watch Aussie rules football twice in the 9 days that she was here. That is a sporting record for this house Kym! It is also the very first time that Aussie Rules football has been allowed to remain on our television for more than the 2 seconds that it takes to realise that something sporty has managed to find its way onto the screen. All this week (as a lead up to Father’s Day) we get to watch a mega marathon of Top Gear. Top Gear is an enigma folks. You don’t need to love cars to watch this show. The collective genius of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond is the stuff that ratings executives dream of. You take one naughty boy (Clarkson), a man child (Hammond) and one intellectual duffer (May), you combine the three and pure magic happens. I challenge any one of you pooh-poohing me from your computer screens right now to watch a classic episode of Top Gear and not laugh at least once. Add the enigma known as “The Stig” to the equation and you are hooked. This show is as addictive as crack cocaine and twice as much fun. Steve and I are watching it and recording it because the earlier I wake up, the sleepier I am getting. I fell asleep on the couch last night at 8pm. Not too bad for me but a sign of what is to come. Soon I will be dozing at 7pm and night time television watching will be a distant memory. Swings and roundabouts…it all comes back to what you are willing to take up, and give up.

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Kym and I sitting in front of the amazingly gorgeous quilt that Kym made for me for my birthday. Isn’t it wonderful?! :). I am a very lucky narf7 to have such a wonderful talented friend :).

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Bezial and Earl photo-bombing! At least you get to see more of the gorgeous quilt 😉

I just added “The Stig” to the dictionary on Word…crack cocaine folks! ;). Well this is going to be where I finish today. I have a day of trying to force coloured bowler hats onto my uncooperative head and I can’t see it ending nicely. Steve and I have to cram a fortnight of work into 2 days and the subject matter is decidedly slanted at raising my ire and my natural bolshie tendencies so I don’t like my chances of not twitching so I decided to get this post done nice and early in the equation so that my twitching and angst doesn’t get transferred to my blog. See how much I love you all? ;). Have a great week folks. I post every Monday on NDIN (Not Dabbling in Normal) so feel free to head over there and see what narf7 can do with a few words and pictures. Until we meet again for our communal cuppa over the airwaves, take care and wherever you are, remember that life is in the “Doing” not the planning…Mr de Bono could have done with taking that to heart!

Only the very BEST turn 50

Hi All,

Today I am going to depart from my usual post format because aside from being under the influence of a haze of white wine that seems to have settled upon me (curiously and most coincidentally) shortly after Kym set foot on Serendipity Farm, I have a plethora of photos to share with you that too many words would negate so here is the past week in images and captions…

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The hero who managed to stop Serendipity Farm from drowning single handedly. We had torrential rain that didn’t let up for days and suddenly backed up all of the drains at once and Steve headed out into the deluge and shovelled out all of the blockages single handedly…my hero :o)

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Kym and I stayed in Hobart on Saturday night right on the waterfront in Salamanca Place in Hobart. Here you can see the kitchen taken from the stairs leading up to the loft.

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Kym managed to capture the spirit of the evening (well the wine of the evening anyway! 😉 )

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Kym at least accompanying her wine with some food

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crawling up to bed…

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A HUGE bathroom with a washing machine and dryer…my kind of luxury!

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Small mugs? No problems! Just give me 2 Kymmy and everything will be fine 😉

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Delicious breakfasts and another cuppa (or two) set us up for the day

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One of the biggest dogs (or smallest horses) that I have ever seen…he managed to slobber all over my coat and leave his hairy calling card behind after I gave him a cuddle…dog lovers don’t care about their clothes when a big cuddle is on the horizon

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The coat in question being used to ward off the frigid air of a cold Hobart morning

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I doubt they would get many tourists hurrying to sit upstairs on this double decker bus in the middle of winter

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At the first lookout point on the way up to the top of Mt Wellington to see the snow

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Kym asked me what I thought about the steady stream of cyclists attempting to ride to the summit of the mountain…actions speak louder than words folks!

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A typical facial expression that Kym likes to effect…I am starting to get used to it now but if the wind changes Kymmy…you’re stuffed! 😉

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“Well looky here…what seems to have found it’s way into my hand?”…

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“It’s SOOO heavy…so VERY heavy…”

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“OMG did you see that Grizzly bear behind you Fran?! I just tried to stop him from eating you alive!”

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“Sigh…”

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“There’s that Grizzly bear again Kym!”

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“Hang on…I will get him for you!”

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“Narf7 saves the day! Another crisis averted…my job here is done!” 😉

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“Hmmm…Frank Zappa said “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”…”

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“No yellow here!”

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“MMMMM Snow!”

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“AAAHHHH BRAIN FREEZE!”

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“Here’s lookin’ at YOU Kym (kid)”

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Anyone can make a snowman…we made a snow duck :o)

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Just to show you how far away Kym was standing because of my AWESOME ability to throw snowballs 😉

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At the summit…Kym decides to become a Kymscimo or is that a Kymcycle?

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Almost frozen to death after waiting for Kym to find her keys (again…)

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Look…Bjork! (and yes…I am thinking about renting Kym out for impersonations…any takers?)

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Bezial waiting for his new BESTEST EVER friend to get back from Hobart

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Me trying to stop Bezial from drowning Kym in slobber while Earl looks on

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Kym fitting in on Serendipity Farm completely 🙂

How was that for a post? A bit different to usual and a bit later than usual but we have a delicious roast chook dinner to cook with roasted veggies, gravy and a HUGE homemade sponge cake to decorate for Kym’s 50th birthday TODAY FOLKS! Feel free to wish her happy birthday through the blog here as she will be here for the next few days (albeit plastered). Now that we are both 50 we are free to be as reprobated as we want to, in fact, we tag teamed on some wineries today and they didn’t know what hit them…”Look out Launceston…you’re next!” ;). See you all next Wednesday when I may (or may not) have recovered from Kym’s visit. I doubt Kym will EVER recover from her visit…sorry Bruce, she might be a shallow husk of the woman that you sent away but she certainly had a good time! 😉

No spam today, the spam has gone away…

Hi All,

It has been a very eventful few days since I got back from my daughter’s home culminating in us having to take a detour into Launceston today to hand our computer over to the P.C. MacGyver’s to detangle a nefarious viri from its intestinal tract.  We had planned on erecting the fence around our garden today. Yesterday it was cold and windy and rainy so we put off fencing the garden because the forecast was better today. Instead, we decided to finish off some of our studies to get ourselves a little bit ahead in advance. You would think that after being saturated in info about how viruses travel around in Flash that we would know better than to download a seemingly innocent little “free game” but we stupidly did and found ourselves in a world of hassle where our virus protectors weren’t all that much good. We pretty much shut the virus down as soon as we found it by unplugging our P.C. from the net and turning off our modem but a quick phone call in the last few moments before the computer shop shut had us booked in for today at shops opening and pacing the freezing cold wind ridden streets of Launceston with 2 very excited pooches who had a strong desire to tag all of Launceston with “We Woz Ere”. Paying someone $80 to free up our P.C. was the least painful part, we had to get back home and change ALL of our passwords…sigh… better safe than sorry I suppose. I have mixed old and new images to share with you today because what we could come up with ourselves from Serendipity Farm today was somewhat sad…enjoy the nostalgia 😉

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A rare patch of sunshine on wintery Serendipity Farm. As you can see, there are leaves everywhere, the grass is overgrown which is amusing because up until the end of April we didn’t HAVE anything but dead bone dry dirt and the eucalypts are shedding their bark (and in some cases, their branches) like crazy. Couple this with both of the humanic variants that live on Serendipity Farm wanting to stay inside near the fire and out of the cold and you have a recipe for guilty sloth 🙂

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A late winter/early spring picture taken at our house in town when we lived there about 4 years ago

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I probably should have put this photo in before the last one because this shot is of autumn. This leaf blower was doing great service as a leaf sucker on the day. I managed to suck up and mulch all of these leaves in one shot and used the results to mulch the garden 🙂

I have noticed a steep increase in spam comment content on the blog but as it still amuses the heck out of me I am not concerned. Today, a spammer tried to get me to indignantly reply to their comment by insulting my spelling. Anyone who knows me well knows that I accept that I spell atrociously but that as most spelling is automatically corrected these days, my spelling mistakes are my own. I have a chuckle at the spammers who promise me increased blog followers if I will just let them put some of their “special videos” in my posts. We then have the spammers who want to sell their Louis Vuitton bags but all in Japanese… some of the spam should be listed on engrish.com it is so hilarious and WordPress does a pretty good job of catching most of it before it gets around to me having to choose whether it is spam or not. I am well behind in reading my RSS Feed Reader thanks to a large pile of blogs that were waiting for me when I got home from my daughters that I still haven’t managed to get through and as I couldn’t use the P.C. on Friday morning the pile started to increase alarmingly. I am going to spend the weekend wading through posts and doing my level best to start next week off with a nice clean (and manageable) slate.

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This is “Tickle”. He was named after one of the moonshiners on a hillbilly television show that Steve likes to watch. In the show, Tickle is prone to bad luck. So is this kitten. Earl almost killed him when he managed to squeeze under the gate to attempt to get one of Earls meaty bones and it was by sheer luck that Steve was outside at the time and saved his life. Steve has a soft spot for him now.

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Another photo taken when we lived in town of a particularly bored Bezial. He still likes to lay in this chair affecting boredom, only the location has changed

Jenny, our previously “anon” friend who inadvertently outed herself recently by commenting on the blog using her name, allowed we pathetic, cold, computer-less creatures to visit her yesterday while we were waiting for our P.C. to be inoculated was telling us about how she had been planting pansies and stocks and that they had been disappearing. She had decided that the culprit was rats as there were small neat holes at the base of her missing plants…on closer inspection (and after talking to gardening friends) she realised that the holes were too perfect and after sharing her dilemma with her horticultural workmates they told her that the culprit was sure to be freshwater crayfish! Our good old Aussie yabby was crunching up her flowers! She had been planting leeks and potato onions etc. and none of the vegetables had been touched, only the flowers that she was planting to fool the pests. Now that it is winter the creek that flows through her property will refill and the ground is starting to get quite damp on her property and the yabbies have taken advantage of the newly softened ground to start tunnelling and pinching the tasty results of her hard work. I think it’s time to have a crawdad hunt with the kids this weekend and get some sweet tasty revenge on her flower pilferers!

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I am not all that sure what this plant is. All I know is that it is a tall shrub that manages to take the dry difficult summer conditions here on Serendipity Farm and bounces back in winter with these lovely flowers when just about everything else (except the azaleas that are still flowering like crazy) has given up the ghost.

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The Myrtus communis berries are finally ripe. They still taste acerbic (like unripe persimmons) but should we ever want to get experimental we could make a type of alcohol out of them that the Greeks prize.

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This is a winter iris…it’s winter…it’s flowering…

Jenny gave me some snow pea seeds to plant out in our new garden. Our milder conditions here allow us to grow things that might not be possible in other Tasmanian areas. We don’t often get a frost and so I am going to plant out some snow peas and see if they will grow for us in the new garden.  It’s Saturday morning and we started the garden! I am very excited about how quickly the rope and the netting went up on the first part of the garden. We have roped all of the poles and will be putting netting up over the next few days. We realised that our massive (6 trailer loads) pile of well composted horse manure is outside the perimeter of the garden and unless I want to barrow 6 trailer loads of manure around to where the gate is going to be situated, (conveniently on the other side of the garden to where the manure pile is now…sigh…) I should get shovelling BEFORE we put the netting up on that side of the garden. I have a couple of days to shovel it all as well as cut the branches from the sheoak and wattle trees that we had to remove when we created the perimeter of the garden. Both sheoak’s and wattles are nitrogenous so lets hope that’s not just their roots and that they add something back to the garden when they are used to line the base of the garden beds. We noticed that the huge winds that we had yesterday have stolen almost all of the leaves that were waiting to be raked over at Glad’s place next door. It’s a definite case of “fool me once” that has made fools out of us. Last year exactly the same thing happened! Next year I will be raking nice and early. We had decided to wait till all of the oak trees had lost their leaves and they were just about ready for us to harvest and now most of them are clogging up Glads little stream and I fear that yours truly is going to have to get down and dirty into the creek bed to shovel leaves out all over again. Consider me educated in the ways of Tassie winter now…I won’t be doing that again!

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Here is Steve the chameleon. That’s his natural hair colour by the way folks…we made this cake as a thankyou to a good friend at Polytechnic for all of his help.

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This is what it looked like inside and that was YEARS before those rainbow cakes became de rigor… we penniless student hippies are inadvertent trend setters 😉

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Another incarnation of Steve. His hair might naturally be black but it is also naturally curly (not that you are going to see it any day soon aside from here 😉 ). This photo was taken of us both when we were in Melbourne in 2010 at the Melbourne International Flower Show.

I am just about to dehydrate a large quantity of milk kefir grains. I figure it is the best way to preserve them for storage and if anyone wants any kefir grains I can send them to them. I will be using the instructions I found here http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/sharing-kefir-grains.htm Dom is the kefir king here in Australia and has been sending kefir worldwide for many years so I would imagine he knows his preservation technique stuff and has honed it to a fine art. I am first going to wash them in rainwater which we now have access to. Our little 600 litre rainwater tank is full to the brim. After the grains have been washed clean of milk curds clinging to them they get put on a dehydrator sheet lined with baking paper. I just need to ensure that the grains don’t get heated higher than 85F which is almost 30C until they are dried out and then I store them in milk powder. I have some organic milk powder that I store in the freezer that will give them the best chance of being viable once they are rehydrated. Managing ferments and cultures is a very interesting process and it’s good to know that you don’t have to just let your little helpers die if you have too many of them.

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You might initially think that this was a photo of some seaside daisies over some rocks…you would only be partially right there…

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Look a little bit closer and you will find a hidden stash…well I found the stash and I am starting to despair of finding the rest. The hens are getting crafty (the hens that aren’t currently clucky that is :(…)

bitches

Sigh…

I made some soy milk yesterday, heavily fortified with date paste and will be dunking my regular kefir grains back in non-dairy milk after a few days soaking in regular milk. I had left them in the fridge for the 5 days that I was away which slows their activity down and after 2 days refreshment they are back to the coalface culturing my non-dairy kefir for my morning green smoothies. I didn’t expire after consuming almost 3 litres of semi-explosive kefir (rather than wasting it) before I headed to my daughters so I figure that gives me impunity to mess around with my milks and see just what I can make. So long as I add date paste the kefir seems to be happy with my experimentation. There doesn’t appear to be much difference between the appearance of the regular milk kefir grains and my hybrid non-dairy milk grains aside from the non-dairy milk grains seem to grow faster. I am creating mutants! You can call me Dr Fronkenstein ;).

Another cake! This one was a rich coffee mud cake covered with chocolate ganache, white chocolate ganache and milk and dark chocolate covered coffee beans

This wonderful contraption was captured by Steve when he had volunteered to take our daughters to an arty festival in Launceston. That tent in the background had regular acts and there was a wonderful display of wicker art including furniture. This wonderful sculpture was towed around by this man for hours. The teapot on top went around and around and it was fully articulated. Kudos sir but next time you might want to find a few friends to help you tow 😉

I just sent Steve off armed with his camera to try to find something of worth to photograph to share in tonight’s post.  Winter tends to rob bloggers of photo opportunities and where we have no snow, rain or anything else noteworthy to report, we have had a lot of gusty wind over the last few days that has peeled the remaining loose bark from the trees, has stolen our leaves and has made a mess of any grassy surface so I need to rake up those valuable leaves before I take photos of the mess that the pesky wind has made. I haven’t made much of a dent in my RSS Feed Read but that is what Sundays are for. We have a really good head start on next terms studies (that start again on Monday) and so we figure that we should be able to get our garden sorted out next week and once we get the perimeter up, I can start creating my keyhole gardens. I am going to use the existing gardens (after pulling them apart) to start off the new gardens but then I have to get creative with what I am going to use to form the perimeters of the gardens. Rocks are abundant and free so I dare say they are going to figure predominately in the new garden structure. They also allow you to create more organic shapes and so I should be able to form my keyholes. Keyhole gardening is a more efficient way to use the space that you have available. I have space amounting to a double tennis court so I should be able to grow a considerable amount of our own food in spring. Here’s what keyhole gardening is all about… http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3726/

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Steve’s hand hammering the first “U” tack to hold the rope for our new fully enclosed veggie garden…

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The first piece of net going up. Please disregard the interesting debris littered landscape…I did 😉

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Over the next week this entire area will be fully enclosed. I have to shovel a tonne of horse poo before the final side goes up but at the moment, the possums are as intent on staying home as I am. Note the beans in the uncovered veggie garden that we left for the chooks and possums to clear out for us have kept growing…when they were covered up the possums couldn’t wait to scarf them…now that they are out in the open their natural bolshie suspicion must have kicked in and they are refusing to eat them…sigh…

I finally got around to putting the dried beans that have been languishing in egg cartons on the spare bedroom floor away. In doing this I had to also clean up the spare room. I have more seeds that I have been saving in various states of “dry” all over the place. I have a dormouse desire to collect seeds and stuff them everywhere and now I have finally made a place to put them all in the spare bedroom cupboard. The idea that I will be able to actually grow real beans this year and that they will be able to climb as tall as they want to with impunity (and no small furry tooth marks on them) is starting to make me excited. I scour gardening websites like other people scan expensive gardening magazines. My preferred sites all revolve around my own personal ethos and all of them give me hope that someday we will produce most of our food here on Serendipity Farm. Steve is under the influence of the photography bug at the moment and is taking alarming red images and converting them to smoky black and white shots that then become pastel coloured 1950’s style images. I keep expecting to see a Studebaker or a petticoat skirt in the pictures. He is having fun messing around with different filters and at least it is keeping him off the streets ;).

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Apparently carob trees and bay trees are persona-non-grata with possums and wallabies as these delicious young specimens have not been touched by the dreaded tag-team twosome. I am NOT going to be fooled by this apparently immunity. I will be protecting these babies when they get planted out after we finish the veggie garden…”Fool me once possums…FOOL ME ONCE!”

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This is Joanna Griggs. She is famous. She was once in the Aussie Olympic swim team and now presents Australia’s version of “Better Homes and Gardens” and she was posing for photos at the Melbourne International Flower Show when Steve got this wonderful shot of her. I really like Joanna but not because of her association with the bright lights. When the cameramen all went away and only a motley crowd remained behind a little girl with Down’s Syndrome ran up to Joanna and hugged her and she reached down, picked up the little girl and gave her a huge hug right back. Now THAT is my definition of a star 🙂

The dogs are careening around the house with a 3 litre milk container that I had to bribe Earl with when I was vacuuming the spare room. It’s getting close to their meal time and they are well aware of it. The level of noise increases exponentially as the time to be fed approaches. I think we could set our watches (if we wore them) by Bezial and his stomach ;). I have decided to use a few images from the past to pad out the poor sad efforts that we were able to take today. Steve did a montage of cats but as this post hasn’t got much to do with cats I will only use one of them. I have a sneaking suspicion that the cats were close to the house and he didn’t want to venture further afield into the cold afternoon and so took enough pictures for me to think he had put an effort in…it’s that kind of weather around here at the moment…the sort that makes you want to pull your head into your jumper and just snuggle up and do sweet nothing. The problem is that we have to get a fair bit accomplished here over the next few months. It will be interesting to see how we manage to motivate ourselves into doing it because not doing it isn’t an option.

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This lovely shot was taken at Hollybank, a nature reserve about 15 – 20km away from Launceston city. It’s a lovely place to visit and you can walk your dogs here as well. This is Earl and Bezial’s idea of heaven 🙂

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Another shot from Hollybank. We used to walk here a lot when we lived in Launceston. We haven’t been there for ages now but we are making plans to remedy that pretty soon

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Isn’t this pretty tea? A friend of ours gave it to me as we were walking the dogs the other day. Her partner had bought the wrong kind of tea accidentally and she is quite particular about what she does and doesn’t like. This wasn’t the right kind so I got a wonderful present. It’s very light and has a lovely fruity floral perfume and I just had a cup of it 🙂 Cheers Roxy, it’s lovely 🙂

I have given in to the sad puppy dog eyes and am going to feed the dogs. I might leave this rumpled post there for the day. Sometimes posts come easy and sometimes they don’t. Today was harder than usual but hopefully it contains enough to stop you, my dear constant readers, from feeling jipped. I am quite glad that this week has come to an end. Tomorrow I will clear out my RSS Feed Reader and will emerge triumphant at the end of the day with an empty post box and ready to face another week. I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. Somewhere in the ethos it is sunny, indeed it’s hot! Not here…here it’s lovely and cold and I am enjoying every single moment of it :o).

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